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of Mrs. Ross, and with a tone and manner thusiasm tinged the snow of her cheek, and of infinite kindness, she drew a chair be- her eye brightened with pleasing emotion. side her and prepared to listen.
“She is an angel ! she is beautiful as the “My name is Harley - Maria Har- morning, and as good as though she had ley,” began the woman, in great embar- never lived out of heaven. All the poor rassment; I'm in very feeble health," and people know her, and if anybody has any here she hesitated.
sorrow or trouble, they go to her, and she "I see that you are,” said Mrs. Ross, is always ready to help. Oh, madam, she tenderly ; “ what can I do for you ?” is too good and too beautiful for anything
“I have not long to live I'm within this world.” out friends — and when I die, as I shall “Kitty !” called Mr. Ross, sharply, soon, my little son, four years old, will be from the partially opened door, and turnleft alone."
ing, Mrs. Ross beheld her husband half “ Your husband, then, is not living ?” across the threshold, with a ghastlier and
The white lips opened and closed, but whiter face than the poor consumptive with emitted no sound. A hot flush over-whom she was talking, and at whom he spread her face, and then was succeeded by glared wildly. She sprang towards him a deathlier pallor than before. But in a with an exclamation of affright, when he moment the truth came out, without equiv- reeled backwards into the hall, and almost ocation, or quibbling, but with downcast fell into a chair. eyes, and in a husky whisper, “I have "O, my precious husband ! my dear never had a husband.”
Henry! What is the matter ? you are There was silence for a few minutes, sick; let me send for a doctor! Jane, when each heard the other's heart beat. make haste ! bring me a glass of wine ! “Is the father of your son living ?” asked “No, no, no Kitty; I'm better alMrs. Ross, low and timidly.
ready. Stop! stop! Don't get anyA nod of assent answered her, the poor thing— don't call anybody. Let me go woman not even raising her eyes to the up to our room. Haven't you salts of questioner.
ammonia there ?" “Can he not be persuaded to be indeed Tenderly the loving wife assisted her a father to his child? Will he not take husband to his room, bathed his temples, the boy under his care, when — when you chafed his clammy, cold hands, applied are gone?"
stimulants, and poured him a glass of The poor woman wrung her hands, and wine, intermingling her efforts, all the then burst into a paroxysm of wild weep-while, with the fondest caresses, and aping, whose violence Mrs. Ross feared plying to him every endearing epithet her would sunder her brittle life. She sooth- loving heart could suggest. ed her, and reassured her with kind words, " What has caused this sudden attack, and waited patiently till her tears were dear Henry? You were well enough at exhausted.
breakfast.' “ Has the boy's father done nothing for “ Can't tell, I'm sure ; it came over him?"
me as I was passing through the hall.” there is a fund at interest for Had the tones of that sepulchral voice, him - small — but two-thirds of what his and the vision of that never-to-be-forgotten father was worth at the time it was depos- face no agency in causing this sudden atited. If I should live and be well, I tack? The query did not even suggest should need nothing further for Harry's itself to the trusting wife, who saw in her support. But when I die what will husband one of nature's noblemen, and become of him ?” and she wept afresh. worshipped him as such.
“Cannot the father, then, be persuad- Meanwhile in the parlor below a scene ed to adopt the child himself ?”
of fearful excitement was being enacted, 0, madame, he is married.”
God along being witness to it. “What sort of a person is his wife?” God ! my God? help me! help me! what " She is an angel!” and a glow of en- shall I do ?” burst from the poor woman,
O, my as Mrs. Ross disappeared up the stairs him — thinks him faultless -- it will kill with her husband. ** And, pacing the room, her to know the truth." she threw up her arms, beat her breast,
“ Is her husband a bad man
I mean smote her forehead, and in other frantic habitually ?" ways, sought to vent the suppressed emo- “O, no, ma'am; everybody calls him tion which almost rent her in sunder. good everybody thinks well of him “Why have I come here? Do I want to and he is not what you might call a bad kill her—the good, beautiful creature? I man. He did me a great wrong — but must never tell her! never, never, never ! thinks he repaired it with money ! his wife How she loves him! But O, my poor wouldn't think so, though. I think he boy, my dear child ! I will take him meant to make me his wife, though I was with me, to the grave.
