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= T twenty, Rachel Reed was the prettiest girl in

the county. She was fair, with violet-blue eyes and a wealth of golden curls. All the b B. other young ladies were frantic with envy.

She was bright and saucy, too; but, withal, modest and unassuming. Yet she was by no means spoiled—as many another, with her ad- vantages, would have been. She was a close: attendant at church, a good housekeeper, and was beloved by all, young and old alike.

Harland Lane and she had been schoolmates and fast friends from childhood. They had played together; quarreled, and made up; tossed hay, in the hayfield, together; gathered apples together; shared each other's confidence. So when, at last, it was announced that they were engaged to be married, nobody was sur- prised. In fact, everybody said that it was just the nicest thing possible: ‘‘ they had been made for each other.” The wedding-day was fixed for June the seventeenth. Of course, there was the usual gossip, and occasionally a little back- biting; for, though Rachel was the prettiest girl in the county, Harland was none the less admired. Tall and straight, with a handsome face, and the only son of a rich man, a good many girls envied Rachel her success.

Old Squire Lane himself made Rachel a pres- ent of her wedding-dress. It was a pink silk, brought all the way from New York City; and, at that time, such a dress was not often seen.

All Rachel’s friends, for miles round, had a look at it; they admired and commented upon it; and more than one of the young ladies wished, audibly, they were in Rachel’s place.

Squire Lane had not only given Rachel her wedding-dress, but he had presented his son with a house and farm, in prospect of his mar- riage. The house was just over the river, opposite Rachel’s old home; and, when the

furniture came, it was Harland and she who. (499)


put down the carpets, hung the pictures and } curtains, and set up the things; and they were ? as happy and merry, in doing this, as two } children.

But alas! there came a cloud over all this sun- ; shine. Over what sunshine does it not come, at } sometime? The village gossip, Nancy Potts, one | day, repeated some remarks which she said Harland’s aunt had made about Rachel’s father. } Mr. Reed, unfortunately, was too fond of his cups; and though, in those days, everyone drank , more or less, he often drank more than even public opinion, at that time, excused. This was a source } of great mortification to Rachel; she was very ' Sensitive on the subject. And, when she heard what Harland’s aunt had said, she sat down and ; wrote to Harland, in the first heat of passion, “that his aunt need not fear; no drunkard’s daughter ’’—for that was the phrase that had ‘been used—‘‘ would ever bring disgrace on Harland’s relatives, by marrying him.”

It cost her quite an effort, angry as she was, ‘to send the letter. Twice she tore up what she had written. She rose from her chair; she walked up and down the room; she wrung her hands; she asked herself, with bitter tears, what she should do. But her sense of dignity, as well as her insulted pride, left her, as she thought, no alternative. If she married Harland, her father’s shame would always be a thorn in his side: his family would continually refer to it: in time he would yield to their in- sinuations. ‘‘ Yes,’’ she said, ‘‘even the hardest stone—even granite—is worn away by the con- tinual drop, dropping of water: he will cease to love me: and oh! where then shall I be? Better break it off now, before it is too late. God help me,’ and she pressed her hands to her burning forehead, ‘‘ there is noth- ing else to do.”

Then she sat down again, and wrote a third letter; and this one she sent. The tears were in her eyes all the time, and

-often they quite over- -came her: she had to pause continually, and > shade her eyes with her




hands, until the paroxysm was over; but she persevered, though every word wrung her heart- strings; and, when the letter was written, was closed, was dispatched, she flung herself on her bed, and wept for half the night.

In vain, her lover refused to accept this dis- missal; in vain, he denied that his aunt could ever have made such a remark. Rachel was obdurate: and, as the aunt herself did not come forward to explain, or even apologize, the affair ended in the breaking-off of the engage-


The new house was shut up; and there it stood, with its pretty new furniture, for more than a year, Harland and Rachel passing each other almost daily, yet not speaking.

