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CHAPTER VII. -THE MORNING INTERVIEW. MABEL was looking at her adopted daughter and the in the room, listening to their conversation with breathdoor opened so noiselessly that neither of them had ob- less attention. served it. Thus Agnes Barker remained some minutes “Mother," repeated Lina and her face flushed

Eatered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by Mes. Ann S. STEPHENS, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the U.S., for the Southern District of Now York.

like a wild rose, “I have something to say; don't | ing so wistfully at his mistress all the morning, as if he look at me, please, it makes me afraid.”

knew all the risk she had run, drew back from his “Afraid, my child !” said Mabel, smiling, “afraid of place near the embroidered stool, and allowing Lina to your mother! Shame, Lina !"

seat herself thereon, stole back to his position, contrasting “But I can only remember that you are his mother the snowy folds of her morning-dress with the pretty now, dear Mrs. Harrington !"

scarlet housings, edged with black velvet, which he “Dear Mrs. Harrington! Why, child, what has always wore in chilly weather. come over you?

“Why, how you tremble ! how white you are, Lina! “Something—something so strange and sweet that it and I was but just thinking you neglectful.” makes the very heart tremble in my bosom, dear " Neglectful—oh, mother!" mamma, and yet

Well, well, it was all a mistake, child; but what And yet you are afraid !”

kept you from me so long ?" “Yes, mamma; you have thought so highly of him- “I went out to walk." he is so much wiser and nobler than I am-he

“What, after hearing ofMabel drew a quick breath, and turned her eyes “Oh! mamma, how can you think so? I have seen almost wildly on the face of the young girl.

no one this morning." “Of whom do you speak, Lina ?”

“Then you knew nothing of this accident ?" quesLina was terrified by her look, and faltered, “Of-of tioned Mabel, thoughtfully. Mr. Harrington, dear mamma."

“ Indeed, indeed I did not. What could have kept The Parian cup in Mabel's hand shook like a lily in the me from your side, if I had known? Oh, it was terriwind. She sat it slowly down, and suppressing a thrill ble! What must have become of us all had you never uf pain that ran through her like the creep of a serpent, returned—of me, of him ?” remained for a moment bereft of all speech. It was the Lina could hardly speak, the whole thing had come first time that Lina had ever called Ralph, Mr. Harring- upon her so suddenly, but sat wistfully questioning her ton, and the mistake drove the very blood from the mother with those tender blue eyes. heart of her benefactress.

Mabel told her all, even to the false illumination of the “Mr. Harrington ? and what of him f” inquired the cedar tree, and the appearance of Agnes Barker, like an pallid woman, clasping her tremulous hands and striv- evil shadow the firelight. All? no, no! The facts ing to hold them still in her lap. “What of Mr. Har- she related faithfully, but feelings—those haunting rington, Lina ?” Her voice was low and hoarse; the spirits that fluttered in her heart even yet—those very atmosphere around her, froze poor Lina into Mabel Harrington could not have spoken aloud even to silence.

her God. “Nothing, indeed nothing at all!” she gasped at When Mabel had told all, Lina's face, that had been length. “I was so terrified, I don't know what I growing paler and paler as the recital progressed, flushed wished to say.

It took me

so by surprise, and with sudden thanksgiving; her eyes filled with great -and

bright drops, such as we see flash downward when rain Mabel's face lighted. She remembered her adventure and sunshine strive together; and, creeping up to her the night before, and again mistook poor Lina.

mother's bosom, she began to sob and murmur thanks'Oh, yes, my own sweet child, I forgot that they givings, breaking them up with soft tender kisses, that kept my peril from yon all night. Mr. Harrington did, went to Mabel's heart. indeed, save me.”

"You are glad to have me back again, my Lina ?" “ Save you, mamma? how from what ?”

