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ELL, of course there was a way which was not only conceivable, but so obvious that Gilbert was sure she could not be thinking of it. Nevertheless, his heart beat faster, and he was conscious of a constrained ring in his voice as he answered, laughingly: “I think I ought to be contented with one or the other. We can't expect to get everything that we want in this disappointing world.” - “But we can try,” she rejoined. “I imagined that you were one of those people who always try to get what they want—and generally succeed.” Ågain he could make nothing either of her expression or of her intonation. Both appeared to be quite serious; and yet he was too shrewd and too skeptical to accept the flattering inference suggested. The hypothesis that she could be deliberately throwing herself at the head of a humble country squire was only admissible upon the assumption that she had fallen in love with that fortunate squire; and if such were the case— But Gilbert could not trust himself to dwell upon these perilous speculations. “Oh, I assure you that I am by no means successful—” he began, hastily, for he had to say something, and how to end his sentence he knew not. However, he was relieved from embarrassment on that score, for before he had got any farther the door was thrown open, and Mr. Segrave was announced. “Another Mr. Segravel" exclaimed Beatrice, rising. “Honors are falling upon me thick and fast this afternoon.” Brian strode into the room in time to catch her words, which brought him to an abrupt standstill. But it was only for a moment that he paused. Awkward encounters are seldom awkward in outward appearance, and this one had been anticipated on both sides, although it had now come about with unexpected suddenness. Brian, after shaking hands with Miss Huntley, said, quite quietly, “How are you, Gilbert” and Gilbert said, “Well, Brian 2" after which they all three sat down and began to talk commonplaces as fast as they could. For five minutes or so this was well enough, and in truth each of these admirably behaved brothers, being sincerely desirous of avoiding unpleasantness, would have been content to go on in the same strain until one or other of them saw a fit opportunity for retiring; but they had to deal with a lady who did not love the commonplace, and to whom so matter-of-course a treatment of the situation may have seemed somewhat tame. So after a time she addressed the elder, and, “When you came in,” said she, “your brother and I were in full wrangle over the property which is mine now and was yours the other day. I have got it, and I am not going to give it up; but wasn't it a little bit cruel of you to sell it to me when you knew how badly he wanted it?” Brian flushed slightly, but answered without hesitating: “I wished the house to go, if possible, to somebody who would live in it.” “And how can you tell that I shall live in it?” “I suppose you yourself can't tell,” he replied, thinking of what Stapleford had said; “but there is the chance; and if I had sold it to—to anybody else, there would have been no chance at all.” He added, in a somewhat lower voice, “I was very sorry to give up the old place; but it was necessary.” She chanced at this moment to meet his eyes, which were fixed wistfully upon her, and a swift change and softening came into her own. This, however, vanished immediately, and she turned to Gilbert, who was steadfastly contemplating the inside of his hat. “When are you coming to be introduced to my people?” she asked. “You will find my brother full of political information and courtesy toward political opponents; and it wouldn't at all surprise me if Clementina were to amuse you. Some people are amused by her, I believe. Couldn't you come and dine with us quietly some evening?” She glanced at a list of engagements, “Would next Saturday at half past eight suit you?” she inquired. “I see I have got two dinners down for that day, and as I can't go to both, I may as well go to neither.” Gilbert at once accepted, and she made a note of it. Then, glancing over her shoulder at the elder brother, “You too?” she asked. “Thank you,” answered Brian, with evident embarrassment; “you are very kind; but—” “I have booked you,” she interrupted, shutting up her tablets, “and you can't get out of it. Engagements must be kept, whether we like it or not; otherwise society couldn't hold together for a day. Those two dinner engagements of mine would certainly have been kept if it hadn't been physically impossible to keep them. And that reminds me that I promised faithfully to go to tea with a cousin of mine who lives at the far end of South Kensington, and I ought to have been there half an hour ago.” The two young men rose simultaneously. Gilbert was the first to leave the room, and as Brian was following, she laid her hand lightly on his arm. “Don’t throw me over on Saturday,” she whispered. “I have heaps of things to say to you, and how am I to get them said if you only

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long ago that I am out of my element in society, and I had no idea that you were going to have a party to-night. You asked me to dine quietly.”

“To the best of my belief, you did dine very quietly indeed. At least, if you became noisy, it must have been after I lost sight of you. And this isn't a party; we never dine quite alone during the months of June and July.”

“And after dinner, I suppose, you go to half a dozen crushes and balls. Do you really enjoy that kind of life?”

“I enjoy it well enough for a time; if it went on all the year round it would grow wearisome, no doubt, like every other kind of life. A man, I grant you, might be better employed, and to do you justice, that is what most of you seem to think, but a woman's opportunities of enjoyment, you must remember, are much more limited than yours. Just for a few years—so long as her good looks, if she has any, last—she may play quite an important part in the little corner of the world which she inhabits; but when once she begins to go down the hill, her life is over, and only existence remains. I don't think you ought

to blame us for making hay while the sun shines. However, I didn't bring you here to talk to you about myself; I want you to give me a full, true, and particular account of all that you have done and suffered from the date of your leaving Kingscliff up to the present time.” [To BE oonTINUED.]

