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-.CA4 RIGHTS EBSKETBDJ j A# FACTORY LASS OB THE STRANGE STORY OP VIOLET BY MARION WARD. Author of Love's Thorny Path:* IFfis Fair I Lady:* &c. CHAPTER XVIf. A CRUEL PHIIiANTHSOPIST. I "The girl -looks half-starved," muttered Major Mimro, as he went up in the lift to the tea-room, "I should say &he hadn't had square meal for days. Well, sho will have to Let me help her now, whatever happens. Thack goodness, Adela is staying with me at the Queen's, and she will know the best tovy cf offering aid to the poor child." Adela was his sister, a spinster lady of large means and very much addicted to good works, so that surely helping a de- fenceless girl would be quite in her line. tin fortunately the Major quite forgot that his eister's favourite form of charity was re- claiming people of bad character. Mis. 34miro had no }Ace in her plans for those ■who, blameless and innocent as herself, yet Borely needed a helping hand in life's hard Warfare. Violet Mason had not given him a hint as to iijuf she wanted to see Mrs. Staunton, or for what object their meeting had been arranged, so the Major supposed that the ■Widow was, like his sister, given to good "Works, and meant to try and find Violet a raore congenial sphere of labour. By this time it was nearly five, and the -bti sin ess of the tea-room was at its height. There was no lady in widow's weeds stand- ing by the door, but Mrs. Staunton might 17ag bv the door, but have tired of her watch and gone inside, so the Major passed through the great swing doors and" walked slowly down the centre of the large room, his keen eyes taking in the people—chiefly ladies—grouped at the small; Pe<) r, l e-- oliicfln- la d ie-3-, marble-topped tables. Suddenly he started: stroBsr man as he ■was, «his face blanched, and for a moment such a grim pain clutched at his heart that lie felt near fainting. The next moment he had pulled himself together with a soldier's coinage and decided he was either the victim 8>f an optical delusion or of some strange h;"mcc resemblance. Yhe woman in widow's weeds, who sat alone at a table in one of the corners ■ farthest from the door, simply could not be the fa-lse siren who had done her best to 'bli.?'ht his life ten long ye;.i?s ago! He advanced to the table. The woman's eyes were lowered on her plate, so that she did not see. his approach, and before he reached her one of the attendants came up to make out her bill. Ø\11 came here to meet a young lady." The voice carried Major Munro back a decade. *'1: I £ 0 away, I shall miss her. Surely I can keep this table a. little longer." "There's a great crowd here to-day, madam/' said the" girl civilly, "and you have had the table half-an-hour. If you like to give m,e a message I will deliver it to the young lady." 'y on would not know her," snapped the "WiSow. Then, seeing the attendant was not to be coerced, she said less aggressively: ":If a tall gui** dressed in blafck asks for Mrs. Staunton,' tell her I could net wait any -longer, but that J will write to her and Slake another appointment." "Very good, The widow turned to leave the room, but Major Munro hastened to the door and passv»d through it before her, so that he was cttanding in b the corridor when she reached it. He looked her full in the face and spoke T)ne word. "Fe.iicite." The w<Vuan shivered from' head to foot. I tlioti(xlit you were in Isdia with your regiment." "I air; hero," he .answered her gravely. "You have broken your contract, Felicile. Yon. know it was agreed that cn the day you returned to England your allowance would cease." » ex pcckd frantic entreaties and plead- ing', but the widow answered him with a" iirtle mocking laugh. ,"Very well, -if you are so mean, you can stop it. I kv(,, found a gold mine, which, if properly worked, will be worth a great deal mo-re to me than your paltry pittance," -It seemed to Violet Mason that Major Munro was gone a very long time, but when ho returned to her he looked so grave that she begqm to think that some personal trouble had befallen him. Mason," he said- quietly, "if you -will let me walk home with you, I can tell you the result of my search." But it was not till they had left Stafford House, and plunged into a quiet street that he asked her gravely whether she had ever met -Air, Staunton. "Never. Siie, wrote to me yesterday say- ing that she was Aunt Hannah's sister, .and— A. nd another aunt of yours?" suggested Major Munro. ":o. she said that she was iny-mothe, that her poverty had obliged her to leave me to her sister's care and go. out to India as maid to a great lady, but now she was her own distress, and had' come back to make a htui.'o for me." "Tiiat letter was a tissue of lies," said Major Munro, emphatically. -1 have seen a woman who gave her name to one of the tea-room attendants as Mrs. Staunton, and said that she had been waiting there since four o'clock for a voting lady. But that woman is not your mother; she simply couldn't for I knew her well in Iudia ten or twelve years ago, and she was then child- less and married to a foreigner. '"There can be no tie of blood between yoa and her, Miss Mason. Her name is Fv-Iieite (Jonianza, -and though I don't know lev /hat motive she has sought you out, I. tell you plainly there is contamination in her very touch. If you value your good iis:ie, your innocence, your truth. you i?Hj.