Infomotions, Inc.'Lena Rivers / Holmes, Mary Jane, 1825-1907



Author: Holmes, Mary Jane, 1825-1907
Title: 'Lena Rivers
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): durward; livingstone; graham; mabel; anna; nellie; nichols; captain atherton; john; maple grove; nancy scovandyke; nellie douglass; 'lena rivers; joel slocum
Contributor(s): Bradley, H. [Annotator]
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 123,385 words (average) Grade range: 10-13 (high school) Readability score: 60 (average)
Identifier: etext12835
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Title: 'Lena Rivers

Author: Mary J. Holmes

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*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK 'LENA RIVERS ***




Produced by Al Haines




'LENA RIVERS,


BY

MRS. MARY J. HOLMES.



AUTHOR OF

"TEMPEST AND SUNSHINE," "ENGLISH ORPHANS," "DARKNESS AND DAYLIGHT,"
"MARIAN GRAY," "ETHELYN'S MISTAKE," "CAMERON PRIDE," "EDNA BROWNING,"
"WEST LAWN," "EDITH LYLE," ETC., ETC.



MDCCCXCVII.




PREFACE.

If it be true, as some have said, that a _secret_ is safer in a
_preface_ than elsewhere, it would be worse than folly for me to
waste the "midnight oil," in the manufacture of an article which no
one would read, and which would serve no purpose, save the adding of
a page or so to a volume perhaps already too large. But I do not
think so.  I wot of a few who, with a horror of anything savoring of
_humbug_, wade industriously through a preface, be it never so
lengthy, hoping therein to find the _moral_, without which the story
would, of course, be valueless.  To such I would say, seek no
further, for though I claim for "'Lena Rivers," a moral--yes, half a
dozen morals, if you please--I shall not put them in the preface, as
I prefer having them sought after, for what I have written I wish to
have read.

Reared among the rugged hills of the Bay State, and for a time
constantly associated with a class of people known the wide world
over as _Yankees_, it is no more than natural that I should often
write of the places and scenes with which I have been the most
familiar.  In my delineations of New England character I have aimed
to copy from memory, and in no one instance, I believe, have I
overdrawn the pictures; for among the New England mountains there
lives many a "Grandma Nichols," a "Joel Slocum," or a "Nancy
Scovandyke," while the wide world holds more than one '_Lena_, with
her high temper, extreme beauty, and rare combination of those
qualities which make the female character so lovely.

Nearly the same remarks will also apply to my portraitures of
Kentucky life and character, for it has been my good fortune to spend
a year and a half in that state, and in my descriptions of country
lanes and country life, I have with a few exceptions copied from what
I saw.  _Mrs. Livingstone_ and _Mrs. Graham_ are characters found
everywhere, while the impulsive _John Jr_., and the generous-hearted
_Durward_, represent a class of individuals who belong more
exclusively to the "sunny south."

I have endeavored to make this book both a good and an interesting
one, and if I have failed in my attempt, it is too late to remedy it
now; and, such as it is, I give it to the world, trusting that the
same favor and forbearance which have been awarded to my other works,
will also be extended to this.

M. J. H.

BROCKPORT, N. Y., _October_, 1856.




LENA RIVERS.



CHAPTER I.

'LENA.

For many days the storm continued.  Highways were blocked up, while
roads less frequented were rendered wholly impassable.  The oldest
inhabitants of Oakland had "never seen the like before," and they
shook their gray heads ominously as over and adown the New England
mountains the howling wind swept furiously, now shrieking exultingly
as one by one the huge forest trees bent before its power, and again
dying away in a low, sad wail, as it shook the casement of some
low-roofed cottage, where the blazing fire, "high piled upon the
hearth," danced merrily to the sound of the storm-wind, and then,
whirling in fantastic circles, disappeared up the broad-mouthed
chimney.

For nearly a week there was scarcely a sign of life in the streets of
Oakland, but at the end of that time the storm abated, and the
December sun, emerging from its dark hiding-place, once more looked
smilingly down upon the white, untrodden snow, which covered the
earth for miles and miles around.  Rapidly the roads were broken;
paths were made on the narrow sidewalk, and then the villagers
bethought themselves of their mountain neighbors, who might perchance
have suffered from the severity of the storm.  Far up the mountain
side in an old yellow farmhouse, which had withstood the blasts of
many a winter, lived Grandfather and Grandmother Nichols, as they
were familiarly called, and ere the sun-setting, arrangements were
made for paying them a visit.

Oakland was a small rural village, nestled among rocky hills, where
the word fashion was seldom heard, and where many of the primitive
customs of our forefathers still prevailed.  Consequently, neither
the buxom maidens, nor the hale old matrons, felt in the least
disgraced as they piled promiscuously upon the four-ox sled, which
erelong was moving slowly through the mammoth drifts which lay upon
the mountain road.  As they drew near the farmhouse, they noticed
that the blue paper curtains which shaded the windows of Grandma
Nichols' "spare room," were rolled up, while the faint glimmer of a
tallow candle within, indicated that the room possessed an occupant.
Who could it be?  Possibly it was _John_, the proud man, who lived in
Kentucky, and who, to please his wealthy bride exchanged the plebeian
name of Nichols, for that of _Livingstone_, which his high-born lady
fancied was more aristocratic in its sounding!

"And if it be John," said the passengers of the ox sled, with whom
that gentleman was no great favorite, "if it be John, we'll take
ourselves home as fast as ever we can."

Satisfied with this resolution, they kept on their way until they
reached the wide gateway, where they were met by Mr. Nichols, whose
greeting they fancied was less cordial than usual.  With a simple
"how d'ye do," he led the way into the spacious kitchen, which
answered the treble purpose of dining-room, sitting-room, and
cook-room.  Grandma Nichols, too, appeared somewhat disturbed, but
she met her visitors with an air which seemed to say, she was
determined to make the best of her trouble, whatever it might be.

The door of the "spare room" was slightly ajar, and while the
visitors were disrobing, one young girl, more curious than the rest,
peered cautiously in, exclaiming as she did so, "Mother! mother!
Helena is in there on the bed, pale as a ghost."

"Yes, Heleny is in there," interrupted Grandma Nichols, who overheard
the girl's remark.  "She got hum the fust night of the storm, and
what's queerer than all, she's been married better than a year."

"Married!  Married!  Helena married!  Who to?  Where's her husband?"
asked a dozen voices in the same breath.

Grandfather Nichols groaned as if in pain, and his wife, glancing
anxiously toward the door of her daughter's room, said in reply to
the last question, "That's the worst on't.  He was some grand rascal,
who lived at the suthard, and come up here to see what he could do.
He thought Heleny was handsome, I s'pose, and married her, making her
keep it still because his folks in Car'lina wouldn't like it.  Of
course he got sick of her, and jest afore the baby was born he gin
her five hundred dollars and left her."

A murmur of surprise ran round the room, accompanied with a look of
incredulity, which Grandma Nichols quickly divined, and while her
withered cheek crimsoned at the implied disgrace, she added in an
elevated tone of voice, "It's true as the Bible.  Old Father
Blanchard's son, that used to preach here, married them, and Heleny
brought us a letter from him, saying it was true.  Here 'tis,--read
it yourselves, if you don't b'lieve me;" and she drew from a side
drawer a letter, on the back of which, the villagers recognized the
well remembered handwriting of their former pastor.

This proof of Helena's innocence was hardly relished by the clever
gossips of Oakland, for the young girl, though kind-hearted and
gentle, was far too beautiful to be a general favorite.  Mothers saw
in her a rival for their daughters, while the daughters looked
enviously upon her clear white brow, and shining chestnut hair; which
fell in wavy curls about her neck and shoulders.  Two years before
our story opens, she had left her mountain home to try the mysteries
of millinery in the city, where a distant relative of her mother was
living.  Here her uncommon beauty attracted much attention, drawing
erelong to her side a wealthy young southerner, who, just freed from
the restraints of college life, found it vastly agreeable making love
to the fair Helena.  Simple-minded, and wholly unused to the ways of
the world, she believed each word he said, and when at last he
proposed marriage, she not only consented, but also promised to keep
it a secret for a time, until he could in a measure reconcile his
father, who he feared might disinherit him for wedding a penniless
bride.

"Wait, darling, until he knows you," said he, "and then he will
gladly welcome you as his daughter."

Accordingly, one dark, wintry night, when neither moon nor stars were
visible, Helena stole softly from her quiet room at Mrs. Warren's,
and in less than an hour was the lawful bride of Harry Rivers, the
wife of the clergyman alone witnessing the ceremony.

"I wish I could take you home at once," said young Rivers, who was
less a rascal than a coward; "I wish I could take you home at once,
but it cannot be.  We must wait awhile."

So Helena went back to Mrs. Warren's, where for a few weeks she
stayed, and then saying she was going home, she left and became the
mistress of a neat little cottage which stood a mile or two from the
city.  Here for several months young Rivers devoted himself entirely
to her happiness, seeming to forget that there was aught else in the
world save his "beautiful 'Lena," as he was wont to call her.  But at
last there came a change.  Harry seemed sad, and absent-minded,
though ever kind to Helena, who strove in vain to learn the cause of
his uneasiness.

One morning when, later than usual, she awoke, she missed him from
her side; and on the table near her lay a letter containing the
following:--


"Forgive me, darling, that I leave you so abruptly.  Circumstances
render it neccessary, but be assured, I shall come back again.  In
the mean time, you had better return to your parents, where I will
seek you.  Enclosed are five hundred dollars, enough for your present
need.  Farewell.

  "H. RIVERS."


There was one bitter cry of hopeless anguish, and when Helena Rivers
again awoke to perfect consciousness, she lay in a darkened room,
soft footsteps passed in and out, kind faces, in which were mingled
pity and reproach, bent anxiously over her, while at her side lay a
little tender thing, her infant daughter, three weeks old.  And now
there arose within her a strong desire to see once more her
childhood's home, to lay her aching head upon her mother's lap, and
pour out the tale of grief which was crushing the life from out her
young heart.

As soon, therefore, as her health would permit, she started for
Oakland, taking the precaution to procure from the clergyman, who had
married her, a letter confirming the fact.  Wretched and weary she
reached her home at the dusk of evening, and with a bitter cry fell
fainting in the arms of her mother, who having heard regularly from
her, never dreamed that she was elsewhere than in the employ of Mrs.
Warren.  With streaming eyes and trembling hands the old man and his
wife made ready the spare room for the wanderer more than once
blessing the fearful storm which for a time, at least, would keep
away the prying eyes of those who, they feared, would hardly credit
their daughter's story.

And their fears were right, for many of those who visited them on the
night of which we have spoken, disbelieved the tale, mentally
pronouncing the clergyman's letter a forgery, got up by Helena to
deceive her parents.  Consequently, of the few who from time to time
came to the old farmhouse, nearly all were actuated by motives of
curiosity, rather than by feelings of pity for the young girl-mother,
who, though feeling their neglect, scarcely heeded it.  Strong in the
knowledge of her own innocence, she lay day after day, watching and
waiting for one who never came.  But at last, as days glided into
weeks, and weeks into months, hope died away, and turning wearily
upon her pillow, she prayed that she might die; and when the days
grew bright and gladsome in the warm spring sun, when the snow was
melted from off the mountain tops, and the first robin's note was
heard by the farmhouse door, Helena laid her baby on her mother's
bosom, and without a murmur glided down the dark, broad river, whose
deep waters move onward and onward, but never return.

When it was known in Oakland that Helena was dead, there came a
reaction, and those who had been loudest in their condemnation, were
now the first to hasten forward with offers of kindness and words of
sympathy.  But neither tears nor regrets could recall to life the
fair young girl, who, wondrously beautiful even in death, slept
calmly in her narrow coffin, a smile of sadness wreathing her lips,
as if her last prayer had been for one who had robbed her thus early
of happiness and life.  In the bright green valley at the foot of the
mountain, they buried her, and the old father, as he saw the damp
earth fall upon her grave, asked that he too might die.  But his
wife, younger by several years, prayed to live--live that she might
protect and care for the little orphan, who first by its young
mother's tears, and again by the waters of the baptismal fountain,
was christened HELENA RIVERS;--the '_Lena_ of our story.




CHAPTER II.

JOHN.

Ten years of sunlight and shadow have passed away, and the little
grave at the foot of the mountain is now grass-grown and sunken.  Ten
times have the snows of winter fallen upon the hoary head of
Grandfather Nichols, bleaching his thin locks to their own whiteness
and bending his sturdy frame, until now, the old man lay dying--dying
in the same blue-curtained room, where years agone his only daughter
was born, and where ten years before she had died.  Carefully did
Mrs. Nichols nurse him, watching, weeping, and praying that he might
live, while little 'Lena gladly shared her grandmother's vigils,
hovering ever by the bedside of her grandfather, who seemed more
quiet when her soft hand smoothed his tangled hair or wiped the cold
moisture from his brow.  The villagers, too, remembering their
neglect, when once before death had brooded over the mountain
farmhouse, now daily came with offers of assistance.

But one thing still was wanting.  John, their only remaining child,
was absent, and the sick man's heart grew sad and his eyes dim with
tears, as day by day went by, and still he did not come.  Several
times had 'Lena written to her uncle, apprising him of his father's
danger, and once only had he answered.  It was a brief, formal
letter, written, evidently, under some constraint, but it said that
he was coming, and with childish joy the old man had placed it
beneath his pillow, withdrawing it occasionally for 'Lena to read
again, particularly the passage, "Dear father, I am sorry you are
sick."

"Heaven bless him!  I know he's sorry," Mr. Nichols would say.  "He
was always a good boy--is a good boy now.  Ain't he, Martha?"

And mother-like, Mrs. Nichols would answer, "Yes," forcing back the
while the tears which would start when she thought how long the "good
boy" had neglected them, eighteen years having elapsed since he had
crossed the threshold of his home.

With his hand plighted to one of the village maidens, he had left
Oakland to seek his fortune, going first to New York, then to Ohio,
and finally wending his way southward, to Kentucky.  Here he
remained, readily falling into the luxurious habits of those around
him, and gradually forgetting the low-roofed farmhouse far away to
the northward, where dwelt a gray-haired pair and a beautiful young
girl, his parents and his sister.  She to whom his vows were plighted
was neither graceful nor cultivated, and when, occasionally, her
tall, spare figure and uncouth manners arose before him, in contrast
with the fair forms around him, he smiled derisively at the thoughts
of making her his wife.

About this time there came from New Orleans a wealthy invalid, with
his only daughter Matilda.  She was a proud haughty girl, whose
disposition, naturally unamiable, was rendered still worse by a
disappointment from which she was suffering.  Accidentally Mr.
Richards, her father, made the acquaintance of John Nichols,
conceiving for him a violent fancy, and finally securing him as a
constant companion.  For several weeks John appeared utterly
oblivious to the presence of Matilda who, accustomed to adulation,
began at last to feel piqued at his neglect, and to strive in many
ways to attract his attention.

John, who was ambitious, met her advances more than half way, and
finally, encouraged by her father, offered her his heart and hand.
Under other circumstances, Matilda would undoubtedly have spurned him
with contempt; but having heard that her recreant lover was about
taking to himself a bride, she felt a desire, as she expressed it,
"to let him know she could marry too."  Accordingly, John was
accepted, on condition that he changed the name of Nichols, which
Miss Richards particularly disliked, to that of Livingstone.  This
was easily done, and the next letter which went to Oakland carried
the news of John's marriage with the proud Matilda.

A few months later and Mr. Richards died, leaving his entire property
to his daughter and her husband.  John was now richer far than even
in his wildest dreams he had ever hoped to be, and yet like many
others, he found that riches alone could not insure happiness.  And,
indeed, to be happy with Matilda Richards, seemed impossible.  Proud,
avaricious, and overbearing, she continually taunted her husband with
his entire dependence upon her, carefully watching him, lest any of
her hoarded wealth should find its way to the scanty purse of his
parents, of whom she always spoke with contempt.

Never but once had they asked for aid, and that to help them rear the
little 'Lena.  Influenced by his wife, John replied sneeringly,
scouting the idea of Helena's marriage, denouncing her as his sister,
and saying of her child, that the poor-house stood ready for such as
she!  This letter 'Lena had accidentally found among her
grandfather's papers, and though its contents gave her no definite
impression concerning her mother, it inspired her with a dislike for
her uncle, whose coming she greatly dreaded, for it was confidently
expected that she, together with her grandmother, would return with
him to Kentucky.

"You'll be better off there than here," said her grandfather one day,
when speaking of the subject.  "Your Uncle John is rich, and you'll
grow up a fine lady."

"I don't want to be a lady--I won't be a lady," said 'Lena
passionately.  "I don't like Uncle John.  He called my mother a bad
woman and me a little brat!  I hate him!" and the beautiful brown
eyes glittering with tears flashed forth their anger quite as
eloquently as language could express it.

The next moment 'Lena was bending over her grandfather, asking to be
forgiven for the hasty words which she knew had caused him pain.
"I'll try to like him," said she, as the palsied hand stroked her
disordered curls in token of forgiveness, "I'll try to like him,"
adding mentally, "but I do hope he won't come."

It would seem that 'Lena's wish was to be granted, for weeks glided
by and there came no tidings of the absent one.  Daily Mr. Nichols
grew weaker, and when there was no longer hope of life, his heart
yearned more and more to once more behold his son; to hear again, ere
he died, the blessed name of father.

"'Lena," said Mrs. Nichols one afternoon when her husband seemed
worse, "'Lena, it's time for the stage, and do you run down to the
'turn' and see if your uncle's come; something tells me he'll be here
to-night."

'Lena obeyed, and throwing on her faded calico sunbonnet, she was
soon at the "turn," a point in the road from which the village hotel
was plainly discernible.  The stage had just arrived, and 'Lena saw
that one of the passengers evidently intended stopping, for he seemed
to be giving directions concerning his baggage.

"That's Uncle John, I most know," thought she, and seating herself on
a rock beneath some white birches, so common in New England, she
awaited his approach.  She was right in her conjecture, for the
stranger was John Livingstone, returned after many years, but so
changed that the jolly landlord, who had known him when a boy, and
with whom he had cracked many a joke, now hardly dared to address
him, he seemed so cold and haughty.

"I will leave my trunk here for a few days," said John, "and perhaps
I shall wish for a room.  Got any decent accommodations?"

"Wonder if he don't calculate to sleep to hum," thought the landlord,
replying at the same instant, "Yes, sir, tip-top accommodations.
Hain't more'n tew beds in any room, and nowadays we allers has a
wash-bowl and pitcher; don't go to the sink as we used to when you
lived round here."

With a gesture of impatience Mr. Livingstone left the house and
started up the mountain road, where 'Lena still kept her watch.  Oh,
how that walk recalled to him the memories of other days, which came
thronging about him as one by one familiar way-marks appeared,
reminding him of his childhood, when he roamed over that
mountain-side with those who were now scattered far and wide, some on
the deep, blue sea, some at the distant west, and others far away
across the dark river of death.  He had mingled much with the world
since last he had traversed that road, and his heart had grown
callous and indifferent, but he was not entirely hardened, and when
at the "turn" in the road, he came suddenly upon the tall walnut
tree, on whose shaggy bark his name was carved, together with that of
another--a maiden--he started as if smitten with a heavy blow, and
dashing a tear from his eye he exclaimed "Oh that I were a boy again!"

From her seat on the mossy rock 'Lena had been watching him.  She was
very ardent and impulsive, strong in her likes and dislikes, but
quite ready to change the latter if she saw any indications of
improvement in the person disliked.  For her uncle she had conceived
a great aversion, and when she saw him approaching, thrusting aside
the thistles and dandelions with his gold-headed cane, she mimicked
his motions, wondering "if he didn't feel big because he wore a large
gold chain dangling from his jacket pocket."

But when she saw his emotions beneath the walnut tree, her opinion
suddenly changed.  "A very bad man wouldn't cry," she thought, and
springing to his side, she grasped his hand, exclaiming, "I know you
are my Uncle John, and I'm real glad you've come.  Granny thought you
never would, and grandpa asks for you all the time."

Had his buried sister arisen before him, Mr. Livingstone would hardly
have been more startled, for in form and feature 'Lena was exactly
what her mother had been at her age.  The same clear complexion,
large brown eyes, and wavy hair; and the tones of her voice, too, how
they thrilled the heart of the strong man, making him a boy again,
guiding the steps of his baby sister, or bearing her gently in his
arms when the path was steep and stony.  It was but a moment,
however, and then the vision faded.  His sister was dead, and the
little girl before him was her child--the child of shame he believed,
or rather, his wife had said it so often that he began to believe it.
Glancing at the old-womanish garb in which Mrs. Nichols always
arrayed her, a smile of mingled scorn and pity curled his lips, as he
thought of presenting her to his fastidious wife and elegant
daughters; then withdrawing the hand which she had taken, he said,
"And you are 'Lena--'Lena Nichols they call you, I suppose."

'Lena's old dislike began to return, and placing both hands upon her
hips in imitation of her grandmother she replied, "No 'tain't 'Lena
Nichols, neither.  It's 'Lena Rivers.  Granny says so, and the town
clark has got it so on his book.  How are my cousins?  Are they
pretty well?  And how is _Ant_?"

Mr. Livingstone winced, at the same time feeling amused at this
little specimen of Yankeeism, in which he saw so much of his mother.
Poor little 'Lena! how should she know any better, living as she
always had with two old people, whose language savored so much of the
days before the flood!  Some such thought passed through Mr.
Livingstone's mind, and very civilly he answered her concerning the
health of her cousins and aunt; proceeding next to question her of
his father, who, she said, "had never seen a well day since her
mother died."

"Is there any one with him except your grandmother?" asked Mr.
Livingstone; and Lena replied, "Aunt Nancy Scovandyke has been with
us a few days, and is there now."

At the sound of that name John started, coloring so deeply that 'Lena
observed it, and asked "if he knew Miss Scovandyke?"

"I used to," said he, while 'Lena continued: "She's a nice woman, and
though she ain't any connection, I call her aunt.  Granny thinks a
sight of her."

Miss Scovandyke was evidently an unpleasant topic for Mr.
Livingstone, and changing the subject, he said, "What makes you say
_Granny_, child?"

'Lena blushed painfully.  'Twas the first word she had ever uttered,
her grandmother having taught it to her, and encouraged her in its
use.  Besides that, 'Lena had a great horror of anything which she
fancied was at all "stuck up," and thinking an entire change from
_Granny_ to _Grandmother_ would be altogether too much, she still
persisted in occasionally using her favorite word, in spite of the
ridicule it frequently called forth from her school companions.
Thinking to herself that it was none of her uncle's business what she
called her grandmother, she made no reply, and in a few moments they
came in sight of the yellow farmhouse, which looked to Mr.
Livingstone just as it did when he left it, eighteen years before.
There was the tall poplar, with its green leaves rustling in the
breeze, just as they had done years ago, when from a distant hill-top
he looked back to catch the last glimpse of his home.  The well in
the rear was the same--the lilac bushes in front--the tansy patch on
the right and the gable-roofed barn on the left; all were there;
nothing was changed but himself.

Mechanically he followed 'Lena into the yard, half expecting to see
bleaching upon the grass the same web of home-made cloth, which he
remembered had lain there when he went away.  One thing alone seemed
strange.  The blue paper curtains were rolled away from the "spare
room" windows, which were open as if to admit as much air as possible.

"I shouldn't wonder if grandpa was worse," said 'Lena, hurrying him
along and ushering him at once into the sick-room.

At first Mrs. Nichols did not observe him, for she was bending
tenderly over the white, wrinkled face, which lay upon the small,
scanty pillow.  John thought "how small and scanty they were," while
he almost shuddered at the sound of his footsteps upon the uncarpeted
floor.  Everything was dreary and comfortless, and his conscience
reproached him that his old father should die so poor, when he
counted his money by thousands.

As he passed the window his tall figure obscured the fading daylight,
causing his mother to raise her head, and in a moment her long, bony
arms were twined around his neck.  The cruel letter, his long
neglect, were all forgotten in the joy of once more beholding her
"darling boy," whose bearded cheek she kissed again and again.  John
was unused to such demonstrations of affection, except, indeed, from
his little golden-haired Anna, who was _refined_ and _polished_, and
all that, which made a vast difference, as he thought.  Still, he
returned his mother's greeting with a tolerably good grace, managing,
however, to tear himself from her as soon as possible.

"How is my father?" he asked; and his mother replied, "He grew worse
right away after 'Leny went out, and he seemed so put to't for
breath, that Nancy went for the doctor----"

Here a movement from the invalid arrested her attention and going to
the bedside she saw that he was awake.  Bending over him she
whispered softly, "John has come.  Would you like to see him?"

Quickly the feeble arms were outstretched, as if to feel what could
not be seen, for the old man's eyesight was dim with the shadows of
death.

Taking both his father's hands in his, John said, "Here I am, father;
can't you see me?"

"No, John, no; I can't see you."  And the poor man wept like a little
child.  Soon growing more calm, he continued: "Your voice is the same
that it was years ago, when you lived with us at home.  That hasn't
changed, though they say your name has.  Oh, John, my boy, how could
you do so?  'Twas a good name--my name--and you the only one left to
bear it.  What made you do so, oh John, John?"

Mr. Livingstone did not reply, and after a moment his father again
spoke; "John, lay your hand on my forehead.  It's cold as ice.  I am
dying, and your mother will be left alone.  We are poor, my son;
poorer than you think.  The homestead is mortgaged for all it's worth
and there are only a few dollars in the purse.  Oh, I worked so hard
to earn them for her and the girl--Helena's child.  Now, John,
promise me that when I am gone they shall go with you to your home in
the west.  Promise, and I shall die happy."

This was a new idea to John, and for a time he hesitated.  He glanced
at his mother; she was ignorant and peculiar, but she was his mother
still.  He looked at 'Lena, she was beautiful--he knew that, but she
was odd and old-fashioned.  He thought of his haughty wife, his
headstrong son and his imperious daughter.  What would they say if he
made that promise, for if he made it he would keep it.

A long time his father awaited his answer, and then he spoke again:
"Won't you give your old mother a home?"

The voice was weaker than when it spoke before, and John knew that
life was fast ebbing away, for the brow on which his hand was resting
was cold and damp with the moisture of death.  He could no longer
refuse, and the promise was given.

The next morning, the deep-toned bell of Oakland told that another
soul was gone, and the villagers as they counted the three score
strokes and ten knew that Grandfather Nichols was numbered with the
dead.




CHAPTER III.

PACKING UP.

The funeral was over, and in the quiet valley by the side of his only
daughter, Grandfather Nichols was laid to rest.  As far as possible
his father's business was settled, and then John began to speak of
his returning.  More than once had he repented of the promise made to
his father, and as the time passed on he shrank more and more from
introducing his "plebeian" mother to his "lady" wife, who, he knew,
was meditating an open rebellion.

Immediately after his father's death he had written to his wife,
telling her all, and trying as far as he was able to smooth matters
over, so that his mother might at least have a decent reception.  In
a violent passion, his wife had answered, that "she never would
submit to it--never.  When I married you," said she, "I didn't
suppose I was marrying the 'old woman,' young one, and all; and as
for my having them to maintain, I will not, so _Mr. John Nichols_,
you understand it."

When Mrs. Livingstone was particularly angry, she called her husband
_Mr. John Nichols_, and when Mr. John Nichols was particularly angry,
he did as he pleased, so in this case he replied that "he should
bring home as many 'old women' and 'young ones' as he liked, and she
might help herself if she could!"

This state of things was hardly favorable to the future happiness of
Grandma Nichols, who, wholly unsuspecting and deeming herself as good
as anybody, never dreamed that her presence would be unwelcome to her
daughter-in-law, whom she thought to assist in various ways, "taking
perhaps the whole heft of the housework upon herself--though," she
added, "I mean to begin just as I can hold out.  I've hearn of such
things as son's wives shirkin' the whole on to their old mothers, and
the minit 'Tilda shows any signs of that, I shall back out, I tell
you."

John, who overheard this remark, bit his lip with vexation, and then
burst into a laugh as he fancied the elegant Mrs. Livingstone's
dismay at hearing herself called '_Tilda_.  Had John chosen, he could
have given his mother a few useful hints with regard to her treatment
of his wife, but such an idea never entered his brain.  He was a man
of few words, and generally allowed himself to be controlled by
circumstances, thinking that the easiest way of getting through the
world.  He was very proud, and keenly felt how mortifying it would be
to present his mother to his fashionable acquaintances; but that was
in the future--many miles away--he wouldn't trouble himself about it
now; so he passed his time mostly in rambling through the woods and
over the hills, while his mother, good soul, busied herself with the
preparations for her journey, inviting each and every one of her
neighbors to "be sure and visit her if they ever came that way," and
urging some of them to come on purpose and "spend the winter."

Among those who promised compliance with this last request, was Miss
Nancy Scovandyke, whom we have once before mentioned, and who, as the
reader will have inferred, was the first love of John Livingstone.
On the night of his arrival, she had been sent in quest of the
physician, and when on her return she learned from 'Lena that he had
come, she kept out of sight, thinking she would wait awhile before
she met him.  "Not that she cared the snap of her finger for him,"
the said, "only it was natural that she should hate to see him."

But when the time did come, she met it bravely, shaking his hand and
speaking to him as if nothing had ever happened, and while he was
wondering how he ever could have fancied _her_, she, too, was
mentally styling herself "a fool," for having liked "such a _pussy_,
overgrown thing!"  Dearly did Miss Nancy love excitement, and during
the days that Mrs. Nichols was packing up, she was busy helping her
to stow away the "crockery," which the old lady declared should go,
particularly the "blue set, which she'd had ever since the day but
one before John was born, and which she intended as a part of 'Leny's
settin' out.  Then, too, John's wife could use 'em when she had a
good deal of company; 'twould save buyin' new, and every little
helped!"

"I wonder, now, if 'Tilda takes snuff," said Mrs. Nichols, one day,
seating herself upon an empty drygoods box which stood in the middle
of the floor, and helping herself to an enormous pinch of her
favorite Maccaboy; "I wonder if she takes snuff, 'cause if she does,
we shall take a sight of comfort together."

"I don't much b'lieve she does," answered Miss Nancy, whose face was
very red with trying to cram a pair of cracked bellows into the
already crowded top of John's leathern trunk, "I don't b'lieve she
does, for somehow it seems to me she's a mighty nipped-up thing, not
an atom like you nor me."

"Like enough," returned Mrs. Nichols, finishing her snuff, and wiping
her fingers upon the corner of her checked apron; "but, Nancy, can
you tell me how in the world I'm ever going to carry this _mop_?
It's bran new, never been used above a dozen times, and I can't
afford to give it away."

At this point, John, who was sitting in the adjoining room, came
forward.  Hitherto he had not interfered in the least in his mother's
arrangements, but had looked silently on while she packed away
article after article which she would never need, and which
undoubtedly would be consigned to the flames the moment her back was
turned.  The _mop_ business, however, was too much for him, and
before Miss Nancy had time to reply, he said, "For heaven's sake,
mother, how many traps do you propose taking, and what do you imagine
we can do with a mop?  Why, I dare say not one of my servants would
know how to use it, and it's a wonder if some of the little chaps
didn't take it for a horse before night."

"A _nigger_ ride my mop! _my new mop_!" exclaimed Mrs. Nichols,
rolling up her eyes in astonishment, while Miss Nancy, turning to
John, said, "In the name of the people, how do you live without mops?
I should s'pose you'd rot alive!"

"I am not much versed in the mysteries of housekeeping," returned
John, with a smile; "but it's my impression that what little cleaning
our floors get is done with a cloth."

"Wall, if I won't give it up now," said Miss Nancy.  "As good an
abolutionist as you used to be, make the poor colored folks wash the
floor with a rag, on their hands and knees!  It can't be that you
indulge a hope, if you'll do such things!"

John made Miss Nancy no answer, but turning to his mother, he said,
"I'm in earnest, mother, about your carrying so many useless things.
_We_ don't want them.  Our house is full now, and besides that, Mrs.
Livingstone is very particular about the style of her furniture, and
I am afraid yours would hardly come up to her ideas of elegance."

"That chist of drawers," said Mrs. Nichols, pointing to an
old-fashioned, high-topped bureau, "cost an ocean of money when 'twas
new, and if the brasses on it was rubbed up, 'Tilda couldn't tell 'em
from gold, unless she's seen more on't than I have, which ain't much
likely, bein' I'm double her age."

"The chest does very well for you, I admit," said John; "but we have
neither use nor room for it, so if you can't sell it, why, give it
away, or burn it, one or the other."

Mrs. Nichols saw he was decided, and forthwith 'Lena was dispatched
to Widow Fisher's, to see if she would take it at half price.  The
widow had no fancy for second-hand articles, consequently Miss Nancy
was told "to keep it, and maybe she'd sometime have a chance to send
it to Kentucky.  It won't come amiss, I know, s'posin' they be well
on't.  I b'lieve in lookin' out for a rainy day.  I can teach 'Tilda
economy yet," whispered Mrs. Nichols, glancing toward the room where
John sat, whistling, whittling, and pondering in his own mind the
best way if reconciling his wife to what could not well be helped.

'Lena, who was naturally quick-sighted, had partially divined the
cause of her uncle's moodiness.  The more she saw of him the better
she liked him, and she began to think that she would willingly try to
cure herself of the peculiarities which evidently annoyed him, if he
would only notice her a little, which he was not likely to do.  He
seldom noticed any child, much less little 'Lena, who he fancied was
ignorant as well as awkward; but he did not know her.

One day when, as usual, he sat whittling and thinking, 'Lena
approached him softly, and laying her hand upon his knee, said rather
timidly, "Uncle, I wish you'd tell me something about my cousins."

"What about them," he asked, somewhat gruffly, for it grated upon his
feelings to hear his daughters called cousin by her.

"I want to know how they look, and which one I shall like the best,"
continued 'Lena.

"You'll like Anna the best," said her uncle, and 'Lena asked, "Why!
What sort of a girl is she?  Does she love to go to school and study?"

"None too well, I reckon," returned her uncle, adding that "there
were not many little girls who did."

"Why _I_ do," said 'Lena, and her uncle, stopping for a moment his
whittling, replied rather scornfully, "_You_!  I should like to know
what you ever studied besides the spelling-book!"

'Lena reddened, for she knew that, whether deservedly or not, she
bore the reputation of being an excellent scholar, for one of her
age, and now she rather tartly answered, "I study geography,
arithmetic, grammar, and----" history, she was going to add, but her
uncle stopped her, saying, "That'll do, that'll do.  You study all
these?  Now I don't suppose you know what one of 'em is."

"Yes, I do," said 'Lena, with a good deal of spirit.  "Olney's
geography is a description of the earth; Colburn's arithmetic is the
science of numbers: Smith's grammar teaches us how to speak
correctly."

"Why don't you do it then," asked her uncle.

"Do what?" said 'Lena, and her uncle continued, "Why don't you make
some use of your boasted knowledge of grammar?  Why, my Anna has
never seen the inside of a grammar, as I know of, but she don't _talk
like you do_."

"Don't _what_, sir?" said 'Lena,

"Don't _talk like you do_," repeated her uncle, while 'Lena's eyes
fairly danced with mischief as she asked, "if that were good grammar."

Mr. Livingstone colored, thinking it just possible that he himself
might sometimes be guilty of the same things for which he had so
harshly chided 'Lena, of whom from this time he began to think more
favorably.  It could hardly be said that he treated her with any more
attention, and still there was a difference which she felt, and which
made her very happy.




CHAPTER IV.

ON THE ROAD.

At last the packing-up process came to an end, everything too poor to
sell, and too good to give away, had found a place--some here, some
there, and some in John's trunk, among his ruffled bosoms, collars,
dickeys, and so forth.  Miss Nancy, who stood by until the last, was
made the receiver of sundry cracked teacups, noseless pitchers, and
iron spoons, which could not be disposed of elsewhere.

And now every box and trunk was ready.  Farmer Truesdale's red wagon
stood at the door, waiting to convey them to the depot, and nothing
remained for Grandma Nichols, but to bid adieu to the old spot,
endeared to her by so many associations.  Again and again she went
from room to room, weeping always, and lingering longest in the one
where her children were born, and where her husband and daughter had
died.  In the corner stood the old low-post bedstead, the first she
had ever owned, and now how vividly she recalled the time long years
before, when she, a happy maiden, ordered that bedstead, blushing
deeply at the sly allusion which the cabinet maker made to her
approaching marriage.  _He_, too, was with her, strong and healthy.
Now, he was gone from her side forever.  _His_ couch was a narrow
coffin, and the old bedstead stood there, naked--empty.  Seating
herself upon it, the poor old lady rocked to and fro, moaning in her
grief, and wishing that she were not going to Kentucky, or that it
were possible now to remain at her mountain home.  Summoning all her
courage, she gave one glance at the familiar objects around her, at
the flowers she had planted, and then taking 'Lena's hand, went down
to the gate, where her son waited.

He saw she had been weeping, and though he could not appreciate the
cause of her tears, in his heart he pitied her, and his voice and
manner were unusually kind as he helped her to the best seat in the
wagon, and asked if she were comfortable.  Then his eye fell upon her
dress, and his pity changed to anger as he wondered if she was wholly
devoid of taste.  At the time of his father's death, he purchased
decent mourning for both his mother and 'Lena; but these Mrs. Nichols
pronounced "altogether too good for the nasty cars; nobody'd think
any better of them for being rigged out in their best meetin' gowns."

So the bombazine was packed away, and in its place she wore a dark
blue and white spotted calico, which John could have sworn she had
twenty years before, and which was not unlikely, as she never wore
out a garment.  She was an enemy to long skirts, hence hers came just
to her ankles, and as her black stockings had been footed with white,
there was visible a dark rim.  Altogether she presented a rather
grotesque appearance, with her oblong work-bag, in which were her
snuff-box, brass spectacles and half a dozen "nutcakes," which would
"save John's buying dinner."

Unlike her grandmother's, 'Lena's dress was a great deal too long,
and as she never wore pantalets, she had the look of a premature old
woman, instead of a child ten summers old, as she was.  Still the
uncommon beauty of her face, and the natural gracefulness of her
form, atoned in a measure for the singularity of her appearance.

In the doorway stood Miss Nancy, and by her side her nephew, Joel
Slocum, a freckle-faced boy, who had frequently shown a preference
for 'Lena, by going with her for her grandmother's cow, bringing her
harvest apples, and letting her ride on his sled oftener than the
other girls at school.  Strange to say, his affection was not
returned, and now, notwithstanding he several times wiped both eyes
and nose, on the end of which there was an enormous freck, 'Lena did
not relent at all, but with a simple "Good-bye, Jo," she sprang into
the wagon, which moved rapidly away.

It was about five miles from the farmhouse to the depot, and when
half that distance had been gone over, Mrs. Nichols suddenly seized
the reins, ordering the driver to stop, and saying, "she must go
straight back, for on the shelf of the north room cupboard she had
left a whole paper of tea, which she couldn't afford to lose!"

"_Drive on_," said Johny rather angrily, at the same time telling his
mother that he could buy her a ton of tea if she wanted it.

"But that was already bought, and 'twould have saved so much," said
she, softly wiping away a tear, which was occasioned partly by her
son's manner, and partly by the great loss she felt she sustained in
leaving behind her favorite "old hyson."

This _saving_ was a matter of which Grandma Nichols said so much,
that John, who was himself slightly avaricious, began to regret that
he ever knew the definition of the word _save_.  Lest our readers get
a wrong impression of Mrs. Nichols, we must say that she possessed
very many sterling qualities, and her habits of extreme economy
resulted more from the manner in which she had been compelled to
live, than from natural stinginess.  For this John hardly made
allowance enough, and his mother's remarks, instead of restraining
him, only made him more lavish of his money than he would otherwise
have been.

When Mrs. Nichols and 'Lena entered the cars, they of course
attracted universal attention, which annoyed John excessively.  In
Oakland, where his mother was known and appreciated, he could bear
it, but among strangers, and with those of his own caste, it was
different, so motioning them into the first unoccupied seat, he
sauntered on with an air which seemed to say, "they were nothing to
him," and finding a vacant seat at the other end of the car, he took
possession of it.  Scarcely, however, had he entered into
conversation with a gentleman near him, when some one grasped his
arm, and looking up, he saw his mother, her box in one hand; and an
enormous pinch of snuff in the other.

"John," said she, elevating her voice so as to drown the noise of the
cars, "I never thought on't till this minit, but I'd just as lief
ride in the second-class cars as not, and it only costs half as much!"

Mr. Livingstone colored crimson, and bade her go back, saying that if
he paid the fare she needn't feel troubled about the cost.  Just as
she was turning to leave, the loud ring and whistle, as the train
neared a crossing, startled her, and in great alarm she asked if
"somethin' hadn't bust!"

John made no answer, but the gentleman near him very politely
explained to her the cause of the disturbance, after which, she
returned to her seat.  When the conductor appeared, he fortunately
came in at the door nearest John, who pointed out the two, for whom
he had tickets, and then turned again to converse with the gentleman,
who, though a stranger, was from Louisville, Kentucky, and whose
acquaintance was easily made.  The sight of the conductor awoke in
Mrs. Nichols's brain a new idea, and after peering out upon the
platform, she went rushing up to her son, telling him that: "the
trunks, box, feather bed, and all, were every one on 'em left!"

"No, they are not," said John; "I saw them aboard myself."

"Wall, then, they're lost off, for as sure as you're born, there
ain't one on 'em in here; and there's as much as twenty weight of new
feathers, besides all the crockery!  Holler to 'em to stop quick!"

The stranger, pitying Mr. Livingstone's chagrin, kindly explained to
her that there was a baggage car on purpose for trunks and the like,
and that her feather bed was undoubtedly safe.  This quieted her, and
mentally styling him "a proper nice man," she again returned to her
seat.

"A rare specimen of the raw Yankee," said the stranger to John, never
dreaming in what relation she stood to him.

"Yes," answered John, not thinking it at all necessary to make any
further explanations.

By this time Mrs. Nichols had attracted the attention of all the
passengers, who watched her movements with great interest.  Among
these was a fine-looking youth, fifteen or sixteen years of age, who
sat directly in front of 'Lena.  He had a remarkably open, pleasing
countenance, while there was that in his eyes which showed him to be
a lover of fun.  Thinking he had now found it in a rich form, he
turned partly round, and would undoubtedly have quizzed Mrs. Nichols
unmercifully, had not something in the appearance of 'Lena prevented
him.  This was also her first ride in the cars, but she possessed a
tact of concealing the fact, and if she sometimes felt frightened,
she looked in the faces of those around her, gathering from them that
there was no danger.  She knew that her grandmother was making
herself ridiculous, and her eyes filled with tears as she whispered,
"Do sit still, granny; everybody is looking at you."

The young lad noticed this, and while it quelled in him the spirit of
ridicule, it awoke a strange interest in 'Lena, who he saw was
beautiful, spite of her unseemly guise.  She was a dear lover of
nature, and as the cars sped on through the wild mountain scenery,
between Pittsfield and Albany, she stood at the open window, her
hands closely locked together, her lips slightly parted, and her eyes
wide with wonder at the country through which they were passing.  At
her grandmother's suggestion she had removed her bonnet, and the
brown curls which clustered around her white forehead and neck were
moved up and down by the fresh breeze which was blowing.  The youth
was a passionate admirer of beauty, come in what garb it might, and
now as he watched, he felt a strong desire to touch one of the glossy
ringlets which floated within his reach.  There would be no harm in
it, he thought--"she was only a little girl, and he was _almost a
man_--had tried to shave, and was going to enter college in the
fall."  Still he felt some doubts as to the propriety of the act, and
was about making up his mind that he had better not, when the train
shot into the "tunnel," and for an instant they were in total
darkness.  Quick as thought his hand sought the brown curls, but they
were gone, and when the cars again emerged into daylight, 'Lena's
arms were around her grandmother's neck, trying to hold her down, for
the old lady, sure of a _smash-up_ this time, had attempted to rise,
screaming loudly for "_John_!"

The boy laughed aloud--he could not help it; but when 'Lena's eyes
turned reprovingly upon him, he felt sorry; and anxious to make
amends, addressed himself very politely to Mrs. Nichols, explaining
to her that it was a "tunnel" through which they had passed, and
assuring her there was no danger whatever.  Then turning to 'Lena, he
said, "I reckon your grandmother is not much accustomed to traveling."

"No, sir," answered 'Lena, the rich blood dyeing her cheek at being
addressed by a stranger.

It was the first time any one had ever said "_sir_" to the boy, and
now feeling quite like patronizing the little girl, he continued: "I
believe old people generally are timid when they enter the cars for
the first time."

Nothing from 'Lena except a slight straightening up of her body, and
a smoothing down of her dress, but the ice was broken, and erelong
she and her companion were conversing as familiarly as if they had
known each other for years.  Still the boy was not inquisitive--he
did not ask her name, or where she was going, though he told her that
his home was in Louisville, and that at Albany he was to take the
boat for New York, where his mother was stopping with some friends.
He also told her that the gentleman near the door, with dark eyes and
whiskers, was his father.

Glancing toward the person indicated, 'Lena saw that it was the same
gentleman who, all the afternoon, had been talking with her uncle.
He was noble looking, and she felt glad that he was the father of the
boy--he was just such a man, she fancied, as ought to be his
father--just such a man as she could wish her father to be--and then
'Lena felt glad that the youth had asked her nothing concerning her
parentage, for, though her grandmother had seldom mentioned her
father in her presence, there were others ready and willing to inform
her that he was a villain, who broke her mother's heart.

When they reached Albany, the boy rose, and offering his hand to
'Lena, said "I suppose I must bid you good-bye, but I'd like right
well to go farther with you."

At this moment the stranger gentleman came up, and on seeing how his
son was occupied, said smilingly, "So-ho!  Durward, you always manage
to make some lady acquaintance."

"Yes, father," returned the boy called Durward, "but not always one
like this.  Isn't she pretty," he added in a whisper.

The stranger's eyes fell upon 'Lena's face, and for a moment, as if
by some strange fascination, seemed riveted there; but the crowd
pressed him forward, and 'Lena only heard him reply to his son, "Yes,
Durward, very pretty; but hurry, or we shall lose the boat."

The next moment they were gone.  Leaning from the window, 'Lena tried
to catch another glimpse of him, but in vain.  He was gone--she would
never see him again, she thought; and then she fell into a reverie
concerning his home, his mother, his sisters, if he had any, and
finally ended by wishing that she were his sister, and the daughter
of his father.  While she was thus pondering, her grandmother, also,
was busy, and when 'Lena looked round for her she was gone.  Stepping
from the car, 'Lena espied her in the distance, standing by her uncle
and anxiously watching for the appearance of her "great trunk, little
trunk, band-box, and bag."  Each of these articles was forthcoming,
and in a few moments they were on the ferry-boat crossing the blue
waters of the Hudson, Mrs. Nichols declaring that "if she'd known it
wasn't a bridge she was steppin' onto, she'd be bound they wouldn't
have got her on in one while."

"Do sit down," said 'Lena; "the other people don't seem to be afraid,
and I'm sure we needn't."

This Mrs. Nichols was more willing to do, as directly at her side was
another old lady, traveling for the first time, frightened and
anxious.  To her Mrs. Nichols addressed herself, announcing her firm
belief that "she should be blew sky high before she reached Kentucky,
where she was going to live with her son John, who she supposed was
well off, worth twenty negroes or more; but," she added, lowering her
voice, "I don't b'lieve in no such, and I mean he shall set 'em
free--poor critters, duddin' from mornin' till night without a cent
of pay.  He says they call him 'master,' but I'll warrant he'll never
catch me a'callin' him so to one on 'em.  I promised Nancy Scovandyke
that I wouldn't, and I won't!"

Here a little _popcorn_ boy came 'round, which reminded Mrs. Nichols
of her money, and that she hadn't once looked after it since she
started.  Thinking this as favorable a time as she would have, she
drew from her capacious pocket an old knit purse, and commenced
counting out its contents, piece by piece.

"Beware of pickpockets!" said some one in her ear, and with the
exclamation of "Oh the Lord!" the purse disappeared in her pocket, on
which she kept her hand until the boat touched the opposite shore.
Then in the confusion and excitement it was withdrawn, the purse was
forgotten, and when on board the night express for Buffalo it was
again looked for, _it was gone_!

With a wild outcry the horror-stricken matron sprang up, calling for
John, who in some alarm came to her side, asking what she wanted.

"I've lost my purse.  Somebody's stole it.  Lock the door quick, and
search every man, woman, and child in the car!"

The conductor, who chanced to be present, now came up, demanding an
explanation, and trying to convince Mrs. Nichols how improbable it
was that any one present had her money.

"Stop the train then, and let me get off."

"Had you a large amount?" asked the conductor.

"Every cent I had in the world.  Ain't you going to let me get off?"
was the answer.

The conductor looked inquiringly at John, who shook his head, at the
same time whispering to his mother not to feel so badly, as he would
give her all the money she wanted.  Then placing a ten dollar bill in
her hand, he took a seat behind her.  We doubt whether this would
have quieted the old lady, had not a happy idea that moment entered
her mind, causing her to exclaim loudly, "There, now, I've just this
minute thought.  I hadn't but _five_ dollars in my purse; t'other
fifty I sewed up in an old night-gown sleeve, and tucked it away in
that satchel up there," pointing to 'Lena's traveling bag, which hung
over her head.  She would undoubtedly have designated the very corner
of said satchel in which her money could be found, had not her son
touched her shoulder, bidding her be silent and not tell everybody
where her money was, if she didn't want it stolen.

Mrs. Nichols made no reply, but when she thought she was not
observed, she arose, and slyly taking down the satchel, placed it
under her.  Then seating herself upon it, she gave a sigh of relief
as she thought, "they'd have to work hard to get it now, without her
knowing it!" Dear old soul, when arrived at her journey's end, how
much comfort she took in recounting over and over again the incidents
of the robbery, wondering if it was, as John said, the very man who
had so kindly cautioned her to beware of pickpockets, and who thus
ascertained where she kept her purse.  Nancy Scovandyke, too, was
duly informed of her loss, and charged when she came to Kentucky, "to
look out on the ferry-boat for a youngish, good-looking man, with
brown frock coat, blue cravat, and mouth full of white teeth."

At Buffalo Mr. Livingstone had hard work to coax his mother on board
the steamboat, but he finally succeeded, and as the weather chanced
to be fine, she declared that ride on the lake to be the pleasantest
part of her journey.  At Cleveland they took the cars for Cincinnati,
going thence to Lexington by stage.  On ordinary occasions Mr.
Livingstone would have preferred the river, but knowing that in all
probability he should meet with some of his friends upon the boat, he
chose the route via Lexington, where he stopped at the Phoenix, as
was his usual custom.

After seeing his mother and niece into the public parlor he left them
for a time, saying he had some business to transact in the city.
Scarcely was he gone when the sound of shuffling footsteps in the
hall announced an arrival, and a moment after, a boy, apparently
fifteen years of age, appeared in the door.  He was richly though
carelessly dressed, and notwithstanding the good-humored expression
of his rather handsome face, there was in his whole appearance an
indescribable something which at once pronounced him to be a "fast"
boy.  A rowdy hat was set on one side of his head, after the most
approved fashion, while in his hand he held a lighted cigar, which he
applied to his mouth when he saw the parlor was unoccupied, save by
an "old woman" and a "little girl."

Instinctively 'Lena shrank from him, and withdrawing herself as far
as possible within the recess of the window, pretended to be busily
watching the passers-by.  But she did not escape his notice, and
after coolly surveying her for a moment, he walked up to her, saying,
"How d'ye, polywog?  I'll be hanged if I know to what gender you
belong--woman or _gal_--which is it, hey?"

"None of your business," was 'Lena's ready answer.

"Spunky, ain't you," said he, unceremoniously pulling one of the
brown curls which Durward had so longed to touch.  "Seems to me your
hair don't match the rest of you; wonder if 'tisn't somebody else's
head set on your shoulders."

"No, it ain't.  It's my own head, and you just let it alone,"
returned 'Lena, growing more and more indignant, and wondering if
this were a specimen of Kentucky boys.

"Don't be saucy," continued her tormentor; "I only want to see what
sort of stuff you are made of."

"Made of _dirt_" muttered 'Lena.

"I reckon you are," returned the boy; "but say, where _did_ you come
from and who _do_ you live with?"

"I came from Massachusetts, and I live with _granny_," said 'Lena,
thinking that if she answered him civilly, he would perhaps let her
alone.  But she was mistaken.

Glancing at "_granny_," he burst into a loud laugh, and then placing
his hat a little more on one side, and assuming a nasal twang, he
said, "Neow dew tell, if you're from Massachusetts.  How dew you dew,
little Yankee, and how are all the folks to hum?"

Feeling sure that not only herself but all her relations were
included in this insult, 'Lena darted forward hitting him a blow in
the face, which he returned by puffing smoke into hers, whereupon she
snatched the cigar from his mouth and hurled it into the street,
bidding him "touch her again if he dared."  All this transpired so
rapidly that Mrs. Nichols had hardly time to understand its meaning,
but fully comprehending it now, she was about coming to the rescue,
when her son reappeared, exclaiming, "_John_, John Livingstone, Jr.,
how came you here?"

Had a cannon exploded at the feet of John Jr., as he was called, he
could not have been more startled.  He was not expecting his father
for two or three days, and was making the most of his absence by
having what he called a regular "spree."  Taking him altogether, he
was, without being naturally bad, a spoiled child, whom no one could
manage except his father, and as his father seldom tried, he was of
course seldom managed.  Never yet had he remained at any school more
than two quarters, for if he were not sent away, he generally ran
away, sure of finding a champion in his mother, who had always petted
him, calling him, "Johnny darling," until he one day very coolly
informed her that she was "a silly old fool," and that "he'd thank
her not to 'Johnny darling' him any longer."

It would be difficult to describe the amazement of John Jr.  when
'Lena was presented to him as his _cousin_, and Mrs. Nichols as his
_grandmother_.  Something which sounded very much like an oath
escaped his lips, as turning to his father he muttered, "Won't mother
go into fits?"  Then, as he began to realize the ludicrousness of the
whole affair, he exclaimed, "Rich, good, by gracious!" and laughing
loudly, he walked away to regale himself with another cigar.

Lena began to tremble for her future happiness, if this boy was to
live in the same house with her.  She did not know that she had
already more than half won his good opinion, for he was far better
pleased with her antagonistical demonstrations, than he would have
been had she cried or ran from him, as his sister Anna generally did
when he teased her.  After a few moments here turned to the parlor,
and walking up to Mrs. Nichols, commenced talking very sociably with
her, calling her "Granny," and winking slyly at 'Lena as he did so.
Mr. Livingstone had too much good sense to sit quietly by and hear
his mother ridiculed by his son, and in a loud, stern voice he bade
the young gentleman "behave himself."

"Law, now," said Mrs. Nichols, "let him talk if he wants to.  I like
to hear him.  He's the only grandson I've got."

This speech had the effect of silencing John Jr.  quite as much as
his father's command.  If he could tease his grandmother by talking
to her, he would take delight in doing so, but if she _wanted_ him to
talk--that was quite another thing.  So moving away from her, he took
a seat near 'Lena, telling her her dress was "a heap too short," and
occasionally pinching her, just to vary the sport!  This last,
however, 'Lena returned with so much force that he grew weary of the
fun, and informing her that he was going to a _circus_ which was in
town that evening, he arose to leave the room.

Mr. Livingstone, who partially overheard what he had said, stopped
him and asked "where he was going?"

Feigning a yawn and rubbing his eyes, John Jr. replied that "he was
confounded sleepy and was going to bed."

"'Lena, where did he say he was going?" asked her uncle.

'Lena trembled, for John Jr. had clinched his fist, and was shaking
it threateningly at her.

"Where did he say he was going?" repeated her uncle.

Poor 'Lena had never told a lie in her life, and now braving her
cousin's anger, she said, "To the circus, sir.  Oh, I wish you had
not asked me."

"You'll get your pay for that," muttered John Jr. sullenly reseating
himself by his father, who kept an eye on him until he saw him safely
in his room.

Much as John Jr. frightened 'Lena with his threats, in his heart he
respected her for telling the truth, and if the next morning on their
way home in the stage, in which his father compelled him to take a
seat, he frequently found it convenient to step on her feet, it was
more from a natural propensity to torment than from any lurking
feeling of revenge.  'Lena was nowise backward in returning his
cousinly attentions, and so between an interchange of kicks, wry
faces, and so forth, they proceeded toward "Maple Grove," a
description of which will be given in another chapter.




CHAPTER V.

MAPLE GROVE.

The residence of Mr. Livingstone, or rather of Mr. Livingstone's wife,
was a large, handsome building, such as one often finds in Kentucky,
particularly in the country.  Like most planters' houses, it stood at
some little distance from the street, from which its massive walls,
wreathed with evergreen, were just discernible.  The carriage road
which led to it passed first through a heavy iron gate guarded by huge
bronze lions, so natural and life-like, that Mrs. Nichols, when first
she saw them, uttered a cry of fear.  Next came a beautiful maple
grove, followed by a long, green lawn, dotted here and there with
forest trees and having on its right a deep running brook, whose
waters, farther on at the rear of the garden, were formed into a
miniature fish-pond.

The house itself was of brick--two storied, and surrounded on three
sides with a double piazza, whose pillars were entwined with climbing
roses, honey-suckle, and running vines, so closely interwoven as to
give it the appearance of an immense summer-house.  In the spacious
yard in front, tall shade trees and bright green grass were growing,
while in the well-kept garden at the left, bloomed an endless variety
of roses and flowering shrubs, which in their season filled the air
with perfume, and made the spot brilliant with beauty.  Directly
through the center of this garden ran the stream of which we have
spoken, and as its mossy banks were never disturbed, they presented the
appearance of a soft, velvety ridge, where each spring the starry
dandelion and the blue-eyed violet grew.

Across the brook two small foot-bridges had been built, both of which
were latticed and overgrown by luxuriant grape-vines, whose dark, green
foliage was now intermingled with clusters of the rich purple fruit.
At the right, and somewhat in the rear of the building, was a group of
linden trees, overshadowing the whitewashed houses of the negroes, who,
imitating as far as possible the taste of their master, beautified
their dwellings with hop-vines, creepers, hollyhocks and the like.
Altogether, it was as 'Lena said, "just the kind of place which one
reads of in stories," and which is often found at the "sunny south."
The interior of the building corresponded with the exterior, for with
one exception, the residence of a wealthy Englishman, Mrs. Livingstone
prided herself upon having the best furnished house in the county;
consequently neither pains nor money had been spared in the selection
of the furniture, which was of the most costly kind.

Carrie, the eldest of the daughters, was now about thirteen years of
age.  Proud, imperious, deceitful, and self-willed, she was hated by
the servants, and disliked by her equals.  Some thought her pretty.
_She_ felt sure of it, and many an hour she spent before the mirror,
admiring herself and anticipating the time when she would be a grown-up
lady, and as a matter of course, a belle.  Her mother unfortunately
belonged to that class who seem to think that the chief aim in life is
to secure a "brilliant match," and thinking she could not commence too
soon, she had early instilled into her favorite daughter's mind the
necessity of appearing to the best possible advantage, when in the
presence of wealth and distinction, pointing out her own marriage as a
proof of the unhappiness resulting from unequal matches.  In this way
Carrie had early learned that her father owed his present position to
her mother's condescension in marrying him--that he was once a poor boy
living among the northern hills--that his parents were poor, ignorant
and vulgar--and that there was with them a little girl, their
daughter's child, who never had a father, and whom she must never on
any occasion call her cousin.

All this had likewise been told to Anna, the youngest daughter, who was
about 'Lena's age, but upon her it made no impression.  If her father
was once poor, he was in her opinion none the worse for that--and if
_he_ liked his parents, that was a sufficient reason why she should
like them too, and if little 'Lena was an orphan, she pitied her, and
hoped she might sometime see her and tell her so!  Thus Anna reasoned,
while her mother, terribly shocked at her low-bred taste, strove to
instill into her mind some of her own more aristocratic notions.  But
all in vain, for Anna was purely democratic, loving everybody and
beloved by everybody in return.  It is true she had no particular
liking for books or study of any kind, but she was gentle and
affectionate in her manner, and kindly considerate of other people's
feelings.  With her father she was a favorite, and to her he always
looked for sympathy, which she seldom failed to give--not in words, it
is true, but whenever he seemed to be in trouble, she would climb into
his lap, wind her arms around his neck, and laying her golden head upon
his shoulder, would sit thus until his brow and heart grew lighter as
he felt there was yet something in the wide world which loved and cared
for him.

For Carrie Mrs. Livingstone had great expectations, but Anna she feared
would never make a "brilliant match."  For a long time Anna meditated
upon this, wondering what a "brilliant match" could mean, and at last
she determined to seek an explanation from Captain Atherton, a bachelor
and a millionaire, who was in the habit of visiting them, and who
always noticed and petted her more than he did Carrie.  Accordingly,
the next time he came, and they were alone in the parlor, she broached
the subject, asking him what it meant.

Laughing loudly, the Captain drew her toward him, saying, "Why,
marrying rich, you little novice.  For instance, if one of these days
you should be my little wife, I dare say your mother would think you
had made a brilliant match!" and the well-preserved gentleman of forty
glanced complacently at himself in the mirror thinking how probable it
was that his youthfulness would be unimpaired for at least ten years to
come!

Anna laughed, for to her his words then conveyed no serious meaning,
but with more than her usual quickness she replied, that "she would as
soon marry her grandfather."

With Mrs. Livingstone the reader is partially acquainted.  In her youth
she had been pretty, and now at thirty-eight she was not without
pretensions to beauty, notwithstanding her sallow complexion and sunken
eyes, Her hair, which was very abundant, was bright and glossy, and her
mouth, in which the dentist had done his best, would have been
handsome, had it not been for a certain draw at the corners, which gave
it a scornful and rather disagreeable expression.  In her disposition
she was overbearing and tyrannical, fond of ruling, and deeming her
husband a monster of ingratitude if ever in any way he manifested a
spirit of rebellion.  Didn't she marry him?  and now they were married,
didn't her money support him?  And wasn't it exceedingly amiable in her
always to speak of their children as _ours_!  But as for the rest,
'twas _my_ house, _my_ servants, _my_ carriage, and _my_ horses.  All
_mine_--"Mrs. John Livingstone's--Miss Matilda Richards that was!"

Occasionally, however, her husband's spirit was roused, and then, after
a series of tears, sick-headaches, and then spasms, "Miss Matilda
Richards that Was" was compelled to yield her face for many days
wearing the look of a much-injured, heart-broken woman.  Still her
influence over him was great, else she had never so effectually
weakened every tie which bound him to his native home, making him
ashamed of his parents and of everything pertaining to them.  When her
husband first wrote, to her that his father was dead and that he had
promised to take charge of his mother and 'Lena, she new into a violent
rage, which was increased ten-fold when she received his second letter,
wherein he announced his intention of bringing them home in spite of
her.  Bursting into tears she declared "she'd leave the house before
she'd have it filled up with a lot of paupers.  Who did John Nichols
think he was, and who did he think she was!  Besides that, where was he
going to put them? for there wasn't a place for them that she knew of!"

"Why, mother," said Anna who was pleased with the prospect of a new
grandmother and cousin, "Why, mother, what a story.  There's the two
big chambers and bedrooms, besides the one next to Carrie's and mine.
Oh, do put them in there.  It'll be so nice to have grandma and cousin
'Lena so near me."

"Anna Livingstone!" returned the indignant lady, "Never let me hear you
say grandma and cousin again."

"But they be grandma and cousin," persisted Anna, while her mother
commenced lamenting the circumstance which had made them so, wishing,
as she had often done before, that she had never married John Nichols.

"I reckon you are not the only one that wishes so," slyly whispered
John Jr., who was a witness to her emotion.

Anna was naturally of an inquiring mind, and her mother's last remark
awoke within her a new and strange train of thought, causing her to
wonder whose little girl she would have been, her father's or mother's,
in case they had each married some one else!  As there was no one whose
opinion Anna dared to ask, the question is undoubtedly to this day,
with her, unsolved.

The next morning when Mrs. Livingstone arose, her anger of the day
before was somewhat abated, and knowing from past experience that it
was useless to resist her husband when once he was determined, she
wisely concluded that as they were now probably on the road, it was
best to try to endure, for a time, at least, what could not well be
helped.  And now arose the perplexing question, "What should she do
with them? where should she put them that they would be the most out of
the way? for she could never suffer them to be round when she had
company."  The chamber of which Anna had spoken was out of the
question, for it was too nice, and besides that, it was reserved for
the children of her New Orleans friends, who nearly every summer came
up to visit her.

At the rear of the building was a long, low room, containing a
fireplace and two windows, which looked out upon the negro quarters and
the hemp fields beyond.  This room, which in the summer was used for
storing feather-beds, blankets, and so forth, was plastered, but minus
either paper or paint.  Still it was quite comfortable, "better than
they were accustomed to at home," Mrs. Livingstone said, and this she
decided to give them.  Accordingly the negroes were set at work
scrubbing the floor, washing the windows, and scouring the sills, until
the room at least possessed the virtue of being clean.  A faded carpet,
discarded as good for nothing, and over which the rats had long held
their nightly revels, was brought to light, shaken, mended, and nailed
down--then came a bedstead, which Mrs. Livingstone had designed as a
Christmas gift to one of the negroes, but which of course would do well
enough for her mother-in-law.  Next followed an old wooden
rocking-chair, whose ancestry Anna had tried in vain to trace, and
which Carrie had often proposed burning.  This, with two or three more
chairs of a later date, a small wardrobe, and a square table, completed
the furniture of the room, if we except the plain muslin curtains which
shaded the windows, destitute of blinds.  Taking it by itself, the room
looked tolerably well, but when compared with the richly furnished
apartments around it, it seemed meager and poor indeed; "but if they
wanted anything better, they could get it themselves.  They were
welcome to make any alterations they chose."

This mode of reasoning hardly satisfied Anna, and unknown to her mother
she took from her own chamber a handsome hearth-rug, and carrying it to
her grandmother's room, laid it before the fireplace.  Coming
accidentally upon a roll of green paper, she, with the help of Corinda,
a black girl, made some shades for the windows, which faced the west,
rendering the room intolerably hot during the summer season.  Then, at
the suggestion of Corinda, she looped back the muslin curtains with
some green ribbons, which she had intended using for her "dolly's
dress."  The bare appearance of the table troubled her, but by
rummaging, she brought to light a cast-off spread, which, though soiled
and worn, was on one side quite handsome.

"Now, if we only had something for the mantel," said she; "it seems so
empty."

Corinda thought a moment, then rolling up the whites of her eyes,
replied, "Don't you mind them little pitchers" (meaning vases) "which
Master Atherton done gin you?  They'd look mighty fine up thar, full of
sprigs and posies."

Without hesitating a moment Anna brought the vases, and as she did not
know the exact time when her grandmother would arrive, she determined
to fill them with fresh flowers every morning.

"There, it looks a heap better, don't it, Carrie?" said she to her
sister, who chanced to be passing the door and looked in.

"You must be smart," answered Carrie, "taking so much pains just for
them; and as I live, if you haven't got those elegant vases that
Captain Atherton gave you for a birthday present!  I know mother won't
like it.  I mean to tell her;" and away she ran with the important news.

"There, I told you so," said she, quickly returning.  "She says you
carry them straight back and let the room alone."

Anna began to cry, saying "the vases were hers, and she should think
she might do what she pleased with them."

"What did you go and blab for, you great for shame, you?" exclaimed
John Jr., suddenly appearing in the doorway, at the same time giving
Carrie a push, which set her to crying, and brought Mrs. Livingstone to
the scene of action,

"Can't my vases stay in here?  Nobody'll hurt 'em, and they'll look so
pretty," said Anna.

"Can't that hateful John behave, and let me alone?" said Carrie.

"And can't Carrie quit sticking her nose in other folks' business?"
chimed in John Jr.

"Oh Lordy, what a fuss," said Corinda, while poor Mrs. Livingstone,
half distracted, took refuge under one of her dreadful headaches, and
telling her children "to fight their own battles and let her alone,"
returned to her room.

"A body'd s'pose marster's kin warn't of no kind of count," said Aunt
Milly, the head cook, to a group of sables, who, in the kitchen, were
discussing the furniture of the "trump'ry room," as they were in the
habit of calling the chamber set apart for Mrs. Nichols.  "Yes, they
would s'pose they warn't of no kind o' count, the way miss goes on,
ravin' and tarin' and puttin' 'em off with low-lived truck that we
black folks wouldn't begin to tache with the tongs.  Massy knows ef my
ole mother warn't dead and gone to kingdom come, I should never think
o' sarvin' her so, and I don't set myself up to be nothin' but an old
nigger, and a black one at that.  But Lor' that's the way with more'n
half the white folks.  They jine the church, and then they think they
done got a title deed to one of them houses up in heaven (that nobody
ever built) sure enough.  Goin' straight thar, as fast as a span of
race-horses can carry 'em.  Ki!  Won't they be disappointed, some on
'em, and Miss Matilda 'long the rest, when she drives up, hosses all a
reekin' sweat, and spects to walk straight into the best room, but is
told to go to the kitchen and turn hoe-cakes for us niggers, who are
eatin' at the fust table, with silver forks and napkins----?"

Here old Milly stopped to breathe, and her daughter Vine, who had
listened breathlessly to her mother's description of the "good time
coming," asked "when these things come to pass, if Miss Carrie wouldn't
have to swing the feathers over the table to keep off the flies,
instead of herself?"

"Yes, that she will, child," returned her mother; "Things is all gwine
to be changed in the wink of your eye.  Miss Anna read that very tex'
to me last Sunday and I knew in a minit what it meant.  Now thar's Miss
Anna, blessed lamb.  She's one of 'em that'll wear her white gowns and
stay in t'other room, with her face shinin' like an ile lamp!"

While this interesting conversation was going on in the kitchen, John
Jr., in the parlor was teasing his mother for money, with which to go
up to Lexington the next day.  "You may just as well give it to me
without any fuss," said he, "for if you don't, I'll get my bills at the
Phoenix charged.  The old man is good, and they'll trust.  But then a
feller feels more independent when he can pay down, and treat a friend,
if he likes; so hand over four or five Vs."

At first Mrs. Livingstone refused, but her head ached so hard and her
"nerves trembled so," that she did not feel equal to the task of
contending with John Jr., who was always sure in the end to have his
own way.  Yielding at last to his importunities, she gave him fifteen
dollars, charging him to "keep out of bad company and be a good boy."

"Trust me for that," said he, and pulling the tail of Anna's pet
kitten, upsetting Carrie's work-box, poking a black baby's ribs with
his walking cane, and knocking down a cob-house, which "Thomas
Jefferson" had been all day building, he mounted his favorite
"Firelock," and together with a young negro, rode off.

"The Lord send us a little peace now," said Aunt Milly, tossing her
squalling baby up in the air, and telling Thomas Jefferson not to cry,
"for his young master was done gone off."

"And I hope to goodness he'll stay off a spell," she added, "for thar's
ole Sam to pay the whole time he's at home, and if ever thar was a
tickled critter in this world it's me, when he clar's out."

"I'm glad, too," said Anna, who had been sent to the kitchen to stop
the screaming, "and I wish he'd stay ever so long, for I don't take a
bit of comfort when he's at home."

"Great hateful!  I wish he didn't live here," said Carrie, gathering up
her spools, thimble and scissors, while Mrs. Livingstone, feeling that
his absence had taken a load from her shoulders, settled herself upon
her silken lounge and tried to sleep.

Amid all this rejoicing at his departure, John Jr.  put spurs to the
fleet Firelock, who soon carried him to Lexington, where, as we have
seen, he came unexpectedly upon his father, who, not daring to trust
him on horseback, lest he should play the truant, took him into the
stage with himself, leaving Firelock to the care of the negro.




CHAPTER VI.

THE ARRIVAL.

"Oh, mother, get up quick--the stage has driven up at the gate, and I
reckon pa has come," said Anna, bursting into the room where her
mother, who was suffering from a headache, was still in bed.

Raising herself upon her elbow, and pushing aside the rich, heavy
curtains, Mrs. Livingstone looked out upon the mud-bespattered
vehicle, from which a leg, encased in a black and white stocking, was
just making its egress.  "Oh, heavens!" said she, burying her face
again in the downy pillows.  Woman's curiosity, however, soon
prevailed over all other feelings, and again looking out she obtained
a full view of her mother-in-law, who, having emerged from the coach,
was picking out her boxes, trunks, and so forth.  When they were all
found, Mr. Livingstone ordered two negroes to carry them to the side
piazza, where they were soon mounted by three or four little darkies,
Thomas Jefferson among the rest.

"John, _John_" said Mrs. Nichols, "them niggers won't scent my
things, will they?"

"Don't talk, granny," whispered 'Lena, painfully conscious of the
curious eyes fixed upon them by the bevy of blacks, who had come out
to greet their master, and who with sidelong glances at each other,
were inspecting the new comers.

"Don't talk! why not?" said Mrs. Nichols, rather sharply.  "This is a
free country I suppose."  Then bethinking herself, she added quickly,
"Oh, I forgot, 'taint free _here_!"

After examining the satchel and finding that the night gown sleeve
was safe, Mrs. Nichols took up her line of march for the house,
herself carrying her umbrella and band-box, which she would not
intrust to the care of the negroes, "as like enough they'd break the
umberell, or squash her caps."

"The trumpery room is plenty good enough for 'em," thought Corinda,
retreating into the kitchen and cutting sundry flourishes in token of
her contempt.

The moment 'Lena came in sight, Mrs. Livingstone exclaimed, "Oh,
mercy, which is the oldest?" and truly, poor 'Lena did present a
sorry figure,

Her bonnet, never very handsome or fashionable, had received an ugly
crook in front, which neither her grandmother or uncle had noticed,
and of which John Jr. would not tell her, thinking that the worse she
looked the more fun he would have!  Her skirts were not very full,
and her dress hung straight around her, making her of the same
bigness from her head to her feet.  Her shoes, which had been given
to her by one of the neighbors, were altogether too large, and it was
with considerable difficulty that she could keep them on, but then as
they were a present, Mrs. Nichols said "it was a pity not to get all
the good out of them she could."

In front of herself and grandmother, walked Mr. Livingstone, moody,
silent, and cross.  Behind them was John Jr., mimicking first 'Lena's
gait and then his grandmother's.  The negroes, convulsed with
laughter, darted hither and thither, running against and over each
other, and finally disappearing, some behind the house and some into
the kitchen, and all retaining a position from which they could have
a full view of the proceedings.  On the piazza stood Anna and Carrie,
the one with her handkerchief stuffed in her mouth, and the other
with her mouth open, astounded at the unlooked-for spectacle.

"Oh, what shall I do, what shall I do?" groaned Mrs. Livingstone.

"Do?  Get up and dress yourself, and come and see your new relations:
that's what I should do," answered John Jr., who, tired of mimicking,
had run forward, and now rushed unceremoniously into his mother's
sleeping-room, leaving the door open behind him.

