|Chapter Title||THE ECCENTRIC CLIENT.|
|Newspaper Title||The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)|
|Trove Title||A Mystery|
(From English, American, and other Periodicals.)
THE ECCENTRIC CLIENT.
Several months passed, and bravely did Earle Wayne battle with the world and fate.
Cheerfully, too ; for, although he did not permit himself to see much of Editha, lest his purpose not to speak of his love should fail him, yet in his heart he knew that she loved him, and would wait patiently until his conscience would allow him to utter the words that should bind her to him.
This he felt lie had no right to do until his name could be cleared from the stain resting upon it, and he had also gained a footing and practice in the world, which would warrant his asking the aristo- cratic Miss Dalton to be his wife. It was hard, up- hill work, however; for, notwithstanding he had passed a brilliant examination and been admitted to the bar, yet it seemed as if some unseen force or enemy was at work to press him down and keep him from climbing the ladder of either fame or wealth.
And there was such an enemy !
Sumner Dalton hated him ! He hated him for what he had so dishonorably learned regarding him -- who and what he was -- and for the relationship
which he bore to that face which he had seen in his mysterious package.
He hated him for the interest which Editha manifested in him, and also because Richard Forrester had desired him to have a portion of his fortune, and the former had dared to oppose and defy him regarding the matter.
He could never brook opposition from any one, and he had always possessed a strange desire to be revenged upon anybody who stood in his way in any
It would not do for him to revenge himself directly upon Editha, for she, with all her money, was altogether too important a personage to him; but he know he could do so indirectly through Earle, and so set himself to work to crush him,
Thus, through his efforts many a client, who would have gladly availed themselves of the bril- liant young lawyer's services, were influenced to go elsewhere, and their fees, which would have been such a help to Earle in these first dark days, went to enrich the already overflowing coffers of some more noted and "respectable" practitioner of
But, for all this, he won for himself some practice, in which he proved himself very successful, and not unfrequently gained the admiration of judge, jury, and spectators by his intelligence, shrewdness, and eloquence.
But a covert sneer always followed every effort.
Brother lawyers shrugged their shoulders, and remarked, " what a pity it was that so much talent was not better appreciated, and that the taint upon his name must always mar his life ;" it was " a pity, too, that so fine a young man otherwise, to all out- ward appearance, could not make a better living, but then, people were apt to be shy of employing ' prison-birds,' the old proverb 'set a thief to catch a thief' to the contrary notwithstanding."
It was Sumner Dalton who had set this ball a- rolling, and had kept it in motion until the day came when Earle was obliged to sit from morning till night in his office, and no one came to him for advice or counsel.
He remembered what Editha had told him to do if
he had need -- go to Mr. Felton and get enough for his wants -- but he was too proud to do this; he would be dependent upon no one but himself.
He could have gone and asked that lawyer to give him work, as he had said he would do, but if he had recourse to his offer, Editha would doubtless hear of it, and, thinking him to be in need, would be made unhappy thereby.
Many a time the tempter whispered, when there was scarcely a dollar left in his purse :
" Never mind, in a few more months you will have but to reach forth your hand and plnck the golden harvest which Richard Forrester has set apart far you, and all your trials will be at on end."
It needed but Editha's majority and her signature to insure him independence. But he would not yield.
" I will build upon my own foundation, or I will not build at nil," he would say, at such times, with gloomy brow and firmly-compressed lips, but with undaunted resolution.
One evening he sat in his office more than usually depressed.
He had not had a single call daring the week, and now, as it was beginning to grow dusk, he yielded himself up to the sad thoughts that oppressed him.
It was beginning to storm outside, and as he looked forth into the dismal street, a feeling of desolation and dreariness came over him, such as he had not experienced before.
His office was excessively gloomy for he did not indulge much in the luxury of gas nowadays, since he had not the wherewith to pay for it. His purse lay upon the table before him -- he had been inspect- ing its contents and counting his money.
All that remained to him in the world was a two dollar bill and some small pieces of silver.
" It will keep me just one week longer, not count- ing in any washing," he muttered, then adding, with a grim smile, "and a lawyer with dirty wrist bands and collar is not likely to invite many
Just then a newsboy passed through the corridor, calling his paper.
" I shall be wrecked indeed if I cannot have the daily news," Earle said, bitterly, as he sprang im- patiently to his feet.
