|Chapter Number||V - VI|
|Newspaper Title||The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933)|
|Trove Title||Vicissitudes of an Orphan|
VICISSITUDES OF AN ORPHAN.
BY THE AUTHOR OF "ALICE VERNON."
BUT where was Paul all this time? Had he forgotten Dora?
The second day after leaving the village, Paul reached the city, and drove at once to his father's house. It was near the dinner-hour when he arrived, and he had only time to take a bath, that most refreshing luxury after a fatiguing journey, to change his attire, and to collect his thoughts, when the bell summoned
him down stairs.
The elder Sidney came in soon after the ar- rival of Paul, and now stood in the drawing- room, awaiting the appearance of his son.
He was a portly, fine-looking man, a little past the prime of life, with the unmistakable dress and air of a well-bred gentleman. His coat was blue, with gilt buttons, a fashion which had prevailed in his youth, and to which he still clung; and he wore a white waistcoat, a plaited shirt-frill, and cravat of irreproach- able cambric. His hair was nearly as white as snow, and thick and slightly waving, contrast- ing finely with his still ruddy countenance. His carriage was peculiarly dignified; indeed, as he stood opposite the door, twirling his watch-seals, while he waited for Paul, he pre- sented the very ideal of the finished gentleman of the old school. There was but one thing about him that marred the picture. Instead of the frank, open look, associated with that cha- racter, the elder Sidney wore an expression of
"Well, Paul," he said, as the latter entered the room; and he extended his hand as he spoke, "so you have returned at last. You look better, too. Had you a pleasant jaunt?" Paul took his father's hand, pressing it warmly; but before he could reply, Mr. Sidney resumed, "However, dinner is on the table, and the soup will be getting cold. You can tell me all about your travels while we are at table;" and, draw- ing his son's arm within his own, he led the way into the broad and lofty hall, and thence to the spacious dining-room in the rear.
It was evident, from the undisguised pleasure which the elder Sidney exhibited at the return of Paul in such improved health, that he sin- cerely loved his son. He sat sipping his soup and gazing proudly on his heir, while Paul, in describing the region he had been visiting, waxed more and more eloquent.
"You ought to be a senator, Paul," he said abruptly, at last, "I never before knew you
could talk so well."
"I have no ambition that way," replied Paul, blushing; and he continued unconsciously giv- ing utterance to some of his recent thoughts; "I would rather be an author than a politician. There is too little statesmanship in our time, and too much wire-pulling, at least for me; whereas the nobleness of the author's task, as well as his power, is extending continually."
The elder Sidney let the spoon, which he was about to raise to his mouth, fall quietly into his plate again; while, with elevated eyebrows and a perplexed air, he contemplated the author of these heretical sentiments; for with him author- ship and begging, literature and low life were inseparably connected. He belonged to a class of men, now daily becoming rarer, who, while well-read in the belles lettres, considered the profession of polite learning as beneath a gentle-
He at length said, "Where did you pick up such vulgar notions, Paul? The political field is the only one open, in this country, to a gentle- man ambitious of distinction, and it is one to which I always hoped you would turn your at- tention. Politics, I say, is, after all, the best profession for a gentleman of wealth. The law now-a-days is a mere treadmill, and crowded with pettifoggers; medicine is but second-rate; and as for the pulpit, that is entirely out of the question. You might have gone into the army or navy, but I did not like either, and it is now too late; so I'm afraid," he continued smiling, "that politics, in the end, must be your line."
Paul sat quietly listening to these speculations as to his future career. Never before had his father even hinted that he wished his son to prefer any one pursuit before another. The incident appeared almost providential, since it led naturally to the very subject which Paul wished to broach, and which he had been prepar- ing himself for the last forty-eight hours to
" I don't altogether agree with you, sir," said Paul, "in your abuse of authorship—I think it is a lofty and ennobling pursuit; at least, when followed conscientiously, and not for the mere love of lucre. But that is nothing to my present purpose. I have no more idea of turning author than politician. I wish to marry."
The napkin with which Mr. Sidney was delicately wiping his mouth, while the servant lifted his soup-plate, fell into his lap, and he
stared at Paul in amazement.
At he looked at his son, his wonder and vexa- tion, for one followed close on the other, in- creased. Mr. Sidney was a shrewd, observant man, and accustomed to leap at once to conclu- sions, in which, moreover, he wss generally ac- curate. He had not a bit of Paul's imagination, but he understood cause and effect wonderfully.
When, therefore, he saw his son's embarrassed blush, and connected it with Paul's protracted absence and sudden return, he divined imme- diately very nearly the true state of affairs.
Mr. Sidney, however, was too well-bred to exhibit emotion of any kind long, or to discuss family affairs while the servants were present; accordingly he gave a significant glance at Paul, who, comprehending him, colored at his own eagerness, and dropped the subject.
When, however, the dessert had been placed upon the table, and father and son were left alone, the father returned to the interrupted
"You say you wish to marry," quietly began Mr. Sidney, as he poured out a glass of rare old Madeira, and then pushed the bottle towards Paul, who, however, declined it. "Let us hear
all about it."