"Glad, mamma, glad? Oh, if I only knew how “I see they have not told you how near death I was. to thank God, as he should be thanked !" Oh, Lina! it was terrible when that wheel plunged me “I think you love me, Lina," answered Mabel, and into the black depths. In a single minute, I thought her face was luminous with that warm, tender light, of everything-of my home, of Ralph, of you, Lina." which made her whole countenance beautiful, at times,

The young girl did not answer. She stood aghast beyond any mere symmetry of features that ever with surprise and terror.

existed. “I think you love me, Lina." “I thought,” said Mabel, still excited and nervous, The young girl did not answer, but crept closer " I thought of everything I had ever done in my life- to Mrs. Harrington's bosom. A deep breath came in a the time, the place, the objects with which each act had tremor from her bosom, as odor shakes the lily-bell it been surrounded, flashed before me like a living escapes from. panorama."

Thus, for a little time, the two remained in each Mother, how did this happen ?” faltered Lina, other's embrace, blissful and silent. All this time trembling from head to foot.

Agnes Barker looked on, with a dawning sneer upon Mabel lifted her face, and saw how pale and troubled her lip. the young girl was.

At length, Mabel lifted Lina's face from her bosom, “Sit down, darling, here at my feet, and I will tell and kissing the white forehead, bade her sit down and you all. Move, Fair-Star, and let your mistress sit partake of the breakfast that stood upon a little table at down."

her side. She filled a cup with chocolate from the The beautiful Italian greyhound that had been look- small silver kettle, and pressed it upon the young girl.

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For not even love can live on flowers."

room.

"My heart is too full-I cannot taste a drop," “ There is aromatic vinegar on the console yondersaid Lina.

do bring it, while I open the window.": “Nonsense, child," answered Mabel, and, with a Lina ran for the crystal flask pointed out, and began laugh and a bright look, she hummed

to sprinkle Mabel's face, sobbing and moaning all the

time. Agnes opened the sash door, that led to a stone “Lips, though blooming, must still be fod,

balcony full of flowers, and their breath came floating

into th Why did the rosy blood leap into that young face at “Shall I run ? shall I call help ?" questioned Lina, the word “Love ?” Why did those eyelids droop letting Mrs. Harrington's head fall back upon the crimso bashfully, and the little hand begin to shake under son cushions of her chair, “ I—I am sure Ralph would the snowy cup it would gladly have put down? Lina bring her to.” remembered now that her secret was still untold, while “Be quiet,” answered Agnes Barker, dragging the Mabel, startled by her blushes, thought of the first easy-chair toward the window, where the fragrant wind words that bad marked their interview, and grew timid blew clear and cold into that deathly face. as one does, who has suffered and dreads a renewal of

"If you call any one, let it be Mr. Harrington." pain.

“ The General ?" Thus these two persons, loving each other so deeply, “No, Mr. James Harrington.” shrunk apart, and were afraid to speak. Poor Lina, “I will go," answered Lina, eagerly. with her exquisite intuition which was a remarkable But the name of James Harrington, even upon those gift, drooped bashfully forward, the roses dying on her lips, had reached the sleeping sense of Mabel. She cheek beneath the frightened glance which Mabel fixed made a faint struggle. Her lips quivered with an inefupon them, and her eyelids drooping their dark lashes fectual attempt to speak. This brought Lina back. .downward, as the falling leaves of a japonica cast shadows. “Shall I call help, dear mamma ? Shall I call

At last Mabel spoke low and huskily, for, like all help ?” brave persons, she only recoiled from pain for the “No!" moment. Her heart always rose to meet its distresses

The monosyllable was uttered so faintly, that nothing at once, and steadily.

but a loving ear, like Lina's, would have heard it. “Tell me, Lina, what is it? You have not heard The warm-hearted girl stooped and kissed Mabel of my escape, and yet something disturbed you.” softly upon the forehead, thanking God silently in her “Yes, mamma!"

heart. " And, what is it?"

Mabel shrunk from the pure kiss, turned her head Lina struggled a moment, lifted her eyes full of wist- abruptly on the cushion, and tears stole through her ful love, and, dropping her head in Mabel's lap, burst eyelashes, leaving them dark and moist. into tears.