99 DARK streET:

By F. W. ROBINSON,

. Author of “Cow’ARD ConsoleNor,” “LAzARUs IN

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- ERBERTASTON had not left me many minutes when a heavy knocking at the street door aroused me from a reverie into which I had fallen. I was called out; some neighbor had been taken ill, after the custom of South London patients, who, as a general rule, choose late hours and invariably wet nights for the ills that But Nan Matherway's

pleasure, presaged a visitor, and surely there was only George Fairfax to be welcomed in that hearty way by my old house-keeper." It was Fairfax. The instant afterward he was standing before me in my little parlor, a pale; grave-faced man, without a smile upon his face.

He extended slowly his hand to meet mine, which was outstretched toward him; but it was not a

hearty greeting between us. It seemed as if he cared too little for me now, or had too much upon his mind, to exhibit any great friendliness in his greeting. “I am a late visitor; but you are not an early man,” he said, by way of half-apology. “I thought you would not mind for once.” “I am always very glad to see you, George.”. “Thank you. Yes, you were at one time, I know.” “At all times, and now.” -- “Well, yes,” he conceded; “for it is I who have changed, not you. I always forget that.” He took a chair by the table, seated himself, drew forth a pocket-book from the breast pocket of his coat, and laid it on the table, and then looked toward Nan Matherway, who was disposed to be one of us for the remainder of the evening. “Nan, I have private business with Arthur tonight,” he said, emphatically. “You will not mind, Nan 2" I added. “Bless the lads—no. Ring when I can come up and talk with you a bit.” Nan Matherway bustled away, and left us together. I sat opposite Fairfax, who proceeded to business without any of those wanderings and quaint divergences of thought for which he had been distinguished. To the one inquiry which escaped me, “Have you been ill?” he simply nodded, and then dashed into the object of his visit. “I have come to ask a favor of you, Arthur,” he began. “I have been asking favors all my life of you, and other simple fellows who have not the great gift of saying ‘No.' I want you to act as my trustee.” “Willingly. But—” “At once. For I am going to leave something

in trust with you, for you to act upon to-morrow,

when I shall be many miles away.” “Going away again?” “I am going abroad,” he replied. “To South Africa, with an exploring party of Americans— brave, daring fellows, whom I have lately come across. I shall be away from England four years at least.” “I am sorry to hear this.” “It is the best thing that can happen to me,” was the quick response. “It will give me new views of life, afford me excitement, distract my mind from other things.” “It will do that, certainly.” “And I can afford to do it,” he went on, boastfully. “I have plenty of money—I like adventure—I am fond of travel—I have no friends in England who will miss me.” *You have hardly a right to say that.” “No friends who care much what will become of me,” he continued; “perhaps that is a better way of putting it, Arthur,” he cried, with a sudden outburst of his own impetuosity for which I had been waiting. “My life is wholly changed since you and I met last, and through your interference.” “Do you blame me?” “You have stood between one vindictive wo

* Begun in HARPER's Bazad No. 16, Vol. XX.

man and murder, but it is a step that has wrecked two lives.” “Does Delia Aston blame me?” “Neither of us. The man is saved, and more than one soul with it, perhaps. But no happiness and peace of mind have come to me.” “They will in time, God willing, George.” “To Delia presently, I hope—never to me. And if she can keep away from that brute you have brought back to life—” “Go on. We will not envy the man's life again.” “Do you know what I have suggested to Delia to-day?” “You have seen her, then 2" 44 YeS.” “You have been to her house?” 44 Yes.” “And proposed—what?” “That she and I should go away together.” “Oh, George, old friend, so bad as that l” I cried. “Don’t tell me any more!” “A long, long way from everybody we know,” he continued; “defying the world which has treated us so badly, and all its mock, proprieties and stale observances, living for ourselves and in ourselves, blessed by the fact that we know no existence apart from one another.” “And She 3’” “She will not listen to me. She has said goodby to me forever; we are apart till the Judgment.” . He put his hands before his face for a moment, took them down again, and looked at me dry-eyed. “Are you very much shocked, O moralist 2" he asked. “I am very, very glad she has said No.” “So may I be presently. She tells me that I will, because I shall be a better man without her; because I am deserving of a better fate than a life linked to a woman who calculated on her husband's death for happiness, she says. As if— But there—it is all over. She will have nothing more to do with me; I am a blot on her path; and she will be glad when I have gone my own way.” “What does she say of her husband 9” “She would return to him to-morrow if she could believe in the wretch and trust him. But he is a villain; you do not know—” ". . ; “I can guess,” I said, interrupting him; “he is in my house now.” “Ah! yes; I had forgotten,” he replied. “I