Instinctively the son understood the father, and saw the determined opposition he was to expect; nevertheless, he braced his spirit for his task, and began to detail his acquaintance with Dora. At first his manner was embar- rassed; but, as he proceeded, his theme gave him confidence; and before he closed he had risen to a strain of passionate, though not ex- aggerated eloquence, in describing the school- master's daughter.
The father listened quietly and decorously, oc- casionally glancing at the animated countenance of his son, but oftener holding his wine up to the light, or cracking the walnuts before him.
When Paul ceased, flushed and agitated, there
was a moment's silence, and then Mr. Sidney remarked drily, "And so this angel you wish to marry is a country schoolmaster's daughter! Pooh! pooh! Paul, you'll think better of it."
The father well knew, that his son's foible was fear of ridicule; but Paul, though he colored deeply, was not to be jeered out of his love for Dora. So he answered firmly, though his voice trembled a little, "I have thought of it, sir, and her being a schoolmaster's daughter makes no difference to me. I hope it will make none to
A sarcastic smile came over the face of his
father as he replied, "Do you know, Paul, that our family is as old as the Conquest, and has never yet, to my knowledge, mated beneath it. Do you suppose, then, that I can think a peda- gogue's child a fit bride for almost the last male of the line? You are crazy, my lad. Idleness, moonlight, and a pair of bright eyes have turned your head; but, now that you are once out of the reach of this rosy-cheeked rustic, you'll soon recover your reason, and will, in a month at most, thank your stars that you did not slip your head into the noose while the romantic fit was on you."
Paul turned pale with suppressed indignation as Dora and his passion for her were thus ridi- culed; but he remembered it was his father that spoke, and with a mighty effort he controlled
"Come," continued Mr. Sidney, soaking his walnuts in his wine, "let us look at this matter like sensible men. You wish to make a figure in the world, or, at least, you will wish it when you grow older; for I see, even if you don't, that you are not of the stuff to leave no mark among men. I don't desire to flatter you, Paul, but you have talents; you have a logical mind and a fervid imagination, and, if you once turn orator in good earnest, you may outrival some of our best politicians. At present you are almost too young to know yourself. Fools now live merely for the joy of living, as it were, but by- and-bye you will find life intolerable unless you have some great aim to carry out. Wealth will not satisfy you, and you will look about for something to do. It will be then that you will aspire to lead in the state, or in society, if not in both. When that day comes, I forewarn you that you will bitterly repent having married an ignorant, under-bred country girl, without for- tune or position, and blame your folly for not having allied yourself to a woman of family in-
fluence, high social grade, or wealth—all of which, let me tell you, are of great assistance in
the road to fame."
He drank off his glass of wine as he thus spoke, raising his left hand, however, deprecat- ingly, in order to prevent Paul's replying as yet.
"We are an old family, as I tell you, Paul," he continued, "but we had fallen into some de- cay when I was born. A long series of exhaust- ing crops, persisted in for years, had reduced the family acres to barren fields, and brought the family itself almost to beggary, when I came of age. I believe, without flattery, that I am no fool, in some respects, at least; and I saw, even while yet at school, that the fortunes of my race were not to be restored, as of old, by the sword, but by commerce. The times had changed since the knightly lance won what knightly honor required. It was the lodger, not the casque, which was now the potent power. Accordingly, leaving my father's house, I came to this city, where I entered into trade, and, in the course of years, amassed a considerable for- tune. I have long since retired from active business, and am now a banker rather than a merchant. Had I been fitted for the role, I should myself have turned politician, but I re- served that career for you, whom I early saw to have brilliant, as well as solid abilities. However, I have always kept up my connections with the statesmen, whom, in my younger days, I used to meet at my father's house; and you have but to say the word, in order to open your new career. There must be more than one fair girl of family almost as good as your own, and some with wealth in addition, who will be glad to be-
come your bride. Is not this better than marry- ing a portionless, unknown rustic, of whom, in five years, you will be ashamed?"
The father spoke in a tone which assured Paul that the plan thus developed was a long-cheri- shed scheme, and the heart of the young man
smote him. Nevertheless, be was firm.
"Father," said Paul, when Mr. Sidney had ceased speaking, "what you say pains me inex- pressibly, for I see that you have set your heart on a scheme which would be utterly distasteful to me, even if Miss Atherton were out of the question. But, in sincerity, I love her too con- sistently, too unalterably, to render your plan a possible one, even if it suited my tastes entirely."
"This is going rather far, Paul," said Mr.
Sidney, frowning. "Do you know that I am in no humor to tolerate boyish whims—and, least of all, on a subject like this?"
"Heaven forbid that this should be a boyish whim!" replied Paul, earnestly.