Madam, is there anything I can do ?” “ You love some one ?” said Mabel, with an instinctive As she spoke, Agnes bent over the helpless woman, recoil; “is that it ?"

and distilled her glances over that pale face, as the “Yes, yes; oh, forgive us!” burst up from among upas tree weeps poison. Lina's sobs.

The unaccountable dislike that Mabel felt for this "Forgive us—and who is the other?” There was a girl, gave her strength, and she sat up, strong with tremble in Mabel's voice—a premonitory shiver of the the reflection that her weakness had so objectionable limbs. Oh, how she dreaded the answer that would a witness.

“You here, Miss Barker 1” she said with cold dig“ You know you must guess,” pleaded poor Lina. nity; "I have always held this room sacred from all, “No, who is he?"

but my own family.” “Mrs.—Mrs. Harrington, oh, don't send me away!" “I come by invitation,” answered Agnes, meekly.

There was no danger that Mabel Harrington would“ Yesterday afternoon you left a message with my send the young girl away. Her nerves were yet nurse, desiring that I should seek you before entering anstrung, her strength all gone. A look of anguish, upon my duties again. This command brought me keen but tender, swept over her face. Her hand here, not a wish to intrude." fell slowly on the bowed head of poor Lina. She Mrs. Harrington arose, walked feebly back to the little struggled to sit upright and speak words of encourage- breakfast-table, and taking up a small teapot of frosted ment, but the brave, true heart sunk back, repulsed in silver, poured some strong tea into a cup, which she its goodness by the enfeebled lady, and she fell back in drank off clear. Then moving back to her chair, she her chair, white and still, like some proud flower torn sat down, evidently struggling for composure. up by the roots.

" I remember,” she said very quietly, for Mabel had She was so still, that Lina ventured to look up. The controlled herself, “I remember leaving this message deathly white of that face terrified her, and with a cry with a woman who called herself your mother.” she sprang to her feet, looking wildly around for help. Agnes smiled. "Oh, yes, our Southern nurses

“She has only fainted,” said Agnes Barker, closing always claim us as children. “My mammy,' I think she the door which she still held slightly ajar, as if that must have called herself that. Every child has its moment entering.

slave mammy at the South.”

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come.

“Then you are from the South, Miss Barker {"!

Mabel had nothing more to say. The feelings with “Did not General Harrington tell you this, madam ?" which she had commenced this conversation, were not

“I do not recollect it, if he did," answered Mabel, in the slightest degree removed, and yet they seemed searching the girl's face with her clear eyes; "in truth, utterly without foundation. She waved her hand Miss Barker, I made so few inquiries when you entered uneasily, murmuring, "you may go," and the governess my family, that your very presence in it is almost a went out softly as she had entered. mystery to me. General Harrington told me you were “Can I stay with you, mamma?” pleaded Lina, well-educated, and an orphan. I found that he was creeping timidly up to Mabel's chair. correct in the latter point, but was somewhat aston- “I am weary," answered Mrs. Harrington, closing ished yesterday afternoon to hear the woman whom I her eyes, and turning aside her head. “Let me rest met, claim you as her daughter."

awhile !" “You do not understand our Southern ways, Mrs. “But you will kiss me before I go?" pleaded the genHarrington, or this would not appear so singular. With tle girl. us the tie between a slave nurse and her child, is next “Yes, child," and Mabel kissed that white forehead to parentage."

with her quivering lips. “Then this woman is a slave ?" questioned Mabel. “ Is it with your whole heart, mamma ?"

