Flower and Jewel; or, Daisy Forrest's Daughter








(Printed in the United States of America)





Young Mrs. Fielding opened her dark, heavy-lidded eyes and gazed thoughtfully about the large, luxurious chamber, from which every ray of sunshine had been carefully excluded. As her eyes became accustomed to the subdued light she saw a fat old negro woman, in a white cap and apron, dozing placidly in a large rocking-chair.

"Nurse! nurse!" she cried.

"Hi, honey!" and the sleeper wakened with a start, and waddled up to the bed, with a broad smile on her dark visage.

"Have I been asleep, nurse? I feel so strange! I seem to remember that I was sick, and the doctor was here—"

Her faltering words were interrupted by a low chuckle of satisfaction from the old woman.

"Guess de doctor was here! Guess he put you to sleep, too; 'case how, he said, no use you suff'rin' sech cruel pains. Hi, honey! what you reckin? Your trouble all pas' now, and you de happy mudder o' two de beautifules' twins dat I eber sot my ole eyes on!"

As the excitable old woman blurted out her joyful news, Mrs. Fielding's head sunk back heavily on the lace-trimmed pillow.

"Oh!" she cried, with a deep sigh of relief and joy.

"Oh, indeed!" echoed the proud old nurse; and she waddled across to the large double crib and produced two[Pg 6] tiny infants, which she carried to the bedside on a pillow. Mrs. Fielding looked up eagerly, and a low cry of delight broke from her lips.

"What little beauties! Look—they are opening their eyes! Oh, one has blue eyes like my husband's, and one has dark eyes like mine! Are they girls or boys, nurse?"

"Bofe gals!" replied the old woman, with a grunt of dissatisfaction.

"And I wanted a boy so much!" the young mother exclaimed, with a sigh; then, rallying from her disappointment: "But never mind, nurse; better luck next time. And, after all, it is perfectly lovely to have twin girls! They always create a sensation wherever they go. And I mean to give them such fancy names! Guess, nurse."

"Mary and Marthy, maybe, honey."

"Pshaw!" disgustedly. "Nothing of the kind! Wait—don't take the darlings away yet."

"But you am talkin' too much, missie."

"I'll be quiet in a minute. Look, nurse"—she put out a beautiful white hand and touched each of the babes in turn—"this dark one I'll name Jewel, this blue-eyed one Flower."

"Redikilous! I don't belebe dat Massa Charlie will 'low it," muttered the old woman; and Mrs. Fielding's eyes flashed angrily.

"I shall do as I please with my own babies!" she cried, imperiously.

"All right, honey. In course you'll do as you please—you al'ays does," was the soothing response; and then the old woman carried the twins back to their crib, adding, wisely: "'Tis a good sign to see sick people cross—dey's 'most sure to git well. Guess I'll ring de bell and hab some gruel fotched up fo' her."

But, in the very act of ringing the bell, her hand dropped to her side, her dark face turned ashen, and a groan forced its way through her lips.

[Pg 7]

A dreadful sound had broken the stillness of the sick-chamber—the low, muffled toll of the Tillage church-bell, telling of an impending funeral.

The beautiful dark face on the pillow lost its proud smile in a minute, and grew pale with awe.

"Who is dead?" she asked, with a little shiver; but old Maria did not answer for a moment, and again that low, muffled toll of the bell struck heavily upon the silence of the room.

Mrs. Fielding repeated her question a little impatiently, adding, wonderingly:

"I did not know that any one was sick in the village."

"I—I—must fotch your gruel, ma'am," cried old Maria; and she waddled precipitately out of the room, leaving Mrs. Fielding very much puzzled over her old servant's deafness.

She lay silent on her pillow, counting those dull, muffled strokes curiously, and thinking to herself:

"They might have been for me. Oh, how glad I am that my trouble is over and I am still alive!"

The bell had ceased to toll when Maria came back, with that ashen look still on her face, carrying the bowl of gruel somewhat unsteadily.

Mrs. Fielding waited until she finished her light repast, then said:

"I counted the strokes, Maria, and there were just nineteen. So it is a young person whom they are going to bury. Now, tell me at once who it is; you need not be afraid of agitating me. Even if it is one of my friends, I will bear it calmly."

"Ay, Lord!" muttered the old nurse, with a grimace hidden behind her hand. Then she gave Mrs. Fielding a strange look. "Ma'am, it's none o' your friends at all, ma'am—only a poor young gal by the name o' Daisy Forrest."

A low cry shrilled through the room, and old Maria[Pg 8] shuddered at the strange sound, it was so distinctly malicious, so frankly glad.

"Ma'am!" she uttered, indignantly; and Mrs. Fielding half raised herself on her pillow, and exclaimed:

"Daisy Forrest dead! My rival dead! Ah, that is glorious news!"

Maria's old black face turned gray with indignant emotion.

"Hush, missie! You ought to be afraid to talk so. De good Lord might punish your hardness of heart."

"Hold your tongue, Maria! You know I hated that woman. You know that she was my rival—that she held my husband's heart—yet you ask me not to be glad she is dead!"

Her black eyes blazed luridly, and her pale, beautiful face writhed with jealousy, as, almost breathless, she fell back upon her pillow, and Maria hurriedly seized a bottle of camphor and began to bathe her brow and hands.

"Honey, you knowed all dis afore you married my young master; so, what for you want to take on so now?" she whimpered, reproachfully.

"Yes, I knew it all; but they told me that it was the way of young men to be wild before marriage—that he would cast her off when he became my husband, and hate her very memory. But it was false; he loved that wicked, fallen creature best always. He would breathe her name in his sleep as he lay by my side. He visited her still—"

"No, no, missie; dat pore gal not so bad as dat! She nebber 'low him to come no more arter he married you," interrupted Maria.

"I tell you he did go, Maria! I followed him once, dressed in boy's clothes. He went in, and I heard him swearing that he loved her more than ever, and—and—" Her voice choked with fury a moment; then she continued, wildly: "Dead, thank Heaven—dead, and out of my way[Pg 9] forever! Now he will be all my own! But it was very sudden, was it not, Maria?"

"Very suddint, missie," the old woman answered, sullenly. "Dere was a leetle baby born night afore last, and de mudder died afore morning."

"A baby born! My husband's, of course!" the sick woman cried, furiously; and it seemed as if her jealous passion would kill her, so terrible was the expression that distorted her beautiful face as Maria replied, in her sullen way:

"I ain't gwine to deny dat, missie, for dat 'ud make de dead gal seem worser dan she wer', and I ain't gwine to frow no mo' sin an' shame dan possible on dat pore thing layin' in her coffin wid her baby on her breast."

"So the miserable offspring of shame died, too. That is good! I hate it with the same hate I had for its mother!" the infuriated, maddened woman cried out, remorselessly; but before Maria could utter a single remonstrance, another sound, and one more startling than the solemn funeral-bell, broke upon their ears.

It was the loud reverberation of a pistol-shot within the house.

"Oh! what was that?" shrieked Mrs. Fielding, in terror.

Old Maria did not reply. She was waddling out of the room as fast as her age and obesity would permit. Obeying an unerring instinct, she made her way to the library, and flinging wide the door, crossed the threshold.


"Oh, Massa Charlie! Oh, my pore boy!" she cried out, in an agony of grief.

He was lying on the floor—her nurse-child—her young master, on whom she doted with true motherly love. His white, extended hand grasped the small pistol that had sent that deadly bullet into the breast from which that ghastly torrent was pouring. His magnificent form lay[Pg 10] rigid; his head, with its short, fair locks, was thrown backward, and the blue eyes, with their luring, fatal beauty, were fixed in a dying stare.

She dropped down on her knees—his poor old black mammy—and tried to stanch the torrent of blood with the ample folds of her skirt, while heart-rending groans burst from her lips.

"Mammy!" he uttered, faintly.

"Massa Charlie—darlin'!" she groaned.

"You heard her funeral-bell? How could I live with her death upon my soul? Oh, my little Daisy, my love, I broke your heart, and this is my atonement!" he moaned faintly, remorsefully.

"Massa Charlie, you should have t'ought of her a-lyin' in yonder wid her babies."

"Ah, mammy, I did, I did! but I was false to her, too. I am not fit to live. I—I ruined those two women's lives with my villainy! I rushed headlong into sin, but I never dreamed of what was coming to me to-day. I thought I could go on in my evil ways, but God has punished me. Mammy, do you think I could live when she is gone out of the world—she whom I loved so fondly yet so selfishly?"

"But, Massa Charlie—"

"Yes, I know. I ought to have been true to her. I was weak, unworthy, full of ambition. I let gold and high position lure me from her side. I was false alike to her I loved and to her I could not love. Remorse has fastened its fangs in my heart, and I must die. If I lived, she would haunt me! How can she rest with that upon her breast?"

"Oh, my poor boy! my poor boy! Let me sen' for de preacher."

"No, mammy; the preacher could not save me now, after what I have done. Mammy, pray sometimes for my poor, lost soul—the coward soul, too weak to do right, yet not brave enough to bear the ills it wrought. Will[Pg 11] prayers do any good then, I wonder? Ah—Daisy—love—wife!"

A gasp, and the erring soul had fled.

Maria's groan rose simultaneously with a terrible cry.

Mrs. Fielding had dragged herself to the library and heard all. She spurned the dead body with her foot.

"He died with her name upon his lips," she hissed, "and I am his wedded wife!"


All this was long ago, and for seventeen years the grass had been growing over the neglected graves of Daisy Forrest and Charlie Fielding. The woman who bore his name, the mother of his children, had long ago fled from the little Southern village that had been the scene of such blighting scandal and bitter tragedy, and made her home many miles away from that hated spot, far enough, she hoped, to bring up her children out of all knowledge or hearing of the bitter past.

Into her new home and her new life none of her old household accompanied her, save old Maria. Since her husband's death the cruel Civil War had swept over the land and freed the slaves that belonged to the heiress, whose gold had tempted Charlie Fielding to sin. Every one deserted their mistress gladly, none remaining but Maria, who had belonged to her husband. She remained, although not for love of her mistress. She could not desert Massa Charlie's children, she said.

These two, Jewel and Flower, as their mother persisted in calling them, had grown up so beautiful and charming that no one could decide to which belonged the palm of greater beauty. Paris himself would have been in despair, and the golden apple must have been divided, or never awarded to either.

[Pg 12]

Fancy a brunette of the most decided type with a beautiful, passionate face, a cloud of waving dark hair, and eyes of starry brightness. By her tall, queenly figure place one equally lovely, yet as different in her type as flowers from jewels, dawn from sunset, or day from night.

An exquisite form, less tall and full than Jewel's, but perfectly proportioned, and with a fairy-like grace impossible to describe. Blue eyes of the brightest, rarest tint, and hair that fell to her waist in loose bright curls of that rich golden hue so dear to the artist's heart. Small, perfectly molded features and a dazzling complexion received a touch of piquancy from the delicate yet decided arch of the slender brows and the thick curling lashes both several degrees darker than her hair. Both girls had small hands and feet, and possessed every attribute of beauty. It was no wonder that strangers could not decide which was the lovelier, when their own mother was puzzled over the question.

There were moments—few and far between—when Mrs. Fielding almost said to herself that it was Flower to whom she would award the palm of beauty. But these were the moments when she was softened by a memory of the love she had borne Charlie Fielding before that last hour when her hot jealousy and hate had made her curse him as he lay dead at her feet.

But these softened moments were few and short.

"I am mad, mad!" she would cry, coming out of these spells as though from an abhorred trance. "I ought to hate Flower Fielding—ought to hate my own child, because she has her father's face."

There were times when she was half maddened by the memory of the past, by the thought of the horrible humiliation and pain she had endured long ago—alas! that she endured still. The old hot resentment and jealousy burned still in her heart, turned her blood to fire, and fevered her pulse. The fierce aspiration breathed over[Pg 13] her husband's dead body for vengeance on the two who had blasted her life was fresh on her lips still.

"It was with her the night long, in dreaming or waking,
It abided in loathing, when daylight was breaking,
The burden of bitterness in her! Behold,
All her days were become as a tale that is told,
And she said to her sight, 'No good thing shalt thou see,
For the noonday is turned to darkness in me.'"

One very interesting event had occurred in the Fielding family since their twins had entered upon their seventeenth birthday.

Faithful old Maria, after bringing them through their childish ailments up to the years of girlhood, had bought a cabin near by with her savings of years, and "gone to herself," as she expressed it. Silly old soul, she had been beguiled by the attractions of a young mulatto buck who had his eye on her small savings, and she married him and settled down to married life with all its joys and woes, which in her case proved chiefly the latter.

Jewel and Flower, who dearly loved their black mammy, sympathized very much with her ludicrous love affair, and even with the access of religion she acquired when she "jined de shoutin' Methody, for de comfort o' my soul, chillen, for dat dissipated Sam 'most sen' my soul to de debbil!"


With the tragic story that surrounded their birth, and the tragic elements that lay slumbering in their own natures, it was most unfortunate that Jewel and Flower should have lost their heart to the same man.

Laurie Meredith was a handsome young man of about twenty-three years, tall, and finely proportioned, with a very attractive face. He had a broad, intellectual white brow, crowned by wavy, dark-brown hair, glorious, brown[Pg 14] eyes that could look dangerously tender, and his firm yet sweet lips were half hidden beneath a silky-brown mustache, whose long ends curled around a well-formed chin cleft by a charming dimple.

He was spending his vacation from college at the sea-side resort where the Fieldings lived, and he had made the acquaintance of Jewel and Flower in a most romantic fashion, having saved the life of Jewel one day when her pretty little boat had overturned in deep water. Swimming boldly out to the sinking girl, he had succeeded in saving her just as the pretty dark head was disappearing for the last time under the treacherous waves. Then, righting the overturned boat, he succeeded in getting into it with his exhausted companion, and rowed back to shore.

This little incident had made Laurie Meredith a hero in the eyes of the beautiful twin sisters. They vied with each other in gratitude, and even the cold, indifferent Mrs. Fielding could not choose but regard the brave young gentleman with favor.

Jewel fell in love in the most approved novel fashion with her handsome preserver, and for a short while it seemed as if he returned the compliment. The most delicious flatteries fell from his lips, the most daring glances shone from his glorious brown eyes. He was often by her side and Flower's, and he said to himself that it would be quite in keeping with this romance if he should make dark-eyed Jewel Fielding his adored bride.

Then a change came gradually over him. He began to grow impartial in his attentions to the two girls; he began to think in secret of Flower's beautiful blue eyes and golden hair. When he parted from her he would press the white hand tightly in his own, and from thinking that he could not decide which was more beautiful, he began to perceive that if one must decide he should say it was Flower. Then the situation began to grow embarrassing. He wanted to make love to Flower, but he realized that[Pg 15] he had been too imprudent with her sister. He had responded too readily to her coquettish advances, and he was afraid of the lightning that could flash upon occasion from those night-black eyes.

"Confound my luck! The girl thinks that I belong to her because I saved her life. I wish it had been blue-eyed Flower who owed me that sweet debt of gratitude," he thought, uneasily.

He was frank and noble, and he despised anything underhand or mean, but he could no more help making surreptitious love to Flower than he could help breathing. When in the presence of both girls he tried to be quite impartial in his words and looks, that Jewel might not have the pain of seeing her sister preferred before her, but if the dark-eyed beauty left the room for one moment, he would be sure to make some excuse to get by Flower, that he might gaze into her eyes with that long, sweet look before which her glance fell so shyly, while the lovely color flushed up high in her cheeks. Sometimes he ventured to touch the soft, white hand, and by its tremor he realized that the shy, gentle girl was not wholly indifferent to his love.

His passion began at length to find relief in that outlet for the lover's heart—poetry. Passionate "sonnets to his lady's eyebrow" began to overflow perfumed sheets of note-paper. These found their way to Flower in all the romantic methods a lover's fertile brain could invent.

Jewel was on the alert. A jealous pang had begun to tear her passionate heart. She watched her sister and Laurie Meredith with silent distrust. Little by little the bitter truth began to dawn on her mind.

A very fury of wrath swept over her, and she found it impossible to conceal her anger. So one day, when they were walking together by the sea-shore, the gathering storm burst fiercely upon her sister's golden head.

[Pg 16]

"Cruel, deceitful girl, you are trying to take my lover from me! Are you not ashamed of your treachery?"

"Jewel! Sister!"

"Do not call me your sister unless you are going to stop trying to win Laurie from me, unless you are going to give him back to me!" Jewel cried, angrily, flying into a passion, her dark eyes blazing with jealousy.

Her sister's answer only added fuel to the fire of her wrath, although it was spoken gently, pleadingly:

"Dear, I did not know he belonged to you. I thought you were only friends."

Jewel stamped her little foot furiously upon the sand.

"Only friends! Why, he saved my life—and afterward he fell in love with me! But you have tried to win him from me! Ah, I have watched you, you artful girl, and I hate you—hate you for what you have done!"

Flower stood still, her fair face paling in the afternoon sunshine, her sweet, red lips beginning to quiver.

"Sister, dear, you wrong me bitterly. Not for worlds would I have tried to take him from you. But he told me there was nothing between you, that he was free to love me—"

"A lie! a lie!" Jewel cried out, furiously. "He won my heart by his tender looks and words; he let me believe him all my own, and—oh!" she cried, choking with rage and grief, and clapping her hands to her convulsed throat.

Flower sprung forward to throw caressing arms about her, but was so rudely repulsed that she staggered, and would have fallen upon the sands had not Laurie Meredith suddenly appeared upon the scene and caught her in his arms, clung to him convulsively a moment, then drew back and stood apart from him with a look of proud pain on her beautiful face.

"Ladies, I think I heard my name mentioned? May I ask—" he began, courteously; but Jewel, who was gazing[Pg 17] at him with burning eyes, sprung between him and her sister, and cried out, in passionate, defiant tones:

"Yes, we were speaking of you, Laurie Meredith! We were saying that you had tried to trifle with both our hearts. Call me unwomanly if you will, but I must speak out now. This cruel farce can go on no longer. You have made love to my sister and you have made love to me. You have in this cruel fashion won both our hearts. Now choose between us—between Jewel and Flower!"

If she had cherished one lingering hope that he would turn to her, she was cruelly disappointed. He went over to Flower and silently took her hand. Jewel gave them one furious look, then walked silently from the scene.


Laurie Meredith drew a long sigh of relief, and bent tenderly over Flower.

"My darling, shall it be as she says? Will you indeed be mine?" he questioned, tenderly.

She trembled and shrunk away.

"I can not make my sister wretched. Ah, Laurie, if you have indeed made love to her, as she declares, will you not go back to her and try to love her again? She will forgive you this if you beg her very hard. And she is so beautiful it will be easy to love her again."

He tried to explain to her that he had never been in love with Jewel at all, and that he had never made love to her—unless she counted a few pretty compliments and tender glances as words of love. She found it easy to believe him, since her own observations tended to prove the truthfulness of his words.

"I will own that I might have loved her if I had never met you, my darling," he said. "She is very beautiful and charming, but, Flower, you are my queen."

[Pg 18]

The fair face flushed rosily at his words, but she held herself aloof from his embrace.

"Poor Jewel!" she murmured, in the tones of a pitying angel. "Ah, Laurie, perhaps if I would go away somewhere you might learn to love her after all!"

"So you do not care for me, Flower? Then it is a pity I ever saw you. I wish that I had given my heart to your sister; then my love might have been appreciated," the young man sighed, dejectedly; and his sorrow went to her tender heart. Very timidly she laid her hand on his arm.

"I do care for you," she said, in flute-like tones, through which ran a tremor of deep tenderness. "But, ah, my poor sister! I am so sorry for her disappointment!"

"She will soon get over it," he said, drawing her to his breast and kissing the lovely, tremulous lips.

"Do you think so?" she whispered, anxiously.

"Certainly, my darling. I dare say she has got over it already, since she forced me so coolly to make choice between you two. She will be ready to laugh with you to-night at the thought of your being actually engaged to be married."

"If I thought so I would say 'yes' at once; but I am almost afraid. Fancy one's sister being in love with one's husband!" Flower said, doubtfully and distressedly.

He laughed at her fears.

"Nonsense! Jewel has too much good sense to go on caring for me now. Her fancy will soon blow over," he said; and then he clasped and kissed her again with a passionate fervor.

"I shall call on your mother to-morrow," he said.

"And in the meantime, darling, wear this ring to remind you that you belong to Laurie."

He slipped the diamond ring from his finger and placed[Pg 19] it on hers, and in a few moments they parted, and Flower sped swiftly homeward.

The sun was setting, and Jewel was on the front porch alone, making a lovely picture among the clematis vines in her white dress and scarlet sash. Her face looked so calm and indifferent that lovely little Flower took heart to ask, timidly:

"Do you love him yet, Jewel, or can you forget him now since everything has proved different from what you believed?"

"I despise him!" Jewel answered, vindictively; and Flower faltered, hopefully:

"Then you will not care if I become engaged to him, dear sister?"

"No. Why should I care? He is nothing to me! If you choose to take a heartless flirt for your husband, and run the risk of having him desert you for some other fair face, as he deserted me for you, why, you have my consent!" Jewel answered, proudly, and with such well-acted carelessness that Flower told herself that her lover was right. Jewel would soon forget her disappointment.

She hung around her sister several moments, but Jewel took no notice, and at length Flower asked, timidly:

"Where is mamma?"

"She has gone over to Mammy Maria's house," Jewel replied, composedly.

"Why did she go?"

"Sam came to tell her that his wife had had some sort of a stroke and was dying. She kept calling for mamma, saying that she had a secret to tell her before she died, so she went at once," Jewel answered, speaking as indifferently as if the dying woman had been a stranger, instead of the devoted nurse whose ample breast had pillowed her childish years with tenderer care than she had ever received from her half-demented mother.

[Pg 20]

But Flower began to sob piteously for her poor old mammy, begging Jewel to go with her to her bedside.

"I would not go for a kingdom! I'm afraid of a dying person. I never saw any one die in my life. And you can not go, either, for mamma said you must stay here with me!" Jewel answered, selfishly.


Flower stayed up until midnight waiting for her mother's return and for news of old Maria, but at last she succumbed to anxiety and weariness, and fell asleep on the sofa. The house-maid found her here presently and carried her off to bed.

The first thing she heard next morning was that old Maria had died at the turn of the night, and that her mother had come home soon after and retired to her room, giving orders that she was not to be disturbed in the morning.

Pretty Flower shed some bitter tears over the death of the dearly loved old nurse, then she began to long to comfort her mother in her sorrow.

"Poor dear, she must have loved Mammy Maria very much. I will just peep in and see if she is sleeping soundly," she thought, and went on tiptoe to her mother's door.

Mrs. Fielding was not in bed at all. She was sitting bolt upright in a chair, and when Flower came gliding in, her mother's aspect struck her with such fear and horror that she could not repress a cry of distress. For a moment it appeared to her that a stranger was sitting there in her mother's chair.

At a first glance Mrs. Fielding looked like an old woman. Her handsome face was drawn, haggard, and gray, and the long tresses of hair that fell round her shoulders had turned to snowy-white since yesterday. The only attribute[Pg 21] of youth remaining was in her large, brilliant dark eyes that burned with an unnatural and feverish glitter, betokening a terrible inward excitement.

Her lips were working nervously, and low, incoherent words issued from them like the ravings of a lunatic.

At that awe-struck cry from Flower's lips the terribly changed woman looked quickly up, and her face grew, if possible, more ghastly than before. She threw out both hands, crying hoarsely:

"Go out of my sight this moment!"

"But, mamma—" began the startled girl.

"Go, I say—and at once!" Mrs. Fielding cried out, in such harsh and threatening accents that poor Flower fled affrighted from the room.

In the hall she encountered Jewel, dressed for walking. She ran up to her eagerly, crying out:

"Oh, sister, our black mammy died last night, and poor mamma is almost crazed with grief. Her beautiful black hair has turned white as snow, and her face is like an old woman's. And," with a choking sob, "she drove me out of her room."

"I will go to her!" cried Jewel, turning toward her mother's room.

The next moment she was gazing with horrified eyes at the terrible physical wreck that had so startled poor Flower, who was now cowering at the door, afraid to enter.

"Go, leave me!" Mrs. Fielding cried, angrily, to Jewel.


"Go!" she reiterated, wildly; but Jewel stood her ground like a statue.

"I am not going until I know the meaning of this," she replied, firmly. "Why, mamma, your black hair has turned snowy-white in a few hours! You have become an old woman since last night!"

[Pg 22]

Mrs. Fielding caught up a loose tress of hair from her shoulder and stared at it with dilated eyes. A bitter cry broke from her lips.

"What does it matter if my hair has turned to snow? My heart changed to fire long since. Go, girl, leave me to myself!"

Jewel made no sign of obeying. She said, curiously:

"So our old nurse is dead, mamma?"

"Dead—yes! I wish she had died twenty years ago! I wish she had never been born!" Mrs. Fielding burst out, furiously.

"But I thought you were fond of her, mamma!" Jewel exclaimed, in momentary wonder. Then a sudden light broke over her mind. "Ah, I remember now! Sam said she had a secret to tell you. Was it that secret which turned you against Maria?"

Mrs. Fielding gave a startled look, and muttered:

"Sam is a fool! There was no secret!"

"And she had nothing to tell you, mamma?"

"Nothing of any consequence. The old woman was in her dotage, and since she joined the Methodist Church she had persuaded herself that she was the vilest of sinners, and that she must confess all the petty sins of her life to me, or she would go to perdition. But there was nothing—nothing."

"But you said just now that you wished she had never been born, and your hair is white all in a few hours. There must be some awful reason for that," persisted Jewel, her curiosity thoroughly aroused; but Mrs. Fielding turned upon her defiantly.

"There is nothing, I tell you, except that I have been maddened with neuralgia all night, and that is reason enough for the change in my hair. Now go, and remember, no more questions about Maria's foolish secrets. Let them be buried in her grave!"

[Pg 23]

Jewel saw that the excited woman could bear no more, and retreated, muttering as she went:

"Shall I send for the doctor?"

"No; oh, no! I only want rest. I shall be all right presently. Flower, why are you hanging about the door? Go at once, as I bid you just now!"

The door closed between her and her startled, wounded daughters, and she flung herself back in her chair, muttering, fiercely:

"Oh, how horrible it is! He was a fiend, no less; and all that he did before seems light in comparison to this! Ah, to think how I have been fooled and wronged—it is enough to turn a saint into a devil! There is only one comfort left. Let me find out the truth, and I will take vengeance on them in their graves by torturing her—I will; I swear it!"

Jewel had been on her way to a clairvoyant's when Flower met her in the hall. On leaving her mother's room she went on to seek the wonderful woman who was reputed to be able to read the past and the future. The beautiful girl had spent a sleepless night, brooding over what she chose to consider her wrongs, and she was determined to thwart Laurie Meredith's design of marrying her sister if she could possibly accomplish it. Thinking that some knowledge of future events might be of assistance in her aims, she decided to consult the clairvoyant.

She remained almost two hours at the humble home of the fortune-teller, and when she came out her face was flushed, and her eyes sparkled with a hopeful light.

The strange woman had said to her:

"Your mother has a carefully hidden secret. Find it out, and you shall triumph over your enemies."

[Pg 24]


True to his word, Laurie Meredith called at the home of Flower next day to ask her mother's consent to his betrothal to the lovely girl who had won his heart.

"My darling, what is it?" he cried, eagerly, as he drew her to his breast. "You have not repented your promise to be mine?"

"No, no," she whispered; and he soon learned the story of Maria's death, Mrs. Fielding's terrible excitement, and her refusal to see any one—even her daughters.

"It is very strange. One would not have supposed she would be so fond of her old servant as to turn gray with grief," he said, feeling that there was something mysterious about Mrs. Fielding's case, yet not dreaming of the terrible influence that mystery was fated to bear upon his own future.

Flower was so frightened at her mother's condition that she dared not go to her and tell her that Laurie Meredith wished to see her. She persuaded her lover to wait until her mother should be herself again.

"Or until poor Maria's funeral is over, at least. Then she will be calmer and more composed, Laurie, dear."

He promised most unwillingly. He was eager to have it all settled at once—to make sure that there would be no opposition offered by Flower's mother. A dim fear that Jewel would influence Mrs. Fielding to reject his suit had haunted him since last night, although not for worlds would he have hinted it to Flower, who was so sensitive about accepting his love, on account of her sister.

"You know, sweet one, I must go away soon," he said. "I had a letter from my father this morning, and he wishes me to go abroad to finish my education in a German university."

[Pg 25]

"Oh, Laurie—so far away!" she cried, and clung to him, pale and trembling, a mist of tears rising to her lovely blue eyes.

"Only for one little year, darling," he said, tenderly. "Then I shall return to claim my little bride; for my father is rich, and we need not wait as if I had to make my own way in the world."

"A year of absence!" Flower went on, with wild dismay, tears overflowing her beautiful cheeks.

She laid her golden head upon her lover's breast and sobbed bitterly, as if with a prescience of the cruel fate that overshadowed her fair young life.

He was quite as sorry to go as she was over his going, and when he saw her grief a wild idea came to him. Why not marry Flower before he went away, and take her with him to Germany?

He whispered his thought to her, and at first she was quite startled. Her beautiful face was crimson with blushes.

"Oh, I could not do that! Besides, mamma would never consent!" she exclaimed.

But the idea had taken strong hold of Laurie Meredith's fancy. He loved his blue-eyed little Flower so ardently that he could not bear the thought of leaving her while he went abroad. Something might happen. She might forget him, might be won from him by another. She was so young and lovely, who could tell what would happen?

He painted to her in low, sweet, eloquent murmurs, his love, his doubts and fears, while she protested her fidelity with girlish vehemence.

At last he dropped the subject, but only to renew it at their next meeting, and in the end he won her consent that if her mother were willing she would marry him before he went away.

The day after the colored Methodist church had buried old Maria, after a stirring funeral sermon, Laurie walked[Pg 26] home with the two girls from the little burying-ground, where they had witnessed the funeral obsequies of the departed, and he was touched by the honest grief of the twin sisters over the death of their good old nurse.

Jewel seemed to have forgotten the episode of two days ago, she was so pale and sad, and her manner toward Laurie Meredith was so calm and unembarrassed. Both Flower and her lover were reassured by it, and believed that she was sorry for her passionate outburst, and anxious to have them forget it.

Alas, neither one dreamed of the tornado of passion that was heaving the breast of the beautiful brunette.

When they reached the house, and Laurie Meredith asked eagerly to see Mrs. Fielding alone, she guessed instantly at his desire, and determined to hear all that passed between her mother and her sister's lover.


Mrs. Fielding had not attended the funeral of her old servant. She had kept her room several days, under the plea of illness, in order to lend color to the assertion that her hair had changed color from neuralgia.

But she had managed to moderate the angry impatience that had so wounded and startled her beautiful daughters, and now permitted them to spend a short while with her daily, placing a strong command over herself that she might endure their presence without raving over the storm of anger that filled her heart.

So when Flower came to her that day to ask her to give Laurie Meredith an interview she did not refuse, only sent the girl away, saying that she would be down in a few minutes.

When the door shut between her and Flower, she stood there startled and wild-eyed.

"What does it mean? Is he going to ask me for one[Pg 27] of my daughters? My daughters!—ah, I forgot!" she cried, wildly; and a swift determination came to her that neither of the girls should be permitted to marry until she found out something which was now almost driving her mad with doubt.

Laurie Meredith could not repress a start of surprise when she appeared before him, she was so ghastly pale, and her large, black eyes seemed to fairly burn in her pale face. The contrast, too, of her white hair with her black eyes, and her black silk dress was startling, since he had seen her but a few days ago, when her abundant tresses had in them but a few scattering threads of gray.

He hastened to place a chair for her, and to express his regrets over her illness.

She accepted his courtesy with a slight melancholy bow, and as she sunk into the chair, said huskily:

"Be brief, if you please, as I am still suffering with my head."

So instead of approaching the subject in a roundabout way, as he had intended, he was compelled to blurt it out abruptly, while shrinking under the cold stare of supercilious surprise she fixed on his flushed face.

She listened in unmoved silence to his statement that he loved Flower, that his love was returned, and that he wished to marry her in a very short time and take her abroad with him.

When he ended she replied with a curt and decided refusal that stung his pride most bitterly.

But for the sake of his love he tried to be very patient, and courteous. He told her that he was of good birth, that his father was rich and indulgent.

"I can give you letters. I do not even ask you to take my word," he insisted.