The face of the father flushed as he inquired angrily, setting his glass down on the table with an energy that shivered it, "Then what else is
"Father," said Paul, looking up sorrowfully, but respectfully, "I am now twenty-five; and though there is still much for me to learn, I am not entirely a boy. For seven years I have been, as it is called, in society. I have met women of all kinds in that period, and have been thrown into intimacy with many. For some I have formed friendships; some I have even thought, for awhile, that I admired; but none, until now, have I loved. When I became acquainted with Miss Atherton, I felt an emotion different from any I had ever experienced before. It was a consciousness of there being an entire sympathy between her and me, a perfect confidence, a holy—"
The father had listened thus far patiently, though evidently with an effort, for the veins on his forehead swelled, and his face became of a deeper flush. But now he broke in on his son's words. "What transcendental nonsense is this?" he exclaimed, half rising from his seat. "You are like a puling girl, sir."
"Father!" expostulated Paul.
Mr. Sidney, as if ashamed of his momentary ebullition, sank back into his chair, while Paul took advantage of the silence to proceed.
"You seem, father, to misunderstand me," said Paul. "I am no sickly sentimentalist. I abhor as much as you do the morbid romance of love in a cottage, and all that extravagance; but at the same time, I reverence true affection. I believe, as I believe in my own existence, that there is an affinity between the sexes, which, if left to itself, and not crushed by a narrow con- ventionalism, enables man and woman mutually to recognise that one of the opposite sex with whom his or her life can be spent most happily.
And this is love—"
"Nonsense!" interrupted the father, with a
"It is that secret consciousness which has drawn me towards Miss Atherton," continued Paul; "and which assures me that, in this world, I shall never meet another so calculated to make me happy."
He paused. Mr. Sidney waited a moment with a curl on his lips, to let Paul proceed, but find- ing his son remained silent, he said, evidently endeavoring to control himself, "Paul, you talk eloquently, but, excuse me for saying it, very foolishly. I can assure you that, though I loved your mother dearly, I never felt as you describe. Perhaps, when I was about eighteen, I had a fit of that kind for a month or two, oc- casionally, but it was always for some one whom a year afterwards, I would not have married for the world. The only difference between us is, that you, at twenty-five, retain the illusions of eighteen."'
Paul shook his head, but made no reply. That his father had never loved his mother, in the true sense of that word, he had already in- stinctively felt. Indeed, Mr. Sidney was not of the stamp to love any woman intensely; but Paul could not tell his father this.
"Come," said Mr. Sidney, after a pause, "let us have done with this nonsense. There is no- thing I will not do for you, Paul, if you follow my wishes."
He stopped here, not caring to threaten, for he knew his son's high spirit intuitively; and he preferred to lead rather than drive, if the former was possible; but Paul made no answer.
"Will you give up this girl?" inquired Mr. Sidney.
The son raised his eyes to those of his father, and replied by a look. It was a look of surprise, of refusal, of invincible determination. The father answered by a glance as resolute. Thus, for a few minutes, they continued regarding each other. At last Mr. Sidney spoke. "You will not surrender her!" he said, fiercely.
"I cannot," replied Paul, sadly.
"You shall," retorted the father, angrily.
Paul smiled a mournful smile, but one of in- credulity.
"I will disinherit you!" said the father, his face flushed with rage, and speaking between his firm-set teeth. "You and yours shall starve!"
"Heaven will assist me," said Paul, rising, as if to terminate the painful interview, for, know- ing his father's inflexible will, he was well aware that expostulation would be useless. "Heaven will assist me, if I am right, as I believe I am." And then, his voice softening, as the idea of leaving his parent, perhaps for ever, rushed across him, and leaving that parent enraged against him, he said, "Our ways will henceforth be wide apart, but may Heaven bless you, father, and send you comfort in your solitary old age!"
His tone was tremulous, his eyes were dim with tears, and he stretched forth his hand to his father, as if by some irresistible impulse.
Had Paul continued his defying manner, his father would have seen him depart unmoved; but at this emotion his heart, world-worn as it was, became touched. Hesitating a moment, he grasped the proffered hand, and, after a pause, spoke in a voice shaking with deep feelings.
"Paul," he said—"Paul, I never knew I loved you so much until now. Heaven help us both! we have been too determined, I fear, in this matter. Let us say no more about it. Sit down again. Take a week to think of it. At the end of that time, I know you will give up
For a moment Paul was tempted to sit down, and thus tacitly deceive his father. But, on re- flection, his frank and noble nature scorned this conduct. He knew that, if he waited a whole year, his love for Dora would continue as firmly as now; and he could not stoop to cheat his parent with hopes which he never meant should
"Father," he said, "I cannot consent to mis-
lead you. If I expect ever to retain my own good opinion, I must speak frankly. To aban- don Miss Atherton is not only to break my plighted vows, to render my life itself a mistake, but also to condemn her to unhappiness, to de-
rision, perhaps to beggary. I owe you a duty, I know; but I owe her, myself, and Heaven a higher one. As I cannot lay down existence without sin, so neither can I mar it without offending Heaven. Hear me, father," he con- tinued, earnestly, as he saw the muscles of his parent's mouth working convulsively, and the veins on his forehead swelling again with anger; "hear me, before you condemn. If you will grant me my wish in this matter, I will yield my inclinations as to my future career. I will be-
The rage of Mr. Sidney, the greater for what he considered his momentary weakness, now burst all bonds. "What!" he cried, in a voice of thunder, "parley with me? Offer to trade inclination against duty, and preach over your disobedience like a Methodist parson! Out of my house! I disinherit you! I cur—"
"Stay!" cried Paul, raising his right hand, his face and form suddenly assuming a majesty almost supernal. "Curse not your child! Let that sin, at least, be spared you."
