But no one could tell how it came about

Among all the radiant beauties that promenaded the beach and danced
in the ball rooms at Long Branch, the young bride of Colonel Carlyle
became immediately distinguished for her pre-eminent loveliness.

Wherever she went she created a great sensation.

People went to the places where they heard she would be, just to look
at that “faultily faultless” face “star-sweet on a gloom profound.”

Artists raved over her form and features. They said she was the fairest
woman in the world, and that her beauty had but one fault–it was too
cold and pale. One touch of glow and color in that “passionless, pale,
cold face,” they said, would have made her so lovely that men would
have gone mad for her–gone mad or died.

And then she was so young, they said. She had never been presented in
society. Colonel Carlyle, the cunning old fox, had married her out of
the schoolroom before anyone had a chance to see her. The fops and
dandies swore at him behind their waxed mustaches, while better and
nobler men said it was a shame that such a fair, charming girl should
be wedded to such an old man.

There were some who said that the girl, young as she was, had a hidden
heart-history. These were the poets and dreamers. They said that the
language of those pale cheeks and drooping eyes was that she had been
torn from her handsome lover’s side and bartered for an old man’s gold.

But these were mere conjectures. No one knew anything about her
certainly, until Mrs. Arnold and Felise came down after a week’s delay.
Then they knew that she was the daughter of General Vere, and the niece
of Francis Arnold, the murdered millionaire.

Felise told them of the artist lover who had murdered the millionaire
because he would not give him his niece. The excitement only ran higher
than before, and people looked at the young creature with even more
curiosity and interest than ever.

Bonnibel could not help seeing that she was an object of interest and
admiration to everyone about her. She saw that the men sought her
side eagerly and often, and that the women were jealous of her. At
first she was vexed and angry about it. She could not get a moment to
herself. They were always seeking her out, always hovering about her
like butterflies round a flower. She wondered why they came round her
so, but at length she remembered what she had almost forgotten. Uncle
Francis had often told her so; Leslie Dane had told her so; she had
heard it from others, too, and even Wild Madge had admitted it.

Ah! Wild Madge! Over her memory rushed the words of the fearful old
hag, freighted with a deeper meaning than they had held at first.

“You are beautiful, but your beauty will be your bane.” “Years of
sorrow lie before you!” “You will be a young man’s bride, but an old
man’s darling!”

“It has all come true,” she thought, turning from the circle around
her, and looking wistfully out over the waves that came swelling
against the shore, like some wild heart beating against the bars of
life. “It has all come true–yet how little I dreamed that she could
read the future that lies folded, like the leaves of a book, from first
sight. How little I thought that a shadow could ever fall between me
and happiness! Yet in a few short months her wild prediction has been
fulfilled. I have drank deeply of sorrow’s cup. I have been a young
man’s bride; now they say I am an old man’s darling. All–all has been
fulfilled save the shame and disgrace with which she threatened me. But
that can never come, never, _never_!” and a look of pride came over the
fair face, and the round throat was curved defiantly.

Colonel Carlyle was quite happy and proud at first over the sensation
created by his beautiful girl-wife. He liked to see how much people
admired her. It pleased him to note the admiring glances that followed
her slightest movement.

She belonged to him, and all the admiration she excited was a tribute
to his taste and his pride.

For a whole week he was as pleased and happy as a man could be, but
a shadow fell upon him with the coming of Felise. He grew morbidly
jealous.

Jealous, and without a shadow of reason, for Bonnibel was like the
chaste and lovely moon–she shone coldly and alike upon all.

But the colonel became a changed man–everyone noticed it, and many
said that the old man was growing jealous of his beautiful darling.

But no one could tell how it came about, not even Felise Herbert, who,
when questioned by her mother, refused to admit that the faintest, most
insidious hint from her lips had been dropped like poison into the
cup of perfect happiness from which the doting old husband was fondly
drinking.

One morning a note lay on his dressing-table–a little note scrawled
in a disguised hand–he took it up and read it, then put it down again
and stood gazing blankly at it as if it were the death-warrant of his
happiness. It was very short, but every word was stamped indelibly on
his memory.

“Your wife,” it ran, “wears a little opal ring on the third finger of
her right hand. She prizes it more than all the costly jewels you have
lavished upon her. It was the gift of a former lover whom she still
adores. Ask her to cease wearing the ring, or even to show you the
inscription inside, and you will see who has the warmest place in her
heart.”

Could this be true? Was this a friend who warned him, he thought. He
remembered the pretty little ring perfectly.

The jealous pang that had been tearing at his heart for days grew
sharper than ever.

He knew his wife did not love him yet, but he had fondly hoped to win
her heart in time.

If what the writer of that anonymous letter said was true, then it was
vain to hope any longer.

“A former lover whom she still adored.” Oh! God, could that be true?

“I will test her,” he said to himself. “No one shall poison my mind
against my beautiful wife without a cause. ‘I will put it to the test
and win or lose it all.'”

He went to a jeweler’s that morning and came back with a little box in
his vest-pocket.

Then he asked Bonnibel if she would walk down to the seashore with him.

She complied with a gentle smile, and he found her a shady seat a
little off from the crowd, where they could talk uninterrupted.

She laid down her parasol, and removing her delicate gloves folded her
white hands listlessly together.

Colonel Carlyle took up the hand that wore the opal ring and looked at
it fondly.

“My dear,” he said, “that is a very pretty ring you wear, but it is
not beautiful enough for your perfect hand. I have brought you a much
handsomer one with which to replace it.”

He took it from his pocket and showed it to her–a lovely, shimmering
opal set round with gleaming pearls.

“I have heard that opals are unlucky stones,” he said, “but if you are
not superstitious, and like to wear them, will you lay aside the simple
one you now have and put this on instead?” and he made a movement as if
he would withdraw the tabooed one from her finger.

Bonnibel withdrew her hand quickly, and looked up into Colonel
Carlyle’s face.

He saw her delicate lips quiver, and a dimness creep over her eyes,
while her cheeks grew, if anything, paler than ever. Her voice trembled
slightly as she answered:

“I thank you for your beautiful gift; but I cannot consent to wear it
in the place of the plainer one I now have.”

“And why not, my dear little wife? It would look much handsomer than
the one you now wear on your finger.”

A faint flush tinged her snow-white cheek at the half-sarcastic
emphasis of his words. Her glance wandered off to the sunlit sea and a
tear rolled down her check as she said, very gently:

“I am quite aware of that, Colonel Carlyle. Your ring is a marvel of
beauty and taste, and I will wear it on another finger if you like;
but I prize the other more for its associations than for its beauty or
value. It was a keepsake from a friend. You remember the pretty words
of the old song:

“‘Who has not kept some trifling thing,
More prized than jewels rare,
A faded flower, a broken ring,
A tress of golden hair?'”

There was a tone of unconscious pleading in her pathetic voice, and the
heart of the jealous old husband gave a throb of pain as he listened.

“It is true, then,” he thought to himself. “It was a gift of a former
lover.”