"John Livingstone, what do you mean?" said she, "shut that door this
minute."

Feigning not to hear her, John Jr. ran back to the piazza, which he
reached just in time to hear the presentation of his sisters.

"This is Carrie, and this is Anna," said Mr. Livingstone, pointing to
each one as he pronounced her name.

Marching straight up to Carrie and extending her hand, Mrs. Nichols
exclaimed, "Now I want to know if this is Car'line.  I'd no idee she
was so big.  You pretty well, Car'line?"

Very haughtily Carrie touched the ends of her grandmother's fingers,
and with stately gravity replied that she was well.

Turning next to Anna, Mrs. Nichols continued, "And this is Anny.
Looks weakly 'pears to me, kind of blue around the eyes as though she
was fitty.  Never have fits, do you, dear?"

"No, ma'am," answered Anna, struggling hard to keep from laughing
outright.

Here Mr. Livingstone inquired for his wife, and on being told that
she was sick, started for her room.

"Sick?  Is your marm sick?" asked Mrs. Nichols of John Jr.  "Wall, I
guess I'll go right in and sea if I can't do somethin' for her.  I'm
tolerable good at nussin'."

Following her son, who did not observe her, she entered unannounced
into the presence of her elegant daughter-in-law, who, with a little
shriek, covered her head with the bed-clothes.  Knowing that she
meant well, and never dreaming that she was intruding, Mrs. Nichols
walked up to the bedside, saying, "How de do, 'Tilda?  I suppose you
know I'm your mother--come all the way from Massachusetts to live
with you.  What is the matter?  Do you take anything for your
sickness?"

A groan was Mrs. Livingstone's only answer.

"Little hystericky, I guess," suggested Mrs. Nichols, adding that
"settin' her feet in middlin' hot water is good for that."

"She is nervous, and the sight of strangers makes her worse.  So I
reckon you'd better go out for the present," said Mr. Livingstone,
who really pitied his wife.  Then calling Corinda, he bade her show
his mother to her room.

Corinda obeyed, and Mrs. Nichols followed her, asking her on the way
"what her surname was, how old she was, if she knew how to read, and
if she hadn't a good deal rather be free than to be a slave!" to
which Corinda replied, that "she didn't know what a surname meant,
that she didn't know how old she was, that she didn't know how to
read, and that she didn't know whether she'd like to be free or not,
but reckoned she shouldn't."

"A half-witted gal that," thought Mrs. Nichols, "and I guess 'Tilda
don't set much store by her."  Then dropping into the wooden
rocking-chair and laying aside her bonnet, she for the first time
noticed that 'Lena was not with her, and asked Corinda to go for her.

Corinda complied, leaving the room just in time to stifle a laugh, as
she saw Mrs. Nichols stoop down to examine the hearth-rug, wondering
"how much it cost when 'twas new."

We left 'Lena standing on the steps of the piazza.

At a glance she had taken in the whole--had comprehended that there
was no affinity whatever between herself and the objects around her,
and a wild, intense longing filled her heart to be once more among
her native hills.  She had witnessed the merriment of the blacks, the
scornful curl of Carrie's lip, the half-suppressed ridicule of Anna,
when they met her grandmother, and now uncertain of her own
reception, she stood before her cousins not knowing whether to
advance or run away.  For a moment there was an awkward silence, and
then John Jr., bent on mischief, whispered to Carrie, "Look at that
pinch in her bonnet, and just see her shoes!  Big as little
sailboats!"

This was too much for Lena.  She already disliked John Jr., and now,
flying into a violent passion, she drew off her shoes, and hurling
them at the young gentleman's head fled away, away, she knew not,
cared not whither, so that she got out of sight and hearing.  Coming
at last to the arbor bridge across the brook in the garden, she
paused for breath, and throwing herself upon a seat, burst into a
flood of tears.  For several minutes she sobbed so loudly that she
did not hear the sound of footsteps upon the graveled walk.  Anna had
followed her, partly out of curiosity, and partly out of pity, the
latter of which preponderated when she saw how bitterly her cousin
was weeping.  Going up to her she said, "Don t cry so, 'Lena.  Look
up and talk.  It's Anna, your cousin."

'Lena had not yet recovered from her angry fit, and thinking Anna
only came to tease her, and perhaps again ridicule her bonnet, she
tore the article, from her head, and bending it up double, threw it
into the stream, which carried it down to the fish-pond, where for
two or three hours it furnished amusement for some little negroes,
who, calling it a crab, fished for it with hook and line!  For a
moment Anna stood watching the bonnet as it sailed along down the
stream, thinking it looked better there than on its owner's head, but
wondering why 'Lena had thrown it away.  Then again addressing her
cousin, she asked why she had done so?

"It's a homely old thing, and I hate it," answered 'Lena, again
bursting into tears.  "I hate everybody, and I wish I was dead, or
back in Massachusetts, I don't care which!"

With her impressions of the "Bay State," where her mother said folks
lived on "cold beans and codfish," Anna thought she should prefer the
first alternative, but she did not say so; and after a little she
tried again to comfort 'Lena, telling her "she liked her, or at least
she was going to like her a heap."

"No, you ain't," returned 'Lena.  "You laughed at me and granny both.
I saw you do it, and you think I don't know anything, but I do.  I've
been through Olney's geography, and Colburn's arithmetic twice!"

This was more than Anna could say.  She had no scholarship of which
to boast; but she had a heart brimful of love, and in reply to
'Lena's accusation of having laughed at her, she replied, "I know I
laughed, for grandma looked so funny I couldn't help it.  But I won't
any more.  I pity you because your mother is dead, and you never had
any father, ma says."

This made 'Lena cry again, while Anna continued, "Pa'll buy you some
new clothes I reckon, and if he don't, I'll give you some of mine,
for I've got heaps, and they'll fit you I most know.  Here's my
mark--" pointing to a cut upon the door-post.  "Here's mine, and
Carrie's and brother's.  Stand up and see if you don't measure like I
do,"

'Lena complied, and to Anna's great joy they were just of a height.

"I'm so glad," said she.  "Now, come to my room and Corinda will fix
you up mighty nice before mother sees you."

Hand-in-hand the two girls started for the house, but had not gone
far when they heard some one calling, "Ho, Miss 'Lena, whar is you?
Ole miss done want you."  At the same time Corinda made her
appearance round the corner of the piazza.

"Here, Cora," said Anna.  "Come with me to my room; I want you."

With a broad grin Corinda followed her young mistress, while 'Lena,
never having been accustomed to any negro save the one with whom many
New England children are threatened when they cry, clung closer to
Anna's side, occasionally casting a timid glance toward the
dark-browed girl who followed them.  In the upper hall they met with
Carrie, who in passing 'Lena held back her dress, as if fearing
contamination from a contact with her cousin's plainer garments.
Painfully alive to the slightest insult, 'Lena reddened, while Anna
said, "Never mind--that's just like Cad, but nobody cares for _her_."

Thus reassured 'Lena followed on, until they reached Anna's room,
which they were about to enter, when the shrill voice of Mrs. Nichols
fell upon their ears, calling, "'Leny, 'Leny, where upon airth is
she?"

"Let's go to her first," said 'Lena, and leading the way Anna soon
ushered her into her grandmother's room which, child as she was,
'Lena readily saw was far different from the handsome apartments of
which she had obtained a passing glance.

But Mrs. Nichols had not thought of this--and was doubtless better
satisfied with her present quarters than she would have been with the
best furnished chamber in the house.  The moment her granddaughter
appeared, she exclaimed, "'Leny Rivers, where have you been?  I was
worried to death, for fear you might be runnin' after some of them
paltry niggers.  And now whilst I think on't, I charge you never to
go a nigh 'em; I'd no idee they were such half-naked, nasty critters."

This prohibition was a novelty to Anna, who spent many happy hours
with her sable-hued companions, never deeming herself the worse for
it.  Her grandmother's first remark, however, struck her still more
forcibly, and she immediately asked, "Grandma, what did you call
'Lena, just now? 'Lena what?"

"I called her by her name, 'Lena Rivers.  What should I call her?"
returned Mrs. Nichols.

"Why, I thought her name was 'Lena Nichols; ma said 'twas," answered
Anna.

Mrs. Nichols was very sensitive to any slight cast upon 'Lena's
birth, and she rather tartly informed Anna, that "her mother didn't
know everything," adding that "'Lena's father was Mr. Rivers, and
there wasn't half so much reason why she should be called Nichols as
there was why Anna should, for that was her father's name, the one by
which he was baptized, the same day with Nancy Scovandyke, who's jest
his age, only he was born about a quarter past four in the morning,
and she not till some time in the afternoon!"

"But where is Mr. Rivers?" asked Anna more interested in him than in
the exact minute of her father's birth.

"The Lord only knows," returned Mrs. Nichols.  "Little girls
shouldn't ask too many questions."

This silenced Anna, and satisfied her that there was some mystery
connected with 'Lena.  The mention of Nancy Scovandyke reminded Mrs.
Nichols of the dishes which that lady had packed away, and anxious to
see if they were safe, she turned to 'Lena saying, "I guess we'll
have time before dinner to unpack my trunks, for I want to know how
the crockery stood the racket.  Anny, you run down and tell your pa
to fetch 'em up here, that's a good girl."

In her eagerness to know what those weather-beaten boxes contained,
Anna forgot her scheme of dressing 'Lena, and ran down, not to call
her father, but the black boy, Adam.  It took her a long time to find
him, and Mrs. Nichols, growing impatient, determined to go herself,
spite of 'Lena's entreaties that she would stay where she was.
Passing down the long stairway, and out upon the piazza, she espied a
negro girl on her hands and knees engaged in cleaning the steps with
a cloth.  Instantly remembering her mop, she greatly lamented that
she had left it behind--"'twould come so handy now," thought she, but
there was no help for it.

Walking up to the girl, whose name she did not know, she said,
"Sissy, can you tell me where _John_ is?"

Quickly "Sissy's" ivories became visible, as she replied, "We hain't
got any such nigger as John."

With a silent invective upon negroes in general, and this one in
particular, Mrs. Nichols choked, stammered, and finally said, "I
didn't ask for a _nigger_; I want your master, _John_!"

Had the old lady been a Catholic, she would have crossed herself for
thus early breaking her promise to Nancy Scovandyke.  As it was, she
mentally asked forgiveness, and as the colored girl "didn't know
where marster was," but "reckoned he had gone somewhar," she turned
aside, and seeking her son's room, again entered unannounced.  Mrs.
Livingstone, who was up and dressed, frowned darkly upon her visitor.
But Mrs. Nichols did not heed it, and advancing forward, she said,
"Do you feel any better, 'Tilda?  I'd keep kinder still to-day, and
not try to do much, for if you feel any consarned about the
housework, I'd just as lief see to't a little after dinner as not."

"I have all confidence in Milly's management, and seldom trouble
myself about the affairs of the kitchen," answered Mrs. Livingstone.

"Wall, then," returned her mother-in-law, nothing daunted, "Wall,
then, mebby you'd like to have me come in and set with you a while."

It would be impossible for us to depict Mrs. Livingstone's look of
surprise and anger at this proposition.  Her face alternately flushed
and then grew pale, until at last she found voice to say, "I greatly
prefer being alone, madam.  It annoys me excessively to have any one
round."

"Considerable kind o' touchy," thought Mrs. Nichols, "but then the
poor critter is sick, and I shan't lay it up agin her."

Taking out her snuff-box, she offered it to her daughter, telling her
that "like enough 'twould cure her headache."  Mrs. Livingstone's
first impulse was to strike it from her mother's hand, but knowing
how unladylike that would be, she restrained herself, and turning
away her head, replied, "Ugh! no!  The very sight of it makes me
sick."

"How you do talk!  Wall, I've seen folks that it sarved jest so; but
you'll get over it.  Now there was Nancy Scovandyke--did John ever
say anything about her?  Wall, she couldn't bear snuff till after her
disappointment--John told you, I suppose?"

"No, madam, my husband has never told me anything concerning his
eastern friends, neither do I wish to hear anything of them,"
returned Mrs. Livingstone, her patience on the point of giving out.

"Never told you nothin' about Nancy Scovandyke!  If that don't beat
all!  Why, he was----"

She was prevented from finishing the sentence, which would
undoubtedly have raised a domestic breeze, when Anna came to tell her
that the trunks were carried to her room.

"I'll come right up then," said she, adding, more to herself than any
one else, "If I ain't mistaken, I've got a little paper of saffron
somewhere, which I mean to steep for 'Tilda.  Her skin looks desput
jandissy!"

When Mr. Livingstone again entered his wife's room, he found her in a
collapsed state of anger and mortification.

"_John_ Nichols," said she, with a strong emphasis on the first word,
which sounded very much like _Jarn_, "do you mean to kill me by
bringing that vulgar, ignorant thing here, walking into my room
without knocking--calling me '_Tilda_, and prating about Nancy
somebody----"

John started.  His wife knew nothing of his _affaire du coeur_ with
Miss Nancy, and for his own peace of mind 't was desirable that she
should not.  Mentally resolving to give her a few hints, he
endeavored to conciliate his wife, by saying that he knew "his mother
was troublesome, but she must try not to notice her oddities."

"I wonder how I can help it, when she forces herself upon me
continually," returned his wife.  "I must either deep the doors
locked, or live in constant terror."

"It's bad, I know," said he, smoothing her glossy hair, "but then,
she's old, you know.  Have you seen 'Lena?"

"No, neither do I wish to, if she's at all like her grandmother,"
answered Mrs. Livingstone.

"She's handsome," suggested Mr. Livingstone.

"Pshaw! handsome!" repeated his wife, scornfully, while he replied,
"Yes, handsomer than either of our daughters, and with the same
advantages, I've no doubt she'd surpass them both."

"Those advantages, then, she shall never have," returned Mrs.
Livingstone, already jealous of a child she had only seen at a
distance.

Mr. Livingstone made no reply, but felt that he'd made a mistake in
praising 'Lena, in whom he began to feel a degree of interest for
which he could not account.  He did not know that way down in the
depths of his heart, calloused over as it was by worldly selfishness,
there was yet a tender spot, a lingering memory of his only sister
whom 'Lena so strongly resembled.  If left to himself, he would
undoubtedly have taken pride in seeing his niece improve, and as it
was, he determined that she should at home receive the same
instruction that his daughters did.  Perhaps he might not send her
away to school.  He didn't know how that would be--his wife held the
purse, and taking refuge behind that excuse, he for the present
dismissed the subject.  (So much for marrying a _rich_ wife and
nothing else.  This we throw in gratis!)

Meantime grandma had returned to her room, at the door of which she
found John Jr. and Carrie, both curious to know what was in those
boxes, one of which had burst open and been tied up with a rope.

"Come, children," said she, "don't stay out there--come in."

"We prefer remaining here," said Carrie, in a tone and manner so
nearly resembling her mother, that Mrs. Nichols could not refrain
from saying, "chip of the old block!"

"That's so, by cracky.  You've hit her this time, granny," exclaimed
John Jr., snapping his fingers under Carrie's nose, which being
rather long, was frequently a subject of his ridicule.

"Let me be, John Livingstone," said Carrie, while 'Lena resolved
never again to use the word "granny," which she knew her cousin had
taken up on purpose to tease her.

"Come, 'Lena, catch hold and help me untie this rope, I b'lieve the
crockery's in here," said Mrs. Nichols to 'Lena, who soon opened the
chest, disclosing to view as motley a variety of articles as is often
seen.

Among the rest was the "blue set," a part of her "setting out," as
his grandmother told John Jr., at the same time dwelling at length
upon their great value.  Mistaking Carrie's look of contempt for
envy, Mrs. Nichols chucked her under the chin, telling her "May be
there was something for her, if she was a good girl."

"Now, Cad, turn your nose up clear to the top of your head," said
John Jr., vastly enjoying his sister's vexation.

"Where does your marm keep her china?  I want to put this with it,"
said Mrs. Nichols to Anna, who, uncertain what reply to make, looked
at Carrie to answer for her.

"I reckon mother don't want that old stuff stuck into her
china-closet," said Carrie, elevating her nose to a height wholly
satisfactory to John Jr., who unbuttoned one of his waistband buttons
to give himself room to laugh.

"Mortal sakes alive!  I wonder if she don't," returned Mrs. Nichols,
beginning to get an inkling of Carrie's character, and the estimation
in which her valuables were held.

"Here's a nice little cupboard over the fireplace; I'd put them
here," said 'Lena.

"Yes," chimed in John Jr., imitating both his grandmother and cousin;
"yes, granny, put 'em there; the niggers are _awful critters_ to
steal, and like enough you'd 'lose 'em if they sot in with marm's!"

This argument prevailed.  The dishes were put away in the cupboard,
'Lena thinking that with all his badness John Jr., was of some use
after all.  At last, tired of looking on, Anna suggested to 'Lena,
who did not seem to be helping matters forward much, that the should
go and be dressed up as had been first proposed.  Readily divining
her sister's intention, Carrie ran with it to her mother, who sent
back word that "'Lena must mind her own affairs, and let Anna's
dresses alone!"

This undeserved thrust made 'Lena cry, while Anna declared "her
mother never said any such thing," which Carrie understood as an
insinuation that she had told a falsehood.  Accordingly a quarrel of
words ensued between the two sisters, which was finally quelled by
John Jr., who called to Carrie "to come down, as she'd got a letter
from _Durward Bellmont_."

Durward!  How that name made 'Lena's heart leap!  Was it _her_
Durward--the boy in the cars?  She almost hoped not, for somehow the
idea of his writing to Carrie was not a pleasant one.  At last
summoning courage, she asked Anna who he was, and was told that he
lived in Louisville with his stepfather, Mr. Graham, and that Carrie
about two months before had met him in Frankfort at Colonel
Douglass's, where she was in the habit of visiting.  "Colonel
Douglass," continued Anna, "has got a right nice little girl whose
name is Nellie.  Then there's Mabel Ross, a sort of cousin, who lives
with them part of the time.  She's an orphan and a great heiress.
You mustn't tell anybody for the world, but I overheard ma say that
she wanted John to marry Mabel, she's so rich--but pshaw! he won't
for she's awful babyish and ugly looking.  Captain Atherton is
related to Nellie, and during the holidays she and Mabel are coming
up to spend a week, and I'll bet Durward is coming too.  Cad teased
him, and he said may be he would if he didn't go to college this
fall.  I'll run down and see."

Soon returning, she brought the news that it was as she had
conjectured.  Durward, who was now travelling, was not going to
college until the next fall and at Christmas he was coming to the
country with his cousin.

"Oh, I'm so glad," said Anna.  "We'll have a time, for ma'll invite
them here, of course.  Cad thinks a heap of Durward, and I want so
bad to see him.  Don't you?"

'Lena made no direct reply, for much as she would like to see her
_compagnon du voyage_, she felt an unwillingness to meet him in the
presence of Carrie, who she knew would spare no pains to mortify her.
Soon forgetting Durward, Anna again alluded to her plan of dressing
'Lena, wishing "Cad would mind her own business."  Then, as a new
idea entered her head, she brightened up, exclaiming, "I know what I
can do.  I'll have Corinda curl your hair real pretty.  You've got
beautiful hair.  A heap nicer than my yellow flax."

'Lena offered no remonstrance, and Corinda, who came at the call of
her young mistress, immediately commenced brushing and curling the
bright, wavy hair which Anna had rightly called beautiful.  While
this was going on, Grandma Nichols, who had always adhered to the
good old puritanical custom of dining exactly at twelve o'clock,
began to wonder why dinner was not forthcoming.  She had breakfasted
in Versailles, but like many travelers, could not eat much at a
hotel, and now her stomach clamored loudly for food.  Three times had
she walked back and forth before what she supposed was the kitchen,
and from which a savory smell of something was issuing, and at last
determining to stop and reconnoiter, she started for the door.

The northern reader at all acquainted with southern life, knows well
that a kitchen there and a kitchen here are two widely different
things--ours, particularly in the country, being frequently used as a
dining-room, while a southern lady would almost as soon think of
eating in the barn as in her cook-room.  Like most other planters,
Mr. Livingstone's kitchen was separate and at some little distance
from the main building, causing grandma to wonder "how the poor
critters managed to carry victuals back and to when it was cold and
slippery."

When Aunt Milly, who was up to her elbows in dough, saw her visitor
approaching, she exclaimed, "Lor'-a-mighty, if thar ain't ole miss
coming straight into this lookin' hole!  Jeff, you quit that ar'
pokin' in dem ashes, and knock Lion out that kittle; does you har?
And you, Polly," speaking to a superannuated negress who was sitting
near the table, "you just shove that ar' piece of dough, I done save
to bake for you and me, under your char, whar she won't see it."

Polly complied, and by this time Mrs. Nichols was at the door,
surveying the premises, and thinking how differently she'd make
things look after a little.

"Does missus want anything?" asked Aunt Milly, and grandma replied,
"Yes, I want to know if 'tain't nigh about _noon_."

This is a term never used among the blacks, and rolling up her white
eyes, Aunt Milly answered, "You done got me now, sartin, for this
chile know nothin' what you mean more'n the deadest critter livin'."

As well as she could, Mrs. Nichols explained her meaning, and Aunt
Milly replied, "Oh, yes, yes, I know now.  'Is it most _dinner time?'
Yes--dinner'll be done ready in an hour.  We never has it till two no
day, and when we has company not till three."

Confident that she should starve, Mrs. Nichols advanced a step or two
into the kitchen, whereupon Aunt Milly commenced making excuses,
saying, "she was gwine to clar up one of these days, and then if
Thomas Jefferson and Marquis De Lafayette didn't quit that litterin'
they'd cotch it"

Attracted by the clean appearance of Aunt Polly, who, not having to
work, prided herself upon always being neatly dressed, Mrs. Nichols
walked up to her, and, to use a vulgar expression, the two old ladies
were soon "hand-in-glove," Mrs. Nichols informing her of her loss,
and how sorry Nancy Scovandyke would feel when she heard of it, and
ending by giving her the full particulars of her husband's sickness
and death.  In return Aunt Polly said that "she was born and bred
along with ole Marster Richards, Miss Matilda's father, and that she,
too, had buried a husband."

With a deep sigh, Mrs. Nichols was about, to commiserate her, when
Aunt Polly cut her short by saying, "'Twant of no kind o' count, as
she never relished him much."

"Some drunken critter, I warrant," thought Mrs. Nichols, at the same
time asking what his name was.

"Jeems," said Aunt Polly.

This was not definite enough for Mrs. Nichols, who asked for the
surname, "Jeems what?"

"Jeems Atherton, I reckon, bein' he 'longed to ole Marster Atherton,"
said Polly.

For a time Mrs. Nichols had forgotten her hunger but the habit of
sixty years was not so easily broken and she now hinted so strongly
of the emptiness of her stomach that Aunt Polly, emboldened by her
familiarity, said, "I never wait for the rest, but have my cup of tea
or coffee just when I feel like it, and if missus wouldn't mind
takin' a bite with a nigger, she's welcome."

"Say nothin' about it.  We shall all be white in heaven."

"Dat am de trufe," muttered Milly, mentally assigning Mrs. Nichols a
more exalted occupation than that of turning hoe-cakes!

Two cups and saucers were forthwith produced, Milly acting as a
waiter for fear Aunt Polly would leave her seat and so disclose to
view the loaf of bread which had been hidden under the chair!  Some
coffee was poured from the pot, which still stood on the stove, and
then the little negroes, amused with the novelty of the thing, ran
shouting and yelling that, "ole miss was eatin' in the kitchen 'long
with Lion, Aunt Polly and the other dogs!"

The coffee being drank, Mrs. Nichols returned to the house, thinking
"what sights of comfort she should take with _Mrs. Atherton_," whom
she pronounced to be "a likely, clever woman as ever was."

Scarcely had she reached her room when the dinner-bell rang, every
note falling like an ice-bolt on the heart of 'Lena, who, though
hungry like her grandmother, still greatly dreaded the dinner,
fearing her inability to acquit herself creditably.  Corinda had
finished her hair, and Anna, looking over her wardrobe and coming
upon the black dress which her father had purchased for her, had
insisted upon 'Lena's wearing it.  It was of rather more modern make
than any of her other dresses, and when her toilet was completed, she
looked uncommonly well.  Still she trembled violently as Anna led her
to the dining-room.

Neither Mrs. Nichols nor Mrs. Livingstone had yet made their
appearance, but the latter soon came languidly in, wrapped in a
rose-colored shawl, which John Jr., said "she wore to give a delicate
tint to her yellow complexion."  She was in the worst of humors,
having just been opening her husband's trunk, where she found the
numerous articles which had been stowed away by Nancy Scovandyke.
Very angrily she had ordered them removed from her sight, and at this
very moment the little negroes in the yard were playing with the
cracked bellows, calling them a "blubber," and filling them with
water to see it run out!

Except through the window, Mrs. Livingstone had not yet seen 'Lena,
and now dropping into her chair, she never raised her eyes until Anna
said, "Mother, mother, this is 'Lena.  Look at her."

Thus importuned, Mrs. Livingstone looked up, and the frown with which
she was prepared to greet her niece softened somewhat, for 'Lena was
not a child to be looked upon and despised.  Plain and humble as was
her dress, there was something in her fine, open face, which at once
interested and commanded respect, John Jr., had felt it; his father
had felt it; and his mother felt it too, but it awoke in her a
feeling of bitterness as she thought how the fair young girl before
her might in time rival her daughters.  At a glance, she saw that
'Lena was beautiful, and that it was quite as much a beauty of
intellect as of feature and form.

"Yes," thought she, "husband was right when he said that, with the
same advantages, she'd soon outstrip her cousins--but it shall never
be--_never_," and the white teeth shut firmly together, as the cold,
proud woman bowed a welcome.

At this moment Mrs. Nichols appeared.  Stimulated by the example of
'Lena, she, too, had changed her dress, and now in black bombazine,
white muslin cap, and shining silk apron, she presented so
respectable an appearance that her son's face instantly brightened.

"Come, mother, we are waiting for you," said he, as she stopped on
her way to ask Vine, the _fly girl_, "how she did, and if it wasn't
hard work to swing them feathers."

Not being very bright, Vine replied with a grim, "Dun know, miss."

Taking her seat next to her son, Mrs. Nichols said when offered a
plate of soup, "I don't often eat broth, besides that, I ain't much
hungry, as I've just been takin' a bite with _Miss Atherton_?"

"With whom?" asked Mr. Livingstone, John Jr., Carrie, and Anna, in
the same breath.

"With Miss Polly Atherton, that nice old colored lady in the
kitchen," said Mrs. Nichols.

The scowl on Mrs. Livingstone's face darkened visibly, while her
husband, thinking it time to speak, said, "It is my wish, mother,
that you keep away from the kitchen.  It does the negroes no good to
be meddled with, and besides that, when you are hungry the servants
will take you something."

"Accustomed to eat in the kitchen, probably," muttered Carrie, with
all the air of a young lady of twenty.

"Hold on to your nose, Cad," whispered John Jr., thereby attracting
his sister's attention to himself.

By this time the soup was removed, and a fine large turkey appeared.

"What a noble great feller.  Gobbler, ain't it?" asked Mrs. Nichols,
touching the turkey with the knife.

John Jr., roared, and was ordered from the table by his father, while
'Lena, who stepped on her grandmother's toes to keep her from
talking, was told by that lady "to keep her feet still."  Along with
the desert came ice-cream, which Mrs. Nichols had never before
tasted, and now fancying that she was dreadfully burned, she quickly
deposited her first mouthful upon her plate.

"What's the matter, grandma? Can't you eat it?" asked Anna.

"Yes, I kin eat it, but I don't hanker arter it," answered her
grandmother, pushing the plate aside.

Dinner being over, Mrs. Nichols returned to her room, but soon
growing weary, she started out to view the premises.  Coming suddenly
upon a group of young negroes, she discovered her bellows, the water
dripping from the nose, while a little farther on she espied 'Lena's
bonnet, which the negroes had at last succeeded in catching, and
which, wet as it was, now adorned the head of Thomas Jefferson!  In a
trice the old lady's principles were forgotten, and she cuffed the
negroes with a right good will, hitting Jeff, the hardest, and, as a
matter of course, making him yell the loudest.  Out came Aunt Milly,
scolding and muttering about "white folks tendin' to thar own
business," and reversing her decision with regard to Mrs. Nichols'
position in the next world.  Cuff, the watch-dog, whose kennell was
close by, set up a tremendous howling, while John Jr., always on
hand, danced a jig to the sound of the direful music.

"For heaven's sake, husband, go out and see what's the matter," said
Mrs. Livingstone, slightly alarmed at the unusual noise.

John complied, and reached the spot just in time to catch a glimpse
of John Jr.'s heels as he gave the finishing touch to his exploit,
while Mrs. Nichols, highly incensed, marched from the field of battle
with the bonnet and bellows, thinking "if them niggers was only her'n
they'd catch it!"




CHAPTER VII.

MALCOLM EVERETT.

It would be tiresome both to ourselves and our readers, were we to
enumerate the many mortifications which both Mr. and Mrs. Livingstone
were compelled to endure from their mother, who gradually came to
understand her true position in the family.  One by one her ideas of
teaching them economy were given up, as was also all hopes of ever
being at all familiar with her daughter, whom, at her son's request,
she had ceased to call "'Tilda."

"Mebby you want me to say Miss Livingstone," said she, "but I shan't.
I'll call her Miss Nichols, or Matilda, just which she chooses."

Of course Mrs. Livingstone chose the latter, wincing, though, every
time she heard it.  Dreading a scene which he knew was sure to follow
a disclosure of his engagement with Miss Nancy, Mr. Livingstone had
requested his mother to keep it from his wife, and she, appreciating
his motive, promised secrecy, lamenting the while the ill-fortune
which had prevented Nancy from being her daughter-in-law, and
dwelling frequently upon the comfort she should take were Nancy there
in Matilda's place.  On the whole, however, she was tolerably
contented; the novelty of Kentucky life pleased her, and at last,
like most northern people, she fell in with the habits of those
around her.  Still her Massachusetts friends were not forgotten, and
many a letter, wonderful for its composition and orthography, found
its way to Nancy Scovandyke, who wrote in return that "some time or
other she should surely visit Kentucky," asking further if the "big
bugs" didn't prefer eastern teachers for their children, and hinting
at her desire to engage in that capacity when she came south!

"Now, that's the very thing," exclaimed Mrs. Nichols, folding the
letter (directed wrong side up) and resuming her knitting.  "Nancy's
larnin' is plenty good enough to teach Caroline and Anny, and I mean
to speak to John about it right away."

"I wouldn't do any such thing," said 'Lena, seeing at a glance how
such a proposal would be received.

"Why not?" asked Mrs. Nichols, and 'Lena replied, "I don't think
Nancy would suit Aunt Livingstone at all, and besides that, they've
engaged a teacher, a Mr. Everett, and expect him next week."

"You don't say so?" returned Mrs. Nichols.  "I never hearn a word
on't.  Where 'bouts is he from, and how much do they give him a week?"

The latter 'Lena knew nothing about, but she replied that "she
believed he was from Rockford, a village near Rochester, New York."

"Why, Nancy Scovandyke's sister lives there.  I wouldn't wonder if he
knew her."

"Very likely," returned Lena, catching her bonnet and hurrying off to
ride with Captain Atherton and Anna.

As we have once before observed, Anna was a great favorite with the
captain, who had petted her until John Jr. teased her unmercifully,
calling him her gray-haired lover, and the like.  This made Anna
exceedingly sensitive, and now when the captain called for her to
ride, as he frequently did, she refused to go unless the invitation
was also extended to 'Lena, who in this way got many a pleasant ride
around the country.  She was fast learning to like Kentucky, and
would have been very happy had her aunt and Carrie been a little more
gracious.  But the former seldom spoke to her, and the latter only to
ridicule something which she said or did.

Many and amusing were the disputes between the two girls concerning
their peculiarities of speech, Carrie bidding 'Lena "quit her Yankee
habit of eternally _guessing_," and 'Lena retorting that "she would
when Carrie stopped her everlasting _reckoning_."  To avoid the
remarks of the neighbors, who she knew were watching her narrowly,
Mrs. Livingstone had purchased 'Lena two or three dresses, which,
though greatly inferior to those worn by Carrie and Anna, were still
fashionably made, and so much improved 'Lena's looks, that her
manners improved, also, for what child does not appear to better
advantage when conscious of looking well?  More than once had her
uncle's hand rested for a moment on her brown curls, while his
thoughts were traversing the past, and in fancy his fingers were
again straying among the silken locks now resting in the grave.  It
would seem as if the mother from her coffin was pleading for her
child, for all the better nature of Mr. Livingstone was aroused; and
when he secured the services of Mr. Everett, who was highly
recommended both as a scholar and gentleman, he determined that 'Lena
should share the same advantages with his daughters.  To this Mrs.
Livingstone made no serious objection, for as Mr. Everett would teach
in the house, it would not do to debar 'Lena from the privilege of
attending his school; and as the highest position to which she could
aspire was to be governess in some private family, she felt willing,
she said, that she should have a chance of acquiring the common
branches.

And now Mr. Everett was daily expected.  Anna, who had no fondness
for books, greatly dreaded his arrival, thinking within herself how
many pranks she'd play off upon him, provided 'Lena would lend a
helping hand, which she much doubted.  John Jr., too, who for a time,
at least, was to be placed under Mr. Everett's instruction, felt in
no wise eager for his arrival, fearing, as he told 'Lena that
"between the 'old man' and the tutor, he would be kept a little too
straight for a gentleman of his habits;" and it was with no
particular emotions of pleasure that he and Anna saw the stage stop
before the gate one pleasant morning toward the middle of November.
Running to one of the front windows, Carrie, 'Lena, and Anna watched
their new teacher, each after her own fashion commenting upon his
appearance.

"Ugh," exclaimed Anna, "what a green, boyish looking thing!  I reckon
nobody's going to be afraid of him."

"I say he's real handsome," said Carrie, who being thirteen years of
age, had already, in her own mind, practiced many a little coquetry
upon the stranger.

"I like him," was 'Lena's brief remark.

Mr. Everett was a pale, intellectual looking man, scarcely twenty
years of age, and appearing still younger so that Anna was not wholly
wrong when she called him boyish.  Still there was in his large black
eye a firmness and decision which bespoke the man strong within him,
and which put to flight all of Anna's preconceived notions of
rebellion.  With the utmost composure he returned Mrs. Livingstone's
greeting, and the proud lady half bit her lip with vexation as she
saw how little he seemed awed by her presence.

Malcolm Everett was not one to acknowledge superiority where there
was none, and though ever polite toward Mrs. Livingstone, there was
something in his manner which forbade her treating him as aught save
an equal.  He was not to be trampled down, and for once in her life
Mrs. Livingstone had found a person who would neither cringe to her
nor flatter.  The children were not presented to him until dinner
time, when, with the air of a young desperado, John Jr. marched into
the dining-room, eying, his teacher askance, calculating his
strength, and returning his greeting with a simple nod.  Mr. Everett
scanned him from head to foot, and then turned to Carrie half smiling
at the great dignity which she assumed.  With 'Lena and Anna he
seemed better pleased, holding their hands and smiling down upon them
through rows of teeth which Anna pronounced the whitest she had ever
seen.

Mr. Livingstone was not at home, and when his mother appeared, Mrs.
Livingstone did not think proper to introduce her.  But if by this
omission she thought to keep the old lady silent, she was mistaken,
for the moment Mrs. Nichols was seated, she commenced with, "Your
name is Everett, I b'lieve?"

"Yes, ma'am," said he, bowing very gracefully toward her.

"Any kin to the governor that was?"

"No, ma'am, none whatever," and the white teeth became slightly
visible for a moment, but soon disappeared.

"You are from Rockford, 'Lena tells me?"

"Yes, ma'am.  Have you friends there?"

"Yes--or that is, Nancy Scovandyke's sister, Betsy Scovandyke that
used to be, lives there.  May be you know her.  Her name is
Bacon--Betsy Bacon.  She's a widder and keeps boarders."

"Ah," said he, the teeth this time becoming wholly visible, "I've
heard of Mrs. Bacon, but have not the honor of her acquaintance.  You
are from the east, I perceive."

"Law, now! how did you know that!" asked Mrs. Nichols, while Mr.
Everett answered, "I _guessed_ at it," with a peculiar emphasis on
the word guessed, which led 'Lena to think he had used it purposely
and not from habit.

Mr. Everett possessed in a remarkable degree the faculty of making
those around him both respect and like him, and ere six weeks had
passed, he had won the love of all his pupils.  Even John Jr. was
greatly improved, and Carrie seemed suddenly reawakened into a thirst
for knowledge, deeming no task too long, and no amount of study too
hard, if it won the commendation of her teacher.  'Lena, who
committed to memory with great ease, and who consequently did not
deserve so much credit for her always perfect lessons, seldom
received a word of praise, while poor Anna, notoriously lazy when
books were concerned, cried almost every day, because as she said,
"Mr. Everett didn't like her as he did the rest, else why did he look
at her so much, watching her all the while, and keeping her after
school to get her lessons over, when he knew how she hated them."

Once Mrs. Livingstone ventured to remonstrate, telling him that Anna
was very sensitive, and required altogether different treatment from
Carrie.  "She thinks you dislike her," said she, "and while she
retains this impression, she will do nothing as far as learning is
concerned; so if you do not like her, try and make her think you do!"

There was a peculiar look in Mr. Everett's dark eyes as he answered,
"You may think it strange, Mrs. Livingstone, but of all my pupils I
love Anna the best!  I know I find more fault with her, and am
perhaps more severe with her than with the rest, but it's because I
would make her what I wish her to be.  Pardon me, madam, but Anna
does not possess the same amount of intellect with her cousin or
sister, but by proper culture she will make a fine, intelligent
woman."

Mrs. Livingstone hardly relished being told that one child was
inferior to the other, but she could not well help herself--Mr.
Everett would say what he pleased--and thus the conference ended.
From that time Mr. Everett was exceedingly kind to Anna, wiping away
the tears which invariably came when told that she must stay with him
in the school-room after the rest were gone; then, instead of seating
himself in rigid silence at a distance until her task was learned, he
would sit by her side, occasionally smoothing her long curls and
speaking encouragingly to her as she pored over some hard rule of
grammar, or puzzled her brains with some difficult problem in
Colburn.  Erelong the result of all this became manifest.  Anna grew
fonder of her books, more ready to learn, and--more willing to be
kept after school!

Ah, little did Mrs. Livingstone think what she was doing when she
bade young Malcolm Everett make her warm-hearted, impulsive daughter
_think_ he liked her!

CHAPTER VIII.

SCHEMING.

"Mother, where's 'Lena's dress?  Hasn't she got any?" asked Anna, one
morning, about two weeks before Christmas, as she bent over a
promiscuous pile of merinoes, delaines, and plaid silks, her own and
Carrie's dresses for the coming holidays.  "Say, mother, didn't you
buy 'Lena any?"

Thus interrogated, Mrs. Livingstone replied, "I wonder if you think
I'm made of money!  'Lena is indebted to me now for more than she can
ever pay.  As long as I give her a home and am at so much expense in
educating her, she of course can't expect me to dress her as I do
you.  There's Carrie's brown delaine and your blue one, which I
intend to have made over for her, and she ought to be satisfied with
that, for they are much better than anything she had when she came
here."

And the lady glanced toward the spot where 'Lena sat, admiring the
new things, in which she had no share, and longing to ask the
question which Anna had asked for her, and which had now been
answered.  John Jr., who was present, and who knew that Mr. Everett
had been engaged to teach in the family long before it was known that
'Lena was coming, now said to his cousin, who arose to leave, "Yes,
'Lena, mother's a model of generosity, and you'll never be able to
repay her for her kindness in allowing you to wear the girls' old
duds, which would otherwise be given to the blacks, and in permitting
you to recite to Mr. Everett, who, of course, was hired on your
account."

The slamming together of the door as 'Lena left the room brought the
young gentleman's remarks to a close, and wishing to escape the
lecture which he saw was preparing for him, he, too, made his exit.

Christmas was coming, and with it Durward Bellmont, and about his
coming Mrs. Livingstone felt some little anxiety.  Always scheming,
and always looking ahead, she was expecting great results from this
visit.  Durward was not only immensely wealthy, but was also
descended on his father's side from one of England's noblemen.
Altogether he was, she thought, a "decided catch," and though he was
now only sixteen, while Carrie was but thirteen, lifelong impressions
had been made at even an earlier period, and Mrs. Livingstone
resolved that her pretty daughter should at least have all the
advantages of dress with which to set off her charms.  Concerning
Anna's appearance she cared less, for she had but little hope of her,
unless, indeed--but 'twas too soon to think of that--she would wait,
and perhaps in good time 't would all come round naturally and as a
matter of course.  So she encouraged her daughter's intimacy with
Captain Atherton, who, until Malcolm Everett appeared, was in Anna's
estimation the best man living.  Now, however, she made an exception
in favor of her teacher, "who," as she told the captain, "neither
wore false teeth, nor kept in his pocket a pair of specks, to be
slyly used when he fancied no one saw him."

Captain Atherton coughed, colored, laughed, and saying that "Mr.
Everett was a mash kind of a boy," swore eternal enmity toward him,
and under the mask of friendship--watched!  Eleven years before, when
Anna was a baby, Mrs. Livingstone had playfully told the captain, who
was one day deploring his want of a wife, that if he would wait he
should have her daughter.  To this he agreed, and the circumstance,
trivial as it was, made a more than ordinary impression upon his
mind; and though he as yet had no definite idea that the promise
would ever be fulfilled, the little girl was to him an object of
uncommon interest.  Mrs. Livingstone knew this, and whenever Anna's
future prospects were the subject of her meditations, she generally
fell back upon that fact as an item not to be despised.

Now, however, her thoughts were turned into another and widely
different channel.  Christmas week was to be spent by Durward
Bellmont partly at Captain Atherton's and partly at her own house,
and as Mrs. Livingstone was not ignorant of the effect a becoming
dress has upon a pretty face, she determined that Carrie should, at
least, have that advantage.  Anna, too, was to fare like her sister,
while no thought was bestowed upon poor 'Lena's wardrobe, until her
husband, who accompanied her to Frankfort, suggested that a certain
pattern, which he fancied would be becoming to 'Lena should be
purchased.

With an angry scowl, Mrs. Livingstone muttered something about
"spending so much money for other folks' young ones."  Then
remembering the old delaines, and knowing by the tone of her
husband's voice that he was in earnest, she quickly rejoined, "Why,
'Lena's got two new dresses at home."

Never doubting his wife's word, Mr. Livingstone was satisfied, and
nothing more was said upon the subject.  Business of importance made
it necessary for him to go for a few weeks to New Orleans, and he was
now on his way thither, his wife having accompanied him as far as
Frankfort, where he took the boat, while she returned home.  When
'Lena left the room after learning that she had no part in the mass
of Christmas finery, she repaired to the arbor bridge, where she had
wept so bitterly on the first day of her arrival, and which was now
her favorite resort.  For a time she sat watching the leaping waters,
swollen by the winter rains, and wondering if it were not possible
that they started at first from the pebbly spring which gushed so
cool and clear from the mountain-side near her old New England home.
This reminded her of where and what she was now--a dependent on the
bounty of those who wished her away, and who almost every day of her
life made her feel it so keenly, too.  Not one among them loved her
except Anna, and would not her affection change as they grew older?
Then her thoughts took another direction.

Durward Bellmont was coming--but did she wish to see him?  Could she
bear the sneering remarks which she knew Carrie would make concerning
herself?  And how would he be affected by them?  Would he ask her of
her father? and if so, what had she to say?

Many a time had she tried to penetrate the dark mystery of her birth,
but her grandmother was wholly non-committal.  Once, too, when her
uncle seemed kinder than usual, she had ventured to ask him of her
father, and with a frown he had replied, that "the least she knew of
him the better!"  Still 'Lena felt sure that he was a good man, and
that some time or other she would find him.

All day long the clouds had been threatening rain, which began to
fall soon after 'Lena entered the arbor, but so absorbed was she in
her own thoughts, that she did not observe it until her clothes were
perfectly dampened; then starting up, she repaired to the house.  For
several days she had not been well, and this exposure brought on a
severe cold, which confined her to her room for nearly two weeks.
Meantime the dress-making process went on, Anna keeping 'Lena
constantly apprised of its progress, and occasionally wearing in some
article for her inspection.  This reminded 'Lena of her own wardrobe,
and knowing that it would not be attended to while she was sick, she
made such haste to be well, that on Thursday at tea-time she took her
accustomed seat at the table.  After supper she lingered awhile in
the parlor, hoping something would be said, but she waited in vain,
and was about leaving, when a few words spoken by Carrie in an
adjoining room caught her ear and arrested her attention.

They were--"And so 'Lena came down to-night.  I dare say she thinks
you'll set Miss Simpson at work upon my old delaine."

"Perhaps so," returned Mrs. Livingstone, "but I don't see how Miss
Simpson can do it, unless you put off having that silk apron
embroidered."

"I shan't do any such thing," said Carrie, glad of an excuse to keep
'Lena out of the way.  "What matter is it if she don't come down when
the company are here?  I'd rather she wouldn't, for she's so green
and awkward, and Durward is so fastidious in such matters, that I'd
rather he wouldn't know she's a relative of ours!  I know he'd tell
his mother, and they say she is very particular about his associates."

'Lena's first impulse was to defy her cousin to her face--to tell her
she had seen Durward Bellmont, and that he didn't laugh at her
either.  But her next thought was calmer and more rational.  Possibly
under Carrie's influence he might make fun of her, and resolving on
no condition whatever to make herself visible while he was in the
house, she returned to her room, and throwing herself upon the bed,
wept until she fell asleep.

"When is Miss Simpson going to fix 'Lena's dress?" asked Anna, as day
after day passed, and nothing was said of the brown delaine.

For an instant Miss Simpson's nimble fingers were still, as she
awaited the answer to a question which had occurred to her several
times.  She was a kind-hearted, intelligent girl, find at a glance
had seen how matters stood.  She, too, was an orphan, and her
sympathies were all enlisted in behalf of the neglected 'Lena.  She
had heard from Anna of the brown delaine, and in her own mind she had
determined that it should be fitted with the utmost taste of which
she was capable.

Her speculations, however, were brought to a close by Mrs.
Livingstone's saying in reply to Anna, that "'Lena seemed so wholly
uninterested, and cared so little about seeing the company, she had
decided not to have the dress fixed until after Christmas week."

The fiery expression of two large, glittering eyes, which at that
moment peered in at the door, convinced Miss Simpson that her
employer had hardly told the truth, and she secretly determined that
'Lena should have the dress whether she would or not.  Accordingly,
the next time she and Anna were alone, she asked for the delaine,
entrusting her secret to Anna, who, thinking no harm, promised to
keep it from her mother.  But to get 'Lena fitted was a more
difficult matter.  Her spirit was roused, and for a time she resisted
their combined efforts.  At last, however, she yielded, and by
working late at night in her own room, Miss Simpson managed to
finished the dress, in which 'Lena really looked better than did
either of her cousins in their garments of far richer materials.
Still she was resolved not to go down, and Anna, fearing what her
mother might say, dared not urge her very strongly hoping, though,
that "something would turn up."

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Durward Bellmont, Nellie Douglass, and Mabel Ross had arrived at
Captain Atherton's.  Mrs. Livingstone and her daughters had called
upon them, inviting them to spend a few days at Maple Grove, where
they were to meet some other young people "selected from the
wealthiest families in the neighborhood," Mrs. Livingstone said, at
the same time patting the sallow cheek of Mabel, whose reputed
hundred thousand she intended should one day increase the importance
of her own family.

The invitation was accepted--the day had arrived, the guests were
momentarily expected, and Carrie, before the long mirror, was
admiring herself, alternately frowning upon John Jr., who was
mimicking her "airs," and scolding Anna for fretting because 'Lena
could not be induced to join them.  Finding that her niece was
resolved not to appear, Mrs. Livingstone, for looks' sake, had
changed her tactics, saying, "'Lena could come down if she chose--she
was sure there was nothing to prevent."

Knowing this, Anna had exhausted all her powers of eloquence upon her
cousin.  But she still remained inexorable, greatly to the
astonishment of her grandmother who for several days had been
suffering from a rheumatic affection, notwithstanding which she
"meant to hobble down if possible, for" said she, "I want to see this
Durward Bellmont.  Matilda says he's got _Noble_ blood in him.  I
used to know a family of Nobles in Massachusetts, and I think like as
not he's some kin!"

Carrie, to whom this remark was made, communicated it to her mother,
who forthwith repaired to Mrs. Nichols' room, telling her "that 'twas
a child's party," and hinting pretty strongly that she was neither
wanted nor expected in the parlor, and would confer a great favor by
keeping aloof.

"Wall, wall," said Mrs. Nichols, who had learned to dread her
daughter's displeasure, "I'd as lief stay up here as not, but I do
want 'Lena to jine 'em.  She's young and would enjoy it."

Without a word of answer Mrs. Livingstone walked away, leaving 'Lena
more determined than ever not to go down.  When the evening at last
arrived, Anna insisted so strongly upon her wearing the delaine, for
fear of what might happen, that 'Lena consented, curling her hair
with great care, and feeling a momentary thrill of pride as she saw
how well she looked.

"When we get nicely to enjoying ourselves," said Anna, "you come down
and look through the glass door, for I do want you to see Durward,
he's so handsome--but there's the carriage--I must go;" and away ran
Anna down the stairs, while 'Lena flew to one of the front windows to
see the company as they rode up.

First came Captain Atherton's carriage, and in it the captain and his
maiden sister, together with a pale, sickly-looking girl, whom 'Lena
knew to be Mabel Ross.  Behind them rode Durward Bellmont, and at his
side, on a spirited little pony was another girl, thirteen or
fourteen years of age, but in her long riding-dress looking older,
because taller.  'Lena readily guessed that this was Nellie Douglass,
and at a glance she recognized the Durward of the cars--grown
handsomer and taller since then, she thought.  With a nimble bound he
leaped from his saddle, kissing his hand to Carrie, who with her
sunniest smile ran past him to welcome Nellie.  A pang, not of
jealousy, but of an undefined something, shot through 'Lena's heart,
and dropping the heavy curtain, she turned away, while the tears
gathered thickly in her large brown eyes.

"Where's 'Lena?" asked Captain Atherton, of Anna, warming his red
fingers before the blazing grate, and looking round upon the group of
girls gathered near.  Glancing at her mother, Anna replied, "She says
she don't want to come down."

"Bashful," returned the captain, while Nellie Douglass asked, "who
'Lena was," at the same time returning the _pinch_ which John Jr.
had slyly given her as a mode of showing his preference, for Nellie
_was_ his favorite.

Fearful of Anna's reply, Mrs. Livingstone answered, carelessly,
"She's the child of one of Mr. Livingstone's poor relations, and
we've taken her awhile out of charity."

At any other time John Jr.  would doubtless have questioned his
mother's word, but now so engrossed was he with the merry, hoydenish
Nellie, that he scarcely heard her remark, or noticed the absence of
'Lena.  With the exception of his cousin, Nellie was the only girl
whom John Jr. could endure--"the rest," he said, "were so stuck up
and affected."

For Mabel Ross, he seemed to have a particular aversion.  Not because
she was so very disagreeable, but because his mother continually
reminded him of what she hoped would one day be, "and this," he said,
"was enough to make a 'feller' hate a girl."  So without considering
that Mabel was not to blame, he ridiculed her unmercifully, calling
her "a bundle of medicine," and making fun of her thin, sallow face,
which really appeared to great disadvantage when contrasted with
Nellie's bright eyes and round, rosy cheeks.

When the guests were all assembled, Carrie, not knowing whether
Durward Bellmont would relish plays, seated herself demurely upon the
sofa, prepared to act the dignified young lady, or any other
character she might think necessary.

"Get up, Cad," said John Jr.  "Nobody's going to act like they were
at a funeral; get up, and let's play something."

As the rest seemed to be similarly inclined, Carrie arose, and
erelong the joyous shouts reached 'Lena, making her half wish that
she, too, was there.  Remembering Anna's suggestion of looking
through the glass door she stole softly down the stairs, and
stationing herself behind the door, looked in on the scene.  Mr.
Everett, usually so dignified, had joined in the game, claiming
"forfeits" from Anna more frequently than was considered at all
necessary by the captain, who for a time looked jealously on, and
then declaring himself as young as any of them, joined them with a
right good will.

"Blind man's buff," was next proposed, and 'Lena's heart leaped up,
for that was her favorite game.  John Jr. was first blinded, but he
caught them so easily that all declared he could see, and loud were
the calls for Durward to take his place.  This he willingly did, and
whether he could see or not, he suffered them to pass directly under
his hands, thus giving entire satisfaction.  On account of the heat
of the rooms, Anna, on passing the glass door, threw it open, and the
next time Durward came round he marched directly into the hall,
seizing 'Lena, who was trying to hide.

Feeling her long curls, he exclaimed, "Anna, you are caught."

"No, I ain't Anna; let me go," said 'Lena, struggling to escape.

This brought all the girls to the spot, while Durward, snatching the
muffler from his eyes, looked down with astonishment upon the
trembling 'Lena, who would have escaped had she not been so securely
hemmed in.

"Ain't you ashamed, 'Lena, to be peeking?" asked Carrie, while
Durward repeated--"'_Lena_!  '_Lena_!  I've seen her before in the
cars between Springfield and Albany; but how came she here?"

"She lives here--she's our cousin," said Anna, notwithstanding the
twitch given to her sleeve by Carrie, who did not care to have the
relationship exposed.

"Your cousin," said Durward, "and where's the old lady who was with
her?"

"The one she called _granny_?" asked John Jr., on purpose to rouse up
his fiery little cousin.

"No, I don't call her _granny_, neither--I've quit it," said 'Lena,
angrily, adding, as a sly hit at Kentucky talk, "she's up _stars_,
sick with the rheumatism."

"Good," said Durward, "but why are you not down here with us?"

"I didn't want to come," was her reply; and Durward, leading her into
the parlor, continued, "but now that you are here, you must stay."

"Pretty, isn't she," said Nellie, as the full blaze of the chandelier
fell upon 'Lena.

"Rath-er," was Carrie's hesitating reply.

She felt annoyed that 'Lena should be in the parlor, and provoked
that Durward should notice her in any way, and at the first
opportunity she told him "how much she both troubled and mortified
them, by her vulgarity and obstinacy," adding that "she had a most
violent temper."  From Nellie she had learned that Durward
particularly disliked passionate girls, and for this reason she
strove to give him the impression that 'Lena was such an one.  Once
or twice she fancied him half inclined to disbelieve her, as he saw
how readily 'Lena joined in their amusements, and how good-humoredly
she bore John Jr.'s teasing, and then she hoped something would occur
to prove her words true.  Her wish was gratified.

The next day was dark and stormy, confining the young people to the
house.  About ten o'clock the negro who had been to the post-office
returned, bringing letters for the family, among which was one for
'Lena, so curious in its shape and superscription, that even the
negro grinned as he handed it out.  'Lena was not then present, and
Carrie, taking the letter, exclaimed, "Now if this isn't the last
specimen from Yankeedom.  Just listen,--" and she spelled out the
direction--"_To Mis HELL-ENY RIVERS, state of kentucky, county of
woodford, Dorsey post offis, care of Mis nichals_."

Unobserved by any one, 'Lena had entered the parlor in time to hear
every word, and when Carrie, chancing to espy her, held out the
letter, saying, "Here, _Helleny_, I _guess_ this came from down
east," she darted forward, and striking the letter from Carrie's
hands stamped upon it with her foot, declaring "she'd never open it
in the world," and saying "they might do what they pleased with it
for all of her."

"Read it--may we read it?" eagerly asked Carrie, delighted to see
'Lena doing such justice to her reputation.

"Yes, read it!" almost screamed 'Lena, and before any one could
interpose a word, Carrie had broken the seal and commenced reading,
announcing, first, that it came from "Joel Slocum!"  It was as
follows:


"Dear Helleny, mebby you'll wonder when you see a letter from me, but
I'll be hanged if I can help 'ritin', I am so confounded lonesome now
you are gone, that I dun know nothing what to do with myself.  So I
set on the great rock where the saxefax grows; and think, and think
till it seems 's ef my head would bust open.  Wall, how do you git
along down amongst them heathenish Kentucks & niggers?  I s'pose
there ain't no great difference between 'em, is there?  When I git a
little more larnin', I b'lieve I'll come down there to keep school.
O, I forgot to tell you that our old line back cow has got a
calf--the prettiest little critter--Dad has gin her to me, and I call
her Helleny, I do, I swow!  And when she capers round she makes me
think of the way you danced 'High putty Martin' the time you stuck a
sliver in your heel--"


Up to this point 'Lena had stood immovable, amid the loud shouts of
her companions, but the fire of a hundred volcanoes burned within and
flashed from her eyes.  And now springing forward, she caught the
letter from Carrie's hand, and inflicting a long scratch upon her
forehead, fled from the room.  Had not Durward Bellmont been present,
Carrie would have flown after her cousin, to avenge the insult, and
even now she was for a moment thrown off her guard, and starting
forward, exclaimed, "the tigress!"

Drawing his fine cambric handkerchief from his pocket, Durward gently
wiped the blood from her white brow, saying "Never mind.  It is not a
deep scratch."

"I wish 'twas deeper," muttered John Jr.  "You'd no business to serve
her so mean."

An angry retort rose to Carrie's lips, but, just in time to prevent
its utterance, Durward also spoke, saying, "It was too bad to tease
her so, but we were all more or less to blame, and I'm not sure but
we ought to apologize."

Carrie felt that she would die, almost, before she'd apologize to
such as 'Lena, and still she thought it might be well enough to give
Durward the impression that she was doing, her best to make amends
for her fault.  Accordingly, the next time her cousin appeared in the
parlor she was all smiles and affability, talking a great deal to
'Lena, who returned very short but civil answers, while her face wore
a look which Durward construed into defiance and hatred of everybody
and everything.

"Too passionate," thought he, turning from her to Carrie, whose
voice, modulated to its softest tones, rang out clear and musical, as
she sported and laughed with her moody cousin, appearing the very
essence of sweetness and amiability!

Pity he could not have known how bitterly 'Lena had wept over her
hasty action--not because _he_ witnessed it, but because she knew it
was wrong!  Pity he could not have read the tear-blotted note, which
she laid on Carrie's work-box, and in which was written, "I am sorry,
Carrie, that I hurt you so.  I didn't know what I was about, but I
will try and not get so angry again."

Pity, too, that he did not see the look of contempt with which Carrie
perused this note; and when the two girls accidentally met in the
upper hall, and 'Lena laid her hand gently on Carrie's arm, it is a
thousand pities he was not present to see how fiercely she was
repulsed, Carrie exclaiming, "Get out of my sight!  _I hate you_, and
so do all of them downstairs, Durward in particular."

Had he known all this he would have thought differently of 'Lena,
who, feeling that she was not wanted in the parlor, kept herself
entirely aloof, never again appearing during the remainder of his
stay.  Once Durward asked for her, and half laughingly Carrie
replied, that "she had not yet recovered from her pouting fit."
Could he have known her real occupation, he might have changed his
mind again.  The stormy weather had so increased Mrs. Nichols'
rheumatic complaint, that now, perfectly crippled, she lay as
helpless as a child, carefully nursed by 'Lena and old Aunt Polly,
who, spite of her own infirmities, had hobbled in to wait upon her
friend.  Never but once did Mrs. Livingstone go near her mother's
sick-room--"the smell of herbs made her faint," she said!  But to do
her justice, we must say that she gave Polly unqualified permission
to order anything she pleased for the invalid.

Toward the close of the third day, the company left.  Nellie
Douglass, who really liked 'Lena, and wished to bid her good-bye,
whispered to John Jr., asking him to show her the way to his cousin's
room.  No one except members of the family had ever been in Mrs.
Nichols' apartment, and for a moment John Jr. hesitated, knowing well
that Nellie could not fail to observe the contrast it presented to
the other richly-furnished chambers.

"They ought to be mortified--it'll serve 'em right," he thought, at
last, and motioning Nellie to fallow him, he silently led the way to
his grandmother's room, where their knock was answered by Aunt
Polly's gruff voice, which bade them "come in."

They obeyed, but Nellie started back when she saw how greatly
inferior was this room to the others around it.  In an instant her
eye took in everything, and she readily comprehended the whole.

"It isn't my doings, by a jug-full!" whispered John Jr., himself
reddening as he noted the different articles of furniture which had
never before seemed so meager and poor.

On the humble bed, in a half-upright position, lay Mrs. Nichols,
white as the snowy cap-border which shaded her face.  Behind her sat
'Lena, supporting her head, and when Nellie entered, she was
carefully pushing back the few gray locks which had fallen over the
invalid's forehead, her own bright curls mingling with them, and
resting, some on her neck, and some on her grandmother's shoulder.  A
deep flush dyed her cheeks when she saw Nellie, who thought she had
never looked upon a sight more beautiful.

"I did not know your grandmother was ill," said she, coming forward
and gently touching the swollen hand which lay outside the
counterpane.

Mrs. Nichols was not too ill to talk, and forthwith she commenced a
history of her malady, beginning at the time she first had it when
'Lena's mother was a year and a day old, frequently quoting Nancy
Scovandyke, and highly entertaining Nellie, who listened until warned
by the sound of the carriage, as it came round to the door, that she
must go.

"We are going back to Uncle Atherton's," said she, "but I wanted to
bid you good-bye, and ask you to visit me in Frankfort with your
cousins.  Will you do so?"

This was wholly unexpected to 'Lena, who, without replying, burst
info tears.  Nellie hardly knew what to do.  She seldom cried
herself--she did not like to see others cry--and still she did not
blame 'Lena, for she felt that she could not help it.  At last,
taking her hand, she bade her farewell, asking if she should not
carry a good-bye to the others.

"Yes, to Mabel," said 'Lena.

"And not Durward?" asked Nellie.

With something of her old spirit 'Lena answered, "No, he hates
me--Carrie says so."

"Cad's a fool," muttered John Jr., while Nellie rejoined, "Durward
never hated anybody, and even if he did, he would not say so--I mean
to tell him;" and with another good-bye she was gone.

On the stairs she met Durward, who was looking for her, and asked
where she had been.

"To bid 'Lena good-bye; don't you want to go too?" said Nellie.

"Why, yes, if you are sure she won't scratch my eyes out," he
returned, gayly, following his cousin.

"I reckon I'd better tell 'Lena to come out into the hall--she may
not want you in there," said John Jr., and hastening forward he told
his cousin what was wanted.

Oh, how 'Lena longed to go, but pride, and the remembrance of
Carrie's words, prevented her, and coldly answering, "No, I don't
wish to see him," she turned away to hide the tears and pain which
those words had cost her.

This visit to Grandma Nichols' room was productive of some good, for
John Jr., did not fail of repeating to his mother the impression
which he saw was made on Nellie's mind, adding, that "though Durward
did not venture in, Nellie would of course tell him all about it.
And then," said he, "I wouldn't give much for his opinion of your
treatment of your mother."

Angry, because she felt the truth of what her son said, Mrs.
Livingstone demanded "what he'd have her do."

"Do?" he repeated, "give grandmother a decent room, or else fix that
one up, so it won't look like the old scratch had been having a
cotillon there.  Paper and paint it, and make it look decent."

Upon this last piece of advice Mrs. Livingstone resolved to act, for
recently several vague rumors had reached her ear, touching her
neglect of her mother-in-law, and she began herself to think it just
possible that a little of her money would be well expended in adding
to the comfort of her husband's mother.  Accordingly, as soon as Mrs.
Nichols was able to sit up, her room underwent a thorough renovation,
and though no great amount of money was expended upon it, it was
fitted up with so much taste that the poor old lady, whom John Jr.,
'Lena and Anna, had adroitly kept out of the way until her room was
finished, actually burst into tears when first ushered into her
light, airy apartment, in which everything looked so cheerful and
pleasant.

"'Tilda has now and then a good streak," said she, while Aunt Milly,
who had taken a great deal of interest in the repairing of the room,
felt inclined to change her favorite theory with regard to her
mistress' future condition.




CHAPTER IX.

FIVE YEARS LATER.

And in the fair city of elms we again open the scene.  It was
commencement at Yale, and the crowd which filled the old Center
church were listening breathlessly to the tide of eloquence poured
forth by the young valedictorian.

Durward Bellmont, first in his studies, first in his class, and first
in the esteem of his fellow-students, had been unanimously chosen to
that post of honor, and as the gathered multitude hung upon his words
and gazed upon his manly beauty, they felt mat a better choice could
not well have been made.  At the right of the platform sat a group of
ladies, friends, it would seem, of the speaker, for ever and anon his
eyes turned in that direction, and as if each glance incited him to
fresh efforts, his eloquence increased, until at last no sound save
that of his deep-toned voice was heard, so rapt was every one in the
words of the young orator.  But when his speech was ended, there
arose deafening shouts of applause, while bouquets fell in perfect
showers at his feet.  Among them was one smaller and more elegant
than the rest, and as if it were more precious, too, it was the first
which Durward took from the floor.

"See, Carrie, he gives you the preference," whispered one of the
young ladies on the right, and Carrie Livingstone for she it was,
felt a thrill of gratified pride, when she saw how carefully he
guarded the bouquet, which during all the exercises she had made her
especial care, calling attention to it in so many different ways that
hardly any one who saw it in Durward's possession, could fail of
knowing from what source it same.

But then everybody said they were engaged--so what did it matter?
Everybody but John Jr., who was John Jr. still, and who while openly
denying the engagement, teasingly hinted "that 'twas no fault of
Cad's."

For the last three years, Carrie, Nellie, Mabel, and Anna had been
inmates of the seminary in New Haven, and as they were now considered
sufficiently accomplished to enter at once upon all the gayeties of
fashionable life, John Jr. had come on "to see the elephant," as he
said, and to accompany them home.  Carrie had fulfilled the promise
of her girlhood, and even her brother acknowledged that she was
handsome in spite of her _nose_, which like everybody's else, still
continued to be the most prominent feature of her face.  She was
proud, too, as well as beautiful, and throughout the city she was
known as the "haughty southern belle," admired by some and disliked
by many.  Among the students she was not half so popular as her
unpretending sister, whose laughing blue eyes and sunny brown hair
were often toasted, together with the classical brow and dignified
bearing of Nellie Douglass, who had lost some of the hoydenish
propensities of her girlhood, and who was now a graceful, elegant
creature just merging into nineteen--the pride of her widowed father,
and the idol still of John Jr., whose boyish preference had ripened
into a kind of love such as only he could feel.

With poor Mabel Ross it had fared worse, her plain face and dumpy
little figure never receiving the least attention except from Durward
Bellmont, who pitying her lonely condition, frequently left more
congenial society for the sake of entertaining her.  Of any one else
Carrie would have been jealous, but feeling sure that Mabel had no
attraction save her wealth, and knowing that Durward did not care for
that, she occasionally suffered him to leave her side, always feeling
amply repaid by the evident reluctance with which he left her society
for that of Mabel's.

When ill-naturedly rallied by his companions upon his preference for
Carrie, Durward would sometimes laughingly refer them to the old
worn-out story of the fox and the grapes, for to scarcely any one
save himself did Carrie think it worth her while to be even gracious.
This conduct was entirely at variance with her natural disposition,
for she was fond of admiration, come from what source it might, and
she would never have been so cold and distant to all save Durward,
had she not once heard him say that "he heartily despised a _flirt_;
and that no young lady could at all interest him if he suspected her
of being a coquette."

This, then, was the secret of her reserve.  She was resolved upon
winning Durward Bellmont, deeming no sacrifice too great if in the
end it secured the prize.  It is true there was one sophomore, a
perfumed, brainless fop, from Rockford, N. Y., who, next to Durward,
was apparently most in favor, but the idea of her entertaining even a
shadow of a liking for Tom Lakin, was too ludicrous to be harbored
for a moment, so his attentions went for naught, public opinion
uniting in giving her to Mr. Bellmont.

With the lapse of years, Anna, too, had greatly improved.  The
extreme delicacy of her figure was gone, and though her complexion
was as white and pure as marble, it denoted perfect health.  With
John Jr. she was still the favorite sister, the one whom he loved the
best.  "Carrie was too stiff and proud," he said, and though when he
met her in New Haven, after a year's absence, his greeting was kind
and brotherly, he soon turned from her to Anna and Nellie, utterly
neglecting Mabel, who turned away to her chamber to cry, because no
one cared for her.

Frequently had his mother reminded him of the importance of securing
a wealthy bride, always finishing her discourse by speaking of Mr.
Douglass' small income, and enlarging upon the immense wealth of
Mabel Ross, whose very name had become disagreeable to John Jr.  At
one time his father had hoped he, too, would enter college, but the
young man derided the idea of his ever making a scholar, saying,
however, more in sport than in earnest, that "he was willing to enter
a store, or learn a _trade_, so that in case he was ever obliged to
earn his own living, he would have some means of doing it;" but to
this his mother would not listen.  He was her "darling boy," and "his
hands, soft and white as those of a girl, should never become
hardened and embrowned by labor!"  So, while his sisters were away at
school, he was at home, hunting, fishing, riding, teasing his
grandmother, tormenting the servants, and shocking his mother by
threatening to make love to his cousin 'Lena, to whom he was at once
a pest and a comfort, and who now claims a share of our attention.

When it was decided to send Carrie and Anna to New Haven, Mr.
Livingstone proposed that 'Lena should also accompany them, but this
plan Mrs. Livingstone opposed with all her force, declaring that
_her_ money should never be spent in educating the "beggarly
relatives" of her husband, who in this, as in numerous other matters,
was forced to yield the point.  As Mr. Everett's services were now no
longer needed, he accepted the offer of a situation in the family of
General Fontaine, a high-bred, southern gentleman, whose plantation
was distant but half a mile from "Maple Grove;" and as he there
taught a regular school, having under his charge several of the
daughters of the neighboring planters, it was decided that 'Lena also
should continue under his instruction.

Thus while Carrie and Anna were going through the daily routine of a
fashionable boarding-school, 'Lena was storing her mind with useful
knowledge, and though her accomplishments were not quite so showy as
those of her cousins, they had in them the ring of the pure metal.
Although her charms were as yet but partially developed, she was a
creature of rare loveliness, and many who saw her for the first time,
marveled that aught so beautiful could be real.  She had never seen
Durward Bellmont since that remarkable Christmas week, but many a
time had her cheeks flushed with a feeling which she could not
define, as she read Anna's accounts of the flattering attentions
which he paid to Carrie, who, when at home, still treated her with
haughty contempt or cool indifference.

But for this she did not care.  She knew she was loved by Anna, and
liked by John Jr., and she hoped--nay, half believed--that she was
not wholly indifferent to her uncle, who, while he seldom made any
show of his affection, still in his heart admired and felt proud of
her.  With his wife it was different.  She hated 'Lena--hated her
because she was beautiful and talented, and because in her presence
Carrie and Anna were ever in the shade.  Still her niece was too
general a favorite in the neighborhood to allow of open hostility at
home, and so the proud woman ground together her glittering
teeth--_and waited_!

Among the many who admired 'Lena, there was no one who gave her such
full and unbounded homage as did her grandmother, whose life at Maple
Grove had been one of shadow, seldom mingled with sunshine.
Gradually had she learned the estimation in which she was held by her
son's wife, and she felt how bitter it was to eat the bread of
dependence.  As far as she was able, 'Lena shielded her from the
sneers of her aunt, who thinking she had done all that was required
of her when she fixed their room, would for days and even weeks
appear utterly oblivious of their presence, or frown darkly whenever
chance threw them in her way.  She had raised no objection to 'Lena's
continuing a pupil of Mr. Everett, who, she hoped, would not prove
indifferent to her charms, fancying that in this way she would sooner
be rid of one whom she feared as a rival of her daughters.

But she was mistaken; for much as Malcolm Everett might admire 'Lena,
another image than hers was enshrined in his heart, and most
carefully guarded was the little golden curl, cut in seeming sport
from the head it once adorned, and, now treasured as a sacred memento
of the past.  Believing that it would be so because she wished it to
be so, Mrs. Livingstone had more than once whispered to her female
friends her surmises that Malcolm Everett would marry 'Lena, and at
the time of which we are speaking, it was pretty generally understood
that a strong liking, at least, if not an engagement, existed between
them.

Old Captain Atherton, grown more smooth and portly, rubbed his fat
hands complacently, and while applying Twigg's Preparation to his
hair, congratulated himself that the only rival he had ever feared
was now out of his way.  Thinking, too, that 'Lena had conferred a
great favor upon himself by taking Mr. Everett from off his mind,
became exceedingly polite to her, making her little presents and
frequently asking her to ride.  Whenever these invitations were
accepted, they were sure to be followed by a ludicrous description to
Anna, who laughed merrily over her cousin's letters, declaring
herself half jealous of her "gray-haired lover," as she termed the
captain.

All such communications were eagerly seized by Carrie, and fully
discussed in the presence of Durward, who gradually received the
impression that 'Lena was a flirt, a species of womankind which he
held in great abhorrence.  Just before he left New Haven, he received
a letter from his stepfather, requesting him to stop for a day or two
at Captain Atherton's, where he would join him, as he wished to look
at a country-seat near Mr. Livingstone's, which was now for sale.
This plan gave immense satisfaction to Carrie, and when her brother
proposed that Durward should stop at their father's instead of the
captain's, she seconded the invitation so warmly, that Durward
finally consented, and word was immediately sent to Mrs. Livingstone
to hold herself in readiness to receive Mr. Bellmont.

"Oh, I do hope your father will secure Woodlawn," said Carrie, as in
the parlor of the Burnett House, Cincinnati, they were discussing the
projected purchase.

The other young ladies had gone out shopping, and John Jr., who was
present, and who felt just like teasing his sister, replied, "What do
you care?  Mrs. Graham has no daughters, and she won't fancy such a
chit as you, so it must be Durward's society that you so much desire,
bit I can assure you that your nose will be broken when once he sees
our 'Lena."

Carrie turned toward the window to hide her wrath at this speech,
while Durward asked if "Miss Rivers were so very handsome?"

"_Handsome_!" repeated John.  "That don't begin to express it.  _Cad_
is what I call _handsome_, but 'Lena is beautiful, more beautiful,
most beautiful--now you have it superlatively.  Such complexion--such
eyes--such hair--I'll be hanged if I haven't been more than half in
love with her myself."

"I really begin to tremble," said Durward, laughingly while Carrie
rejoined, "You've only to make the slightest advance, and your love
will be returned ten-fold, for 'Lena is very susceptible, and already
encourages several admirers."

"There, my fair sister, you are slightly mistaken," interrupted John
Jr., who was going on farther in his remarks, when Durward asked if
"she ever left any _marks_ of her affection," referring to the
scratch she had given Carrie; who, before her brother had time to
speak, replied that "the _will_ and the _claws_ remained the same,
though common decency kept them hidden when it was necessary."

"That's downright slander," said John Jr., determined now upon
defending his cousin, "'Lena has a high temper, I acknowledge, but
she tries hard to govern it, and for nearly two years I've not seen
her angry once, though she's had every provocation under heaven."