He picked up a bit of silver, and going to the door bought a paper.
Coming back, and, as if reckless of consequences he lighted the gas, turning on the full blaze, and then, seating himself comfortably in one chair and putting his feet in another, he began to read.
Scarcely had he done so when he heard a shuffling step outside in the corridor, and then there came a rap on his door.
Wondering who should seek him at that hour, he arose and opened it.
A short, thin-visaged, wiry man, of about fifty, stood without,
With a little bob of his head, he said, in a voice as thin as his face :
" You're the chap that conducted the Galgren case, ain't you?"
" Yes, sir ; will you come in and have a seat?" Earle replied, politely, yet with a slight smile at the way he had addressed him, and wondering what this rather seedy personage could desire of him.
The man entered and sat down with his hat on, eying Earle sharply the while.
" Ain't doing much jest now ?" he said, his sharp eyes wandering from him to his empty table, notic- ing the purse with its scant contents and then at the books undisturbed on their shelves.
" No, sir, I have not been very busy this week," Earle quietly replied,
" That Galgren case was a tough one, eh ?" the man then remarked, abruptly.
" Rather a knotty problem, that is a fact," replied Earle, somewhat surprised at the interest the man manifested in a case so long past.
" Would you like another of the same sort, only a thousand times worse ?" he asked, with a keen glance.
" I want work, sir, let it be of what kind it may and I am willing to do almost anything in an honor- able way."
" Well, then, I can give it to you. I've a knot that I want untied that is worse than forty Gordian knots woven into one ; and if you can untie it or even cut it asunder for me, as Alexander did of old, and relieve me of the fix I'm in, I think I can promise you something handsome for your trouble."
" Your statement does not sound very favorable for my being able to do so, but I can try," Earle re- plied, the look of bitterness and anxiety beginning to fade out of his face, while his eyes lighted with a look of keenness and eagerness at the thought of work.
He sat up in his chair with a movement full of energy, and then added, with a smile :
" Let me take your hat, sir ; then show me this wonderful knot of yours, and we'll see what can be done with it."
The man removed his hat, and Earle saw that it was half full of papers, letters, etc., which he turned out upon the table, and then proceeded to unfold the case, which he wished the young lawyer to take charge of.
A long conference followed ; question after ques- tion was put and answered, and every paper looked into and explained, and the clock on the belfry tower near by, struck the hour of midnight, before Earle's strange visitor left him, and a handsome retaining fee as well.
This he did not demand, but the man's keen eyes had more than once rested on that empty pocket book lyng upon the table, and he doubtless knew that it would not come amiss.
For the next four months Earle had no need to complain of a lack of work -- night and day he toiled, quietly, steadily, persistently ; a stern purpose visible in his face, a light in his fine eyes which meant "victory," if such a result was possible.
This case, which indeed proved a most perplexing one, he felt assured would either "make or mar" his whole future; and if there was any such thing as winning he was determined to conquer.
It was to come to trial the first of October.
He had had about four months to work it up in, and now on the last night of September, he sat again alone in his office with folded hands and weary brain ; but with a smile of satisfaction lighting up his face, instead of the weary expression of bitterness, which rested there on that dreary night when he received his first visit from the thin-visaged, wiry man.
He was reasonably sure of success notwithstand- ing that the opposing counsel was one of the oldest and ablest lawyers in the city, and he was aware that if he gained the case against him, he could not fail to be looked upon with respect for the future.
It proved a tedious trial, for a whole week was occupied in hearing the case, and as point after point, cunning and complicated in the extreme, came up in opposition to the prosecution, and was calmly and clearly rebutted and overthrown, it was plainly to be seen that the tide of popular feeling was turned in favour of the young and gifted lawyer, and Earle felt that his weary labor of four months had been well spent, if it gained him even this.
And who shall describe the eloquence that flowed from his lips, as with his whole heart in his work, he stood up before the multitude and made his plea ?
It was clear and concise, witty and brilliant ; a masterpiece of rhetoric logic, and conclusive evi- dence combined with a thorough knowledge of all the intricacies of the law, and which did not fail to impress every hearer ; and when at last he sat down cheer after cheer arose, and a perfect storm of ap- plause that would not be stayed testified to the admiration and conviction which he had excited.
