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[ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.] HER VANISHED LOVER. I BY EDITH C. KENYON, Author qf" Which was the Heiress?" The Hand of his Brother" The Squire of Lonsdale," eke. CHAPTER XVIII. MR. EDEN'S ILLNESS. U OR, dad! dad!" cries poor Jessie, ter- ribly alarmed. "What is the matter? Mother mother!" she calls, looking round for help, and fearing to leave her father for one minute. The bright, clean kitchen, with its dis- ordered breakfast-table, from which most of them have risen hastily, looks desolate. A solitary, sickly winter sunbeam coming in at the window falls across the red and swollen face of the old farmer in his arm- chair. It rests upon his fine, although now distorted features, and shows up more dis- tinctly the silvery whiteness of his hair. The old sheep-dog lying on the hearth rises, stretches himself, and coming up to his master, looks at him with evident concern, beginning to whimper when he finds no notice is taken of him. The kettle sings upon the hearth. Outside the window a couple of robins are awaiting the crumbs Jessie usually throws out to them. All this is burnt in on Jessie's mind—years after- wards she will see it all as vividly as she does now. Forgetting all about her money, or, if remembering, hating the very thought of it, now that the excitement attendant upon its coming has dealt such a blow at her beloved father, Jessie leans over him, crying, and realizing helplessly that she can do nothing to heal the grievous injury now fallen upon him. "Lord ha' mercy I" cries her mother, entering with a glass of water in her hand, and looking keenly at her husband. ""Richard Oh, Richard 1" her voice breaks. He has been a good husband to her, a very good husband, and she realizes it then as she has never done before. "He's had astroke," she says aside to Jessie. "God help us all, he's had a stroke." Together they attemptTto lift him—be is a dead weight—from his chair, and lay him on the old chinz-covered sofa. But it is a task beyond their strength, and Jane's strong arms have to be requisitioned. La, missis It's an ax-plax fit," whispers Jane, tears rolling down her cheeks. Miss Jessie, didn't I tell you now? Silence I commands Mrs. Eden. "He'll hear you. Leave his head against that cushion. There! Bring me some of the coldest water you can from the well. Jess, reach me that cloth, and pass me that there vinegar. Cold water, and vinegar to his head, and something hot to his feet. Jane," as the maid returns with the water, "go fo j"/1 •lrY3, j tOVrn We must have his Ihn t l JgR i «eS^' £ on'fc stand Poking like ibt k and ^d Dlck- He must go the doctor as quick as ever he can." wh° would rather remain with her father, recognises that she must obey tins capable nurse, and, running off down to the farm fold, calls Dick! Dick The fowls hear her, and come running and flyinR from all directions. The pigs hear her, and grunt loudly in their sties a horse hears her, and neighs from its loose box; pigeons hear and come flying down, with soft cooing and gentle flapping of wings. A couple of colley-dogs come tearing up with noisy barks, frightening away pigeons and poultry, who depart in all directions, with vehement flapping of wings and many indignant cries. The sight of some outside steps at one end of a building makes her determine to run np them, and, from their top, take a wider look afield. She accordingly does so, and, standing on the topmost step, looks around over the home-fields, with eager eyes. Dick she calls, perceiving him crossing a field at the other side of the fold, with his dog at his heels, "Dickl" She waves her handkerchief. Well, what do you want?" shouts Dick, amazed at this cry from her on the granary steps. What do you want ? I can't find Sue!" I want you," calls back Jessie's clear bell- like voice. I I Dad's ill. We want you to go for the doctor!" "Dad's ill: Jess, what do you mean?" exclaims a voice in Jessie's ear, as Susan, emerging from the granary, where she has taken refuge, lays a hand on Jessie's shoulder. "Oh, dear! How you startled me, child! I had no idea you were here Dad's very ill, very ill indeed." "Nonsense! He was quite well a few minutes since, when I left the house. He was quite well," repeats Susan. As she speaks she is hastily folding and slipping a letter into her pocket. Her eyes are very red. Evidently she has been crying over it there, all by herself. Mechanically Jessie notices all this, won- dering a little from whom the letter can be and what it is about. There is, however, no time to question Susan now. Rapidly the elder sister tells the