The energy, the authority with which Paul spoke, had arrested the words of his father, even in the torrent of their passion. He stood for an instant regarding his son in blank asto-
nishment, his face flushed, his breathing quick, his eyes distended. For nearly a minute neither parent nor child uttered a word.
Suddenly, it struck Paul that there was some- thing unnatural in his father's fixed look and deeply inflamed countenance. He instinctively made a step forward, but, before he could reach his parent, the latter fell to the floor, as if struck
by an unseen hand. Paul rushed to him and raised him, but he was totally insensible. His loud, stentorious breathing told the terrified son that the father was a victim to a fit of apoplexy.
The room soon filled with servants. The in- valid was borne to his chamber, and a physician sent for. The ominous shake of the head with which the eminent practitioner met Paul's eager questions, destroyed hope at once; and the
miserable son saw the indirect cause of his father's death.
All that night Paul hung over the couch of his parent. But his prayers were of no more avail than the remedies of science; and before morning Mr. Sidney was a corpse.
When Paul saw that his father was dead, that hope was indeed in vain, he rose from his knees at the bedside, and, led by the physician, left the
chamber of death.
"Come out into the air," said the physician, "it will revive you." For his practised eye saw that Paul was nearly prostrated, physically as well as mentally, by the unexpected blow.
They descended to the garden—a spacious en- closure in the rear of the house. The day was just dawning. A grey twilight haze hung over the sky, and a cool wind stirred the damp rose-
leaves. The hum of the awaking city was al- ready beginning. There were no birds to sing, as in the country, and save that low hum, all
Paul listened in silence to the words of the physician. The man of science used the cus- tomary consolations, but in vain; for the deepest grief at all-—Paul's agency in his father's death—he did not know. The bereaved son shook his head and remained silent and ab-
"Oh! if I had not introduced the subject of my marriage," said Paul to himself, "if I had not angered my father, he might still be living. It was the excitement of that interview which brought on the attack. I am his murderer."
He did not reflect that, for the result of that excitement, he was not answerable, since he had, in mentioning his love for Dora, done no more than his duty. He did not know that his father had, for several days, been hovering on the verge of an apopletic fit; and that the victim would have fallen whether the son had angered him or not. He was in too morbid a condition to think of this. He considered himself, in that first hour of his affliction, a parricide; and his remorse was terrible. The physician endeavored to rouse him, but in vain. He did not even hear the man of science. The gradually brigh- tening day failed also to soothe him. Indeed, his mental gloom affected his visual orbs them- selves; the sky seemed black as a pall, while tree and flower apparently reflected the funereal
At last this mental torture became insupport- able. Illusions the most strange, yet terrible, possessed him. The air seemed filled with voices crying "parricide;" the walls, all around, echoed "parricide;" and a gigantic hand appeared in the heavens, and wrote "woe to the parricide!" With a shriek of horror, and eyes staring in their sockets, Paul pointed upwards, and then, staggering back, fell into the physician's arms.
"Poor fellow," said the physician, "the shock has proved too much for him. I feared this. His pulse beats quickly," he said, feeling the patient's wrist. "It is a brain fever of the worst kind, and may prove his death."
Paul was carried to bed, and the most urgent remedies were immediately adopted. But all in vain. The fever could not be checked; and delirium raged with the fever. The unhappy victim would start wildly up in bed, exclaiming that he had murdered his father, and declaring that there was no peace for him in this world, or mercy in the next. Or, when not possessed with these violent ravings, he would piteously beseech those about him to carry him to his
"He cannot be dead," the poor sufferer would cry at such times. "You are all deceiving me. I did not kill him. I could not kill him. Oh!
bring my father to me." And as he spoke he would gaze beseechingly from face to face, till the old housekeeper, who was now his nurse,
would burst into tears.
One day the physician, who had seen him several times in these paroxysms, said to the attendant, "Nurse, there must be something more in this than meets the eye. Had Mr.
Sidney and his son any quarrel on the evening of your late master's death?"
The nurse assured herself that the door was closed, and that no one was listening outside, before she replied, "I'm afraid there was, sir," she said. "Mr. Paul had just come home, after a long visit, somewhere to the country; and the footman, who waited at table, said he wan- ted to talk to his father about some marriage, but Mr. Sidney gave him a look as if to say, 'not till the servants are out of the room.' When the cloth was removed, and the two left alone, the conversation, I suppose, was re- sumed, for I heard high words as I passed through the hall to go upstairs, a little before Mr. Sidney was taken with the fit. Nobody knows what was said, but I've no doubt Mr.
