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“Yes, I know that, old fellow," re “What a heartless hussy!" cried Roy. plied Ryder. “Both you and your "Surely you could never forgive such father are mighty good to me, far bet- treachery as that, father.” ter than I deserve. But, you see, I "Well, my boy, it was a hard thing don't think I was intended for this.sort for a man to forgive, wasn't it? I was of life. There's too much of my furious against her at first. But little father's blood in me. The Ryders have by little I began to think of her differalways been soldiers and rovers. But ently, remembering how young she for my mother, I should have enlisted was-just turned eighteen-and recalllong ago."
ing looks and words of hers that had A change came into Braddon's life hinted at some secret trouble weighing soon after this conversation, a change on her mind, until I began to believe which made a different man of him, that she liad struggled hard to be true and from which he afterwards dated to me, and had often wanted to tell me. the beginning of another existence.
So, you see, it ended by my forgiving On his return one evening from a her." walk with Frank he found his father His son shrugged his shoulders with sitting up in the library awaiting him. an involuntary expression of contempt
“I want you to help me decide some for his father's weakness. “I could thing, Roy,” said the elder Braddon, never have brought myself to do that," as his son seated himself. “And in or he said. der that you may understand matters, "Ah, you think not, Roy,” answered it will be necessary for me to tell you the old man, “you think not. But when of certain incidents of my youth. a man has once loved a woman, her
"When I married your mother, it face is always rising lip before him, wasn't exactly a love match, though I pleading to him to think tenderly of was fond of her then, and grew to be her, let her have treated him as badly very fond of her afterwards. But the as she may. And it always ends with first love of my heart had been given to his forgiving her. The memory of the a cousin of mine, an orphan, whom my days when he thought she loved him parents had adopted. We had grown counteracts all else. It always ends so.” up together. The old people were dead "Never with me!" cried the young against the marriage at first, for they man. “Nothing on earth could induce didn't favor intermarriage; but they me to forgive a woman who had jilted were very fond of her, and finding that my heart was set upon it, they gave The old man shook his head. “Youth way and at last consented.
So it was
has many ideals that age dispels,” he settled, and I fancied myself the hap- answered sadly. "You will find it so, piest man in New Bedford.' But-well, my boy, when you have lived my time. my boy, it's an old story, and common But to return-I received a letter from enough. She had never loved me, I that woman to-day-the last she ever suppose. However that was, a week wrote. She is dead. Another hand, at before we were to have been married the end of her letter, tells me that, her she ran away with a Spanish fellow daughter's. She is dead, and has left who had taught my sister Fannie sing one child, a girl, the last of a large ing. Jose Torres, an idle scapegrace, family. Torres took her out to the with nothing in his favor but a hand West Indies, it seems, where they did some face and a specious, taking man well enough for many years, but had ner. She ran away with him one morn
much sorrow, the climate killing their ing, leaving a penitent little note for children one after another, until this me, saying that she had become a
girl was the only one left. Then came Catholic some time before, and that reverses. The man's health failed him, they had been married at the cathe
and ten years ago he died. After that the poor soul kept herself and the child
by teaching. She was always a sweet darksome rooms. The ponderous old singer, with a voice as clear and fresh furniture was polished into a kind of as a skylark's, and I think it was that beauty, and by a new disposition of fellow's music which tempted her away old material, she brought light and from me. And so sh got on some- brightness into gloomy corners. Flowhow, she says in the letter, until she ers bloomed here and there in the winfelt death close at hand; and then, not dows. There was a new atmosphere in having one friend in the world whose the house generally, and Roy felt the bounty she could entreat for her child, change greatly. saving myself, and knowing that I was He also found that he did not care a good man, she says, poor soul, she quite so much for the society of his turned to me, beseeching me, for char- friend Ryder. It was midwinter, which ity's sake, if not for the memory of was excuse enough for the suspension those days when I loved her, to be- of their evening rambles; but he felt friend her orphan daughter. She that he was not treating his friend doesn't ask me to do much for the girl, fairly, and to make amends, invited him not to adopt her, or maintain her in a to dine with them once or twice a life of idleness; only to put her in some week. It may have been that he way of earning her living, and to wanted to hear Julia's praises from the keep her from falling into dangerous lips of the friend whose judgment he hands.
believed in; at any rate, he was grati"I received the letter this morning. fied when Frank spoke enthusiastically The girl is in Boston. What am I to of the beauty of her dark eyes and the do, Roy? I leave it to you. I am
I am charm of her singing. Often in the nearing the end, my boy; and what evening she sang for them, accompanyever I have saved is saved for you; ing herself on the old piano, at which whatever I spend is so much out of her father had taught her mother. Her your pocket. What shall we do with voice was a clear, thrilling soprano, Julia Torres ?”
and her touch vibrant with tenderness "It is hard for a woman to get her and feeling. She sang all the old balliving nowadays," Roy answered lads which the elder Braddon loved, thoughtfully. “A young woman, too, and in this way crept into the old and a foreigner, as you might say. And man's affection. surely, we shouldn't consider the ex Roy was no musician, but her singpense. I shall never need half of what ing had a certain soothing influence on you will leave me. She might live here him; a little melancholy, perhaps, with us. Mrs. Davis would take good awakening a dim sense of sadness in care of her."
his breast, that was all. He could "It is generous of you to say that, scarcely have distinguished one of her my boy. Just as I wished you to; just songs from another without the words. as I wished you to."
