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the redolent missive, she might have wondered at the altered expression of her lover's countenance.
Leaving the house somewhat abruptly, the latter threw himself into a cab, and bidding the driver urge his apology for an animal, hurried toward another section of the city. Alighting near a narrow court which terminated a by-street, Barton was admitted to a high brick building, the staircase of which he ascended like one familiar with the premises, and tapped gently upon the door of a chamber, which in oomiaun with mauy other* faced a corridor.
A young female, whose cap and disordered dress intimated preparation for slumber, obeyed the well-known signal, and ushered her late visiter into the apartment.
"To what am I indebted," asked she in a soft but melancholy tone, "for this unseasonable call, or rather, I may inquire, for any visit, however brief or dilatory, since your object recently has been to avoid me altogether?"
"Don't irritate me, Caroline! I'm not in the humour to tolerate either reproaches or blandishments," was the stern rejoinder. "What have you done with that carnation and jessamine, which I saw just about blooming in the balcony under your window?"
"Do you want them for some other favourite?"
"Caroline Southmcad!" resumed Barton, "I have to-night detected you basely interfering in a matter where you can only secure odium and persecution for your officiousness. You lose a friend and make an influential family enemies. Did you not append this card to a bunch of flowers and send them to a lady?"
"Yes, Henry Barton, and I but performed a duty, in cautioning an unsuspecting girl against a man who has provod himself an adept in treachery!"
"And do you think, Caroline," said he, "that for these acts of hostility I shall be better encouraged to purvey for your happiness by: finding you an eligible companion, and using my means and ability to elevate your social existence?"
"Had you not allured me from my native village, where I was pursuing an honest vocation, and possessed the love and esteem of all who knew me, my position would require no amendment. Your proposition to wed me to another is even more cruel than your falsehood. Would it not be less dishonourable to redeem your promise to me, than to add a second dupe to the catalogue of crime?"
Barton was the greater villain for the circumspection with which he carried out his
designs. Could he have surprised Caroline into rage, as he intended, it would not have been difficult to convert her ravings into tears, and then she would have been pliable. But he was baffled by cool, unwavering firmness, and he saw in her usually mild blue eye resolution which was impregnable, at least to violence.
"Dearest Caroline," he exclaimed, taking a seat upon a sofa, and drawing her unresistingly to his side, "you well know why I cannot conform to your wishes—"
"Yes," responded the girl interrupting him, "I know too painfully the apology with which you wuuld varnish your perfidy; but your haughty relatives and family rank are not the only obstacles to our marriage. You are weary of your victim, and love another woman. Heretofore I have submitted to your commands. I have worked day by day in a milliner's shop, to furnish some excuse for residing in town, and to evade suspicions of our intimacy. Fearing lest you should encounter me ; there with Miss Selden, I was removed to this place. Thus far I have been obedient to your behests; henceforward I am my own mistress. Having found other protectors, you shall be I relieved of my presence, while in humble obscurity I shall escape contempt if not pity." "Leave me then to digest my plans—" "No more!—not a syllable further! Will you not respect the sanctity of a helpless woman's bedchamber and retire, or shall I arouse the house, demand of the watch protection, and, goaded to desperation, publish my wrongs and your infamy to the gaping crowd at the policeoffice?"
"As you please, Caroline," said Barton, releasing her from his arms, with feigned equanimity, "to-morrow you will regret this silly excitement, and be more accessible to reason. I'll see you in the morning,—good night!"
"Yes, we shall meet again, but under different circumstances," ejaculated Caroline as he descended the stairway. "Merciless and conscienceless creature! shame and disappointment shall teach you that none are too feeble for the work of retribution!"
"Oh most pernicious woman!
Irritated and perplexed, Barton hurried to his lodgings, which to his great annoyance he found occupied by several of his boon companions, who either by courtesy or usurpation had the freedom of his ample apartments.
These young gentlemen were amusing themselves with whist, and constrained their host to take "a hand" with them, although much against his inclination. Before the company dispersed, night's meridian had long been merged into the hours which precede another day, and overpowered by the liquor which politeness obliged him to swallow, Barton threw himself upon his bed and slept heavily.
