Chapter 818920

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Chapter NumberXXIV
Chapter TitleTHE BATTLE WON.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article818920
Full Date1881-07-30
Page Number4
Corrections4
Word Count8315
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2018-04-16
Newspaper TitleThe Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)
Trove TitleA Mystery
article text

FICTION.

(From English, American, and other Periodicals.)

A MYSTERY

CHAPTER XXIV.

THE BATTLE WON.

" Earle Wayne!" repeated Paul Tressalia, in a startled tone, a sharp, sudden pain, like electricity, running throughout his frame at the name, while his face grew gray as he remembered that last inter- view with Editha, and instantly knew that his rival for her love and the claimant for his supposed in- heritance, was one and the same person.

Then quickly recovering himself, be greeted his kinsman with the courtesy that always charaterized

him.

" Yes, sir," explained the lawyer, " every one is aware that the Marquis of Wycliffe possessed an- other title -- Viscount Wayne. When Miss Vance or, I should now more properly say Mrs. Sumner left her father's house, she could not endure the thought of retaining the name by which she had always been known, and feeling utterly unable to renounce every tie that bound her to the old life, she adopted the name of Mrs. Wayne as one little likely to attract attention, and when her son was born, bestowed upon him that of Earle Wayne, and which he always believed belonging to him by right, until his mother lay upon her death-bed."

And thus the two men, who loved Ediths Dalton with a pure, strong love, were brought face to face !

Each had known of the other before, but they had never met until this moment, and it would be diffi- cult to describe the feelings that agitated them, as they stood confronting each other in the magnificent library at Wycliffe.

For the first time in his life Earle Wayne stood in the home of his mother -- in the halls of his ancestors, that noble race who could not tolerate aught of dishonor or shame upon their proud escutcheon; and from this hour he would in all probability be- come the possessor of a great inheritance.

It had occasioned him no little sorrow and many regrets to adopt the course he was now pursuing.

From what he had learned of Paul Tressalia from Edithu, he admired and honored him as one of earth's noblest men. His heart had been given to the same woman he also loved, and it almost ap- peared as if he was adding insult to injury to come now when his heart was so sore and wrest his proud heritage from him as well.

But it could not be avoided, justice had already been too long delayed, and now demanded, for the sake of his long-suffering, much-wronged mother that the truth be established.

" My lord," he said, as he held him by the hand and courteously addressed him by the title which more rightly belonging to himself, " I regret more than I can express the necessity that brings me here to-day. Believe me, I care little for the advantages I may reap upon the establishment of my claim com- pared with the vindication of my innocent mother, who suffered so long in silence and obscurity."

It was frankly spoken, and the regret expressed was real, there could be no doubt of it, while the title he had used did not escape the notice of either the lawyer or Paul Tressalia.

" I can scarcely realize it," the latter said, passing his hand wearily across his brow and speaking with white lips. "Are you the Mr. Wayne who --

who --"

" Who for the last seven years has resided in the city of New Tork, in the United States," Earle has- tened to say, to fill up the awkward pause, and knowing but too well of what he was thinking.

He felt deeply for him, and it was a very trying moment for even the noblest nature.

"Yes, yes!" Paul Tressalia said, and then bowed

his head upon his breast, and sat apparently lost in thought for many minutes.

The Hon. Archibald Faxon regarded them in astonishment. He had not supposed that either knew anything personally of the other until this moment, and never dreamed of the romance so closely woven into their lives.

"Mr. Wayne," Paul Tressalia said, at last, lifting his face, which seemed to have grown suddenly old, and turning it full upon Earle, will you allow me a few hours in which to think this matter over alone before we talk further upon it ?"

He was nearly unmanned and crushed beneath this avalanche of stern facts and bitter trouble which had come so suddenly upon him, and he must be alone for awhile, or he knew he should break down utterly.

" Certainly, as long as you like," Earle said, with hearty kindness, adding : " I have no desire to in- convenience you in any way -- take a week, a month, or even longer, if you wish, and I will meet you again at any place and time you see fit to desig-

nate."

"Thank you ; you are very kind ; and if you have no other engagement for to-day, I will give you my decision this afternoon. Meantime, the horses and carriages in the stables are at your service. You can go over the estate, or occupy yourselves in any way agreeable to you," Paul Tressalia replied, with grave courtesy.

He arose, gathered up the papers the lawyer had brought, then, with a bow to both gentlemen, with- drew from the room and sought his private apart-

ments."

Once there, and all doors securely locked, his firmness deserted him utterly.

" Can I bear it?" he groaned, sinking into a chair, and dropping his head upon the table.

" Can I ever bear it, that she should be his wife? I must, for she loves him, and though to lose her rends my soul, yet I love her so well, that to see her happy I would not shrink from any suffering, how- ever great.