Rachel, all this time, was secretly grieved, and even repentant; in fact, most heart-broken. But





‘she was proud, and Harland was proud also. ; no longer the bright star of every entertainment, At the end of a year, to show that he was not} but kept close at home with her parents; and, broken - hearted, he married Cora Lee: a good} when Mrs. Reed died, she devoted herself to her kind girl, and very pretty. But Harland never } father, whose health now began to fail. It was loved her, in any true sense of the word, though Rachel who kept him from temptation, and who, he was always a considerate husband. And so in time, reformed him entirely. Then an aunt they lived, though childless, until middle-aged. ; died, and left two little girls; and these mother-

As for Rachel, she did not marry. She had} less children came to Rachel, to live with her. many offers, but she declined them all. Mean-; Long before this, Rachel had got to be a quiet, time, her troubles had changed her. She was sweet-faced woman. But she never swerved from


the path of duty; she was full of kindness to all; ; diately. Rachel sprang from her bed; for the with all Ler sorrows—or, rather, because of them } flames lighted up her chamber, so that, at first, —she grew nobler and better every day. Finally, } she thought it was her own dwelling that was her father died. His protracted illness had quite ; on fire. The village was soon aroused; boats worn her out; and, after the funeral, she broke were procured ;* and everybody hastened to the down and was ill for weeks. Meantime, Cora} scene of the conflagration. At first, only one Lane had also died, and Harland was a widower. } side of the house was on fire, and willing hands

He now left his own home, and went to his} quickly brought out the furniture there, placing father’s to live, and the house was closed once it on the bank, and afterward carried it across more, accordingly. Every time Rachel looked ; to Rachel’s house, over the bridge close by, that

at it, across the river, she thought of her dead spanned the little stream, as the nearest place g } 8p P

hopes and her early folly. The little girls were} for security. When morning came, the whole

grown up, and living in a distant town, so that } house was in ashes.

she was alone at the farm. Only a part of the, It was now that Harland came to Rachel, and

great house was used, however; the south side, ; asked permission to keep his goods in her house,

in view of the house which was to have been } until he could remove them to his father’s. This

hers, was kept shut. was the first time he had spoken to Rachel for One night, during a heavy storm, that house} years. Pale and grave, she assented. That

was struck by lightning, and took fire imme-? afternoon, she was looking at the furniture,





every article of which she remembered so well, paper wrapper, now yellow with age, the pink when she saw that the drawer of one of the! silk bought for her wedding-dress, and still bureaus had been broken, in its hasty exit of! unmade. The color faded out of her lips. She

‘the night before. Glancing in, she beheld, in its , stood silent, lost in regret, pressing her hand to

her heart, which throb- bed with absolute pain. Suddenly, there was a knock atthe door. She went to open it. There stood Harland!

They looked at each other for a moment, speechless. The years had passed lightly over both. But neither ap- peared, at that moment, Has old as they seemed even. Perhaps a latent hope, unacknowledged by either, but lying deep down in their hearts, had something todo with this return of youthful- ness—in expression, at least. Rachel was the first to break the silence.

With a sudden im- pulse, which she could not control, she said:

‘‘T am so sorry.”

“And I have heen sorry, every day, for twenty years,”’ said he. “‘Rachel,’”’ and now his voice trembled, ‘is it— is it—too late ?’’

A moment after, she was in his arms, and he was kissing her as he never had kissed Cora Lee—poor thing.

That fall, they were married, and Rachel


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her Wepp1na-Dress.

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Last eve, together, you and I To-night I sit alone, alone, (How fast the hours sped !) And think and dream of thee; Knew not the parting-time was nigh My weary heart makes weary moan).

Till night had almost fled. And life is dead to me.

wore the pink silk for-

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Iv. fool: for mademoiselle stood glowing there above

HER CONTEMPT. him, her face ablaze with amazed contempt; and,

Yer he could not help looking at her admir- | if glances could have killed, Kent surely would ingly. How proudly she stood, poised there on } have been swept from the face of the earth for-.

the edge of the levee, in all her girlish grace. } ever. “You shall be obeyed, mademoiselle, cer-} She did not speak; but the gesture, the hand tainly,’ he answered. But, perhaps—”’ \and arm thrown forth, as ordering him to dis-

