The man she hated : or, Won by strategy


The Man She Hated

By Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller

The Man She Hated




Author of “A Married Flirt,” “Loyal Unto Death,” “Only a Kiss,” “My Pretty Maid,” etc. Published in the New Eagle Series.

79-89 Seventh Avenue, New York

Copyright, 1888 NORMAN L. MUNRO

Renewal for 28 years, from August 23, 1916, granted to Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller

The Man She Hated

(Printed in the United States of America)

[Pg 5]





“Fair Fielding, I heard something about you last night,” said one of the sewing girls in an uptown factory in New York to her nearest neighbor, a very young girl, whose red-brown head was bent over a sewing machine as she deftly guided her work, a heap of fine white muslin, beneath the shining needle.

“What?” asked Fairfax Fielding, lifting her sparkling brown eyes—they were the brightest, softest, loveliest brown eyes, although their owner was only a little sewing girl—a garment maker. You would not find in a day’s journey a prettier face than hers, with its complexion as smooth and clear as the petals of a creamy tea rose, its piquant dimples whenever she smiled, its well-shaped features, and broad, intelligent, white brow, shaded by babyish, curling locks of hair that the girls teasingly called red, but which in reality was beautiful,[Pg 6] dusky, red gold, with such warm glints of light in its dark waves that it made other colors appear tame and common by contrast. With that shining hair, those liquid brown eyes, and that expression of gentleness and purity marking the fair brow and rosebud lips, Fair was more than pretty.

Sadie Allen smiled roguishly, and said:

“I heard you were going to get married, that’s what!”

There was a little feminine titter from every girl in the range of hearing, and Fair’s dainty wild-rose bloom deepened to angry scarlet.

“It’s not true, and I don’t believe you ever heard it, Sadie Allen. You’re only trying to tease me, for you know I have no beaus; and, what’s more, don’t want any,” she retorted spiritedly.

“You forget Waverley Osborne,” said a teasing voice on the other side of Fair’s machine.

There was a double row of sewing machines in the large room, all fastened to two long, narrow tables, with small round niches cut on the sides, in which the operators sat at their machines.

In this factory a large number of women and[Pg 7] girls were employed, and Fairfax Fielding, who had come here at twelve years old, as an errand girl, at three dollars per week, was in her apprenticeship to the business now, and earning her seven dollars per week at the sewing machine. She was seventeen years old, and if she stayed until she was twenty she would earn double that sum. In this establishment were many women and girls who had been here from childhood, and the employees were mostly well known to each other, and, with few exceptions, on amiable terms.

One of the exceptions in the present case was a new girl, a handsome blonde, who was an expert worker, and commanded the highest wages paid to a machine embroiderer. She had left another factory to apply at this one for work, and it was whispered among the girls that the cause was that her beau was a clerk in the warerooms below.

Whether this report was true or not, it is very certain that Miss Platt lifted her large, cold blue eyes with a stare of angry surprise when the name of Waverley Osborne was mentioned, and listened intently for the answer.

[Pg 8]

It was not long in coming, for Fair Fielding tossed her head petulantly, and exclaimed:

“Now, girls, please don’t plague me about him. You know I hate him.”

“Anyhow, he sent you flowers once, and walked home with you twice last week,” laughed Sadie Allen, who was fond of teasing Fair.

“No, he only walked with me once,” corrected Fair quickly. Her eyes flashed as she continued: “I told him then I didn’t want his company, but I couldn’t get rid of him. He would go, and insisted on calling on my mother, too, but,” emphatically, “I guess—she—made—him—understand.”

Miss Platt looked up quickly from the silken lilies she was embroidering on white cashmere.

“What did your mother make him understand?” she asked, in a voice thick with suppressed excitement.

Fair was not in the secret as to the cause of Miss Platt’s interest. The girls had decided that it would be a pity to spoil sport, and mar Mr. Osborne’s chances with Fair by telling her the truth.

So they listened eagerly for her answer, and,[Pg 9] turning her bright eyes on the speaker’s face, she replied unhesitatingly:

“She told him she didn’t want him to walk home with me, call on me, nor show me any attention.”

“Why? Wasn’t he good enough?” sneeringly.

Fair looked at her in surprise.

“I don’t know why you should talk so snappish about it, Miss Platt,” she said resentfully. “If my mother doesn’t wish me to keep company with gentlemen, it isn’t any business of yours, is it?”

The greenish fire of a jealous hate leaped into the blue eyes regarding Fair so keenly, but, forcing a mirthless laugh, the embroiderer retorted:

“Oh, so she don’t want you to keep company with gentlemen at all—is that it? A strange notion. Why, I should think she would be glad to have you marry and get off her hands.”

Fair’s temper was rapidly rising under the sneering remarks of the new girl, and, with flashing eyes, she replied saucily:

“Glad to have me married and off her hands, indeed, when I am her only support! No, I thank you, Miss Platt. Besides, mother tells me often[Pg 10] that she would rather see me in my grave than the wife of a poor man.”

“Wants you to marry a rich man, eh?” Miss Platt exclaimed bitterly, and Fair responded impudently:

“Yes, indeed, if I could get one, thank you.”

A peal of laughter followed the sally, for all the girls thought it very ridiculous, the idea of a poor little sewing girl aspiring to a rich husband. Fair colored high at their mirth, for she had been jesting, and now she said tartly:

“You needn’t any of you think I am expecting or hoping to get a rich husband, for I don’t desire it. I mean, I don’t want to marry anybody, rich or poor; but I may as well say what I think, and that is that I wouldn’t marry a poor man—no, not even if I loved him to distraction, for my mother says that when poverty comes in at the door love flies out at the window; and she ought to know, for her experience was hard enough.”

Fair had quoted “my mother” so often on this same subject that the girls were all familiar with her story, which was that of a pampered rich girl who had married beneath her own station in life, been disinherited, and then driven her impecunious[Pg 11] husband to drink by her repinings after the luxuries she had lost, and reproaches because she had so hard a life. He was dead now, and his widow, battling for long years with the grim fiends of poverty and ill health, had industriously instilled into Fair’s pliant mind her own theories regarding marriage.

But the gray-haired, matronly forewoman of the room, who secretly despised Fair’s mother and openly loved the sweet young girl, now came forward, and said gently, but with latent sternness:

“My dear girl, I’ve heard you quote your mother so often on this subject that I feel like telling you a few plain facts. Will you listen to me?”

“Yes, ma’am,” answered Fair obediently, and looking a little bit frightened at this arraignment by this dignified forewoman, who smiled at her kindly, and said:

“The experience of your mother is not universal, my dear. She was unhappy with her poor husband because she did not adapt herself to circumstances, and was dissatisfied and unreasonable. But other women have married poor men[Pg 12] and led happy lives with them. I married a poor man myself, and, as I had been raised to work, I did not grumble because I had to help to keep our simple home, but was happy in seeing the neat and comfortable home we kept up by our united labors—he at his trade of carpenter, I at my sewing machine. He is dead now, but I never cast a stone at his memory by advising my young daughters not to marry any one who is not rich, and I will offer you the same advice that I do them.

“If you are asked to marry a poor man, whose only fault is his poverty, take him, if you love him, and do your part toward getting along and making a happy home for your husband. Besides, Fair, it would be easier for you to be happy as a poor man’s wife than it was for your mother, as she had been raised in luxury and did not know how to labor. But as you are a working girl, you would not expect anything else than to help your husband get along. Excuse me for speaking so plainly, but it is for your own good, as I can’t bear to see your little head filled with foolish fancies about getting a rich husband. You are very pretty, I own, but rich men do not often marry[Pg 13] factory girls, no matter how pretty they are,” and, so saying, she turned away, followed by a murmur of approbation from everybody except Sadie Allen, who remained very silent, because she saw that Fair’s eyes were full of tears.

[Pg 14]


Poor little Fair! It was quite true, as the forewoman intimated, that she had not had a judicious training, for her mother was a foolish, weak-minded woman, who had, indeed, filled her child’s head with romantic notions about marrying above her station.

“You are pretty enough to marry a king, my darling, and you would be a little fool if you threw away all your chances by marrying a poor man,” she had said often; and, as if to make her advice more impressive, she would add: “Besides, what would become of me if you married a poor man? He would not want to take care of me, and you would be so busy caring for his house and minding his children you would have to desert your poor old mother.”

Little Fair shed tears at the thought of deserting her helpless mother.

“I shall always work for you and live with you, dear mother,” she said, adding, as a clincher: “I shall never marry any one.”

[Pg 15]

“Do not say that, my little Fair, for I should not like to have you live an old maid. I live in hopes that by a fortunate marriage you may some day be raised to the position in life that I once occupied,” answered the ambitious mother.

And it became tacitly understood between them that Fair was to marry no one unless he was rich; and, as she had no expectation of that, she had long ago made up her mind that she would be an old maid.

“Like that old crosspatch of a Miss Smith, who has worked in the factory thirty years, and hates the sight of a man,” the girl thought plaintively; but, in her devotion to her selfish mother, she vowed herself bravely to the sacrifice. Courtship, and love, and marriage such as her companions talked and dreamed of were not for her. Through her mother’s peculiar training, she had become quite worldly-wise.

The forewoman’s kindly meant advice only had the effect of making her indignant and resentful, although she was too politic to utter a word in reply, thus running the risk of losing the place by which she supported herself and her mother. She[Pg 16] bowed her head in silence, and resentful tears coursed down her crimson cheeks.

Sadie Allen was a good-hearted girl, although fond of fun, and she regretted that her teasing remarks had led Fair on to the speech that provoked the forewoman’s displeasure and drew down upon her pretty head that stern reproof. There had been an innocent plot among the girls to tease Fair about Waverley Osborne, in order to aggravate Miss Platt; but Sadie was sorry for her share in it now, although she did not know what bitter cause there was yet to be to make her rue the occurrences of the past hour.

Fair’s hot tears dropped silently a while upon her snowy work. Then she sewed on in rather sullen mood for the rest of the day, taking no notice of her companions, and answering only in monosyllables when addressed; in fact, pouting like a spoiled child, and deaf to Sadie’s good-natured overtures. At five o’clock, the usual hour for leaving, she drew a sigh of relief as she put by her work.

“I’m glad I shall not see one of their hateful faces until to-morrow,” she muttered to herself,[Pg 17] with the passion of a child, as she left the large building and turned her steps homeward through the crowded street. But suddenly a hand touched her arm, and, looking around with a start, she found Miss Platt by her side.

“I’m going your way,” said the embroiderer smoothly, and she kept close to Fair’s side, quite indifferent as to whether her company was desired or not. She had an object in view, from which she was not to be easily deterred. But Fair had no particular cause of dislike against the girl, and, after a moment’s silent vexation, responded with careless politeness to the overtures of the other. “I hope you don’t bear me any grudge for the foolish things I said to-day?” she began. “I was only joking. I saw that the girls were teasing you, and joined in just for fun. But I would have bitten my tongue off before I’d said anything, if I had known how that forewoman was going to reprove you. What business was it of hers, anyway, whether you chose to marry a poor man or not?”

“Oh, I guess what she said was true enough,” Fair answered, not caring to discuss her grievance[Pg 18] with this stranger; but the embroiderer persevered:

“No, it was not true—at least, not all of it. How scornfully she spoke of factory girls! Yet I know two rich ladies to-day who were simple working girls like you and me. They were beautiful, and their faces won rich husbands for them, as yours ought to do, for you have a lovely face. Do you know that, Fairfax Fielding?”

Fair’s mother had told her that she was beautiful so often that she could not profess ignorance of that interesting fact, but she blushed rosily at the blunt words of Miss Platt, who continued, without waiting for a reply:

“I could marry a rich man myself, if I chose. I had the chance once, but I refused it, for I did not love the man; but I believe that I could whistle him back even now if I chose. I’ve a great mind to do it, just to show that upstart forewoman that a rich man would marry a factory girl.”

“Oh, I wish you would, Miss Platt!” cried Fair, with such vehemence that she betrayed at once her latent resentment at the forewoman’s words.

The blonde laughed merrily; then exclaimed:

[Pg 19]

“Ah, Fair, you will marry rich some day, and show her how mistaken she was—I see that now.”

“I shall never marry,” Fair answered; but the embroiderer only laughed more gayly than before, and exclaimed:

“You must, if only to get your revenge on that insolent woman. Oh, I saw what lay at the bottom of her talk! It was spite at your mother, who was born a lady, and of whom she was, therefore, jealous. Come, I’ve a mind to turn matchmaker, just to help you out. Why, Fair, I know a rich young man who is called a kind of crank because he despises fashion and society and vows he will marry a working girl. I believe I will introduce him to you. May I?” And with that speech, she forged the first link in the chain of a cruel plot that she had been revolving in her mind for several hours. “May I?” she repeated, looking eagerly into Fair’s sweet, wild-rose face; but a troubled light came into the bright brown eyes, and the girl shook her head decidedly.

“No, I’d rather not,” she said, and a frown whose malignancy Fair did not see came between the brows of Miss Platt.

[Pg 20]

She was undoubtedly angered at the reply, but she only said caressingly:

“As you please about it, though I know he’d fall dead in love with you at first sight. Oh, here’s Bond’s. I am going in here for a blue ribbon. Will you come?”

“No, thanks. My mother will be uneasy if I don’t get home promptly,” Fair answered, and, with a careless nod, she went on, disappearing in the dense throng on the street in an instant, while Miss Platt turned, without entering the store, and walked back in the direction she had come, her handsome face distorted by angry passion.

“So the little fish wouldn’t bite at my tempting bait?” she muttered angrily. “Never mind, I’ll lay a trap that she’ll fall into yet, for I swear I’ll punish her for taking my lover from me. I knew it must be some one in the factory, but until the girls let it out this morning I never suspected that red-headed little apprentice. To think of his leaving me for her—for her—a silly child that hadn’t even sense enough to appreciate the compliment!”

She laughed aloud, but the laugh had no mirth in it. It was rather a convulsive sound, thrilling[Pg 21] with malignancy, and betokening a nature full of venom when fully aroused. Continuing her train of thought, she muttered:

“He shall return to me, and I will take him back, but, all the same, I shall take vengeance on both for what his fickleness caused me to suffer.”

[Pg 22]


All unconscious of the jealous hatred Belva Platt entertained toward her, Fair Fielding tripped along the crowded streets toward her humble home, her thoughts full of the occurrences of the day and of the tempting bait the embroiderer had held out.

“Can it be true that she knows a rich young man who would rather marry a working girl than a society belle?” she mused, in wonder. “I shall tell mother, and see what she thinks of it.”

And the pretty, giddy head immediately became full of visions of wealth and splendor, in which, to do her justice, her mother reigned supreme, for the dream of Fair’s life was to see her mother restored to the position she had once occupied in society.

“Poor darling, how proud I should be to dress her in silk and lace and diamonds, and take her away from that humble house in a grand motor car to a beautiful mansion full of flowers and[Pg 23] magnificent furniture, with troops of servants to wait upon her!” she thought eagerly, and the brown eyes filled with quick tears, she had grown so earnest over the wish.

Perhaps those tears blinded her; perhaps she did not notice anything in her earnest self-absorption—for if she had been more careful she would have escaped the danger impending over her. Every one else was very careful not to pass under the scaffolding of the new building on the corner, loaded with bricks, as it was, that the bricklayers were using in their work. That very morning Fair had passed on the other side as carefully as any, but now she forgot where she was, or she did not notice. She walked straight on, with dazed, dreamy eyes, and was recalled to herself quite suddenly by a chorus of frenzied shouts that came, alas! too late, for the frail shelving above gave way and precipitated the heavy bricks to the pavement below just as she walked under.

There was a horrified cry close behind her, and then a strong hand clutched her arm and jerked her away, but not before the edge of a descending brick had sharply grazed her temple and inflicted[Pg 24] a flesh wound from which the blood spurted in a purple stream.

The man who had caught her away from under the torrent of falling débris had done so at the risk of his own life, for one piece of plank, as it whirled through the air, had sharply struck his shoulder as he flung out an arm to turn it aside from Fair, whom, but for his timely intervention, it would have stricken to the earth.

He was a tall, fair, fine-looking young man, simply dressed in traveling costume, and he had been descending from a handsome motor car that had just drawn up to the curbstone when Fair’s deadly peril attracted his attention, and he leaped forward just in time to save her life, for in another moment she must have been crushed beneath the fallen planks and bricks of the treacherous scaffolding. But his swift rush to her assistance had saved her life, although for a moment, as her limp form slipped from his arm to the pavement, and her white face, with its closed eyes, was upturned to the light, it seemed as if she must, indeed, be dead.

A shocked, curious crowd surrounded the pair in a moment, among whom there was, very fortunately,[Pg 25] a physician. He bent over Fair’s prostrate form, and gently lifted the wet locks from her brow to examine the wound. Some one brought water and a sponge from the store in front of which she lay, and with deft fingers he bathed and dressed the cut, which, he said, was an ugly one, yet not dangerous.

“See—she is recovering,” he added, for just as he finished placing the wide strip of court-plaster on the jagged wound she drew a long sigh, opened her beautiful brown eyes, and looked up bewilderedly. He assisted her to rise, and said good-naturedly:

“You are not much hurt, miss, but you owe your life to this young man, who risked his own to snatch you back from under the falling bricks yonder.”

Fair uttered a moan of pain, and looked up into a pair of dark-blue eyes that were gazing on her anxiously from a handsome face, now pale and drawn with pain. At the same moment the young man said quietly:

“Doctor, I am afraid my shoulder is dislocated. I threw up my arm to ward off a falling plank, and it struck me.”

[Pg 26]

“Oh, I am so sorry!” cried Fair involuntarily, and the dark-blue eyes looked at her gratefully just as the doctor turned and exclaimed:

“Ah, that is too bad!” He pulled off the patient’s coat, and, after a quick examination, said: “Yes, it is true. Come, can you bear a hard wrench? Now, if some strong man will assist me,” and in a few moments it was all right, and Fair’s rescuer, very pale and with compressed lips, was assisted into his car.

“Oh, he is gone, and I have not even thanked him!” said poor, trembling Fair, who was leaning heavily on the arm of a strange woman, who had stopped with the crowd. But just then the young man’s grave blue eyes looked at her over the doctor’s shoulder. He was pressing a bill into the physician’s hand, and saying eagerly:

“My dear doctor, we are forgetting the young lady. Please assist her to the car, and I will take her home, if she will permit me.”

“Oh, I shall be so grateful,” sighed Fair, who was so weak and trembling that she felt unable to walk, yet knew that there was not even a nickel in her little purse to pay her car fare home. With a sigh of relief, she allowed the physician to place[Pg 27] her in the elegant automobile by the side of her rescuer, and then she was alone with him, for the door closed, and a kind, musical voice was saying:

“Now, tell the driver your address, please, and he will take you home at once.”

Very timidly she named a cheap lodging house in a distant, humble street, and as she saw his start of surprise she instantly added, with a touch of bitterness:

“If it is too far out of your way, I can get out and walk, sir, as I am used to walking.”

She had quickly comprehended that he was rich and proud, and fancied that he might feel himself above her, hence her resentful speech, to which he answered, with a slight smile at her petulance:

“You may be used to walking usually, but I do not think you could do so at present, after the shock and hurt you have received.”

“Oh, yes, I’m almost certain I could,” she began to say resentfully again, and, observing a keen, almost quizzical, glance in the stranger’s blue eyes, she added desperately:

“I have to walk always, whether sick or well,[Pg 28] for I have no automobile to ride in. I’m only a working girl—a sewing girl.”

Something had seemed to compel her to the humiliating confession, for to her proud young nature, so badly tutored by her mother, it did seem humiliating to own it to this aristocratic-looking man, whose liveried chauffeur had turned up his nose—she distinctly observed it—when she had so timidly told him her address.

But the car was rattling along smartly now over the stony streets, and she was sitting there on the cushions, going home in magnificent style, and with something stirring at her heart that had never thrilled it before—something new and sweet and strange that had seemed to start into life at the first glance of those splendid dark-blue eyes that now turned on her with something like pitying wonder, as their owner said gravely:

“You look very young to have to work for your living. Are you an orphan?”

“My father is dead. My mother is living, but she is sick, and I am her only child,” Fair said, then stopped abruptly.

He had winced and shut his eyes as if in pain.

[Pg 29]

“His poor shoulder hurts,” Fair thought, in dismay.

She sat very still, watching his pale, handsome face with an earnest gaze until suddenly the car came to a stop, and he opened his eyes quickly, and met the wistful glance full.

He smiled, and Fair, so pale a moment before, blushed crimson, and hastily dropped her long-fringed lashes.

“Are you sure you are not much hurt?” he asked gently, and she answered eagerly:

“It is not very bad, thanks; but you—you are suffering; I see it in your face. Oh, I am so sorry, and I thank you so much for saving my life. I—I——”

The chauffeur opened the door, and stood impatiently waiting, having said “Home, miss!” twice while she was making her impulsive little speech.

Again she saw her rescuer’s handsome face pale, contract with pain, and he held out his hand and touched hers gently, saying kindly:

“I am glad I had the pleasure of saving your life, little one. Good-by.”

[Pg 30]


Was it all a dream? Fair stood like one dazed on the pavement, watching the car roll around the corner out of sight, and, but for the throbbing wound on her temple, she would have thought it but a dream, so swiftly had everything passed.

But as the vehicle disappeared, a strange aching sense of loss and loneliness filled her heart, and, with a half sob, she turned and entered the dreary, shabby lodging house, where, away up in the fourth story, was a little back room that she called home.

It was a poorly furnished, shabby little room, yet with traces of refinement in its perfect cleanliness, its small stand of books, and the neat white cloth spread upon a small table, which held the evening meal, several slices of brown toast and a tiny pat of butter.

A little brown teapot was singing merrily on a small vapor stove, and Fair’s mother, a faded, melancholy-looking woman, who must once have[Pg 31] been very handsome, was waiting every moment for the return of her daughter from work.

She did not have long to wait, for at last a slow, lagging step, very unlike Fair’s usual merry bound, paused at the door, and Fair entered.

Mrs. Fielding glanced up, saw her daughter’s lovely face ghastly pale and grave, with a long, disfiguring strip of court-plaster across one temple, over which her curls drooped, wet and matted, and uttered a shriek of alarm and dismay.

“Mother!” cried Fair, with a loud, hysterical sob, and, springing to her mother’s arm, she hid her face on her neck and wept aloud in passionate excitement.

It was long before the anxious, frightened mother could elicit from Fair the story of what had happened to her, and then she sobbed for a while almost as wildly as her daughter over the peril she had escaped.

“Oh, my precious child, to think that at this moment you might be lying dead! It is horrible—horrible!” she cried. “Oh, I can never cease to thank the noble young man who saved your life at the imminent risk of his own. But, my dear, it seems strange that you did not think of[Pg 32] asking him to come in the house, that I, too, might have thanked him for his bravery,” she added, rather reproachfully.

“Oh, I did not like to ask, for—somehow—I fancied he was in a great hurry.”

“Too modest to wait and be praised and thanked for his bravery—that was natural,” said Mrs. Fielding. “But no matter; of course I shall go to him and express my gratitude. I declare, Fair, you haven’t told me his name!”

“I don’t know it, mamma.”


Mrs. Fielding’s glance and tone were full of reproachful amazement. She drew a long, long breath, and added:

“You have forgotten your preserver’s name, you ungrateful child!”

Fair’s pale and tear-wet face suddenly grew rosy red, and she said quickly:

“Oh, no, for I never knew his name. He did not tell me, and, of course, I did not like to ask him.”

Mrs. Fielding cried out in dismay:

“You did not find out his name, nor where he lives?”

[Pg 33]

“No, mamma,” despondently.

“But, of course, you told him your name?” pursued the mother.

“Of course I did not. As he did not show interest enough in me to ask it,” Fair retorted hotly, for she resented bitterly, in secret, her preserver’s proud indifference as shown in the fact that he did not even care to know the name of her he had saved from a horrible death.

Mrs. Fielding was perplexed and disappointed beyond expression.

“Why, I really do not know what to think,” she exclaimed. “He must be the strangest young man that ever was born, not to take any more interest than that in such a lovely girl, and one whose life he had saved at the peril of his own. And I really hoped something would come of it. It was so much like novels I had read that I hoped it would end like a novel; but I fear it will always remain a mystery.”

To Fair Fielding, as well as to her mother, the events of that day seemed most romantic; but she did not, like the ambitious woman, cherish any fancy that anything would “come of it.” The kindly carelessness of her preserver’s manner had[Pg 34] been too decided to foster anything like a hope that he had taken any interest in her beyond the humane one of saving her life.

Her young heart, fascinated by his heroism and his manly beauty, had gone out to him in a rush of tenderness. Pity, too, had helped to strengthen the flowery chain, for she felt that he had suffered severely from the hurt received in her behalf. It was according to the dictates of her woman’s nature to yearn over and to compassionate him for the pain he had endured without a sign, except the marble pallor of his handsome face.

But, alas! by his proud reserve and lack of curiosity over the girl he had rescued, the young man had excited, together with gratitude and tenderness, a bitter pique that swelled the young heart almost to bursting. She tossed and turned restlessly all night on the pillow by her mother’s side, thinking of the dark-blue eyes that had looked at her so gravely, and wondering if her confession that she was only a working girl had indeed been the cause of his coldness. More than once she sighed to herself, with earnestness:

“Oh, if only I were his equal in birth and[Pg 35] wealth, and he was my lover, I should have nothing left to ask for on earth!”

She was so troubled and restless all night that her mother became very anxious over her wound, and in the morning forbade her going to work. Fair did not insist upon it, for she felt weak and nervous, and dreaded meeting the girls who had rallied her so much yesterday.

“I do not like to lose the money for my day’s work, yet I am glad to stay at home to-day and rest,” she owned frankly; and when Mrs. Fielding looked at the pale face and heavy eyes with dark circles under them from her sleepless night, she felt that she had done wisely in keeping her at home.

“I feel almost certain that that young gentleman will call to-day to inquire how you are,” she said presently, and at the words Fair started and colored.

“Oh, you do not think so!” she exclaimed, with a ring of hopefulness in her voice.

“I should not be the least surprised,” declared Mrs. Fielding.

She had puzzled over the matter until she had come to the conclusion that the young man was[Pg 36] romantic. He had purposely withheld his name in order to excite Fair’s curiosity, and to-day he would certainly call and clear up the mystery that now surrounded him.

So the summer day dawned and waned, and all day long the mother and daughter, while busy over their domestic tasks, listened with almost equal eagerness for a step upon the stairs and a hand upon the door, but no one came until almost sunset, and then it was Sadie Allen’s homely yet cheerful face that beamed upon them as she entered and exclaimed:

“I couldn’t rest easy until I found out the reason you didn’t come to work to-day, Fair, so I came as soon as I had my tea. You are sick, aren’t you?” Then, catching sight of the disfiguring plaster on her temple: “Oh, then, you were the heroine of the accident yesterday? I said so. I told the girls, when you didn’t come this morning, that it was Fairfax Fielding, and nobody else. Oh, are you much hurt? Tell me all about it.”

And in a little while, by her curious questions, she had elicited the whole story.

“Oh, how romantic!” she cried, with sparkling[Pg 37] eyes. “It’s just like a novel, isn’t it, Mrs. Fielding?”

The lady assented with a smile, and the talkative Sadie continued, with genuine regret:

“For my part, I’d like to see it end like a novel. Own up now, Fair, weren’t you sorry he was just going off to Europe to marry another girl? You must have fallen in love with him at sight. I know I should.”

Fair’s brown eyes flashed proudly.

“In love—nonsense!” she retorted, with pretended gayety. Then her lashes drooped to hide the anxious look she wore as she continued: “But I don’t understand what you mean about his going to Europe.”

“Didn’t he tell you he was going?” demanded Sadie, in surprise.

“N-no; you see, he was suffering so much with his arm,” stammered Fair, trying to seem indifferent.

“We are expecting him to call soon, when, of course, he will explain,” Mrs. Fielding said, with a grand air.

Sadie stared.

[Pg 38]

“To call? Why, how can he, when he’s on the ocean?” she inquired brusquely.

Mrs. Fielding began to look anxious.

“Please explain yourself, Miss Allen,” she said, in a haughty tone, and the girl asked quickly:

“Have you seen the morning papers?”


“Oh, that accounts for everything, then,” replied Sadie, and she went on to say that an account of the accident had appeared in the morning papers.

“We do not take the papers. We cannot afford it,” Mrs. Fielding said bitterly. “But go on with your story, Sadie.”

“The papers stated that Bayard Lorraine, one of the wealthiest young men in New York, was on his way to the steamer to embark for Europe, when he stopped to enter a cigar store for the purchase of some trifle, and, on stepping from his car, beheld a pretty little working girl in imminent danger from a falling scaffolding, loaded with bricks. He rushed to her assistance at the risk of his own life, and, in dragging her from the dangerous spot, had his shoulder dislocated,[Pg 39] but was fortunate enough to find a physician, who attended to the hurt immediately. The young working girl, whose name was not ascertained, escaped with a slight cut on the temple, but the brave young man nobly placed her in his car and drove her to her humble home, although the delay caused by taking her so long a distance to her residence in a humble quarter of the city almost caused him to lose his steamer, which was on the point of leaving the wharf when he reached it. His bravery and nobility in the whole affair were the more striking as it was known that he was most anxious to get off, as his affianced bride was across the water, and the gossips said the wedding would take place in Paris at an early date.”