" But can I bear to lose all this, and have him bring her here and revel amid all this beauty in her love? Can I endure to see her the wife of another, and ruling here at Wycliffe, where I had hoped to bring her, as its mistress and my wife? I cannot bear it!" be cried aloud, beating the air wildly with his hands, his face convulsed with pain.

" I was proud of my inheritance," he went on; "I was proud of my name and position, and hoped to rule wisely and well over the trust committed to my care. Can I give it up? I had hoped to make the proud name I bear even more honorable and re- vered ; I had hoped to make it, wherever it was uttered, the synonym for virtue, truth, and probity. Must I surrender all these aspirations, and calmly lay down every ambitious desire?

" If I yield, he will marry her at once, and bring her here. She will indeed be mistress of Wycliffe, but, oh ! how differently from what I wished. I

cannot bear it!"

He sprang to his feet and paced back and forth, fighting his agony and rebellious heart, as only men of his character can fight and suffer.

For more than two hours he argued the case with himself in every possible light, and then, with an expression strong as iron upon his marble face, and eyes that glowed with a relentless purpose, be drew his chair again to the table, sat down, unfolded the papers he had brought with him, and for another

hour studied them intently.

Earle's lawyer -- though himself a successful law- yer, he yet deemed that he needed maturer judg- ment than his own upon this case, and in a strange country, and so had sought one of the best -- had prepared a clear and succinct account of Marion Vance's whole history, as related to him by his client, from the time of her leaving her home to visit her friends at Rye, until her death. This, with the certificate of marriage, and the extracts from the old rector's journal, and the sexton's tale, made everything so plain that Paul Tressalia could not doubt the truth of what he read.

He did not for a moment question Earle Wayne's identity, as many might have done, and seize this as a weapon with which to fight him.

That he was the son of Marion Vance seemed to him a self-evident fact. He resembled the former marquis in form, in his proud bearing, his clear-cut, Roman features, his grand and noble head.

Marion had resembled her mother, but the blood of the Vance race showed itself clearly enough in Earle, and Paul had recognized it at once upon be- holding him.

The only point he had been at all inclined to doubt was the validity of the marriage.

But this point was established now, if the lawyer's statement was correct, and the extracts bona fide ; and that could be easiiy ascertained by comparing the signature upon the certificate with the writing in the rector's diary.

" I shall go and read that account for myself, and if all this is true -- what shall I do ?" the sorely-tried man asked himself for the hundredth time.

And then, as his mind leaped forward into the future again, and he saw Earle established in the halls of his ancestors, proud, prosperous, and happy, with Editha Dalton as his wife, and sunny-haired, merry-hearted children playing about them, he covered his face and, writhing with pain, groaned again.

Then a miserable temptation beset him ; his re- bellious heart refused to bear patiently the crushing burdens imposed upon it.

" Possession is nine points in law -- hold on to the Wycliffe estates with a grasp of iron as long as your strength holds out -- defy this new and hitherto un- known claimant until the very last," whispered the evil spirit within him.

" What good would it do? -- he must win in the end," he opposed.

" But you can keep him out of it for years, per- haps, and all the while enjoy the luxuries you have so fondly believed your own. He has won her love away from you -- it is not fair that he should have everything and you nothing."

"There is no true love without sacrifice," came to him as if softly wafted upon the breath of some good angel.

" If you truly love Editha Dalton -- if it is a pure and unselfish love, you will do right and let her be happy, no matter what the cost is to yourself. Would she respect you -- would she honor you -- would she be proud to call you friend, as she once said, if, convinced of the right, you wilfully do wrong?"

"No," he said, with uplifted head, and speaking aloud, as if some one had spoken directly to him, " I'll keep my manhood pure, even though I am beg- gared by the result."

A noble spirit of self-abnegation and sacrifice arose within him -- the battle was won, but his heart

was broken.

Editha Dalton should spend her life without a shadow to mar its brightness, as far as it lay within his power to contribute to that result ; and Earle Wayne -- a true and noble man he believed him to be, and every way worthy of her priceless love should have his own without contention.

" Wycliffe will have a noble master," he murmured; "he will add brightness and honor to the name perhaps more than I could have done. I will try to bear it patiently ; I will give her my blessing with my inheritance, and then when I come to the cross- ing 'twixt earth and the great beyond, I can pass over without a regret. I shall have done right and what was my duty."

He sighed heavily and threw himself upon a couch, as if exhausted with the struggle ; and the good angels watching him must have come to com- fort him, for almost unconsciously his eyes closed, and sleep wrapped him for the time in the mantle of forgetfulness.