younger that she fears their father must have had some kind of an apoplectic seizure. Susan knows what that means. One of the elderly farm labourers was smitten down with that woeful death-in-life only the winter before, and lay like a dog till he died, only his wistful eyes showing the poor mind struggling through its surrounding mists. Poor father she cries. "It's a shame 1 and for a moment the girl's selfishness drops off from her, and she reveals something better. It's a cruel shame And he so good and kind! And oh, dear, I've been right bad to him lately," she adds, with compunction, as she and Jessie go to meet Dick. It was only yesterday and she breaks down, crying at the remembrance of her beha- viour. Don't, dear, don't I. says Jessie, cry- ing, too. She has never felt so near to Susan since the latter was a little child, as she does in this their mutual trouble. What on earth's the matter ?" cries Dick, coming up. "Father ill? Why, I've Pj T}?eu ouk of house many minutes, and 1 left him hale and well." Jessie briefly describes their father's Almost before she 1ms finished •r'"slled off for his horse, that he iy)ay i-ide into tilco village to fetch the doctor. front kitchen "viilf L fertile Tlu'ii* WlUl small trepidation. wet cloths n i" < ie °'d co"ch, with cold weV cioins on his head, bveatbino- «•»!"« fixed •upon vacancy. Leside Imn kneels Mrs Edea, great tears rolling slowly down bet cheeks. Jessie recognises then that, what- ever are her faults, she loves her husband. Oh, mother! mother 1" sobs Susan, what- ever shall we do ? li -,isli He may hear you!" ho\v m,e graded wife. God alone knows be,s conscious of!" looking iii,+ vi ^<nvu beside her mother, ever been like (hie i Has he Eden, in tones BO LwJhat n MRS' soundless. Lbat Uley almost to mis of it! tat°hi°„e;f;. JS, Dta? befOT6 HoikeraS^s That it is an apoplectic seizure the doctor perceives at the first glance. There is nof very much to be done. The patient is put into a bed made up tor him in the kitchen; he is to lie there tended day and night in the manner the doctor directs, until, by God's wiercy, he comes to himself, or, instead, goes away to that bourne whence no traveller returns. I Days and weeks pass slowly by. There is little change in the health of the dearly- loved patient. His wife and daughters (chiefly Jessie), assisted by Jane, nurse him devotedly. There is no question now about Jessie's leaving home—her place is by her father's side. She has written to her lawyer, and he has at; once sent her a cheque for a hundred pounds, together with sundry papers for her to sign, others for her to keep; and the business matter is sets led. Her little fortune is her own, to do with as she pleases. Susan regards her with more awe, if some- what enviously. As the younger sister becomes accustomed to her father's illness, she seems to grow more callous about it. She refuses to admit Jessie into her confidence about the letter which gave her such trouble and resents all allusion to it. Every morn- ing she makes some excuse to meet the post- man herself and secure what there is for her before the family receive their letters. It is clear therefore that she still receives secret communications. Jessie fears something is wrong, but her father's illness prevents her from thinking much about it. At first Mrs. Eden seems really glad to have Jessie at home, and is pleased that she should spend part of her money in buying little luxuries for the sick room. "Your money comes in handy just now, Jess," says she. for I may tell you that the farm has only paid expenses lately, and there has been no money for extras." Yet Dick, when Jessie speaks to him on the subject, informs her that the farm has done unusually well the last year or two, and his father has spoken of being able to put by considerable sums. And Jessie has several times suspected that Mrs. Eden is in possession of a concealed store. One night, when Jessie enters the sick room at three o'clock, to take her mother's place for a few hours, whiIslj she goes else- where to lie down, the girl surprises her counting over a little heap of bank-notes. "It's not time for you to come yet!" cries the step-mother, angrily, looking up at her with furious eyes. "What for are you coming now ? It's not three o'clock." For answer Jessie points to her father's watch stuck up on the table for a timepiece. The short hand stands at III, the other at XII. It is later than you think," she says gently. "My goodness, it is! Mrs. Eden covers the notes with her hand. "There's not suffi- cient coal here, Jess," she says, shortly. "Just run down into t' kitchen and fetch some, will