Paul angered his father, for Mr. Sidney was easily irritated; and that, perhaps, brought on
"Poor fellow," said the physician, as he con- templated the patient, "I now see it all. But, nurse, he gives himself unnecessary remorse.
Mr. Sidney met me, the very morning before the attack, and complained of fulness of the head, and other symptoms of incipient apoplexy; and I charged him not to touch wine, and to live for awhile on a spare diet. He laughed, however, as if my alarm was needless."
"He was always a good liver," replied the housekeeper.
"At most," resumed the physician, "the al- tercation only precipitated what was sure to happen; and I doubt whether our poor patient
is at all to blame."
"You may rely on it, sir, he is not," said the housekeeper. "He was always gentle and kind, more like his mother than his father; depend on it, sir, that he was sinned against rather than sinning."
"If we can get him out of this delirium," said the physician, "it must be our business to persuade him of his innocence. His disease is as much mental as physical. But at present," he added, with a sigh, "there seems a poor chance of his life. And he is the last of the family, I believe, nurse?"
"The last, sir," said she, with tears; "I am not aware that he has a relation of his name in the world."
"When is the funeral to take place?" inquired the physician, gazing sadly on the haggard countenance of the patient.
"To-morrow, sir," replied the housekeeper.
" 'Tis a melancholy house," said the physi-
cian. "The head of it to be carried to his last home, without a relation to attend the obsequies, and while the heir lies maniacal, and perhaps soon to follow him. One could almost ask re- proachfully of Providence, what have they done
to deserve this?"
He seemed to be thinking aloud, and it was not until he caught the eye of the nurse, fixed on him in astonishment and curiosity, that he
was aware that he had spoken.
" 'Tis all for the best, sir," she said, hesitat- ingly, as if half afraid to reprove him.
"You say right, none," he answered, a smile lighting up his face. "Providence has some great purpose to work out, by all this, as we should seo if wo had His omnieoience Perhaps, should see if we had His omniscience. Perhaps, it. Let us, at least, hope so."
"Amen!" said the nurse; and she gazed at her young master again, her eyes full of tears.
Whether it was the prayers of the faithful attendant, or the medical skill of the physician, or the youthful constitution of the patient, or all combined, Paul at last recovered, though not until after a protracted illness. For nearly a fortnight he continued delirious. His ravings were sometimes so terrible, that it required two of the footmen to hold him in bed. At last the crisis came. The nurse watched by him, on
that eventful night, with her Bible before her, and when, towards morning, he awoke refreshed and rational, from a deep sleep into which he had fallen, she fell on her knees at the foot of the bed, and poured out her fervent thanks to
"Nurse," said the feeble voice of the invalid, "is that you?"
The old housekeeper had, when Paul was a child, officiated as his nurse, and he had ever since called her by that endearing name.
"Yes, Paul," she said, in vain striving to keep down the glad tears, "yes, my poor child—what
He gazed vaguely around. The dim candle, the table with phials, his nurse watching—these things seemed gradually to explain to his be-
wildered mind where he was.
"I have been very sick," he faltered.
"Yes," she replied, her voice trembling with emotion; "but you are now better. Don't, however, talk, my dear boy—don't think, or you'll be worse again—there, let me arrange your pillow for you."
Exhausted by even the few words he had spoken, he sank back and lay for some time quiet. At last as day began to dawn, and the light struggled through the window, he seemed to re- call the terrible morning when he had been first
seized with delirium.
"Nurse," he said, and a look of pain crossed his fine features, "I recollect all now. My
father is dead."
His faithful attendant trembled at what was to come. She saw that memory was awaking, and with memory she feared a return of re- morse; with remorse, madness once more. She sent up, from the bottom of her heart, a prayer for guidance in this extremity.
Paul appeared to struggle for words; at last he said, "Was my father complaining the day of his death, or before?"
A torrent of tears gushed from the eyes of the attendant, for, in these words, she saw a clue to consolation. "Yes, dear Paul,'' she said, "he saw the doctor that very day. Don't, don't worry yourself any more," she continued, sobbing, "for indeed, indeed, you had no hand in his death. The doctor says so."
The invalid made no reply, but wept silently. He felt as if a load of unutterable guilt was removed from his soul, and his entire being went out in gratitude to Heaven.
When the physician came, he pronounced Paul out of danger; but insisted on the most perfect quiet for his patient. He was careful, however, indirectly to soothe Paul's excited sen- sibility, by verifying the fact that Mr. Sidney had been threatened with apoplexy before his
Gradually Paul grew stronger. When he re- covered sufficient strength to comprehend his situation, one of his first thoughts was of Dora.
"How long, nurse, have I been sick?" he in- quired.
"More than two weeks, sir," replied the house- keeper.