He stopped abruptly, and looked toward the } appear from her sight, was simply grand. party grouped round Ninette, who had snatched { Somehow, wandering homeward, Kent felt not Monsieur Lacour’s hand, and was pouring forth ; unlike a beaten spaniel. wan't a stream of bubbling French—very amusing, { The others talked of the gipsies. He too probably, since even madame laughed. He had : talked, but his thoughts were following the erect, never before been alone with Mademoiselle graceful, haughty girl, sauntering along before Lacour—it was an excellent opportunity to make under the moss-trails and over the coarse coa-coa, the assurance that she need not fear his demands | in whose flushed cheeks and quickly-heaving as a suitor. Evidently, the old crone had heard bosom he read signs of inward emotion. Almost, talk through the country-side, and had but ‘as the little arched foot stepped upon the grass- repeated the gossip of her people, mixed up with clumps, almost this blue-eyed Northman expected trashy mysteries; and, quite as evidently, made- to see sparks rising among the waving blades. moiselle had become annoyed, infuriated, by this; ‘At least I have made her angry,” he said,. repetition. She should be relieved of this fear. ' with intense satisfaction. ‘She cannot utterly She should know that he, at least, did not desire ; despise me.’ to have her heart handed over, as a bale of { And, the remainder of the evening, she was’ marketable merchandise. simply superb.

For him, the future held no lovely home, no | A thick fog-smoke hanging over the outlying hearthside delights; no fair woman, ministering { wilderness, the prismed chandeliers of the great with hands of heavenly tenderness; no children / hall were lit; and mademoiselle, sauntering up nestling, with their soft arms; about his broad and down with the elegant Tournon, was reflected shoulders. Rather, he had seen’ years of invalid- ‘in. the old mirrors upon the wall, in seemingly ism; beyond these, the lights of heaven, stream- endless vistas. She was radiant. She was a ing over an early grave; and so it was with a; beautiful sparkle. Her laugh and her musical face and voice softened by the ‘vision of this French rose tinkling among the glass pendants future—it was with a sincere desire to relieve his beneath the lights; she gleamed and she glistened fair partner of all tormenting fears—that the : from the depths of the mirrored walls: wherever Northman spoke, impulsively indeed, yet kindly. ; Kent turned, he found the fair blossom-face, and

‘*Perhaps,”’ he said, after a pause, resum- the figure in its blossom-robes, mockingly, taunt- ing, “perhaps, if I assure mademoiselle it is ingly, smilingly bright, till all the air seemed indeed true that I have not the slightest desire yose-tint, and all the space of the great hall of ever troubling her about the estate—nay, glowed with the brilliance of her presence. more,’ here Kent felt himself reddening hor-’ The calm, cool, well-poised mind of the North- ribly: ‘the old gipsy’s words naturally were; man lost its balance. Vainly he listened to offensive—perhaps, if I also assure mademoiselle madame’s broken English, while she politely that the future holds, for a poor invalid like explained a collection of pictures, painted among myself, no marriage-joys—perhaps my presence ; the islands of the Gulf coast; vainly he listened might then be less unbearable,” and Kent smiled as she recounted the histories of the courtly faintly, awkwardly embarrassed, seeing, as the { portraits, lingering long over the dark face ofthe words left his lips, that he had made a great handsome son, Pierre; vainly—for & voice—a

mistake; calling himself, inwardly, dolt, idiot, mocking voice—like a powerful magnet, claimed Vou. LXXXIX.—29.


Ieee mannn

his ear, and stole into his brain—so that, gladly ;

hailing the first opportunity, he hastened forth ° into the mist-laden night-air, and stood among the shadows of the pillars.

“She is intoxicating,’ thought Kent, wiping his face, and drawing a deep breath,

And, while he thought, there rolled forth, like a challenge, rich chords of harmony: deep, soft, clear, they died away into the gay dashing music } of a gipsy dance; and, as the graceful player sat } tossing her small hands among the yellowed keys of the old instrument, the notes, dropping from her slender fingers, seemed the voice and motion of a bright spirit, mingling among gipsies on the greensward, with all the grace and all the} abandon of a sportive child.

One hour later, silence reigned over Chateau } Tacour. Bats flitted about the old dormer- } windows; the canebrake rustled with the wind } and the midnight revels of croaking frogs; whilé } an owl, sitting on the mossy branch of a great } ‘tree near Kent’s window, hooted his mournful ; ery; and, all about, the weird drooping moss- } trails sang their tender melancholy sighs. ;

5 g 5


A new day dawned: and the sun, driving} away night-shadows, kissed Louisiana, nestling, } radiant and laughing, within his golden arms. } A brilliant, dashing, beautiful day, the saddening } to«ches of the coming late autumn giving deeper tints to its loveliness.

Kent, in the one slight greeting glance accorded Mademoiselle Lacour, fancied these deeper tints spiritually reflected beneath the; sparkling eyes and glowing cheeks of the brill- iant Creole.

Evidently there had been trouble.