Awaking late next morning, he discovered with much apprehension that the handkerchief committed to his charge by Laura Selden was missing. Upon reviewing the incidents of the previous evening his trepidation was enhanced by a suspicion that he had fatuitously dropped the article while in Caroline's chamber, and that she now possessed the most dangerous evidence of his guilt which could be placed in the hands of a jealous female. Therefore, after a hasty breakfast, he repaired to the dwelling of the injured girl, intending by threats or entreaty to recover it if practicable.
Great was his chagrin, as the reader may suppose, upon learning from the landlady that the object of his search was beyond the reach of his violence or jesuitry, having left the house several hours before in a carriage, and without stating her destination.
Deposited on her toilet-table was a letter directed to Barton, enclosing a key to a trunk, which she informed him contained all the jewelry, apparel, &c, received from him at various periods of their intimacy. This he opened, vainly hoping to find the fatal handkerchief, but was ultimately forced to abandon the premises, discomfited, and oppressed by gloomy anticipations.
Nevertheless, a vague surmise that Caroline had returned to her friends in the country, and for the present would cease to embarrass his matrimonial speculation, afforded some solace.
Meanwhile, John Snelling was pursuing his way leisurely to the store, champing a handful of pea-nuts, and agitating his brain with no particular train of reflection. Suddenly he was accosted by a bluff-looking sailor, who hailed him familiarly by name, and grasping his effeminate fingers in a brawny fist, forced him to wince under the cordiality of his pressure.
"You have the advantage of me," said John, endeavouring to extricate his hand, and standing upon his toes in torture.
"What!" exclaimed the stranger, "don't you remember Robert Southmead?"
"Bob!" ejaculated the other, " why I thought you were laid under the counter long ago. Where did you come from?"
•' Well," responded Bob, "I've been beating
about the world these three years, and after all sorts of luck, happened to reach California just in the nick of time. From thence I came to this port in a whaler, which had been deserted by her crew at St . Francisco, and which a parcel of us manned, just for the sake of fetching home a little gold-dust that we'd scraped up in those diggins. I went out green enough, but I've come back considerably yaller."
"I'll be bound then, you'll be well received in this community," rejoined Snelling, "for they all flock around money, like flies to a molasses hogshead."
"I'm glad to find you, old fellow," resumed Southmead. "How's my sister Caroline? I thought you and she would have made a match before this!"
"I liked the girl well enough, Bob," replied the salesman, munching as he spoke, "but somehow I've been crossed out of her books. She left Bloomfield eight months since, and came to this city. Nobody could tell me where she resided, and as she knew my location, and has never taken the pains to drop me a note, why I thought she didn't care about prolonging the acquaintance, and of course"
"So you don't know where she is ?" inquired Bob, interrupting his companion. "I must find her—how shall I manage?"
"Come along with me to the store," said Snelling, "and I'll write an advertisement, stating your arrival, and where you can be seen. If that don't bring her in a day or two, why then we'll"
Here the two friends turned a corner, and leaving them to arrange their course, we proceed with another portion of our story.
Almost unconcealable was the trepidation with which Barton again entered Laura Seidell's parlour. But nothing on her part evinced any knowledge of the transactions of the previous evening; nor was there any change visible in her manner or language. Several successive visits confirmed his supposition that his accusing angel had withdrawn from the metropolis, and thus negatively resigned her claims upon him. Laura continued kind and affable, and it was near the close of the week preceding their contemplated union, before he discerned the slightest cause for uneasiness.
About this period she complained of indisposition, appeared rather reserved, and their meeting occurred in the presence of her parents. Once or twice she inquired about the handkerchief which she had given him, and the ring which was tied in its corner. But the question was introduced so incidentally, and it was so customary and natural for a lady to be rather pensive or contemplative immediately antecedent to her wedding, that his suspicions of a development were unaroused, or if partially excited, were readily discarded.
At length Barton took the alarm. Within forty-eight hours the nuptials were to have been celebrated, but there were no ostensible preparations for the important event; neither had he been consulted upon any particular, in reference to the ceremony or the invitations. Laura's sedateness increased to positive coldness; and it was apparent that he must exert his utmost energy and ingenuity to prevent the postponement of an alliance for which so much had been sacrificed, and which was now a common topic of conversation among the fashionable multitude.