Sadie paused and took breath, and the mother and daughter looked at each other with heavy eyes—the older woman’s dim with disappointed ambition, the younger’s dark with unspoken pain.

The timid, trembling, unacknowledged hope in the young heart had fallen dead in a moment, and it was impossible for her to move or speak, so cruel was the pang that tore her breast.

To herself she was saying sadly:

“Bayard Lorraine! So that was his name?[Pg 40] It has a proud sound. And he is going away to bring back a bride, alas!”

For in that moment pretty Fair realized that the events of yesterday had changed her life forever, and that her heart had gone out beyond recall to the man she had met but once and could never hope to meet again.

Sadie Allen’s quick eyes read the disappointment in both faces, and she thought shrewdly:

“That foolish woman has been deluding her daughter with the thought that Bayard Lorraine would fall in love with her pretty face, and she was silly enough to believe it. Poor little Fair! I like her very much, but I wish she did not have such a weak-minded mother.”

But, of course, she could not speak out her thoughts, and as neither Fair nor her mother made any remark, she rose to take leave, expressing the hope that Fair would be well enough to come to work to-morrow.

“Of course she will,” Mrs. Fielding answered, with returning self-possession. “She wanted to go this morning, but she was looking so ill and feeling so badly I kept her at home to rest.”

[Pg 41]

“I shall be all right in the morning,” said Fair, with a poor attempt at a smile.

Poor child! She felt crushed and miserable. A bright, beautiful hope had flashed across the horizon of her dull, toilsome life, only to fade in rayless darkness, whose gloom pierced her soul. She sat down when Sadie was gone, and leaned her head on her hands, with a sigh that made Mrs. Fielding look around quickly.

“You are disappointed, aren’t you, dear?” she asked.

Fair struggled a moment with her feelings, then, with a brave resolve that no one should ever know of her unsought love, she answered quietly:

“No, mother, only tired.”

But the elder woman, who knew how much is sometimes hidden by those simple words “only tired,” comprehended more than Fair wished she should, and nodded her head in silent sorrow, for her own disappointment was very keen.

But the name of Bayard Lorraine was tacitly dropped between them. He went out of their lives suddenly, as he had come into them, although not out of Fair’s thoughts, for, try to[Pg 42] thrust his image from her heart as she would, it intruded into her thoughts, and with it came many a silent wonder over the bride that he had chosen. Was she young? Was she rich? Was she beautiful?

[Pg 43]


Belva Platt did not find it as easy to force her recreant lover back to her feet as she had expected.

Waverley Osborne was a good-looking, clever young man, with a good opinion of himself, and his love for the handsome blonde had taken flight the first time he beheld the piquant face of Fair Fielding.

Although deeply disappointed and indignant at the treatment he had received at the hands of Fair and her mother, he had by no means given up the hope of winning the young girl’s regard. He was conceited, and he made up his mind that Fair only repulsed him through fear of her mother.

“She would go with me fast enough only for that old cat, who wants to keep her daughter from getting married that she may support her in her laziness,” he said angrily to himself, and he made up his mind not to cease his attentions to Fair, but to conduct them more cautiously, so[Pg 44] that he might make an impression on her girlish heart and induce her to meet him clandestinely, since her mother was opposed to his suit.

So he began to write her surreptitious love letters, which he conveyed to her hands by means of the little boys about the establishment, generally as she was leaving the factory after her day’s work was done.

Pretty Fair opened the first two of these epistles, and, finding them filled with praises of her beauty and protestations of love, returned both to the writer, with a curt message that she desired nothing to do with him.

But Waverley Osborne told himself that these were but the coquetries of a pretty young girl, who adopted these coy repulses only to lead him on. So he persevered, and every day sent her a fresh letter, which she, with resentful haste, returned, unopened, so that Belva Platt, who was watching her lover’s movements in Fair’s direction very closely, one day secured one of these letters by bribing a little messenger boy, and forthwith possessed herself of the tender contents.

The fury of the girl whose love had been slighted and rejected for a rival knew no bounds.

[Pg 45]

“I could kill them both!” she said savagely, through her clenched teeth, as she paced restlessly up and down her room, crushing the perfumed sheet in her angry hands and calling down furious maledictions on the head of the girl on whom she had vowed to take a bitter revenge.

“I will bear it no longer. I will go to see her mother, and if she is as weak and foolish as the girls say she is, why, I will cajole her into helping me to carry out my scheme of vengeance,” she muttered grimly.

And on Sunday afternoon, the only day on which she had any time for visiting, she dressed herself in her best attire, and boldly called on Mrs. Fielding.

“I hope you will excuse me for taking the liberty, but I am so fond of Fair that I could not help calling,” she said blandly, and, having thus paved her way, she proceeded: “Oh, my dear girl, I have something to tell you—quite a coincidence, really. You remember what I was telling you about a friend of mine, a rich young man, who vows he will marry no one but a working girl?”

“Eh?” exclaimed Mrs. Fielding, with deep interest, and Belva mentally hugged herself.

[Pg 46]

“Good! She snaps at the tempting bait,” she muttered grimly, and, turning to the lady, she exclaimed: “Hasn’t Fair told you? Why, what a sly little puss she is, never to tell you of her grand opportunity! You see, I wanted to introduce her to a particular friend of mine, an extremely wealthy young man, and she positively refused to know him. Think of that! And, you see, it certainly did pique him, for I had told him how pretty she was, and he is just crazy to get acquainted with her. He came past the factory one day just as we were leaving, and I pointed her out to him. He told me afterward that it was curiosity to see her that brought him. He said she must be a wonderful girl to refuse a young man’s acquaintance simply because he was rich.”

“Oh, Miss Platt, it wasn’t that, of course. I simply didn’t care about him,” Fair explained quickly, adding, after an instant: “I really meant to tell mother—but—I forgot.”

Yes, poor child, she had truly forgotten, for on the same fated afternoon Bayard Lorraine’s blue eyes had flashed across the horizon of her life, and all things else had grown obscure. She was blinded by looking on the sun.

[Pg 47]

Mrs. Fielding, all eager interest, turned to artful Belva.

“Did I really understand you to say that the young man actually wanted to marry a working girl?”

“Yes, that was what I said. He told me he was disgusted with society belles, and meant to seek a bride among the working classes. As soon as I saw Fair, I thought that she was the very one for him, as she was so superior to the generality of working girls; and, then, too, I knew that her beauty would create a sensation if she became a rich man’s bride.”

“Please don’t flatter me, Miss Platt!” exclaimed Fair, blushing warmly.

“It is no flattery, my dear girl. It is the plain truth,” replied Belva, as she rattled on: “But what I was about to tell you, Fair, was that this rich young man is a cousin of Bayard Lorraine, the person that saved your life that day. Now, doesn’t it seem like a coincidence?”

“I don’t know,” Fair answered vaguely. She blushed and trembled at the very mention of the name that was always in her secret thoughts.

“The strangest part, to me,” continued Belva[Pg 48] vivaciously, “is that while Bayard Lorraine is very proud and haughty, and never associates with any but rich girls, his cousin, George Lorraine, thinks as much of a poor girl as a rich one—even more—for he says rich girls never love a man for himself, but only for the amount of money he has, and he is so disgusted that he means to have a dear little working girl, who will love him for himself alone.”

Mrs. Fielding was wondering to herself what manner of man this could be, and, looking at Belva, she said dubiously:

“Your friend must be a strange kind of man; or perhaps he has done something so bad that it has placed him outside the pale of polite society? He may be a black sheep.”

Belva protested eagerly that such was not the case, that George Lorraine was the most intimate friend of his Cousin Bayard.

“He is peculiar, that is all, and is a sort of crank on the subject of marrying for love,” she said. “His relations object very much to his sentiments, but it does no good. Now, Bayard Lorraine is the proudest man in New York. You know that yourself, Fair, for, although he was[Pg 49] brave enough to save your life, he did not take enough interest in you to find out your name.”

She had wormed this out of Fair by ceaseless persistency.

Fair made no answer, but sat with drooping head and nervous fingers, smoothing down the folds of her white apron. What was there for her to say? Belva’s words were only too true.

But Mrs. Fielding and Belva carried on the conversation quite briskly, and the end was that Fair’s mother gave the artful schemer leave to bring George Lorraine to call.

Belva lost no time in taking advantage of the permission, and the very next evening she climbed the stairs to the little four-story room with a young man whom she introduced to Fair and her mother as Mr. George Lorraine.

Fair looked with much interest at her new acquaintance, to see if he bore any resemblance to his cousin. She could not find any, as George was small and dark, with an Italian type of beauty, for he was certainly very good-looking.

But he was well dressed and agreeable, and talked so constantly about “my Cousin Bayard,[Pg 50] you know,” that Fair found him, on the whole, a very pleasant acquaintance.

“Bayard is going to marry an heiress, you know,” he confided to her, adding, with an admiring glance into the bright brown eyes: “But, by Jove, you know, if I’d had such a chance as that beggar the day he sailed, I’d have stayed at home and let that girl go, in spite of her moneybags.”

[Pg 51]


“Marry you!” cried Fair, starting back, half frightened. “Why, I’ve scarcely known you a month, Mr. Lorraine!”

They were alone in the room, for Mrs. Fielding had discreetly left the room. The evening was warm, and Fair was sitting by the open window, dressed in white, with her red-gold curls loose on her shoulders, and a pink rose in her belt, a lovely picture of youth and innocence—and George Lorraine appeared to think so, for he looked very earnest as he bent over her, begging for the gift of her heart and hand.

“Yes, I’ve only known you for a month,” he said, “and, my dear girl, if you were rich and fashionable, I should wait longer before I asked you to marry me; but it is for your sake and your mother’s, as much as for my own. Do you not know, dearest, that I am anxious to remove you from these humble surroundings”—and he flashed a glance of disdain around the shabby little room—“to[Pg 52] my beautiful Fifth Avenue home, where you will have such surroundings as befit your beauty and your worth?”

The beautiful face before him grew pale with emotion. Fair was frightened at the thought of marrying George Lorraine, yet dazzled at the glittering prospect he held out to her. Besides, what would her mother say if she refused him? Fair knew quite well that she would be bitterly disappointed, even angry.

“I do not think you are indifferent to me, Fair,” continued her lover. “You have accepted my attentions, and you have seemed to take pleasure in my company and conversation.”

It was all true; she could not deny it. Yet what would he say if she dared tell him that she had welcomed his coming, listened to him with delight, because he talked so much of his cousin—of Bayard Lorraine, whose image filled her heart, whom she loved with the maddest, most foolish love the world ever knew—since, for the one hope of meeting her ideal again, she was thinking of giving her hand to George Lorraine?

“It is not so much his wealth, poor as I am, that tempts me, as the thought that, being his[Pg 53] wife, I should meet Bayard Lorraine again—meet him on equal terms, with a name as proud as his own,” she thought, finding a strange balm for her wounded pride in the prospect. “He despises the poor working girl, they say; but, as his cousin’s wife, he cannot look down on me. I shall meet him in society. I shall meet his haughty bride. And when I am dressed in jewels and satins and laces I shall, perhaps, be as beautiful as she is,” ran the tenor of her thoughts; and she was so young, so innocent, so untaught that she did not know that to marry George Lorraine in such a mood would be deadly sin. What did she know of the sanctity of marriage? Her mother had always railed against it as having been the cause of all her trouble.

She kept a little journal, to which alone she confided her girlish, romantic thoughts, and to which the struggles of these days were freely told. It would have brought tears to any eyes to have read there the story of her hopeless love, the tender little verses that flowed from her full heart, and the last entry that was made that night, which ran simply:

[Pg 54]

“I have promised to marry George Lorraine. He is not the rose, but he has lived near it.”

Poor Fair—a child in her knowledge of life and the world, a woman in her love—was trying to cheat her heart with a fatal delusion, and one that she paid for most bitterly in the dark days yet to come.

But at present she believed that she was doing what was best and right for herself and her mother, and as far as that mother was concerned she would not have permitted her daughter to turn back if she had desired to do so.

So it was all settled, and George Lorraine begged that a very early date might be named for the marriage, and Mrs. Fielding seconded the motion.

In vain, Fair pleaded that it should not take place until winter. They laughed at her petition, and declared that a month’s time was quite sufficient for her to prepare her simple trousseau.

“For you can buy all you want as soon as we are married,” said her lover.

Mrs. Fielding thought it was very strange that George Lorraine should be willing for his bride-elect to go on working at the factory after their[Pg 55] betrothal. But he made no request that Fair should stop; so things went on much the same as before.

She worked all day, and in the afternoon Mr. Lorraine was usually on hand to take her home, creating quite a sensation among the factory girls by his fine clothes and foppish airs, and entirely squelching the pretensions of Waverley Osborne, who, having heard it rumored that Fair was engaged to marry a very rich young man, resigned himself to despair, and talked gloomily to his best friend on the topic of putting an end to a blighted existence by means of pistols or poisons.

Fair’s approaching marriage became known speedily to the working girls, and many of them were pleased with her good fortune, while others were consumed with envy and malice.

As for Mrs. Jones, the sensible forewoman, who had declared that no rich man would marry a working girl, she became quite unpopular with the majority, and had many a sly reminder of her false prophecy from one or another of the ambitious ones who hoped to do as well as Fair some day.

[Pg 56]

The lovely Fair bore her honors very meekly, and did not seem elated by the brilliant prospect before her.

Indeed, some of the girls decided that her heart was not in the affair, and that it was purely a mercenary match.

“I do not believe it,” said another. “I think she is very much in love with him.”

“But she is always so serious nowadays—always in a brown study,” said Sadie Allen, who was one of those who declared it was a mercenary match.

One of the knowing ones, a girl who had had several love affairs, answered that that was one of the best signs of love.

“She is always thinking of her lover, and pays no attention to anything else; that is all,” she declared.

“Young ladies, please attend to your work!” put in the forewoman, a little sharply, and the merry girls who had been discussing love and marriage so gayly became mute as their fingers took up their tasks again.

It was arranged that Fair should be married at church, and that the newly married pair, with the[Pg 57] happy mother, should go at once to the elegant Fifth Avenue residence, where they were to spend a few weeks getting acquainted with their new life; then, leaving Mrs. Fielding in charge of the house, they were to start upon a European tour.

“After the ceremony, we will hold a reception at home,” Mr. Lorraine said, adding: “As it is August, and all my fashionable friends are out of town, we will only ask a few people.”

“Oh, George!” Fair exclaimed, then looked at him pleadingly.

“Well, dearest?” he asked encouragingly, and she faltered:

“I should like—like—to invite—some of the working girls to my reception.”

He frowned slightly.

“But, Fair, you know you will move in a different circle hereafter. And, besides, what would my cousin, Bayard Lorraine, say if he knew that, in addition to the crime of marrying a working girl, I actually invited sewing girls to my wedding reception?”

The hot color flew to the creamy, fair cheeks,[Pg 58] as it always did when he spoke that name, and Fair exclaimed angrily:

“Who cares what he thinks? I hate him, and I wish he had not saved my life, so there!” And, to his consternation, she burst into a babyish fit of crying.

[Pg 59]


But she carried her point, after all, and a few of her companions at the factory—Sadie Allen, Belva Platt, Mrs. Jones, the forewoman, and a few others—were specially invited, and Fair delivered to each a message from Mr. Lorraine to the effect that they would be conveyed in carriages from the church to his residence.

The carriages were really there, and so were the bridal party—Fair in a simple white dress and hat such as a pretty girl may wear to church any Sunday, and the invited guests all in gala attire, and on the tiptoe of expectation. The groom looked pale and grave, but remarkably handsome, in his black suit, and Fair felt him tremble perceptibly as he drew her hand through his arm and led her before the waiting minister, who, with the short, simple ritual of the Baptist Church, soon made them one.

Mrs. Fielding was beaming with pride and pleasure. She felt that her aim was accomplished.[Pg 60] With all her disadvantages, she had married her daughter off as well as any scheming society mamma. She drew a sigh of relief at the thought that there was no more work for beautiful Fair, nor herself—only luxury, ease, and pleasure, with jewels and fine dresses.

She kissed her daughter most fondly, and followed the bridal party out to the carriages that were waiting to convey them to the Fifth Avenue mansion. She found herself placed in one with Mrs. Jones, Miss Platt, and Sadie Allen as companions. As she was being borne through the streets to her destination, she thought complacently:

“It is the last time I expect to associate with any of the factory people except Miss Platt. I shall make an exception in her favor, as she is the friend of my son-in-law, and as she, in a manner, helped Fair to win him—as, but for her, we would never have known him. Yes. I will invite her to Fifth Avenue sometimes, and I will try to make a good match for her among some of George’s rich friends.”

The carriage came to an abrupt pause, and the driver appeared at the door to help the ladies out.[Pg 61] Mrs. Fielding glanced out at the narrow, ill-lighted street, lined with rows of shabby tenement houses, and exclaimed:

“Don’t get out, ladies. That is not Fifth Avenue. There is some mistake, driver.”

“No mistake, mum. Gentl’man told me this street and number,” replied the man; and Miss Platt, who had already sprung to the pavement, looked back and observed:

“There certainly must be some mistake, but all the others have gone into the house, so we had better follow them and find out what is the matter.”

So Mrs. Fielding followed with foreboding curiosity, and Belva Platt led them into a shabby, creaky, moldy old tenement house, and up two illy lighted and steep staircases to the third story, where, in a small room, they came upon an interesting tableau.

The room was poor and mean, but scrupulously neat, and the cane-seated chairs ranged around the room had a forlorn company look, as had also the table in the middle of the floor, which was generously loaded with refreshments, consisting of stale pound cake, beer, oranges, bananas, and a[Pg 62] plate of candy. In this festal apartment, dimly lighted by a flaring kerosene lamp, stood George Lorraine and his astonished bride, with several of the girls whom he had invited to the wedding reception. They had apparently just entered the room, and before any one else could utter a word Mrs. Fielding burst upon the scene, exclaiming:

“Mr. Lorraine, why have we come to this house? Surely there must be some mistake!”

Belva Platt laughed aloud, a malicious laugh that drew all eyes upon her; and George Lorraine, who had suddenly grown very pale, and whose frame was trembling with emotion, answered:

“No-o, Mrs. Fielding, there isn’t any mistake. This is my—my—home. I have suddenly lost all my riches!”

Mrs. Fielding stood like a statue of despair, glaring at her son-in-law, with his strange words ringing in her ears like the knell of hope.

The pale young bride had heard, too. Whiter she could not grow, for she had looked like a lily ever since she had left home to go to church, and her lovely face wore a shadow very unlike that of a happy bride. But at those words from her new-made[Pg 63] husband’s lips, she started and gazed intently at him, with a blank despair in her glance that was lost on him, for his eyes were bent upon the floor, and, in place of his usual jaunty, confident mien, he seemed dejected and abashed; and no wonder, for a buzzing whisper of surprise sounded all around him from the surprised guests, and above it all there echoed a low, derisive laugh replete with enjoyment of the scene. It came from the lips of Belva Platt, and her blue eyes glowed with ghoulish glee as she fixed them on the pale, startled face of the hapless girl on whom she had taken such a cruel revenge.

It pleased her to see the lovely, dimpled, childish face that had wiled away Waverley Osborne’s heart looking so wan and wild and frightened.

Mrs. Fielding, who had been choking and gasping in the effort to speak, after the shock of surprise she had received, suddenly turned her eyes upon Belva, and said, sternly as her unsteady voice would permit:

“Miss Platt, I would like to know what amuses you? Is this a laughing matter?”

Belva made her a mocking bow, and answered:

“Yes, madam, I find it very amusing.” Then[Pg 64] she went off into a peal of sardonic laughter, crying maliciously: “So the bridegroom has suddenly lost all his riches—ha, ha, ha! What a good joke!”

Sadie Allen went up to her and roughly shook her arm.

“Belva Platt, behave yourself! You are acting like a crazy woman. Have you no decency?”

But Belva shook off the remonstrating hand, and, laughing more wildly than before, looked at Mrs. Fielding. She saw that the pale bride had glided to her mother’s side, and was clinging to her with trembling hands.

“Mother,” she faltered, “you will make them explain, won’t you, dear? This is horrible! She frightens me with her laughter; it has such a dreadful sound.”

“Yes—what does it all mean?” exclaimed Mrs. Jones curiously. “Why, I heard that Mr. Lorraine was rich, and that we were invited to his wedding reception at a Fifth Avenue mansion,” and she glanced contemptuously around the mean apartment, and then looked, with a little feminine triumph, at Mrs. Fielding, the woman whom she cordially despised for her aristocratic airs.

[Pg 65]

Sadie Allen came forward to the silent, half-dazed bridegroom, and said curtly:

“Come, Mr. Lorraine, we want you to explain the meaning of this. You have pretended to be rich all this time, and if you have fooled Fair Fielding, why, I say you are no gentleman—that’s all.”

He looked up at her helplessly, and, with an appealing glance in his dark eyes, muttered incoherently:

“I couldn’t help it! She made me do it. I was in her power. She threatened——”

“She? Who is she? Not Fair? Not Mrs. Fielding?” exclaimed Sadie, and before he could answer Belva Platt come up to them, and, dropping a mocking curtsy, interposed defiantly:

“I am she! I planned it all. I made him marry Fairfax Fielding!”

[Pg 66]


Every eye in the room turned on the bold, defiant speaker, whose tall form seemed to grow taller and to expand with the pride she felt in her own cleverness.

As she caught the low, stifled cry that came from the blanched lips of the deceived bride, her blue eyes blazed maliciously, and she continued audaciously, and as if regardless of any one’s good opinion:

“I owed that girl a bitter grudge, and this is the way I have paid it. I introduced him to her, and pretended that he was rich, because I knew that she and her foolish mother were on the lookout for a rich husband. They fell into the trap, and now they are well punished for their pride and ambition. George Lorraine—although, by the way, that isn’t his real name—is as poor as a church mouse, and lazy withal. He——”

“Stop!” shouted the bridegroom, springing toward her, and she quailed a little at the fire in his black eyes, as he continued sharply: “It wasn’t in the bargain that you should abuse me[Pg 67] to the girl you made me marry, for I love her, and I’ll work for her, and her mother, too—yes, I will!—and perhaps she may forgive me yet, if you do not, like the fiend you are, try to poison her against me with your malicious tales.”

“Hear him, hear him! The Italian organ grinder!” exclaimed Belva, with disdainful mockery; but he had turned from her and flung himself on his knees before his bride, whose big brown eyes looked out of her lovely, blanched face with scorn and disdain.

He held up his hands to her, and cried abjectly:

“Oh, Fair, if only you will forgive me, I will work for you—slave for you—for I love you madly, and it may be that some day I can make you rich. Oh, Mrs. Fielding,” frantically, as that lady was about to speak, “do not speak, do not interfere between us! It is her affair and mine alone, for she is my wife. I love her, and perhaps she has some little love for me that will make her forgive me some day.”

At that Fair found her voice, and, holding up her hand for him to be silent, she said, in a clear voice:

[Pg 68]

“Tell me the truth, George Lorraine, or whatever your name is—was this deception carried out in all, or was I only deceived about your riches? Are you, or are you not, the cousin of Bayard Lorraine?”

“Ha, ha, ha!” laughed Belva Platt, and Fair’s husband answered shamefully:

“I am not any kin to Bayard Lorraine. I never saw him, nor heard of him, until Belva Platt told me about him, and the plan to pretend he was my cousin was hers, not mine. But, Fair, I love you, in spite of the way I was led to marry you. I’ll make you a good hus——”

“Hush!” she almost screamed, and the fire that flashed from her brown eyes almost frightened him. He started, and sprang erect, listening with sullen patience, as she went on scathingly:

“You are a coward and a villain, and I hate you for the wicked way in which you have deceived me. As for forgiving you, I will never do it. I will never live with you, either, and now I’m going back to the old house with my mother, and if you ever darken our door I’ll have you put out by a policeman.”

“Quite right, my dear, quite right! We’ll have[Pg 69] him put out by a policeman,” muttered Mrs. Fielding, in a half-dazed way; but Belva Platt exclaimed jeeringly:

“Pshaw! You talk very fine, Fairfax Fielding, but the law will make you live with him, don’t you know that? George Lorraine, I didn’t know you could be such a white-faced coward as to give in to a proud little hussy like that! Come, be a man! Tell her she shan’t go. She married you of her own free will, now let her live with you.”

But Mrs. Jones, who had been looking and listening in amazement, now interposed sharply:

“Belva Platt, this is the meanest plot I ever heard of. You ought to be forever and ever ashamed of yourself.”

“She ought to be hung!” declared Sadie Allen, in a fierce gust of anger.

She went to the deceived girl and put her arms around the trembling form. “Darling little Fair, don’t be frightened. You shan’t live with him if you don’t want to. I’ll mount guard over you and keep him away,” she declared, with a menacing glance at the bridegroom; but Belva’s advice had encouraged him to rebellion, and he said sullenly:

[Pg 70]

“You mind your own business, Miss Allen. Fair’s my wife, and she’s got to live with me. If she tries on any foolishness with me, she’ll only make matters worse for herself.”

Fair’s eyes flashed in disdainful defiance, but just then Alice Stevens, one of the pretty working girls whom Fair had been so anxious to invite to her wedding, went up to Belva Platt, and asked curiously:

“What did Fair do, Miss Platt, that made you so mad with her?”

“Never mind!” answered Belva angrily; but Lucy Miller, another one of the girls, exclaimed vivaciously:

“Oh, I know, Alice! She cut Belva out with Waverley Osborne, and Belva was so mad she did this to get even with Fair. But I think it was very mean, don’t you, Alice?”

“Yes, I do, for Fair didn’t care for Waverley at all, and she’s a good girl, and I think it’s a shame that Belva’s treated her so bad,” answered Alice, with a reproachful glance at Belva, who paid no heed to it, for at that moment she heard Fair saying:

[Pg 71]

“Come, mother—come, Sadie! We will go home.”

“Ladies, you have not partaken of the wedding feast yet. Won’t you drink some beer to the happiness of the wedded pair?” Belva called out insolently, with ineffable malice; but no one noticed her. Fair, with her hand on her mother’s arm, was moving toward the door, with Sadie Allen on the other side of her. George Lorraine started to follow them, but the deceived bride looked around at him with burning eyes.

“Do not dare follow me, nor come near me!” she said, with a blaze of scorn, and he shrank back like a culprit.

The beautiful, angry eyes turned from him then, and rested on Belva’s face with its fiendish smile of triumph.

“Miss Platt, I have never harmed you,” she said. “I did not know until a moment ago that Waverley Osborne was anything to you, and if I had known it I could not have treated him more coldly than I did always. You have taken a cruel revenge upon one who never willfully wronged you, and Heaven will punish you for what you have done. I know I am only a poor working[Pg 72] girl. I have no one to take my part except the poor working girls, my friends and companions. I have no father to call this villain here to an account. I cannot avenge myself, but I leave you to the justice of Heaven.” And for a moment, as the beautiful face of the wronged girl turned appealingly toward heaven it seemed to Belva and them all as if she were invoking the divine vengeance upon her enemies with such earnestness as must surely bring it down upon their heads.

The next moment she passed unmolested through the door with her mother and her friend; and the others, with the exception of Belva Platt and George Lorraine, after a moment’s hesitation, followed after.

Belva looked scornfully at the man, who had sunk into a rickety seat, in an attitude of deep despondency.

“You are a poor specimen of a man!” she said sneeringly. “Why didn’t you make her stay?”

He looked at her a moment doubtfully, then, nettled by her scorn, said, with angry bravado:

“I didn’t want to fool with those women, but I’ll make her come back.”

“That’s right! Good night.”

[Pg 73]


“Oh, my poor child, what shall we do now?” Mrs. Fielding exclaimed piteously, when they had reached their poor lodging, which, fortunately, they had not given up, as she sank despondently into the low rocking-chair, which was the only luxurious article of furniture the room contained.

Sadie Allen had come with them to the door, and, after a short, whispered conversation with Fair, said good night and went away. Then the mother and daughter had gone quietly upstairs, followed by curious glances from other occupants of the tenement house who happened to be astir, for it was known by every one in the house that the pretty little sewing girl in the fourth story was to be married that night.

Shrinking timorously from the curious gaze that followed them, mother and daughter went upstairs and locked themselves into the little room to which they had bid a glad farewell that night, never expecting to lodge in it again, but which[Pg 74] now seemed like a happy haven, a refuge from the sneers of the cold and heartless world.

Then the mother’s disappointment and grief found vent in the cry:

“Oh, my poor child, what shall we do now?”

Fair was laying off the little white chip hat with the daisy wreath and white ribbon, and at the words she went over to her mother’s side, and, putting her arms around her neck, kissed her tenderly.

Then she said bravely:

“Do? Why, we must go on just the same as we have been doing. I will go back to-morrow to the factory and apply for the place resigned two days ago.”

“Go back to work at the same place as that wicked Belva Platt? Oh, my dear, it will be so hard for you. And, besides, she will be laying some other wicked plot for you. Oh, I am afraid, afraid!” wailed the poor woman.

“I will have to be on my guard,” Fair answered, with a hard light in her sweet brown eyes.

She hated the wicked, unjust girl who had deceived[Pg 75] her so cruelly, and she knew that it would be hard to work with her in the same room again.

“But,” she went on, aloud, “there is no other way, unless I could get work somewhere else, and the chances are against me for that. I shall be glad if I can get back to the old place.”

“But the man? He will persecute you, dog your footsteps, perhaps,” said Mrs. Fielding, in a weak voice.