Did they whisper to him that almost divine message from some sweet, mystic pen :

" Oh, fear not in a world like this,

And thou shalt know ere long Know how sublime a thing it is

To suffer and be strong."

He had ordered dinner to be served at three o'clock. A little before that time he awoke, and went down to his guests the calm, self-contained,

courteous host.

The dinner hour passed pleasantly and socially, the three gentlemen conversing unreservedly upon the topics of the day.

When at length they arose from the table, Paul Tressalia requested a few minutes' private conver-

sation with Earle.

It was cordially granted, and they repaired to the library again, while the Hon. Archibald Faxon lingered upon the dining-room balcony smoking his fragrant Havana.

There was a moment's awkward silence as those two claimants of the Wycliffe property stood facing each other; then Paul Tressalia frankly extended his hand, which Earle cordially grasped.

" It is not often that rivals, such as you and I are in every sense of the word, can shake hands thus,'' said the former, with a sad smile. " I will confess to you that I have had a bitter struggle with my own heart during the last few hours, but I have conquered myself. I am obliged to be convinced of the truth of the evidence you have brought me to- day, and, looking in your face, which unmistakably proclaims your relationship to the late marquis, I know that you are nearer of kin to him than I. Of course I shall take pains, to ascertain everything re- garding the rector's story for myself, and that the signatures are all right, and so forth. If there is nothing there to contradict your statements, I shall at once yield my position here, and you will hence- forth be recognized as the Marquis of Wycliffe and Viscount Wayne."

Earle could scarce credit his sense of hearing, as he listened to this noble renunciation of all the brightest prospects of his life.

He had believed that he should be obliged to have recourse to the extent of the law in order to estab- lish his claim, and now its possessor was giving up everything without a demur. He could only look the astonishment that he could not speak. Again Paul Tressalia smiled -- a smile that was sadder than tears.

" You look surprised at my decision," he said; " you expected I would resist your claim. I sup- pose I might, if I were so disposed, and thus make you much trouble ; but that would not be right, con- vinced as I am that you are what you say -- the legitimate son of Marion Vance and George Sumner ; and for the sake of one whom we both love -- you fortunately, I most unfortunately -- I will not place one obstacle in your path."

Earle was deeply moved by his kinsman's manli- ness, and touched by his confession of his hopeless love for Editha. Still clasping the hand that had been extended so frankly to him, he said, in a voice that was not quite steady.

" With such a spirit as that, you should be master here at Wycliffe, and not I. It seems to me unjust that your whole life should be destroyed thus, and mine built up out of its ruins. If it were possible for me to share my inheritance with your equally, I would gladly do it; but I suppose the entail forbids

that."

" Yes, it could not be, even if I were willing to accept such an obligation," Paul Tressalia said, not unkindly, yet with a little show of spirit.

Earle regarded him with admiration.

" I have heard of you before -- how true and good you are, and I am proud to know that I have one such relative in the world. If you cannot accept any aid from me, will you not stay with me as my adviser -- my elder brother, my friend?" he said, in low, earnest tones.

But Tressalia shook his head, a look of pain leap- ing to his eyes.

" I fear that would not be possible," he said, " your own heart will tell you that I could not remain here after -- after you come here permanently."

Earle saw that it could not be, and sighed.

He longed to comfort him, but what could he say? Delicacy forbade his expressing any pity for his suffering and loss, for that would be but vaunting his own happiness and prosperity.

" We can be friends -- can we not?" he asked, wist- fully.

" Most assuredly. I shall be glad to claim your friendship, and will aid you in everything as far as I am able; believe me, I bear you no ill-will because brighter stars beam upon your way than upon mine just now. You have suffered in the past and borne it like a hero, and I am truly glad that your future is so promising."

Tears stood in Earle's eyes as he said, with a burst

of enthusiasm:

'* Paul Tressalia you are a hero! You make me think of those lines by Joseph Addison :

" ' Unbounded courage and compassion joined.

Tempering each other in the victor's mind, Alternately proclaim him good and great,

And make the hero and the man complete.' "

" You make me out greater than I am," was the sad reply, as he remembered tbe terrible thoughts and temptations that had come to him a few hours

before.

" I cannot deny," he continued, after a slight pause "that I am bitterly disappointed -- that it is a trial almost greater than I can bear to lose all I had so firmly believed to be mine -- that I had grown up from youth believing would be mine ; and had I the least idea now that your claim was invalid, I should do battle valiantly before I would yield up one foot of my possessions to you. Human nature will assert itself you know, and I am conscious that I am not above its weaknesses. But, Earle, I mean to fight them down, until, with the last one under my heel, I shall be able at length to cheerfully contemplate God's richest blessings abiding on you and -- yours."