It was a proud moment for Earle Wayne, the poor despised convict, and Sumner Dalton sitting there heard all, and ground his teeth in fiercest rage.
He had not known of the case until almost the last, having been again at Newport. But it had got into the papers recently, and Earle's name as counsel for the prosecution, had attracted his attention, and he had returned to the city and been present during the last few days of the trial.
Something very like a sob burst from our hero's grateful heart, at this acknowledgement of his worth and power, but it was drowned in the din, and though nearly every eye was fixed upon him, they saw nothing unusual -- only a very handsome young man, who looked somewhat pole and worn with hard work and the excitement of the week.
The victory was his ; the case was won, for a ver- dict was rendered in favour of his client, and men who had hitherto shunned him, and curled the lips
of scorn and pity, for the " poor chap with the stigma resting on his name," now came forward to shake hands and congratulate him on his victory.
His rigid course of study and discipline under Richard Forrester's direction spoke for itself ; he had been a keen, sharp-witted, successful lawyer, and his pupil bade fair to outstrip even his brilliant
" Who are you ?" abruptly asked the wiry, thin visaged man, as he grasped Earle's hand in grateful acknowledgment, after the court was dismissed.
"I do not think I have changed my identity since I last saw you, sir ; I am Earle Wayne," Earle said,
with an amused smile.
" Yes, yes ; but I tell you, you've got blue blood in your veins. A man that can do what you have done is worth knowing, and I want to know what stock you came from."
A shadow flitted across Earle's handsome face at
these remarks, but it soon passed, and still smiling,
" I pretend to no superior attributes ; I was a poor boy without home or friends until Mr. Forrester took me in and gave me the benefit of his know- ledge and instruction. I have been unfortunate also since then, as you very well know, and when you came to me to take charge of this case, I was well-nigh discouraged."
«I knew it -- I knew it; but I knew also that the true grit was in you. I saw it in the Galgren case, and I've watched you since. Besides," with a shrewd look up into the handsome face, " I knew hungry dogs always work hardest for a bone, and they seldom fail to get it, too; that's one reason I brought you my case, and I'm proud of the result."
"Thank you, sir," Earle said, laughing at the simile of the hungry dog. " I am glad that your confidence was not misplaced, and I congratulate you upon our success ; it gives you a very handsome fortune." ,
"Yes, yes, a decent bit of property, I'll admit; but how much of it are you going to want?"
Earle colored at his way of putting this question': it seemed to bim a trifle surly and ungrateful after
his hard work.
" I trust not more than is right, sir ; but we will talk of this another time, if you please," he said, with dignity.
The little man chuckled to himself, as, slipping his arm familiarly within Earle's, he drew him one
" How much do you want? Remember it takes a good deal to pay for a pound of flesh, and you've lost a good many since I came to you that night four months ago," he persisted.
Earle saw that the man was really kind at heart, and meant well by him in spite of his unprepossess- ing manner.
" And you must remember, sir, that the reputation of this success is worth considerable to me ; but I suppose this is a very unbusiness-like way to talk and if you are in a hurry for me to set my fee, I will do so," and he named a sum which he thought would pay him well for his labor.
The little, thin-visaged, wiry man chuckled again, and clapped Earle upon the shoulder in an approv- ing manner.
Very moderate and proper for a youngster, only let me whisper a little bit of advice in your ear, albeit I'm no lawyer. When you can find a fat cus- tomer, salt a good slice of him for yourself, and when a lean one comes along, don't cut in quite so deep.
How's that for counsel ?"
"Very good," Earle said, with a hearty laugh; " but," with a sparkle of mischief in his eye as it traversed the thin form of his client from tip to toe, " I am in some doubt as to which class you would prefer to belong to."
The little man tapped his pockets significantly, and then shoving a hand into each, drew forth two good-sized rolls of bills and showed them to him.
" Fat, youngster, when I've any dealings with you though I can tell you I know how to pinch hard in the right place," and his wiry fingers closed over tbe bills in a way that reminded Earle of miniature
He was a strange character, and though during the trial things had come out which seemed to make him out a miser, harsh and soulless in all his dealings with men, yet Earle thought there must be a spot of goodness and generosity about him somewhere, for he seemed so appreciative of his services.
And the result proved he was right.
" I'll call around and settle to-morrow ; I want this thing off my mind, and I reckon you've not found many bones to pick besides this during the last four months," he said at parting,
" No, sir ; this gigantic one has occupied all my
time and skill."