Aloud he said rather coldly:

“Since you prize it so much as a keepsake, Bonnibel, put it away
in some secret place, and preserve it as romantic people do such
treasures–it will be safer thus.”

“I prefer to wear it, sir,” she answered, with a glance of surprise at
the persistency.

“But I do not wish you to wear it. I particularly desire that you
should lay it aside and wear the one I have brought you instead,” he
insisted, rather sharply goaded on by jealousy and dread.

Bonnibel turned her eyes away from the blue waves of the ocean and
looked curiously at her husband. She saw that he was in desperate
earnest. His dark eyes flashed with almost the fire of youth, and his
features worked with some inward emotion she did not in the least
understand.

“I am sorry to refuse your request, sir,” she answered, a little
gravely; “though I am surprised that you should insist upon it when I
have plainly expressed a contrary wish. I can only repeat what I have
said before, that I prefer to wear it.”

“Against my wishes, Bonnibel?”‘

“I hope that you will not further oppose it, sir, on the ground of a
mere caprice,” she answered, flushing warmly. “It was the gift of a
dear friend, who is dead, and I shall always wear it in remembrance.”

“The gift of a former lover, perhaps,” sneered Colonel Carlyle, half
beside himself with jealousy.

“I suppose it cannot matter to you, Colonel Carlyle, who the giver may
have been,” exclaimed Bonnibel, offended at his overbearing tone, and
flushing indignantly.

“Pardon me, but it does matter, Bonnibel. I dislike exceedingly to see
my wife wearing the ring of one whom she loves better than her husband!
Common regard for my feelings should induce you to lay it aside without
forcing me to issue a command to that effect!”

His jealous pain or innate tyranny was fast getting the better of
his prudence, or he would scarcely have taken such a tone with the
young wife whose heart he so ardently longed to win. She sprang
up impetuously and looked down at him with the fires of awakened
resentment burning hotly upon her cheeks, looking beautiful with the
glow and warmth of passion in the face that had been too cold and pale
before. The same proud spirit that had forced her to defy her Uncle
Francis that memorable night animated her now.

“I think you will hardly dare issue such a command to me, Colonel
Carlyle. Remember that though I am your wife I am not your slave!”

How fair she looked in his eyes even as she indignantly defied his
authority! But passion had made him blind to reason and justice. With
a swift glance around to assure himself that no one was in sight, he
caught her small hand and tried to wrench the ring from her finger by
force.

“At least I will see whose hated name is written within the precious
jewel!” he exclaimed.

“Release me, this moment, Colonel Carlyle! If you dare to persevere in
such a cowardly and brutal course, I swear to you that I will never
live with you another day! Yes, I would leave you within the hour
were I twice your wife!” cried the girl, in such passionate wrath and
scorn that the colonel let go of her hand in sheer surprise at the
transformation of his dove.

“You would not dare do such a thing!” he exclaimed, vehemently.

“Would I not?” she answered, with flashing eyes. “I dare do anything!
Beware how you put me to the test!”

He stood glaring at her with rage and malignity distorting his
aristocratic features. How dared that feeble, puny girl defy him thus?

For a moment he almost hated her. A sleeping devil was aroused within
his heart.

“Bonnibel,” he exclaimed, angrily, “you shall repent this hour in dust
and ashes!”

All the latent fire and scorn of the girl’s passionate nature were
fanned into flame by his threatening words.

“I care nothing for your threat,” she answered, haughtily. “I defy you
to do your worst! Such threats do honor to your manhood when addressed
to a weak and helpless girl! See how little I prize the gift of one who
could act in so unmanly a way.”

She stooped and caught up his ring where it had fallen on the sands
in all its shining beauty. She made a step forward towards the water,
her white hand flashed in the air a moment, and the costly jewel fell
shimmering into the sea.

They stood a moment looking at each other in silence–the girl
reckless, defiant, like a young lioness at bay; the man astonished,
indignant, yet still thrilled with a sort of inexpressible admiration
of her beauty and her daring. He saw in her that moment some of the
dauntless courage of her hero-father. The same proud, untamed spirit
flashed from her glorious eyes. It flashed across him suddenly and
humiliatingly that he had been a fool to try such high-handed measures
with General Vere’s daughter–he might have known that the same
unconquerable fire burned in her veins. He had seen Harry Vere go into
the battle with the same look on his face–the same flashing eye, the
same dilated nostril and disdainful lip.

He went up to her, thrilled with momentary compunction for his fault,
and took her hand in his.

“You were right, Bonnibel,” he said, humbly. “I acted like a coward and
a brute. I was driven mad by jealousy. Can you forgive me, darling?”

“I accept your apology, sir,” she answered, coldly; but there was
little graciousness and much pride in her manner. Her pride had been
outraged almost past forgiveness.




Colonel Carlyle keeps the peace for several days. He finds that he has
overstepped the mark and that it will take careful management to regain
his lost ground in his wife’s regard. Bonnibel, though she married him
without a spark of love, has yet given him a very frank and tender
regard and esteem until now. She has always thought him a perfect
gentleman, a model of courtesy and propriety, and as such she has given
him all that was left in her heart to give–the reverence and affection
of a dutiful daughter. Now, without a moment’s warning, her ideal has
fallen from the proud pedestal where she had placed it–its shattered
fragments bestrewed the ground, and _she_ knows, if he does not, that
the broken image can never be restored.

He has deceived her, she tells herself bitterly, but now that he has
won her, the mask of courtliness is laid aside, and he shows the iron
hand that was hidden beneath the velvet glove.

But a few short weeks had fled, and he begins to play the tyrant
already.

Her passionate, undisciplined nature rises up in hot rebellion against
his injustice. The foolish jealousy of his old age appears very
contemptible to her youthful eyes. She does not try to excuse it to
herself. A great revulsion of feeling comes over her, chilling the
gentle growth of tenderness and gratitude in her heart. Her manner
grows cold, reserved, almost offensively haughty.

Ere this first cloud on the matrimonial horizon clears away the grand
ball of the season comes off. The gay visitors at Long Branch dance
every night, but this is to be the most brilliant affair of any–a
“full dress affair” is what the ladies call it–meaning to say that
they wear their finest dresses and costliest jewels–the gentlemen
likewise.

The night is cloudless, balmy, beautiful–such nights as we have in
the last of July when the moon is full and Heaven martials its hosts
of stars in the illimitable canopy above. The spacious ball-room is
thronged with revelers. The dreamy, passionate strains of waltz-music
float out upon the air, filling it with melody.

Standing beside a window is Colonel Carlyle, in elegant evening dress,
looking very stately and distinguished despite his seventy years.
Leaning on his arm is Felise Herbert, looking radiant in rose-colored
satin and gauze, with a diamond fillet clasping her dark hair, and
diamonds shining like dew on her bare throat and rounded arms. Smiles
dimple her red lips as she watches the animated scene about her, and
her dark eyes shine like stars. Her companion thinks that he never saw
her half so handsome before as she hangs on his arm and chatters airy
nothings in his ears.