you? Jane's left a skep full ready." "Very well." Jessie goes softly down- stairs, not wishing to awaken Dick, or Susan. She is aware Mrs. Eden only wishes to be rid of her for a few minutes, as there is enough coal upstairs to last through the night. The kitchen is in darkness when she reaches it, and a chilly blast of cold night air blows upon her as she enters, extin- guishing her light. The wind comes straight from an open window, and she discovers that; the casement is wide open. A sudden sense of loneliness and fright makes her stand quite still. She can almost hear the beating of her heart. Although no one is visible she is convinced that someone is outside that open window. It must be a burglar. She wishes herself upstairs with all her heart. The wind ceases to blow upon her, the kitchen is darker even than before she knows a dark object is outside the window. In her agitation, scarcely knowing what she does, she strikes a light—for she has matches in her candlestick—the candlewick takes hold of the match-flame very gingerly. All her attention is concentrated on trying to make it burn. A noise, like a rough exclamation, and then, sounds, as of a heavy footstep with- drawing irom the window, together with a returning blast of cold air startle her. Holding the candle carefully between her hands, she advances with it to the window. The light streams out into the pitchy dark- ness-not even a star is visible-she can see no sign of anyone. She stands at the window a few moments, looking out vainly herself a beautiful pic- ture illuminated by the candle she is hold- ing. A study in blue and gold—she is in her palê. blue dressing-gown, with curly golden hair half down her back, and blue eyes open wide. "I will have her! I will! Is it fancy? Or does she really hear the muttered words ? She thinks it is fancy on her part, and closing the window, draws down the blind, and taking up a coal-scuttle returns upstairs to the sick room. My word What a time you've been exclaims Mrs. Eden, who has put her money away out of sight. "What have you been doing?" She looks suspiciously at Jessie. "Did you know the kitchen window was open, mother?" asks Jessie, regarding her step-mother fixedly. "There was such a draught, my candle blew out. "I know there was someone outside, for the window was blocked up the next minute." Whatever are you saying ? Mrs. Edei; endeavours to speak naturally, but look much agitated. o It was a man." "Didliesayanytliin "He made an exclamation of some sort. Just like a man." "Mercy on us! A burglar he must have been Good gracious! Jess, did you fasten the window ?" Yes." "And look roiin d ? "No. I came straight back.' "Then I shall have to go and look all around. There may be someone inside!" ihe woman snatched the candlestick from Jessie's hand, gave a look at the helpless figure of her husband on the bed, and was hurrying out of the room when Jessie stopped her. Stay, mother," she says, quickly. Don't go alone Call Dick up. If there is a burglar he might but her step-mother has gone. "Jess." The one word startles her. It comes from the bed. Her father's eyes are looking at her very wistfully. His lips are quivering. "Dad!" she cries, forgetting everything else except her joy in this partial recovery. "Oh, dad!" and she cannot say another word for deep emotion, but can only kiss him tenderly upon his brow. "Jess," he says again, with a great effort. "Jess, don't leave me! I—I'm very ill." Great tears roll down his face. "But you are beginning to recover," she says. "Oh, dad, darling, you are beginning to recover. And I won't leave you-don't fear; that-I won't leave you." There is no response. Her father has again sunk into apparent unconsciousness. Hit- eyes are once more glassy his breathing hard and stentorious. Jessie does not like to leave him for an instant lest she should miss another awaken- ing, otherwise she would go to the door to look out for her mother's return upstairs. The minutes pass slowly away. Jessie's ears are quick, but she cannot detect the sound of her mother's footsteps. All is very still. The clock below strikes the half hour. Five minutes, ten minutes pass, and then, the silence is broken by the sound of angry voices on the stairs. With one of those inexplicable movements of the night, the door-handle turns, ap- parently of itself, and the door opens about half an inch. This enables Jessie to distin- guish voices and even words. "You bad girl her mother is saying. Whatever were you doing out there at this time o' night?" What were you doing you meari ? asks fMisan, insolently. .p'VXpu were with some man——" the rest ot th^ sentence is