"If you were a prince and heir to a throne, my answer would be the same," she said, coldly.

He looked at her in wonder.

[Pg 28]

"I can not understand you, Mrs. Fielding. Do you think that Flower is too young to marry?"

"No. At least, that has nothing to do with my refusal. I will tell you frankly, Mr. Meredith, what I mean, and that will save further discussion. I shall never permit either of my daughters to marry."

He was so stunned by astonishment that he could not speak for a moment; then he gasped out:

"Your reasons?"

"They are my own, and I do not choose to disclose them!" she haughtily replied.

"But you may change your mind some time, Mrs. Fielding. In the meantime, will you permit Flower to correspond with me while I am away?" he asked, feeling sure that she would not always cling to this preposterous resolution.

"I shall never change my mind, Mr. Meredith, and I can not consent to your request. And I desire that you hold no further communication with my—with Flower," rising as if to signify that the interview was closed.

His eyes flashed proudly, and he asked, almost bitterly:

"You will permit me to see Flower once more at least, and bid her good-bye?"

She hesitated a moment, and then said, condescendingly:

"Yes, you may see her, but only this once. Do not call again, as you will not be admitted. Remember also that you must not intrude on my daughters in their walks, or I shall confine them to the house. I will now send Flower to you, and you may tell her what I have said."


"She does not mean it, she could not be so cruel. Never to see you again, not even to hear from you while you are away! Oh, Laurie, I can not bear it! I will go[Pg 29] down upon my knees to mamma and beg her to have mercy upon me, for I should die if I were parted from you!" Flower wept, impetuously.

"Darling!" he cried, passionately, and clasped her in his arms, raining fondest kisses on the fair face and golden hair.

Mrs. Fielding's strange looks and words had inspired him with the belief that she was crazed by some mysterious trouble, and he trembled at the thought of leaving his loving little Flower to her doubtful care. He was angry, too, at the scorn with which she had treated him, and a mad resolve was forming swiftly in his mind.

"Darling, you say that you will speak to her. Perhaps she will listen to you and consent to make us happy. But she has forbidden me to come here again, or to join you in your daily walks. So how am I to find out her decision?" he whispered, fearful lest his ordinary voice might be overheard, and it was well that he took that precaution, for Jewel was near at hand, listening with bated breath to catch every word.

Flower whispered softly back.

"Perhaps I could send you a note, Laurie, dear."

"It might be intercepted," he replied, as cautiously.

"Could you not manage to meet me for a few minutes, Flower, without any one knowing?"

She thought a moment, then agreed to his request, and an appointment was made to meet for a few minutes that evening in the garden. Flower was the most obedient of daughters, but feeling that her mother was entirely too severe in this case, her impetuous young spirit prompted her to rebellion.

When her lover had gone Flower sought her mother's room, and with all her powers of persuasion tried to move that hard heart. But she might just as well have cried to a rock. Mrs. Fielding remained harsh and unyielding, and at last ordered the unhappy girl from her presence.

[Pg 30]

Longing for sympathy in her trouble, Flower sought her twin sister and poured out the story with which Jewel was already acquainted through her eavesdropping propensities.

Jewel listened in cold silence, and her dark eyes beamed with triumph as she said at last:

"So you and Laurie Meredith did not gain anything by your treachery to me!"

Flower started and looked at Jewel. Her beautiful features were transformed by a malicious sneer.

"Oh, Jewel! did you do it? Did you prejudice mamma against Laurie, and make her refuse his request?" she exclaimed, piteously.

"No, I did not do that, Flower. So, you see, I am not so bad as you think me; for I am as much puzzled as you can be over mamma's strange declaration," Jewel said, truthfully, for she was indeed amazed, though overjoyed, at the firm stand her mother had taken.

She said to herself, with a sneer, that when she chose to marry she would do so, in spite of all the mothers in the world; but she believed that Flower was formed in a gentler mold than she was, and that she would not dare transgress her parent's command.

Perhaps she might not, if she had been left to herself; but she had a fervent, impassioned lover, who could not endure the thought of leaving his sweet little love behind him, in the care of a mother who had shown herself so heartless and unnatural; and when Flower met him that night, in the odorous stillness and darkness of the flower-garden, he proposed that she should elope with him.

"You could slip out some time and go to the next village with me, could you not?" he entreated. "Then we could be privately married, and you could go back to your mother's and stay with her until the time for us to steal away, my darling."

She was startled and frightened.

[Pg 31]

"Oh, Laurie! I could not—I am afraid!" sighed the poor child.

"Then we may as well say farewell forever," Laurie Meredith answered, sorrowfully.

"But you will come back in a year, Laurie; perhaps mamma will change her mind in that time," she whispered.

"Oh, yes, she may," he answered, bitterly. "But it is much more likely, Flower, that she will spirit you away from here, and cover up her tracks so cleverly that I shall never find you again. Do you realize that, my darling?"

A frightened sob told that she did, and in the fear of losing her lover forever Flower was at length persuaded to do as he wished.

They made all their plans for the marriage and elopement, and then Flower stole back to the house to spend a sleepless night thinking of the rebellious step she was about to take, and trembling at the thought of her mother's and sister's anger when they should find that she had fled with her handsome lover.


Absorbed in her efforts to find out her mother's secret, Jewel Fielding did not watch her twin sister as closely as she might otherwise have done, so Flower had many opportunities of meeting her lover in secret, while Jewel, who knew that her sister was usually docile and obedient, did not suspect that the lovely girl was secretly transgressing her mother's commands and meeting Laurie Meredith every night in the pretty grounds that surrounded the house.

But a baleful chance brought her to a knowledge of the truth.

She had tried by every hint and innuendo at her command[Pg 32] to worry her mother's secret out of her possession, but vainly. Mrs. Fielding could not be surprised into a betrayal of herself, and betrayed the bitterest anger and impatience whenever Jewel referred to the subject. Indeed, she had changed greatly toward her daughters. From loving them in the most devoted maternal fashion she seemed at times to dislike and almost hate them. She spent the greater part of her time alone in her room, refusing their company, and brooding bitterly over the revelation made to her by old Maria when on her death-bed.

So Jewel grew wrathful and impatient, and decided to resort to the clairvoyant again for assistance in her design of turning Laurie Meredith against her fair sister and winning him herself.

Not wishing to be seen entering the house of the fortune-teller, who bore a very questionable character, she waited until twilight, and slipped out by the back way, plainly dressed, and with her head shrouded in a thick veil.

Her way lay past the cabin of the deceased Maria, the small property having now fallen to the dissipated Sam, who was making "ducks and drakes" of it as fast as possible, having been on a prolonged spree ever since his old wife drew her last breath.

A dozen or more of thick and well-grown oak-trees formed a dense grove about the little place, and Jewel caught her breath with awe as she hurried past, dreading to see the shade of her departed nurse emerge from the gloom.

Hark, what was that?

Her mother's voice!

It issued from among the trees near the front door. It was speaking sharply, impatiently.

"Maria told me, Sam, that there were papers in a box in her chest to which I was entitled, and which referred solely to me and my daughters. You drunken rascal, you[Pg 33] have hidden them, and pretended that they were gone in order to extort money from me!"

Sam, who was now almost sober, was heard vehemently protesting his innocence.

He wished he might die if there were any papers or any box in Maria's old chest. The old creature had been in her dotage and imagined it. Mrs. Fielding ought not to pay any attention to what the crazy old woman had said.

"Come, Sam, name your price for the box of papers. I understand your game, and I am ready to pay well for them. Let us close up the bargain and be done with it. This makes three times I have come to you on the same subject, and I am getting tired of your shilly-shallying," Mrs. Fielding cried, sharply and angrily, while Jewel, crouching down close to the fence, listened to every word, hoping to gain a clew to her mother's mysterious secret.

But she was disappointed, for Mrs. Fielding was forced to go away at last unsatisfied.

Neither bribes, persuasions nor threats could get anything out of the stubborn widower.

It was true that Sam had the box of papers, but being exceedingly illiterate and suspicious regarding white folks, he imagined the papers to be deeds or something relating to the property he had inherited from Maria, and feared that if he gave them up he might lose all, for had not Maria become bitterly incensed at him for his trifling ways, and declared that she would not leave him a cent when she died?

So, being unable to read the papers himself, and afraid to let any one else see them, Sam took refuge in a lie, to which he clung with dogged persistence, while chuckling to himself over his cleverness in outwitting the white folk who wanted to cheat him out of his cabin and five-acre lot.

Mrs. Fielding's rapid footsteps died away in the dim distance, and Jewel rose from her crouching position cautiously,[Pg 34] and leaned her arms on the low fence, debating with herself whether she should approach Sam or not, and make an effort to learn the strange secret which had changed her mother so terribly.

A certain terror she had always had of the brutal, drunken scamp restrained the ardor of her desire. She would not trust herself with him near this lonely cabin, over which darkness was now settling, and which was some distance from any other human habitation. She would wait until to-morrow, and in the broad light of day try to cajole the important papers out of his keeping, for she felt sure that they related to her mother's secret.

She waited for Sam to go in, dreading lest he should hear her footsteps in the road and pursue her. Then, too, she had decided to return home instead of seeking out the clairvoyant, and she did not wish to start back yet lest she should overtake her mother.

So she concluded to wait a few moments, and that slight delay was fatal to the happiness of beautiful Flower.

A man's footsteps came along the road, and she held her breath in fear; but the darkness hid her like a thick veil, and he went on toward the grove of trees, losing himself in the dense shadow.

"Sam!" he called, cautiously, and she gave a violent start.

Laurie Meredith!

It was indeed Flower's lover, and as Sam replied to his call, he said:

"You delivered those two letters so cleverly to Miss Flower that I wish you to take her another in the same cautious manner—to wait for a reply, and bring it to me at once. Can you do so?"

The clink of gold in his hand made Sam reply eagerly in the affirmative.

[Pg 35]


Several months went by, and the fate that hung so heavily over Flower Fielding's beautiful head lowered more and more darkly, until life became a burden almost too heavy to be borne.

Laurie Meredith had gone away on the night before the one appointed for their elopement, and nothing had ever been heard of him since.

At first Flower had feared that something had happened to her lover, and in her desperation she had personally made inquiry at the hotel where he had boarded, and the clerk had told her that Mr. Meredith had settled his bill that evening and had his trunk sent down to the boat, saying that he was going home, as his father had written for him to come.

"I am very sorry," Flower said, falteringly. She saw the clerk's look of astonishment, and added: "Mr. Meredith lent me some books to read, and I would have liked to return them, but I did not know he was going away so soon. Have you any idea where I could send them?"

"No, I have not, miss; but I dare say Mr. Meredith desired you to keep them," returned the resplendent young clerk, with an admiring glance at the lovely young girl, which made her color hotly and immediately turn away.

"He will come back, or he will write soon and explain why he went away so suddenly. He may have been called away by a telegram. Perhaps some of his relatives are dead," she thought; and for several weeks she waited, expecting his return, or a letter at least.

Still she could not help feeling indignant at the way in which he had gone.

"He might have sent a note to let me know," she[Pg 36] thought; but as time passed on without any explanation, she resolved to write to him and ask him why he had treated her so unkindly.

He had given her a card one day with his Northern address upon it, and she had put it away carefully in her little rosewood writing-desk.

But when she went to look for it the card was gone. Something else was gone, too—a paper that Laurie had given her to keep—an important document.

She nearly fainted at first; but, rousing herself, she went to her trunk and looked carefully through that, then her bureau drawers, thinking that perhaps she had removed it to another place.

But neither the card nor the paper was to be found.

A wild suspicion came to her, and she rushed to Jewel's room.

"Have you taken anything out of my desk?" she asked, abruptly.

Jewel looked around in surprise.

"What a question! Of course I have not taken anything from your desk. Have you lost anything, or only your senses, Flower Fielding?"

Flower shrunk sensitively from her sister's sharp voice and angry glance, and answered in a low voice:

"I had a card with Laurie Meredith's name on it, and—a very important paper. I thought perhaps you had taken them away to tease me."

"No, I have not seen them. What was the paper about?" Jewel asked, gazing sharply into her sister's downcast face.

"I can not tell you, dear Jewel," was the sad reply. Then taking courage in her misery, the poor girl continued. "Do you remember where Laurie Meredith lived? And will you tell me, for I have forgotten?"

"You wish to write to him?" sneered Jewel, and Flower sighed:

[Pg 37]


"Has he written to you?"

"No; or at least I have never received a letter—but, Jewel, he must have written—he must surely have written—only I have never received the letter."

The piteous voice, the tearful blue eyes were very touching, but Jewel Fielding laughed harshly.

"Do you want to know what I think?" she cried. "You are a fool, Flower Fielding. The man never gave you another thought after he left here, and I am surprised at you for thinking of writing to him. And what would mamma say? You know she forbid you to have anything to say to Laurie Meredith."

"Yes, I know. Please do not tell her, Jewel, that I wished to write to him," Flower faltered, anxiously.

"If you will promise me not to write to him, Flower, I will not tell mamma."

"How can I write when I do not know where to address a letter? But I will not promise, for if I find out I shall write!" Flower cried, defiantly, and rushed away.


Jewel's beautiful dark face dilated with anger as she muttered to herself:

"The obstinate little vixen, how I hate her! I do not know why I do not tell mamma everything. It is only because I am afraid she would not be severe enough upon her. I will wait, wait, until I get more to go upon. That wretched Sam, where can he have gone, and why does he not return?"

For Sam had locked up the cabin on the morning after Laurie Meredith disappeared, and had gone away, no one knew where.

Perhaps he had gone to get rid of the importunities of[Pg 38] Mrs. Fielding, fearing lest in some weak moment she might cajole him out of the papers she desired so much.

However that may be, he had disappeared as entirely as if mother earth had opened and swallowed him, and both Mrs. Fielding and Jewel chafed bitterly over this misfortune.

Mrs. Fielding had gone to Sam's house several times in the dead of night and made eager search for the papers, but without success. But the known fact that Sam was gone away, connected with the fact that lights had been seen flaring through the cabin windows at night, speedily gave room to gossips about the neighborhood to declare that old Maria's ghost haunted the place.

When the report came to the ears of Mrs. Fielding she smiled bitterly, and Jewel, who had been watching her mother's face, immediately leaped to a conclusion. She thought:

"She has been there searching for those papers at night."

And she immediately determined that she would do the same thing, for she felt convinced that her mother had failed. Else why did she grow older and stranger with such awful rapidity that her daughters shuddered sometimes, fearing from her fits of rage alternating with fearful moodiness that she was going mad.

Poor Flower, in spite of her own sorrows, felt an added pang when she heard that the ghost of her old black nurse was walking about her old home. She shed some bitter tears, and ventured to express a timid fear lest Maria had had something on her mind before she died which made her spirit restless now.

Mrs. Fielding scowled furiously and snarled angrily.

"Maria was a wicked old woman! She had done enough evil to send her soul to torment, and I hope she is suffering there!"

Her flashing eyes and vindictive words almost frightened[Pg 39] her daughters, and Flower hurriedly retired to her own room to weep bitterly over those unkind words spoken of her dear old nurse.

Poor Flower, she was almost always weeping now! A terrible trouble had come to her which she feared the keen, cruel eyes of Jewel already suspected, although Mrs. Fielding, absorbed in her bitter, secret musings, and spending much of her time alone, noticed nothing.

The summer days were long since gone, and nearly six months had passed since Laurie Meredith had to all appearance deserted the trusting young girl whom he had secretly made his wife.

To her grief and terror she had found out months ago that a little child was coming to her, and she knew not where to fly to hide the shame and disgrace hanging over her golden head.

Oh, how she repented her folly and disobedience now, for she believed that Laurie was false to her, and that he had deliberately abandoned her after amusing himself with her all the golden summer days!

She would rather have died than confess the truth to her proud mother, now that the marriage-certificate was lost, for she feared that her story would not be believed, having an intuitive knowledge that Jewel would, through the weight of her influence, be against her—Jewel, who had taken no pains to conceal the fact that she had hated her blue-eyed sister ever since that rivalry for Laurie Meredith's love, in which Flower had been the winner.

So, as the cold days of winter deepened and darkened, and the winds blew chill and cold across the stormy sea, Flower began to stay in her room more and more, with her pale face glued against the window-pane, thinking, thinking, until she grew almost as wild-eyed as her mother, and wondering how much longer it would be before she would be compelled to fly to hide her disgrace.

[Pg 40]


The time came when poor, unhappy Flower felt that she could hide her condition no longer—not even from the absorbed woman who took so little pride in her beautiful daughters now.

For months she had been going about with a heavy shawl wrapped about her; but the pretense of chilliness could no longer avail her, for spring was in its second month now and early flowers were in bloom.

She laid her plans tearfully to flee from home and leave some of her things on the sea-shore, that her mother might think she had drowned herself for love. Better that than the bitter truth.

She had a little money—the savings of the little pin-money allowed her monthly by her mother. She put this in a little purse in her bosom, wrapped herself in a plain dark cloak and thick veil, and started out, one dark twilight hour, with a small hand-satchel on her arm, feeling quite sure of escaping unmolested, as her mother was in her own room, and Jewel had gone to the town close by to do a little shopping, as she said.

Alas! Jewel was coming up the front steps, and a low, malicious cry came from her lips as she sprung forward and caught Flower rudely by the arm.

"Where are you going?" she demanded, sharply.

"To—to—walk," Flower faltered, trying to draw herself away; but Jewel held her fast.

"It is a falsehood—you are running away!" she exclaimed, harshly.

"What does it matter if I am running away?" Flower cried, growing desperate in her despair. "No one cares for me now. Laurie has deserted me, mamma is changed and cold, and you have grown to hate me so bitterly that[Pg 41] I feared to come and tell you of my trouble and beg you to pity and help me. Let me go, Jewel, and throw myself into the sea and end it all."

Jewel's eyes took on a baleful look in the twilight; she muttered, hoarsely:

"If I were quite sure you would do that I'd let you go; but you wouldn't. You were running away to seek Laurie Meredith, you know you were!"

"I have a right to seek him if I choose!" Flower cried, roused to defiance by her sister's inhumanity. "He is my husband, and no one knows it better than you, Jewel, for I am quite sure that it was you who took the certificate from my desk. Oh, sister—dear sister!" she cried, growing suddenly wild and pathetic as she fell on her knees before the hard-hearted girl, "you have tortured me long enough, have you not? Even such jealous hate as yours must be satisfied by the torments I have endured in the past eight months. Oh, give me back my marriage-certificate! Let me give it to my mother; perhaps then she will forgive me, and I need not go away."

It was a thrilling picture, the lovely, wretched, forsaken girl kneeling in the gloom of the shadowy porch, her fair face upturned so pleadingly, the tresses of shining gold falling in disorder over the dark cloak as she looked up at that dark, proud face so transformed by jealousy and anger that it appeared almost satanic, for no pity lightened in the cruel, triumphant smile that parted the curved, red lips.

"Ha! ha! so you were married—a likely story!" she hissed, scornfully. "And the poor little bride has lost her marriage-certificate. That is unfortunate! But, come, let us tell mamma. Perhaps she will forgive you, anyhow."

With a wild, mocking laugh she dragged Flower to the parlor, which Mrs. Fielding had just entered, and holding her hapless sister tightly by the arm, exclaimed:

[Pg 42]

"Mamma, I caught Flower running away from home, and I brought her back."

Mrs. Fielding, startled out of her apathy at once, started to her feet, crying wonderingly:

"Running away! Flower running away! But why? What reason—"

Spite of Flower's frantic struggles Jewel tore the shrouding cloak from her sister's form.

"Reason! ha, ha! Look at her one moment and you will see her reason!" she laughed, in bitter triumph; and Mrs. Fielding, after one wild, searching glance, threw up her thin white hands and uttered a shriek of horror and anger combined.

Jewel sprung quickly to her mother's side.

"Do not take it so hard, mamma," she cried, eagerly, with blazing eyes. "Her disgrace can not touch you nor me! Oh, mamma, I have fathomed the secret that has tortured you so long! This is the girl that was foisted on you by your faithless husband in place of my dead twin sister! This Flower is Daisy Forrest's daughter!"


It was a tragic moment in the lives of the three who stood in that closed room looking into one another's faces with dilated eyes.

Flower had fallen on her knees and dropped her shamed face in her hands when Jewel tore away her cloak. But at those startling words, uttered so triumphantly by her twin sister, the little white hands fell helplessly at her sides, and the blue eyes stared in bewilderment at her mother.

Did she hear aright? Was she dreaming, or was that Jewel, her twin sister, plucking eagerly at her mother's sleeve and saying such strange things in that hard, triumphant voice.

[Pg 43]

"Don't take it so hard, mamma. Her disgrace can not touch you nor me. Ah, mamma, I have fathomed the secret that has tortured you so long. This is the girl that was foisted on you by your faithless husband in place of my dead twin sister. This is Daisy Forrest's daughter."

The room seemed to reel, the solid walls to go up and down in some strange fashion before Flower's dim eyes, but she tried to keep her senses and hear what her mother would say to this monstrous charge.

She saw the dark-eyed, white-haired woman reel backward and throw up her arms into the air, while a strange, unearthly cry burst from her lips—a cry that was half-fierce joy and half a strangling horror.

Jewel laughed triumphantly, and continued:

"I was determined to find out Maria's secret—the terrible secret that had changed you so, but you would not satisfy my curiosity. So I watched and waited, and at last I heard you talking to Sam about some papers that he had hidden from you. I have been seeking them ever since, and to-day I found them, read them, and so became acquainted with all my father's villainy, and the share taken in it by our old nurse."

Mrs. Fielding's eyes began to blaze with a wild, maniacal light. She held out her hands with a commanding gesture.

"The papers! Give them to me!" she cried, hoarsely.

Jewel shook her head.

"Wait," she said; "they are half burned anyhow. It seems as if my father intended to burn them and never let you know the deceit he had practiced on you. He had written the whole story out, from time to time, in his diary, and on the day he committed suicide he must have flung it into the fire, and old Maria pulled it out—"

"Yes, that is what she said. Give me the book,[Pg 44] Jewel!" Mrs. Fielding cried, in wild impatience; but again the clever, wicked girl refused.

"Not yet," she said; and suddenly turned on Flower, pointing a scornful finger at her wan, white face. "Get up; you look like a fool kneeling down there!" she exclaimed, roughly. "Sit down there in that chair; mamma is going to tell you who and what you are."

Flower dragged her trembling form up from the floor, and obeyed, looking toward Mrs. Fielding with wistful, frightened eyes.

"Now, mamma!" Jewel cried, eagerly; but the wretched woman uttered a low moan of distress and sunk like a log to the floor.

Instinctively Flower rose to go to her assistance, but Jewel pushed her back roughly into her chair.

"Do not you dare touch her!" she exclaimed, with such a lightning-like glance that Flower fell abashed into the chair.

Jewel knelt by her mother a minute; then rose, and said:

"It is nothing but a faint; she will come to herself presently. In the meantime, I will tell you the story of my mother's ruined life, for which your mother is to blame."

"My mother?" Flower echoed, bewilderedly.

"Yes," Jewel answered; and pointing at Mrs. Fielding, she said: "That woman is no relation of yours; but you are my half-sister—made so by the sin of our father."

A low, startled cry shrilled from Flower's white lips; but Jewel did not heed it—only went on, like a young fury:

"He was a villain, that Charley Fielding! Your mother, who was beautiful, but poor and of obscure birth, he betrayed; and my mother, who was rich, and his social equal, he married for money, still keeping up his intrigue[Pg 45] with the girl Daisy Forrest. So that you and I were born within twenty-four hours of each other."

Flower sat bolt upright, listening with burning eyes and a deathly pale face.

"She—your mother—died soon after your birth," Jewel went on, in a thick, excited voice. "My little twin sister died, too, in a few hours after she came into the world. Then old Maria, who lived until then with Daisy Forrest, allowed her master to persuade her into a cruel wrong. In short, my dead twin sister was buried upon Daisy Forrest's breast, and you, her loving child, were imposed upon my mother as her own—my mother, who hated your mother with the bitterest hate, and who, if she had dreamed of your identity, would have gone mad with rage."

There was a slight movement of the still figure on the floor. Mrs. Fielding was recovering.

Jewel went on:

"It was this secret that our old nurse revealed on her death-bed to my mother. That one of the children she claimed as her own was not hers, but she could not remember which child—you or I—was Daisy Forrest's. She told mamma that there were papers in her old chest that she thought would prove the truth. Those papers Sam hid, and to-day I searched the cabin and found them."

With a moan Mrs. Fielding lifted her head, but neither of the two girls heeded her, so absorbed were they—Flower in this terrible story, Jewel in gloating over her rival's dismay.

"I read the papers—the torn leaves from his diary that he flung into the fire and that Maria rescued," Jewel added, with blazing eyes. "It set at rest the doubt that has tormented my mother so long. It said that the child with his own blue eyes and golden hair was the child of Daisy Forrest, whose death drove him to suicide."

[Pg 46]


Mrs. Fielding staggered to her feet. She stood looking at Flower with a tortured face.

"Ah! even a mother's instinct has played me false in this. I thought, I hoped—" she cried out, passionately, then checked herself, and the agony of her face changed to wrath and fury.

Advancing toward the shrinking, terrified girl, she exclaimed, hoarsely, angrily:

"So I have wasted my love on you—you, my rival's child! She had his heart and you his face—my false husband's beautiful face! Are you not afraid that I will strike you dead for having deceived me so bitterly!"

"I, mamma, I deceive you? Ah, no, no, for I did not know!" Flower moaned, faintly, and shrinking in terror from the wild-eyed woman towering over her so fiercely, and who cried out, scornfully, now:

"No, that is true, you did not know what a heritage of shame was yours, what a cloud hung over your birth—and yet you proved yourself true to your inherited nature, to your mother's false, light instincts. You rushed into your sin, into shame—"

"Hush!" Flower cried, indignantly, her face dyed red with shame. She stood upright, and holding to the arms of the chair to steady her trembling form, said, eagerly: "I am Laurie Meredith's wife!"

"Ha! ha!" laughed Jewel, with scornful incredulity.

"Ha! ha!" echoed Mrs. Fielding, and there was a sound in her voice that was terrible to hear—the tones of incipient madness.

There was madness in her eyes, too, so horribly they glittered as she sprung toward Flower, and all in an instant buried her working white fingers in the girl's long tresses.

[Pg 47]

"Daisy Forrest, I shall kill you!" she screamed, with an awful, blood-curdling laugh; and dragging her victim down upon her knees, she tried to clasp her fingers around the fair white throat of her hated rival's child, and strangle her life out.

In another moment murder would have been done, but fortunately the monomaniac was thwarted in her deadly purpose, for her maddened shriek had brought the servants rushing to the scene, and Jewel, who had been silently gloating over the terrible deed, realized that her plans would be thwarted if this went further, and her crazed mother murdered poor Flower for her unconscious transgression.

So with her own white, jeweled hands she assisted the servants in their efforts to drag Mrs. Fielding away from her victim, succeeding only just in time, for Flower was discovered unconscious upon the floor, and some time elapsed before she even breathed again, so terrible had been the onslaught of her enemy.

But Mrs. Fielding was for the time a raving mad woman. She had to be bound and locked into a chamber alone while the man-servant ran all the way to town to bring a physician.

The remaining servants crowded around Jewel and begged to hear what had been the cause of the strange scene they had witnessed.

She explained satisfactorily to all, when she replied, angrily:

"My sister had gone astray and disgraced us, and when mamma found it out quite suddenly just now she went mad with horror, and would have slain her if your timely entrance had not prevented her rash deed."

Then she sent them all out, and sat down in the parlor to watch Flower, who still lay on the floor breathing faintly, but in such a weak and dazed condition that she realized nothing of what had happened or of what was going[Pg 48] on around her, still less of the baleful black eyes that watched her so malevolently, as Jewel said to herself:

"My mother is crazed, and the task of punishing this hated girl has fallen from her hands to mine. Let me think over all the most horrible things I have ever heard of, and decide what I can do to make her suffer the longest and worst in return for the torments I have borne since she took my lover from me. Oh, I hate her as bitterly as my mother hated her mother, and I swear I will have vengeance for my wrongs!"

And those beautiful, evilly splendid black eyes, as they floated over poor Flower's silent, unconscious form, looked baleful enough for their very glances to kill.


Presently the house-maid put her head in at the door, giving Jewel a violent start.

"Has the doctor come?" she asked.

"No, miss; but me and the cook thinks we had better carry Miss Flower upstairs and put her to bed," Tibbie replied, with a compassionate look at the silent form upon the floor.

Jewel frowned and considered a moment, then gave her assent to the plan.

Then she added:

"When you come down, you had better lock the door, as she might try to run away. In fact, she was about to do so this evening, but mamma prevented her. Although she has proved so bad, and disgraced the family, we intend to keep her at home and take care of her."

The kind-hearted Tibbie murmured an approval of this kindness, and with the cook's assistance, soon had Flower undressed and placed in bed. Then seeing that she was still in a dazed and half-unconscious condition, and either unable or disinclined to speak, they shaded the lamp and[Pg 49] withdrew, locking the door as ordered, and giving the key to the triumphant Jewel.

In the meantime the physician arrived and pronounced Mrs. Fielding temporarily insane.

"I will leave soothing medicine for her, and I will send two nurses from town, for she will have violent paroxysms, and it will take at least two people to restrain her from doing harm to herself or others," he said, and took leave, wondering at the coolness and self-command of this beautiful young girl, whose bright eyes were not dimmed by a tear, as he explained to her the terrible condition of her mother.

He would have been more surprised if he could have read the thoughts of that vindictive heart.

"So she is really insane!" she said to herself. "I am glad of that. There will be no one now to interfere with my plans for Flower. It is true she would have killed her if she had been let alone, but I do not want her to die yet. I want her to live and wither under the shame of her birth, and under the agony of her desertion by Laurie Meredith. I will torment her as much as I can until the child is born, then I hope she will die, and the brat, too, so that when Laurie Meredith comes back I can have the pleasure of telling him that they are dead, and showing him their graves."

Her passionate, jealous love for handsome Laurie Meredith was mixed with hate now, and she delighted in stabbing his heart as he had stabbed hers when he turned from her dark, dazzling charms to her sister's fair, angelic beauty.

Going to her room, she unlocked her trunk and took out some papers, over which she gloated with fierce delight.

"Although I long for power and gold, millions could not buy these from me, for my sweet revenge is better than gold! Ah, how cleverly I parted them! They outwitted me when they managed to steal away and get married,[Pg 50] but I've kept them apart ever since, I've made them pay dearly for their temerity!" she cried, exultantly.

The papers she held were the half-burned diary of Charley Fielding, the marriage-certificate and card she had stolen from Flower's desk, and the note she had intercepted on its way to Flower, together with several letters that Laurie Meredith had written to his wife since his departure, and which, through Jewel's clever plotting, she had failed to receive.

She pressed them in her hands, gloating over them with more delight than a ball-room belle would have done over the most priceless diamonds, for they represented the power she thirsted for so ardently—the power to torment those whom she hated.

She cared nothing for the fact, that in spite of all that had come and gone, poor, unhappy Flower was her half-sister still. She only knew that ever since the fatal hour when Laurie Meredith had made choice between them she had hated the blue-eyed, golden-haired beauty with a jealous fury that was as pitiless as death.

She thought she was a very clever girl, she had managed everything so adroitly. In the first place, she had bribed Sam to give her Flower's letter that night, and to take back a reply from herself. She had found out from that letter that Flower was Laurie Meredith's wife, that she was going away with him, and that a telegram had called him away one day sooner, causing him to write to Flower to come at once to him, as he must be far on his way north before the next night, which was set as the time for them to leave.

In that sudden emergency Jewel's keen wits served her well. She remembered that her handwriting was so similar to her sister's that few could tell them apart, so she decided upon a bold step. She wrote to Laurie Meredith in his wife's name, declaring that she had changed her mind about going with him, that she could not bring herself to[Pg 51] leave her mother and sister, but that she would be his true and faithful wife, and wait for him until he came back from Germany.

The young husband was most bitterly disappointed, but the telegram that summoned him to a parent's sick-bed admitted of no delay. He went without Flower, but he wrote to her very soon from his Northern home, entreating her to reconsider her determination and join him there.

Jewel had a fervent admirer in the person of the post-office clerk.