She looked very pale and ill as she lay back in the chair, her eyes half closed, her lips blue and drawn, some wisps of prematurely gray hair straggling over her marble-white brow. Fair put them back with loving fingers.

“You are very tired, aren’t you, dear?” she queried anxiously. “You worked too hard on your new dress to-day. Let me help you off with it, and put you to bed.”

“Water, please,” Mrs. Fielding gasped faintly.

She had turned livid about her lips, and before her daughter could obey the request her head fell back and she fainted.

“It is her heart again!” Fair cried. “Oh, it has been so long since she had one of these attacks![Pg 76] Those wretches have done this,” she went on bitterly, as she applied herself to the task of restoring her mother.

Mrs. Fielding had been subjected to these attacks, which her physician attributed to obscure heart trouble, but for several months she had not had any “spells,” as she called them, and Fair hoped she would get well of her disease, whatever it was; but, alas! the terrible shock she had received had precipitated another attack, and it was far into the night before she recovered sufficiently to lie down upon her pillow and fall into a troubled, restless slumber, while Fair, in a chair beside the bed, smoothed the damp white brow with soft, mesmeric fingers, and repressed her bursting sobs lest she should startle the unquiet sleeper.

“Poor darling, her heart is broken by her bitter disappointment, and I fear she will scarcely have courage to face life again,” she sighed, as the brief summer night waxed and waned, and she crouched there, a forlorn little white figure, in the forgotten bridal dress, watching that pale, pinched face upon the pillow with a supreme love and tenderness that took no thought of the poor sufferer’s weakness, and sometimes selfishness,[Pg 77] but only dwelt on her sorrows and her warm motherly love for her only child.

At length the gray dawn began to steal into the room, and Fair extinguished the little night lamp, and, removing the crumpled white lawn dress, replaced it with the plain, neatly made brown calico she usually wore to work. Stepping lightly about, she made preparations for their breakfast, and set the tea to draw, thinking that her mother would like a cup of her favorite beverage as soon as she awoke.

By the bright morning light that now came into the room through the small back window, she saw that her mother’s face looked more natural in its color, and as the crowded house began to fill with the sounds of busy workers starting out for their daily labors, she awoke and looked about her with a puzzled air.

“Fair!” she exclaimed, and the girl answered, in a cheerful tone:

“You have overslept yourself, mother.”

“Is that it? I feel very weak, dear. I do not want to rise just yet.”

“That is all right, darling. Lie still, and I will[Pg 78] give you a cup of warm tea and a slice of toast. Then you may go to sleep again if you wish.”

She was glad to see that her mother seemed to relish the repast. She finished it and lay down upon her pillow; then Fair asked anxiously:

“Do you feel well enough for me to leave you and go to work?”

She knew, poor girl, that her purse was utterly empty. The last of her wages had been expended in the purchase of the fatal wedding dress.

“Yes, darling, you may go. Heaven bless you, my good, patient child,” she added, just as a loud, startling rap sounded on the door.

[Pg 79]


Neither Fair nor her mother had heard any footstep at the door, and the loud, sudden rap startled them so that Mrs. Fielding fell back on her pillow with a cry of alarm, and Fair dropped the little brown hat she was about to place on her curly head, and started violently as she called out:

“Who is there?”

No answer came, but a hand grasped the handle of the door and shook it rudely. It was locked, however, and Fair made no motion to open it, but called out as before:

“Who is there? Is it Sadie Allen?”

A loud, angry voice answered sharply:

“It is I—your husband! Open the door, and let me in.”

“I will not!” the girl answered defiantly, although her slight frame trembled, and she instinctively glanced at the bed.

To her horror and distress, she heard her mother gasp despairingly:

[Pg 80]

“Oh, I remember all! Fair is married to that wretch! There is nothing but misery and despair in store for my darling,” and, with the last words, she fell back and lay still and white, as she had done the night before.

“Come, none of your airs, madam! I am your master, and I command that you open the door at once!” sounded the angry, threatening voice outside, ending with a bitter oath.

Springing to the door, the hunted, desperate girl answered hoarsely:

“Oh, go away, I beg of you! My mother is ill, and she will die of excitement unless you cease your persecutions.”

George Lorraine began to coax and wheedle, but she interrupted him in impatient wrath:

“You are wasting your breath. I hate you, and will never recognize any tie you may claim to exist between us. The door is locked, and I will never admit you, so go away and leave me to care for my poor, sick mother.”

She heard an oath, coupled with a threat to break the door down, but she paid no heed. She had darted to her mother’s side, and was anxiously bending over the silent form.

[Pg 81]

“Mother!” she shrieked aloud, in fear and terror, for the aspect of her mother filled her with wild foreboding.

Mrs. Fielding’s eyes were wide open, and her lower jaw had fallen, while her face and hands already had a cold, clammy feeling that forced the truth on the almost distracted daughter. The poor, feeble heart had given way under the shock of fear and grief, and she was dead.

While Fair was making this awful discovery, George Lorraine, who had fortified himself for this occasion by a copious libation of whisky, was trying what brute strength could do toward forcing an entrance to the presence of his obdurate bride.

With a few vigorous kicks, he forced the lock of the frail door, and precipitated himself into the room, boldly followed by several of the inmates of the house, who had been attracted by the uproar he made.

And what a sight met their curious eyes!

The dead woman lay extended on the bed, and at their entrance poor Fair lifted a wild, white, agonized face from her mother’s breast, and, seeing[Pg 82] George Lorraine’s flushed, triumphant face, she advanced toward him, screaming wildly:

“Arrest him! Arrest that fiend, for he has killed my mother!”

There was a wild hubbub of cries in the room, and George Lorraine saw lying on the pillow, in all the awful majesty of death, the face that only yesterday had smiled upon him with a mother’s pride. The change was so swift and sudden that his limbs shook beneath him, and a cold sweat started out upon his forehead. Like one dazed, he heard Fair going on wildly:

“He came to the door and ordered me to open it, and I begged him to go away, because mamma was sick with her heart, and I feared the excitement would kill her. But he only cursed me, and when I ran to look at her she was dead.”

George Lorraine, recovering somewhat from the first shock of his surprise, answered sullenly:

“Why didn’t you open the door, then, without making such a fuss? You are my wife, and I had a right to come in,” and, turning to the gaping group in the room, he added: “We were married last night, and she ran away from me because she found out I wasn’t as rich as she expected,[Pg 83] and I came this morning to take her home with me—and, by Heaven, I will, for I mean to tame the little shrew.”

It had suddenly occurred to him that it was a good thing for him that Mrs. Fielding was dead. It would be easier to cope with her daughter.

But the bereaved daughter was glaring at him with the rage of a tigress bereaved of her young, and still crying madly:

“Won’t some one bring a policeman and take him to prison? He has killed my mother.”

A big, stout Irishwoman, who was looking in at the door called out lustily:

“Arrah, my poor lamb, that will I bring a policeman this minute if sumbuddy will howld the spalpeen till I gits back,” and she stumped out into the hall on her coarse brogans, while George Lorraine, with his senses half stupefied by drink, gave way to a maudlin terror, and, dashing by the astonished group, made good his escape.

A motherly old woman led the half-crazed orphan from the scene, and soothed her tenderly, while others cared for the mortal remains of the dead woman.

Some one had brought in a passing physician,[Pg 84] and he had told them that Mrs. Fielding had died of heart failure.

Fair’s first request, as soon as she could think coherently, was for her dearest friend, Sadie Allen, to be sent for. She came at once, full of surprise and grief, and Fair threw herself into those sympathizing arms with an outburst of passionate grief.

“Oh, Sadie, I am too poor even to bury her!” she sobbed. “We spent the last penny buying those wretched clothes. Do you think that we could sell them? Yes, and the furniture, too? I had rather sleep upon the bare boards than that my mother should be buried in Potter’s field.”

“She shall not be buried there, Fair. Leave everything to me,” answered her friend consolingly; and she kept her word, although to accomplish it Fair’s wedding dress and hat, and also the furniture, had to be sold.

“But she will not need the furniture, for she can come and room with me, and as for clothes, I would have tried to save them if she had prized them; but she said she would always hate the sight of that hat and dress,” Sadie said to the girls at the factory, among whom she took up a[Pg 85] small collection to defray the expenses of the funeral.

The girls contributed willingly, for Fair was a favorite with the majority of them, and had no enemies except those who envied her for her lovely face. Even Belva Platt, rather abashed by the tragedy that had followed on the heels of her wicked plot, offered Sadie a dollar; but the gift was indignantly refused, and Sadie remarked bitterly:

“You helped to dig her grave, Miss Platt, so we will excuse you from any further contribution.”

“Don’t be a fool, Sadie Allen!” was the sharp and rude retort, and the embroiderer tossed her head and returned to her work, although a slight chill ran over her, for she knew that Sadie’s words were true. In a metaphorical way, she had, indeed, helped to dig a grave for the poor woman, who might have lived many years but for last night’s work.

Belva had not counted on such an end as this when she had planned her clever revenge on Fair Fielding. She had expected that Fair would live with the husband who had deceived her, and that[Pg 86] her mother’s pride and ambition would be brought low. Also that Waverley Osborne would be cured of his passion for Fair and return to her side. But, though her plot had worked well, the ending did not please her.

Mrs. Fielding’s pride had been brought low, it was true—low as the grave. But Fair had refused to live with her ignoble husband, and Waverley Osborne, far from returning to his old allegiance, had tacitly espoused Fair’s side, for, having heard from the sewing girls of her shameful plot, he had passed Belva that morning without speaking, and his contempt had rankled bitterly in her heart all day.

[Pg 87]


It was all over. Fair’s tortured mother had found rest in the grave, and the unhappy daughter had gone home with Sadie Allen to live, scorning the offer that had come to her in a letter from George Lorraine to forgive and forget, and let him take her to a home, where he would work for her most faithfully.

The beautiful red lips curled in bitter scorn.

“Sadie, look at me, and think of it,” she said disdainfully: “The wife of an Italian organ grinder, following him, with his monkey, perhaps, around the streets, singing for a few pennies!”

“He is not an organ grinder. That was a falsehood of Belva’s,” said Sadie. “I have taken pains to inquire, and I find that his real name is Carl Bernicci, and that he keeps a little fruit-and-confectionery stand near a wharf. His father was an organ grinder, and a real Italian, but he married an American wife—the mother of Carl, who,[Pg 88] it seems, has been rather wild, and once got in some scrape in which Belva got him in her power, hence her plot by which she avenged herself on your pretty face. But the strangest part of my story is yet to come, my dear. Prepare to be surprised.”

“If it is anything concerning George Lorraine, or Carl Bernicci, as I believe you said his name was, I should not be surprised at anything,” Fair replied disdainfully.

“Ah, you don’t know,” said Sadie, smiling roguishly, and thinking that her news might divert Fair’s mind from brooding over her lost mother, she continued: “Well, then, they say that old Bernicci, the organ grinder—Carl’s father, you know—was actually a prince in his own land—a poor prince, you know, without a penny in his purse, or a foot of land to his name. His prodigal father had squandered everything, you see, and the boy prince, disgusted, fled to America, where he could earn his living without disgracing his titled ancestry. Now, what have you to say to that?”

Fair shook her head wearily, and answered:

“Nothing, except that I hate and scorn him,[Pg 89] and should feel the same hatred and scorn for him if he were a king.”

And to her own heart she said bitterly, and wrote the same thing in her journal that night:

“Prince or king, it would matter nothing. I should hate him still, for I know too well that it was not for his own sake, nor even for his boasted gold, that I accepted him, but only that, through him, I might meet again my hero, Bayard Lorraine. It was a sin for me to marry with such thoughts in my heart, and Heaven has punished me for my sin; but I was young and ignorant. They dazzled me by their promises, and I thought I could tolerate Carl Bernicci for the sake of what he could bestow on me.”

Sadie looked at her gravely while these thoughts passed in her mind, and answered:

“And in proportion as you hate him, that wretch loves you, and I fear, Fair, that he is going to give you a great deal of trouble. I have found out that he has been lurking in this neighborhood ever since you came here, and I think he means to get you away by force if coaxing will not prevail.”

[Pg 90]

“I would rather die than live with him,” the beautiful orphan cried, shuddering violently.

“Then you must be very careful never to go out unless accompanied by me,” said Sadie, and Fair found it perfectly easy to do this, as she had been taken back to her old place at the factory, and the two always went and came together, Fair always shrouding her lovely face in a thick veil, lest she should catch a glimpse of Carl Bernicci’s dark face watching her covertly as she went and came.

But in a few weeks, to her dismay, there came to Sadie Allen a telegram.

“It is from my brother-in-law in Philadelphia,” she said, bursting into a flood of tears. “My sister—my only sister—is dying. She wishes me to come at once. I shall have to go to Philadelphia at once, on the first train, Fair,” continued Sadie Allen, drying her tears, and beginning to get ready in haste. “But, my dear, I do not want to leave you behind. Cannot you come with me?”

“I could not afford it. I have no money,” Fair answered, sighing.

She had expended all she had earned since her mother’s death in buying a plain black dress and[Pg 91] hat, and in contributing her joint share toward their simple housekeeping expenses.

“And I have so little that I cannot lend you enough to accompany me. How hard it is to be poor, and to have to live from hand to mouth, as we do, Fair. One can never afford to gratify a generous impulse,” sighed Sadie, as she went down on her knees to pack a calico wrapper and a change of underclothing into a hand valise.

“It is very hard, but there are some things harder,” answered poor Fair, who was thinking that she would not mind anything, hardly, if only she were free of the terrible incubus that weighed upon her like iron chains—the hated bond that gave Carl Bernicci liberty to persecute her with his unwelcome love, and to hound her footsteps, watching his opportunity to waylay and carry her off.

“How I hate and despise him now, and how could I ever have fancied that I could tolerate him as a husband?” she thought, in bitter self-reproach and self-disgust.

And then the knowledge that Sadie must leave her, and that she would be compelled to traverse the streets of New York alone, in danger every[Pg 92] moment of encountering Carl Bernicci, overcame her with horror, and she sobbed aloud.

“Dear Fair, please do not give way like that,” pleaded Sadie, who had now packed the valise, and was doing up her hair before the small toilet glass. She had her good-natured mouth full of hairpins, which she took out one by one and stuck in her brown hair, as she proceeded: “I’ve thought of a good plan: Get Lucy Miller or Alice Stevens to come here and stay with you while I’m gone; then you can have company to and from work. I don’t think Carl Bernicci will approach you in the street if you have some one with you. Both those girls dote on you, and would take your part like wild cats if any one molested you.”

“Yes, I think they would,” Fair answered. “But how am I to get them here? I dare not venture out alone to-morrow.”

“Write a note to Mrs. Jones, explaining the circumstances, and ask her to speak to the girls for you, and have one to come to-morrow evening to stay all night; then you could go to work the next morning,” said Sadie, whose brain was very fertile in resources, and who, being almost[Pg 93] ten years older than Fair, felt somewhat in the light of a mother toward the unhappy girl.

Fair immediately fell to work to write the letter, and had it ready for Sadie to put in a letter box when she left the house.

The two girls parted with a fond kiss and embrace, mutually promising to write to each other.

They had just finished their evening meal when the telegram arrived, and Sadie had quitted the house within half an hour of its reception, to catch the first train for Philadelphia. Consequently Fair would have to spend a long, dreary night alone before any of her friends at the factory could possibly come to her assistance.

A strange sense of awe and loneliness came over her when she had shut and locked the room door after Sadie. She had never spent a night alone in her life, and although it seemed that she must certainly be safe in the large building, crowded with honest working people like herself, she felt nervous and fearful.

[Pg 94]


Fair read a book until ten o’clock, but the feeling of rest and security she longed for did not come. Every now and then she would start and flash her large eyes about the room and heave long sighs at its emptiness and loneliness.

Then she began to wonder how far Sadie was on her way to Philadelphia. Again she would sigh and wish her friend back, and at last her thoughts turned to the poor mother, of whom she had been so suddenly and cruelly bereaved.

“He killed her just as truly as if he had stabbed her to the heart,” she murmured bitterly. “Ah, how I hate him, how I loathe the very thought of him! Yet I am powerless to punish him for his dastardly crime.”

She did not guess that by her scorn of him, her refusal to live with him, and her precautions against him, she was punishing him in the cruelest fashion for his sins, for the poor tool that Belva had used to further her designs against[Pg 95] Fair had fallen in love with his fate, and worshiped her with a fierce, half-savage passion that drove him wild with its futility.

To win the heart of the beautiful girl he had deceived, he would have bartered his hopes of heaven; but, in her righteous pride and scorn, she held aloof from him as the stars from the earth, and he, in a fury of jealous love, abandoned all pretense of business, and spent his days and nights in dogging her footsteps and devising means to get her into his possession.

No wonder Fair was restless and miserable, for this love of Carl Bernicci was as unrelenting as hate. It followed her with the fierce persistency of a bloodhound tracking its prey, and woe be unto her if ever she fell into his power. In some subtle way, she felt this, and her fear kept her wretched.

“If he were a gentleman, he would not persecute me. He would shrink, abashed, from the memory of what he had done, and leave me in peace, as the only atonement he could offer,” she had said to Sadie over and over; but her friend could only shake her head and answer:

“He is not exactly a gentleman, and his love[Pg 96] for you overrules his instincts of generosity. Besides, there is Belva Platt, who no doubt spurs him on to persecute you.”

So Fair mused bitterly over her troubles until the heavy white lids drooped over the tired eyes, the pretty head fell back against her chair, and she slept like a weary child, with her small hand, so delicate and dimpled, in spite of the labor it had to perform, pushed in between the leaves of her book. Thus a long hour went by, and the night wore on. The weary inmates of the house had all retired to rest, and quiet stole over everything.

Fair slept on peacefully in her chair, and there was no one to hear the catlike step that approached her door, nor the muffled click of the burglar’s tool that turned back the lock. It opened noiselessly, and a man glided into the room with an evilly exultant smile on his dark face—Carl Bernicci.

Shutting the door as softly as he had opened it, the man advanced and gazed with gloating eyes at the sleeping girl, who, with the heavy, dark lashes lying on her rounded cheeks, and the breath[Pg 97] coming hotly between her parted lips, looked like a beautiful, innocent child.

His face reddened as he gazed, and his breath came hotly. He murmured:

“Now, if I can only mesmerize her, as Belva said, she will not cry out when she awakes. She will be charmed, fascinated, and all my own!”

He fixed his burning dark eyes with a basilisk gaze upon her lovely face; but, as if it were a serpent trying to charm her in her sleep, the girl started broad awake all in an instant with a cry of fear that rose into a shriek as she perceived the dark face looking down into her own:

“Help! Help! Murder!”

The girlish voice, wild with fear and anger, seemed to startle all the echoes in the quiet old house into instant life. Fair’s shriek seemed to come ringing back to them:

“Help! Help! Murder!”

Carl Bernicci recoiled in astonishment for an instant. He had not counted upon anything like this.

Belva, who had been his able adviser, had assured him that, once inside the room, Fair would not resist him any further, but would give up her[Pg 98] obstinate resistance to his rights, and consent to forgive him and live with him.

But her ringing shriek of fear told quite a different story, and he shrank back in alarm, giving her opportunity to spring from her chair and rush toward the door, reiterating her shrill scream for help:

“Murder! Murder!”

Recovering himself, he sprang after her, and, with a fierce oath, clapped his hand over her mouth.

“Be still, you little wild cat!” he said savagely. But Fair, like the wild cat he called her, fought him off with the energy of despair, and the tussle between them was growing fierce indeed when hurried feet were heard rushing along the corridor, the door was quickly burst open, and the room filled with a swarm of excited men, women, and children.

In ten seconds Carl Bernicci’s grasp on Fair was broken, and two stout men were holding him between them, laughing in his face at his hoarse protestations.

“Let me go! She is my wife, and I have a right here!”

[Pg 99]

A score of voices denied his claim indignantly before Fair could even speak, for her story was not known here, and to the inmates of the house she was known simply as Miss Fielding, the pretty girl who was rooming with Miss Allen.

“He’s a burglar, that’s what he is!” shouted one. “Bring the police at once.”

Carl Bernicci had private reasons for not desiring a personal encounter with the police, and at those words he hastily made up his mind not to stay and argue his claim to his wife with the guardians of the law. He cast a malignant glance at Fair, who was supported between two motherly looking women, and then made such a supreme effort for liberty that he broke the grasp of his captors and escaped through the door, pursued by a yelling mob, who screamed at the tops of their voices:

“Stop thief! Stop thief!”

Fair, on being left alone with the two elderly women, sighed bitterly, and exclaimed:

“Oh, I am so frightened! I cannot stay in this room alone.”

The women promised that one or the other[Pg 100] would stay with her, and begged her to tell them how it had all happened.

“Oh, I hardly know,” she sighed, putting her hand to her brow in agony. “Sadie had a telegram calling her to the bedside of a dying sister in Philadelphia, and she had to go, so I was left alone. I was frightened and lonely at having to spend the night by myself, so I sat down to read a book, and fell asleep. I awoke suddenly, trembling all over, and saw that strange man standing beside me, looking down into my face. I sprang up and screamed, and he cursed me and clapped his hands over my mouth. Then I began to struggle to get free, and you all broke in the door. Oh, how awful it was! I shall never forget it—never!”

The poor girl wept passionately.

The two women comforted her as best they could, and one of them kindly offered to sleep with her. The other one went to get her man, as she called him, to fix the broken lock on the door, which was soon done, after which the disturbed house grew quiet again, the escaped thief not having been apprehended.

“The rascal, what could he expect to stale[Pg 101] among such poor folks as the likes of us?” humorously demanded the Irishman who fixed the lock of the door.

Fair shuddered and was silent. Let them think him a common thief if they would. Better so than to know the truth, for then they might turn against her and advise her to live with her husband and not act like a fool, as some of the factory hands had already done.

[Pg 102]


Poor Fair was so ill from fright and grief the next day that she was unable to rise from her bed, and the woman who had spent the night with her sent in her little girl to spend the day.

In the late afternoon she felt better, and rose and dressed herself, thinking that some of her factory friends would be sure to call after work hours.

She was not disappointed, for about tea time Alice Stevens came in and gave her a hearty hug and kiss. The little girl slipped away to her mother, and then Fair said eagerly:

“Alice, you’ve come to stay with me?”

Alice’s pretty, good-natured face grew suddenly grave.

“Oh, Fair, don’t be mad with me! I can’t stay. My mother isn’t willing.”

“Why not?” asked Fair sharply.

“Oh, because——”

Alice stopped in embarrassment, and Fair understood without further words.

[Pg 103]

“Your mother thinks I ought to live with that wretch?” she said disdainfully; and Alice’s sorrowful silence gave assent.

“But—Lucy Miller?” the unfortunate girl asked falteringly.

“I came by her house, and her father and mother wouldn’t let her come. They are more down on you even than my mother. I think it’s a shame. Lucy cried and begged, but it was no use.”

Fair sat silent and frightened. What was she to do?

She looked up presently, and said timidly:

“Maybe your mother would let me come and stay at your house? I would pay her whatever she asked as soon as I got my wages.”

Alice Stevens put her arms around her friend, and hid her reddening cheeks against her shoulder.

“Oh, Fair, I wish she would, but”—with a half sob—“I asked her, and she said no, that Carl Bernicci might prosecute her for harboring his disobedient wife. Don’t blame me, dear; it wasn’t my fault.”

“No, dear, I don’t blame you. Give my love to[Pg 104] Lucy. I thank you both,” Fair answered, with a sort of apathetic despair, and, after a little, she told Alice of all that had happened last night.

“You see how it is. I am always in danger from him, yet I cannot find one friend to stand by me in my trouble,” she cried bitterly.

“I am so sorry! I only wish I might stay,” sobbed Alice Stevens, crying out of sympathy.

She stayed a little longer, then rose, saying anxiously:

“Fair, don’t you think you can get that good woman to stay with you to-night?”

“I will try, dear, but then I shall have no one to go to work with me to-morrow, and, oh, I am such a coward I dare not go out alone,” Fair answered dejectedly.

Alice regarded her in perplexed silence a moment, then blurted out:

“Fair, I’m afraid you’ll have to give in and live with him for the sake of peace.”

The beautiful brown eyes flashed angrily, and Fair cried out:

“That is what they all say, but I will never do it—never! Why, Alice, if I could forgive him the deception he practiced on me, I could never[Pg 105] pardon the death of my mother, which he caused. Before I would live with such a fiend as Carl Bernicci I would kill myself!”

Alice went away sad at heart, but not half so sad as the hapless girl she left behind her, for a new suspicion had entered Fair’s mind.

She began to fear that Sadie’s telegram was a bogus one, sent to draw her faithful friend away from her side.

“For how else could that wretch ever have known so quickly of her absence?” she thought.

Mrs. Burns stayed with her again that night, but Fair feared to tell the kind soul of her secret dread; consequently she had no one to accompany her to work, and she stayed at home several days through sheer terror of venturing out.

Then a new danger began to menace her. The grim fiend, Hunger, was at her door.

Always subsisting on meager fare, the two girls had been wont to purchase their eatables day by day, as they returned from work. Fair had had but a few pennies in her purse when Sadie left, and all these were gone now. She had sent the little Burns girl out every day to purchase bread[Pg 106] for her, but now pennies and bread were alike exhausted. Fair had been without food two days.

If she had made known her wretched condition to the people in the house, they would have divided their scanty portion with the unhappy orphan girl; but her lips were sealed. She had some of her dead mother’s unconquerable pride. She could not beg.

“I must perish miserably, like a rat in a trap!” she exclaimed, in anguish of spirit; and so wretched and despondent had she become that she would have welcomed death as a relief from her deplorable condition.

Oh, those wretched days, those sleepless nights, and that knawing hunger—how they wore on the fresh young beauty, paling and thinning it to exquisite delicacy. The large eyes grew dim and wide, and the tears were always trembling on the exquisitely fringed lashes. She wrote much in the little journal those days, and the thoughts she inscribed there were so full of sadness that they must have brought tears to “eyes unused to weep.”

It was on the third day since she had tasted food that her landlady came up to speak to her,[Pg 107] and Fair’s pale face grew paler yet as she noticed the hard light in the woman’s face and the set line of her lips.

“Miss Fielding, I’ve heard a curious tale about you, and I want to know the truth,” she said shortly. “It seems like the man that was in your room that night was your husband, after all.”

“Who has been telling you these tales about me, Mrs. Levy?” Fair asked falteringly.

“I had it from one of your companions at the shroud factory—a tall, light-complected young lady, with blue eyes. She called to see why you didn’t come to work, and when I told her about that night and the man in your room, she ups with the whole story.”

“Belva Platt!” Fair exclaimed bitterly.

“Yes,” said Mrs. Levy, “that was her name. So you know her, and it’s true? Well, really, Miss Fielding, I had a better opinion of you. Jest to think of a young one like you marrying for money and then cutting out and deserting the man because he wasn’t as rich as you thought. And then to pretend like you did that night—it was a shame.”

[Pg 108]

“If you will let me explain, Mrs. Levy,” Fair pleaded; but the woman was evidently prejudiced against her by the artful Belva, and all the poor girl could say met with small belief or respect.

“Oh, pshaw! Your mother had the heart disease, and would have died just as likely as not if he hadn’t tetched the door,” she said. “And it was your fault, anyway. You knew your mother couldn’t stand excitement, so what made you lock the door against your husband and create such a racket?”

Fair knew that all this had been put into Mrs. Levy’s mouth by her artful enemy, and she ceased the vain attempt to win the woman’s good opinion. Weak and wretched as she was, she could only sob forlornly in her handkerchief, and Mrs. Levy continued crossly:

“Well, all I’ve got to say is you’ve got to leave this house. I can’t let you stay here a day longer. I’m liable to be sued by your husband for harboring his wife. So pack your things, and get out as soon as possible; and if you want my advice, it’s go home to your husband!”

Frightened at being turned adrift on the cold world, Fair pleaded piteously to stay; but to no[Pg 109] purpose. The woman sternly ordered her to go that day.

“If I might only stay until I hear from Sadie,” she sighed; “I think she will be home soon. It’s more than a week since she went away.”

“And you ain’t heard from her yet?”


“Then you may take my word that she went away to get rid of you. So get your things up and leave in an hour.”

“Mrs. Levy, I have nowhere to take my few possessions, so I will leave them to my dear friend Sadie. I do not think I shall need them any more,” said Fair, with a look so strange that the woman jumped to the conclusion that she meant to commit suicide; but so hardened had her heart become that she only answered:

“Take or leave them, as you please; but I give you an hour to get out, no more,” and then she banged out of the room, muttering something about poor and proud, and too good to live with a poor husband, while Fair turned, with a breaking heart, to write a few lines to Sadie, her dear friend.

[Pg 110]


It was noon when Fair sealed her letter, and, putting on her little black turban, went down the hall toward good Mrs. Burns’ room.

She intended to leave the letter for Sadie Allen in the woman’s care, and also to entreat her to go with her as far as the factory, where she would beg Mrs. Jones, the forewoman, to find her a safe place to stay until Sadie Allen came back.

But in Mrs. Burns’ room she found only little Emma, the ten-year-old girl, minding the baby and the younger children, while her mother went out for the day, to assist a lady in house-cleaning.

Fair’s heart sank, but she knew she had to go, so she said to the child:

“Little Emma, I am going away. Mrs. Levy has ordered me to leave the house, so I am going back to the factory to work. Tell your mother good-by.”

Then she placed the letter in the child’s hand.

“My dear, will you take care of this until Miss[Pg 111] Sadie Allen comes, and give it to her with your own hands?” she asked, and the child promised faithfully to do so.