“Look at our little Bonnibel,” she says, in a tone of innocent
amusement; “is she not a demure little coquette? She looks like a
veritable snow-maiden, as cold and as pure, yet she has young Penn
inextricably prisoned in her toils, and everyone knows it–no one
better than herself.”

His glance follows hers across the room to where his young wife stands
a little outside the giddy circle of waltzers, leaning on the arm of
a handsome, dreamy-looking youth, and despite the jealous pang that
thrills him at Felise’s artful speech, his heart throbs with a great
love and pride at her exceeding beauty.

She looks like a snow-maiden, indeed, as her enemy says. She wears
costly white lace over her white silk, and her cheeks and brow, her
arms and shoulders are white as her dress. Colonel Carlyle’s wedding
gift, a magnificent set of diamonds, adorns her royally. There is not
a flower about her, nothing but silk and laces and costly gems, yet
withal, she makes you think of a lily, she looks so white, and cold,
and pure in the whirl of rainbow hues around her.

Her companion bends toward her, speaking earnestly, yet she listens
with such apparent indifference and almost ennui that if that be
coquetry at all it can surely be characterized by no other term than
that of Felise–“demure.”

“I thought that Penn’s loves were all ideal ones,” the colonel says,
trying to speak carelessly as he watches his wife’s companion closely.
“To judge from his latest volumes of poems, the divinities of his
worship are all too ethereal to tread this lower earth.”

Felise laughs significantly as her companion ceases to speak.

“Byron Penn, despite the ethereal creatures of his brain, is not proof
against mortal beauty,” she says. “Remember, Colonel Carlyle, that
angels once looked down from Heaven and loved the women of earth.”

“He is a graceful waltzer,” her companion returns, as the young poet
circles the waist of the snow-maiden with one arm and whirls her into
the mazes of the giddy, breathless waltz.

“Very,” says Felise, watching the graceful couple as they float around
the room, embodying the very poetry of motion.

She is silent a moment, then looks up into her companion’s face with a
slightly curious expression.

“Pardon my question,” she says, thoughtfully; “but do you quite approve
of _married_ women waltzing with other men than their husbands?”

He starts and looks at her sharply. The innocent deference and
unconsciousness of her voice and face are perfect.

“Since you ask me,” he says, slowly, “I may say that upon mature
consideration I might think it was not exactly _comme il faut_. Yet
I have really never before given a second thought to the subject. It
is quite customary, you know, and it seems even more excusable in my
wife than other women, since I never waltz myself, and she would be
compelled to forego that pleasure entirely unless she shared it with
others.”

“Oh, pray do not think that I have any reference to Bonnibel,”
exclaimed Felise, hurried and earnestly, “I was speaking altogether in
the abstract. Yet I fully agree with you that your wife would be more
excusable for many little errors of head and heart than most women. She
is scarcely more than a child, and has never had the proper training
to fit her for her present sphere. Her uncle was culpably indulgent
to her, and hated to force her inclination, which was very adverse to
study or application of any kind. Consequently our little Bonnibel,
though beautiful as a dream, is little more than an unformed child. She
should be in the school-room this minute.”

Every word is spoken with such a pretty air of excusing and defending
the young wife’s errors, and condemning her dead uncle as their cause,
that Colonel Carlyle is entirely deceived. He did not know that
Bonnibel was so neglected and unformed before, but he takes it on trust
since Felise is so confident of it, and the thought rankles bitterly in
his proud heart. But he passes over the subject in silence and returns
to the primal one.

“So you would not, as a rule, Miss Herbert, commend the practice of
married women waltzing with other men than their husbands?”

She drops her eyes with a pretty air of mingled confusion and
earnestness.

“Perhaps you will call me prudish,” she says, “or perhaps I may be
actuated by the more ignoble passion of jealousy; but I have always
felt that were I a man it would be insupportable shame and agony for
me to see my wife, whom I loved and revered as a being little lower
than an angel, whirled about a common ball-room in the arms of another,
while the gaping public nodded and winked.”

She saw a look of shame and pain cross his face as his eyes followed
the white figure floating round the room in the clasp of Byron Penn’s
arms.

“I suppose there are not many women who feel as strongly on that
subject as you do,” he says, slowly.

“Oh, dear, no, nor men either, or they would not permit their wives
such license,” is the quick reply.

The waltz-music ceases with a bewildering crash of melody, and some
one comes up and claims Felise for the next german. She floats away
airily as a rose-colored cloud on her partner’s arm, and leaves her
victim alone. He stands there quite silently a little, seeming lost in
troubled thought, then goes to seek his wife.

He finds her the center of an admiring circle, the young poet, Byron
Penn, conspicuous among them.

With a slight apology to his friends he offers his arm and leads her
away from the throng out to the long moonlighted piazzas.

“Shall I find you a seat or will you promenade?” he inquires politely.

“Oh! promenade, by all means,” she answers a little constrainedly.

They take a few turns up and down the long piazza, Mrs. Carlyle’s long
robe trailing after her with a silken “swish, swish;” she makes no
observation, does not even look at him.

Her large eyes wander away and linger upon the sea that is glorious
beyond description with the radiance of the full moon mirrored in its
deeps, and making a pathway of light across its restless waves.

She thinks vaguely that the golden streets of the celestial city must
look like that.

“I hope you are enjoying the ball?” her liege lord observes
interrogatively.

“As much as I ever enjoy anything,” she returns listlessly.

“Which means—-” he says, quickly, then checks himself abruptly.

She finishes his sentence with a dreary little sigh:

“That I do not enjoy anything very much!”

He looks down at her, wondering at the unusual pathos of her tone, and
sees a face to match the voice.

Moonlight they say brings out the true expression of the soul upon the
features.

If that be true then Bonnibel Carlyle bears a sad and weary soul within
her breast.

The white face looks very _spirituelle_ in the soft, mystical light,
and the delicate lips are set in a line of pain.

No man likes to see his wife unhappy. It is a reflection upon himself.
It is his first duty to secure her happiness. Colonel Carlyle is
nettled, and says, half querulously:

“I am sorry to see you _ennuyed_ where everything seems conspiring to
promote your happiness. Can I do nothing to further that end?”

Her large eyes look up at him a moment in grave surprise at his fretful
tone. Then she says to herself in apology for him:

“He is old, and I have heard that old people become irritated very
easily.”

“Pray do not trouble yourself over my thoughtless words, sir,” she
says, aloud. “I am tired–that is all. Perhaps I have danced too much.”

“It was of that subject I wished to speak with you when I brought you
out here,” he answers, abruptly. “Are you very fond of the waltz,
Bonnibel?”

“I like it quite well;” this after a moment’s study. “There is
something dreamy, intoxicating, almost delightful in the music and the
motion.”

A spasm of jealousy contracts his heart. He speaks quickly and with a
labored breath.

“I have never waltzed in my life, and cannot, of course, enter into the
feelings of those who have, but I can see what I am about to ask may be
a great sacrifice to you.”