By cleverly playing on his vanity she induced him to let her have Flower's letters, and each one she answered briefly, by denying Laurie Meredith's wish and indulging in weak regrets over the haste with which she had wedded him, lamenting lest her mother should find out her folly and withhold forgiveness.

So it was that not one of those loving letters, for which Flower would have given her very life, ever reached her, and Jewel sat here gloating over their possession, while in the very next room poor little Flower lay upon her sleepless bed, an image of despair, wondering if it could be true all that Jewel had told her—that she was a child of shame, her mother a bad, wicked woman, and her father a sinful wretch who had broken the hearts of both her mother and Jewel's.


If any one had told Jewel Fielding that she had the heart of a murderess, she would have indignantly denied the accusation—she would have been frightened and angry at the very idea—yet it was nothing less than a slow murder that she began the next day.

In the first place, she gave out to the servants that Flower was so ashamed and remorseful over her sin that she wished to keep her own room all the time, and desired[Pg 52] to see no human face save that of her sister; so, lest any one should enter, she meant to keep her door locked all the while. Jewel declared that she desired to humor her sister's whim, and would carry her meals upstairs daily with her own hands.

Having thus paved the way to carrying the key of Flower's room in her pocket, and to starving her without being found out, the vindictive girl went into Flower's room, and surprised her at the task of plaiting a rope out of her bed-clothes by which to escape through her window, which was in the second story.

Jewel produced from under her dainty apron a hammer and some nails, with which she proceeded to nail down the window-sashes securely.

At first Flower tried to prevent her by holding back her arm; but Jewel shook her loose with a fierce strength, and, turning, menaced the white temple with the lifted hammer.

"Dare to hold back my arm again, and I will kill you!" she hissed, with vindictive rage, while the murderous fire that flashed from her black eyes appalled Flower's very soul.

With a moan she fell upon the bed, and lay watching Jewel until she had finished securing the windows.

Then she rose up in bed, and brushing back the wealth of sunny curls from her aching brow, began to plead pathetically for her freedom.

"I wish to go away, and you have no right to forbid me," she said at last, bitterly, resenting the scorn of the other.

Jewel laughed mockingly.

"No right!" she exclaimed. "Ha! ha! Then I will take the right! You stole Laurie Meredith from me, and now you are going to be punished for your treachery."

"Punished! As if I had not already suffered enough!" the wretched girl cried, in pathetic despair.

[Pg 53]

"You are going to suffer more yet," hissed Jewel, with blazing eyes. "I am going to keep you locked up here, and allow you nothing but bread and water, and not enough of that. You shall wish yourself dead every day, but there will be just enough bread to keep you alive in misery—no more!"

Flower's beautiful face turned ghastly, her blue eyes stared at the cruel girl with a dazed, horrified look.

"Oh, Jewel, I wish I were dead already! I have nothing left to live for now!" she exclaimed. "But, still, would it not be too horrible to starve me now? It—it would be a double murder, for—for—oh, Jewel, did you not forget the child?"

The piteous pleading for her unborn child only angered Jewel the more, and with scornful, cutting phrases she taunted her with her disgrace and misery, and reiterated her intention of torturing her in return for what she called her treachery.

When she left the room Flower believed that her fate was sealed. Jewel had revealed her real self so plainly that she could hope for no mercy and no pity.

She wept bitterly for the little unborn child, that through Jewel's cruelty would have to die. She had hoped somehow that she would find Laurie before it was born, and that all would yet be well. For surely, surely, he had not deserted her. It was only that some unfathomable treachery on Jewel's part had kept them asunder. She did not want to believe him false.

"But I must die, all the same, and he will never know how I suffered through my love for him," she sighed, day after day, as her strength waned under the scanty diet of dry bread and stale water served to her daily by Jewel, with cruel taunts and scornful looks for sauce.

She grew weaker and weaker, great hollows came into her pale cheeks, her blue eyes looked larger than ever with the purple shadows beneath them, while the one longing[Pg 54] cry of her heart was always for freedom, freedom, from this dreadful house, through whose whole extent the maniacal shrieks of the mad Mrs. Fielding echoed night and day.

After weeks of this terrible life there came a day when the horror-haunted house became unnaturally still and quiet. Mrs. Fielding had been removed to an insane asylum, and her wild cries no longer echoed on the shuddering air.

Jewel knew that at the next meeting of the county court a guardian must be appointed for herself and her sister until her mother's recovery, and she resolved to finish her awful work before any prying, perhaps suspicious stranger should come into the house.

More than eight months had elapsed since Laurie Meredith had gone away, and Jewel knew that the time of Flower's trouble was near at hand.

She had been holding back one terrible thing for a coup d'état at the last, and she decided now that the fitting moment had arrived in which to startle Flower into a slightly premature illness and thus make sure of her death at once.

It was a fiend's plan, a fiend's wish, but Jewel never faltered in her deadly purpose. Her evil passions drove her on to the commission of a deed that, call it by what specious name she chose in her own mind, would be no less than murder.

So she went into Flower's room one night carrying a lighted lamp in one hand and a newspaper in the other.

In this long, weary month she had never permitted Flower the use of a lamp at night, thinking that the long, interminable hours of darkness would add to her torture, as indeed they had done most effectually.

So the poor girl started up from her bed in alarm, dazed by the brilliant light of the lamp, and filled[Pg 55] with a wild hope that Jewel was about to relent toward her, she exclaimed, wildly:

"Ah, sister, you bring me a light. You begin to relent. Blessings on you, dear Jewel! Now, give me food, too, I am so hungry, so thirsty, and the air of this closed room stifles me! Open the window and let the sweet air of spring come in! Then bring me food, food, for I am starving."

Jewel set down the lamp and took from her pocket a beautiful, red-cheeked apple.

"I will give you just one bite of this if you will return it to me when you have taken it," she said, with a mocking laugh. And Flower promised; but when she had taken as large a bite as her pearly teeth could compass, her horrible hunger and thirst overcame her, and she clung wildly to the luscious fruit, begging, pleading for it, until Jewel forced it from her after a short, sharp struggle, and restored it to her pocket.

"You are not half as hungry and thirsty for that delicious fruit as I was hungry and thirsty for Laurie Meredith's love!" she said, bitterly. "I loved him with my whole heart, yet you took him from me, and now you shall suffer for it! Ah, no, Madame Flower, I have not relented! I am not going to give you any food, nor water, nor fresh air; and if I brought a light it was only that I might gloat over your agony when you read something that I came upon accidentally this evening, and which will add the last drop of bitterness to the overflowing cup of your misery."

She laughed exultantly, and Flower shrunk back, with her hand before her eyes to shut out the blaze of those angry eyes that burned upon her face.

"I—I had better not read it, then. I have borne all that I can bear already," she moaned, faintly.

Jewel struck the wasted little white hand rudely away from before Flower's eyes, and said, sharply:

[Pg 56]

"I thought you would be glad to read this paragraph about Laurie Meredith. It explains his seeming desertion and falsity to you."

At these words a wild, strangling gasp came from Flower's lips, and she caught eagerly at the paper, while Jewel, with a plump, jeweled finger, pointed out a paragraph marked heavily with black ink.

Laurie Meredith's own hand had marked it, and he had sent the paper to Flower many months ago, little dreaming what a terrible purpose it was destined to serve.

It was a Boston newspaper, and the paragraph was simply this:

"As we go to press we have just heard that our esteemed townsman, Laurie Meredith, died very suddenly last night."


Jewel watched her victim eagerly, breathlessly.

She saw the hue of death overspread the lovely, wasted face, the blue eyes, already dim through the tears that had washed their brightness away, dilate in wonder and horror. Oh, how sweet it was to see that look of mortal agony on the face that Laurie Meredith had loved to kiss! Jewel said to herself that in the months since he went away, she had made her successful rival shed a thousand tears for each and every kiss he had pressed on those lovely, rosebud lips.

But her thirst for revenge was not sated yet. There was yet another sweet draught waiting for her lips in the near future.

All this time she had been keeping up the correspondence with Laurie Meredith, in order to prevent him from coming back South to see Flower. But she said to herself that when the girl was dead she would cease writing. He would become uneasy then, and the chances were that he[Pg 57] would soon come back. Then she, the girl he had slighted, she would show him his wife's grave.

What sweetness there was in this thought for Jewel! She gloated over it often, and thought that surely no girl had ever had a more perfect revenge for slighted love than she had taken.

Her thoughts went further yet sometimes.

She had taken the greatest pains to hide her enmity to her sister. There was no one who could say she had been unkind to Flower; Laurie Meredith should never know otherwise, and from her reputed tenderness to his dead wife, and her sweet sympathy with himself, should spring up another flower of love that should bloom for her alone. Some day she would be his wife, and the secret of all she had done to part him from Flower should be buried forever in the poor girl's grave.

She could see nothing to mar the success of her far-reaching plans. With Flower dead, and her mother the inmate of an insane asylum, she would be her own mistress, with quite a handsome fortune at her command, and she intended to make capital of her liberty and her position.

True, the physician had said that her mother's reason would most probably return within a few months, but Jewel had made up her mind that the foolish, half-mad creature should never leave the asylum again. For so young a girl she was wonderfully clever and headstrong, and she was fully determined to have her own way.

With all these thoughts in her mind she stood watching Flower reading those few brief lines, and she was not surprised when with one low cry of anguish the unhappy girl let the paper slip from her nerveless hands, and fell back in a heavy swoon upon the pillow.

Jewel laughed as she looked at the still, white face, and moved toward the door.

"I will walk up and down the hall and get some fresh[Pg 58] air while she recovers at her leisure," she said, aloud; and she stepped outside and went to the hall window, which was open, letting in a flood of balmy air, sweet with the heavy scent of the early blooming lilacs.

She leaned her elbows on the window-ledge and looked out at the beautiful tides of the sea rolling into the shore with a hollow murmur, while the moon's bright rays made silver paths across the restless waves. But Jewel shivered, and exclaimed:

"But for him I should be dead, drowned in that cruel sea! He saved my life, and I dedicated it to him. I made him the king of my heart! Oh, why did she come between us? If I am wicked it is all her fault. She drove me mad."

Absorbed in her angry self-excuses, it was almost half an hour before she returned to the room she had left, and then she found Flower lying just as she had left her, cold and apparently rigid, with no movement at her heart.

Jewel could not repress a low cry of horror. She was only a girl, and wicked as she was, she was frightened when she saw that life had fled from the body of her she had so cruelly tortured.

She felt Flower's hands and they were deadly cold; she shouted in her ear and she did not respond. Then running into her own room, she brought out a pitcher of fresh water, which she poured over Flower's head and face in a perfect deluge.

But not a sigh, not the movement of an eyelash rewarded her efforts at resuscitation. With something like awe she began to realize that her work was completed sooner than she had expected. Flower was already dead.

She flung wide the door and began to scream loudly for the servants.

Her voice rang wildly down the long halls and dim stairways, returning to her in ghostly echoes; but no one answered[Pg 59] to her wild calls. The servants had stolen away to a merry-making in the town.

Something of the truth began to dawn upon her mind when she had shouted herself hoarse.

"They are either stolen away or fast asleep," she muttered, and rushed down-stairs to their quarters in the yard.

The cottage door was locked, and Jewel pounded lustily without receiving any reply. Looking at the windows, she saw that they were closed and dark.

"The wretches! how dared they go away and leave me with that dead girl?" she muttered, ignoring the fact that Flower had been alive a little while ago. The deep, hoarse baying of the watch-dog, aroused in his distant kennel by the noise she had made, caused her to start and crouch down shivering on the back door-step.

"I shall stay here till they come. I—I—can not watch by that dead girl alone!" she muttered, with a superstitious horror of death.

But in the meantime the copious shower of water she had poured over Flower had taken effect.

While Jewel was battering at the door of the servants' quarters Flower had revived and found the door wide open, and such a draught of sweet, pure air rushing into the room that it seemed to endow her with new life.

She dragged herself wearily into the hall and heard Jewel's angry voice berating the servants down in the yard. She instantly suspected the true state of the case.

"She thinks I am dead, and wishes to arouse the servants. I must try to escape before she returns," she moaned, faintly, and made her way down-stairs like a spirit, slipped the bolt of the front door, and let herself out, friendless and homeless, into the dark.

[Pg 60]


Nothing but her terrible fear of being recaptured and imprisoned by her relentless foe could have given poor Flower the strength to get away from the house that, after being her home so long, had become a place "by horror haunted."

But with a brave heart, although her footsteps faltered often, she set off from the spot, traveling as fast as her reduced strength would permit, and taking the high-road that led away from the town and toward the deserted cabin of the dead nurse.

It was instinct rather than intention that led her to the place; for she had no thought of stopping there, but only of putting miles of space between herself and Jewel, of whom she had now become horribly afraid.

But, poor girl, starved as she had been, and in her delicate condition of health, she had not strength enough to carry her far. Besides, she had been tormented for several days by peculiar pains, which now became so acute as to materially interfere with her progress.

"I can not go any further. I must lie down here in the road and die," she moaned, lifting her tear-wet eyes to the moonlit sky, as if beseeching the pitying Lord to have mercy on His suffering child.

In a minute more the white-paled fence and dark grove of trees surrounding the cabin came into view.

The sight recalled old Maria to Flower's mind, and she sighed plaintively:

"Ah, mammy, dear, I wish you were alive yet; then I should have at least one friend in my misery."

She stopped and leaned on the old gate. All was dark and silent, and the long branches of the trees threw fantastic shadows on the ground that at any other time would[Pg 61] have awed the sensitive girl; but she was oblivious now to everything but her pain, her weariness, and her cruel hunger and thirst.

"There is no one here. I will go into the house and lie down on the pretty white company-bed that mammy always kept so nice, and I will die there. Jewel will never think of looking for me here. She knew that I was afraid of ghosts," she murmured, as she unlatched the gate and dragged herself up the graveled walk to the door.

She pulled the latch and found that it was not locked. There was nothing to prevent her entering, so she groped her way in, and, shivering and moaning, crossed the floor to the tiny room which Maria had always kept sacred to hospitality. She fell heavily across the little white bed, and lay there thinking desolately that death could not be far away.

Ah, how grateful the clean, soft feather bed felt to Flower's weary, aching limbs! She thought that if only those keen, sickening pains would cease she could fall asleep and die thus, perhaps, in a pleasant stupor; but the agony only grew greater, and a sudden realization of truth forced a groan of fear from her lips.

Her travail was coming upon her, and the girl fainted outright, and lay for some moments wrapped in a blissful unconsciousness.

The night grew older, the moon rode high in the heavens, and the stillness of the midnight hour was broken by the shrill whistle of a steamer that touched at the wharf a mile below, remained only long enough to throw out a plank and permit the landing of two passengers and their baggage, then went on its way majestically.

A newly married widower was bringing home a bride, no less a personage than Sam, the good-looking mulatto ne'er-do-well. As he had married from mercenary motives[Pg 62] the first time, his second match was for love alone, and Maria's successor was a colored lady of as bright a type as himself, young and sprightly, and good-looking.

She rejoiced in the patronymic of Pocahontas, which was shortened by general consent of herself and friends to "Poky."

Sam made arrangements for getting his bride's baggage brought up in the morning, and tucking Poky's hand under his arm, set forth to tramp the distance that lay between the steamboat wharf and the humble cabin.

The girl who had lain in the darkness all night, racked by cruel pains, and praying for death, gave a quick start and held her breath in fear.

She heard loud voices and footsteps in the outer room, and foreboded that Jewel had tracked her here.

"Oh, Heaven! and I had thought to die alone and in peace, undisturbed by her jealous, mocking eyes!" she sighed to herself, despairingly.

She flung herself desperately out of the bed down upon the floor, crawled under the white valance that hung all around the old-fashioned bed, and lay there holding her breath in terror, hoping that she would not be discovered. One hope alone was left her—to die before those angry eyes of her jealous half-sister shone upon her again.

In the meantime Sam had lighted a candle, and his wife had helped herself to a chair, while she gazed around with a critical eye at the appointments of the room.

It was well furnished indeed, for old Maria had been as thrifty as Sam was shiftless, and Poky said presently that "arter she had tidied up ter-morror it would be a very decent sort of a place."

"So I told yer, my lub," replied Sam, affectionately, and he gave the brown beauty an energetic kiss. Then he said, persuasively, "Poky, 'sposen yer light a fire and let us have a cup of coffee before we go to bed."

[Pg 63]

Poky assented good-naturedly, and very soon a fire was crackling in the little kitchen stove, and the odor of coffee and broiling ham pervaded the air. Then Poky took from the capacious basket she had brought on her arm a loaf of bread and a roll of butter, and proceeded to set the little table for her lord's repast.

It was just as she had finished her thrifty preparations, and invited Sam to "draw up his cheer," that he gave a startled little cry, and looked over his shoulder apprehensively:



"What's de matter, nigger, lookin' over yo' shoulder like you see sumfin'? Don't yer go 'magining now dat ole 'oman is ha'ntin' de house!"

He came closer to his wife and whispered, tremulously:

"Hush, honey; Maria did say as how if de dead could come back she would, and—and—I heard somefin' sartain—oh, Lord!"

He gave a jump, and so did Poky. Both had heard something this time—the low wails of a new-born infant proceeding from the next room.

They held their breath for a minute, then Poky, who was rather strong-minded, said, contemptuously:


"Do—do—you think so, Poky?" her better half inquired, dropping his trembling frame into a chair, and more than half convinced that Maria was haunting him already.

"Sartain!" said Poky, with a sniff. "Lors, Sam, what a coward you be! It's only some cats as is got in thrue a open window."

She seized a poker and the candle and disappeared into the "company room," leaving Sam cowering in the dark, and trembling lest the shade of his departed Maria should[Pg 64] pounce upon him at any minute and shake him for having presumed to give her a successor.

Then a succession of low wails echoed on the air again, and Sam shook himself together with returning courage.

"'Twas cats after all! I thought so!" he ejaculated, with a feeble chuckle. "And, Lordy, but Poky's a-makin' 'em git!"

Apparently it took her some time to disperse the feline intruders, for fifteen minutes elapsed, and she did not return. Then he attempted to follow her and got the door slammed in his face with the curt yet good-naturedly delivered sentence:

"You stay whar you is, nigger!"

He slunk back to his chair, and presently she came out with an important face, and lighting another candle, placed it on the table, and told him to eat his supper.

"But, Poky—"

"Yes, it's all right, Sam. 'Twasn't no cats, nor no ghosts, only a beautiful young gal, Sam, runned away from her friends to-night and hid herself here for her chile to be borned, which it was dat baby we heerd a-caterwauling."

"Who is she, Poky?" amazedly.

"She said you'd know—some sort o' name like Flower o' de fiel', or somethin'. But I mus' go back and tend to her and dat baby. Lucky for her we cum here dis night. Eat your supper without me, Sam, 'cause I'se needed bad in dere."

She disappeared again, and Sam sat there conscience-stricken, wondering if his sin that night months ago had brought this thing to pass.


He had known that Laurie Meredith and Flower Fielding were lovers, and he had guessed that Jewel was jealous,[Pg 65] when she bribed him so heavily to give her that important letter and to take back the answer she sent. In his eagerness to possess himself of her costly bribe he had not counted the cost of his treachery to the lovers. Now he began to experience a sneaking consciousness that his guilt had somehow helped to pave the way to that trouble in yonder.

He wondered what had become of Laurie Meredith, that his pretty sweetheart had been forced to seek refuge in a deserted negro cabin in her sore distress and trouble, and so wondering, he fell asleep in his chair, and remained there until morning, snoring profoundly, and oblivious to everything.

When he opened his eyes again the broad sunlight of new day was shining in through the open door, and the song of birds was in the air.

Poky's trunk had come up, and she was down on her knees unpacking it, and softly humming a revival song.

Sam's neck, which had been hanging over on his breast, felt as if it was half broken. He straightened up and gaped so loudly that his wife turned around and began to rate him soundly for sleeping in his chair all night, declaring that she had nearly shaken him to pieces without being able to rouse him, so had retired, leaving him to the enjoyment of his arm-chair.

Sam did not doubt the assertion, knowing himself to be a very heavy sleeper. He sat still a little while collecting his wits, and then said:

"Yes, I remember it all now, Poky. I fell to sleep while you was in de comp'ny with Miss Flower an' de baby."

"Wha-at?" Poky exclaimed, and he repeated his words, only to be laughed at by his wife, who declared that he must have been dreaming, as she did not know what he meant in the least.

[Pg 66]

In vain did Sam go over the startling events of last night to his laughing wife. She admitted the cats in the company room, but the rest of the story she laughed to scorn.

"You fell asleep, you foolish nigger, while I was scatterin' dem tom-cats off dat shed, and you dreamed all de rest," she said; and to satisfy his doubts she made him go into the spare room, which he found neat and tidy, as in Maria's time, the white bed smooth and unrumpled, the two cane-seated chairs standing rigidly against the wall, the small looking-glass on the white-draped toilet-table reflecting his crest-fallen face only, as Poky, standing at the open door, said, jibingly:

"I hope you'se satisfied now! You don't see any babies nor flowers in dere, does you?"

The puzzled dreamer shuffled out with rather a sheepish air, and while he did justice to his morning repast, had to endure a running fire of commentaries on his dream that drove him at last quite out of the house, to escape being the butt of Poky's merry malice.

Presently, while he was sulkily smoking his pipe in the front yard, she came out to him in her check apron, with her sleeves rolled up, and carrying the broom in her brown, shapely hand. With rather a sober air, she said:

"I declare, Sam, I was so tickled at yer foolish dream that I forgot to tell yer what the man said as brought my trunk this mornin'."

"Well?" inquired her sulky spouse.

"Why, it 'pears like a young lady 'bout dis neighborhood drowndid herself las' night."

"Sho!" exclaimed Sam, wonderingly.

"Yes, siree—drowndid herself on account of trubble an' sickness. What made it all de worse was dat she was de beautifulest gal in de country, and had a twin sister ekally beautiful, and dat pore thing is 'most crazy 'bout[Pg 67] it all," explained Poky, while Sam eagerly demanded names.

"Sho! I has such a pore mem'ry fer names," Poky began, reflectively; then she stuttered: "Ju—Ju—Jule—"

"Jewel and Flower!" shouted Sam, and her eyes beamed with delight.

"Dat's dem! and 'twas de las' one—dat Flower—dat got up outen her sick-bed and runned away las' night, and Jule she said shorely she done drowndid herself, 'cause how she done said she would do it de first chance, and she was so weak she couldn't a' walked no furder than down to de sea-shore."

"Golly! I mus' go up to de big house and hear 'bout it," Sam exclaimed, darting toward the gate, while Poky called after him, jibingly:

"Sam, don't go and tell anybody 'bout yer foolish dreams las' night."


In the golden days of June, more than three months after the occurrences of our last chapter, Laurie Meredith returned to the scene of his love affair, and made his way to the large stone house where the Fieldings had lived last summer.

He had not had a letter from Flower for the last two months, and this had brought him to seek her earlier than he otherwise would have done, for while he had received her letters he had known that she was well and contented, but her silence filled him with such fear and discontent that he left Germany, determined to have it out with the Fieldings and take his bride away.

No rumor of the changes that had taken place since his departure had reached him. He knew not that Mrs. Fielding was the inmate of a lunatic asylum, and Flower[Pg 68] reported dead. His heart was full of eager joy as he ran up the steps of the old stone house, expecting in a very short time to clasp Flower to his yearning heart, and tell her that she must leave her mother and sister and come with him now, for he could never be parted from her again.

The parlor window was open, and the notes of the piano, accompanied by a sweet voice, became audible as he stepped upon the porch. He stopped a minute to hear, thinking that the musical voice belonged to Flower. Then he shivered. The voice and the words were so sad that they struck a chill to his heart.

It was only an old song, heard many a time before, but its plaintive sadness had never struck him as forcibly as now, when it came sighing through the lace curtains, and mingling with the summer breezes:

"Weary of living, so weary,
Longing to lie down and die,
To find for the sad heart and dreary
The end of the pilgrimage nigh;
Weary, so weary of wishing
For a form that has gone from my sight,
For a voice that is hushed to me ever,
For eyes that to me were so bright!
"Weary, so weary of waiting,
Waiting for sympathy sweet,
For something to love and to love me,
The pleasures that are not so fleet;
For a hand to be held on my forehead,
A glimpse of the golden-brown hair,
For a step that to me was sweet music,
And a brow that was noble and fair!'"

Laurie Meredith's heart thrilled in sympathy with the singer. It was Flower, of course. She was thinking of him, the sweet darling, he knew. Oh, how glad she would be to see him again!

[Pg 69]

He opened the front door without ceremony, and entered the hall, reckless of the risk he ran of meeting Mrs. Fielding and encountering her angry reproaches. He would stop for nothing now, so anxious was he to clasp that sweet singer to his heart, and tell her she should never be "weary of waiting" again, never be parted from him more.

But the wide hall was silent and deserted. Very softly he opened the parlor door and stepped across the threshold. Then he saw that the girl at the piano was the only occupant of the room.

She turned around quickly, and he saw dark eyes instead of blue ones, dark locks instead of golden curls. Jewel sprung up with a thrilling cry:

"At last!"

There was unmistakable love and joy in her face and voice. She made no effort to conceal her glad surprise. Had she not been waiting for this hour for months, had she not dressed for him daily, determined that whenever he came he should find her at her best? And now, conscious of her pretty, rose-tinted mull, that was so becoming to her dusky beauty, she rejoiced that her efforts were crowned with success. Her beauty could not fail to make a strong impression.

But he started back in surprise and disappointment, and forgetting even the conventional greeting he owed her, exclaimed, eagerly:

"Where is Flower?"

"Flower?" cried Jewel, sharply, with a clouded brow. "Oh, Mr. Meredith, did you not know? Poor Flower is dead!"


Jewel had not meant to break the truth so suddenly to Laurie Meredith, but his cruel indifference to herself, and[Pg 70] his anxiety over Flower, piqued her into retorting upon him so suddenly. She had her revenge, for, after gazing at her blankly for one agonized moment, the young man threw up his arms, staggered wildly, then fell like a log at her feet.

The terrible revulsion of feeling from love, hope, and expectancy to despair had almost slain him, and he lay for several minutes quite unconscious, while Jewel knelt beside him in an agony of fear.

"He is dead, and all my schemes have been in vain," she thought, wildly; and in her despair she kissed the cold, white face, and laid her dark head on the pulseless breast of the man she loved so wildly, and wished that she too were dead and cold.

Presently she lifted her head and laid her cheek against his, whispering, reproachfully:

"Oh, my love, if you had given your heart to me instead of her, all this would not have happened. We should have been as happy as the day is long."

A step in the hall startled her, and she sprung up just as the door opened, and her companion, an elderly widow lady, entered the parlor.

"Oh, Mrs. Wellings!" exclaimed Jewel, wildly, and the lady screamed as she saw the apparently dead man on the floor.

As soon as she could speak she began to question Jewel volubly, and the girl explained that he was a friend of hers, and had dropped like that on entering the room.

A physician was hastily summoned, and it was found that Laurie Meredith was not dead. He soon revived, but he had received such a shock that weeks of illness followed, and Jewel declared that he must not be moved from the house.

There was plenty of room. The doctor could send an experienced nurse, she said, and she and Mrs. Wellings would do all they could.

[Pg 71]

So it followed, that when Laurie Meredith first opened his eyes, after weeks of delirium, with a conscious gaze they fell on Jewel sitting by his bed, looking exquisitely charming in a long white tea-gown with crimson silk facings, and some crimson rosebuds in her braided hair.

He looked at her bewilderedly at first, then a memory of the past began to dawn on him, and he asked her if he had been sick.

"Yes, with brain-fever, for nearly three weeks, but you are better now," Jewel replied, in a sweet, gentle voice that thrilled him in spite of himself, for it sounded something like Flower's as it had whispered to him of her love last summer. He closed his eyes a few moments, and when he opened them again he remembered all.

"Oh, Heaven! I remember all now," he moaned, "You told me that my darling was dead."

"Yes," she said, in a soft, sweet tone, "Flower is dead—poor, unfortunate girl—but I would not have broken it to you so abruptly if I had known that you would take it so hard."

"You knew I loved her, Jewel," he said, looking keenly into the beautiful, sparkling face.

"Yes, once," she replied; "but I thought it had all blown over long ago. Mamma refused her consent, and then you went away. I thought you had forgotten it, as Flower did very soon."

"No, no, she did not forget, Jewel!" he groaned; then paused, remembering that Jewel could not be expected to know anything of that secret marriage and their correspondence. Presently he said, mournfully:

"She is dead—beautiful Flower is dead! How long ago was it, Jewel?"

She named the day when Flower had run away, and added:

"She committed suicide. She drowned herself in the sea."

[Pg 72]

She feared he would faint again, so awful was the pallor that overspread his face, so she cried out, hastily:

"But it was not her love for you that drove her to despair, but her shame and grief at finding out the secret of her parentage."

And she went on to tell him of the secret old Maria had revealed on her death-bed, and which had driven her mother mad at last, and caused Flower to drown herself.

"Mamma did not tell her for a long time, and when Flower heard it at last she went almost as mad as poor mamma, and vowed she would drown herself. Oh, Mr. Meredith, you can not think how dreadful it all was!" sobbed Jewel, desolately.

He made no comment. He could not speak after the dreadful story she had been telling him. He only lay and listened in dumb horror.

Jewel recovered herself, and continued:

"There was mamma, raving mad, and at last they had to take her to the asylum. As for Flower, she fell ill, and tried again and again to take her own life. I had to watch her always to prevent her going to the sea and throwing herself in. You see, Mr. Meredith, she was my half-sister, and I could not help but love her in spite of her birth and of our father's sin. So I did not tell any one our dreadful secret, I only loved poor Flower the more, and in her sickness I tended her carefully until that awful night when I thought her dead, and rushed down-stairs to call for help. Then she revived, got out of the house, and drowned herself."

"Her body—was it ever recovered?" he asked, and Jewel replied:

"No; but we are certain she drowned herself, because some of her garments were found on the sea-shore."

"It is terrible!" he groaned, and looking keenly at her pale face, he asked: "Did Flower leave any papers, any letters, Jewel, that told you anything strange?"

[Pg 73]

"No," she answered, unblushingly; and he reflected that it would be no use to tell her that Flower had been his wife. She was dead, poor little darling; but he thanked Heaven that the misery that had driven her to suicide was at least none of his making.

"But, ah, if she had only come with me she would probably never have heard the shameful secret of her birth," he thought; and it seemed to him now that he understood Mrs. Fielding's object in refusing to let her daughters marry any one.

"She was very honorable. She was not willing that Flower's story should be known, yet she could not give her to any one who was ignorant of it," he thought, feeling an accession of pity and respect for the woman who had been so deeply wronged, yet who had remained so honest and conscientious.

Presently Jewel murmured something about nourishment, and glided lightly from the room. He closed his eyes and lay thinking of the strange story she had told him, and of his poor, blighted little Flower, who had gone to her death rather than endure the bitter shame that had come to her with the knowledge of her birth. The deep regret that she had not gone away with him last summer pierced his heart so bitterly that fever set in again, and he had a relapse that came near costing him his life.


When Laurie Meredith was well enough to go away again, the summer was more than half gone, and he felt that he owed a debt of gratitude to Jewel Fielding for her hospitality and friendliness that he knew not how to pay, since she refused money, and there was nothing else that he could give.

The situation was most embarrassing, for in spite of his sorrow, sickness, and preoccupation, he could not help[Pg 74] seeing that Jewel took more than a friendly interest in himself.

It was this that decided him to go away at once, that he might give no encouragement to her fancy. He said to himself that his heart was dead, that he could never reciprocate her love, so he would go away, and she was so young and gay she would soon forget him.

"If there is anything I can do for you at any time, Jewel, remember that I desire you to command my services," he said to her, when he broke to her, as gently as he could, the news that he was going away the next day.

She had borne it more calmly than he had expected. The bright cheeks grew pale, and the lashes drooped to hide the sadness in the dark eyes, but she said, eagerly:

"There is something you can do for me—now. I have a favor to ask of you."

"You have only to name it," he replied, gallantly; and she began to tell him that she was tired of her life in this quiet seaport town of Virginia.

She was rich, and she longed to live in the city and mix with its gayeties, that she might forget the sorrows she had borne here.

"You live in Boston; you have a mother and sister," she said. "Would it be wrong for me to come to Boston to live? Would it be too much to ask your family to present me in society?"

He was surprised and secretly annoyed. He saw her drift in a moment. She did not mean to lose sight of him. Her love was stronger than he had thought.