" Spoiled any teeth?" his client asked, facetiously. " No, sir; sharpened them; ready for another," Earle responded, in the same strain, to carry out the poor joke.
" You'll do ; would like you for a son ; wish I had a daughter ; you should marry her ;" and the little man, with his characteristic bob of the head, turned and went his way, while Earle musing upon the events of the day, returned to his office ; but think- ing that if his client happened to have a daughter, he might wish to be excused from a nearer relation- ship to him, notwithstanding the now plethoric state of his money-bag.
The next morning he received a cheque for five thousand dollars from the eccentric man, together
with an expression of gratitude for his faithful ser- vices. And this was the foundation -- the "founda-
tion laid with his own hands" -- which Earle now began to build upon.
There were no more idle days for him. Work poured in upon him from every side. Success
brought countless friends where before he had not possessed one ; and he bade fair, ere long, to fulfil Richard Forrester's prediction concerning him -- that he had a brilliant career before him.
WILL HE BEAR THE TEST?
Editha knew something of all this, for she read the papers, and at the termination of the trial enough could not be said of the brilliant victory which the young lawyer had achieved.
She was at Newport, but she would gladly have
returned to the city with her father to attend the trial had she known of it in season.
But he had merely said he was obliged to go home upon business, which she judged upon his return must have been of an unpleasant nature, since for several days afterward he was morose and in every way disagreeable.
Every one remarked how much more beautiful I Miss Dalton was this summer than the preceding
Many attributed it to the change in her dress, as she no longer refused to wear colors, and her ward- robe was remarkable for its taste and elegance;
while others said her sorrow was wearing away and
her spirits were returning.
No one but Editha herself, however, knew the I secret of her own beauty -- she had loved and was
beloved; and though her hopes might not be crowned for a long while, yet she waited in patience for Earle to speak, having full faith that he would
eventually rise superior to every trial, and trample
every obstacle beneath his feet.
She and her father were less in sympathy than
She had dared to displease him again by rejecting Mr. Tressalia's proposals of marriage.
The day following Earle's call upon her -- on that very Christmas Day when she had contemplated asking him to dinner, and making the day so pleasant to him -- Mr. Dalton had brought Mr. Tres- salia home with him to be their guest, and he had sat in the seat she had destined for Earle, and she had been obliged to exert herself to entertain him
He had also attended a grand reception with them in the evening, and altogether that Christmas was so entirely different from what she had planned it should be, that she was a little inclined to feel al- most as much out of patience with the innocent
cause of it as with her father.
A few days later Paul Tressalis had asked her to be his wife, and she had been obliged to tell him
"No, it could not be."
Mr. Dalton was very angry but secretly bade the rejected lover hope ; assuring him that Editha's affections were not engaged, and he, three months later, taking courage, renewed his proposals, to re-
ceive the same answer as before.
A stormy interview between father and daughter had followed, Mr. Dalton declaring that she should marry the rich Englishman, and Editha as firmly asserting that she should not do so.
The disappointed lover, however, followed them to Newport, where he continually haunted every scene of pleasure where the fair girl was to be found ; and to Editha's shame she was at last forced to believe that her father was still bidding him hope
It might be thought that Paul Tressalia was lack- ing in either pride for himself or proper respect for the woman he professed to love, by being so per- sistent ; but it was the one passion of his life, al- though he was thirty years of age, and he could not easily yield to her gentle, though firm refusal, particularly when Mr. Dalton told him he must eventually overcome her objections if he was
He was not presuming in his attentions, he never forced his society upon her, yet with a patience and faithfulness that deserved a better return, he waited and hoped.
" If you would but give me the least ray of hope that I may eventually win your love, Miss Editha ; my life will be ruined without the crown of your love," he had ventured to urge once more, in a sorrowful kind of way, on the last evening of her stay at Newport.
He had heard she was going on the morrow, and he could not bear it ; he must put his fate to the test once more and for the last time.
" Mr. Tressalia," she entreated, in a pained voice, " what shall I tell you to make you understand that
it cannot be ?"
" There could only be one thing that you could tell me that would destroy every gleam of hope."
" And that ?" she interrupted, with a quick breath and a fluttering of her while lids.
"That your love is given to another," he said, passionately, and searching, with sudden foreboding, he beautiful face he loved so well.