She glances up inquiringly into his face, but he will not meet her eyes.

“Bonnibel, I want you to give up waltzing altogether–will you do it?”
he asks, bruskly.

“Give up waltzing?” she echoes, in surprise. “Is not that a very sudden
notion, Colonel Carlyle? I did not know you harbored any objections to
the Terpsichorean art.”

“I do not in the abstract,” he answers, evasively. “But you will pardon
me for saying that I consider it exceedingly indelicate and improper
for a married woman to dance with any man but her husband. That is why
I have asked you to give it up for my sake.”

“Do other people think the same way, sir?” she inquires timidly.

“All right-minded people do,” he answers firmly, quite ignoring the
fact that he is a perfectly new proselyte to his boldly announced
conviction of the heinousness of the waltz.

Silence falls between them for a little time. They have stopped walking
and stand leaning against the piazza rails. Quite unconsciously she
has pulled a flower from his elegant _boutonniere_, and is tearing it
to pieces between her white-gloved fingers. She looks up as the last
rose-leaf is shredded away between her restless fingers and asks,
quietly:

“Would it please you very much to have me give up waltzing, sir?”

“More than words can express, my darling; are you going to make me
happy by the promise?”

“I am quite willing to please you, sir, when it is possible for me to
do so,” she answers quite gently; “you have my promise.”

“Bonnibel, you are an angel!” exclaims the enraptured colonel. He draws
his arm around her an instant and bends to kiss her lips. “A thousand
thanks for your generous self-sacrifice!”

“You need not thank me, sir–it is not much of a sacrifice,” she
answers, dryly.

She has drawn out her programme of the dances for the evening and is
hurriedly consulting it.

“I find that I am engaged for one more waltz,” she says, carelessly. “I
suppose you do not object to my dancing that? It would be embarrassing
to excuse myself.”

“Your partner is–whom?” he inquires, with a slight frown.

Again she consults her programme.

“It is Mr. Penn.”

“Cannot you excuse yourself? Say you are tired? Your head aches? Women
know how to invent suitable excuses always–do they not?”

“I will do as you wish, sir,” she answers, in so low a voice that he
does not catch its faint inflection of scorn.

Other promenaders come out on the piazza, and one or two laughing
jests are thrown at him for keeping the “belle of the ball away from
her proper sphere.”

“Perhaps I _am_ selfish,” he says. “Let us return to the ball-room, my
love.”

“As you please,” she answers.

He leads her back and lingers by her side awhile, then it strikes him
that _les proprietes_ do not sanction a man’s monopolizing his wife’s
company in society. With a sigh he leaves her, and tries to make
himself agreeable to other fair women.

He has hardly left her before the band strikes up “The Beautiful Blue
Danube,” and Byron Penn starts up from some remote corner, from which
he has witnessed her return to the ball-room.

“This is our waltz, is it not?” he says, with a tremor of pleasure in
his voice.

A slight flush rises over Bonnibel’s cheek.

“I believe it is,” she answers; “but if you will not think me very
rude, Mr. Penn, I am going to ask you to excuse me from it. I am tired
and shall dance no more this evening.”

“You are very cruel,” says the poet, plaintively; “but if you wish to
atone for your injustice you will walk down to the shore with me and
look at the moonlight on the sea, and hear how delicious the music
sounds down there. You can form no conception of its sweetness when
mellowed by a little distance and blent with the solemn diapason of the
waves.”

“If you will go and tell my maid to bring me a shawl,” she answers,
indifferently, “I will go with you for a minute.”

He returns with a fleecy white wrap, and they stroll away from the
“dancers dancing in tune.”

Continue Reading

It was a creamy satin

Bonnibel’s wedding-day dawned cloudless, fair and beautiful. The sun
shone, the flowers bloomed, the birds sang. Nothing was wanting to
complete the charm of the day.

Nothing? Ah! yes. The most important thing of all–the light and happy
heart that should beat in the breast of a bride was lacking there.

She was beautiful “in gloss of satin and glimmer of pearls,” but she
looked like a statue carved in marble. No warmth or color tinged the
strange pallor of her face and lips, no light of love shone in the
violet eyes that drooped beneath the sweeping lashes. She spoke and
moved like a soundless automaton.

Bonnibel had pleaded for a private marriage, but Colonel Carlyle had
set his heart on a marriage at church, with all the paraphernalia of a
fashionable wedding. He wanted to show the whole world what a peerless
prize he was winning. He had urged the point with the persistency
and almost obstinacy that is characteristic of age, and Bonnibel had
yielded recklessly. She told herself that it did not matter what they
did with her. Her heart was broken and her life was ruined.

She was not in a position to dictate terms. Wretched, dejected,
friendless; what mattered this crowning humiliation of being decked in
satin and pearls and orange flowers, and paraded before all eyes as a
beautiful slave that an old man had bought with his gold.

Well, it was over. She had gone to the church with him, the wide
portals had opened to receive her, the wedding march had pealed over
her head, the beautiful bridesmaids had gone with her to the altar in
their gala dresses, and carrying little baskets of flowers on their
arms, and she had spoken the words that made her the bride of Colonel
Carlyle. The fashionable world had flocked to witness the pageant, and
nodded approval and congratulated both. And _now_?

Now the wedding breakfast was over, the “dear five hundred friends” had
departed, and Mrs. Carlyle stood arrayed in her traveling dress.

Long Branch was to be the first destination of the wedded pair–they
had made no further arrangements yet. Mrs. Arnold and Felise had
promised to join them there in a few days by the groom’s express
invitation.

Felise had behaved so decorously after being thrown overboard by
her fickle suitor that the colonel felt that it behooved him to show
his appreciation of her conduct by every delicate attention that was
possible under the circumstances.

He had, therefore, insisted on their company at Long Branch while he
and the bride remained there, and the two ladies had promised to join
them there in a day or two at farthest.

Nothing but the coldest civilities had passed between the outraged
Bonnibel and the mother and daughter since the day when Mrs. Arnold had
cruelly insulted and threatened the helpless girl.

Bonnibel had kept her room almost entirely after that day, acquainting
her uncle’s wife with her acceptance of Colonel Carlyle by a brief note
sent by Lucy, though she might have spared herself the trouble, for
Mrs. Arnold and her daughter had both been witnesses of the colonel’s
happiness.

The bride-elect had been threatened by an avalanche of milliners and
dressmakers at first, but she had resolutely declined to have anything
to do with the details of her bridal outfit.

She had suffered a fashionable _modiste_ to take her measure once, and
after that Mrs. Arnold was forced to give her _carte blanche_ in the
whole matter of taste, expense and arrangement. Bonnibel would dictate
nothing in the preparation of those hated garments in which she was to
be sacrificed.

It was all over now. She stood in the hallway of the splendid home
that had sheltered her childhood, waiting for the carriage that would
bear her away on her honey-moon trip. She was leaving that dear home
forever; a quick tear sprang to her eyes as the servants crowded around
her with their humble, sorrowful adieux.