Fair bade her good-by, left the key of Sadie’s room with her, and, having no further excuse to linger, went downstairs and out of the house into the street, half dead with fear and hunger combined, so that her limbs trembled beneath her as she walked.

She felt quite sure that Carl Bernicci was watching for her to come out of the door, and she looked fearfully up and down the street, but saw nothing of him. He was on the lookout, indeed, but too wary to be detected.

But Fair saw a policeman passing, and darted to his side.

“Oh, sir, will you let me walk with you down this street? I’m afraid to go alone, as I think I’m followed by a bad man,” she panted.

“Why, certainly, child,” said the officer, who was old enough to be her father, and looked very good-natured.

Fair walked along close to his side, and Carl Bernicci, who beheld it all, gnashed his teeth with rage.

[Pg 112]

“I’d like to see any bad man bothering you, little one. He’d get a taste of my club, sure,” said the friendly policeman. “But how far are you going? You know, my beat is only a few squares farther on.”

“To the factory where I work.”

“Why don’t you take a street car? He couldn’t molest you in there.”

She blushed deeply, and faltered:

“I have no money.”

“Pshaw! That needn’t stand in the way,” and he drew from his pocket a little package of car tickets. “Take these,” he said, and escorted her to the first car.

“Bless you!” she faltered, as they parted, and she said to herself that if she had had a fortune she would have been willing to divide it with the good man.

She was fortunate enough to reach the factory without being molested, and went up to the workroom, where, to her dismay, she found that her machine had been given to another girl.

“The foreman thought you were not coming back, as you stayed away so long without an excuse,” Mrs. Jones said, rather sternly. Then,[Pg 113] seeing what a frightened, despairing look came into the lovely pallid face, she added, more kindly: “But I think they want a new errand girl, and if you will apply to the foreman at once perhaps you may secure the place until you can get a machine again.”

“I will apply for the place,” said Fair. Then she added hurriedly: “Mrs. Jones, I have left the house where I was staying with Sadie Allen. Do you—think—you—could let me board at your house until—Sadie comes home? I’d pay you all my wages.”

The forewoman frowned, and answered:

“I don’t like to seem rude, my dear, but I don’t think I could take you, I have so little room; besides, you know, I should be liable to prosecution by your husband, as he has published you in the paper, threatening any one who harbors you with the law.”

Fair’s face flushed burning red.

“How dare he—the coward!” she exclaimed; but the forewoman replied tartly:

“He had a right to do so.”

“Am I to be hunted down like this?” Fair cried despairingly; but the forewoman told her that it[Pg 114] would be much better for her to forgive her husband and go home with him.

“I will never do it. I would die first!” Fair replied, as she turned away, and the emphatic words were overheard by many.

Many of Fair’s old friends and companions nodded and smiled at her as she passed them by, and if they had known that she was suffering and starving they would have divided their purses and their lunches with her, and some, perhaps, would have tried to find her a refuge for her defenseless head; but she had begun to think that not a friend remained to her in the whole world. She distrusted their smiles and friendly glances, and passed on in silence, followed by a sneer from Belva Platt and several others whom she had brought to her way of thinking.

She went to the foreman’s office, and made her request for the place of errand girl, and the foreman gave it to her, promising that she should have her place at a machine again as soon as possible.

Encouraged by his kindness, Fair timidly asked if she could get a very small sum in advance.

If he had known that she was literally starving,[Pg 115] he would not have refused her faltering request; but she would not tell him that she wished the money to buy food, so he answered that it was impossible, as it was against the rules.

“And, by the way, you had better go at once to this address,” he said, handing her a card on which was engraved a name and number on Fifth Avenue. “We furnished a very handsome robe for a young girl who has just died there, and a note came just now, stating that some alteration must be made in the neck trimming. You can go there and do the necessary work.”

Fair blessed the noble policeman again in her heart as she thought of the packet of car tickets he had given her. She would not have to walk to Fifth Avenue now. Indeed, she well knew that she could not have done it, for her limbs tottered painfully beneath her, and her head swam as she went out of the factory door, struggling bravely with the pangs of hunger, and longing for even a crust of bread with which to satisfy her terrible craving for food.

She rode along in the car, starting as every person entered it, fearing lest Carl Bernicci’s unwelcome face should present itself; but although[Pg 116] he was near the factory she had left, his thirst had driven him into a barroom just at the moment that she appeared upon the street, so he missed her, and while she was on her way to Fifth Avenue he was watching the factory and cursing at her delay in coming forth, for Belva had advised him that Fair’s place had been filled, and he could not imagine what had detained her so long.

“I’ll make my lady pay for all I’ve endured since I married her, if ever I get her into my clutches!” he muttered fiercely.

But “my lady” at that moment was standing with wet eyes and bated breath in a house furnished with palatial magnificence, beside the white velvet casket that held the body of a beautiful young girl of about her own age—a lovely marble mask that, strangely enough, resembled Fair in a high degree, for the beautiful hair lying in loose curls upon the fragrant pillow of white flowers was the same shade of bright-red gold, and the face and features had so subtle a likeness that the neat maid who had been sent to show Fair the necessary alterations she was to make started, and exclaimed:

[Pg 117]

“Gracious, miss, you look very much like poor Miss Azalia did when she was alive.”

Fair scarcely noticed the words. She was threading her needle through tears that dimmed her sight, and when the maid went out to call her mistress, the dead girl’s mother, she bent over the girl, and sobbed forlornly:

“Oh, you beautiful angel! I wish that Heaven had taken me, instead of you, for you had father, mother, home, and friends, while I am an unhappy orphan, without a friend and without a home.”

In her agitation, she did not notice that the door had opened noiselessly, admitting a handsome, pale-faced, elderly woman, dressed in deep, rich black. She paused and listened in amazement to the mournful plaint of the girl who had come from the factory to arrange her daughter’s burial robe.

Believing herself quite alone, Fair continued, half deliriously:

“How beautiful you are, sweet one! Many must have loved you in your short, happy life; but I have no one to love me while I live, nor to grieve for me when I die. I, who have no more[Pg 118] tears left to shed for my own misery, cannot help weeping for you. I love you!”

And her tears rained among the white roses and lay glittering upon them like dew.

The lady came gliding forward, and stood opposite Fair, gazing with heavy, despairing eyes at the beautiful marble form before her; and then Fair started, and exclaimed falteringly:

“I beg your pardon!”

“Who are you, child?” asked the lady, in a sad, gentle voice.

“I am a sewing girl from the factory. I came to alter this,” she said, pointing to the exquisite robe that enveloped the body of Azalia Howard.

“Ah, yes,” said Mrs. Howard, and she indicated what she wished done, and the small alteration was performed in silence, the lady watching the work, and noting, as the maid had done, the striking resemblance of the humble working girl to the dead heiress.

Fair finished the task, and lifted from it a face almost as white as the one in the casket.

“That is very satisfactory,” the lady began, and Fair faltered faintly:

“I am very glad—for—for—I am sick. The[Pg 119] flowers made me feel faint; they—they—are so heavy.”

She was staggering, with weak, uncertain footsteps, past the lady; but she caught her arm, and said kindly:

“Wait and have a little wine.”

[Pg 120]


Fair had fallen into kind hands, for Mrs. Howard had a good, motherly heart, and, although in such poignant distress over the loss of her beautiful daughter, she could not fail to see the misery that was stamped on the sad young face of the working girl, and her sympathies were enlisted at once.

With her own hands, she led her from the room whose banks of white, odorous flowers had turned her sick and faint, and made her lie down on a sofa in a small anteroom while she rang the bell for wine and refreshments.

“Oh, how kind you are, madam,” Fair faltered gratefully, and then she allowed her head to fall on the silken pillow and the lids to droop over her weary eyes, while a sensation of ecstasy went through her famished frame at the thought that she would soon have food again.

“Wine! I do not even know the taste of it,” she thought, but in the next moment Mrs. Howard was holding a glass to her lips, and saying kindly:

[Pg 121]

“Drink this, my dear. It will revive you.”

Fair drank, and the rich fluid ran warmly through her veins. Strength began to return to her famished frame, and her eyes grew bright as she saw the silver tray piled with delicate food, rich cake, sliced pineapples, peaches, and grapes, and some delicate sandwiches—a simple feast enough, yet appetizing enough for a king.

“Perhaps you can eat something?” Mrs. Howard said kindly, and Fair accepted the invitation modestly, yet with such thankfulness that the lady could not help but see that she was very hungry.

She took first a sandwich, then some cake, then a little of the fruit; and when she stopped, having made a very good meal, Mrs. Howard pressed her to take more.

Fair looked with dark, grateful eyes at the aristocratic yet gentle woman sitting opposite, and somehow before that gentle, motherly face some of her innate pride, that had made her conceal her hunger all along, melted into air, and she answered, in a low, half-appealing voice:

“Perhaps I oughtn’t to take any more, because—because—I’ve heard that when one has been[Pg 122] without food—some time—it isn’t safe to eat much at first.”

Mrs. Howard looked startled. She half rose from her chair as she exclaimed:

“You poor child, you don’t mean to say——”

Fair answered, with a sob in her voice, brought there by the lady’s sympathy:

“I have had no food for three days—not even a crust of bread.”

The rich woman was appalled. Her eyes filled with moisture, and she could not speak for a moment, so intense was her pity for the lovely, child-like girl sitting before her, with those wide, pathetic eyes telling more than her words had revealed of misery and suffering.

Seeing that she could not speak, Fair continued sadly:

“I am an orphan, madam, and I have only one friend, and she is far away; so, as I had no money, I could get no food.”

Something whispered to her that perhaps this rich woman, who seemed so kind, would take pity on her, and help her in some way, and she went on, in her pathetic young voice:

“I am all alone in the world, madam. My[Pg 123] mother died several weeks ago, and I sold all our room furniture and my clothes to bury her. All I have earned since then I have spent in food and a mourning dress. This morning I asked at the factory where I work for a small advance on my wages, but was refused. Perhaps—if I had—told them I was—was—starving—they would have given it to me, but—I could not.”

Mrs. Howard began to find out that she could shed tears over something else than her own grief. The bright drops rained down her cheeks as Fair added, in the intensity of her emotion:

“Oh, madam, would that I could change places with your daughter, and restore her to you! I would gladly die and rest my weary head in the grave, for this morning I was turned out of doors by my landlady, and I have no home and nowhere to go.”

Mrs. Howard recovered her voice, and by a few questions elicited from Fair her whole life story, with the exception of her marriage to Carl Bernicci. An instinctive feeling that the lady would disapprove of it, and a fear lest she should refuse to help her on that account, kept her perfectly silent as to that fact.

[Pg 124]

Mrs. Howard saw the beautiful brown eyes turned to her pleadingly, and she knew that the unhappy creature was mutely pleading for her protection. The thought touched her deeply, although she did not know what deep cause Fair had for wishing her regard. The thought came to her mind that there was a strange irony in the fate that had removed from earth her beautiful Azalia, who had so much to live for, and left this orphan girl, who was so wretched and desolate that she would have been glad to die.

Something, too, in Fair’s haunting likeness to the dead girl touched the mother’s heart with subtle tenderness, and, yielding to the impulse that swelled her bosom with emotion, she took Fair’s cold little hand in hers, and said:

“Be of good cheer, little one. I will let you remain here for the present, and when a little time has elapsed I will interest myself in your future.”

Fair flung herself on her knees before her gentle benefactress, and, catching her delicate hand, covered it with tears and kisses.

“Heaven bless you for your kindness!” she sobbed.

A little later she was led to a beautiful sleeping[Pg 125] apartment, and told that it was to be her own while she remained in the house. To her maid, Mrs. Howard said simply:

“This young girl will be my guest some time, and as you are the only one in the house that knows of her being only a working girl, I desire that you will not communicate that fact to the servants. She is to be treated with every attention and respect.”

[Pg 126]


Mrs. Howard went back and sat down in mournful silence beside her dead daughter, whose beauty was so soon to be hidden in the grave.

The lovely face, so white and still, with the dark fringe of the lashes lying on the cheeks, seemed so heavenly pure and peaceful that a strange awe stole over the mother’s heart, and she murmured:

“My angel child, how sweetly wise you look, as if already you had fathomed the divine mysteries of heaven.”

Then her sorrow overwhelmed her again, and, quite forgetting Fair Fielding and her troubles, she bowed her head on her hand, and the waves of despair rolled over her.

Meanwhile Fair had lain down, as Mrs. Howard had directed, and fallen asleep upon the luxurious bed. When the maid went in to see after her, a little later, she found that her breath was hurried and labored, and her face crimson with fever.

[Pg 127]

Days of delirious pain followed, and when Fair at last awoke to consciousness Azalia Howard had been buried more than a week, and the bereaved mother, with her sad, gentle, blue eyes, sat watching her protégée with anxious interest.

“Mother!” Fair murmured restlessly; and then, as she met the gaze of those anxious eyes, memory rushed over her again, and she knew that the mother on whom she called was dead, and that this gentle lady was the only friend she had on earth save Sadie Allen, the poor working girl.

But Mrs. Howard, as she heard that tender name fall from Fair’s lips, fancied that it was applied to herself, and smiled gently as she said:

“Yes, call me mother, dear girl, for from henceforth you are my adopted child, and my heart hungers for some one to call me mother.”

Fair’s eyes dilated with wondering joy, and Mrs. Howard leaned over her, and continued, gravely and sweetly:

“I cannot tell whether it came to me in a dream or a vision, Fair, but on the day when you came to me I sat down by my dead daughter and gave myself up to bitter despair at her death, almost arraigning Heaven for taking her from me. But,[Pg 128] little by little, that bitter mood passed away, and a deep calm stole over me, mixed with holy awe. It seemed to me that Azalia stood beside me in angelic form and bade me take you, my child, into her place on earth, and let you comfort me for her loss. She said that Heaven had sent you to me to fill up the aching void in my heart left there by her death. Oh, child, do you think that this was only a dream, or a sweet vision granted me by Heaven?”

“I cannot tell,” murmured Fair, in awe and wonder.

“I do not think that I was asleep,” continued Mrs. Howard. “Indeed, I feel certain I was not; so I firmly believe it was a reality, and I promised my angel daughter that I would do as she wished.”

Tears of joy and gratitude brimmed over in Fair’s large dark eyes and fell upon her cheeks. She could not speak, so strong was her emotion, and Mrs. Howard said:

“You told me that you were alone in the world, Fair. I, too, am alone in the world, for my husband died of consumption ten years ago, and now my only child, my sweet Azalia, is dead, at only[Pg 129] eighteen years of age, of the same disease. I am rich, and have no near relations to live with me, so if you care to stay with me and be my loving daughter, I will be your loving mother.”

“Oh, how good you are—how noble!” Fair cried, in gratitude, and Mrs. Howard smiled at her in her sweet, sad way, as she added:

“There is only one condition, and that is that you let your fate remain a mystery to those who have known you in the past. It seems, from your own words, that they did not take in you the interest they should have done, so we will let them drop out of your life as you from theirs, and this will be the easier as I intend to travel, and want to take you with me, of course. We will go as soon as you are able to travel. What do you say to my plan, dear?”

“That I accept your offer with the deepest gratitude. I will be your devoted daughter, dear, noble mother,” murmured Fair, overjoyed at the thought of going away from New York and leaving Carl Bernicci forever. She had but one regret, and that was for her dear, faithful friend, Sadie Allen.

“But I must bear that for the sake of all that[Pg 130] I shall gain by staying with my adopted mother,” she thought, adding gravely: “Oh, may Heaven forgive me if I err in not telling this noble lady of my unfortunate marriage. But I fear to speak. What if she should cast me off in disgust? I cannot risk it. I must keep that fatal marriage a dead secret. It is the only safe way.”

And, with the prospect of getting out of New York before her, she convalesced rapidly, to the delight of her kind adopted mother, who now set about getting a traveling outfit for Fair.

[Pg 131]


Two years went by, in which the working girl so suddenly removed from want to wealth had had dazzling glimpses of a world heretofore seen only in dreams, or read of in romances over which she had pondered with eager eyes.

In those two years she had traveled far and wide over her native land, in the company of her adopted mother, and now they were in England.

During the fall they had traveled through Switzerland, France, and Germany, and just now they were in London, where Mrs. Howard had taken a handsome furnished house for a few weeks. Her present plans were to remain there until the first of November, when she would go to Italy for the winter, as recommended by the clever physician whom she had called in to prescribe for a hacking cough that had begun to trouble her of late.

“The climate of Italy would suit her best for this winter,” he said, and she at once made arrangements,[Pg 132] through an agent, to secure a villa in Florence.

She had been fortunate in securing a beautiful place, whose owner, an Italian prince, was going on an American tour. He would be absent all the winter, and did not object to let his magnificent villa to a responsible tenant. The agent wrote Mrs. Howard that she could take possession the first of November.

So she waited in London, and, through the friends with whom she had traveled, made some very agreeable acquaintances among people to whom they had letters of introduction. It was not the London season, but many of the best people were in town, and among them some men of letters whom Mrs. Howard was pleased to meet. At some of the little informal receptions she gave to a privileged few, the grace and beauty of her daughter were enthusiastically admired.

She never thought it necessary to explain to any one that Fair was only an adopted daughter.

“What is the use of explaining everything to strangers whom one meets once or twice, or, at most, only a few times?” she said to Fair one day, adding, a little bitterly, as if the thought[Pg 133] were unpleasant: “The distant cousin who is to be my heir will know, and that is enough.”

Fair never thought of asking the name of that distant relative. She took no interest in him, or any other man, now that she was out of Carl Bernicci’s reach, and that Bayard Lorraine had gone forever out of her young life. For almost two years she had cherished a hope of meeting him, but lately the hope had lain dormant. Disappointment had chilled and blighted it.

“And what would it matter, even if I met him, and even if he would love me? I am married to another man, and am as far from him as the heavens from the earth—parted by the fatal bond that binds me to a hated husband,” she told herself, in secret meditation, for she did not keep a journal now, as in her younger days. In the mature wisdom of nineteen, she considered it imprudent.

[Pg 134]


She had never ceased to regret that, when the heartless Mrs. Levy had turned her out of doors, she had forgotten to take with her the little journal, the confidant of her girlish secrets, her love, her hopes, her sorrows.

Blushes would always overspread her lovely face and neck when she wondered whether Sadie Allen, or any one else, had read the little book and discovered her foolish secret—her love for Bayard Lorraine.

“I hope that no one will ever know that,” she would sigh, most bitterly; yet the old tenderness and the half pique were still there; the blue eyes and the proud, handsome face were still distinct in her memory, and at times a bitter pang would pierce her heart at thought of her wasted love and hopes.

And then she would wonder if he was married, and if he was happy with his chosen bride, and such thoughts as these would leave a shadow on[Pg 135] her face in even the gayest scenes, causing one of her admirers to exclaim one day that a shadow had crossed the sun.

She was very fond of books, and one day a literary man asked her if she had read the new American novel that had created such a sensation.

“No,” she replied, and he promised to bring her the book, saying laughingly that she ought to be better acquainted with the authors of her native land.

She read the book, and was charmed with its clever delineations of character and its romantic and original plot. It was the work of a man of genius, and made a deep impression on the mind of Fair; yet, strangely enough, she did not think of glancing at the title page to find out the name of the author.

She told her literary friend how much she admired the book, and then he said:

“By the way, the author is in London at present. He crossed the ‘big pond’ a few days ago to look after the interests of his book, which was published here simultaneously with its appearance in New York. I have had the pleasure of an introduction.[Pg 136] Would you like for me to bring him to call?”

“I—I don’t know,” she said, pursing her lips dubiously. “Would he be interesting, do you think?”

“All the ladies who have seen him declare that he is more charming than his book.”


“On the sunny side of thirty.”

“Oh, how pleasant! I wish I were smart enough to write a book.”

Her English friend laughed at her Yankee phrase, “smart,” then asked:

“May I bring him?”

“Please do; I want to see if he looks like his hero,” she replied, with awakened interest, and that day she told her adopted mother that Mr. Converse was going to bring the American author to call.

“What is his name?”

“I have forgotten—that is, I don’t believe I ever looked in the book to see.”

“Look now,” said Mrs. Howard.

But at that moment the Fraynes, their traveling companions, were announced, and the American[Pg 137] author was forgotten in an animated discussion of the Italian winter they were going to have. The Fraynes—who consisted of a father and mother, a son who was in love with Fair, and two pretty daughters—had consented to be the guests of Mrs. Howard at the prince’s villa.

It was on the evening of a day two days later that a small party of sociable people were gathered in Mrs. Howard’s drawing-room, when their number was suddenly swelled by the appearance of Mr. Converse and a gentleman whom he introduced to Mrs. Howard and the company as Mr. Lorraine.

Fair had not yet come down. She had gone to her room after dinner, to change her dinner dress, that had been soiled with gravy by an awkward waiter.

Her maid, a trim English girl, gave her a dress of white clairette cloth, whose soft, lustrous folds fell about the slender, graceful form with statuesque grace. She wore a wide sash of soft, white silk, tied at the side in long, graceful loops. She was only medium height, but the costume made her look tall, and when Betty had fastened the pearls on the bare white arms and the bare throat,[Pg 138] exposed by a square-necked bodice, she—the poor working girl so suddenly transplanted into an atmosphere of wealth and luxury—looked like a young princess, so graceful was her form, so beautiful her face, with its glorious, dark-brown eyes, whose dazzling light was all that was needed to relieve the severity of her pure white drapery.

“Mother likes me in white,” she said, with a gratified glance into the broad mirror, and, taking up her big bunch of white ostrich feathers, called by Dame Fashion a fan, she swept out, followed by the admiring remark from Betty:

“I like you in any color, miss. You look sweet in all.”

She went on, with a smile at the maid’s flattery, humming, as she walked, the low refrain of a love song—then the drawing-room door opened. She was on the threshold, a lovely, slender shape, all in white, with a vivid face lighted by starry eyes and crowned by shining red-gold hair; and a man had started up in amazement from Mrs. Howard’s side, and was staring at her with wondering eyes. She did not see him at first, for she was greeting several friends; but all at once she heard Converse say at her side:

[Pg 139]

“I’ve brought the American author, Miss Howard. Here he is—Bayard Lorraine!”

When they stood face to face, she was the calmer of the two. She had been nerving herself for this so long, looking for it, longing for it, that now, with a glad consciousness of her perfect beauty, and an inward thrill of deep emotion, she could greet Bayard Lorraine with a lovely girlish dignity all her own. It was he who looked startled, disturbed. He stared at her in perplexity, as if she had been a ghost.

Fair looked at him with a smile. She could guess what made him stare in such surprise.

She made him think of the girl whose life he had saved two years ago.

“He remembers my face, although he was too proud to ask my name,” she thought, and it soothed her wounded pride to think that he had at least retained some memory of her through the time that had elapsed.

But not for worlds would she have owned to her identity.

“We meet now on equal terms,” was her swift thought, and she determined to hold her vantage ground.

[Pg 140]

What could come of it? Nothing! She was not free, and it was more than likely that he was married. Yet a headlong fate seemed to urge her on to know him better, to make the most of her opportunity, to gain from this fleeting chance some more bittersweet memories to wear thread-bare with constant usage in coming years.

While these swift emotions rather than thoughts ran through her whirling brain, he recovered himself, and greeted her with simple conventional ease, apologizing with easy grace for his wondering stare.

“I fear you took me for a moon-struck lunatic—but I was beauty-struck.”

So he did not intend to tell her that she had startled him by her likeness to a poor working girl whose life he had saved two years ago? It was all the better. She would be saved from the sin of evading her identity.

A minute more, and they were sitting side by side on the same sofa, talking to each other with the formality of strangers, it is true, yet gazing into each other’s eyes with a more than ordinary interest.

He was handsomer than ever, she was thinking,[Pg 141] and a thrill of rapture went through her as she thought she detected in the blue eyes a look of more than conventional admiration.

“What if he should love me? Oh, Heaven, the sweetness of that thought!” the girl whispered to her throbbing heart, and the warm color rose to her face, and the brown eyes filled with a happy light.

“I have read your book. Is it your first one?”


“Mr. Converse tells me that it has had a flattering success. Your wife must feel very proud of you.”

She was fanning herself with useless energy—the room was not too warm—as she put this leader.

“My wife!” he said, in a puzzled tone, then laughed. “I hope she will be when I get her, but just now she is in the future.”

“Oh, so you are not a married man?” she exclaimed naïvely, and he shook his head, thinking to himself:

“Pretty flirt! She put that leader very cleverly. She did not intend to waste herself on me if I was a benedict.”

[Pg 142]

He had seen the look of pleasure on her face, and it thrilled his heart.

“She is glad—so am I,” was the inward comment, for he was conscious of a dangerous intoxication in her presence, which he did not try to resist.

She was so beautiful, so charming; besides, that haunting likeness about her added to the fascination she exercised over him.

When they parted that night, it was with a promise of meeting on the morrow, and neither Bayard Lorraine nor Fairfax Fielding slept at all that night for thinking of each other and longing for the meeting next day.

Fair had her heart’s desire. The man she had loved at first sight, whose memory she had worshiped in silence for two long years, had fallen in love with her at their first meeting.

She had read it already in the frank, clear glance of the splendid blue eyes.

“And only last night I wept on my pillow because I was convinced that I should never see him again,” she told herself, in rapturous wonder.

[Pg 143]


The two weeks that intervened before Mrs. Howard went to Florence passed like a happy dream to Fair.

To love and to be loved—life has nothing else so sweet to give.

The girl whose love from its very beginning had been almost tragical in its strength and intensity, gave herself up heart and soul, with a very rapture of bliss, to her intoxicating love dream.

She would not think, she would not look behind her into that fatal past that would have marred the sweetness of the present. She drank with thirsty pleasure from the full cup of joy pressed to her lips, seeming to have but one thought:

“Come what may, I have been blessed.”

She knew without a word from his lips that he loved her. He knew without the least unmaidenliness on her part that she cared for him. The two souls had sprung to meet each other. It was fate.

[Pg 144]

Augustus Frayne and several others who adored her were in despair. Every one could see where matters were tending.

To make matters worse for all her other lovers, Bayard Lorraine had discovered that he was very slightly related to the Howards.

“A distant cousinship, on your husband’s side, Mrs. Howard,” he said, and she did not deny it.

So, on the strength of the relationship, Bayard Lorraine assumed a familiar footing, glad to take advantage of anything that brought him into closer relations with the pretty girl who had carried his heart by storm.

When he had come to London, he had meant to begin a new book almost immediately, but the work did not prosper. He could not stay away long enough from the spot that held his fair cousin.

Mr. Converse was very much amused at the turn affairs were taking.

“Lord Leigh will never forgive me for introducing Lorraine to her, for before this he had some hopes of making her Lady Leigh. Now he is in despair,” he said to Mrs. Howard, who smiled in her grave, still fashion, and answered:

[Pg 145]

“It is better as it is.”

Mr. Converse did not exactly understand her words. He had supposed that rich Americans always coveted titles for their handsome daughters, and it seemed to him that Fairfax Howard might easily aspire to a title, taking into consideration all her claims to beauty, birth, and wealth.

But it seemed plain enough that Mrs. Howard was not anxious over her daughter’s prospects of being my lady. He concluded that she preferred the aristocracy of genius. Bayard Lorraine’s first novel had placed him in a high rank in the literary world. She was a peculiar woman, and perhaps this pleased her best.

He was the more certain of this when he found out that Bayard Lorraine had an invitation to the Italian villa, of which he availed himself in less than two weeks after the Howards left London.

“Although,” the young man said to himself impatiently, “that simpleton, Gus Frayne, will be forever at her heels, and between him and his two giggling sisters one will have small chance with Fair.”

But he was mistaken. Augustus Frayne was[Pg 146] so much disgusted when Lorraine made his appearance that he went off for a week on a friend’s yacht. As for Clara and Nettie Frayne, they had caught beaus of their own, so the young author had a better time than he could have hoped for with the lovely girl whose living charms had driven all his heroines out of his mind, so that he said to her one day in the beautiful flower garden, where they had been walking and gathering roses:

“I promised my publisher the first chapters of a new novel this week, but I have not written a line. You are accountable for this. You have driven everything else out of my head.”

She glanced up and met the beautiful blue eyes fixed on her with a look that set her pulses thrilling with fear and dread—dread of the time when he would speak and tell her in words what his eyes and actions continually declared. Alas! she dared not hear it. She was not free. The thought of Carl Bernicci forced itself upon her at times, almost driving her wild with despair.

“Oh, if I could only hear that he was dead, I would be so happy, so happy!” she would cry to herself, in the silence of the night; but she could[Pg 147] not tell whether he were living or dead. Nothing had come to her out of her dead past since she had flung it behind her and fled with Mrs. Howard from New York.

Longing yet dreading to hear Bayard Lorraine’s confession of love, she laughed, and answered gayly:

“Come, if I am the cause, I will try to make atonement. Sit down here, and let us plan the new novel.”

He sat down beside her, and looked curiously into the lovely face that showed so flawless in the clear Italian sunlight.

“I shall be very glad to hear your plans,” he said gayly.

She was busy arranging her roses, and did not look at him, but presently she said:

“I don’t think I have originality enough to imagine anything. If I were going to write a novel, I should get some of those bloodcurdling things one reads in newspapers, and work it up into a sensational plot.”