-7t h!!1! fh"ii, woman as ycu would shun the pestilence. "Promise mc that you will have nothing tc do with the pretended Mrs. Staunton," went on M?jcr Muj)?o. ?ChiM, you can't t&u?h pitch withoat being denied, and you could p i I ? (:L, thG with *o;ed, ,i-id vo,, coll,d keep iiite wittta woman like 'that a,,icl "1 know you mC3N kindly"—there was a sti."?.s?ed sob in the girl's throat—"but, ch, you cannot know what a terrible disappoint- ment it is to me! I have lost my situation, I see no chance of another, azd-every day that comes I grow poorer." "There is only one thing to be done," said Major Munro, "you must take the money I oi?«red you last August." "I can't—it would be like begging." "No, it wouldn't," said the soldier kindly. "I was the innocent caus-e of your aunt's de<ith, and I owe you come compensatioa. Lx-tk here. Miss Mason, if you won't take the twenty pounds I offered you as a free 91-ft I will you accept five pounds as a loan ? You told me the first time I saw you that you earned ten shillings a week, so five P°if^ ■ would keep you for over two months, &nd by that time you may have found work." .Violet Moepted the oSer. Major Munro 6po!? eo kindly, he made  seem so natural tli? he Should help her, that the obligation did not hurt her pride, but what she felt most grateful for was his promise that his sistar would help her to find employment. "My sister understands girls a great deal "My than I do," he?aid. "She knows aU abemt the market for their work and that sort of things so if you see her, she's sure to 1 te able to helpi you. I must start for Ply- mouth to rejoin my regiment at ten o'clock to-morrow, but limy sister will be at the Queen's Hotel till the afternoon. I 'shall tell her all about you, that you will caU between ten an4 '.eu..She S sure to be able # to advise you; Hhe might even find you a new billet on the spot." Before she went to bed that night Violet wrapped the five sovereigns in a little piece of calico, which she s-êwed strongly inside the Ibodice of her dsess. Sty* believed Miss Gibba" to be honest, in spite of > her harsh, penurious ways, but five soveregins seamed such a tremendous fortune to her that she dared not risk any of it being stolen. Adela Munro was ten years older than her brother, and in most things an utter con- trast to him. A r 'xl woman according to her lights, but a v. ry lisixd one, sh e wa3 one of those spinsters who think beauty a snare and refbrd it as a duty to make the right way full of briars and thorns to the un- happy disciples they are trying to guide along it. Miss Munro regarded the Major as a "'rcat deal too good-natured, and sho believed tha't he could be taken in by any story if it was only made pathetic enough, so she listened to what he told her of Violet Mason with a mental reservation only to help the young woman if she seemed in a properly penitent state of mind. When violet presented, herself, she was at once ushered into the private sitting-room where Miss Munro was writing letters. There was no kindness or compassion in the lady'3 manner, but she eyed Violet up and down, as though she had been some curious animal, before* she asked sharply: "Are you the young woman my brother was tellmg me about?" "Yes, Major Munro theught perhaps you would be able to help me to a situation." "What ean you do?" < "I have been a press-girl for more than five years. I was sent away from Preston's because I was seen talking to the inspec- tor," < "Won't they give you a character?" trNo." "That's bad," said Miss Munro. "Few people would employ a girl without a cha- racter. A young woman ought to be very careful of her gayd name. Can you do I put in needlework? Do you understand keep- ing a house clean and tidy?" "I am very fond of needlework, and my aunt taught me to sweep and dust." "I live at Sedgeley," said Miss Munro. "I have started a home there for girls with- out a character, and after they have been with me twelve months I can generally get them good situations as domestic servants, though of course I always have to tell their employers of their past." Violet Mason flushed crimson as the true meaning of the offer came home to her. and she understood that she was being invited to eater a sort of amateu- reformatory. "I'll trouble you further, miss," she firmly; "I've done nothing wrong, there's not a slur tm, my ogaracter. I'm not ,,t4-,r.e iot a sliir t)n, a thkf or a gadabout. I had the misfor- I tune to ge to a factory which treats its workpeople abominably, and because I was xi speaking to an inspector I was sent off at a moment's notice, and their influence has made it impossible for me to get taken en elsewhere; but I'm not a penitent, Miss Munro, and I shouldn't like to enter such a home as you describe. My good name is all I have, and -I should lose it for ever if J went to live in a sort of reformatory." "I can see that you are an impertinent, idle creature," said, Miss Munrp, "and that my brother has been- grossly deceived in you. If you come to the workhouse, or worse, it will be your own fault, and nothing -but what you deserve. You can go now, and re- member it will' be of no use for you to apply to me again." "I shouldn't do that if 1. were starving, miss," said Violet quietly, as she left the room. (To be continued.)





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