He felt this deficiency of his somewhat And so Julia Torres came to the old keenly when Frank Ryder was with mansion on Union street.
them, for Frank was possessed of a She had a hundred little arts by fine baritone and considerable taste for which women can embellish the dullest music, and often sang duets with Julia. homes, and little by little, having found It seemed to bring the two closer toherself privileged to do these thingsgether, and occasionally Roy felt a she began to exercise them. Quaint pang of jealousy. He was angry with old jars and vases and cups and teapots himself for the feeling and made a that had been hidden away in remote great effort to overcome it, asking his closets, came out of their hiding places, friend to the old house oftener because blackened with the dust of ages, and of this secret weakness. were placed about here and there, mak "What fear need I have of him if she ing patches of light and color in the loves me?” he argued with himself,
"and if not, what can it matter whom until that moment how much he had she sees?"
loved his father, or how bitter a blow The young man watched her closely their parting was to be. For a time and fancied himself secure in her love. even the image of Julia Torres was There was much of conceit in his na blotted from his mind. He stayed in ture. He felt that she must know how that darkened room for a long time; much he loved her, and that he had then he arose and went slowly down only to speak when the fitting time the stairs in search of Julia. came. Always his dreams were of a She heard his footsteps and came forfuture in which she was to be his wife. ward to meet him. She gave him both He could not think of himself a mo her hands, looking at him with a grave, ment apart from her. The possibility pitying face. that this desire of his heart might be "I am so sorry for you, dear Roy,” denied him never entered his mind. she said; "so sorry for my own sake,
It was while he was lingering in this too. I loved him very dearly. Indeed, state of blissful contemplation that a I had reason to love him,” she added, business emergency necessitated his with a little choking sob. presence in New York. He never for They went into the parlor and she got their parting. It was a calm, still told him of his father's last moments. evening, early in May. Julia went with He listened in silence, only interrupthim to the hall door to bid him good-by. ing once to ask if his father had been For the first time he kissed her. It was conscious after the first attack. It was a a long, passionate kiss, and he fancied warm evening, and the faint hum of that it was at once the declaration and the declining city life came to them seal of his love. She could not misun- through the open windows with a disderstand him after that. She uttered a tant, drowsy sound. The old house little cry of mingled astonishment and had that aspect of profound dullness reproof and ran back into the hall. He peculiar to a habitation in the heart of turned as he went down the steps and a city on a summer evening, when mansaw her looking out at him from the kind has a natural yearning for the open door, with the evening sun upon green leaves of the woodland. her face. And that picture—the pale But Roy. had no such yearnings. young face framed in the soft, brown To him the shadowy, oak-paneled room hair, and the shadowy eyes—haunted was a paradise. He forgot that he had him all through the journey and for seen his kind old father's face still in many nights thereafter.
death but a few minutes before; he From New York he went on to Phil- could think of nothing but Julia's penadelphia, a branch office of his firm sive face as she sat by the open winthere needing his personal attention. dow, with the low western sunlight At this point a telegram was handed shining in upon her, as on the evening him announcing the sudden illness of he had kissed her good-by. The words his father, and directing him to come which he meant to speak did not come immediately home. When he reached to him easily; he loved her too much there the old man was dead.
to be over-bold. But in that last happy "He fell in a fit, sir," the old butler hour of his youth there was no shadow told him as he opened the door, "and of doubt in his mind. He had never he never spoke again."
contemplated the possibility of a reRoy dropped his suitcase in the hall fusal; he had never admitted that he and went up the stairs to the solemn had a rival; he had never doubted that death chamber. His father lay in a she loved him. In perfect faith he had long, oak-paneled room, with four tall, accepted her grateful affection, her narrow windows, which had been frank, sisterly regard, as tokens of the gloomy enough even when inhabited love to be given to him when he by the living. He had scarcely known pleaded for it. He was rather ashamed
to be so backward in pleading, that are going to be married in a month or was all.
two. We shan't be rich, of course, for “Julia,” he said, drawing nearer to Frank must care for his mother; but her, "I have something to say to you." we can live happily on very little. And
“And I to you, cousin,” she an- we love each other so truly—". swered, with a sudden bright flush. The ghastly change in his face "There was something I wanted to tell stopped her suddenly in the midst of you for two weeks before you went her confession. away, but I hadn't the courage. And "Cousin Roy !" she exclaimed (it was yet I know how good you are, and that her pet name for him), "you are not nothing in the world would make you angry?" unkind to me."
He sprang to his feet, and she saw He took her hand tenderly in his. the look of a stricken animal in his "Unkind, dear! Surely, you know I eyes. could never be that."