forget everything. I am not the cold, hard, iron

nerved fellow. I was wont to be. I am giving way. I am making myself a fool, as I always shall when I talk of her. If you only could understand, Arthur, what a dear woman she is 1– what difficulties she has surmounted l— what courage she has l—what genius there is in her, waiting its chance l—what— But there, I bore you. You will never understand her.” And I never did. I had seen so little of her; to me she was only the woman who had calculated upon Aston's death as a barrier to be removed between her and George Fairfax. All this a position that could be reasoned away with the woman in love, and the husband, as it seemed, in extremis ; a woman who had been always Herbert Aston's victim—ground down to eternal misery whilst he drew the breath of life. “And this trust—is it for her ?” “No. She will have nome of my money—it is blood-money, she says: it would be the price of her deceit. She talks as if she were on the stage instead of in Dark Street. My money would be a curse to her, she says; it would stand between her and her career—it would buy her bad luck; and so she says “God bless you, George l'—and lets me go.” “Well ?” “And so I want you to help me, with your long-headed, careful, cunning caution, which have not got, and which spoils you.” o “Thank you, George Fairfax.” -o-, “To help me with your honesty too,” he said, gripping my hand hard now, “with your friendship for me—true as steel—and with your judgment, which will not go wrong.” o “What do you want me to do?” - . “Keep a certain amount of my money always in reserve for her, so that at any time—at any moment—you may be able to step forward and say, ‘This is your old sweetheart to the rescue.’” “I shall see her no more. I—” “You will hear of her; she cannot escape your observation.” “And she will not take the money.” “You will be able to see your way to help her, if help be ever needed, better than I. I am bewildered. And, Arthur,” he added, very pathetically, “I am going away, and it will relieve my heart to know that I have left a friend for her, if it be needed.” “And if not o' “Keep the money till I come back to act for myself, when I am stronger, when I have got over all this.” “How much do you wish to leave with me?” “For this particular object, do you mean?” “What else 2" “I am coming to that,” he interrupted. “In the first place, then, a thousand pounds—it is not much—and, pity me, I am so terribly rich s” “Go on.” “That is for the trouble in the far-away future, which may never arrive—which I pray may never come—for her. Now for the present, which concerns her too—” “I am all attention,” I said, after a long silence between us. “She will receive no direct help from me,” he said. “She is proud and self-reliant. Adversity has never killed her hopes of making her own way. She loves the stage better than me, and she will live for art. Art will save her, she says.” “Poor girl?" “She may be raving, but she may not be; she is not like other women.”

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on myself. “Well, what next, George?” I asked. “This. I have rented a theatre.” “You have never been so mad $" “For one year—for the one great chance for her. I have paid the year's rent. I leave at my banker's, in your name, enough, I hope, with common prudence, to keep it going.” “Yes, you are mad,” I said, quietly. “Do you think I am going to turn lessee of a theatre, and engage Delia Nash 2 Do you think I am as mad as you are 2" “You will have nothing to do but to keep my secret. It is arranged, I tell you.” “How 2° “I have found out that man Kench, the manager you met at Breymouth. I have told him what my wishes are. He will be lessee, manager —everything but actor—and he will engage Delia Nash. When I have gone away—when she will not suspect me—he will take her into his company.” “It is the wildest of schemes.” “It is all I can do.” “You will lose all your money.” “It is there to lose. I don't want it, and it will give Delia her chance.” “And you leave this money in Kench's hands o' “No—honest as he is. He will draw upon you as he wishes—once a month—till it is all gone. Arthur,” he said, “you will not fail me in this. It is the last favor I shall ever ask of you.” " {{ But—” “At all events, act as my treasurer to begin with. nicate with me soon. I will let you know where I am. I will not disappear.” “Very well. Till we can arrange some better scheme, then 2" “Yes; till then. I shall say very little more to-night—and nothing about yourself; for you

would be as stubborn and as independent as

Delia.” “No. Don't mind me, George, just now.” “About the man upstairs, a word; and then I will say good-by.” “What of him o' “He must be bribed heavily to go abroad. He must pass out of her life altogether. There will be money enough at your banker's to drive a bargain with him too—to pay him a certain sum yearly to keep away from her—to keep him, if he be wise enough, out of the clutches of the police. Will you do all this for me, old Arthur o’” “I will do my best.” “God bless you ! I did not think you would be the man to fail me, though I have been very much afraid of you.” “Afraid ''' “Oh it would have been all so different,” he cried, restlessly, “if she had come abroad with me!” “Thank God, for both your sakes, she had the courage to say No. You will be glad of that some day.” “Perhaps I shall. Who can tell of what a man may be glad—or what he may regret—before the end comes to him * Good-by.” He wrung my right hand hard in his own, then he was gone, and I was left alone again, with the pocket-book upon the table. Left to wonder how this wild, Quixotic, unreal enterprise would end, with the rich man away in Africa, and I in London, acting as his treasurer, and— strange irony of fate—as the unseen guardian of the woman he loved. I opened the pocket-book to see if there were further instructions therein. It was a large pocket-book and bulky, and there were various papers crammed in one compartment—one folded, and sealed with -black, and endorsed “The last will and testament of George Fairfax.” There was on another sheet of paper the name and address of my friend's banker, together with a memorandum of the amount of money left there in my name—where my first pass-book awaited me—a sum of money that was astounding in its amount, and took my breath away to read. “Pity me, I am so terribly rich s” rang in my ears again that night. “Yes—in trust,” I muttered; “but in trust for George Fairfax as well as for the actress and Kench.” There were a thousand pounds in Bank of England notes, too, in another compartment of the pocket-book—money ready to hand, to prepare for the unforeseen, as though he were afraid that a moment's loss of time might bring ruin to the house of Nash. The money was in five-pound notes, and handy for circulation. “Yes, George; surely a little mad,” was my last soliloquy—my last words for many a long day. For suddenly two hot hands, like the claws of an imp of hell, clutched at my throat, and as I staggered to my feet I knew at once that this was a fight for life and death with Herbert Aston. It was like a nightmare dream without a waking to it—a momentary consciousness that there was an open razor lying on the carpet, and that it had fallen from his hands before his grip of me, and that we were both struggling for possession of it, with the papers of George Fairfax and two hundred five-pound notes scattered about the room. I remember falling with Aston to the ground, and hearing Nan Matherway's shrill scream from the breakfast-room below, and then all was chaos, and after that forgetfulness.