The rich blood surged instantly over cheek, brow
Could she confess that she loved another, when that love was as yet unspoken even to its object ?
And yet she must not go away and leave him to feed on a hopeless passion.
Would it be maidenly? Would it be proper ?
"Editha, have I been deceived all this while -- have I been persecuting you with my attentions while you loved another?" he cried, in consternation, as he marked that startled flash and intuitively knew its
She looked up into his white, pained face, and pitied him from the depths of her tender hesrt.
" Mr. Tressalia," she said, with sudden resolution, " it is cruel to allow you to hope when there is no hope. I will make you my confidant. You are no- ble and good, and you will not betray my trust, What you have said -- is true.
Her voice was low, and sweet, and tremulous, as she confessed it, but her face was dyed with hottest
" You do love some one else ?" he cried, in a hollow voice, his noble face growing gray and sharp with
' Yes," she whispered, " but only the exigency of the case would force me to confess it."
And then she told him frankly all the story of her early regard for Earle Wayne ; his misfortune, and patient endurance for another's crime ; of his return, and of their mutual though unspoken affection for
" Earle Wayne !" he repeated, with a start, " who is he ? where did he come from ?" be demanded, with eager interest, as she spoke his name.
" I do not know. He came to my uncle when seventeen years of age. He was fatherless, mother- less, and friendless ; but he has proved himself, if not honored among men, to be stamped with
Would that Earle Wayne could have heard this tribute from the woman be so loved !
" Wayne -- is it spelled with a y ?" Mr. Tressalia
" Of what nationality is he?"
" American, I judge, though I never heard him say aught upon the subject."
" Strange ! Strange !" Mr. Tressalia muttered, with
But after a few minutes of musing, he reached out and clasped her hand.
The confession she had made, and he had listened to, was a strange one for a delicate and sensitive woman to make, and his great heart was touched with sympathy for the gallant lover, and with admi- ration for the woman who could be so true and loyal
" Miss Dalton," he said, in earnest though slightly tremulous tones, " I realize that all my hope must die ; but what you have told me only makes my loss so much greater and harder to bear, for I honor you above women for the courage you have mani- fested in telling me this. You are a noble daughter of a noble country, and he who has won your love will have cause to adore you all his life.
" That he is worthy of you, notwithstanding his misfortune, I cannot doubt, after what you have told me, and I do not believe you could love un- worthily. God bless him for his nobility, and you for
your constancy !"
Editha looked up astonished at this heartfelt benediction. She had begun to regard him as lack- ing somewhat in character and pride, when he had returned to plead his cause after her repeated refusal, but now she saw that she had underrated him.
She saw that his love was deep and true for her, and that be suffered as great men alone can suffer when he found that he could never win her love. but a mind that was capable of such generosity as to rise above self -- to admire and sympathize with a rival -- was worthy of the highest regard.
" I am proud," he went on, not noticing her look, " that you have considered me worthy of this confi- dence ; and if anything could assuage the pain I experience, the trust that you repose in me would
"Your confidence shall be inviolable, and if there is anything that I can do at any time to promote your happiness and Mr. Wayne's interests, I pray you will not hesitate to let me know it, and I will gladly serve you both."
Paul Tressalia did not realize what he was promis- ing when he said that, but there came a time when he was tried as few men are ever tried ; and -- did
he bear the test?
We shall see.
Never in all her life had Editha regretted any- thing as she did at this moment, that she had been obliged to blight the hopes of this noble, whole-
The bright drops chased each other over her cheeks as she thanked him for his kindness, and expressed her regret that she had been obliged to cause him pain.
" Do not grieve for me," he said, gently, as almost involuntarily he wiped her tears away with his own handkerchief. " I knew I must suffer as few suffer ; but Editha, believe me, I would rather you would be happy in another's care and love, than unhappy in mine. God bless you, my love -- my one only love, and perhaps He will yet comfort me."
Editha arose and gave him her hand. She could not speak; she could not bear anything more.
It was her " good-night" and "good-by," for the early morning would find her on her way home.
He watched her until the last flutter of her light robe disappeared from view, and then, springing to his feet, as if a hot iron were burning into his soul, he went out into tbe night to battle alone with his rebellious heart.
The late mail that evening brought him letters containing important news from, and requiring his immediate presence, abroad.