“Many authors do so,” he replied, and he took from a notebook in his pocket a little packet of clippings. “I have been collecting these for two[Pg 148] years or more,” he said. “There is plenty of material here for a dozen novels, if one could decide upon which paragraph to use. Perhaps you will be kind enough to look over these, and make a selection for me.”

He put them in her hands, noting with a thrill that they trembled as they touched his own. He sat watching the bright face as it bent over the printed slips, which she read with a pretty air of importance, one after the other, with now and then a little exclamation of surprise or horror from the rosebud lips. Suddenly he saw that she was growing very pale, and that her lips trembled.

“Do not read that murder! It is too horrible for you,” he exclaimed.

[Pg 149]


Fair did, indeed, look shocked and pale as she pushed the slip of paper hurriedly in among the others and spread her hands over them, as if to shut out the horror of what she had read. The color had faded entirely out of her face and lips, and her large eyes were dilated as if with terror.

“I should not have given you those things to read. Forgive me,” said Bayard Lorraine, in a voice of deep and tender concern. He moved nearer to her, and laid one hand on her two clasped ones with a light pressure that sent the blood flying back into her cheeks. She drew a long, deep sigh, then seemed to rally from her deep dejection, and exclaimed, with a little shudder:

“Ugh! It was horrible, was it not?”

“Yes,” he answered, and the pressure of his hand tightened on hers as he saw that she did not resist it. It even seemed to him that with the sudden flush that came to her cheeks her eyes[Pg 150] beamed on him with a gentle confidence, and the exquisitely molded form seemed to lean almost unconsciously nearer his shoulder. The lover could not resist this perceptible softening in one who had always until now been so shy, holding him at arm’s length, as it were, while yet leaving in his mind the impression that he was dear to her heart.

He gave one long look of love into the beautiful, blushing face upturned to his, then his arm slipped about the pliant waist and drew her close until the shining head rested against his shoulder. Looking deep into the glorious brown eyes, he whispered, in tones that trembled with emotion:

“Darling, you are mine, are you not?”

“Always,” she murmured back, and their lips met.

The roses and the newspaper clippings fell unheeded from her lap into the grass. Her hands were locked fast in his. She was listening to such words of love as thrilled her whole being with rapture.

“Now you know why I could not begin my[Pg 151] book. I could think of nothing but you. I have adored you since first I saw your face.”

“And I you,” she owned, with such delicious frankness that he was more charmed than ever.

To know that she had loved him for the space of a month, it was bliss unalloyed to the man she had loved for more than two years with a passion she had believed to be the most foolish and the most hopeless the world ever knew.

But that was her secret—one that she would never confess to her lover. Let him think the love dated but one month back, for they would have all time and eternity for their mutual love now. She smiled gladly at the blissful thought.

Two hours went by while they sat there in the grand old garden of the Florentine villa, whispering to each other of their wonderful love—an endless theme, though the love was but one month old, when suddenly he asked:

“What will your mother say to this? Perhaps she would have preferred Augustus Frayne or Lord Leigh for your husband?”

She laughed, and answered confidently:

“Mother will be pleased with my choice, I am sure.”

[Pg 152]

And then he kissed her for the twentieth time at least, and Fair drew back, saying brightly:

“You shall not kiss me again to-day, sir, and I think you had better stop talking love, and think about your novel.”

“The plots for which you have scattered to the four winds of heaven,” he retorted, as he went down on his knees to gather the scattered clippings.

“No; do not put them away yet. There were several good things among them—no, I won’t get frightened again,” as he declined to let her have them. She drew them gently from him, and hurriedly took out one, which she put into his hand, saying falteringly:

“Would not this make a creditable novel?”

Bayard Lorraine took the clipping from Fair’s trembling little white hand, and sat down by her side to read it, and if his eyes had not been turned from her face he would have seen that her eyes had a troubled light, and that she had grown pale again, while her form trembled with agitation.

But he did not look at her. He began to read the paragraph, which had a sensational heading, running thus:

[Pg 153]

The Finale of a Romantic Story of Love, Pride, and Ambition among the Working Classes.

A slight frown contracted Bayard Lorraine’s straight brows, and he read on:

The deliberate suicide by drowning in the East River yesterday of Carl Bernicci, an Italian who kept a small fruit and confectionery stand near the wharf, forms the sequel to a romantic story which reached our reporter through the friends of the suicide. It appears that there worked in a garment factory a pretty little girl by the name of Fielding, a vain little creature, whose head was quite turned by the beauty of her own big, brown eyes and curly, red hair. The little beauty was clever and ambitious, and in the hope of making a grand match through her good looks, held aloof from her admirers in her own class of life, treating them with scorn and indifference.

But through her vaulting ambition came her terrible downfall. A young man, Carl Bernicci by name, saw the factory girl, and fell in love with her. He begged one of her associates in the factory to introduce him, but was assured that the pretty Miss Fielding would not look at a poor man. Then, just for a joke, he proposed that he should represent himself as a very wealthy man. Miss Fielding was caught by the glittering bait, and accepted him when he proposed marriage. In a few weeks they were solemnly united in wedlock, the young lover thinking that she would forgive his deception when she found it out, for the sake of their mutual love. How much he deceived himself may be understood by the fact that his girl bride left him forever within an hour after their[Pg 154] marriage, vowing vengeance on him for the trick by which he had won her hand. For several weeks he haunted her humble home, where she lived with her mother, but both refused to have anything to do with him, for the mother was as ambitious and unforgiving as the daughter. But very suddenly the parent died of heart disease, and soon afterward the girl disappeared and her whereabouts became a mystery to every one. Carl Bernicci, the despised yet devoted husband, was in despair, fearing that she had gone to the bad to avenge herself upon him. His fears, unhappily, had good ground, for it was soon discovered that she had fallen into evil ways. She was seen lately riding in an open carriage with a notorious woman, and Carl Bernicci, driven to desperation, flung himself yesterday into the East River and was drowned. The body was not recovered.

This was what Fair had read. This was what had driven the color from her face and lips, this horror of Carl Bernicci’s tragic death. But little by little the blushes came back, and the thought that now she was free to love Bayard Lorraine made her glad that the man she feared and hated was dead.

“But what a tissue of lies the whole thing was!” she thought indignantly. “How dared any one assert that I had gone to the bad? I was never out in a carriage but once, and then I went with Mrs. Howard’s maid to a department store[Pg 155] to leave an order for my traveling outfit. I was most falsely accused, and I believe that Belva Platt was the enemy that started the slander,” she said to herself bitterly.

Then she looked at her lover, and saw that his handsome blond face had on it a thoughtful frown. She thought to herself that she would like to kiss the line away, but she did not dare—she was too much afraid of her grand lover.

So she only asked timidly:

“Will it make a good novel?”

She had asked the question to draw him out. She had a curiosity to hear him discuss her story, distorted though it was in the newspaper’s telling. Would he, she wondered, say a kind word of the girl who had been so bitterly deceived and wronged?

He turned his grave eyes on her face, and answered:

“The characters of both Carl Bernicci and his bride are so repulsive to me, my darling, that I do not think I should care to put them in a novel. There seemed to be nothing good in either, unless it was in the man’s desperate love, that drove[Pg 156] him at last to suicide. There is always an element of greatness in a strong love, I think.”

“Yes, it seems so to me,” she answered, the while her heart made a silent, pathetic moan.

“He has a kind word for that wretch whom remorse over my mother’s death, no doubt, drove to suicide; but he has not a single gentle thought of me. But, alas! he does not know the story aright. If he knew all, he could not help but pity me.”

Bayard Lorraine continued thoughtfully:

“If I could have any sympathy for either of those two, it would be for the man. He, poor fellow, seems to have done nothing bad except his one great fault of deceiving her in order to win her hand. He permitted her to leave him and defy him, when he might have enforced her obedience. No doubt he hoped to win her heart by his gentle endurance of her shrewish scorn. At least, he paid for his fault with his life; but she, how hard and unforgiving she must have been! One finds it hard to think of a simple, pretty little working girl having such ambitious thoughts in her curly head. Why, I knew one once who was as fair as a flower, and, I believe,[Pg 157] as innocent and true as a little child; indeed, I fancy she was as sweet and good in her humble way as even you could be, my little darling.”

Fair looked up with a quick gleam of interest.

“Tell me about her, Bayard,” she exclaimed curiously.

Something like a shade of embarrassment came across his broad white brow.

“You wouldn’t be jealous, Fair?” he asked uneasily; and she retorted:

“You don’t mean to tell me you were in love with her—a poor working girl?”

“My darling, I do not quite like your tone,” he answered gravely, and a slight flush rose to his brow as he continued: “The girl I spoke of, although only a working girl, was, I am sure, as well worthy my love as one of the daughters of the rich. She was gentle, good, and industrious, and also very beautiful. Indeed, Fair, the girl actually resembled you so much that when I first met you I was startled by the wonderful likeness.”

A roguish smile began to dawn in the wide brown eyes, and she exclaimed, with a pretty pout:

[Pg 158]

“I thought I was your first love, but this does not look like it, sir.”

Seeing that no shadow of jealousy came into the clear eyes, he continued, more seriously:

“Darling, you never had but one rival. She was the little working girl of whom I spoke. I first saw her on the eve of my departure for Europe, more than two years ago, and as time wore on the strange interest she had awakened in me by her beauty and sweetness kept growing so that in a few months I returned to New York to search for her, with some half-defined intentions of putting aside my pride of class, and educating and marrying her if she proved worthy. But the affair went no further; I did not find her. She had married a man by the name of Loring—by the way, I never knew her name—and gone away.”

[Pg 159]


Fair hid her sweet face against her lover’s shoulder, that he might not see and wonder at the mingled joy and sorrow in her expressive eyes—joy that he had loved her, sorrow that through her haste in wedding a miserable impostor she had missed the opportunity of her life.

“Oh, if only I had been true to myself, if I had sent that wretch away and waited, I might have been the happiest of the happy now,” she thought, forgetting, in her keen self-reproach, that her mother had been even more to blame than herself, and that the misguided woman would not have permitted her to throw away what she deemed a golden opportunity.

For a moment, in the sudden courage imparted to her by Bayard Lorraine’s frank confession of the interest he had taken in the poor little working girl, she was half tempted to throw off her mask and confess all.

It were better for her had she done so, but she[Pg 160] hesitated, faltered, and lost that golden opportunity for winning his pity and forgiveness.

“I will tell him to-morrow. In this happy hour I cannot do it,” she decided, for she could not bear to throw a shadow on his happy, loving mood.

For as yet Bayard Lorraine did not even know that she was the adopted child of Mrs. Howard. Although the Howards and Lorraines were distantly related, there had been no intimacy between them. Bayard had been abroad when Azalia Howard died, and no murmur of her death had reached him. He did not remember ever having seen his young relative, or hearing her name, until he met her with her mother abroad.

But Fair knew quite well that when Bayard Lorraine came to ask her hand from her adopted mother, Mrs. Howard would tell him the truth. She was a noble, conscientious woman. She would not deceive Fair’s suitor, but would say frankly:

“Bayard, I would not tell you this before, because it was not strictly any affair of yours; but all is changed now. It is right, since you are Fair’s accepted lover, that I should tell you that[Pg 161] she is not my own daughter, but a penniless orphan girl, whom I adopted out of pity when my own daughter died. Fair is good and noble, and I love her very dearly, but I cannot give her any fortune. All that I own came to me through my husband, and by some irrevocable clause in his will everything was to go, in the event of Azalia dying unmarried, at my death to a very distant relative.”

This is what Mrs. Howard would say to Bayard Lorraine. Fair knew it, for Mrs. Howard had told her so when first the beauty of the girl began to attract lovers to her side like bees about a flower.

“I should not wish you to marry for money without love in your heart, my dear, but if you could love one of these rich men who come courting you, it would be to your interest to do so, for when I die all my money will go to a distant relative of my husband, and I shall have nothing to leave you but my love,” she had said tenderly, and she was pleased when Fair answered, with passionate impulsiveness:

“All the money in the world could not tempt me to marry without love. Sooner than do it, I[Pg 162] would go back to the factory where I worked before I knew you, and toil again for my bread.”

Mrs. Howard sighed and answered:

“I trust it may never come to that again, dear girl; but sometimes I have sad misgivings, for my health is not good, and I am troubled so often with that teasing cough. Much as I love you and prize your companionship, I should be glad to see you married to some good man, for then I should feel easy over your future.”

“But I do not wish to marry!” cried the girl hastily, and the lady answered:

“That is because you have seen no one you love yet. When you fall in love it will be different. I trust when you do it would be with some good man who will not mind your lack of fortune, for, of course, when he proposes for your hand I shall have to tell him that you are only my daughter by adoption.”

The time had come now, for Fair knew quite well that in a day or two at furthest Bayard would speak to her mother.

“He will hear then that I am not her daughter, and he will be surprised and perhaps displeased, but then I will tell him all the rest—all, even that[Pg 163] I have kept from dear mother—and I will throw myself on his pity and his mercy. He cannot blame me so much when he hears the whole truth. Indeed, I think he will be sorry for me,” she said to herself, with vague relief at the putting off for even one day the confession that she was the girl on whom her lover had passed his judgment as being even worse than Carl Bernicci. “But he did not know all. He could not judge me aright,” she said to her frightened, throbbing heart, that kept foreboding ill for the future.

[Pg 164]


Bayard Lorraine did speak to Mrs. Howard the next day, telling her of his love for Fair, and asking her to give him her beautiful daughter.

And, as Fair had expected, the gentle lady replied to his suit by telling him that her own daughter was dead, and that pretty Fair was only her adopted child.

“I will be frank with you, Bayard. She is a penniless orphan, and when I adopted her her mother had just died, and the poor girl was in destitute circumstances and very unhappy. She had been reared in poverty, and belonged to the great army of sewing girls in New York. But she is as good and pure as she is lovely, and if you really love her I do not think that these facts will make any difference with you,” she added.

But he could not help feeling a little disappointed. His face grew grave, and for a moment he could not speak.

Mrs. Howard regarded him in silence for a moment, then said, in a slight tone of scorn:

[Pg 165]

“If you are regretting Fair’s lack of fortune, Bayard, I am very sorry, but I can do nothing for her. My own fortune, all of which I received from my husband, reverts, at my death, by a clause in his will, to a distant relative.”

He was so moved that he did not take any interest in that unknown relative, but answered, with a flash of wounded pride:

“I am sorry you think me mean enough to care for mere money. I assure you, I care nothing for that, although I will own that I was a little disappointed. I have some pride of birth, and I was glad that my intended bride was of a lineage as good as my own. It was a disappointment to know that she was from an obscure family, that is all, but I shall love and cherish my beautiful bride just the same as if she were a princess. As for money—pshaw! I have more than enough, and my pen has proved a new source of revenue to me.”

She held out her hand to him impulsively.

“I am glad you take it so well, so nobly,” she said. “Of course it was a disappointment, but, then, the world is full of disappointments,” she sighed, as she thought of Azalia lying in her far-off[Pg 166] grave across the sea. Then she added pleadingly: “You will not let Fairfax know how cruelly you were disappointed? Poor child, she is so loving, so sensitive, and she is so frightened already—I have seen it in her face—lest you should be angry.”

“Angry? No, no! Even if I had known this from the first, it would have made no difference,” Bayard Lorraine answered, and when he went back to Fair he smiled, and said:

“All is well, my darling! She has given her consent to our marriage.”

She clung to him with trembling hands.

“She has told you——”

“Everything about the romance of your life—yes, dear.” He kissed the quivering rosebud lips that began to frame the words:

“I—want—to tell—you all—about—it, Bayard. Indeed—I was—was not—so much to blame—after all—and—and——”

“Not another word, now, my own love,” he said fondly. “No one blames you for anything.”

He thought she referred to the deception that had been practiced in letting him believe that she was Mrs. Howard’s own daughter so long.[Pg 167] True to his implied promise to Mrs. Howard, he would not let the girl know that he was disappointed.

He took the beautiful, pale face in his hands and kissed the quivering rosebud lips.

“Do you think I blame you for being poor, instead of Mrs. Howard’s heiress?” he said reproachfully. “Nonsense, little darling! I love you for yourself alone.”

“Oh, Bayard, you are so good to me!” she said gratefully, and she wondered how she was going to make her confession to him, since he forbade her to speak of the past.

“But, Bayard,” she began, twisting her white fingers nervously around each other, and growing paler with every syllable, “I—should like—I mean, I think I had better—tell you all about my past life.”

“Mrs. Howard has told me all about that, dear little one; there is no need for you to go over it again,” he said tenderly, adding: “Wait until some other time, and I will listen.”

And, with a sigh of relief, she accepted the respite, and gladly put off her confession until[Pg 168] some other time, giving herself up unrestrainedly to the enjoyment of the present.

“I will not think about the past, nor the future. I will be happy in the present, for I have never had any happiness till now,” she thought, with a mist in her tender eyes at thought of the weary, toilsome years of her girlhood, and her mother’s ambition, that had caused such bitter, tragic results.

Bayard Lorraine declared very soon that the excitement of his love affair and his absorption in his beautiful betrothed quite prevented him from going on with his literary work. He could not stay away from the Florentine villa—he could not keep out of the presence of Fair long enough to begin a single chapter of the new novel for which his publisher was impatiently waiting. Even if he could have stayed away from her, she would have been constantly in his thoughts. He was in love in the most genuine and romantic fashion, and his love absorbed his whole soul.

Augustus Frayne came back from his yachting expedition, and found things just as he had expected when he gave up the field in despair and went away. His merry sisters chaffed him in[Pg 169] secret; his father and mother silently sympathized with him, for they had coveted charming Fair for a daughter-in-law, and were disappointed when Bayard Lorraine won the lovely prize. But Augustus bore it like a hero, wished the prospective bride much joy, and congratulated the lucky suitor. Then he began a furious flirtation with a lovely Italian girl at the next villa, walking over there every day, and spending long hours in her company, thus leaving a fair field for Fair’s lover.

Those weeks at the prince’s villa, how fast they flew on Cupid’s wings! How rapturously the long, bright days passed by to the lovers, who seemed to think that the world held no one but themselves, although one of the Frayne girls said jestingly:

“I think you were very rash, Fair, in engaging yourself to the author. You should have waited until the prince returned from America. You might have won him with those bright eyes of yours, and that would have been a catch! He’s immensely wealthy, they say, and Gussie’s Italian sweetheart told him that there was not a handsomer man in the world. She said all the[Pg 170] Italian girls were crazy over him. My! I wish I could get acquainted with him! Wouldn’t I set my cap!”

Fair only smiled. What was the prince to her? Her lover was more to her than a king.

And she was more to him than a queen. He worshiped her beauty, her sweetness, her gentleness. He believed that she was angelically innocent and good, and, although he knew so little of her parents, he felt sure that they must have been superior people, else they could not have given to the world a daughter so pure and lovely.

Mrs. Howard was not surprised when he began to plead for an early marriage.

“I can never settle down to my literary work until I am married; and, besides, I am anxious to call Fair my own.” He laughed, and then added: “What if this prince, who is soon to return, they say, should win her from me?”

“You need not be afraid of any man. Fair is devoted to you,” said Mrs. Howard.

“I am sure of that. I was only jesting about the prince,” said Bayard Lorraine. “But won’t you agree with me that an early marriage would be expedient?”

[Pg 171]

She was glad that he thought so. His desire coincided with hers, for she was anxious to see her beloved Fair settled for life.

“For it seems terrible to think of leaving her alone in the world, poor and unprotected, as she was when Heaven sent her to me,” she said anxiously.

So, with Fair’s consent, it was arranged that the marriage should take place a few weeks prior to their leaving the villa. The wedded pair would take a little tour of Paris while Mrs. Howard remained at the villa. Then they would come back, and the three would go home together to New York.

“Am I dreaming, or will all this happiness be really mine?” Fair asked herself, in fear and trembling, for now the weight of her secret began to weigh on her spirit.

She had never yet dared to make her confession to Bayard Lorraine. Shrinking coward that she was, she could not.

[Pg 172]


Mrs. Howard lost no time in sending her orders to Paris for an elaborate trousseau for her adopted daughter.

When she had got this important affair off her mind, she turned her attention to the wedding festivities.

She declared that Fair should have a grand wedding. The affair should be worthy of, and even a credit to, the prince’s villa.

The best caterers, florists, and musicians were engaged. The best people in Florence were invited. Mrs. Howard sent out three hundred invitations, and was induced to send out one more at almost the eleventh hour, for Prince Gonzaga had suddenly returned to Florence, and the Fraynes insisted that it would be simple courtesy to send him a card to the marriage that was to take place in his own villa.

Augustus Frayne had met the nobleman at Miss Beatrice Consani’s the day before the wedding, and was favorably impressed by him.

[Pg 173]

“Handsome, in a dark Italian fashion, but after that almost American,” he told his sisters. “In fact, his mother was an American, and he was born in New York—told me so himself. Some sort of a romance about the thing. Father was poor, doffed the title of prince, and went to America and worked for his living. Died, and the son amassed a fortune and returned to Italy, took up the title that had descended to him, bought this beautiful villa, then went back to America to bring his mother, but she had died in his absence. ’Pon honor, I was sorry for the macaroni! He seemed down in the mouth and cut up over losing her. Told me he didn’t care for weddings much, but was coming to ours because it was to be at his old ancestral home. Didn’t I say it was quite a romance? I would give it to Lorraine for that novel that hangs fire so, but I won’t, because he cut me out with Fair.”

“Return good for evil,” suggested Nettie Frayne.

“I shan’t do it! I can’t forgive the fellow yet,” answered Augustus gayly.

“I mean to set my cap at the prince,” cried Clara Frayne, and Augustus grinned.

[Pg 174]

“I think several caps are set at him—Bee Consani’s among the number—but he doesn’t strike me as being a marrying man—not much!”

“Wait till he sees me!” cried Nettie, rolling up her blue eyes, with pretended egotism, and just then Fair came down the garden path toward them, lovely in a soft white dress and garden hat, with a warm color on her round cheeks and a bright light streaming from her splendid eyes. She had just parted from her lover, and the love light on her face was dazzling.

“Whew! your eyes are so bright, Miss Howard, it is like looking at the sun!” Augustus Frayne exclaimed, pretending to shield his gray orbs with his hands. She made him a merry bow of acknowledgment, then sat down by Nettie on the broad garden seat.

“What were you all laughing about?” she inquired, putting her arm around Nettie’s waist.

“It is those silly girls going out of their senses because Prince Gonzaga is coming to your wedding to-morrow,” returned the young man.

“Yes, Fair, only think, you’re going to have the honor of the prince’s company at your wedding,”[Pg 175] cried Clara vivaciously; and the beautiful bride-elect thought wonderingly:

“This is like a story from the ‘Arabian Nights.’ Only two years ago I was a poor working girl in New York, miserable and starving, and now I am to be the bride of the man I worship; I am surrounded by wealth and splendor, I have trunks full of magnificent clothing, I have caskets of rare jewels, and the proudest people in this city will assemble to do honor to my marriage. Yes, even a prince will be looking on while I give my hand to my beloved until death.”

Suddenly there came to her a memory of that other dark wedding day, and of her humble friend, Sadie Allen, and she sighed to herself:

“Dear Sadie, if it were possible, I would rather have you here than the prince.”

The Italian prince did not care for festivities, as he had told Augustus Frayne, but he had made up his mind to attend the wedding at the villa, not because it was his ancestral home so much as because the name Fairfax Howard on the wedding cards had excited in his mind a languid interest.

“I knew a Fairfax once,” he said to Miss Beatrix[Pg 176] Consani, with whom he was on friendly terms. “If this Miss Howard is half as lovely as the Fairfax I knew, the bridegroom is a lucky dog.”

“Oh, she is perfectly beautiful!” cried Beatrix enthusiastically. “Her eyes are so big and so starry bright, her hair like sunshine, and her face makes one think of a beautiful flower. Indeed, she is the loveliest girl I ever saw.”

Prince Gonzaga looked a little startled.

“The Fairfax I knew was just like that,” he said. “She was a New York girl, beautiful but poor, and of obscure origin.”

“This girl is from New York, too, but she is a great heiress, and has had many admirers. Lord Leigh and Augustus Frayne both wanted to marry her,” said the Italian beauty.

“Heiresses are always sought after,” commented the prince, and he added, with a touch of bitterness: “There is not much genuine love in the world, Miss Consani. Every one wants to marry money.”

“Or beauty,” said Miss Consani. “Beauties, even though poor, can generally make good[Pg 177] matches. How was it with your New York beauty? Did she marry rich?”

“She wished to do so. She was mercenary, like most women, but she had a bitter lesson,” answered the prince, and by the moody way in which he drew his dark brows together she guessed that he had had some unusual interest in her of whom he spoke. Her dark eyes began to sparkle with interest, and she exclaimed:

“Please tell me all about it. I’m sure it’s interesting.”

“Perhaps,” said the prince, and his dark eyes seemed to flash beneath their jetty brows. Pulling nervously with his slim, dark hand at his black mustache, he continued:

“She was poor and ambitious, as I said just now, and her mind was made up to sell her beauty for a rich husband; but a poor fool fell in love with her, and when she refused to have anything to say to him, he pretended to be rich and of good birth. The beauty snapped at the glittering bait, and married him, expecting to go at once to a magnificent palace on Fifth Avenue. The young husband was fool enough to think she loved him a little and would forgive him when she[Pg 178] found out he was poor. But, alas, for his hopes! The very hour of her marriage she left him forever, giving way to undisguised scorn at his poverty, and vowing she would never live with him.”

“What did he do then?” asked Beatrix, opening her black eyes with wonder.

“He haunted her like a shadow for a few weeks, alternately begging for her forgiveness and threatening to enforce her wifely obedience; but she was obstinate, and still refused to forgive him. Then her mother, with whom she had taken refuge, died quite suddenly, and soon after the girl disappeared. She went to the bad, Miss Consani; flung away her life to avenge herself on the husband who had won her by a trick, and to gratify her greed for gold.”

“Oh, how dreadful!” the pretty Italian exclaimed, with a shudder. “She was a wretch, for all her beauty.”

His eyes gleamed luridly at her words, and his dark face gloomed over strangely. He did not speak, and the girl continued:

“What did her husband do then, prince?”

“When he found out that she was irrevocably lost to him in such a horrible fashion, he went[Pg 179] mad with despair, and committed suicide, drowning himself in the East River.”

“Oh, how sad, how romantic!” exclaimed Beatrix. “He did not do right in deceiving her, but as it was for the sake of his great love, I pity him. He was better than she was, for his love was some excuse for his sin. I wonder if she repented when she found out that he had drowned himself for her sake?”

“I do not know. I have never heard anything more about her, but I should think, from what I know of her, that she was probably glad when she heard that she had driven him to suicide,” returned the prince bitterly, and presently he took leave, having promised Beatrix that he would not fail to attend the wedding to-morrow.

And he kept his promise, for the names of the plighted pair had awakened in him a painful interest.

“It can be nothing but a coincidence,” he muttered gloomily, as he walked along. “Still, I should judge that it’s the same man whose hated name I have such bitter cause to remember. She loved him, I think, for she would draw me on to talk of him, and her eyes would shine, her cheeks[Pg 180] redden at his name. It was the one charm I had for her, that I would tell her lies by the hour about the man who saved her life. I wonder if she ever saw him again? I wonder what was her fate, and if the bullet I have carried for her for years will ever find its way to her heart?”

A fierce, grim smile distorted his dark face, and he involuntarily laid his hand upon his breast, where he habitually carried a pistol, so small that it looked like a toy, but which held one deadly bullet, which was destined for a false woman’s heart.

“Revenge, revenge!” he muttered bitterly, and the intense Italian side of his nature shone in his glittering dark eyes, and made his voice hoarse and intense with passion. If Nettie Frayne could have seen and heard him, she would have given up her girlish hopes of captivating him, and fled in terror from the evil gleam of his strange, dark eyes.

[Pg 181]


“An Italian night, all moonlight, deep blue sky, and flowers—it is what I would have chosen over everything for my wedding night,” Fair whispered to her lover, when they came to tell her that it was really time for her to go into the house and put on her wedding dress.

She had been with him all the afternoon, contrary to all precedent, and to the scandal of the bridesmaids, who declared that she ought to be getting ready.

“Getting ready all the afternoon? Why, Betty can dress me in an hour,” laughed the girl, and she went up to Mrs. Howard, put her arms around the lady’s neck, and, lifting her sweet, coaxing face, murmured:

“Is it so very wrong for me to be with him a little while this afternoon? He wishes it very much, and so do I.”

“But after to-day you will have him always, darling, and the girls all seem to wish you to stay with them.”

[Pg 182]

“I know, but to-morrow he will be my husband. This is the last day I shall have with my lover.”

“My dear girl, he will always be your lover.”

“I know, but not quite in the same fashion. You will not understand, dear. But never mind,” sighing, “I will send him away.”

“No, you will not, dear, although we all think you both very silly, and Gus says Bayard is ‘spoony,’ in his emphatic slang.”

“I don’t care what Gus says, but only for your wishes, mamma, love. I only care for pleasing you and Bayard. I am very silly, perhaps, as you say, for, mamma,” she lifted the large brown eyes wistfully, “it all seems to me like I was losing him, instead of gaining him forever. Is it not strange that I cling to him to-day as if he were going on a long journey from me to-morrow? Did you feel that way on your marriage eve?”

“No, dear, but my imagination was not so vivid as yours. Calm yourself and go to your lover. I will make excuses for you to the girls.”

So the selfish, absorbed lovers sat for hours on the particular garden seat which by tacit consent had come to be appropriated to them alone, and when twilight fell and the odor of the roses and[Pg 183] orange flowers grew strong and spicy around them, they parted with reluctance to prepare for the marriage ceremony.