“She has been, madam, but though I had nothing Mabel turned away her face, that Lina might not see else in the world, when I became of age, she was made how it was convulsed. So the young girl went out a free woman."

from the boudoir, grieved to the verge of tears. “But she is not black-at least, in the dim light, After they were gone, Mabel grew strong again, and I saw no traces of it.”

began to pace to and fro in the boudoir, as if striving to Again Agnes smiled a soft unpleasant smile, that one outstrip the pain of thinking. The accident had left her would put no faith in :

nerves greatly shattered, and it was difficult to concen"Perhaps it was that which rendered her so valuable, trate the high moral courage that formed the glory but black or white, the woman you saw was a born of her woman's nature. Thus she walked to and fro slave."

in a sort of vague, dreamy passion, her thoughts all "And how does she support herself in that solitary in a tumult, her very soul up in arms against the house ?"

new struggle forced upon her. Sometimes Mabel “She has a garden, and some poultry. The woods wrung her hands with a sudden gush of sorrow. around afford plenty of dry fuel, and my own humble Her eyes would fill and her lips quiver, and she labors supply the rest.”

would look around upon the sumptuous objects in her Mabel became thoughtful and ceased to ask questions. room, as if seeking out something among all the eleThe governess stood quietly waiting. All her answers gance that filled it, which might have power to comhad been straightforward and given unhesitatingly, but fort her. they did not bring confidence or conviction with them. There was no bitter or bad passion in the heart of Still Mrs. Harrington was silenced for the time, and Mabel Harrington. She had only laid down her burremained in deep thought.

den for a moment, and finding its weight doubled, “May I retire, madam ?" said the governess at last, shrank fro taking it up again. But she had a brave, drawing slowly toward the door.

strong heart, that after a little would leap forward, Mabel started from her reverie.

like a checked race-horse to its duty. This might not I would know more of you, of your have been, had she always relied upon her own strength, parents, and previous life. Where we intrust those which so far as human power can go, was to be conmost dear to us, there should be a perfect knowledge fided in. But Mabel had a firmer and holier reliand profound confidence."

ance, which was sure in the end to subdue all these “Of myself I have nothing to say," answered Agnes, storms of trouble, and prepare her for the battle of turning coldly white, for she was a girl who seldom feelings, which was to be fought over and over again blushed. All her emotions broke out in a chilly pallor. before she found rest. “Of my parents all that can be said is told, when After a time, Mabel Harrington stole gently back to I repeat that they left me with nothing but an honora- her easy-chair, and kneeling down, buried her face in ble name, and this old woman in the wide world." the cushions. Fair-Star, which had been following her

Her voice broke a little here, and this struck Mabel up and down, wondering at her distress, and looking in with a shade of compassion.

that agitated face with his intelligent eyes, came and “But how did you chance to come North ?"

lay softly down with his head resting on the folds of “I entered a Louisianian family as governess, directly her shawl, where it swept over the floor. He knew after my parents' death. They brought me North in with his gentle instinct, that she was quieter now, and the suminer, recommended me to General Harrington, with a contented whine lay down to guard her as she and I remained."

prayed. Nothing could be more simple or frankly spoken. While she was upon her kness, a rustling among the Agnes, as I have said, was pale ; but for this, she might flowers in the balcony made Fair-Star rise suddenly to have seemed unconscious that all this questioning was his fore feet, and cast a vigilant glance that way. He mingled with distrust.

saw a hand cautiously outstretched, as if to put back

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“Not yet.

own.

the trails of a passion-flower, and then a dark figure and pulling the cloud of white lace, which enveloped it, stole along behind the screen of blossoms, and crouching aside, with her trembling hands, fell wearily down down, peered cautiously through the leaves into the upon the pillows, and dropped away into tranquil slumroom. Fair-Stair dropped his head; he had recognized ber, like a child that had played itself to sleep in a daisy the intruder, and, not having any very definite ideas field. of etiquette, concluded that the governess had a right Mabel had asked for strength, and God gave her its to crouch like a thief behind that screen of flowers, if first tranquilizing element-rest. ber fancy led that way. For a little time her presence Agnes stood motionless till the lace curtains above kept the pretty hound restless, but it was not long before the sleeper closed again, leaving nothing visible upon Agnes had so draped the passion-flower that it entirely the snowy white beneath, but the calm, sleeping face concealed her person, and then Fair-Star betook him- of Mabel Harrington, gleaming as it were through a self entirely to his mistress. A soul-struggle does not cloud, and the folds of her azure shawl, that lay around always break forth in words, or exhaust itself in cries. her like fragments of the blue sky. Mrs. Harrington The heart, like its Maker, has a still small voice, which had evidently sunk into a heavy slumber, but Agnes God recognizes the more readily, because it is like his kept her concealment some time after this, for Fair