I had warmed the viper at my hearth, and it had stung me. Herbert Aston, I learned afterward, had stolen down-stairs to rob and murder

For the first few months you can commu- .

me, and had succeeded fairly well in his endeavor to prove how base a man may become by a long course of wrong-doing. He would have killed me had it not been for Nan Matherway's shrill scream, which scared his cowardly heart. He had not bargained for Nan Matherway down-stairs. He left me with my throat only half cut, scraped together the bank-notes with his bloody fingers, and with his hat pressed over his brows made for the street door, and the free streets which would lie beyond it, and wherein, please God, he would be lost. But Nan Matherway was already in advance of him, standing between him and his safety, with her broad back against the outer door, and her throat ringing out scream after scream throughout the house, and far away into the night beyond it.

Still, Nan was only like a child in his grasp; he was a man mad with fear as well as crime, and he swung her violently from the door, opened it, and dashed into the street—Nan panting after him, and struggling and screaming still— and dashed into the arms of the police, who, on the alert then, were waiting outside for him already.

CHAPTER XXII. IN THE MISTS.

THE chronicles of Dark Street are nearly at an end, unfinished though they may ever remain ; though one may wonder yet what is to be the moral of the story, and the fitting sequel to it. My part in it is played out. This is the last scene—four years afterward, when George Fairfax is still abroad, when for the last twelve months no one has heard tidings of him. His last letter to me has said, “I shall be back soon”; but he comes not, and the time steals on, and flowers bloom and wither, and hopes grow up and die.

Death has been busy whilst he has been abroad. Herbert Aston has been tried, convicted, faced with his old charges, and two years afterward has escaped his heavy sentence by passing out of the world—in the Portland quarries, where work was found to be too hard for him, when it was too late for sweet repose in the recesses of the prison infirmary, which had been promised him in vain. And Hyacintha Nash sleeps with her father at Breymouth, where she had gone away to die; and Delia is alone left of the characters which gathered round me in the Dark Street days.

And—strange anomaly, perhaps, or virtue's reward, who knows?—Delia Nash is famous, if fame consists in your photographs in the shop windows, in your name eternally turning up in newspaper paragraphs, and in big posters of all colors displayed upon the walls. She is the first actress in her line of art, they say; and boys in their teens and old men in their seventies rave

about her manifold perfections, and make her

various offers—offers of marriage, let it be said to their credit, being chiefly to the front. And Delia Nash remains unmarried, and no one guesses quite the reason, though everybody guesses overmuch. “She has had enough of wedlock with that awful scamp of an Aston,” some say. “She is waiting for a lover who is abroad,” say others. Others assert: “She will never marry—she is wedded to the stage, which she loves as no man will be loved by her.” But she bears me no ill-will, I ascertain. Four years afterward—the four years to which I have adverted—I meet her by chance in the house of a well-known physician, who affects the society of literature and art when his valuable time will allow, and who gathers round him in the season men and women whose names are household words. It is here I meet, for the last time, Delia. The actress is an honored guest, and men and women are offering their homage to success, and she is light and bright with the glory of her fame upon her. The smile dies out at her first glimpse of me, and she looks after me sadly. Later in the night I am startled by finding her at my side, by her seeking me when I am apart from all the rest. “Is there any reason you should bear enmity toward me, Mr. Lissamer ?” she asks, in a low, trembling voice. “I bear you no enmity, Mrs. Aston.” “There is so much that I should have liked to say to you; but there, what is the use?” she said, impatiently. “You are a great surgeon now, and I am only of the stage, stagy.” “You are very successful, I am glad to learn.” “Yes—in my way: they say so. I should not be ungrateful: I have something to thank Heaven for, I think.” We are both embarrassed—perhaps both anxious to drift apart again. “You know that my sister Hyacintha is dead?” she asked. 44 Yes.” “We women all have our heroes, I suppose— and you were hers. Even at the very last she spoke of you. And—and,” she says, passing her gloved hand rapidly across her eyes—“that is why I came to you to-night: why I am glad to hear the past lies not like a burning brand between you and me. For you were her friend —our friend—and George’s.” “Do you hear from him 2" “No. But he will come back, I am sure. Don't you think he will ? You understand him so much better than I. You, whom he liked so much.” “I cannot tell.” “I think I can. But there is no telling.” No, there is no telling. Life may be an eternal Dark Street to the wisest of us, and the lamps be never lighted to show us on our way. I cannot tell what is ahead of her and me—I hardly seek to know. I pass on in the mists with all the rest. THE END.