The last word was spoken in a hoarse whisper, and his companion realized that all the force of a mighty will had been employed to let him know how entirely he relinquished everything and acknow- ledged his superior claim, even to Editha Dalton's

love.

Paul Tressalia could bear no more, and wringing Earle's hand he went quickly away leaving him alone and deeply moved.

CHAPTER XXV.

THE SEARCH FOR EDITHA.

Three months later saw Earle Wayne firmly es- tablished as the Master of Wycliffe, and over all other property belonging to the former Marquis of Wycliffe and Viscount Wayne. His mother's char- acter was cleared of every imputation of evil, her body removed to the vaults of her ancestors, where it rested as peacefully and quietly as the noblest of all the race of Vance, and the friends of her youth now looked back with sadness and regret upon the sufferings of the beautiful injured girl, which their own sneers and coldness had helped to aggravate.

All this change made no small stir in the social

world.

Paul Tressalia first of all went down to Winchelsea, where be interviewed the old sexton of St, John's Chapel, who told him exactly the same story that he had told Earle seven years before. He next sought Miss Isabel Grafton, and craved permission to peruse her father's diary.

She received him with the same graciousness that she had accorded Earle, and talked long and freely with him upon the strange, sad events of Marion Vance's history; while he in return related much regarding Earle's manly battling with the cold world -- omitting of course that sad epoch wherein he, too, had suffered so much for another's wrong.

In a simple, manly fashion be mentioned the fact that the establishment of his young kinsman's identity dethroned him from Wycliffe and one of the proudest positions in England, and Miss Grafton's expressions of sincere regret and sympathy were the sweetest and most comforting sounds that had fallen on his ear since that night when Editha Dalton had crushed his last hope of ever winning her

love.

He was convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that Earle was the rightful heir, and he gave up everything to his possession without a demur ; and then, out of the nobility of his nature, took upon himself the defence of Marion Vance's character.

He caused a notice of the marriage to be inserted in all the leading papers, with the date of the event; wrote a brief and simple account of the manner in which it had occurred, the wrong that had been at- tempted but fortunately outwitted, and how at last the real heir -- her son -- had been restored to his rights.

It was not long after this before the whole world -- Marion's world -- knew of her innocence, and imme- diately recognized and cordially received Earle as Marquis of Wycliffe and Viscount Wayne.

This accomplished, Earle's impatient heart told him he now might return to Editha and claim the reward of all his patient waiting, and to make one last effort to discover the criminals for whom he had so unjustly suffered.

He did not dream that when he should inform Mr. Dalton of the great change in his prospects, and the position to which he had attained, he would longer withhold his consent to his marriage with his daughter ; and so it was with a light heart that be left Paul Tressalia to rule at Wycliffe until his return, and set sail for the United States.

The "wings of the wind" were not half rapid enough to bear him thither, for, for several weeks past, his heart had been filled with great anxiety.

Editba's letters had suddenly ceased; and though he wrote again and again, it was ever with the same result -- not one came in reply.

He did not for a moment doubt her constancy ; he knew she simply could not be untrue to him, and he was forced to believe that Mr. Dalton had discovered the fact of their correspondence, and had taken measures to stop it, in perhaps the same way that he had before intercepted her flowers.

The passage across the Atlantic was an unusually long one, owing to unfavourable winde and storms, and he was nearly sick with the delay, and his patience exhausted, when at last the vessel touched her pier, and be sprang ashore like a restless bird escaped from its cage.

Two hours later he stood on the steps of Mr. Dal- ton's residence, his heart beating with a strange, un-

accountable fear of something wrong, though he

knew not what.

A servant answered his impatient ring, and to his eager inquiry ;

"Is Miss Dalton at home?" returned a surprised

" No, sir."

He then inquired for Mr. Dalton, and the reply suddenly stilled his rapid heart-beats, and drove every shade of color from his face and lips.

" No, sir, Mr. Dalton is not at home ; he has been searching for Miss Dalton ever since her strange

disappearance," the man said.

"Strange disappearance! Man! what do you mean?" gasped Earl, actually staggering beneath the unexpected blow.

The servant, pitying his distress, asked him to come in, saying he would tell him all about the

affair.

He mechanically obeyed, and his heart nearly died within him as he listened to the strange ac- count of her sudden disappearance and protracted

absence.

Nothing had been heard of her during all that time, beyond what has already been related in a pre- vious chapter, although almost every one reasoned, from the account which the policeman gave of her encounter with the ruffian on her return from John Loker's house, that he must have had something to do with it, since she seemed to possess something that he was bound to have, and she as determined not to relinquish.

The detectives employed to unravel the mystery could learn nothing; they were baffled at every point. They would seem to gain a clue to her whereabouts, and then would suddenly lose it again.