Lucy was to go with her, but the others, many of whom had been valued
domestics in the house for years, she might never see again.

They all loved her, and their farewells and good wishes were the most
fervent and heart-felt she had ever received.

Colonel Carlyle, though a little impatient, was pleased at these humble
manifestations and distributed gratuities among them with a liberal
hand. He wondered a little at the tears that crowded into the blue eyes
of his girl-wife. He did not know that she was thinking of the dear
uncle with whom she had spent so many hours beneath this roof. Ah,
those happy days! How far they lay behind her now in the green land of
memory!

“Come, dearest,” he said, drawing her small hand through his arm and
leading her away, “you must not dim those bright eyes with tears.”

He led her down the steps, placed her in the carriage that was gay with
wedding favors, and Mrs. Arnold and Felise airily kissed the tips of
their fingers to them. Janet threw an old slipper after the carriage
for good luck, and then Bonnibel was whirled away to the new life that
lay before her.

“I came very near being the bride in that carriage myself,” said
Felise, turning away from the drawing-room window. “But ‘there’s many a
slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip.'”




The tone was light, almost laughing; but Mrs. Arnold, turning to look
at her, read a different story in her eyes.

The slighted beauty looked very fair and handsome to-day. She had been
the first bridesmaid, and her dress rivaled that of the bride itself
for richness and elegance.

It was a creamy satin, heavily embroidered with pearl beads and draped
with rich lace, caught up here and there with deep-hearted yellow
roses. Her glossy black hair was adorned with the same flowers, and a
necklace of sparkling topaz made a circlet of pale flame around her
white throat. A dainty little basket of yellow roses had hung upon her
arm, but she had thrown it down now and stood trampling the senseless
flowers with fury in her eyes.

“My dear!” exclaimed the mother, in some trepidation.

“Don’t ‘my dear’ me,” Felise answered, furiously. “I am not in a mood
to be cajoled.”

She began to pace the floor impatiently, her rich dress rustling over
the floor, her white hands busy tearing the roses from about her and
throwing them down as if she hated the beautiful things whose crushed
petals sent out a rich perfume as if in faint protest against her
cruelty. There was a wild glare akin to that of madness in her dark
eyes.

“‘Hell has no fury like a woman scorned!'” she said, repeating the
words of the great poet. “Oh, mother, how I hate Colonel Carlyle and
his wife! I seem to live but for revenge.”

“Felise, you frighten me with your looks and words,” Mrs. Arnold said,
a little anxiously. “You seem like one on the verge of madness.”

“I am,” she said, stopping in her hurried walk a moment, and laughing a
low, blood-curdling laugh, “but never fear, mother, ‘there is method in
my madness!'”

“I wish you would give up this scheme of revenge,” pursued the mother,
anxiously. “I hate them as much as you do, I know, but then we have
got rid of the girl, and the misery she feels as the wife of a man she
cannot love is a very fair revenge upon her. Remember we have despoiled
her of everything, Felise, and given her over to a life that will make
her wretched. Is not that enough?”

“No, it is not!” exclaimed her daughter, in low, concentrated tones,
full of deep passion. “But, mother, what has changed you so? You used
to be as vindictive as a tigress–now you plead with me to forego my
revenge.”

“Because I am afraid for you, my dear,” Mrs. Arnold answered in
troubled tones. “I fear that your mind will give way under this
dreadful strain. I have never told you, Felise, but I will do so now
that you may guard yourself against yourself. _There was a taint of
madness_ in your father’s family, and when I see you brooding, brooding
over your revenge, I am afraid, afraid!”

The excited creature only laughed more wildly as she continued her walk.

“Felise,” the mother continued, “we have wealth, power, position, and
you are beautiful. We can make life a long summer day of pleasure. Let
us do so, and throw every vexing care to the winds.”

“Mother, I cannot do it,” Felise exclaimed. “I have been cruelly
humiliated in the eyes of world–everyone expected Colonel Carlyle to
marry me–do you think I will tamely bear their sneers and contempt?
No; the man who has brought such odium upon me shall bitterly rue the
day he first looked upon the siren face of Bonnibel Vere!”

“My love, do you remember the prediction of Wild Madge the sibyl? She
said ‘you would have everything and lose everything, because the gods
had made you mad.'”

“Who cares for the predictions of that crazy old witch? What can she
know of the future? I wish she were dead and out of the way!” exclaimed
the angry girl, clenching her small white hands impotently together.
“Mother, have done with your warnings and pleadings. I will not have
them! You seem to be undergoing a softening process of the heart and
brain–perhaps both,” and with a mocking laugh she swept from the
apartment.

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She will be more shocked when she finds you meant every word

Felise was prepared to see her rival fall fainting at her feet.

She expected nothing less from the shock to the girl’s already
overwrought feelings, and in anticipation she already gloated over the
sight of her sufferings.

But she was mistaken. Bonnibel neither screamed nor fainted. She sat
like one dazed for a moment, her blue eyes riveted to the paper, and
her face growing white as death, while the two women who hated her
watched her with looks of triumph.

The next instant, with a bound like that of a wounded fawn seeking some
leafy covert in which to die, she sprang from her seat and rushed from
the room, clenching the fatal paper in her hand.

They could hear her light feet flying along the hall and up the stairs
to her own especial apartments.

The two wicked women looked at each other blankly.

“I did not expect her to take it that way,” said Mrs. Arnold.

“Nor I,” returned Felise. “I looked for a fainting spell, or some kind
of a tragic scene at least.”

“Perhaps she does not care much after all,” suggested Mrs. Arnold. “She
is young, and the young are proverbially fickle. She may have ceased to
love him.”

“No, she has not. I am confident of that, mother. Her face looked
dreadful when she went out. She is too proud to let us see how she is
wounded–that is all. She turned as white as a dead woman while she was
reading, and there was a hunted, desperate look in her eyes. Depend
upon it she is terribly stricken.”

“Do you think she will consent to marry Colonel Carlyle now, Felise?”

“I rather think she will after the awful alternative you placed before
her.”

“Did you hear our conversation, my dear?”

“Every word of it, mother. I must say you sustained your part
splendidly. I feared you would not display sufficient firmness, but you
came off with flying colors.”

Mrs. Arnold smiled. She was well-pleased at her daughter’s praise, for
though her life was devoted to the service of Felise, this scheming
girl seldom gave her a word or smile of commendation. She answered
quickly:

“I am glad you were pleased, my love. I tried to be as positive as you
wished me to be. I fancied I heard you under the window once.”

“I was there,” said Felise, with a laugh.

“She was very much shocked when I threatened to turn her out of doors,”
said Mrs. Arnold. “She looked at me quite wildly.”

“She will be more shocked when she finds you meant every word, for,
mother, if she does not accept Colonel Carlyle, you shall certainly
drive her away!” exclaimed Felise, and a wild and lurid gleam of hatred
fired her eyes as she spoke, that boded evil to the fair and innocent
girl upon whom she had sworn to take a terrible revenge.