Haven't I the beneath him ; but you see, ma'am, she right – I, who have endured four years that is his wife, fell in his way, and her of death in life for his dear sake? Is not handsome face, and her beautiful voice, for his life mine? Is not murder sometimes she sings like an angel, and her good justifiable ? 0, God! help me! help heart and winning ways, that make me me ! help me
! and falling on her knees even love her, that ought to hate her, so on the sofa, she fell forward on her face, that I want to kiss the hem of her dress as which she buried in both hands, her whole she goes by — all this, you see, made frame shaking violently with tearless sobs. him love her, so that I believe he would
Here Mrs. Ross found her almost in- have given up his hope of heaven for her. sensible, when her husband, having recov. Sometimes when I see her, I don't blame ered partially from his sudden attack, him, for she is the most beautiful and the went down town to his office, leaving his best woman in the world.” wife once more at liberty. Stooping over “Such a woman is just the one for you the cowering figure, she raised her with to go to with your story. So good and difficulty, and was frightened when she pitying, I'm sure she will not refuse to do saw her face. It was like that of one something for you she may find your struck with death. The poor crcature at- boy a good home — perhaps take it hertempted to stand, but staggered back help- self.” lessly on the sofa.
home! 0, no, ma'am, that she never would ; she said feebly; "you can do nothing for it's against nature. Would you
do such a me; I was a fool to suppose you could.” thing, dear lady?” and the poor creature
Lie quietly on the sofa a few mo- rose up with earnestness, and looked ments," said Mrs. Ross, with gentleness; eagerly in the face of Mrs. Ross "you are not able to go yet. You need “ It's my impression that you had beta glass of the port wine which has revived ter go to her, was the reply;
for the my husband ; lie still, and I will fetch it.' question seemed irrelevant. - Tell her And unheeding the remonstrances of the the whole truth, not revengefully, but half-dead woman, she brought the wine, carefully, humbly, and for the sake of and held it to her white lips till she had your child. I am sure she will be moved drained the last drop.
"I was just going to say to you, when The woman turned to leave, but the exmy husband came in,
," resumed Mrs. citement of the hour had been too much Ross, as Maria rallied, " that if the wife for her, and she dropped fainting and of this man be what you say she is, per- gasping on the sofa.
“You are very haps she would do something for your son, weak,” said Mrs. Ross, pityingly; "you when you are no longer able to do for him, must wait till the horse is put into the and-have they children of their own ?” buggy, and I will send you home. I will No."
see you at your home, and if it be desira“ Perhaps she might consent to adopt ble, I may go to the lady with you, myhim."
self." “0, but this woman loves her husband Mrs. Ross was singularly interested in - she loves him as her life - worships this poor girl. She could think of noth
- Let me go
ing else, and when her husband came trusting wife, the queen of all hearts, in home to tea, still pale and grave, from the the humble home of the wronged and dyattack of the morning, she narrated to him ing Maria. She was worse than the day the whole affair. He listened with little before, and her little son stood beside her apparent interest, and asked in a nonchal- bed, with an anxious look on his unusual
“ what she proposed to do for ly mature face. Nurtured amid sorrow her ?"
and cares, tears and privations, he was She stated her proposition of the morn- older and graver than his years, and his ing. “I do not yet know what can be evident affectionateness and thoughtfuldone, but I advised her to see the wife of ness went to Mrs. Ross' heart. There this man, whom she represents as good, was something in his face which made her benevolent and beautiful, and lay the case start, beautiful as he was, and the large, before her."
eyes, chesnut curls, firm, but finely Mr. Ross looked up in surprise, anger cut mouth, and the general bearing of the and affright.
Good heavens, Kitty! child, somehow reminded her of her husare you crazy? Don't you see you would band. A long interview with the dying break up the family altogether? The wife woman followed, more painful and excitwould instantly discard her husband, and ing than that of the day before. We will then it would be out of the father's power not recount it. But before it was ended, to do anything for his child.”