Her fate remained a dark and perplexing mystery,, and seemed likely to remain so indefinitely, and it had created a great deal of excitement, not only in her own city, but all over the State.

At first Earle inclined to think that Mr. Dalton himself was criminally concerned in the affair, re- membering as he did his excessive anger upon un- covering that Editha had promised to be his wife, and also his insulting language, sneers, and sarcasm both to her and him the day before his departure for Europe.

But after he had seen and conversed with Mr. Felton, Editha's lawyer, he changed his mind upon this point.

Mr. Felton asserted that Mr. Dalton was now travelling in search of her, and had been unwearied in his efforts to find her ever since her disappear-

ance.

He privately informed him also, that his business affairs were inextricably involved, and that for a long time he had been dependent upon Editha's in- come, which she had freely and generously shared

with him.

Now, however, since she was of age and controlled her property, he would be cut off from that source of supply until she was found, as Mr. Felton had no right to pay over anything to him without her sanction; so it was for his interest that he exert every effort in his power to find her.

Earle's every interest and thought for himself was now also swallowed up in this great and unexpected

trouble.

He no longer thought of seeking those unpunished criminals, or of clearing his own name from dis-

honor.

What cared he for any disgrace that might cling to hint, so long as her fate remained such a dark mystery, and she, perhaps, sick and suffering, or dead, for all any one would ever know.

For a week he was nearly mad, neither eating nor sleeping, but wandering aimlessly about tbe streets, peering into every face he met, as if be hoped that by some chance be might meet her. At night he was like some restless, caged lion, helplessly shut in by the darkness, as it were, behind its bars, against which he constantly fretted and fumed, until with the first sign of dawn he could return to his vain

search.

But at the end of a week he began to realize the uselessness of his present course, and then deter- mined to settle down to some methodical plan upon which to work.

He resolved that he would visit every town, vil-

lage, and hamlet in the State, and that failing, he would search every other State in the Union in the

same way.

Of course this would entail upon him a life-long search, and the detectives told him he would only have his labour for his pains -- that he would never

find her in that way. They held to the belief that she was either in that very city, or else in one of the adjoining cities, and within easy reach of the great metropolis, and they declared that they should con- fine their efforts to those places.

Earle wrote something of all this to Paul Tres- salia, begging him to remain and rule at Wycliffe until his return, even though it should not be for a

long time, then he began his weary search.

It would be wearisome in the extreme to follow him, step by step, through the long weeks that fol- lowed, and during which he spared neither himself nor his money. He grew pale, thin and nervous, and disheartened too, as the time went by, and he seemed

no nearer the accomplishment of his object than at

the very first.

" What shall I do ?" he wrote, almost in deapair to Mr. Felton from a distant town. "I am nearly distracted, for all my efforts are vain. I have inter- viewed any number of detectives in different cities and no two advise the same mode of procedure, and have advanced so many plans and theories that I am like a ship far out at sea, without either rudder or

sail. I suffer continually the tortures of the rack.

There is no rest for me, and there will be no charm in life for me until I find my lost one. Can you give me any hope? Has any clue been discovered? Telegraph me instantly if there is a single ray of

hope.

" Poor fellow," the lawyer sighed, as he folded the letter after reading it. "It is a hard case. It is is most trying case, and no one can tell how it will

end."

"I am almost inclined to think the girl is dead, he mused, "else, with her resolution and natural keenness, it seems as if she must have found some way of giving us a hint of her whereabouts if she is detained anywhere against her will."

But he could only telegraph to Earle : " No clue has yet been discovered,"

And the weary lover resumed his sad quest by

himself.

But poor, frail humanity cannot endure every- thing; there is a point beyond which tired [?]

refuses to go, and at last, worn almost to a shadow, Earle felt that he must do something to recruit his

strength, or he would give out entirely. A fever seemed to be burning in his veins, drying his blood and parching his skin; his appetite failed him, his strength was leaving him, and he grew so nervous

and irritable, that the slightest noise startled him painfully, the least opposition or disappointment

tried him almost beyond endurance.

« I am going to be sick,"he said, one day, when he was nearly prostrated, and looking at his

trembling hands. " This anxiety and ceaseless [?] are fast wearing me out. I must rest, or I shall die and who then will find my Editha."

Longing for the sight of some familiar face, and

hoping that Mr. Felton might by this time be able

give him a "drop of comfort," he returned with speed to the city whence he had started.

Arriving in the evening, some unaccountable re- pugnance to repairing to the hotel where he usually stopped, and where he had before spent so many restless, miserable nights, seized him, and calling a coach, he gave the name of a smaller, but no less respectable house, located in a quiet street, and was

driven thither.