He left the next day for England, firmly believing that he never should look upon the face of Editha Dalton in this world again.
Mr. Dalton and his daughter returned to their home in the city, and settled down for the winter -- Editha cheered and happy to see Earle occasionally, and to know of his increasing success,
Without saying anything to any one, on the morn- ing of her twenty-first birthday she repaired to Mr. Felton's office, and, with a resolute face and steady band, signed the papers that gave to Earle Wayne ten thousand dollars, together with a year's interest,
even as she had said she would do.
These papers she desired should be taken to him at once, and in case he refused to accept the bequest, Mr. Felton was authorized to safely invest the money, and retain the papers in his own possession until they should be called for.
Earle firmly refused to touch a cent of it, saying his business was fast increasing, and he did not
It was therefore taken by Mr. Felton to the First National Bank, deposited in his name, and left to
AN INTERVIEW INTERUPTED.
One day Earle was looking over his papers, and arranging them more systematically, when he came across a package containing the memoranda and evidence used during that " knotty case" wherein
he was so successful.
These had been wrapped in a newspaper, and had
remained untouched since that time.
As he was looking them over, and considering whether it would be best to keep them any longer or destroy them, his eye caught sight of a paragraph, or name rather, in the newspaper, that instantly riveted his attention; and, with staring eyes and paling cheek, he read it eagerly through.
Then he turned to look at the date of the paper.
It was the very same that he had bought that night, when he had been so forlorn and dreary, when for a week no one had come to him to get him to do even so much as a little copying, when he had counted his money and discovered all he possessed in the
world was little over two dollars.
Then he remembered how recklessly he had gone to the door to purchase the paper, and returning, yad turned on the full blaze of gas to read by, and before he had read half a dozen lines his strange client had appeared, and the paper had been entirely forgotten from that time.
Doubtless it would have been destroyed, and he never would hove seen this -- to him -- highly im- portant paragraph, had it not been used as a wrapper for the papers which the little thin-visaged wiry man had brought him.
" It is nearly six months now since this paper was printed," he said, with a shade of anxiety on his face, as he turned to look at the date again.
Then he sat down to think, evidently deeply troubled and perplexed about something.
Meanwhile the boy brought him in his evening paper, for he could afford to have one regularly now, and mechanically he unfolded it and began to read.
He had nearly looked it through, when, under the heading of " Gleanings," he read this :
"It will be remembered by the frequenters of Newport, that Mr. Paul Tressalia was suddenly re- called abroad, at the lost of the season, by the serious illness of his uncle, the Marquis of Wycliffe, who has since died, and, being chiidlees, Mr. Tressalia thus becomes heir to his vast possessions in both England and France, and also to his title."
Earle's face was startlingly pale as he read this, while his broad chest rose and fell heavily, as if he found a difficulty in breathing.
" That must be the Paul Tressalia who was here last winter, and -- who was so attentive to Editha," he said, with white lips.
For an hour he sat, with bent head, deeply-lined brow, and an expression of deep pain and perplexity
on his face.
"I must do it," he said at last, "and the quicker
He turned to the shipping list, and looked to see what steamers sailed soon. He found two that were to sail on the morrow.
" That will do," he said, and laid aside his paper, with an expression of resolution on his face.
Then he arose, locked his safe, donned his coat and hat, and made his way directly to Mr. Dalton's aristocratic mansion on -th atreet.
He inquired for Editha of the servant who an- swered his ring, and was immediately shown into the drawing-room, where she sat alone.
Her face lighted and flushed with pleasure as she arose to greet bim.
"Earle! you are very, very much of a stranger," she said, half-reproachfully.
"I have been very, very busy," he answered,
" I know -- I read of your great success, and the papers speak very creditably of the rising young lawyer, and the friends of that young lawyer would be glad to see more of him. Just think, you have only called once since our return from Newport, and then I had other callers, and only saw you a few moments, while I have only met you once or twice
since on the street."
" It would be very pleasant to come oftener, but you know duty before pleasure, and I fear my friends -- what few I have -- will see even less of me
in the future.
"I have business that calls me abroad immediate- ly : it is of that I came to tell you to-night," he said, with a grave face.
"Abroad! Where?" Editha demanded, breath-
" To Europe."
"Will -- will you be gone long, Earle?" she asked all the light and beautiful color fading out of her
face at this intelligence.