When Betty had delivered her message and discreetly turned her head, he took his lovely betrothed in his arms and kissed her with solemn tenderness.

“Good-by, sweetheart. In an hour you will be my bride,” he whispered, and then she went away with Betty, a slim, white figure, with loose, bright hair, on which his grave blue eyes lingered with dreamy tenderness.

She went on with a heart full of happiness that was disturbed by an uneasy sense of ill. She thought it was the weight of her secret resting on her heart, and sighed to herself:

“Oh, I wish I had been brave enough to confess all! But I could not, I could not, and I pray Heaven he may never know the truth now.”

The grand drawing-room was thronged with guests when she came down, one hour later, “in gloss of satin and glimmer of pearls,” an ideally lovely bride, and met her splendid lover, who drew her hand through his arm and led her before the waiting minister.

[Pg 184]

The crash and peal of the wedding march died away, and, save for the low hum of eager admiration, all was momentary breathless silence.

Upon that sudden hush before the ceremony broke a loud, infuriated voice close to the altar’s side, and the two words it uttered were:

“Traitoress, die!”

Bayard Lorraine glanced quickly up, and saw a stranger—a maniac, he believed—pointing a gleaming pistol at the breast of his beautiful, startled bride. With lightninglike rapidity, he sprang before her, and received in his own breast the bullet that crashed through the air.

The beautiful, flower-decked drawing-room of the villa instantly became a scene of confusion, for the bridegroom had fallen at the feet of the bride, and the blood that spurted from his wound dyed the hem of her white satin dress crimson. Women shrieked, fainted, or fell into hysterics, and men rushed wildly to the scene of action. One or two who had seen Prince Gonzaga fire the pistol believed that he was a maniac, and rushed forward to secure him; but he shook them off with furious strength, and made his way to the spot where Fair, with wild screams of anguish, was[Pg 185] kneeling by her unconscious lover, calling on his name in an agony of fear and grief.

Prince Gonzaga put his thin, dark hands on the shoulders of the white-robed form and lifted her roughly to her feet.

“Get up, curse you!” he cried, in a fury of mad passion; and, whirling her fiercely around in front of him, he added: “That shot was meant for you, do you know it? It would have found your heart had he not interposed between us.”

Her wild eyes sought his face, and such a shriek of terror and wild dismay rang through the room that every hearer shrank, appalled. She had recognized in the rich Prince Gonzaga the man who had tricked her into that fatal marriage in New York—the man she believed to be dead—Carl Bernicci.

Some one put a hand on his shoulder, and said soothingly, as to a dangerous lunatic:

“Come away, come away! You have killed Mr. Lorraine, and unless you escape you will be put in prison.”

He heard the clamorous voices crying out that he was mad; but he scorned to avail himself of any loophole of escape, and, still clutching Fair’s[Pg 186] trembling form, he turned his head, and, looking into the excited faces around him, said loudly but clearly:

“You are mistaken. I am not crazed, but I am an outraged husband, who has taken vengeance into his own hands. This woman is my wife. She fled from me two years ago, and ever since I have carried around with me a bullet for her false heart. Look at her. How guiltily she shrinks! She will not deny that I am her husband.”

She looked at him with a face of horror, and shrieked out:

“You are my evil genius! You killed my mother, and now you have killed my lover. Oh, may Heaven punish you for your sins!” and with those words her senses reeled, and she slipped from his grasp, unconscious.

Pitying hands lifted and bore her away, followed by his jeering threat:

“She is my wife, remember, and if any one dares assist her to escape I will make him suffer for it.”

“You must consider yourself under arrest,” he was told, and he did not make any resistance[Pg 187] when they confined him in a room in his own villa, with two guards to prevent his escape. Every one honestly believed that he was a maniac, that he had suddenly gone mad; and he was mad, but only with jealous rage that his bullet had missed the white breast for which it was meant.

“Curse her! I wish the same bullet had gone through both hearts. Then they might have slept in the same grave,” he hissed savagely; but he was mistaken in thinking that he had killed Bayard Lorraine. The bullet had missed his heart and imbedded itself in the fleshy part of his shoulder. The physicians who had been sent for probed the wound and extracted the bullet. They expressed the opinion that it would not result fatally.

The patient had recovered consciousness, and bore his pain with the bravery of a hero. He listened eagerly to the physician’s verdict, and then he said anxiously:

“Be frank with me. If there is the least doubt, let me know, for much depends upon my knowledge of the truth.”

They told him that they could not certainly promise recovery, but there were reasonable[Pg 188] grounds for hope. Of course, much depended on his constitution, on careful nursing, et cetera.

“Thank you,” he said, and, turning to Augustus Frayne, who stood beside his pillow, he said:

“If the minister has not gone, and if Fair and her mother will consent, I should like to have the interrupted ceremony go on, as, in the event of my death, I wish Fair to have all my property.”

He had remembered that Fair would be friendless and penniless if Mrs. Howard should die, and he wished to place her at once beyond either possibility.

No one liked to tell him that, while he lay unconscious, the mad prince had claimed Fair as his wife. Indeed, no one credited the statement. All believed it the disjointed raving of a lunatic—at least, all but Beatrix Consani. She remembered the story Prince Gonzaga had told her yesterday, and she repeated it to all who would listen.

Most of the guests had gone away, leaving the bridal banquet untasted. A few yet lingered in the grand drawing-room, waiting to hear whether Bayard Lorraine would live or die, and these the beautiful Beatrix entertained with her story.

[Pg 189]

“I believe that he was telling me his own story, with just enough changes in it to mislead me,” she said. “I thought he seemed very much excited, and that his interest in the girl was very great. There is some mystery about it. She cannot really be Mrs. Howard’s daughter, for he declared that she was poor and of obscure birth.”

Then Augustus Frayne came among them, declaring that the physicians were uncertain whether their patient would live or die, and desiring his sisters to ask Mrs. Howard to go at once to the wounded man, as he particularly wished to see her and Fair.

Fair had come out of her swoon, and lay sobbing in her adopted mother’s arms. No one had asked her any questions yet—waiting until they should hear from the wounded man.

Nettie Frayne came in with a solemn face, and delivered the message.

“He wishes to see you both,” she said, and Fair shuddered and moaned.

They had removed the bloodstained wedding dress and veil, and she wore a long, trailing tea gown of white India silk and lace. Her face was[Pg 190] as white as the dress as she lifted it to Mrs. Howard’s, and said pitifully:

“Oh, he is dying, I know! Let us go to him at once.”

But it was not the face of a dying man that looked up to her from the pillow, although ghastly pale and pain-drawn. The eyes were bright with love as they looked up into her own.

They had all withdrawn from the room, leaving only her and her adopted mother. She knelt down by the bed and looked at him with wide brown eyes full of grief and despair.

“My darling!” he murmured, as he met that anguished glance, adding tenderly: “Do not look so frightened. I do not believe that I am going to die. The doctors seemed to have hope, but”—and his eyes turned from her to Mrs. Howard—“I want the marriage to go on at once. It is not best to run any risks.”

Mrs. Howard understood him at once. He was thinking of her darling’s future.

“Bless you, Bayard!” she said tenderly, as she laid her hand on his white brow, and she added: “You are right. The marriage should certainly[Pg 191] take place at once—that is, if you can bear the excitement.”

He smiled a faint yet reassuring smile, and asked:

“The minister?”

“He is here yet. He can be summoned in a minute.”

Then she cried out in alarm:


The girl’s face had sunk down among the bedclothes, but at that cry she lifted it wearily, and Mrs. Howard went on:

“You heard what Bayard said? He wishes the marriage to take place at once. Of course, you are willing?”

To her amazement, the girl answered, in a voice fraught with agony:

“Oh, no, no, no, it cannot be—it cannot be! Oh, Heaven pity me and strike me dead this moment, that I may not have to bear my misery any longer.”

Mrs. Howard believed that she was foreboding her lover’s death, and tried to soothe her with hopeful words:

“He is going to get well, I feel sure, dear, but[Pg 192] he wishes to marry you now that you may help to nurse him back to life. Come, we will go and explain to our friends, and then the interrupted ceremony may go on.”

“Not now—I cannot marry him now,” moaned the girl despairingly, and her wounded lover, looking on, was so amazed that he could not speak.

Mrs. Howard put her hand on the waving tresses of red-gold hair, and told Fair impatiently that she was acting like a baby, and that it was imperative that she should be married at once, for if anything happened to Bayard before they were married she would never have any of his money.

“And you must not forget that if I were to die you would be friendless and penniless,” she said warningly; but it seemed to her that there was no reason left in the girl’s dazed head. She only flung her white hands over her head, and answered despairingly:

“When my mother died, her last words were that there was nothing but misery and despair in store for her darling. Oh, it was true—quite true. She spoke with the tongue of a prophet.”

[Pg 193]

Then, taking no notice of Mrs. Howard, she put out her hand and touched her lover’s brow, exclaiming wildly:

“Oh, my love—my lost love—I wish that fatal shot had gone at once through both our hearts and killed us, that we might at least have rested in the same grave!”

“Calm yourself, my darling girl, for I am not going to die. I shall get well, for your sweet sake,” murmured her lover soothingly, full of pity for her half-distracted state; but again she flung up her hands, and moaned frantically:

“Oh, if I could die—if I could die!” and for several moments she raved so wildly that they began to believe she was out of her senses.

Feeling himself growing weak under the excitement of her looks and words, Bayard Lorraine at last advised Mrs. Howard to take Fair back to her room.

“She is in no mood for the marriage now, and I think she needs a physician’s care. We will not torment her any longer. At least, I can make my will and leave my fortune to her,” he said sadly.

“Come dear,” Mrs. Howard said pityingly.[Pg 194] “You are ill with nervous excitement; I will take you to your room.”

Fair staggered up and put her hand through her mother’s to go; but, on reaching the door, she pulled it away, and the next moment was staggering back with uncertain footsteps toward her lover, saying wildly:

“No, let me stay! I—I—cannot be—a coward—any longer. I must tell him all.”

And she knelt down as before by the bed, and looked with anguished eyes into her lover’s face.

[Pg 195]


They looked at her with astonishment. What did she have to tell?

Nothing, surely. Her brain was turned by the horror of what had happened, that was all.

But, with a strong effort, she controlled herself, and, looking at him with sorrowful eyes, dim with despair, she said:

“You do not understand me, and you think I am insane, do you not? Alas, it is a wonder that I am not! Oh, Bayard, I am the most wretched woman! I am the victim of circumstances the most tragic that ever darkened a woman’s life.”

Mrs. Howard and Bayard Lorraine began to believe that there was some method in her madness. There was an intensity of passion in her clasped hands and upraised eyes that foreboded ill. They gazed at her with new interest and attention.

“Alas,” she said mournfully, “I have a bitter confession to make: and remember, Bayard, that[Pg 196] though it may prove a deep disappointment to you, it has all the bitterness of death to me. Oh, how I have struggled to throw off this burden of fate, but it is too heavy. I am crushed beneath it, and my mother’s dying words have all come true. There is nothing but misery and despair in store for her poor child.”

They made no answer to the wild ravings she uttered, because they could not understand them, and she continued despairingly:

“I cannot marry you, my own, my only love, because I am not free. A terrible obstacle has arisen between us.”

Mrs. Howard gave a violent start. The words of the maniac prince, as she deemed him, then came to her mind:

“I am an outraged husband who has taken vengeance into his own hands. This woman is my wife!”

With her passionate, loving soul quivering in her mournful voice, the girl went on:

“Bayard, you must not judge me too hardly when you know all. I was so young, so ignorant, and my training had helped to lead me into that fatal error.”

[Pg 197]

Suddenly he spoke, in a faint voice:

“Fair, you are driving me mad. What horrible thing is it that you are going to tell me?”

“It was my life, not yours, that man sought to-night,” she said.

“I know that, child,” impatiently; “but why, unless he was a lunatic, did he attempt your life?”

“He believed that he had bitter cause to hate me,” she answered, and the pallor of her face was for a moment superseded by a fiery blush of shame.

Bayard Lorraine could only ask again, in wonder:

“But why?”

The crimson on her face grew deeper, and she bowed her head very low as she answered, with a sudden calmness born of great despair:

“You remember the newspaper clipping which I asked you to use as the basis for a novel, Bayard? You remember the poor working girl who was deceived into marrying a wicked wretch, and who fled from him in the very hour of the marriage? I am the unhappy girl, and this man is the one I married. You see, he did not commit suicide. He lived to tear me from you, my darling. That[Pg 198] statement was untrue, like much of the newspaper reports, for, oh, my dear love, I—I never went astray; I only disappeared, because dear Mrs. Howard, the good angel of my life, adopted me and took me away from New York.”

He was looking at her with a face of stone, turning almost rigid with horror; but she did not wait for him to speak; she went on with feverish rapidity, anxious to confess all, now that she had undertaken the task:

“I will not keep anything back from you now, Bayard. I was the girl whose life you saved and whom you have told me since you loved and would have married. I loved you, too, and it was on that love that they played when they persuaded me to marry the wretch, who pretended to be your cousin. When I found out how cruelly I had been deceived, and that I would never see you again, as I had hoped, I was crazed with horror. I—oh——”

She broke off with a shriek of horror, for Bayard Lorraine had drawn a long, gasping breath, closed his eyes, and now lay before her like one dead.

Mrs. Howard had been listening in wrathful[Pg 199] horror, dazed and indignant at the duplicity of the girl she had loved and trusted. At that shriek, she confronted Fair with eyes that blazed with anger, crying out bitterly:

“You wicked, cruel girl, you have killed him! How dared you tell him that story in his weak condition? He will never recover from the shock. Get up and go to your room, for he will never want to look on your face again.”

“Mother!” the girl cried, in a pleading voice, like one warding off a cruel blow; but Mrs. Howard was outraged in her love and pride. She pushed off the little hands Fair extended toward her, and said scornfully:

“Never call me by that name again! I will have no more to do with one who, by her own confession, has been so mercenary, wicked, and deceitful.”

With a moan of despair, Fair shrank away and fled from the room. Then Mrs. Howard recalled the physicians, and, leaving them with the unconscious man, went to seek the prince in the room where he was imprisoned.

She wished to hear from his own lips the story of his marriage with Fair.

[Pg 200]

When she had heard it, just as Bayard had read it in the newspaper slip, she decided, just as he did, that Fair had been heartless and wicked, and that, of the two, her husband deserved the most pity.

“I own my fault; I won her hand by a lie. I pretended to be wealthy and that I was a cousin of Mr. Lorraine; but I thought I could win her forgiveness some time. I never gave up hope until she disappeared, and I heard that she had entered upon a bad life,” said Prince Gonzaga.

“That, at least, was a mistake,” said Mrs. Howard, and she told him the circumstances of her taking Fair under her protection.

“I am glad my shot missed her heart, then, for I can forgive her and love her still, and since I am now rich and titled she can have no objection to being my wife,” he said, with mingled joy and sarcasm.

Mrs. Howard agreed with him. She thought Fair would have a better fate than she deserved, that her husband could not be such a very bad man, after all, since he was willing to forgive her and take her back.

She hinted that she would like to hear how it[Pg 201] was that he had committed suicide, as rumored, and then reappeared; and the prince, who had suddenly got in a very good humor, was perfectly willing to gratify her curiosity.

“I did jump off the wharf into the East River, with the intention of drowning myself, but I was saved by an outward-bound sailing vessel,” he said. “The crew were bound for a port where pirates were said to have buried a great store of golden treasure. I went with them, and we were fortunate enough to find the booty. I took my share and came to Italy, where I assumed the title of my dead father, who was really a prince, although poverty caused him to resign the honor with disgust when he had to work for his daily bread.”

She was silent from sheer wonder at his romantic story, and she thought that Fair was very fortunate in having her undesirable husband turn out so well.

“I have heard that Lorraine is going to live,” he said to her. “I am glad of that. I did not wish to kill him. It was only my rage at Fair, when I thought that she had gone wrong, that put murder into my heart. Mrs. Howard, will[Pg 202] you help me to win my wife? I love her madly still, and I would see her dead at my feet before Lorraine, or any one else, should have her. You may think of getting a divorce for her, but I tell you with the frankness of a desperate man that the only safety my wife can have will be by returning to me.”

[Pg 203]


Mrs. Howard gazed at Prince Gonzaga in wonder and perplexity.

“You talk of winning your wife back, when you ought to be repenting the sin you have committed,” she said rebukingly, adding: “Do you forget that the officers of the law have been summoned to commit you for shooting Bayard Lorraine?”

He laughed contemptuously, and answered:

“I am quite aware of that fact, but I do not fear any inconvenience from it. For one thing, I have been told that Lorraine will not die of his wound; and for another, you will remember that I did not shoot him with malice. The shot was meant for the wife whom I believed to be false, and he flung himself between us, and received the bullet himself. For the rest, I must remind you that the law of Italy, as of all other lands, is not hard on a man who seeks to avenge the honor that had been outraged by a false wife.”

[Pg 204]

She found that his words were perfectly true, for, after having been carried before a court of justice, he was almost immediately released on his own bail.

He returned to the villa the next morning, triumphant, and sought Mrs. Howard.

“I am released on my own bail,” he said. “I wish to see my wife.”

“I do not think you can see her. She was very ill all night, and no one but her maid can be admitted into the room.”

“I am her husband, and I insist upon being admitted!” he replied angrily.

“I will ask if she will see you. But what if she refuses?”

“I do not believe that she will refuse. Why should she?” he replied. “She married me of her own free will, when she thought I was rich, and only ran away from me when she found out I was poor and could not give her the luxuries she craved. Now I can give her both wealth and a title, and no doubt she will be only too glad to accept them.”

“And you?” she asked wonderingly. “Are you[Pg 205] willing to devote yourself to a wife who would value you only for those glittering externals?”

“I would take her on any terms,” he replied, and she foresaw that in the event of Fair refusing his wish there would be sore trouble ahead for the willful girl.

But she did not believe Fair would refuse her husband’s overtures of peace. Why, as he very pertinently asked, should she do so? It had been proved that she was mercenary and designing. The husband whom she had deserted on the score of poverty was rich and powerful now. Of course she would make up with him. Perhaps she would be glad of the way things had turned out.

It made her very sad to think how cruelly she had been disappointed in Fair. How earnestly she had declared that she was incapable of marrying for money! Yet Mrs. Howard doubted not that her acceptance of Bayard Lorraine’s suit had been based on mercenary principles. She thought of the poor fellow lying wounded and near to the gates of death for the false girl’s sake, and felt indignant and disgusted.

“I wash my hands of her, princess though she be through her marriage, and I will never have[Pg 206] anything more to do with her,” she mentally decided; but just then there rose into her mind a thought of the dark day when, sitting by her dead daughter, she had seen such a lovely vision—a vision that had led her to adopt Fair into Azalia’s sacred place. Her tears began to fall.

“I dreamed it all, for the dead see clearly, and Azalia would never have wished me to take one so false and unworthy into her place,” she sighed.

Dashing away the bitter tears, the deceived and indignant lady made her way to the presence of Fair, whom she had not seen since last night, when she had sent her away, abashed and weeping, from the presence of Bayard Lorraine, after making her bitter confession.

Betty, the maid, had told her that her young mistress had been ill and sleepless all night, that she had sobbed herself into a high fever; but Mrs. Howard’s anger had hardened her heart, and, without going near poor Fair, she had answered hastily:

“Let her suffer, then, for she richly deserves it.”

Betty was so devoted to her mistress that she angrily reported those words to her, and Fair[Pg 207] wept more than ever when she realized that her friend and benefactress had hardened her heart against her.

She had not undressed all night, and when Mrs. Howard entered the room she was lying on a sofa in the crushed and rumpled white silk tea gown, with her magnificent, rippling, red-gold tresses falling to her waist in rich disorder. Her face was very pale, and the light of the beautiful brown eyes was dimmed by the rivers of tears she had shed.

“Oh, mother!” she exclaimed piteously, half extending her arms; but the lady frowned, and said stiffly:

“Your husband, Prince Gonzaga, desires to see you.”

Instantly the beautiful face grew ghastly with fear, and Fair almost shrieked out:

“I cannot see him! I will not!”

Mrs. Howard’s lip curled contemptuously as she answered:

“You need not look so frightened. Your husband does not contemplate any further violence. He would not have attempted any last night only that he had been led to believe you a wicked[Pg 208] woman. Since I have taken pains to disabuse his mind of that erroneous impression, he regrets his actions of last night, and declares that he is ready and anxious to forgive the past and make up his quarrel with you.”

But the wretched girl only cowered in more abject terror at those words, moaning out:

“Oh, I wish you had let him go on thinking me wicked! I do not want to make up my quarrel with him. I had rather have his hate than his love.”

“Was this acting?” Mrs. Howard asked herself. If so, it was very clever indeed, and the lady scarce knew what to say in answer.

But she remembered that the impetuous husband was waiting most impatiently to hear from Fair, so she said curtly:

“You are talking wicked nonsense, Fair, and you will find that Prince Gonzaga is determined to enforce your wifely obedience. So you had better make up your mind to live with him, and to be thankful that he is willing to forgive your past bad conduct.”

She felt that she ought to say these precise words to the girl, yet she felt abashed somehow[Pg 209] by the big, pathetic eyes Fair fixed on her face. She had stopped weeping, and her tearless misery was far more pitiful, as she faltered:

“I will never live with him! He was the cause of my mother’s death. Her grave lies between us.”

“He has explained all that to me. It is nonsense to accuse him of that. She had heart disease, and her death was liable to occur at any time,” Mrs. Howard returned coldly.

“If only you would let me explain everything, you would take my part against this wretch,” Fair faltered, with some faint hope of pity; but Mrs. Howard shook her head.

“I heard you explain it all to Bayard last night—heard Prince Gonzaga go over the whole ground again to-day, and I wish to hear no more on the subject. Your duplicity and deceit have planted in my trusting heart a thorn that will never cease to rankle,” she answered bitterly.

Fair’s face went ghastly white, and her big, reproachful eyes made Mrs. Howard feel uneasy, so she said jeeringly, to throw off the pity that threatened to overcome her ideas of justice:

“Confess, now, that you are glad your husband[Pg 210] is rich and titled. You are the Princess Gonzaga. Did you think of that? It is a proud title, and will make you equally honored and envied.”

But a moan of the bitterest pain came from Fair’s poor, blanched lips.

“Oh, madam, never call me by that name again!” she cried imploringly. “I hate that man. I despise him and fear him. If he were a king, I would not share his throne!”

“You are his wife, and you will be compelled to share his lot. I warn you that he is desperate. Make up with him, and he will adore you. Deny him, and I do not believe he would hesitate to kill you,” said Mrs. Howard; but the obstinate creature only answered, as before:

“I would rather have his hate than his love.”

And suddenly lifting her anguished eyes, she exclaimed:

“Do you not know that I love Bayard Lorraine with my whole heart?”

“That is a sin,” reproved the good woman; but Fair answered:

“If it be a sin, it is one of which I never can[Pg 211] repent so long as I live, and I will be no man’s wife but Bayard Lorraine’s.”

“You are already another man’s wife,” severely.

“In name only,” Fair answered, in dreary exultation.

“And as for Bayard Lorraine, he would consider your words of just now an insult,” continued Mrs. Howard coldly, and she added, after a moment: “If he ever knows anything again—which is doubtful, as he has lain in a deadly stupor since last night—I feel sure that he will advocate the justice of Prince Gonzaga’s claim, and insist that you return to your husband.”

“You really believe this?” Fair cried wildly, with dilated eyes.


“And you, too—you take the part of this cruel prince against me?”

“Yes; for you have wronged him bitterly from the first, and you should crave his pardon and try to atone to him for your unkindness in the past,” said Mrs. Howard decisively, for Fair’s declaration of love for Bayard Lorraine had alarmed her, and she saw in it a new element of[Pg 212] danger for all, so she advocated the prince’s cause most zealously.

But Fair only refused, in despairing defiance, to see or hold any communication with her husband.

“Tell him I will never see him,” she reiterated, but Mrs. Howard answered:

“That is rash, foolish! You are in his own house, and you are his own wife. He will enter your presence by force, if you persist in this silly refusal.”

Fair sprang to her feet with a horrified face.

“Do you mean to tell me that you will not protect me from that wretch?” she panted wildly.

“I should have no right to interfere between man and wife.”

“But you would take the right—you would defend me?” breathlessly.

“No!” Mrs. Howard answered icily, and that refusal seemed to open the floodgates of despair upon the wretched girl.

She fell back into her seat, crying out that the blackest hour of a wretched life had come.

Mrs. Howard looked on, perplexed, appalled. What was to be the end of all this?

[Pg 213]

She had not anticipated rebellion on the part of Fair against her husband, and she could not understand it, save on the score of what she had asserted just now—her love for Bayard Lorraine.

“She must forget it. There is nothing in it now but dishonor for all concerned, and unless she returns to her husband there will be some new tragedy enacted,” she thought, in terror; so she determined to take Prince Gonzaga’s part against his willful wife.

“Your husband is desperate, Fair. Unless you yield him perfect obedience hereafter, you will never have any more peace or security,” she said, taking advantage of a momentary silence on the girl’s part to speak.

Fair did not answer for several minutes. Her face was buried in her hands, and she remained perfectly silent for an interval, after which she lifted up her head, and said sadly:

“I yield! Tell Prince Gonzaga that I will grant him an interview here one hour from now.”

[Pg 214]


Mrs. Howard went away, relieved, yet contemptuous.

“It was an easy victory, after all,” she told Prince Gonzaga. “She made a show of resistance that seemed genuine at first, but at the last I saw plainly that it was all for effect. She will receive you in one hour in her room.”

His brilliant black eyes flashed with triumph.

“I told you so!” he said coolly, and she could not help sighing at this confirmation of the mercenary spirit of the girl she had loved so dearly and believed so good and true.

The prince was jubilant. He thanked her eloquently for espousing his cause, and expressed a hope that the old friendship between herself and his wife might always continue.

But Mrs. Howard was one of those truly good women who are unconsciously hard toward the erring, and call that hardness by the name of justice. Fair’s deceit had so outraged her that she felt no wish to be her friend any more.

[Pg 215]

So she shook her head, and replied frankly:

“I am not as noble in mind as you seem to be, Prince Gonzaga. I cannot forgive your wife for the way she tricked and deceived me into being her friend. When I leave your villa, which I will do as soon as Bayard Lorraine is able to be moved, my acquaintance with Princess Gonzaga will be forever at an end.”

He bowed, and expressed some polite regret, but in his heart he was not sorry.

“She will be more easily won when she realizes that she has not a friend left but me,” he thought, in triumph, and gave himself up to unrestrained joy at the victory he had won over the girl whom he loved in spite of his belief that she was mercenary and heartless.

“It was an easy victory,” he repeated sarcastically, as Mrs. Howard had done, and he waited impatiently for the hour of his probation to pass.

“Vain little beauty, she is making herself beautiful for her prince,” he thought egotistically, adding moodily: “How I hate and love her in the same breath, the mercenary little wretch!”

But they would not have felt so sanguine if they could have seen what was transpiring in the[Pg 216] room where the hapless Fair had been left alone with her sympathizing maid.

As soon as Mrs. Howard left the room, Fair turned eagerly to Betty.

“Betty, you are my good friend,” she exclaimed eagerly. “Now, you must help me to escape from here. I will not see that man! I will not live with him! I would die first!”

“Lauk, ma’am, don’t you want to be a real live princess?” exclaimed the maid.

“No! I hate that man as I hate a deadly serpent, and, since I have no friends here to protect me against him, I shall run away. You must help me, for I have no one else to turn to in my trouble. If Bayard Lorraine were well, I believe that he would pity me and defend me. But he is dying, I fear, and I will never consent to live with the man that murdered him.”

And in low and rapid tones she confided her plans to the maid, who left the room immediately after, to follow out her instructions.

Fair threw herself into a chair before her desk and wrote two hasty notes:

Prince Gonzaga: I have fled from you again, and pursuit will be utterly useless, for, should I ever find myself[Pg 217] in your power again, I would at once and most unhesitatingly take my own life rather than endure your hated love. You carried a bullet for my heart two years, you say, and I in turn have carried a dagger that longs for my own breast in case all other means of escape fail. Be generous, and let me live my poor life hereafter unmolested by the man who murdered my mother and my lover, and to whom I owe all the misfortunes of my life.

In despair and desperation.

Fairfax Fielding.

On another sheet she wrote:

Darling Mrs. Howard: I have fled in despair from the man I hate and fear, and throw myself on the mercy of Heaven. If my darling ever recovers, do not let him hate my memory. Ask him to pity me at least, for my love for him has been my fate. May Heaven bless you for all that you have been to me in the past two years, my noble benefactress. Yours in love and sorrow,

Fairfax Fielding.

Betty returned as she finished sealing and addressing the two notes, and then she said:

“My dear girl, please pack one change of clothing into a little hand satchel for me, and put in the little case with my diamond jewelry. Perhaps I ought not to take Mrs. Howard’s gifts, since she hates me now, but I am poor and friendless, and I must sell them to get away from Italy. As for you, my good little friend, take this ring[Pg 218] for my sake,” and she drew a solitaire diamond from her finger and held it out, but the good girl refused it.

“It is too costly, and you will need it to buy bread some day, perhaps,” she said, with tears in her honest eyes. “But I will take that little turquois lace pin, if you please, to remember you by.”