Suspense, ever painful, becomes more so, in proportion to exigencies, and men frequently hew their way to a denouement, although the act itself may prove fatal to their desires.
Barton resolved upon an eclaircissement, whatever might be the consequences. Accordingly he entered the drawing-room one evening, with that self-possession which emanates from preconcerted artifice, and, finding Laura alone, approached the sofa where she was sitting, with the air of one confident of a welcome. Upon her side, the greeting was rather formal; but seeming not to notice this, he urged conversation with all the address and fluency of which he was so capable. Dexterously approximating the cause of his solicitude, after much circumlocution, he ventured to express the hope that "her altered manner proceeded rather from the timidity and hesitation incident to a refined woman about to change her domestic position, than from any doubts of his integrity and esteem;" adding that, " as their union had been long deferred, he trusted that she would no further procrastinate their mutual happiness."
Laura beheld him with an eye blaok and flashing as a storm-cloud; and, rising from the sofa, her tall and symmetrical figure strained to its utmost height, and enlarged by emotion, her expressive features flushed with anger, and eliminating scorn and aversion, stood before him, to trans-sex a Latin appellation, like a "Juno Tonans."
"Never, sir," she exclaimed, "can I yield my hand to a man who persists in shrouding himself with mystery, and has not confidence sufficient in my affection to acknowledge an error."
"For Heaven's sake, Laura," cried Barton, struggling to mask his perturbation, "what mystery ?—what error?"
"Miss Selden, if you please, sir 1 I have repeatedly asked you for my handkerohief, and you answer evasively."
"Saints and angels!" ejaculated the lover,
"because," and he counterfeited laughter, "because I lost it, and was; to confess my carelessness!"
"Indeed, sir," rejoined Laura, piercing his mendacious spirit with a glance, "you are merry over an incident which dissolves our intimacy for ever! I have a trifle which must be returned to the donor," and she moved proudly into the next parlour.
Before Barton could rally his disordered ideas, he was confronted by Mr. Selden, who led forward Caroline Sonthmead. Her face was pale, her eyes downcast, and she leaned upon the old gentleman for protection and support. In her hand she carried a superb ring, the jewel of which seemed to quiver sympathizingly with the heart of its trembling bearer.
"Henry," said her portly ciceroni, "the girl returns this trinket which you left in her chamber."
Barton's face crimsoned with rage and mortification, and essaying neither apology nor reply, he started from his seat and rushed toward the hall. Flis egress was, however, intercepted by the appearance of Robert Southmead and his companion, who had just been admitted by a servant.
"Scoundrel!" vociferated his irritated superior, approaching Snclling with menacing gestures, "to you I am indebted for this exposure and defeat; vou have instigated this plot against me, to gratify the malice and falsehood of that whining, half-demented creature. Henceforth your services will not be needed."
"But mine may be!" shouted the sailor, interposing between his friend and his accuser, "you tape-measuring milksop !—do you speak of my sister in that way? To the ports, you strangled monkey! you have been among honest fellows long enough ;" and so saying he grasped the young merchant by his collar, dragged him towards an opened window, and, in spite of the expostulations of Mr. Selden, the interference of Snclling, and the shrieks of Caroline, hurled him out headlong upon the pavement beneath. Southmead sprang through the window after his prostrate foeman, and would have dealt him even graver punishment, but for some bystanders, who prevented further violence, lifted Barton into a hack, and conveyed him to his lodgings.
Although a shilling's worth of plaster and a week of retirement were sufficient to heal his scratches and bruises, yet from that moment his prosperous career was checked, and Barton's popularity and fortune rapidly declined. The story was blazoned abroad; envy and detraction leagued against him; the Selden family, numerous, affluent, and influential, openly, or what was more dangerous, secretly conspired for his overthrow; his father became alarmed at the magnitude of his operations, and eventually he was compelled to resign his establishment into the hands of another.