"She knows _when_ and _where_ to be amiable," retorted Carrie.  "Any
one of her admirers would tell the same story with yourself."

At this juncture John Jr. was called for a moment from the room, and
Carrie, fearing she had said too much, immediately apologized to
Durward, saying, "it was not often that she allowed herself to speak
against her cousin, and that she should not have done so now, were
not John so much blinded, that her mother, knowing Lena's ambitious
nature, sometimes seriously feared the consequence.  I know," said
she, "that John fancies Nellie, but 'Lena's influence over him is
very great."

Durward made no reply, and Carrie continued: "I'm always sorry when I
speak against 'Lena; she is my cousin, and I wouldn't prejudice any
one against her; so you must forget my unkind remarks, which would
never have been uttered in the presence of a stranger.  She _is_
handsome and agreeable, and you must like her in spite of what I
said."

"I cannot refuse when so fair a lady pleads her cause," was Durward's
gallant answer, and as the other young ladies then entered the room,
the conversation ceased.

Meanwhile 'Lena was very differently employed.  Nearly a year had
elapsed since she had seen her cousins, and her heart bounded with
joy at the thought of meeting Anna, whom she dearly loved.  Carrie
was to her an object of indifference, rather than dislike, and
ofttimes had she thought, "If she would only let me love her."  But
it could not be, for there was no affinity between them.  Carrie was
proud and overbearing--jealous of her high-spirited cousin, who, as
John Jr. had said, strove hard to subdue her temper, and who now
seldom resented Carrie's insults, except when they were leveled at
her aged grandmother.

As we have before stated, news' had been received at Maple Grove that
Durward would accompany her cousins home.  Mr. Graham would, of
course, join him there, and accordingly, extensive preparations were
immediately commenced.  An unusual degree of sickness was prevailing
among the female portion of Mrs. Livingstone's servants, and the very
day before the company was expected, Aunt Milly, the head cook was
taken suddenly ill.  Coaxing, scolding, and threatening were alike
ineffectual.  The old negress would not say she was well when she
wasn't, and as Hagar, the next in command, was also sick (_lazy_, as
her mistress called it,) Mrs. Livingstone was herself obliged to
superintend the cookery.

"Crosser than a bar," as the little darkies said, she flew back and
forth, from kitchen to pantry, her bunch of keys rattling, the
corners of her mouth drawn back, and her hands raised ready to strike
at anything that came in her way.  As if there were a fatality
attending her movements, she was unfortunate in whatever she
undertook.  The cake was burned black, the custard curdled, the
preserves were found to be working, the big preserve dish got broken,
a thunder shower soured the cream, and taking it all in all, she
really had trouble enough to disconcert the most experienced
housekeeper.  Still, the few negroes able to assist, thought "she
needn't be so fetch-ed cross."

But cross she was, feeling more than once inclined to lay witchcraft
to the charge of old Milly, who comfortably ensconced in bed,
listened in dismay to the disastrous accounts brought her from time
to time from the kitchen, mentally congratulating herself the while
upon not being within hearing of her mistress' tongue.  Once Mrs.
Nichols attempted to help, but she was repulsed so angrily that 'Lena
did not presume to offer her services until the day of their arrival,
when, without a word, she repaired to the chambers, which she swept
and dusted, arranging the furniture, and making everything ready for
the comfort of the travelers.  Then descending to the parlors, she
went through the same process there, filled the vases with fresh
flowers, looped back the curtains, opened the piano, wheeled the sofa
a little to the right, the large chair a little to the left, and then
going to the dining-room, she set the table in the most perfect
order, doing all so quietly that her aunt knew nothing of it until it
was done.  Jake the coachman, had gone down to Frankfort after them,
and as he was not expected to return until between three and four,
dinner was deferred until that hour.

From sunrise Mrs. Livingstone had worked industriously, until her
face and temper were at a boiling heat.  The clock was on the point
of striking three, and she was bending over a roasting turkey, when
'Lena ventured to approach her, saying, "I have seen Aunt Milly baste
a turkey many a time, and I am sure I can do it as well as she."

"Well, what of it?" was the uncivil answer.

'Lena's temper choked her, but forcing it down, she replied: "Why, it
is almost three, and I thought perhaps you would want to cool and
dress yourself before they came.   I can see to the dinner, I know I
can.  Please let me try."

Somewhat mollified by her niece's kind manner, Mrs. Livingstone
resigned her post and repaired to her own room, while 'Lena,
confining her long curls to the top of her head and donning the wide
check-apron which her aunt had thrown aside, set herself at work with
a right good will.

"What dat ar you say?" exclaimed Aunt Milly, lifting her woolly head
from her pillow, and looking at the little colored girl, who had
brought to her the news that "young miss was in de kitchen."  "What
dat ar you tellin'?  Miss 'Leny pokin' 'mong de pots and kittles, and
dis ole nigger lazin' in bed jes like white folks.  Long as 'twas ole
miss, I didn't seer.  Good 'nough for her to roast, blister, and
bile; done get used to it, case she's got to in kingdom come, no
mistake--he!--he!  But little Miss 'Leny, it's too bad to bake her
lamb's-wool hands and face, and all de quality comin': I'll hobble up
thar, if I can stand."

Suiting the action to the word she got out of bed, and crawling up to
the kitchen, insisted upon taking 'Lena's place, saying, "she could
sit in her chair and tell the rest what to do."

For a time 'Lena hesitated, the old woman seemed so faint and weak,
but the sound of wheels decided her.  Springing to the sideboard in
the dining-room, she brought Aunt Milly a glass of wine, which
revived her so much that she now felt willing to leave her.  By this
time the carriage was at the door, and to escape unobserved was now
her great object.  But this she could not do, for as she was crossing
the hall, Anna espied her, and darting forward, seized her around the
neck, at the same time dragging her toward Carrie, who, with
Durward's eye upon her, _kissed_ her twice; then turning to him, she
said, "I suppose you do not need an introduction to Miss Rivers?"

Durward was almost guilty of the rudeness of staring at the
strangeness of 'Lena's appearance, for as nearly as she could, she
looked like a fright.  Bending over hot stoves and boiling gravies is
not very beneficial to one's complexion, and 'Lena's cheeks, neck,
forehead, and nose were of a purplish red--her hair was tucked back
in a manner exceedingly unbecoming, while the broad check-apron,
which came nearly to her feet, tended in nowise to improve her
appearance.  She felt it keenly, and after returning Durward's
salutation, she broke away before Anna or John, Jr., who were both
surprised at her looks, had time to ask a question.

Running up to her room, her first impulse was to cry, but knowing
that would disfigure her still more, she bathed her burning face and
neck, brushed out her curls, threw on a simple muslin dress, and
started for the parlor, of which Durward and Carrie were at that
moment the only occupants.  As she was passing the outer door, she
observed upon one of the piazza pillars a half-blown rose, and for a
moment stopped to admire it.  Durward, who sat in a corner, did not
see her, but Carrie did, and a malicious feeling prompted her to draw
out her companion, who she felt sure was disappointed in 'Lena's
face.  They were speaking of a lady whom they saw at Frankfort, and
whom Carrie pronounced "perfectly beautiful," while Durward would
hardly admit that she was even good-looking.

"I am surprised at your taste," said Carrie, adding, as she noticed
the proximity of her cousin, "I think she resembles 'Lena, and of
course you'll acknowledge _she_ is beautiful."

"She _was_ beautiful five years ago, but she's greatly changed since
then," answered Durward, never suspecting the exquisite satisfaction
his words afforded Carrie, who replied, "You had better keep that
opinion to yourself, and not express it before Captain Atherton or
brother John."

"Who takes my name in vain?" asked John Jr., himself appearing at a
side door.

"Oh, John," said Carrie, "we were just disputing about 'Lena.
Durward does not think her handsome."

"Durward be hanged!" answered John, making a feint of drawing from
his pocket a pistol which was not there.  "What fault has he to find
with 'Lena?"

"A little too rosy, that's all," said Durward, laughingly, while John
continued, "She _did_ look confounded red and dowdyish, for her.  I
don't understand it myself."

Here the hem of the muslin dress on which Carrie's eye had all the
while been resting, disappeared, and as there was no longer an
incentive for ill-natured remarks, the amiable young lady adroitly
changed the conversation.

John Jr. also caught a glimpse of the retreating figure, and started
in pursuit, in the course of his search passing the kitchen, where he
was instantly hailed by Aunt Milly, who, while bemoaning her own
aches and pains, did not fail to tell him how "Miss 'Lena, like
aborned angel dropped right out of 'tarnity, had been in thar,
burning her skin to a fiery red, a-tryin' to get up a tip-top dinner."

"So ho!" thought the young man, "that explains it;" and turning on
his heel, he walked back to the house just as the last bell was
ringing for dinner.

On entering the dining-room, he found all the family assembled,
except 'Lena.  She had excused herself on the plea of a severe
headache, and now in her own room was chiding herself for being so
much affected by a remark accidentally overheard.  What did she care
if Durward did think her plain?  He was nothing to her, and never
would be--and again she bathed her head, which really was aching
sadly.

"And so 'Lena's got the headache," said John Jr.  "Well, I don't
wonder, cooking all the dinner as she did."

"What do you mean?" asked Anna, while Mrs. Livingstone's angry frown
bade her son keep silence,

Filial obedience, however, was not one of John Jr.'s cardinal
virtues, and in a few words, he repeated what Aunt Milly had told
him, adding aside to Durward, "_This_ explains the extreme rosiness
which so much offended your lordship.  When next you see her, you'll
change your mind."

Suddenly remembering that his grandmother had not been introduced, he
now presented her to Durward.  The _Noble's_ blood had long been
forgotten, but grandma was never at a loss for a subject, and she
commenced talking notwithstanding Carrie's efforts to keep her still.

"Now I think on't, Car'line," said she at last, turning to her
granddaughter, "now I think on't, what made you propose to have my
dinner sent up to my room.  I hain't et there but once this great
while, and that was the day General Fontaine's folks were here, and
Matilda thought I warn't able to come down."

Durward's half-concealed smile showed that he understood it all,
while John Jr., in his element when his grandmother was talking,
managed, to lead her on, until she reached her favorite theme--Nancy
Scovandyke.  Here a look from her son silenced her, and as dinner was
just then over, Durward missed of hearing that remarkable lady's
history.

Late in the afternoon, as the family were sitting upon the piazza,
'Lena joined them.  Her headache had passed away, leaving her face a
shade whiter than usual.  The flush was gone from her forehead and
nose, but mindful of Durward's remark, the roses deepened on her
cheek, which only increased her loveliness.

"I acknowledge that I was wrong--your cousin _is_ beautiful,"
whispered Durward to Carrie, who, mentally hating the beauty which
had never before struck her so forcibly, replied in her softest
tones, "I knew you would, and I hope you'll be equally ready to
forgive her for winning hearts only to break them, for with that face
how can she help it?"

"A handsome face is no excuse for coquetry," answered Durward;
"neither can I think Miss Rivers guilty of it.  At all events, I mean
to venture a little nearer," and before Carrie could frame a
reasonable excuse for keeping him at her side, he had crossed ever
and taken a seat by 'Lena, with whom he was soon in the midst of an
animated conversation, his surprise each moment increasing at the
depth of intellect she displayed, for the beauty of her mind was
equal to that of her person.  Had it not been for the remembrance of
Carrie's insinuations, his admiration would have been complete.  But
anything like coquetry he heartily despised, and one great secret of
his liking for Carrie, was her evident freedom from that fault.  As
yet he had seen nothing to condemn in 'Lena's conduct.  Wholly
unaffected, she talked with him as she would have talked with any
stranger, and still there was in her manner a certain coldness for
which he could not account.

"Perhaps she thinks me not worth the winning," thought he, and in
spite of his principles, he erelong found himself exerting all his
powers to please and interest her.

About tea-time, Captain Atherton rode into the yard, and
simultaneously with his arrival, Mr. Everett came also.  Immediately
remembering what he had heard, Durward, in his eagerness to watch
'Lena, failed to note the crimson flush on Anna's usually pale cheek,
as Malcolm bent over her with his low-spoken, tender words of
welcome, and when the phthisicky captain, claiming the privilege of
an old friend, kissed the blushing Anna, Durward in his blindness
attributed the scornful expression of 'Lena's face to a feeling of
unwillingness that any save herself should share the attentions even
of the captain!  And in this impression he was erelong confirmed.

Drawing his chair up to Anna, Captain Atherton managed to keep
Malcolm at a distance, while he himself wholly monopolized the young
girl, who cast imploring glances toward her cousin, as if asking for
relief.  Many a time, on similar occasions, had 'Lena claimed the
attention of the captain, for the sake of leaving Anna free to
converse with Malcolm, and now understanding what was wanted of her,
she nodded in token that she would come to the rescue.  Just then,
Mrs. Livingstone, who had kept an eye upon her niece, drew near, and
as she seemed to want a seat; 'Lena instantly arose and offered hers,
going herself to the place where the captain was sitting.  Erelong,
her lively sallies and the captain's loud laugh began to attract Mrs.
Livingstone's attention, and observing that Durward's eyes were
frequently drawn that way, she thought proper to make some remarks
concerning the impropriety of her niece's conduct.

"I do wish," said she, apparently speaking more to herself than to
Durward, "I do wish 'Lena would learn discretion, and let Captain
Atherton alone, when she knows how much her behavior annoys Mr.
Everett."

"Is Mr. Everett anything to her!" asked Durward, half hoping that she
would not confirm what Carrie had before hinted.

"If he isn't he ought to be," answered Mrs. Livingstone, with an
ominous shake of the head.  "Rumor says they are engaged, and though
when questioned she denies it, she gives people abundant reason to
think so, and yet every chance she gets, she flirts with Captain
Atherton, as you see her doing now."

"What can she or any other young girl possibly want of that old man?"
asked Durward, laughing at the very idea.

"He is _rich_.  'Lena is poor, proud, and ambitious--there lies the
secret," was Mrs. Livingstone's reply, and thinking she had said
enough for the present, she excused herself, while she went to give
orders concerning supper.

John Jr., and Carrie, too, had disappeared, and thus left to himself,
Durward had nothing to do but to watch 'Lena, who, as she saw
symptoms of desertion in the anxious glances which the captain cast
toward Anna, redoubled her exertions to keep him at her side, thus
confirming Durward in the belief that she really was what her aunt
and Carrie had represented her to be.  "Poor, proud, and ambitious,"
rang in his ears, and as he mistook the mischievous look which 'Lena
frequently sent toward Anna and Malcolm, for a desire to see how the
latter was affected by her conduct, he thought "Fickle as fair," at
the same time congratulating himself that he had obtained an insight
into her real character, ere her exceeding beauty and agreeable
manners had made any particular impression upon him.

Knowing she had done nothing to offend him, and feeling piqued at his
indifference, 'Lena in turn treated him so coldly, that even Carrie
was satisfied with the phase which affairs had assumed, and that
night, in the privacy of her mother's dressing-room, expressed her
pleasure that matters were progressing so finely.

"You've no idea, mother," said she, "how much he detests anything
like coquetry.  Nellie Douglass thinks it's a kind of monomania with
him, and I am inclined to believe it is so."

"In that case," answered Mrs. Livingstone, "it behooves you, in his
presence, to be very careful how you demean yourself toward other
gentlemen."

"I haven't lived nineteen years for nothing," said Carrie, folding
her soft white hands complacently one over the other.

"Speaking of Nellie Douglass," continued Mrs. Livingstone, who had
long desired this interview with her daughter, "speaking of Nellie,
reminds me of your brother, who seems perfectly crazy about her."

"And what if he does ?" asked Carrie, her thoughts far more intent
upon Durward Bellmont than her brother.  "Isn't Nellie good enough
for him?"

"Yes, good enough, I admit," returned her mother, "but I think I can
find a far more suitable match--Mabel Ross, for instance.  Her
fortune is said to be immense, while Mr. Douglass is worth little or
nothing."

"When you bring about a union between John Livingstone Jr. and Mabel
Ross, I shall have full confidence in your powers to do anything,
even to the marrying of Anna and Grandfather Atherton," answered
Carrie, to whom her mother's schemes were no secret.

"And that, too, I'll effect, rather than see her thrown away upon a
low bred northerner, who shall never wed her--never;" and the haughty
woman paced up and down her room, devising numerous ways by which her
long cherished three-fold plan should be effected.

The next morning, Durward arose much earlier than was his usual
custom, and going out into the garden he came suddenly upon 'Lena.
"This," said he, "is a pleasure which I did not expect when I rather
unwillingly tore myself from my pillow."

All the coldness of the night before was gone, but 'Lena could not so
soon forget, and quite indifferently she answered, that "she learned
to rise early among the New England hills."

"An excellent practice, and one which more of our young ladies would
do well to imitate," returned Durward, at the same time speaking of
the beautifying effect which the morning air had upon her complexion.

'Lena reddened, for she recalled his words of yesterday concerning
her plainness, and somewhat sharply she replied, that "any
information regarding her personal appearance was wholly unnecessary,
as she knew very well how she looked."

Durward bit his lip, and resolving never to compliment her again,
walked on in silence at her side, while 'Lena, repenting of her hasty
words, and desirous of making amends, exerted herself to be
agreeable; and by the time the breakfast-bell rang, Durward mentally
pronounced her "a perfect mystery," which he would take delight in
unraveling!




CHAPTER X.

MR. AND MRS. GRAHAM.

Breakfast had been some time over, when the roll of carriage wheels
and a loud ring at the door, announced the arrival of Mr. Graham,
who, true to his appointment with Durward, had come up to meet him,
accompanied by Mrs. Graham.  This lady, who could boast of having
once been the bride of an English lord, to say nothing of belonging
to the "very first family of Virginia," was a sort of bugbear to Mrs.
Livingstone, who, haughty and overbearing to her equals, was
nevertheless cringing and cowardly in the presence of those whom she
considered her superiors.  Never having seen Mrs. Graham, her ideas
concerning her were quite elevated, and now when she came
unexpectedly, it quite overcame her.  Unfortunately, too, she was
this morning suffering from a nervous headache, the result of the
excitement and late hours of the night before, and on learning that
Mrs. Graham was in the parlor, she fell back in her rocking-chair,
and between a groan and a sigh, declared her utter inability to see
her at present, saying that Carrie must play the part of hostess
until such time as she felt composed enough to undertake it.

"Oh, I can't--I _shan't_--that ends it!" said Carrie, who, though a
good deal dressed on Durward's account, still felt anxious to give a
few more finishing touches to her toilet, and to see if her hair and
complexion were all right, ere she ventured into the august presence
ef her "mother-in-law elect," as she confidently considered Mrs.
Graham.

"Anna must go, then," persisted Mrs. Livingstone, who knew full well
how useless it would be to press Carrie farther.  "Anna must
go--where is she?  Call her, 'Lena."

But Anna was away over the fields, enjoying with Mr. Everett a walk
which had been planned the night previous, and when 'Lena returned
with the intelligence that she was nowhere to be found, her aunt in
great distress exclaimed, "Mercy me! what will Mrs. Graham think--and
Mr. Livingstone, too, keeps running back and forth for somebody to
entertain her.  What shall I do!  I can't go in looking so yellow and
jaded as I now do!"

'Lena's first thought was to bring her aunt's powderball, as the
surest way of remedying the yellow skin, but knowing that such an act
would be deeply resented, she quickly repressed the idea, offering
instead to go herself to the parlor.

"_You_!  What could _you_ say to her?" returned Mrs. Livingstone, to
whom the proposition was not altogether displeasing.

"I can at least answer her questions," returned 'Lena and after a
moment her aunt consented, wondering the while how 'Lena, in her
plain gingham wrapper and linen collar, could be willing to meet the
fashionable Mrs. Graham.

"But then," thought she, "she has so little sensibility, I don't
s'pose she cares! and why should she?  Mrs. Graham will of course
look upon her as only a little above a servant"--and with this
complimentary reflection upon her niece, Mrs. Livingstone retired to
her dressing-room, while 'Lena, with a beating heart and slightly
heightened color, repaired to the parlor.

On a sofa by the window sat Mrs. Graham, and the moment 'Lena's eye
fell upon her, her fears vanished, while she could hardly repress a
smile at the idea of being afraid of _her_.  She was a short, dumpy,
florid looking woman, showily, and as 'Lena thought, _overdressed_
for morning, as her person was covered with jewelry, which flashed
and sparkled with every movement.  Her forehead was very low, and
marked by a scowl of discontent which was habitual, for with
everything to make her happy, Mrs. Graham was far from being so.
Exceedingly nervous and fidgety, she was apt to see only the darker
side, and when her husband and son, who were of exactly opposite
temperaments, strove to laugh her into good spirits, they generally
made the matter worse, as she usually reproached them with having no
feeling or sympathy for her.

Accustomed to a great deal of attention, she had fretted herself into
quite a fever at Mrs. Livingstone's apparent lack of courtesy in not
hastening to receive her, and when 'Lena's light step was heard in
the hall, she turned toward the door with a frown which seemed to ask
why she had not come sooner.  Durward, who was present immediately
introduced his mother, at the same time admiring the extreme dignity
of 'Lena's manner as she received the lady's greeting, apologizing
for her aunt's non-appearance, saying "she was suffering from a
severe headache, and begged to be excused for an hour or so."

"Quite excusable," returned Mrs. Graham, at the same time saying
something in a low tone about it's not being her wish to stop there
so early, as she knew _she_ was not expected.

"But perfectly welcome, nevertheless," 'Lena hastened to say,
thinking that for the time being the reputation of her uncle's house
was resting upon her shoulders.

"I dare say," was Mrs. Graham's ungracious answer, and then her
little gray, deep-set eyes rested upon 'Lena, wondering if she were
"a governess or what?" and thinking it strange that she should seem
so perfectly self-possessed.

Insensibly, too, 'Lena's manner won upon her, for spite of her
fretfulness, Mrs. Graham at heart was a kindly disposed woman.  Ill
health and long years of dissipation had helped to make her what she
was.  Besides this, she was not quite happy in her domestic
relations, for though Mr. Graham possessed all the requisites of a
kind and affectionate husband, he could not remove from her mind the
belief that he liked others better then he did herself!  'Twas in
vain that he alternately laughed at and reasoned with her on the
subject.  She was not to be convinced, and so poor Mr. Graham, who
was really exceedingly polite and affable to the ladies, was almost
constantly provoking the green-eyed monster by his attentions to some
one of the fair sex.  In spite of his nightly "Caudle" lectures, he
_would_ transgress again and again, until his wife's patience was
exhausted, and now she affected to have given him up, turning for
comfort and affection toward Durward, who was her special delight,
"the very apple of her eye--he was so much like his father, Sir
Arthur, who during the whole year that she lived with him had never
once given her cause for jealousy."

Just before 'Lena entered the parlor Mr. Graham, had for a moment
stepped out with Mr. Livingstone, but soon returning, he, too, was
introduced to the young lady.  It was strange, considering 'Lena's
uncommon beauty, that Mrs. Graham did not watch her husband's manner,
but for once in her life she felt no fears, and looking from the
window, she failed to note the sudden pallor which overspread his
face when Mr. Livingstone presented to him "Miss Rivers--my niece."

Mr. Graham was a tall, finely-formed man, with a broad, good-humored
face, whose expression instantly demanded respect from strangers,
while his pleasant, affable deportment universally won the friendship
of ail who knew him.  And 'Lena was not an exception to the general
rule, for the moment his warm hand grasped hers and his kindly
beaming eye rested upon her, her heart went toward him as a friend,
while she wondered why he looked at her so long and earnestly, twice
repeating her name--"Miss Rivers--_Rivers_."

From the first, 'Lena had recognized him as the same gentleman whom
Durward had called father in the cars years ago, and when, as if to
apologize for his singular conduct, he asked if they had never met
before, she referred him to that time, saying "she thought it strange
that he should remember her."

"Old acquaintances--ah--indeed !" and little Mrs. Graham nodded and
fanned, while her round, florid face grew more florid, and her linen
cambric went up to her forehead as if trying to smooth out the scowl
which was of too long standing to be smoothed.

"Yes, my dear," said Mr. Graham, turning toward his wife, "I had
entirely forgotten the circumstance, but it seems I saw her in the
cars when we took our eastern tour six or seven years ago.  You were
quite a little girl then"--turning to 'Lena.

"Only ten," was the reply, and Mrs. Graham, ashamed of herself and
anxious to make amends, softened considerable toward 'Lena, asking
"how long she had lived in Kentucky--where she used to live--and
where her mother was."

At this question, Mr. Graham, who was talking with Mr. Livingstone,
suddenly stopped.

"My mother is dead," answered 'Lena.

"And your father?"

"Gone to Canada!" interrupted Durward, who had heard vague rumors of
'Lena's parentage, and who did not quite like his mother's being so
inquisitive.

Mrs. Graham laughed; she always did at whatever Durward said; while
Mr. Graham replied to a remark made by Mr. Livingstone some time
before.  Here John Jr. appeared, and after being formally introduced,
he seated himself by his cousin, addressing to her some trivial
remark, and calling her '_Lena_.  It was well for Mr. Graham's after
peace that his wife was just then too much engrossed with Durward to
observe the effect which that name produced upon him.

Abruptly rising he turned toward Mr. Livingstone, saying, "You were
telling me about a fine species of cactus which you have in your
yard--suppose we go and see it."

The cactus having been duly examined, praised, and commented upon,
Mr. Graham casually remarked, "Your niece is a fine-looking
girl--'Lena, I think your son called her?"

"Yes, or _Helena_, which was her mother's name."

"And her mother was your sister, Helena Livingstone?"

"No, sir, Nichols.  I changed my name to gratify a fancy of my wife,"
returned Mr. Livingstone, thinking it better to tell the truth at
once.

Again Mr. Graham bent over the cactus, inspecting it minutely, and
keeping his face for a long time concealed from his friend, whose
thoughts, as was usually the case when his sister was mentioned, were
far back in the past.  When at last Mr. Graham lifted his head there
were no traces of the stormy emotions which had shaken his very
heart-strings, and with a firm, composed step he walked back to the
parlor, where he found both Mrs. Livingstone and Carrie just paying
their respects to his lady.

Nothing could be more marked than the difference between Carrie's and
'Lena's manner toward Mrs. Graham.  Even Durward noticed it, and
while he could not sufficiently admire the quiet self-possession of
the latter, who in her simple morning wrapper and linen collar had
met his mother on perfectly equal terms, he for the first time in his
life felt a kind of contempt (pity he called it,) for Carrie, who, in
an elegantly embroidered double-gown confined by a rich cord and
tassels, which almost swept the floor, treated his mother with a
fawning servility as disgusting to him as it was pleasing to the lady
in question.  Accustomed to the utmost deference on account of her
wealth and her husband's station, Mrs. Graham had felt as if
something were withheld from her, when neither Mrs. Livingstone nor
her daughters rushed to receive and welcome her; but now all was
forgotten, for nothing could be more flattering than their
attentions.  Both mother and daughter having the son in view, did
their best, and when at last Mrs. Graham asked to be shown to her
room, Carrie, instead of ringing for a servant, offered to conduct
her thither herself; whereupon Mrs. Graham laid her hand caressingly
upon her shoulders, calling her a "dear little pet," and asking
"where she stole those bright, naughty eyes!"

A smothered laugh from John Jr.  and a certain low soft sound which
he was in the habit of producing when desirous of reminding his
sister of her _nose_, made the "bright, naughty eyes" flash so
angrily, that even Durward noticed it, and wondered if 'Lena's temper
had not been transferred to her cousin.

"That young girl--'Lena, I think you call her--is a relative of
yours," said Mrs. Graham to Carrie, as they were ascending the stairs.

"Ye-es, our cousin, I suppose," answered Carrie.

"She bears a very aristocratic name, that of Rivers--does she belong
to a Virginia family?"

Carrie looked mysterious and answered, "I never knew anything of her
father, and indeed, I reckon no one does"--then after a moment she
added, "Almost every family has some objectionable relative, with
which they could willingly dispense."

"Very true," returned Mrs. Graham, "What a pity we couldn't all have
been born in England.  There, dear, you can leave me now."

Accordingly Carrie started for the parlor, meeting in the hall her
mother, who was in a sea of trouble concerning the dinner.  "Old
Milly," she said, "had gone to bed out of pure hatefulness,
pretending she had got a _collapse_, as she called it."

"Can't Hagar do," asked Carrie, anxious that Mrs. Graham's first
dinner with them should be in style.

"Yes, but she can't do everything--somebody must superintend her, and
as for burning myself brown over the dishes and then coming to the
table, I won't."

"Why not make 'Lena go into the kitchen--it won't hurt her to-day
more than it did yesterday," suggested Carrie.

"A good idea," returned her mother, and stepping to the parlor door
she called 'Lena from a most interesting conversation with Mr.
Graham, who, the moment his wife was gone, had taken a seat by her
side, and now seemed oblivious to all else save her.

There was a strange tenderness in the tones of his voice and in the
expression of his eyes as they rested upon her, and Durward, who well
knew his mother's peculiarities, felt glad that she was not present,
while at the same time he wondered that his father should appear so
deeply interested in an entire stranger.

"'Lena, I wish to speak with you," said Mrs. Livingstone, appearing
at the door, and 'Lena, gracefully excusing herself, left the room,
while Mr. Graham commenced pacing the floor in a slow, abstracted
manner, ever and anon wiping away the beaded drops which stood
thickly on his forehead.

Meantime, 'Lena, having learned for what she was wanted, went without
a word to the kitchen, though her proud nature rebelled, and it was
with difficulty she could force down the bitter spirit which she felt
rising within her.  Had her aunt or Carrie shared her labors, or had
the former _asked_ instead of commanded her to go, she would have
done it willingly.  But now in quite a perturbed state of mind she
bent over pastry and pudding, scarcely knowing which was which, until
a pleasant voice at her side made her start, and looking up she saw
Anna, who had just returned from her walk, and who on learning how
matters stood, declared her intention of helping too.

"If there's anything I like, it's being in a muss," said she, and
throwing aside her leghorn flat, pinning up her sleeves, and
fastening back her curls in imitation of 'Lena, she was soon up to
her elbows in cooking--her dress literally covered with flour, eggs,
and cream, and her face as red as the currant jelly which Hagar
brought from the china closet.  "There's a pie fit for a queen or
Lady Graham either," said she, depositing in the huge oven her first
attempt in the pie line.

But alas! Malcolm Everett's words of love spoken beneath the
wide-spreading sycamore were still ringing in Anna's ears, so it was
no wonder she _salted_ the custard instead of sweetening it.  But no
one noticed the mistake, and when the pie was done, both 'Lena and
Hagar praised its white, uncurdled appearance.

"Now we shall just have time to change our dresses," said Anna, when
everything pertaining to the dinner was in readiness, but 'Lena,
knowing how flushed and heated she was, and remembering Durward's
distaste of high colors, announced her determination of not appearing
at the table.

"I shall see that grandma is nicely dressed," said she, "and you must
look after her a little, for I shall not come down."

So saying she ran up to her room, where she found Mrs. Nichols in a
great state of fermentation to know "who was below, and what the
doin's was, I should of gone down," said she, "but I know'd 'Tilda
would be madder'n a hornet."

'Lena commended her discretion in remaining where she was, and then
informing her that Mr. Bellmont's father and mother were there, she
proceeded to make some alterations in her dress.  The handsome black
silk and neat lace cap, both the Christmas gift of John Jr., were
donned, and then, staff in hand, the old lady started for the
dining-room, 'Lena giving her numerous charges not to talk much, and
on no account to mention her favorite topic--Nancy Scovandyke!

"Nancy's as good any day as Miss Graham, if she did marry a live
lord," was grandma's mental comment, as the last-mentioned lady,
rustling in a heavy brocade and loaded down with jewelry, took her
place at the table.

Purposely, Mrs. Livingstone omitted an introduction which her
husband, through fear of her, perhaps, failed to give.  But not so
with John Jr.  To be sure, he cared not a fig, on his grandmother's
account, whether she were introduced or not, for he well knew she
would not hesitate to make their acquaintance; but knowing how it
would annoy his mother and Carrie, he called out, in a loud tone, "My
grandmother, Mrs. Nichols--Mr. and Mrs. Graham."

Mr. Graham started so quickly that his wife asked "if anything stung
him."

"Yes--no,'' said he, at the same time indicating that it was not
worth while to mind it.

"Got stung, have you?" said Mrs. Nichols.  "Mebby 'twas a
bumble-bee--seems 'sef I smelt one; but like enough it's the scent on
Car'line's handkercher."

Mrs. Graham frowned majestically, but it was entirely lost on
grandma, who, after a time, forgetful of 'Lena's caution, said, "I
b'lieve they say you're from Virginny!"

"Yes, madam, Virginia is my native state,"' returned Mrs. Graham,
clipping off each word as if it were burning her tongue.

"Anywheres near Richmond?" continued Mrs. Nichols.

"I was born in Richmond, madam."

"Law, now I who knows but you're well acquainted with Nancy
Scovandyke's kin."

Mrs. Graham turned as red as the cranberry sauce upon her plate, as
she replied, "I've not the honor of knowing either Miss Scovandyke or
any of her relatives."

"Wall, she's a smart, likely gal, or woman I s'pose you'd call her,
bein' she's just the age of my son."

Here Mrs. Nichols, suddenly remembering 'Lena's charge, stopped, but
John Jr., who loved to see the fun go on, started her again, by
asking what relatives Miss Scovandyke had in Virginia.

"'Leny told me not to mention Nancy, but bein' you've asked a civil
question, 'tain't more'n fair for me to answer it.  Better'n forty
year ago Nancy's mother's aunt----"

"Which would be Miss Nancy's great-aunt," interrupted John Jr.

"Bless the boy," returned the old lady, "he's got the Nichols' head
for figgerin'.  Yes, Nancy's great-aunt though she was six years and
two months younger'n Nancy's mother.  Wall, as I was sayin', she went
off to Virginny to teach music.  She was prouder'n Lucifer, and after
a spell she married a southerner, rich as a Jew, and then she never
took no more notice of her folks to hum, than's ef they hadn't been.
But the poor critter didn't live long to enjoy it, for when her first
baby was born, she died.  'Twas a little girl, but her folks in
Massachusetts have never heard a word whether she's dead or alive.
Joel Slocum, that's Nancy's nephew, says he means to go down there
some day, and look her up, but I wouldn't bother with 'em, for that
side of the house always did feel big, and above Nancy's folks,
thinkin' Nancy's mother married beneath her."

Mrs. Graham must have enjoyed her dinner very much, for during
grandma's recital she applied herself assiduously to her plate, never
once looking up, while her face and neck were literally spotted,
either with heat, excitement or anger.  These spots at last attracted
Mrs. Nichols' attention, causing her to ask the lady "if she warn't
pestered with erysipelas."

"I am not aware of it, madam," answered Mrs. Graham, and grandma
replied, "It looks mighty like it to me, and I've seen a good deal
on't, for Nancy Scovandyke has allers had it more or less.  Now I
think on't," she continued, as if bent on tormenting her companion,
"now I think on't, you look quite a considerable like Nancy--the same
forehead and complexion--only she's a head taller.  Hain't you
noticed it, John?"

"No, I have not," answered John, at the same time proposing a change
in the conversation, as he presumed "they had all heard enough of
Nancy Scovandyke."

At this moment the dessert appeared, and with it Anna's pie.  John
Jr. was the first to taste it, and with an expression of disgust he
exclaimed, "Horror, mother, who made this pie?"

Mrs. Livingstone needed but one glance at her guests to know that
something was wrong, and darting an angry frown at Hagar, who was
busy at a side-table, she wondered "if there ever was any one who had
so much trouble with servants as herself."

Anna saw the gathering storm, and knowing full well that it would
burst on poor Hagar's head, spoke out, "Hagar is not in the fault,
mother--no one but myself is to blame.  _I_ made the pie, and must
have put in salt instead of sugar."

"You made the pie!" repeated Mrs. Livingstone angrily, "What business
had you in the kitchen?  Pity we hadn't a few more servants, for then
we should all be obliged to turn drudges."

Anna was about to reply, when John Jr. prevented her, by asking, "if
it hurt his sister to be in the kitchen any more than it did 'Lena,
who," he said, "worked there both yesterday and to-day, burning
herself until she is ashamed to appear at the table."

Mortified beyond measure at what had occurred, Mrs. Livingstone
hastened to explain that her servants were nearly all sick, and that
in her dilemma, 'Lena had volunteered her services, adding by way of
compliment, undoubtedly, that "her niece seemed peculiarly adapted to
such work--indeed, that her forte lay among pots and kettles."

An expression of scorn, unusual to Mr. Graham, passed over his face,
and in a sarcastic tone he asked Mrs. Livingstone, "if she thought it
detracted from a young lady's worth, to be skilled in whatever
pertained to the domestic affairs of a family."

Ready to turn whichever way the wind did, Mrs. Livingstone replied,
"Not at all--not at all.  I mean that my daughters shall learn
everything, so that their husbands will find in them every necessary
qualification."

"Then you confidently expect them to catch husbands some time or
other," said John Jr., whereupon Carrie blushed, and looked very
interesting, while Anna retorted, "Of course we shall.  I wouldn't be
an old maid for the world--I'd run away first!"

And amidst the laughter which this speech called forth the company
retired from the table.  For some time past Mrs. Nichols had walked
with a cane, limping even then.  Observing this, Mr. Graham, with his
usual gallantry, offered her his arm, which she willingly accepted,
casting a look of triumph upon her daughter-in-law, who apparently
was not so well pleased.  So thorough had been grandma's training,
that she did not often venture into the parlor without a special
invitation from its mistress, but on this occasion, Mr. Graham led
her in there as a matter of course, and placing her upon the sofa,
seated himself by her side, and commenced questioning her concerning
her former home and history.  Never in her life had Mrs. Nichols felt
more communicative, and never before had she so attentive a listener.
Particularly did he hang upon every word, when she told him of her
Helena, of her exceeding beauty, her untimely death, and rascally
husband.

"Rivers--Rivers," said he, "what kind of a looking man was he?"

"The Lord only knows--I never see him," returned Mrs. Nichols.  "But
this much I do know, he was one scandalous villain, and if an old
woman's curses can do him any harm, he's had mine a plenty of times."

"You do wrong to talk so," said Mr. Graham, "for who knows how
bitterly he may have repented of the great wrong done to your
daughter."

"Then why in the name of common sense don't he hunt up her child, and
own her--he needn't be ashamed of 'Leny."

"Very true," answered Mr. Graham.  "No one need be ashamed of her.  I
should be proud to call her my daughter.  But as I was saying,
perhaps this Rivers has married a second time, keeping his first
marriage a secret from his wife, who is so proud and high-spirited
that now, after the lapse of years, he dares not tell her for fear of
what might follow."

"Then she's a good-for-nothing, stuck-up thing, and he's a cowardly
puppy!  That's my opinion on 'em, and I'll tell 'em so, if ever I see
'em!" exclaimed Mrs. Nichols, her wrath waxing warmer and warmer
toward the destroyer of her daughter.

Pausing for breath, she helped herself to a pinch of her favorite
Maccaboy, and then passed it to Mr. Graham, who, to her astonishment,
took some, slyly casting it aside when she did not see him.  This
emboldened the old lady to offer it to Mrs. Graham, who, languidly
reclining upon the end of the sofa, sat talking to Carrie, who, on a
low stool at her feet, was looking up into her face as if in perfect
admiration.  Without deigning other reply than a haughty shake of the
head, Mrs. Graham cast a deprecating glance toward Carrie, who
muttered, "How disgusting!  But for pa's sake we tolerate it."

Here 'Lena entered the parlor, very neatly dressed, and looking fresh
and blooming as a rose.  There was no vacant seat near except one
between Durward and John Jr., which, at the invitation of the latter,
she accepted.  A peculiar smile flitted over Carrie's face, which was
noticed by Mrs. Graham, and attributed to the right cause.  Ere long
Durward, John Jr., 'Lena and Anna, who had joined them, left the
house, and from the window Carrie saw that they were amusing
themselves by playing "Graces."  Gradually the sound of their voices
increased, and as 'Lena's clear, musical laugh rang out above the
rest, Mrs. Graham and Carrie looked out just in time to see Durward
holding the struggling girl, while John Jr., claimed the reward of
his having thrown the "grace hoop" upon her head.

Inexpressily shocked, the precise Mrs. Graham asked, "What kind of a
girl is your cousin?" to which Carrie replied, "You have a fair
sample of her," at the same time nodding toward 'Lena, who was
unmercifully pulling John Jr.'s ears as a reward for his presumption.

"Rather hoydenish, I should think," returned Mrs. Graham, secretly
hoping Durward would not become enamored of her.

At length the party left the yard, and repairing to the garden, sat
down in one of the arbor bridges, where they were joined by Malcolm
Everett, who naturally, and as a matter of course, appropriated Anna
to himself, Durward observed this, and when he saw them walk away
together, while 'Lena appeared wholly unconcerned, he began to think
that possibly Mrs. Livingstone was mistaken when she hinted of an
engagement between her niece and Mr. Everett.  Knowing John Jr.'s
straightforward way of speaking, he determined to sound him, so he
said, "Your sister and Mr. Everett evidently prefer each other's
society to ours."

"Oh, yes," answered John.  "I saw that years ago, when Anna wasn't
knee-high; and I'm glad of it, for Everett is a mighty fine fellow."

'Lena, too, united in praising her teacher, until Durward felt
certain that she had never entertained for him any feeling stronger
than that of friendship; and as to her flirting seriously with
Captain Atherton, the idea was too preposterous to be harbored for a
single moment.  Once exonerated from these charges, it was strange
how fast 'Lena rose in his estimation, and when John Jr., with a loud
yawn, asked if they did not wish he would leave them alone, more in
earnest than in fun Durward replied, "Yes, yes, do."

"I reckon I will," said John, shaking down his tight pants, and
pulling at his long coat sleeves.  "I never want anybody round when
I'm with Nellie Douglass."

So saying, he walked off, leaving Durward and 'Lena alone.  That
neither of them felt at all sorry, was proved by the length of time
which they remained together, for when more than an hour afterward
Mrs. Graham proposed to Carrie to take a turn in the garden, she
found the young couple still in the arbor, so wholly engrossed that
they neither saw nor heard her until she stood before them.

'Lena was an excellent horsewoman, and Durward had just proposed a
ride early the next morning, when his mother, forcing down her wrath,
laid her hand on his shoulder, and as if the proposition had come
from 'Lena instead of her son, she said, "No, no, Miss Rivers,
Durward can't go--he has got to drive me over to Woodlawn, together
with Carrie and Anna, whom I have asked to accompany me; so you see
'twill be impossible for him to ride with you."

"Unless she goes with us," interrupted Durward.  "You would like to
visit Woodlawn, would you not, Miss Rivers?"

"Oh, very much," was 'Lena's reply, while Mrs. Graham continued, "I
am sorry I cannot extend my invitation to Miss Rivers, but our
carriage will be full, and I cannot endure to be crowded."

"It has carried six many a time," said Durward, "and if she will go,
I will take you on my lap, or anywhere."

Of course 'Lena declined--he knew she would--and determined not to be
outwitted by his mother, whose aim he saw, he continued, "I shan't
release you from your engagement to ride with me.  We will start
early and get back before mother is up, so our excursion will in no
way interfere with my driving her to Woodlawn after breakfast."

Mrs. Graham was too polite to raise any further objection, but
resolving not to leave them to finish their _tete-a-tete_, she threw
herself upon one of the seats, and commenced talking to her son,
while Carrie, burning with jealousy and vexation, started for the
house, where she laid her grievances before her mother, who, equally
enraged, declared her intention of "hereafter watching the vixen
pretty closely."

"And she's going to ride with him to-morrow morning, you say.  Well,
I fancy I can prevent that."

"How?" asked Carrie, eagerly, and her mother replied, "You know she
always rides Fleetfoot, which now, with the other horses, is in the
Grattan woods, two miles away.  Of course she'll order Caesar to
bring him up to the stable, but I shall countermand that order,
bidding him say nothing to her about it.  He dare not disobey me, and
when in the morning she asks for the pony, he can tell her just how
it is."

"Capital! capital!" exclaimed Carrie, never suspecting that there had
been a listener, even John Jr., who all the while was sitting in the
back parlor.

"Whew!" thought the young man.  "Plotting, are they?  Well, I'll see
how good I am at counterplotting."

So, slipping quietly out of the house, he went in quest of his
servant, Bill, telling him to go after Fleetfoot, whom he was to put
in the lower stable instead of the one where she was usually kept;
"and then in the morning, long before the sun is up," said he, "do
you have her at the door for one of the young ladies to ride."

"Yes, marster," answered Bill, looking around for his old straw hat.

"Now, see how quick you can go," John Jr. continued, adding as an
incentive to haste, that if Bill would get the pony stabled before
old Caesar, who had gone to Versailles, should return, he would give
him ten cents.

Bill needed no other inducement than the promise of money, and
without stopping to find his hat, he started off bare-headed, upon
the run, returning in the course of an hour and claiming his reward,
as Caesar had not yet got home.

"All right," said John Jr., tossing him the silver.  "And now
remember to keep your tongue between your teeth."

Bill had kept too many secrets for his young master to think of
tattling about something which to him seemed of no consequence
whatever, and he walked off, eying his dime, and wishing he could
earn one so easily every day.

Meantime John Jr. sought out 'Lena, to whom he said, "And so you are
going to ride to-morrow morning?"

"How did you know ?" she asked, and John, looking very wise, replied,
that "little girls should not ask too many questions," adding, that
as he supposed she would of course want Fleetfoot, he had ordered
Bill to have her at the door early in the morning.

"Much obliged," answered 'Lena.  "I was about giving it up when I
heard the pony was in the Grattan woods, for Caesar is so cross I
hated to ask him to go for her; but now I'll say nothing to him about
it."

That night when Caesar was eating his supper in the kitchen, his
mistress suddenly appeared, asking, "if he had received any orders to
go for Fleetfoot."

The old negro, who was naturally cross, began to scowl, "No, miss,
and Lord knows I don't want to tote clar off to the Grattan woods
to-night."

"You needn't, either, and if any one tells you to go don't you do
it," returned Mrs. Livingstone.

"Somebody's playin' possum, that's sartin," thought Bill, who was
present, and began putting things together.  "Somebody's playin'
possum, but they don't catch this child leakin'."

"Have you told him?" whispered Carrie, meeting her mother in the hall.

Mrs. Livingstone nodded, adding in an undertone, that "she presumed
the ride was given up, as Lena had said nothing to Caesar about the
pony."

With her mind thus at ease, Carrie returned to the parlor, where she
commenced talking to Mrs. Graham of their projected visit to
Woodlawn, dwelling upon it as if it had been a tour to Europe, and
evidently exulting that 'Lena was to be left behind.




CHAPTER XI.

WOODLAWN.

Next morning, long before the sun appeared above the eastern horizon,
Fleetfoot, attended by Bill, stood before the door saddled and
waiting for its young rider, while near by it was Firelock, which
Durward had borrowed of John Jr.  At last 'Lena appeared, and if
Durward had admired her beauty before, his admiration was now greatly
increased when he saw how well she looked in her neatly fitting
riding dress and tasteful straw hat.  After bidding her good morning,
he advanced to assist her in mounting, but declining his offer, she
with one bound sprang into the saddle,

"Jumps like a toad," said Bill.  "Ain't stiff and clumsy like Miss
Carrie, who allus has to be done sot on."

At a word from Durward they galloped briskly away, the clatter of
their horses' hoofs arousing and bringing to the window Mrs. Graham,
who had a suspicion of what was going on.  Pushing aside the silken
curtain, she looked uneasily after them, wondering if in reality her
son cared aught for the graceful creature at his side, and thinking
if he did, how hard she would labor to overcome his liking.  Mrs.
Graham was not the only one who watched them, for fearing lest Bill
should not awake, John Jr.  had foregone his morning nap, himself
calling up the negro, and now from his window he, too, looked after
them until they entered upon the turnpike and were lost to view.
Then, with some very complimentary reflections upon Lena's riding, he
returned to his pillow, thinking to himself, "There's a girl worth
having.  By Jove, if I'd never seen Nellie Douglass, and 'Lena wasn't
my cousin, wouldn't I keep mother in the hysterics most of the time!"

On reaching the turnpike, Durward halted, while he asked 'Lena "where
she wished to go."

"Anywhere you please," said she, when, for reasons of his own, he
proposed that they should ride over to Woodlawn.

'Lena was certainly excusable if she felt a secret feeling of
satisfaction in thinking she was after all the first of the family to
visit Woodlawn, of which she had heard so much, that it seemed like a
perfect Eldorado.  It was a grand old building, standing on a cross
road about three miles from the turnpike, and commanding quite an
extensive view of the country around.  It was formerly owned by a
wealthy Englishman, who spent his winters in New Orleans and his
summers in the country.  The year before he had died insolvent,
Woodlawn falling into the hands of his creditors, who now offered it
for sale, together with the gorgeous furniture which still remained
just as the family had left it.  To the left of the building was a
large, handsome park, in which the former owner had kept a number of
deer, and now as Durward and 'Lena rode up and down the shaded
avenues, these graceful creatures would occasionally spring up and
bound away with the fleetness of the wind.

The garden and yard in front were laid out with perfect taste, the
former combining both the useful and the agreeable.  A luxurious
grape-vine wreathed itself over the arched entrance, while the wide,
graveled walks were bordered, some with box, and others with choice
flowers, now choked and overgrown with weeds, but showing marks of
great beauty, when properly tended and cared for.  At the extremity
of the principal walk, which extended the entire length of the
garden, was a summer house, fitted up with everything which could
make it attractive, during the sultry heat of summer, while farther
on through the little gate was a handsome grove or continuation of
the park, with many well-beaten paths winding through it and
terminating finally at the side of a tiny sheet of water, which
within a few years had forced itself through the limestone soil
natural to Kentucky.

Owing to some old feud, the English family had not been on visiting
terms with the Livingstones; consequently, 'Lena had never before
been at Woodlawn, and her admiration increased with every step, and
when at last they entered the house and stood within the elegant
drawing-rooms, it knew no bounds.  She remembered the time when she
had thought her uncle's furniture splendid beyond anything in the
world, but it could not compare with the magnificence around her, and
for a few moments she stood as if transfixed with astonishment.
Durward had been highly amused at her enthusiastic remarks concerning
the grounds, and now noticing her silence, he asked "what was the
matter?"

"Oh, I am half-afraid to speak, lest this beautiful room should prove
an illusion and fade away," said she.

"Is it then so much more beautiful than anything you ever saw
before?" he asked; and she replied, "Oh, yes, far more so," at the
same time giving him a laughable description of her amazement when
she first saw the inside of her uncle's house, and ending by saying,
"But you can imagine it all, for you saw me in the cars, and can
judge pretty well what were my ideas of the world."

Wishing to see if 'Lena would attempt to conceal her former humble
mode of living Durward said, "I have never heard anything concerning
your eastern home and how you lived there--will you please to tell
me?"

"There's nothing to tell which will interest you," answered 'Lena;
but Durward thought there was, and leading her to a sofa, he bade her
commence.

Durward had a peculiar way of making people do what he pleased, and
now at his bidding 'Lena told him of her mountain-home, with its
low-roof, bare walls, and oaken floors--of herself, when, a
bare-footed little girl, she picked _huckleberries_ with _Joel
Slocum_!  And then, in lower and more subdued tones, she spoke of her
mother's grave in the valley, near which her beloved grandfather--the
only father she had ever known--was now sleeping.  'Lena never spoke
of her grandfather without weeping.  She could not help it.  Her
tears came naturally, as they did when first they told her he was
dead, and now laying her head upon the arm of the sofa, she sobbed
like a child.

Durward's sympathies were all enlisted, and without stopping to
consider the propriety or impropriety of the act, he drew her gently
toward him, trying to soothe her grief, calling her '_Lena_, and
smoothing back the curls which had fallen over her face.  As soon as
possible 'Lena released herself from him, and drying her tears,
proposed that they should go over the house, as it was nearly time
for them to return home.  Accordingly, they passed on through room
after room, 'Lena's quick eye taking in and appreciating everything
which she saw, while Durward was no less lost in admiration of her,
for speaking of herself so frankly as she had done.  Many young
ladies, he well knew, would shrink from acknowledging that their home
was once in a brown, old-fashioned house among wild and rugged
mountains, and 'Lena's truthfulness in speaking not only of this, but
many similar things connected with her early history, inspired him
with a respect of her which he had never before felt for any young
lady of his acquaintance.

But little was said by either of them as they went over the house,
until Durward, prompted by something, he could not resist suddenly
asked his companion "how she would like to be mistress of Woodlawn?"

Had it been Carrie to whom this question was put, she would have
blushed and simpered, expecting nothing short of an immediate offer,
but 'Lena quickly replied, "Not at all," laughingly giving as an
insuperable objection, "the size of the house and the number of
windows she would have to wash!"

With a loud laugh Durward proposed that they should now return home,
and again mounting their horses, they started for Maple Grove, which
they reached just after the family had finished breakfast.  With the
first ring of the bell, John Jr., eager not to lose an iota of what
might occur, was at the table, and when his mother and Carrie,
anxious at the non-appearance of Durward and 'Lena, cast wistful
glances toward each other, he very indifferently asked Mrs. Graham
"if her son had returned from his ride."

"I've not seen him," answered the lady, her scowl deepening and her
lower jaw dropping slightly, as it usually did when she was ill at
ease.

"Who's gone to ride?" asked Mr. Graham; and John Jr. replied that
Durward and 'Lena had been riding nearly two hours, adding, that
"they must find each other exceedingly interesting to be gone so
long."

This last was for the express benefit of his mother, whose frown kept
company with Mrs. Graham's scowl.  Chopping her steak into
mince-meat, and almost biting a piece from her cup as she sipped her
coffee, she at last found voice to ask, "what horse 'Lena rode!"

"Fleetfoot, of course," said John Jr., at the same time telling his
father he thought "he ought to give 'Lena a pony of her own, for she
was accounted the best rider in the county, and Fleetfoot was getting
old and clumsy."

The moment breakfast was over, Mrs. Livingstone went in quest of
Caesar, whom she abused for disobeying her orders, threatening him
with the calaboose, and anything else which came to her mind.  Old
Caesar was taken by surprise, and being rather slow of speech, was
trying to think of something to say, when John Jr., who had followed
his mother, came to his aid, saying that "he himself had sent Bill
for Fleetfoot," and adding aside to his mother, that "the next time
she and Cad were plotting mischief he'd advise them to see who was in
the back parlor!"

Always ready to suspect 'Lena of evil, Mrs. Livingstone immediately
supposed it was she who had listened; but before she could frame a
reply, John Jr. walked off, leaving her undecided whether to cowhide
Caesar, 'Lena, or her son, the first of whom, taking advantage of the
pause followed the example of his young master and stole away.  The
tramp of horses' feet was now heard, and Mrs. Livingstone, mentally
resolving that Fleetfoot should be sold, repaired to the door in time
to see Durward carefully lift 'Lena from her pony and place her upon
the ground.  Mrs. Graham, Carrie, and Annie were all standing upon
the piazza, and as 'Lena came up the walk, her eyes sparkling and her
bright face glowing with exercise, Anna exclaimed, "Isn't she
beautiful?" at the same time asking her "where she had been."

"To Woodlawn," answered 'Lena.

"To Woodlawn!" repeated Mrs. Graham.

"To Woodlawn!" echoed Mrs. Livingstone, while Carrie brought up the
rear by exclaiming, "To Woodlawn! pray what took you there?"

"The pony," answered 'Lena, as she passed into the house.

Thinking it best to put Mrs. Graham on her guard, Mrs. Livingstone
said to her, in a low tone, "I would advise you to keep an eye upon
your son, if he is at all susceptible, for there is no bound to
'Lena's ambition."

Mrs. Graham made no direct reply, but the flashing of her little gray
eye was a sufficient answer, and satisfied with the result of her
caution, Mrs. Livingstone reentered the house.  Two hours afterward,
the carriage stood at the door waiting to convey the party to
Woodlawn.  It had been arranged that Mrs. Graham, Carrie, Anna, and
Durward should ride in the carriage, while Mr. Graham went on
horseback.  Purposely, Carrie loitered behind her companions, who
being first, of course took the back seat, leaving her the privilege
of riding by the side of Durward.  This was exactly what she wanted,
and leaning back on her elbow, she complacently awaited his coming.
But how was she chagrined, when, in his stead, appeared Mr. Graham,
who sprang into the carriage and took a seat beside her; saying to
his wife's look of inquiry, that as John Jr. had concluded to go,
Durward preferred riding on horseback with him, adding, in his
usually polite way, "And I, you know, would always rather go with the
ladies.  But where is Miss Rivers?" he continued.  "Why isn't she
here?"

"Simply because she wasn't invited, I suppose," returned his wife,
detecting the disappointment in his face.

"Not invited!" he repeated; "I didn't know as this trip was of
sufficient consequence to need a special invitation.  I thought, of
course, she was here----"

"Or you would have gone on horseback," said his wife, ever ready to
catch at straws.

Mr. Graham saw the rising jealousy in time to repress the truthful:
answer--"Yes"--while he compromised the matter by saying that "the
presence of three fair ladies ought to satisfy him."

Carrie was too much disappointed even to smile, and during all the
ride she was extremely taciturn, hardly replying at all to Mr.
Graham's lively sallies, and winning golden laurels in the opinion of
Mrs. Graham, who secretly thought her husband altogether too
agreeable.  As they turned into the long avenue which led to
Woodlawn, and Carrie thought of the ride which 'Lena had enjoyed
alone with its owner--for such was Durward reported to be--her heart
swelled with bitterness toward her cousin, in whom she saw a dreaded
rival.  But when they reached the house, and Durward assisted her to
alight, keeping at her side while they walked over the grounds, her
jealousy vanished, and with her sweetest smile she looked up into his
face, affecting a world of childish simplicity, and making, as she
believed, a very favorable impression.

"I wonder if you are as much pleased with Woodlawn as your cousin,"
said Durward, noticing that her mind seemed to be more intent on
foreign subjects than the scenery around her.

"Oh, no, I dare say not," returned Carrie.  "'Lena was never
accustomed to anything until she came to Kentucky, and now I suppose
she thinks she must go into ecstacies over everything, though I
sometimes wish she wouldn't betray her ignorance quite so often."

"According to her description, her home in Massachusetts was widely
different from her present one," said Durward, and Carrie quickly
replied, "I wonder now if she bored you with an account of her former
home!  You must have been edified, and had a delightful ride, I
declare."

"And I assure you I never had a pleasanter one, for Miss Rivers is, I
think, an exceedingly agreeable companion," returned Durward,
beginning to see the drift of her remarks.

Here Mr. Graham called to his son, and excusing himself from Carrie,
he did not again return to her until it was time to go home.
Meantime, at Maple Grove, Mrs. Livingstone, in the worst possible
humor, was finding fault with poor 'Lena, accusing her of
eavesdropping, and asking her if she did not begin to believe the old
adage, that listeners never heard any good of themselves.  In perfect
astonishment 'Lena demanded what she meant, saying she had never, to
her knowledge, been guilty of listening.

Without any explanation, whatever, Mrs. Livingstone declared herself
"satisfied now, for a person who would listen and then deny it, was
capable of almost anything."

"What do you mean, madam ?" said 'Lena, her temper getting the
ascendency.  "Explain yourself, for no one shall accuse me of lying
without an attempt to prove it."

With a sneer Mrs. Livingstone replied, "I wonder what you can do!
Will you bring to your assistance some one of your numerous admirers?"

"Admirers!  What admirers?" asked 'Lena, and her aunt replied, "I'll
give you credit for feigning the best of any one I ever saw, but you
can't deceive me.  I know very well of your intrigues to entrap Mr.
Bellmont.  But it is not strange that you should inherit something of
your mother's nature; and you know what she was!"

This was too much, and with eyes flashing fire through the glittering
tears, which shone like diamonds, 'Lena sprang to her feet,
exclaiming, "Yes, I do know what she was.  She was a far more worthy
woman than you, and if in my presence you dare again breathe aught
against her name, you shall rue it----"

"That she shall, so help me heaven," murmured a voice near, which
neither Mrs. Livingstone nor 'Lena heard, nor were they aware of any
one's presence until Mr. Graham suddenly appeared in the doorway.

At his wife's request he had exchanged places with his son, and
riding on before the rest, had reached home first, being just in time
to overhear the last part of the conversation between Mrs.
Livingstone and 'Lena.  Instantly changing her manner, Mrs.
Livingstone motioned her niece from the room, heaving a deep sigh as
the door closed after her, and saying that "none but those who had
tried it knew what a thankless job it was to rear the offspring of
others."

There was a peculiar look in Mr. Graham's eyes, as he answered, "In
your case I will gladly relieve you, if my wife is willing.  I have
taken a great fancy to Miss Rivers, and would like to adopt her as my
daughter.  I will speak to Mrs. Graham to-night."

Much as she disliked 'Lena, Mrs. Livingstone would not for the world
have her become an inmate of Mr. Graham's family, where she would be
constantly thrown in Durward's way; and immediately changing her
tactics, she replied, "I thank you for your kind offer, but I know my
husband would not think of such a thing; neither should I be quite
willing for her to leave us, much as she troubles me."

Mr. Graham bowed stiffly, and left the house.  That night, after he
had retired to his room, he seemed unusually distracted, pacing up
and down the apartment, occasionally pausing to gaze out into the
moonlit sky, and then resuming his measured tread.  At last nerving
himself to brave the difficulty, he stopped before his wife, to whom
he made known his plan of adopting 'Lena.

"It seems hasty, I know," said he, "but she is just the kind of
person I would like to have round--just such a one as I would wish my
daughter to be if I had one.  In short, I like her, and with your
consent I will adopt her as my own, and take her from this place
where I know she's not wanted.  What say you, Lucy?"

"Will you adopt the old woman too?" asked Mrs. Graham, whose face was
turned away so as to hide its expression.

"That is an after consideration," returned her husband, "but if you
are willing, I will either take her to our home, or provide for her
elsewhere--but come, what do you say?"

All this time Mrs. Graham had sat bolt upright, her little dumpling
hands folded one within the other, the long transparent nails making
deep indentures in the soft flesh, and her gray eyes emitting _green_
gleams of scorn.  The answer her husband sought came at length, and
was characteristic of the woman.  Hissing out the words from between
her teeth, she replied, "When I take 'Lena Rivers into my family for
my husband and son to make love to, alternately, I shall be ready for
the lunatic asylum at Lexington."

"And what objection have you to her?" asked Mr. Graham; to which his
wife replied, "The very fact, sir, that you wish it, is a sufficient
reason why I will not have her; besides that, you must misjudge me
strangely if you think I'd be willing for my son to come daily in
contact with a girl of her doubtful parentage."

"What know you of her parentage?" said Mr. Graham, his lips turning
slightly pale.

"Yes, what do I know?" answered his wife.  "Her father, if she has
any, is a rascal, a villain----"

"Yes, yes, all of that," muttered Mr. Graham, while his wife
continued, "And her mother a poor, low, mean, ignorant----"

"Hold!" thundered Mr. Graham.  "You shall not speak so of any woman
of whom you know nothing, much less of 'Lena Rivers' mother."

"And pray what do you know of her--is she an old acquaintance?" asked
Mrs. Graham, throwing into her manner as much of insolence as
possible.

"I know," returned Mr. Graham, "that 'Lena's mother could be nothing
else than respectable."

"Undoubtedly; but of this be assured--the daughter shall never, by my
permission, darken my doors," said Mrs. Graham, growing more and more
excited, and continuing--"I know you of old, Harry Graham; and I know
now that your great desire to secure Woodlawn was so as to be near
her, but it shan't be."

In her excitement, Mrs. Graham forgot that it was herself who had
first suggested Woodlawn as a residence, and that until within a day
or two her husband and 'Lena were entire strangers.  But this made no
difference.  She was bent upon being unreasonable, and for nearly an
hour she fretted and cried, declaring herself the most abused of her
sex, and wishing she had never seen her husband, who, in his heart,
warmly seconded that wish, wisely resolving not to mention the
offending 'Lena again in the presence of his wife.

The next day the bargain for Woodlawn was completed; after which, Mr.
and Mrs. Graham, together with Durward, returned to Louisville,
intending to take possession of their new home about the first of
October.




CHAPTER XII.

MRS. GRAHAM AT HOME.

As the summer advanced, extensive preparations were commenced for
repairing Woodlawn, which was to be fitted up in a style suited to
the luxurious taste of its rightful owner, which, as report said, was
in reality Durward.  He had conceived a fancy for the place five
years before, when visiting in the neighborhood, and on learning that
it was for sale, he had purchased it, at the suggestion of his
mother, proposing to his father that for a time, at least, he should
be its nominal possessor.  What reason he had for this he hardly knew
himself, unless it was that he disliked being flattered as a man of
great wealth, choosing rather to be esteemed for what he really was.

And, indeed, few of his age were more generally beloved than was he.
Courteous, kind-hearted, and generous almost to a fault, he gained
friends wherever he went, and it was with some reason that Mrs.
Graham thought herself blessed above mothers, in the possession of
such a son.  "He is so like me," she would say, in speaking of his
many virtues, when, in fact, there was scarcely anything in common
between them, for nearly all of Durward's sterling qualities were
either inherited from his own father, or the result of many years'
companionship with his stepfather.  Possessed of the most exquisite
taste, he exercised it in the arrangement of Woodlawn, which, under
his skillful management, began in a few weeks to assume a more
beautiful appearance than it had ever before worn.

Once in two weeks either Mr. Graham or Durward came out to see how
matters were progressing, the latter usually accepting Mrs.
Livingstone's pressing invitation to make her house his home.  This
he was the more willing to do, as it threw him into the society of
'Lena, who was fast becoming an object of absorbing interest to him.
The more he saw of her, the more was his admiration increased, and
oftentimes, when joked concerning his preference for Carrie, he
smiled to think how people were deceived, determining, however, to
keep his own secret until such time as he should be convinced that
'Lena was all he could desire in a wife.  For her poverty and humble
birth he cared nothing.  If she were poor, he was rich, and he
possessed too much good sense to deem himself better than she,
because the blood of a nobleman flowed in his veins.  He knew that
she was highly gifted and beautiful, and could he be assured that she
was equally true-hearted, he would not hesitate a moment.

But Mrs. Livingstone's insinuation that she was a heartless coquette,
troubled him, and though he could not believe it without more proof
than he had yet received, he determined to wait and watch, studying
her character, the while, to see if there was in her aught of evil.
In this state of affairs, it was hardly more than natural that his
manner toward her should be rather more reserved than that which he
assumed toward Carrie, for whom he cared nothing, and with whom he
talked laughed, and rode, forgetting her the moment she was out of
his sight, and never suspecting how much importance she attached to
his every word and look, construing into tokens of admiration the
most casual remark, such as he would utter to any one.  This was of
advantage to 'Lena, for, secure of their prize, both Mrs. Livingstone
and Carrie, for a time, at least, ceased to persecute her, seldom
speaking of her in Durward's presence, and, as a general thing,
acting as though she were not in existence.

John Jr., too, who had imposed upon himself the duty of watching his
mother and sister, seeing no signs of hostility, now withdrew his
espionage, amusing himself, instead, by galloping three times a week
over to Frankfort, the home of Nellie Douglass, and by keeping an eye
upon Captain Atherton, who, as a spider would watch a fly, was lying
in wait for the unsuspecting Anna.

At last all was in readiness at Woodlawn for the reception of Mrs.
Graham, who came up early in October, bringing with her a larger
train of house servants than was often seen in Woodford county.
About three weeks after her arrival, invitations were issued for a
party or "house warming," as the negroes termed it.  Nero, Durward's
valet, brought the tiny notes to Mr. Livingstone's, giving them into
the care of Carrie, who took them immediately to her mother's room.

"It's Durward's handwriting," said she, glancing at the
superscriptions, and reading as she did so--"Mr. and Mrs.
Livingstone"--"Mr. John Livingstone, Jr."--"Miss Carrie
Livingstone"--"Miss Anna Livingstone"--"_Miss 'Lena Rivers_;" and
here she stopped, in utter dismay, continuing, as her mother looked
up inquiringly--"And as I live, one for _grandma_--'MRS. MARTHA
NICHOLS!'"

"Impossible!" exclaimed Mrs. Livingstone, reaching out her hand for
the billet.  "Yes, 'tis Mrs. Martha Nichols!--what can it mean?"

A peep behind the scenes would have told her what it meant.  For once
in his life Mr. Graham had exercised the right of being master in his
own house, declaring that if Mrs. Nichols were not invited with the
family, there should be no party at all.  Mrs. Graham saw that he was
in earnest, and yielded the point, knowing that in all probability
the old lady would not be permitted to attend.  Her husband had
expected a like opposition with regard to 'Lena, but he was
disappointed, for his wife, forgetting her declaration that 'Lena
should never darken her doors and thinking it would not do to slight
her, consented that, on her uncle's account, she should be invited.
Accordingly, the notes were despatched, producing the effect we have
seen.

"How perfectly ridiculous to invite grandma!" said Carrie.  "It's bad
enough to have 'Lena stuck in with us, for of course _she'll_ go."

"Why of course?" asked Mrs. Livingstone.  "The invitations are at my
disposal now; and if I choose to withhold two of them, no one will be
blamed but Nero, who was careless and dropped them!  'Lena has
nothing decent to wear, and I don't feel like expending much more for
a person so ungrateful as she is.  You ought to have heard how
impudent she was that time you all went to Woodlawn."

Then followed a one-sided description of that morning's occurrence,
Mrs. Livingstone working herself up to such a pitch of excitement,
that before her recital was finished, she had determined at all
events to keep back 'Lena's invitation, as a method of punishing her
for her "insolence," as she termed it.

"Mrs. Graham will thank me for it, I know," said she, "for she cannot
endure her; and besides that, I don't think 'Lena expects to be
invited, so there's no harm done."

Carrie was not yet quite so hardened as her mother, and for a moment
her better nature shrank from so mean a transaction, which might,
after all, be found out, involving them in a still worse difficulty;
but as the thought flashed upon her that possibly 'Lena might again
attract Durward toward her, she assented, and they were about putting
the notes aside, when John Jr.  came in, catching up his
grandmother's note the first thing, and exclaiming, "Oh,
_rich_!--_capital_!  I hope she'll go!" Then, before his mother could
interpose a word, he darted away in quest of Mrs. Nichols, whose
surprise was fully equal to that of Mrs. Livingstone and Carrie.

"Now, you don't say I've got an invite," said she, leaving the
darning-needle in the stocking-heel which she was mending, and wiping
her steel-bowed spectacles.  "Come, 'Leny, you read it, that's a good
girl."

'Lena complied, and taking the note from her cousin's hand, read that
Mrs. Graham would be at home Thursday evening, etc.

"But where's the invite?  That don't say anything about _me_!" said
Mrs. Nichols, beginning to fear that it was a humbug after all.

As well as they could, 'Lena and John Jr.  explained it to her, and
then, fully convinced that she was really invited, Mrs. Nichols began
to wonder what she should wear, and how she should go, asking John
"if he couldn't tackle up and carry her in the shay," as she called
the single buggy.

"Certainly," answered John Jr.  willing to do anything for the sake
of the fun which he knew would ensue from his grandmother's
attendance.

'Lena thought otherwise, for much as she desired to gratify her
grandmother, she would not for the world expose her to the ridicule
which her appearance at a fashionable party would call forth.
Glancing reprovingly at her cousin, she said, "I wouldn't think of
going, grandma, for you are lame and old, and there'll be so many
people there, all strangers, too, that you won't enjoy it at all.
Besides that, we'll have a nice time at home together---I'll read to
you all the evening."

"_We_," repeated John Jr.  "Pray, are you not going?"

"Not without an invitation," said 'Lena smilingly.

"True, true," returned her cousin.  "It's downstairs, I dare say.  I
only stopped to look at this.  I'll go and get yours now."

Suiting the action to the word, he descended to his mother's room,
asking for "'Lena's card."

"'Lena's card!  What do you mean?" said Mrs. Livingstone, looking up
from the book she was reading, while Carrie for a moment suspended
her needle-work.

"'Lena's invitation; you know well enough what I mean," returned John
Jr., tumbling over the notes which lay upon the table, and failing to
find the one for which he was seeking.

"You'll have to ask Mrs. Graham for it, I presume, as it's not here,"
was Mrs. Livingstone's quiet answer.

"Thunder!" roared John Jr., "'Lena not invited!  That's a smart
caper.  But there's some mistake about it, I know.  Who brought them?"

"Nero brought them," said Carrie, "and I think it is strange that
grandmother should be invited and 'Lena left out.  But I suppose Mrs.
Graham has her reasons.  She don't seem to fancy 'Lena much."

"Mrs. Graham go to grass," muttered John Jr., leaving the room and
slamming the door after him with great violence.

'Twas a pity he did not look in one of the drawers of his mother's
work-box, for there, safe and sound, lay the missing note!  But he
did not think of that.  He only knew that 'Lena was slighted, and for
the next two hours he raved and fretted, sometimes declaring he would
not go, and again wishing Mrs. Graham in a temperature but little
suited to her round, fat proportions.

"Wall, if they feel too big to invite 'Leny, they needn't expect to
see me there, that's just all there is about it," said grandma,
settling herself in her rocking-chair, and telling 'Lena "she
wouldn't care an atom if she's in her place."

But 'Lena did care.  No one likes to be slighted, and she was not an
exception to the general rule.  Owing to her aunt's skillful
management she had never yet attended a large party, and it was but
natural that she should now wish to go.  But it could not be, and she
was obliged to content herself with the hopes of a minute description
from Anna; Carrie she would not trust, for she well knew that
whatever she told would be greatly exaggerated.

Mrs. Graham undoubtedly wished to give her friends ample time to
prepare, for her invitations were issued nearly a week in advance.
This suited Carrie, who had a longer time to decide upon what would
be becoming, and when at last a decision was made, she could do
nothing but talk about her dress, which really was beautiful,
consisting of a pink and white silk, with an over-skirt of soft, rich
lace.  This, after it was completed, was tried on at least half a
dozen times, and the effect carefully studied before the long mirror.
Anna, who cared much less for dress than her sister, decided upon a
black flounced skirt and velvet basque.  This was Mr. Everett's
taste, and whatever suited him suited her.

"I do think it's too bad that 'Lena is not invited," said she one
day, when Carrie, as usual, was discussing the party.  "She would
enjoy it so much.  I don't understand, either, why she is omitted,
for Mr. Graham seemed to like her, and Durward too----"

"A great ways off, you mean," interrupted Carrie.  "For my part, I
see nothing strange in the omission.  It is no worse to leave her out
than scores of others who will not be invited."

"But to come into the house and ask all but her," said Anna.  "It
does not seem right.  She is as good as we are."

"That's as people think," returned Carrie, while John Jr., who was
just going out to ride, and had stopped a moment at the door,
exclaimed, "Zounds, Cad, I wonder if you fancy yourself better than
'Lena Rivers.  If you do, you are the only one that thinks so.  Why,
you can't begin to compare with her, and it's a confounded shame that
she isn't invited, and so I shall tell them if I have a good chance."