He did not answer her for a moment, from sheer surprise, and she continued:

"I have a most excellent lady for a companion, as you know. I should like to buy a handsome house in your city, and set up housekeeping with Mrs. Wellings as my chaperon and companion. There would be nothing imprudent in that, I suppose?"

[Pg 75]

He was obliged to own that, as far as he knew, such a proceeding would be quite proper.

"Then it is settled!" she cried, joyfully. "Now, will you be so kind, when you get home, as to see a real estate man and buy a handsome house for me? I shall like it all the better if it is near your home, for I know I shall be fond of your mother and sisters—that is, if they are all like you."

He could not help coloring at the frankly spoken words, and he cried out, hastily:

"But, my dear Miss Fielding, I fear I should not be able to please you in the selection of a house. It would be much better for your guardian to attend to that matter."

"He is an old stupid; I would not trust him in the selection of such a house as I want," she replied, vivaciously; and, after thinking a moment, he said:

"Then you should select it yourself. What would you say to coming to Boston this autumn as the guest of my mother?"

"I should be charmed!" Jewel declared, graciously.

"Then my mother shall send you an invitation, and then you can select a house yourself," he said, adding, with a slight smile: "I predict that you will be a belle when you enter society."

"What! a little country girl like me?" cried Jewel, with sparkling eyes; and he saw that she was delighted at the compliment, and told himself that this was the very best thing he could have thought of—inviting her to his home. In society she would see so many handsome men she would get over her penchant for him.

"And I am going abroad again, anyway. I could not bear a quiet life now. I must seek oblivion in strange scenes and a new life," he thought, sighing, as he left her and went out into the grounds, where everything reminded him so vividly of his little, lost love.

[Pg 76]

Alas! she was gone now from those scenes that her fairy form had brightened, and the low murmur of the sea, as it rolled with a sullen murmur in to the shore, tortured him with the thought that it held her in its cruel embrace.

"For the heart of the waters is cruel,
And the kisses are dire of their lips,
And their waves are as fire is to fuel
To the strength of the sea-faring ships,
Though the sea's eye gleam as a jewel
To the sun's eye back as he dips."

"Who would have dreamed," he thought, "last summer, that such a tragedy would have overtaken this little family? The mother insane, one daughter dead, the other restless and unhappy because of an unhappy love! Poor Jewel! she is indeed bereaved!" he thought, as he walked down a graveled path toward the rear of the house, to get away from the sorrowful sound of the ever-restless sea.

And as his walk took him quite near the servants' quarters, he suddenly came face to face with old Maria's relict, Sam, whom he had never seen since that night last summer when he had sent him to carry that letter to Flower.

At first the mulatto looked sheepish and inclined to retreat; but, seeing Laurie's hand go into his pocket, he turned back, and was presented with a bright silver dollar, for which he returned profuse thanks.

"Ah, Sam, no more letters to carry now. She is dead, poor Flower!" sighed the young man, sorrowfully, and the mulatto gave him a strange glance, and replied, resentfully:

"Yes, she's dead, and it's your fault, too, Mr. Meredith! What made you sneak off and leave poor Maria's nuss child to bear her shame and disgrace by herself?"

"Shame and disgrace!" the young man repeated, bewilderedly, and Sam looked around, and seeing no one near, whispered:

[Pg 77]

"Guess no one hain't told you about my dream, has they, now?"

"No," Laurie answered, wondering if Sam were drunk or crazy, yet submitting to be drawn aside into a convenient arbor, where the story of Sam's return with his bride that fateful night was quickly told.

Laurie Meredith's pale face grew whiter and more haggard still, and Sam, seeing it, added, quickly: "But 'twan't nuthin' but a dream, sir, or a warnin' o' her death, for she were dead and drowndid then, pore gal!"

"But, Sam, there could have been nothing like that—a child, I mean—Flower would have written to me!" he exclaimed, incoherently.

"Lor' bless you, Mr. Meredith, there was a child comin'—hain't Miss Jewel told you?" cried Sam, and a terrible groan answered him:

"My wife, my little wife, oh, why did you not tell me!" and then he rushed wildly to Jewel, demanding to know why she had kept this from him.

"My sister's disgrace—oh, how could I tell you, who loved her, of that dark stain?" she began; but he interrupted, wildly:

"There was no stain, no disgrace; she was my wife by a secret marriage, and she promised to go away with me but she was afraid of her mother, and stayed. Jewel, this story must be published to the world, that no stain may rest on her memory," he declared, passionately to the cruel girl who had brought about all this misery.


Jewel bit her lips in anger and scorn when she learned that Laurie Meredith had found out the secret she had guarded so carefully, fearing lest he should love the memory of the dead girl better for that knowledge.

But she dared not give vent to her chagrin in his presence.[Pg 78] She knew that she must dissemble, must keep up her deceitful rôle, and agree to his declaration that the fact of his marriage to Flower should be made public.

So she soothed him with gentle words of sympathy, and pretended to be overjoyed at hearing that Flower had been a wife, and not the guilty girl she had been believed to be.

She declared herself eager to convince every one that Flower had been his wife.

"You will give me the marriage-certificate, of course, and I will show it to the townspeople," she said.

He explained to her that he had left the certificate with his young wife.

"You will probably find it among her papers," he said, confidently; but search for it proved the contrary.

"What shall we do now?" she asked him, with pretended anxiety.

He looked puzzled for a moment, then his face cleared.

"Although the certificate can not be found I can prove the marriage by the minister who performed the ceremony."

"Yes," said Jewel; but when he said that it was the Reverend Mr. Archer, of little Episcopal Chapel, she shook her head.

"I am very sorry to tell you, but he has gone abroad. His health was failing, and his congregation sent him to Europe for a year," she replied.

He looked dismayed for a moment, then rallying, said, confidently:

"They will certainly take my word, when I declare that I was Flower's husband."

Jewel looked very dubious. She would not answer.

"What do you think?" he demanded, impatiently, and Jewel sighed, and answered:

"People are so hard and malicious—I—I—am afraid they would not listen without proof."

He knew that this was quite true. The world was so hard, especially where a woman's honor was concerned,[Pg 79] that it would not hear the vindication of an angel without proof.

Almost unconsciously he groaned aloud:

"What am I to do? How vindicate the memory of my lost angel in the minds of those who believed her false and light?"

Much as she loved him, Jewel gloated over his suffering. She would not have spared him one pang if by lifting her hand she could have thrown off the whole burden of his misery.

"He preferred her to me! Let him bear the punishment I have meted out to him!" she thought, triumphantly; and presently she said:

"There seems only one way out of our difficulty. We can not speak until the Reverend Mr. Archer comes back to verify your story."

"That is hard—to wait a year—a whole year—ere I vindicate my darling's memory," he groaned. But Jewel remained silent, knowing that in the end he would be obliged to agree with her declaration.

He did so, and the next day he left Virginia and journeyed to the watering-place where his mother and sisters were spending the summer quietly on account of the recent death of the head of the house.

He did not tell them the pathetic story of his secret marriage, and his young wife's death. They would hear it all from Jewel soon enough, he thought, shrinking from all the questions they asked him about his altered looks, and finding it hard to ask for the invitation Miss Fielding desired so much.

But he did it at last, in spite of their haughty surprise; and, after they had heard that he had been ill for weeks in the house of the beautiful heiress, that she had tended him with all the affection of a sister, and that she was lonely and orphaned, they began to feel that they owed Jewel a debt that would be but poorly canceled by all that[Pg 80] they could do. So the invitation was written and sent, eagerly accepted, and Jewel at once began to get ready for her winter campaign, as she called it to herself, feeling that victory already perched upon her banner.


Two years went by on the swift wing of time, and Miss Fielding had drained to its dregs the full cup of success, in which there was but one drop of bitter, the torturing fact that Laurie Meredith still remained abroad, oblivious to her charms.

He had gone away before she went to Boston, and so he had not seen her brilliant social triumph, for her dusky Southern beauty had carried society by storm, and Mrs. Meredith had been quite proud of her protégée.

Now Jewel had an elegant home on the same street with the Meredith mansion, and Mrs. Wellings, as her companion and chaperon, was mistress of a home where the most elegant entertainments were given, and where life was always at its gayest, for the beautiful heiress loved to surround herself with light-hearted people, and to live always in the midst of pleasure, perhaps that she might keep at bay the pangs of remorse that must sometimes have pierced her heart if she had given herself time to think of those whose lives she had ruined.

Winter was coming on again, and at last Laurie Meredith was coming home. He could not hold out longer against the prayers of his mother and sisters, so he had promised to return from that long exile, in which he had been a restless, unhappy wanderer, seeking:

"Respite—respite and nepenthe from his memories of Lenore."

Jewel contrived to make one of the home party when he arrived, and he could not help but see into what a magnificent-looking woman she had grown since he went away.

[Pg 81]

The rich, trailing robe of ruby velvet, trimmed with gray fur, was very becoming to her stately style, and her eyes were bright with welcome as he clasped her beautiful hand.

Lovers by the score she had had since she came to Boston, but none had erased from her passionate heart the image of handsome Laurie Meredith, for whose sake she had sinned so deeply and recklessly, and now she felt that her long waiting was about to be rewarded.

He had had time to forget Flower, and surely he could not longer remain cold to her love and her charms.

It gave him a pang to see her, for she always recalled Flower to his mind, and the thought of his lost love was always painful.

But he chided himself for his reluctance at meeting her, and perhaps his welcome was doubly cordial on that account; and his family, seeing it, made up their minds that the pair were fond of each other in a tenderer fashion than they had suspected.

Perhaps they hinted something of the sort to him, for the first time he found himself alone with her, he said to her:

"Miss Fielding, is it possible that you have never told my mother and sisters of my marriage?"

Jewel looked up at him with her radiant eyes, and answered:

"You might have known that I would not betray your secret."

He was nettled by her use of that word. It seemed like a tacit reproach to him, and while he paused for words in which to reply, she added:

"Of course I knew that if you had desired them to know you would have confided in them before you went away. So I respected your desire, and not a word of it has passed my lips."

"You misunderstood me," he rejoined, eagerly. "I[Pg 82] meant them to know—only I was weak and sick still when I went away, and it was so painful to reopen that cruel wound. I fully expected they would hear all from you." She was silent, twisting her ringed fingers slowly in and out, and Laurie Meredith continued: "I wish that you had spoken, for now the duty falls on me. I feel like a wretch and a coward, keeping this secret from my nearest and dearest."

Jewel's dark eyes sought his face with such a strange look that he said, involuntarily:


She answered, deliberately:

"It seems to me that the silence you have kept so long ought to be preserved still. What good would come of speaking now?"

"They ought to know," he said, uneasily.

"But why, Mr. Meredith? You would only distress them if you told your story now. They have heard from me my mother's story and Flower's. They know that she drowned herself because of the dishonor of her birth. Do you think, proud as they are, that they would be pleased to know that the daughter of poor, erring Daisy Forrest had been your wife?"

His face flushed deeply, then his brown eyes flashed.

"It was cruel of you to tell them that. Why need you have done it?" he exclaimed; and Jewel burst into tears, sobbing out that she had been so wretched, and wanted some one to sympathize with her so much, that she could not help speaking.

He waited till she had done sobbing, then asked:

"And the people in Virginia—your old home. You let them know the truth at least. You promised me you would as soon as the Reverend Mr. Archer came home from Europe."

"But he never came home," Jewel answered.

And he told himself that he was mistaken in fancying[Pg 83] that there was a ring of malicious triumph in her voice. Surely she would be only too glad to have the honor of her sister vindicated, and he echoed, dismally:

"Never came home!"

"No; he died abroad," said Jewel, and, after waiting a few moments, she added: "What was the use of speaking then? No one would have believed me. Besides, very few knew anything about poor Flower's trouble at the time, and to bring it up again would have made a fresh scandal, so I thought it best not to speak."

And against his better judgment she persuaded Laurie Meredith to keep the secret of the past.


Several months after Laurie Meredith's return to Boston, the following notice appeared in the society column of a daily paper:

"It is rumored that the handsome and fascinating Laurie Meredith will soon lead to the altar the beautiful belle, Miss Jewel Fielding, and society is on the qui vive for the magnificent festivities that will attend this brilliant social event."

Directly beneath this interesting announcement was this paragraph:

"Lord and Lady Ivon, of Cornwall, England, with great-granddaughter, Miss Azalia Brooke, are the guests of our esteemed townsman, Raynold Clinton. The latter was handsomely entertained at Lord Ivon's London residence when he went abroad last year, and he now has the opportunity of reciprocating the hospitalities thus received. The venerable noble and his gracious lady are making the tour of the United States for the first time, and will spend several weeks here, during which they will have an opportunity of meeting some of the cultured society[Pg 84] of Boston. Of the marvelous blonde beauty of their great-granddaughter, Miss Brooke, wonderful stories are told, and our belles will have to look to their laurels."

In the elegant and luxurious library of the Clinton mansion the young lady referred to as Lord Ivon's great-granddaughter was standing alone at a window, looking out, with wistful, azure eyes, at the whirling flakes of snow that filled the air, for it had been snowing since early morn, and the earth was already covered in the short space of three hours with a deep, glistening, white carpet.

None of the reports regarding Azalia Brooke's beauty were in the least exaggerated, for she was, indeed,

"Perfectly beautiful, faultily faultless."

A form of perfect mold and medium height, with a rarely lovely face, lighted by large purple-blue eyes, and framed by burnished, golden hair; hands and feet perfect enough for a sculptor's model, and a voice that was sweet as the soul of music, no wonder people raved over Lord Ivon's great-granddaughter; for as she stood there, with the rich, plush folds of her pale-blue, ermine-trimmed tea-gown falling in long, statuesque folds about her, she looked as if she had stepped down from an artist's canvas, or from the pages of a poet's book.

But as the lovely girl gazed at the snowy scene without, an expression of wistful sadness crept around the corners of her curved red lips and into her tender blue eyes, and she repeated some pathetic lines that have touched many a heart with their sweet, simple pathos:

"How strange it should be that the beautiful snow
Should fall on a sinner with nowhere to go!
How strange it should be if ere night comes again
The snow and the ice strike my desperate brain;
Dying alone,
[Pg 85] Too wicked for prayer, too weak for my moan
To be heard in the crash of the crazy town,
Gone mad in the joy of the snow coming down,
I should be, and should lie in my terrible woe
With a bed and a shroud of the beautiful snow!"

Great pearly tears rose to the pansy-blue eyes, brimmed over, and rolled down the fair cheeks of the girl. She clasped her little hands, all glittering with diamonds, and murmured, mournfully:

"Ah, my mother, to think that you were a sinner like that!—'Too wicked for prayer,' a willful sinner for love's sake, and I, your child, with that dark brand upon my birth! Ah, what if he had lived to know? He was proud and well-born. Would he have hated me for my mother's sin? Would he have forsaken me, cast me off as one unworthy? Ah, my love, my love, it was better that you died, for then you never knew the cruel truth!"

The door opened softly, and a servant entered, placing the evening papers on the table. To divert her thoughts, which had grown dark and gloomy, Lord Ivon's great-granddaughter threw herself into a luxurious chair, and began to peruse the first paper that came to her hand. Thus she came upon the paragraph regarding Laurie Meredith and Jewel Fielding.

What ailed Azalia Brooke, the beautiful descendant of the proud house of Ivon?

When her glance fell carelessly on those two names she started, and a low cry of wonder came from her lips.

Twice over she read the paragraph, and her cheeks assumed the hue of death, her eyes were dilated widely, her lips parted and gasped, faintly:

"Jewel here—and to be married to Laurie Meredith! Laurie Meredith! Great Heaven, could there be two of that name?"

She crushed the paper convulsively in her slender fingers, and stared before her with wide, blue eyes that saw[Pg 86] not the luxurious appointments of the elegant room, but a picture evoked from the recesses of her brain—a picture of the past.

A rocky, sea-beat shore, with the soft breeze of summer lifting the golden curls from a girl's white brow as it rested against a manly breast. Blue eyes were meeting brown ones, hand was clasped in hand, and love was lord of that tender scene.

A moan of pain came from the lips of beautiful Azalia, and she sighed:

"Ah, love, why did you leave me, without a word, to my cruel fate? Were you false in heart? Were you only amusing yourself with the simple child who loved you so well? Was that marriage true, or only a sham, or was there treachery somewhere? Treachery! It looked at me from Jewel's eyes—treachery and murderous hate! Ah, love, you died so soon after you went away that I can not hate you in your grave, even though you doomed me to a wretched life, cursed with memories that will not die! And I—I—would give the world to know the truth—to solve the mystery of your going that night!"

The low voice broke again, and she leaned back pale and silent, and a sadder picture rose in fancy before the fixed blue eyes.

This time it was of a golden-haired, blue-eyed girl, with a wailing infant on her breast—a girl who had sought refuge from danger in an humble negro cabin. Over her was bending a plump, good-looking mulatto woman, and the girl was praying, feebly:

"Take me away from here! Hide me and my baby from our enemy!"

The mulatto woman had acted the part of the good Samaritan to the helpless, suffering girl. All night she had worked hard preparing a place in an old, unused barn, where she could hide the sick mother and the tiny babe, and care for them in secret. So it happened that,[Pg 87] through her care and prudence, the mother and child fared well, and remained undiscovered in their miserable retreat, while weeks sped away and the world accepted Jewel Fielding's assertion that her sister was dead—drowned in the deep sea.

At last four weary, interminable weeks passed away, and the beautiful young mother was growing strong and well again. On the morrow she had planned to take her baby in her arms and fly from the place so fraught with perils. She said to the good friend who had cared for her so nobly, that she must go into the world and work for a living for herself and the child.

But when that morrow dawned—and at the picture that rose in her mind Azalia sobbed aloud—the girl awoke from slumber and found beneath her breast a little, pulseless form, from which breath had so lately fled that the body was still limp and warm. Poor, puny babe! its feeble little life was ended, she thought, as she clasped and kissed it with raining tears and breaking heart.

A few minutes later her good friend came in and found what had happened. She mingled her tears with those of the bereaved mother.

But they had little time to weep together, for presently Poky said, anxiously:

"Oh, dear, this is dreadful! I don't know what to do! Sam and me had a dreadful fuss this morning, and he said I gadded about too much, and he's gwine ter watch and see whar I goes ter. He's been a-drinkin' agin, the most owdacious raskil he is in his drams that I ever see in all my born days! Cross as a boar with a sore head, dat he is!"

The moaning girl, who was rocking the dead baby on breast, uttered a cry of fear, and Poky continued:

"De reason why he's got ter drinkin' and cuttin' up ag'in is case why somebuddy has up an' robbed him whilst he war away courtin' me. You don't happen ter[Pg 88] know nothin' 'bout some papers dat was hid under de flatstone ob de h'arth, does you, Miss Flower, honey?" Poky whispered, anxiously.

In her great grief over her dead child, Flower could not remember for a moment, and she was about to reply in the negative, when suddenly there flashed over her a memory of the night when Mrs. Fielding had gone mad and attempted her life.

She remembered what Jewel had uttered so triumphantly that night, declaring that she had found the papers that her mother had sought in vain in the cabin—the fatal diary of Charley Fielding.

Flower hesitated a moment lest she should do wrong in betraying her half-sister; then her gratitude to this good woman overpowered all other considerations, and she told her briefly that Jewel had taken the papers, but that they related to important family matters alone, and could have been of no use to Sam.

Poky was glad to find out so much, and then she took the little child gently from the weeping mother, and, folding it reverently in her shawl, said, gently, though anxiously:

"Honey, I don't want ter skeer yer, but dis death will happen ter make trouble lessen I could bury de baby private like without anybuddy knowing. Is you willin' to trust me?"

Flower only repeated, anxiously:


Then Poky went on to explain that if the secret they had been keeping became known it might be suspected that they had murdered the baby to get rid of it.

"I—murder my little, brown-eyed boy—my precious Douglas!" the young mother cried, indignantly; but Poky persisted, adding, gravely:

"Miss Jewel Fielding would egg them on, you know,[Pg 89] chile, and so I think you'd better run away now and leabe me to bury de poor baby."


It seemed terrible to poor Flower to leave her little one to be consigned to an unknown grave by this humble friend; but Poky's good counsel prevailed at last, and with one last kiss on the lovely little face, she stole away in the rough disguise Poky had provided for her, and began her battle with the cold world.

Poky had generously bestowed on her a little money, and with this she made her way to the little Southern town where she had been born, determined to learn something of her mother's history, and also believing that she might make an humble living here better than among the human wolves of a great city.

First of all, she sought humble lodgings at a little third-class hotel, and here she soon learned the location of the cemetery, and set out to visit the graves of her father and mother.

She had no difficulty in finding the handsome inclosure wherein all of the dead and gone Fieldings were interred. It was the pride of the cemetery, just as the Fieldings had been the pride of the town ere their last descendant, handsome, erring, wretched Charley Fielding had flung himself madly into a suicide's awful grave.

Flower sat down among the cold marble monuments, trailing vines, and sweet tea-roses, and fixed her eyes on the small, unpretentious stone that recorded the death of her wretched young father.

Out of her abundant wealth his widow had spared but little for his grave-stone. Her resentment had been too strong and enduring, and followed him beyond the grave.

Crushed and despairing, the unhappy girl sat among the graves of her ancestors, with her golden head bowed[Pg 90] low as she reflected that the bond that united them was one of bitter shame and woe.

It was too hard to linger there long, bowed down with shame and sorrow. She moved away presently to seek the place where her erring mother had been laid to rest, and so came upon the old sexton busily digging a grave. There were a few loiterers about, and a veiled lady sat in the shadow of a weeping willow near by, but Flower noticed no one. She went toward the old man, and asked, timidly:

"Will you tell me where to find the grave of Daisy Forrest?"

The old man looked up, their eyes met, he staggered back, and dropped his spade, uttering a cry of terror:

"Good Lord deliver me!"

The veiled lady, under the drooping branches of the willow, did not seem to notice, but some of the people who were walking about the paths came closer, curious to know what had happened to the old sexton.

He was staring at Flower with frightened eyes, as if she had been a ghost.

"My good man, I did not mean to startle you," Flower said, in her low voice, that sounded like saddest music. "I am looking for my mother's grave."

"Oh, my good Lord! this is surely her ghost!" gasped the sexton, retreating still further. "Oh, I told Mrs. Fielding it was a sin to do this, but she would not listen, she would have her way! It was a shame for me to obey her. And now I'm punished, for Daisy Forrest has come from her grave to look at me and reproach me!"

Some one touched his arm.

"Old man, you're daft. It's a living woman speaking to you."

"What, with that voice and that face?" muttered the old man, dubiously. He peered fearfully at Flower, and muttered, "If 'tain't her ghost, they're as like as two[Pg 91] peas! Well, ma'am, and what is't you're wanting to know?"

"To find Daisy Forrest's grave," said the low, sad voice, with a pitiful tremor in its sweetness; and with that the old man took up his spade and struck it down into the open grave.

"This is where we buried her nigh onto eighteen years ago," he said, peering curiously into her startled face, as she cried out in horror:

"Why do you thus desecrate her grave, man?"

The sound of her indignant voice reached the veiled woman. She started as from a deep trance, and came hastily forward toward the little group that had collected about the grave.

Throwing back her thick veil, she exclaimed, harshly:

"What is all this excitement, old man? I commanded you to perform this work quietly and in silence."

Flower drew back with a startled cry. It was Mrs. Fielding.

The old sexton had leaped into the grave. There was a sound as of the tearing of rotten planks. A minute's silence, then he looked up at the imperious woman, whose eyes burned like fire under her dark brows and snowy-white hair.

"The Lord has put your foolish vengeance out of your power, ma'am," he said, with stern awe. "There ain't nothin' here but a little heap o' ashes. I told you so; I told you that poor, wronged woman was dust and ashes along o' your little babby. But you wouldn't listen. Look, now, for yourself."

She moved forward, as did all the group, except the frightened, shrinking Flower, and when she saw, down there in the darkness of the grave, the commingling ashes of her dead rival and her dead child she uttered a tigerish cry of rage and hate, and fell in a swoon upon the green turf.

[Pg 92]

At that sight Flower forgot everything, except that the unconscious woman had given her for seventeen years a mother's love and received from her a child's affection. She ran to Mrs. Fielding's side, knelt by her, loosened her dress at the throat, and tore off the heavy veil to give her air.

"Come, sexton, what is all this? Why did you open Daisy Forrest's grave?" a stern voice demanded of the sexton, who was already hastening to replace the earth upon the violated grave.

The old man looked up, and saw a tall man of about fifty, stoutly built, plainly dressed, and wearing gray whiskers of an English cut. There was a gleam of stern displeasure in his eyes, and the sexton answered, sulkily:

"I don't know as it's any of your business, stranger; the lady had a permit from the authorities to open this grave."


But other voices besides those of the English-looking stranger clamored loudly for reasons, so the old sexton, with a sulky glance at his interlocutor, proceeded to explain to his friends and neighbors, giving in substance the story with which we are already familiar.

When he had finished his voluble story he drew a long breath, and added:

"Lord bless you, I knowed 'em all—poor Daisy, and Charley, and Maria, and all, for I've been sexton at Springville nigh on to forty year. So, as I was a-saying, after Maria confessed that cheat on her death-bed, Mrs. Fielding felt like she couldn't see no rest till she took her child outer the coffin with poor Daisy Forrest. So she get the permit, and just teased and teased, and coaxed and begged, until I had to give in and consent."

"And you were finely imposed on by the story of a mad[Pg 93] woman!" exclaimed a sneering voice, and three strangers came quickly upon the scene. The one who had spoken was a medical-looking man with a sinister countenance, and he continued: "Why, my good friend, this is a mad woman who recently escaped from my asylum. I have been seeking her everywhere, and I count myself lucky in finding her at last, for she is very violent at times, and quite capable of murder."

Incredulous voices rose on the air, and Flower rose, pale and trembling, saying, in her low, clear tones:

"I do not know this gentleman, but it is quite true that the lady is mad. I know her well. She was sent to an insane asylum weeks ago."

"Then the story she has told is untrue, a figment of her disordered imagination," said the English-looking stranger, who had offended the sexton.

"No, it is the truth," Flower answered, taming her earnest gaze on his face, and adding: "It was the knowledge of that truth that turned her dark hair white in one night, and afterward drove her to madness. And I am the helpless girl she reared as her own—I am Daisy Forrest's daughter!"

No one thought of doubting her assertion. There she stood, looking at them with the face of her whose ashes slept beneath their feet, and awing all denial into silence.

Just then Mrs. Fielding stirred, and opened her dark eyes with a dazed look. Flower bent over her with infinite pity in her sad blue eyes.

"Mamma!" she murmured, using the old, familiar name forgetfully.

"Flower!" exclaimed Mrs. Fielding, wildly, and there was a note of gladness in her voice that was plainly recognized by all. For the moment the poor woman had forgotten all but the love she had borne the girl who had been her daughter so long. Her wild expression softened[Pg 94] into sweetness, and murmuring, "My darling!" she held out her arms to the girl, who gently assisted her to rise.

Then Mrs. Fielding saw the half-filled grave yawning at her feet, saw the curious faces around her, and fell memory returned.

She glared wildly at Flower's gentle, pitying face, and struck out fiercely with both hands to push her away.

"Ah, I forgot!" she screamed, angrily. "You do not belong to me—you are hers! Go—go, before I strike you! Go—"

But further speech was arrested by the doctor, whom she had not before observed, but who now came in front of her, and said, sharply:

"Come, Mrs. Fielding, enough of this! You must come home now with me and these keepers who came along with me to help carry you back."

A scream of horror broke from the poor woman's lips; but they proceeded to pinion her hands firmly, regardless of the wild entreaties for freedom that she eagerly poured forth.

"Oh, be gentle; do not hurt her, if you must take her away!" Flower exclaimed, pleadingly; and at that Mrs. Fielding looked at her almost tenderly and wailed out:

"Oh, Flower, do not let them take me away! I am not mad—I am not mad! Oh, save me—you are my only friend!"

Smothering her wild cries with a handkerchief, the three men bore her rapidly away.


When Flower saw the miserable Mrs. Fielding borne away so rudely by her captors her tender heart swelled with pity for the unhappy woman, and she started to run after them to beg them to be gentler with the poor creature.

[Pg 95]

But she had not taken a dozen steps before her arm was caught in a tight grasp by the old sexton, who whirled her about, and said, sharply:

"What would you do? Run after that mad woman, who hates you?"

Tears sprung to Flower's eyes, and she answered, sadly:

"But she loved me once, before she found out how cruelly she had been imposed on, and I pity her now, for her last words sounded quite rational. Perhaps she has got over her madness."

"Humph! It didn't sound like it just now when she was rating you so soundly!" grunted the old man; and feeling her tremble as he held her arm, he looked keenly into her face, and saw that she was deathly pale and wan.

"You're just ready to faint, missie," he exclaimed, leading her to the rustic seat beneath the willow, where Mrs. Fielding had been sitting a little while ago. He brought her a draught of fresh, sparkling water, which she drank thirstily, then, with a deep sigh, leaned her aching head on her hands.

Divining that she wished to be alone, the kind-hearted old sexton returned to his task of filling up the grave of Daisy Forrest, and the loiterers about the spot slowly dispersed, with one notable exception—that of the gray-haired English-looking stranger who had offended the old sexton by his authoritative manner.

This man now approached, and said, in a bluff, hearty manner:

"Old man, I did not mean to offend by my speech just now; but I, too, knew something of Daisy Forrest's history, and I was indignant at the deed Mrs. Fielding would have done. I hope you will accept this peace-offering from one who wishes you nothing but kindness."

The kind, gray eyes looking at him enforced the speech so emphatically that the sexton melted at once, and replied in kindly terms, while gratefully accepting the offered[Pg 96] gold-piece which, like the donor, had an English appearance.

Then the stranger moved away and sought Flower, who was sobbing violently now in her seat under the willows. At the sound of his step she raised to his face the beautiful eyes, all drowned in tears, like purple-blue pansies wet with dew.

He stopped beside her, and said, gently:

"Miss Fielding, this is an opportune meeting for you and me."

"I do not understand you, sir," said Flower, in a sweet, timid voice, and he answered, quietly:

"Perhaps not, but I will soon explain to you. Still, this may not be a proper place to begin my story. There is my card. Will you permit me, an old man, and the friend of yourself and your kindred, to call upon you at your home?"

She looked at the bit of pasteboard, and read the name, scrawled in a bold hand:

"William R. Kelso,          
          "London, England."

Lifting her sad eyes to his face, she said:

"Mr. Kelso, I am staying at the Springville Hotel. I have no home. I was driven from Mrs. Fielding's house, after she was sent to the asylum, by the cruelty of my half-sister. I am indebted to the kindness of a poor colored woman for the means that enabled me to reach this place. I must now seek work that I may have the means of prolonging my miserable existence."

Something like a smile crossed the man's lips at her concluding words, and a grieved look came into her eyes.

Why should he smile at her sorrows, she wondered.

"I beg your pardon for smiling. I know you think me unfeeling," he said. "But you will understand me better[Pg 97] when you have heard the good news I have to tell you."

She looked at him with a startled face, and murmured piteously, as she clasped her little hands together:

"Good news, you say! Ah, if you have anything like that to tell me, do not wait! Let me hear it now! But, alas! what good fortune could come to me?" despondently, for the quick thought of Laurie Meredith was turned aside by the remembrance that he was dead.

Mr. Kelso seated himself on the rustic bench beside her, and said, earnestly:

"What if I should tell you that I came recently from England to seek Daisy Forrest and her descendants?"

The quivering red lips parted in wonder, but Flower did not speak, and he continued:

"I suppose you have never heard that your maternal grandfather was English?"

Her lips quivered painfully as she answered:

"No, I know nothing, except that my birth was my mother's shame, and the cause of her death."

"Poor soul!" sighed William Kelso, compassionately, then he added: "Yes, he was the younger son of a noble English family. His eldest brother was heir to the title and estates, the second brother was in the army, and John Forrest, the third and last, was designed for the church. He was young and wild, and revolted against the restraints of a clerical life, and ran away to America."

Flower sat up, listening eagerly. This began to sound like one of her favorite novels.

Smiling sympathetically at the lovely, startled face, Mr. Kelso continued:

"Lord Ivon was both stern and proud. He vowed he would never forgive his disobedient, runaway son. When letters came from him they were laid aside unread, and poor John's fate remained a mystery to his kindred. His[Pg 98] mother pined, but her stern husband forbid her ever to think of the truant again."