Paul started. "I wonder if you would let me write?" he said, after a while.
"Oh! dear no, not yet," said the house- keeper. "The doctor, you know, will scarcely let you talk."
There was now a long pause. Paul was con- sidering, as well as his weakness would allow, what to do. Should he get the nurse to write to Dora, or should he wait till he himself was better? To the first all his feelings were repug- nant. Yet ought not Dora to be relieved from suspense? Finally he spoke. "Nurse," he said, "I wish you would write for me."
"You had better wait till you are stronger," urged the housekeeper.
"That will not do," he replied. "I have dear friends, who an anxious about me, and who, not knowing I am ill, will be alarmed at my
"Well, then, let me call in Thomas," said she. "He writes a good hand, while I can scarcely
write at all."
"No you must write," said Paul. "No one
else will do."
Accordingly the nurse, at Paul's direction, wrote to Mr. Atherton, informing him of the illness of Paul. The letter concluded with a promise that, as soon as he was able, he would rejoin the old schoolmaster.
This, Paul thought, would relieve Dora's mind; and so it would have done if it had ever reached her; but the nurse, in directing it, omitted the county in which the village was situated, as also the nearest post-town, conse- quently the letter went southward, instead of northward, and did not reach its destination till long afterwards, and then too late.
Paul, having relieved his anxiety on this point, rapidly recovered. Still it was a long while before he was able to leave the city, for his prostration had been very great. Even when he did set out on his journey, it was against the remonstrances of his physician, who declared that he saw peril of a relapse by his obstinacy.
But there was a reason for Paul's haste, of which the physician knew nothing. No letter had been received in reply to the one written to Mr. Atherton. Paul had calculated, to a day, when un una«ci niif,ht bo expected , but thut day passed, and another, and a week in addition, and yet no reply arrived. Paul knew not what to think. Sometimes he fancied Dora had for-
gotten him. At other times he persuaded him- self that she, too, considered him guilty of his father's death, and had resolved in consequence to cast him off; for Paul was still occasionally haunted by the spectre of a morbid remorse.
The truth never crossed his mind. He en-
tirely overlooked the possibility of his letter miscarrying. He did not, accordingly, write again. He feared that a second letter, that any appearance of importunity, might bring a deci- sive negative from Dora; and he resolved to hazard nothing further, but wait until he could plead his suit in person.
After a journey protracted by his weak state from two days to four, Paul reached his destina- tion. What was his surprise and horror to learn the death of Mr. Atherton and the depar- ture of Dora. His evident anguish of mind enlisted the sympathy of the innkeeper, who, in answer to Paul's eager questions, declared there was no doubt that Dora could easily be traced. The good host, however, could not conceal that Dora had regarded her lover as faithless, and that the old schoolmaster had died possessed
with that idea.
Silent, dispirited, and heartsick, Paul came back to the city, and again resumed the search there. The thought struck him that Dora might be employed in some of the public schools, and accordingly he procured a list of the female teachers, but her name was not among them. Then he reflected that, in order to conceal her- self from him, she might have changed her name; and in person he visited all the public schools in the town. After this he sought
among private seminaries, and then among
governesses and music teachers.
Disappointed in this, he visited every church of the Episcopalian denomination in the city, but here he met with no more success than else- where, for Dora, not having a seat, had only been occasionally to church, and rarely twice in the same building.
Vainly, too, he walked the streets with the same purpose. Sometimes his heart would beat quick at what seemed a familiar form in the distance, but on a nearer approach the mistake
would become evident.
And yet, what was his suffering, what his anxiety, intense as they both seemed, to the suffering and anxiety of Dora? He only sought, amid ever-recurring failure, for an object as truly loved as it was hopelessly lost. But she, while believing that her virgin troth had been scorned, was beset, in addition, with the harpies of destitution, debt, and ill-requited labor. Well was it for her that she was a woman, a meek, long-suffering woman. Man, with his active energy, may dare things which the softer sex cannot attempt; but women endures, and in silence, tortures of mind and body that would drive the other sex to insanity.
The winter came and went, yet still Paul heard nothing of Dora. At last, convinced that she was lost to him for ever, he determined to leave the country, hoping, amid the scenes of other lands, to find the happiness he had lost, or, if not happiness, forgetfulness.
MEANWHILE, Dora toiled on, in her arduous occupation, endeavoring to maintain a cheerful spirit, and hoping for a brighter future. How or when that better day was to come she could not even imagine, for every prospect alike ap- peared dull and comfortless; but, without that hope, she would almost have died, and so she clung to it tenaciously.
Dora had other troubles too. From the day he had first beheld her, young Thomaston had not ceased to insult her with his notice. He had never, indeed, spoken to her as yet; but, in spite of her avoidance of him, she feared he would. To prevent this, she always waited until Susan could accompany her, before she would go to the shop. Yet, even in this, there was much that was unpleasant. Susan was weak enough to be flattered by the notice of this profligate, which she appropriated entirely to herself; and was continually talking of him.