"You'll look smart fishing for an invitation, won't you?" said
Carrie, her fears instantly aroused, but John Jr. was out of her
hearing almost before the words were uttered.

Mounting Firelock, he started off for Versailles, falling in with
Durward, who was bound for the same place.  After the usual greetings
were exchanged, Durward said, "I suppose you are all coming on
Thursday night?"

"Yes," returned John Jr., "I believe the old folks, Cad, and Anna
intend doing so."

"But where's Miss Rivers?  Doesn't she honor us with her presence?"
asked Durward, in some concern.

John Jr.'s first impulse, as he afterwards said, was "to knock him
off from his horse," but a second thought convinced him there might
be some mistake; so he replied that "it was hardly to be supposed
Miss Rivers would attend without an invitation--she wasn't quite so
verdant as that!"

"Without an invitation!" repeated Durward, stopping short in the
road.  "'Lena not invited!  It isn't so!  I directed one to her
myself, and gave it to Nero, together with the rest which were
designed for your family.  He must have lost it.  I'll ask him the
moment I get home, and see that it is all made right.  She must come,
any way, for I wouldn't give----"

Here he stopped, as if he had said too much, but John Jr. finished
the sentence for him.

"Wouldn't give a picayune for the whole affair without her--that's
what you mean, and why not say so?  I speak right out about Nellie,
and she isn't one half as handsome as 'Lena."

"It isn't 'Lena's beauty that I admire altogether," returned Durward.
"I like her for her frankness, and because I think her conduct is
actuated by the best of principles; perhaps I am mistaken----"

"No, you are not," again interrupted John Jr., "'Lena is just what
she seems to be.  There's no deception in her.  She isn't one thing
to-day and another to-morrow.  Spunky as the old Nick, you know, but
still she governs her temper admirably, and between you and me, I
know I'm a better man than I should have been had she never come to
live with us.  How well I remember the first time I saw her," he
continued, repeating to Durward the particulars of their interview in
Lexington, and describing her introduction to his sisters.  "From the
moment she refused to tell that lie for me, I liked her," said he,
"and when she dealt me that blow in my face, my admiration was
complete."

Durward thought he could dispense with the blow, but he laughed
heartily at John's description of his spirited cousin, thinking, too,
how different was his opinion of her from that which his mother
evidently entertained.  Still, if Mrs. Livingstone was prejudiced,
John Jr. might also be somewhat biased, so he would not yet make up
his mind; but on one thing he was resolved--she should be invited,
and for fear of contingencies, he would carry the card himself.

Accordingly, on his return home, Nero was closely questioned, and
negro-like, called down all manner of evil upon himself "if he done
drapped the note any whar.  'Strue as I live and breathe, Mas'r
Bellmont," said he, "I done carried Miss 'Leny's invite with the
rest, and guv 'em all to the young lady with the big nose!"

Had Durward understood Mrs. Livingstone a little better, he might
have believed him; but now it was but natural for him to suppose that
Nero had accidentally dropped it.  So he wrote another, taking it
himself, and asking for "Miss Rivers."  Carrie, who was in the parlor
and saw him coming up to the house, instantly flew to the glass,
smoothing her collar, puffing out her hair a little more, pinching
her cheek, which was not quite so red as usual, and wishing that she
was alone.  But unfortunately, both Anna and 'Lena were present, and
as there was no means of being rid of them, she retained her seat at
the piano, carelessly turning over the leaves of her music book, when
the door opened and Corinda, not Durward, appeared.

"If you please, Miss 'Lena," said the girl, "Marster Bellmont want to
speak with you in the hall."

"With 'Lena! How funny!" exclaimed Carrie.  "Are you sure it was
'Lena?"

"Yes, sure--he done ask for Miss Rivers."

"Ask him in, why don't you?" said Carrie, suspecting his errand, and
thinking to keep herself from all suspicion by appearing "wonderfully
pleased" that 'Lena was not intentionally neglected.  Before Corinda
could reply, 'Lena had stepped into the hall, and was standing face
to face with Durward, who retained her hand, while he asked if "she
really believed they, intended to slight her," at the same time
explaining how it came to his knowledge, and saying "he hoped she
would not fail to attend."

'Lena hesitated, but he pressed her so hard, saying he should surely
think she distrusted them if she refused, that she finally consented,
and he took his leave, playfully threatening to come for her himself
if she were not there with the rest.

"You feel better, now, don't you ?" said Carrie with a sneer, as
'Lena re-entered the parlor.

"Yes, a great deal," was 'Lena's truthful answer.

"Oh, I'm real glad!" exclaimed Anna.  "I most knew 'twas a mistake
all the time, and I did so want you to go.  What will you wear?  Let
me see.  Why, you haven't got anything suitable, have you?"

This was true, for 'Lena had nothing fit for the occasion, and she
was beginning to wish she had not been invited, when her uncle came
in, and to him Anna forthwith stated the case, saying 'Lena must have
a new dress, and suggesting embroidered muslin.

"How ridiculous!" muttered Carrie, thrumming away at the piano.
"There's no time to make dresses now.  They should have invited her
earlier."

"Isn't Miss Simpson still here?" asked her father.

Anna replied that she was, and then turning to 'Lena, Mr. Livingstone
asked if "she wanted to go very much."

The tears which shone in her eyes were a sufficient answer, and when
at supper that night, inquiry was made for Mr. Livingstone, it was
said that he had gone to Frankfort.

"To Frankfort!" repeated his wife.  "What has he gone there for?"

No one knew until late in the evening, when he returned home,
bringing with him 'Lena's dress, which Anna pronounced "the sweetest
thing she ever saw," at the same time running with it to her cousin.
There was company in the parlor, which for a time kept down the
gathering storm in Mrs. Livingstone's face, but the moment they were
gone, and she was alone with her husband in their room, it burst
forth, and in angry tones she demanded "what he meant by spending her
money in that way, and without her consent?"

Before making any reply, Mr. Livingstone stepped to her work-box, and
opening the little drawer, held to view the missing note.  Then
turning to his wife, whose face was very pale, he said, "This morning
I made a discovery which exonerates Nero from all blame.  I
understand it fully, and while I knew you were capable of almost
anything, I must say I did not think you would be guilty of quite so
mean an act.  Stay," he continued, as he saw her about to speak, "you
are my wife, and as 'Lena is at last invited, your secret is safe,
but remember, it must not be repeated.  You understand me, do you?"

Mrs. Livingstone was struck dumb with mortification and
astonishment--the first, that she was detected, and the last, that
her husband dare assume such language toward her.  But he had her in
his power--she knew that--and for a time it rendered her very docile,
causing her to consult with Miss Simpson concerning the fitting of
'Lena's dress, herself standing by when it was done, and suggesting
one or two improvements, until 'Lena, perfectly bewildered, wondered
what had come over her aunt, that she should be so unusually kind.
Carrie, too, learning from her mother how matters stood, thought
proper to change her manner, and while in her heart she hoped
something would occur to keep 'Lena at home, she loudly expressed her
pleasure that she was going, offering to lend her several little
ornaments, and doing many things which puzzled 'Lena, who readily saw
that she was feigning what she did not feel.

Meanwhile, grandma, learning that 'Lena was invited, declared her
intention of going.  "I shouldn't of gin up in the first on't," said
she, "only I wanted to show 'em proper resentment; but now it's
different, and I'll go, anyway--'Tilda may say what she's a mind to."

It was in vain that 'Lena reasoned the case.  Grandma was decided,
and it was not until both her son and daughter interfered, the one
advising and the other commanding her to stay at home, that she
yielded with a burst of tears, for grandma was now in her second
childhood, and easily moved.  It was terrible to 'Lena to see her
grandmother weep, and twining her arms around her neck, she tried to
soothe her, saying, "she would willingly stay at home with her if she
wished it."

Mrs. Nichols was not selfish enough to suffer this.  "No, 'Leny,"
said she, "I want you to go and enjoy yourself while you are young,
for you'll sometime be old and in the way;" and the old creature
covered her face with her shriveled hands and wept.

But she was of too cheerful a nature long to remember grief, and
drying her tears, she soon forgot her trouble in the pride and
satisfaction which she felt when she saw how well the white muslin
became 'Lena, who, John Jr., said, never looked so beautifully as she
did when arrayed for the party.  Mr. Livingstone had not been sparing
of his money when he purchased the party dress, which was a richly
embroidered muslin, and fell in soft folds around 'Lena's graceful
figure.  Her long flowing curls were intertwined with a few natural
flowers, her only attempt at ornament of any kind, and, indeed,
ornaments would have been sadly out of place on 'Lena'.

It was between nine and ten when the party from Maple Grove reached
Woodlawn, where they found a large company assembled, some in the
drawing-rooms below, and others still lingering at the toilet in the
dressing chamber.  Among these last were Nellie Douglass and Mabel
Ross, the latter of whom Mrs. Livingstone was perfectly delighted to
see, overwhelming her with caresses, and urging her to stop for
awhile at Maple Grove.

"I shall be so glad to have you with us, and the country air will do
you so much good, that you must not refuse," said she, pinching
Mabel's sallow cheek, and stroking her straight, glossy hair, which,
in contrast with the bandeau of pearls that she wore, looked dark as
midnight.

Spite of her wealth, Mabel had long been accustomed to neglect, and
there was something so kind in Mrs. Livingstone's _motherly_
demeanor, that the heart of the young orphan warmed toward her, and
tears glittered in her large, mournful eyes, the only beauty, save
her hair, of which she could boast.  Very few had ever cared for poor
Mabel, who, though warm-hearted and affectionate, required to be
known in order to be appreciated, and as she was naturally shy and
retiring, there were not many who felt at all acquainted with her.
Left alone in the world at a very early age, she had never known what
it was to possess a real, disinterested friend, unless we except
Nellie Douglass, who, while there was nothing congenial between them,
had always tried to treat Mabel as she herself would wish to be
treated, were she in like circumstances.

Many had professed friendship for the sake of the gain which they
knew would accrue, for she was generous to a fault, bestowing with a
lavish hand upon those whom she loved, and who had too often proved
false, denouncing her as utterly spiritless and insipid.  So often
had she been deceived, that now, at the age of eighteen, she had
learned to distrust her fellow creatures, and oftentimes in secret
would she weep bitterly over her lonely condition, lamenting the
plain face and unattractive manners, which she fancied rendered her
an object of dislike.  Still there was about her a depth of feeling
of which none had ever dreamed, and it only required a skillful hand
to mold her into an altogether different being.  She was, perhaps,
too easily influenced, for in spite of her distrust, a pleasant word
or kind look would win her to almost anything.

Of this weakness Mrs. Livingstone seemed well aware, and for the
better accomplishment of her plan, she deemed it necessary that Mabel
should believe her to be the best friend she had in the world.
Accordingly, she now flattered and petted her, calling her "darling,"
and "dearest," and urging her to stop at Maple Grove, until she
consented, "provided Nellie Douglas were willing."

"Oh, I don't care," answered Nellie, whose gay, dashing disposition
poorly accorded with the listless, sickly Mabel, and who felt it
rather a relief than otherwise to be rid of her.

So it was decided that she should stay at Maple Grove, and then Mrs.
Livingstone, passing her arm around her waist, whispered, "Go down
with me," at the same time starting for the parlor, followed by her
daughters, Nellie, and 'Lena.  In the hall they met with John Jr.  He
had heard Nellie's voice, and stationing himself at the head of the
stairs, was waiting her appearance.

"Miss Ross," said Mrs. Livingstone to her son, at the same time
indicating her willingness to give her into his care.

But John Jr. would not take the hint.  Bowing stiffly to Mabel, he
passed on toward Nellie, in his eagerness stepping on Carrie's train
and drawing from her an exclamation of anger at his awkwardness.
Mrs. Livingstone glanced backward just in time to see the look of
affection with which her son regarded Nellie, as she placed her soft
hand confidingly upon his arm, and gazed upward smilingly into his
face.  She dared not slight Miss Douglass in public, but with a
mental invective against her, she drew Mabel closer to her side, and
smoothing down the heavy folds of her _moire antique_, entered the
drawing-room, which was brilliantly lighted, and filled with the
beauty and fashion of Lexington, Frankfort, and Versailles.

At the door they met Durward, who, as he took 'Lena's hand, said, "It
is well you remembered your promise, for I was about starting after
you."  This observation did not escape Mrs. Livingstone, who, besides
having her son and Nellie under her special cognizance, had also an
eye upon her niece and Anna.  Her espionage of the latter, however,
was not needed immediately, owing to her being straightway
appropriated by Captain Atherton, who, in dainty white kids, and vest
to match (the color not the material), strutted back and forth with
Anna tucked under his arm, until the poor girl was ready to cry with
vexation.

When the guests had nearly all arrived, both Mr. Graham and Durward
started for 'Lena, the latter reaching her first, and paying her so
many little attentions, that the curiosity of others was aroused, and
frequently was the question asked, "Who is she, the beautiful young
lady in white muslin and curls?"

Nothing of all this escaped Mrs. Livingstone, and once, in passing
near her niece, she managed to whisper, "For heaven's sake don't show
your ignorance of etiquette by taxing Mr. Bellmont's good nature any
longer.  It's very improper to claim any one's attention so long, and
you are calling forth remarks."

Then quickly changing the whisper into her softest tones, she said to
Durward, "How _can_ you resist such beseeching glances as those
ladies send toward you?" nodding to a group of girls of which Carrie
was one.

'Lena colored scarlet, and gazed wistfully around the room in quest
of some other shelter when Durward should relinquish her, as she felt
he would surely do, but none presented itself.  Her uncle was playing
the agreeable to Miss Atherton, Mr. Graham to some other lady, while
John Jr. kept closely at Nellie's side, forgetful of all else.

"What shall I do?" said 'Lena, unconsciously and half aloud.

"Stay with me," answered Durward, drawing her hand further within his
arm, and bending upon her a look of admiration which she could not
mistake.

Several times they passed and repassed Mrs. Graham, who was highly
incensed at her son's proceedings, and at last actually asked him "if
he did not intend noticing anyone except Miss Rivers," adding, as an
apology for her rudeness (for Mrs. Graham prided herself upon being
very polite in her own house), "she has charms enough to win a dozen
gallants, but there are others here who need attention from you.
There's Miss Livingstone, you've hardly spoken with her to-night."

Thus importuned, Durward released 'Lena and walked away, attaching
himself to Carrie, who clung to him closer, if possible, than did the
old captain to Anna.  About this time Mr. Everett came.  He had been
necessarily detained, and now, after paying his respects to the host
and hostess, he started in quest of Anna, who was still held "in
durance vile" by the captain.  But the moment she saw Malcolm, she
uttered a low exclamation of joy, and without a single apology, broke
abruptly away from her ancient cavalier, whose little watery eyes
looked daggers after her for an instant; then consoling himself with
the reflection that he was tolerably sure of her, do what she would,
he walked up to her mother, kindly relieving her for a time of her
charge, who was becoming rather tiresome.  Frequently, by nods,
winks, and frowns, had Mrs. Livingstone tried to bring her son to a
sense of his improper conduct in devoting himself exclusively to one
individual, and neglecting all others.

But her efforts were all in vain.  John Jr. was incorrigible, slyly
whispering to Nellie, that "he had no idea of beauing a medicine
chest."  This he said, referring to Mabel's ill health, for among his
other oddities, John Jr. had a particular aversion to sickly ladies.
Of course Nellie reproved him for his unkind remarks, at the same
time warmly defending Mabel, "who," she said, "had been delicate from
infancy, and suffered far more than was generally suspected."

"Let her stay at home, then," was John Jr.'s answer, as he led Nellie
toward the supper-room, which the company were just then entering.

About an hour after supper the guests began to leave, Mrs.
Livingstone being the first to propose going.  As she was ascending
the stairs, John Jr. observed that Mabel was with her, and turning to
'Lena, who now leaned on his arm, he said, "There goes the future
Mrs. John Jr.--so mother thinks!"

"Where?" asked 'Lena, looking around.

"Why, there," continued John, pointing toward Mabel.  "Haven't you
noticed with what parental solicitude mother watches over her?"

"I saw them together," answered 'Lena, "and I thought it very kind in
my aunt, for no one else seemed to notice her, and I felt sorry for
her.  She is going home with us, I believe.",

"Going home with _us_!" repeated John Jr.  "In the name of the
people, what is she going home with us for?"

"Why," returned 'Lena, "your mother thinks the country air will do
her good."

"_Un_-doubtedly," said John, with a sneer.  "Mother's motives are
usually very disinterested.  I wonder she don't propose to the old
captain to take up _his_ quarters with us, so she can nurse him!"

With this state of feeling, it was hardly natural that John Jr.
should be very polite toward Mabel, and when his mother asked him to
help her into the carriage, he complied so ungraciously, that Mabel
observed it, and looked wonderingly at her _patroness_ for an
explanation.

"Only one of his freaks, love--he'll get over it," said Mrs.
Livingstone, while poor Mabel, sinking back amoung the cushions, wept
silently, thinking that everybody hated her.

When 'Lena came down to bid her host and hostess good-night, the
former retained her hand, while he expressed his sorrow at her
leaving so soon.  "I meant to have seen more of you," said he, "but
you must visit us often--will you not?"

Neither the action nor the words escaped Mrs. Graham's observation,
and the lecture which she that night read her offending spouse, had
the effect to keep him awake until the morning was growing gray in
the east.  Then, when he was asleep, he so far forgot himself and the
wide-open ears beside him as actually to breathe the name of 'Lena in
his dreams!

Mrs. Graham needed no farther confirmation of her suspicions, and at
the breakfast-table next morning, she gave her son a lengthened
account of her husband's great sin in dreaming of a young girl, and
that girl 'Lena Rivers.  Durward laughed heartily and then, either to
tease his mother, or to make his father's guilt less heinous in her
eyes, he replied, "It is a little singular that our minds should run
in the same channel, for, I, too, dreamed of 'Lena Rivers!"

Poor Mrs. Graham.  A double task was now imposed upon her--that of
watching both husband and son; but she was accustomed to it, for her
life, since her second marriage, had been one continued series of
watching for evil where there was none.  And now, with a growing
hatred toward 'Lena, she determined to increase her vigilance,
feeling sure she should discover something if she only continued
faithful to the end.




CHAPTER XIII.

MABEL.

The morning following the party, Mr. Livingstone's family were
assembled in the parlor, discussing the various events of the
previous night.  John Jr., 'Lena, and Anna declared themselves to
have been highly pleased with everything, while Carrie in the worst
of humors, pronounced it "a perfect bore," saying she never had so
disagreeable a time in all her life, and ending her ill-natured
remarks by a malicious thrust at 'Lena, for having so long kept Mr.
Bellmont at her side.

"I suppose you fancy he would have looked better with you, but I
think he showed his good taste by preferring 'Lena," said John Jr.;
then turning toward the large easy-chair, where Mabel sat, pale,
weary, and spiritless, he asked "how she had enjoyed herself."

With the exception of his accustomed "good-morning," this was the
first time he had that day addressed her, and it was so unexpected,
that it brought a bright glow to her cheek, making John Jr. think she
was "not so horribly ugly after all."

But she was very unfortunate in her answer, which was, "that on
account of her ill health, she seldom enjoyed anything of the kind."
Then pressing her hand upon her forehead, she continued, "My head is
aching dreadfully, as a punishment for last night's dissipation."

Three times before, he had heard her speak of her aching head, and
now, with an impatient gesture, he was turning away, when his mother
said, "Poor girl, she really looks miserable.  I think a ride would
do her good.  Suppose you take her with you--I heard you say you were
going to Versailles."

If there was anything in which Mabel excelled, it was horsemanship,
she being a better rider, if possible; than 'Lena, and now, at Mrs.
Livingstone's proposition, she looked up eagerly at John Jr., who
replied,

"Oh, hang it all! mother, I can't always be bothered with a girl;"
then as he saw how Mabel's countenance fell, he continued, "Let 'Lena
ride with her--she wants to, I know."

"Certainly," said 'Lena, whose heart warmed toward the orphan girl,
partly because she was an orphan, and partly because she saw that she
was neglected and unloved.

As yet Mabel cared nothing for John Jr., nor even suspected his
mother's object in detaining her as a guest.  So when 'Lena was
proposed as a substitute she seemed equally well pleased, and the
young man, as he walked off to order the ponies, mentally termed
himself a bear for his rudeness; "for after all," thought he, "it's
mother who has designs upon me, not Mabel.  She isn't to blame."

This opinion once satisfactorily settled, it was strange how soon
John Jr. began to be sociable with Mabel, finding her much more
agreeable than he had at first supposed, and even acknowledging to
'Lena that "she was a good deal of a girl, after all, were it not for
her everlasting headaches and the smell of medicine," which he
declared she always carried about with her.

"Hush-sh," said 'Lena--"you shan't talk so, for she is sick a great
deal, and she does not feign it, either."

"Perhaps not," returned John Jr., "but she can at least keep her
_miserable feelings_ to herself.  Nobody wants to know how many times
she's been blistered and bled!"

Still John Jr. acknowledged that there were somethings in Mabel which
he liked, for no one could live long with her and not admire her
gentleness and uncommon sweetness of disposition, which manifested
itself in numerous little acts of kindness to those around her.
Never before in her life had she been so constantly associated with a
young gentleman, and as she was quite susceptible, it is hardly more
than natural that erelong thoughts of John Jr. mingled in both her
sleeping and waking dreams.  She could not understand him, but the
more his changeful moods puzzled her, the more she felt interested in
him, and her eyes would alternately sparkle at a kind word from him,
or fill with tears at the abruptness of his speeches; while he seemed
to take special delight in seeing how easily he could move her from
one extreme to the other.

Silently Mrs. Livingstone looked on, carefully noting each change,
and warily calculating its result.  Not once since Mabel became an
inmate of her family had she mentioned her to her son, for she deemed
it best to wait, and let matters take their course.  But at last,
anxious to know his real opinion, she determined to sound him.
Accordingly, one day when they were alone, she spoke of Mabel, asking
him if he did not think she improved upon acquaintance, at the same
time enumerating her many excellent qualities, and saying that
whoever married her would get a prize, to say nothing of a fortune.

Quickly comprehending the drift of her remarks, John Jr. replied, "I
dare say, and whoever wishes for both prize and fortune, is welcome
to them for all me."

"I thought you liked Mabel," said his mother; and John answered, "So
I do like her, but for pity's sake, is a man obliged to marry every
girl he likes?  Mabel does very well to tease and amuse one, but when
you come to the marrying part, why, that's another thing."

"And what objection have you to her," continued his mother, growing
very fidgety and red.

"Several," returned John, "She has altogether too many aches and
pains to suit me; then she has no spirit whatever; and last, but not
least, I like somebody else.  So, mother mine, you may as well give
up all hopes of that hundred thousand down in Alabama, for I shall
never marry Mabel Ross, never."

Mrs. Livingstone was now not only red and fidgety but very angry,
and, in an elevated tone of voice, she said, "I s'pose it's Nellie
Douglass you mean, but if you knew all of her that I do, I reckon----"

Here she paused, insinuating that she could tell something dreadful,
if she would!  But John Jr. took no notice of her hints, and when he
got a chance, he replied, "You are quite a Yankee at guessing, for if
Nellie will have me, I surely will have her."

"Marry her, then," retorted his mother--"marry her with all her
poverty, but for heaven's sake, don't give so much encouragement to a
poor defenseless girl."

Wishing Mabel in Guinea, and declaring he'd neither speak to nor look
at her again, if common civilities were construed into encouragement,
John Jr. strode out of the room, determining, as the surest method of
ending the trouble, to go forthwith to Nellie, and in a plain,
straight-forward way make her an offer of himself.  With him, to will
was to do, and in about an hour he was descending the long hill which
leads into Frankfort.  Unfortunately, Nellie had gone for a few weeks
to Madison, and again mounting Firelock, the young man galloped back,
reaching home just as the family were sitting down to supper.  Not
feeling hungry, and wishing to avoid, as long as possible, the sight
of his mother and Mabel, whom he believed were leagued against him,
he repaired to the parlor, whistling loudly, and making much more
noise than was at all necessary.

"If you please, Mr. Livingstone, won't you be a little more quiet,
for my head aches so hard to-night," said a languid voice, from the
depths of the huge easy-chair which stood before the glowing grate.

Glancing toward what he had at first supposed to be a bundle of
shawls, John Jr. saw Mabel Ross, her forehead bandaged up and her
lips white as ashes, while the purple rings about her heavy eyes,
told of the pain she was enduring.

"Thunder!" was John's exclamation, as he strode from the room,
slamming together the door with unusual force.

When Mrs. Livingstone came in from supper, with a cup of hot tea and
a slice of toast for Mabel, she was surprised to find her sobbing
like a child.  It did not take long for her to learn the cause, and
then, as well as she could, she soothed her, telling her not to mind
John's freaks--it was his way, and he always had a particular
aversion to sick people, never liking to hear them talk of their
ailments.  This hint was sufficient for Mabel, who ever after strove
hard to appear well and cheerful in his presence.  But in no way, if
he could help it, would he notice her.

Next to Mrs. Livingstone, 'Lena was Mabel's best friend, and when she
saw how much her cousin's rudeness and indifference pained her, she
determined to talk with him about it, So the first time they were
alone, she broached the subject, speaking very kindly of Mabel, and
asking if he had any well-grounded reason for his uncivil treatment
of her.  There was no person in the world who possessed so much
influence over John Jr. as did 'Lena, and now, hearing her patiently
through, he replied, "I know I'm impolite to Mabel, but hang me if I
can help it.  She is so flat and silly, and takes every little
attention from me as a declaration of love.  Still, I don't blame her
as much as I do mother, who is putting her up to it, and if she'd
only go home and mind her own business, I should like her well
enough."

"I don't understand you," said 'Lena, and her cousin continued; "Why,
when Mabel first came here, I do not think she knew what mother was
fishing for, so she was not so much at fault, but she does now----"

"Are you sure?" interrupted 'Lena, and John Jr.  replied, "She's a
confounded fool if she don't.  And what provokes me, is to think
she'll still keep staying here, when modesty, if nothing else, should
prompt her to leave.  You wouldn't catch Nellie doing so.  Why,
she'll hardly come her at all, for fear folks will say she comes to
see me, and that's why I like her so well."

"I think you are mistaken with regard to Mabel," said Lena, "for I've
no idea she's in love with you a bit more than I am.  I dare say she
likes you well enough, for there's nothing in you to dislike."

"Thank you," interrupted John Jr., returning the compliment with a
kiss, a liberty he often took with her.

"Behave, can't you?" said 'Lena, at the same time continuing--"No, I
don't suppose Mabel is dying for you at all.  All of us girls like to
receive attention from you gentlemen, and she's not an exception.
Besides that, you ought to be polite to her, because she's your
mother's guest, if for nothing else.  I don't ask you to love her,"
said she, "but I do ask you to treat her well.  Kind words cost
nothing, and they go far toward making others happy."

"So they do," answered John, upon whom 'Lena's words were having a
good effect.  "I've nothing under heaven against Mabel Ross, except
that mother wants me to marry her; but if you'll warrant me that the
young lady herself has no such intentions, why, I'll do my very best."

"I'll warrant you," returned 'Lena, who really had no idea that Mabel
cared aught in particular for her cousin, and satisfied with the
result of her interview she started to leave the room.

As she reached the door, John Jr. stopped her, saying, "You are sure
she don't care for me?"

"Perfectly sure," was 'Lena's answer.

"The plague, she don't," thought John, as the door closed upon 'Lena;
and such is human nature, that the young man began to think that if
Mabel didn't care for him, he'd see if he couldn't make her, for
after all, there was something pleasant in being liked, even by Mabel!

The next day, as the young ladies were sitting together in the
parlor, John Jr. joined them, and after wringing Carrie's nose,
pulling 'Lena's and Anna's curls, he suddenly upset Mabel's work-box,
at the same time slyly whispering to his cousin, "Ain't I coming
round?"

Abrupt as this proceeding, was, it pleased Mabel, who with the utmost
good humor, commenced picking up her things, John Jr. assisting her,
and managing once to bump his head against hers!  After this, affairs
at Maple Grove glided on as smoothly as even Mrs. Livingstone could
wish.  John and Mabel were apparently on the most amicable terms, he
deeming 'Lena's approbation a sufficient reward for the many little
attentions which he paid to Mabel, and she, knowing nothing of all
that had passed, drinking in his every word and look, learning to
live upon his smile, and conforming herself, as far as possible, to
what she thought would best please him.

Gradually, as she thought it would do, Mrs. Livingstone unfolded to
Mabel her own wishes, saying she should be perfectly happy could she
only call her "daughter," and hinting that such a thing "by wise
management could easily be brought about."  With a gush of tears the
orphan girl laid her head in Mrs. Livingstone's lap, mentally
blessing her as her benefactress, and thanking the Giver of all good
for the light and happiness which she saw dawning upon her pathway.

"John is peculiar," said Mrs. Livingstone, "and if he fancied you
liked him very much, it might not please him as well as indifference
on your part."

So, with this lesson, Mabel, for the first time in her life attempted
to act as she did not feel, feigning carelessness or indifference
when every pulse of her heart was throbbing with joy at some little
attention paid her by John Jr., who could be very agreeable when he
chose, and who, observing her apparent indifference, began to think
that what 'Lena had said was true, and that Mabel really cared
nothing for him.  With this impression he exerted himself to be
agreeable, wondering how her many good qualities had so long escaped
his observation.

"There is more to her than I supposed," said he one day to 'Lena, who
was commending him for his improved manner.  "Yes, a heap more than I
supposed.  Why, I really like her!"

And he told the truth, for with his prejudice laid aside, he, as is
often the case, began to find virtues in her the existence of which
he had never suspected.  Frequently, now, he talked, laughed, and
rode with her, praising her horsemanship, pointing out some points
wherein it might be improved, and never dreaming the while of the
deep affection his conduct had awakened in the susceptible girl.

"Oh, I am so happy," said she one day to 'Lena, who was speaking of
her improved health.  "I never thought it possible for _me_ to be so
happy.  I dreaded to come here at first, but now I shall never regret
it, never."

She was standing before the long mirror in the parlor, adjusting the
feathers to her tasteful velvet cap, which, with her neatly fitting
riding-dress, became her better than anything else.  The excitement
of her words sent a deep glow to her cheek, while her large black
eyes sparkled with unusual brilliancy.  She was going out with John
Jr., who, just as she finished speaking, appeared in the doorway, and
catching a glimpse of her face, exclaimed in his blunt, jocose way,
"Upon my word, Meb, if you keep on, you'll get to be quite decent
looking in time."

'Twas the first compliment of the kind he had ever paid her, and
questionable as it was, it tended to strengthen her fast forming
belief that her affection for him was returned.

"I can't expect him to do anything like other people, he's so odd,"
thought she, and yet it was this very oddness which charmed her.

At length Nellie, who had returned from Madison, and felt rather
lonely, wrote to Mabel, asking her to come home.  This plan Mrs.
Livingstone opposed, but Mabel was decided, and the week before
Christmas was fixed upon for her departure.  John Jr., anxious to see
Nellie, proposed accompanying her, but when the day came he was
suffering from a severe cold, which rendered his stay in the house
absolutely necessary.  So his mother, who had reasons of her own for
doing so, went in his stead.  Carrie, who never had any fancy for
Mabel, and only endured her because she was rich, was coolly polite,
merely offering her hand, and then resumed the novel she was reading,
even before Mabel had left.  Anna and 'Lena bade her a more
affectionate adieu, and then advancing toward John Jr., who, in his
dressing-gown and slippers, reclined upon the sofa, she offered him
her hand.

As if to atone for his former acts of rudeness, the young man
accompanied her to the door, playfully claiming the privilege of
taking leave just as his sister and cousin had done.

"It's only me, you know," said he, imprinting upon her forehead a
kiss which sent the rich blood to her neck and face.

John Jr. would not have dared to take that liberty with Nellie, while
Mabel, simple-hearted, and wholly unused to the world, saw in it a
world of meaning, and for a long time after the carriage roiled away
from Maple Grove the bright glow on her cheek told of happy thoughts
within.

"Did my son say anything definite to you before you left?" asked Mrs.
Livingstone, as they came within sight of the city.

"No, madam," answered Mabel, and Mrs. Livingstone continued, "That's
strange.  He confessed to me that he--ah--he--loved you, and I
supposed he intended telling you so; but bashfulness prevented, I
dare say!"

Accustomed as she was to equivocation, this down-right falsehood cost
Mrs. Livingstone quite an effort, but she fancied the case required
it, and after a few twinges, her conscience felt easy, particularly
when she saw how much satisfaction her words gave to her companion,
to whom the improbability of the affair never occurred.  Could she
have known how lightly John Jr. treated the matter, laughingly
describing his leave-taking to his sisters and 'Lena, and saying,
"Meb wasn't the worst girl in the world, after all," she might not
have been so easily duped.

But she did not know all this, and thus was the delusion perfect.




CHAPTER XIV.

NELLIE AND MABEL.

Nellie Douglass sat alone in her chamber, which was filled with
articles of elegance and luxury, for her father, though far from
being wealthy, still loved to surround his only daughter with
everything which could increase her comfort.  So the best, the
fairest, and the most Costly was always for her, his "darling
Nellie," as he called her, when with bounding footsteps she flew to
greet him on his return at night, ministering to his wants in a
thousand ways, and shedding over his home such a halo of sunshine
that ofttimes he forgot that he was a lonely widower, while in the
features of his precious child he saw again the wife of his bosom,
who years before had passed from his side forever.

But not on him were Nellie's thoughts resting, as she sat there alone
that afternoon.  She was thinking of the past--of John Livingstone,
and the many marked attentions, which needed not the expression of
words to tell her she was beloved.  And freely did her heart respond.
That John Jr. was not perfect, she knew, but he was noble and
generous, and so easily influenced by those he loved, that she knew
it would be an easy task to soften down some of the rougher shades of
his character.  Three times during her absence had he called,
expressing so much disappointment, that with woman's ready instinct
she more than half divined his intentions, and regretted that she was
gone.  But Mabel was coming to-day, and he was to accompany her, for
so had 'Lena written, and Nellie's cheeks glowed and her heart beat
high, as she thought of what might occur.  She knew well that in
point of wealth she was not his equal, for though mingling with the
first in the city, her father was poor--but one of John Jr.'s nature
would never take that into consideration.  They had known each other
from childhood, and he had always evinced for her the same preference
which he now manifested.  Several weeks had elapsed since she had
seen him, and now, rather impatiently, she awaited his arrival,

"If you please, ma'am, Mrs. Livingstone and Miss Mabel are in the
parlor," said a servant, suddenly appearing and interrupting her
reverie.

"Mrs. Livingstone!" she repeated, as she glanced at herself in a
mirror, and rearranged one side of her shining hair, "Mrs.
Livingstone!--and so _he_ has not come.  I wonder what's the matter!"
and with a less joyous face she descended to the back parlor, where,
with rich furs wrapped closely about her, as if half frozen, sat Mrs.
Livingstone, her quick eye taking an inventory of every article of
furniture, and her proud spirit whispering to herself, "Poverty,
poverty."

With a cry of joy, Mabel flew to meet Nellie, who, while welcoming
her back, congratulated her upon her improved health and looks,
saying, "the _air_ of Maple Grove must have agreed with her;" then
turning toward Mrs. Livingstone, who saw in her remark other meaning
than the one she intended, she asked her to remove her wrappings,
apologizing at the same time for the fire being so low.

"Father is absent most of the day," said she; "and as I am much in my
chamber, we seldom keep a fire in the front parlor."

"Just as well," answered Mrs. Livingstone, removing her heavy furs.
"One fire is _cheaper_ than two, and in these times I suppose it is
necessary for some people to economize."

Nellie colored, not so much at the words as at the manner of her
visitor.  After a moment, Mrs. Livingstone again spoke, looking
straight in Nellie's face.

"My son was very anxious to ride over with Mabel, but a bad cold
prevented him, so she rather unwillingly took me as a substitute."

Here not only Nellie, but Mabel, also colored, and the latter left
the room.  When she was gone, Nellie remarked upon the visible
improvement in her health.

"Yes," said Mrs. Livingstone, settling herself a little more easily
in her chair, "Yes, Mabel isn't the same creature she was when she
came to us, but then it's no wonder, for love, you know, will work
miracles."

No answer from Nellie, who almost instinctively felt what was coming
next.

"Upon my word, Miss Douglass, you've no curiosity whatever.  Why
don't you ask with whom Mabel is in love?"

"Who is it?" laughingly asked Nellie, nervously playing with the
tassel of her blue silk apron.

After a moment, Mrs. Livingstone replied, "It may seem out of place
for me to speak of it, but I know you, Miss Douglass, for a girl of
excellent sense, and feel sure you will not betray me to either
party."

"Certainly not," answered Nellie, rather haughtily, while her
tormentor continued: "Well, then, it is my son, and I assure you,
both myself and husband are well pleased that it should be so.  From
the moment I first saw Mabel, I felt for her a motherly affection for
which I could not account, and if I were now to select my future
daughter-in-law, I should prefer her to all others."

Here ensued a pause which Nellie felt no inclination to break, and
again Mrs. Livingstone spoke: "It may be a weakness, but I have
always felt anxious that John should make a match every way worthy of
him, both as to wealth and station.  Indeed, I would hardly be
willing for him to marry one whose fortune is less than Mabel's.  But
I need have no fears, for John has his own views on that subject, and
though he may sometimes be attentive to girls far beneath him, he is
pretty sure in the end to do as I think best!"

Poor Nellie!  How every word sank into her soul, torturing her almost
to madness.  She did not stop to consider the improbability of what
she heard.  Naturally impulsive and excitable, she believed it all,
for if John Jr. really loved her, as once she had fondly believed,
had there not been a thousand opportunities for him to tell her so?
At this moment Mabel reentered the parlor, and Nellie, on the plea of
seeing to the dinner, left the room, going she scarce knew whither,
until she found herself in a little arbor at the foot of the garden,
where many and many a time John Jr. had sat with her, and where he
would never sit again--so she thought, so she believed--and throwing
herself upon one of the seats, she struggled hard to school herself
to meet the worst--to conquer the bitter resentment which she felt
rising within her toward Mabel, who had supplanted her in the
affections of the only one she had ever loved.

Nellie had a noble, generous nature, and after a few moments of
calmer reflection, she rose up, strengthened in her purpose of never
suffering Mabel to know how deeply she had wronged her.  "She is an
orphan--a lonely orphan," thought she, "and God forbid that through
me one drop of bitterness should mingle in her cup of joy."

With a firm step she walked to the kitchen, gave some additional
orders concerning the dinner, and then returned to the parlor, half
shuddering when Mabel came near her, and then with a strong effort
pressing the little blue-veined hand laid so confidingly upon her
own.  Dinner being over, Mrs. Livingstone, who had some other calls
to make, took her leave, bidding a most affectionate adieu to Mabel,
who clung to her as if she had indeed been her mother.

"Good-bye, darling Meb," said she.  "I shall come for you to visit us
erelong."  Turning to Nellie, she said, "Do take care of her health,
which you know is now precious to more than one;" then in a whisper
she added, "Remember that what I have told you is sacred."

The next moment she was gone, and mechanically, Nellie returned to
the parlor, together with Mabel, whose unusual buoyancy of spirits
contrasted painfully with the silence and sadness which lay around
her heart.  That night, Mr. Douglass had some business in the city,
and the two girls were left alone.  The lamps were unlighted, for the
full golden moonlight, which streamed through the window-panes,
suited better the mood of Nellie, who leaning upon the arm of the
sofa, looked listlessly out upon the deep beauty of the night.  Upon
a little stool at her feet sat Mabel, her head resting on Nellie's
lap, and her hand searching in vain for another, which involuntarily
moved farther and farther away, as hers advanced.

At length she spoke: "Nellie, dear Nellie--there is something I want
so much to tell you--if you will hear it, and not think me foolish."

With a strong effort, the hand which had crept away under the
sofa-cushion, came back from its hiding-place, and rested upon
Mabel's brow, while Nellie's voice answered, softly and slow, "What
is it, Mabel?  I will hear you."

Briefly, then, Mabel told the story of her short life, beginning at
the time when a frowning nurse tore her away from her dead mother,
chiding her for her tears, and threatening her with punishment if she
did not desist.  "Since then," said she, "I have been so lonely--how
lonely, none but a friendless orphan can know.  No one has ever loved
me, or if for a time they seemed to, they soon grew weary of me, and
left me ten times more wretched than before.  I never once dreamed
that--that Mr. Livingstone could care aught for one so ugly as I know
I am.  I thought him better suited for you, Nellie.  (How cold your
hand is, but don't take it away, for it cools my forehead.")

The icy hand was not withdrawn, and Mabel continued: "Yes, I think
him better suited to you, and when his mother told me that he loved
me, and that he would, undoubtedly, one day make me his wife, it was
almost too much for me to believe, but it makes me so happy--oh, so
happy."

"And he--he, too, told you that he loved you?" said Nellie, very low,
holding her breath for the answer.

"Oh, no--_he_ never told me in _words_.  'Twas his mother that told
me--he only _acted_!"

"And what did he do?" asked Nellie, smiling in spite of herself, at
the simplicity of Mabel, who, without any intention of exaggerating,
proceeded to tell what John Jr. had said and done, magnifying every
attention, until Nellie, blinded as she was by what his mother had
said, was convinced that, at all events, he was not true to herself.
To be sure, he had never told her he loved her in words; but in
actions he had said it many a time, and if he could do the same with
Mabel, he must be false either to one or the other.  Always frank and
open-hearted herself, Nellie despised anything like deception in
others, and the high opinion she had once entertained for John Jr.,
was now greatly changed.

Still, reason as she would, Nellie could not forget so easily, and
the hour of midnight found her restless and wakeful.  At length,
rising up and leaning upon her elbow, she looked down upon the face
of Mabel, who lay sleeping sweetly at her side.  Many and bitter were
her thoughts, and as she looked upon her rival, marking her plain
features and sallow skin, an expression of scorn flitted for an
instant across her face.

"And _she_ is preferred to me!" said she.  "Well, let it be so, and
God grant I may not hate her."

Erelong, better feelings came to her aid, and with her arms wound
round Mabel's neck, as if to ask forgiveness for her unkind thoughts,
she fell asleep.




CHAPTER XV.

MRS. LIVINGSTONE'S CALLS AND THEIR RESULT.

After leaving Mr. Douglass's, Mrs. Livingstone ordered her coachman
to drive her around to the house of Mrs. Atkins, where she was
frequently in the habit of stopping, partly as a matter of
convenience when visiting in town, and partly to learn the latest
news of the day, for Mrs. Atkins was an intolerable gossip.  Without
belonging exactly to the higher circles, she still managed to keep up
a show of intimacy with them, possessing herself with their secrets,
and kindly intrusting them to the keeping of this and that "dear
friend."

From her, had Mrs. Livingstone learned to a dime the amount of Mr.
Douglass' property, and how he was obliged to economize in various
ways, in order to keep up the appearance of style.  From her, too,
had she learned how often her son was in the habit of calling there,
and what rumor said concerning those calls, while Mrs. Atkins had
learned, in return, that the ambitious lady had other views for John,
and that anything which she, Mrs. Atkins, could do to further the
plans of her friend, would be gratefully received.  On this occasion
she was at home, and of course delighted to meet Mrs. Livingstone.

"It is such an age since I've seen you, that I began to fear you were
offended at something," said she, as she led the way into a cozy
little sitting-room, where a cheerful wood fire was blazing on the
nicely painted hearth.  "Do sit down and make yourself as comfortable
as you can, on such poor accommodations.  I have just finished dinner
but will order some for you."

"No, no," exclaimed Mrs. Livingstone, "I dined at Mr.
Douglass's--thank you."

"Ah, indeed," returned Mrs. Atkins, feeling a good deal relieved, for
to tell the truth, her larder, as was often the case, was rather
empty.  "Dined at Mr. Douglass's!  Of course, then, nothing which I
could offer you could be acceptable, after one of his sumptuous
meals.  I suppose Nellie brought out all her mother's old silver, and
made quite a display.  It's a wonder to me how they hold their heads
so high, and folks notice them as they do, for between you and me, I
shouldn't be surprised to hear of his failing any minute."

"Is it possible?" said Mrs. Livingstone.

"Why, yes," returned Mrs. Atkins.  "There's nothing to prevent it,
they say, except a moneyed marriage on the part of Nellie, who seems
to be doing her best."

"Has she any particular one in view?" asked Mrs. Livingstone, and
Mrs. Atkins, aware of Mrs. Livingstone's aversion to the match,
replied, "Why, you know she tried to get your son----"

"But didn't succeed," interrupted Mrs. Livingstone.

"No, didn't succeed.  You are right.  Well, now it seems she's
spreading sail for a Mr. Wilbur, of Madison----"

Mrs. Livingstone's eyes sparkled eagerly, and, not to lose one word,
she drew her chair nearer to her friend, who proceeded; "He's a rich
bachelor--brother to Mary Wilbur, Nellie's most intimate friend.
You've heard of her?"

"Yes, yes," returned Mrs. Livingstone.   "Hasn't Nellie been visiting
her?"

"Her or her brother," answered Mrs. Atkins.  "Mary's health is poor,
and you know it's mighty convenient for Nellie to go there, under
pretense of staying with her,"

"Exactly," answered Mrs. Livingstone, with a satisfied smile, and
another hitch of her chair toward Mrs. Atkins, who, after a moment,
continued: "The brother came home with Nellie, stayed over Sunday,
rode out with her Monday, indorsed ever so many notes for her father,
so I reckon, and then went home.  If that don't mean something, then
I'm mistaken"--and Mrs. Atkins rang for a glass of wine and a slice
of cake.

After an hour's confidential talk, in which Mrs. Livingstone told of
Mabel's prospects, and Mrs. Atkins told how folks who were at Mr.
Graham's party praised 'Lena Rivers' beauty, and predicted a match
between her and Mr. Bellmont, the former rose to go; and calling upon
one or two others, and by dint of quizzing and hinting, getting them
to say "they shouldn't be surprised if Mr. Wilbur did like Nellie
Douglas," she started for home, exulting to think how everything
seemed working together for her good, and how, in the denouement,
nothing particular could be laid to her charge.

"I told Nellie no falsehood," thought she.  "I did not say John loved
Mabel; I only said she loved him, leaving all else for her to infer.
And it has commenced operating, too.  I could see it in the spots on
her face and neck, when I was talking.  Nellie's a fine girl, though,
but too poor for the Livingstones;" and with this conclusion, she
told the coachman to drive faster, as she was in a hurry to reach
home.

Arrived at Maple Grove, she found the whole family, grandma and all,
assembled in the parlor, and with them Durward Bellmont.  His arm was
thrown carelessly across the back of 'Lena's chair, while he
occasionally bent forward to look at a book of prints which she was
examining.  The sight of him determined her to wait a little ere she
retailed her precious bit of gossip to her son.  He was Nellie's
cousin, and as such, would in all probability repeat to her what he
heard.  However communicative John Jr. might be in other respects,
she knew he would never discuss his heart-troubles with any one, so,
upon second thought, she deemed it wiser to wait until they were
alone.

Durward and 'Lena, however, needed watching, and by a little
maneuvering, she managed to separate them, greatly to the
satisfaction of Carrie, who sat upon the sofa, one foot bent under
her, and the other impatiently tapping the carpet.  From the moment
Durward took his seat by her cousin, she had appeared ill at ease,
and as he began to understand her better, he readily guessed that her
silent mood was owing chiefly to the attentions he paid to 'Lena, and
not to a nervous headache, as she said, when her grandmother,
inquiring the cause of her silence, remarked, that "she'd been
chipper enough until Mr. Bellmont came in."

But he did not care.  He admired 'Lena, and John Jr. like, it made
but little difference with him who knew it.  Carrie's freaks, which
he plainly saw, rather amused him than otherwise, but of Mrs.
Livingstone he had no suspicion whatever.  Consequently, when she
sent 'Lena from the room on some trifling errand, herself
appropriating the vacated seat, he saw in it no particular design,
but in his usual pleasant way commenced talking with Carrie, who
brightened up so much that grandma asked "if her headache wasn't
e'en-a'most well!"

When 'Lena returned to the parlor, Durward was proposing a surprise
visit to Nellie Douglass some time during the holidays.  "We'll
invite Mr. Everett, and all go down.  What do you say, girls?" said
he, turning toward Carrie and Anna, but meaning 'Lena quite as much
as either of them.

"Capital,' answered Anna, visions of a long ride with Malcolm
instantly passing before her mind.

"I should like it very much," said Carrie, visions of a ride with
Durward crossing her mind.

"And I too," said 'Lena, laying her hand on John Jr.'s shoulder, as
if he would of course be her escort.

Carrie's ill-nature had not all vanished, and now, in a slightly
insolent tone, she said, "How do you know you are included?"

'Lena was about to reply, when Durward, a little provoked at Carrie's
manner, prevented her by saying "Of course I meant Miss Rivers, and I
will now do myself the honor of asking her to ride with me, either on
horseback or in a carriage, just as she prefers."

In a very graceful manner 'Lena accepted the invitation saying that
"she always preferred riding on horse back, but as the pony which she
usually rode had recently been sold, she would be content to go in
any other way."

"Fleetfoot sold! what's that for?" asked Anna; and her mother
replied, "We've about forty horses on our hands now, and as Fleetfoot
was seldom used by any one except 'Lena, your father thought we
couldn't afford to keep him."

She did not dare tell the truth of the matter, and say that ever
since the morning when 'Lena rode to Woodlawn with Durward,
Fleetfoot's fate had been decreed.  Repeatedly had she urged the sale
upon her husband, who, wearied with her importunity, at last
consented, selling him to a neighboring planter, who had taken him
away that very day.

"That's smart," said John Jr. looking at his father, who had not
spoken.  "What is 'Lena going to ride, I should like to know."

'Lena pressed his arm to keep him still, but he would not heed her.
"Isn't there plenty of feed for Fleetfoot?"

"Certainly," answered his father, compelled now to speak; "plenty of
feed, but Fleetfoot was getting old and sometimes stumbled.  Perhaps
we'll get 'Lena a better and younger horse."

This was said in a half timid way, which brought the tears to 'Lena's
eyes, for at the bottom of it all she saw her aunt, who sat looking
into the glowing grate, apparently oblivious to all that was passing
around her.

"That reminds me of Christmas gifts," said Durward, anxious to change
the conversation.  "I wonder how many of us will get one?"

Ere there was any chance for an answer a servant appeared at the
door, asking Mrs. Livingstone for some medicine for old Aunt Polly,
the superannuated negress, who will be remembered as having nursed
Mrs. Nichols during her attack of rheumatism, and for whom grandma
had conceived a strong affection.  For many days she had been very
ill, causing Mrs. Livingstone to wonder "what old niggers wanted to
live for, bothering everybody to death."

The large stock of abolitionism which Mrs. Nichols had brought with
her from Massachusetts was a little diminished by force of habit, but
the root was there still, in all its vigor, and since Aunt Polly's
illness she had been revolving in her mind the momentous question,
whether she would not be most guilty if Polly were suffered to die in
bondage.

"I promised Nancy Scovandyke," said she, "that I'd have some on 'em
set free, but I'll be bound if 'taint harder work than I s'posed
'twould be."

Still Aunt Polly's freedom lay warm at grandma's heart and now when
she was mentioned together with "Christmas gifts," a bright idea
entered her mind,

"John," said she to her son, when Corinda had gone with the medicine,
"John, have you ever made me a Christmas present since I've been
here?"

"I believe not," was his answer.

"Wall," continued grandma, "bein's the fashion, I want you to give me
somethin' this Christmas, will you?"

"Certainly," said he, "what is it?"

Grandma replied that she would rather not tell him then--she would
wait until Christmas morning, which came the next Tuesday, and here
the conversation ended.  Soon after, Durward took his leave, telling
'Lena he should call for her on Thursday.

"That's a plaguy smart feller," said grandma, as the door closed upon
him; "and I kinder think he's got a notion after 'Leny."

"Ridiculous!" muttered Mrs. Livingstone, while Carrie added, "Just
reverse it, and say she has a notion after him!"

"Shut up your head," growled John Jr.  "You are only angry because he
asked her to accompany him, instead of yourself.  I reckon he knows
what he's about."

"I reckon he does, too!" said Mrs. Livingstone, with a peculiar
smile, which nettled 'Lena more than any open attack would have done.

With the exception of his mother, John Jr. was the last to leave the
parlor, and when all the rest were gone, Mrs. Livingstone seized her
opportunity for telling him what she had heard.  Taking a light from
the table, he was about retiring, when she said, "I learned some news
to-day which a little surprised me."

"Got it from Mother Atkins, I suppose," answered John, still
advancing toward the door.

"Partly from her, and partly from others," said his mother, adding,
as she saw him touch the door-knob, "It's about Nellie Douglass."

This was sufficient to arrest his attention, and turning about, he
asked, "What of her?"

"Why, nothing of any great consequence, as I know of," said Mrs.
Livingstone, "only people in Frankfort think she's going to be
married."

"_I_ think so, too," was John's mental reply, while his verbal one
was, "Married!  To whom?"

"Did you ever hear her speak of Mary Wilbur?"

"Yes, she's been staying with her ever since Mrs. Graham's party."

"Well, Mary it seems has a brother, a rich old bachelor, who they say
is very attentive to Nellie.  He came home with her from Madison,
staying at her father's the rest of the week, and paying her
numberless attentions, which----"

"_I don't believe it_," interrupted John Jr., striking his fist upon
the table, to which he had returned.

"Neither did I, at first," said his mother, "but I heard it in so
many places that there must be something in it.  And I'm sure it's a
good match.  He is rich, and willing, they say, to help her father,
who is in danger of failing any moment."

Without knowing it, John Jr. was a little inclined to be jealous,
particularly of those whom he loved very much, and now suddenly
remembering to have heard Nellie speak in high terms of Robert
Wilbur, he began to feel uneasy, lest what his mother had said were
true.  She saw her advantage, and followed it up until, in a fit of
anger, he rushed from the room and repaired to his own apartment,
where for a time he walked backward and forward, chafing like a caged
lion, and wishing all manner of evil upon Nellie, if she were indeed
false to him.

He was very excitable, and at last worked himself up to such a pitch,
that he determined upon starting at once for Frankfort, to demand of
Nellie if what he had heard were true!  Upon cooler reflection,
however, he concluded not to make a "perfect fool of himself," and
plunging into bed, he fell asleep, as what man will not be his
trouble what it may.




CHAPTER XVI.

CHRISTMAS GIFTS.

The sunlight of a bright Christmas morning had hardly dawned upon the
earth, when from many a planter's home in the sunny south was heard
the joyful cry of "Christmas Gift," "Christmas Gift," as the negroes
ran over and against each other, hiding ofttimes, until some one came
within hailing distance, when their loud "Christmas Gift" would make
all echo again.  On this occasion, every servant at Maple Grove was
remembered, for Anna and 'Lena had worked both early and late in
preparing some little present, and feeling amply compensated for
their trouble, when they saw how much happiness it gave.  Mabel, too,
while she stayed, had lent a helping hand, and many a blessing was
that morning invoked upon her head from the hearts made glad by her
generous gifts.  Carrie, when asked to join them, had turned
scornfully away, saying "she'd plenty to do, without working for
niggers; who could not appreciate it."

So all her leisure hours were spent in embroidering a fine cambric
handkerchief, intended as a present for Mrs. Graham, and which with a
delicate note was, the evening previous, sent to Woodlawn, with
instructions to have it placed next morning on Mrs. Graham's table.
Of course Mrs. Graham felt in duty bound to return the compliment,
and looking over her old jewelry, she selected a diamond ring which
she had formerly worn, but which was now too small for her fat chubby
fingers.  This was immediately forwarded to Maple Grove, reaching
there just as the family were rising from the breakfast-table.

"Oh, isn't it beautiful--splendid--magnificent!" were Carrie's
exclamations, while she praised Mrs. Graham's generosity, secretly
wondering if "Durward did not have something to do with it."

On this point she was soon set right, for the young man himself
erelong appeared, and after bidding them all a "Merry Christmas,"
presented Anna with a package which, on being opened, proved to be a
large and complete copy of Shakspeare, elegantly bound, and bearing
upon its heavy golden clasp the words "Anna Livingstone, from
Durward,"

"This you will please accept from me," said he.  "Mother, I believe,
has sent Carrie something, and if 'Lena will step to the door, she
will see her gift from father, who hopes it will give her as much
pleasure to accept it, as it does him to present it."

"What can it be?" thought Carrie, rising languidly from the sofa, and
following 'Lena and her sister to the side door, where stood one of
Mr. Graham's servants, holding a beautiful gray pony, all nicely
equipped for riding.

Never dreaming that this was intended for 'Lena, Carrie looked
vacantly around, saying, "Why, where is it?  I don't see anything."

"Here," said Durward, taking the bridle from the negro's hand, and
playfully throwing it across 'Lena's neck, "Here it is--this pony,
which we call Vesta.  Vesta, allow me to introduce you and your new
mistress, Miss 'Lena, to each other," and catching her up, as if she
had been a feather, he placed her in the saddle.  Then, at a peculiar
whistle, the well-trained animal started off upon an easy gallop,
bearing its burden lightly around the yard, and back again to the
piazza.

"Do you like her ?" he asked of 'Lena, extending his arms to lift her
down.

For a moment 'Lena could not speak, her heart was so full.  But at
last, forcing down her emotion, she replied, "Oh, very, very much;
but it isn't for me, I know--there must be some mistake.   Mr. Graham
never intended it for me."

"Yes, he did," answered Durward.   "He has intended it ever since the
morning when you and I rode to Woodlawn.  A remark which your cousin
John made at the table, determined him upon him buying and training a
pony for you.  So here it is, and as I have done my share toward
teaching her, you must grant me the favor of riding her to Frankfort
day after to-morrow."

"Thank you, thank you--you and Mr. Graham too--a thousand times,"
said 'Lena, winding her arms around the neck of the docile animal,
who did her best to return the caress, rubbing her face against
'Lena, and evincing her gentleness in various ways.

By this time Mr. Livingstone had joined them, and while he was
admiring the pony, Durward said to him, "I am commissioned by my
father to tell you that he will defray all the expense of keeping
Vesta."

"Don't mention such a thing again," hastily interposed Mr.
Livingstone.  "I can keep fifty horses, if I choose, and nothing will
give me more pleasure than to take care of this one for 'Lena, who
deserves it if any one does."

"That's my Christmas gift from you, uncle, isn't it?" asked 'Lena,
the tears gushing from her shining, brown eyes.  "And now please may
I return it?"

"Certainly," said he, and with a nimble spring she caught him around
the neck, imprinting upon his lips the first and only kiss she had
ever given him; then, amid blushes and tears, which came from a heart
full of happiness, she ran away upstairs followed by the envious eyes
of Carrie, who repaired to her mother's room, where she stated all
that had transpired--"How Mr. Graham had sent 'Lena a gray pony--how
she had presumed to accept it--and how, just to show off before Mr.
Bellmont, she had wound her arms around its neck, and then actually
_kissed pa_!"

Mrs. Livingstone was equally indignant with her daughter, wondering
if Mr. Graham had lost his reason, and reckoning his wife knew
nothing about Vesta!  But fret as she would, there was no help for
it.  Vesta belonged to 'Lena--Mr. Livingstone had given orders to
have it well-cared for--and worse than all the rest, 'Lena was to
accompany Durward to Frankfort.  Something must be done to meet the
emergency, but what, Mrs. Livingstone didn't exactly know, and
finally concluded to wait until she saw Mrs. Graham.

Meantime grandma had claimed from her son her promised Christmas
gift, which was nothing less than "the freedom of old Aunt Polly."

"You won't refuse me, John, I know you won't," said she, laying her
bony hand on his.  "Polly's arnt her freedom forty times over, even
s'posin' you'd a right to her in the fust place which I and Nancy
Scovandyke both doubt; so now set down like a man, make out her free
papers, and let me carry 'em to her right away."

Without a word Mr. Livingstone complied with his mother's request,
saying, as he handed her the paper, "It's not so much the fault of
the south as of the north that every black under heaven is not free."

Grandma looked aghast.  Her son, born, brought up, and baptized in a
purely orthodox atmosphere, to hold such treasonable opinions in
opposition to everything he'd ever been taught in good old
Massachusetts!  She was greatly shocked, but thinking she could not
do the subject justice, she said, "Wall, wall, it's of no use for you
and I to arger the pint, for I don't know nothin' what I want to say,
but if Nancy Scovandyke was here, she'd convince you quick, for she's
good larnin' as any of the gals nowadays."

So saying, she walked away to Polly's cabin.  The old negress was
better to-day, and attired in the warm double-gown which Mabel had
purchased and 'Lena had made, she sat up in a large, comfortable
rocking-chair which John Jr. had given her at the commencement of her
illness, saying it was "his Christmas gift in advance." Going
straight up to her, grandma laid the paper in her lap, bidding her
"read it and thank the Lord."

"Bless missus' dear old heart," said Aunt Polly, "I can't read a
word."

"Sure enough," answered Mrs. Nichols, and taking up the paper she
read it through, managing to make the old creature comprehend its
meaning.

"Praise the Lord! praise Master John, and all the other apostles!"
exclaimed Aunt Polly, clasping together her black, wrinkled hands,
while tears of joy coursed their way down her cheeks.  "The breath of
liberty is sweet--sweet as sugar," she continued, drawing long
inspirations as if to make up for lost time.

Mrs. Nichols looked on, silently thanking God for having made her an
humble instrument in contributing so much to another's happiness.

"Set down," said Aunt Polly, motioning toward a wooden bottomed
chair; "set down, and let's us talk over this great meracle, which
I've prayed and rastled for mighty nigh a hundred times, without
havin' an atom of faith that 'twould ever be."

So Mrs. Nichols sat down, and for nearly an hour the old ladies
talked, the one of her newly-found freedom, and the other of her
happiness in knowing that "'twasn't for nothin' she was turned out of
her old home and brought away over land and sea to Kentucky."




CHAPTER XVII.

FRANKFORT.

Thursday morning came, bright, sunshiny and beautiful, and at about
ten o'clock 'Lena, dressed and ready for her ride, came down to the
parlor, where she found John Jr. listlessly leaning upon the table
with his elbows, and drumming with his fingers.

"Come, cousin," said she, "why are you not ready?"

"Ready for what?" he answered, without raising his head.

"Why, ready for our visit," replied Lena, at the same time advancing
nearer, to see what ailed him.

"All the visit I make to-day won't hurt me, I reckon," said he;
pushing his hat a little more to one side and looking up at 'Lena,
who, in some surprise, asked what he meant.

"I mean what I say," was his ungracious answer; "I've no intention
whatever of going to Frankfort."

"Not going?" repeated 'Lena.  "Why not?  What will Carrie do?"

"Stick herself in with you and Durward, I suppose," said John Jr.,
just as Carrie entered the room, together with Mr. Bellmont, Malcolm,
and Anna.

"Not going?--of course then I must stay at home, too," said Carrie,
secretly pleased at her brother's decision.

"Why of course?" asked Durward, who, in the emergency, felt
constrained to offer his services to Carrie though he would greatly
have preferred 'Lena's company alone.  "The road is wide enough for
three, and I am fully competent to take charge of two ladies.  But
why don't you go?" turning to John Jr.

"Because I don't wish to.  If it was anywhere in creation but there,
I'd go," answered the young man; hastily leaving the room to avoid
all further argument.

"He does it just to be hateful and annoy me," said Carrie, trying to
pout, but making a failure, for she had in reality much rather go
under Durward's escort than her brother's.

The horses were now announced as ready, and in a few moments the
little party were on their way, Carrie affecting so much fear of her
pony that Durward at last politely offered to lead him a while.  This
would of course bring him close to her side, and after a little
well-feigned hesitation, she replied, "I am sorry to trouble you, but
if you would be so kind----"

'Lena saw through the ruse, and patting Vesta gently, rode on in
advance, greatly to the satisfaction of Carrie, and greatly to the
chagrin of Durward, who replied to his loquacious companion only in
monosyllables.  Once, indeed, when she said something concerning
'Lena's evident desire to show off her horsemanship, he answered
rather coolly, that "he'd yet to discover in Miss Rivers the least
propensity for display of any kind."

"You've never lived with her," returned Carrie, and here the
conversation concerning 'Lena ceased.

Meantime, Nellie Douglass was engaged in answering a letter that
morning received from Mary Wilbur.  A few years before, Mary had
spent some months in Mr. Douglass's family, conceiving a strong
affection for Nellie, whom she always called her sister, and with
whom she kept up a regular correspondence.  Mary was an orphan,
living with her only brother Robert, who was a bachelor of thirty or
thirty-five.  Once she had ventured to hope that Nellie would indeed
be to her a sister, but fate had decreed it otherwise, and her
brother was engaged to a lady whom he found a school-girl in
Montreal, and who was now at her own home in England.  This was
well-known to Nellie, but she did not deem it a matter of sufficient
importance to discuss, so it was a secret in Frankfort, where Mr.
Wilbur's polite attentions to herself was a subject of considerable
remark.  For a long time Mary had been out of health, and the family
physician at last said that nothing could save her except a sea
voyage, and as her brother was about going to Europe to consummate
his marriage, it was decided that she should accompany him.  This she
was willing to do, provided Nellie Douglass would go too.

"It would be much pleasanter," she said, "having some female
companion besides her attendant, and then, too, Nellie had relatives
in England;" so she urged her to accompany them, offering to defray
all expenses for the pleasure of her society.

Since Nellie's earliest recollection, her fondest dreams had been of
England, her mother's birthplace; and now when so favorable an
opportunity for visiting it was presented, she felt strongly tempted
to say "Yes."  Still, she would give Mary no encouragement until she
had seen her father and John Jr., the latter of whom would influence
her decision quite as much as the former.  But John Jr. no longer
loved her--she was sure of that--and with her father's consent she
had half determined to go.  Still she was undecided, until a letter
came from Mary, urging her to make up her mind without delay, as they
were to sail the 15th of January.

"Brother is so sensitive concerning his love affairs," wrote Mary,
"that whether you conclude to join us or not, you will please say
nothing about his intended marriage."

Nellie had seated herself to answer this letter, when a servant came
up, saying that "Marster Bellmont, all the Livingstones, and a heap
more were downstars, and had sent for her."

She was just writing, "I will go," when this announcement came, and
quickly suspending her pen, she thought, "He's come, at last.  It may
all be a mistake.  I'll wait."  With a beating heart she descended to
the parlor, where she politely greeted Mr. Everett and Durward, and
then anxiously glanced around for the missing one.  Mabel, who felt a
similar disappointment, ventured to inquire for him, in a low tone,
whereupon Carrie replied, loudly enough for Nellie to hear, "Oh, pray
don't speak of that bear.  Why, you don't know how cross he's been
ever since--let me see--ever since you came away.  He doesn't say a
civil word to anybody, and I really wish you'd come back before he
kills us all.'

"Did you invite him to come ?" said Nellie.

"To be sure we did," answered Carrie, "and he said, 'anywhere in
creation but there.'"

Nellie needed no further confirmation, and after conversing awhile
with her guests, she begged leave to be excused for a few moments,
while she finished a letter of importance, which must go out in the
next mail.  Alone in her room, she wavered, but the remembrance of
the words, "anywhere in creation but there," decided her, and with a
firm hand she wrote to Mary that she would go.  When the letter was
finished and sent to the office, Nellie returned to her visitors, who
began to rally her concerning the important letter which must be
answered.

"Now, coz," said Durward, pulling her down upon the sofa by his side,
"now, coz, I claim a right to know something about this letter.  Was
it one of acceptance or rejection?"

"Acceptance, of course," answered Nellie, who, knowing no good reason
why her intended tour should be kept a secret, proceeded to speak of
it, telling how they were to visit Scotland, France, Switzerland, and
Italy, and almost forgetting, in her enthusiasm, how wretched the
thought of the journey made her.

"And Miss Wilbur's brother is to be your escort--he is unmarried, I
believe?" said Durward, looking steadily upon the carpet.

In a moment Nellie would have told of his engagement, and the object
of his going, but she remembered Mary's request in time, and the
blush which the almost committed mistake called to her cheek, was
construed by all into a confession that there was something between
her and Mr. Wilbur.

"That accounts for John's sudden churlishness," thought 'Lena,
wondering how Nellie could have deceived him so.

"Oh, I see it all," exclaimed Mabel.  "I understand now what has made
Nellie so absent-minded and restless these many days.  She was making
up her mind to become Mrs. Wilbur, while I fancied she was offended
with me."

"I don't know what you mean," answered Nellie, without smiling in the
least.  "Mary Wilbur wishes me to accompany her to Europe, and I
intend doing so.  Her brother is nothing to me, nor ever will be."

"Quite a probable story," thought Mr. Everett, without forming his
reflections into words.

Toward the middle of the afternoon, a violent ringing of the
door-bell, and a heavy tramp in the hall, announced some new arrival,
and Nellie was about opening the parlor door, when who should appear
but John Jr.!  From his room he had watched the departure of the
party, one moment wishing he was with them, and the next declaring
he'd never go to Frankfort again so long as he lived!  At length
inclination getting the ascendency of his reason, he mounted
Firelock, and rushing furiously down the 'pike, never once slackened
his speed until the city was in sight.

"I dare say she'll think me a fool," thought he, "tagging her round,
but she needn't worry.  I only want to show her how little her pranks
affect me."

With these thoughts he could not fail to meet Nellie otherwise than
coldly, while she received him with equal indifference, calling him
Mr. Livingstone, and asking if he were cold, with other questions,
such as any polite hostess would ask of her guest.  But her
accustomed smile and usual frankness of manner were gone, and while
John Jr. felt it keenly, he strove under a mask of indifference, to
conceal his chagrin.  Mabel seemed delighted to see him, and for want
of something better to do, he devoted himself to her, calling her
Meb, and teasing her about her "Indian locks," as he called her
straight, black hair.  Could he have seen the bitter tears which
Nellie constantly forced back, as she moved carelessly among her
guests, far different would have been his conduct.  But he only felt
that she had been untrue to him, and in his anger he was hardly
conscious of what he was doing.

So when Mabel said to him, "Nellie is going to Europe with Mr. Wilbur
and Mary," he replied, "Glad of it--hope she'll"--be drowned, he
thought--"have a good time," he said--and Nellie, who heard all,
never guessed how heavily the blow had fallen, or that the hand so
suddenly placed against his heart, was laid there to still the wild
throbbing which he feared she might hear.

When next he spoke, his voice was very calm, as he asked when she was
going, and how long she intended to be gone.  "What! so soon?" said
he, when told that she sailed the 15th of January, and other than
that, not a word did he say to Nellie concerning her intended visit,
until just before they left for home.  Then for a moment he stood
alone with her in the recess of a window.  There was a film upon his
eyes as he looked upon her, and thought it might be for the last
time.  There was anguish, too, in his heart, but it did not mingle in
the tones of his voice, which was natural, and, perhaps, indifferent,
as he said, "Why do you go to Europe, Nellie?"

Quickly, and with something of her olden look, she glanced up into
his face, but his eyes, which would not meet hers, lest they should
betray themselves, were resting upon Mabel, who, on a stool across
the room, was petting and caressing a kitten.  'Twas enough, and
carelessly Nellie answered, "Because I want to; what do you suppose?"

Without seeming to hear her answer, the young man walked away to
where Mabel sat, and commenced teasing her and her kitten, while
Nellie, maddened with herself, with him, with everybody,
precipitately left the room, and going to her chamber hastily, and
without a thought as to what she was doing, gathered together every
little token which John Jr. had given her, together with his notes
and letters, written in his own peculiar and scarcely legible hand.
Tying them in a bundle, she wrote with unflinching nerve, "Do thou
likewise," and then descending to the hall, laid it upon the
hat-stand, managing, as he was leaving, to place it unobserved in his
hand.  Instinctively he knew what it was, glanced at the three words
written thereon, and in a cold, sneering voice, replied, "I will,
with pleasure."  And thus they parted.




thought as to what she was doing, gathered together every little token
which John Jr. had given her, together with his notes and letters,
written in his own peculiar and scarcely legible hand.  Tying them in a
bundle, she wrote with unflinching nerve, "Do thou likewise," and then
descending to the hall, laid it upon the hat-stand, managing, as he was
leaving, to place it unobserved in his hand.  Instinctively he knew
what it was, glanced at the three words written thereon, and in a cold,
sneering voice, replied, "I will, with pleasure."  And thus they parted.




CHAPTER XVIII.

THE DEPARTURE.

"John, how would you like to take a trip to New York--the city, I
mean?" said Mr. Livingstone, to his son, one morning about two weeks
following the events narrated in the last chapter.

"Well enough--why do you ask?" answered John.

"Because," said his father, "I have to-day received a letter which
makes it necessary for one of us to be there the 15th, and as you are
fond of traveling, I had rather you would go.  You had better start
immediately--say to-morrow."

John Jr. started from his chair.  To-morrow she left her home--the 15th
she sailed.  He might see her again, though at a distance, for she
should never know he followed her!  Since that night in Frankfort he
had not looked upon her face, but he had kept his promise, returning to
her everything--everything except a withered rose-bud, which years
before, when but a boy, he had twined among the heavy braids of her
hair, and which she had given back to him, playfully fastening it in
the button-hole of his roundabout!  How well he remembered that day.
She was a little romping girl, teasing him unmercifully about his _flat
feet_ and _big hands_, chiding him for his _negro slang_, as she termed
his favorite expressions, and with whatever else she did, weaving her
image into his heart's best and noblest affections, until he seemed to
live only for her, But now 'twas changed--terribly changed.  She was no
longer "his Nellie," the Nellie of his boyhood's love; and with a
muttered curse and a tear, large, round, and hot, such as only John Jr.
could shed, he sent her back every memento of the past, all save that
rose-bud, with which he could not part, it seemed so like his early
hopes--withered and dead.

Nellie was alone, preparing for her journey, when the box containing
the treasures was handed her.  Again and again she examined to see if
there were not one farewell word, but there was nothing save, "Here
endeth the first lesson!" followed by two exclamation points, which
John Jr. had dashed off at random.  Every article seemed familiar to
her as she looked them over, and everything was there but one--she
missed the rose-bud--and she wondered at the omission for she knew he
had it in his possession.  He had told her so not three months before.
Why, then, did he not return it?  Was it a lingering affection for her
which prompted the detention?  Perhaps so, and down in Nellie's heart
was one warm, bright spot, the memory of that bud, which grew green and
fresh again, as on the day when first it was torn from its parent stem.

When it was first known at Maple Grove, that Nellie was going to
Europe, Mrs. Livingstone, who saw in the future the full consummation
of her plans, proposed that Mabel should spend the period of Nellie's
absence with her.  But to this Mr. Douglass would not consent.

"He could not part with both his daughters," he said, and Mabel decided
to remain, stipulating that 'Lena, of whom she was very fond, should
pass a portion of the time with her.