"He was cruel!" Flower murmured, indignantly.

"Yes, he was very hard; but Heaven punished him!" said William Kelso. "The heir died in a few years, and the second son came home from the army to take his place. He married late in life, and his beautiful, delicate wife bore him two sons, and then died. Her husband was drowned a year later on Lake Como. His two boys inherited their mother's consumptive tendency, and one died in early boyhood, and the other just before he attained his majority. Lord Ivon's house was left unto him desolate."

Flower sighed, and he continued:

"There was no one to inherit the title and estates unless John Forrest had survived his brothers, or had married and left descendants. So the letters that had been flung aside at last were opened eagerly to discover John Forrest's whereabouts. There were scores of them, for he had never ceased to implore his parents for their forgiveness. He wrote that he was here in the South, that he had married a lovely girl, then that he had a lovely child called Daisy."

"My mother!" Flower exclaimed, sadly.

"Yes, your mother!" said Mr. Kelso.

He paused a moment, watching the long shadows of sunset as they began to creep across the grave-stones in the old cemetery; then he resumed:

"After the letter that told of Daisy Forrest's birth, no more came to Lord Ivon, and he supposed that his son had grown tired of writing, and had reconciled himself to the alienation. Alas! poor John was dead."

"Dead!" exclaimed Flower.

"Yes, although his father knows it not yet," said Mr. Kelso. "You remember all this was thirty-seven years ago, Miss Fielding. Well, to resume my story, Lord[Pg 99] Ivon's heart turned to his younger son when all his other descendants were gone, and he came to me, his lawyer, and begged me to cross the ocean and seek an heir to Ivon."

"Alas!" sighed Flower, thinking of the little dead baby she had kissed and left in Poky's arms. Had it lived—her lovely little child—it would have been heir to one of the finest titles and estates in old England.

"So I came to this place," continued Mr. Kelso. "I have been here little more than a week, but I have had no trouble in tracing John Forrest, for many of the old people in the country about here remember him well. It seems he had poor luck, or perhaps his training as a rich man's son had not fitted him to encounter the hardships of life. He drifted down here from New York, and obtained employment as an overseer on a farm. Soon after he married the farmer's only child, a sweet girl named Mary. A year after Daisy was born, and her father died soon afterward with malarial fever. His wife survived until her daughter was ten years old, and, dying, left her to take care of her farmer grandparents. They died when Daisy was seventeen, and the farm was sold to satisfy a mortgage, and the beautiful granddaughter was thrown upon the world, helpless and penniless. She went into a grand family as a nursery governess, met Charley Fielding, and—the rest you know."

Her low moan of pain attested that she did, and for a moment there was a deep silence.

Then Mr. Kelso resumed:

"They told me that Daisy Forrest was dead, and her child, too, and I came here this afternoon to look at her grave before I went back to England to tell Lord Ivon with him the proud title and name must die. I am happy that I am spared this sorrowful task, for I think that after you have examined my credentials you will not hesitate to secure a maid and return with me to[Pg 100] England that I may place you in the care of your great-grandparents."

He saw the old sexton, who had now replaced the turf and flowers on Daisy Forrest's grave, looking at them curiously as he leaned on his spade, and he beckoned him to approach.

Then he gave the old man a brief account of John Forrest's story, telling him that his father had been a rich man, and that poor Daisy's child was going home with him to live with her grandparents. He did not tell him that this great-grandfather was a nobleman, thinking that Flower would not wish to create too much sensation.


It was of all these stirring events that Azalia Brooks was thinking as she sat in Raynold Clinton's library, crushing in her jeweled hands the paper that held those two names with their magic power to evoke the past, her sad eyes full of retrospection, her heart heavy with pain.

Since that May day, more than two years ago, when William Kelso had so opportunely found her beside her mother's grave, she had been a most fortunate girl, for Lord Ivon and his wife, in their loneliness and their desire for an heir to reign after them, welcomed her with open arms, overlooked the dark stain upon her birth, and only stipulated that it should be kept from the knowledge of the world. In order to further this end, and to destroy her identity with Daisy Forrest's illegitimate daughter, they changed her name to Azalia Brooke, and as no one in England knew any better, except William Kelso, who kept the secret inviolate, her right to the name remained undisputed. She remained for a year secluded at Lord Ivon's magnificent country house in Cornwall, under the care of accomplished governesses and masters, and when she was presented in society created the greatest furore by[Pg 101] her grace and beauty. The lovely American, as she was called, was all the rage, and scores of suitors bowed before her, but all in vain, for no one ever awakened her heart, they said, and Lord and Lady Ivon began to feel sorely disappointed. They had hoped she would fall in love with some of her noble suitors and marry.

"Perhaps you have left a lover in America, dear?" Lady Ivon said, anxiously, one day; and she never forgot the look of pain that shadowed the beautiful face as Azalia replied:

"No, grandmamma, I did not. I never had but one lover, and he died in a few months after we became acquainted."

"But you must have been so very young at the time that you could not have cared for him so very much," said Lady Ivon, anxiously.

"Yes, I was very young," Azalia answered, dreamily; but she added to herself that she cared so much that she should never forget her dead husband, and sighed:

"Forget thee? Yes, when life shall cease
To thrill this heart of mine;
But not till then can I forget
One look or tone of thine!"

There was a burden on her heart—the burden of the secret she had not dared to confess either to Mr. Kelso or to her great-grandparents.

She feared that they would not receive her if she confessed that she had been married in secret to a man who had deserted her so strangely, and that she had borne a little child that was dead and had been buried in a secret grave.

"If I told them they might say, like Jewel, that it was all a sham, that the man had deceived me," she thought, with burning cheeks. "They might drive me out into the cold, hard world, of which I am so terribly afraid. No, no, I dare not speak!"

[Pg 102]

So she kept her sorrowful secret hidden in her own heart; and when Lady Ivon sometimes caught that look of sad retrospection on the fair face, she thought that she was thinking of a dead lover—not a dead husband and child.

"I fear that she must have cared more than I suspected," the old lady would say to herself, uneasily; and, could she have gazed upon Azalia now, she would have felt more anxious than ever.

She said to herself that she must find out the truth as to this Laurie Meredith. But how to accomplish it was the question that occurred to her, since she dare not ask any questions.

No answer presented itself to her mind, and she could only hope that she might meet this Laurie Meredith in society.

"But what if I should meet Jewel, too? Would she recognize me? Would she tax me with my identity? If she did, I should not acknowledge the truth."


It was perhaps a week after that snowy day when Azalia Brooke sat, looking back with dim, wet eyes into her shadowy past, that Jewel Fielding reclined at ease in a beautiful boudoir hung in white and gold, and listened to the roar of the winter wind as it whistled in the eaves of the handsome but ancient old mansion that she called home.

The house had been built by an Englishman almost a century ago, and outside it looked like a small-sized castle, while within it was of peculiar construction, having some very large and beautiful rooms, with others so small and ill-ventilated that Jewel turned up her pretty nose at them, declaring that they were stuffy holes, fit for nothing[Pg 103] that she could see but lumber-closets. There was a great, big, noisome cellar under the house, too, that in winter often stood feet deep in water, and was therefore never used for any purpose, but given over to the use and occupancy of immense rats.

But there were plenty of elegant, comfortable rooms in the grand house, and the beautiful boudoir where Jewel lay was fine enough for a queen, and Jewel herself was not unlike a queen in her purple velvet robe, with its border of silvery fur that was so becoming to the dusky beauty of her dark, sparkling face, with its crown of jetty braided hair.

It was a gloomy, overcast afternoon, with a keen, north-east wind blowing, and heavy patches of last week's deep snow still cumbering the ground. But the curtains were drawn and the gas ablaze in Jewel's room, while the leaping flames inside the grate added tropical warmth to the large room with its beautiful furniture and tall stands of blooming flowers.

Jewel's eyes were shining with pleasure, for her maid had just brought in for her inspection a new dress that she was to wear that night—a marvel of richness, a stately purple brocade and plush, in which, with her costly diamonds, Jewel knew that she would look imperially lovely.

"Leave it there, Marie," she said to the pert French maid with her dainty, beribboned cap; "I wish to study the fall of the drapery at my leisure. I will ring when I desire you."

Marie bowed and withdrew, and the vain beauty lay idly at full length, her arms thrown over her head, her dainty slipper tapping the carpet, and feasted her dark eyes on the shining robe.

"I shall look like a queen—there will be no one to rival me!" she declared, triumphantly. "Let me see, what flowers shall I wear?—crimson roses, or creamy-white ones? Or the delicate gold of the Maréchal Niel? I declare,[Pg 104] I can not make up my mind. I shall have to let Marie decide. She has exquisite taste."

Suddenly a slight frown wrinkled the beautiful forehead, and the dark eyes flashed.

"Ah, I forgot," she muttered. "They say that that English beauty will be there! Pshaw! What does it matter? I shall eclipse my Lord Ivon's great-granddaughter, in spite of the prestige of her position, for they say she is a blonde, and her pink-and-white charms will stand no chance against my brunette beauty. All blondes look insipid. I never saw but one that could hold her own against me, and that was my twin sister—ah, I forgot—I mean Flower."

She shivered a little, and the slow opening of the door gave her a violent start.

It was Marie, who had been flirting with the postman at the door.

She carried a letter on a salver.

Jewel snatched it up eagerly, and dismissed her maid.

In a moment she had drawn the letter from the envelope and was quickly perusing it.

Her face darkened with anger, and she gnawed her crimson lower lip sharply with her pearly teeth, muttering vindictively:

"I will not do it—never, never! She shall stay there till she dies!"


Again the door opened, and Jewel thrust the letter into the envelope and slipped her hand down among the folds of her rich gown.

"Marie, what do you mean by interrupting me like this?" she broke out, petulantly.

Marie courtesied, apologized, and explained that a lady, a woman, had called to see Miss Fielding, and would not be denied.

[Pg 105]

"What do you mean by a lady, a woman?" Jewel mimicked, impatiently; and the maid explained, in broken French, that the caller had a high-bred voice and air, but was dressed very shabbily, and had come on foot.

"Her name?" Jewel demanded.

But the shabby caller had given the maid no card.

"Why did you not send her to Mrs. Wellings since she would not go away?"

Mrs. Wellings had gone to her room with a headache, and desired no one to disturb her in the little nap with which she proposed to while away the dull afternoon.

"Headache! too much wine at luncheon!" Jewel muttered, scornfully; and then, having nothing else to do, and being of a curious disposition, she said, lightly: "Go, and show your impertinent shabby lady up here, Marie, and I will find out what she wishes. A beggar, perhaps—insolent creature!"

Marie withdrew, and Jewel threw herself into an attitude of studied grace, the better to impress the caller, whom she opined was some poor creature, a needle-woman desiring work, most probably.

The door opened, and a slight, dark figure, very poorly dressed, indeed, followed Marie over the threshold and stood there hesitating. Jewel looked at her curiously, but a dark veil was drawn over the features of the unknown.

"Well?" she interrogated, curtly and haughtily.

"Send your maid away, please, Miss Fielding," said a low, imploring voice that made Jewel start in spite of her haughty self-command. She immediately motioned Marie away, and, rising quickly, turned the key in the lock after her exit.

Then, with a swift tremor shaking her whole frame, she confronted the veiled figure.

"Now," she said, sharply, and the veil was flung aside[Pg 106] by an agitated hand, and Jewel and Flower, the long-parted half-sisters, the beautiful rivals, stood face to face!

Something like a groan of despair came from Jewel's blanched lips, and Flower said, bitterly:

"You know me!"

Jewel was not taken wholly by surprise. She had been looking for something like this for two years, never having quite believed her own story of Flower's suicide. She remained silent a moment, collecting her thoughts, then said, coldly:

"I have believed you dead for two years, but the moment you spoke I knew your voice. I never heard a voice quite like yours. But where have you been so long, and what has brought you here to-night?"

Flower, whose beautiful face was wan and ghastly white, answered, with sudden passion:

"It matters not where I have been, since it is evident you were glad to believe me dead. But I will tell you why I am here, Jewel!" and she drew from beneath her long, black water-proof a worn newspaper, and held it out to Jewel. "You have read this paragraph, of course?" she said. "Tell me what it means, or I shall go mad!"

The dark eyes glanced at the short paragraph, the red lips parted in a malicious smile, and Jewel said, airily:

"It means what it says, of course."

She saw the slight, graceful form shiver with emotion, the blue eyes dilate widely.

"Oh, Jewel!" gasped the girl, pleadingly. "This Laurie Meredith—who is he?"

Jewel gave utterance to a low, mocking laugh, and answered:

"Not the dead alive, certainly; for although you have come back from your supposed grave, your old lover has not. I could keep you in suspense awhile, but I see you[Pg 107] are not able to bear it, so I will tell you at once that this man whom I am so soon to marry is a cousin of your Laurie Meredith."

"A cousin!" Flower faltered, disappointedly, plainly betraying the wild hope that had lurked in her heart, and causing Jewel to exclaim sharply:

"Why, of course! You could not suppose it was the same man after you read his death in the paper."

"I—I—thought—hoped, it might be a mistake—that it was some one else who was dead—not my husband! Oh, I can not tell what I hoped when I saw that dear name in the paper again!" wailed Flower; and unable to stand longer, she sunk upon the velvet couch, and sobbed heart-brokenly.

Jewel watched the bowed, golden head with a terrible hatred, a panther-like fury in her large, black eyes, and clinching her white teeth fiercely, she said to herself:

"Ah, I did not know what a hell of hate was in my heart until this weak girl came between me and my heart's beloved! I can understand now how my mother hated her mother! I can feel the same murderous jealousy that made her life wretched! Ah, what am I to do? She is alive, she is in the same city with Laurie Meredith, and they will surely find each other out despite all my lies and all my schemes."

Dark, terrible thoughts came into her mind. She wished that she could see her sister fall down dead at her feet, so bitter was her hate.

Suddenly Flower lifted her beautiful, pathetic face, and a gleam of her old spirit shone in her eyes. She exclaimed, warningly:

"Jewel, I warn you not to deceive me! If it be really Laurie Meredith, if it was not he who died, tell me the truth! What could it profit you to keep us apart now? I remember that you used to love him, that you were angry because he preferred me, but even if he had learned to[Pg 108] love you, believing me dead, you could not be his wife now—now, while I am alive!"

A cruel, mocking laugh came from Jewel's writhing lips. She bent forward, and hissed, vindictively:

"You were always a fool, Flower! You never would listen to me when I told you that Laurie Meredith fooled you into an illegal marriage. Now, as you demand the truth, you shall have it. Laurie Meredith was a married man when he first came to our sea-side home, had a young wife in Boston when he betrayed you. She found out his treachery somehow, and that was why he left Virginia so suddenly. She was so imbittered by his wickedness that they say she did not shed a tear when he died, and in a short time she sold all her property here and went abroad, never to return."

"No, no; I will not believe he could be so wicked," came in a whisper of agony from Flower's white lips. "Oh, Jewel, how did you learn all this?"

"From my betrothed, the cousin of your heartless betrayer," Jewel replied, coolly; and a short silence fell between the two.

Then Flower exclaimed:

"Jewel, I should like to see this man! I should like to hear from his own lips—"

Jewel recoiled in horror.

"You are mad!" she cried. "Do you think I would permit it, that I would own you, the half-sister whose kinship to me is her disgrace and a brand on the memory of my dead father?"

She turned her back on the poor girl with a disdainful gesture, and swept toward the fire, and stood there with her pretty pointed slipper on the fender, murderous thoughts rising in her heart.

"I could kill her, I hate and fear her so much!" she thought, hotly.

Flower's tear-wet eyes had fallen to the floor. They[Pg 109] fastened on an envelope lying close to her feet half under the folds of her dress. She saw the name of her sister on the upper side.

She did not feel much interest in the letter. She could not understand afterward, when she came to think of it soberly, why she had picked it up and hid it in her breast.


Jewel moved from her position in front of the fire, and trailed the beautiful folds of her purple velvet dress across the floor to the window.

She drew back a fold of the lace curtain and peered through the window-pane and the closed shutters into the street.

The short, wintery afternoon was darkening into twilight, and the sky was obscured by dark, heavy clouds. The proud, imperious beauty leaned her brow against the cold pane, trying to solve the problem that tormented her mind.

"I must get rid of her somehow. She dimly suspects treachery on my part. If she goes out of the house again she will prosecute her search and learn all," she thought. "Ah, I have a plan! If I could only detain her here long enough to have that doctor come and take her to the maison de santé where mamma is, she would never get out again!"

She turned swiftly, crossed the room to Flower, and sat down by her side on the sofa, placing her white arm around her sister's neck.

"My poor little sister, forgive me my harshness," she whispered, penitently.

The drooping, despondent girl started and looked up. That Judas face was wreathed in a loving smile that bewildered her. Never had she caught such a look on her[Pg 110] half-sister's face since their early happy days ere Laurie Meredith's love had come between their hearts.

"Jewel!" she exclaimed, incredulously.

"Darling Flower!" answered the other, and clasped her victim in a loving embrace, whispering, fondly:

"You see how the old love comes back, dear, in spite of all my efforts to be your enemy. After all, we are half-sisters. Nothing can alter that, just as nothing can wholly change our love that was so sweet and strong when we believed ourselves twins. I forgive you all, for—listen"—and she pressed her lips to Flower's cold cheek—"I loved him, too, you know, and if he had fancied me I might have been his victim instead of you."

Flower clung to her, weeping, all her resentment and suspicion melted before this specious show of solicitude and affection.

"And," continued Jewel, "I want you to stay with me always, Flower, and share my home and my wealth. You must take off these shabby clothes that," playfully, "looks as if they belonged to somebody's servant. Marie shall bring you one of my prettiest tea-gowns, and when we have had some tea you shall tell me where you have been all this while, the reason you ran away that night, and what became of your little child."

As if those words touched a subtle cord of memory, Flower flung off the arm that clasped her with sinuous softness, like a serpent's fold, and cried out, in a terrified voice:

"Not now, Jewel, for I have stayed too long already. I shall be missed; my—they will be alarmed at my long absence. I must go now, dear sister, but I—I will come again, or—I will write."

She rushed toward the door, but Jewel clung to her tightly, entreating her to stay.

"This is your home, your rightful home," she cried,[Pg 111] desperately. "It is too dark and cold for you to go out now! At least stay to-night, and in the morning—"

She never finished the sentence, for Flower interrupted her, protesting that she could not, would not, must not stay. She would come again, but her mistress expected her now.

Jewel's arms began to tighten obstinately about Flower, and then, frightened and panting, the girl began to struggle frantically to get away.

It all passed in a minute. Jewel saw that her victim would escape her, for her frantic struggles began to tell, and she was dragging her foe with her toward the door. There was a marble-topped stand in their way, littered with costly trifles of bric-à-brac. Jewel flung out one hand, caught up something, she knew not what, and brought it down heavily on the golden head from which the close bonnet had fallen in the struggle.

There was one low, stifled moan, one only, then the struggling form relaxed its rigidity, the outstretched arms fell heavily, and in a minute more Jewel was standing still, looking at something lying very white and still upon the floor.


Jewel stood like one rooted to the floor gazing at her terrible work, for to all appearance life had fled from her hapless victim.

Flower lay like one dead upon the velvet carpet, her eyes half closed, her face ashen, and the missile with which Jewel had struck her, a small bronze toy, had glanced aside after doing its deadly work and fallen several feet away.

Jewel's dark face grew pale, too, and she shuddered with horror of the deed she had done.

In a minute she flung herself down upon her knees and[Pg 112] felt for her sister's heart, but no pulse stirred the white breast of the prostrate girl.

"Before Heaven, I did not mean to do this!" Jewel muttered. "I only meant to stun her that she might not get away. I did not mean to kill her, but she is dead, and I am a terrible sinner in the sight of God!"

For a minute she felt shocked and remorseful, and longed to bring Flower back to life; but then that momentary mood was succeeded by the bitter jealous one of a little while ago, and a half-ashamed exultation crept into her heart.

"After all," whispered her evil genius, "it is better that it happened thus. She is out of your way now, and you can marry Laurie Meredith without fearing that she may turn up at any minute to take him from you. Rejoice, heart, that your rival is no more!"

After that she thought of nothing but the relief she would feel hereafter in knowing that Flower was really dead, and of hiding her dead body where no one could ever find it.

After a few minutes' reflection she thought of the old cellar under the house. Doubtless it was several feet under water now, owing to the snow of last week and the subsequent thaw.

"If I could throw her in there I should be safe!" she muttered.

She hardly knew how she accomplished it, but she dragged Flower's body down to the cellar and pushed it inside the door. It fell with a loud splash into the water, and Jewel banged the door to wildly, and rushed from the scene of her awful crime.

She did not know whether it was minutes or hours that she lay shuddering upon the sofa before Marie entered and looked around with a disappointed expression.

"I beg your pardon; I did not like to disturb you and[Pg 113] the la—woman, mademoiselle, but it is quite time that you decided on what flowers you will wear this evening."

Jewel lifted her blanched face from the sofa, and said, carelessly:

"The flowers? use your own taste, Marie. It is always perfect. As for disturbing me—why, the woman went long ago, poor beggar. She had seen better days, she said, but she was a widow now with two children freezing in a garret. I gave her five dollars to buy food and coal, then I rang the bell for you to show her out. But you did not answer, so, as she was in a hurry to get back to her little ones, I showed her out myself."

Marie murmured some glib phrases of admiration for her young lady's condescension, then begged pardon for being in the conservatory and out of sound of the bell.

"I just ran down to see about the flowers for your corsage, but everything was so sweet and fragrant I couldn't tear myself away," she explained, with many nods and shrugs of head and shoulders.

"You are very excusable," Jewel replied, drawing a long breath of relief at hearing that Marie had been in the conservatory, out of reach of what had happened awhile ago.

She had feared at first that she would have to take the clever maid into her confidence and secure her aid in removing the body, but now she was very glad she had not done so.

"I accomplished it all by myself, although I ran a terrible risk in doing so. Ugh! what if Mrs. Wellings, or any of the servants, had come upon me when I was dragging her through the halls and down the stairs!" she shuddered to herself, with a passing wonder at her own hardihood.

[Pg 114]


No one who saw Jewel Fielding at Mrs. Devere's splendid reception that night would have guessed the dark secret she had in her breast.

The purple plush and brocade, with the diamond ornaments and creamy-hued corsage flowers, made her beauty seem queenly. Her dark eyes radiated light enough to atone for the slight pallor of her cheeks, whereon the rose was wont to bloom, and her lips were wreathed in deceptive smiles that hid the horror lurking in her heart.

Laurie Meredith thought that he had never seen her more beautiful than to-night, and he did not wonder that she had so many admirers. The only thing that surprised him was that she could prefer himself above all those others who worshiped her, while he had been one of the most indifferent suitors that ever bowed at woman's shrine.

But her beauty and her devotion had touched his heart at last. He must have been a marble man if it had not, for her devotion was so plain, and yet so pathetic, seeming to ask for nothing in return save the privilege of loving.

"Only to love him—nothing more,
Never a thought of his loving me!
Proud of him, glad of him, though he bore
My heart to shipwreck on this smooth sea.
Love's faith sees only grief, not wrong,
And life is daring when 'tis young."

If anything could have excused her folly and sin it would have been the madness of her passion for him. She worshiped him and made no secret of it. She could not keep her dark eyes from turning to his face, even in the greatest crowds; she could not keep from speaking to him[Pg 115] if he came near her. By degrees the little world of society realized this. People would smile when they saw them together. They would take care not to intrude on their tête-à-têtes, not knowing that the love was all on one side.

The Merediths could not help but see how things were going. Indeed, they had seen long ago that she was in love with Laurie, and had been ever since that summer when she had nursed him through the brain fever. They talked to him delicately about it, wondering how he could remain so indifferent to one so beautiful and loving.

With so many influences brought to bear upon him, he began to wonder at himself. Why could he not care for this beautiful girl who was so unhappy about him? for he remembered that she had loved him long ago—when, in her girlish anger and jealousy, she had said:

"You have made love to my sister, and you have made love to me; you have won both our hearts. Now choose between us!"

She was older and more cultured now—perhaps ashamed of her early madness—yet the love was there still. Had he indeed encouraged it only to nip the fair flower in the bud?

He remembered that he certainly had admired her very much—had even cherished some romantic thoughts about making her his bride, until sweet Flower put it all out of his head. The thought came to him for the first time, that perhaps there had been some justice in her charge. She had been so young, so unversed in the ways of the world, that a few gallant words and admiring glances had wiled her heart from her forever.

Flower was dead and gone—why could he not tear his heart from his perished love and give it to her unhappy sister? It seemed to him that Flower—dear, gentle girl—herself would have wished it.

"Pity is akin to love," it is said. He began to feel very sorry for Jewel, who, with all her gifts of youth,[Pg 116] beauty, and wealth, was so unutterably lonely, and so unhappy through her hopeless love. The moment came when this sympathy, combined with admiration for her beauty, led him into the belief that he loved her at last.

He proposed for her hand, and was accepted with a rapture that almost startled him with its intensity. To-night, as he lingered by her side, he felt proud of his fiancée, so beautiful and so loving. He smiled into her eyes, and thought within himself that the day would come when he would be almost as fond of her as he had been of Flower.

They were sitting tête-à-tête on a velvet couch in the long drawing-room, when their hostess approached, and asked, eagerly:

"Have either of you seen Lord Ivon's heiress, the great English beauty? She is here to-night, and people are raving over her loveliness. But you need not be afraid of a rival, Miss Fielding, as her type is the opposite of your own. I do not praise one of my own sex often," laughingly; "but I will own that she is, as the poet laureate of her own land aptly says, 'Perfectly beautiful, faultily faultless.'"

"Indeed? I am very anxious to see her!" exclaimed Jewel, with a half sneer; but Laurie Meredith only laughed. He thought he had seen so many English beauties while abroad; and, after all, none could compare, in his own mind, with the lovely women of his native land. "Where is she, Mrs. Devere?" continued Jewel, angrily, eager to look upon one of whom she was furiously jealous, only because report said that she was wondrously lovely.

"If you will come with me I will present you. I am curious to see the meeting between the loveliest girl in America and the greatest beauty in England!" exclaimed Mrs. Devere, who doted on beauty because she was irredeemably homely herself.

Jewel was mollified by the compliment, and smiled[Pg 117] brightly on her hostess and her lover as she rose from her seat.

"Will you come, too, Laurie?" she asked; but he shook his handsome head.

"Excuse me for the present," he replied; and Jewel went away with Mrs. Devere, secretly glad that her lover showed so little interest in the beauty over whom every one was raving.

"And I have been so afraid of her—so foolishly jealous!" she thought, gladly, all her fears set at rest.


Laurie Meredith leaned his handsome head carelessly back, and the smile that he had worn for Jewel's sake faded away and left his face grave and sober, as it had grown to be since that summer when he had gone away from the sea-shore, leaving his little love behind him because she had changed her mind almost at the last moment and declined to go with her lover-husband.

His tender thoughts of the dead girl were always mixed with pain and remorse, for he believed that Flower's love for him had been less strong than he had believed it at first. Her refusal to go away with him, and her subsequent short and strange letters, led him to this belief.

"She was little more than a child, and it was a girlish fancy that she took for love," he thought now. "It was cruel in me to take advantage of her, and bind her by a tie that afterward made her miserable. Jewel may say what she pleases, but I am not sure that Flower drowned herself wholly on account of the unhappy circumstances of her birth. I fear that her sorrow over her hasty marriage, and despair at her situation, helped to drive her to that mad deed."

At times he could not help contrasting the fickleness of Flower's love with the constancy and devotion of Jewel's.[Pg 118] He had said to himself more than once, with a pang of wounded pride:

"Flower cared but little for my love, but Jewel valued it above all else on earth. It is right that I should reward her devotion. I will try to love the faithful, dark-eyed girl as she deserves."

But such is the strangeness of the human heart that he prized the memory of the lost girl far more than he did the living love of beautiful, passionate Jewel. He could not have helped it if he would, and he did not struggle much against the feeling, for it seemed to him that he owed his greatest allegiance to the memory of her who had loved him, for a time at least, tenderly and truly, and who had died so young; and to his heart there came sometimes, with a shuddering pain, the strangely fitting words of Poe, the passionate poet, who sounded the heights and depths of love's emotion:

"Would to God I could awaken!
For I dream I know not how,
And my soul is sorely shaken
Lest an evil step be taken—
Lest the dead who is forsaken
May not be happy now!"

Almost without his own volition, and perhaps partly inspired by the strain of half-sad music that floated out from the ball-room, these often-recurring thoughts came to him again, and, wrapped in their pain and pathos, he forgot the flight of time until he saw Jewel coming back to him alone, with such a pale, drawn face that he started in wonder.

"My dear, what is it? You look as if you had seen a ghost!" he exclaimed.

She fell wearily into the seat by his side, and answered, in a low, strained voice:

"Oh, Laurie, I have had a great shock!"

He could well believe her, for she was trembling violently;[Pg 119] her face, and even her lips were ghastly pale, and her eyes had a startled expression in their dark, liquid depths.

No one was near, and he took her hand and pressed it gently, murmuring something suitable to the occasion in his tender solicitude.

He was rewarded by a faint, sweet smile and look of adoration from her dark eyes.

"Perhaps you will think me foolish," she said—"perhaps you will not see any resemblance at all. It was only that both had the same eyes and hair; but I was so startled! I—I feared you would be shocked, too, so I hurried back to tell you—to warn you!"

"Jewel, whom are you talking about? I do not understand you," her lover said, with a gleam of wonder in his grave, brown eyes.

She answered with a palpable reluctance, yet as if compelled to the confession:

"Of Miss Brooke, the English beauty. She is very beautiful—a blonde, with the brightest golden hair, and eyes with the purple-blue of wet violets. And, oh, Laurie, she looked so much like—like Flower, that I was frightened. But," growing braver, "of course, there was nothing in it to frighten me, only I was taken by surprise. There are plenty of striking resemblances in the world."

Her jealous eyes saw his handsome face whiten with emotion.

He said, in a strange, agitated voice:

"Why do you say there could be nothing in it? No one could be quite sure that Flower drowned herself. It was only suspicion. No one saw her commit suicide. And her body was never recovered."

"Oh, Laurie, what nonsense! I told you she had vowed to drown herself, that I watched her all the time to prevent her from carrying out her threat; but that night when she got away, I went immediately to the shore, and there I found her shawl. What further proof could one[Pg 120] need after what she had threatened so often? Besides, she was never seen nor heard of afterward. Some one must have heard of her if she had not been dead!"

"There was that strange dream of the mulatto, Sam, you know," he answered.

"Sam—a drunken fool!" said Jewel, with compressed lips and flashing eyes. "His wife denied every word of it. She was a clever, truthful woman."

He sighed and relapsed into silence while she continued, with feverish eagerness:

"Of course, I know that Flower is dead! I have never doubted it with the evidence that I had. But, in spite of all, it gave me a shock to see Azalia Brooke. I feared you might be startled, too, and betray some agitation on meeting her, so I hurried back to warn you."

"You are very kind, dear Jewel," he said, affecting indifference. "I dare say the resemblance is not very striking. I promise you to meet the English beauty with due calmness."

"Dear Laurie," she whispered, fondly, and twined her jeweled fingers softly about his. "Do you know," she went on, smilingly, "I was actually feeling jealous of Azalia Brooke? I thought—since she looked so much like Flower—that she might win you from me!"

"Nonsense!" he replied, with a smile, that lightened her heart of much of its fear, and gave her courage to say, tenderly:

"Promise me, dear Laurie, not to fall in love with Azalia Brooke, for you know that would break my heart. Once before, when I fondly dreamed that you were mine alone, I lost you to another, and I could not bear that cruel pain again and live!"

His heart was deeply touched by her devotion.

"Jewel, I am not worthy of such passionate love," he said, feeling that his lukewarm passion compared most unfavorably with her fond affection. Then seeing how[Pg 121] anxious she looked, he added, "I will promise you most willingly not to fall in love with Miss Brooke."

"Very well, then, I will not take you away at once, as I was on the point of doing in my terror of a rival," she rejoined, laughingly, yet hoping that he would offer to go.

But he did not do so. A secret longing to see Azalia Brooke took possession of him—a longing that he was wise enough not to confess to jealous Jewel.