Mrs. Ross was in complete possession of No, I think not. From what this all the painful facts of Maria Harley's Maria Harley tells me ”—Mr. Ross start- history – to the incoherent and gasped ed as if stung
Why, Henry, how ner- details of which she listened with a face in vous you are to-day! I am afraid you are which interest intensified into ghastliness, going to be sick."
and with a heart that was transfixed “0, no ; there is no danger.”
through and through with pain. When Well, from what Maria Harley says, the recital was over, she went home like this woman is one of the best and noblest one stunned, reeling with weakness, and type. It would undoubtedly shock her, groping her way like one blind. but she must learn the truth sometime, At noon she met her husband, so and she had better know it now, when she changed from the wife of the morning, can do some good. I am impressed that that it seemed not she, but another. In this is the best course ; if I were a Qua- answer to his inquiry, she stated where ker, I should say I was guided by the in- she had passed the morning, and then no ard light.'"
more questions were asked, no informaMr. Ross poobed at what he called his tion given, and the dinner was eaten in wife's womanish nonsense,
,” and got comparative silence. Not as on the day quite out of patience with her persistence. before, did she volunteer the particulars
Why, Henry, you amaze me! I am of the morning interview, but sat, cold, sure I'm right.
pale, silent, with a look of hopeless suffer“Let the whole matter entirely alone, I ing on her face. Her husband observed beseech you,” was his entreaty, uttered in it; he read the stupor of a great griet an importunate and distressed manner; which had invaded her soul; he saw that “only trouble can come of your interfer- she was staggering under some mental ence. It's a bad matter, a common case, burden, yet he forebore all inquiries as to which cannot be meddled with. You will the cause, and unaccountably made no almake a world of trouble unless you stop.” | lusion to her appearance.
His remarks He was so deeply and strangely in earn- were forced common-places, which might est, that Mrs. Ross finally promised, de have been heard, or might not ; his wife spite her convictions, to content herself gave no sign that she heeded them. It with ameliorating the condition of the was the same at the tea-table; the next mother, and with seeking a home for the day, and the next succeeded ; a week child. Not even her husband could per- passed, and it became evident that a wall suade her to promise more than this. of partition was raised between the wed
The very next day saw the beautiful, ded couple, bitherto one in feeling and ac
wife was gone.
tion. The gaiety and sunny temper of the and, in beholding it, the long unhappy
Silent, bewildered, she mother found that peace in death, which moved about mechanically, discharging had been alien to her in life. It was a every duty with rigorous fidelity; courte- relief to the heavy spirit of Mrs. Ross to ous to her husband, and regardful of his supply the hitherto desolate boy with the wants; but the gushing love which had pretty frocks, trousers, collars and caps, formerly infused itself into her whole man- which set off his beauty to such an advanner towards him, prompting a thousand tage ; she found a pleasure in arranging nameless attentions, was wanting. No his silky brown tresses, as abundant as more did she run to meet him as she those of a girl ; and a glow came to her heard his footstep in the hall; no longer wan cheek, as she witnessed his exubedid they pass up and down the stairs with rant delight at the rocking-horse, wooden arms entwining one another; the good- soldiers, picture books, and other toys, night and good-morning kisses were remit- with which she furnished him. To the ted, more because the wife was so pre-oc- mothes she read, and with her prayed, her cupied and absorbed as to forget them, it own sorrow adding pathos to her petitions, seemed, than because of aversion ; and and tenderness to her voice, while the act while there was on neither side a lack of assuaged the unspoken sorrow which had courtesy, the married pair were as widely rolled in upon her. Whatever could alleseparated, as though a continent interven- viate the dying woman's sufferings, or died. Poor wife ! poor woman / the happi- vest death of its terror, was remembered ness which had wrapped her about like an by Mrs. Ross in this hour of extremity. atmosphere of heaven, had fallen away And so matters - went on for weeks. from her; she had believed she was lean- Gradually Mrs. Ross seemed to be coning on an oak, but it had proved a reed, quering her trials, whatever they had and bending under her, had pierced her been; there was a slow and partial resumwith sorrow; she had worshipped an, idol, ing of her old ways and manners, and less believing it of fine gold, and it has proved deadness of feeling towards all the former to be only common clay.
delights of her life. The mental trials of With torturing anxiety and taciturn the last few weeks had told on her health gloom, Mr. Ross watched his wife. No severely - but their effect on her husband words of explanation had passed between was even greater than on her. Mrs. Ross them, but he knew too well whence the noticed it with real concern, and besought arrow had sped, which had entered her him to do something for his restoration. soul. The cloud in his horizon, no bigger Still, however, there lingered in the house than a man's hand, had suddenly spread the hush and solemnity which follows a so as to darken the whole firmament, and deep bereavement. now had burst above him. His only re- There came, at last, a day when Mrs. fuge was in silence, and so he offered to Ross seemed plunged anew into the depths his wife's troubled spirit neither sympa of the sadness from which she was slowly thy nor condolence.