"All the time, if she chooses," said Mr. Douglass, who also liked
'Lena, while Nellie, who was present, immediately proposed that she
should take music lessons of Monsieur Du Pont, who had recently come to
the city, and who was said to be a superior teacher.  "She is fond of
music," said she, "and has always wanted to learn, but that aunt of
hers never seemed willing; and this will be a good opportunity, for she
can use my piano all the time if she chooses."

"Capital!" exclaimed Mabel, generously thinking how she would pay the
bills, and how much she would assist 'Lena, for Mabel was an excellent
musician, singing and playing admirably.

When this plan was proposed to 'Lena, she objected, for two reasons.
The first, that she could not leave her grandmother, and second, that
much as she desired the lessons, she would not suffer Mabel to pay for
them, and she had no means of her own.  On the first point she began to
waver, when Mrs. Nichols, who was in unusually good health, insisted
upon her going.

"It will do you a sight of good," said she, "and there's no kind of use
why you should stay hived up with me.  I'd as lief be left alone as
not, and I shall take comfort thinkin' you're larnin' to play the
pianner, for I've allus wondered 'Tildy didn't set you at Car'line's.
So, go," the old lady continued, whispering in 'Lena's ear, "Go, and
mebby some day you'll be a music teacher, and take care of us both."

Still, 'Lena hesitated at receiving so much from Mabel, who, after a
moment's thought, exclaimed, "Why, I can teach you myself!  I should
love to dearly.  It will be something to occupy my mind; and my
instructors have frequently said that I was capable of teaching
advanced pupils, if I chose.  You'll go now, I know"--and Mabel plead
her cause so well, that 'Lena finally consented, saying she should come
home once a week to see her grandmother.

"A grand arrangement, I must confess," said Carrie, when she heard of
it.  "I should think she sponged enough from her connections, without
living on other folks, and poor ones, too, like Mr. Douglass."

"How ridiculous you talk," said John Jr., who was present.  "You'd be
perfectly willing to spend a year at Mr. Graham's, or Mr. Douglass's
either, if he had a son whom you considered an eligible match.  Then as
to his being so poor, that's one of Mother Atkins' yarns, and she knows
everybody's history, from Noah down to the present day.  For 'Lena's
sake I am glad to have her go, though heaven knows what I shall do
without her."

Mrs. Livingstone, too, was secretly pleased, for she would thus be more
out of Durward's way, and the good lady was again becoming somewhat
suspicious.  So when her husband objected, saying 'Lena could take
lessons at home if she liked, she quietly overruled him, giving many
good reasons why 'Lena should go, and finally saying that if Mrs.
Nichols was very lonely without her, she might spend her evenings in
the parlor when there was no company present!  So it was decided that
'Lena should go, and highly pleased with the result of their call, Mr.
Douglass and Mabel returned to Frankfort.

At length the morning came when Nellie was to start on her journey.
Mr. Wilbur had arrived the night before, together with his sister,
whose marble cheek and lusterless eye even then foretold the lonely
grave which awaited her far away 'neath a foreign sky.  Durward and Mr.
Douglass accompanied them as far as Cincinnati, where they took the
cars for Buffalo.  Just before it rolled from the depot, a young man
closely muffled, who had been watching our party, sprang into a car
just in the rear of the one they had chosen, and taking the first
vacant seat, abandoned himself to his own thoughts, which must have
been very absorbing, as a violent shake was necessary, ere he heeded
the call of "Your ticket, sir."

Onward, onward flew the train, while faster and faster Nellie's tears
were dropping.  They had gushed forth when she saw the quivering chin
and trembling lips of her gray-haired father, as he bade his only child
good-bye, and now that he was gone, she wept on, never heeding her
young friend, who strove in vain to call her attention to the fast
receding hills of Kentucky, which she--Mary--was leaving forever.
Other thoughts than those of her father mingled with Nellie's tears,
for she could not forget John Jr., nor the hope cherished to the last
that he would come to say farewell.   But he did not.  They had parted
in coldness, if not in anger, and she might never see him again.

"Come, cheer up, Miss Douglass; I cannot suffer you to be so sad," said
Mr. Wilbur, placing himself by Nellie, and thoughtlessly throwing his
arm across the back of the seat, while at the same time he bent
playfully forward to peep under her bonnet.

And Nellie did look up, smiling through her tears, but she did not
observe the flashing eyes which watched her through the window at the
rear of the car.  Always restless and impatient of confinement, John
Jr. had come out for a moment upon the platform, ostensibly to take the
air, but really to see if it were possible to get a glimpse of Nellie.
She was sitting not far from the door, and he looked in, just in time
to witness Mr. Wilbur's action, which he of course construed just as
his jealousy dictated.

"Confounded fool!" thought he.  "_I_ wouldn't hug Nellie in the cars in
good broad daylight, even if I was married to her!"

And returning to his seat; he wondered which was the silliest, "for
Nellie to run off with Mr. Wilbur, or for himself to run after her.
Six of one and half a dozen of the other, I reckon," said he; at the
same time wrapping himself in his shawl, he feigned sleep at every
station, for the sake of retaining his entire seat, and sometimes if
the crowd was great, going so far as to snore loudly!

And thus they proceeded onward, Nellie never suspecting the close
espionage kept upon her by John Jr., who once in the night, at a
crowded depot, passed so closely to her that he felt her warm breath on
his cheek.  And when, on the morning of the 15th, she sailed, she
little thought who it was that followed her down to the water's edge,
standing on the last spot where she had stood, and watching with a
swelling heart the vessel which bore her away.

"I'm nothing better than a walking dead man, now," said he, as he,
retraced his steps back to his hotel.  "Nellie's gone, and with her all
for which I lived, for she's the only girl except 'Lena who isn't a
libel on the sex--or, yes--there's Anna--does as well as she knows
how--and there's Mabel, a little simpleton, to be sure, but amiable and
good-natured, and on the whole, as smart as they'll average.  'Twas
kind in her, anyway, to offer to pay 'Lena's music bills."

And with these reflections, John Jr. sought out the men whom he had
come to see, transacted his business, and then started for home, where
he found his mother in unusually good spirits.  Matters thus far had
succeeded even beyond her most sanguine expectations.  Nellie was gone
to Europe, and the rest she fancied would be easy.  'Lena, too, was
gone, but the result of this was not what she had hoped.  Durward had
been at Maple Grove but once since 'Lena left, while she had heard of
his being in Frankfort several times.

"Something must be done"--her favorite expression and in her difficulty
she determined to call upon Mrs. Graham, whom she had not seen since
Christmas.  "It is quite time she knew about the gray pony, as well as
other matters," thought she, and ordering the carriage, she set out one
morning for Woodlawn, intending to spend the day if she found its
mistress amiably disposed, which was not always the case.




CHAPTER XIX.

THE VISIT.

Mrs. Graham reclined upon a softly-cushioned sofa, her tasteful lace
morning-cap half falling from her head, and her rich cashmere gown
flowing open, so as to reveal the flounced cambric skirt which her
sewing-girl had sat up till midnight to finish.  A pair of delicate
French slippers pinched rather than graced her fat feet, one of which
angrily beat the carpet, as if keeping time to its mistress' thoughts.
Nervous and uncomfortable was the lady of Woodlawn this morning, for she
had just passed through a little conjugal scene with her husband, whom
she had called a _brute_, lamenting the dispensation of Providence which
took from her "her beloved Sir Arthur, who always thought whatever she
said was right," and ending by throwing herself in the most theatrical
manner upon the sofa in the parlor, where, with both her blood and
temper at a boiling heat, she lay, when her waiting-maid, but recently
purchased, announced the approach of a carriage.

"Mercy," exclaimed the distressed lady, "whose is it?  I hope no one
will ask for me."

"Reckon how it's Marster Livingstone's carriage, 'case thar's Tom on the
box," answered the girl, who had her own private reason for knowing Tom
at any distance.

"Mrs. Livingstone, I'll venture to say," groaned Mrs. Graham, burying
her lace cap and flaxen hair still farther in the silken cushions.
"Just because I stopped there a few days last summer, she thinks she
must run here every week; and there's no way of escaping her.  Do shut
that blind; it lets in so much light.  There, would you think I'd been
crying?"

"Lor, no," returned the stupid servant, "Lor, no; I should sooner think
your eyes and face were swelled with _pisen_."

"The Lord help me," exclaimed Mrs. Graham, "you don't begin to know as
much as poor Charlotte did.  She was a jewel, and I don't see anything
what she wanted to die for, just as I had got her well trained; but
that's all the thanks I ever get for my goodness.  Now go quick, and
tell her I've got an excruciating headache."

"If you please, miss," said the girl, trying in vain to master the big
word, "if you please, give me somethin' shorter, 'case I done forgit
that ar, sartin'."

"Fool!  Idiot!" exclaimed Mrs. Graham, hurling, for want of something
better, one of her satin slippers at the woolly head, which dodged out
of the door in time to avoid it.

"Is your mistress at home?" asked Mrs. Livingstone, and Martha,
uncertain what answer she was to make, replied, "Yes--no--I dun know,
'case she done driv me out afore I know'd whether she was at home or
not."

"Martha, show the lady this way," called out Mrs. Graham, who was
listening.  "Ah, Mrs. Livingstone, is it you.  I'm glad to see you,"
said she, half rising and shading her swollen eyes with her hand, as if
the least effort were painful.  "You must excuse my dishabille, for I am
suffering from a bad headache, and when Martha said some one had come, I
thought at first I could not see them, but you are always welcome.  How
have you been this long time, and why have you neglected me so, when you
know how I must feel the change from Louisville, where I was constantly
in society, to this dreary neighborhood?" and the lady lay back upon the
sofa, exhausted with and astonished at her own eloquence.

Mrs. Livingstone was quite delighted with her friend's unusual
cordiality, and seating herself in the large easy-chair, began to make
herself very agreeable, offering to bathe Mrs. Graham's aching head,
which kind offer the lady declined, bethinking herself of sundry gray
hairs, which a close inspection would single out from among her flaxen
tresses.

"Are your family all well?" she asked; to which Mrs. Livingstone replied
that they were, at the same time speaking of her extreme loneliness
since Mabel left them.

"Ah, you mean the little dark-eyed brunette, whom I saw with you at my
party.  She was a nice-looking girl--showed that she came of a good
family.  I think everything of that.  I believe I'd rather Durward would
marry a poor aristocrat, than a wealthy plebeian--one whose family were
low and obscure."

Mrs. Livingstone wondered what she thought of her family, the
Livingstones.  The Richards' blood she knew was good, but the Nichols'
was rather doubtful.  Still, she would for once make the best of it, so
she hastened to say that few American ladies were so fortunate as Mrs.
Graham had been in marrying a noble man.  "In this country we have no
nobility, you know," said she, "and any one who gets rich and into good
society, is classed with the first."

"Yes, I know," returned Mrs. Graham, "but in my mind there's a great
difference.  Now, Mr. Graham's ancestors boast of the best blood of
South Carolina, while my family, everybody knows, was one of the first
in Virginia, so if Durward had been Mr. Graham's son instead of Sir
Arthur's, I should be just as proud of him, just as particular whom he
married."

"Certainly," answered Mrs. Livingstone, a little piqued, for there was
something in Mrs. Graham's manner which annoyed her--"certainly--I
understand you.  I neither married a nobleman, nor one of the best
bloods of South Carolina, and still I should not be willing for my son
to marry--let me see--well, say 'Lena Rivers."

"'Lena Rivers !" repeated Mrs. Graham--"why, I would not suffer Durward
to look at her, if I could help it.  She's of a horridly low family on
both sides, as I am told."

This was a home thrust which Mrs. Livingstone could not endure quietly,
and as she had no wish to defend the royalty of a family which she
herself despised, she determined to avenge the insult by making her
companion as uncomfortable as possible.  So she said, "Perhaps you are
not aware that your son's attentions to this same 'Lena Rivers, are
becoming somewhat marked."

"No, I was not aware of it," and the greenish-gray eyes fastened
inquiringly upon Mrs. Livingstone, who continued: "It is nevertheless
true, and as I can appreciate your feelings, I thought it might not be
out of place for me to warn you."

"Thank you," returned Mrs. Graham, now raising herself upon her elbow,
"Thank you---but do you know anything positive?  What has Durward done?"

"'Lena is in Frankfort now, at Mr. Douglass's," answered Mrs.
Livingstone, "and your son is in the constant habit of visiting there;
besides that, he invited her to ride with him when they all went to
Frankfort--'Lena upon the gray pony which your husband gave her as a
Christmas present."

Mrs. Livingstone had touched the right spot.  'Twas the first intimation
of Vesta which Mrs. Graham had received, and now sitting bolt upright,
she demanded what Mrs. Livingstone meant.  "My husband give 'Lena Rivers
a pony!  Harry Graham do such a thing!  It can't be possible.  There
must be some mistake."

"I think not," returned Mrs. Livingstone.  "Your son came over with it,
saying 'it was a present from his father, who sent it, together with his
compliments.'"

Back among her cushions tumbled Mrs. Graham, moaning, groaning, and
pronouncing herself wholly heart-broken.  "I knew he was bad," said she,
"but I never dreamed it had come to this.  And I might have known it,
too, for from the moment he first saw that girl, he has acted like a
crazy creature.  Talks about her in his sleep--wants me to adopt
her--keeps his eyes on her every minute when he's where she is; and to
crown all, without consulting me, his lawful wife, he has made her a
present, which must have cost more than a hundred dollars!  And she
accepted it--the vixen!"

"That's the worst feature in the case," said Mrs. Livingstone.  "I have
always been suspicious of 'Lena, knowing what her mother was, but I must
confess I did not think her quite so presumptuous as to accept so costly
a present from a gentleman, and a married one, too.  But she has a
peculiar way of making them think what she does is right, and neither my
husband nor John Jr. can see any impropriety in her keeping Vesta.
Carrie wouldn't have done such a thing."

"Indeed she wouldn't.  She is too well-bred for that," said Mrs. Graham,
who had been completely won by Carrie's soft speeches and fawning manner.

This compliment to her daughter pleased Mrs. Livingstone, who
straightway proceeded to build Carrie up still higher, by pulling 'Lena
down.  Accordingly, every little thing which she could remember, and
many which she could not, were told in an aggravated manner, until quite
a case was made out, and 'Lena would never have recognized herself in
the artful, designing creature which her aunt kindly pictured her to be.

"Of course," said she, "if you ever repeat this, you will not use my
name, for as she is my husband's niece it will not look well in me to be
proclaiming her vices, except in cases where I think it my duty."

Mrs. Graham was too much absorbed in her own reflections to make a
reply, and as Mrs. Livingstone saw that her company was hardly desired,
she soon arose to go, asking Mrs. Graham "why she did not oftener visit
Maple Grove."

When Mrs. Graham felt uncomfortable, she liked to make others so, too,
and to her friend's question she answered, "I may as well be plain as
not, and to tell you the truth, I should enjoy visiting you very much,
were it not for one thing.  That mother of yours----"

"Of my husband's," interrupted Mrs. Livingstone and Mrs. Graham
continued just where she left off.

"Annoys me exceedingly, by eternally tracing in me a resemblance to some
down-east creature or other--what is her name--Sco--Sco--Scovandyke;
yes, that's it--Scovandyke.  Of course it's not pleasant for me to be
told every time I meet your mother----"

"Mr. Livingstone's mother," again interrupted the lady.

"That I look like some of her acquaintances, for I contend that families
of high birth bear with them marks which cannot be mistaken."

"Certainly, certainly," said Mrs. Livingstone, adding, that "she was
herself continually annoyed by Mrs. Nichols's vulgarity, but her husband
insisted that she should come to the table, so what could she do?"

And mutually troubled, the one about her husband, and the other about
her husband's mother, the two amiable ladies parted.

Scarcely was Mrs. Livingstone gone when Mr. Graham entered the room,
finding his wife, who had heard his footsteps, in violent hysterics.  He
had seen her so too often to be alarmed, and was about to pull the
bellrope, when she found voice to bid him desist, saying it was himself
who was killing her by inches, and that the sooner she was dead, the
better she supposed he would like it.  "But, for my sake," she added, in
a kind of howl, between crying and scolding, "do try to behave yourself
during the short time I have to live, and not go to giving away ponies,
and mercy knows what."

Now, Mr. Graham was not conscious of having looked at a lady, except
through the window, for many days, and when his wife first attacked him,
he was at a great loss to understand; but as she proceeded it all became
plain, and on the whole, he felt glad that the worst was over.  He would
not acknowledge, even to himself, that he was afraid of his wife, still
he had a little rather she would not always know what he did.  He
supposed, as a matter of course, that she would, earlier or later, hear
of his present to 'Lena, and he well knew that such an event would
surely be followed by a storm, but after what had taken place between
them that morning, he did not expect so much feeling, for he had thought
her wrath nearly expended.  But Mrs. Graham was capable of great
things--as she proved on this occasion, taunting her husband with his
preference for 'Lena, accusing him of loving her better than he did
herself, and asking him plainly, if it were not so.

"Say," she continued, stamping her foot (the one without a slipper),
"say--I will be answered.  Don't you like 'Lena better than you do me?"

Mr. Graham was provoked beyond endurance, and to the twice repeated
question, he at length replied, "God knows I've far more reason to love
her than I have you."  At the same moment he left the room, in time to
avoid a sight of the collapsed state into which his horrified wife who
did not expect such an answer, had fallen.

"Can I tell her? oh, dare I tell her?" he thought, as he wiped the drops
of perspiration from his brow, and groaned in the bitterness of his
spirit.  Terribly was he expiating his fault, but at last he grew
calmer, and cowardice (for he was cowardly, else he had never been what
he was) whispered, "Wait yet awhile.  Anything for domestic peace."

So the secret was buried still deeper in his bosom, he never thinking
how his conduct would in the end injure the young girl, dearer to him
far than his own life.  While he sat thus alone in his room, and as his
wife lay upon her sofa, Durward entered the parlor and began
good-humoredly to rally his mother upon her wobegone face, asking what
was the matter now.

"Oh, you poor boy, you," she sobbed, "you'll soon have no mother to go
to, but you must attribute my death wholly to your stepfather, who alone
will be to blame for making you an orphan!"

Durward knew his mother well, and he thought he knew his father too, and
while he respected him, he blamed her for the unreasonable whims of
which he was becoming weary.  He knew there had been a jar in the
morning, but he had supposed that settled, and now, when he found his
mother ten times worse than ever, he felt half vexed, and said, "Do be a
woman mother, and not give way to such fancies.  I really wonder father
shows as much patience with you as he does, for you make our home very
unpleasant; and really," he continued, in a laughing tone, "if this goes
on much longer, I shall, in self-defense, get me a wife and horns of my
own."

"And if report is true, that wife will be 'Lena Rivers," said Mrs.
Graham, in order to try him.

"Very likely--I can't tell what may be," was his answer; to which Mrs.
Graham replied, "that it would be extremely pleasant to marry a bride
with whom one's father was in love."

"How ridiculous!" Durward exclaimed.  "As though my father cared aught
for 'Lena, except to admire her for her beauty and agreeable manners."

"But, he's acknowledged it.  He's just told me, 'God knew he loved her
better than he did me.'  What do you think of that?"

"Did Mr. Graham say that?" asked Durward, looking his mother directly in
her face.

"Yes he did, not fifteen minutes before you came in, and it's not a
secret either.  Others know it and talk about it.  Think of his giving
her that pony."

Durward was taken by surprise.  Knowing none of the circumstances, he
felt deeply pained at his father's remark.  He had always supposed he
liked 'Lena, and he was glad of it, too, but to love her more than his
own wife, was a different thing, and for the first time in his life
Durward distrusted his father.  Still, 'Lena was not to blame; there was
comfort in that, and that very afternoon found him again at her side,
admiring her more and more, and learning each time he saw her to love
her better.  And she--she dared not confess to herself how dear he was
to her--she dared not hope her affection was returned.  She could not
think of the disappointment the future might bring, so she lived on the
present, waiting anxiously for his coming, and striving hard to do the
things which she thought would please him best.

True to her promise, Mabel had commenced giving her instructions upon
the piano, and they were in the midst of their first lesson, when who
should walk in, but Monsieur Du Pont, bowing, and saying "he had been
hired by von nice gentleman, to give Mademoiselle Rivers lessons in
musique."

'Lena immediately thought of her uncle, who had once proposed her
sharing in the instructions of her cousin, but who, as usual, was
overruled by his wife.

"'Twas my uncle, was it not?" she asked of Du Pont, who replied, "I
promised not to tell.  He say, though, he connected with mademoiselle."

And 'Lena, thinking it was of course Mr. Livingstone, who, on his wife's
account, wished it a secret, readily consented to receive Du Pont as a
teacher in place of Mabel, who still expressed her willingness to assist
her whenever it was necessary.  Naturally fond of music, 'Lena's
improvement was rapid, and when she found how gratified Durward
appeared, she redoubled her exertions, practicing always five, and
sometimes six hours a day.




CHAPTER XX.

A FATHER'S LOVE.

When it was known at Maple Grove that 'Lena was taking lessons of Du
Pont, it was naturally supposed that Mabel, as she had first
proposed, paid the bills.

"Mighty kind in her, and no mistake," said John Jr., throwing aside
the stump of a cigar which he had been smoking, and thinking to
himself that "Mabel was a nice girl, after all."

The next day, finding the time hang heavily upon his hands, he
suddenly wondered why he had never thought to call upon 'Lena.  "To
be sure, I'll feel awfully to go where Nellie used to be, and know
she is not there, but it's lonesomer than a graveyard here, and I'm
bound to do something."

So saying, he mounted Firelock and started off, followed by no
regrets from his mother or sisters, for since Nellie went away he had
been intolerably cross and fault-finding.  He found a servant in the
door, so he was saved the trouble of ringing, and entering
unannounced, walked noiselessly to the parlor-door, which was ajar.
'Lena, as usual, sat at the piano, wholly absorbed, while over her
bent Mabel, who was assisting her in the lesson, speaking
encouragingly, and patiently helping her through all the difficult
places.  Mabel's health was improved since first we saw her, and
though she was still plain--ugly, many would say--there was something
pleasing in her face, and in the expression of her black, eyes, which
looked down so kindly upon 'Lena.  John Jr. noticed it, and never
before had Mabel appeared to so good advantage to him as she did at
that moment, as he watched her through the open door.

At last the lesson was finished, and rising up, 'Lena said, "I know I
should never learn if it were not for you," at the same time winding
her arm about Mabel's neck and kissing her glowing cheek.

"Let me have a share of that," exclaimed John Jr., stepping forward
and clasping both the girls in his arms ere they were aware of his
presence.

With a gay laugh they shook him off, and 'Lena, leading him to the
sofa, sat down beside him, asking numerous questions about home and
her grandmother.  John answered them all, and then, oh how he longed
to ask if there had come any tidings of the absent one; but he would
not--she had left him of her own accord, and he had sworn never to
inquire for her.  So he sat gazing dreamily upon her piano, the chair
she used to occupy and the books she used to read, until 'Lena,
either divining his thoughts, or fancying he would wish to know,
said, "We've not heard from Nellie since she left us."

"You didn't expect to, so soon, I suppose," was John's indifferent
reply.

"Why, no, not unless they chanced to speak a ship.  I wish they'd
taken a steamer instead of a sailing vessel," said 'Lena.

"I suppose Mr. Wilbur had an eye upon the long, cosy chats he could
have with Nellie, looking out upon the sea," was John's answer, while
Mabel quickly rejoined, that "he had chosen a sailing vessel solely
on Mary's account."

In the midst of their conversation, the door-bell rang; and a moment
after, Durward was ushered into the parlor.  "He was in town on
business," he said, "and thought he would call."

Scarcely had he taken his seat, when again the door opened, this time
admitting Mr. Graham, who was returning from Louisville, and had also
found it convenient to call.  Involuntarily Durward glanced toward
'Lena, but her face was as calm and unruffled as if the visitor had
been her uncle.

"All right there," thought he, and withdrawing his eyes from her, he
fixed them upon his father, who he fancied seemed somewhat
disconcerted when he saw him there.  Mentally blaming himself for the
distrust which he felt rising within him, he still determined to
watch, and judge for himself how far his mother's suspicions were
correct.  Taking up a book which lay near, he pretended to be
reading, while all the time his thoughts were elsewhere.  It was
'Lena's lesson-day, and erelong Du Pont came in, appearing both
pleased and surprised when he saw Mr. Graham.

"I hope you don't expect me to expose my ignorance before all these
people," said 'Lena, as Du Pont motioned her to the stool.

"Suppose we adjourn to another room," said Mabel, leading the way and
followed by John Jr. only.

Durward at first thought of leaving also, and arose to do so, but on
observing that his father showed no intention of going, he resumed
his seat and book, poring over the latter as intently as if it had
not been wrong side up!

"Does monsieur incline to stay," asked Du Pont, as Mr. Graham took
his station at the end of the piano.

"Certainly," answered Mr. Graham, "unless Miss Rivers insists upon my
leaving, which I am sure she would not do if she knew how much
interest I take in her progress."

So, during the entire lesson, Mr. Graham stood there, his eyes fixed
upon 'Lena with a look which puzzled Durward, who from behind his
book was watching him.  Admiration, affection, pity and remorse, all
seemed mingled in the expression of his face, and as Durward watched,
he felt that there was a something which he could not fathom.

"I never knew he was so fond of music," thought he--"I mean to put
him to the test."

Accordingly, when Du Pont was gone, he asked Mabel, who he knew was
an excellent pianist, to favor him with one of her very best
pieces--"something lively and new which will wake us up," said he.

Mabel would greatly have preferred remaining with John Jr., but she
was habitually polite, always playing when invited, and now taking
her seat at the piano, she brought out sounds far different from
those of a new performer.  But Mr. Graham, if he heard it, did not
heed it, his eyes and ears being alone for 'Lena.  Seating himself
near her, he commenced talking to her in an undertone, apparently
oblivious to everything else around him, and it was not until Durward
twice asked how he liked Mabel's playing, that he heard a note.
Then, starting up and going toward the instrument, he said, "Ah, yes,
that was a fine march, ('twas the 'Rainbow Schottish,' then new,)
please repeat it, or something just like it!"

Durward bit his lip, while Mabel, in perfect good humor, dashed off
into a spirited quickstep, receiving but little attention from Mr.
Graham, who seemed in a strange mood to-day, scribbling upon a piece
of white paper which lay upon the piano, and of which Durward managed
to get possession, finding thereon the name, "Helena Nichols," to
which was added that of "Rivers," the Nichols being crossed out.  It
would seem as if both father and son were determined each to outstay
the other, for hour after hour went by and neither spoke of leaving,
although John Jr. had been gone some time.  At last, as the sun was
setting, Durward arose to go, asking if his father contemplated
spending the night; "and if so," said he, with a meaning in his
manner, "where shall I tell my mother I left you?"

This roused Mr. Graham, who said he was only waiting for his son to
start, adding, that "he could not find it in his heart to tear him
away from two so agreeable ladies, for he well remembered the
weakness of his own youth."

"In your second youth, now, I fancy," thought Durward, watching him
as he bade 'Lena and Mabel goodbye, and not failing to see how much
longer he held the hand of the former than he did of the latter.

"Does she see as I do, or not?" thought he, as he took the hand his
father dropped, and looked earnestly into the clear, brown eyes,
which returned his inquiring glance with one open and innocent as a
little child.

"All right here," again thought Durward, slightly pressing the soft,
warm hand he held in his own, and smiling down upon her when he saw
how quickly that pressure brought the tell-tale blood to her cheek.

      *      *      *      *      *

"Durward," said Mr. Graham, after they were out of the city, "I have
a request to make of you."

"Well."

The answer was very short and it was several minutes ere Mr. Graham
again spoke.

"You know your mother as well as I do----"

"Well."

Another silence, and Mr. Graham continued; "You know how groundlessly
jealous she is of me--and it may be just as well for her not to know
that----"

Here he paused, and Durward finished the sentence for him.

"Just as well for her not to know that you've spent the afternoon
with 'Lena Rivers; is that it?"

"That's it--yes--yes"--answered Mr. Graham, adding, ere Durward had
time to utter the angry words which he felt rising within him, "I
wish you'd marry 'Lena."

This was so sudden--so different from anything which Durward had
expected, that he was taken quite by surprise, and it was some little
time ere he answered,

"Perhaps I shall."

"I wish you would," continued Mr. Graham, "I'd willingly give every
dollar I'm worth for the privilege of calling her my daughter."

Durward was confounded, and knew not what to think.  If his father
had an undue regard for 'Lena, why should he wish to see her the wife
of another, and that other his son?  Was it his better and nobler
nature struggling to save her from evil, which prompted the wish?
Durward hoped so--he believed so; and the confidence which had so
recently been shaken was fully restored, when, by the light of the
hall lamp at home, he saw how white and almost ghostly was the face
which, ere they entered the drawing-room, turned imploringly upon
him, asking him "to be careful."

Mrs. Graham had been in a fit of the sulks ever since the morning of
Mrs. Livingstone's call, and now, though she had not seen her husband
for several days, she merely held out her hand, turning her head,
meantime, and replying to his questions in a low, quiet kind of a
much-injured-woman way, as provoking as it was uncalled for.

      *      *      *      *      *

"Father's suggestion was a good one," thought Durward, when he had
retired to rest.  "'Lena is too beautiful to be alone in the world.
I will propose to her at once, and she will thus be out of danger."

But what should he do with her?  Should he bring her there to
Woodlawn, where scarcely a day passed without some domestic storm?
No, his home should be full of sunlight, of music and flowers, where
no angry word or darkening frown could ever find entrance; and thus
dreaming of a blissful future, when 'Lena should be his bride, he
fell asleep.




CHAPTER XXI.

JOEL SLOCUM.

In this chapter it may not be out of place to introduce an individual
who, though not a very important personage, is still in some degree
connected with our story.  On the night when Durward and his father
were riding home from Frankfort, the family at Maple Grove, with the
exception of grandma, were as usual assembled in the parlor.  John
Jr. had returned, and purposely telling his mother and Carrie whom he
had left with 'Lena, had succeeded in putting them both into an
uncomfortable humor, the latter secretly lamenting the mistake which
she had committed in suffering 'Lena to stay with Mabel.  But it
could not be remedied now.  There was no good reason for calling her
home, and the lady broke at least three cambric-needles in her
vigorous jerks at the handkerchief she was hemming.

A heavy tread upon the piazza, a loud ring of the bell, and Carrie
straightened up, thinking it might possibly be Durward, who had
called on his way home, but the voice was strange, and rather
impatiently she waited.

"Does Mr. John Livingstone live here?" asked the stranger of the
negro who answered the summons.

"Yes, sir," answered the servant, eyeing the new comer askance.

"And is old Miss Nichols and Helleny to hum?"

The negro grinned, answering in the affirmative, and asking the young
man to walk in.

"Wall, guess I will," said he, advancing a few steps toward the
parlor door.  Then suddenly halting, he added, more to himself than
to the negro, "Darned if I don't go the hull figger, and send in my
card as they do to Boston."

So saying, he drew from his pocket an embossed card, and bending his
knee for a table, he wrote with sundry nourishes, "Mr. Joel Slocum,
Esq., Slocumville, Massachusetts."

"There, hand that to your _boss_," said he, "and tell him I'm out in
the entry."  At the same time he stepped before the hat-stand,
rubbing up his oily hair, and thinking "Mr. Joel Slocum would make an
impression anywhere."

"Who is it, Ben ?" whispered Carrie.

"Dunno, miss," said the negro, passing the card to his master, and
waiting in silence for his orders.

"Mr. Joel Slocum, Esq., Slocumville, Massachusetts," slowly read Mr.
Livingstone, wondering where he had heard that name before.

"Who?" simultaneously asked Carrie and Anna, while their mother
looked wonderingly up.

Instantly John Jr. remembered 'Lena's love-letter, and anticipating
fun, exclaimed, "Show him in, Ben--show him in."

While Ben is showing him in, we will introduce him more fully to our
readers, promising that the picture is not overdrawn, but such as we
saw it in our native state.  Joel belonged to that extreme class of
Yankees with which we sometimes, though not often meet.  Brought up
among the New England mountains, he was almost wholly ignorant of
what really belonged to good manners, fancying that he knew
everything, and sneering at those of his acquaintance who, being of a
more quiet turn of mind, were content to settle down in the home of
their fathers, caring little or nothing for the world without.  But
as for him, "he was bound," he said, "to see the elephant, and if his
brothers were green enough to stay tied to their mother's apron
strings, they might do it, but he wouldn't.  No, _sir_! he was going
to make something of himself."

To effect this, about two years before the time of which we are
speaking, he went to Boston to learn the art of daguerreotype-taking,
in which he really did seem to excel, returning home with some money,
a great deal of vanity, and a strong propensity to boast of what he
had seen.  Recollections of 'Lena, his early, and, as he
sentimentally expressed it, "his undying, all-enduring" love, still
haunted him, and at last he determined upon a tour to Kentucky,
purchasing for the occasion a rather fantastic suit, consisting of
greenish pants, blue coat, red vest, and yellow neck-handkerchief.
These he laid carefully by in his trunk until he reached Lexington,
where he intended stopping for a time, hanging out a naming sign,
which announced his presence and capabilities.

After spending a few days in the city, endeavoring to impress its
inhabitants with a sense of his consequence, and mentally styling
them all "Know Nothings," be-cause they did not seem to be more
affected, he one afternoon donned his best suit, and started for Mr.
Livingstone's, thinking he should create a sensation there, for
wasn't he as good as anybody?  Didn't he learn his trade in Boston,
the very center and source of all the _isms_ of the day, and ought
not Mr. Livingstone to feel proud of such a guest, and wouldn't 'Lena
stare when she saw him so much improved from what he was when they
picked _checkerberries_ together?

With this comfortable opinion of himself, it is not at all probable
that he felt any misgivings when Ben ushered him at once into the
presence of Mr. Livingstone's family, who stared at him in unfeigned
astonishment.  Nothing daunted, he went through with the five changes
of a bow, which he had learned at a dancing-school, bringing himself
up finally in front of Mr. Livingstone, and exclaiming,

"How-dy-do?--Mr. Livingstone, I 's'pose, it comes more natural to say
cousin John, I've heard Miss Nichols and Aunt Nancy talk of you since
I was knee high, and seems as how you must be related.  How is the
old lady, and Helleny, too?  I don't see 'em here, though I thought,
at fust, this might be her," nodding to Anna.

Mr. Livingstone was confounded, while his wife had strong intentions
of ordering the intruder from the room, but John Jr. had no such
idea.  He liked the fun, and now coming forward, said, "Mr. Slocum,
as your card indicates, allow me the pleasure of presenting you to my
mother--and sisters," at the same time ringing the bell, he ordered a
servant to go for his grandmother.

"Ah, ladies, how-dy-do?  Hope you are well till we are better
acquainted," said Joel, bowing low, and shaking out the folds of his
red silk handkerchief, strongly perfumed with peppermint.

Mrs. Livingstone did not even nod, Carrie but slightly, while Anna
said, "Good-evening, Mr. Slocum."

Quickly observing Mrs. Livingstone's silence, Joel turned to John
Jr., saying, "Don't believe she heard you--deaf, mebby?"

John Jr. nodded, and at that moment grandma appeared, in a great
flurry to know who wanted to see her.

Instantly seizing her hand, Joel exclaimed, "Now Aunt Martha, if this
ain't good for sore eyes.  How _do_ you do ?"

"Pretty well, pretty well," she returned, "but you've got the better
of me, for I don't know more'n the dead who you be."

"Now how you talk," said Joel.  "If this don't beat all my fust
wife's relations.  Why, I should have known you if I'd met you in a
porridge-pot.  But then, I s'pose I've altered for the better since I
see you.  Don't you remember Joel Slocum, that used to have kind of a
snickerin' notion after Helleny?"

"Why-ee, I guess I do," answered grandma, again seizing his hand.
"Where did you come from, and why didn't your Aunt Nancy come with
you?

"'Tilda, this is Nancy Scovandyke's sister's boy.  Caroline and Anny,
this is Joel; you've heard tell of him."

"I've been introduced, thank you," said Joel, taking a seat near
Carrie, who haughtily gathered up the ample folds of her dress, lest
it should be polluted.

"Bashful critter, but she'll get over it by the time she's seen as
much of the world as I have," soliloquized Joel; at the same time
thinking to make some advances, he hitched a little nearer, and
taking hold of a strip of embroidery on which she was engaged, he
said, "Now, du tell, if they've got to workin' with floss way down
here.  Waste of time, I tell 'em, this makin' holes for the sake of
sewin' 'em up.  But law!" he added, as he saw the deepening scowl on
Carrie's face, "wimmin may jest as well by putterin' about that as
anything else, for their time ain't nothin' moren' an old settin'
hen's."

This speech called forth the first loud roar in which John Jr. had
indulged since Nellie went away, and now settling back in his chair,
he gave vent to his feelings in peals of laughter, in which Joel also
joined, thinking he'd said something smart.  When at last he'd
finished laughing, he thought again of 'Lena, and turning to Mrs.
Livingstone, asked where she was, raising his voice to a high key on
account of her supposed deafness.

"Did you speak to me?" asked the lady, with a look which she meant
should annihilate him, and in a still louder tone Joel repeated his
question, asking Anna, aside, if her mother had ever tried
"McAllister's All-Healing Ointment," for her deafness, saying it had
"nighly cured his grandmother when she was several years older than
Mrs. Livingstone."

"Much obliged for your prescription, which, fortunately, I do not
need," said Mrs. Livingstone, angrily, while Joel thought, "how
strange it was that deaf people would always hear in the wrong time!"

"Mother don't seem inclined to answer your question concerning
'Lena," said John Jr., "so I will do it for her.  She is in
Frankfort, taking music lessons.  You used to know her, I believe."

"Lud, yes!  I chased her once with a streaked snake, and if she
didn't put 'er through, then I'm no 'Judge.  Takin' music lessons, is
she?  I'd give a fo' pence to hear her play."

"Are you fond of music?" asked John Jr., in hopes of what followed.

"Wall, I wouldn't wonder much if I was," answered Joel, taking a
tuning-fork from his pocket and striking it upon the table.  "I've
kep' singin' school one term, besides leadin' the Methodis' choir in
Slocumville: so I orto know a little somethin' about it."

"Perhaps you play, and if so, we'd like to hear you," continued John
Jr., in spite of the deprecating glance cast upon him by Carrie.

"Not such a dreadful sight," answered Joel, sauntering toward the
piano and drumming a part of "Auld Lang Syne."  "Not such a dreadful
sight, but I guess these girls do.  Come, girls, play us a jig, won't
you?"

"Go, Cad, it won't hurt you," whispered John, but Carrie was
immovable, and at last, Anna, who entered more into her brother's
spirit, took her seat at the instrument, asking what he would have.

"Oh, give us 'Money Musk,' 'Hail Columby,' 'Old Zip Coon,' or
anything to raise a feller's ideas."

Fortunately, Anna's forte lay in playing old music, which she
preferred to more modern pieces, and, Joel was soon beating time to
the lively strains of "Money Musk."

"Wall, I declare," said he, when it was ended, "I don't see but what
you Kentucky gals play most as well as they do to hum.  I didn't
s'pose many on you ever seen a pianner.  Come," turning to Carrie,
"less see what you can do.  Mebby you'll beat her all holler," and he
offered his hand to Carrie, who rather petulantly said she "must be
excused."

"Oh, get out," he continued.  "You needn't feel so bashful, for I
shan't criticise you very hard.  I know how to feel fer new
beginners."

"Have you been to supper, Mr. Slocum ?" asked Mr. Livingstone,
pitying Carrie, and wishing to put an end to the performance.

"No, I hain't, and I'm hungrier than a bear," answered Joel,
whereupon Mrs. Nichols, thinking he was her guest, arose, saying she
would see that he had some.

When both were gone to the dining-room, Mrs. Livingstone's wrath
boiled over.

"That's what comes of harboring your relatives," said she, looking
indignantly upon her husband, and adding that she hoped "the insolent
fellow did not intend staying all night, for if he did he couldn't."

"Do you propose turning him into the street?" asked Mr. Livingstone,
looking up from his paper.

"I don't propose anything, except that he won't stay in my house, and
you needn't ask him."

"I hardly think an invitation is necessary, for I presume he expects
to stay," returned Mr. Livingstone; while John Jr. rejoined, "Of
course he does, and if mother doesn't find him a room, I shall take
him in with me, besides going to Frankfort with him to-morrow."

This was enough, for Mrs. Livingstone would do almost anything rather
than have her son seen in the city with that specimen.  Accordingly,
when the hour for retiring arrived, she ordered Corinda to show him
into the "east chamber," a room used for her common kind of visitors,
but which Joel pronounced "as neat as a fiddle."

The next morning he announced his intention of visiting Frankfort,
proposing to grandma that she should accompany him, and she was about
making up her mind to do so, when 'Lena and Mabel both appeared in
the yard.  They had come out for a ride, they said, and finding the
morning so fine, had extended their excursion as far as Maple Grove,
sending their servant back to tell where they were going.  With his
usual assurance, Joel advanced toward 'Lena, greeting her tenderly,
and whispering in her ear that "he found she was greatly improved as
well as himself," while 'Lena wondered in what the improvement
consisted.  She had formerly known him as a great, overgrown,
good-natured boy, and now she saw him a "conceited gawky." Still, her
manner was friendly toward him, for he had come from her old home,
had breathed the air of her native hills, and she well remembered
how, years ago, he had with her planted and watered the flowers which
he told her were still growing at her mother's grave.

And yet there was something about her which puzzled Joel, who felt
that the difference between them was great.  He was disappointed, and
the declaration which he had fully intended making was left until
another time, when, as he thought, "he shouldn't be so confounded shy
of her."  His quarters, too, at Maple Grove were not the most
pleasant, for no one noticed him except grandma and John Jr., and
with the conviction that "the Kentuckians didn't know what politeness
meant," he ordered his horse after dinner, and started back to
Lexington, inviting all the family to call and "set for their
picters," saying that "seein' 'twas them, he'd take 'em for half
price."

As he was leaving the piazza, he turned back, and drawing a large,
square case from his pocket, passed it to 'Lena, saying it was a
daguerreotype of her mountain home, which he had taken on purpose for
her, forgetting to give it to her until that minute.  The look of joy
which lighted up 'Lena's face made Joel almost repent of not having
said to her what he intended to, but thinking he would wait till next
time, he started off, his heart considerably lightened by her warm
thanks for his thoughtfulness.




CHAPTER XXII.

THE DAGUERREOTYPE.

"Look, grandmother!--a picture of our old home.  Isn't it natural?"
exclaimed Lena, as she ran back to the parlor.

Yes, it was natural, and the old lady's tears gushed forth the moment
she looked upon it.  There was the well, the garden, the gate
partially open, the barn in the rear, now half fallen down, the
curtain of the west window rolled up as it was wont to be, while on
the doorstep, basking in the warm sunshine, lay a cat, which Mrs.
Nichols' declared was hers.

"John ought to see this," said she, wiping the tears from her eyes,
and turning towards the door, which at that moment opened, admitting
her son, together with Mr. Graham, who had accidentally called.
"Look here, John," said she, calling him to her side--"Do you
remember this?"

The deep flush which mounted to John's brow, showed that he did, and
his mother, passing it toward Mr. Graham, continued: "It is our old
home in Massachusetts.  There's the room where John and Helleny both
were born, and where Helleny and her father died.  Oh, it seems but
yesterday since she died, and they carried her out of this door, and
down the road, there--do you see?"

This question, was addressed to Mr. Graham, who, whether he saw or
not, made no answer, but walked to the window and looked out, upon
the prospect beyond, which for him had no attractions then.  The
sight of that daguerreotype had stirred up many bitter memories, and
for some time he stood gazing vacantly through the window, and
thinking--who shall say of what?  It would seem that the
daguerreotype possessed a strong fascination for him, for after it
had been duly examined and laid down, he took it in his hand,
inspecting it minutely, asking where it was taken, and if it would be
possible to procure a similar one.

"I have a fancy for such scenes," said he, "and would like to have
just such a picture.  Mr. Slocum is stopping in Lexington, you say.
He can take one from this, I suppose.  I mean to see him;" and with
his usual good-morning, he departed.

Two weeks from this time Durward again went down to Frankfort,
determining, if a favorable opportunity presented itself, to offer
'Lena his heart and fortune.

He found her alone, Mabel having gone out to spend the day.  For a
time they conversed together on indifferent topics, each one of which
was entirely foreign from that which lay nearest Durward's heart.  At
last the conversation turned upon Joel Slocum, of whose visit Durward
had heard.

"I really think, 'Lena," said he, laughingly, "that you ought to
patronize the poor fellow, who has come all this distance for the
sake of seeing you.  Suppose you have your daguerreotype taken for
me, will you?"

Durward was in earnest, but with a playful shake of her brown curls,
'Lena answered lightly, "Oh, no, no.  I have never had my picture
taken in my life, and I shan't begin with Joel."

"Never had it taken!" repeated Durward, in some surprise.

"No, never," said 'Lena, and Durward continued drawing her nearer to
him, "It is time you had, then.  So have it taken for me.  I mean
what I say," he continued, as he met the glance of her merry eyes.
"There is nothing I should prize more than your miniature, except,
indeed the original, which you will not refuse me, when I ask it,
will you?"

'Lena's mirth was all gone--she knew he was in earnest now.  She felt
it in the pressure of his arm, which encircled her waist; she saw it
in his eye, and heard it in the tones of his voice.  But what should
she say?  Closer he drew her to his side; she felt his breath upon
her cheek; and an inaudible answer trembled on her lips, when
noiselessly through the door came _Mr. Graham_, starting when he saw
their position, and offering to withdraw if he was intruding.  'Lena
was surprised and excited, and springing up, she laid her hand upon
his arm as he was about to leave the room, bidding him stay and
saying he was always welcome there.

So he stayed, and with the first frown upon his brow which 'Lena had
ever seen, Durward left--left without receiving an answer to his
question, or even referring to it again, though 'Lena accompanied him
to the door, half dreading, yet hoping, he would repeat it.  But he
did not, and wishing her much pleasure in his father's company, he
walked away, writing in his heart bitter things against _him_, not
her.  On his way home he fell in with Du Pont, who, Frenchman-like,
had taken a little too much wine, and was very talkative.

"Vous just come from Mademoiselle Rivers," said he.  "She be von fine
girl.  What relation be she to Monsieur Graham?"

"None whatever.  Why do you ask?"

"Because he pay her musique lessons and----"

Here Du Pont suddenly remembered his promise, so he kept back Mr.
Graham's assertion that he was a near relative, adding in its place,
that "he thought probable he related; but you no tell," said he, "for
Monsieur bid me keep secret and I forgot."

Here, having reached a cross-road, they parted, and again Durward
wrote down bitter things against his father, for what could be his
object in wishing it kept a secret that he was paying for 'Lena's
lessons, or why did he pay for them at all--and did 'Lena know it?
He thought not, and for a time longer was she blameless in his eyes.

On reaching home he found both the parlor and drawing-room deserted,
and upon inquiry learned that his mother was in her own room.
Something, he could hardly tell what, prompted him to knock for
admission, which being granted, he entered, finding her unusually
pale, with the trace of tears still upon her cheek.  This of itself
was so common an occurrence, that he would hardly have observed it
had not there been about her a look of unfeigned distress which he
had seldom seen before.

"What's the matter, mother?" said he, advancing toward her; "What has
happened to trouble you?"

Without any reply, Mrs. Graham placed in his hand a richly-cased
daguerreotype, and laying her head upon the table, sobbed aloud.  A
moment Durward stood transfixed to the spot, for on opening the case,
the fair, beautiful face of 'Lena Rivers looked smilingly out upon
him!

"Where did you get this, mother?--how came you by it?" he asked, and
she answered, that in looking through her husband's private drawer,
the key of which she had accidentally found in his vest pocket, she
had come upon it, together with a curl of soft chestnut-brown hair
which she threw across Durward's finger, and from which he recoiled
as from a viper's touch.

For several minutes not a word was spoken by either, and then Mrs.
Graham, looking him in the face, said, "You recognize that
countenance, of course?"

"I do," he replied, in a voice husky with emotion, for Durward was
terribly moved.

Twice had 'Lena asserted that never in her life had her daguerreotype
been taken, and yet he held it in his hands; there was no mistaking
it--the same broad, open brow--the same full, red lips--the same
smile--and more than all, the same clustering ringlets, though
arranged a little differently from what she usually wore them, the
hair on the picture being combed smoothly over the forehead, while
'Lena's was generally brushed up after the style of the prevailing
fashion.  Had Durward examined minutely, he might have found other
points of difference, but he did not think of that.  A look had
convinced him that 'twas 'Lena--his 'Lena, he had fondly hoped to
call her.  But that was over now--she had deceived him--told him a
deliberate falsehood--refused him her daguerreotype and given it to
his father, whose secrecy concerning it indicated something wrong.
His faith was shaken, and yet for the sake of what she had been to
him, he would spare her good name.  He could not bear to hear the
world breathe aught against her, for possibly she might be innocent;
but no, there was no mistaking the falsehood, and Durward groaned in
bitterness as he handed the picture to his mother, bidding her return
it where she found it.  Mrs. Graham had never seen her son thus
moved, and obeying him, she placed her hand upon his arm, asking,
"why he was so affected--what she was to him?"

"Everything, everything," said he, laying his face upon the table.
"'Lena Rivers was all the world to me.  I loved her as I shall never
love again."

And then, without withholding a thing, Durward told his mother
all--how he had that very morning gone to Frankfort with the
intention of offering 'Lena his hand--how he had partially done so,
when they were interrupted by the entrance of a visitor, he did not
say whom.

"Thank heaven for your escape.  I can bear your father's conduct, if
it is the means of saving you from her," exclaimed Mrs. Graham, while
her son continued: "And now, mother, I have a request to make of
you--a request which you must grant.  I have loved 'Lena too well to
cease from loving her so soon.  And though I can never again think to
make her my wife, I will not hear her name lightly spoken by the
world, who must never know what we do.  Promise me, mother, to keep
secret whatever you may know against her."

"Do you think me bereft of my senses," asked Mrs. Graham petulantly,
"that I should wish to proclaim my affairs to every one?"

"No, no, mother," he answered, "but you are easily excited, and say
things you had better not.  Mrs. Livingstone bears 'Lena no good
will, you know, and sometimes when she is speaking disparagingly of
her, you may be thrown off your guard, and tell what you know.  But
this must not be.  Promise me, mother, will you?"

Durward was very pale, and the drops of sweat stood thickly about his
mouth as he asked this of his mother who, mentally congratulating
herself upon her son's escape, promised what he asked, at the same
time repeating to him all that she heard from Mrs. Livingstone
concerning 'Lena, until Durward interrupted her with, "Stop, stop,
I've heard enough.  Nothing which Mrs. Livingstone could say would
have weighed a straw, but the conviction of my own eyes and ears have
undeceived me, and henceforth 'Lena and I are as strangers."

Nothing could please Mrs. Graham better, for the idea of her son's
marrying a poor, unknown girl, was dreadful, and though she felt
indignant toward her husband so peculiar was her nature that she
would not have had matters otherwise if she could and when Durward,
who disliked _scenes_, suggested the propriety of her not speaking to
his father on the subject at present he assented, saying that it
would be more easy for her to refrain, as she was intending to start
for Louisville on the morrow.

"I've been contemplating a visit there for some time and before Mr.
Graham left home this morning, I had decided to go," said she, at the
same time proposing that Durward should accompany her.

To this consented willingly, for in the first shock of his
disappointment, a change of place and scene was what he most desired.
The hot blood of the south, which burned in his veins, seemed all on
fire, and he felt that he could not, for the present, at least be
daily associated with his stepfather.  An absence of several days, he
thought, might have the effect of calming him down.  It was
accordingly decided that he should on the morrow, start with her for
Louisville, to be gone two weeks; and with this understanding they
parted, Durward going to his own chamber, there to review the past
and strive, if possible, to efface from his heart every memory of
'Lena, whom he had loved so well.  But 'twas all in vain; he could
not so soon forget her and far into the hours of night he sat alone
striving to frame some excuse for her conduct.  The fact that his
father possessed her daguerreotype might possibly be explained,
without throwing censure upon her; but the falsehood--never; and with
the firm conviction that she was lost to him forever, he at last
retired to rest, just as the clock in the ball below proclaimed the
hour of midnight.

Meantime, Mrs. Graham was pondering in her own mind the probable
result of a letter which, in the heat of passion, she had that day
dispatched to 'Lena, accusing her of "marring the domestic peace of a
hitherto happy family," and while she cast some reflections upon her
birth, commanding her never, under any circumstances, "to venture
into her presence!"

This cruel letter had been sent to the office before Durward's
return, and as she well knew how much he would disapprove of it, she
resolved not to tell him, secretly hoping 'Lena would keep her own
counsel.  "Base creature!" said she, "to give my husband her
likeness--but he shall never see it again;" and with stealthy step
she advanced toward the secret drawer, which she again opened, and
taking from it both daguerreotype and ringlet, locked it, replacing
the key in the pocket where she found it.  Then seizing the long,
bright curl, she hurled it into the glowing grate, shuddering as she
did so, and trembling, as if she really knew a wrong had been done to
the dead.

Opening the case, she looked once more upon the hated features, which
now seemed to regard her mournfully, as if reproaching her for what
she had done.  No part of the dress was visible--nothing except the
head and neck, which was uncovered, and over which fell the chestnut
curls, whose companion so recently lay seething and scorching on the
burning coals.

There was a footstep without--her husband had returned--and quick as
thought was the daguerreotype concealed, while Mrs. Graham, forcing
down her emotion, took up a book, which she seemed to be intently
reading when her husband entered.  After addressing to her a few
commonplace remarks, all of which she answered civilly, he went to
the wardrobe, and on pretense of looking for his knife, which, he
said he believed he left in his vest pocket, he took out the key, and
then carelessly proceeded to unlock his private drawer, his wife
watching him the while, and keenly enjoying his look of consternation
when he saw that his treasure was gone.  Again and again was his
drawer searched, but all to no purpose, and casting an anxious glance
toward his wife, whose face, for a wonder, betrayed no secret, he
commenced walking the floor in a very perturbed state of mind, his
wife exulting in his discomfiture, and thinking herself amply avenged
for all that she had endured.

At last he spoke, telling her of a letter which he had that day
received from South Carolina, containing the news of the death of a
distant relative, who had left him some property.  "It is not
necessary for me to be there in person," said he, "but still I should
like to visit my old home once more.  What do you think of it?"

"Go, by all means," said she, glad of anything which would place
distance between him and 'Lena.  "No one can attend to your business
one-half as well as yourself.  When will you start if you go?"

"Immediately--before your return from Louisville--unless you wish to
accompany me."

"I'm afraid I should be an incumbrance, and would rather not," said
she, in a way which puzzled him, causing him to wonder what had come
over her.

"You can do as you choose," said he, "but I should be glad of your
company."

"No, I thank you," was her laconic reply, as she, in turn, wondered
what had come over him.

The next morning the carriage came up to the door to convey Mrs.
Graham and Durward to Frankfort.  The latter was purposely late, and
he did not see his father until he came down, traveling-bag in hand,
to enter the carriage.  Then Mr. Graham asked, in some surprise,
"where he was going?"

"With my mother to Louisville, sir," answered Durward, stiffly.  "I
am not willing she should travel alone, if you are;" and he sprang
into the carriage, ordering the coachman to drive off ere another
word could be spoken.

"Gone, when I had nerved myself to tell him everything!--my usual
luck!" mused Mr. Graham, as he returned to the house, and sure of no
prying eyes, recommenced his search for the daguerreotype, which was
nowhere to be found.  Could she have found it?  Impossible! for it
was not in her jealous nature to have held her peace; and again he
sought for it, but all to no purpose, and finally thinking he must
have taken it with him and lost it, he gave it up, mourning more for
the loss of the curl, which could never, never be replaced, while the
picture might be found.

"Why do I live so?" thought he, as he nervously paced the room.  "My
life is one of continual fear and anxiety, but it shall be so no
longer.  I'll tell her all when she returns.  I'll brave the world,
dare her displeasure, take 'Lena home, and be a man."

Satisfied with this resolution, and nothing doubting that he should
keep it, he started for Versailles, where he had an engagement with a
gentleman who transacted business for him in Lexington.




CHAPTER XXIII.

THE LETTER AND ITS EFFECT.

Mabel had gone out, and 'Lena sat alone in the little room adjoining
the parlor which Mr. Douglass termed his library, but which Nellie
had fitted up for a private sewing-room.  It was 'Lena's favorite
resort when she wished to be alone, and as Mabel was this morning
absent, she had retired thither, not to work, but to think--to recall
every word and look of Durward's, to wonder when and how he would
repeat the question, the answer to which had been prevented by Mr.
Graham.

Many and blissful were her emotions as she sat there, wondering if it
were not a bright dream, from which she would too soon awaken, for
could it be that one so noble, so good, and so much sought for as
Durward Bellmont had chosen her, of all others, to be his bride?
Yes, it must be so, for he was not one to say or act what he did not
mean; he would come that day and repeat what he had said before; and
she blushed as she thought what her answer would be.

There was a knock on the door, and a servant entered, bringing her a
letter, which she eagerly seized, thinking it was from him.  But
'twas not his writing, though bearing the post-mark of Versailles.
Hastily she broke the seal, and glancing at the signature, turned
pale, for it was "Lucy Graham," his mother, who had written, but for
what, she could not guess.  A moment more and she fell back on the
sofa, white and rigid as a piece of marble.  'Twas a cruel and
insulting letter, containing many dark insinuations, which she, being
wholly innocent; could not understand.  She knew indeed, that Mr.
Graham had presented her with Vesta, but was there anything wrong in
that?  She did not think so, else she had never taken her.  Her
uncle, her cousin, and Durward, all three approved of her accepting
it, the latter coming with it himself--so it could not be that; and
for a long time Lena wept passionately, resolving one moment to
answer the letter as it deserved determining, the next, to go herself
and see Mrs. Graham face to face; and then concluding to treat it
with silent contempt, trusting that Durward would erelong appear and
make it all plain between them.

At last, about five o'clock, Mabel returned, bringing the
intelligence that Mrs. Graham was in the city, at the Weisiger House,
where she was going to remain until the morrow.  She had met with an
accident, which prevented her arrival in Frankfort until the train
which she was desirous of taking had left.

"Is her husband with her?" asked 'Lena, to which Mabel replied, that
she understood she was alone.

"Then I'll see her and know what she means," thought 'Lena,
trembling, even then, at the idea of venturing into the presence of
the cold, haughty woman.

     *      *      *      *      *      *

Supper was over at the Weisiger House, and in a handsome private
parlor Mrs. Graham lay, half asleep, upon the sofa, while in the
dressing-room adjoining Durward sat, trying to frame a letter which
should tell poor 'Lena that their intimacy was forever at an end.
For hours, and until the last gleam of daylight had faded away, he
had sat by the window, watching each youthful form which passed up
and, down the busy street, hoping to catch a glimpse of her who once
had made his world.  But his watch was in vain, and now he had sat
down to write, throwing aside sheet after sheet, as he thought its
beginning too cold, too harsh, or too affectionate.  He was about
making up his mind not to write at all, but to let matters take their
course, when a knock at his mother's door, and the announcement that
a lady wished to see her arrested his attention.

"Somebody want to see me?  Just show her up," said Mrs. Graham,
smoothing down her flaxen hair, and wiping from between her eyes a
spot of powder which the opposite mirror revealed.

In a moment the visitor entered--a slight, girlish form, whose
features were partially hidden from view by a heavy lace veil, which
was thrown over her satin hood.  A single glance convinced Mrs.
Graham that it was a lady, a well-bred lady, who stood before her,
and very politely she bade her be seated.

Rather haughtily the proffered chair was declined, while the veil was
thrown aside, disclosing to the astonished gaze of Mrs. Graham the
face of 'Lena Rivers, which was unnaturally pale, while her dark eyes
grew darker with the intensity of her feelings.

"'Lena Rivers! why came you here?" she asked, while at the mention of
that name Durward started to his feet, but quickly resumed his seat,
listening with indescribable emotions to the sound of a voice which
made every nerve quiver with pain.

"You ask me why I am here, madam," said 'Lena.  "I came to seek an
explanation from you--to know of what I am accused--to ask why you
wrote me that insulting letter--me, an orphan girl, alone and
unprotected in the world, and who never knowingly harmed you or
yours."

"Never harmed me or mine!" scornfully repeated Mrs. Graham.  "Don't
add falsehood to your other sins--though, if you'll lie to my son,
you of course will to me, his mother."

"Explain yourself, madam, if you please," exclaimed 'Lena, her olden
temper beginning to get the advantage of her.

"And what if I do not please?" sneeringly asked Mrs. Graham.

"Then I will compel you to do so, for my good name is all I have, and
it shall not be wrested from me without an effort on my part to
preserve it," answered 'Lena.

"Perhaps you expect my husband to stand by you and help you.  I am
sure it would be very ungentlemanly in him to desert you, now," said
Mrs. Graham, her manner conveying far more meaning than her words.

'Lena trembled from head to foot, and her voice was hardly distinct
as she replied, "Will you explain yourself, or will you not?  What
have I done, that you should treat me thus?"

"Done?  Done enough, I should think!  Haven't you whiled him away
from me with your artful manners?  Has he ever been the same man
since he saw you?  Hasn't he talked of you in his sleep? made you
most valuable presents which a true woman would have refused? and in
return, haven't you bestowed upon him your daguerreotype, together
with a lock of your hair, on which you no doubt pride yourself, but
which to me and my son seem like so many coiling serpents?"

'Lena had sat down.  She could stand no longer, and burying her face
in her hands, she waited until Mrs. Graham had finished.  Then,
lifting up her head, she replied in a voice far more husky than the
one in which she before had spoken--"You accuse me wrongfully, Mrs.
Graham, for as I hope for heaven, I never entertained a feeling for
your husband which I would not have done for my own father, and
indeed, he has seemed to me more like a parent than a friend----"

"Because you fancied he might some day be one, I dare say,"
interrupted Mrs. Graham.

'Lena paid no attention to this sarcastic remark, but continued: "I
know I accepted Vesta, but I never dreamed it was wrong, and if it
was, I will make amends by immediately returning her, for much as I
love her, I shall never use her again."

"But the daguerreotype?" interrupted Mrs. Graham, anxious to reach
that point.  "What have you to say about the daguerreotype?  Perhaps
you will presume to deny that, too."

Durward had arisen, and now in the doorway watched 'Lena, whose dark
brown eyes flashed fire as she answered, "It is false, madam.  You
know it is false.  I never yet have had my picture taken."

"But he has it in his possession; how do you account for that?"

"Again I repeat, that is false!" said 'Lena, while Mrs. Graham,
strengthened by the presence of her son, answered, "I can prove it,
miss."

"I defy you to do so," said 'Lena, strong in her own innocence.

"Shall I show it to her, Durward," asked Mrs. Graham, and 'Lena,
turning suddenly round, became for the first time conscious of his
presence.

With a cry of anguish she stretched her arms imploringly toward him,
asking him, in piteous tones, to save her from his mother.  Durward
would almost have laid down his life to prove her innocent, but he
felt that could not be.  So he made her no reply, and in his eye she
read that he, too, was deceived.  With a low, wailing moan she again
covered her face with her hands, while Mrs. Graham repeated her
question, "Shall I show it to her?"

Durward was not aware that she had it in her possession, and he
answered, "Why do you ask, when you know you cannot do so?"

Oh, how joyfully 'Lena started up; he did not believe it, after all,
and if ever a look was expressive of gratitude, that was which she
gave to Durward, who returned her no answering glance, save one of
pity; and again that wailing cry smote painfully on his ear.  Taking
the case from her pocket, Mrs. Graham advanced toward 'Lena, saying,
"Here, see for yourself, and then deny it if you can."

But 'Lena had no power to take it.  Her faculties seemed benumbed and
Durward, who, with folded arms and clouded brow stood leaning against
the mantel, construed her hesitation into guilt, which dreaded to be
convicted.

"Why don't you take it?" persisted Mrs. Graham.  "You defied me to
prove it, and here it is.  I found it in my husband's private drawer,
together with one of those long curls, which last I burned out of my
sight."

Durward shuddered, while 'Lena involuntarily thought of the mass of
wavy tresses which they had told her clustered around her mother's
face, as she lay in her narrow coffin.  Why thought she of her mother
then?  Was it because they were so strangely alike, that any allusion
to her own personal appearance always reminded her of her lost
parent?  Perhaps so.  But to return to our story 'Lena would have
sworn that the likeness was not hers, and still an undefined dread
crept over her, preventing her from moving.

"You seem so unwilling to be convinced, allow me to assist you," said
Mrs. Graham, at the same time unclasping the case and holding to view
the picture, on which with wondering eyes, 'Lena gazed in
astonishment.

"It is I--it is; but oh, heaven, how came he by it?" she gasped, and
the next moment she fell fainting at Durward's feet.

In an instant he was bending over her, his mother exclaiming, "Pray,
don't touch her--she does it for effect."

But he knew better.  He knew there was no feigning the corpse-like
pallor of that face, and pushing his mother aside, he took the
unconscious girl in his arms, and bearing her to the sofa, laid her
gently upon it, removing her hand and smoothing back from her cold
brow the thick, clustering curls which his mother had designated as
"coiling serpents."

"Do not ring and expose her to the idle gaze of servants," said he,
to his mother, who had seized the bell-rope.  "Bring some water from
your bedroom, and we will take charge of her ourselves."

There was something commanding in the tones of his voice, and Mrs.
Graham, now really alarmed at the deathly appearance of 'Lena,
hastened to obey.  When he was alone, Durward bent down, imprinting
upon the white lips a burning kiss--the first he had ever given her.
In his heart he believed her unworthy of his love, and yet she had
never seemed one-half so dear to him as at that moment, when she lay
there before him helpless as an infant, and all unmindful of the
caresses which he lavished upon her.  "If it were indeed death;" he
thought, "and it had come upon her while yet she was innocent, I
could have borne it, but now I would I had never seen her;" and the
tears which fell like rain upon her cheek, were not unworthy of the
strong man who shed them.  The cold water with which they profusely
bathed her face and neck, restored her, and then Durward, who could
bear the scene no longer, glided silently into the next room.

When he was gone, Mrs. Graham, who seemed bent upon tormenting 'Lena,
asked "what she thought about it now?"

"Please don't speak to me again, for I am very, very wretched," said
'Lena softly, while Mrs. Graham continued: "Have you nothing to offer
in explanation?"

"Nothing, nothing--it is a dark mystery to me, and I wish that I was
dead," answered 'Lena, sobbing passionately.

"Better wish to live and repent," said Mrs. Graham, beginning to read
her a long sermon on her duty, to which 'Lena paid no attention, and
the moment she felt that she could walk, she arose to go.

The moon was shining brightly, and as Mr. Douglass lived not far
away, Mrs. Graham did not deem an escort necessary.  But Durward
thought differently.  He could not walk with her side by side, as he
had often done before, but he would follow at a distance, to see that
no harm came near her.  There was no danger of his being discovered,
for 'Lena was too much absorbed in her own wretchedness to heed aught
about her, and in silence he walked behind her until he saw the door
of Mr. Douglass's house close upon her.  Then feeling that there was
an inseparable barrier between them, he returned to his hotel, where
he found his mother exulting over the downfall of one whom, for some
reason, she had always disliked.

"Didn't she look confounded, though, when I showed her the picture?"
said she; to which Durward replied, by asking "when and why she sent
the letter."

"I did it because I was a mind to, and I am not sorry for it,
either," was Mrs. Graham's crusty answer, whereupon the conversation
was dropped, and as if by a tacit agreement, the subject was not
again resumed during their stay in Louisville.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

It would be impossible to describe 'Lena's emotion as she returned to
the house.  Twice in the hall was she obliged to grasp at the
banister to keep from falling, and knowing that such excessive
agitation would be remarked, she seated herself upon the stairs until
she felt composed enough to enter the parlor.  Fortunately, Mabel was
alone, and so absorbed in the fortunes of "Uncle True and little
Gerty," as scarcely to notice 'Lena at all.  Once, indeed, as she sat
before the grate so motionless and still, Mabel looked up, and
observing how white she was, asked what was the matter.

"A bad headache," answered 'Lena, at the same time announcing her
intention of retiring.

"Alone in her room, her feelings gave way, and none save those who
like her have suffered, can conceive of her anguish, as prostrate
upon the floor she lay, her long silken curls falling about her white
face, which looked ghastly and haggard by the moonlight that fell
softly about her, as if to soothe her woe.

"What is it," she cried aloud--"this dark mystery, which I cannot
explain."

The next moment she thought of Mr. Graham.  He could explain it--he
must explain it.  She would go to him the next day, asking him what
it meant.  She felt sure that he could make it plain, for suspicious
as matters looked, she exculpated him from any wrong intention toward
her.  Still she could not sleep, and when the gray morning light
crept in, it found her too much exhausted to rise.

For several days she kept her room, carefully attended by Mabel and
her grandmother, who, at the first intimation of her illness,
hastened down to nurse her.  Every day did 'Lena ask of Mr. Douglass
if Mr. Graham had been in the city, saying that the first time he
came she wished to see him.  Days, however, went by, and nothing was
seen or heard from him, until at last John Jr.; who visited her
daily, casually informed her that Mr. Graham had been unexpectedly
called away to South Carolina.  A distant relative of his had died,
bequeathing him a large property, which made it necessary for him to
go there immediately; so without waiting for the return of his wife,
he had started off, leaving Woodlawn alone.

"Gone to South Carolina!" exclaimed 'Lena.  "When will he return?"

"Nobody knows.  He's away from home more than half the time, just as
I should be if Mrs. Graham were my wife," answered John Jr., at the
same time playfully remarking that 'Lena need not look so blank, as
it was not Durward who had gone so far.

For an instant 'Lena resolved to tell him everything and ask him what
to do, but knowing how impetuous he was when at all excited, she
finally decided to keep her own secret, determining, however, to
write to Mr. Graham, as soon as she was able.  Just before John Jr.
left her, she called him to her side, asking him if he would do her
the favor of seeing that Vesta was sent back to Woodlawn, as she did
not wish for her any longer.

"What the plague is that for--has mother been raising a row?" asked
John Jr., and 'Lena replied, "No, no, your mother has nothing to do
with it.  I only want Vesta taken home.  I cannot at present tell you
why, but I have a good reason, and some time, perhaps, I'll explain.
You'll do it, won't you?"

With the determination of questioning Durward as to what had
happened, John Jr. promised, and when Mrs. Graham and her son
returned from Louisville, they found Vesta safely stabled with their
other horses, while the saddle with its tiny slipper hung upon a
beam, and seemingly looked down with reproach upon Durward, who
turned away with a bitter pang as he thought of the morning when he
first took it to Maple Grove.

The next day was dark and rainy, precluding all outdoor exercise, and
weary, sad, and spiritless, Durward repaired to the library, where,
for an hour or more, he sat musing dreamily of the past--of the
morning, years ago, when first he met the little girl who had since
grown so strongly into his love, and over whom so dark a shadow had
fallen.  A heavy knock at the door, and in a moment John Jr.
appeared, with dripping garments and a slightly scowling face.  There
was a faint resemblance between him and 'Lena, manifest in the soft,
curling hair and dark, lustrous eyes.  Durward had observed it
before--he thought of it now--and glad to see any one who bore the
least resemblance to her, he started up, exclaiming, "Why,
Livingstone, the very one of all the world I am glad to see."

John made no reply, but shaking the rain-drops from his overcoat,
which he carelessly threw upon the floor, he took a chair opposite
the grate, and looking Durward fully in the face, said, "I've come
over, Bellmont, to ask you a few plain, unvarnished questions, which
I believe you will answer truthfully.  Am I right?"

"Certainly, sir--go on," was Durward's reply.

"Well, then, to begin, are you and 'Lena engaged?"

"No, sir."

"Have you been engaged?"

"No, sir."

"Do you ever expect to be engaged?"

"No, sir."

"Have you quarreled?"

"No, sir."

"Do you know why she wished to have Vesta sent home?"

"I suppose I do."

"Will you tell me?"

"No, sir," said Durward, determined, for 'Lena's sake, that no one
should wring from him the secret.

John Jr. arose, jammed both hands into his pockets--walked to the
window--made faces at the weather--walked back to the grate--made
faces at that--kicked it--and then turning to Durward, said, "There's
the old Nick to pay, somewhere."

Nothing from Durward, who only felt bound to answer direct questions.

"I tell you, there's the old Nick to pay, somewhere," continued John,
raising his voice.  "I knew it all the while 'Lena was sick.  I read
it in her face when I told her Mr. Graham had gone south----"

A faint sickness gathered around Durward's heart, and John Jr.
proceeded: "She wouldn't tell me, and I've come to you for
information.  Will you give it to me?"

"No, sir," said Durward.  "The nature of our trouble is known only to
ourselves and one other individual, and I shall never divulge the
secret."

"Is that other individual my mother?"

"No, sir."

"Is it Cad?"

"No, sir."

"Had they any agency in the matter?"

"None, whatever, that I know of."

"Then I'm on the wrong track, and may as well go home," said John
Jr., starting for the door, where he stopped, while he added, "If,
Bellmont, I ever do hear of your having misled me in this matter----"
He did not finish the sentence in words, but playfully producing a
revolver, he departed.  The next moment he was dashing across the
lawn, the mud flying in every direction, and himself thinking how
useless it was to try to unravel a love quarrel.

In the meantime, 'Lena waited impatiently for an answer to the letter
which she had sent to Mr. Graham, but day after day glided by, and
still no tidings came.  At last, as if everything had conspired
against her, she heard that he was lying dangerously ill of a fever
at Havana, whither he had gone in quest of an individual whose
presence was necessary in the settlement of the estate.

The letter which brought this intelligence to Mrs. Graham, also
contained a request that she would come to him immediately, and
within a few days after its receipt, she started for Cuba, together
with Durward, who went without again seeing 'Lena.

They found him better than they expected.  The danger was past, but
he was still too weak to move himself, and the physician said it
would be many weeks ere he was able to travel.  This rather pleased
Mrs. Graham than otherwise.  She was fond of change, and had often
desired to visit Havana, so now that she was there, she made the best
of it, and for once in her life enacted the part of a faithful,
affectionate wife.

Often, during intervals of mental aberration, Mr. Graham spoke of
"Helena," imploring her forgiveness for his leaving her so long, and
promising to return.  Sometimes he spoke of her as being dead, and in
piteous accents he would ask of Durward to bring him back his
"beautiful 'Lena," who was sleeping far away among the New England
mountains.

One day when the servant, as usual, came in with their letters, he
brought one directed to Mr. Graham, which had been forwarded from
Charleston, and which bore the post-marks of several places, it
having been sent hither and thither, ere it reached its place of
destination.  It was mailed at Frankfort, Kentucky, and in the
superscription Durward readily recognized the handwriting of 'Lena.

"Worse and worse," thought he, now fully assured of her worthlessness.