Fair gladly gave her the pretty trifle she desired, then she hurriedly dressed herself in the things Betty had just brought—a plain brown cashmere dress, small poke bonnet, and thick veil. Betty often wore this costume on little errands for her mistress, and as both were of about the same size, they made an excellent disguise for Fair, who kissed Betty gratefully, drew the thick veil closely over her face, took the little satchel in her gloved hand, and stepped boldly out into the hall.

It lacked ten minutes yet of the time accorded Prince Gonzaga for the interview with his wife.

Betty opened the door to him presently, with a frightened face, and gravely presented the two notes.

[Pg 219]


Three weeks passed before Bayard Lorraine knew of the flight of Fair from the villa.

For more than two weeks he had been critically ill, and it required all the strength of a superb constitution, combined with the best medical skill and nursing, to bring him through the terrible ordeal that had followed upon the shock of that night when Fair had made the bitter confession that she was Prince Gonzaga’s wife.

For a time in the delirium of fever he had entirely forgotten the past, but after two weeks he began to grow slowly better, and then memory returned with all its bitter pain.

Mrs. Howard was at his bedside daily, although she was far from looking well herself. The events of the last month had told severely on her health, and she grew more pale and delicate-looking daily, while her harassing cough had returned with almost the same severity that characterized it in foggy London.

[Pg 220]

When Bayard first revived to full consciousness and found her sitting by his side, he tried to question her about Fair, but she gravely tabooed the subject.

“Doctor Gavinzel left strict orders that you must not talk, nor be talked to, on exciting subjects,” she said, and for a week longer he was forced to endure the suspense and bitterness of not knowing the fate of the girl for whose sake he was lying here so ill, with only bitter memories as his reward for having saved her life.

He wondered often if she had become reconciled to her husband and gone away with him.

“He is rich and titled now. He has all that she married him to gain, so she would not have any excuse for persisting in her separation,” he thought, with inexpressible pain.

But in spite of his wearying thoughts, his health improved daily, and one day, when he had been lying quite still for a long time, he suddenly raised his blue eyes to Mrs. Howard, and said:

“How still and quiet it seems at the villa now. As I lie here dozing and dreaming day by day, I seldom hear a sound. Have they all gone away?”

[Pg 221]

Last night Doctor Gavinzel had told her that his patient was strong enough to hear all she had to tell him, and at this question she resolved to tell him everything.

But at first she answered him evasively:

“The Fraynes went away more than two weeks ago. We all thought it best, as the doctors desired to keep you very quiet.”


His voice faltered over the familiar name. She averted her eyes, that she might not see his emotion, and answered gently:

“She is gone, too.”

He sighed faintly, and asked:

“How long?”

“Three weeks. Ever since the day after you were wounded.”

He could not ask another question. She had gone with her husband, of course. What did she care if she left him dying—him, whom she had confessed to love! Pshaw! It had been nothing but clever acting. She wished to marry a rich man, that was all, and as things had turned out she was best suited perhaps to have a title added to the wealth. Princess Gonzaga! It had a lofty[Pg 222] sound. What a rise it was for the poor sewing girl!

Mrs. Howard read what was passing in his mind, and said:

“Prince Gonzaga is gone, too.”

“Of course!” he answered, with a sneer he could not repress, and again she read his bitter thought, and answered it:

“But they did not go together, Bayard. You will not understand it. Neither did I, but Fair absolutely refused to have anything to say to her husband. She never saw him again.”

And as briefly as she could, she told him the story of the day after the interrupted wedding, of the stand she had taken against Fair, and of her successful flight from the villa.

Bayard Lorraine looked at Mrs. Howard in angry wonder.

“She hated and feared the prince—she was not willing to live with him,” he said, “and she begged you to take her part and defend her against his claim? Yet you hardened your heart against her—you tried to drive her into his arms. Oh, Mrs. Howard, how could you do it? How could you be so cruel and so heartless?”

[Pg 223]

She started in surprise, and exclaimed:

“Do you mean that I did wrong in trying to make peace between Fair and the husband she had treated so badly?”

He flushed slightly, but did not hesitate to answer:

“Yes, I mean that. If she hated and feared him, it was not right to force her to live with him.”

“I did not force her. I only washed my hands of the whole matter,” she replied, with natural resentment.

“You refused her your protection, and thus virtually gave her over into a bad man’s power. Yes, he must have been a bad man, or, ambitious as she was, she would not have refused all that he was able to bestow upon her. Mrs. Howard, what if that poor girl has been misjudged and wronged?”

She started uneasily, but, after a moment’s reflection, answered:

“That could not be. You read the story in a newspaper, and I heard it from him, and both corresponded in detail. She owned it all, confessed to its truth that night, you remember. It[Pg 224] is true, she said something to me afterward about explaining it so that I would take her part, but I would not listen. She could not possibly have said anything to condone her fault.”

“There is some mystery here,” he said thoughtfully. “I wish that you had listened to her story.”

“I wish so, too, if it would have been any comfort to you, Bayard; but I do not think it would have made any difference. It is your love that makes you so lenient to a bad girl,” she answered.

He flushed, and exclaimed:

“Please do not call her that. It may be true, but I cannot think of her that way. Her flight from her husband into a cold and heartless world has softened my heart toward her, and I would give the world to find her and to help her in her sore distress.”

“It would be better for you both if you did not interfere,” she said. “Remember that nothing but her love for you stands between a reconciliation with her husband,” and she flung down before him Fair’s pathetic note, which until now she had resolved not to show him.

He read it with burning eyes and deepening[Pg 225] color, and the sorrowful words, “Ask him to pity me at least, for my love for him has been my fate,” went to his heart.

“You can see how it is,” she said. “She loved you, and she repented her folly when too late. Her awakened conscience would not permit her to go to him while her heart belonged to another. But let her alone, Bayard, and she will forget you and make it up with him. Perhaps, indeed, he has found her ere this.”

“Found her!” he repeated questioningly, and she answered:

“I forgot to mention that he had gone to seek her. He was enraged at her flight, and swore he would find her again, although she wrote him——” She stopped suddenly, as if she had said too much.

“She wrote him—what?” asked Bayard sharply, and, knowing that there could be no evasion now, she repeated the words Fair had written to Prince Gonzaga. In his wrath, he had shown her the note, and the words had burned themselves indelibly on her memory.

A bitter groan burst from his tortured heart, and he exclaimed:

[Pg 226]

“I do not know how to forgive you for your hardness to that persecuted child. Yes, I feel subtly that she was in some way wronged, and that her follies were not all of her own seeking.”

She shook her head incredulously, but he continued vehemently:

“That wretch may not have found her, and driven her to self-destruction. As soon as I can, I will begin a search for her, and if I can persuade some noble woman to stand her friend the law shall free her from her hated fetters.”

She stared at him, aghast.

“You mean you will try to get a divorce for her?” she cried out, in surprise.

“Yes,” he replied, without shrinking from her disapproving gaze.

“And then?” she queried meaningly.

He hesitated a moment, then some defiance of her disapproval made him say boldly:

“Then? If I get at the bottom of the mystery that infolds her, and if I can prove her all that I vaguely believe, I shall make her my wife.”

“You are mad!” she cried, but in the depths of her soul she respected him for his noble faith in the girl he loved, and for his desire to help her[Pg 227] out of her trouble. A vague repentance began to stir at her heart.

“Was I too hard?” she asked herself uneasily, and a memory of the girl’s sweetness, gentleness, and gratitude stole over her with such power that a dimness crept over her eyes.

He looked at her sadly and reproachfully, but she did not speak. She wanted time to think.

“Have you any idea, any suspicion, where she went?” he asked.


“Did she go away penniless?”

“She took one set of jewels—the diamonds I gave her for a wedding gift; but she left all your presents.”

It seemed to him that there was a graceful delicacy in the act.

“She feared I would hate her memory,” he said to himself, and then he closed his eyes and remained silent a long time, communing with his own thoughts.

Very sad and hopeless they were, but the jealous misery had passed from them, also the contempt that had inspired him when he believed that[Pg 228] Fair had gone from the bedside where he lay suffering for her sake straight to the arms of the man who had wounded him.

“She was more noble than I believed, and she loved me, she really loved me. For that love’s sake, I must think kindly of her, must try to help her in her trouble, even though she may never be nearer to me than now.”

Unclosing his eyes, he looked at Mrs. Howard. She was still sitting quietly in her easy-chair, staring into vacancy with troubled eyes. As he stirred, she started and met his glance.

“You think me a fool, or a madman?” he said, blushing slightly.

“No—only rash and imprudent,” she replied.

“Oh, you do not understand,” sighed Bayard Lorraine. He sighed again, and added: “She said that her love for me was her fate, and I cannot doubt but that my love for her is mine. Yes, my heart and soul have been full of her since the first day her beautiful eyes looked into mine. I have never loved any woman but her, and I never shall.”

“Yet it seems to me that long before I ever saw you, Bayard, I read in the New York papers[Pg 229] repeated announcements of your approaching marriage with some society belle,” she remarked.

“Mere newspaper stories, in which there was no truth,” he replied. “I was fancy free until I met Fair Fielding, and, having lost her, I do not believe I can ever love again. Our love was fate, as she said—a most cruel fate it seems now, yet the memory of our once happy love will stay with me forever.”

His impetuous love, his despairing grief touched her very heart. In the light of his words, her repressed love and longing for the girl who had so bitterly deceived her surged again over her heart, and swept away like a rushing river all her resentment and indignation. She held out her hand suddenly to him, saying falteringly:

“Bayard, I am sorry for my hardness to that unhappy girl. Only find her, and I will be the friend you desire for her while you defend her against the man she fears and hates.”

[Pg 230]


In less than a year after Fair’s mysterious disappearance from New York, Waverley Osborne, whose admiration had been the indirect cause of all her trouble, was married to Sadie Allen.

The telegram that had summoned Sadie Allen to the deathbed of her sister in Philadelphia was a fraudulent one, forged by Carl Bernicci, who had resorted to this means to remove from Fair the friend and protector to whom she clung with the desperation of despair.

When she reached Philadelphia and found her sister perfectly well and greatly surprised at her coming, Sadie at once suspected the fraud that had been perpetrated upon her.

“It is the work of Carl Bernicci, or of Belva Platt. They have taken this means to get me away, but I will foil them; I will go back at once to that poor child, whom they hope in this way to get into their power,” she said to her sister, to whom she had hastily related the whole story,[Pg 231] and who, as glad as she was to see Sadie, would not press her to stay, lest harm should befall the fair young girl she had left.

So Sadie, after spending but a few hours in Philadelphia, started back to New York, with her mind full of misgivings and fears.

“I have been away from her one whole night, and it will be night again before I reach New York. Oh, may Heaven protect that poor girl until I get back to her side!” she thought anxiously.

It was night, indeed, when she reached the great city, and a heavy thunderstorm was in progress. One moment the lightning flashed and made everything clear as noonday, the next the thunder’s peal and the downpour of torrents of rain made the scene one of Cimmerian darkness.

Poor Sadie, without either waterproof cloak, gossamer, or umbrella, took her little satchel and stepped out into the rainy night amid the bawling troop of cabmen, intent on making her way to the nearest street car.

She had not enough money to pay for a cab, or she would certainly have taken one, and saved[Pg 232] herself a drenching, for in a minute her light summer dress was soaking wet.

But she did not have time to think of her dress, for in another moment, as she struggled through the crowd, she felt a hand at her elbow, and she tripped and fell over a booted foot thrust out before her. Before she could recover her balance, the hand at her elbow thrust a heavy shawl over her head, smothering her shrieks of terror, and she was quickly lifted by a pair of strong arms and borne to a cab that was waiting close by.

She was flung upon the cushions, the door banged to, and then the vehicle set off rapidly, while Sadie was immediately placed under the influence of a drug that stupefied her senses for the time being, and when she awoke, the next morning, she was a prisoner in a little, low, shabby hut near the river, she judged, from what she could see through the dirty panes of a small window in her second-story room.

An old woman came up presently and unlocked the door long enough to present her with some bread and water for her breakfast. To Sadie’s angry questions, she replied coolly that she was to[Pg 233] be her prisoner until Carl Bernicci had brought his wife to her senses.

“When she quits her foolin’ and goes home to her husband, like a dacent wife, then you’ll git out, and not afore!” said the crone sharply, as she locked the door on the outside, heedless of Sadie’s alternate threats and entreaties.

A long and weary week went by, during which poor Sadie remained a close prisoner in the miserable little hut, closely guarded by the cross old woman whom Sadie concluded must follow the trade of laundress, judging by the continual smell of soapsuds that came up through the cracks in the bare floor.

During that time she had made daily efforts to escape, but the old woman was too sharp for her, and when Sadie threatened, in desperation, to throw herself from the window, she placed iron bars across it.

Immured in the narrow room, Sadie proceeded to make it as airy as possible by breaking all the panes in the window. Through the apertures thus made, she could look down upon an unpaved street, along which there were few passers-by, and these of so rough a looking aspect that her[Pg 234] momentary temptations to call down to them for assistance did not last long.

“No doubt all the inhabitants of the place are in collusion with the old woman,” she thought despairingly.

One day, when she had been imprisoned on bread and water for a week and a half, she heard voices in the room beneath. One belonged to the old woman, and the other was a masculine voice with a strangely familiar sound.

Sadie started and listened intently, for that voice seemed to carry her mind back to the shroud factory with vivid power.

But still she could not remember to whom the voice belonged, although a wild hope came over her that perhaps some of her friends were searching for her—a wild hope speedily dissipated, for when she laid down upon the floor and placed her ear at a gaping crack she discovered that the conversation, which began to grow loud and threatening, related to the larceny of sundry shirts and collars.

“You failed to bring the right number last week, and this week it is the same, so I determined to come myself and to force you to give up the[Pg 235] missing things, for I will not be robbed in this wholesale fashion,” said the voice; and then Sadie’s hopes fell into ashes.

“It is only one of her customers whom she has robbed of his shirts,” she decided.

But so keen was her curiosity over the owner of the familiar voice that she stationed herself at the window, hoping to see him emerge from the house.

She was not disappointed, for presently the furious war of words below came to an end, and a man stepped out into the street with a bundle under his arm—the missing shirts, which the dishonest washerwoman had yielded up on being threatened with arrest.

Sadie Allen screamed with joy and pounded furiously on the window to attract the man’s attention.

It was Waverley Osborne, the young clerk who had been in love with Fairfax Fielding, and for whose sake Belva Platt had plotted such a wicked revenge on the innocent girl.

The young man looked up at the noise above his head, and quickly recognized the face of the[Pg 236] good-natured girl whom he had seen so often at the factory.

“Good gracious, Miss Allen, what are you doing here?” he exclaimed, and she answered:

“I am a prisoner, Mr. Osborne. Oh, please, please make that wicked old woman downstairs release me, and I will bless you forever.”

“All right,” replied the young man heartily, and he instantly darted into the house again.

A furious altercation ensued, but the end of it was that Waverley Osborne burst open the door of Sadie’s prison and took her away with him in triumph, although the old woman fought, scratched, bit, and tore like a hyena in the effort to keep her prisoner. The young man was more than a match for her, however, and got away in triumph with Sadie.

“Oh, how brave and good you are, Mr. Osborne! I can never cease to thank you for this timely rescue,” cried Sadie gratefully, and somehow the romance of the occasion led each to take an interest in each other. Sadie wondered in secret how Fair Fielding could have been so indifferent to so brave and good-looking a young man, and Waverley thought it was strange that he had[Pg 237] never noticed before how pleasant a girl Sadie Allen was—not pretty, but he was rather disgusted with beauty, anyway. He had found out that Belva Platt blondined her hair and painted her cheeks and lips. When he had turned in disgust from these false charms to Fair Fielding, the latter’s scornful airs and ambitious views had thrown cold water on his budding hopes. Truly he had reason to conceive an antipathy to beauty.

So Sadie caught his heart in the rebound, and as she won it by force of honest merit, not meretricious charms, she was able to hold and keep it. In a very few months the courtship that had begun on the day when he opened her prison door ended in a happy and suitable marriage. Belva Platt was furious with jealous rage, but she had become so unpopular at the factory since her wicked revenge upon Fair Fielding that she dared not vent her anger in anything but spiteful speeches, and in ignoring the bride and groom. She had lost him forever, and not one of the working girls but exulted in her defeat.

The married pair went to housekeeping on a simple scale, and each kept on with their factory work. Sadie learned that the old woman who[Pg 238] had kept her imprisoned was the grandmother of Belva Platt. They made no effort to have any of the parties punished for Sadie’s imprisonment, for it was rumored that Carl Bernicci had drowned himself in despair at his wife’s strange disappearance.

[Pg 239]


Sadie worked on at the factory for a year after her marriage; then she had to give up her machine and stay at home.

Heaven had sent her a bouncing boy baby, and it required the most of her time to tend the house and the child. Waverley Osborne was in receipt of a fair salary, too, and declared that there was no longer any good reason for his wife to go out to work.

The precious boy was more than a year old when Waverley Osborne came home one evening and told her that the factory had had quite a sensation that day.

“Carl Bernicci turned up alive after everybody had been thinking he was dead for two years,” he said. “He was looking for his wife, and he told the girls the strangest story you ever heard, Sadie.”

“Some lie, no doubt, like all the rest of his tales,” exclaimed Sadie Osborne indignantly, for[Pg 240] her anger against the Italian began to revive afresh at hearing that he was alive.

“No; I think this was actual truth,” said Waverley Osborne, and he told his wife that the Italian was now rich and great, and had the title of a prince in his own country.

“Well, perhaps that is true,” said Sadie, “for I remember now that people said his father, the lazy old organ grinder, was a prince when in Italy. But what was he looking for his wife for? Didn’t he know”—she paused, and her kind eyes filled with tears, as they always did when she thought of the dreadful story that she had heard about Fair.

“He had heard that dreadful scandal, of course, and that was what made him try to drown himself,” said Waverley Osborne. “But, Sadie, I knew you will be glad to hear this: She never threw herself away, as people said. He has found out all that happened after she disappeared,” and he told in voluble language the story of Fair’s adoption by Mrs. Howard, and her life abroad up to the hour of her interrupted marriage with Bayard Lorraine.

“But she’s gone away now. Run away the[Pg 241] very next day, and that was six months ago; but the prince has not found her yet, although he has run all over Europe after her, and now back to America,” he said.

Sadie’s tears were falling very fast now. The sunny locks of the child in her lap were quite wet with them.

“Why are you crying?” Waverley demanded.

“For joy and sorrow both.”

“Well, I don’t think he will ever find her, but still I wonder why she wouldn’t make up with him after he got rich?” Waverley Osborne answered thoughtfully, and then his wife thought the time had come for an explanation.

“Fair Fielding loved another man—that was why, and she never would have married that wretch, only for her mother’s sake. Now Mrs. Fielding is dead and gone, Fair has only herself to please, and she wouldn’t live with Carl Bernicci, not if he was a king,” she said, quoting from Fair’s journal, which she had read and wept over many times.

Prince Gonzaga did not leave New York immediately. He suspected that his runaway wife was in hiding there, and he stayed on for several[Pg 242] months. The working girls at the factory kept up to some extent with his movements, and they declared that he had a private detective in his pay.

Fair had not been discovered when autumn came around again, making almost a year since Bayard Lorraine had wooed her in the flowery garden of Prince Gonzaga’s villa in sunny Italy. Her fate was a profound mystery.

Meanwhile the prince enjoyed himself as much as was possible under the circumstances to one of his moody, jealous temperament. He got introduced into fashionable society, and became quite a lion. Among these people, his story was not known, although it was so familiar to the working classes, and there were many fair ones who vied with each other to win his smiles. But the Fraynes came back from abroad at last, and when they found him in New York the whole story leaked out. Then the papers were filled with it, to the bitter chagrin of Bayard Lorraine, who just then came back from Europe and found himself and his sad story the theme of the newspapers and society.

His quest for Fair had failed as utterly as that[Pg 243] of Prince Gonzaga, and now he had crossed the ocean to pursue the search. Mrs. Howard came with him. She was fast failing in health, and said sadly that she was going home to die.

It looked like it, for day by day she seemed to fade more rapidly. Bayard Lorraine came most punctually every day to see her, and one day she said to him wistfully:

“I would give much to see one of those working girls who were Fair’s companions when she was a sewing girl in New York. I should like to hear something of her history in her sorrowful girlish days.”

“I have found out where she worked. I will try to bring one of her girl friends to see you, if you wish,” he replied; and that was how it came about that Bayard Lorraine went one day to the factory and made known Mrs. Howard’s request.

Mrs. Jones, the sensible forewoman, was still there, and she told Mr. Lorraine that Fair had been more intimate with Sadie Allen than any one else. She was married now, but she could give him her address.

[Pg 244]


So Sadie Allen was at last face to face with Bayard Lorraine, the hero of her friend’s sad love story.

“And no wonder she worshiped him, for he looks much more like a prince than that wicked Carl Bernicci,” she said to herself, as she handed Bayard the best chair in her little front room, the while she made up her mind to tell him Fair’s sad story as it really was, and as no one knew it but herself.

He found himself almost moved to tears before she finished her eloquent recital. All the faults of the weak, ambitious mother were dragged to the light.

“It was all her fault. She would not have let her daughter refuse that man if she had wished, for she had brought her up from the very beginning to marry rich if she could,” she said, and at last he began to see light upon Fair’s dark past.

[Pg 245]

But it was only when she gave him the journal, the confidant of Fair’s girlish thoughts and hopes and fears, that he fully realized everything.

It did not seem to him that he was doing wrong to read it. He who had loved her so well was longing to know her better, and to exonerate her, if possible, from all the fault that lay at her door. Who could tell him half so much as the book on whose pages her tortured girlish heart was laid bare?

So while Sadie stooped to caress the toddling boy at her knee, he opened the pages at random, and here and there read words that went to his heart.

Prince or king, it would matter nothing, I should hate him still, for I know now too well that it was not for his own sake, nor even for his boasted gold I accepted him, but only that through him I might meet again my hero, Bayard Lorraine. It was wrong for me to marry him with such thoughts in my heart, and Heaven has punished me for my sin, but I was young and ignorant. They dazzled me by their promises, and I thought I could tolerate George Lorraine for the sake of what he could bestow on me!

He looked up at Sadie caressing her little child, and she saw that his eyes were wet.

[Pg 246]

“You will let me take this with me, Mrs. Osborne?”

“Certainly, sir. I expect you have more right to it than I have, for it all seems to be about you,” she answered.

“And you will come with me to see Mrs. Howard?”

She hesitated a moment, then said that she would leave little Charley with a neighbor and get ready to go at once.

It seemed strange to our simple Sadie to be riding in a motor car by the side of Bayard Lorraine, and it seemed stranger yet to be going into that grand Fifth Avenue mansion; but Mrs. Howard speedily made her feel at home, for, grasping her hand warmly, she exclaimed at once:

“You were my poor girl’s friend, and I bid you welcome with all my heart.”

Then Sadie had to go over the whole story again.

“Although her journal, which I gave to Mr. Lorraine, will tell you more than I can,” she said.

Mrs. Howard wept when she heard the story of Fair’s injudicious training by her weak-minded, ambitious mother.

[Pg 247]

“Poor little one, poor little one! She never said one word. She was most loyal to her mother, and took all the blame herself, while I was so hard upon her and believed her utterly base!” she exclaimed, with poignant remorse, and she felt that she would have given the whole world, had it been hers, to find the missing girl.

Fair was thoroughly vindicated, her trials and temptations all understood, and she herself loved more than ever. But where was she?

[Pg 248]


By the help of her maid, Fair had found a temporary refuge in London with Betty’s parents. The sale of her diamonds at a price much below their real value had enabled her to pay her board and remain in close hiding until the search for her in England had blown over.

Betty, having lost her situation at the villa by the flight of Fair, soon came home, too, and not a day too early, for she had to nurse Fair through a long spell of fever, in which she very nearly lost the life that had now become so valueless and dreary that she regretted that she did not die.

When she began to convalesce, she found that five months had elapsed since she fled from the villa. Her stock of money began to run low, and she knew that she would have to go to work to earn her daily bread.

Her thoughts turned to Sadie Allen and the factory where she had worked for years, and a sudden resolve came to her.

[Pg 249]

“I will go back. Carl Bernicci would not think of going to New York to look for me.”

The idea of any one else looking for her never occurred to her mind.

Mrs. Howard had flung her out of her heart and care as a disgraced, unworthy creature, and Bayard Lorraine was perhaps dead by now—dead by the hand of the man who claimed her as his wife, she thought, with a violent shudder.

Yes, no one would search for her but the man whose love had been her fate. He would pursue her with a love more unrelenting than hate, and all her life she would have to evade him.

“I shall never dare to venture abroad without a disguise again,” she thought anxiously, and when she sailed, a few weeks later, for America, she went as a steerage passenger, an ignorant Irish girl, going to New York to marry her lover, an Irish hod-carrier, who had left the old country two years before, and was rich enough now to send money to his sweetheart to follow him.

But when she applied at the factory for work, the Irish girl had disappeared, and she was Widow Karrick, an Englishwoman, who dropped her h’s persistently and wore blue glasses over[Pg 250] her brown eyes, and a little cap, in the English fashion, over a mop of thick black hair, in which there were many streaks of gray.

She was dressed in rusty black, ill-made and ill-fitting, and was altogether so shabby and ordinary-looking that very few noticed what pretty features she had, as a dark, muddy complexion obscured their beauty.

She was given a machine, and Mrs. Jones found that she was a good worker. Beyond that she never took much notice of Mrs. Karrick, for, as she said to her husband, when discussing the new hand, “foreigners were never to her taste.”

Months came and went, and Fair, in her character of Widow Karrick, worked on patiently and without molestation or recognition, among the very companions she had dwelt among for years.

“They have forgotten my very name and existence,” she thought bitterly, for in all those months no one ever recalled the past, or mentioned her name. It had been so long ago that new interests absorbed the working girls.

But their forgetfulness did not wound her half so much as the fact that she had been disappointed in finding her old friend, Sadie Allen.

[Pg 251]

She had expected that Sadie would be working still at the machine next her own, but she was mistaken. The kind, homely face of her friend never made its appearance in the workrooms again, and she dared not make any inquiries.

“Perhaps she never came back from Philadelphia,” she thought. “Perhaps her sister died, and she had to remain there and take care of her little orphan children.”

This belief seemed so plausible that she began at last to accept it as the correct view. It never occurred to her that Sadie could be married. To her knowledge, the girl had never had a beau. Young men did not care for her because her face was so plain.

So gradually Fair gave up the hope of finding Sadie again. She saw that Waverley Osborne, her old admirer, whom she had snubbed so cruelly, was still a clerk in the warerooms under the factory, but she did not dream that he could have led her straight to Sadie, who was now his wife.

In all her life, she would never forget the sick horror of that day when Prince Gonzaga came to the factory to search for her. She believed that somehow she had been betrayed, and that[Pg 252] now, after all her struggles, she was about to fall into the spider’s net. It was with difficulty that she repressed a cry of despair and bowed her head over her machine, expecting every moment that a heavy hand would fall upon her shoulder and a triumphant voice exclaim: “I have found you at last!”

But little by little, her fear wore off. There was nothing about the shabby little widow, in her rusty black dress and disfiguring cap, to suggest beautiful, dainty Fairfax Fielding. He had only come to inquire if she was there, and after he had told his story to the forewoman he went away and left her undiscovered and jubilant at her narrow escape.

Then, indeed, Fair heard her own name enough, for the girls talked nothing else for many days but Prince Gonzaga and his missing bride, and they declared that it was the strangest thing in the world that she should hide herself from him now that he was so rich and grand.

But Mrs. Jones always took her part.

“I think Fair was quite right in running away, for there is no doubt that he frightened poor, foolish Mrs. Fielding to death,” she said.

[Pg 253]

The months wore on, and Fair began to feel easy again, although she knew that Prince Gonzaga was yet in New York.

She heard the rumor among the working girls that he had a private detective in his employ, but she did not credit the story. She believed it was simply gossip, for she had found out through the daily papers that he was quite a favorite in society, and she hoped that he would forget her amid the fascinations of the world.

There was one thing that she noticed, and for which she found it easy to account in her own mind:

Belva Platt, since the prince’s appearance at the factory, had blossomed out in new finery and jewelry, whose value was so far above her wages that it created much unpleasant gossip among her companions, the honest working girls.

Belva did not care for their gossip. In fact, she enjoyed it. She liked to flaunt her silk dress and diamond earrings in the face of Waverley Osborne, whom she hated now with all the venom of a mean nature.

“I’ve a rich beau. He gives me all these things,[Pg 254] and he is going to marry me soon,” she said boastingly to Mrs. Jones, who answered coldly:

“I hope he will, for such things are not becoming to a working girl.”

Belva tossed her head, and declared, in an audible aside to her best friend, that it was all envy. Anybody had a right to wear fine things who could get them.

Fair did not believe the story of the rich beau. She remembered that Belva Platt had had some sort of power over Carl Bernicci that enabled her to make him a tool when she chose, and she guessed now that the wicked girl was levying blackmail upon Prince Gonzaga.

Her suspicion was true. Belva was indeed extorting hush money from the prince, in whose past life there was a secret to which she held the key. Indeed, her ambition had taken such a turn that she hinted to him that it would be politic for him to obtain a divorce from his runaway wife and marry her, in order to be sure that his secret should remain untold.