Monsieur talked only to Kent; madame, if possible more stately than ever, sat erect in her ° gothic-backed chair, smiling her gracious smile ; ; while mademoiselle preserved unbroken silence, } and presently, seizing her great palmetto hat, stepped grandly forth into the sunlight, dis- appearing down a vista of orange-trees.

“Fair without, but stormy within,” thought ; Kent, resolutely ignoring further visions of the } graceful sunlit figure. ;

Corporeally, Kent had not felt so strong for ; years. Mentally—well, mentally, the calm clear 3 mind of the Northman had braced itself to meet 3 and face the difficulties of his position. 3

After two hours of business-writing, he passed forth under the shadow of the oaks, contempla- ting and arranging a mode of life for the future. Mademoiselle Lacour was a rose set with thorns.




One could not approach her presence without feeling sensibly the prick of the briar; hence,

she was painful: also, there came from this rose

a perfume intoxicating; hence, not healthful to

Northern lungs and Northern minds. For these

\ reasons, she was to be avoided; and the North-

man pressed his lips together, with an expression

of firmness, auguring ill for the golden net- > weavings of the guardian Lacours.

Of the four chambers accorded him by mon-

} sieur and madame, that on the lower floor would ; make a fine library. There were only two stair- § cases in the mansion—on the eastern and west- ; ern sides of the verandas.

Sometimes Louisiana wrapped herself in wintry robes of ice—the exposed staircases would be dangerous for an invalid. With monsieur’s permission, he would have one built from ‘the library below to his chamber above. Thus, he might live almost entirely withdrawn from the family-circle.

As, thus musing, Kent passed slowly along, unconsciously his steps wandered toward an unfrequented portion of the grounds. Here, indeed, all seemed a wilderness of gray moss; a tangle of green vine and briar; a lair of matted grasses and dense undergrowth: these trailing off along the banks of a slender bayou, toward the yet denser wilderness of the swamp-land. Impatiently turning to retrace his way, and breaking hastily through the low-hanging branches of an oak, he stood, transfixed with amazement, looking forth from the shadow, upon an oasis of brilliant and beautiful bloom in the midst of the darkly-colored jungle. The gaudy trumpet-vine, the white-starred Cherokee, the crimson-studded cypress, all climbing, and bind- ing, and clinging together, had woven, from magnolia to orange-tree, from pecan to oleander, from crape-myrtle to mimosa, deep walls of mystic beauty and mysterious depths, while, upon the rich green of the earth, rested banks of crimson roses, and, yet above these, gaudy sun- flowers, many lifting their heads twenty feet in mid-air, and glowing hibiscus nodded merrily, rubbing their bright faces joyously together in the morning breeze.

The ground, beneath, was almost dazzling in its gaudy coloring. Beyond, golden oranges, hung among the shimmering foliage, whispered of moonlight; magnolias, tipped with crimson cones, swayed back and forth a few late white blossoms, like censers of incense; and the sun- light, catching the soft glow of the crape-myrtle and the rich pink of the oleander-trees, waving far aloft their lithe stems, cast over all a flush of wondrous tint.

As Kent’s glance traveled, with keen deligl.:,



wee eee ~~ rw wre

about the solu earth, falling, at last, on a? dian skirting the sin of the prvarees wall, and, clump of tall banana-leaves; raggedly fluttering ; almost breathless, stood at last above the uncon- in the soft air, he started, uttered a smothered } scious girl. As he reached her, the lids, feeling exclamation of surprise, and drew yet further } the magnet resting above them, were slowly back into the gloom of the shadow. For, beside lifted, and the snake’s eyes looked full into the the flaunting leaves, near the wall of tangled ; lovely dark gray orbs below.

vine, and suspended from mimosa to lb i Her lips whitened. But no cry of terror branch, a hammock of gayly.colored cords 3 escaped them. Her cheek blanched. But the swayed slightly on the breeze. Within the } graceful figure remained motionless.

hammock, slept Mademoiselle Lacour. One hand Suddenly, Kent stretched forth his strong pillowed the rich cheek; the other held, in its; right hand; seized the head of the poisonous light grasp, a cluster of yellow marigolds and { reptile; snatched a dead branch lying near; trails of coral-vine, the bright blossoms hanging } thrust the end down the opened mouth of the like drops of red blood. infuriated creature; dragged it down, down,

Kent drew a long breath. ; trailing its slimy length over the hammock-

He had never imagined anything more beauti- } side; then trampled, and trampled, and trampled ful. ; upon the hideous body, till life was extinct.