"Let us go into the conservatory," she said, longing to rest awhile in its leafy, odorous coolness, that she might settle her disordered nerves, and he gave her his arm and led her toward that favorite resort of lovers.

"Young flowers were whispering in melody
To happy flowers that night—and tree to tree;
Fountains were gushing music as they fell."

In that enchanted spot Jewel thought she should have him all to herself, for she had left Azalia Brooke in the ball-room surrounded by eager admirers, but what was her surprise to see, just ahead of her, with a handsome young man, the beautiful English girl talking so earnestly that she did not hear nor see the new-comers at all.

If Azalia Brooke could have been permitted to decide under what circumstances she should be seen first by Laurie Meredith, she could not have chosen a more striking moment than the present.

She had paused with her attendant cavalier beside a perfect thicket of her namesake flowers—red and white azalias. A fountain and some lofty palm-trees were in the background, and made a lovely setting for her face and dress.

The former we have described before in all its wondrous beauty; the latter was an exquisite robe of silvery white moiré antique, draped in billows of white tulle, looped crystallized sea-grasses and water-lilies. The perfect throat and arms were clasped with large pearls, and the[Pg 122] golden waves of hair were banded back with a Grecian fillet of the same pure jewels. It was a trying costume; but the blue of her eyes was so deep, the sheen of her hair so goldenly bright, and the rose-hue so warm on her delicate cheek, that the unbroken white and green were perfectly relieved, and set off her charms to the greatest advantage.

Her companion was talking to her earnestly, and she was listening to him with an absent smile, when Laurie Meredith first caught sight of her face.

He stopped short. Jewel felt him start and tremble. She glanced into his face and saw it pale, startled, eager. A low whisper came from his lips, and her keen ear caught the burden. It was the one word:


They were only a few yards away from the couple. Jewel pinched his arm, warningly.


He withdrew his eyes with difficulty from Azalia's face, and he looked down at his betrothed.

"Do not stare so," she whispered, uneasily. "I warned you of the likeness, you know."

With a heavy sigh he came back to himself.

"Pardon me," he said, confusedly, and moved on.

A meeting was inevitable now. Laurie Meredith and Azalia Brooke were face to face.

Jewel's voice was uttering, not overcordially, the words of introduction.

Both bowed and murmured something almost inaudible, then Jewel drew her lover on with her to a quiet spot, leaving the couple alone.

That was but the beginning. They met night after night in the saloons of fashion, although Jewel contrived to keep them apart, they studied each other closely, and both were startled by the other's likeness to a dead love.

[Pg 123]

Jewel was puzzled, too, by the terrible resemblance of Azalia Brooke to her dead half-sister.

"If I did not know that she was dead, if I did not know what was lying in that old cellar under the noisome water, ay, if I did not know whose ghost it was that haunted the corridors of that old house, I could almost swear that this was Flower masquerading under a grand seeming," she told herself over and over, with a shudder; for Jewel's life had the stain of a dark sin on it now, and she had seen more than once or twice the vision of a light, shadowy figure all in luminous white, with floating golden hair, flitting at twilight through the corridors of her stately home.

"It is Flower's spirit!" she decided, fearfully, and wondered if the murdered girl were going to haunt her all her life.

"Oh, how much I have done for the sake of my love for Laurie Meredith!" she thought. "And yet, I half believe that but for dread of me he would woo this hateful English girl only for the sake of that fatal resemblance. He is attracted toward her. I can see that in spite of the indifference he pretends. Let him beware! Let both beware, for if they played me false both should answer with their lives!"


Azalia Brooke went home that night from the grand ball, puzzled, tormented, almost convinced that her lover-husband was not dead, but that he lived in the person of Jewel Fielding's lover.

His striking likeness to him she had so long believed dead was so wonderful and startling that it had almost unnerved her that night, and it was only by a strong exercise of will-power that she resisted the impulse to cry[Pg 124] out, to claim him, and charge him with his falsity, to say, bitterly:

"It was not you that died, Laurie Meredith. That was a clever sham, like your marriage with me. You were false to the core of your heart, and perhaps combined with my cruel sister to get rid of me."

Wounded pride, bitter resentment, and a terror of being thrown helpless on the world, held her back from betraying herself to him who would have welcomed her so gladly.

It was pitiful for those two who had loved so well, who had been all the world to each other, whose hearts still held each other's image, to meet as mere strangers, to speak coldly to each other, yet a cruel fate, in the person of Jewel Fielding, had willed it so, and they moved and acted like mere puppets under her merciless hands.

"He did not even remember me. He betrayed not the slightest emotion on meeting me, while I—I was trembling with excitement. If indeed it be the Laurie of old he soon tired of me, and then forgot me utterly, so that after a few years he can meet me with a glance of a stranger," she thought, bitterly; and pride came to her aid to uphold her in the task of meeting indifference with indifference.

"Yet I would give the world to find out if it is really Laurie, or only a relative with a startling resemblance," she thought many times.

As they met so often in society, this longing grew upon her, but she could find no means of gratifying it, for she could not ask any one else about it, and Jewel was so jealous over her lover that she kept him chained like a slave to her triumphal car.

But one afternoon they met at a kettle-drum—a species of informal entertainments then raging in society. The gentlemen came in their ordinary dress, the ladies in calling or simple walking costume. Chance threw Laurie[Pg 125] Meredith and Azalia Brooke together in a cozy corner, with their cups of tea.

Jewel? She was tête-à-tête with a distinguished gentleman, from whom she could not escape just now with strict courtesy. She listened with a forced smile to his fluent periods, and furtively watched the pair over yonder, coquetting, as she said angrily to herself, over their fragrant cups of tea and thin cakes.

Miss Brooke's exquisite beauty appeared to advantage in a close-fitting tailor suit of broadcloth. A plumed turban of the same becoming hue set off her rippling golden hair.

She said to her companion, with a fast-beating heart:

"Miss Fielding has told me, Mr. Meredith, that you were abroad two years. Of course you visited England. Did you see Cornwall? My home is there. It is quite a show-place, being very ancient, and having a magnificent picture-gallery."

He said audaciously that he had been in England, and should have gone down to Cornwall to see Lord Ivon's pictures if he could have believed that there was anything on canvas there half as lovely as herself.

Miss Brooke shook her spoon at him in playful reproof, and he continued:

"I spent most of my time, however, at a German university."

Azalia gave an uncontrollable start that jarred the cup in her hand and made the tea splash over a little on her lap.

"How awkward I am!" she said, laughing. "Ah! and so you were a German student, Mr. Meredith?"

"Yes, for a time," he replied. "Not that I cared much for it, but my father was so anxious for it before his death that I went afterward, just because he had wished it—not that I benefited much by it, I fear. My thoughts were full of other things."

[Pg 126]

Azalia swallowed her tea at a draught in order not to spill any more on her dress. She looked at him then, and said:

"So your father is dead? That is sad. Mine died when I was a very tiny baby. I have often wished that he had lived that I might have known the pleasure of a father's love and care."

Her voice was low with regret and pain. His soul stirred with sympathy.

"You have much to regret in losing your father so soon," he said. "I can not tell you what mine was to me, what a mentor, what a friend, until his death nearly three years ago."

"Three years!" she echoed, faintly, and the pretty eggshell china tea-cup fell from her hands to the carpet, crashing into a dozen fragments.

"Oh, dear, how very careless I am!" she exclaimed, dismayed at the attention she attracted by her accident. She saw Jewel looking at her with jealous suspicion, but took no notice, and as a servant appeared to remove the débris, she turned smilingly back to her companion and said, lightly:

"Everything slips through my fingers," and added, miserably, to herself, "Love and happiness with the rest!"

He was about to reply with some admiring sentence, when he saw Jewel coming over to them with a bright smile that was assumed to veil her jealous spite.

"Laurie, what did you say to Miss Brooke to shock her into breaking her tea-cup?" playfully.

He answered, as he rose to place a chair for her:


Azalia Brooke looked up at her with artless cordiality.

"Was it not dreadful, spoiling Mrs. Stanley's beautiful set that way? Won't you go with me to-morrow, Miss Fielding, and try to match it?" she asked. "Do you[Pg 127] know, I was so interested in what Mr. Meredith was telling, I forgot I had it in my hand, and it fell. It seems he has been a student at one of those delightful German universities. He was telling me how much his father wished it before his death, nearly three years ago."

Was there a strange, hidden meaning in the blue eyes that met Jewel's? Was there a menace in the distinct voice? Jewel quailed for a moment, fancying these things, and her rival saw her turn pale and tremble.

But it was Jewel's turn now.

"Laurie, will you take me home now? I have another engagement," she said.

They bowed and went away from the presence of the young beauty.

On the way home Jewel betrayed her petulant jealousy plainly.

"You promised me not to fall in love with that girl, Laurie."

"Did your 'other engagement' mean that you wanted to bring me away to scold me?" he asked, frowning.

"You are in love with her, Laurie!" angrily.

"You are jealous," he retorted; and Jewel took refuge in tears, while her betrothed relapsed into offended silence.

Seeing this, Jewel realized that she was going too far, begged his pardon for her folly, and riveted her chains more firmly than ever.

They parted affectionately, and when he had gone, she muttered:

"Could she have escaped? I must satisfy myself, much as I dread it, for to-night I could have sworn that Flower's voice spoke to me with a hidden threat in its tone. Oh, I wish I were safely married and away on my bridal-tour!"

She crept to the door of the deserted cellar, unclosed it, peered into the darkness with dilated eyes. She heard great rats plunging about, saw the noisome water[Pg 128] standing, green and stagnant, several feet deep, and a large blank water-proof cloak floating on the top.

"She is there still. It was my guilty fancy that made me clothe Azalia Brooke with Flower's soul!" she shuddered, as she fled back to her room.

Meanwhile, Azalia Brooke had pleaded another engagement, too, and returned home.

She flung herself upon the floor, sobbing miserably:

"It is he, my own darling; but Jewel has taken him from me. It was his father's death she showed me in the paper. Perhaps they planned it together, thinking that the shock would kill me."

Then she lay for some time, still and unconscious.


Laurie Meredith found himself in a terrible dilemma. He had thought that he was quite safe in pledging himself to Jewel Fielding, being perfectly sure that he could never love again as he had loved his lost Flower.

But suddenly, and almost hopelessly, it seemed, he found himself most passionately in love with Lord Ivon's great-granddaughter, the proud English beauty.

And it was her wonderful resemblance to Flower that had wiled his heart from his breast.

At times, when looking at her or listening to her musical voice, he could scarcely persuade himself that she was a stranger; she seemed so much like Flower, his lost bride, that he longed to clasp her in his arms, and say:

"You must be Flower, who loved me so dearly once, and who was my adored little bride! Confess the truth, and own that you are only masquerading as the heiress of this proud nobleman!"

If he had followed this wild impulse of his heart all would have been well. She would have been only too[Pg 129] happy to find him again, and would gladly have resigned the proudest destiny for his dear sake.

But his reason fought sternly against such folly and madness. He would say to himself, in bitter chiding:

"I am a traitor to Jewel in thus cherishing a mad passion for one whom she instinctively dreaded from the first as a rival. Flower is dead, dead; and this girl, with her face and voice, is but a stranger. Oh, my little love, my blue-eyed Flower, if only I could call you back to my heart!"

His passionate regret for her revived with tenfold force; she seemed to be always in his mind, mixed up strangely with the idea of Azalia Brooke, and people began to say that he had forgotten all the songs he ever knew but one, for when pressed to sing of late he always gave the same song—one that particularly irritated Jewel:

"Thou art lost to me forever—I have lost thee, Isadore,
Thy head will never rest on my loyal bosom more,
Thy tender eyes will never more gaze fondly into mine,
Nor thy arm around me lovingly and trustingly intwine.
Thou art lost to me forever, Isadore!
"My footsteps through the rooms resound all sadly and forlorn,
The garish sun shines flauntingly upon the unswept floor;
The mocking-bird still sits and sings a melancholy strain,
For my heart is like a heavy cloud that overflows with rain.
Thou art lost to me forever, Isadore!"

Within a week after that scene in which Jewel had betrayed her angry jealousy of Azalia Brooke, he wished devoutly that he had never entangled himself in an engagement with the imperious brunette.

Could he have followed the dictates of his heart he would not have lost an hour in wooing Azalia Brooke.

She had told him that she was going soon. They had been in Boston more than a month, and Lord and Lady Ivon were getting anxious to resume their travels. They[Pg 130] would go to Washington next to see an American Congress in session, and an American President.

When he heard that she was going, he realized, by the terrible pain he felt, that he loved her with his whole soul, that when she was gone, the whole world would seem dark and cold and empty.

"For, alas, alas! with me
The light of life is o'er!
'No more—no more—no more—'
(Such language holds the solemn sea
To the sands upon the shore)
Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree,
Or the stricken eagle soar!
"And all my days are trances,
And all my nightly dreams,
Are where thy blue eye glances,
And where thy footstep gleams—
In what ethereal dances,
By what eternal streams!"

He grew impatient with himself at what he called to himself his inexcusable folly. What if he were free to woo, was it likely she would listen?—she, the proud descendant of one of the proudest lords of England. Doubtless she had been taught to have a secret contempt for Americans, and he was a thorough American, proud of his country, proud of its institutions, and though rich, cultured, and well-born, he had no title to lay at the beauty's feet, while Mrs. Raynold Clinton had told him that the young and handsome Earl of Clive was desperately in love with Azalia Brooke.

"He was like her shadow in London last winter," she said. "Azalia refused him, but he would not take no for an answer, and Lord and Lady Ivon are in hopes she will reconsider her decision, as the match is a good one, even for their great-granddaughter."

Every word was a thorn in his heart. He began to[Pg 131] realize something of what Jewel's jealousy was to her in the strange pain that racked his heart.

Then he tried to reason with himself. He never could be anything to Azalia Brooke, even if she were not so cold and proud. He belonged to Jewel Fielding, and she had made him understand very plainly that it would not be a safe plan for him to break with her now.

Suddenly the Earl of Clive made his appearance in Boston. He had crossed the Atlantic in order to be near the lady of his heart.

He was young, rich, and good-looking—a trifle arrogant, perhaps, but one with so many gifts of this life has some cause for vanity.

He devoted himself with ardor to Azalia Brooke, causing more than one gallant admirer to think, indignantly:

"Were there no beauteous maids at home,
And no true lovers here,
That he must cross the seas to win
The dearest of the dear?"

Jewel Fielding was very glad that Azalia Brooke's titled lover had come upon the scene.

The beautiful brunette was by no means blind to the state of her lover's feelings. She was half maddened with her bitter jealousy of her betrothed and her hatred of Azalia Brooke.

She hoped that Laurie would see the futility of his passion now that Lord Clive had come.


Jewel was very busy getting ready for her marriage now, which had been set for the early spring. In her anxiety to be sure of her husband she would have liked to forego the delights of a trousseau, and be married at once, but she had no excuse for hurrying the time, and Laurie[Pg 132] Meredith never hinted at the intervening months as being at all too long.

So Jewel filled up her life as much as possible with ordering an expensive trousseau and mixing in the gay world, not giving herself time to think, for "that way madness lay."

One evening her lover had called to accompany her to an entertainment given in honor of Lord and Lady Ivon, who were to leave on the morrow. Jewel was exquisitely dressed for the occasion in a dress of dark-red satin, draped in rich black lace, one of her favorite and most becoming costumes. Her ornaments were deep red rubies set in gold.

A happy light was burning in the large dark eyes, for her rival was going away to-morrow, never to cross her path in life again, she hoped.

Mrs. Wellings, in rich black velvet and point lace, was in attendance as chaperon.

Jewel slipped her gloved hand through the arm of her betrothed.

"Let us go to the conservatory, dear Laurie," she whispered, fondly. "I have a fancy that you shall choose the flowers I wear to-night."

He rose with her and selected deep-red jacqueminot roses. She made him cut them off with long stems and an abundance of buds, and was about to fasten them in her corsage, when, to his utter amazement, she uttered a wild, startled shriek, dropped the flowers and fell against his breast, clasping her white arms around his neck.

"Jewel, what is it?" he exclaimed, putting his arm around her gently, and looking down at her convulsed face.

He saw that her eyes were fixed upon a door in the rear end of the conservatory, and his glance hastily followed her strained and startled one.

As he did so, a blast of keen, cold, wintery air swept[Pg 133] through the warm, odorous conservatory. The rear door was open, and upon its threshold, very clearly outlined against the blackness of the outer night, there was standing a slight, girlish figure all in white.

A swift shudder crept along the veins of Laurie Meredith.

The figure he was gazing at was all in misty, yet luminous white, that fell from neck to feet in a loose, graceful fashion. The face was not quite clear in the dim light, but it seemed to be of mortal paleness, while all around it fell long waves of golden hair.

Laurie Meredith gazed in wonder and awe at that strange, unearthly looking figure, while Jewel shuddered and moaned, faintly:

"You see it, do you not, Laurie—the awful spirit form? Oh, this old house is haunted! I have seen the ghosts more than once, but I would not speak lest no one would believe me. But, oh, you can not guess what I have suffered, and, dear, I shall be so glad when I am married and gone from this dismal, haunted abode!"

Jewel had seen the ghost so often that her nerves were steeled against it, and she turned it to account by this clever hint to Laurie to hasten their marriage.

Both were looking intently at the luminous figure in the open door. It moved slightly and threw up one arm in a theatrical gesture, and Laurie Meredith uttered an exclamation:

"A ghost, Jewel! But I do not believe in ghosts!"

"Nor did I, till I came to this horrible house!" she whispered. "Oh, Laurie, what are you going to do?" for he had drawn her arms from his neck and was pushing her hurriedly into a chair.

"I shall speak to the ghost," he whispered, and darted down the flowery vista.

There was a stifled shriek, a flutter of garments. The[Pg 134] ghost fled into the outer darkness, and Laurie Meredith after it.

Jewel sat quaking in her chair, thinking in terror:

"Ah, what if it should lead him into the old cellar, and he should discover my awful secret?"

At that moment a woman's shrill, frightened cry became audible, a moment later the voice of a man:

"Who are you, playing ghost like this, and frightening helpless women out of their senses? You need not struggle, for I am going to unmask you."


The pretty ghost was quite strong. It struggled desperately out there in the darkness, but it was no match for Laurie Meredith, and presently he dragged it triumphantly into the conservatory, and tore from it a wig of fair hair and a white complexion mask. This revealed the pretty, flustered face of Jewel's maid, who, in a spangled tarletan dress and wig and mask, had made an ethereal-looking ghost.

"Marie!" exclaimed Jewel, in astonishment and relief.

"Oui, ma'amselle," replied the pretty maid, with a titter.

"So you recognize the ghost?" Laurie demanded.

"Yes," said Jewel. "Oh, Marie, was it you all the time?"

"Pardon, mademoiselle, but—yes. I—I—did not mean to frighten any one, only to tease Jules, the gardener, who is my lover."

"It was a very poor joke. If I were in your place, Jewel, I would dismiss this girl from my employ at once," Laurie Meredith said, sternly.

Marie whimpered, and looked pleadingly at Jewel, who hardened her heart, and said, severely:

[Pg 135]

"Yes, you may go. You are a mischievous girl, and have given me several frights that I shall never forget."

A strange smile flickered over the girl's face, but she said, humbly:

"I will never do it again—only let me stay, ma'amselle!"

"No, you shall not stay. I discharge you, and without a character," replied Jewel, angrily.

"Oh, mademoiselle, you are cruel. Grant me but a private interview, and I will convince you that I am not to blame," pleaded Marie, humbly; but her eloquence would have had no effect on Jewel but for an expression that appeared in the girl's eyes and startled her into yielding, it was so full of bold meaning and deadly menace.

The glance made Jewel quake, she could not tell why, only that her consciousness of a dark and guilty secret made her nervous and fearful. She hesitated a moment, and the girl, turning her back completely on Laurie, made large eyes of such impudent menace at her that she was compelled to acquiesce.

She looked at her betrothed, and said, sweetly:

"Perhaps I had better hear her defense, Laurie. I do not wish to be too hard on a poor, friendless girl."

"That is very magnanimous of you, Jewel," he replied, admiringly. "Do as you please, only let our young friend here understand that at another such offense she must go."

"Monsieur, I will never do so again!" whimpered Marie again; and she dropped into a mocking courtesy, and followed her mistress up the stairs.

Jewel was trembling with indefinable fear, but she turned boldly on the delinquent maid.

"Now, Marie, if there is anything you can plead in your own defense, do so quickly," she said, sharply.

Marie faced her with an impudent smile bold and taunting.

[Pg 136]

"Mademoiselle, you dare not discharge me," she replied, coolly.

"Dare not!" Jewel echoed.

"That was what I said," replied the French maid, calmly. "I repeat it. You dare not discharge me, for it would be dangerous to send away the trusty maid who shares your fatal secret."

She saw horror and consternation on the dark, beautiful face. It grew pale as marble, and the eyes dilated in horror.

"Ah, you understand me!" Marie said. "I confess it was naughty in me to play ghost, but then I thought you ought to be punished a little for that terrible deed. She was young and lovely, the girl you killed and flung into the cellar. You see I know all, Miss Fielding, for I watched, and I saw you dragging her down the steps."

"I deny it all!" Jewel gasped, feebly; but Marie laughed her to scorn.

"You deny it, with your victim lying down there under the water in the cellar!"

Jewel saw that denial would be useless.

"Oh, Marie, I did not kill her," she gasped, feebly. "She was weak and sick; she fell down dead in my room, most probably with heart disease. I was frightened. I thought I might be accused of murder, so I hid the body."

"A very unwise thing to do, as you would not get any one to believe that story, especially if I showed them this," replied Marie, drawing from her pocket the piece of bronze bric-à-brac, and showing Jewel a dull red stain on its brightness.

She shuddered, and asked:

"Why have you kept the secret so long?"

"To forward my own interests," Marie answered, promptly. "You will retain me in your service as long as I choose to remain, and you will raise my wages to three hundred dollars per month. I think that is very[Pg 137] reasonable, considering everything; and, besides, you ought to be very grateful to me for keeping your awful secret."

Jewel knew that this was quite true. She would have sacrificed her whole fortune rather than that her guilty secret should be betrayed.

"Does any one else know?" she asked.

"I have never opened my lips," Marie replied, truthfully; and Jewel very gladly consented to the terms of her silence.

She went to her lover, and the full glass of wine she had taken was not sufficient to steady her nerves. She trembled like one with a chill, and he begged her to remain at home, declaring that the shock she had received made her look too ill to go to the entertainment.

But not for any consideration would Jewel have remained at home and left the field clear for Laurie to linger by the side of her rival.

"I would not miss it for anything, and I know I shall be better presently," she said; and went back to the parlor and aroused Mrs. Wellings, who all this time had been dozing in her easy-chair, oblivious to all that had happened.

The chaperon was sadly addicted to champagne with her dinner, and was prone to fall asleep afterward—a failing on which Jewel looked very complacently, since she did not have to be bored with the old woman's droning remarks.

Having aroused her to a sense of the impending festivities, she hastily donned her warm cloak, and all three went out to the elegant sleigh which was in readiness to convey them over the glittering crust of snow to the grand entertainment.

[Pg 138]


It was in a shady, flowery alcove, that must have been designed especially for lovers, that Lord Clive was sitting with Azalia Brooke, and by one of the strangest of chances Laurie Meredith was close by, unseen and unheard, yet within ear-shot of their talk.

It could not have been very pleasant to him to listen to Azalia's lover pleading his cause with the lovely girl, yet that was what Jewel's betrothed was forced to hear as he lingered there unable to get away without attracting their notice.

"I feared you would be angry if I followed you to America, yet I could not help it," Lord Clive said, plaintively, presently, and Azalia's voice answered gravely:

"It seemed very useless. We should have been back in England in a few months."

"A few months—an eternity!" exclaimed the earl. "Ah, how coldly you can speak of being away from me, while I was devoured by the pangs of jealousy lest some handsome American should win you from me."

"That is all nonsense!" said Azalia Brooke, quite haughtily; and Laurie Meredith sighed heavily, and thought that he had judged rightly. She was proud of her ancient name, and scorned the Americans who could point to no long line of ancestry.

"I am glad you think it is all nonsense, but you can't think how I have been hating these fellows over here, Miss Brooke. I had to come. And now that I'm here you won't send me away again as you did in London, will you? Oh, Azalia—"

Passionate words followed, words of love and entreaty. Lord Clive could be quite eloquent on the subject which[Pg 139] occupied his heart, and there was one but a few feet away who envied him the privilege of wooing sweet Azalia Brooke, one who was almost maddened by jealous pain.

He listened intently for the girl's answer. It came low and sadly:

"I hoped you had given up all hope of me!"

"Never!" declared Lord Clive.

"I told you last winter that it was useless—I have no love to give you," said the sweet, musical voice, very gently.

"I will teach you to love me if you will only give me an opportunity!" protested Lord Clive.

The girl laughed, but the laugh had a mocking sound, so did her voice as she exclaimed:

"Suppose I tell you that I was once taught that lesson by another? Will you give over talking to me then of what could never be?"

"Azalia—Miss Brooke!"

"It is true," she answered, in a bitter tone.

"You love another!" he exclaimed, despairingly.

"Nay, nay; I loved once! Put it in the past tense, please!" she interrupted; and even where he sat, Laurie Meredith could hear the deep sigh that heaved her breast as she added, in a voice of passionate self-scorn: "I should hate myself could I love him still, false and fickle as he proved to be!"

Lord Clive stared at her in the most profound amazement, startled by her unwonted emotion, but the agitated voice went on:

"Yes, look at me in wonder. You have thought me cold and heartless because I turned a deaf ear to lovers. It is due to you that I confess the truth. I have no heart to give, because it was wiled from me long ago by one who valued it but for a little while, then flung it carelessly away!"

"Impossible!" he exclaimed, in the greatest wonder.

[Pg 140]

"It is true," she answered; and the pathos of her voice went to Laurie Meredith's heart.

"It was when you were an American girl?" asked Lord Clive.

"Yes, before Lord Ivon sent Mr. Kelso to seek me," said Azalia Brooke. "And now you know why I despise love and lovers, Lord Clive. I have no faith in their protestations, because I know how to rate them."

"You do injustice to honest lovers for the sake of one traitor," he said, warmly. "Miss Brooke, he deserves death at the stake. Tell me his name that I may call him out and shoot him!"

A dreary, mocking laugh rippled over her lips as she answered, simply:

"Perhaps he is past your vengeance, Lord Clive. I heard long ago that he was dead."

"It is some comfort to know that he has gone to his reward," murmured Lord Clive, with grim satisfaction.

He looked a moment curiously at her agitated face, then said:

"I thank you for giving me your confidence, Miss Brooke. Rest assured I shall respect it. And you will permit me to express the sentiment that the fellow must have been ice itself to turn cold to you."

She did not reply, and he continued:

"But all that was in the past. You look back with scorn upon your fickle lover. Let me teach you to forget him in a new love. Be my bride, and no wife was ever worshiped as shall be Azalia, Countess of Clive!"

"I thought you would not tease me any more when you heard my story," she said, pensively; but he vowed that this only made him more determined to win her for his own.

"You have loved before—what does it matter?" he said. "There are few who do not fancy themselves in love at an early stage of existence. This first love, what[Pg 141] is it but the light froth on the wave, shining brightly a moment, then dissolving forever. I would be contented to be your last love, dear, to have you say to me:

"'But thou—thou art my last love,
My dearest and my best!
My heart but shed its outer leaves
To give thee all the rest.'"

What a persistent lover he was, thought the irritated listener. He wished that Lord Clive would go away, but to his chagrin he only renewed his suit, and presently Azalia said, wonderingly:

"You would be willing to marry me after what I have told you?"

"Willing and happy. I believe that I could teach you to forget the bitter past, and to love me," he replied, earnestly; then, eagerly, "Oh, Azalia—"

She held out her beautiful hand to him.

"Then I consent for you to make the effort," she said.

It seemed to Laurie Meredith as if the point of a poisoned dagger had gone through his breast. His head drooped and he seemed dazed for a little. He came to himself with a start, and heard Azalia saying:

"Now, leave me alone a little to think of my rash promise. You may tell my great-grandpapa, if you wish. It will make him very happy."

He left her reluctantly, and Laurie Meredith stumbled out of his seat to go. She looked up at the sound, and their eyes met, hers full of bitter triumph, his dim with a misery she could not fathom.

"I beg your pardon, Miss Brooke. I was here when you and Lord Clive came. I did not wish to interrupt you—it would have been embarrassing. But had I known I was to hear—" he paused, and she said:

"My bitter confession and Lord Clive's proposal, you would have gone; but you stayed and heard—so now."

"I should congratulate Lord Clive, and wish you a[Pg 142] happy future, which I do, fair Countess of Clive to be," he answered, in a strained voice, and Azalia Brooke thanked him with superb self-possession.

But could he have seen how the proud head drooped when he had gone, could he have read the secret thoughts of that tortured heart?

"Oh, what if he knew that I saw him there, that my confession, my acceptance of Lord Clive were all to pique him to return to his old allegiance? Alas, my test has failed! I thought he was beginning to care for me again, that somehow he suspected that I was Flower. But no, he cares not. It is Jewel he loves, and I can doubt no longer. That marriage was a sham, as she said, and it was well that my baby died, poor little one, with the same dark brand on his birth as that upon his mother's! Alas, dare I keep my troth with Lord Clive without confessing my shameful birth? But then, Lord Ivon has forbidden me ever to confess the truth, so what can I do?"


Lord Ivon and his party left for Washington the next day, and Jewel said to herself that they did not go one day too soon for their own good, for there was murder in her heart toward the beautiful Azalia Brooke.

"If she had stayed any longer, and Laurie had continued to show his preference for her so plainly, I believe I should have poisoned her," she muttered, angrily, to herself.

She had heard with great satisfaction of the beauty's betrothal to Lord Clive, and fearful lest Laurie had missed hearing it, she repeated it to him with malicious delight, eliciting the quiet answer that Lord Clive was a very fortunate man.

Jewel pouted charmingly, but he took no notice. Ever[Pg 143] since last night he had been thinking of the words Lord Clive had said to Azalia Brooke:

"It was when you were an American girl."

She had answered:

"Yes, before Lord Ivon sent Mr. Kelso to seek me."

Tossing on a sleepless pillow between the dawn and the daylight, he had been ceaselessly asking himself:

"What did they mean? I was under the impression that she had never been in America before."

It seemed to him that he could not know rest nor peace until he found out what Azalia Brooke had referred to in her answer to Lord Clive.

That afternoon found him in the office of the noted lawyer, Raynold Clinton.

"I wish to ask you some questions," he said. "You were in England last winter, and you were intimate with Lord Ivon?"


"There is a mystery about Miss Azalia Brooke that I wish to penetrate. It is generally believed that she has never been in America before this time, but I think you could tell a different story if you would."

The lawyer looked at him, surprised to see how white and eager his face looked.

"My dear fellow, I can not see what concern this is of yours," he said, hesitatingly. "You are not in love with Miss Brooke, as she is engaged to Lord Clive and you to Miss Fielding. As for what is hinted about a mystery, Lord Ivon does not deny that his great-granddaughter is an American girl, although I admit that he does not care to dwell on the circumstance."

"You will tell me all that you know, Mr. Clinton? Believe me, I have a vital interest in this matter."

The lawyer could see that Laurie Meredith was terribly in earnest. His sparkling brown eyes were dark with feeling, his face pale with excitement.

[Pg 144]

"Really, there is not much to tell," said the lawyer. "Lord Ivon had a younger son who ran away to America, and was disowned by his family. But his elder and second son both died, as also his grandchildren. Then he sent his lawyer to America to seek his disinherited son, or his descendants. He brought this girl back, the last descendant of the house of Ivon. 'Sole daughter of her father's house and heart.'"

"Her name?" Laurie demanded, hoarsely.

"Azalia Brooke," replied Mr. Clinton.

"You are sure, quite sure, Mr. Clinton?"

"That is what I was told," replied the lawyer, with so truthful an air that the listener could not doubt him.

"Perhaps you can tell me where she lived before Lord Ivon's lawyer found her, Mr. Clinton?"

"It was in the South. I do not remember the name of the place. Indeed, I am not sure I ever heard. It was not talked about much, because Lord Ivon seemed to have a marked distaste to the subject."

"I thank you for your information, Mr. Clinton. I shall make no improper use of it, yet there may be a startling dénouement to the story you have told me. If so, you will understand what brought me here to-day," the young man said, with an earnestness that impressed the lawyer very much and made him very curious.