“Angry!” he cried, in a voice she "Of course not. And that is why it would not have recognized. “You has been so foolish of me to feel afraid have broken my heart! Didn't you of speaking frankly. I think you must know that I loved you? Didn't you know how happy my life has been in know that every hope I had was built this dear old house, and how grateful I on the security of your love? When I shall always be to you and your dear kissed you that night before I went father for all of your goodness to me. away, if you had doubted before, could But-but-we are both young, and it you doubt then what I felt for you?" would not do for us to go on living "Indeed, Roy," she cried, "I thought here this way. People would talk; it was only a brother's kiss. We have Mrs. Davis told me as much this after been like brother and sister. And I noon. And I–I have had the offer of never dreamed that you cared for me a new home. Don't think me ungrate more than you might have cared for a ful, or that I want to run away from sister." you. Indeed, I cannot fancy a sister "Of course not !" He laughed bitloving her only brother better than I terly.
terly. "That is a way with you love you. But I must go away-every-' women, I believe. And I should have one says that.”
known from the way your mother She looked at him a trifle anxiouslytreated my father. History has rethe blush fading slowly from her face. peated itself. And he! The traitor,
“A new home?" he questioned. “Why the false friend I brought into this should you go away, Julia? What need house, the sneaking scoundrel who you care if some malicious fool should came into our firm a beggar-to go beslander us. It is hardly possible for hind my back and steal you!" malice to go so far as that; and it "Stop Roy,” she commanded. "I can't matter to us, because—"and then, cannot hear you say those things of without finishing the sentence, he ex- him. How did he know you cared for claimed, “Who offered you this new me? It is too cruel, too unjust! Poy, home, as you call it?"
be reasonable ! Be like yourself! “Mrs. Ryder–Frank's mother-has Whatever sin I have committed against asked me to stay with her until I am you has been done in ignorance. I married.” She was blushing again, and shall never cease to be grateful to you. her heavy lids dropped over her glori- Be generous, Cousin Roy; tell me that ous dark eyes.
you forgive me.” "Till you are married !" he gasped. "Forgive you!” he cried, in a blind
“Yes, Roy, dear. I ought to have fury. "To the last hour of my life—if told you before, perhaps, but I
but I I live a hundred years—I shall never couldn't. Frank has asked me to be his speak to you! I pray God I may never wife, and I love him very dearly; we see your face again!"
With these words on his lips he term of notice, such a course would be went out of the room, went away from most agreeable to the new head of the her, with the sullen determination to firm of Braddon & Braddon. hate those two who had wronged him, The answer to this communication until the end of his days.
came very promptly. It told the new He left the house at once and walked head of Braddon & Braddon that Mr. rapidly in the direction of Acquishnett. Ryder required neither notice nor All night long he plodded blindly along compensation, and that he should have the country roads, with no feeling of quitted the office forever before his fatigue, no consciousness of his sur- note could be delivered to Mr. Bradroundings.
don, Jr. It was daylight when he eventually How far Roy Braddon succeeded in came to a recognition of his where- shutting out the image of the girl he abouts and retraced his steps. His loved was known only to himself. clothes were white with dust, and his From the hour in which he left her on face wan and haggard. One of the the night of his father's death, he had sour-faced maid-servants was cleaning never spoken of her to any human the front steps when he went in, and creature. Whatever curiosity he may gasped at him aghast, but he scarcely have felt as to her fate he kept harsaw her. He made his toilet with a bored in his own mind, making no athali-mechanical sense of the proprie- tempt to discover what had become of ties, and then went down to that very her. He lived on without change of ordinary parlor which a little while any kind in the dull old mansion. ago had seemed to him such a pleasant, Friends he had none. The only man home-like room.
who had ever been his companion was There was a solitary breakfast laid Frank Ryder. for one, and instead of Julia's presence, So his life went on: Coming home there was a little note addressed to every day to the same lonely rooms; him, a. tender, pleading little letter, eating and drinking in solitude; sitting assuring him once again of her grati- alone through the long evening with a tude for his goodness to a friendless neglected book lying on the table beorphan, beseeching him once more to side him; or wandering alone in the fabe generous, and telling him that, act miliar haunts that he had known in his toward her as he would, she would rambles with Frank Ryder long ago. never cease to be his affectionate and For any pleasure or variety there was grateful friend.
in his life, he might as well have been a Three times he read the letter wretched slave toiling in the jungles of through, and then, with a fierce look the Congo. of mingled hate and rage on his face, Ten years passed before he again crushed it in his hand and flung it into saw Julia Torres. In a crowded street the empty grate. Having done this, he she flashed past him one afternoon-a determined to recommence his life tall, slim figure dressed in black, with upon a new system; to shut the false great dark eyes and a wan, tired lookgirl's image out of his mind and to de- ing face. It was not until she had vote all his energy and thought to his passed him some moments that he business.
knew, by the quickened beating of his The first letter he wrote when he heart, who it was that had been so near took his seat as the head of the firm on him. Impelled by a half-recognized the second day after his father's fu- curiosity to learn the circumstances of neral was a brief, business-like epistle her life, he turned and attempted to to Frank Ryder, informing him that follow her; but she was lost in the his services were no longer required, crowd before he had been able to reand that if he preferred a pecuniary cover himself sufficiently to look about compensation in lieu of the ordinary for her.