For a moment he felt tempted to break the seal, but from this act he
instinctively shrank, thinking that whatever it might contain, it was
not for him to read it.  But what should he do with it?  Must he give
it to his mother who already had as much as she could bear?  No,
'twas not best for her to know aught about it, and as the surest
means of preventing its doing further trouble, he destroyed
it--burned it to ashes--repenting the next moment of the deed,
wishing he had read it, and feeling not that he had wronged the dead,
as his mother did when she burned the chestnut curl, but as if he had
done a wrong to 'Lena.

In the course of two months he went back to Woodlawn, leaving his
father and mother to travel leisurely from place to place, as the
still feeble state of the former would admit.  'Lena, who had
returned from Frankfort, trembled lest he should come to Maple Grove,
but he seemed equally desirous of avoiding a meeting, and after
lingering about Woodlawn for several days, he suddenly departed for
Louisville, where, for a time, we leave him, while we follow the
fortunes of others connected with our story.




CHAPTER XXIV.

JOHN JR. AND MABEL.

Time and absence had gradually softened John Jr.'s feelings toward
Nellie.  She was not married to Mr. Wilbur--possibly she never would
be--and if on her return to America he found her the same, he would
lose no time in seeing her, and, if possible, secure her to himself.
Such was the tenor of his thoughts, as on one bright morning in June
he took his way to Lexington, whither he was going on business for
his father.  Before leaving the city, he rode down to the depot, as
was his usual custom, reaching there just as the cars bound for
Frankfort were rolling away.  Upon the platform of the rear car stood
an acquaintance of his, who called out, "Halloo, Livingstone, have
you heard the news?"

"News, no.  What news?" asked John Jr., following after the fast
moving train.

"Bob Wilbur and Nellie Douglass are married," screamed the young man,
who, having really heard of Mr. Wilbur's marriage, supposed it must
of course be with Nellie.

John Jr. had no doubt of it, and for a moment his heart fainted
beneath the sudden blow.  But he was not one to yield long to
despair, and soon recovering from the first shock, he raved in
uncontrollable fury, denouncing Nellie as worthless, fickle, and good
for nothing, mentally wishing her much joy with her husband, who in
the same breath he hoped "would break his confounded neck," and
ending his tirade by solemnly vowing to offer himself to the first
girl he met, whether black or white!

Full of this resolution he put spurs to Firelock and sped away over
the turnpike, looking neither to the right nor the left, lest a
chance should offer for the fulfillment of his vow.  It was the dusk
of evening when he reached home, and giving his horse into the care
of a servant, he walked with rapid strides into the parlor, starting
back as he saw _Mabel Ross_, who, for a few days past, had been
visiting at Maple Grove.

"There's no backing out," thought he.  "It's my destiny, and I'll
meet it like a man.  Nellie spited me, and I'll let her know how good
it feels."

"Mabel," said he, advancing toward her, "will you marry me? Say yes
or no quick."

This was not quite the kind of wooing which Mabel had expected.
'Twas not what she read of in novels, but then it was in keeping with
the rest of John Jr.'s conduct, and very frankly and naturally she
answered "Yes."

"Very well," said he, beginning to feel better already, and turning
to leave the room--"Very well, you fix the day, and arrange it all
yourself, only let it be very soon, for now I've made up my mind, I'm
in a mighty hurry."

Mabel laughed, and hardly knowing whether he were in earnest or not,
asked "if she should speak to the minister, too."

"Yes, no," said he.  "Just tell mother, and she'll fix it all right.
Will you?"

And he walked away, feeling nothing, thinking nothing, except that he
was engaged.  Engaged!  The very idea seemed to add new dignity to
_him_, while it invested Mabel with a charm she had not hitherto
possessed.  John Jr. liked everything that belonged to him
exclusively, and Mabel now was his--his wife she would be--and when
next he met her in the drawing-room, his manner toward her was
unusually kind, attracting the attention of his mother, who wondered
at the change.  One after another the family retired, until there was
no one left in the parlor except Mabel and Mrs. Livingstone, who, as
her husband chanced to be absent, had invited her young visitor to
share her room.  When they were alone, Mabel, with many blushes and a
few tears, told of all that had occurred, except, indeed, of John's
manner of proposing, which she thought best not to confide to a third
person.

Eagerly Mrs. Livingstone listened, mentally congratulating herself
upon the completion of her plan without her further interference,
wondering the while how it had been so suddenly brought about, and
half trembling lest it should prove a failure after all.  So when
Mabel spoke of John Jr.'s wish that the marriage should be
consummated immediately, she replied, "Certainly--by all means.
There is no necessity for delay.  You can marry at once, and get
ready afterwards.  It is now the last of June.  I had thought of
going to Saratoga in July, and a bride is just the thing to give
eclat to our party."

"But," answered Mabel, who hardly fancied a wedding without all the
usual preparations, which she felt she should enjoy so much, "I
cannot think of being married until October, when Nellie perhaps will
be here."

Nellie's return was what Mrs. Livingstone dreaded, and very
ingeniously she set herself at work to put aside Mabel's objections,
succeeding so far that the young girl promised compliance with
whatever she should think proper.  The next morning, as John Jr. was
passing through the hall, she called him into her room, delicately
broaching the subject of his engagement, saying she knew he could not
help loving a girl possessed of so many excellent qualities as Mabel
Ross.  Very patiently John Jr. heard her until she came to speak of
love.  Then, in much louder tones than newly engaged men are apt to
speak of their betrothed, he exclaimed, "Love!  Fudge!  If you think
I'm marrying Mabel for love, you are greatly mistaken, I like her,
but love is out of the question."

"Pray what are you marrying her for?  Her property?"

"Property!" repeated John, with a sneer, "I've seen the effect of
marrying for property, and I trust I'm not despicable enough to try
it for myself.  No, madam, I'm not marrying her for money--but to
spite Nellie Douglass, if you must know the reason.  I've loved her
as I shall never again love womankind, but she cheated me.  She's
married to Robert Wilbur, and now I've too much spirit to have her
think _I_ care.  If she can marry, so can I--she isn't the only girl
in the world--and when I heard what she had done, I vowed I'd offer
myself to the first female I saw.  As good or bad luck would have it,
'twas Mabel, who you know said yes, of course, for I verily believe
she likes me far better than I deserve.  What kind of a husband I
shall make, the Lord only knows, but I'm in for it.  My word is
passed, and the sooner you get us tied together the better, but for
heaven's sake, don't go to making a great parade.  Mabel has no
particular home.  She's here now, and why not let the ceremony take
place here.  But fix it to suit yourselves, only don't let me hear
you talking about it, for fear I'll get sick of the whole thing."

This was exactly what Mrs. Livingstone desired.  She had the day
before been to Frankfort herself, learning from Mrs. Atkins of Mr.
Wilbur's marriage with the English girl.  She knew her son was
deceived, and it was highly necessary that he should continue so.
She felt sure that neither her daughters, Mabel, nor 'Lena knew of
Mr. Wilbur's marriage, and she resolved they should not.  It was
summer, and as many of their city friends had left Frankfort for
places of fashionable resort, they received but few calls; and by
keeping them at home until the wedding was over, she trusted that all
would be safe in that quarter.  Durward, too, was fortunately absent,
so she only had to deal with Mabel and John Jr.  The first of these
she approached very carefully, casually telling her of Mr. Wilbur's
marriage, and then hastily adding, "But pray don't speak of it to any
one, as there are special reasons why it should not at present be
discussed.  Sometime I may tell you the reason."

Mabel wondered why so small a matter should be a secret, but Mrs.
Livingstone had requested her to keep silence and that was a
sufficient reason why she should do so.  The next step was to win her
consent for the ceremony to take place there, and in the course of
three weeks, saying that it was her son's wish.  But on this point
she found more difficulty than she had anticipated, for Mabel shrank
from being married at the house of his father.

"It didn't look right," said she, "and she knew Mr. Douglass would
not object to having it there."

Mrs. Livingstone knew so, too, but there was too much danger in such
an arrangement, and she replied, "Of course not, if you request it,
but will it be quite proper for you to ask him to be at all that
trouble when Nellie is gone, and there is no one at home to
superintend?"

So after a time Mabel was convinced, thinking, though, how
differently everything was turning out from what she expected.  Three
weeks from that night was fixed upon for the bridal, to which but few
were to be invited, for Mrs. Livingstone did not wish to call forth
remark.

"Everything should be done quietly and in order," she said, "and
then, when autumn came, she would give a splendid party in honor of
the bride."

Mr. Douglass, when told of the coming event by Mrs. Livingstone, who
would trust no one else, expressed much surprise, saying he greatly
preferred that the ceremony should take place at his own house.

"Of course," returned the oily-tongued woman, "of course you had, but
even a small wedding party is a vast amount of trouble, and in
Nellie's absence you would be disturbed.  Were she here I would not
say a word, but now I insist upon having it my own way, and indeed, I
think my claim upon Mabel is the strongest."

Silenced, but not quite convinced, Mr. Douglass said no more,
thinking, meanwhile, that if he only _could_ afford it, Mabel should
have a wedding worthy of her.  But he could not; he was poor, and
hence Mrs. Livingstone's arguments prevailed the more easily.
Fortunately for her, John Jr. manifested no inclination to go out at
all.  A kind of torpor seemed to have settled upon him, and day after
day he remained at home, sometimes in a deep study in his own room,
and sometimes sitting in the parlor, where his very unlover-like
deportment frequently brought tears to Mabel's eyes, while Carrie
loudly denounced him as the most clownish fellow she ever saw.

"I hope you'll train him, Mabel," said she, "for he needs it.  He
ought to have had Nellie Douglass.  She's a match for him.  Why
didn't you have her, John?"

With a face dark as night, he angrily requested Carrie "to mind her
own business," saying "he was fully competent to take charge of
himself, without the interference of either wife or sister."

"Oh, what if he should look and talk so to me!" thought Mabel,
shuddering as a dim foreboding of her sad future came over her.

'Lena who understood John Jr. better than any one else, saw that all
was not right.  She knew how much he had loved Nellie; she believed
he loved her still; and why should he marry another?  She could not
tell, and as he withheld his confidence from her, appearing unusually
moody and cross, she dared not approach him.  At last, having an idea
of what she wanted, and willing to give her a chance, he one day,
when they were alone, abruptly asked her what she thought of his
choice.

"If you ask me what I think of Mabel," said she, "I answer that I
esteem her very highly, and the more I know her the better I love
her.  Still, I never thought she would be your wife."

"Ah--indeed!--never thought she would, hey?" answered John, beginning
to grow crusty, and elevating his feet to the top of the mantel.
"You see now what _thought_ did; but what is your objection to her?"

"Nothing, nothing," returned 'Lena.  "Mabel is amiable, gentle, and
confiding, and will try to be a good wife."

"What the deuce are you grumbling for, then?" interrupted John Jr.
"Do you want me yourself?  If you do, just say the word, and it shall
be done!  I'm bound to be married, and I'd sooner have you than
anybody else.  Come, what do you say?"

'Lena smiled, while she disclaimed any intention toward her cousin,
who, resuming the position which in his excitement he had slightly
changed, continued: "I have always dealt fairly with you, 'Lena, and
now I tell you truly, I have no particular love for Mabel, although I
intend making her my wife, and heartily wish she was so now."

'Lena started, and clasping John's arm, exclaimed, "Marry Mabel and
not love her!  You cannot be in earnest.  You will not do her so
great a wrong--you shall not."

"I don't know how you'll help it, unless you meddle with what does
not concern you," said John.  "I am doing her no wrong, I never told
her I loved her--never acted as though I did, and if she is content
to have me on such terms, it's nobody's business.  She loves me half
to death, and if the old adage be true that love begets love, I shall
learn to love her, and when I do I'll let you know."

So saying, the young man shook down his pants, which had become
disarranged, and walked away, leaving 'Lena to wonder what course she
had better pursue.  Once she resolved on telling Mabel all that had
passed between them, but the next moment convinced her that, as he
had said, she would be meddling, so she decided to say nothing,
silently hoping that affairs would turn out better than she feared.

It was Mabel's wish that 'Lena and Anna should be her bridesmaids,
Durward and Malcolm officiating as groomsmen, and as Mr. Bellmont was
away, she wrote to him requesting his attendance, but saying she had
not yet mentioned the subject to 'Lena.  Painful as was the task of
being thus associated with 'Lena, Durward felt that to refuse might
occasion much remark, so he wrote to Mabel that "he would comply with
her request, provided Miss Rivers were willing."

"Of course she's willing," said Mabel to herself, at the same time
running with the letter to 'Lena, who, to her utter astonishment, not
only refused outright, but also declined giving any particular reason
for her doing so.  "Carrie will suit him much better than I," said
she, but unfortunately, Carrie, who chanced to be present, half
hidden in the recess of a window, indignantly declined "going
Jack-at-a-pinch" with any one, so Mabel was obliged to content
herself with Anna and Mr. Everett.

But here a new difficulty arose, for Mrs. Livingstone declared that
the latter should not be invited, and Anna, in a fit of anger,
insisted that if _he_ were not good enough to be present, neither was
she, and she should accordingly remain in her own room.  Poor Mabel
burst into tears, and when, a few moments afterward, John Jr.
appeared, asking what ailed her, she hid her face in his bosom and
sobbed like a child.  Then, frightened at her own temerity, for he
gave her no answering caress, she lifted up her head, while with a
quizzical expression John Jr. said, "So-ho, Meb, seems to me you've
taken to crying on my jacket a little in advance.  But what's the
matter?"

In a few words Mabel told him how everything went wrong, how neither
'Lena, Carrie, nor Anna would be her bridesmaids, and how Anna
wouldn't see her married because Malcolm was not invited.

"I can manage that," said John Jr.  "Mr. Everett _shall_ be invited,
so just shut up crying, for if there's anything I detest, it's a
woman's sniveling;" and he walked off thinking he had begun just as
he meant to hold out.




CHAPTER XXV.

THE BRIDAL.

'Twas Mabel's wedding night, and in one of the upper rooms of Mr.
Livingstone's house she stood awaiting the summons to the parlor.
They had arrayed her for the bridal; Mrs. Livingstone, Carrie, 'Lena,
Anna, and the seamstress, all had had something to do with her
toilet, and now they had left her for a time with him who was so soon
to be her husband.  She knew--for they had told her--she was looking
uncommonly well.  Her dress, of pure white satin, was singularly
becoming; pearls were interwoven in the heavy braids of her raven
hair; the fleecy folds of the rich veil, which fell like a cloud
around her, swept the floor.  In her eye there was an unusual sparkle
and on her cheek an unwonted bloom.

Still Mabel was not happy.  There was a heavy pain at her heart--a
foreboding of coming evil--and many an anxious glance she cast toward
the stern, silent man, who, with careless tread, walked up and down
the room, utterly regardless of her presence, and apparently absorbed
in bitter reflections.  Once only had she ventured to speak, and
then, in childlike simplicity, she had asked him "how she looked."

"Well enough," was his answer, as, without raising his eyes, he
continued his walk.

The tears gathered in Mabel's eyes--she could not help it; drop after
drop they came, falling upon the marble table, until John Jr., who
saw more than he pretended, came to her side, asking "why she wept."

Mabel was beginning to be terribly afraid of him, and for a moment
she hesitated, but at length, summoning all her courage, she wound
her arms about his neck, and in low, earnest tones said, "Tell me
truly, do you wish to marry me?"

"And suppose I do not?" he asked, with the same stony composure.

Stepping backward, Mabel stood proudly erect before him, and
answered, "Then would I die rather than wed you!"

There was something in her appearance and attitude peculiarly
attractive to John Jr.  Never in his life had he felt so much
interested in her, and drawing her toward him and placing his arm
around her, he said, gently, "Be calm, little Meb, you are nervous
to-night.  Of course I wish you to be my wife, else I had not asked
you.  Are you satisfied?"

The joyous glance of the dark eyes lifted so confidingly to his, was
a sufficient answer, and as if conscious of the injustice he was
about to do her, John Jr. bent for an instant over her slight figure,
mentally resolving, that so far as in him lay he would be true to his
trust.  There was a knock at the door, and Mrs. Livingstone herself
looked in, pale, anxious, and expectant.  Mr. Douglass, who was among
the invited guests, had arrived, and _must_ have an interview with
John Jr. ere the ceremony.  'Twas in vain she attempted politely to
waive his request.  He _would_ see him, and distracted with fear, she
had at last conducted him into the upper hall, and out upon an open
veranda, where in the moonlight he awaited the coming of the
bridegroom, who, with some curiosity, approached him, asking what he
wanted.

"It may seem strange to you," said Mr. Douglass, "that I insist upon
seeing you now, when another time might do as well, but I believe in
having a fair understanding all round."

"Meddling old rascal!" exclaimed Mrs. Livingstone, who, of course,
was within hearing, bending her ears so as not to lose a word.

But in this she was thwarted, for drawing nearer to John Jr., Mr.
Douglass said, so low as to prevent her catching anything further,
save the sound of his voice:

"I do not accuse you of being at all mercenary, but such things have
been, and there has something come to my knowledge to-day, which I
deem it my duty to tell you, so that hereafter you can neither blame
me nor Mabel."

"What is it?" asked John Jr., and Mr. Douglass replied, "To be brief,
then, Mabel's large fortune is, with the exception of a few
thousands, of which I have charge, all swept away by the recent
failure of the Planters' Bank, in which it was invested.  I heard of
it this morning, and determined on telling you, knowing that if you
loved her for herself, it would make no difference, while if you
loved her for her money, it were far better to stop here."

Nothing could have been further from John's thoughts than a desire
for Mabel's wealth, which, precious as it seemed in his mother's
eyes, was valueless to him, and after a moment's silence, in which he
was thinking what a rich disappointment it would be to his mother,
who, he knew, prized Mabel only for her money, he exclaimed, "Good,
I'm glad of it.  I never sought Mabel's hand for what there was in
it, and I'm more ready to marry her now than ever.  But," he added,
as a sudden impulse of good came over him, "She need not know it; it
would trouble her uselessly, and for the present we'll keep it from
her."

John Jr. had always been a puzzle to Mr. Douglass, who by turns
censured and admired him, but now there was but one feeling in his
bosom toward him, and that was one of unbounded respect.  With a warm
pressure of the hand he turned away, thinking, perchance, of his fair
young daughter, who, far away o'er the Atlantic waves, little dreamed
of the scene on which that summer moon was shining.  As the
conference ended; Mrs. Livingstone, who had learned nothing, glided,
from her hiding-place, eagerly scanning her son's face to see if
there was aught to justify her fears.  But there was nothing, and
with her heart beating at its accustomed pace, she descended the
stairs in time to meet Durward, who, having reached Woodlawn that
day, had not heard of 'Lena's decision.

"This way, Marster Bellmont--upstars is the gentleman's room," said
the servant in attendance, and ascending the stairs, Durward met with
Anna, asking her for her cousin.

"In there--go in," said Anna, pointing to a half-open door, and then
hurrying away to meet Malcolm, whose coming she had seen from the
window.

Hesitatingly, Durward approached the chamber indicated, and as his
knock met with no response, he ventured at last to enter unannounced
into the presence of 'Lena, whom he had not met since that
well-remembered night.  Tastefully attired for the wedding in a
simple white muslin, she sat upon a little stool with her face buried
in the cushions of the sofa.  She had heard his voice in the lower
hall, and knowing she must soon meet him, she had for a moment
abandoned herself to the tumult of bitter thoughts, which came
sweeping over her in that trying hour.  She was weeping--he knew that
by the trembling of her body--and for an instant everything was
forgotten.

Advancing softly toward her, he was about to lay his hand upon those
clustering curls which fell unheeded around her, when the thought
that from among them had been cut the hated tress which his mother
had cast into the flames, arrested his hand, and he was himself
again.  Forcing down his emotion, he said, calmly, "Miss Rivers," and
starting quickly to her feet, 'Lena demanded proudly what he would
have, and why he was there.

"Pardon me," said he, as he marked her haughty bearing and glanced at
her dress, which was hardly in accordance with that of a bridesmaid;
"I supposed I was to be groomsman--am I mistaken?"

"So far as I am concerned you are, sir.  I knew nothing of Mabel's
writing to you, or I should have prevented it, for after what has
occurred, you cannot deem me weak enough to lend myself to such an
arrangement."

And 'Lena walked out of the room, while Durward looked after her in
amazement, one moment admiring her spirit, and the next blaming Mabel
for not informing him how matters stood.  "But there's no help for it
now," thought he, as he descended the stairs and made his way into
the parlor, whither 'Lena had preceded him.

And thus ended an interview of which 'Lena had thought so much,
hoping and praying that it might result in a reconciliation.  But it
was all over now--the breach was wider than ever--with half-benumbed
faculties she leaned on the window, unconscious of the earnest desire
he felt to approach her, for there was about her a strange
fascination which it required all his power to resist.

When at last all was in readiness, a messenger was dispatched to John
Jr., who, without a word, offered his arm to Mabel, and descending
the broad staircase, they stood within the parlor in the spot which
had been assigned them.  Once during the ceremony he raised his eyes,
encountering those of 'Lena, fixed upon him so reproachfully that
with a scowl he turned away.  Mechanically he went through with his
part of the service, betraying no emotion whatever, until the solemn
words which made them one were uttered.  Then, when it was over--when
he was bound to her forever--he seemed suddenly to awake from his
apathy and think of what he had done.  Crowding around him, they came
with words of congratulation--all but 'Lena, who tarried behind, for
she had none to give.  Wretched as she was herself, she pitied the
frail young bride, whose half-joyous, half-timid glances toward the
frigid bridegroom, showed that already was she sipping from the
bitter cup whose very dregs she was destined to drain.

In the recess of a window near to John Jr., Mr. Douglass and Durward
stood, speaking together of Nellie, and though John shrank from the
sound of her name, his hearing faculties seemed unusually sharpened,
and he lost not a word of what they were saying.

"So Nellie is coming home in the autumn, I am told," said Durward,
"and I am glad of it, for I miss her much.  But what is it about Mr.
Wilbur's marriage.  Wasn't it rather unexpected?"

"No, not very.  Nellie knew before she went that he was engaged to
Miss Allen, but at his sister's request she kept it still.  He found
her at a boarding-school in Montreal, several years ago."

"Will they remain in Europe?"

"For a time, at least, until Mary is better--but Nellie comes home
with some friends from New Haven, whom she met in Paris;" then in a
low tone Mr. Douglass added, "I almost dread the effect of this
marriage upon her, for I am positive she liked him better than anyone
else."

The little white, blue-veined hand which rested on that of John Jr.,
was suddenly pressed so spasmodically, that Mabel looked up
inquiringly in the face which had no thought for her, for Mr.
Douglass's words had fallen upon him like a thunderbolt, crushing him
to the earth, and for a moment rendering him powerless.  Instantly he
comprehended it all.  He had deceived himself, and by his impetuous
haste lost all that he held most dear on earth.  There was a cry of
faintness, a grasping at empty space to keep from falling, and then
forth into the open air they led the half-fainting man, followed by
his frightened bride, who tenderly bathed his damp, cold brow,
unmindful how he shrank from her, shuddering as he felt the touch of
her soft hand, and motioning her aside when she stooped to part from
his forehead the heavy locks of his hair.

That night, the pale starlight of another hemisphere kept watch over
a gentle girl, who 'neath the blue skies of sunny France, dreamed of
her distant home across the ocean wave; of the gray-haired man, who,
with every morning light and evening shade, blessed her as his child;
of another, whose image was ever present with her, whom from her
childhood she had loved, and whom neither time nor distance could
efface from her memory.

Later, and the silvery moon looked mournfully down upon the white,
haggard face and heavy bloodshot eye of him who counted each long,
dreary hour as it passed by, cursing the fate which had made him what
he was, and unjustly hardening his heart against his innocent
unsuspecting wife.




CHAPTER XXVI

MARRIED LIFE.

For a short time after their marriage, John Jr. treated Mabel with at
least a show of attention, but he was not one to act long as he did
not feel.  Had Nellie been, indeed, the wife of another, he might in
time have learned to love Mabel as she deserved, but now her presence
only served to remind him of what he had lost, and at last he began
to shun her society, never seeming willing to be left with her alone,
and either repulsing or treating with indifference the many little
acts of kindness which her affectionate nature prompted.  To all this
Mabel was not blind, and when once she began to suspect her true
position, it was easy for her to fancy slights where none were
intended.

Thus, ere she had been two months a wife, her life was one of
constant unhappiness, and, as a matter of course, her health, which
had been much improved, began to fail.  Her old racking headaches
returned with renewed force, confining her for whole days to her
room, where she lay listening in vain for the footsteps which never
came, and tended only by 'Lena, who in proportion as the others
neglected her, clung to her more and more.  The trip to Saratoga was
given up, John Jr. in the bitterness of his disappointment bitterly
refusing to go, and saying there was nothing sillier than for a
newly-married couple to go riding around the country, disgusting
sensible people with their fooleries.  So with a burst of tears Mabel
yielded and her bridal tour extended no further than Frankfort,
whither her husband _did_ once accompany her, dining out even then
with an old schoolmate whom he chanced to meet, and almost forgetting
to call at Mr. Douglass's for Mabel when it was time to return home.

Erelong, too, another source of trouble arose, which shipwrecked
entirely the poor bride's happiness.  By some means or other it at
last came to Mrs. Livingstone's knowledge that Mabel's fortune was
not only all gone, but that her son had known it in time to prevent
his marrying her.  Owing to various losses her own property had for a
few years past been gradually diminishing, and when she found that
Mabel's fortune, which she leaned upon as an all-powerful prop, was
swept away, it was more than she could bear peaceably; and in a fit
of disappointed rage she assailed her son, reproaching him with
bringing disgrace upon the family by marrying a poor, homely, sickly
girl, who would be forever incurring expense without any means of
paying it!  For once, however, she found her match, for in good round
terms John Jr. bade her "go to thunder," his favorite point of
destination for his particular friends, at the same time saying, "he
didn't care a dime for Mabel's money.  It was you," said he, "who
kept your eye on that, aiding and abetting the match, and now that
you are disappointed, I'm heartily glad of it."

"But who is going to pay for her board," asked Mrs. Livingstone.
"You've no means of earning it, and I hope you don't intend to sponge
out of me, for I think I've enough paupers on my hands already!"

"_Board_!" roared John Jr. in a towering passion.  "While you thought
her rich, you gave no heed to board or anything else; and since she
has become poor, I do not think her appetite greatly increased.  You
taunt me, too, with having no means of earning my own living.  Whose
fault is it?--tell me that.  Haven't you always opposed my having a
profession?  Didn't you _pet_ and _baby_ 'Johnny' when a boy, keeping
him always at your apron strings, and now that he's a man, he's not
to be turned adrift.  No, madam, I shall stay, and Mabel, too, just
as long as I please."

Gaining no satisfaction from him, Mrs. Livingstone turned her battery
upon poor Mabel, treating her with shameful neglect, intimating that
she was in the way; that the house was full, and that she never
supposed John was going to settle down at home for her to support; he
was big enough to look after himself, and if he chose to marry a wife
who had nothing, why let them go to work, as other folks did.

Mabel listened in perfect amazement, never dreaming what was meant,
for John Jr. had carefully kept from her a knowledge of her loss,
requesting his mother to do the same in such decided terms, that,
hint as strongly as she pleased, she dared not tell the whole, for
fear of the storm which was sure to follow.  All this was not, of
course, calculated to add to Mabel's comfort, and day by day she grew
more and more unhappy, generously keeping to herself, however, the
treatment which she received from Mrs. Livingstone.

"He will only dislike me the more if I complain to him of his
mother," thought she, so the secret was kept, though she could not
always repress the tears which would start when she thought how
wretched she was.

We believe we have said elsewhere, that if there was anything
particularly annoying to John Jr., it was a sick or crying woman, and
now, when he so often found Mabel indisposed or weeping, he grew more
morose and fault-finding, sometimes wantonly accusing her of trying
to provoke him, when, in fact, she had used every means in her power
to conciliate him.  Again, conscience-smitten, he would lay her
aching head upon his bosom, and tenderly bathing her throbbing
temples, would soothe her into a quiet sleep, from which she always
awoke refreshed, and in her heart forgiving him for all he had made
her suffer.  At such times, John would resolve never again to treat
her unkindly, but alas! his resolutions were too easily broken.  Had
he married Nellie, a more faithful, affectionate husband there could
not have been.  But now it was different.  A withering blight had
fallen upon his earthly prospects, and forgetting that he alone was
to blame, he unjustly laid the fault upon his innocent wife, who, as
far as she was able, loved him as deeply as Nellie herself could have
done.

One morning about the first of September, John Jr.  received a note,
informing him that several of his young associates were going on a
three days' hunting excursion, in which they wished him to join.  In
the large easy-chair, just before him, sat Mabel, her head supported
by pillows and saturated with camphor, while around her eyes were the
dark rings which usually accompanied her headaches.  Involuntarily
John Jr. glanced toward her.  Had it been Nellie, all the pleasures
of the world could not have induced him to leave her, but Mabel was
altogether another person, and more for the sake of seeing what she
would say, than from any real intention of going, he read the note
aloud; then carelessly throwing it aside, he said, "Ah, yes, I'll go.
It'll be rare fun camping out these moonlight nights."

Much as she feared him, Mabel could not bear to have him out of her
sight, and now, at the first intimation of his leaving her, her lip
began to tremble, while tears filled her eyes and dropped upon her
cheeks.  This was enough, and mentally styling her "a perfect cry
baby," he resolved to go at all hazards.

"I don't think you ought to leave Mabel, she feels so badly," said
Anna, who was present.

"I want to know if little Anna's got so she can dictate me, too,"
answered John, imitating her voice, and adding, that "he reckoned
Mabel would get over her bad feelings quite as well without him as
with him."

More for the sake of opposition than because she really cared,
Carrie, too, chimed in, saying that "he was a pretty specimen of a
three months' husband," and asking "how he ever expected to answer
for all of Mabel's tears and headaches."

"Hang her tears and headaches," said he, beginning to grow angry.
"She can get one up to order any time, and for my part, I am getting
heartily tired of the sound of aches and pains."

"Please _don't_ talk so," said Mabel, pressing her hands upon her
aching head, while 'Lena sternly exclaimed, "Shame on you, John
Livingstone.  I am surprised at you, for I did suppose you had some
little feeling left."

"Miss Rivers can be very eloquent when she chooses, but I am happy to
say it is entirely lost on me," said John, leaving the room and
shutting the door with a bang, which made every one of Mabel's nerves
quiver anew.

"What a perfect brute," said Carrie, while 'Lena and Anna drew nearer
to Mabel, the one telling her "she would not care," and the other
silently pressing the little hand which instinctively sought hers, as
if sure of finding sympathy.

At this moment Mrs. Livingstone came in, and immediately Carrie gave
a detailed account of her brother's conduct, at the same time
referring her mother for proof to Mabel's red eyes and swollen face.

"I never interfere between husband and wife," said Mrs. Livingstone
coolly, "but as a friend, I will give Mabel a bit of advice.  Without
being at all personal, I would say that few women have beauty enough
to afford to impair it by eternally crying, while fewer men have
patience enough to bear with a woman who is forever whining and
complaining, first of this and then of that.  I don't suppose that
John is so much worse than other people, and I think he bears up
wonderfully, considering his disappointment."

Here the lady flounced out of the room, leaving the girls to stare at
each other in silence, wondering what she meant.  Since her marriage,
Mabel had occupied the parlor chamber, which connected with a cozy
little bedroom and dressing-room adjoining.  These had at the time
been fitted up and furnished in a style which Mrs. Livingstone
thought worthy of Mabel's wealth, but now that she was poor, the case
was altered, and she had long contemplated removing her to more
inferior quarters.  "She wasn't going to give her the very best room
in the house.  No, indeed, she wasn't--wearing out the carpets,
soiling the furniture, and keeping everything topsy-turvy."

She understood John Jr. well enough to know that it would not do to
approach him on the subject, so she waited, determining to carry out
her plans the very first time he should be absent, thinking when it
was once done, he would submit quietly.  On hearing that he had gone
off on a hunting excursion, she thought, "Now is my time," and
summoning to her assistance three or four servants, she removed
everything belonging to John Jr. and Mabel, to the small and not
remarkably convenient room which the former had occupied previous to
his marriage.

"What are you about?" asked Anna, who chanced to pass by and looked
in.

"About my business," answered Mrs. Livingstone.  I'm not going to
have my best things all worn out, and if this was once good enough
for John to sleep in, it is now."

"But will Mabel like it?" asked Anna, a little suspicious that her
sister-in-law's rights were being infringed.

"Nobody cares whether she is pleased or not," said Mrs. Livingstone.
"If she don't like it, all she has to do is to go away."

"Lasted jest about as long as I thought 'twood," said Aunt Milly,
when she heard what was going on.  "Ile and crab-apple vinegar won't
mix, nohow, and if before the year's up old miss don't worry the life
out of that poor little sickly critter, that looks now like a picked
chicken, my name ain't Milly Livingstone."

The other negroes agreed with her.  Constantly associated with the
family, they saw things as they were, and while Mrs. Livingstone's
conduct was universally condemned, Mabel was a general favorite.
After Mrs. Livingstone had left the room, Milly, with one or two
others, stole up to reconnoiter.

"Now I 'clar' for't," said Milly, "if here ain't Marster John's
bootjack, fish-line, and box of tobacky, right out in far sight, and
Miss Mabel comin' in here to sleep.  'Pears like some white folks
hain't no idee of what 'longs to good manners.  Here, Corind, put the
jack in thar, the fish-line thar, the backy thar, and heave that ar
other thrash out o'door," pointing to some geological specimens which
from time to time John Jr. had gathered, and which his mother had not
thought proper to molest.

Corinda obeyed, and then Aunt Milly, who really possessed good taste,
began to make some alterations in the arrangement of the furniture,
and under her supervision the room began to present a more cheerful
and inviting aspect.

"Get out with yer old airthen candlestick," said she, turning up her
broad nose at the said article, which stood upon the stand.  "What's
them tall frosted ones in the parlor chamber for, if 'tain't to use.
Go, Corind, and fetch 'em."

But Corinda did not dare, and Aunt Milly went herself, taking the
precaution to bring them in the tongs, so that in the _denouement_
she could stoutly deny having even "tached 'em, or even had 'em in
her hands!" (So much for a subterfuge, where there is no moral
training.)

When Mabel heard of the change, she seemed for a moment stupefied.
Had she been consulted, had Mrs. Livingstone frankly stated her
reasons for wishing her to take another room, she would have
consented willingly, but to be thus summarily removed without a
shadow of warning, hardly came up to her ideas of justice.  Still,
there was no help for it, and that night the bride of three months
watered her lone pillow with tears, never once closing her heavy
eyelids in sleep until the dim morning light came in through the open
window, and the tread of the negroes' feet was heard in the yard
below.  Then, for many hours, the weary girl slumbered on,
unconscious of the ill-natured remarks which her non-appearance was
eliciting from Mrs. Livingstone, who said "it was strange what airs
some people would put on; perhaps Mistress Mabel fancied her
breakfast would be sent to her room, or kept warm for her until such
time as she chose to appear, but she'd find herself mistaken, for the
servants had enough to do without waiting upon her, and if she
couldn't come up to breakfast, why, she must wait until dinner time."

'Lena and Milly, however, thought differently.  Softly had the latter
stolen up to her cousin's room, gazing pityingly upon the pale, worn
face, whose grieved, mournful expression told of sorrow which had
come all too soon.

"Let her sleep; it will do her good," said 'Lena, adjusting the
bed-clothes, and dropping the curtain so that the sunlight should not
disturb her, she left the chamber.

An hour after, on entering the kitchen, she found Aunt Milly
preparing a rich cream toast, which, with a cup of fragrant black
tea, were to be slyly conveyed to Mabel, who was now awake.

"Reckon thar don't nobody starve as long as this nigger rules the
roost," said Milly, wiping one of the silver tea-spoons with a corner
of her apron, and then placing it in the cup destined for Mabel, who,
not having seen her breakfast prepared, relished it highly, thinking
the world was not, after all, so dark and dreary, for there were yet
a few left who cared for her.

Her headache of the day before still remained, and 'Lena suggested
that she should stay in her room, saying that she would herself see
that every necessary attention was paid her.  This she could the more
readily do, as Mrs. Livingstone had gone to Versailles with her
husband.  That afternoon, as Mabel lay watching the drifting clouds
as they passed and repassed before the window, her ear suddenly
caught the sound of horses' feet.  Nearer and nearer they came, until
with a cry of delight she hid her face in the pillows, weeping for
very joy--for John Jr. had come home!  She could not be mistaken, and
if there was any lingering doubt, it was soon lost in certainty, for
she heard his voice in the hall below, his footsteps on the stairs.
He was coming, an unusual thing, to see her first.

But how did he know she was there, in his old room?  He did not know
it; he was only coming to put his rifle in its accustomed place, and
on seeing the chamber filled with the various paraphernalia of a
woman's toilet, he started, with the exclamation, "What the deuce!  I
reckon I've got into the wrong pew," and was going away, when Mabel
called him back.  "Meb, you here?" said he.  "_You_ in this little
tucked-up hole, that I always thought too small for me and my traps!
What does it mean?"

Mabel had carefully studied the tones of her husband's voice, and
knowing from the one he now assumed that he was not displeased with
her, the sense of injustice done her by his mother burst out, and
throwing her arms around his neck, she told him everything connected
with her removal, asking what his mother meant by saying, "she should
never get anything for their board," and begging him "to take her
away where they could live alone and be happy."

Since he had left her, John Jr. had _thought_ a great deal, the
result of which was, that he determined on returning home much sooner
than he at first intended, promising himself to treat Mabel decently,
and if possible win back the respect of 'Lena, which he knew he had
lost.  To his companions, who urged him to remain, he replied that
"he had left his wife sick, and he could not stay longer."

It cost him a great effort to say "my wife," for never before had he
so called her, but he felt better the moment he had done so, and
bidding his young friends adieu, he started for home with the same
impetuous speed which usually characterized his riding.  He had fully
expected to meet Mabel in the parlor, and was even revolving in his
own mind the prospect of kissing her, provided 'Lena were present.
"That'll prove to her," thought he, "that I am not the hardened
wretch she thinks I am; so I'll do it, if Meb doesn't happen to be
all bound up in camphor and aromatic vinegar, which I can't endure,
anyway."

Full of this resolution he had hastened home, going first to his old
room, where he had come so unexpectedly upon Mabel that for a moment
he scarcely knew what to say.  By the time, however, that she had
finished her story, his mind was pretty well made up.

"And so it's mother's doings, hey?" said he, violently pulling the
bell-rope, and then walking up and down the room until Corinda
appeared in answer to his summons.

"How many blacks are there in the kitchen?" he asked.

"Six or seven, besides Aunt Polly," answered Corinda.

"Very well.  Tell every man of them to come up here, quick."

Full of wonder Corinda departed, carrying the intelligence, and
adding that "Marster John looked mighty black in the face", and she
reckoned some on 'em would catch it, at the same time, for fear of
what might happen, secretly conveying back to the safe the piece of
cake which, in her mistress' absence, she had stolen!  Aunt Milly's
first thought was of the frosted candlesticks, and by way of
impressing upon Corinda a sense of what she might expect if in any
way she implicated her, she gave her a cuff in advance, bidding her
"be keerful how she blabbed", then heading the sable group, she
repaired to the chamber, where John Jr. was awaiting them.

Advancing toward them, as they appeared in the doorway, he said,
"Take hold here, every one of you, and move these things back where
they came from."

"Don't, oh don't," entreated Mabel, but laying his hand over her
mouth, John Jr. bade her keep still, at the same time ordering the
negroes "to be quick."

At first the younger portion of the blacks stood speechless, but Aunt
Milly, comprehending the whole at once, and feeling glad that her
mistress had her match in her son, set to work with a right good
will, and when about dusk Mrs. Livingstone came home, she was
astonished at seeing a light in the parlor chamber, while
occasionally she could discern the outline of a form moving before
the window.  What could it mean?  Perhaps they had company, and
springing from the carriage she hastened into the house, meeting
'Lena in the hall, and eagerly asking who was in the front chamber.

"I believe," said 'Lena, "that my cousin is not pleased with the
change, and has gone back to the front room."

"The impudent thing!" exclaimed Mrs. Livingstone, ignorant of her
son's return, and as a matter of course attributing the whole to
Mabel.

Darting up the stairs, she advanced toward the chamber and pushing
open the door stood face to face with John Jr., who, with hands
crammed in his pockets and legs crossed, was leaning against the
mantel, waiting and ready for whatever might occur.

"John Livingstone!" she gasped in her surprise.

"That's my name," he returned, quietly enjoying her look of amazement.

"What do you mean?" she continued.

"Mean what I say," was his provoking answer.

"What have you been about?" was her next question, to which he
replied, "Your eyesight is not deficient--you can see for yourself."

Gaining no satisfaction from him, Mrs. Livingstone now turned upon
Mabel, abusing her until John Jr. sternly commanded her to desist,
bidding her "confine her remarks to himself, and let his wife alone,
as she was not in the least to blame."

"Your wife!" repeated Mrs. Livingstone--"very affectionate you've
grown, all at once.  Perhaps you've forgotten that you married her to
spite Nellie, who you then believed was the bride of Mr. Wilbur, but
you surely remember how you fainted when you accidentally learned
your mistake."

A cry from Mabel, who fell back, fainting, among the pillows,
prevented Mrs. Livingstone from any further remarks, and satisfied
with the result of her visit, she walked away, while John Jr.,
springing to the bedside, bore his young wife to the open window,
hoping the cool night air would revive her.  But she lay so pale and
motionless in his arms, her head resting so heavily upon his
shoulder, that with a terrible foreboding he laid her back upon the
bed, and rushing to the door, shouted loudly, "Help--somebody--come
quick--Mabel is dead, I know she is."

'Lena heard the cry and hastened to the rescue, starting back when
she saw the marble whiteness of Mabel's face.

"I didn't kill her, 'Lena.  God knows I didn't.  Poor little Meb,"
said John Jr., quailing beneath 'Lena's rebuking glance, and bending
anxiously over the slight form which looked so much like death.

But Mabel was not dead.  'Lena knew it by the faint fluttering of her
heart, and an application of the usual remedies sufficed, at last, to
restore her to consciousness.  With a long-drawn sigh her eyes
unclosed, and looking earnestly in 'Lena's face, she said, "Was it a
dream, 'Lena?  Tell me, was it all a dream?"--then, as she observed
her husband, she added, shudderingly, "No, no, not a dream.  I
remember it all now.  And I wish I was dead."

Again 'Lena's rebuking glance went over to John Jr., who, advancing
nearer to Mabel, gently laid his hand upon her white brow, saying,
softly, "Poor, poor Meb."

There was genuine pity in the tones of his voice, and while the hot
tears gushed forth, the sick girl murmured, "Forgive me, John, I
couldn't help it.  I didn't know it, and now, if you say so, I'll go
away, alone--where you'll never see me again."

She comprehended it all.  Her mother-in-law had rudely torn away the
veil, and she saw why she was there--knew why he had sought her for
his wife--understood all his coldness and neglect; but she had no
word of reproach for him, her husband, and from the depths of her
crushed heart she forgave him, commiserating him as the greater
sufferer.

"May be I shall die," she whispered, "and then----"

She did not finish the sentence, neither was it necessary, for John
Jr. understood what she meant, and with his conscience smiting him as
it did, he felt half inclined to declare, with his usual
impulsiveness, that it should never be; but the rash promise was not
made, and it was far better that it should not be.




CHAPTER XXVII.

THE SHADOW.

Mabel's nerves had received too great a shock to rally immediately, and
as day after day went by, she still kept her room, notwithstanding the
very pointed hints of her mother-in-law that "she was making believe
for the sake of sympathy."  Why didn't she get up and go out
doors--anybody would be sick to be flat on their back day in and day
out; or did she think she was spiting her by showing what muss she
could keep the "best chamber" in if she chose?

This last was undoubtedly the grand secret of Mrs. Livingstone's
dissatisfaction.  Foiled in her efforts to dislodge them, she would not
yield without an attempt at making Mabel, at least, as uncomfortable in
mind as possible.  Accordingly, almost every day when her son was not
present, she conveyed from the room some nice article of furniture,
substituting in its place one of inferior quality, which was quite good
enough, she thought, for a penniless bride.

"'Pears like ole miss goin' to make a clean finish of her dis time,"
said Aunt Milly, who watched her mistress' daily depredations.  "Ole
Sam done got title deed of her, sure enough.  Ki! won't she ketch it in
t'other world, when he done show her his cloven foot, and won't she
holler for old Milly to fotch her a drink of water? not particular
then--drink out of the bucket, gourd-shell, or anything; but dis
nigger'll 'sign her post in de parlor afore she'll go."

"Why, Milly," said 'Lena, who overheard this colloquy, "don't you know
it's wrong to indulge in such wicked thoughts?"

"Bless you, child," returned the old negress, "she 'sarves 'em all for
treatin' that poor, dear lamb so.  I'd 'nihilate her if I's Miss Mabel."

"No, no, Milly," said Aunt Polly, who was present.  "You must heap
coals of fire on her head."

"Yes, yes, that's it--she orto have 'em," quickly responded Milly,
thinking Polly's method of revenge the very best in the world, provided
the coals were "bilin' hot," and with this reflection she started
upstairs, with a bowl of nice, warm gruel she had been preparing for
the invalid.

Several times each day Grandma Nichols visited Mabel's room, always
prescribing some new tea of herbs, whose healing qualities were
wonderful, having effected cures in every member of Nancy Scovandyke's
family, that lady herself, as a matter of course, being first included.
And Aunt Milly, with the faithfulness characteristic of her race, would
seek out each new herb, uniting with it her own simple prayer that it
might have the desired effect.  But all in vain, for every day Mabel
became weaker, while her dark eyes grew larger and brighter, anon
lighting up with joy as she heard her husband's footsteps in the hall,
and again filling with tears as she glanced timidly into his face, and
thought of the dread reality.

"Maybe I shall die," was more than once murmured in her sleep, and John
Jr., as often as he heard those words, would press her burning hands,
and mentally reply, "Poor little Meb."

And all this time no one thought to call a physician, until Mr.
Livingstone himself at last suggested it.  At first he had felt no
interest whatever in his daughter-in-law, but with him force of habit
was everything, and when she no longer came among them, he missed
her--missed her languid steps upon the stairs and her childish voice in
the parlor.  At last it one day occurred to him to visit her.  She was
sleeping when he entered the room, but he could see there had been a
fearful change since last he looked upon her, and without a word
concerning his intentions, he walked to the kitchen, ordering one of
his servants to start forthwith for the physician, whose residence was
a few miles distant.

Mrs. Livingstone was in the front parlor when he returned, in company
with Doctor Gordon, and immediately her avaricious spirit asked who
would pay the bill, and why was he sent for.  Mabel did not need
him--she was only babyish and spleeny--and so she told the physician,
who, however, did not agree with her.  He did not say that Mabel would
die, but he thought so, for his experienced eye saw in her infallible
signs of the disease which had stricken down both her parents, and to
which, from her birth, she had been a prey.  Mabel guessed as much from
his manner, and when again he visited her, she asked him plainly what
he thought.

She was young--a bride--surrounded apparently by everything which could
make her happy, and the physician hesitated, answering her evasively,
until she said, "Do not fear to tell me truly, for I want to die.  Oh,
I long to die," she continued, passionately clasping her thin white
hands together.

"That is an unusual wish in one so young," answered the physician, "but
to be plain with you, Mrs. Livingstone, I think consumption too deeply
seated to admit of your recovery.  You may be better, but never well.
Your disease is hereditary, and has been coming on too long."

"It is well," was Mabel's only answer, as she turned wearily upon her
side and hid her face in the pillows.

For a long time she lay there, thinking, weeping, and thinking again,
of the noisome grave through which she must pass, and from which she
instinctively shrank, it was so dark, so cold, and dreary.  But Mabel
had trusted in One who she knew would go with her down into the lone
valley--whose arm she felt would uphold her as she crossed the dark,
rolling stream of death; and as if her frail bark were already safely
moored upon the shores of the eternal river, she looked back dreamily
upon the world she had left, and as she saw what she felt would surely
be, she again murmured through her tears, "It is well."

That night, when John Jr. came up to his room, he appeared somewhat
moody and cross, barely speaking to Mabel, and then walking up and down
the room with the heavy tread which always indicated a storm within.
He had that day been to Frankfort, hearing that Nellie was really
coming home very soon--very possibly she was now on her way.  Of course
she would visit Mabel, when she heard she was sick, and of course he
must meet her face to face, must stand with her at the bedside of _his
wife_ and that wife Mabel.  In his heart he did not accuse the latter
of feigning her illness, but he wished she would get well faster, so
that Nellie need not feel obliged to visit her.  She could at least
make an effort--a great deal depended upon that--and she had now been
confined to her room three or four weeks.

Thus he reflected as he walked, and at last his thoughts formed
themselves into words.  Stopping short at the foot of the bed, he said
abruptly and without looking her in the face, "How do you feel tonight?"

The stifled cough which Mabel tried to suppress because it was
offensive to him, brought a scowl to his forehead, and in imagination
he anticipated her answer, "I do not think I am any better."

"And I don't believe you try to be," sprang to his lips, but its
utterance was prevented by a glance at her face, which by the
flickering lamplight looked whiter than ever.

"Nellie is coming home in a few weeks," he said at length, with his
usual precipitancy.

'Twas the first time Mabel had heard that name since the night when her
mother-in-law had rang it in her ears, and now she started so quickly,
that the offending cough could not be forced back, and the coughing fit
which followed was so violent that John Jr., as he held the bowl to her
quivering lips, saw that what she had raised was streaked with blood.
But he was unused to sickness, and he gave it no farther thought,
resuming the conversation as soon as she became quiet.

"To be plain, Meb," said he, "I want you to hurry and get well before
Nellie comes--for if you are sick she'll feel in duty bound to visit
you, and I'd rather face a loaded cannon than her."

Mabel was too much exhausted to answer immediately, and she lay so long
with her eyes closed that John Jr., growing impatient, said, "Are you
asleep, Meb?"

"No, no," said she, at the same time requesting him to take the vacant
chair by her side, as she wished to talk with him.

John Jr. hated to be talked to, particularly by her, for he felt that
she had much cause to reproach him; but she did not, and as she
proceeded, his heart melted toward her in a manner which he had never
thought possible.  Very gently she spoke of her approaching end as sure.

"You ask me to make haste and be well," said she, "but it cannot be.  I
shall never go out into the bright sunshine again, never join you in
the parlor below, and before the cold winds of winter are blowing, I
shall be dead.  I hope I shall live until Nellie comes, for I must see
her, I must make it right between her and you.  I must tell her to
forgive you for marrying me when you loved only her; and she will
listen--she won't refuse me, and when I am gone you'll be happy
together."

John Jr. did not speak, but the little hand which nervously moved
toward him was met more than half-way, and thus strengthened, Mabel
continued: "You must sometimes think and speak of Mabel when she is
dead.  I do not ask you to call me wife.  I do not wish it, but you
must forget how wretched I have made you, for oh, I did not mean it,
and had I sooner known what I do now, I would have died ere I had
caused you one pang of sorrow."

Afterward, when it was too late, John Jr. would have given worlds to
recall that moment, that he might tell the broken-hearted girl how
bitterly he, too, repented of all the wrong he had done her; but he did
not say so then--he could only listen, while he mentally resolved that
if Mabel were indeed about to die, he would make the remainder of her
short life happy, and thus atone, as far as possible, for the past.
But alas for John Jr., his resolutions were easily broken, and as days
and weeks went by, and there was no perceptible change in her, he grew
weary of well-doing, absenting himself whole days from the sick-room,
and at night rather unwillingly resuming his post as watcher, for Mabel
would have no one else.

Since Mabel's illness he had occupied the little room adjoining hers,
and often when in the still night he lay awake, watching the shadow
which the lamp cast upon the wall, and thinking of her for whom the
light was constantly kept burning, his conscience would smite him
terribly, and rising up, he would steal softly to her bedside to see if
she were sleeping quietly.  But anon he grew weary of this, too; the
shadow on the wall troubled him, it kept him awake; it was a continual
reproach, and he must be rid of it, somehow.  He tried the experiment
of closing his door, but Mabel knew the moment he attempted it, and he
could not refuse her when she asked him to leave it open.

John Jr. grew restless, fidgety, and nervous.  Why need the lamp be
kept burning?  He could light it when necessary; or why need he sleep
there, when some one else would do as well?  He thought of 'Lena--she
was just the one, and the next day he would speak to her.  To his great
joy she consented to relieve him awhile, provided Mabel were willing;
but she was not, and John Jr. was forced to submit.  He was not
accustomed to restraint, and every night matters grew worse and worse.
The shadow annoyed him exceedingly.  If he slept, he dreamed that it
kept a glimmering watch over him, and when he awoke, he, in turn,
watched over that, until the misty day-light came to dissipate the
phantom.

About this time several families from Frankfort started for New
Orleans, where they were wont to spend the winter, and irresistibly,
John Jr. became possessed of a desire to visit that city, too.  Mabel
would undoubtedly live until spring, now that the trying part of autumn
was past and there could be no harm in his leaving her for awhile, when
he so much needed rest.  Accordingly, 'Lena was one day surprised by
his announcing his intended trip.

"But you cannot be in earnest," she said; "you surely will not leave
Mabel now."

"And why not?" he asked.  "She doesn't grow any worse, and won't until
spring, and this close confinement is absolutely killing me!  Why, I've
lost six pounds in six months, and you'll see to her, I know you will.
You're a good girl, and I like you, if I did get angry with you, weeks
ago when I went a hunting."

'Lena knew he ought not to go, and she tried hard to convince him of
the fact, telling him how much pleasure she had felt in observing his
improved manner toward Mabel, and that he must not spoil it now.

"It's no use talking," said he, "I'm bent on going somewhere.  I've
tried to be good, I know, but the fact is, I can't stay _put_.  It
isn't my nature.  I shan't tell Meb till just before I start, for I
hate scenes."

"And suppose she dies while you are gone?" asked 'Lena.

John was beginning to grow impatient, for he knew he was wrong, and
rather tartly he answered, as he left the room, "Give her a decent
burial, and present the bill to mother!"

"The next morning, as 'Lena sat alone with Mabel, John Jr. entered,
dressed and ready for his journey.  But he found it harder telling his
wife than he had anticipated.  She looked unusually pale this morning.
The sallowness of her complexion was all gone, and on either cheek
there burned a round, bright spot.  'Lena had just been arranging her
thick, glossy hair, and now, wholly exhausted, she reclined upon her
pillows, while her large black eyes, unnaturally bright, sparkled with
joy at the sight of her husband.  But they quickly filled with tears
when told that he was going away, and had come to say good-bye.

"It's only to New Orleans and back," he said, as he saw her changing
face.  "I shan't be gone long, and 'Lena will take care of you a heap
better than I can."

"It isn't that," answered Mabel, wiping her tears away.  "Don't go,
John.  Wait a little while.  I'm sure it won't be long."

"You are nervous," said he, playfully lapping her white cheek.  "You're
not going to die.  You'll live to be grandmother yet, who knows?  But I
must be off or lose the train.  Good bye, little Meb," grasping her
hand, "Good-bye, 'Lena.  I'll bring you both something nice--good-bye."

When she saw that he was going, Mabel asked him to come back to her
bedside just for one moment.  He could not refuse, and winding her
long, emaciated arms around his neck, she whispered, "Kiss me once
before you go.  I shall never ask it again, and 'twill make me happier
when you are gone."

"A dozen times, if you like," said he, giving her the only husband's
kiss she had ever received.

For a moment longer she detained him, while she prayed silently for
heaven's blessing on his wayward head, and then releasing him, she bade
him go.  Had he known of all that was to follow, he would not have left
her, but he believed as he said, that she would survive the winter, and
with one more kiss upon her brow, where the perspiration was standing
thickly, he departed.  The window of Mabel's room commanded a view of
the turnpike, and when the sound of horses' feet was heard on the lawn,
she requested 'Lena to lead her to the window, where she stood watching
him until a turn in the road hid him from her sight.

"'Tis the last time," said she, "and he will never know how much this
parting cost me."

That night, as they were alone in the gathering twilight, Mabel said,
"If I die before Nellie comes I want you to tell her how it all
happened, and that she must forgive him, for he was not to blame."

"I do not understand you," said 'Lena, and then, in broken sentences,
Mabel told what her mother-in-law had said, and how terribly John was
deceived.  "Of course he couldn't love me after that," said she, "and
it's right that I should die.  He and Nellie were made for each other,
and if the inhabitants of heaven are allowed to watch over those they
loved on earth, I will ask to be always near them.  You will tell her,
won't you?"

'Lena promised, adding that she thought Mabel would see Nellie herself
as she was to sail from Liverpool the 20th, and a few days proved her
conjecture correct.  Entering Mabel's room one morning about a week
after John's departure, she brought the glad news that Nellie had
returned, and would be with them to-morrow.

The next day Nellie came, but she, too, was changed.  The roundness of
her form and face was gone; the rose had faded from her cheek, and her
footsteps were no longer light and bounding as of old.  She knew of
John Jr.'s absence or she would not have come, for she could not meet
him face to face.  She had heard, too, of his treatment of Mabel, and
while she felt indignant toward him, she freely forgave his innocent
wife, who she felt had been more sinned against than sinning.

With a faint cry Mabel started from her pillow, and burying her face on
Nellie's neck, wept like a child.  "You do not hate me," she said at
last, "or you would not have come so soon."

"Hate you?--no," answered Nellie.  "I have no cause for hating _you_."

"And you will stay with me until I die--until he comes home--and
forgive him, too," Mabel continued.

"I can promise the first, but the latter is harder," said Nellie, her
cheeks burning with anger as she gazed on the wreck before her.

"But you must, you will," exclaimed Mabel, rapidly telling all she
knew; then falling back upon the pillow, she added, "You'll forgive him
Nellie?"

As time passed on, Mabel grew weaker and weaker, clinging closer to
Nellie as she felt the dark shadow of death creeping gradually over her.

"If he'd only come," she would say, "and I could place your hand in his
before I died."

But it was not to be.  Day after day John Jr. lingered, dreading to
return, for he knew Nellie was there, and he could not meet her, he
thought, at the bedside of Mabel.  So he tarried until a letter from
'Lena, which said that Mabel would die, decided him, and rather
reluctantly he started homeward.  Meantime Mabel, who knew nothing of
her loss, conceived the generous idea of willing all her possessions to
her recreant husband.

"Perhaps he'll think more kindly of me," said she to his father, to
whom she first communicated her plan, and Mr. Livingstone felt that he
could not undeceive her.

Accordingly, a lawyer was summoned from Frankfort, and the will duly
drawn up, signed, sealed, and delivered into the hands of Mr.
Livingstone, whose wife, with a mocking laugh, bade him "guard it
carefully, it was so valuable."

"It shows her goodness of heart, at least," said he, and possibly Mrs.
Livingstone thought so, too, for from that time her manner softened
greatly toward her daughter-in-law.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

It was midnight at Maple grove.  On the table, in its accustomed place,
the lamp was burning dimly, casting the shadow upon the wall, whilst
over the whole room a darker shadow was brooding.  The window was open,
and the cool night air came softly in, lifting the masses of raven hair
from off the pale brow of the dying.  Tenderly above her Nellie and
'Lena were bending.  They had watched by her many a night, and now she
asked them not to leave her, not to disturb a single one--she would
rather die alone.

The sound of horses' hoofs rang out on the still air, but she did not
heed it.  Nearer and nearer it came, over the lawn, up the graveled
walk, through the yard, and Nellie's face blanched to an unnatural
whiteness as she thought who that midnight-rider was.  Arrived in
Frankfort only an hour before, he had hastened forward, impelled by a
something he could not resist.  From afar he had caught the glimmering
light, and he felt he was not too late.  He knew how to enter the
house, and on through the wide hall and up the broad staircase he came,
until he stood in the chamber, where before him another guest had
entered, whose name was Death!

Face to face he stood with Nellie Douglass, and between them lay _his_
wife--_her_ rival--the white hands folded meekly upon her bosom, and
the pale lips just as they had breathed a prayer for him.

"Mabel!  She is dead!" was all he uttered, and falling upon his knees,
he buried his face in the pillow, while half scornfully, half
pityingly, Nellie gazed upon him.

There was much of bitterness in her heart toward him, not for the wrong
he had done her, but for the sake of the young girl, now passed forever
away.  'Lena felt differently.  His silent grief conquered all
resentment, and going to his side, she told him how peacefully Mabel
had died--how to the last she had loved and remembered him, praying
that he might be happy when she was gone,

"Poor little Meb, she deserved a better fate," was all he said, as he
continued his kneeling posture, until the family and servants, whom
Nellie had summoned, came crowding round, the cries of the latter
grating on the ear, and seeming sadly out of place for her whose short
life had been so dreary, and who had welcomed death as a release from
all her pain.

It was Mrs. Livingstone's wish that Mabel should be arrayed in her
bridal robes, but with a shudder at the idle mockery, John Jr.
answered, "No," and in a plain white muslin, her shining hair arrayed
as she was wont to wear it, they placed her in her coffin, and on a
sunny slope where the golden sunlight and the pale moonbeams latest
fell, and where in spring the bright green grass and the sweet wild
flowers are earliest seen, laid her down to steep.

That night, when all around was still, John Jr.  lay musing sadly of
the past.  His affection for Mabel had been slight and variable, but
now that she was gone, he missed her.  The large easy-chair, with its
cushions and pillows, was empty, and as he thought of the pale, dark
face and aching head he had so often seen reclining there, and which he
would never see again, he groaned in bitterness of spirit, for well he
knew that he had helped to break the heart now lying cold and still
beneath the coffin-lid.  There was no shadow on the wall, for the lamp
had gone out with the young life for whom it had been kept burning, but
many a shadow lay dark and heavy across his heart.

With the sun-setting a driving rain had come on, and as the November
wind went howling past the window, and the large drops beat against the
casement, he thought of the lonesome little grave on which that rain
was falling; and shuddering, he hid his face in the pillows, asking to
be forgiven, for he knew that all too soon that grave was made, and he
had helped to make it.  At last, long after the clock had told the hour
of midnight, he arose, and lighting the lamp which many a weary night
had burned for _her_, he placed it where the shadow would fall upon the
wall as it had done of old.  It was no longer a phantom to annoy him,
and soothed by its presence, he fell asleep, dreaming that Mabel had
come back to bring him her forgiveness, but when he essayed to touch
her, she vanished from his sight, and there was nothing left save that
shadow on the wall.




CHAPTER XXVIII.

MRS. GRAHAM'S RETURN.

Mr. and Mrs. Graham had returned to Woodlawn, the former remaining
but a day and night, and then, without once seeing 'Lena, departing
for Europe, where business, either fancied or real, called him.
Often, when lying weary and sick in Havana, had he resolved on
revealing to his wife the secret which he felt was wearing his life
away, but the cowardice of his nature seemed increased by physical
weakness, and from time to time was the disclosure postponed, while
the chain of evidence was fearfully lengthening around poor 'Lena, to
whom Mrs. Graham had transferred the entire weight of her displeasure.

Loving her husband as well as such as she could love, she was ever
ready to forgive when she saw any indications of reform on his part,
and as during all their journey he had never once given her cause for
offense, she began to attribute his former delinquencies wholly to
'Lena; and when he proposed a tour to Europe she readily sanctioned
it, hoping that time and absence would remove from his mind all
thoughts of the beautiful girl, who she thought was her rival.
Still, though she would not confess it, in her heart she did not
believe 'Lena guilty except so far as a desire to attract Mr.
Graham's attention would make her so.

For this belief she had a good and potent reason.  The daguerreotype
which had caused so much trouble was still in her possession, guarded
carefully from her husband, who never suspecting the truth, supposed
he had lost it.  Frequently had Mrs. Graham examined the picture,
each time discovering some point of difference between it and its
supposed original.  Still she never for a moment doubted that it was
'Lena, until an event occurred which convinced her of the contrary,
leaving her, meantime, more mystified than ever.

On their way home from Havana, Mr. Graham had proposed stopping a day
in Cincinnati, taking rooms at the Burnet House, where the first
individual whom they saw at the table was our old acquaintance, Joel
Slocum.  Not finding his business as profitable in Lexington as he
could wish, he had recently removed to Cincinnati.  Here his aspiring
mind had prompted him to board at the Burnet House, until he'd seen
the "Ohio elephant," when he intended retiring to one of the cheaper
boarding-houses.  The moment he saw Mr. Graham, a grin of recognition
became visible on his face, bringing to view a row of very long and
very yellow teeth, apparently unacquainted with the use of either
water or brush.

"Who is that loafer who seems to know you?" asked Mrs. Graham,
directing her husband's attention toward Joel.

Mr. Graham replied that "he had once seen him in Lexington, and that
he took daguerreotypes."

The moment dinner was over, Joel came forward, going through with one
of his wonderful bows, and exclaiming, with his peculiar nasal twang,
"Now you don't say this is you.  And this is your old woman, I
s'pose.  Miss Graham, how-dy-du?  Darned if you don't look like Aunt
Nancy, only she's lean and you are squatty.  S'posin' you give me a
call and get your picters taken.  I didn't get an all-killin' sight
of practice in Lexington, for the plaguy greenhorns didn't know
enough to patternize me, and 'taint a tarnation sight better here;
but you," turning to Mr. Graham, "employed me once, and pretended to
be suited."

Mr. Graham turned scarlet, and saying something in an undertone to
Joel, gave his wife his arm, leading her to their room, where he made
an excuse for leaving her awhile.  Looking from the window a moment
after, Mrs. Graham saw him walking down the street in close
conversation with Joel, who, by the way of showing his importance,
lifted his white beaver to almost every man he met.  Instantly her
curiosity was roused, and when her husband returned, every motion of
his was narrowly watched, the espionage resulting in the conviction
that there was something in his possession which he did not wish her
to see.  Once, when she came unexpectedly upon him, he hastily thrust
something into his pocket, appearing so much confused that she
resolved to ferret out the secret.

Accordingly, that night, when assured by his heavy breathing that he
was asleep, she crept softly from his side, and rummaging his
pockets, found a daguerreotype, which by the full moonlight she saw
was a _fac-simile_ of the one she had in her possession.  The
arrangement of the hair--everything--was the same, and utterly
confounded, she stood gazing first at one and then at the other,
wondering what it meant.  Could 'Lena be in the city?  She thought
not, and even if she were, the last daguerreotype was not so much
like her, she fancied, as the first.  At all events, she did not dare
secrete it as she had done its companion, and stealthily returning it
to its place, she crept back to bed.

The next night they reached Woodlawn, where they learned that Mabel
was buried that day.  Of course 'Lena could not have been absent from
home.  Mrs. Graham felt convinced of that, and gradually the
conviction came upon her that another than 'Lena was the original of
the daguerreotypes.  And yet she was not generous enough to tell
Durward so.  She knew he was deceived--she wished him to remain
so--and to effect it, she refrained from seeking an explanation from
her husband, fearing lest 'Lena should be proved innocent.  Her
husband knew there was a misunderstanding between Durward and 'Lena,
and if she were to ask him about the pictures, he would, she thought,
at once suspect the cause of that misunderstanding, and as a matter
of course, exonerate 'Lena from all blame.  The consequence of this
she foresaw, and therefore she resolved upon keeping her own counsel,
satisfied if in the end she prevented Durward from making 'Lena his
wife.

To effect this, she endeavored, during the winter, to keep the matter
almost constantly before Durward's mind, frequently referring to
'Lena's agitation when she first learned that Mr. Graham had started
for Europe.  She had called with her son at Maple Grove on the very
day of her husband's departure.  'Lena had not met the lady before,
since that night in Frankfort, and now, with the utmost hauteur, she
returned her nod, and then, too proud to leave the room, resumed her
seat near the window directly opposite the divan on which Durward was
seated with Carrie.

She did not know before of Mrs. Graham's return, and when her aunt
casually asked, "Did your husband come back with you?" she
involuntarily held her breath for the answer, which, when it came,
sent the blood in torrents to her face and neck, while her eyes
sparkled with joy.   She should see him--he would explain
everything--and she should be guiltless in Durward's sight.  This was
the cause of her joy, which was quickly turned into sorrow by Mrs.
Graham's adding,

"But he started this morning for Europe, where he will remain three
months, and perhaps longer, just according to his business."

The bright flush died away, and was succeeded by paleness, which did
not escape the observation or either mother or son, the latter of
whom had watched her from the first, noting each change, and
interpreting it according to his fears.

"'Lena, 'Lena, how have I been deceived!" was his mental cry as she
precipitately left the room, saying to her aunt, who asked what was
the matter, that she was faint and dizzy.  Death had been but
yesterday within their walls, and as if softened by its presence,
Mrs. Livingstone actually spoke kindly of her niece, saying, that
"constant watching with poor, dear Mabel had impaired her health."

"Perhaps there are other causes which may affect her," returned Mrs.
Graham, with a meaning look, which, though lost on Mrs. Livingstone,
was noticed by Durward, who soon proposed leaving.

On their way home, his mother asked if he observed 'Lena when Mr.
Graham was mentioned.

Without saying that he did, Durward replied, "I noticed your remark
to Mrs. Livingstone, and was sorry for it, for I do not wish you to
say a word which will throw the least shade of suspicion upon 'Lena.
Her reputation as yet is good, and you must not be the first to say
aught against it."

"I won't, I won't," answered Mrs. Graham, anxious to conciliate her
son, but she found it a harder matter to refrain than she had first
supposed.

'Lena was to her a constant eye-sore, and nothing but the presence of
Durward prevented her from occasionally giving vent in public to
expressions which would have operated unfavorably against the young
girl, and when at last circumstances occurred which gave her, as she
thought, liberty to free her mind, she was only too willing to do so.
Of those circumstances, in which others besides 'Lena were concerned,
we will speak in another chapter.




CHAPTER XXIX.

ANNA AND CAPTAIN ATHERTON.

Malcolm Everett's engagement with General Fontaine had expired, and
as was his original intention, he started for New York, first seeking
an interview with Mr. and Mrs. Livingstone, of whom he asked their
daughter Anna in marriage, at the same time announcing the startling
fact that they had been engaged for more than a year.  "I do not ask
you for her now," said he, "for I am not in a situation to support
her as I would wish to, but that time will come ere long, I trust,
and I can assure you that her happiness shall be the first object of
my life."

There was no cringing on the part of Malcolm Everett.  He was unused
to that, and as an equal meets an equal, he met them, made known his
request, and then in silence awaited their answer.  Had Mrs.
Livingstone been less indignant, there would undoubtedly have ensued
a clamorous call for hartshorn and vinaigrette, but as it was, she
started up, and confronting the young man, she exclaimed, "How dare
you ask such a thing?  _My_ daughter marry _you_!"

"And why not, madam?" he answered, coolly, while Mrs. Livingstone
continued: "_You_, a low-born Yankee, who have been, as it were, an
hireling.  _You_ presume to ask for _my_ daughter!"

"I do," he answered calmly, with a quiet smile, ten-fold more
tantalizing than harsh words would have been, "I do.  Can I have her
with your consent?"

"Never, so long as I live.  I'd sooner see her dead than wedded to
vulgar poverty."

"That is your answer.  Very well," said Malcolm, bowing stiffly.
"And now I will hear yours," turning to Mr. Livingstone, who replied,
that "he would leave the matter entirely with his wife--it was
nothing to him--he had nothing personal against Mr. Everett--he
rather liked him than otherwise, but he hardly thought Anna suited to
him, she had been brought up so differently;" and thus evasively
answering, he walked away.

"Cowardly fool!" muttered Mrs. Livingstone, as the door closed upon
him.  "If I pretended to be a man, I'd be one;" then turning to
Malcolm, she said, "Is there anything further you wish to say?"

"Nothing," he replied.  "I have honorably asked you for your
daughter.  You have refused her, and must abide the consequence."

"And pray what may that be?" she asked, and he answered: "She will
soon be of an age to act for herself, and though I would far rather
take her with your consent, I shall not then hesitate to take her
without, if you still persist in opposing her."

"There is the door," said Mrs. Livingstone rising.

"I see it, madam," answered Malcolm, without deigning to move.

"Oblige me by passing out," continued Mrs. Livingstone.  "Insolent
creature, to stand here threatening to elope with my daughter, who
has been destined for another since her infancy."

"But she shall never become the bride of that old man," answered
Malcolm.  "I know your schemes.  I've seen them all along, and I will
frustrate them, too."

"You cannot," fiercely answered Mrs. Livingstone.  "It shall be ere
another year comes round, and when you hear that it is so, know that
you hastened it forward;" and the indignant lady, finding that her
opponent was not inclined to move, left the room herself, going in
quest of Anna, whom she determined to watch for fear of what might
happen.

But Anna was nowhere to be found, and in a paroxysm of rage she
alarmed the household, instituting a strict search, which resulted in
the discovery of Anna beneath the same sycamore where Malcolm had
first breathed his vows, and whither she had repaired to await the
decision of her parents.

"I expected as much," said she, when told of the result, "but it
matters not.  I am yours, and I'll never marry another."

The approach of the servants prevented any further conversation, and
with a hurried adieu they parted.  A few days afterward, as Mrs.
Livingstone, sat in her large easy-chair before the glowing grate,
Captain Atherton was announced, and shown at once into her room.  To
do Mrs. Livingstone justice, we must say that she had long debated
the propriety of giving Anna, in all the freshness of her girlhood,
to a man old as her father, but any hesitancy she had heretofore
felt, had now vanished.  The crisis had come, and when the captain,
as he had two or three times before done, broached the subject,
urging her to a decision, she replied that she was willing, provided
Anna's consent could be gained.

"Pho! that's easy enough," said the captain, complacently rubbing
together his fat hands and smoothing his colored whiskers--"Bring her
in here, and I'll coax her in five minutes."

Anna was sitting with her grandmother and 'Lena, when word came that
her mother wished to see her, the servant adding, with a titter, that
"Mas'r Atherton thar too."

Instinctively she knew why she was sent for, and turning white as
marble, she begged her cousin to go with her.  But 'Lena refused,
soothing the agitated girl, and begging her to be calm.  "You've only
to be decided," said she, "and it will soon be over.  Captain
Atherton, I am sure, will not insist when he sees how repugnant to
your feelings it is."

But Anna knew her own weakness--she could never say, in her mother's
presence, what she felt--and trembling like an aspen, she descended
the stairs, meeting in the lower hall her brother, who asked what was
the matter.

"Oh, John, John," she cried, "Captain Atherton is in there with
mother, and they have sent for me.  What shall I do?"

"Be a woman," answered John Jr.  "Tell him _no_ in good broad
English, and if the old fellow insists, I'll blow his brains out!"