Over the sleeping girl, there rested the ex-} Mademoiselle Lacour raised herself; gazed quisite flush of pink-hued blooms, while waving first at the snake, as it rested, harmless and dead, leaves sprinkled the white dress and the face, stretched among glowing flowers, then at Kent, sweet in placid slumber, with twinkling dimples } } then, with a slight moan, fell backward. of sunlight. Brilliant butterflies and glistening ; She had fainted. hummingbirds fluttered about, from agruniiies: $ The Northman came nearer. to flower-cup, against the deep wall; fluttered} She had ordered him never to speak to her; over the fair girl, herself the fairest blossom of all: ; never to touch her: but surely, now, he could not queen and priestess of this lovely temple—temple } leave her—not thus. of color, and bloom, and music, and beauty, and} In an old fountain, near by, where a broken love; for, as Kent gazed, he knew that this must} nymph seemed mourning over the departed be “the garden of our Lallah”’: every waving} glories of her station, water rising from tle branch, every swaying blossom, every bending} spring beneath yet gleamed under a thick grass-blade, every singing bird, whispered of her 3 growth of flags and reeds, which rustled above. presence. ; Kent ran hither, parted the grasses, dipped his

True to the resolution of the new law laid; hat into the hidden waters, sprinkled Made- down for future guidance, the Northman, his face 3 moiselle Lacour’s white face, moved her hand growing stern, was about silently to leave this 3 from beneath the soft cheek, chafed her wrists. Eden and its sleeping Eve, when lo! twixt the } She rested before him, like a closed blossom ; pink and blue flowers of the morning-glory, and ; the taunting, mocking, beautiful spirit was gone, the red and white stars of the cypress, and the } lingering in that weird border-land stretching golden-hearted blossoms of the Cherokee, the mysteriously twixt life and death. Perhaps it long lithe head of a snake was stretched above { might never return, this beautiful, mocking, the unconscious one: fixing, upon the closed ; intoxicating spirit. lids of the slumbering girl, its beady, lustreless, The heart of the Northman grew sick. Quick- fascinating eyes. ened by fear, he lifted the white unconscious one

Kent’s face grew white, and his breath came } in his great arms; bore her to the edge of the in short gasps, for the reptile was a rattle-} fountain; laid her among the soft shadows; snake. sprinkled over her still face the cool waters of

Would Mademoiselle Lacour awaken ? the spring; and knelt there, anxiously watching

Kent prayed not—a motion meant probable { for the first symptoms of returning life. death. He looked round despairingly : no weapon } A fluttering of the lids; a short faint sigh; met his eye. ; and the lustrous eyes, unclosing, gazed dreamily

Another glance toward the sleeper. j around. She shivered visibly; remained an

Something must be done, and quickly: for} instant quite still; then slowly drew herself the venomous head hung now over the velvct } upward, and sat with the drooping head resting face. against the silvered trunk of a magnolia. Ex-

With a noiseless lithe movement, learned in } quisite in her white languor and her helpless seasons of summer-hunt mid Indians, Kent } weakness, the fair face hung there, like a pale passed from the shadow, crept quickly and deftly ? flower, among the tall grasses and the gay sprays

j | | i | : i |



506 MOUNTAIN BLUE of golden-rod, and the stiff green spikes of the palmetto standing around.

But Kent did not move toward her. He had risen from his kneeling posture, as the beautiful eyes unclosed. He was lingering now beside the fountain, one hand resting on the stone shoulder of the broken nymph.

‘Are you better, mademoiselle?’* he asked, at last, seeing that a slight color had crept into the lips.

‘‘ Monsieur Kent,”’ the voice was very soft and

RAR ee


cd igs THE BATTLE. $ SHE uncovered her face, and disclosed it, alk flushed, disdainful, wrathful. He had succeeded. Mademoiselle Lacour was ; fairly aroused. : ‘I do consider that these words are unkind— cruel—rude.”’

‘‘And when, mademoiselle, have your words.

to me been other than unkind—cruel—rude?’”

i asked the Northman, calmly folding his arms,

low—the girl was trembling again, and her gray {and looking down into her dazzling loveliness. eyes, lifted one moment, fell beneath the coldness ; ‘I came under your roof a stranger: you have of the blue—‘‘ Monsieur Kent, I think—it is ‘not even accorded me the common courtesies of

true—yes—you have perhaps saved my life.” Kent did not reply. “And, mais oui—it was done with—with

bravery. You cannot expect that I say more,’ : she added, noting his silence, a touch of haughti- :

ness creeping into the low voice.