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JESSIE'S DUTY. BY FAN NIE FOSTER CLARK. I.

RS. B06GS, the postmistress and “storekeeper” at Buxton Falls, had just remarked to Mrs. Clinton, the minister's wife, “Waal, July has sot in pretty hot.” “Yes,” said Mrs. Clinton, examining the calico she was negotiating for over the counter. “It’s lucky the fever that broke out in March is well over. We'd have had a lot more funerals if it hadn't been for Jessie Palmer's nursing.” “Waal,” replied Mrs. Boggs, “what I say is, Jessie Palmer has give herself to good works like I've give myself to groceries and the post-office, so she'd oughter look after the sick. She expects her pay jest like I do, only she calculates to git it in heaven. Sho! she only does her duty.” “It's a very blessed duty,” ejaculated the minister's wife, solemnly. “There's Billy. Come here, sonny,” said Mrs. Boggs, as a great loafing fourteen-year-old boy entered the store. He was a loose-jointed, longlimbed chap, who was given to “shyin' rocks” at passers-by from under his raised knee, had a vicious certainty in the art of tripping heels, and even as he came into his mother's presence killed a fly, broke off a barrel stave, and whipped a handful of sugar into his mouth; then, without touching the counter with his hands, sprang u on it, and sat swinging his long legs. Mrs. Boggs, who was helpless without glasses, and whose nose was never constructed to wear them, threw her head far back to more carefully focus her promising son, and asked, “Did you carry that bag o' coffee to Ferguson's '' . . . “Yep,” replied Billy, and whistled a queer sort of cadence in a queer sort of way through his front teeth. “Yep” as an affirmative was held by the youth of Buxton Falls to be a mark of easy elegance. “That's right, sonny, and you shall have a splendid time at the Fourth of July picnic tomorrow. I hope Jessie's doin' everything to make you enjoy yourself. She'd oughter bake plenty of cake.” “I reminded her of that,” said Mrs. Clinton. “Now,” added the indulgent mother, “you may take about a dozen raisins, Billy.” Whereupon Billy left the counter like a coiled-up watch spring, without any visible means of propulsion, grabbed at a certain box, stuffed his mouth and pockets, and slunk off to the wood-shed. “Ah !” ejaculated Mrs. Boggs, “under a good teacher my Billy had oughter make a smart man. I hope Jessie's learnin' him proper.” Another boy just then entered the store. He was an immensely fat creature—Farmer Johnson's son Rufe. “Say,” he remarked, slowly, setting a small bag on the counter, “I found this 'ere down the road under the chestnuts.” Mrs. Boggs so threw her head back to focus the speaker that she displayed the stringy tendons of her throat, and she cried, “Goodness gracious me! ef that ain't the coffee as Billy said he'd left to Ferguson's l’” “Guess he was playin' jack-stones,” suggested Rufe, practically; “I see knuckle marks.” “Billy Billy s” called the mother, opening the wood-shed door. But by this time Billy was cooling his feet in the brook a mile off. “Ef that boy,” said Mrs. Boggs, “had the right trainin' in school he wouldn't do such tricks. Here comes Jessie Palmer now, and I'll jest give her a piece of my mind. Jessie, come here, do.” A sweet voice answered cheerfully, and a girl of two-and-twenty, with a neat figure and a pleasant face, who was just passing the door, checked her steps and entered. Jessie Palmer was born at Buxton Falls. Her parents had died when she was but fourteen, and since that time she had kept the village school, taught the boys' class in Sunday-school, and managed her own little piece of property besides. She never spoke of her own cares, and indeed she worked so methodically that she seemed to have none; so Buxton Falls looked to her for assistance in every emergency. In short, if Jessie hadn't been a Yankee girl, and if Eben Shipman, a lawyer of Buxton Junction, a town twelve miles off, had not— Well, we won't introduce Shipman prematurely; but certainly if Jessie's surroundings had been European she might have made a Sister of Charity. “Jessie,” cried Mrs. Boggs, excitedly, “you told me there must be a lot of good in my Billy, and you'd try to make a first-rate boy out of him l’” “Oh yes; there must be good in everybody,” responded the teacher. “I shall try to reform Billy.” “Waal,” said Mrs. Boggs, violently, “I should hope so. I should hope you wouldn't be settin' down at ease when there's children that need learnin' at Buxton Falls—Buxton Falls, where your father and mother lived and died and was buried.” There seemed to be some occult force in the fact that Jessie's parents happened to lie in the church-yard close by. “Now Billy,” continued Mrs. Boggs, “has been and told a lie.” “Oh !” cried Jessie, looking grieved and shocked. “But, Mrs. Boggs,” she suggested, timidly, “if you would govern him just a little bit—” “Now see here,” said Mrs. Boggs, displaying the stringy neck liberally, “it’s as much as us parents can do to keep the children clothed and fed; it's your duty to make 'em good.” “My dear Jessie,” remarked the minister's wife, with gentle firmness, “my husband says you enjoy a blessed privilege in moulding young spirits, and you should be thankful for it.” “Yes, so I am,” answered the conscientious teacher. “And,” Mrs. Clinton went on, “I wish you'd see that my little Mary learns to tie her aprons more neatly; and I really think you ought to walk home after school with a delicate child like her.”