He sought the clerk, and asked for a room.

As it happened, the hotel that week was overflow- ing with transient visitors, and at first the clerk told him that there was not a room to be had in the

house.

"You must manage some way to accommodate me, for I am too weary and ill to move another step," Earle said, and indeed his looks did not belie

his words.

The clerk went to consult with one of the propri- etors, and then returned, saying they would give him a room in which to sleep that night, if he did not mind a little noise now and then, and by another day there would probably be better accommodation

for bim.

" I shall mind nothing, so that I can have a bed on which to rest," the tired traveller said, much relieved by the intelligence.

"I shall have to give you one of a suite of rooms hired by a lady and her daughter. It is reserved for her son, who occasionally visits her and remains over night. He went away this morning, and as he probably will not be here to-night, you can have that room," explained the clerk.

"Will not the madam object ?" Earle asked, in- stinctively recoiling from the idea of in any way in-

commoding a lady.

"Oh, no; we have done the same thing, with her consent, once or twice before, when the house has been full," was the confident and re-assuring reply.

"All right; I am ready to occupy it at once," Earle said, rising, and anxious to be at rest.

The clerk hesitated before leading the way.

"I ought, perhaps to tell you, sir," he began, " that madam's daughter is an invalid -- she is a little cracked," he added, touching his forehead signifi- cantly, "and sometimes takes on a little during the night. I thought you ought to be told this, so that if you were disturbed you might know the cause,

and not be alarmed."

"The door between the rooms can be locked of

course ?" Earle asked.

" Oh, yes; madam keeps it locked on her side, and there is also a bolt upon the other side. The young lady is perfectly harmless, only, her brother informed me, that when the spells come upon her she moans constantly, as if in distress, and they come on mostly in the night. She may not disturb you at all, how-

ever."

"I shall not mind it now that you have told me this ; it might have disturbed me otherwise," Earle answered, as he wearily turned to follow his guide.

Taking the elevator, they were borne into the fourth story, and he was shown into a room at the top

of the house.

It was along, rather narrow room, comfortably furnished and having two doors to it, one leading into the ball, the other into the room adjoining. There was a transom over both doors, and through the one leading into the others of the suite Earle could see a dim light, but all was perfectly quiet

within.

He looked to see that the bolt was perfectly fast in its socket, and then giving his neighbours no further thought, he hastily disrobed, and, wearied out, crept

into bed.

CHAPTER XXV.

EARLE WAYNE'S BOLD VENTURE.

He almost instantly fell into a profound and

dreamless slumber.

How long he slept thus he could not have told, but he was suddenly awakened daring the night by a low, sobbing noise proceeding from the room on his

tight.

Arousing so suddenly, and being consequently somewhat confused, it seemed to him at first as if

some one had called his name.

He sat erect in bed, and listened.

All was silence for a few moments, then he heard the tones of a man speaking as if in anger, and the same low sobbing instantly began again, while a sweet voice seemed pleading for something.

Then he heard the man's voice somewhat louder, and speaking impatiently, as if he had commanded some one to do something, and had not been obeyed,

It waa followed, as before, by the low sobbing, and a faint, heart-broken moaning, that made Earle Wayne feel very strangely.

"There is something wrong going on in there," he muttered to himself. "The clerk said the man would not return here to-night ; but it seems he has, and I don't like the sound of things at all."

He arose, and went softly to the door which led into the other apartment.

It was a very thick, solid door, and prevented his hearing distinctly anything that was said.

He bent his bead to the keyhole, but even then

could only catch the sound of a man and woman conversing in low tones, without distinguishing a

word.

The sobbing had ceased for the moment, but at a question apparently addressed to a third party, it immediately began again.

A cold sweat gathered upon Earle Wayne's fore-

head.

The sounds affected him as he had never been effected before. He longed to know what piece of wickedness -- for wickedness he was convinced it was -- was being enacted within those walls at that time of the night.

A faint light from the other room shone into his through the transom, so that he could distinguish every object in it. He glanced up at the light a sudden thought striking him.

The transom of course was glazed, and he had no doubt that it was fastened upon the other side, but possibly he might hear a little more distinctly if he could get up to it, and it would do no harm for him to investigate and see if it was fastened.

He brought the centre-table and put it softly down by the door. He then took a blanket from his bed and covered the marbel top, set a chair upon this, and then noiselessly mounting upon that by the

of another, he found himself upon a level with the transom. To his intense satisfaction he discovered that it was not fastened ; it was tightly closed, but it yielded beneath his cautious touch, and he knew if he could open it ever so little without attracting the attention

of the occupants of that other room he could satisfy himself regarding the nature of the proceedings

While he stood there waiting for a favorable op- portunity to push the transom open a neighboring clock struck the hour of two.