inaudible. rou were with a man like. I saw him" You impudent hussy You lie! "Let me go. You shall not-not-shake me!" Sounds follow suggestive of a severe shak- ing. Sobs, many sobs; then, two doors open and shut. What does it mean ? Jessie is bewildered. Was it Susy who was outside the kitchen window when she went downstairs? If so she was not alone, for it was a man's ejacu- lation Jessie heard. She must have slipped out to talk with someone And what did her words mean about her mother. She had made a counter accusation. Had Mrs. Eden, been-out of doors in her pretended search after b tirg] zi,rs ? Thoroughly puzzled, Jessie looks at her poor father, as if for an explana- nation. His eyes are seeking hers, with an intelli- gent expression in them. His lips quiver once more he endeavours to speak. Jessie fills a spoon with a restorative, and gives it to him, cheering him the while with gentle, loving words. "Jess," he says feebly, at last. "I can't move-I can't move." Tears fill his eyes, and roll down his cheeks. Jessie wipes .them tenderly away. "But you are beginning to recover," she says as brightly as she can," you are begin- ning to recover. You can think and speak." He lies very still, struggling with memory, endeavouring to pierce the mists surround- ing him and grasp the situation. Shall I call mother suggests Jessie. "No." His voice is stern. "No." "But, dad, she loves you so dearly," Jessie ventures to remind him, for she has been touched by her step-mother's patient nursing of him. "She deceives me." Then, more vehe- mently, I care not for such love." His daughter does not know what to say. Tenderly she takes his hand and strokes it." "You—never deceive-therefore I love you," he murmurs. And then, the lucid interval is over, and he becomes once more unconscious. CHAPTER XIX. I SUSAN AND SLATER. I "LA! Archibald, how you do keep me waiting I was nearly caught last night." "You were? Come nearer me in the shadow of this tree. Speak very low, and tell me how that is ? Susan looks up at Archibald Slater in the rapidly fading twilight and giggles a little, very foolishly. They are standing in the old orchard amongst the gnarled and twisted forms of the apple and pear trees. A little brook running through the orchard murmurs a gentle accompaniment to their speech. The man has been hunting, following the hounds on a hired horse which is now tethered to the fence closd by. lie found it easy to leave the other hunting-men and dismount near Edenfield Farm, knowing Susan would keep her promise of the pre- vious night and join him in the orchard. She has done so, and both she and he feel a little nervous lest he should be discovered by Dick, or his jealous ally, Jim. Still they tell each other they must meet Slater, alleging that he can no longer keep away from Susan. To secure her co-operation he has been obliged to pretend that he has the most tender interest in her as well as in Jessie. "I don't know how in the world it is," says Susan low in his ear, "but just as I was going to let myself in at the kitchen door mother was entering it from outside, too. Mother! Just think! I never was so scared in all my life I fairly jumped." "Why, you little goose !-I mean you dar- ling girl, she had missed you and gone off after you of course "No, she hadn't. She was as much start- led as I was, Archie!" Susan simpers a little over the name. "She was quite as much startled as I was," she repeats. 11 Then, what was she doing out of doors at three o'clock in the morning? "She'd a little game of her own on," says Susan vulgarly. There was a man in it, too." "Hoi ho 1" laughs Slater softly. "And your father lying helpless there I Well, that was a go "You mustn't think there's anything wrong about mother," says the girl, remem- bering rather late that she ought to be loyal to her parent. "Of course if she chooses she can explain her being there." "And the man's presence ? I daresay. But come, Archie, we are not goiu' to spend all our time talking about mother. What for did you want so much to see me here to-night?" "Well, I want you to tell me something. I've heard—never mind who told me—I've heard your sister has come into a fortune. Is that true ? "No, no." "Not? I was wrongly informed then. A fellow told me she had come into money which brought her in at least 2200 a year." Susan shakes her head. For she does not stick at telling a lie to Slater. "AH is fair in love and war," she has taken for her motto. And she is determined Jessie shall not have him." Slater is puzzled. He does not think the girl will actually lie to him. A sudden idea occurring to his mind makes him exclaim, Oh Perhaps