But the Captain did not insist.  He was too cunning for that, and
when, with a burst of tears, Anna told him she could not be his wife
because she loved another, he said, good-humoredly, "Well, well,
never mind spoiling those pretty blue eyes.  I'm not such an old
savage as you think me.  So we'll compromise the matter this way.  If
you really love Malcolm, why, marry him, and on your bridal day I'll
make you a present of a nice little place I have in Frankfort; but
if, on the other hand, Malcolm proves untrue, you must promise to
have me.  Come, that's a fair bargain.  What do you say?"

"Malcolm will never prove untrue," answered Anna.

"Of course not," returned the captain.  "So you are safe in
promising.'

"But what good will it do you?" queried Anna.

"No good, in particular," said the captain.  "It's only a whim of
mine, to which I thought you might perhaps agree, in consideration of
my offer."

"I do--I will," said Anna, thinking the captain not so bad after all.

"There's mischief somewhere, and I advise you to watch," said John
Jr., when he learned from Anna the result of the interview.

But week after week glided by.  Mrs. Livingstone's persecutions
ceased, and she sometimes herself handed to Anna Malcolm's letters,
which came regularly, and when about the first of March Captain
Atherton himself went off to Washington, Anna gave her fears to the
wind, and all the day long went singing about the house, unmindful of
the snare laid for her unsuspecting footsteps.  At length Malcolm's
letters suddenly ceased, and though Anna wrote again and again, there
came no answer.  Old Caesar, who always carried and brought the mail
for Maple Grove, was questioned, but he declared he "done got none
from Mas'r Everett," and suspicion in that quarter was lulled.
Unfortunately for Anna, both her father and John Jr. were now away,
and she had no counselor save 'Lena, who once, on her own
responsibility, wrote to Malcolm, but with a like success, and Anna's
heart grew weary with hope deferred.  Smilingly Mrs. Livingstone
looked on, one moment laughing at Anna for what she termed
love-sickness, and the next advising her to be a woman, and marry
Captain Atherton.  "He was not very old--only forty-three--and it was
better to be an old man's darling than a young man's slave!"

Thus the days wore on, until one evening just as the family were
sitting down to tea they were surprised by a call from the captain,
who had returned that afternoon, and who, with the freedom of an old
friend, unceremoniously entered the supper-room, appropriating to
himself the extra plate which Mrs. Livingstone always had upon the
table.  Simultaneously with him came Caesar, who having been to the
post-office, had just returned, bringing, besides other things, a
paper for Carrie, from her old admirer, Tom Lakin, who lived in
Rockford, at which place the paper was printed.  Several times had
Tom remembered Carrie in this way, and now carelessly glancing at the
first page, she threw it upon the floor, whence it was taken by Anna,
who examined it more minutely glancing, as a matter of course, to the
marriage notices.

Meantime the captain, who was sitting by 'Lena, casually remarked,
"Oh, I forgot to tell you that I saw Mr. Everett in Washington."

"Mr. Everett--Malcolm Everett?" said 'Lena, quickly.

"Yes, Malcolm Everett," answered the captain.

"He is there spending the honeymoon with his bride!"

'Lena's exclamation of astonishment was prevented by a shriek from
Anna, who had that moment read the announcement of Mr. Everett's
marriage, which was the first in the list.  It was Malcolm H.
Everett--there could be no mistake--and when 'Lena reached her
cousin's side, she found that she had fainted.  All was now in
confusion, in the midst of which the Captain took his leave, having
first managed to speak a few words in private with Mrs. Livingstone.

"Fortune favors us," was her reply, as she went back to her daughter,
whose long, death-like swoon almost wrung from her the secret.

But Anna revived, and with the first indication of returning
consciousness, the cold, hard woman stifled all her better feelings,
and then tried to think she was acting only for the good of her
child.  For a long time Anna appeared to be in a kind of benumbed
torpor, requesting to be left alone, and shuddering if Mr. Everett's
name were mentioned in her presence.  It was in vain that 'Lena
strove to comfort her, telling her there might be some mistake.  Anna
refused to listen, angrily bidding 'Lena desist, and saying
frequently that she cared but little what became of herself now.  A
species of recklessness seemed to have taken possession of her, and
when her mother one day carelessly remarked that possibly Captain
Atherton would claim the fulfillment of her promise, she answered, in
the cold, indifferent tone which now marked her manner of speaking,
"Let him.  I am ready and willing for the sacrifice."

"Are you in earnest?" asked Mrs. Livingstone, eagerly.

"In earnest?  Yes--try me and see," was Anna's brief answer, which
somewhat puzzled her mother, who would in reality have preferred
opposition to this unnatural passiveness.

But anything to gain her purpose, she thought, and drawing Anna
closely to her side, she very gently and affectionately told her how
happy it would make her could she see her the wife of Captain
Atherton, who had loved and waited for her so long, and who would
leave no wish, however slight, ungratified.  And Anna, with no shadow
of emotion on her calm, white face, consented to all that her mother
asked, and when next the captain came, she laid her feverish hand in
his, and with a strange, wild light beaming from her dark blue eyes,
promised to share his fortunes as his wife.

"'Twill be winter and spring," said she, with a bitter, mocking
laugh, "'Twill be winter and spring, but it matters not."

Many years before, when a boy of eighteen, Captain Atherton had
loved, or fancied he loved, a young girl, whose very name afterward
became hateful to him, and now, as he thought of Anna's affection for
Malcolm, he likened it to his own boyish fancy, believing she would
soon get over it, and thank him for what he had done.

That night Anna saw the moon and stars go down, bending far out from
her window, that the damp air might cool her burning brow, and when
the morning sun came up the eastern horizon, its first beams fell on
the golden curls which streamed across the window-sill, her only
pillow the livelong night.  On 'Lena's mind a terrible conviction was
fastening itself--Anna was crazed.  She saw it in the wildness of her
eye, in the tones of her voice, and more than all, in the readiness
with which she yielded herself to her mother's schemes, "But it shall
not be," she thought, "I will save her," and then she knelt before
her aunt, imploring her to spare her daughter--not to sacrifice her
on the altar of mammon.

But Mrs. Livingstone turned angrily away, telling her to mind her own
affairs.  Then 'Lena sought her cousin, and winding her arms around
her neck, besought of her to resist--to burst the chain which bound
her, and be free.  But with a shake other head, Anna bade her go
away.  "Leave me, 'Lena Rivers," she said, "leave me to work out my
destiny.  It is decreed that I shall be his wife, and I may not
struggle against it.  Each night I read it in the stars, and the
wind, as it sighs through the maple trees, whispers it to my ear."

"Oh, if my aunt could see her now," thought 'Lena but as if her
mother's presence had a paralyzing power, Anna, when with her, was
quiet, gentle, and silent, and if Mrs. Livingstone sometimes missed
her merry laugh and playful ways, she thought the air of dignity
which seemed to have taken their place quite an improvement, and far
more in keeping with the bride-elect of Captain Atherton.

About this time Mr. Livingstone returned, appearing greatly surprised
at the phase which affairs had assumed in his absence, but when 'Lena
whispered to him her fears, he smilingly answered, "I reckon you're
mistaken.   Her mother would have found it out--where is she?"

In her chamber at the old place by the open window they found her,
and though she did not as usual spring eagerly forward to meet her
father, her greeting was wholly natural; but when Mr. Livingstone,
taking her upon his knee, said gently, "They tell me you are to be
married soon," the wildness came back to her eye, and 'Lena wondered
he could not see it.  But he did not, and smoothing her disordered
tresses, he said, "Tell me, my daughter, does this marriage please
you?  Do you enter into it willingly?"

For a moment there was a wavering, and 'Lena held her breath to catch
the answer, which came at last, while the eyes shone brighter than
ever--"Willing?  yes, or I should not do it; no one compels me, else
I would resist."

"Woman's nature," said Mr. Livingstone, laughingly, while 'Lena
turned away to hide her tears.

Day after day preparations went on, for Mrs. Livingstone would have
the ceremony a grand and imposing one.  In the neighborhood, the fast
approaching event was discussed, some pronouncing it a most fortunate
thing for Anna, who could not, of course, expect to make so eligible
a match as her more brilliant sister, while others--the sensible
portion--wondered, pitied, and blamed, attributing the whole to the
ambitious mother, whose agency in her son's marriage was now
generally known.  At Maple Grove closets, chairs, tables, and sofas
were loaded down with finery, and like an automaton, Anna stood up
while they fitted to her the rich white satin, scarcely whiter than
her own face, and Mrs. Livingstone, when she saw her daughter's
indifference, would pinch her bloodless cheeks, wondering how she
could care so little for her good fortune.

Unnatural mother!--from the little grave on the sunny slope, now
grass-grown and green, came there no warning voice to stay her in her
purpose?  No; she scarcely thought of Mabel now, and with unflinching
determination she kept on her way.

But there was one who, night and day, pondered in her mind the best
way of saving Anna from the living death to which she would surely
awake, when it was too late.  At last she resolved on going herself
to Captain Atherton, telling him just how it was, and if there was a
spark of generosity in his nature, she thought he would release her
cousin.  But this plan required much caution, for she would not have
her uncle's family know of it, and if she failed, she preferred that
it should be kept a secret from the world.  There was then no
alternative but to go in the night, and alone.  She did not now often
sit with the family, and she knew they would not miss her.  So, one
evening when they were as usual assembled in the parlor, she stole
softly from the house, and managing to pass the negro quarters
unobserved, she went down to the lower stable, where she saddled the
pony she was now accustomed to ride, and leading him by a circuitous
path out upon the turnpike, mounted and rode away.

The night was moonless, and the starlight obscured by heavy clouds,
but the pale face and golden curls of Anna, for whose sake she was
there alone, gleamed on her in the darkness, and 'Lena was not
afraid.  Once--twice--she thought she caught the sound of another
horse's hoofs, but when she stopped to listen, all was still, and
again she pressed forward, while her pursuer (for 'Lena was followed)
kept at a greater distance.  Durward had been to Frankfort, and on
his way home had stopped at Maple Grove to deliver a package.
Stopping only a moment, he reached the turnpike just after 'Lena
struck into it.  Thinking it was a servant, he was about to pass her,
when her horse sheered at something on the road-side, and
involuntarily she exclaimed, "Courage, Dido, there's nothing to fear."

Instantly he recognized her voice, and was about to overtake and
speak to her, but thinking that her mission was a secret one, or she
would not be there alone, he desisted.  Still he could not leave her
thus.  Her safety might be endangered, and reining in his steed, and
accommodating his pace to hers, he followed without her knowledge.
On she went until she reached the avenue leading to "Sunnyside," as
Captain Atherton termed his residence, and there she stopped, going
on foot to the house, while, hidden by the deep darkness Durward
waited and watched.

Half timidly 'Lena rang the door-bell, dropping her veil over her
face that she might not be recognized.  "I want to see your master,"
she said to the woman who answered her ring, and who in some
astonishment replied, "Bless you, miss, Mas'r Atherton done gone to
Lexington and won't be home till to-morry."

"Gone!" repeated 'Lena in a disappointed tone.  "Oh, I'm so sorry."

"Is you the new miss what's comin' here to live?" asked the negro,
who was Captain Atherton's house keeper.

Instantly the awkwardness of her position flashed upon 'Lena, but
resolving to put a bold face on the matter, she removed her veil,
saying, playfully, "You know me now, Aunt Martha."

"In course I do," answered the negro, holding up both hands in
amazement, "but what sent you here this dark, unairthly night?"

"Business with your master," and then suddenly remembering that among
her own race Aunt Martha was accounted an intolerable gossip, she
began to wish she had not come.

But it could not now be helped, and turning away, she walked slowly
down the avenue, wondering what the result would be.  Again they were
in motion, she and Durward, who followed until he saw her safe home,
and then, glad that no one had seen her but himself, he retraced his
steps, pondering on the mystery which he could not fathom.  After
'Lena left Sunnyside, a misty rain came on, and by the time she
reached her home, her long riding-dress was wet and drizzled, the
feathers on her cap were drooping, and to crown all, as she was
crossing the hall with stealthy step, she came suddenly upon her
aunt, who, surprised at her appearance, demanded of her where she had
been.  But 'Lena refused to tell, and in quite a passion Mrs.
Livingstone laid the case before her husband.

"Lena had been off that dark, rainy night, riding somewhere with
somebody, she wouldn't tell who, but she (Mrs. Livingstone) most knew
if was Durward, and something must be done."

Accordingly, next day; when they chanced to be alone, Mr. Livingstone
took the opportunity of questioning 'Lena, who dared not disobey him,
and with many tears she confessed the whole, saying that "if it were
wrong she was very sorry."

"You acted foolishly, to say the least of it," answered her uncle,
adding, dryly, that he thought she troubled herself altogether too
much about Anna, who seemed happy and contented.

Still he was ill at ease.  'Lena's fears disturbed him, and for many
days he watched his daughter narrowly, admitting to himself that
there was something strange about her.  But possibly all engaged
girls acted so; his wife said they did; and hating anything like a
scene, he concluded to let matters take their course, half hoping,
and half believing, too, that something would occur to prevent the
marriage.  What it would be, or by what agency it would be brought
about, he didn't know, but he resolved to let 'Lena alone, and when
his wife insisted upon his "lecturing her soundly for meddling," he
refused, venturing even to say, that, "she hadn't meddled."

Meantime a new idea had entered 'Lena's mind.  She would write to Mr.
Everett.  There might yet be some mistake; she had read of such
things in stories, and it could do no harm.  Gradually as she wrote,
hope grew strong within her, and it became impressed upon her that
there had been some deep-laid, fiendish plot.  If so, she dared not
trust her letter with old Caesar, who might be bribed by his
mistress.  And how to convey it to the office was now the grand
difficulty.  As if fortune favored her plan, Durward, that very
afternoon, called at Maple Grove, being as he said, on his way to
Frankfort.

'Lena would have died rather than ask a favor of him for herself, but
to save Anna she could do almost any thing.  Hastily securing the
letter, and throwing on her sun-bonnet, she sauntered down the lawn
and out upon the turnpike, where by the gate she awaited his coming.

"'Lena--excuse me--Miss Rivers, is it you?" asked Durward, touching
his hat, as in evident confusion she came forward, asking if she
could trust him.

"Trust me?  Yes, with anything," answered Durward, quickly
dismounting, and forgetting everything save the bright, beautiful
face which looked up to him so eagerly.

"Then," answered 'Lena, "take this letter and see it deposited
safely, will you?"

Glancing at the superscription, Durward felt his face crimson, while
he instantly remembered what Mrs. Livingstone had once said
concerning 'Lena's attachment to Mr. Everett.

"Sometime, perhaps, I will explain," said 'Lena, observing the
expression of his countenance, and then adding, with some bitterness,
"I assure you there is no harm in it."

"Of course not," answered Durward, again mounting his horse, and
riding away more puzzled than ever, while 'Lena returned to the
house, which everywhere gave tokens of the approaching nuptials.

Already had several costly bridal gifts arrived, and among them was a
box from the captain, containing a set of diamonds, which Mrs.
Livingstone placed in her daughter's waving hair, bidding her mark
their effect.  But not a muscle of Anna's face changed; nothing moved
her; and with the utmost indifference she gazed on the preparations
around her.  A stranger would have said 'Lena was the bride, for,
with flushed cheeks and nervously anxious manner, she watched each
sun as it rose and set, wondering what the result would be.  Once,
when asked whom she would have for her bridesmaid and groomsman, Anna
had answered, "Nellie and John!" but that could not be, for the
latter had imposed upon himself the penance of waiting a whole year
ere he spoke to Nellie of that which lay nearest his heart, and in
order the better to keep his vow, he had gone from home, first
winning from her the promise that she would not become engaged until
his return.  And now, when he learned of his sister's request, he
refused to come, saying, "if she would make such a consummate fool of
herself, he did not wish to see her."

So Carrie and Durward were substituted, and as this arrangement
brought the latter occasionally to the house, 'Lena had opportunities
of asking him if there had yet come any answer to her letter; and
much oftener than he would otherwise have done, Durward went down to
Frankfort, for he felt that it was no unimportant matter which thus
deeply interested 'Lena.  At last, the day before the bridal came,
Durward had gone to the city, and in a state of great excitement
'Lena awaited his return, watching with a trembling heart as the sun
went down behind the western hills.  Slowly the hours dragged on, and
many a time she stole out in the deep darkness to listen, but there
was nothing to be heard save the distant cry of the night-owl, and
she was about retracing her steps for the fifth time, when from
behind a clump of rose-bushes started a little dusky form, which
whispered softly, "Is you Miss 'Leny?"

Repressing the scream which came near escaping her lips, 'Lena
answered, "Yes; what do you want?" while at the same moment she
recognized a little hunch back belonging to General Fontaine.

"Marster Everett tell me to fotch you this, and wait for the answer,"
said the boy, passing her a tiny note.

"Master Everett!  Is he here?" she exclaimed, catching the note and
re-entering the house, where by the light of the hall lamp she read
what he had written.

It was very short, but it told all--how he had written again and
again, receiving no answer, and was about coming himself when a
severe illness prevented.  The marriage, he said, was that of his
uncle, for whom he was named, and who had in truth gone on to
Washington, the home of his second wife.  It closed by asking tier to
meet him, with Anna, on one of the arbor bridges at midnight.
Hastily tearing a blank leaf from a book which chanced to be lying in
the hall, 'Lena wrote, "We will be there," and giving it to the
negro, bade him hasten back.

There was no longer need to wait for Durward, who, if he got no
letter, was not to call, and trembling in every nerve, 'Lena sought
her chamber, there to consider what she was next to do.  For some
time past Carrie had occupied a separate room from Anna, who, she
said disturbed her with her late hours and restless turnings, so
'Lena's part seemed comparatively easy.  Waiting until the house was
still, she entered Anna's room, finding her, as she had expected, at
her old place by the open window, her head resting upon the sill, and
when she approached nearer, she saw that she was asleep.

"Let her sleep yet awhile," said she; "it will do her good."

In the room adjoining lay the bridal dress, and 'Lena's first impulse
was to trample it under her feet, but passing it with a shudder, she
hastily collected whatever she thought Anna would most need.  These
she placed in a small-sized trunk, and then knowing it was done, she
approached her cousin, who seemed to be dreaming, for she murmured
the name of "Malcolm."

"He is here, love--he has come to save you," she whispered, while
Anna, only partially aroused, gazed at her so vacantly, that 'Lena's
heart stood still with fear lest the poor girl's reason were wholly
gone.  "Anna, Anna," she said, "awake; Malcolm is here--in the
garden, where you must meet him--come."

"Malcolm is married," said Anna, in a whisper--married--and my bridal
dress is in there, all looped with flowers; would you like to see it?"

"Our Father in heaven help me," cried 'Lena, clasping her hands in
anguish, while her tears fell like rain on Anna's upturned face.

This seemed to arouse her, for in a natural tone she asked why 'Lena
wept.  Again and again 'Lena repeated to her that Malcolm had
come--that he was not married--that he had come for her; and as Anna
listened, the torpor slowly passed away--the wild light in her eyes
grew less bright, for it was quenched by the first tears she had shed
since the shadow fell upon her; and when 'Lena produced the note, and
she saw it was indeed true, the ice about her heart was melted, and
in choking, long-drawn sobs, her pent-up feelings gave way, as she
saw the gulf whose verge she had been treading.  Crouching at 'Lena's
feet, she kissed the very hem of her garments, blessing her as her
preserver, and praying heaven to bless her, also.  It was the work of
a few moments to array her in her traveling dress, and then very
cautiously 'Lena led her down the stairs, and out into the open air.

"If I could see father once," said Anna; but such an act involved too
much danger, and with one lingering, tearful look at her old home,
she moved away, supported by 'Lena, who rather dragged than led her
over the graveled walk.

As they approached the arbor bridge, they saw the glimmering light of
a lantern, for the night was intensely dark, and in a moment Anna was
clasped in the arms which henceforth were to shelter her from the
storms of life.  Helpless as an infant she lay, while 'Lena,
motioning the negro who was in attendance to follow her, returned to
the house for the trunk, which was soon safely deposited in the
carriage at the gate.

"Words cannot express what I owe you," said Malcolm, when he gave her
his hand at parting, "but of this be assured, so long as I live you
have in me a friend and brother."  Turning back for a moment, he
added, "This flight is, I know, unnecessary, for I could prevent
to-morrow's expected event in other ways than this, but revenge is
sweet, and I trust I am excusable for taking it in my own way."

Anna could not speak, but the look of deep gratitude which beamed
from her eyes was far more eloquent than words.  Upon the broad
piazza 'Lena stood until the last faint sound of the carriage wheels
died away; then, weary and worn, she sought her room, locking 'Anna's
door as she passed it, and placing the key in her pocket.  Softly she
crept to bed by the side of her slumbering grandmother, and with a
fervent prayer for the safety of the fugitives, fell asleep.




CHAPTER XXX.

THE RESULT.

The loud ringing of the breakfast-bell aroused 'Lena from her heavy
slumber, and with a vague consciousness of what had transpired the
night previous, she at first turned wearily upon her pillow, wishing
it were not morning; but soon remembering all, she sprang up, and
after a hasty toilet, descended to the breakfast-room, where another
chair was vacant, another face was missing.  Without any suspicion of
the truth, Mrs. Livingstone spoke of Anna's absence, saying she
presumed the poor girl was tired and sleepy, and this was admitted as
an excuse for her tardiness.  But when breakfast was over and she
still did not appear, Corinda was sent to call her, returning soon
with the information that "she'd knocked and knocked, but Miss Anna
would not answer, and when she tried the door she found it locked."

Involuntarily Mr. Livingstone glanced at 'Lena; whose face wore a
scarlet hue as she hastily quitted the table.  With a presentiment of
something, he himself started for Anna's room; followed by his wife
and Carrie, while 'Lena, half-way up the stairs, listened
breathlessly for the result.  It was useless knocking for admittance,
for there was no one within to bid them enter, and with a powerful
effort Mr. Livingstone burst the lock.  The window was open, the lamp
was still burning, emitting a faint, sickly odor; the bed was
undisturbed, the room in confusion, and Anna was gone.  Mrs.
Livingstone's eye took in all this at a glance, but her husband saw
only the latter, and ere he was aware of what he did, a fervent
"Thank heaven," escaped him.

"She's gone--run away--dead, maybe," exclaimed Mrs. Livingstone,
wringing her hands in unfeigned distress, and instinctively drawing
nearer to her husband for comfort.

By this time 'Lena had ventured into the room, and turning toward
her, Mr. Livingstone said, very gently, "'Lena, where is our child?"

"In Ohio, I dare say, by this time, as she took the night train at
Midway for Cincinnati," said 'Lena, thinking she might as well tell
the whole at once.

"In Ohio!" shrieked Mrs. Livingstone, fiercely grasping 'Lena's arm.
"What has she gone to Ohio for?  Speak, ingrate, for you have done
the deed--I am sure of that!"

"It was Mr. Everett's wish to return home that way I believe," coolly
answered 'Lena, without quailing in the least from the eyes bent so
angrily upon her.

Instantly Mrs. Livingstone's fingers loosened their grasp, while her
face grew livid with mingled passion and fear.  Her fraud was
discovered--her stratagem had failed--and she was foiled in this, her
second darling scheme.  But she was yet to learn what agency 'Lena
had in the matter, and this information her husband obtained for her.
There was no anger in the tones of his voice when he asked his niece
to explain the mystery, else she might not have answered, for 'Lena
could not be driven.  Now, however, she felt that he had a right to
know, and she told him all she knew; what she had done herself and
why she had done it; that General Fontaine, to whom Malcolm had gone
in his trouble, had kindly assisted him by lending both servants and
carriage; but upon the intercepted letters she could throw no light.

"'Twas a cursed act, and whoever was guilty of it is unworthy the
name of either man or woman," said Mr. Livingstone, while his eye
rested sternly upon his wife.

She knew that he suspected her, but he had no proof, and resolving to
make the best of the matter, she, too, united with him in denouncing
the deed, wondering who could have done it, and meanly suggesting
Maria Fontaine, a pupil of Mr. Everett's, who had, at one time, felt
a slight preference for him.  But this did not deceive her
husband--neither did it help her at all in the present emergency.
The bride was gone, and already she felt the tide of scandal and
gossip which she knew would be the theme of the entire neighborhood.
Still, if her own shameful act was kept a secret she could bear it,
and it must be.  No one knew of it except Captain Atherton and
Caesar, the former of whom would keep his own counsel, while fear of
a passport down the river, the negroes' dread, would prevent the
latter from telling.

Accordingly, her chagrin was concealed, and affecting to treat the
whole matter as a capital joke, worthy of being immortalized in
romance, she returned to her room, and hastily writing a few lines,
rang the bell for Caesar who soon appeared, declaring that "as true
as he lived and breathed and drew the breath of life, he'd done gin
miss every single letter afore handin' 'em to anybody else."

"Shut your mouth and mind you keep it shut, or you'll find yourself
in New Orleans," was Mrs. Livingstone's very lady-like response, as
she handed him the note, bidding him take it to Captain Atherton.

For some reason or other the captain this morning was exceedingly
restless, walking from room to room, watching the clock, then the
sun, and finally, in order to pass the time away, trying on his
wedding suit, to see how he was going to look!  Perfectly satisfied
with his appearance, he was in imagination going through the
ceremony, and had just inclined his head in token that he would take
Anna for his wife, when Mrs. Livingstone's note was handed him.  At
first he could hardly believe the evidence of his own eyes.

Anna gone!--run away with Mr. Everett!  It could not be, and sinking
into a chair, he felt, as he afterwards expressed it, "mighty queer
and shaky."

But Mrs. Livingstone had advised him to put a bold face on it, and
this, upon second thought, he determined to do.  Hastily changing his
dress, now useless, he mounted his steed, and was soon on his way
toward Maple Grove, a new idea dawning upon his mind, and ere his
arrival, settling itself into a fixed purpose.  From Aunt Martha he
had heard of 'Lena's strange visit, and he now remembered the many
times she had tried to withdraw him from Anna, appropriating him to
herself for hours.  The captain's vanity was wonderful.  Sunnyside
needed a mistress--he needed a wife, 'Lena was poor--perhaps she
liked him--and if so there might be a wedding, after all.  She was
beautiful, and would sustain the honors of his house with a better
grace, he verily believed, than Anna!  Full of these thoughts, he
reached Maple Grove, where he found Durward, to whom Mrs. Livingstone
had detailed the whole circumstance, dwelling long upon 'Lena's
meddling propensities, and charging the whole affair upon her.

"But she knew what she was about--she had an object in view,
undoubtedly," she added, glad of an opportunity to give vent to her
feelings against 'Lena.

"Pray, what was her object?" asked Durward, and Mrs. Livingstone
replied, "I told you once that 'Lena was ambitious, and I have every
reason to believe she would willingly marry Captain Atherton,
notwithstanding he is so much older."

She forgot that there was the same disparity between the captain and
Anna as between him and 'Lena, but Durward did not, and with a
derisive smile he listened, while she proceeded to give her reasons
for thinking that a desire to supplant Anna was the sole object which
'Lena had in view, for what else could have prompted that midnight
ride to Sunnyside.  Again Durward smiled, but before he could answer,
the bride-groom elect stood before them, looking rather crestfallen,
but evidently making a great effort to appear as usual.

"And so the bird has flown?" said he, "Well, it takes a Yankee, after
all, to manage a case, but how did he find it out?"

Briefly Mrs. Livingstone explained to him Lena's agency in the
matter, omitting, this time, to impute to her the same motive which
she had done when stating the case to Durward.

"So 'Lena is at the bottom of it?" said he, rubbing his little fat,
red hands.  "Well, well, where is she?  I'd like to see her."

"Corinda, tell 'Lena she is wanted in the parlor," said Mrs.
Livingstone, while Durward, not wishing to witness the interview,
arose to go, but Mrs. Livingstone urged him so hard to stay, that he
at last resumed his seat on the sofa by the side of Carrie.

"Captain Atherton wishes to question you concerning the part you have
taken in this elopement," said Mrs. Livingstone, sternly, as 'Lena
appeared in the doorway.

"No, I don't," said the captain, gallantly offering 'Lena a chair.
"My business with Miss Rivers concerns herself."

"I am here, sir, to answer any proper question," said 'Lena, proudly,
at the same time declining the proffered seat.

"There's an air worthy of a queen," thought the captain, and
determining to make his business known at once, he arose, and turning
toward Mrs. Livingstone, Durward and Carrie, whom he considered his
audience, he commenced: "What I am about to say may seem strange, but
the fact is, I want a wife.  I've lived alone long enough.  I waited
for Anna eighteen years, and now's she gone.  Everything is in
readiness for the bridal; the guests are invited; nothing wanting but
the bride.  Now if I _could_ find a substitute."

"Not in me," muttered Carrie, drawing nearer to Durward, while with a
sarcastic leer the captain continued: "Don't refuse before you are
asked, Miss Livingstone.  I do not aspire to the honor of your hand,
but I do ask Miss Rivers to be my wife--here before you all.  She
shall live like a princess--she and her grandmother both.  Come, what
do you say?  Many a poor girl would jump at the chance."

The rich blood which usually dyed 'Lena's cheek was gone, and pale as
the marble mantel against which she leaned, she answered, proudly, "I
would sooner die than link my destiny with one who could so basely
deceive my cousin, making her believe it was her betrothed husband
whom he saw in Washington instead of his uncle!  Marry you?  Never,
if I beg my bread from door to door!"

"Noble girl!" came involuntarily from the lips of Durward, who had
held his breath for her answer, and who now glanced triumphantly at
Mrs. Livingstone, whose surmises were thus proved incorrect.

The captain's self-pride was touched, that a poor, humble girl should
refuse him with his half million.  A sense of the ridiculous position
in which he was placed maddened him, and in a violent rage he
replied, "You won't, hey?  What under heavens have you hung around me
so for, sticking yourself in between me and Anna when you knew you
were not wanted?"

"I did it, sir, at Anna's request, to relieve her--and for nothing
else."

"And was it at her request that you went alone to Sunnyside on that
dark, rainy night?" chimed in Mrs. Livingstone.

"No, madam," said 'Lena, turning toward her aunt.  "I had in vain
implored of you to save her from a marriage every way irksome to her,
when in her right mind, but you would not listen, and I resolved to
appeal to the captain's better nature.  In this I failed, and then I
wrote to Mr. Everett, with the result which you see."

In her first excitement Mrs. Livingstone had forgotten to ask who was
the bearer of 'Lena's letter, but remembering it now, she put the
question.  'Lena would not implicate Durward without his permission,
but while she hesitated, he answered for her, "_I_ carried that
letter, Mrs. Livingstone, though I did not then know its nature.
Still if I had, I should have done the same, and the event has proved
that I was right in so doing."

"Ah, indeed!" said the captain growing more and more nettled and
disagreeable.  "Ah, indeed!  Mr. Bellmont leagued with Miss Rivers
against me.  Perhaps she would not so bluntly refuse an offer coming
from you, but I can tell you it won't sound very well that the Hon.
Mrs. Bellmont once rode four miles alone in the night to visit a
bachelor.  Ha! ha!  Miss 'Lena; better have submitted to my terms at
once, for don't you see I have you in my power?"

"And if you ever use that power to her disadvantage you answer for it
to me; do you understand?" exclaimed Durward, starting up and
confronting Captain Atherton, who, the veriest coward in the world,
shrank from the flashing of Durward's eye, and meekly answered, "Yes,
yes--yes, yes, I won't, I won't.  I don't want to fight.  I like
'Lena.  I don't blame Anna for running away if she didn't want
me--but it's left me in a deuced mean scrape, which I wish you'd help
me out of."

Durward saw that the captain was in earnest, and taking his proffered
hand, promised to render him any assistance in his power, and
advising him to be present himself in the evening, as the first
meeting with his acquaintances would thus be over.  Upon reflection,
the captain concluded to follow this advice, and when evening arrived
and with it those who had not heard the news, he was in attendance,
together with Durward, who managed the whole affair so skillfully
that the party passed off quite pleasantly, the disappointed guests
playfully condoling with the deserted bridegroom, who received their
jokes with a good grace, wishing himself, meantime, anywhere but
there.

That night, when the company were gone and all around was silent,
Mrs. Livingstone watered her pillow with the first tears she had shed
for her youngest born, whom she well knew _she_ had driven from home,
and when her husband asked what they should do, she answered with a
fresh burst of tears, "Send for Anna to come back."

"And Malcolm, too?" queried Mr. Livingstone, knowing it was useless
to send for one without the other.

"Yes, Malcolm too.  There's room for both," said the weeping mother,
feeling how every hour she should miss the little girl, whose
presence had in it so much of sunlight and joy.

But Anna would not return.  Away to the northward, in a fairy cottage
overhung with the wreathing honeysuckle and the twining grape-vine,
where the first summer flowers were blooming and the song-birds were
caroling all the day long, her home was henceforth to be, and though
the letter which contained her answer to her father's earnest appeal
was stained and blotted, it told of perfect happiness with Malcolm,
who kissed away her tears as she wrote, "Tell mother I cannot come."




CHAPTER XXXI.

MORE CLOUDS.

Since the morning when Durward had so boldly avowed himself 'Lena's
champion, her health and spirits began to improve.  That she was not
wholly indifferent to him she had every reason to believe, and
notwithstanding the strong barrier between them, hope sometimes
whispered to her of a future, when all that was now so dark and
mysterious should be made plain.  But while she was thus securely
dreaming, a cloud, darker and deeper than any which had yet
overshadowed her, was gathering around her pathway.  Gradually had
the story of her ride to Captain Atherton's gained circulation,
magnifying itself as it went, until at last it was currently reported
that at several different times had she been seen riding away from
Sunnyside at unseasonable hours of the night, the time varying from
nine in the evening to three in the morning according to the
exaggerating powers of the informer.

But few believed it, and yet such is human nature, that each and
every one repeated it to his or her neighbor, until at last it
reached Mrs. Graham, who, forgetting the caution of her son, said,
with a very wise look, that "she was not at all surprised--she had
from the first suspected 'Lena, and she had the best of reasons for
so doing!"

Of course Mrs. Graham's friend was exceedingly anxious to know what
she meant, and by dint of quizzing, questioning and promising never
to tell, she at last drew out just enough of the story to know that
Mr. Graham had a daguerreotype which looked just like 'Lena, and that
Mrs. Graham had no doubt whatever that she was in the habit of
writing to him.  This of course was repeated, notwithstanding the
promise of secrecy, and many of the neighbors suddenly remembered
some little circumstance trivial in itself, but all going to swell
the amount of evidence against poor 'Lena, who, unconscious of the
gathering storm, did not for a time observe the sidelong glances cast
toward her whenever she appeared in public.

Erelong, however, the cool nods and distant manners of her
acquaintances began to attract her attention, causing her to wonder
what it all meant.  But there was no one of whom she would ask an
explanation.  John Jr. was gone--Anna was gone--and to crown all,
Durward, too, left the neighborhood just as the first breath of
scandal was beginning to set the waves of gossip in motion.  In his
absence, Mrs. Graham felt no restraint, whatever, and all that she
knew, together with many things she didn't know, she told, until it
became a matter of serious debate whether 'Lena ought not to be _cut_
entirely.  Mrs. Graham and her clique decided in the affirmative, and
when Mrs. Fontaine, who was a weak woman, wholly governed by public
opinion, gave a small party for her daughter Maria, 'Lena was
purposely omitted.  Hitherto she had been greatly petted and admired
by both Maria and her mother, and she felt the slight sensibly, the
more so, as Carrie darkly hinted that girls who could not behave
themselves must not associate with respectable people.  "'Leny not
invited!" said Mrs. Nichols, espousing the cause of her
granddaughter.  "What's to pay, I wonder?  Miss Fontaine and the
gineral, too, allus appeared to think a sight on her."

"I presume the _general_ does now," answered Mrs. Livingstone, "but
it's natural that Mrs. Fontaine should feel particular about the
reputation of her daughter's associates."

"And ain't 'Leny's reputation as good as the best on 'em," asked Mrs.
Nichols, her shriveled cheeks glowing with insulted pride.

"It's the general opinion that it might be improved," was Mrs.
Livingstone's haughty answer, as she left her mother-in-law to her
own reflections.

"It'll kill her stone dead," thought Mrs. Nichols, revolving in her
own mind the propriety of telling 'Lena what her aunt had said.
"It'll kill her stone dead, and I can't tell her.  Mebby it'll blow
over pretty soon."

That afternoon several ladies, who were in the habit of calling upon
'Lena, came to Maple Grove, but not one asked for her, and with her
eyes and ears now sharpened, she fancied that once, as she was
passing the parlor door, she heard her own name coupled with that of
Mr. Graham.  A startling light burst upon her, and staggering to her
room, she threw herself, half fainting, upon the bed, where an hour
afterwards she was found by Aunt Milly.

The old negress had also heard the story in its most aggravated form,
and readily divining the cause of 'Lena's grief, attempted to console
her, telling her "not to mind what the good-for-nothin' critters
said; they war only mad 'cause she's so much handsomer and trimmer
built."

"You know, then," said 'Lena, lifting her head from the pillow.  "You
know what it is; so tell me, for I shall die if I remain longer in
suspense."

"Lor' bless the child," exclaimed old Milly, "to think she's the very
last one to know, when it's been common talk more than a month!"

"What's been common talk?  What is it?" demanded 'Lena; and old
Milly, seating herself upon a trunk, commenced: "Why, honey, hain't
you hearn how you done got Mr. Graham's pictur and gin him yourn
'long of one of them curls--how he's writ and you've writ, and how
he's gone off to the eends of the airth to get rid on you--and how
you try to cotch young Mas'r Durward, who hate the sight on you--how
you waylay him one day, settin' on a rock out by the big gate--and
how you been seen mighty nigh fifty times comin' home afoot from
Captain Atherton's in the night, rainin' thunder and lightnin' hard
as it could pour--how after you done got Miss Anna to 'lope, you ax
Captain Atherton to have you, and git mad as fury 'cause he
'fuses--and how your mother warn't none too likely, and a heap more
that I can't remember--hain't you heard of none on't?"

"None, none," answered 'Lena, while Milly continued, "It's a sin and
shame for quality folks that belong to the meetin' to pitch into a
poor 'fenseless girl and pick her all to pieces.  Reckon they done
forgot what our Heabenly Marster told 'em when he lived here in old
Kentuck, how they must dig the truck out of thar own eyes afore they
go to meddlin' with others; but they never think of him these days,
'cept Sundays, and then as soon as meetin' is out they done git
together and talk about you and Mas'r Graham orfully.  I hearn 'em
last Sunday, I and Miss Fontaine's cook, Cilly, and if they don't
quit it, thar's a heap on us goin' to leave the church!"

'Lena smiled in spite of herself, and when Milly, who arose to leave
the room, again told her not to care, as all the blacks were for her,
she felt that she was not utterly alone in her wretchedness.  Still,
the sympathy of the colored people alone could not help her, and
dally matters grew worse, until at last even Nellie Douglass's faith
was shaken, and 'Lena's heart died within her as she saw in her signs
of neglect.  Never had Mr. Livingstone exchanged a word with her upon
the subject, but the reserve with which he treated her plainly
indicated that he, too, was prejudiced, while her aunt and Carrie let
no opportunity pass of slighting her, the latter invariably leaving
the room if she entered it.  On one such occasion, in a state
bordering almost on distraction 'Lena flew back to her own chamber,
where to her great surprise, she found her uncle in close
conversation with her grandmother, whose face told the pain his words
were inflicting.  'Lena's first impulse was to fall at his feet and
implore his protection, but he prevented her by immediately leaving
the room.

"Oh, grandmother, grandmother," she cried, "help me, or I shall die."

In her heart Mrs. Nichols believed her guilty, for John had said
so--he would not lie; and to 'Lena's touching appeal for sympathy,
she replied, as she rocked to and fro, "I wish you _had_ died, 'Leny,
years and years ago."

'Twas the last drop in the brimming bucket, and with the wailing cry,
"God help me now--no one else can," the heart-broken girl fell
fainting to the floor, while in silent agony Mrs. Nichols hung over
her, shouting for help.

Both Mrs. Livingstone and Carrie refused to come, but at the first
call Aunt Milly hastened to the room.  "Poor sheared lamb," said she,
gathering back the thick, clustering curls which shaded 'Lena's
marble face, "she's innocent as the new-born baby."

"Oh, if I could think so," said grandma; but she could not, and when
the soft brown eyes again unclosed, and eagerly sought hers, they
read distrust and doubt, and motioning her grandmother away, 'Lena
said she would rather be alone.

Many and bitter were the thoughts which crowded upon her as she lay
there watching the daylight fade from the distant hills, and musing
of the stern realities around her.  Gradually her thoughts assumed a
definite purpose; she would go away from a place where she was never
wanted, and where she now no longer wished to stay.  Mr. Everett had
promised to be her friend, and to him she would go.  At different
intervals her uncle and cousin had given her money to the amount of
twenty dollars, which was still in her possession, and which she knew
would take her far on her road.

With 'Lena to resolve was to do, and that night, when sure her
grandmother was asleep, she arose and hurriedly made the needful
preparations for her flight.  Unlike most aged people, Mrs. Nichols
slept soundly, and 'Lena had no fears of waking her.  Very stealthily
she moved around the room, placing in a satchel, which she could
carry upon her arm, the few things she would need.  Then, sitting
down by the table, she wrote:


"DEAR GRANDMA: When you read this I shall be gone, for I cannot
longer stay where all look upon me as a wretched, guilty thing.  I am
innocent, grandma, as innocent as my angel mother when they dared to
slander her, but you do not believe it, and that is the hardest of
all.  I could have borne the rest, but when you, too, doubted me, it
broke my heart, and now I am going away.  Nobody will care--nobody
will miss me but you.

"And now dear, dear grandma, it costs me more pain to write than it
will you to read

    "'LENA'S LAST GOOD-BYE"


All was at length ready, and then bending gently over the wrinkled
face so calmly sleeping, 'Lena gazed through blinding tears upon each
lineament, striving to imprint it upon her heart's memory, and
wondering if they would ever meet again.  The hand which had so often
rested caressingly upon her young head, was lying outside the
counterpane, and with one burning kiss upon it she turned away, first
placing the lamp by the window, where its light, shining upon her
from afar, would be the last thing she could see of the home she was
leaving.

The road to Midway, the nearest railway station, was well known to
her, and without once pausing, lest her courage should fail her, she
pressed forward.  The distance which she had to travel was about
three and a half miles, and as she did not dare trust herself in the
highway, she struck into the fields, looking back as long as the
glimmering light from the window could be seen, and then when that
home star had disappeared from view, silently imploring aid from Him
who alone could help her now.  She was in time for the cars, and,
though the depot agent looked curiously at her slight, shrinking
figure, he asked no questions, and when the train moved rapidly away,
'Lena looked out upon the dark, still night, and felt that she was a
wanderer in the world.




CHAPTER XXXII.

REACTION.

The light of a dark, cloudy morning shone faintly in at the window of
Grandma Nichols's room, and roused her from her slumber.  On the
pillow beside her rested no youthful head--there was no kind voice
bidding her "good-morrow"--no gentle hand ministering to her
comfort--for 'Lena was gone, and on the table lay the note, which at
first escaped Mrs. Nichols's attention.  Thinking her granddaughter
had arisen early and gone before her, she attempted to make her own
toilet, which was nearly completed, when her eye caught the note.  It
was directed to her, and with a dim foreboding she: took it up,
reading that her child was gone--gone from those who should have
sustained her in her hour of trial, but who, instead, turned against
her, crushing her down, until in a state of desperation she had fled.
It was in vain that the breakfast-bell rang out its loud summons.
Grandma did not heed it; and when Corinda came up to seek her, she
started back in affright at the scene before her.  Mrs. Nichols's cap
was not yet on, and her thin gray locks fell around her livid face as
she swayed from side to side, moaning at intervals, "God forgive me
that I broke her heart."

The sound of the opening door aroused her, and looking up she said,
pointing toward the vacant bed, "'Leny's gone; I've killed her."

Corinda waited for no more, but darting through the hall and down the
stairs, she rushed into the dining-room, announcing the startling
news that "old miss had done murdered Miss 'Lena, and hid her under
the bed!"

"What _will_ come next!" exclaimed Mrs. Livingstone, following her
husband to his mother's room where a moment sufficed to explain the
whole.

'Lena was gone, and the shock had for a time unsettled the poor old
lady's reason.  The sight of his mother's distress aroused all the
better nature of Mr. Livingstone, and tenderly soothing her, he told
her that 'Lena should be found--he would go for her himself.  Carrie,
too, was touched, and with unwonted kindness she gathered up the
scattered locks, and tying on the muslin cap, placed her hand for an
instant on the wrinkled brow.

"Keep it there; it feels soft, like 'Leny's," said Mrs. Nichols, the
tears gushing out at this little act of sympathy.

Meantime, Mr. Livingstone, after a short consultation with his wife,
hurried off to the neighbors, none of whom knew aught of the
fugitive, and all of whom offered their assistance in searching.
Never once did it occur to Mr. Livingstone that she might have taken
the cars, for that he knew would need money, and he supposed she had
none in her possession.  By a strange coincidence, too, the depot
agent who sold her the ticket, left the very next morning for
Indiana, where he had been intending to go for some time, and where
he remained for more than a week, thus preventing the information
which he could otherwise have given concerning her flight.
Consequently, Mr. Livingstone returned each night, weary and
disheartened, to his home, where all the day long his mother moaned
and wept, asking for her 'Lena.

At last, as day after day went by and brought no tidings of the
wanderer, she ceased to ask for her, but whenever a stranger came to
the house, she would whisper softly to them, "'Leny's dead.  I killed
her; did you know it?" at the same time passing to them the crumpled
note, which she ever held in her hand.

'Lena was a general favorite in the neighborhood which had so
recently denounced her, and when it became known that she was gone,
there came a reaction, and those who had been the most bitter against
her now changed their opinion, wondering how they could ever have
thought her guilty.  The stories concerning her visits to Captain
Atherton's were traced back to their source, resulting in exonerating
her from all blame, while many things, hitherto kept secret,
concerning Anna's engagement, were brought to light, and 'Lena was
universally commended for her efforts to save her cousin from a
marriage so wholly unnatural.  Severely was the captain censured for
the part he had taken in deceiving Anna, a part which he frankly
confessed, while he openly espoused the cause of the fugitive.

Mrs. Livingstone, on the contrary, was not generous enough to make a
like confession.  Public suspicion pointed to her as the interceptor
of Anna's letters, and though she did not deny it, she wondered what
that had to do with 'Lena, at the same time asking "how they expected
to clear up the Graham affair."

This was comparatively easy, for in the present state of feeling the
neighborhood were willing to overlook many things which had before
seemed dark and mysterious, while Mrs. Graham, for some most
unaccountable reason, suddenly retracted almost everything she had
said, acknowledging that she was too hasty in her conclusions, and
evincing for the missing girl a degree of interest perfectly
surprising to Mrs. Livingstone, who looked on in utter astonishment,
wondering what the end would be.  About this time Durward returned,
greatly pained at the existing state of things.  In Frankfort, where
'Lena's flight was a topic of discussion, he had met with the depot
agent, who was on his way home, and who spoke of the young girl whose
rather singular manner had attracted his attention.  This was
undoubtedly 'Lena, and after a few moments' conversation with his
mother, Durward announced his intention of going after her, at least
as far as Rockford, where he fancied she might have gone.

To his surprise his mother made no objection, but her manner seemed
so strange that he at last asked what was the matter.

"Nothing--nothing in particular," said she, "only I've been thinking
it all over lately, and I've come to the conclusion that perhaps
'Lena is innocent after all."

Oh, how eagerly Durward caught at her words, interrupting her almost
before she had finished speaking, with, "_Do_ you know anything?
Have you heard anything?"

She _had_ heard--she _did_ know; but ere she could reply, the violent
ringing of the door-bell, and the arrival of visitors, prevented her
answer.  In a perfect fever of excitement Durward glanced at his
watch.  If he waited long, he would be too late for the cars, and
with a hasty adieu he left the parlor, turning back ere he reached
the outer door, and telling his mother he must speak with her alone.
If Mrs. Graham had at first intended to divulge what she knew, the
impulse was now gone, and to her son's urgent request that she should
disclose what she knew, she replied, "It isn't much--only your father
has another daguerreotype, the counterpart of the first one.  He
procured it in Cincinnati, and 'Lena I know was not there."

"Is that all?" asked Durward, in a disappointed tone.

"Why no, not exactly.  I have examined both pictures closely, and I
do not think they resemble 'Lena as much as we at first supposed.
Possibly it might have been some one else, her mother, may be," and
Mrs. Graham looked earnestly at her son, who rather impatiently
answered, "Her mother died years ago."

At the same time he walked away, pondering upon what he had heard,
and hoping, half believing, that 'Lena would yet be exonerated from
all blame.  For a moment Mrs. Graham gazed after him, regretting that
she had not told him all, but thinking there was time enough yet, and
remembering that her husband had said she might wait until his
return, if she chose, she went back to the parlor while Durward kept
on his way.




CHAPTER XXXIII.

THE WANDERER.

Fiercely the noontide blaze of a scorching July sun was falling upon
the huge walls of the "Laurel Hill Sun," where a group of idlers were
lounging on the long, narrow piazza, some niching into still more
grotesque carving the rude, unpainted railing, while others, half
reclining on one elbow, shaded their eyes with their old slouch hats,
as they gazed wistfully toward the long hill, eager to catch the first
sight of the daily stage which was momentarily expected.

"Jerry is late, to-day--but it's so plaguy hot he's favorin' his
hosses, I guess," said the rosy-faced landlord, with that peculiar
intonation which stamped him at once a genuine Yankee.

"A watched pot never biles," muttered one of the loungers, who
regularly for fifteen years had been at his post, waiting for the
stage, which during all that time had brought him neither letter,
message, friend, nor foe.

But force of habit is everything, and after the very wise saying
recorded above, he resumed his whittling, never again looking up until
the loud blast of the driver's horn was heard on the distant hill-top,
where the four weary, jaded horses were now visible.  It was the
driver's usual custom to blow his horn from the moment he appeared on
the hill, until with a grand flourish he reined his panting steeds
before the door of the inn.  But this time there was one sharp, shrill
sound, and then all was still, the omission eliciting several remarks
not very complimentary to the weather, which was probably the cause of
"Jerry's" unwonted silence.  Very slowly the vehicle came on, the
horses never leaving a walk, and the idler of fifteen years' standing,
who for a time had suspended his whittling, "wondered what was to pay."

A nearer approach revealed three or four male passengers, all occupied
with a young lady, who, on the back seat, was carefully supported by
one of her companions.

"A sick gal, I guess.  Wonder if the disease is catchin'?" said the
whittler, standing back several paces and looking over the heads of the
others, who crowded forward as the stage came up.  The loud greeting of
the noisy group was answered by Jerry with a low "sh--sh," as he
pointed significantly at the slight form which two of the gentlemen
were lifting from the coach, asking at the same time if there were a
physician near.

"What's the matter on her?  Hain't got the cholery, has she," said the
landlord, who, having hallooed to his wife to "fetch up her vittles,"
now appeared on the piazza ready to welcome his guests.

At the first mention of cholera, the fifteen years' man vamosed,
retreating across the road, and seating himself on the fence under the
shadow of the locust trees.

"Who is she, Jerry?" asked the younger of the set, gazing curiously
upon the white, beautiful face of the stranger, who had been laid upon
the lounge in the common sitting-room.

"Lord only knows," said Jerry, wiping the heavy drops of sweat from his
good-humored face; "I found her at the hotel in Livony.  She came there
in the cars, and said she wanted to go over to 'tother railroad.  She
was so weak that I had to lift her into the stage as I would a baby,
and she ain't much heavier.  You orto seen how sweet she smiled when
she thanked me, and asked me not to drive very fast, it made her head
ache so.  Zounds, I wouldn't of trotted the horses if I'd never got
here.  Jest after we started she fainted, and she's been kinder talkin'
strange like ever since.  Some of the gentlemen thought I'd better
leave her back a piece at Brown's tavern, but I wanted to fetch her
here, where Aunt Betsy could nuss her up, and then I can kinder tend to
her myself, you know."

This last remark called forth no answering joke, for Jerry's companions
all knew his kindly nature, and it was no wonder to them that his
sympathies were so strongly enlisted for the fair girl thus thrown upon
his protection.  It was a big, noble heart over which Jerry Langley
buttoned his driver's coat, and when the physician who had arrived
pronounced the lady too ill to proceed any further, he called aside the
fidgety landlord, whose peculiarities he well knew, and bade him "not
to fret and stew, for if the gal hadn't money, Jerry Langley was good
for a longer time than she would live, poor critter;" and he wiped a
tear away, glancing, the while, at the burying-ground which lay just
across the garden, and thinking how if she died, her grave should be
beneath the wide-spreading oak, where often in the summer nights he
sat, counting the head-stones which marked the last resting place of
the slumbering host, and wondering if death were, as some had said, a
long, eternal sleep.

Aunt Betsey, of whom he had spoken, was the landlady, a little dumpy,
pleasant-faced, active woman, equally in her element bending over the
steaming gridiron, or smoothing the pillows of the sick-bed, where her
powers of nursing had won golden laurels from Others than Jerry
Langley.  When the news was brought to the kitchen that among the
passengers was a sick girl, who was to be left, her first thought,
natural to everybody, was, "What shall I do ?" while the second,
natural to her, was, "Take care of her, of course."

Accordingly, when the dinner was upon the table, she laid aside her
broad check apron, substituting in its place a half-worn silk, for
Jerry had reported the invalid to be "every inch a lady;" then
smoothing her soft, silvery hair with her fat, rosy hands, she repaired
to the sitting-room, where she found the driver watching his charge,
from whom he kept the buzzing flies by means of his bandana, which he
waved to and fro with untiring patience.

"Handsome as a London doll," was her first exclamation, adding, "but I
should think she'd be awful hot with them curls, dangling' in her neck!
If she's goin' to be sick they'd better be cut off!"

If there was any one thing for which Aunt Betsey Aldergrass possessed a
particular passion, it was for _hair-cutting_, she being barber general
for Laurel Hill, which numbered about thirty houses, store and church
inclusive, and now when she saw the shining tresses which lay in such
profusion upon the pillow, her fingers tingled to their very tips,
while she involuntarily felt for her scissors!  Very reverentially, as
if it were almost sacrilege, Jerry's broad palm was laid protectingly
upon the clustering ringlets, while he said, "No, Aunt Betsey, if she
dies for't, you shan't touch one of them; 'twould spile her hair, she
looks so pretty."

Slowly the long, fringed lids unclosed, and the brown eyes looked up so
gratefully at Jerry, that he beat a precipitate retreat, muttering to
himself that "he never could stand the gals, anyway, they made his
heart thump so!"

"Am I very sick, and can't I go on?" asked the young lady, attempting
to rise, but sinking back from extreme weakness.

"Considerable sick, I guess," answered the landlady, taking from a side
cupboard an immense decanter of camphor, and passing it toward the
stranger.  "Considerable sick, and I wouldn't wonder if you had to lay
by a day or so.  Will they be consarned about you to home, 'cause if
they be, my old man'll write."

"I have no home," was the sad answer, to which Aunt Betsey responded in
astonishment, "Hain't no home!  Where does your marm live?"

"Mother is dead," said the girl, her tears dropping fast upon the
pillow.

Instinctively the landlady drew nearer to her, as she asked, "And your
pa--where is he?"

"I never saw him," said the girl, while her interrogator continued:
"Never saw your pa, and your marm is dead--poor child, what is your
name, and where did you come from?"

For a moment the stranger hesitated, and then thinking it better to
tell the truth at once, she replied, "My name is 'Lena.  I lived with
my uncle a great many miles from here, but I wasn't happy.  They did
not want me there, and I ran away.  I am going to my cousin, but I'd
rather not tell where, so you will please not ask me."

There was something in her manner which silenced Aunt Betsey, who,
erelong, proposed that she should go upstairs and lie down on a nice
little bed, where she would be more quiet.  But 'Lena refused, saying
she should feel better soon.

"Mebby, then, you'd eat a mouffle or two.  We've got some roasted pork,
and Hetty'll warm over the gravy;" but 'Lena's stomach rebelled at the
very thought, seeing which, the landlady went back to the kitchen,
where she soon prepared a bowl of gruel, in spite of the discouraging
remarks of her husband, who, being a little after the _Old Hunks_
order, cautioned her "not to fuss too much, as gals that run away
warn't apt to be plagued with money"

Fortunately, Aunt Betsey's heart covered a broader sphere, and the
moment the stage was gone she closed the door to shut out the dust,
dropped the green curtains, and drawing from the spare-room a large,
stuffed chair, bade 'Lena "see if she couldn't set up a minit."  But
this was impossible, and all that long, sultry afternoon she lay upon
the lounge, holding her aching head, which seemed well-nigh bursting
with its weight of pain and thought.  "Was it right for her to run
away?  Ought she not to have stayed and bravely met the worst?  Suppose
she were to die there alone, among strangers and without money, for her
scanty purse was well-nigh drained."  These and similar reflections
crowded upon her, until her brain grew wild and dizzy, and when at
sunset the physician came again he was surprised to find how much her
fever had increased.

"She ought not to lie here," said he, as he saw how the loud shouts of
the school-boys made her shudder.  "Isn't there some place where she
can be more quiet?"

At the head of the stairs was a small room, containing a single bed and
a window, which last looked out upon the garden and the graveyard
beyond.  Its furniture was of the plainest kind, it being reserved for
more common travelers, and here the landlord said 'Lena must be taken.
His wife would far rather have given her the front chamber, which was
large, airy and light, but Uncle Tim Aldergrass said "No," squealing
out through his little peaked nose that "'twarn't an atom likely he'd
ever more'n half git his pay, anyway, and he warn't a goin' to give up
the hull house."

"How much more will it be if she has the best chamber," asked Jerry,
pulling at Uncle Tim's coattail and leading him aside.  "How much will
it be, 'cause if 'taint too much, she shan't stay in that eight by nine
pen."

"A dollar a week, and cheap at that," muttered Uncle Tim, while Jerry,
going out behind the wood-house, counted over his funds, sighing as he
found them quite too small to meet the extra, dollar per week, should
she long continue ill.

"If I hadn't of fooled so much away for tobacker and things, I
shouldn't be so plaguy poor now," thought he, forgetting the many
hearts which his hard-earned gains had made glad, for no one ever
appealed in vain for help from Jerry Langley, who represented one class
of Yankees, while Timothy Aldergrass represented another.

The next morning just as daylight was beginning to be visible, Jerry
knocked softly at Aunt Betsey's door, telling her that for more than an
hour he'd heard the young lady takin' on, and he guessed she was worse.
Hastily throwing on her loose gown Aunt Betsey repaired to 'Lena's
room, where she found her sitting up in the bed, moaning, talking, and
whispering, while the wild expression of her eyes betokened a
disordered brain.

"The Lord help us! she's crazy as a loon.  Run for the doctor, quick!"
exclaimed Mrs. Aldergrass, and without boot or shoe, Jerry ran off in
his stocking-feet, alarming the physician, who immediately hastened to
the inn, pronouncing 'Lena's disease to be brain fever, as he had at
first feared.

Rapidly she grew worse, talking of her home, which was sometimes in
Kentucky and sometimes in Massachusetts, where she said they had buried
her mother.  At other times she would ask Aunt Betsey to send for
Durward when she was dead, and tell him how innocent she was.

"Didn't I tell you there was something wrong?" Uncle Timothy would
squeak.  "Nobody knows who we are harborin' nor how much 'twill damage
the house."

But as day after day went by, and 'Lena's fever raged more fiercely,
even Uncle Tim relented, and when she would beg of them to take her
home and bury her by the side of Mabel, where Durward could see her
grave, he would sigh, "Poor critter, I wish you was to home," but
whether this wish was prompted by a sincere desire to please 'Lena, or
from a more selfish motive, we are unable to state.  One morning, the
fifth of 'Lena's illness, she seemed much worse, talking incessantly
and tossing from side to side, her long hair floating in wild disorder
over her pillow, or streaming down her shoulders.  Hitherto Aunt Betsey
had restrained her _barberic_ desire, each day arranging the heavy
locks, and tucking them under the muslin cap, where they refused to
stay.  Once the doctor himself had suggested the propriety of cutting
them away, adding, though, that they would wait awhile, as it was a
pity to lose them.

"Better be cut off than yanked off," said Aunt Betsey, on the morning
when 'Lena in her frenzy would occasionally tear out handfulls of her
shining hair and scatter it over the floor.

Satisfied that she was doing right, she carefully approached the
bedside, and taking one of the curls in her hand, was about to sever
it, when 'Lena, divining her intentions, sprang up, and gathering up
her hair, exclaimed, "No, no, not these; take everything else, but
leave me my curls.  Durward thought they were beautiful, and I cannot
lose them."

At the side door below, the noonday stage was unloading its passengers,
and as the tones of their voices came in at the open window, 'Lena
suddenly grew calmer, and assuming a listening attitude, whispered,
"Hark!  He's come.  Don't you hear him?"

But Aunt Betsey heard nothing, except her husband calling her to come
down, and leaving 'Lena, who had almost instantly become quiet, to the
care of a neighbor, she started for the kitchen, meeting in the lower
hall with Hetty, who was showing one of the passengers to a room where
he could wash and refresh himself after his dusty ride.  As they passed
each other, Hetty asked, "Have you clipped her curls?"

"No," answered Mrs. Aldergrass, "she wouldn't let me touch 'em, for she
said that Durward, whom she talks so much about, liked 'em, and they
mustn't be cut off."

Instantly the stranger, whose elegant appearance both Hetty and her
mistress had been admiring, stopped, and turning to the latter, said,
"Of whom are you speaking?"

"Of a young girl that came in the stage, sick, five or six days ago,"
answered Mrs. Aldergrass.

"What is her name, and where does she live?" continued the stranger.

"She calls herself 'Lena, but the 'tother name I don't know, and I
guess she lives in Kentucky or Massachusetts."

The young man waited to hear no more, but mechanically followed Hetty
to his room, starting and turning pale as a wild, unnatural laugh fell
on his ear.

"It is the young lady, sir," said Hetty, observing his agitated manner.
"She raves most all the time, and the doctor says she'll die if she
don't stop."

The gentleman nodded, and the next moment he was as he wished to be,
alone.  He had found her then--his lost 'Lena--sick, perhaps dying, and
his heart gave one agonized throb as he thought, "What if she should
die?  Yet why should I wish her to live?" he asked, "when she is as
surely lost to me as if she were indeed resting in her grave!"

And still, reason as he would, a something told him that all would yet
be well, else, perhaps, he had never followed her.  Believing she would
stop at Mr. Everett's, he had come on thus far, finding her where he
least expected it, and spite of his fears, there was much of pleasure
mingled with his pain as he thought how he would protect and care for
her, ministering to her comfort, and softening, as far as possible, the
disagreeable things which he saw must necessarily surround her.  Money,
he knew, would purchase almost everything, and if ever Durward Bellmont
felt glad that he was rich, it was when he found 'Lena Rivers sick and
alone at the not very comfortable inn of Laurel Hill.

As he was entering the dining-room, he saw Jerry--whose long, lank
figure and original manner had afforded him much amusement during his
ride--handing a dozen or more oranges to Mrs. Aldergrass, saying, as he
did so, "They are for Miss 'Lena.  I thought mebby they'd taste good,
this hot weather, and I ransacked the hull town to find the nicest and
best."

For a moment Durward's cheek flushed at the idea of Lena's being cared
for by such as Jerry, but the next instant his heart grew warm toward
the uncouth driver who, without any possible motive save the promptings
of his own kindly nature, had thus thought of the stranger girl.
Erelong the stage was announced as ready and waiting, but to the
surprise and regret of his fellow-passengers, who had found him a most
agreeable traveling companion, Durward said he was not going any
further that day.

"A new streak, ain't it?" asked Jerry, who knew he was booked for the
entire route; but the young man made no reply, and the fresh, spirited
horses soon bore the lumbering vehicle far out of sight, leaving him to
watch the cloud of dust which it carried in its train.

Uncle Timothy was in his element, for it was not often that a guest of
Durward's appearance honored his house with more than a passing call,
and with the familiarity so common to a country landlord, he slapped
him on the shoulder, telling him "there was the tallest kind of fish in
the Honeoye," whose waters, through the thick foliage of the trees were
just discernible, sparkling and gleaming in the bright sunlight.

"I never fish, thank you, sir," answered Durward, while the
good-natured landlord continued: "Now you don't say it!  Hunt, then,
mebby?"

"Occasionally," said Durward, adding, "But my reason for stopping here
is of entirely a different nature.  I hear there is with you a sick
lady.  She is a friend of mine, and I am staying to see that she is
well attended to."

"Yes, yes," said Uncle Timothy, suddenly changing his opinion of 'Lena,
whose want of money had made him sadly suspicious of her.  "Yes, yes, a
fine gal; fell into good hands, too, for my old woman is the greatest
kind of a nuss.  Want to see her, don't you?--the lady I mean."

"Not just yet; I would like a few moments' conversation with your wife
first," answered Durward.

Greatly frustrated when she learned that the stylish looking gentleman
wished to talk with her, Aunt Betsey rubbed her shining face with
flour, and donning another cap, repaired to the sitting-room, where she
commenced making excuses about herself, the house, and everything else,
saying, "'twant what he was used to, she knew, but she hoped he'd try
to put up with it."

As soon as he was able to get in a word, Durward proceeded to ask her
every particular concerning 'Lena's illness, and whether she would
probably recognize him should he venture into her presence,

"Bless your dear heart, no.  She hain't known a soul on us these three
days.  Sometimes she calls me 'grandmother,' and says when she's dead
I'll know she's innocent.  'Pears Like somebody has been slanderin'
her, for she begs and pleads with Durward, as she calls him, not to
believe it.  Ain't you the one she means?"

Durward nodded, and Mrs. Aldergrass continued:

"I thought so, for when the stage driv up she was standin' straight in
the bed, ravin' and screechin', but the minit she heard your voice she
dropped down, and has been as quiet ever since.  Will you go up now?"

Durward signified his willingness, and following his landlady, he soon
stood in the close, pent-up room where, in an uneasy slumber, 'Lena lay
panting for breath, and at intervals faintly moaning in her sleep.  She
had fearfully changed since last he saw her, and with a groan, he bent
over her, murmuring, "My poor 'Lena," while he gently laid his cool,
moist hand upon her burning brow.  As if there were something soothing
in its touch, she quickly placed her little hot, parched hand on his,
whispering, "Keep it there.  It will make me well."

For a long time he sat by her, bathing her head and carefully removing
from her face and neck the thick curls which Mrs. Aldergrass had
thought to cut away.  At last she awoke, but Durward shrank almost in
fear from the wild, bright eyes which gazed so fixedly upon him, for in
them was no ray of reason.  She called him "John" blessing him for
coming, and saying, "Did you tell Durward.  Does _he_ know?"

"I am Durward," said he.  "Don't you recognize me?  Look again."

"No, no," she answered, with a mocking laugh, which made him shudder,
it was so unlike the merry, ringing tones he had once loved to hear.
"No, no, you are not Durward.  He would not look at me as you do.  He
thinks me guilty."

It was in vain Durward strove to convince her of his identity.  She
would only answer with a laugh, which grated so harshly on his ear that
he finally desisted, and suffered her to think he was her cousin.  The
smallness of her chamber troubled him, and when Mrs. Aldergrass came up
he asked if there was no other apartment where 'Lena would be more
comfortable.

"Of course there is," said Aunt Betsy.  "There's the best chamber I was
goin' to give to you."

"Never mind me," said he.  "Let her have every comfort the house
affords, and you shall be amply paid."

Uncle Timothy had now no objection to the offer, and the large, airy
room with its snowy, draped bed was soon in readiness for the sufferer,
who, in one of her wayward moods, absolutely refused to be moved.  It
was in vain that Aunt Betsey plead, persuaded, and threatened, and at
last in despair Durward was called in to try his powers of persuasion.

"That's something more like it," said 'Lena, and when he urged upon her
the necessity of her removal, she asked, "Will you go with me?"

"Certainly," said he.

"And stay with me?"

"Certainly."

"Then I'll go," she continued, stretching her arms toward him as a
child toward its mother.

A moment more and she was reclining on the soft downy pillows, the
special pride of Mrs. Aldergrass, who bustled in and out, while her
husband, ashamed of his stinginess, said "they should of moved her
afore, only 'twas a bad sign."

During the remainder of the day she seemed more quiet, talking
incessantly, it is true, but never raving if Durward were near.  If is
strange what power he had over her, a word from him sufficing at any
time to subdue her when in her most violent fits of frenzy.  For two
days and nights he watched by her side, never giving himself a moment's
rest, while the neighbors looked on, surmising and commenting as people
always will.  Every delicacy of the season, however costly, was
purchased for her comfort, while each morning the flowers which he knew
she loved the best were freshly gathered from the different gardens of
Laurel Hill, and in broken pitchers, cracked tumblers, and nicked
saucers, adorned the room.

At the close of the third day she fell into a heavy slumber, and
Durward, worn out and weary, retired to take the rest he so much
needed.  For a long time 'Lena slept, watched by the physician, who,
knowing that the crisis had arrived, waited anxiously for her waking,
which came at last, bringing with it the light of returning reason.
Dreamily she gazed about the room, and in a voice no longer strong with
the excitement of delirium, asked, "Where am I, and how came I here?"

In a few words the physician explained all that was necessary for her
to know, and then going for Mrs. Aldergrass, told her of the favorable
change in his patient, adding that a sudden shock might still prove
fatal.  "Therefore," said he, "though I know not in what relation this
Mr. Bellmont stands to her, I think it advisable for her to remain
awhile in ignorance of his presence.  It is of the utmost consequence
that she be kept quiet for a few days, at the end of which time she can
see him."

All this Aunt Betsey communicated to Durward, who unwilling to do
anything which would endanger 'Lena's safety, kept himself aloof,
treading softly and speaking low, for as if her hearing were sharpened
by disease she more than once, when he was talking in the hall below,
started up, listening eagerly; then, as if satisfied that she had been
deceived, she would resume her position, while the flush on her cheek
deepened as she thought, "Oh, what if it had indeed been he!"

Nearly all the day long he sat just without the door, holding his
breath as he caught the faint tones of her voice, and longing for the
hour when he could see her, and obtain, if possible, some clue to the
mystery attending her and his father.  His mother's words, together
with what he had heard 'Lena say in her ravings, had tended to convince
him that _she_, at least, might be innocent, and once assured of this,
he felt that he would gladly fold her to his bosom, and cherish her
there as the choicest of heaven's blessings.  All this time 'Lena had
no suspicion of his presence, but she wondered at the many luxuries
which surrounded her, and once, when Mrs. Aldergrass offered her some
choice wine, she asked who it was that supplied her with so many
comforts.  Aunt Betsey's, forte did not lay in keeping a secret, and
rather evasively she replied, "You mustn't ask me too many questions
just yet!"

'Lena's suspicions were at once aroused, and for more than an hour she
lay thinking--trying to recall something which seamed to her like a
dream.  At last calling Aunt Betsey to her, she said, "There was
somebody here while I was so sick--somebody besides strangers--somebody
that stayed with me all the time--who was it?"

"Nobody, nobody--I mustn't tell," said Mrs. Aldergrass, hurriedly,
while 'Lena continued, "Was it Cousin John?"

"No, no; don't guess any more," was Mrs. Aldergrass's reply, and 'Lena,
clasping her hands together, exclaimed, "Oh, could it he be?"

The words reached Durward's ear, and nothing but a sense of the harm it
might do prevented him from going at once to her bedside.  That night,
at his earnest request, the physician gave him permission to see her in
the morning, and Mrs. Aldergrass was commissioned to prepare her for
the interview.  'Lena did not ask who it was; she felt that she knew;
and the knowledge that he was there--that he had cared for
her--operated upon her like a spell, soothing her into the most
refreshing slumber she had experienced for many a weary week.  With the
sun-rising she was awake, but Mrs. Aldergrass, who came in soon after,
told her that the visitor was not to be admitted until about ten, as
she would by that time have become more composed, and be the better
able to endure the excitement of the interview.  A natural delicacy
prevented 'Lena from objecting to the delay, and, as calmly as
possible, she watched Mrs. Aldergrass while she put the room to rights,
and then patiently submitted to the arranging of her curls, which
during her illness had become matted and tangled.  Before eight
everything was in readiness, and soon after, worn out by her own
exertions, 'Lena again fell asleep.

"How lovely she looks," thought Mrs. Aldergrass.  "He shall just have a
peep at her," and stepping to the door she beckoned Durward to her side.

Never before had 'Lena, seemed so beautiful to him, and as he looked
upon her, he felt his doubts removing, one by one.  She was
innocent--it could not be otherwise--and very impatiently he awaited
the lapse of the two hours which must pass ere he could see her, face
to face.  At length, as the surest way of killing time, he started out
for a walk in a pleasant wood, which skirted the foot of Laurel Hill.

Here for a time we leave him, while in another chapter we speak of an
event which, in the natural order of things, should here be narrated.




CHAPTER XXXIV

'LENA'S FATHER.

Two or three days before the morning of which we have spoken, Uncle
Timothy, who like many of his profession had been guilty of a slight
infringement of the "Maine" liquor law, had been called to answer for
the same at the court then in session in the village of Canandaigua,
the terminus of the stage route.  Altogether too stingy to pay the
coach fare, his own horse had carried him out, going for him on the
night preceding Durward's projected meeting with 'Lena.  On the
afternoon of that day the cars from New York brought up several
passengers, who being bound for Buffalo, were obliged to wait some
hours for the arrival of the Albany train.

Among those who stopped at the same house with Uncle Timothy, was our
old acquaintance, Mr. Graham, who had returned from Europe, and was
now homeward bound, firmly fixed in his intention to do right at
last.  Many and many a time, during his travels had the image of a
pale, sad face arisen before him, accusing him of so long neglecting
to own his child, for 'Lena was his daughter, and she, who in all her
bright beauty had years ago gone down to an early grave, was his
wife, the wife of his first, and in bitterness of heart he sometimes
thought, of his only love.  His childhood's home, which was at the
sunny south, was not a happy one, for ere he had learned to lisp his
mother's name, she had died, leaving him to the guardianship of his
father, who was cold, exacting, and tyrannical, ruling his son with a
rod of iron, and by his stern, unbending manner increasing the
natural cowardice of his disposition.  From his mother Harry had
inherited a generous, impulsive nature, frequently leading him into
errors which his father condemned with so much severity that he early
learned the art of concealment, as far, at least, as his father was
concerned.

At the age of eighteen he left home for Yale, where he spent four
happy years, for the restraints of college life, though sometimes
irksome, were preferable far to the dull monotony of his southern
home; and when at last he was graduated, and there was no longer an
excuse for tarrying, he lingered by the way, stopping at the then
village of Springfield, where, actuated by some sudden freak, he
registered himself as Harry _Rivers_, the latter being his middle
name.  For doing this he had no particular reason, except that it
suited his fancy, and Rivers, he thought, was a better name than
Graham.  Here he met with Helena Nichols, whose uncommon beauty first
attracted his attention, and whose fresh, unstudied manners afterward
won his love to such an extent, that in an unguarded moment, and
without a thought of the result, he married her, neglecting to tell
her his real name before their marriage, because he feared she would
cease to respect him if she knew he had deceived her, and then
afterward finding it harder than ever to confess his fault.