"Unless the young lady has been taken suddenly sick, I am satisfied that mischief of some kind is brewing," he said to himself, and resolving not to leave his post until he had ascertained whether he was right or not.

He found he could hear more plainly now-- could

catch a word occasionally, though not enough to give him any idea of the nature of the conversation

carried on there.

As soon as he heard that low sobbing again he

gently tried to move the transom still more.

It yielded a trifle, but grated a little on the wood

work.

He waited a moment, and then made another effort, and it moved just enough to admit a line of light at the bottom. Then he could hear quite plainly.

A man seemed to be asking the strangest questions

of some one.

"Your name is Ellen Wood?" he heard him say

in a mocking tone.

" Yes, Ellen Wood," came the reply, in a plaintive voice, that made Earle's hair at once stand on end.

" You are sure your name is Ellen Wood ?"

"Yes, Ellen Wood," in the same tone as before. " Where were you bom ?"

"In Texas."

" Who was your father?" "Judge Allen Wood." "Where is be now?" " He is dead."

" Who is this woman?"

She is my -- mother," with a shuddering accident

on the last word.

" And I am your brother, am I not?"

"N-n-o, oh!" a gasping voice uttered, with a

moan between each word.

" You ain't over fond of me, I see," the man re- turned, with a low, mocking laugh, " You've got your lesson pretty well learned, though, and if any one should ask you any questions to-morrow when you go out to take the air, as you must do, for the sake of your health -- you'll know how to answer them. Now take that ring from your finger and give it to me," be commanded, sternly.

" I can't, I can't !" moaned the plaintive voice.

" Curse your obstinacy and my lack of power!" he growled. "Now tell me where that paper is quick !"

" No, no, no! no, no, no !"

And immediately the sobbing and moaning were resumed, but in a way that seemed to show that the speaker's strength was almost exhausted.

The man swore a fearful oath, and then Earle heard another voice -- a woman's -- say :

" It's of no use, Tom -- your power is not strong enough to make her tell that, and you are wearing her out -- she can't stand this kind of thing much longer."

" I'll never let her go until she does tell me," he answered, fiercely, with another oath. "If I was sure," he added, " that it was hid in that house, I'd go and burn it down to-night, and then let her go, I'm sick and tired of the whole thing."

" Better let her go any way, and run the risk," said his companion, " you will soon kill her at this

rate."

" Dead man tell no tales," he answered, moodily ; " but the risk is too great, for if that paper contains a description of me, I'm a marked man as long as I

live."

Earle now ventured to push the transom a little

more.

It was clear of the wood-work now, and swung quite easily and noiselessly, so that he could get a good view of the room, and he saw a sight that made his heart stand still with horror, while an al- most superhuman effort alone prevented a sharp cry of agony escaping his lips.

Upon a bed in tbe corner opposite him lay Editha Dalton. She was as white as the counterpane cover- ing her, and wasted to a mere skeleton.

She was sobbing in a nervous, excited way, her thin white hands clasped upon her heaving breast her eyes wild and staring, and fixed in a fascinated gaze upon a burly, repulsive-looking man, who stood by the bedside scowling fiercely upon her.

By his side there also stood a nicely dressed, rather prepossessing woman of about fifty-five.

Their backs were toward the door where Earle was stationed, consequently they had seen nothing of the almost noiseless movement of that transom behind them.

It took all the force of Earle's will to control his intense excitement as he looked upon the scene just described.

Never in his life had he felt so dizzy and faint as he did at that moment, while a weakening, sicken- ing tremor pervaded every nerve in his body.

"Better let her alone now, Tom, and don't come here again for a week. Let her get a little strength before you exert your power over her again," the woman said, in reply to the man's last observation.

" The weaker she is, the less will she will have."

he muttered.

" Her will is so strong, that you will never move her to tell what you want to know ; and you do not want to kill her, I know."

" No," he admitted, with a scowl.

" She will do almost anything you tell her, except to reveal what will injure that one person; that seems to be an instinct which nothing can conquer, and your magnetic force is not sufficient to over-

come it.

" You do not need to tell me that," he growled.

" Well, I want you to let her alone for awhile ; I don't want her dying on my hands," returned the woman, with decision.

The ill-looking man did not reply, but made a few passes over Editha's head and face, touching her on the forehead and in the region of the epigastrium.

Almost instantly the wild look faded from her eyes, her clasped hands dropped apart, and fell limp and nerveless upon the counterpane, while she lay pant- ing and exhausted, but looking much more natural to Earle than she had done a moment before with that strained look on her face.

The woman came forward, gently raised her head, and held a bowl to her lips, from which she drank eagerly, and seemed much refreshed.