But Laurie Meredith went away without confiding anything, for he felt that such a step would be premature.

But his brain was reeling with the wild suspicions that chased each other through it.

"I am almost persuaded that the girl is Flower herself!" he thought. "Yet, in that case, she knows me—knows me as the husband for whom she ceased so soon to care, and secure in her fancied sure disguise, laughs at me and my love—even pledges her faith to another before my eyes! Who could have believed that lovely, gentle little Flower could be so heartless and wicked? Will she dare[Pg 145] to marry him, knowing herself bound to me? Yet she told him her lover had proved false, and that she had heard that he was dead. What if there has been treachery somewhere? Jewel—she has loved me always, and there has been something of the tiger-cat in her jealousy of Azalia Brooke. What if—"

He could think collectedly no longer, but flung himself down on his bed, while wild, blissful visions chased each other through his brain.

Jewel was expecting her lover that evening, and he came promptly. She thought she had never seen him so handsome, his brown eyes were so bright, his cheeks glowing with feverish color.

Artfully he led her on to talk of her past life, and at last said, curiously:

"Do you know, dear Jewel, that you have never told me the name of your birthplace?"

"It was Springville, Georgia," she replied, without a suspicion of the anxiety with which he awaited her reply.

But when he talked on indifferent subjects awhile, he took leave, and the next day she was astonished to receive a short note from him, bidding her a hasty adieu, as he had been called away from the city for a few days on a matter of business.

"He has followed her—he has gone to Washington to be near Azalia Brooke!" she exclaimed, angrily; and her eyes blazed with such intense jealous fury that she seemed on the point of going mad. A terrible purpose began to form in her mind.


Jewel ordered her carriage, dressed hastily, and was driven to the residence of Mrs. Meredith.

That lady and her daughters were sitting cozily in their[Pg 146] warm, luxurious morning-room, each engaged in a fascinating piece of fancy work, when Jewel was shown into the room.

The handsome elderly lady and her two placid, brown-eyed daughters presented quite a contrast to the visitor, who burst impetuously into the room with crimson cheeks and blazing eyes, and, scarcely waiting for the customary greeting, exclaimed in an excited voice:

"Mrs. Meredith, where has Laurie gone?"

"My dear Jewel, what is the matter? You look as if something dreadful had happened," exclaimed the matron.

"Yes, indeed you do," chimed in Edith and Io, as both came up to her in consternation.

"Something has happened!" Jewel cried, angrily. She flung herself into a cushioned chair, and continued: "Laurie has proved false to me! He has followed that girl to Washington!"

She flung his note into Mrs. Meredith's lap, and the stately matron adjusted her glasses in great trepidation, and ran over it quickly.

"But, my dear Jewel, he does not say anything here about going to Washington. He says, called away on business," she remonstrated, gently.

"Pshaw! a blind, a weak, transparent excuse!" Jewel answered, in a sharp, high-pitched voice. "Pray tell me what excuse he made to you!"

The warm color mounted to Mrs. Meredith's cheek at this haughty arraignment; but making excuses to herself for the girl's excitement, which evidently arose from jealousy, she answered:

"He told me that he was called South by some very important business, the nature of which he could not explain until his return."

"Humph, I should think not! He was ashamed to confess to his mother that he was running after another[Pg 147] girl, leaving his betrothed at home to fret her heart out!" sneered Jewel, so bitterly that Io Meredith exclaimed, resentfully:

"Jewel, I think you ought to be ashamed to accuse my brother of such disgraceful conduct. I would have you understand that he is a gentleman, not a dastard!"

"Let me alone, Io Meredith! I shall say what I like about your brother! He is behaving shamefully! Do you think I did not know that he was madly in love with Azalia Brooke? He showed it so plainly that every one noticed it. You can not deny that!"

No one spoke, for Jewel's shot told. It was quite true that Laurie Meredith had betrayed so much interest in the lovely English girl as to excite comment. His mother had remonstrated with him gently but decidedly.

"I can not help myself. It is fate," he had answered, in such a despairing voice, and with such a miserable look that she had not the heart to pursue the subject further, although quite sure that his interest in Azalia Brooke was so strong as to be a wrong to Jewel Fielding.

"It will wear off, this sudden fancy, when sweet Azalia is gone," she thought to herself; and it was with a feeling of relief that she heard of the betrothal of Azalia and Lord Clive.

She asked herself anxiously now if it could be true, as Jewel suspected, that her son had followed Azalia Brooke to Washington. Her heart said no, for although he had been weak enough to lose his head over her despite his engagement to another, she felt assured that his passion had been hopeless from first to last, and that he had struggled against it in vain.

She could not help feeling sorry for her son and for the dark-eyed girl who loved him with such jealous passion.

With it all there was mixed a little self-reproach, for had she not pitied Jewel so much that she had persuaded her son to make an effort to return the girl's affection?

[Pg 148]

Out of her anxiety had grown that engagement. He had yielded to her wishes, engaged himself to Jewel, and here were the consequences.

He had been too hasty, and when the girl, whom he could have loved with his whole heart, crossed his path, it was too late.

"And he might have won her, who knows?" she thought; for her keen eyes had noted that Azalia Brooke took a secret and curious interest in Laurie Meredith.

But something must be done to soothe the excited Jewel, and after a moment's silence, the matron said, gently:

"My dear girl, I am sure that you wrong Laurie by your suspicions. He is too honorable a man to deceive you and outrage your affections in such a cruel manner. I am convinced that he has gone South, as he stated to me, and that you will soon hear from him at a distance from Washington."

"And I am quite sure that he has gone to Washington, madame, to be near the girl I hate so bitterly, and I came here to inform you that I intend to follow him within twenty-four hours!" replied Jewel, with startling emphasis, springing to her feet and beginning to walk rapidly up and down the long room with swift, graceful movements that reminded the Merediths of the sinuous grace of the beautiful, deadly tigress.

These cultured, highly refined ladies gazed in amazement and consternation at Laurie's betrothed, and Edith cried out, indignantly:

"Really, Jewel, you must be out of your senses! What will people say?"

The beautiful pantheress paused a moment in her wild walk, and gazing at the speaker with lurid eyes, exclaimed:

"That will depend upon your mother and you, Edith and Io. If she will consent to go with me to Washington,[Pg 149] taking you with her, no one can say anything. If she will not go, people will say that I was wronged and jealous and that I went after my recreant lover."

"Jewel, you must not go!" Mrs. Meredith exclaimed, with mixed entreaty and command, but the girl laughed wildly.

"I will go, if I die for it," she said, fiercely. "He has driven me mad by his love for another, and I am not answerable for what I do. Yes, I shall follow him, and if I find him there by her side I shall be tempted to kill them both!" and she sunk upon the floor in wild hysterics.


Her jealous wrath, her wild threats, ended as she meant they should. The Merediths were forced into compliance with her wishes. They could not persuade her to remain at home, and they dared not let her go alone.

But this terrible revelation of her mind and temper thoroughly disgusted the Merediths, and made them anxious over Laurie's future.

"Who would have dreamed that she was such a shrew? Why, there was murder in her eyes as they flashed and glowed. She will lead our brother a miserable life, I am sure," Edith said to her sister, as they hurriedly packed their trunks for the unexpected visit to the Capital City.

"Yes, and how sweet and gentle she seemed to be before she was sure of Laurie. She was deceiving us all, then, in order to forward her cause, and she succeeded so well, too, for we all praised her to Laurie, and gave him no peace until he proposed to her. How she takes on the airs of a queen. I should not be sorry if Laurie would jilt her outright!" Io declared, spiritedly.

But, reckless in her fierce wrath and jealousy of their good or bad opinion, Jewel had gone home to prepare for[Pg 150] her trip. She rang the bell furiously for Marie to come and pack her things.

No one responded at first; but when she went angrily down-stairs to inquire for the delinquent, Mrs. Wellings started up from her doze in the arm-chair to ask, stupidly:

"Is that you, Miss Fielding? Do—do you want me?"

"No," Jewel said, with a contemptuous glance at the dull face, "I want Marie!"

"Oh!" said Mrs. Wellings.

"Do you know where she is?" continued Jewel, with wild impatience.

"No, I do not, I'm sure," said the only half-awakened woman. Then she started and muttered, "Oh, I forgot, she came in here soon after you went away. She was dressed for going out, and she gave me this letter to hand to you as soon as you returned," placing a sealed envelope in Jewel's eagerly outstretched palm.

Jewel was terribly afraid of the maid who held her awful secret in possession. She ran upstairs with a wildly throbbing heart, wondering what her absence and the letter combined could mean.

But she would soon know; for her nervous fingers eagerly tore the end of the envelope across, and her blazing eyes soon devoured the contents, which stated, in an odd mélange of French and English, that the writer feared to remain any longer in her employ, as she did not consider her life secure while in the power of a lady whose deadly secret she held. She had been joking about the three hundred dollars per month wages, as no sum could have been large enough to tempt her to stay. She had made arrangements to enter the service of a young English lady, and would be gone before Miss Fielding's return. Lastly, she would ease Miss Fielding's conscience by telling her that the poor girl she had flung into the cellar was not dead—only stunned—and that she, Marie, had resuscitated her and helped her away. If Miss Fielding would take[Pg 151] the trouble to look in the cellar, she would see for herself. Lastly, Miss Fielding need not be afraid that Marie would betray her sin to the world, as she had faithfully promised the golden-haired lady that she would keep the secret.

Marie did not add that a bountiful golden bribe had bought her silence; but Jewel readily guessed it, knowing the French girl's cupidity. She tore the letter into a hundred fragments after she had impressed its contents on her furious brain, and for a few moments her wrath was something fearful—so near akin to madness that it recalled to her mind the terrible spells of her mother in those first days after she had discovered her rival's child to be blue-eyed Flower, whom she had always loved best in her secret heart, because of the two girls, she resembled her father most—the man whose memory Mrs. Fielding had alternately loved and hated.


Frightened at the thought of going mad, Jewel ceased her wild raving, and tried to look her fate fairly in the face.

One of the first conclusions to which her mind leaped was that Azalia Brooke was no other than her half-sister, Flower. She had come to see her in disguise that night, pleading poverty, when in reality she had been the heiress of Lord Ivon and the toast of the city. Ah, and Jewel's hand clutched at the empty air in impotent passion, how she regretted that her work had failed her that afternoon, and that Marie had rescued her victim from death! It was well indeed for cunning Marie that she was out of reach of Miss Fielding's vengeance.

But, Jewel asked herself, wonderingly, why had not Flower claimed her husband? She had certainly recognized him, and she knew that it was his father's death she had read in the paper that terrible night. Why then had[Pg 152] Flower kept the secret of her identity, and even betrothed herself to another?

Jewel's mind could furnish but one solution to that strange problem.

Flower had been adopted in some mysterious manner by the old nobleman and his wife, and was ambitious of shining in the world. She doubted whether she had ever been really Laurie's wife, and did not wish for him to recognize her, fearing that it would ruin her brilliant prospects in life. She intended to let Laurie Meredith believe her dead, while in reality she would be alive, the wife of an earl, one of the most beautiful countesses in England.

Jewel choked with anger at the thought of the despised Flower attaining such lofty heights, but even that was better than to reveal herself to Laurie Meredith.

"Yes, far better, for I would rather have him than a king!" she thought, that stormy love of hers always rising superior to every other ambition. She decided that she would go to Washington, seek an interview with Flower, and tell her that she recognized her, but would keep her secret if she would return at once to England and marry Lord Clive. If she refused, and the beautiful face grew dark with passion at the thought, Jewel told herself, in a vindictive whisper, that her rival must be removed at all hazards from her path.

Her plans thus laid, she called in the house-maid to assist in packing her trunks, picturing to herself the alarm of her lover when he should find that she had followed him to Washington.

"I will make him understand, once for all, that I am not to be trifled with by any one," she told herself, angrily, and with a bitter wonder at her failure to win Laurie Meredith's heart.

"And I so beautiful, so wondrously beautiful," she thought, pausing a moment to gaze at her reflection in[Pg 153] the glass—at her flashing dark eyes, her red lips and cheeks, her braided coronal of purplish jet-black hair.

"I am beautiful enough to be a queen, yet I can not win the heart of the only man I ever cared for," she thought, with a sort of agony at her failure.

But every pang she suffered only made her more determined to triumph in the end.

"Only let me get Flower out of the way, and I may win him yet. I was near to it when she came, and surely I can recover my lost ground some day," she said.

She was driven in her carriage to Mrs. Meredith's, and found them waiting, although they hoped that she would change her mind even at the last moment.

But no, Jewel took her seat in the train as grim and implacable as fate itself, and determined as ever to make all else on earth yield to her imperious will and desire.

The Merediths, thoroughly disgusted at her jealous freak, sat with her; but there was very little said by any one. But Jewel scarcely noticed the constraint and silence of Laurie's mother and sisters. She was completely wrapped up in her own dark thoughts, and remained so until they reached the end of their long journey.


Lord Ivon and his party had been in Washington a week, when they became aware that the Merediths, with Miss Fielding, had also arrived in the city.

It was on one of Patti's nights at the opera that the two parties became aware of each other's presence in opposite stage-boxes. Their first start of surprise was succeeded on either hand by amicable nods of pleased recognition.

This was Jewel Fielding's rôle, and she had insisted on its being carried out to the letter by the Merediths. She[Pg 154] did not desire that any one should know yet of her fierce jealousy of Azalia Brooke. Time enough yet, she said.

They had been in the city one day and night, and careful inquiry revealed the fact that the absent Laurie was not in this city. The Merediths were jubilant, but Jewel would not allow them to boast over their triumph.

"He will come yet, if Lord Ivon's party stays here any time," she said.

And it occurred to her that she must hasten to get rid of her lovely, blue-eyed rival before the return of Laurie.

The color leaped to her face, and her heart throbbed with fierce anger when she first beheld Azalia Brooke sitting in the opera-box with Lord Clive by her side, and Lord and Lady Ivon in the background.

Azalia's loveliness shone with all the luster of a beautiful pearl from her shining robe of silvery-blue satin and misty lace, and her perfect identity with the Flower Fielding of old struck her half-sister more strongly than ever.

"How could I ever have been fooled for a minute into doubting her identity? The resemblance is perfect, complete, and it is wonderful that Laurie has not recognized her, and taxed her with it," she thought.

She had taken pains to convince herself of the truth of Marie's story. She had peered into the old cellar, which was clear of water now, during a spell of continued clear weather, and she had seen no body of a murdered girl lying there in ghastly decay, but only the old black water-proof cloak, which, floating on the top of the water, had so deceived her before. Of course, her wily foes had left it there for that purpose, as she well knew now.

After her one smile and nod at the party in the other box she sat silent, glowering at Patti, who was enchanting the vast house with her exquisite voice. Jewel scarcely heard it at all. She was listening to other voices, impish, seducing ones, which said:

"You ought to crush that girl from the face of the[Pg 155] earth. You will never have any peace until you do, for she is the evil genius of your life. Why hesitate or falter? It was born in you both to hate each other. Your mothers were rivals and foes. Her mother wrecked the peace of yours. Will you let this girl, with her siren glance, cross your path with the same fatal intent?"

Lord Clive, when he could spare a glance from Azalia or the diva, looked at the handsome trio in the opposite box, and presently he said:

"Miss Fielding is not as handsome as she was in Boston. She seems almost to have grown thinner, and her eyes, though bright, have a worn, haggard look, and her expression is strange and hard. Do you observe it, Azalia?"

Azalia was obliged to answer in the affirmative. No one could deny the change that terror and unrestrained jealousy and passion had worn in distinctive lines on Jewel's beautiful lineaments. It was too plain to deny. She looked years older and graver than a few weeks ago.

Azalia had grown more grave and sad, too; but she tried to hide it from her relatives and her lover. Not for worlds would she have had them know that she was restless and unhappy, almost beyond all bearing, since her constrained parting with Laurie Meredith.

She could not help feeling gratified when she saw the lines of pain and unrest on the features of her cruel half-sister.

"She has won him from me; but she is not happy," was her conclusion. "I wonder where he is to-night. I should like to see him again. False and fickle as I know him to be, the old fascination steals over me when I look at his beautiful, regular profile, his clear, brown eyes, and the soft waves of hair that I used to thread with loving fingers. Of course he came with them to Washington, and I suppose the reason of Jewel's angry looks is because for some reason he could not, or would not, come to the[Pg 156] opera with her to-night. She is a tyrant, and will rule him with a rod of iron, that half-sister of mine! Well, I do not pity him. He may learn in time to regret me, and that will be my vengeance for his cruelty!"

She sighed bitterly; and Lord Clive, who had been looking into the opposite box, started, and turned back to look at her.

"I beg your pardon for my inattention, dearest," he murmured, tenderly.

Azalia threw off her depression, and answered, gayly:

"I shall be quite jealous of Miss Fielding if you continue to gaze at her with such admiring eyes."

His blue eyes gleamed with pleasure at the bare idea of jealousy on the part of this cold, proud fiancée.

"I was not even looking at Miss Fielding," he protested. "It was the elder Miss Meredith that attracted my attention. My dear Azalia, the girl, with her brown eyes and tawny hair, and that stately carriage, is really a beauty. She reminds me of the Duchess De Vere, one of the loveliest ladies in London."

Azalia looked with pleasure at stately Edith Meredith, and also at the pretty and petite Io. Both had a look of Laurie that always made her traitor heart beat quick and fast.

All the evening her anxious eyes kept straying to the box. Would he not come in during the whole time?

No, he did not come, to her bitter disappointment; and the next day she heard, with surprise, that he had not accompanied his party to Washington at all, but had gone South on some important business.


Face to face with her half-sister at last, with all pretenses laid aside, Jewel had never spent a more uncomfortable hour in her life.

[Pg 157]

She had sent a note requesting a private interview the day after the meeting at the opera, and Azalia Brooke had granted it on the condition that her maid should be present at the interview, stationed in an anteroom with doors open between, so that she could see if not hear all that passed.

Jewel had to consent to the humiliating condition; and when she made her appearance was not surprised to find her runaway Maria seated complacently in the anteroom with a malicious grin upon her pretty face.

"She knows so many of our secrets already that I thought it would not matter having her here as a precautionary measure for my own safety," Miss Brooke proclaimed, frankly; and as Jewel frowned darkly upon her, she added, coolly: "Yes, I am Flower, as you charged in your note; but I would not own it to you, only that I know you are as anxious to keep my secret as I could be myself."

"You do wish to keep it, then?" Jewel sneered, vindictively.

"Yes, I wish to keep it," the other answered, and a passionate despair thrilled in her low, sweet voice. "Lord Ivon is very proud, and it is hard for him to bear the stain upon my birth. I think it would kill him if he knew that other dark story of man's deceit and betrayed love."

"Tell me how and where you met Lord Ivon, and why he adopted you," her half-sister said, curiously; and in as few words as possible Azalia Brooke related the story.

"So you really are related to that distinguished family?" her half-sister exclaimed, in palpable chagrin.

"Yes; and I have a horror of their ever knowing the whole of my sad story, so I have deceived them, but it is for their own good."

Jewel could not repress a sneer, as she said:

"I thought you too goody-goody to deceive them so, although I remember now that you kept your intimacy with Laurie Meredith hid to the last from your mother, as[Pg 158] you then believed her to be. But do you really intend to carry your brazenness so far as to marry Lord Clive without confessing the truth?"

"Oh, Jewel, I can never marry Lord Clive! I never meant to do it, but I promised it to pique Laurie, to force him to a self-betrayal, if possible. He was sitting near by. Lord Clive did not know it, but I did. I thought if Laurie loved me still, that if I were really his wife, he would claim me at once. And so—Heaven forgive me—I toyed with a man's heart just as mine had been treated. I promised to marry Lord Clive, and when I found that Laurie did not care, I almost died of chagrin and repentance. Of course, I can never marry Lord Clive—I, with my soiled fame and broken heart, but day by day I put off the telling—because—because—he loves me so, and it is so hard to wound him—him, and those good people who have taken me to their heart, forgiving the dark stain upon my birth."

"You are a fool, Flower Fielding, as I've often told you before. Why, there's nothing to prevent your marrying the man. I will keep your secret if you will go back to England and marry him."

"I can not do it," Flower answered, sorrowfully. "Even if there was nothing else, it would be a sin to marry him, with my heart full of love for another."

"Another man!"

"Yes, Jewel," and the girl suddenly fell down upon her knees before the frowning, dark-faced beauty. "Oh, my sister," she wailed, "have you not guessed my bitter secret? I love Laurie still, in spite of my wrongs, in spite of my pride! Oh, tell me, is it really true that I was never his wife, or have you deceived me? Have you both deceived me, because he grew weary of me so soon? How did you win him from me after all his vows?"

Jewel gazed into the tear-wet, suppliant face, with anger and consternation. It was worse than she thought.[Pg 159] Her sister actually dared to love Laurie Meredith still! Why, she was courting her doom by that candid avowal!

And, as if to incense her still further, the unhappy girl continued, wildly:

"I know I ought to hate him, but I can not do it, no matter how hard I try; and I think it is because I can never seem to comprehend him as he really is. My love seems to glorify him and make him better than other men, while in reality he is worse. But I have loved him so—and he was the father of my child, you know, Jewel, and it was such a lovely little baby! Oh, Jewel, could you but have seen my little Douglas, with his own papa's lovely brown eyes, you must have loved him, and been kinder to me. It was not my fault Laurie loved me first."

"Hush! Get up!" Jewel hissed, with such murderous fury in her face and glance that her half-sister started up in terror of her life, and retreated toward the anteroom. "Come back, you coward!" Jewel exclaimed, harshly, "I am not going to kill you, unless you talk to me in such a strain again. But if you did, and there were a hundred present, I believe I should fly at you."

Flower shivered through all her slender frame at those cruel words, and sunk down sobbing bitterly into a chair.

Jewel glared at her in fierce displeasure, a few moments, then said, in low, cutting accents:

"You had as well go back to England and marry your grand lover, for Laurie Meredith is as dead to you as if the grass was indeed growing on his grave. Do you think he did not recognize you? He laughed with me about it, and said that he had half a mind to give Lord Clive a hint of your character. I persuaded him not to do so, telling him it was unfair after the way he had treated you."

"He could say that? Oh, my God! he could menace me like that?" Flower whispered, with a strange gleam in her dilated eyes.

[Pg 160]

"Yes, he could do so. That is nothing. It is the way of men," Jewel replied, indifferently.


She went away at last, having utterly failed in all her efforts to cajole Flower into a solemn promise to marry Lord Clive.

"I could not deceive him so, and I am too proud to confess my bitter secret to him; so, in a short while I shall break my engagement," the girl said, with sorrowful firmness.

Jewel repressed all expression of her hate for her half-sister as much as possible. She wanted to be on good terms with her in order to further her own nefarious designs.

But it was very hard to keep her temper when the poor girl, meekly dismissing her own grievances, asked, eagerly:

"Jewel, do you ever go to see mam—I mean your mother?"

"No, never! I stood her ravings at home until I became almost as mad as she was, and I have no fancy for a second experience! The doctor keeps me posted as to her condition."

"But, Jewel, will you not go and see her once? I do not believe she is mad now, for even so long ago as that day in the grave-yard she seemed to me almost sane. And, with kind treatment, she ought to have been cured by this time. Poor soul! I feel so sorry for her. I can not forget that she gave me a mother's love for seventeen years."

"The doctor never told me of her escape that time," Jewel said, angrily.

"He looked like a bad man," Flower said. "Perhaps she is in her right mind now, and you ought to take her away into a pleasant home and make her life endurable."

[Pg 161]

An angry frown drew Jewel's brows together.

"Oh, stop your preaching!" she exclaimed, impatiently. "Mamma is incurably insane, and will never come out of that asylum alive!" and with that she took her leave, smiling wickedly as she went along the broad corridors of the large hotel.

Flower began to pace quickly up and down the room, but was arrested by Marie, who caught her arm and held her back.

"Look there upon the floor, Miss Brooke," she said. "Ah, she was vair cunning. She thought we did not see her place the little box under the chair, when she stooped to arrange her skirts! Ugh, it is no doubt a dynamite bomb!"

"Ah, no, no, Marie, she could not do that, and she my half-sister!" shuddered Flower.

"And your rival," added the French maid, knowingly. "See, mademoiselle, you will come into the anteroom. I will open the back window which looks down on a brick-paved yard. There is no one near. Wait, I will bring the little box very careful, afraid of my life. I toss it from the window. See!"

The box, only half as long as her hand, a simple, innocent-looking thing, was hurled quickly from the window. There was the swift sound of a crash on the pavement, followed by a loud explosion. Marie shut down the window with a bang, and caught the trembling figure in her arms.

"You understand, ma'amselle, that your rival is fully determined to sweep you from her path," she said, warningly. "If you had struck your little foot sharply against that box in walking, or drawn forward the chair over it, there must have been an explosion that would have ended both your life and mine!"

Flower shuddered and hid her pallid face in her hands, wondering at the wickedness of her half-sister.

[Pg 162]

"But I was watching very close," Maria continued, complacently. "This is twice I've foiled that wicked woman. You must look to yourself, my gentle-hearted lady, for terrible danger lurks near you. She fears and hates you, and she will keep on trying to kill you. If you take my advice you will deliver her up to the authorities."

"Oh, how can I do that? She is my sister! Besides, he loves her, Marie!" Flower sighed.

"And shows vair bad taste, in my opinion, ma'amselle," the maid replied, candidly, and added, "and you show vair poor judgment in letting her go free."


Azalia Brooke was touched by the devotion of the pretty maid to whom she was thus a second time indebted for the preservation of her life. She believed that the girl was really fond of her and true to her, and in spite of her lowly position she regarded her as a valued friend.

She had rewarded her handsomely for rescuing her from the terrible cellar to which Jewel had cruelly consigned her, and the grateful girl had been eager to quit the service of the mistress she feared for that of the beautiful, gentle English girl.

Little by little she had become acquainted with much of the history of the two girls, and now it crossed the mind of Azalia to confide all to her, under a pledge of secrecy.

"Marie is so bright and clever that perhaps she may suggest something that will throw light on my dark fate," she thought.

So the piteous story of her girlhood was told with bitter sobs and raining tears to the good Marie, who listened with pity and sympathy for the lovely young victim, and deep indignation against the foes who had wronged her so heartlessly.

"And you were his wife—Mr. Meredith's wife? How[Pg 163] dare he then think of making Miss Fielding his bride?" she demanded, in her excitable mélange of French and English so impossible to reproduce on paper, pieced out as it was with expressive gestures.

"I believed myself his wife," Azalia said, with burning cheeks; "but Jewel declares that he deceived me, that the marriage ceremony was a sham. Perhaps it was, else how dare he betroth himself to Jewel beneath my very eyes?"

Marie's twinkling dark eyes looked up with a strange gleam.

"He may not recognize you under this new name—he may believe you dead," she said.

"But Jewel has told me that he did recognize me, Marie."

"Pouf! Miss Fielding's statements are not to be taken for the truth," Marie answered at once, contemptuously; then she added, thoughtfully: "But the marriage paper he gave you—I should like to know who stole that."

Azalia could not help owning that she had always suspected Jewel, and almost ere the words left her lips Marie sprung to her feet, excitedly.

"Oh, why didn't I think of it before?" she exclaimed.

"Of course she has them, for she has some papers that I have seen her gloating over several times, with such a happy face, that I thought they were love letters! But now I do not doubt that they were the papers you speak of—your marriage-certificate, and perhaps the diary of your dead father that she stole from the cabin of the mulatto Sam."

Azalia's beautiful, despairing face flushed suddenly with hope.

"Oh, Marie, if we could only get possession of those papers!" she exclaimed, eagerly.

"And why not?" answered Marie, radiant.

Azalia flung her beautiful white arms about the maid's neck.

[Pg 164]

"Oh, Marie, you are a darling! You will try to get them, I know it by your face."

"Of course I shall," said the maid.

She laughed outright at the thought of outwitting wicked Jewel. The maid really enjoyed putting her clever powers to use, and she at once began to devise schemes for obtaining the papers she had seen Jewel exult over on several occasions.

"But I shall have to leave your service for awhile," she said.

"I will manage without you, for I am sure that Lady Ivon will let her maid help me sometimes," said Azalia.

"Then I shall go back to Miss Fielding and pretend that I am heartily disgusted with the English aristocracy, and ask to be taken into her service again."

Azalia looked very grave.

"One hates to be underhand and deceitful," she said; but Marie laughed her objections away.

"One must fight the devil with fire," she said, coolly; and went on disclosing her plans. "If I get taken into her service again it will not be long before I shall go through her baggage," she said. "If I find that she has not got the papers with her, I shall disappear and go immediately to Boston. Mrs. Wellings is not with her this time, so I know she has left her to keep the house and the servants in order. It will be no trouble for me to get into the house to visit my friend the chamber-maid, and no trouble for me to get something I forgot when I left there. You understand?"

"Yes. Oh, Marie, I will make you rich for this! I am heiress to a great fortune, and you will see that I shall reward you generously," Azalia exclaimed, gratefully.

Marie's face beamed with delight.

"Then I will send for the old père and mère from Paris. I will set them up in a little shop on the boulevard—what[Pg 165] you call it, the avenue? Bon!" she cried, jubilantly.

Early the next morning Marie made her appearance at the grand hotel where the Merediths were staying, and by an artful story contrived to ingratiate herself again into the favor of Jewel.

"I will tell you a secret, but pray do not breathe it to any one. I am but a poor maid, and no one might believe me," she said, "but, Miss Fielding, I am afraid that Miss Brooke has designs on my life. Last night I found a little box of dynamite upon the door, and when I flung it out of the window there was a loud explosion. I do not know what I have done to her to incur her anger, but it certainly looked as if she had attempted my life."

Jewel agreed with her, and took her into her employ again, while her heart sunk with disappointment at Azalia Brooke's escape from her clever snare.

"She seems to bear a charmed life. Three times she has escaped my vengeance!" she thought, uneasily.

But she consoled herself with the thought that yesterday's work had at least accomplished one good turn, as it had brought the clever Marie back into her service. She would have to contrive still another plan to get rid of her dangerous rival.


Azalia spent a very restless day and night after Marie had left her to go upon her secret quest. Her mind was busy, and her lover, Lord Clive, was nearly all the time in her thoughts.

She knew that she had done him a cruel injustice in promising to become his wife. She would never have done so had not Laurie Meredith been so close by that she was tempted to answer "yes" in order to provoke his wrath and jealousy.

[Pg 166]

She had failed most ignobly. Laurie had remained cold, unmoved, indifferent, and there remained to her nothing but the consciousness of having made a fatal mistake, of having wronged the heart of another man by accepting him only for a purpose that now recoiled upon her own head.

She could never marry Lord Clive, even if she loved him, for look which way she would she saw only the impossibility of such a marriage.

If Marie found the marriage-certificate, and it proved her legally Laurie Meredith's wife, she, the unacknowledged wife of an indifferent husband, could not wed Lord Clive. On the other hand, if the marriage had been only a sham, how could she, with that cruel stain upon her, dare to enter one of the proudest homes of old England? Even if she could have been dishonest enough to keep the secret, it might be found out some day—and then?

Azalia sunk her head in her hands and sobbed aloud:

"No, no, I could not bear that! I must break with him even though he curse me!"

She kept her room for several days, feigning illness, but in reality too wretched to meet the lover whose anger she feared and dreaded so much. Her timid heart ached with pain because of the pain she must inflict on Lord Clive.

But she could not feign illness always. Lady Ivon grew impatient of her seclusion, declaring that she was only moping, that she would be better if she would come into their private parlor and see Lord Clive, who was always hanging about, sending messages and flowers to his invisible lady-love.

"I will come down presently. Tell him so for me, please," the girl said, patiently; and when the door had closed upon Lady Ivon's silken trailing skirts, she fell down upon her knees and begged God to forgive her for the wrong she had done to Lord Clive, and to help her to bear his anger when she told him the truth.

[Pg 167]

He was waiting in the handsome private parlor belonging to Lord Ivon's elegant suite of rooms at Willard's Hotel, and when she came gliding in, softly as a spirit in her long gown of rich black velvet, he came eagerly to meet her, exclaiming:

"My darling, I am glad you are well enough to come out again, for I have missed you very much."

"Thank you, Lord Clive," she said, in a constrained voice; and evading the arms outstretched to embrace her, she sunk wearily into a chair.