*Mrs. Clinton, gravely.

“I will,” said Jessie. “I really think you ought to,” repeated the minister's wife. Just then a farm wagon lumbered up, and Johnson, the father of the fat Rufe, called out, “Say, Miss Jessie, I'd jest like yer to know that Ruse eats more’n ever, and keeps gettin' fatter.” “I always talk to him about controlling his appetite,” replied Jessie.5“Humph! what's the use o' talkin' if it don't have no effect?” said Johnson, sarcastically, and grumbled audibly as he drove away. “Well,” remarked Jessie, pleasantly, changing the subject, “to-morrow will be the Fourth, and I'm getting ready for the picnic.” “Have plenty of raised biscuit,” said Mrs. Boggs; adding, reproachfully, “there warn’t enough last year.” Then, with a searching glance, she handed Jessie a letter that bore the postmark of Buxton Junction. The minister's wife at once placed her forefinger on it as it lay in the young girl's hand, and

said: “You ought not to think of marriage, Jes

sie. “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit—' You know the text, and you've put your hand to the plough.” “Oh,” answered Jessie, visibly moved, “don’t fear; I'm quite conscious of my duty.” “And a blessed duty it is, my dear,” Mrs. Clinton called out with emphasis, as Jessie hurried away down the village street. “Good gracious !” cried Mrs. Boggs; “she can't ever be thinkin’ of that lawyer from the Junction when she'd ought to marry Jake Jordan, who's Billy's own cousin, and would take Billy on the farm s” " " . “She has no right to marry anybody,” said: “She has put her hand to the plough, and must not look back.” On the way home Jessie was stopped by one of the Davis children, who came running down an unkept garden walk, shrieking, “Oh, baby's sick, and ma says come help her s”. Now the Davis family were notoriously vagabond and shiftless, and the baby was the victim of neglect and ignorance; so Jessie plucked up moral force and entered the untidy house with a stern purpose. “Now, Mrs. Davis,” she said, in a silvery voice, “I’m really going to scold you. yesterday, and I saw you feed him with greasy soup.” “Dear me!” fretted Mrs. Day is in a high key, grabbing together the dress of a slattern, all fallen apart at the neck. “Why, baby's three months old; soup had oughter be good for him.” Then she trotted the poor pain-stricken thing in such a violent way that it gave out a heartbreaking wail. That wail was enough for Jessie. She threw off her hat, practically tucked up her fresh muslin dress, and took the misunderstood mite into her plump tender arms, and not until the child was properly bathed, fed, and soothed to sleep did she again resume her way homeward. As she walked along she read the note from Buxton Junction. It was dated the day before, and said, “I shall drive over to-mor

row afternoon and spend a good long time with

you,” and it was signed “Eben Shipman.” Jes

sie hurried to her neat little house, and laid

out a pretty dove-colored gown that had once struck the legal mind from Buxton Junction as peculiarly adapted to the school-teacher's demure good looks. This young person was hardly a beauty, for her nose was neither saucy nor classic, and her hair did not flow in bewildering waves; but she had a fine glow on her cheek, healthy lips, brown eyes that were deep and honest, and a round lithe figure. She was looking particularly well just now under a spell of dreamy contemplation that lent a grace to her attitudes; but suddenly there came an imperative thump at the front door, and she scampered away to open it. There stood a goodly, stout; red-faced, middle-aged bachelor—the village doctor. “Miss Jessie, I know you'll come help me with a poor farm hand who has broken a collar-bone,” he said, with an admiring look at her. “Come, jump right into the gig,” and willy-nilly, as usual, she was to be carried off to assist the doctor in a trying case. In five minutes she was ready to : start. “Ah,” exclaimed the medical man, tenderly, “what a wife for a doctor Jessie, it's your duty to marry me. My sister thinks so too.” “Some people say it's my duty to marry Jake Jordan, and some that it's my duty not to marry at all,” sighed Jessie. - - By-and-by Eben Shipman arrived. He drove up in his own neat turn-out, and was certainly a presentable lover; well built, with a face so handsome and an eye so melting that whenever the Buxton Junction girls saw his light wagon bowling along in the direction of the Falls they called him at once “a horrid homely old thing.” Eben strode up the garden walk to find only a closed door and a bit of paper stuck in the key-hole. He snatched it eagerly and read: “Gone to help man who has broken collar-bone. Home soon as possible.” Then he tied his horse and quietly sat down on the door-step to wait. Waiting and staring at the ants building their Ghizehs, Eben was thinking out a very knotty problem. In his absorption he never noticed that a giant of a young fellow known as Joey Nudd passed by the gate and scowled at him. This Joey Nudd, after seeing Eben, went straight to his home, and burst in at the kitchen door with, “Mother, I say, mother, that Shipman is up to Jessie's again.” Then a large woman with red elbows and sharp black eyes turned from the kitchen sink and exclaimed: “Well, ef that ain't imperence 1 The idee! Don't you worry, Joey. I'll dress and go right over.” “Say, mother,” coaxed the giant, “gimme a

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to spend it at the tavern. Oh, Joey, you need a wife, a wife with a little property, to settle you. Now be good, and keep sober over the Fourth, and go to the picnic all tidy and nice, speak to Jessie, and I’ll see she don't refuse yer.”