Once more the villain turned towards her, and said, with sullen ferocity :

"Well, my plucky fine lady, how much longer do you suppose can stand this kind of thing ?"

Editha made no reply ; but her eyes, which seemed unnaturally large now that she was so thin, gleamed

defiance at him.

" You are getting weaker every day, and you're getting so pale and poor, that that fine young chap, you're so fond of would not know you if he should see you now," he continued heartlessly.

A look of inexpressible sadness settled upon the fair face, the white lids quivered a moment and then drooped over the blue eyes, and the pale lips trembled painfully ; but she made no other sign of her suffer- ing, uttered no word to his cruel taunt.

Her silence exasperated him, and, leaning down so that his face came almost on a level with hers, he

hissed :

" You shall tell me where that paper is, or you shall never see the outside of these walls again ! Do you hear?"

" I will never tell you," she now said, in a weak voice, but with a firmness that made another fierce oath leap to his Ups, and sent a shudder through her slight frame.

Earle ground his teeth, but waited to hear no

more.

He noiselessly descended from his perch, dressed himself with all possible dispatch, all excepting his boots ; then quietly unlocking his door, opened it a crack, and stood there in the dark waiting.

His mind was made up to do a bold thing.

His weariness and illness were all forgotten ; his nerves were steady and quiet, and the strength of a Samson seemed quivering in every muscle.

' He waited perhaps fifteen minutes, when he heard the key turn in the door of the room on his

right.

Another moment and the wretch whom he had seen there came forth and took a preliminary sur- rey of the ball before proceeding further.

How he expected to get out of the hotel at that hour of the night without being discovered, particu- larly when he had three flights of stairs and as many halls to traverse, was a point Earle did not

allow himself time to consider.

The man, apparently satisfied that there was na- thing to impede his progress, glided velvet-shod over

the soft carpet.

Earle allowed him to get well past his door, then stealing out without a sound, he crept up behind him, and hit out square from his shoulder a tremen- dous blow, which, taking his prey just behind the ear, doubled him up in an instant.

He caught him in his arms before he could fall to the floor, for he had no design to make any distur- bance at that hour of the night, and then, by main strength, half carried, half dragged him back into the room he had occupied, laid him upon the floor,

and locked him in.

Not a sleeper had been aroused.

The blow he had dealt was quick and powerful, but not loud enough to awaken any one from a sound slumber, though it had rendered his victim uncon- scious for the time, and the noise of dragging him the short distance to his room had not disturbed any

one.

The next thing was to get inside that other room without creating any confusion.

He knew that his captive was only stunned, and would doubtless soon recover from the effects of the blow he had given him, but locked within that room he knew he conld not escape, for he was in the fourth story, and could not, of course, make his way out by the window.

He did not think, either, that be would make any noise upon returning to his senses, for he would be sure to bring upon himself deeper trouble if he did

so.

He stood and listened a moment or two outside the door of the room where Editha lay, thinking that something of the disturbance must have reached its occupants, since both were awake, and the affair had

occurred so near to them.

He hoped the attendant would come to tbe door and look out to see what was the trouble, when he would easily be able to get inside, and into Editha's presence, without using any forcible means.

If her attendant had not been attracted, and she did not come, he had resolved to knock gently for admittance. Even then he feared he should not gain

it, since he surmised, and correctly, too, that the man must have some signal by which his presence could be known from that of any one else.

Earle's conjectures, however, proved correct.

Editha's attendant had heard a slight noise in the hall and been startled by it.

"Did you hear anything?" she asked, turning to

the girl on the bed.

" No, nothing," she answered, wearily,

" Something has happened, I fear," she said to herself, and then going to the door, bent her head to listen, an expression of great anxiety on her face.

She could hear nothing, however, but apparently not quite satisfied, she ventured to unlock the door, and peer forth into the hall.

This was Earle Wayne's opportunity.

With noiseless tread he stepped quickly up to her, and before she was hardly aware of his intention, pushed the door open, forced her back into the room,

and entered himself.

Another instant and the door was again shut, locked, and the key in his pocket.

His next movement was to see if the door leading

into that other room was locked also.

It proved to be, but the key was in the lock, and he pocketed this too, thus gaining all the power he wanted for the present.

The whole transaction had not occupied above six or seven minutes, nor had a word been spoken, but Earle had done a good thing, for in that time he had captured, single handed, one of the most successful robbers in the United States, as well as his accom- plice, and doubtless had saved the girl he loved from even greater sufferings than she had already exper-

ienced.

With this accomplished, and both keys in his pocket, he now turned his attention to the occupant

of the bed.

But Editha had fainted dead away !

(To be continued.)