Star was still vigilant, and she shrunk from his glances Mabel came with no rush of stormy passion before as if they had been human. the Lord. The very force of her anguish was laid aside But the dog crept into his mistress's chamber at last, as she bowed her proud head, and meekly besought and then Agnes Barker stole from her fragrant hidingstrength to suffer and be still—to struggle for the right. place, and entered the boudoir again. Now and then her clasped hands were uplifted, once The escritoir was closed, but Agnes saw with joy the spy on the balcony caught a glimpse of her face. It that the key still remained in its lock, and that was luminous and lovely, spite of the anguish to be Mrs. Harrington had left her watch upon a marble conread there.

sole close by. Stealing across the room, and holding At last she arose, and seating herself, remained for her wicked breath, as if she felt that it would poison some time in thoughtful silence, her arms folded on her the air of that tranquil room, she crept to the escritoir, bosom, her eyes full of troubled ght, looking afar off, turned the key, and stealthily drawing forth the velas if she were following the angels with her eyes that lum book, dropped on one knee, while she reached had been gathering over her as she knelt.

forth her hand, drawing the watch softly to her After awhile, Mabel arose, and walking across the lap. room more composedly, unlocked a little escritoir of There was a quiver in her hands as she unlocked that ebony, from which she drew forth a book bound in little golden heart, forcing it asunder with a jerk, for white vellum, and embossed with gold. Seating her the dog came back just then, and stood regarding her self at the escritoir, she began to search among the with his clear, honest eyes. She strove to evade him, trinkets attached to her chatelaine for a small key, which and gleams of angry shame stole across her cheeks as she inserted in a little heart beset with rubies, which she laid down the watch, and stole, like the thief that locked the golden clasps of the book together.

she was, through the sash door, along the pretty labyAll this time Agnes Barker was watching each move- rinth of flowers, and into another door that opened ment of her benefactress with the eyes of a serpent. upon one end of the balcony. She saw the tiny heart fly open, and the manuscript And Mabel slept on, while this ruthless girl was tearpages of the book exposed. She saw Mrs. Harrington ing the secret from her life. turn these pages, now slowly, now hurriedly-reading a line here, a sentence there, and more than once two or three pages together. Sometimes her fine eyes were full of tears. Sometimes they were reverently uplifted

CHAPTER VIII. to Heaven, as if seeking strength or comfort there; but more frequently she pursued those pages with a sad thoughtfulness, full of dignity.

It was an uncomfortable breakfast-table to which the After she had been confined with reading, perhaps an Harringtons sat down that morning. The lady of the hour, she dipped a pen into the standish on her escri- house and Lina, its morning-star, were both absent, and toir, and began to write slowly, as if weighing every the servant, who stood at the coffee-urn ready to distriword as it dropped from her pen. Then she closed the bute its contents, was a most unsatisfactory substitute. book, locked it carefully, and securing it in the escri- Their absence left a gloom on everything The very toir again, walked slowly toward her bed-chamber, morning seemed darkened by the want of their smiling which opened from the boudoir, evidently worn out and faces and cheerful garments. A breakfast-table at ready to drop down with exhaustion. A slight dis- which no lady presides, is always a desert—and so was turbance in the passion-vine betrayed that Agnes this; spite of its glittering silver, its transparent china. Barker had changed her position, and now commanded and the warm October sunshine, which penetrated the a view through the open door of Mabel's chamber. She broad eastern window with a thousand cheerful flashes, saw the poor lady move wearily toward a bed, which scarcely broken by the gorgeous tree boughs, or the stood like a snowdrift in the midst of the room, I climbing vines that waved and clustered around it.

THE VELLUM BOUND BOOK.

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