“All right,” muttered Joey.

Shipman waited very patiently, and at last, as the doctor's gig appeared, he stepped down to meet Jessie at the gate. “My darling,” he said, as the doctor, purple in the face, drove reluctantly away, “I thought I'd be sure to have you to myself for a long afternoon.”

“Oh, but think of that poor man's collarbone !” said Jessie.

“Think of this poor man's heart, though,” Ship

man returned, and was trying to put his arm about her waist, when a small voice piped out from the gate, “Oh, Miss Jessie!” and a small dumpling of a girl toddled up the walk and set down before them an unhappy-looking chicken. “Chickey is sick,” lisped the child. “Jessie make it well.” Then she deliberately walked off again. “Well, Jessie,” asked Shipman, as he assisted, with unnecessarily vigorous action, to put that chicken under a hospital coop, “when will you marry me?” to . “Oh, Eben,” answered Jessie, “how can I marry 2 There's the Davis baby, and Johnny Spies who can’t learn addition, and Rufe Johnson who eats too much, and there's our minister's oldest daughter, whom I promised to help with her wedding outfit, and then there's Billy Boggs Oh! I never could abandon Billy Boggs; it wouldn't be right.” Eben was about to try that little arm exercise again, when a loud “Ahem s” at the open door announced the presence of Mrs. Nudd. “Jessie,” she said, sternly, “I want to speak with you private.” Jessie hurried into the hallway, and Mrs. Nudd delivered herself most passionately. “My son Joey, the best and the handsomest man in the county, wants to marry you, my dear. It's your duty to take him, for if you don't he'll drink himself to death; and, Jessie Palmer, it's a ser’us thing for to drive a man to drink himself to death. What would your parents, as lie buried in the church-yard, think of your drivin' a Buxton Falls boy to drink?” “Oh I—I don't want to marry,” faltered Jessie. “Hal” exclaimed the anxious mother, tragically, “then what's that Junction lawyer hangin' round for ? Jessie, don't you dare refuse my Joey. I declare to gracious his ruin will be right on your soul, and you'll have to answer for it Judgment Day.” Shipman thought it was time to step into the hallway himself; then Mrs. Nudd hissed audibiy, glared at him, and took her capacious person away. The little teacher stood with tears in her eyes, saying, “I wish I could know just what my duty is.” “To marry me,” answered the lover, promptly. “Oh, but that would be so selfish s” cried the poor girl, in genuine distress. Eben's eyes shone as, she so naively confessed just what he most wanted to hear, but he let her talk on. “You see there's the school and there's the Sunday

school to be looked after, and I was born here,

and mother and father died here, and I-well, as Mrs. Clinton says, I’ve put my hand to the plough, and I can't—” it. “Come, now,” interrupted Eben, who had long ago geased to ridicule the fallacy of her premises, “suppose you could make all the children good, all the sick people well, and the vagabonds industrious, would you feel your mission accomplished, and be willing to marry me?” “Of course,” she answered, shyly. “Well, suppose, on the other hand, you should see the village getting decidedly worse under your care; suppose the people should find you obnoxious, and refuse your services; suppose Billy Boggs should be more wicked, Joey Nudd more drunken, the doctor more presuming, the women imore exacting—what then * * it, “Oh s” sighed Jessie, “I’d just go away.” “Very well; but I'm only supposing a case. Let us change the subject,” said Eben, lightly. Jessie cried that night after he had gone away; but Eben, driving along the lonely road, only sang softly to himself, and remembered with satisfac. tion that he had under the wagon seat a little package of fine stationery which he had meant as

| a present to Jessie, but forgot to deliver, and that

he had some wax tapers for lighting cigars. He drove at last into a clearing in the woods, lighted taper after taper, pencilled, sealed, and directed half a dozen notes. Then he tied his horse securely, and went back on foot to the village store. Reckoning on his knowledge of village life, he stepped around to the wood-shed door, and whistled three times in a fashion known to boys; then he turned up his coat collar, slouched his hat over his eyes, and waited. In a few minutes Billy Boggs came stealing out, with the whispered question, “Say, Tom, are we goin' for old Ferguson’s cherries 3" “It isn't Tom,” replied Shipman, softly but sternly, and holding the boy's head down with one strong hand on the back of his neck. “You’re not to look at me or to speak a word, but you're to deliver some letters, and you get a quarter for each one. Do you hear?” “Yep,” answered Billy, scared, and half chokIng. “Now, go straight to the doctor's,” Shipman ordered him, and walked close behind the boy until a note was duly delivered at the doctor's door. ... “Now straight to Jake Jordan's farm. Don't turn round to look at me, or you won't get a cent”—this with a twist of Billy's collar that brought a gurgling sound. At Jake Jordan's another note was left; then one at the minister's; at Mrs. Davis's, and so on. To Joey Nudd, who was hanging sober and thirsty about the tavern door, an envelop containing five dollars was

quarter.” “For shame!” cried the woman; “you want

quietly delivered. “Now,” said Shipman, in a

bass voice, as he dragged his slave under a big shady tree, “some dark night I'll have you pounded to death and cut up in little bits if you breathe a word of this until the Fourth of July is past.” “Wish I may die if I do,” answered the scared Billy, affectionately clutching seven bright quarters. Then Eben walked briskly out of Buxton