“How I should like to be the Princess Gonzaga, rich and grand, and look down upon Waverley Osborne and his ugly wife!” she thought longingly,[Pg 255] little dreaming that the real Princess Gonzaga was but a few feet away from her, earning her daily bread by her labor at the sewing machine, and preferring that life to one of gilded splendor as a prince’s bride.

The day came at last when all of Fair’s peace was to be broken up and her heart racked anew by the mingled joy and misery of that love which she had said so often had been her fate.

She had believed for many months that Bayard Lorraine was dead, when one day he suddenly made his appearance in the workroom, startling her so that she nearly betrayed herself by a wild shriek, but she remembered herself just in time to pretend to her next neighbor that she had pierced her thumb with a machine needle.

Watching her lost love with adoring eyes, whose expression was hidden behind the disfiguring blue glasses, she heard all his questions and Mrs. Jones’ replies, and so found out that Sadie Allen was the wife of Waverley Osborne. She also heard Sadie’s address, and resolved that she would call upon her old friend and find out what Bayard Lorraine wanted.

“My darling—how kindly he speaks of me!”[Pg 256] she thought, with a thrill of rapture. “Ah, he does not believe me wholly wicked. I always felt that he would pity me and take my part if he knew all.”

When she left the factory that afternoon, she found that she was followed by a strange man, and trembled as she remembered the gossip about Prince Gonzaga’s private detective.

[Pg 257]


Fair reached her humble lodgings unmolested, although she could not shake off from her mind the haunting dread of the strange man who had, as she was sure, followed her home, and whom she foreboded must be the detective employed by Prince Gonzaga, although heretofore she had doubted his existence.

“He is on my track. He has perhaps penetrated my disguise. Oh, what shall I do now?” she thought, in wild alarm, as she closed and locked the door and sat down to think.

Knowing her husband as well as she did, she knew he would pursue her unrelentingly if he became aware of her whereabouts. At any moment he might break in upon her solitude and claim her for his wife, defying the whole world to wrest her from him.

She grew sick with fear and terror, and began to think wildly of escape.

“If I could only get to my old friend Sadie,[Pg 258] she would help me to elude him,” she murmured, as she paced wildly up and down the room. “But no doubt this house is watched, and were I to go out I might be caught in his trap at once. Oh!”

A clever thought had come to her all at once.

She might disguise herself as a boy, and so venture into the street and seek the home of Sadie.

In her trunk was a boy’s suit, which she had bought in England when the thought of assuming a disguise first occurred to her; afterward she had decided not to use it, fearing she might be detected and arrested.

But now, in her fear of Prince Gonzaga, she determined to run the risk of the boy’s apparel, and very soon Widow Karrick’s costume lay upon the floor, and a youth with curly black hair, a mustache, and cane, stood before the mirror, topping off the checked suit with a very English-looking hat.

Peering from the window, she saw that the friendly mask of night was beginning to fall, and she flitted down the stairs to the street, stepping out with a bold stride that belied the frightened throbbing of her heart.

[Pg 259]

If the man was still watching, he was deceived by the youthful, boyish figure, and paid no heed to it, so Fair walked very fast until she believed herself safe, then took a taxicab, in which she accomplished the remainder of her journey to the address which Mrs. Jones had given Bayard Lorraine as the home of Sadie Allen, or Mrs. Osborne, as she was now.

She felt a little nervous over the thought of Sadie’s husband, who had once been her own admirer, and who might very likely not feel very kindly disposed toward the girl who had snubbed him so cruelly.

“I must rely on Sadie to make my peace with him,” she thought, as she went up the steps of the house where Waverley Osborne had rented several rooms over a small grocery store.

The grocer had told her where to go, and added that Mrs. Osborne was in, but her husband had just gone out to a workingmen’s meeting.

“So much the better. I shall have dear Sadie all to myself at first,” thought Fair.

She rapped loudly on the door of Sadie’s sitting room, and in a minute more it was opened by her friend in person.

[Pg 260]

“I wish to see Mrs. Osborne, madam. I have a message for her from a lady,” said Fair, and Sadie invited her into the neat sitting room, where her little boy was toddling about the floor with a pet kitten in his arms.

“Take a seat, sir,” Sadie began politely, then stopped and stared.

Her visitor had pulled off a mustache and a black wig at one and the same moment, revealing a girl’s fair face crowned with short curls of shining red-gold hair.

“Darling Sadie, don’t you know your poor little Fair?” cried out a familiar voice.

When Waverley Osborne came home that night it was quite late, but he found Sadie sitting up for him, with supper ready. Her eyes were shining brightly, and her whole appearance was indicative of suppressed excitement.

“What is it, my dear?” the young husband asked, smiling, and then the whole story came out. She had found Fair—or, rather, Fair had found her.

“Only think of her passing you every day, and your not knowing her!” she exclaimed.

[Pg 261]

“That could not have been!” he replied. “I should have known Fairfax Fielding anywhere.”

“Then why didn’t you tell me that she was at the factory at work?” demanded Mrs. Osborne saucily.

“Because she was not there!” he replied positively.

“Then you never saw Widow Karrick?” she laughed.

He started, and gazed at her in wonder as he exclaimed:

“That rusty little English widow? Impossible!”

“Not at all!” cried Sadie, enjoying his surprise very much.

And as she filled his cup again, she added:

“If you had seen a very handsome young man calling on me this evening after you went away, you would have said ‘impossible’ then; but you would have been mistaken, for Widow Karrick was Fair Fielding, and the handsome young man was Fair Fielding. What have you to say to that, sir?”

And after she had enjoyed his astonishment[Pg 262] long enough, she told him without reserve the whole of Fair’s story as she had just heard it from the lips of her friend.

She ended by saying:

“She came to me in her trouble, although she is half afraid to meet you, Waverley, on account of old times, when she was rather rude to you, you know. But I don’t think you bear her any grudge, do you?”

“Bless her, no!” cried Waverley Osborne heartily, although his face flushed slightly as he thought of the days when Fair’s bewitching beauty had made of him such a simpleton.

“I’m glad you don’t,” said his wife, “because we are her only friends, she says, and I’ve kept her with me. She has the little spare room that I fixed in case my sister should ever visit me.”

“She’s welcome to it,” said Waverley Osborne heartily. He was so fond of his good-hearted, sensible little wife that the last resentment against beautiful Fair had died long ago. Sadie had saved all the money Fair had sent to her from Italy, in care of the factory owners, and now Fair could have that money to live on.

[Pg 263]

“She is very lucky that she does not have to go back to the factory,” said Osborne. “Do you know, I’m thinking of quitting there myself?”

“But why?” exclaimed his wife, in wonder.

“Only for this reason: The building was condemned by an inspector this week, and the firm has been notified to quit the house. They purpose to do so next week, and have already negotiated for another building. But in the meantime every man or woman who enters that house takes their life in their hand, for who knows at what moment the old and unsafe structure may give way and fall?”

Sadie shuddered and clung to him, entreating him not to return to the doomed building.

“I should not know one peaceful moment if you went back,” she declared.

“I should not have told you; I did not mean to tell you,” said her husband.

“It was my right to know,” Sadie answered, adding anxiously: “You will not go back, Waverley? To-morrow you will write a note and ask to be excused from service until after they move to the new building.”

[Pg 264]

He was silent a moment, as if weighing her words, then said:

“That is a good idea, Sadie—that of excusing myself, I mean. But, on the whole, I do not think I will send a note. I will just call around there in the morning and see the boss. I can explain more fully, and perhaps get leave without giving offense. I do not wish to lose my place, you know. It is a good one, and the salary is fair.”

“But I would rather you would send the note. I cannot bear the idea of your ever stepping over that threshold again,” exclaimed Sadie fearfully.

Manlike, he laughed at her womanly fears.

“I must go, for I do not like to lose my place, but I shall not stay more than ten minutes,” he said.

“Mind, Waverley, that you don’t let slip a word about Fair being here, for no one is to know,” admonished Sadie.

“Not even Mrs. Howard?” he questioned, in surprise.

“No; for Fair thinks it is better so. She declares she will not drag that good woman into her trouble with that wretch.”

“And Bayard Lorraine?”

[Pg 265]

“He is not to know, either. Fair thinks there is no need. She declared that she will leave New York soon and go South or West, and that next time she will hide herself so cleverly that no detective can get upon her track again.”

[Pg 266]


In the morning, when Fair made her appearance at breakfast in one of her friend’s dresses, Mr. Osborne thought she was more beautiful than ever; but he did not give utterance to the thought, for he feared that she might be thinking already of the vengeance Belva Platt had taken on her because of his admiration. He greeted her kindly and cordially, as if she had been an old friend, and placed her at once at her ease.

“I hope you will make this your home as long as you feel safe, for Sadie will be only too happy to have you here,” he assured her, and his cordial kindness made Fair feel quite remorseful over the treatment he had received from herself and mother.

“I hope he has quite forgotten it all by now. At least, I know he does not regret it, for my dear friend Sadie makes him the best wife in the world,” she decided, as she observed the fond glances that passed between the wedded pair.

[Pg 267]

“Oh, how sweet is love, whether in the highest or the lowest walks of life,” she mused sadly, with a weary sigh to the memory of the brief, bright past, in which Bayard Lorraine had made her so happy with his love.

Her eyes grew dim as she remembered all that Sadie had told her last night about her visit to Mrs. Howard that afternoon.

“She is grieved for her hardness to you in Italy, and anxious to atone for it,” Sadie said, and Fair had wept with joy at hearing that her friends had relented.

“As for Mr. Lorraine, he loves you more than ever since he read your journal and heard from me the true story of your trouble,” her friend continued. “He is wild to find you, and declares that it will be easy to secure a divorce for you.”

“As if I would permit him to be mixed up with that miserable affair in any way! No, no! I will go away and hide myself. I will not bring any more trouble upon my friends,” declared the unhappy girl, and it was in vain that Sadie pleaded with her to change her decision.

Fair was thinking over all this now as she trifled with her breakfast, pretending to eat, but[Pg 268] in reality scarcely touching a morsel, and she paid but little attention to the subject the husband and wife were discussing—the bad condition of the condemned factory.

But presently Sadie put on her bonnet, and Waverley took his hat and his wife’s market basket.

“Now, dear Fair,” said her friend, “if you don’t mind staying alone with baby a little while, I will go along to market as Waverley goes to work.”

Fair assured the bright little housewife that baby would be very good company, and she locked the door after the two had gone out, feeling very thankful for this temporary haven from the storm that had threatened to break upon her head only yesterday.

“I foiled the wretch. I got away just in time, and no doubt he thinks me still at my lodgings, unless, indeed, he attempted an interview with me last night,” she told herself, and she was inclined from past experience to believe the latter.

But Prince Gonzaga was more wary now than in those past days, when he had listened to the counsels of Belva Platt. He had not forgotten[Pg 269] the night when he had taken Fair by storm, as it were, and then been chased out of the house by the tenement people. He had no mind to repeat that dismal experience.

It was quite true that the clever detective had identified Mrs. Karrick with Fair, the prince’s missing wife, but no attempt had been made to molest her that night. It was decided that he should go boldly to the factory next morning and claim his wife.

“If you will go with me to the factory first, I will go to market with you as soon as I get excused,” Waverley Osborne said to his wife, when they reached the street.

She agreed to do so, and at that moment Mrs. Jones, the forewoman, came hurrying past the corner, but stopped abruptly at sight of Sadie.

“Oh, my dear, how glad I am to see you! I believe I’m late already, but I must stop and have a little chat with you,” she exclaimed affably.

“Then I’ll go on and be back in ten minutes, dear,” said Waverley Osborne, smiling at his wife and hurrying away, followed by her anxious glance.

It was a beautiful day in December, clear and[Pg 270] cold; but Sadie was warmly wrapped from the weather. In spite of that, she shivered and sighed as she watched Waverley’s tall, erect form hurrying down the square. A horror had been upon her ever since last night, when Waverley had told her of the unsafe condition of the factory.

“Oh, Mrs. Jones, how can you bear to enter that condemned building again? Indeed, it is not safe. I think everybody ought to quit work until they move,” she exclaimed nervously.

A tall form, clad in costly silk and fur, brushed past, going down to the factory. At sight of the two women she stopped, and the cold sunlight flashed on her blondined hair and lighted up her pale-blue eyes that shone with a malevolent light as they rested on Sadie, whom she hated with a jealous fury.

She did not speak, but, tossing her head with a scornful gesture, exclaimed:

“Come, Mrs. Jones, you’ll be late!”

“Oh, Belva, I’ve half a mind not to go. Sadie has made me nervous, talking about the building falling in,” exclaimed Mrs. Jones timorously, and Belva’s face took on such a look of malignant[Pg 271] hate and fury that it frightened the two women, as she retorted, with an evil laugh:

“Fall in, is it? Well, if some that I know should be under the roof, I’d be glad for it to fall, even if it buried me with it!”

She hurried on, and Sadie said, with a shiver:

“She means me; she has hated me ever since Waverley married me.”

“Oh, look—the prince!” exclaimed Mrs. Jones excitedly.

An automobile swung around the corner, and from the window looked the handsome face of Prince Gonzaga. Sadie thought instantly:

“He is going down to the factory after Fair. Thank Heaven, she is safe at my house.”

A hand touched her arm, and she looked up and met the gaze of Bayard Lorraine. He was eager, excited.

“Mrs. Osborne, I have wonderful news!” he exclaimed: “Fair has been working at the factory, disguised as a Mrs. Karrick. Will you come with me to persuade her to come home to Mrs. Howard?”

“How did you get your information?” she inquired,[Pg 272] pretending an excitement equal to his own.

“I paid a thousand dollars for it to a private detective, who claims to have found it out last night. He was in Gonzaga’s employ, but played traitor to him and came first to me with his information,” replied Bayard Lorraine; and Sadie answered:

“He has played traitor to you both, for the prince passed this corner a moment ago in a motor car, on his way to the factory.”

“And I am dallying here!” exclaimed the young author, in a voice of horror.

He rushed wildly toward the factory, and Mrs. Jones exclaimed excitedly:

“Let us follow him! There will be a scene that I would not miss for the world.”

They started on a run, but in a minute their footsteps were arrested by an awful, rumbling sound. The ground shook horribly beneath their feet; there was a deafening roar, an awful crash, clouds of black dust rose into the air, and an awful conviction was forced upon their hearts: The factory had fallen in.

“My husband! Oh, my husband!” shrieked[Pg 273] the stricken wife, and her limbs gave way beneath her. She fell to the pavement like a stone.

“Help, help!” cried Mrs. Jones wildly, and some one came to her assistance—reluctantly, though, for every one wished to rush to the scene of the terrible accident. Sadie was carried into a store, and Mrs. Jones hurriedly explained that the lady’s husband was a clerk in the factory that had just caved in.

“If some one will care for her, I will go and see if he has escaped,” she said, and rushed away to the scene that was too terrible for pen to portray, or tongue to describe.

For the factory had collapsed, and from under the ruins could be heard smothered shrieks of horror and groans of pain from the wounded and dying. In the thick black dust that rose into the air and fell in masses upon the pavement, two men met and recognized each other.

“My Heaven, is it you?” Prince Gonzaga yelled, clutching Bayard Lorraine’s shoulder. “She is in there—do you hear? My wife! Under the wreck and ruin. Come, let us save her life, and she shall belong to the man that finds her in that death trap.”

[Pg 274]

Bayard Lorraine looked into that frenzied face, and realized that Sadie Osborne had spoken the truth. The detective had been a traitor to each and made the most of his discovery. In that moment of horror, his hand went out and met Gonzaga’s in a crushing grasp.

“I am with you to the death to save her life,” he shouted hoarsely; and then they plunged recklessly into the ruins together.

[Pg 275]


A hundred brave hearts followed the two men into the ruins, and in a moment all became wild with excitement. The street was blocked up with a mob that gathered immediately after that deafening crash, and shrieks of terror from frightened women outside mingled with the audible groans of those who had been caught in the fallen building.

Among the crowd upon the pavement, Mrs. Jones, the forewoman, ran wildly up and down, wringing her hands and begging that some one would save Waverley Osborne, whose wife was dying of fear. No one heeded her in the terror and confusion that prevailed among the crowd.

The men worked like beavers, removing the débris from the wreck, but foremost of all went the two men who ventured first, and who worked side by side like friends and brothers in the one purpose that impelled them on.

Prince Gonzaga, whose wild and wicked life[Pg 276] had never until now known a prayer, was mutely supplicating Heaven to give him the happiness of saving that life which he had so relentlessly persecuted and darkened.

“Only let me save her life, and I will go away and never trouble her again,” he murmured over and over, in his horror at the thought that she might perish here in some terrible fashion.

Very soon the victims began to be taken out of the wreck, some wounded, some miraculously unhurt, none dead as yet, until suddenly, as Lorraine and the prince tugged at a monster beam, beneath which shone the gleam of a silken robe, they found that the heavy thing had fallen across a woman. When it was removed, and they drew her from the ruins, the sun shone on a face marred and distorted, yet recognizable still as that of Belva Platt. They laid her down outside, in all her jewels and finery, dead, and Prince Gonzaga muttered bitterly:

“Poor wretch! She will never set another pitfall for a man’s soul.”

Not far from where they had taken her out they heard a despairing groan, but fire had begun[Pg 277] to break out close by from the furnaces, and strong and brave men shrank back, appalled.

The fire engines had come, and soon streams of water began to play upon the flames. Half blinded by smoke and drenched with water, Bayard Lorraine and Prince Gonzaga struggled forward toward those groans, when suddenly Bayard paused and cried hoarsely:

“Stay! It is not she! It is the voice of a man.”

“No matter; let us to the rescue!” the prince exclaimed, and, though horrified voices shouted to them not to venture into that perilous spot, they pressed forward until suddenly Bayard Lorraine fell down, suffocated by the blinding heat and smoke. Then the prince sprang over his fallen body and began to tear away the débris that hid from sight the groaning victim.

They said that no more heroic act had ever been done than that by which Prince Gonzaga saved a human being at the sacrifice of his own life, for, as, with superhuman strength, he flung the heavy timbers from the body of Waverley Osborne, the leaping flames darted forward and licked the clothing from the prince’s person like so much paper. But he bent forward, and, reaching[Pg 278] down his arms, drew out the wounded form of Sadie’s husband from the place where it had been pinioned down, with both arms broken; and then a fresh stream of water damped the flames a moment, so that men could come to his assistance and drag all three from their awful position.

Yes, it was a brave and daring deed. Prince Gonzaga had written himself down a hero, but as he lay in the street, where they had laid him, unconscious but breathing faintly, with his bare flesh scorched in a most pitiable fashion, the physician declared that he had received a mortal hurt in that brave effort, and that he would live but a few hours, or days, at most.

Waverley Osborne, quite conscious, but suffering horribly from his broken arms, saw Bayard Lorraine beside him, just reviving from his temporary unconsciousness; then saw him begin to struggle with those who held him back from darting into the wreck, which had now been abandoned to the devastating flames, as no more cries or groans could be heard coming from it, and it was hoped that all the living ones had been rescued.

“Let me go!” Bayard cried fiercely, angrily.[Pg 279] “She is in there yet! I—I—will rescue her, or perish with her.”

Waverley Osborne understood instantly. Bayard Lorraine had found out somehow about Widow Karrick. He believed she was in there under the terrible ruins, dying, or perhaps already dead.

Waverley called out loudly:

“Mr. Lorraine, you are mistaken! Fairfax Fielding is not in there. She did not go to work this morning. She is at my house—safe!”

Then he swooned, and knew no more until he found himself at home, in his own bed, with Sadie weeping over him, and Fairfax Fielding trying to comfort her.

“Dear Sadie, indeed you know that he is not going to die. The doctor said when he set his broken arms that with care he would do very nicely. And he is going to send a regular nurse, and he will be sure to get well.”

Then they saw that his eyes were open, and Sadie began to pet him between smiles and tears.

“And only think,” she said, “your life was saved by Prince Gonzaga! Yes, you would have been burned up in the ruins but for him. He[Pg 280] went to your assistance—he and Mr. Lorraine—and when Mr. Lorraine fell down, exhausted, he fought the fire alone until he saved you, although his bravery, they say, will cost him his life.”

Before Waverley Osborne could reply to his wife’s words, there came a hurried rap upon the door. Sadie opened it, and Bayard Lorraine, still begrimed with the smoke and dust of the ruins, and with torn and water-soaked garments, hastily entered the room.

Fair uttered an irrepressible cry. He turned toward her, and their eyes met—met for the first time since that fatal night when she had almost been his bride, and when she had made upon her knees confession of the folly that had wrecked her life. She trembled with emotion as she met his grave, sweet glance, and stood like one rooted to the floor.

He went to her gently, and took both her little ice-cold hands in his, saying kindly:

“My poor girl!”

And the tone, more than the words, revealed to her the depths of love, grief, and pity that filled his noble, generous heart.

[Pg 281]

She did not speak. She could not; and, after a pause, he continued:

“Prince Gonzaga lies at Mrs. Howard’s house, mortally ill. I had him taken there. I thought it was right, since he acted so nobly this morning.”

She bowed and tried to speak, but her tongue seemed parched, and words died unuttered upon her lips.

“I have come to take you to him,” continued Bayard Lorraine.

She found her voice, and asked falteringly:

“Did he send for me?”

“No; but I read his wish in his eyes when I told him that you still lived,” answered Prince Gonzaga’s generous foe. “You will come, Fair?”

“Yes,” she answered, and while she hurriedly donned Sadie’s bonnet, Bayard Lorraine said:

“The prince sent you a message, Mrs. Osborne. He hopes you will forgive him for abducting and imprisoning you in those mad days when he was trying to get his wife into his power.”

Sadie’s eyes filled with tears, and she answered impulsively:

[Pg 282]

“I forgive him freely, and I bless him for saving my husband’s life.”

“I am ready,” said Fair, coming back into the room.

They went out together. A taxicab was in waiting below, and they were driven rapidly to Mrs. Howard’s residence.

They had spoken but few words on the way, but as they went up the steps together, he said gently:

“You must be kind to him, Fair. His life, whatever his faults, had a brave ending.”

“I will forgive him everything,” Fair answered, with a half sob; then the door opened, and she found herself in Mrs. Howard’s arms.

“I have repented my harshness, dear,” the lady whispered lovingly, as she led her to the room where Prince Gonzaga lay.

He was so changed, with his hair and beard all burned away, and that awful pallor of death upon his face, that Fair would never have known him but for the smile that parted his lips as he saw her.

For a moment she shrank and cowered, but[Pg 283] Bayard Lorraine urged her gently forward, whispering:

“Forget and forgive.”

She went forward and laid a nervous little hand on the cold, pale one that lay outside the pillow.

“You—were—were—very brave, saving Mr. Osborne’s life as you did. It was a noble deed,” she faltered.

The prince smiled, and answered weakly:

“Thank you. It was so kind in you to come. I should not have presumed to ask it. I did not deserve it,” sighing.

“Oh, yes, you did, because—you were so brave. I am very sorry for you. I will stay by you until——” She paused, and he finished the sentence:

“Until I die! I do not think it will be long.”

Perhaps that promise held him back from death, for Prince Gonzaga lingered on several days, and Fair watched by him with patient forgiveness of the past, for, as she had said, he had been so brave that his bravery condoned many faults.

Mrs. Howard, Bayard Lorraine, and the careful nurse shared her vigils by the bedside of the[Pg 284] dying man, and nothing but kind words were spoken to him. They tried to forget the dark past and look upon him only in the halo cast by his dauntless bravery.

One day the nurse had gone out for a little recreation, and Mrs. Howard and Fair were watching him as he slept.

The latter whispered thoughtfully:

“Do you remember those beautiful lines:

“Oh, whether on the scaffold high,
Or in the battle’s van,
The bravest place where man can die
Is where he dies for man!”

“Yes; I have thought of them often in the last few days,” said Mrs. Howard, and just then she saw that the prince was awake and listening to them with a smile.

His eyes turned to Fair, and he said gently:

“Poor, patient heart, you will not have to stay by me much longer. I believe your presence has held my spirit back from death a while, yet now I feel I am going fast. Bless you for the comfort you have been to my dying hours. In these few days you have seemed to be almost mine.”

[Pg 285]

The girl’s beautiful brown eyes grew dim, and she laid her hand gently on his.

“I want you to forgive me for all the trouble I have brought into your life,” she said. “I ought not to have married you without loving you. I—I—might have tried, after all, to care for you—only—only—for mother’s sake,” with a choking sob.

He sighed at the thought of the poor, weak woman whose death he had undoubtedly hastened by his folly and madness.

“It is better as it is,” he said hastily. “I was not—am not—any mate for you, Fair. My life was wild and wicked before I knew you. Once I was a thief—yes, that was the terrible power that Belva Platt held over me. I was persuaded to join a gang of burglars, who robbed a bank. Some of them were apprehended, but I escaped, and so frightened was I that I vowed to reform my wild career. But Belva Platt found out, through her wicked old grandmother, the sin of my past, and held it over me like a rod of iron. You know now the secret of her power over me. But, alas! I fell in love with the fate she forced[Pg 286] upon me, and for all that followed after our wedding night I alone am to blame.”

He sighed, and lay silent a few minutes, then resumed:

“Belva is dead now. I am told that she was the only one that lost her life in the fall of the factory. I believe that my shameful secret is buried with her, and I am glad that it is so. It can never rise to throw its dark shadow on my memory. I hope that I shall be remembered by the only act I ever did that was worthy the name of a prince—the saving of Waverley Osborne’s life.”

“That brave deed wipes out all the past,” Mrs. Howard said reassuringly, and he thanked her with a grateful smile.

A few hours later he died very peacefully, clinging to Fair’s hand and gazing on her face to the last.

She had grown to pity him so much that she could not rejoice at his death, although she felt that now all the shadows had passed from her life, leaving her free to be loved and to love again.

He had told her that he was the last of his name and race, and after his death it was found[Pg 287] that he had made a will, leaving her his whole fortune.

She was rich now, and she had a proud title. How strange it was that the sewing girl should attain to such luck! said the working girls by whose side she had toiled through her girlish days; but they did not envy her. They rejoiced at her good fortune, declaring that she had always been a good girl and deserved to be rich and great.

[Pg 288]


Fair had scarcely been widowed a week before a great financial crash swept away every dollar of Bayard Lorraine’s fortune.

He did not pretend to take it calmly. He grieved most bitterly over his loss.

“I must depend now on my pen for my daily bread,” he said.

And the next day he came to the Fifth Avenue mansion to bid her and Mrs. Howard a hasty good-by, saying that he was going South to collect materials for a novel.

Fair was so dazed by the suddenness of it all that she could scarcely speak. To lose him like this, when she had, as it were, just found him again, seemed most cruel. She went away by herself, to weep bitterly for her lost lover.

He had been gone more than six months when, in one of Mrs. Howard’s letters, there came some news that made his heart throb wildly.

[Pg 289]

“I do not know what you will think of Fair,” said the letter. “She has actually given away every dollar of Prince Gonzaga’s money, and reduced herself to poverty. First, there was her old friend, Sadie Osborne, whose husband has been out of work so long with his broken arms—she got five thousand dollars. Then there was some woman named Burns that showed her a little kindness after her mother died, and she got five thousand dollars. An old policeman who gave her a kind word and a packet of car tickets once when she was escaping from her husband, received the same amount of money. In short, everybody who ever treated her kindly received a reward. That beautiful Florentine villa she presented to me by deed of gift, and I am going back there next winter. The rest of the money—over a hundred thousand dollars—she has given to found a home for orphan Italians in this city, as Gonzaga was an Italian, and she thought his countrymen ought to have the money. It will be called the Prince Gonzaga Home. I did not approve of it, I can tell you, but she was her own mistress, having come of age several months ago, and she would not listen to my advice, but says coolly that she knows I will give her a bite and a sup as long as I live, and that then she can go to work again.”

That letter took Bayard Lorraine back to New York as fast as steam could carry him. All barriers that had kept him from Fair had now been swept aside.

He proposed immediately to the girl of his[Pg 290] heart, and she accepted him, telling him she would accompany him to the ends of the earth.

When they came home from their bridal tour, Mrs. Howard had made a wonderful discovery. She said:

“I have found out, Fair, about the distant relation who is to inherit my husband’s money. I have been settling my affairs with the lawyers, and discovered that it was a woman who threw him over for a good-looking journalist, and was disinherited by her family. She was distantly related to him, and he never quite ceased to care for her, so he left that will, providing that in event of failure of heirs of his own this distant cousin should inherit all. The woman was your mother, Mary Fairfax Fielding, and as she is dead you will inherit my husband’s money. So you must come home to me at once, and begin to enjoy your inheritance.”


“Her Fateful Choice,” by Charlotte M. Stanley, is No. 1157 of the New Eagle Library. This is a charming novel that will appeal to all lovers of romance.

The Dealer

who handles the STREET & SMITH NOVELS is a man worth patronizing. The fact that he does handle our books proves that he has considered the merits of paper-covered lines, and has decided that the STREET & SMITH NOVELS are superior to all others.

He has looked into the question of the morality of the paper-covered book, for instance, and feels that he is perfectly safe in handing one of our novels to any one, because he has our assurance that nothing except clean, wholesome literature finds its way into our lines.

Therefore, the STREET & SMITH NOVEL dealer is a careful and wise tradesman, and it is fair to assume selects the other articles he has for sale with the same degree of intelligence as he does his paper-covered books.

Deal with the STREET & SMITH NOVEL dealer.

79 Seventh Avenue New York City

Transcriber’s Notes

Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. Variations in hyphenation and accents have been standardised but all other spelling and punctuation remains unchanged.