it is you who have come into the money ? Susan's face lights up. If she says Yes." Just that one little word, she feels certain Slater will prefer her to Jessie. It is a sudden temptation, and she yields to it in her mad infatuation for the man. "Yes," she answers, and then, hides her face upon his breast. "You darling!" He hugs her rather roughly. Oh, give over f" But she likes it. "How did this fortune come to you?" he asks. Jessie hesitates a moment. Then she answers firmly, "an aunt left it to me in her will." "And has the will been proved?" Susan does not know what that means. She stares at him rather vacantly. "What is the money left in ? he asks. "Oh, in consols," Susan answers, with only a vague idea of what she means by that, but having heard Jessie speak of them. "And is it in your possession now? Is it quite in your possession?" he inquires, eagerly. Indeed a very greedy expression has come into his face. Yes, yes," she answers with impatience, hoping he will cease asking these difficult hoping he will cease asking these difficult questions. He asks a few more about the amount ol money, which she answers as well as she can. Then he says condescendingly, with fine candour, "Well, I don't know but what I will have you, now you've got all that, You are quite sure there is no mistake about it though ? he adds, cautiously. "Quite sure." "Haw! Well," he twirls his moustaches irresolutely. I say," he says, at last, "I wish you could show me a little of the money it would seem to make it more real to me if I could see some of it." Susan's countenance falls. How the man distrusts her! And how can she possibly show him any of Jessie's money. "You might let me see fifty pounds, or at least twenty ? he suggests. It's in consols I tell you," she rejoins, rather sulkily. "Yes, yes. But you'll have some of your interest I've no doubt ? The greedy covet- ous expression of his face is intensified. "Oh, yes. I had a hundred pounds of interest to begin with," she says slowly, "But—but I've spent some of that-a great deal." "Let' me see 9,20. Let me only see R,20, and- I'll believe you, darling," he says, witb a rougll caress, which to any sensible girl t would have been as insulting as his words. But Susan bridles and giggles. Then she knits her brows, in the effort to think by what means she can possibly accede to his request. Although she is clever now at the task of opening Jessie's drawers even when they are locked—she can pick an ordinary- lock when necessary, having learnt the trick —she is doubtful whether her sister keeps so much money by her. Jessie, she knows, has opened an account with one of the banks in Wakefield, and she has a cheque-book. But it won't be the least use stealing a cheque of hers to show Slater. Even if she were to steal one and forge Jessie's name upon it, the name itself would be proof that the money was Jessie's and not hers. "I can't go into the house and fetch it now," says Susan, at length—"it must be another time." Send it to me by post." But-but-" "Haw! Susie dear, you must," he inter- rupts, Come now. You know my address." I can't spare it for you to keep." Susan looks quite frightened at the idea, Haw !—I won't keep it. I only want to see it. As soon as I've seen it I'll send it back." "Will you?" Susan looks doubtfully at him. Of course I will. On my honour as a gentleman!" That sounds very fine, so he repeats it. "And what then ? What will happen after you have seen it." Haw he strokes his moustaches, "well, I'll come for you, my girl—I mean rny love- I'll come for you." He regards her lan- guish in gly. Susan is in raptures. To be your wife ?" she asks, with a little gasp. My wife!" he repeats, acquiescingly. Blushing more deeply than ever, Susan nestles nearer to him. La she says from somewhere near his vest," how happy we should be Slater made a wry face from above her red head. The twilight deepens one or two stars appear in the leaden grey overhead; night is closing in on them with the sudden- ness usual to it in the middle of winter. "Miss Susan Miss Susan, where are You ? Susan, your ma wants you calls Jane from the top of the oicijara. sue lias a yard-broom in her hand, and is flourishing- it by way of attracting the girl's attention. "Don't let her see you, Archie, whispers y Susan to Slater. She has vowed she will pay you out for what you did to Jessie." "Then run to her. Run, or she will come down the orchard. I will stay here." But Susan clings to him. "I cannot leave you," she whispers. "Go, go. She is coming. She.will see me." He pushes Susan from him. (To be continuedI)





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