Falls, found his wagon where he had left it, and ‘o

with a clear conscience drove home to the Junction. - II. The “Glorious Fourth” had come. There was a holiday stir in Buxton Falls: fully a dozen men stood about “the store” in clean shirt sleeves, a ten-cent flag was nailed to the door-post, a child in a white frock bought half a yard of blue ribbon to tie her hair, and there was a little snapping and popping heard from the village gardens. In front of the church stood Jessie marshalling the children, and she wondered mildly when little Mary Clinton whispered, “Miss Jessie, ma says I’m not to walk with you.” Presently, when by force of habit she took the little girl's hand in her own, the minister's wife bore down upon them and led the child away, remarking, sternly, “Some persons can't appreciate their blessings.” Jessie stared a moment; but she had to look after the boys who carried the baskets—baskets that she had filled by sitting up half the night baking and boiling. As Mrs. Davis chanced to pass near, the little teacher inquired, “How's baby to-day?” “The baby is shiftless, thank you,” answered Mrs. Davis, with a sarcastic laugh. “We’re all shiftless folks. Aha!” ... “What!” said Jessie, greatly puzzled. But then she had to arrange for what was to be sung :

on the march, and she was busy here, there, and

everywhere. Presently the imposing procession, full fifty strong, was started, little flags waved, Some limp wreaths on poles were borne aloft, the Sunday-school standard was unfurled, “The Star

spangled Banner” was shouted out by all the

juveniles. Only a few steps had they gone, however, before Mrs. Johnson, the mother of fat Rufe, stepping ahead, turned about, flourished her parasol, and called a halt. “I propose,” she shouted, very loud and impressively, “that that good Christian woman Miss Phoebe Pendleton : shall lead this procession.” -" o Jessie was perplexed, but sweetly resigned her place, and a little, hard-featured old maid, who wore a chintz gown, stepped to the head, struck the opening note of the national anthem much too high, and the procession screeched its way to Buxton Grove. At this grove were swings, a halfdried brook, some rocks, a swampy hole, plenty of mosquitoes, and all the characteristics of a popular picnic ground. The children made straight for the swings, Billy Boggs leading the van. That loose-jointed animal at once perched himself on a high branch, and began throwing lighted fire-crackers on the dresses of the little girls below. ov : “Billy,” pleaded Jessie, “please come down.” “Guess not,” answered the pirate, and whiz went a cracker right across Jessie's face. “Mrs. Boggs, can't you help me with Billy?” Jessie called out. But that matron only answered, “Billy ought to be learnt in school how to behave himself.” A great deal of whispering was going on, but Jessie never observed it, so busy was she caring for the safety of the little children who were being tormented by Billy. He stole their hats, tore their aprons, pulled their hair, and pommelled the boys right and left so fast and so promiscuously that they became confused, and actually fell to fighting among themselves. At last noon came, and Jessie, thoroughly worn out, approached the grown people, who were inclined to gather in knots and speak low. She bowed to the doctor, who had just arrived, and he stalked up to her, seized both hands, pressed them openly, and ejaculated, in a loud whisper, “My Jessie l’” -- “Goodness!” exclaimed the poor girl, and turning crimson, walked away. But the doctor followed close, and still closer

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She opened her eyes wide in astonishment and .

indignation, and flung away from the obnoxious young man, but only to throw, herself by acci. dent into the arms of the doctor, who gallantly caught her. - * * * “Whoop!” yelled Billy Boggs, calling attention to the situation; “the doctor's huggin' the teacher l’” Mrs. Clinton pronounced audibly the word “Horrible!” but Mrs. Nudd was agitated beyond measure, and ran about wildly crying, “Joey! where are you, Joey” There was a sound in the underbrush as of a trampling steer, and Joey Nudd burst upon the party in a frightful state of intoxication. His hair hung over his forehead, he was hatless and coatless, and he hallooed wildly, “Jessie Palmer's goin' to marry me; mother says so.” With the word the drunken brute made a lunge toward where the poor victim, pale and angry, stood protesting between the other two claimants. The children gathered about, staring; Rufe Johnson opened a basket and sat devouring cakes swiftly and silently; Billy danced and yelled like a red Indian; and finally old Miss Phoebe Pendleton trotted out from among the whispering women, and declaimed, with great effect, “Jessie Palmer's conduct is perfectly shameful!” “Look how badly she brings up my Billy!" cried Mrs. Boggs. “Oh, some folks is shiftless, eh?” sneered Mrs. Davis. And the well-meaning clergyman, misled by the force of public opinion, raised his ministerial finger and remarked, “I

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