* * * * *

Bonnibel flew up the stairs to her own room, still clenching the fatal
paper tightly in her hand, and locking her door, threw herself downward
upon the carpet and lay there like one dead.

She had not fainted. Every nerve was keenly alive and quivering with
pain. Her heart was beating in great, suffocating throbs, her throat
felt stiff and choked as if compressed by an iron hand, and her head
ached terribly as if someone had hurled a heavy stone upon it.

Her whole being seemed to be but one great pulse of intense agony,
yet she lay still and moveless, save that now and then a convulsive
clutch of the small hand pressed to her throat showed that life still
inhabited that beautiful frame.

Life! The thought came to her suddenly and painfully. She raised
herself slowly and heavily, as if the weight of her sorrow crushed
her down to earth, and the full realization of the terrible change
broke over her. Leslie Dane was _dead_. That graceful form, that
handsome face was hidden beneath the damp earth mould. The dark eyes
of her artist husband would never shine down upon her again with the
love-light beaming in them, those lips whose smiles she had loved so
well would never press hers again as they had done that night when he
had blessed her and called her his wife. But _she_–she was a living,
agonized creature, the plaything of fate–oh, God! she thought,
clasping her hands together wildly, oh, God! that she were dead and
lying in the grave with the loved one she would never see again. She
felt in all its passionate intensity the force of another’s heart-wrung
utterance.

“Dead, dead!” she moaned.
“Oh, God! since _he_ could die,
The world’s a grave, and hope lies buried there.”

Ah! Bonnibel, sweet Bonnibel! It is a dark world indeed on which your
tearful gaze looks forth! It has been the grave of hope to many, yet
destiny pushes us forward blindly, and we cannot stay her juggernaut
wheels as they roll over our hearts.

“I am eighteen years old, and I am a _widow_,” she moans at last, and
staggers blindly to her feet, pushing back the fair locks from her brow
with shaking hands. “_I am a widow!_”

Oh! the pathos of the words! As she speaks them she draws the blinds,
drops the curtains, and the room is shrouded in darkness. She has shut
out the world from the sight of suffering. You and I, my reader, will
turn aside, too, from the contemplation of that cruelly tried young
heart as it fights the battle in the gloom and silence.

“Who breathes must suffer; and who thinks must mourn;
And he alone is blessed who ne’er was born.”

* * * * *

Six days later Colonel Carlyle was ushered into Mrs. Arnold’s
drawing-room and sent up his card to Miss Vere.

After a slight delay she came gliding in, pale and pure as a snow-drop,
and demure as a little nun. Colonel Carlyle both felt and saw that some
subtle and indefinable change had come over her as he bowed over the
cold, white hand she placed in his.

It was a very warm day, even for May; but she was clothed from head to
foot in heavy mourning draped with crape. Her golden hair was brushed
straight back from her temples and gathered into a simple coil fastened
with a comb of jet. From that somber setting her fair face and bright
hair shone like a star.

“You are pale, Bonnibel; I trust you have not been ill,” exclaimed the
ancient suitor anxiously.

“I am as well as usual,” she answered, with a slight, cold smile.




They sat down, and the ardent lover at once plunged into the subject
nearest his heart.

“Bonnibel, I have come for my answer, you know,” he said. “I hope and
trust it may be a favorable one.”

The girl’s sweeping lashes lifted a moment from her pale cheeks, and
her blue eyes regarded him sadly; but she did not speak. He bent down
and lifted her white, listless hand in his and held it fondly.

“My dear, shall it be yes?” he inquired. “Will you give me this
precious little treasure?”

Bonnibel looked down at the hand that lay in the colonel’s–it was the
one which wore the opal ring–that beautiful, changeful gem. Its colors
were dim and pale to-day. She shivered slightly, as if with cold.

“Colonel Carlyle, I told you when we spoke of this before that I did
not love you,” she said, faintly.

The colonel did not appear to be disheartened by this plaintive plea.

“At least you do not hate me, Bonnibel,” he said, half questioningly.

“Oh, no,” she answered quickly; “I like you very much, Colonel Carlyle.
You have been so very kind to me, you know–but it is only the liking
one has for a friend–it is in no way akin to love.”

“I will try to be contented with just your friendly liking, my dear
one, if you will give yourself to me,” he answered, eagerly.

“I believe I could give you a daughter’s affection, but never that of a
wife,” she murmured.

He did not in the least understand the swift, appealing look of the
eyes that were raised a moment to his own. A swift thought had rushed
over her and she had given it words:

“Oh, that he would adopt me for his daughter and save me from either
of those two alternatives that lie before me,” she thought, wildly.
“He might do so for papa’s sake, and I would make him a very devoted
daughter!”

But the sighing lover did not want a daughter–he was after a wife.

“I will take you even on those terms,” he replied. “Let me give you the
shelter of my name, and we will see if I cannot soon win a warmer place
in your heart.”

She shook her head and a heavy sigh drifted across her lips.

“Do not deceive yourself, Colonel Carlyle,” she said. “My heart is
dead. I shall never love any one.”

“I will risk all that,” he answered. “Only say yes, most peerless of
women, and so that I call you mine I will risk all else!”

“Do you mean it?” she asked, earnestly. “The hand without the
heart–would that content you?”

“Yes,” he answered, bent on attaining his end, and foolishly believing
that he could teach her to love him. “Yes; am I to have it, Bonnibel?”

“It shall be as you wish,” she answered, quietly, and leaning slightly
forward she laid in his the hand she had withdrawn a while ago.

Colonel Carlyle was beside himself with rapture.

“A thousand thanks, my beautiful darling,” he exclaimed, pressing
passionate kisses on the small hand. “Nay, do not take it away so soon,
my love. Let me first place on it the pledge of our betrothal.”

Still and white as marble sat Bonnibel while the enraptured colonel
slipped over her taper forefinger a magnificent diamond ring, costly
enough for a queen to wear. Its brilliant stone flashed fire, and the
opal on her third finger seemed to grow dull and cold.

* * * * *

So Bonnibel had made her choice.

Her nature was tender, refined, luxurious. She was afraid of poverty
and cold, and darkness; yet if Leslie Dane had lived she would have
faced them all rather than have chosen Mrs. Arnold’s alternative.

But Leslie Dane was dead. Life was over and done for her. There was
nothing to do but to die or forget. Death would have come soon enough
in the streets, perhaps, but she was _so_ afraid of such a death. So
she took “the goods the gods provided,” and blindly threw herself
forward into the whirling vortex of fate.

* * * * *

It was not to be expected that Colonel Carlyle would be willing to
defer his happiness. He was well-stricken in years, and had no time to
spare in idle waiting. He therefore pressed Bonnibel to name an early
day for the wedding.

She had no choice in the matter, and allowed him to name the day
himself.

Armed with her permission, he consulted Mrs. Arnold in regard to the
earliest possible date for his happiness.