“T did not expect that you would say as much, mademoiselle.”’

A faint flush stole into the pale cheeks, and she passed her hand, once or twice, over her brow.

‘Will you have some water? I have found here a broken stone cup. It will hold a few drops.”

‘*Non, merci, monsieur.”’

‘‘Perhaps an orange will prove refreshing,” :

reaching his hand to a bunch, hanging, like a cluster of sunny balls, above the mourning nymph.

‘Non, I thank you, monsieur, nothing. I feel

myself in reality better—much better,” and she 3

lifted her head from its drooping posture.

‘“*As soon as you are able to walk, we will hasten away from your Eden, mademoiselle. The mate of the monster I have killed may be lurking around.”

She started slightly.

“Oh, there is no danger now. a good watch,” said Kent, gravely.

‘‘ Mais— mais —I —monsieur— mais oui—I was in the hammock,” and she looked at the great Northman, with wide-opened questioning eyes.

“«Yes,”’ returned Kent, quietly, ‘and I took you out of the hammock, and brought you here, and laid you where I might reach the water of this spring.”

She did not speak; but she buried her face in her hands, and sat quite still.

‘TI suppose,’”’ continued Kent, somewhat sav- agely, ‘“‘under the circumstances, I need scarcely apologize for disobeying the orders given me last ‘evening.’

I am keeping

‘life, much less the hospitality which I had a : right to expect—the hospitality which belongs to a stranger in a strange land.”

“‘Ah, Dieu—ah, Dieu—and you say this to me —to me,”’ she cried, rising, strong in her anger, sand clasping and unclasping her lifted hands. : «But see, monsieur: in memory of this day,” ¢and Kent perceived that she used great control, ; keeping her voice low and even, ‘‘in memory of : this day, I will not say what is in my heart. I will say only: ‘Sell out to another the share- ; which you hold in our possessions, and go away.’ Monsieur, I beg! You make my life, for me, Sone great misery. Go away—leave us.”

The tones were pleading and sad.

“See,” she continued: ‘Monsieur Tournon $ told me, last. night—yes—that his Uncle Poitrot. ‘had returned, and had a great anxiety to locate ‘him on our estate, and was in a great despair when the discovery was made that you—”

$ Stop!’ interposed Kent, a nameless pain shooting through his strong heart. ‘I cannot leave your home. But I promise to trouble $ you, mademoiselle, as little as possible with my disagreeable presence. You are not strong $—-sit here on this stone brim: lean against $this pedestal, and let me tell you my plans $ for—”

} Mais, I will not sit down—I will not listen. § Vous savez—you know that the sight of your


§ countenance makes, for me, a sickness about the: Sheart. You know—”

Stop!” again interposed Kent, and his words }came hard and clear upon the soft air. ‘I am bound by honor to keep, for five years, the partnership-contract into which I have entered ‘with your cousin. Do you understand, made- } moiselle ?=by honor.”

‘“‘Honor? Honor?” she repeated, and the- gray eyes and the blue looked full each into the soul-depths of the other. ‘What do you know of honor ?”’

‘“* Everything.”




OOOO eee eee eee



The voice of the Northman was deep, grand,; ‘*Whatdoyoumean? A thief?’’ and his words almost solemn. } rolled thundering through the drooping boughs ;

“Ah! here Mademoiselle Lacour’s rich face ;} and, stepping forward, he grasped her arm in was wreathed with an expression of unbounded } his strong hand. ‘Speak! or, by heaven—’’ contempt. ‘I know. It is said that,in the war; ‘I am not afraid,” said Mademoiselle Lacour, and in the love, all is fair, all is honor. Sans ; who, deathly white, nevertheless did not quail doute, monsieur takes this for his shield: sans } before the presence of the Northman’s fury. «dloute, monsieur hides, behind this, all the deeds ; ‘‘ No—though you are hurting me horribly.”’ of the past.” 3 J—I beg your pardon,’’ immediately remov-

‘“‘All the deeds of the past ?’’ exclaimed Kent. ' ing his grasp; ‘‘ but—but—you anger me beyond <‘ Mademoiselle, you try me beyond patience. | forbearance. Of what do you accuse me?”’ What do you know of my past, save that I once ‘‘ Monsieur, it is time now—yes, this play of <lestroyed, for you, a paltry tree ?’’ a child must cease. You know that you did take

‘What do I know of your past?’ and again my father’s treasure from this spot. See,” and the gray eyes and the blue gazed each into the she pointed to the earth: ‘it was that footstep other, angry sparkles flashing from the angry » which betrayed you. Monsieur, among many, souls behind. What do I know of your past? the mark of the wounded foot was known.” Bien donc—follow me, monsieur: I will show; One instant, there was silence: the two stand- to you what I know of your past.” { ing there, regarding each other very quietly.