emerging. She returned from her dying Meanwhile, almost daily, Mrs. Ross paid charge, after an unusually brief visit, in a visit to the mother and child, who had tears and violent agitation. Mr. Ross perawakened in her heart so strong an inter- ceived it, and thought she had retrograded est. The mother's descent into the grave into the gloom of weeks before, but as was swift, and it was Mrs. Ross' aim to usual, was silent. Once, looking up sudrender it painless and peaceful. She had denly, she caught her husband's gaze relieved her of all anxiety concerning her fixed on her, troubled, anxious, mournful, little son, who bounded to meet his new and dropping her needle-work, she
sprang, friend, with the trusting affection of child by a sudden impulse, into his arms, and hood, his large eyes dilating with pleasure, wept long and uncontrollably on his boand his fair face glowing with excitement. som, the tears of her husband mingling Their strong mutual love was cemented freely with her own. No word was spokmore and more by each successive visit, en by either for some minutes, but in that mingling of tears, that proffered and av- brary, where she knew he was writing. cepted kiss, and the mute caresses that “Henry,” she said, leading the handsome followed, pardon was asked and granted, boy to his father's knee, " when Maria and a reconciliation effected. Mr. Ross Harley was dying, I promised to be a was the first to speak.
mother to her child, to adopt him into my "Kitty, do you still love me?" family, and rear him as my son. You Inexpressibly!”
cannot refuse to do less for your own son, “In spite of everything-everything ?'' and therefore I have brought him to you.
“Yes, Henry ; in spite of everything! Harry," she continued, with motherly but you should have confided in me--you tenderness, stooping to caress the little should have told me all.”
fellow, “this gentleman is your father, “Would you blame the criminal for and now that your mother has gone to postponing the confession which would heaven, I am to be your mother. Will doom him to death ?”
you be our little boy ?” “ A confession from your lips would
The child did not immediately reply, have wrought you no more harm than the but laying one hand in hers, turned with same thing from those of another. I an inquiring look to Mr. Ross. A crimought not to have learned this — this — son flush mounted to his brow for an inthis painful history from another. Have stant, suffusing his face, and then fading you known since our marriage that Maria away into a sickly whiteness — and openHarley resided in the city ?
ing his arms to the child, who sprang
in them, he lifted him on his knee, pressed “ Did you recognise her that morning him to his heart, saying, “my dear when she called ?
child !” The flood-gates of long-restrainYes."
ed tears were then unsealed, and he wept “I understand your fainting-fit now.” as his wife had never before seen him. There was a momentary silence, and then “Kitty,” he said, when calmer, “have she added, very softly, “ Maria Harley you thought how this child in our family died last night, and will be buried this af will render you the subject of gossip, the ternoon. Thank God, she is at rest ! I theme of scandal how it will increase have made all necessary preparations for your care, and multiply your anxieties?” her burial.”
“I accept the labor, and I do not care “Kitty,” said Mr. Ross, pressing her for the gossip. There is but one right close to his heart, and choking with emo way for us to take that way we have tion, you are one woman among a chosen, and I am content to let
consequenthousand ; I doubt if there is another ces alone.” like you. I have deserved your scorn
What a woman you are, Kitty !” and hate"
the husband replied, drawing her to him ; “We will not talk of it, Henry; it has you are one of a thousand; the noblest, almost wrecked our happiness
but she, loftiest, best of womankind !'' when dying, forgave you, and enjoined me
Chicago, Ill. to do so also. The world held her in small esteem, but neither you nor I reach to the stature of her excellence.”
MODESTY. Where is the boy ?” asked Mr. Beauty is never so lovely and attractive Ross, faintly, and with hesitation.
as when it is hidden beneath the veil of “At his home, where he will remain retiring modesty,
The most beautiful until after the funeral.”
flower of the garden, that most attracts and With moistened eyes but lighter hearts, charms the senses, never appears so love they separated — one to business, the oth- ly as when it is beheld sweetly peeping er to the house of death.
from the midst of its curtain of green The funeral over, Mrs. Ross returned leaves, which serves to partially protect it home, bringing little Harry with her, from the sun and elements, and render its whom she led straight to her husband's li- charms doubly interesting and beautiful.