Mrs. Arnold, tutored by Felise, was all smiling graciousness, and
fully appreciated his eagerness. She thought it quite possible that a
suitable and elegant _trousseau_ might be provided for a wedding on the
twenty-fifth of June.

Continue Reading

You defy my authority?

The morning after the rejection of Colonel Carlyle, Bonnibel Vere sat
alone in a pleasant little morning-room that was thrown out from the
main residence as a wing. It was daintily furnished in blue plush and
walnut, and had double glass doors that looked out upon a lovely little
garden that in this pleasant May season was glowing with bloom and
fragrance.

Bonnibel had been trying to read, but in the perturbed state of her
mind she could not fix her attention upon the book. It had fallen from
her lap upon the floor, and as she sat in the luxurious arm-chair she
leaned forward with her little chin buried in one pink palm and her
blue eyes gazing into vacancy, as if lost in thought.

She looked very fair and sweet sitting there in a cool, white
morning-dress, trimmed in lace and dotted about with several bows of
black ribbon. Her beautiful hair, which was growing long and thick
again, fell upon her shoulders in loose curls, like glints of sunshine.

She had broken a spray of white hyacinth and pinned it on her bosom,
and she looked as pure and sweet as the flower itself.

“I am very sorry,” she was thinking to herself, “that I was so
unfortunate as to win Colonel Carlyle’s affection. I certainly never
dreamed of such a thing, and a year ago I should have laughed in the
face of any old man who dared propose to me, and have told him I did
not wish to marry my grandfather. Heigh-ho! I have grown graver now,
and do not turn everything into a jest as I did then. Still, I wish
it had not happened. I liked him simply as my father’s friend, and I
thought he liked me just as papa’s daughter.”

She sighed heavily.

“I think I understand some things now that have puzzled me all the
winter,” she mused. “He was Felise’s lover when I first came, and I
have unconsciously rivaled her. She hates me for it, and Aunt Arnold
hates me, too. Ah! if they knew all that I knew they need not be
afraid. Felise is welcome to him, and I will try to induce him to
return to her. I never thought that Colonel Carlyle could have acted so
basely toward her, as it seems he has—-”

Mrs. Arnold’s sudden entrance into the room interrupted her
meditations. She looked so angry and overbearing that Bonnibel rose and
was about leaving the room when she was recalled abruptly.

“Stay, Bonnibel; I wish to speak with you. Resume your seat, if you
please.”

Flushing with resentment at the insolent authority of the tone,
Bonnibel turned and faced the lady with a gleam of pride shining in her
blue eyes.

“Pardon me,” she answered, coldly. “I will hear what you have to say
standing.”

“As you please,” said Mrs. Arnold, with a sneer. “Perhaps your strength
may not stand the ordeal, however.”

Bonnibel stared at her in silent surprise.

“You have refused an offer of marriage from Colonel Carlyle,” said Mrs.
Arnold in a tone of deep displeasure.

Bonnibel’s fair cheeks deepened their color ever so slightly.

“Yes, madam, I have,” she answered after a moment’s thought. “But I am
ignorant of the means by which you became cognizant of the fact.”

“It does not matter,” Mrs. Arnold replied, flushing to a dark red under
the clear pure eyes bent upon her. “Perhaps he told me himself. One
would think that even so elderly a lover would consult a young lady’s
guardian and protector before addressing her! But no matter how I came
by my information, you admit its truth.”

“Certainly, madam,” Bonnibel answered quietly, but wondering within
herself what all this fencing meant. She was growing slightly nervous.
The fair hands trembled slightly as they hung lightly clasped before
her, and the white and red rose triumphed alternately in her cheek.

Mrs. Arnold stood resting her folded arms on the back of a chair,
regarding the lovely young creature as if she had been a culprit before
the bar of justice.

“May I ask what were your reasons for declining the honor Colonel
Carlyle offered you?” she inquired in measured tones.

Bonnibel was half-tempted to deny Mrs. Arnold’s right to ask such
a question. With an effort she fought down the quick impulse,
and answered in a voice as gentle as the other’s was rude and
self-assertive:

“I did not love him, Aunt Arnold!”

“Love! Love!” sneered the widow contemptuously. “What had _love_ to do
with the matter? You, a poor, penniless, dependent creature, to prate
of love when such a man as Colonel Carlyle lays his millions at your
feet! You should have jumped at the chance and thanked him for his
condescension!”

The listener regarded her with horror and amazement. Her delicate lips
quivered with feeling, and her eyes were misty with unshed tears.

“Surely, Aunt Arnold,” she said, questioningly, “you would not have had
me accept Colonel Carlyle simply for his gold?”

“Yes, I would, though,” answered Mrs. Arnold roughly, “and what is
more, I intend that you _shall_ accept him, Bonnibel Vere! Girl, you
must have been mad to dream of refusing such a splendid offer. When
Colonel Carlyle returns for his final answer you will tell him that
your first refusal was only a girlish freak of coquetry, to try his
love, and that you accept his offer gratefully.”

Bonnibel’s cheeks turned as white as her dress, a mist rose before her
eyes, shutting out the sight of her aunt’s angry face.

She staggered and put out her hand to steady herself by a chair. Mrs.
Arnold regarded her with an air of cold insolence.

“I thought you would find it rather beyond your strength to stand
before our conversation was over,” she remarked, with slight sarcasm.

Bonnibel did not seem to hear the last shaft of malice. She answered
the preceding words in a voice that she strove to render steady and
controlled.

“I cannot recognize your right to dictate to me in a matter that
concerns myself alone, madam.”

Mrs. Arnold listened to the proud, calm tones in furious wrath.

“You defy my authority? You refuse to obey me?” she broke out angrily.




“Your violence leaves me no other alternative, Aunt Arnold,” said the
young girl, trying hard to speak calmly. “I do not wish to marry yet,
and the man whom you wish me to accept as a husband, could never be the
choice of my heart. I cannot understand why you should wish to force me
into a marriage so unsuitable.”

The graceful, womanly dignity of the young girl’s words and manner made
no impression on the coarse woman’s nature. She only saw before her the
girl she had hated ever since her innocent babyhood, the girl whose
peerless beauty had come between Felise and her brilliant prospects.
She broke out in a passionate resentment:

“Because I want to be rid of you, girl! You have been a tumbling-block
in my path your whole life, and I hate the very sight of your
baby-face! But I took pity on you and cared for you when poverty came
upon you. In return for my kindness you stole my daughter’s lover! Now
you shall marry him and get out of her way. It is the only reparation
you can make her. Do you think I will allow you to refuse Colonel
Carlyle, and remain here to cheat her out of the next eligible chance
that offers? Never!”

It was hard work for the listener to be so fiercely assailed by
this woman and not break out into the angry remonstrances that were
swelling in her heart. But Bonnibel had learned the difficult art
of self-control lately. She reflected to herself that it was but
natural that Mrs. Arnold should feel sore over the disappointment and
humiliation of her clever, handsome daughter.