He followed, and sat down by her side.

"Oh, you have been ill—you are pale and wan indeed, Azalia. I see now that I did you an injustice, for I half believed, like Lady Ivon, that it was a fit of ennui or the dismals."

The blue eyes turned eagerly to his face, and he could see that she was trembling very much.

"Poor child!" he said, compassionately, attempting to press her hand; but she drew it quickly away, and exclaimed:

"You were right, Lord Clive. It was not that I was sick, only dismal and wretched. Yes, I will tell you the truth now. I was not ill, only frightened—of you!"

The low voice faltered, and she stole a pleading glance at him that mystified him even more than her words.

"Frightened of me! I do not understand you, Azalia," he said, inquiringly.

"I had—something—to tell you," faltered the frightened voice. "Oh, Lord Clive, do not look at me so kindly for presently you will hate me! I—I—want to take back my promise! I can not learn to love you, so I can never marry you!"

When he recovered from the severe shock she had given him he attempted to expostulate with her, to reason with her, but all to no purpose, for she would only reiterate[Pg 168] her declaration that she could never marry him, and beg him to forgive her for what she had done.

His handsome blonde face grew pale with emotion.

"Your reasons for this strange step, Azalia?" he said at last, haughtily, indignation beginning to work in his breast.

"I do not love you," she faltered, faintly.

"You told me that before, yet you did me the honor to accept my offer; so there must be some newer reason," said Lord Clive.

She began to sob bitterly, and he said, impatiently:

"I am waiting for your answer, Miss Brooke."

Driven to bay, she answered, sobbingly:

"I can give you no reason; for, although one exists, I am too great a coward to confess it. I can only throw myself on your pity and your mercy, Lord Clive."

"But you are not showing me any mercy or pity," he replied, in a deeply offended tone.

"Am I not, Lord Clive? Then I will show no mercy to myself. Listen, then: I am an arrant coquette. When I accepted your offer I knew quite well that I could never marry you. But it was to pique another, whom I cared for, into a confession of his love that I played with your heart. There; have I lowered myself sufficiently in your eyes?"

The handsome nobleman arose, pale with passion.

"You have made me quite willing to relinquish all claims upon you, Miss Brooke," he said, with haughty sarcasm, adding, still more bitterly: "I trust your clever ruse brought him to your feet."

"Ah, no, no!" she cried, in a broken voice; but at that moment the door opened, admitting Lord and Lady Ivon and some visitors—Mrs. Meredith, her two daughters, and Jewel Fielding.

Azalia rose quietly and greeted the visitors, trembling when the hateful glance of Jewel met her own.

[Pg 169]

"She is regretting that I was not killed by the dynamite bomb she left in my room," she thought, nervously. "Ah, with what a deadly hatred she regards me! She will never relax in her deadly purpose until I am dead and out of her way."

Mrs. Meredith came and sat down by her side, almost furtively, in her fear of offending jealous Jewel.

"You are not looking well, my dear," she said, almost tenderly, for she had taken a serious fancy to the lovely girl.

Azalia knew that Lord Clive was listening angrily for her reply, and answered, truthfully:

"I have been unhappy over something, Mrs. Meredith, and it has made me feel almost ill!"

"Unhappy! What, my dear girl, with all your blessings!" exclaimed the astonished matron; and she could not help letting her glance fall on Lord Clive, who frowned and moved restlessly in his seat.

"Ah, it is only a lover's quarrel!" she thought, astutely; and hastily led the conversation to something less personal than Miss Brooke's looks.

There was a slight break in the conversation, and to her horror Azalia heard Jewel saying:

"I know you have often wondered, Lady Ivon, why I fainted the night when I first met your beautiful niece, Miss Brooke."

Lady Ivon coughed slightly, and answered, with cool politeness:

"I merely supposed the rooms were too warm for you, Miss Fielding."

"Ah, no, it was not that!" said Jewel. Her handsome head, in its plumed bonnet of ruby plush, was thrown backward, and her eyes had a malicious light, her mouth a wicked, defiant smile, as if some secret, exultant thought moved her to speech.

"I am going to tell you the reason," continued Jewel, looking straight into Lady Ivon's face.

[Pg 170]


Lord and Lady Ivon knew from Azalia's own confession that Jewel Fielding was the cruel half-sister whose machinations had driven her from home, but they did not intend that Jewel should find out her despised half-sister in this proud, lovely young great-granddaughter.

So they united in bestowing upon her glances of freezing hauteur, which did not in the least deter her from her purpose.

"I am going to tell you why I fainted," said Jewel. "It was because Miss Brooke was the living image of a sister I had lost, and it startled me so that I lost my senses."

No one answered, no one moved, and Jewel continued, smoothly:

"It is so remarkable a likeness that it shocks me even yet whenever I see Miss Brooke, and more than ever to-night, for she looks pale and sad, and that was how poor Flower looked for many days before she ran away and was lost in the wide world, or drowned in the great sea, perhaps, for I have never been able to learn whether she's alive or dead."

Azalia made a slight movement as if to rise to her feet, then sunk back, too weak to obey the longing that urged her to fly from the disgraceful revelation trembling on the lips of her fiendish half-sister. She leaned her golden head back against the velvet chair and watched Jewel with pleading, piteous eyes.

The pitiless voice went on, cruelly:

"I am sure that Miss Brooke there would not be disobedient or deceitful to her guardians; but, alas, my sister Flower was very different in spite of her angelic expression. She had a lover of whom mamma disapproved so[Pg 171] strongly that she forbid Flower ever to speak to him. But, willful child that she was, Flower would not listen. She met her lover in secret until he wearied of his plaything and deserted her to the fate she had brought upon herself. When mamma found out the truth, and realized that disgrace had come to the proud name of Fielding, she went mad and had to be removed to an insane asylum. Flower ran away, and many believed that she drowned herself. I always hoped that she had, for I preferred death for my beautiful, willful young sister rather than that she should have followed her false-hearted lover into the world."

She paused, and every one in the room drew a long breath, then waited for her further speech.

She gave a little laugh that jarred painfully on every heart.

"Is it any wonder that I fainted on beholding Miss Brooke?" she continued, thrillingly. "I had hoped, even prayed, that my erring sister was dead, and yet she seemed, all in a minute, to start up before me, living and smiling as in the happy days ere she went astray. Of course, I knew that it was nothing but a resemblance, yet it startled, unnerved me—"

The dark eyes were looking with strange intentness into the white face over yonder. They saw Azalia's white lips part, then close without a sound.


"Miss Fielding, you have told your story with such realism that the horror of it seems to weigh me down," said Lady Ivon. "I am sure we all sympathize with you in your trouble over your erring sister. No wonder the sight of Azalia moves you so much. I could wish she did not bear any resemblance to your unfortunate relative."

Jewel sneered contemptuously into her face.

"You are proud. You would not fancy such a disgrace in the family," she said.

"No," said the old lady, spiritedly, "I should not like[Pg 172] it, Miss Fielding, and if I had to endure it, I should try to keep it hidden like a skeleton in a closet; I should not babble of my disgrace as you have had the bad taste to do!"

Jewel laughed insolently, and answered:

"Yes, I knew all your pride, and that made me all the more determined to expose my deceitful sister."


Every one rose simultaneously, and Mrs. Meredith exclaimed, in a shocked tone:


Mrs. Meredith knew nothing of Azalia Brooke's sad history. She believed that Jewel's fierce jealousy had driven her mad, hence her startled cry.

But the vindictive girl took no notice of the lady. She turned to Lord Clive, and said, with a smile of cruel exultation:

"Perhaps I might not have spoken, only for the sake of saving you from a union with one so wicked and sin-stained. I recognized my sister that night when I fainted; but I did not intend to betray her, and would not have done so now only that she might not deceive an honest man into making her his wife."

Azalia Brooke, drooping in her chair like a broken lily, realized then that she had made a fatal mistake in admitting her identity and trusting faithless Jewel with her story.

Her half-sister's cruel aim flashed over her mind like lightning.

She hoped that her hapless victim's lover and relatives would turn against her when they heard that disgraceful story, and that they would cast her forth in disgrace, so that she would be thrown friendless and helpless on the world.

[Pg 173]

This, indeed, was Jewel's cruel intention, and she said to herself that if her plan succeeded poor Flower should never live to see Laurie Meredith again.

Everyone looked at Flower, hoping that she would deny Jewel's dreadful charge.

Alas! that beautiful bowed head told its own story of bitter shame and sorrow. There was nothing for her to say. The bitter secret, kept so long, was dragged to the light of day at last.

"Azalia!" Lady Ivon exclaimed, imploringly.

But the golden head only sunk lower in its terrible despair.

Lord Clive looked from the dark, vindictive face of Jewel Fielding to that downcast, despairing one of her persecuted half-sister. All his manhood rose to the surface, the nobility inherited from a long line of stainless ancestry shone in his clear blue eyes. Looking into Jewel's face, with scorn in his eyes, he said, distinctly:

"Your solicitude for me was a wasted effort, Miss Fielding, as Miss Brooke had already taken back her promise to me. I understand her reasons now, but it only increases my respect for her, as I am sure she was deceived, else such an angel had not fallen."

At those kindly words Flower's pale face was raised, and she said, in a faltering voice:

"Lord Clive, I thank you for those kind words in my defense. You only do me justice in your belief, for I was deceived by a mock marriage—deceived by one who might have remained true to me only that she—my sister there—lured him from me."

An exultant laugh came from those beautiful red lips of Jewel.

"I warned you that I would punish you for trying to take him from me," she said, in a hissing voice, like a serpent's. "He belonged to me first, and you came between us. He turned to you for a little while, but it was[Pg 174] a mere fancy, as I told you, and I had my revenge when he deserted you to your fate."

Every one remained silent, too shocked to speak, and the vindictive Jewel stood in the center of the room, mistress of the situation, evilly beautiful in her glowing crimson robe, and with that fire of hate on her dusky face.

Mrs. Meredith, with an impulse of strong womanly pity, let her gloved hand fall softly on Flower's, and rest there, clasping it with tender pity. Her two handsome daughters stood gazing with infinite pity on the lovely girl thus crushed beneath the weight of a sister's vengeance.

Lord Clive looked at old Lord Ivon who had sunk back into his chair ghastly pale, and muttering incoherently to himself, dazed by the shock he had received in learning of the brand of deep disgrace that lay on his great-granddaughter. The hearers shuddered, for the sound of curses on those aged lips was something unseemly and unfitting.

Lord Clive saw that the old man, bowed so low beneath age and sorrow, was in no fit state to defend the outraged honor of the house of Ivon. His decision was at once taken, and crossing the room with a princely mien, he took Azalia Brooke's hand in his, and said, bravely:

"Azalia, I lay down the rôle of lover to take up that of a brother. The honor of one of England's proudest names has been outraged by a dastard too mean to live, and his life shall pay the forfeit."

"Lord Clive!" she exclaimed, in a startled voice.

"Yes, I take up your quarrel," he said, sternly, and with a deep glow on his handsome cheek. "I, your brother, will avenge the wrong that has been done you! I will not let an hour pass ere I seek him, the cowardly betrayer of innocence! Quick, tell me his name, his home!"

As he held her little hand he felt a quick shudder run through her frame, and she gasped in horror:

"Oh, my God! you would murder him!"

[Pg 175]

"Yes, like a dog!" the young earl exclaimed, bitterly. "What, shall the earth be cumbered longer with such a wretch? His name, my unhappy sister!"

"No, no!" she answered, with a shudder, and her blue eyes sought Jewel's, that had suddenly grown wild and terrified.

All at once the vindictive girl had realized that the vengeance she was taking on unhappy Flower was beginning to recoil upon her own head.

"Revenge is a naked sword—
It hath neither hilt nor guard.
Wouldst thou wield this brand of the Lord?
Is thy grasp, then, firm and hard?
"But the closer thy clutch of the blade.
The deadlier blow thou wouldst deal,
Deeper wound in thy hand is made,
It is thy blood reddens the steel.
"And when thou hast dealt the blow—
When the blade from thy hand has flown—
Instead of the heart of thy foe
Thou mayst find it sheathed in thine own!"

Jewel met the glance of those despairing eyes, and her brain reeled with horror; she said to herself:

"She will speak presently, she will betray him that she may be revenged for what she deems his treachery and mine! Oh, God, this is the end of all my schemes! He will be murdered through my folly, and I shall have lost him after all I have done for the sake of his love!"

Suddenly Lord Clive flung the hand of Flower from him and strode up to Jewel.

"Your sister will not speak. She has a mawkish pity for that villain," he said, sternly. "But you, Miss Fielding, have no tender scruples. Pity was left out of your make-up, I think. So you will be glad for poor Flower's betrayer to pay the penalty of his sin. Speak! Tell me the dastard's name!"

[Pg 176]

"Never!" she shrieked, wildly, throwing up her arms and gazing at him with an appalled face. At the same time Flower plucked timidly at his sleeve.

"Oh, Lord Clive, let it go. Do not seek to avenge me!" she murmured, excitedly. "She will not tell you his name! Alas! he is dear to her, too! We will never speak!"

In her eagerness she forgot that by her own words she was betraying the secret she sought to guard so jealously.

Who in that room but knew that Jewel's heart was set on handsome Laurie Meredith?

A dismayed exclamation went up from every throat, and Lord Clive's voice rang loudest of all:

"Laurie Meredith!"

He sprung toward the door, opened it, and before any one could stay him passed beyond arrest, though Jewel's voice called wildly, frantically on his name.

In the room which he had left there ensued a wild, excited scene. Flower and the younger Meredith girl had fallen fainting on the floor, Jewel Fielding was raving in the wildest hysterics, Lord and Lady Ivon lay back in their chairs, incapable of anything but incoherent ravings, Mrs. Meredith and stately Io had to restrain the agony that ached at their hearts in order to care for the others. Lady Ivon's maid was hastily summoned, and then a physician was called in to administer a sedative to the raving Jewel, who in her while forebodings of her lover's death was realizing so vividly that revenge is a two-edged sword.

"Instead of the heart of thy foe
Thou mayst find it sheathed in thine own!"


Laurie Meredith's trip South furnished him the desired clew.

Springville was such a small place that he had no difficulty[Pg 177] in prosecuting his inquiries into the antecedents of Flower Fielding. Every one almost in the village could tell him something of ill-fated Daisy Forrest and the circumstances surrounding her sorrowful death. From that it was an easy transition to her lovely daughter, who, having come back for the purpose of visiting her mother's grave, had been so strangely discovered by the lawyer who had come over from England to seek an heir for the desolate house of Ivon.

It was from the old sexton himself that Laurie heard the touching story of all that had happened by Daisy Forrest's grave, and his heart thrilled with grief over the hapless girl, his adored wife, thus thrown upon the charity of the cold world.

"I thank Heaven that she found an asylum in her friendliness," he said, although it was painful to think that she had ceased to love him so long ago that now she could meet him and conceal her identity in the fear that he might claim her as his own.

"But I shall never do that, for I am as proud as Lord Ivon's heiress, and, though I love her to madness, I will never even see her again unless she recalls me to her side," he mused; and then he realized, with a start, that now he could not marry Jewel Fielding since he felt so sure that Azalia Brooke was no other than his lost wife, lovely, fickle, willful Flower.

"Poor Jewel! she will take it hard, losing me like this," he thought, remembering her mad love with manly pity.

He asked himself if he should tell Jewel what he had discovered, and decided that he would not do so.

"Let Azalia Brooke keep her secret. I love her too well to betray her even to the sister who mourns her as dead. She may even marry Lord Clive, and believe herself safe under the mask of Lord Ivon's heiress. If I was wrong in binding her to me ere she fully knew her own[Pg 178] heart, I will atone by 'silence to the death,'" he sighed, with loyal self-sacrifice.

He rewarded the old sexton most generously for his information; then, after some grave and thoughtful minutes spent by the grave of Daisy Forrest, he determined to return at once to Boston.

But while walking back to the little hotel, a startling thought came to him.

That dream of the mulatto man, Sam—what if it were no dream, but a reality?

Flower had not drowned herself that night, although Jewel had been so positive of the fact.

She had borne a child, his unhappy young girl-wife. What had become of the little one?

If it had died—his dear little child that he had never seen—he should like to stand beside its grave. If it had lived, and the young mother, in her desperation, had cast it off, he should like to have it—should like to carry it home to his mother, and, telling her some of the circumstances of his secret marriage, ask her to cherish it for the sake of its lovely young mother, who was dead.

Yes, he would tell her that the child's mother was dead. That would be best; no one should learn the secret of Lord Ivon's great-granddaughter.

"The child will be all mine, but that fair, proud beauty is not for me," he sighed, then pulled himself together with a start. "I am dreaming! Of course the child is dead. But I will go to Virginia all the same."


Few of us find our cherished dreams come true, but Laurie Meredith had that pleasure, for on Poky's cabin floor he found his own child playing—a dimpled tot of three years, with Flower's arch and lovely face lighted by his own brown eyes.

[Pg 179]

Poky did not attempt to deny the truth. She was only too happy to see Laurie Meredith and confide to him the whole story of her possession of the child.

"I lied about it before for Miss Flower's sake," she said. "She was so terribly 'fraid of Miss Jule dat she wouldn't 'low me to tell de trufe eben to Sam, and she stole away, leabing de baby for dead in my arms, and Lor', what a shock it gin me to feel, it move presently and open its big eyes at me! 'Twan't dead at all, only smothered like for a few minutes. Well, Miss Flower were gone den, so I concluded to take keer o' de little one till she come back. But, Lor', she never did come back, and I began to think she must be dead, when one day dere came a letter wid a money order for five hundred dollars from ober in Lon'on. I ain't got no friends in Lon'on, and says I to myself, 'tis from Miss Flower. She done got rich somehow, but dere warn't no 'dress in de letter, so what could I do to let her know dat little Douglas was alive arter all? Nuthin', Massa Meredith, and I wouldn't never send word to you 'cause I'se feard you wouldn't keer 'bout my sweet little Douglas. But bein' as you has found it out, I'se glad, 'cause how I've been worried nights thinkin' as how 'twan't right to raise that little w'ite chile along o' my black one!" for Poky had a two-year-old, a bright image of Sam, playing about the cabin floor.

Laurie Meredith took the bright, neatly dressed Douglas in his arms and told him that he was his own papa, and that he was going to carry him a long ways off to live with his dear grandmamma in Boston.

Here Sam lounged in, and great was his delight at seeing Laurie Meredith again, and hearing that little Douglas was his own child.

"Dat's what I always thought, although Poky would insist dat she foun' it down in de ole barn one day, and didn't know whose chile 'twas, anyway," he said, with a grin of delight.

[Pg 180]

Then, having found out long ago, through mysterious hints of his clever wife, that it was Jewel who had abstracted his precious papers, he proceeded to gratify his spite against her by informing Laurie of the part he had played that night in taking that important letter to Flower and returning the answer that had so fatally changed the current of Flower Fielding's life.

"Arter things turned out so strange I was allays afeered, Massa Laurie, as how I done wrong a-giving her de letter, but co'se I didn't know den what a snake in de grass she was, anyway."

While Laurie gazed at him with dilated eyes, he continued:

"What makes me all de more sure dat she played me false dat night is dis: De young pos'-office clerk, he usen to be despret in love with Miss Flower, and last year, w'en he died wid de fever, he 'fessed to de preacher dat he usen to gib Miss Jewel all de letters you sent her sister through de pos'-office, likewise hers to you, Massa Laurie. Miss Jewel promised to marry him, but she went away to some big city, and he nebber heerd of her no more. Lord-a-massy, Poky, look at de man—he's a-dying!"

"No, I am not dying, Sam, although this shock has driven the blood from my face," faintly uttered Laurie Meredith. He struggled with his weakness a few moments, then added, "My good woman, get my child ready, for I must go at once to right the wrong that was begun by Sam's treachery to me that night, and by Jewel Fielding's sin. Out of my sight, man, for I feel tempted to rend you limb from limb! Nothing saves you except that your wife's beautiful humanity in this whole affair condones somewhat for your sin. For her noble sake I forego my revenge, and spare you!"

[Pg 181]


Laurie Meredith no longer thought of taking his child to his mother, now that he knew that Flower had been the victim of a cruel plot; for he began to believe that if all could be cleared up between them, she would gladly come back to his loyal heart.

He knew that Lord Ivon and his party were in Washington, and he determined to go there with the child and try his fate.

Curbing his impatience by awkward yet loving efforts to amuse the bright, intelligent little Douglas, who grieved after Poky and Sam, the only friends his young life had ever known, he journeyed to Washington, and on arriving there went at once to Willard's Hotel, where he secured a room for himself and his quaintly dressed little son.

He had heard nothing of his mother's being in Washington, and it was a startling event to him when he suddenly came face to face with her as he was going along a corridor to his room—a more startling event to her, for she flung her arms impetuously about his neck, exclaiming, wildly:

"Laurie! Oh, my son—alive, alive! Thank the good God for His mercies!"

He returned her embrace with interest; then drew her into his room, and seating her in an arm-chair, said tenderly:

"Dear mother, this is a pleasant surprise; I did not know you were in Washington."

"I came here almost two weeks ago with Jewel Fielding. She made me come. She thought you were here—that you had followed Miss Brooke. Oh, Laurie, dear, how glad I am that you escaped that terrible man! He[Pg 182] would have killed you if he had found you. Oh, it has all been so dreadful, and we have suffered torments about you! But, oh, dear! my son, where did that strange-looking child come from? Is it a ghost? I never saw it till this minute."

Laurie turned to her with a serious, puzzled face, and answered:

"Mother, I've been tempted to believe you were crazy, the way you've been running on, and I fear you'll think the same of me when I tell you this boy is my own child. Forgive me for keeping a secret from you so long, but I've been married going upon four years, and this is Douglas Meredith, your own little grandson."

"Married?" she echoed, without half so much surprise as he had expected, and again winding her arms about his neck she kissed his brow, and said, solemnly:

"I knew it could not be true what Jewel said, that you had wronged her sister. I knew my boy was too noble to commit such a terrible sin!"

"When you have welcomed your grandson, mother, you shall explain all this mysterious talk," he said; for he comprehended that she had learned something of his and Flower's sad story.

"It is Flower's child?" she said; and when he answered yes she took little Douglas into her arms and fondly caressed him while hurriedly telling her son all that had happened since his hurried departure for the South.

He in his turn confided to her everything, and ended by asking anxiously if she thought it likely that Flower would ever care for him again when she learned the treachery by which they had been parted.

"Miss Brooke is very ill, Laurie. It is a slow fever, the doctor says. She has been in bed ever since that dreadful scene three days ago when Lord Clive started out to kill you."

"I am very glad I escaped his blood-thirsty lordship,"[Pg 183] he said, with a faint smile. "But, mother, are they going to let me see her soon?"

"I think they will, for that clever maid of Flower's got back from Boston yesterday with some papers she had stolen from Jewel's trunk, and among them was the long-missing marriage-certificate. Oh, my son, you can not think how glad those dear old people were to find out that Flower was really your wife—and, oh, by the way," with a start, "this little boy, with his funny dress, and solemn eyes, your son, dear, will inherit the title and estates after old Lord Ivon."

"I can not think of that yet, dear mother, my heart is full of my wife."

"Yes, dear boy, I know, and presently I will break it all to her, and let you go into her room. But I have so much to tell you, and you had better hear it first. Be patient a little while, please."

"I will listen, mother, because you insist on it; but I can not promise to be patient," he answered, gravely.

"But, Laurie, it is better I should tell you, for if I do not, Flower will insist on telling all herself, and she is too weak for that. It is only this: Among the papers that Jewel Fielding had hidden away was the diary of that poor, weak Charley Fielding—a book like himself, full of good and evil. And what do you think? Why, it was Flower's mother after all who was his legal wife."

"Mother!" radiantly.

"Yes," she said, hurrying on. "But he treated her badly, poor thing. It was a secret marriage, and when she begged to have it made public, to save her fair fame, he quarreled with her, and declared that the marriage ceremony had been a sham. Then he married the heiress for her money. But she was so jealous she made him repent of his sin. Oh, it would make you weep to read the poor, erring soul's diary, it is so full of grief and remorse, and—well he killed himself, you know."

[Pg 184]

"Yes," he said, then his splendidly handsome face grew dark with anger. "And to think," he said, bitterly, "that Jewel Fielding knew all this yet could be capable of such infamous cruelty!"

Mrs. Meredith's face grew solemn.

"Poor Jewel, you must not think too hardly of her, Laurie," she said, with womanly compassion. "Remember the jealous nature and the taint of madness that she inherited from her mother. Remember her fatal love for you that set into active motion the wickedest elements of her strange nature."

"I can remember all; but it will still be impossible for me to forgive her all that she made my darling suffer," he replied.

"But, Laurie, dear, she is raving mad, and has been so ever since Lord Clive went away declaring that he would kill you for the wrong you had done to Flower."

"It was very noble in Lord Clive. I should have deserved death if I had done as Jewel Fielding said I had," he replied.

"So Jewel is incurably insane," went on Mrs. Meredith. "She believes that Lord Clive killed you, and she hates Flower so terribly that she is always crying out for her sister's life. Is it not horrible? But she will be removed to an asylum to-morrow, and the physicians declare that she will never regain her senses. But, oh, Laurie, what do you think she did to cap the climax of her evil deeds?"

"I can not imagine what more horrible thing she could have committed," her son replied.

"Could you not? Well, that wretched mother of hers, who was sent to the lunatic asylum, you know, regained her senses more than two years ago, but Jewel, by the connivance of a wicked physician, would not permit her to return to the world again. Our sweet Flower found it[Pg 185] out through a letter that Jewel dropped accidentally, and—"

"Hasten, mother," he interposes, imploringly.

"Yes," said Mrs. Meredith—"so we have got her out of the asylum. She is here with us, so changed, so penitent, and so fond of Flower, and grateful for getting out of her prison. She has forgiven Charley Fielding since she read his diary, and found out all that he suffered in his terrible remorse for his sin. But, Laurie, the only amusing thing of all that has happened was that Io fell in love with Lord Clive because he took Flower's part so bravely and was going to kill you. She declares he is the greatest hero in the world."

"I hope she will console him for Flower's loss; but, mother, how you gossip when you know—"

She did not wait to hear the sentence finished, but went out, and stayed fifteen minutes, that seemed like fifteen years to her son's impatient heart.

Then she came back and led him and little Douglas to a room a little lower down the corridor. She opened the door, and Laurie saw a lovely, pale face lying back upon a pillow, a smile of welcome on the tender lips. With a wildly throbbing heart he went in and closed the door.

Went in to find once more a love and happiness lost so long, but regained now for all time and all eternity.


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Charles Garvice               Bertha M. Clay
Charlotte M. Braeme

1—Adrian Leroy, Charles Garvice.

2—Farmer Holt's Daughter, Charles Garvice.

3—Royal Signet, Charles Garvice.

4—The Sculptor's Wooing, Charles Garvice.

5—Woven on Fate's Loom—On Her Wedding Morn, C. Garvice.

6—The Mistress of Court of Regna, Charles Garvice.

7—Claire, Charles Garvice.

8—A Coronet of Shame, Charles Garvice.

9—Love of A Life Time, Charles Garvice.

10—His Perfect Trust, Charles Garvice.

11—Her Love So True, Charles Garvice.

12—A Bridge of Love, Between Two Lives, Bertha M. Clay.

13—A Golden Dawn, Bertha M. Clay.

14—Her Second Love, Bertha M. Clay.

15—A Squire's Darling, Bertha M. Clay.

16—The Shadow of A Sin, Bertha M. Clay.

17—The Shattered Idol, Bertha M. Clay.

18—Wedded and Parted, Bertha M. Clay.

19—A Queen Among Women, Bertha M. Clay.

20—Jennie, Bertha M. Clay.

21—Lady Diana's Pride, Charlotte M. Braeme.

22—Catherine's Flirtations, Charlotte M. Braeme.

23—A Broken Wedding Ring, Charlotte M. Braeme.

24—Sir Arthur's Heiress, Charlotte M. Braeme.

25—At War With Herself, Bertha M. Clay.

26—Wife In Name Only, Charlotte M. Braeme.

27—Her Faithful Heart, Charlotte M. Braeme.

28—Her Only Sin, Charlotte M. Braeme.

29—Shadow of the Past, Bertha M. Clay.

30—Heiress of Hilldrop, Bertha M. Clay.

31—She Trusted Him, Charles Garvice.

32—Leslie's Peril, Charles Garvice.

33—Love's Surrender, Charlotte M. Braeme.

34—Woman Against Woman, Mrs. M. E. Holmes.

35—Elaine, Charles Garvice.

36—Thrown On The World, Bertha M. Clay.

37—Look Before You Leap, Mrs. Alexander.

38—Hemlock's Swamp, Elsie Whittlesey.

39—The Price Of Honor, Charles Garvice.

40—Jesse, Charlotte M. Braeme.

41—A Crown of Shame, Florence Marryatt.

42—At The World's Mercy, Florence Warden.

43—A Thorn In Her Heart, Bertha M. Clay.

44—The House of The Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne.

45—Her Humble Lover, Charles Garvice.

46—A Maiden All Forlorn, The Duchess.

47—A Woman's Temptation, Bertha M. Clay.

48—By The Gates of the Sea, David C. Murray.

49—A Golden Heart, Charlotte M. Braeme.

50—The Lost Heiress, H. W. Taylor.

51—The Duchess, The Duchess.

52—The Haunted Chamber, The Duchess.

53—Her Last Throw, The Duchess.

54—Lady Valworth's Diamonds, The Duchess.

55—A Life's Remorse, The Duchess.

56—A Little Irish Girl, The Duchess.

57—A Little Rebel, The Duchess.

58—A Troublesome Girl, The Duchess.

59—Mildred Trevanian, The Duchess.

60—Mrs. Vereker's Courier Main, The Duchess.

61—A Born Coquette, The Duchess.

62—Her Hearts Desire, Charles Garvice.

63—By Woman's Wit, Mrs. Alexander.

64—Maid, Wife or Widow, Mrs. Alexander.

65—A False Scent, Mrs. Alexander.

66—Beaton's Bargain, Mrs. Alexander.

67—Blind Fate, Mrs. Alexander.

68—Forging the Fetters, Mrs. Alexander.

69—Doris' Fortune, F. Warden.

70—Fair Women, Mrs. Forrester.

71—The Wedding Ring, Robt. Buchanan.

72—Lord Lisle's Daughter, Charlotte Braeme.

73—Bonnie Doon, Charlotte Braeme.

74—A Passionate Love, Charlotte Braeme.

75—Guelda, Charlotte Braeme.

76—If Love Be Love, Charlotte Braeme.

77—Queen Tempest, Mrs. Jane G. Austin.

78—This Wicked World, H. Lovett Cameron.

79—Helen Ethinger, Elsie Leigh Whittlesey.

80—Not Exactly Right, Elsie Leigh Whittlesey.

81—The Child Wife, Adah M. Howard.

82—Jenny Harlowe, W. Clark Russell.

83—The Baffled Conspirators, W. E. Norris.

84—The Evil Genius, Wilkie Collins.

85—A Mere Child, L. B. Walford.

86—Love for A Day, Bertha M. Clay.

87—A Dead Heart, Bertha M. Clay.

88—His Wife's Judgement, Bertha M. Clay.

89—Like No Other Love, Bertha M. Clay.

90—Under A Shadow, Bertha M. Clay.

91—Dora Deane, Mary J. Holmes.

92—Homestead on The Hillside, Mary J. Holmes.

93—Meadowbrook, Mary J. Holmes.

94—Old Hagar's Secret, Mary J. Holmes.

95—Lord Vanecourt's Daughter, Mabel Collins.

96—Old Lady Mary, Mrs. Oliphant.

97—A Lucky Young Woman, Mrs. Phillips.

98—A Little Countess, O. Fenillet.

99—Averill, Rosa Nouchette Carey.

100—Flower & Jewel, Mrs. Alexander McVeigh Miller.

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Transcriber's Notes:

This story was first serialized in the Fireside Companion from January 28, 1888 to April 7, 1888. This electronic edition is based on a later book-form reprint.

Table of contents added by transcriber.

Images may be clicked to view larger versions.

Page 13, corrected "bitterenss" to "bitterness."

Page 27, corrected "msyterious" to "mysterious."

Page 66, added missing close quote to poem.

Page 133, corrected "least" to "lest" in "would not speak lest no one."

Page 138, added missing quote after "We should have been back in England in a few months."