As they reached the spot where the snake: Mademoiselle spoke again. rested, stretching its long length amid gay; ‘I was a fool—yes, I know,’ shaking her blooms, the girl paused, shuddered, and, turning ; head sadly, ‘to dig again, as I have dug this her gaze, all tender and sorrowful, upon her; day; but the words of that gipsy did come

companion, said sadly: ‘Monsieur, do not let; into my mind, and I thought, perhaps—’

us go any further.” ; ‘The gipsy’s words,” said Kent, slowly, as .

Kent did not speak. He simply lifted his} one awaking from lethargy or wandering in a arm, pointed forward, and she obeyed. dream. ‘‘Ah, yes: and this is the humped tree.

Across the garden, there was dense tangle of { Wait,” and he passed his hand thoughtfully over Cherokee, growing in a clump beneath a tall; his forehead: ‘‘ I—I think I remember this tree. live-oak. Mademoiselle, turning suddenly behind ; I came here with my men, to mark it. We this clump, stood still; and Kent, amazed, stood 3 thought we should have to cut it down, with beside her. several others,’ here the Northman glanced right

At his feet, there yawned quite a deep pit, { and left, ‘‘about this spot. There was the same recently dug; and dug, he conjectured, by this open pit dug, just as it is dug now. Strange, singular girl, since her great palmetto and stout ;I did not remember before. I remember your ‘gardening-gloves rested upon the ground, beside $ father, mademoiselle, coming hastily forward small spade and shovel and hatchet. Then; from the woods yonder, his hands all stained came back to him the words of Cousin Eugene: } with earth. He was a very courteous gentleman, «‘She digs deep—deep.”’ and, I remember; he apologized: said he had

“JT cannot understand,’”’ said the Northman, $ been working over rare plants; he was fond of ‘with cold calm tone: I cannot understand what } the woods; he was a student of botany. But your gardening, mademoiselle, has to do with my : we did not fell any trees. Next day, our gun- honor in the past.” ; boat left, for a station lower on the coast. As

She was standing, leaning with her hand rest-} for the treasure of which you speak, made- ing against a great bulge outgrowing from the; moiselle, I have never seen it,’’ and Kent, all rough trunk of the tree, gazing down sadly upon ; the proud honest spirit of his ancestry shining the freshly-dug earth; but, as he spoke, she ; forth from his clear face, looked full upon the glanced up, and said quickly: ; beautiful accuser before him.

‘‘All the bloom in my garden grows from your She was trembling now, indeed—the lithe dishonor. Monsieur, why do you force me to } graceful body swayed slightly; but she steadied speak? Why do you not say: Forgive—it was { herself—the spirit of the Lacour was very strong the fault of the war—it was but the booty’? ; in her brave heart.

And I will try to forgive: yes, in memory of; <‘*Monsieur,’’ the voice, at first shaken with this day—if you go—I will not any more say } emotion, growing stronger, “‘listen: Papa, at to myself that you area thief. I will forgive.” ; that time, did make a preparation to join the

She gazed at him again, tenderly, pleadingly ; } army of Louisiana. To maman he said: ‘I will ut Kent was blind with anger. ; not leave thee and the little one without gold.’