As time wore on, his father's letters, commanding him to return, grew
more and more peremptory, until at last he wrote, "I am
sick--dying--and if you do not come, I'll cast you off forever."

Harry knew this was no unmeaning threat, and he now began to reap the
fruit of his folly.  He could not give up Helena, who daily grew
dearer to him, neither could he brave the displeasure of his father
by acknowledging his marriage, for disinheritance was sure to follow.
In this dilemma he resolved to compromise the matter.  He would leave
Helena awhile; he would visit his father, and if a favorable
opportunity occurred, he would confess all; if not, he would return
to his wife and do the best he could.  But she must be provided for
during his absence, and to effect this, he wrote to his father,
saying he stood greatly in need of five hundred dollars, and that
immediately on its receipt he would start for home.  Inconsistent as
it seemed with his general character, the elder Mr. Graham was
generous with his money, lavishing upon his son all that he asked
for, and the money was accordingly sent without a moment's hesitation.

And now Harry's besetting sin, _secrecy_, came again in action, and
instead of manfully telling Helena the truth, he left her privately,
stealing away at night, and quieting his conscience by promising
himself to reveal all in a letter, which was actually written, but as
at the time of its arrival Helena was at home, and the postmaster
knew of no such person, it was at last sent to Washington with
thousands of its companions.  The reader already knows how 'Lena's
young mother watched for her recreant husband's coming until life and
hope died out together, and it is only necessary to repeat that part
of the story which relates to Harry, who on his return home found his
father much worse than he expected.  At his bedside, ministering to
his wants, was a young, dashing widow, who prided herself upon being
Lady Bellmont.  On his death-bed her father had committed her to the
guardianship of Mr. Graham, who, strictly honorable in all his
dealings, had held his trust until the time of her marriage with a
young Englishman.

Unfortunately, as it proved for Harry, and fortunately for Sir
Arthur, who had nothing in common with his wife, the latter died
within two years after his marriage, leaving his widow and infant son
again to the care of Mr. Graham, with whom Lady Bellmont, as she was
pleased to call herself, lived at intervals, swaying him whichever
way she listed, and influencing him as he had never been influenced
before.  The secret of this was, that the old man had his eye upon
her vast possessions, which he destined for his son, who, ignorant of
the honor intended him, had presumed to marry according to the
promptings of his heart.

Scarcely was the first greeting over, ere his father at once made
known his plans, to which Harry listened with mingled pain and
amazement.  "Lucy--Lady Bellmont!" said he, "why, she's a mother--a
widow--beside being ten years my senior."

"Three years," interrupted his father.  "She is twenty-five, you
twenty-two, and then as to her being a widow and a mother, the
immensity of her wealth atones for that.  She is much sought after,
but I think she prefers you.  She will make you a good wife, and I am
resolved to see the union consummated ere I die."

"Never sir, never," answered Harry, in a more decided manner than he
had before assumed toward his father.  "It is utterly impossible."

Mr. Graham was too much exhausted to urge the matter at that time,
but he continued at intervals to harass Harry, until the very sight
of Lucy Bellmont became hateful to him.  It was not so, however, with
the son, the Durward of our story.  He was a fine little fellow, whom
every one loved, and for hours would Harry amuse himself with him,
while his thoughts were with his own wife and child, the latter of
whom was to be so strangely connected with the fortunes of the boy at
his side.  For weeks his father lingered, each day seeming an age to
Harry, who, though he did not wish to hasten his father's death,
still longed to be away.  Twice had he written without obtaining an
answer, and he was about making up his mind to start, at all events,
when his father suddenly died, leaving him the sole heir of all his
princely fortune, and with his latest breath enjoining it upon him to
marry Lucy Bellmont, who, after the funeral was over, adverted to it,
saying, in her softest tones, "I hope you don't feel obliged to
fulfill your father's request."

"Of course not," was Harry's short answer, as he went on with his
preparations for his journey, anticipating the happiness he should
experience in making Helena the mistress of his luxurious home.

But alas for human hopes.  The very morning on which he was intending
to start, he was seized with a fever, which kept him confined to his
bed until the spring was far advanced.  Sooner than he was able he
started for Springfield in quest of Helena, learning from the woman
whom he had left in charge, that she was dead, and her baby too!  The
shock was too much for him in his weak state, and for two weeks he
was again confined to a sick-bed, sincerely mourning the untimely end
of one whom he had truly loved, and whose death his own foolish
conduct had hastened.

Soon after their marriage her portrait had been taken by the best
artist in the town, and this he determined to procure as a memento of
the few happy days he had spent with Helena.  But the cottage where
he left her was now occupied by strangers, and after many inquiries,
he learned that the portrait, together with some of the furniture,
had been sold to pay the rent, which became due soon after his
departure.  His next thought was to visit her parents, but from this
his natural timidity shrank.  They would reproach him, he thought,
with the death of their daughter, whom he had so deeply wronged, and
not possessing sufficient courage to meet them face to face, he again
started for home, bearing a sad heart, which scarcely again felt a
thrill of joy until the morning when he first met with 'Lena, whose
exact resemblance to her mother so startled him as to arouse the
jealousy of his wife.

It would be both needless and tiresome to enumerate the many ways and
means by which Lucy Bellmont sought to ensnare him.  Suffice it to
say, that she at last succeeded, and he married her, finding in the
companionship of her son more real pleasure than he ever experienced
in her society.  After a time Mrs. Graham, growing weary of
Charleston, where her haughty, overbearing manner made her unpopular,
besought her husband to remove, which he finally did, going to
Louisville, where he remained until the time of his removal to
Woodlawn.  Fully believing what the old nurse had told him of the
death of his wife and child, he had no idea of the existence of the
latter, though often in the stillness of night the remembrance of the
little girl whom Durward had pointed out to him in the cars, arose
before him, haunting him with visions of the past, but it was not
until he met her at Maple Grove that he entertained a thought of her
being his daughter.

From that time his whole being seemed changed, for there was now an
object for which to live.  Carefully had he guarded from his wife a
knowledge of his first marriage, for he dreaded her sneering
reproaches, and he could not hear his beloved Helena's name breathed
lightly by one so greatly her inferior.  When he saw 'Lena, however,
his first impulse was to clasp her in his arms and compel his wife to
own her, but day after day went by, and he still delayed, hoping for
a more favorable opportunity, which never came.  Had he found her in
less favorable circumstances, he might have done differently, but
seeing only the brightest side of her life, he believed her
comparatively happy.  She was well educated, accomplished, and
beautiful, and so he waited, secure in the fact that he was near to
see that no harm should befall her.  Once it occurred to him that
possibly he might die suddenly, thus leaving his relationship to her
a secret forever, and acting upon this thought, he immediately made
his will, bequeathing all to 'Lena, whom he acknowledged to be his
daughter, adding an explanation of the whole affair, together with a
most touching letter to his child, who would never see it until he
was dead.

This done, he felt greatly relieved, and each day found some good
excuse for still keeping it from his wife, who worried him
incessantly concerning his evident preference for 'Lena.  Many and
many a time he resolved to tell her all, but as often postponed the
matter, until, with the broad Atlantic between them, he ventured to
write what he could not tell her verbally and, strange to say, the
effect upon his wife was far different from what he had expected.
She did not faint, for there was no one by to see her, neither did
she rave, for there was no one to hear her, but with her usual
inconsistency, she blamed her husband for not telling her before.
Then came other thoughts of a different nature.  _She_ had helped to
impair 'Lena's reputation, and if disgrace attached to her, it would
also fall upon her own family.  Consequently, as we have seen, she
set herself at work to atone, as far as possible, for her conduct.
Her husband had given her permission to wait, if she chose, until his
return, ere she made the affair public, and as she dreaded the
remarks it would necessarily call forth, she resolved to do so.  He
had advised her to tell 'Lena, but she was gone--no one knew whither,
and nervously she waited for some tidings of the wanderer.  She was
willing to receive 'Lena, but not the grandmother, _she_ was voted an
intolerable nuisance, who should never darken the doors of
Woodlawn--never!

Meantime, Mr. Graham had again crossed the ocean, landing in New
York, from whence he started for home, meeting, as we have seen, with
a detention in Canandaigua, where he accidentally fell in with Uncle
Timothy, who, being minus quite a little sum of money on account of
his transgression, was lamenting his ill fortune to one of his
acquaintances, and threatening to give up tavern keeping if the Maine
law wasn't repealed.

"Here," said he, "it has cost me up'ards of fifty dollars, and I'll
bet I hain't sold mor'n a barrel, besides what wine that Kentucky
chap has bought for his gal, and I suppose they call that nothin',
bein' it's for sickness.  Why, good Lord, the hull on't was for
medicine, or chimistry, or mechanics!"

This reminded his friend to inquire after the sick lady, whose name
he did not remember.

"It's 'Lena," answered Uncle Timothy, "'Lena Rivers that dandified
chap calls her, and it's plaguy curis to me what she's a runnin' away
for, and he a streakin' it through the country arter her; there's
mischief summers, so I tell 'em, but that's no consarn of mine so
long as he pays down regular."

Mr. Graham's curiosity was instantly aroused, and the moment he could
speak to Uncle Timothy alone, he asked what he meant by the sick lady.

In his own peculiar dialect, Uncle Timothy told all he knew, adding,
"A relation of yourn, mebby?"

"Yes, yes," said Mr. Graham.  "Is it far to Laurel Hill?"

"Better'n a dozen miles!  Was you goin' out there?"

Mr. Graham replied in the affirmative, at the same time asking if he
could procure a horse and carriage there.

Uncle Timothy never let an opportunity pass for turning a penny, and
now nudging Mr. Graham with his elbow, he said, "Them liv'ry
scamps'll charge you tew dollars, at the lowest calkerlation.  I'm
going right out, and will take you for six shillin'.  What do you
think?"

Mr. Graham's thoughts were not very complimentary to the shrewd
Yankee, but keeping his opinion to himself, he replied that he would
go, suggesting that they should start immediately.

"In less than five minits.  You jest set down while I go to the store
arter some jimcracks for the old woman," said Uncle Timothy, starting
up the street, which was the last Mr. Graham saw of him for three
long hours.

At the end of that time, the little man came stubbing down the walk,
making many apologies, and saying "he got so engaged about the darned
'liquor law,' and the putty-heads that made it, that he'd no idee
'twas so late."

On their way home he still continued to discourse on his favorite
topic, lamenting that he had voted for the present governor,
announcing his intention of "jinin' the _Hindews_ the fust time they
met at Suckerport," a village at the foot of Honeoye lake, and
stopping every man whom he knew to belong to that order, to ask if
they took a _fee_, and if "there was any bedivelment of _gridirons_
and _goats_, such as the Masons and Odd Fellers had!"  Being
repeatedly assured that the fee was only a dollar, and that the
initiatory process was not very painful, he concluded "to go it,
provided they'd promise to run him for constable.  Office is the hull
any of the scallywags jine 'em for, and I may as well go in for a
sheer," said he, thinking if he could not have the privilege of
selling liquor, he would at least secure the right of arresting those
who drank it!

In this way his progress homeward was not very rapid, and the clock
had struck ten long ere they reached the inn, which they found still
and dark, save the light which was kept burning in 'Lena's room.

"That's her chamber--the young gal's--where you see the candle," said
Uncle Timothy, as they drew up before the huge walls of the tavern.
"I guess you won't want to disturb her to-night."

"Certainly not," answered Mr. Graham, adding, as he felt a twinge of
his inveterate habit of secrecy, "If you'd just as lief, you need not
speak of me to the young gentleman; I wish to take him by
surprise"--meaning Durward.

There was no particular necessity for this caution, for Uncle Timothy
was too much absorbed in his loss to think of anything else, and when
his wife asked "who it was that he lighted up to bed," he replied, "A
chap that wanted to come out this way, and so rid with me."

Mr. Graham was very tired, and now scarcely had his head pressed the
pillow ere he was asleep, dreaming of 'Lena, whose presence was to
shed such a halo of sunlight over his hitherto cheerless home.  The
ringing of the bell next morning failed to arouse him, but when Mrs.
Aldergrass, noticing his absence from the table, inquired for him,
Uncle Timothy answered, "Never mind, let him sleep--tuckered out,
mebby--and you know we allus have a sixpence more for an extra meal!"

About eight Mr. Graham arose, and after a more than usually careful
toilet, he sat down to collect his scattered thoughts, for now that
the interview was so near, his ideas seemed suddenly to forsake him.
From the window he saw Durward depart for his walk, watching him
until he disappeared in the dim shadow of the woods.

"I will wait until his return, and let him tell her," thought he, but
when a half hour or more went by and Durward did not come, he
concluded to go down and ask to see her by himself.

In order to do this, it was necessary for him to pass 'Lena's room,
the door of which was ajar.  She was awake, and hearing his step,
thought it was Mrs. Aldergrass, and called to her.  A thrill of
exquisite delight ran through his frame at the sound of her voice,
and for an instant he debated the propriety of going to her at once.
A second call decided him, and in a moment he was at her bedside,
clasping her in his arms, and exclaiming, "My precious 'Lena!  My
_daughter_!  Has nothing ever told you that I am your father, the
husband of your angel mother, who lives again in her child--_my_
child--my 'Lena?"

For a moment 'Lena's brain grew dizzy, and she had well-nigh fainted,
when the sound of Mr. Graham's voice brought her back to
consciousness.  Pressing his lips to her white brow, he said, "Speak
to me my daughter.  Say that you receive me as your father for such I
am."

With lightning rapidity 'Lena's thoughts traversed the past, whose
dark mystery was now made plain, and as the thought that it might be
so--that it was so--flashed upon her, she clasped her hands together,
exclaiming, "My father!  Is it true?  You are not deceiving me?"

"Deceive you, darling?--no," said he.  "I am your father, and Helena
Nichols was my wife."

"Why then did you leave her?  Why have you so long left me
unacknowledged?" asked 'Lena.

Mr. Graham groaned bitterly.  The hardest part was yet to come, but
he met it manfully, telling her the whole story, sparing not himself
in the least, and ending by asking if, after all this, she could
forgive and love him as her father.

Raising herself in bed, 'Lena wound her arms around his neck, and
laying her face against his, wept like a little child.  He felt that
he was sufficiently answered, and holding her closer to his bosom, he
pushed back the clustering curls, kissing her again and again, while
he said aloud, "I have your answer, dearest one; we will never be
parted again."

So absorbed was he in his newly-recovered treasure, that he did not
observe the fiery eye, the glittering teeth, and clenched first of
Durward Bellmont, who had returned from his walk, and who, in coming
up to his, room, had recognized the tones of his father's voice.
Recoiling backward a step or two, he was just in time to see 'Lena as
she threw herself into Mr. Graham's, arms--in time to hear the tender
words of endearment lavished upon her by his father.  Staggering
backward, he caught at the banister to keep from falling, while a
moan of anguish came from his ashen lips.  Alone in his room, he grew
calmer, though his heart still quivered with unutterable agony as he
strode up and down the room, exclaiming, as he had once done before,
"I would far rather see her dead than thus--my lost, lost 'Lena!"

Then, in the deep bitterness of his spirit, he cursed his father,
whom he believed to be far more guilty than she.  "I cannot meet
him," thought he; "there is murder at my heart, and I must away ere
he knows of my presence."

Suiting the action to the word, he hastened down the stairs, glancing
back once, and seeing 'Lena reclining upon his father's arm, while
her eyes were raised to his with a sweet, confiding smile, which told
of perfect happiness.

"Thank God that I am unarmed, else he could not live," thought he,
hurrying into the bar-room, where he placed in Uncle Timothy's hands
double the sum due for himself and 'Lena, and then, without a word of
explanation, he walked away.

He was a good pedestrian, and preferring solitude in his present
state of feeling, he determined to go on foot to Canandaigua, a
distance of little more than a dozen miles.  Meantime, Mr. Graham was
learning from 'Lena the cause of her being there, and though she, as
far as possible, softened the fact of his having been accessory to
her misfortunes, he felt it none the less keenly, and would
frequently interrupt her with the exclamation that it was the result
of his cowardice--his despicable habit of secrecy.  When she spoke of
the curl which his wife had burned, he seemed deeply affected,
groaning aloud as he hid his face in his hands,

"And _she_ found it--she burned it," said he; "and it was all I had
left of my Helena.  I cut it from her head on the morning of my
departure, when she lay sleeping, little dreaming of my cruel
desertion.  But," he added, "I can bear it better now that I have
you, her living image, for what she was when last I saw her, you are
now."

Their conversation then turned upon Durward, and with the tact he so
well knew how to employ, Mr. Graham drew from his blushing daughter a
confession of the love she bore him.

"He is worthy of you," said he, while 'Lena, without seeming to heed
the remark, said, "I have not seen him yet, but I am expecting him
every moment, for he was to visit me this morning."

At this juncture Mrs. Aldergrass, who had been at one of her
neighbors', came in, appearing greatly surprised at the sight of the
stranger, whom 'Lena quietly introduced as "her father," while Mr.
Graham colored painfully as Mrs. Aldergrass, curtsying very low,
hoped _Mr. Rivers_ was well!

"Let it go so," whispered 'Lena, as she saw her father about to speak.

Mr. Graham complied, and then observing how anxiously his daughter's
eyes sought the doorway, whenever a footstep was heard, he asked Mrs.
Aldergrass for Mr. Bellmont, saying they would like to see him, if he
had returned.

Quickly going downstairs, Mrs. Aldergrass soon came back, announcing
that "he'd paid his bill and gone off."

"Gone!" said Mr. Graham.  "There must be some mistake.  I will go
down and inquire."

With his hand in his pocket grasping the purse containing the gold,
Uncle Timothy told all he knew, adding, that "'twan't noways likely
but he'd come back agin, for he'd left things in his room to the
vally of five or six dollars."

Upon reflection, Mr. Graham concluded so, too, and returning to
'Lena, he sat by her all day, soothing her with assurances that
Durward would surely come back, as there was no possible reason for
his leaving them so abruptly.  As the day wore away and the night
came on he seemed less sure, while even Uncle Timothy began to
fidget, and when in the evening a young pettifogger, who had recently
hung out his shingle on Laurel Hill, came in, he asked him, in a low
tone, "if, under the present governor, they _hung_ folks on
circumstantial evidence alone."

"Unquestionably, for that is sometimes the best kind of evidence,"
answered the sprig of the law, taking out some little ivory tablets
and making a charge against Uncle Timothy for professional advice!

"But if one of my boarders, who has lots of money, goes off in broad
daylight and is never heard of agin, would that be any sign he was
murdered--by the landlord?" continued Uncle Timothy, beginning to
think there might be a worse law than the Maine liquor law.

"That depends upon the previous character of the landlord," answered
the lawyer, making another entry, while Uncle Timothy, brightening
up, exclaimed, "I shall stand the racket, then, for my character is
tip-top."

In the morning Mr. Graham announced his intention of going in quest
of Durward, and with a magnanimity quite praiseworthy, Uncle Timothy
offered his _hoss_ and wagon "for nothin', provided Mr. Graham would
leave his watch as a guaranty against _his_ runnin' off!"

Just as Mr. Graham was about to start, a horseman rode up, saying he
had come from Canandaigua at the request of a Mr. Bellmont, who
wished him to bring letters for Mr. Graham and Miss Rivers.

"And where is Mr. Bellmont?" asked Mr. Graham, to which the man
replied, that he took the six o'clock train the night before, saying,
further, that his manner was so strange as to induce a suspicion of
insanity on the part of those who saw him.

Taking the package, Mr. Graham repaired to 'Lena's room, giving her
her letter, and then reading his, which was full of bitterness,
denouncing him as a villain and cautioning him, as he valued his
life, never again to cross the track of his outraged step-son.

"You have robbed me," he wrote, "of all I hold most dear, and while I
do not censure her the less, I blame you the more, for you are older
in experience, older in years, and ten-fold older in sin, and I know
you must have used every art your foul nature could suggest, ere you
won my lost 'Lena from the path of rectitude."

In the utmost astonishment Mr. Graham looked up at 'Lena, who had
fainted.  It was long ere she returned to consciousness, and then her
fainting fit was followed by another more severe, if possible, than
the first, while in speechless agony Mr. Graham hung over her.

"I killed the mother, and now I am killing the child," thought he.

But at last 'Lena seemed better, and taking from the pillow the
crumpled note, she passed it toward her father, bidding him read it.
It was as follows;


"MY LOST 'LENA: By this title it seems appropriate for me to call
you, for you are more surely lost to me than you would be were this
summer sun shining upon your grave.  And, 'Lena, believe me when I
say I would rather, far rather, see you dead than the guilty thing
you are, for then your memory would be to me as a holy, blessed
influence, leading me on to a better world, where I could hope to
greet you as my spirit bride.  But now, alas! how dark the cloud
which shrouds you from my sight.

"Oh, 'Lena, 'Lena, how could you deceive me thus, when I thought you
so pure and innocent, when even now, I would willingly lay down my
life could that save you from ruin.

"Do you ask what I mean?  I have only to refer you to what this
morning took place between you and the vile man I once called father,
and whom I believed to be the soul of truth and honor.  With a heart
full of tenderness toward you, I was hastening to your side, when a
scene met my view which stilled the beatings of my pulse and curdled
the very blood in my veins, I saw you throw your arms around _his_
neck--the husband of _my_ mother.  I saw you lay your head upon his
bosom.  I heard him as he called you _dearest_, and said you would
never be parted again!

"You know all that has passed heretofore, and can you wonder that my
worst fears are now confirmed?  God knows how I struggled against
those doubts, which were nearly removed, when, by the evidence of my
own eyesight, uncertainty was made sure.

"And now, my once loved, but erring 'Lena, farewell.  I am going
away--whither, I know not, care not, so that I never hear your name
coupled with disgrace.  Another reason why I go, is that the hot
blood of the south burns too fiercely in my veins to suffer me to
meet your destroyer and not raise my hand against him.  When this
reaches you, I shall be far away.  But what matters it to you?  And
yet, 'Lena, there will come a time when you'll remember one who, had
you remained true to yourself, would have devoted his life to make
you happy, for I know I am not indifferent to you.  I have lead it in
your speaking eye, and in the childlike confidence with which you
would yield to _me_ when no one else could control your wild ravings.

"But enough of this.  Time hastens, and I must say farewell--farewell
forever--my _lost, lost_ 'Lena!

  "DURWARD."


Gradually as Mr. Graham read, he felt a glow of indignation at
Durward's hastiness.  "Rash boy! he might at least have spoken with
me," said he, as he finished the letter, but 'Lena would hear no word
of censure against him.  She did not blame him.  She saw it all,
understood it all, and as she recalled the contents of his letter,
her own heart sadly echoed, "_lost forever_."

As well as he was able, Mr. Graham tried to comfort her, but in spite
of his endeavors, there was still at her heart the same dull, heavy
pain, and most anxiously Mr. Graham watched her, waiting impatiently
for the time when she would be able to start for home, as he hoped a
change of place and scene would do much toward restoring both her
health and spirits.  Soon after his arrival at Laurel Hill, Mr.
Graham had written to Mr. Livingstone, telling him what he had before
told his wife, and adding, "Of course, my _daughter's_ home will in
future be with me, at Woodlawn, where I shall be happy to see
yourself and family at any time."

This part of the letter he showed to 'Lena, who, after reading it,
seemed for a long time absorbed in thought.

"What is it, darling?  Of what are you thinking?" Mr. Graham asked,
at length, and 'Lena, taking the hand which he had laid gently upon
her forehead, replied, "I am thinking of poor grandmother.  She is
not happy, now, at Maple Grove.  She will be more unhappy should I
leave her, and if you please, I would rather stay there with her.  I
can see you every day."

"Do you suppose me cruel enough to separate you from your
grandmother?" interrupted Mr. Graham.  "No, no, I am not quite so bad
as that.  Woodlawn is large--there are rooms enough--and grandma
shall have her choice, provided it is a reasonable one."

"And your wife--Mrs. Graham?  What will she say?" timidly inquired
'Lena, involuntarily shrinking from the very thought of coming in
contact with the little lady who had so recently come up before her
in the new and formidable aspect of _stepmother_!

Mr. Graham did not know himself what she would say, neither did he
care.  The fault of his youth once confessed, he felt himself a new
man, able to cope with almost anything, and if in the future his wife
objected to what he knew to be right, it would do her no good, for
henceforth he was to rule his own house.  Some such thoughts passed
through his mind, but it would not be proper, he knew, to express
himself thus to 'Lena, so he laughingly replied, "Oh, we'll fix that,
easily enough."

At the time he wrote to Mr. Livingstone, he had also sent a letter to
his wife, announcing his safe return from Europe, and saying that he
should be at home as soon as 'Lena's health would admit of her
traveling.  Not wishing to alarm her unnecessarily, he merely said of
Durward, that he had found him at Laurel Hill.  To this letter Mrs.
Graham replied immediately, and with a far better grace than her
husband had expected.  Very frankly she confessed the unkind part she
had acted toward 'Lena, and while she said she was sorry, she also
spoke of the reaction which had taken place in the minds of Lena's
friends, who, she said, would gladly welcome her back,

The continued absence of Durward was now the only drawback to 'Lena's
happiness, and with a comparatively light heart, she began to
anticipate her journey home.  Most liberally did Mr. Graham pay for
both himself and 'Lena, and Uncle Timothy, as he counted the shining
coin, dropping it upon the table to make sure it was not _bogus_,
felt quite reconciled to his recent loss of fifty dollars.  Jerry,
the driver, was also generously rewarded for his kindness to the
stranger-girl, and just before he left, Mr. Graham offered to make
him his chief overseer, if he would accompany him to Kentucky.

"You are just the man I want," said he, "and I know you'll like it.
What do you say?"

For the sake of occasionally seeing 'Lena, whom he considered as
something more than mortal, Jerry would gladly have gone, but he was
a staunch abolitionist, dyed in the wool, and scratching his head, he
replied, "I'm obleeged to you, but I b'lieve I'd rather drive
_hosses_ than _niggers_!"

"Mebby you could run one on 'em off, and so make a little sumthin',"
slyly whispered Uncle Timothy, his eyes always on the main chance,
but it was no part of Jerry's creed to make anything, and as 'Lena at
that moment appeared, he beat a precipitate retreat, going out behind
the church, where he watched the departure of his southern friends,
saying afterward, to Mrs. Aldergrass, who chided him for his conduct,
that "he never could bid nobody good-bye, he was so darned
tender-hearted!"




CHAPTER XXXV.

EXCITEMENT AT MAPLE GROVE.

"'Lena been gone four weeks and father never stirred a peg after her!
That is smart, I must say.  Why didn't you let me know it before!"
exclaimed John Jr., as he one morning unexpectedly made his
appearance at Maple grove.

During his absence Carrie had been his only correspondent, and for
some reason or other she delayed telling him of 'Lena's flight until
quite recently.  Instantly forgetting his resolution of not returning
for a year, he came home with headlong haste, determining to start
immediately after his cousin.

"I reckon if you knew all that has been said about her, you wouldn't
feel quite so anxious to get her back," said Carrie.  "For my part, I
feel quite relieved at her absence."

"Shut up your head," roared John 'Jr.  "'Lena is no more guilty than
_you_.  By George, I most cried when I heard how nobly she worked to
save Anna from old Baldhead.  And this is her reward!  Gracious
Peter! I sometimes wish there wasn't a woman in the world!"

"If they'd all marry you, there wouldn't be long!" retorted Carrie.

"You've said it now, haven't you?" answered John Jr., while his
father suggested that they stop quarreling, adding, as an apology for
his own neglect, that Durward had gone after 'Lena, who was probably
at Mr. Everett's, and that he himself had advertised in all the
principal papers.

"Just like Bellmont!  He's a fine fellow and deserves 'Lena, if
anybody does," exclaimed John Jr., while Carrie chimed in, "Pshaw!
I've no idea he's gone for her.  Why, they've hardly spoken for
several months, and besides that, Mrs. Graham will never suffer him
to marry one of so low origin."

"The deary me!" said John Jr., mimicking his sister's manner, "how
much lower is her origin than yours?"

Carrie's reply was prevented by the appearance of her grandmother,
who, hearing that John Jr. was there, had hobbled in to see him.
Perfectly rational on all other subjects, Mrs. Nichols still
persisted in saying of 'Lena, that she had killed her, and now, when
her first greeting with John Jr. was over, she whispered in his ear,
"Have they told you 'Lena was dead?  She is--I killed her--it says so
here," and she handed him the almost worn-out note which she
constantly carried with her.  Rough as he seemed at times, there was
in John Jr.'s nature many a tender spot, and when he saw the look of
childish imbecility on his grandmother's face, he pressed his strong
arm around her, and a tear actually dropped upon her gray hair as he
told her 'Lena was not dead--he was going to find her and bring her
home.  At that moment old Caesar, who had been to the post-office,
returned, bringing Mr. Graham's letter, which had just arrived.

"That's Mr. Graham's handwriting," said Carrie; glancing at the
superscription.  "Perhaps _he_ knows something of 'Lena!" and she
looked meaningly at her mother, who, with a peculiar twist of her
mouth, replied, "Very likely."

"You are right.  He _does_ know something of her," said Mr.
Livingstone, as he finished reading the letter.  "She is with him at
a little village called Laurel Hill, somewhere in New York."

"There!  I told you so.  Poor Mrs. Graham.  It will kill her.  I must
go and see her immediately," exclaimed Mrs. Livingstone, settling
herself back quite composedly in her chair, while Carrie, turning to
her brother, asked "what he thought of 'Lena now."

"Just what I always did," he replied.  "There's fraud somewhere.
Will you let me see that, sir?" advancing toward his father, who,
placing the letter in his hand, walked to the window to hide the
varied emotions of his face.

Rapidly John Jr. perused it, comprehending the whole then, when it
was finished, he seized his hat, and throwing it up in the air,
shouted, "Hurrah!  Hurrah for _Miss 'Lena Rivers Graham_, daughter of
the Honorable Harry Rivers Graham.  I was never so glad in my life.
Hurrah!" and again the hat went up, upsetting in its descent a costly
vase, the fragments of which followed in the direction of the hat, as
the young man capered about the room, perfectly insane with joy.

"Is the boy crazy?" asked Mrs. Livingstone, catching him by the coat
as he passed her, while Carrie attempted to snatch the letter from
his hand.

"Crazy?--yes," said he.  "Who do you think 'Lena's father is?  No
less a person than Mr. Graham himself.  Now taunt her again, Cad,
with her low origin, if you like.  She isn't coming here to live any
more.  She's going to Woodlawn.  She'll marry Durward, while you'll
be a cross, dried-up old maid, eh, Cad?" and he chucked her under the
chin, while she began to cry, bidding him let her alone.

"What do you mean?" interposed Mrs. Livingstone, trembling lest it
might be true.

"I will read the letter and you can judge for yourself," replied John.

Both Carrie and her mother were too much astonished to utter a
syllable, while, in their hearts, each hoped it would prove untrue.
Bending forward, grandma had listened eagerly, her dim eye lighting
up as she occasionally caught the meaning of what she heard; but she
could not understand it at once, and turning to her son, she said,
"What is it, John? what does it mean?"

As well as they could, Mr. Livingstone and John Jr. explained it to
her, and when at length she comprehended it, in her own peculiar way
she exclaimed, "Thank God that 'Leny is a lady, at last--as good as
the biggest on 'em.  Oh, I wish Helleny had lived to know who her
husband was.  Poor critter!  Mebby he'll give me money to go back and
see the old place, once more, afore I die."

"If he don't I will," said Mr. Livingstone, upon which his wife, who
had not spoken before, wondered "where he'd get it."

By this time Carrie had comforted herself with the assurance that as
'Lena was now Durward's sister, he would not, of course, marry her,
and determining to make the best of it, she replied to her brother,
who rallied her on her crestfallen looks, that he was greatly
mistaken, for "she was as pleased as any one at 'Lena's good fortune,
but it did not follow that she must make a fool of herself, as some
others did."

The closing part of this remark was lost on John Jr., who had left
the room.  In the first excitement, he had thought "how glad Nellie
will be," and acting, as he generally did, upon impulse, he now
ordered his horse, and dashing off at full speed, as usual, surprised
Nellie, first, with his sudden appearance, second, with his
announcement of 'Lena's parentage, and third, by an offer of himself!

"It's your destiny," said he, "and it's of no use to resist.  What
did poor little Meb die for, if it wasn't to make room for you.  So
you may as well say yes first as last.  I'm odd, I know, but you can
fix me over.  I'll do exactly what you wish me to.  Say yes, Nellie,
won't you ?"

And Nellie did say yes, wondering, the while, it ever before woman
had such wooing.  We think not, for never was there another John Jr.

"I have had happiness enough for one day," said he, kissing her
blushing cheek and hurrying away.

As if every hitherto neglected duty were now suddenly remembered, he
went straight from Mr. Douglass's to the marble factory, where he
ordered a costly stone for the little grave on the sunny slope, as
yet unmarked save by the tall grass and rank weeds which grew above
it.

"What inscription will you have?" asked the engraver.  John Jr.
thought for a moment, and then replied; "Simply 'Mabel.'  Nothing
more or less; that tells the whole story," and involuntarily
murmuring to himself, "Poor little Meb, I wish she knew how happy I
am," he started for home, where he was somewhat surprised to find
Mrs. Graham.

She had also received a letter from her husband, and deeming secrecy
no longer advisable, had come over to Maple Grove, where, to her
great satisfaction, she found that the news had preceded her.
Feeling sure that Mrs. Graham must feel greatly annoyed, both Carrie
and her mother began, at first, to act the part of consolers, telling
her it might not be true, after all, for perhaps it was a ruse of Mr.
Graham's to cover some deep-laid, scheme.  But for once in her life
Mrs. Graham did well, and to their astonishment, replied, "Oh, I hope
not, for you do not know how I long for the society of a daughter,
and as Mr. Graham's child I shall gladly welcome 'Lena home, trying,
if possible, to overlook the vulgarity of her family friends!"

Though wincing terribly, neither Mrs. Livingstone nor her daughter
were to be outgeneraled.  If Mrs. Graham could so soon change her
tactics, so could they, and for the next half hour they lauded 'Lena
to the skies.  They had always liked her--particularly Mrs.
Livingstone--who said, "If allowed to speak my mind, Mrs. Graham, I
must say that I have felt a good deal pained by those reports which
you put in circulation."

"_I_ put reports in circulation!" retorted Mrs. Graham.  "What do you
mean?  It was yourself, madam, as I can prove by the whole
neighborhood!"

The war of words was growing sharper and more personal, when John
Jr.'s appearance put an end to it, and the two ladies, thinking they
might as well be friends as enemies, introduced another topic of
conversation, soon after which Mrs. Graham took her leave.  Pausing
in the doorway, she said, "Would it afford you any gratification to
be at Woodlawn when 'Lena arrives?"

Knowing that, under the circumstances, it would look better, Mrs.
Livingstone said "yes," while Carrie, thinking Durward would be
there, made a similar reply, saying "she was exceedingly anxious to
see her cousin."

"Very well.  I will let you know when I expect her," said Mrs.
Graham, curtsying herself from the room.

"Spell _Toady_, Cad," whispered John Jr., and with more than her
usual quickness, Carrie replied, by doing as he desired.

"That'll do," said he, as he walked off to the back yard, where he
found the younger portion of the blacks engaged in a rather novel
employment for them.

The news of 'Lena's good fortune had reached the kitchen, causing
much excitement, for she was a favorite there.

"'Clar for't," said Aunt Milly, "we orto have a bonfire.  It won't
hurt nothin' on the brick pavement."

Accordingly, as it was now dark, the children were set at work
gathering blocks, chips, sticks, dried twigs, and leaves, and by the
time John Jr. appeared, they had collected quite a pile.  Not knowing
how he would like it, they all took to their heels, except Thomas
Jefferson, who, having some of his mother's spirit, stood his ground,
replying, when asked what they were about, that they were "gwine to
celebrate Miss 'Lena." Taking in the whole fun at once, John Jr.
called out, "Good! come back here, you scapegraces."

Scarcely had he uttered these words, when from behind the lye-leach,
the smoke-house and the trees, emerged the little darkies, their eyes
and ivories shining with the expected frolic.  Taught by John Jr.,
they hurrahed at the top of their voices when the flames burst up,
and one little fellow, not yet able to talk plain, made his bare,
shining legs fly like drumsticks as he shouted, "Huyah for Miss 'Leny
Yivers Gayum----"

"Bellmont, too, say," whispered John Jr., as he saw Carrie on the
back piazza.

"_Bellmont, too, say_," yelled the youngster, leaping so high as to
lose his balance.

Rolling over the green-sward like a ball, he landed at the feet of
Carrie, who, spurning him as she would a toad, went back to the
parlor, where for more than an hour she cried from pure vexation.




CHAPTER XXXVI.

ARRIVAL AT WOODLAWN.

It was a warm September night at Woodlawn.  The windows were open,
and through the richly-wrought curtains the balmy air of evening was
stealing, mingling its delicious perfume of flowers without with the
odor of those which drooped from the many costly vases which adorned
the handsome parlors.  Lamps were burning, casting a mellow light
over the gorgeous furniture, while in robes of snowy white the
mistress of the mansion flitted from room to room, a little nervous,
a little fidgety, and, without meaning to be so, a little cross.  For
more than two hours she had waited for her husband, delaying the
supper, which the cook, quite as anxious as herself, pronounced
spoiled by the delay.

According to promise the party from Maple Grove had arrived, with the
exception of John Jr., who had generously remained with his
grandmother, she having been purposely omitted in the invitation.
From the first, Mrs. Graham had decided that Mrs. Nichols should
never live at Woodlawn, and she thought it proper to have it
understood at once.  Accordingly, as she was conducting Mrs.
Livingstone and Carrie to 'Lena's room, she casually remarked, "I've
made no provision for Mrs. Nichols, except as an occasional visitor,
for of course she will remain with her son.  She is undoubtedly much
attached to your family, and will be happier there!"

"_This_ 'Lena's!" interrupted Carrie, ere her mother had time to
reply.  "It's the very best chamber in the house--Brussels carpets,
marble and rosewood furniture, damask curtains.  Why, she'll hardly
know how to act," she continued, half unconsciously, as she gazed
around the elegant apartment, which, with one of her unaccountable
freaks, Mrs. Graham had fitted up with the utmost taste.

"Yes, this is Lena's," said Mrs. Graham, complacently.  "Will it
compare at all with her chamber at Maple Grove?  I do not wish it to
seem inferior!"

Carrie bit her lip, while her mother very coolly replied, "Ye-es, on
the whole _quite_ as good, perhaps better, as some of the furniture
is new!"

"Have I told you," continued Mrs. Graham, bent on tormenting
them,--"have I told you that we are to spend the winter in New
Orleans, where 'Lena will of course be the reigning belle?  You ought
to be there, dear," laying her hand on Carrie's shoulder.  "It would
be so gratifying to you to witness the sensation she will create!"

"Spiteful old thing--she tries to insult us," thought Carrie, her
heart swelling with bitterness toward the ever-hated 'Lena, whose
future life seemed so bright and joyous.

The sound of wheels was now heard, and the ladies reached the lower
hall just as the carriage, which had been sent to the station at
Midway, drove up at a side door.  Carrie's first thought was for
Durward, and shading her eyes with her hand, she looked anxiously
out.  But only Mr. Graham alighted, gently lifting out his daughter,
who was still an invalid.

"Mighty careful of her," thought Mrs. Livingstone, as in his arms he
bore her up the marble steps.

Depositing her in their midst, and placing his arm around her, he
said, turning to his wife, "Lucy, this is my daughter.  Will you
receive and love her as such, for my sake?"

In a moment 'Lena's soft, white hand lay in the fat, chubby one of
Mrs. Graham, who kissed her pale cheek, calling her "'Lena," and
saying "she was welcome to Woodlawn."

Mrs. Livingstone and Carrie now pressed forward, overwhelming her
with caresses, telling her how badly they had felt at her absence,
chiding her for running away, calling her a _naughty puss_, and
perfectly bewildering her with their new mode of conduct.  Mr.
Livingstone's turn came next, but he neither kissed nor caressed her,
for that was not in keeping with his nature, but very, very tenderly
he looked into her eyes, as he said, "You know, 'Lena, that I am
glad--most glad for you."

Unostentatious as was this greeting, 'Lena felt that there was more
sincerity in it than all that had gone before, and the tears gushed
forth involuntarily.  Mentally styling her, the one "a baby," and the
other "a fool," Mrs. Livingstone and Carrie returned to the parlor,
while Mrs. Graham, calling a servant, bade her show 'Lena to her room.

"Hadn't you better go up and assist your cousin," whispered Mrs.
Livingstone to Carrie, who forthwith departed, knocking at the door,
an act of politeness she had never before thought it necessary to
offer 'Lena.  But she was an _heiress_, now, fully, yes, more than
equal, and that made a vast difference.

"I came to see if I could render you any service," she said in answer
to 'Lena's look of inquiry.

"No I thank you," returned 'Lena, beginning to get an inkling of the
truth.  "You know I'm accustomed to waiting upon myself, and if I
want anything, Drusa can assist me.  I've only to change my soiled
dress and smooth my hair," she continued, as she shook out her long
and now rather rough tresses.

"What handsome hair you've got," said Carrie, taking one of the curls
in her hand.  "I'd forgotten it was so beautiful.  Hasn't it improved
during your absence?"

"A course of fever is not usually very beneficial to one's hair, I
believe," answered 'Lena, as she proceeded to brush and arrange her
wavy locks, which really had lost some of their luster.

Foiled in her attempt at toadyism, Carrie took another tack.  Looking
'Lena in the face, she said, ^What is it?  I can't make it out,
but--but somehow you've changed, you don't look so--so----"

"So _well_ you would say, I suppose," returned 'Lena, laughingly,
"I've grown thin, but I hope to improve by and by."

Drusa glanced at the two girls as they stood side by side, and her
large eyes sparkled as she thought her young mistress "a heap the
best lookin' _now_."

By this time Carrie had thought to ask for Durward.  Instantly 'Lena
turned whiter, if possible, than she was before, and in an unsteady
voice she replied, that "she did not know."

"Not know!" repeated Carrie, her own countenance brightening visibly.
"Haven't you seen him?  Wasn't he at that funny, out-of-the-way
place, where you were?"

"Yes, but he left before I saw him," returned 'Lena, her manner
plainly indicating that there was something wrong.

Carrie's spirits rose.  There was a chance for her, and on their way
downstairs she laughed and chatted so familiarly, that 'Lena wondered
if it could be the same haughty girl who had seldom spoken to her
except to repulse or command her.  The supper-bell rang just as they
reached the parlor, and Mr. Graham, taking 'Lena on his arm, led the
way to the dining-room, where the entire silver tea-set had been
brought out, in honor of the occasion.

"Hasn't 'Lena changed, mother?" said Carrie, feeling hateful, and
knowing no better way of showing it "Hasn't her sickness changed her?"

"It has made her grow _old_; that's all the difference I perceive,"
returned Mrs. Livingstone, satisfied that she'd said the thing which
she knew would most annoy herself.

"How old are you, dear?" asked Mrs. Graham, leaning across the table.

"Eighteen," was 'Lena's answer, to which Mrs. Graham replied, "I
thought so.  Three years younger than Carrie, I believe."

"Two, only two," interrupted Mrs. Livingstone, while Carrie
exclaimed, "Horrors!  How old do you take me to be?"

Adroitly changing the conversation, Mrs. Graham made no reply, and
soon after they rose from the table.  Scarcely had they returned to
the parlor, when John Jr. was announced.  "He had," he said, "got his
grandmother to sleep and put her to bed, and now he had come to pay
his respects to _Miss Graham_!"

Catching her in his arms, he exclaimed, "Little girl!  I'm as much
delighted with your good fortune as I should b had it happened to
myself.  But where is Bellmont?" he continued, looking about the room.

Mr. Graham replied she that was was not there.

"Not here?" repeated John Jr.  "What have you done with him, 'Lena?"

Lifting her eyes, full of tears, to her cousin's face, 'Lena said,
softly, "Please don't talk about it now."

"There's something wrong," thought John Jr.  "I'll bet I'll have to
shoot that dog yet."

'Lena longed to pour out her troubles to some one, and knowing she
could confide in John Jr., she soon found an opportunity of
whispering to him, "Come tomorrow, and I will tell you all about it."

Between ten and eleven the company departed, Mrs. Livingstone and
Carrie taking a most affectionate leave of 'Lena, urging her not to
fail of coming over the next day, as they should be expecting her.
The ludicrous expression of John Jr.'s face was a sufficient
interpretation of his thoughts, as whispering aside to 'Lena, he
said, "I can't do it justice if I try!"

The next morning Mr. Graham got out his carriage to carry 'Lena to
Maple Grove, asking his wife to accompany them.  But she excused
herself, on the plea of a headache, and they set off without her.
The meeting between 'Lena and her grandmother was affecting, and
Carrie, in order to sustain the character she had assumed, walked to
the window, to hide her emotions, probably--at least John Jr. thought
so, for with the utmost gravity he passed her his silk pocket
handkerchief!  When the first transports of her interview with 'Lena
were over, Mrs. Nichols fastened herself upon Mr. Graham, while John
Jr. invited 'Lena to the garden, where he claimed from her the
promised story, which she told him unreservedly.

"Oh, that's nothing, compared with my experience," said John Jr.,
plucking at the rich, purple grapes which hung in heavy clusters
above his head.  "That's easily settled.  I'll go after Durward
myself, and bring him back, either dead or alive--the latter if
possible, the former if necessary.  So cheer up.  I've faith to
believe that you and Durward will be married about the same time that
Nellie and I are.  We are engaged--did I tell you?"

Involuntarily 'Lena's eyes wandered in the direction of the sunny
slope and the little grave, as yet but nine months made.

"I know what you think," said John Jr. rather testily, "but hang me
if I can help it.  Meb was never intended for me, except by mother.
I suppose there is in the world somebody for whom she was made, but
it wasn't I, and that's the reason she died.  I am sorry as anybody,
and every night in my life I think of poor Meb, who loved me so well,
and who met with so poor a return.  I've bought her some gravestones,
though," he continued, as if that were an ample atonement for the
past.

While they were thus occupied, Mr. Graham was discussing with Mrs.
Nichols the propriety of her removing to Woodlawn.

"I shan't live long to trouble anybody," said she when asked if she
would like to go, "and I'm nothin' without 'Leny."

So it was arranged that she should go with him, and when 'Lena
returned to the house, she found her grandmother in her chamber,
packing up, preparatory to her departure.

"We'll have to come agin," said she, "for I've as much as two loads."

"Don't take them," interposed 'Lena.  "You won't need them, and
nothing will harm them here."

After a little, grandma was persuaded, and her last charge to Mrs.
Livingstone and Carrie was, "that they keep the dum niggers from her
things."

Habit with Mrs. Nichols was everything.  She had lived at Maple Grove
for years, and every niche and corner of her room she understood.
She knew the blacks and they knew her, and ere she was half-way to
Woodlawn, she began to wish she had not started.  Politely, but
coldly, Mrs. Graham received her, saying "I thought, perhaps, you
would return with them to _spend the day_!" laying great emphasis on
the last words, as if that, of course, was to be the limit of her
visit Grandma understood it, and it strengthened her resolution of
not remaining long.

"Miss Graham don't want to be pestered with me," said she to 'Lena,
the first time they were alone, "and I don't mean that she shall be.
'Tilda is used to me, and she don't mind it now, so I shall go back
afore long.  You can come to see me every day, and once in a while
I'll come here."

That afternoon a heavy rain came on, and Mrs. Graham remarked to Mrs.
Nichols that "she hoped she was not homesick, as there was every
probability of her being obliged to _stay over night_!" adding, by
way of comfort, that "she was going to Frankfort the next day to make
purchases for 'Lena, and would take her home."

Accordingly, the next morning Mrs. Livingstone was not very agreeably
surprised by the return of her mother-in-law, who, Mrs. Graham said,
"was so home-sick they couldn't keep her."

That night when Mrs. Graham, who was naturally generous, returned
from the city, she left at Maple Grove a large bundle for grandma,
consisting of dresses, aprons, caps, and the like, which she had
purchased as a sort or peace-offering, or reward, rather, for her
having decamped so quietly from Woodlawn.  But the poor old lady did
not live to wear them.  Both her mind and body were greatly impaired,
and for two or three years she had been failing gradually.  There was
no particular disease, but a general breaking up of the springs of
life, and a few weeks after 'Lena's arrival at Woodlawn,, they made
another grave on the sunny slope, and Mabel no longer slept alone.




CHAPTER XXXVII.

DURWARD.

From place to place and from scene to scene Durward had hurried,
caring nothing except to forget, if possible, the past, and knowing
not where he was going, until he at last found himself in Richmond,
Virginia.  This was his mother's birthplace, and as several of her
more distant relatives were still living here, he determined to stop
for awhile, hoping that new objects and new scenes would have some
power to rouse him from the lethargy into which he had fallen.
Constantly in terror lest he should hear of 'Lena's disgrace, which
he felt sure would be published to the world, he had, since his
departure from Laurel Hill, resolutely refrained from looking in a
newspaper, until one morning some weeks after his arrival at Richmond.

Entering a reading-room, he caught up the Cincinnati Gazette, and
after assuring himself by a hasty glance that it did not contain what
he so much dreaded to see, he sat down to read it, paying no
attention to the date, which was three or four weeks back.
Accidentally he cast his eye over the list of arrivals at the Burnet
House, seeing among them the names of "Mr. H. R. Graham, and Miss L.
R. Graham, Woodford county, Kentucky!"

"_Audacious_!  How dare they be so bold!" he exclaimed, springing to
his feet and tearing the paper in fragments, which he scattered upon
the floor.

"Considerable kind of uppish, 'pears to me," said a strange voice,
having in its tone the nasal twang peculiar to a certain class of
Yankees.

Looking up, Durward saw before him a young man in whose style of
dress and freckled face we at once recognize Joel Slocum.  Wearying
of Cincinnati, as he had before done with Lexington, he had traveled
at last to Virginia.  Remembering to have heard that his
grandmother's aunt had married, died, and left a daughter in
Richmond, he determined, if possible, to find some trace of her.
Accordingly, he had come on to that city, making it the theater of
his daguerrean operations.  These alone not being sufficient to
support him, he had latterly turned his attention to _literary
pursuits_, being at present engaged in manufacturing a book after the
Sam Slick order, which, to use his own expression, "he expected would
have a thunderin' sale."

In order to sustain the new character which he had assumed, he came
every day to the reading-room, tumbling over books and papers,
generally carrying one of the former in his hand, affecting an utter
disregard of his personal appearance, daubing his fingers with ink,
wiping them on the pocket of his coat, and doing numerous other
things which he fancied would stamp him a distinguished person.

On the morning of which we have spoken, Joel's attention was
attracted toward Durward, whose daguerreotype he had seen at Maple
Grove, and though he did not recognize the original, he fancied he
might have met him before, and was about making his acquaintance,
when Durward's action drew from him the remark we have mentioned.
Thinking him to be some impertinent fellow, Durward paid him no
attention, and was about leaving, when, hitching his chair a little
nearer, Joel said, "Be you from Virginny?"

"No."

"From York state?"

"No."

"From Pennsylvany?"

"No."

"Mebby, then, you are from Kentucky?"

No answer.

"Be you from Kentucky?"

"Yes."

"Do you know Mr. Graham's folks?"

"Yes," said Durward, trembling lest the next should be something
concerning his stepfather--but it was not.

Settling himself a little further back in the chair, Joel continued:
"Wall, I calkerlate that I'm some relation to Miss Graham.  Be you
'quainted with her?"

Durward knew that a relationship with _Mrs_. Graham also implied a
relationship with himself, and feeling a little curious as well as
somewhat amused, he replied, "Related to Mrs. Graham!  Pray how?"

"Why, you see," said Joel, "that my grandmarm's aunt--she was younger
than grandmarm, and was her aunt tew.  Wall, she went off to Virginia
to teach music, and so married a nabob--know what that is, I s'pose;
she had one gal and died, and this gal was never heard from until I
took it into my head to look her up, and I've found out that she was
_Lucy Temple_.  She married an Englishman, first--then a man from
South Carolina, who is now livin' in Kentucky, between Versailles and
Frankfort."

"What was your grandmother's aunt's name?" asked Durward.

"Susan Howard," returned Joel.  "The Howards were a stuck-up set,
grandmarm and all--not a bit like t'other side of the family.  My
mother's name was Scovandyke----"

"And yours?" interrupted Durward.

"Is Joel Slocum, of Slocumville, Massachusetts, at your service,"
said the young man, rising up and going through a most wonderful bow,
which he always used on great occasions.

In a moment Durward knew who he was, and greatly amused, he said,
"Can you tell me, Mr. Slocum, what relation this Lucy Temple, your
great-great-aunt's daughter, would be to you?"

"My third cousin, of course," answered Joel.  "I figgered that out
with a slate and pencil."

"And her son, if she had one?"

"Would be my fourth cousin; no great connection, to be sure--but
enough to brag on, if they happened to be smart!"

"Supposing I tell you what I am Lucy Temple's son?" said Durward, to
which Joel, not the least suspicious, replied, "Wall, s'posin' you
du, 'twon't make it so."

"But I _am_, really and truly," continued Durward.  "Her first
husband was a Bellmont, and I am Durward Bellmont, your fourth
cousin, it seems."

"_Jehosiphat_!  If this ain't curis," exclaimed Joel, grasping
Durward's hand.  "How _do_ you du, and how is your marm.  And do you
know Helleny Rivers?"

Durward's brow darkened as he replied in the affirmative, while Joel
continued: "We are from the same town, and used to think a sight of
each other, but when I seen her in Kentucky, I thought she'd got to
be mighty toppin'.  Mebby, though, 'twas only my notion."

Durward did not answer, and after a little his companion said, "I
suppose you know I sometimes take pictures for a livin'.  I'm goin'
to my office now, and if you'll come with me I'll take yourn for
nothin', bein' you're related."

Mechanically, and because he had nothing else to do, Durward followed
the young man to his "office," which was a dingy, cheerless apartment
in the fourth story of a crazy old building.  On the table in the
center of the room were several likenesses, which he carelessly
examined.  Coming at last to a larger and richer case, he opened it,
but instantly it dropped from his hand, while an exclamation of
surprise escaped his lips.

"What's the row, old feller," asked Joel, coming forward and picking
up the picture which Durward had recognized as 'Lena Rivers.

"How came you by it?" said Durward eagerly, and with a knowing wink,
Joel replied, "I know, and that's enough."

"But I must know, too.  It is of the utmost importance that I know,"
said Durward, and after a moment's reflection, Joel answered  "Wall,
I don't s'pose it'll do any hurt if I tell you.  When I was a boy I
had a hankerin' for 'Leny, and I didn't get over it after I was
grown, either, so a year or two ago I thought I'd go to Kentuck and
see her.  Knowin' how tickled she and Mrs. Nichols would be with a
picter of their old home in the mountains, I took it for 'em and
started.  In Albany I went to see a family that used to live in
Slocumville.  The woman was a gal with 'Leny's mother, and thought a
sight of her.  Wall, in the chamber where they put me to sleep, was
an old portrait, which looked so much like 'Leny that in the mornin'
I asked whose it was, and if you b'lieve me, 'twas 'Leny's mother!
You know she married, or thought she married, a southern rascal, who
got her portrait taken and then run off, and the picter, which in its
day was an expensive one, was sold to pay up.  A few years afterward,
Miss Rice, the woman I was tellin' you about, came acrost it, and
bought it for a little or nothin' to remember Helleny Nichols by.
Thinks to me, nothin' can please 'Leny better than a daguerreotype of
her mother, so I out with my apparatus and took it.  But when I come
to see that they were as nigh alike as two peas, I hated to give it
up, for I thought it would be almost as good as lookin' at 'Leny.  So
I kept it myself, but I don't want her to know it, for she'd be mad."

"Did you ever take a copy of this for any one?" asked Durward, a
faint light beginning to dawn upon him.

"What a feller to hang on," answered Joel, "but bein' I've started,
I'll go it and tell the hull.  One morning when I was in Lexington, a
gentleman came in, calling himself Mr. Graham, and saying he wanted a
copy of an old mountain house which he had seen at Mr. Livingstone's.
Whilst I was gettin' it ready, he happened to come acrost this one,
and what is the queerest of all, he like to fainted away.  I had to
throw water in his face and everything.  Bimeby he cum to, and says
he, 'Where did you get that?'  I told him all about it, and then,
layin' his head on the table, he groaned orfully, wipin' off the
thumpinest great drops of sweat and kissin' the picter as if he was
crazy.

"'Mebby you knew Helleny Nichols?' says I.

"'Knew her, yes,' says he, jumpin' up and walkin' the room as fast.

"All to once he grew calm, just as though nothin' had happened, and
says he, 'I must have that or one jest like it.'

"At first I hesitated, for I felt kinder mean always about keepin'
it, and I didn't want 'Leny to know I'd got it.  I told him so, and
he said nobody but himself should ever see it.  So I took a smaller
one, leavin' off the lower part of the body, as the dress is
old-fashioned, you see.  He was as tickled as a boy with a new top,
and actually forgot to take the other one of the mountain house.
Some months after, I came across him in Cincinnati.  His wife was
with him, and I thought then that she looked like Aunt Nancy.  Wall,
he went with me to my office, and said he wanted another
daguerreotype, as he'd lost the first one.  Now I'm, pretty good at
figgerin', and I've thought that matter over until I've come to this
conclusion--_that man_--was--'Lena's father--the husband or something
of Helleny Nichols!  But what ails you?  Are you faintin', too," he
exclaimed, as he saw the death-like whiteness which had settled upon
Durward's face and around his mouth.

"Tell me more, everything you know," gasped Durward.

"I have told you all I know for certain," said Joel.  "The rest is
only guess-work, but it looks plaguy reasonable.  'Leny's father,
I've heard was from South Car'lina----"

"So was Mr. Graham," said Durward, more to himself than to Joel, who
continued, "And he's your step-father, ain't he--the husband of Lucy
Temple, my cousin?"

Durward nodded, and as a customer just then came in, he arose to go,
telling Joel he would see him again.  Alone in his room, he sat down
to think of the strange story he had heard.  Gradually as he thought,
his mind went back to the time when Mr. Graham first came home from
Springfield.  He was a little boy, then, five or six years of age,
but he now remembered many things calculated to prove what he
scarcely yet dared to hope.  He recalled Mr. Graham's preparations to
return, when he was taken suddenly ill.  He knew that immediately
atter his recovery he had gone northward.  He remembered how sad he
had seemed after his return, neglecting to play with him as had been
his wont, and when to this he added Joel's story, together with the
singularity of his father's conduct towards 'Lena, he could not fail
to be convinced.

"She _is_ innocent, thank heaven!  I see it all now.  Fool that I was
to be so hasty," he exclaimed, his whole being seemed to undergo a
sudden change as the joyous conviction flashed upon him.

In his excitement he forgot his promise of again seeing Joel Slocum,
and ere the sun-setting he was far on his road home.  Occasionally he
felt a lingering doubt, as he wondered what possible motive his
father could have had for concealment, but these wore away as the
distance between himself and Kentucky diminished.  As the train
paused at one of the stations, he was greatly surprised at seeing
John Jr. among the crowd gathered at the depot.

"Livingstone, Livingstone, how came you here?" shouted Durward,
leaning from the open window.

The cars were already in motion, but at the risk of his life John Jr.
bounded upon the platform, and was soon seated by the side of Durward.

"You are a great one, ain't you?" said he.  "Here I've been looking
for you all over Christendom, to tell you the news.  You've got a new
sister.  Did you know it?"

"'_Lena_!  Is it true?  _Is_ it 'Lena?" said Durward, and John
replied by relating the particulars as far as he knew them, and
ending by asking Durward if "he didn't think he was sold!"

"Don't talk," answered Durward.  "I want to think, for I was never so
happy in my life."

"Nor I either," returned John Jr.  "So if you please you needn't
speak to _me_, as I wish to think, too."

But John Jr. could not long keep still, he must tell his companion of
his engagement with Nellie--and he did, falling asleep soon after,
and leaving Durward to his own reflections.




CHAPTER XXXVIII.

CONCLUSION.

We hope the reader does not expect us to describe the meeting between
Durward and 'Lena, for we have not the least, or, at the most, only a
faint idea of what took place.  We only know that it occurred in the
summer-house at the foot of the garden, whither 'Lena had fled at the
first intimation of his arrival, and that on her return to the house,
after an interview of two whole hours, there were on her cheeks
traces of tears, which the expression of her face said were not tears
of grief.

"How do you like my daughter?" asked Mr. Graham, mischievously, at
the same time laying his arm proudly about her neck.

"So well that I have asked her to become my wife, and she has
promised to do so, provided we obtain your consent," answered
Durward, himself throwing an arm around the blushing girl, who tried
to escape, but he would not let her, holding her fast until his
father's answer was given.

Then turning to Mrs. Graham, he said, "Now, mother, we will hear you."

Kind and affectionate as she tried to be toward 'Lena, Mrs. Graham
had not yet fully conquered her olden prejudice, and had the matter
been left wholly with herself, she would, perhaps, have chosen for
her son a bride in whose veins _no plebeian blood_ was flowing; but
she well knew that her objections would have no weight, and she
answered, that "she should not oppose him."

"Then it is settled," said he, "and four weeks from to-night I shall
claim 'Lena for my own."

"No, not so soon after grandma's death," 'Lena said, and Durward
replied:

"If grandma could speak, she would tell you not to wait!" but 'Lena
was decided, and the most she would promise was, that in the spring
she would think about it!

"Six months," said Durward, "I'll never wait so long!" but he forbore
pressing her further on the subject, knowing that he should have her
in the house with him, which would in a great measure relieve the
tedium of waiting.

During the autumn, his devotion to 'Lena furnished Carrie with a
subject for many ill-natured remarks concerning newly-engaged people.

"I declare," said she, one evening after the departure of Durward,
'Lena, and Nellie, who had been spending the day at Maple Grove, "I'm
perfectly disgusted, and if this is a specimen, I hope I shall never
be engaged."

"Don't give yourself a moment's uneasiness," retorted John Jr., "I've
not the least idea that such a calamity will ever befall you, and
years hence my grandchildren will read on some gravestone, 'Sacred to
the memory of Miss Caroline Livingstone, aged 70.  In single
blessedness she lived--and in the same did die!'"

"You think you are cunning, don't you," returned Carrie, more angry
than she was willing to admit.

She had received the news of Durward's engagement much better than
could have been expected, and after a little she took to quoting and
cousining 'Lena, while John Jr. seldom let an opportunity pass of
hinting at the very recent date Of her admiration for Miss Graham.

Almost every day for several weeks after Durward's return, he looked
for a visit from Joel Slocum, who did not make his appearance until
some time toward the last of November.  Then he came, claiming, and
_proving_, his relationship with Mrs. Graham, who was terribly
annoyed, and who, it was rumored, _hired_ him to leave!

During the winter, nothing of importance occurred, if we except the
fact that a part of Mabel's fortune, which was supposed to have been
lost, was found to be good, and that John Jr. one day unexpectedly
found himself to be the lawful heir of fifty thousand dollars.  Upon
Mrs. Livingstone this circumstance produced a rather novel effect,
renewing, in its original force, all her old affection for Mabel, who
was now "our dear little Meb." Many were the comparisons drawn
between Mrs. John Jr. No. 1, and Mrs. John Jr. No. 2, that was to be,
the former being pronounced far more lady-like and accomplished than
the latter, who, during her frequent visits at Maple Grove,
continually startled her mother-in-law elect by her loud, ringing
laugh, for Nellie was very happy.  Her influence, too, over John Jr.
became ere long, perceptible in his quiet, gentle manner, and his
abstinence from the rude speeches which heretofore had seemed a part
of his nature.

Mrs. Graham had proposed spending the winter in New Orleans, but to
this Durward objected.  He wanted 'Lena all to himself, he said, and
as she seemed perfectly satisfied to remain where she was, the
project was given up, Mrs. Graham contenting herself with
anticipating the splendid entertainment she would give at the
wedding, which was to take place about the last of March.  Toward the
first of January the preparations began, and if Carrie had never
before felt a pang of envy, she did now, when she saw the elegant
trousseau which Mr. Graham ordered for his daughter.  But all such
feelings must be concealed, and almost every day she rode over to
Woodlawn, admiring this, going into ecstasies over that, and
patronizingly giving her advice on all subjects, while all the time
her heart was swelling with bitter disappointment.  Having always
felt so sure of securing Durward, she had invariably treated other
gentlemen with such cool indifference that she was a favorite with
but few, and as she considered these few her inferiors, she had more
than once feared lest John Jr.'s prediction concerning the
_lettering_ on her tombstone should prove true!

"Anything but that," said she, dashing away her tears, as she thought
how 'Lena had supplanted her in the affections of the only person she
could ever love,

"Old Marster Atherton done want to see you in the parlor," said
Corinda, putting her head in at the door.

Since his unfortunate affair with Anna, the captain had avoided Maple
Grove, but feeling lonely at Sunnyside, he had come over this morning
to call.  Finding Mrs. Livingstone absent, he had asked for Carrie,
who was so unusually gracious that he wondered he had never before
discovered how greatly superior to her sister she was!  All his
favorite pieces were sung to him, and then, with the patience of a
martyr, the young lady seated herself at the backgammon board,
playing game after game, until she could scarcely tell her men from
his.  On his way home the captain fell into a curious train of
reflections, while Carrie, when asked by Corinda, if "old marster was
done gone," sharply reprimanded the girl, telling her "it was very
impolite to call anybody _old_, particularly one so young as Captain
Atherton!"

The next day the captain came again, and the next, and the next,
until at last his former intimacy at Maple Grove seemed to be
re-established.  And all this time no one had an inkling of the true
state of things, not even John Jr., who never dreamed it possible for
his haughty sister, to grace Sunnyside as its mistress.  "But
stranger things than that had happened and were happening every day,"
Carrie reasoned, as she sat alone in her room, revolving the
propriety of answering "Yes" to a note which the captain had that
morning placed in her hand at parting.  She looked at herself in the
mirror.  Her face was very fair, and as yet untouched by a single
mark or line.  She thought of him, _bald_, _wrinkled_, _fat_ and
_forty-six_!

"I'll never do it," she exclaimed.  "Better live single all my days."

At this moment, the carriage of Mrs. Graham drew up, and from it
alighted 'Lena, richly clad.  The sight of her produced a reaction,
and Carrie thought again.  Captain Atherton was generous to a fault.
He was able and willing to grant her slightest wish, and as his wife,
she could compete with, if not outdo, 'Lena in the splendor of her
surroundings.  The pen was resumed, and Carrie wrote the words which
sealed her destiny for life.  This done, nothing could move her, and
though her father entreated, her mother scolded, and John Jr.
_swore_, it made no difference.  "She was old enough to choose for
herself," she said, "and she had done so."

When Mrs. Livingstone became convinced that her daughter was in
earnest, she gave up the contest, taking sides with her.  Like
Durward, Captain Atherton was in a hurry, and it was decided that the
wedding should take place a week before the time appointed for that
of her cousin.  Determining not to be outdone by Mrs. Graham, Mrs.
Livingstone launched forth on a large scale, and there commenced
between the two houses a species of rivalry extremely amusing to a
looker on.  Did Mrs. Graham purchase for 'Lena a costly silk, Mrs.
Livingstone forthwith secured a piece of similar quality, but
different pattern, for Carrie.  Did Mrs. Graham order forty dollars'
worth of confectionery, Mrs. Livingstone immediately increased her
order to fifty dollars.  And when it was known that Mrs. Graham had
engaged a Louisville French cook at two dollars per day, Mrs.
Livingstone sent to Cincinnati, offering three for one!

Carrie had decided upon a tour to Europe, and the captain had given
his consent, when it was reported that Durward and 'Lena were also
intending to sail for Liverpool.  In this dilemma there was no
alternative save a trip to California or the Sandwich Islands!  The
former was chosen, Captain Atherton offering to defray Mrs.
Livingstone's expenses if she would accompany them.  This plan Carrie
warmly seconded, for she knew her mother's presence would greatly
relieve her from the society of her husband, which was _not_ as
agreeable to her as it ought to have been.  But Mr. Livingstone
refused to let his wife go, unless Anna came home and stayed with him
while she was gone.

He accordingly wrote to Anna, inviting her and Malcolm to be present
at Carrie's wedding, purposely omitting the name of the bridegroom;
and three days before the appointed time they came.  It was dark when
they arrived, and as they were not expected that night, they entered
the house before any one was aware of their presence.  John Jr.
chanced to be in the hall, and the moment he saw Anna, he caught her
in his arms, shouting so uproariously that his father and mother at
once hastened to the spot.

"Will you forgive me, father ?" Anna said, and Mr. Livingstone
replied by clasping her to his bosom, while he extended his hand to
Malcolm.

"Where's Carrie?" Anna said, and John Jr. replied, "In the parlor,
with her future spouse.  Shall I introduce you?"

So saying, he dragged her into the parlor, where she then recoiled in
terror as she saw Captain Atherton.

"Oh, Carrie!" she exclaimed.  "It cannot be----that I see you again!"
she added, as she met her sister's warning look.

Another moment and they were in each other's arms weeping bitterly,
the one that her sister should thus throw herself away, and the
other, because she was wretched.  It was but for an instant, however,
and then Carrie was herself again.  Playfully presenting Anna to the
Captain, she said, "Ain't I good to take up with what you left!"

But no one smiled at this joke--the captain, least of all, and as
Carrie glanced from him to Malcolm, she felt that her sister had made
a happy choice.  The next day 'Lena came, overjoyed to meet Anna, who
more than any one else, rejoiced in her good fortune.

"You deserve it all," she said, when they were alone, "and if Carrie
had one tithe of your happiness in store I should be satisfied."

But Carrie asked for no sympathy.  "It was no one's business whom she
married," she said; and so one pleasant night in the early spring,
they decked her in her bridal robes, and then, white, cold, and
feelingless as a marble statue, she laid her hand in Captain
Atherton's, and took upon her the vows which made her his forever.  A
few days after the ceremony, Carrie began to urge their immediate
departure for California.

"There was no need of further delay," she said.  "No one cared to see
'Lena married.  Weddings were stupid things, anyway, and her mother
could just as well go one time as another."

At first Mrs. Livingstone hesitated, but when Carrie burst into a
passionate fit of weeping, declaring "she'd kill herself if she had
to stay much longer at Sunnyside and be petted by _that old fool_,"
she consented, and one week from the day of the marriage they
started.  In Carrie's eyes there was already a look of weary sadness,
which said that the bitter tears were constantly welling up, while on
her brow a shadow was resting, as if Sunnyside were a greater burden
than she could bear.  Alas, for a union without love!  It seldom
fails to end in misery, and thus poor Carrie found it.  Her husband
was proud of her, and, had she permitted, would have loved her after
his fashion, but his affectionate advances were invariably repulsed,
until at last he treated her with a cold politeness, far more
endurable than his fawning attentions had been.  She was welcome to
go her own way, and he went his, each having in San Francisco their
own suite of rooms, and setting up, as it were, a separate
establishment.  In this way they got on quite comfortably for a few
weeks, at the end of which time Carrie took it into her capricious
head to return to Maple Grove.  She would never go back to Sunnyside,
she said.  And without a word of opposition the captain paid his
bills, and started for Kentucky, where he left his wife at Maple
Grove, she giving as a reason that "ma could not spare her yet."

Far different from this were the future prospects of Durward and
'Lena, who with perfect love in their hearts were married, a week
after the departure of Captain Atherton for California.  Very proudly
Durward looked down upon her as he placed the first husband's kiss on
her brow, and in the soft brown eyes, brimming with tears, which she
raised to his face, there was a world of tenderness, telling that
theirs was a union of hearts as well as hands.

The next night a small party assembled at the house of Mr. Douglass,
in Frankfort, where Nellie was transformed into Nellie Livingstone.
Perhaps it was the remembrance of the young girl to whom his vows had
once before been plighted, that made John Jr. appear for a time as if
he were in a dream.  But the moment they rallied him upon the
strangeness of his manner, he brightened up, saying that he was
trying to get used to thinking that Nellie was really his.  It had
been decided that he should accompany Durward and 'Lena to Europe,
and a day or two after his marriage he asked Mr. Everett to go too.
Anna's eyes fairly danced with joy, as she awaited Malcolm's reply.
But much as he would like to go, he could not afford it, and so he
frankly said, kissing away the big tear which rolled down Anna's
cheek.

With a smile John Jr.  placed a sealed package in his sister's hand,
saying to Malcolm, "I have anticipated this and provided for it.  I
suppose you are aware that Mabel willed me all her property, which
contrary to our expectations, has proved to be considerable.  I know
I do not deserve a cent of it, but as she had no nearer relative than
Mr. Douglass, I have concluded to use it for the comfort of his
daughter and for the good of others.  I want you and Anna to join us,
and I've given her such a sum as will bear your expenses, and leave
you more than you can earn dickering at law for three or four years.
So, puss," turning to Anna, "it's all settled.  Now hurrah for the
sunny skies of France and Italy, I've talked with father about it,
and he's willing to stay alone for the sake of having you go.  Oh,
don't thank me," he continued, as he saw them about to speak.  "It's
poor little Meb to whom you are indebted.  She loved Anna, and would
willingly have her money used for this purpose."

After a little reflection Malcolm concluded to accept John's offer,
and a happier party never stepped on board a steamer than that which,
on the 15th of April, sailed for Europe, which they reached in
safety, being at the last accounts in Paris, where they were enjoying
themselves immensely.

A few words more, and our story is told.  Just as Mr. Livingstone was
getting tolerably well suited with his bachelor life, he was one
morning surprised by the return of his wife and daughter, the latter
of whom, as we have before stated, took up her abode at Maple Grove.
Almost every day the old captain rides over to see her, but he
generally carries back a longer face than he brings.  The bald spot
on his head is growing larger, and to her dismay Carrie has
discovered a "crow track" in the corner of her eye.  Frequently,
after a war of words with her mother, she announces her intention of
returning to Sunnyside, but a sight of the captain is sufficient to
banish all such thoughts.  And thus she lives, that most wretched of
all beings, an unloving and unloved wife.

During the absence of their children, Mr. and Mrs. Graham remain at
Woodlawn, which, as it is the property of Durward, will be his own
and 'Lena's home.

Jerry Langley has changed his occupation of driver for that of a
brakeman on the railroad between Canandaigua and Niagara Falls.

In conclusion we will say of our old friend, Uncle Timothy, that he
joined "the _Hindews_" as proposed, was nominated for constable, and,
sure of success, bought an old gig for the better transportation of
himself over the town.  But alas for human hopes--if funded upon
politics--the whole American ticket was defeated at Laurel Hill,
since which time he has gone over to the Republicans, to whom he has
sworn eternal allegiance.

THE END





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