" I don't know -- no longer than I can possibly help, for I have work of great importance to do here yet," he said with a sigh, and a note of bitterness in
Ediths knew that he referred to the solving of the
mystery of the robbery.
She, too, sighed heavily. It was like taking all the joy out of her existence to know of his going
While he was in the same city, and near, so that she could see him occasionally, or hear of him even indirectly, she could be reasonably content; but with the ocean dividing them, her heart would be heavy enough.
Earle marked her emotion and his heart thrilled.
How sweet it was to know that she loved him and
would miss him.
He arose from his chair, and, going to her, sat down by her side.
" Editha," he said, in low, eager tones, " you will be glad to learn that I think I have at last a clue to that wretched business."
" Earle, is it possible ? And is that why you are going away?" she asked, eagerly, " Have you found
out who did the deed ?"
" No, not quite that, but I have a clue, and I wish I need not go just now, but other business of the most important nature demands it. I had fondly hoped that before many weeks should elapse, I should be able to come to you and tell you that no stain rests on my name."
Editha's eyes fell beneath his earnest glance.
Well she knew what would follow if he could once tell her that.
" But of course," he went on, " all my work in that direction will now have to be suspended for awhile. But, Editha," leaning toward her and scanning her drooping face with great earnestness, " is your faith in me as strong as ever ?"
" Yes, Earle."
Very sweet and low, but firm, came the reply.
"And you will still trust me, even though I may be away a long time ?"
" Always, Earle."
But this with a quick deep sigh.
He looked at her still, his lips trembling, as if he longed to say something, yet hesitated.
Then he sat suddenly erect, and folded his arms tight across his chest, as if to still the heavy beating
of his heart.
" Editha," he began, trying to steady his shaking voice, "you have told me that you have read of my success, and know that I am winning the esteem and respect of men in spite of the past. I am rising higher on the ladder of prosperity every day, and money flows in rapidly upon me from every side. If my business abroad proves as successful as it has here, I have reason to hope that great good in a worldly point of view is coming to me -- just what that is I cannot explain to you now -- but under the circumstances I feel that I cannot be silent any longer. I cannot go away from you without speaking the words I have so longed to utter -- to tell you of the deep and mighty love I have had to chain as with iron bands for a long time. Editha, I have loved you for more than half a dozen years I When I came to you last Christmas, alone and friendless, believing that you also had ceased to remember me, I can never tell you the revulsion of feeling I ex- perienced when you gave me your simple but heart- felt greeting; while there was that in your eyes and manner which told me I might hope that you could love me in return. Your kindness and trust in me were almost more than I could bear at that time. I could have fallen down before you and kissed the hem of your garments, for your divine charity toward one, upon whom all others looked with scorn or pity, as if I was afflicted with some deadly and incurable plague. My darling, did I read aright ? Did not your eyes tell me that day that you could love me if I could come to you with a stain- less name? Will you give me that assurance now, before I go away? Will you tell me that when I have cleared away that blight from my life -- as I shall clear it yet -- you will be my wife ?"
The last word was spoken in an intense whisper, as if it was too sacred to be uttered aloud, while he paused and scarcely breathed as he awaited her reply, his noble face illuminated with an earnest pleading more eloquent than his burning words had
We have seen all along, that Editha Dalton was possessed of a character remarkable for veracity and straightforward dealing, She realized now that this was the most serious and sacred moment of her whole life ; that upon her reply hung the happiness of her
own and Earle's future.
There was no coyness -- no hesitation in her an- swer, though no lack of maidenly delicacy and dig- nity in her words and manner, as she lifted her face, glorified with the light of her noble steadfast love for him, and said :
" Earle, if you had told me all this last Christmas time, you need not have lived quite such a lonely, Ioveless life ever since. I believe I have loved you from the time when you first carne to uncle Rich- ard's, only I never found it out until the day of your
" Editha ! can it be possible ?" Earle exclaimed, hie face almost transfigured by her words.
"Yes, Earle, I used to wish that you were my brother in those days ; but when I bade you good-by that afternoon after your trial, it came to me that it was no sisterly feeling that I entertained for you, but something deeper, stronger, and more sacred."
" My darling," he cried, fairly trembling beneath the weight of his great happiness, and yet scarcely able to credit what he heard, " you would not say this if you did not mean it -- you would not allow me to grasp this hope, and then let it fail me ?"