"Don't you think he looks like Lord Morti- mer?" she said to Dora one day. "I'm sure he does. I got the Children of the Abbey from the circulating library, last week, to read over again, for I felt confident that Amanda's lover was just like Mr. Thomaston; and it is so. He has ex- actly the same colored eyes."
"I never read the novel you speak of," re- plied Dora; "but indeed, dear Susan, I wish you would not talk of this young man. He is vulgar as well as wicked, depend on it."
"Indeed now you cannot mean what you say," said Susan, and then, looking back she ex-
claimed with a heightened color, "I declare, if he hasn't followed us all the way home!"
As Dora led the way into Mrs. Harper's house, she did in fact see the young man loitering at the corner. He caught Dora's eye, and lifted his hat. Our heroine indignantly hurried into the house, dragging Susan after her, but not until the latter had dropped a curtesy in reply
to the salute.
About a week after this, Dora found herself compelled to go out alone to the shop. Susan had been confined to the house for several days by a sore throat, and it was absolutely necessary that Dora should carry back the work of both, and obtain more. Accordingly she left Mrs.
Harper's towards sunset, thinking that at this period of the day she would be less apt to meet her tormentor; for she had been informed that he, in common with other young bloods, gener- ally rode out of town in the afternoon.
She had completed her errand, and was hurry- ing home, for the dusk drew rapidly on, when, to her dismay, she beheld the object of her aver- sion sauntering towards her.
She hastened to turn down the next street, hoping thus to avoid him. But he had already seen Dora, and, thanking his lucky fortune, he proceeded at a quickened pace to follow her. Dora, hearing a rapid footstep behind her, be-
came instinctively conscious that it was his, and, with a beating heart, increased her own already swift gait. Still the pursuing tread was heard, and, not daring to look round, she hurried on until she almost ran. Once or twice there was a cough, as if to attract her attention. Mean- time few persons were in sight, for the twilight was fast fading. Nearer and nearer the foot- steps approached.
"Allow me, miss," said a voice beside her, "to see you home."
The words were respectful enough, but the tone was conceited and insolent. The first im-
pulse of Dora was to turn and strike him; but she feared, on second thought, to do this, for no one else was in sight; and what might he not do? Fear followed this sudden courage—fear deeper than before; and her only reply was to increase her pace almost to a run.
"You shouldn't go so fast, miss," said her pertinacious insulter, keeping close at her side.
"There's no harm meant you—I'll take care of that. Come," he added, after a pause, "don't coquet any longer. You're a handsome girl, by Jove! and you know it; and I'm ready to do anything to prove that I adore you."
How insufferably disgusted, yet indignant, Dora was at all this! Yet, what could she do? To call for help was only to make a scene, and give publicity to the insult. She therefore hur- ried on in silence, but kept her face turned from her pursuer.
"I say, my pretty bird, don't tire your little feet; 'tis no use," resumed her tormentor, "for I'll stick by you whether you go fast or slow. You're not in earnest, surely, in seeking to avoid me. By Jove! miss, I can make it a thousand times more to your advantage to love me, than to keep on working for the governor—"
He would have said more; but, at this insult of insults, Dora's indignation blazed to a height that extinguished all fear. Stopping suddenly, and facing her persecutor, she said, while her form seemed positively to dilate before his as-
tonished eyes—"Leave me, sir, this instant! How dare you speak to me?"
For an instant the young libertine gazed stupified upon her; then, noticing that no one was near, he seemed to collect his faculties again. He gave a low, significant whistle.
"By Jove!" he said, you're sublime—posi- tively sublime. Now I love you better than ever. Come, miss—you act splendidly—but let's put off the tragedy-queen and speak in earnest."
With insufferable self-conceit, for he really seemed to think Dora was dissembling, he
offered her his arm.
This last indignity was too much for Dora. In all her visions of the hardships of a poor and unprotected young female in a great city, the possibility of being thus persecuted, by in- famous addresses, had never entered her mind. she felt degraded immeasurably, and almost loathed herself. This, and the utter helpless- ness of her situation, broke down her courage; and she burst into tears, hurrying forward again.
Her repulsion towards her tormentor was now too plain for him to mistake. But anger came to his aid when his self-assurance failed; and though he hesitated for a moment, he finally followed Dora. At first he threatened, but soon he began to plead, and, as no reply was made to him but sobs, he became enraged once more, and again used threats. She should lose her employment, he said; she should rue her co- quetry, for he still persisted in calling it such; she had some low fellow of a mechanic, he said, whom she liked, he supposed, and he would teach the lout not to come between her and his
At last, Dora reached Mrs. Harper's. Eagerly she rang the bell, and, half dead with shame, affright, and indignation, leaned her tottering limbs against the door-post. Not a word had passed her lips since she had faced her tormen- tor, for that brief moment; and now, as he saw his prey about to escape him, rage overcame every other feeling in the base young libertine's
"She shall not escape me so," he said to him- self; "I'll have a kiss, at least, to punish her for her insolence. She'll not dare to make a fuss publicly about it." He was a coward, a pitiful coward even then. "I'll not be foiled for nothing." And, with these words, he sud- denly seized Dora by one arm, and wheeled her, little expecting so gross an assault, directly round, facing him.