OPP SO 2 eer


OO eeu eee

One day, he did show to maman, in gold, five She shook her head, speechless in misery. thousand dollars. He took this, also he took much Kent, stooping, lifted the spade, the shovel, family silver of the Lacour, and he did bury } and the hatchet; stood an instant, looking toward them here, beneath this tree. To bonnemaman ; the denser wood ; then, stepping over clumps of he did not speak of this—only to maman; for, } palmetto, made his way, through matted under- see, his brother Pierre, whom bonnemaman loved, growth, to a low dwarf-pine of the silver swamp- spent much; and bonnemaman, being weak } species. He hesitated at first; but, after one or for him, papa feared that, if the brother Pierre } two sweeping glances of observation, commenced should come poor and beg, bonnemaman would ° cutting through tangles of grass and vine. give to him all. So, it was laid here. ‘« Perhaps,” said Kent, pausing and looking up ““The day your gunboat went from our sight, ‘at mademoiselle, who had followed after him, that day papa was found on this spot. He was} ‘‘ perhaps I may be mistaken. But, as a boy, paralyzed. He did make much attempt to speak, much of my time was spent among Indians; my but—it' was no use. Maman knew that the} eye bad been well trained; and, when we were treasure had been taken, and by you, monsieur— ' marking the trees to be felled, after that meeting tenez—écoutez’’—lifting her hand—* for there > with your father, I noted the appearance of this was the mark of the foot, and maman did know spot—noted that the earth had been recently —it was the shock of the loss which brought to dug, and that efforts had been made to conceal papa his death. To bonnemaman, she said; this. Your father probably feared that his naught. What use? Bonnemaman would have? treasure was not safe, near tall trees liable at felt anger in her heart against papa, since he had $ any moment to be hewn down; hence, I think— not placed in her the confidence of ason. Only } mark, mademoiselle: I do not know, but I think to me, monsieur, to me, three years after, when 3 —that we shall find the missing treasure near she was about to die and to leave me, she said: § here.”’ ‘Lallah, chére enfant, it was a man of the >

And then there was silence between them, North who did defraud thee and kill thy father.’

while Kent, his great arms strong with a sort of

Then she told, monsieur, what I have told; and ‘cold fury, hurled forth huge clods of dark earth ; | and mademoiselle, like a marble statue, stood g 5

she did draw from me the promise that I would not relate to bonnemaman what I have related to § motionless beneath the pine-hboughs. All about you: and Pere Ignace, being present, was the : them, birds sang; flocks of wild ducks flew over- witness to my promise. Ah, mais, I was but a‘ head; great mysterious white cranes flitted petite. I said: ‘Perhaps the gold is hidden,’ ; among dusky shadows; and the low pine waved and I dug. I told Eugéne—I told bonnemaman } soft sighs above Northman and Creole.

—it was for flowers. And, when Eugene would} Three feet had been dug into the depths of the make a lament—when Eugéne would say: ‘Ah, } dark earth, when, the spade of the Northman Dieu! we are lost: the possession of the Lacour } striking against the sharp edge of a plank, Made- must go to the hand of a stranger’—I would } moiselle Lacour bent breathlessly forward, gazing come, and I would dig more hard than before. | anxiously into the opening below.

Monsieur, each foot of this land has been dug by } me: and so I say it is here, upon the bed of your dishonor, that my flowers grow. Ah, and ! when the stranger came under our roof—the stranger holding our land—the stranger, who had taken the gold which might have saved us— the stranger, whose deed of dishonor had killed ; the poor father—ah, Dieu!’’ and here Made- } moiselle Lacour raised her hands and her eyes toward heaven, then allowed them to fall, an | expression of keen anguish sweeping over the pale features.

“Do you believe me?’ asked Kent, hoarsely. ¢ “Do you believe that I am an honest man ?”

She lifted her face and her eyes, all shadowed with pain, and doubt, and fear, and dismay.

“TI see, I see: you need proof beyond my ' word. I think I can give it. Do you remember ; the signs made by your dying father?”

Gradually a cypress box was uncovered. Kent prized it open.

A quantity of silver, blackened and corroded, was disclosed, also several buckskin bags. One of these he raised, tore off the fastening, and, at the feet of Mademoiselle Lacour, poured forth a pile of golden coins.

“Are you satisfied?’ he asked, looking into her face—the proud, cold, disdainful face, now all downcast, and flushed, and touched with shame, and tender with pitying regret.

No word came in reply. But, as a little hand was timidly extended across the recovered treas-

‘ure, Kent knew that the rose was shorn of its

thorns, and, in the gray eyes—beseechingly,

pleadingly lifted to the blue—the Northman saw

visions of peace brooding over a home on earth, amid palms and orange-bloom. [THE END. ]



“Ron, Katie; put on your sunbonnet and pick some flowers, to decorate the rooms for tea. We will have a short-cake. Perhaps the captain will call in, to sup with us. look at your dress. You can dress when you come back. What you have on