She lifted her clear eyes to his.
" Earle, do you think I could love you all these years, and then trifle with the affection which is the most precious gift Heaven ever sent to me ?" she asked, with grave sweetness.
" No, no ; and yet for the moment, my brain almost reeled -- it did not seem possible that such joy could be really meant for me, after what I have suffered," he returned with a deep breath of thank- fulness that was almost a sob, as he drew her ten- derly into his arms, and laid the golden head upon
"It was cruel, so cruel;" she murmured, with trembling lips, " I know I shall never be able to realize all you have suffered, Earle, but not a day passed that my heart did not cry out in rebellion
against your fate."
" It is all past now, my own ; let us not live it over again, and the joy you have given me to-day will brighten all the future, " he said, laying his lips reverently against the shining hair that crowned the
head upon his breast.
" Can it be possible," he added, after a few moments of silence, " that you would have pledged yourself to me last Christmas -- to me, only a few hours out of prison, after serving a convict's sen-
She laid her hand upon his lips as if to stay the
"The fact of your having suffered unjustly for the crime of another only made me love you the more tenderly -- I regarded you just as worthy of my affec- tion then as you will ever be," Editha returned, gravely.
" God ever bless you for those words, my darling ; and you will be my wife, Editha, sometime, when --"
" I will be your wife, Earle," she interrupted, not allowing him to finish his sentence, for she knew
what he was about to add.
"But suppose I should never succeed in finding those rascals who committed the robbery -- suppose the doubt must ever rest upon me ?" he persisted.
" It will make no difference, Earle. You know you are innocent, I know it ; why then need we make ourselves miserable over what the world may say or think ?"
" And you do not care -- you will never be troubled or ashamed if others scorn me and give me the cold shoulder ?" he asked, astonished.
"Nay, dear," she said, with a smile that had some- thing of sadnees in it, " I cannot say that I do not care, for I would like every one to honor you, even as I honor you ; and I feel assured that they will yet do so ; meanwhile we will be as happy as we can be. Ashamed of you I can never be -- please do not allow such a thought to enter your mind again."
" Editha ! you were rightly named ; do you know
what it means ?"
"No: I never even thought to ask if it had a meaning."
" It means happiness ; who gave it to you ?"
" Uncle Richard said that he named me," Editha answered, with a thoughtful, far-way look in her
" It must have been an inspiration, then, for I be- lieve you bring happiness to every one with whom yon come in contact," Earle said, in tones of intense feeling.
"Then you are happy, Earle, in spite of all ?" Editha asked, lifting her head and regarding him wistfully.
"My darling, my darling ! I cannot tell you how happy ; the very best of earth's treasures should be laid at your feet, if I had them, to testify to it, and I trust the day is not far distant when I shall be able to bring you a goodly measure of them," he returned, folding her closer.
"You have brought me the moat precious one in all the world to-day, Earle -- your dear love," the fair girl answered softly, and almost awed by the strength and depth of his affection for her.
"Ah, if I did not need to go away," Earle said, with a sigh.
"I, too, wish that you did not -- the time will seem long until you return," Editha returned, regretfully. Then she added, suddenly : " It is absolutely neces- sary that you should go ?"
" Yes, it cannot be avoided. If I were sure of suc- cess, I would tell you the nature of the business which calls me abroad ; but you can trust me a little longer?"
"And would you, some time in the future, be will- ing to go abroad to live if it was necessary ?" Earle asked, with a peculiar expression on his face.
"Anywhere in the world with you, Earle, if need be," and, with a tender smile, Editha laid both her
hands in his.
It was as if she was willing to renounce everything in the world for him and his precious love, and the act touched him as nothing ever had done before.
He bowed his manly head until his lips rested up-
on them in a fervent reverent caress.
At that instant the door near which they were sit- ting swung softly open, and, before they were aware of his presence, Mr. Dalton had entered, and was standing before them.
He had come in a few minutes previous, and the waiter had told him that Earle Wayne was there, which intelligence so enraged him that he deter- mined at once to put a stop to all further visits from
Whether he had been guilty of listening before entering the room they could not tell, but certain it is that he presented himself before them with a most disagreeable smile upon his face and a glitter in his steel gray eyes that boded them no good.
(To be continued.)