His death was characteristic of the man. While travelling in Italy he received a pistolball in his brains, fired by a husband, who mistook him for a robber, while ascending a ladder to the lattice of his dormitory.
Snelling and Southmead, with the aid of Bob's gold and the liberality of a capitalist, set up a " ship-chandlery," which, through the patronage and efforts of Mr. Selden and his
mercantile compeers obtained a run of lucrative custom.
Caroline retired to the country, and after a few years married a middle-aged widower, who had several little scions about him requiring the culture and attention of a mother.
Laura felt her disappointment keenly for a season; but as health, youth, and riches, are generally more than equal to the aggressions of sorrow, readers will not be surprised to learn that she was at the last advices affianced to a man of worth and probity, one capable of appreciating her merits, and upon whose arm she can repose with confidence.
THE TOWER OF LAHNECK.
BY EDITH MAY.
Pkhched on a rock, a river at its base,
Stands Castie Lahneck. 'Twas a robber's keep
In tbe old time. An outlawed baron lodged
Bis train of knights, and hostages grew gray,
And victims plead and died, where limp grass waves
Like signals from the windows, or grows rank
Around a horrible pit, digged deep beneath
The one tall tower.
One fair May afternoon,
Through a maze
They were young and gay, And never thought of danger. Ida first, They scaled the steep flight, singing, as they trod, Snatches of song. Their sweet notes filled the tower, Making faint tinkling echoes as they dropped Through its dim well of silence. Safe at last Thoy stood upon the turret roof, and looked Over the low, broad parapet.
With tears of Joyous pride, and outstretched hand,
Warning shadows grew
A strange dread Thrilled each alike. Both from the parapet Shrank with one impulse. From the vaults beneath Crept a light, silent shudder. Was it time For the roused earth to Jostle from her breast This sepulchre of crime? The turret rocked Under their feet, and a loud, thunderous roar Rushed upward, like the swift flame shot to heaven Out of a crater. When it died away In a deep trembling, all the ruin seemed Alive with swarming echoes. But these dropped Into their nooks, and from below again Welled the deep silence.
Then the German rose,
Hiding in her soul
Back to the turret's verge, and steadfastly,
Nay! upon the path
They watched the twilight As 'twere a deluge, while Its flowing tides Floodod the valleys and crept up the front Of the tall turret. Barge on barge had gone Down the calm river; from the mill above Forth came the miller, and walked loitering home Under the mountain's shadow; peasants drove Their cattle from the pasture; children played In tho near fields; and once, a fisherman Rowed through the castle's bright reflection, cast Over the Lahn. And no one paused for them! The steersman had been busy at his helm; The miller thought of home.
They had strayed far That sunny day; none in the distant town They left behind knew whither, or would think To seek them here.
The stars shone thick above; The gloom below was studded hero and there By clustered village lights; the firefly lit His lamp among the osiers. Ida still Crouched by the parapet, her folded arms Pillowing her head. She had awhile exchanged Her sorrow for another's; and, in thought, Mourned for her own lost self, and wearied time With questions of her fate. Once Margaret spoke Words of faint comfort; but she, looking up, Answered with dreary smiling, " Hope thou not, Unless we make, like rosy Ganymede,
Steeds of the eagles." Now bright floods of light
Midnight from the skies
What desolate hours were hers Who knelt down in the starlight, stretching forth Her shuddering arms to Heaven, and from that time Patiently suffered!
Was she saved at last?— What say the bargemen Hunting down the Lahn, The boatmen at the ferry, to and fro, Hourly plying; or the rustic groups That loiter as they pass? To their belief, Since from its heights the robber baron swept His hawk's eye o'er the valleys, never foot Has trod the ruined summit Only once, Albert, the fisher, resting on his our, After the day's toil, marvelled to discern A wild she ea^!e, wheeling from the clouds, Sit screaming to her m.ite with outspread wings, Where the red sunset crowns the Tower of Lahneck.
OH! VISIT ME IN DREAMS.
BT MISS E
Opt in my day-dreams, Brother, do I see
Would that my visions of the night were blest.
Thou, with the shadowy train of loved ones dear,
Speak of our blest reunion !n that land