Bewildered and weak, yet with all her dignity aroused, Dora pushed him from her by a vio- lent effort, in which she had concentrated all her strength. At the same instant the door opened, and Mrs. Harper appeared bearing a light.
Like a frightened fawn, Dora darted forward, rushing past Mrs. Harper, who stood, for a mo- ment, holding the door open, unable to compre-
hend the scene.
It was a moment, too, before the discomfited libertine could understand this sudden turn of
affairs. His first impulse, after being thrust away by Dora, was to return to the attack; and he actually advanced as far as the threshold for that purpose; but here the form of Mrs. Har- per, who now saw the whole mystery, interposed.
The good landlady, as we have seen, had a tongue that never spared wrong; and her blood was now all on fire. She thrust her candle in
the young man's face, till he started back affrighted.
"You impudent rascal, what are you doing here?" she said. "You call yourself a gentle- man, and yet insult young ladies, because they happen to be poor. Get away, this instant, or I'll have you soundly whipped, for there are men inside, who, though they don't wear as fine a coat as you, have the hearts of real gentlemen, and would, if they knew you had followed this young lady home, beat every bone of your body into a jelly. Yes, you may well skulk away," she said, raising her voice, as the baffled cox- comb sneaked off; "I wish I had a dog to set on you, for you're worse than a common thief. If it wasn't for involving the young lady's name with such a despicable one as your own, I'd call the police, and hand you over to justice—"
But here Dora, who had stood half fainting, behind Mrs. Harper, recovered her senses in part, and came forward. "For mercy's sake she said, putting her hand on the angry woman's mouth, "don't raise the neighbors, dear Mrs. Harper. Oh! I wouldn't have my name," she continued, bursting into tears, "mixed up in this terrible affair for the world."
By this time the aggressor, hastening his pace, for he began to be seriously alarmed for the con- sequences of his late conduct, had passed almost out of hearing; and Mrs. Harper allowed her- self to be drawn back into the hall, and the door to be closed. This had scarcely been done when the boarders, who had been assembled in the common parlor, began to flock out, attracted by the noise. Dora, however, did not stop to be questioned, but, whispering into Mrs. Harper's ear not to explain, darted by the curious crowd, and hurried up to her own apartment, where she sank on the bed in a fit of hysterical weeping.
Mrs. Harper though indignation had carried her away so entirely, at seeing her favorite in- sulted, immediately recovered her presence of mind, and to the score of questions addressed to her as to what was the matter, answered curtly, "Oh, nothing to make such an inquiry about—perhaps it was a drunken man, perhaps not—there's been noise enough already—and now, as supper's waited this half-hour, we'll have it, if you please."
Dora's secret was therefore religiously kept; not even Susan acquiring it, though she made
several indirect efforts.
After that evening Dora went no more to the shop. At first she expected that work would be supplied to her no longer; but in this she was mistaken; Susan, who always went alone, invariably brought something back for our hero- ine as well as for herself. Dora frequently re- marked that, on these visits, Susan was absent longer than was necessary; but it excited no suspicion; indeed, why should it? Alas, in subsequent times, this, with other facts, was re- called, but too late.
Occasionally thoughts of Paul visited Dora, as she sat solitary at her work. She had often wondered that, though in the same city, she had never seen him; for she had yet to learn how easy it is to be lost in a great town. Not that she supposed, any longer, that Paul loved her; for she persuaded herself that, if he had not deserted her, he would have discovered her retreat long before; but she wished to see him, to ascertain whether he would not, with all his riches, shrink from her presence self-
Fortune at last brought them together, though only for a moment. Dora had some business which led her by one of the public quays; and, as she passed, the passengers of a ship, about to sail, were arriving. Suddenly a carriage drove up, from which Paul descended. The press of people momentarily held Dora fast, and she re- mained within touch of her lover for at least a
She noticed that he looked pale and languid, as if he had been severely afflicted; and in spite of her indignation towards him, her heart smote her. Once, under the influence of this emotion, she was on the point of pulling at his sleeve; but pride prevented her; and, the in- stant after, Paul moved onward without having seen her, stepped into a boat which waited for him, and was pulled out towards the packet.
Meanwhile the crowd pushed Dora away from the spot. The incident had quite unnerved her. She reproached herself now for not having spoken to Paul, and so have ascertained the cause of his desertion, which had ever been mysterious. She would, at that moment, have given worlds to
have recalled him.
"Surely, he has been ill," she said; "he could not wantonly desert me. Perhaps I have done him injustice. But alas! alas! it is too late now for regrets." And her tears flowed fast.
Yes! it was too late. A touch—a word—the recognition of her face, would have kept Paul in his native land, and have spared her from untold
[TO BE CONTINUED.]