“I am very sorry to hear that you hate me so much,” she said, a little
sadly. “I have had no one to love me since Uncle Francis died, and I
hoped I might win a little place in his wife’s heart. But you wrong me,
indeed, in charging me with stealing Felise’s lover. I never dreamed
of winning him away from her; I was deceived by his interest in me,
thinking it was simply because he had been a friend and comrade of my
dear papa. I might have known better, you say. Perhaps I might, but I
was blinded by private troubles of my own, and scarcely heeded what
went on around me. I am very sorry I have been the innocent cause of
pain to Felise.”

“Spare her the additional mortification of your sympathy,” was the
ironical answer. “I think she can bear the old dotard’s desertion.
She does not desire your regrets, and I believe I have named the only
reparation possible for you.”

“And that?” said the girl, slowly.

“Is to marry Colonel Carlyle and get out of her way,” was the harsh
reply.

“I cannot do that,” said Bonnibel, hurriedly. “It is impossible for me
to marry Colonel Carlyle–there are many reasons why I should not. As
to the other, I will—-”

She was about to add, “I will go away from here,” but a sickening
thought flashed across her. _Where_ could she go?

She had no relative to fly to in her trouble. She did not know how to
work and take care of herself. She had never learned anything useful,
and her education had been mostly limited to those showy, superficial
accomplishments in vogue in the fashionable world. She had five hundred
fashionable friends, but not one to whom she could turn for comfort in
this her dark hour.

“You say you cannot marry Colonel Carlyle,” said Mrs. Arnold, breaking
in on her troubled silence. “Listen to the only alternative that is
left you. I give you until he returns for his answer to decide in. If
you do not then accept him you shall no longer have the shelter of my
roof. Yes, in the very hour that you refuse Carlyle’s millions, I will
turn you out homeless into the streets!”

Into the streets! How the words grated on the girl’s horrified hearing.
She had seen them take up a dead girl from the street once, a girl as
young and fair almost as herself.

They said she had poisoned herself because she had no home. They took
her away to the Morgue, but Bonnibel had never forgotten that fair,
still face as it lay cold in death.

She recalled it now with a shiver. Some one had turned the poor girl
into the streets to die. Would that be her fate?

A deadly weakness stole over her. She dropped into a chair like one
shot, and Mrs. Arnold as she stood near her could hear the loud, wild
beating of her heart. Her little white hands trembled, and her cheeks
and lips turned white as marble.

“Aunt Arnold,” she said, looking up at the cruel, relentless woman,
“you would not do that, surely? I should have nowhere to go, and I
am so terribly afraid of the night and the darkness in the dreadful
streets of the city!”

“No matter,” sneered the listener. “You can go to one of the finest
houses in the city if you like, and have every luxury that wealth can
command–but if you refuse that, out you go from under the shelter of
this roof!”

There was the sound of some one singing in the flower-garden outside.

It was Felise. She came in with one handful of roses, while the other
held a newspaper which she was studying with a thoughtful brow.

“Bonnibel,” she said, abruptly, “do you recollect that young artist,
Leslie Dane, who used to visit at Sea View last summer?”

A wave of color drifted into the girl’s white cheek. She looked up
quickly into the thoughtful face of Felise.

“Yes,” she answered, “what of him, Felise?”

“Did he not go to Rome to study painting?” inquired the artful girl.

“That was his intention, I believe,” said Bonnibel, wondering what was
coming now.

“I thought so. There can be no mistake, then–poor fellow! Look here,
Bonnibel.”

She put the paper she carried into the young girl’s hand, and touched
her taper finger to a marked paragraph.

Bonnibel’s eyes followed the jeweled finger and read the few lines with
staring gaze, mutely conscious of the overpowering scent of the roses
that Felise carried in her hand.

Ever afterward Bonnibel associated roses with the thought of death.

“Died on the 10th of April, at Rome, Italy, of malarial fever, Leslie
Dane, in the 24th year of his age. Mr. Dane was an artist and a native
of the United States of America. _Requiescat in pace._”

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He wanted her to take time to think of all the advantages he offered her

“Mother, Bonnibel has refused Colonel Carlyle.”

Mrs. Arnold looked up from the sofa where she lay reading a novel by
the gas-light with a start of surprise. Felise had come into the room
as quietly as a spirit in her white dressing-gown.

“Mercy, Felise, how you startled me!” she exclaimed. “I had just got to
such an exciting part where the heroine was just about to be murdered
by her jealous rival when in you came with your long hair and trailing
white wrapper, like Lady Macbeth walking in her sleep. I almost
expected to hear you exclaim:

“‘Here’s the smell of the blood still; all the perfumes of Arabia will
not sweeten this little hand!'”

“You are quite dramatic to-night, mother–your novel must be an
exciting one,” said Felise, with a slight sneer. She came forward and
sat down in a large easy-chair opposite her mother. She looked pale,
and her eyes burned with repressed excitement.

“It is,” said Mrs. Arnold, “the most thrilling book I have read lately.
But what were you saying when you came in and frightened me so?”

“I said that Bonnibel had _refused_ Colonel Carlyle,” repeated Felise,
distinctly.

Mrs. Arnold sat up with her fingers between the pages of her book,
whose interesting perusal she felt loth to stop. She said, half
stupidly:

“Oh, she has, has she? Well, it had to come to that, sooner or later,
you know, my love.”

“Indeed?” answered Felise, shortly.

“Well, you know we have been expecting it some time, Felise, ever since
Colonel Carlyle lost his heart about her. I must say his conduct to you
has not been that of a gentleman, my dear.”

“I quite agree with you,” said Felise dryly.

She was very quiet, but her small hands were tightly clenched. She
seemed “to hold passion in a leash” by a strong effort of will.

“But how did you find it out?” inquired her mother, thinking that
Felise was taking it quite calmly, after all.

“As I find out most things–by keeping my eyes and ears open!” retorted
her daughter, tartly.

“When did it happen?”

“This afternoon, while you were out calling on the Trevertons.”

“Was the old fool much cut up about it?” inquired Mrs. Arnold,
inelegantly.

“He would not take _no_ for an answer,” said Felise. “He wanted her
to take time to think of all the advantages he offered her, and he is
coming in a week to hear her decision.”

“The silly old dotard!” ejaculated her mother. “Well, all he can get by
his persistence is a second refusal.”

Felise Herbert straightened herself in her chair, and looked at her
mother with a strange smile on her face.

“I do not intend that he shall get a _second refusal_!” she said, in a
low voice that was very firm and incisive.

Mrs. Arnold stared at her daughter in blank surprise and incredulity.

“Why, Felise, what can you mean?” she inquired.

“I mean that Bonnibel Vere shall marry Colonel Carlyle!” her daughter
answered, in the same low, determined voice.

“Why, my dear, you know it cannot be when she already has a _husband_!
Besides, I did not know that you wanted them to marry. I thought–I
thought–” said Mrs. Arnold, stopping short because surprise had
overpowered her.




She looked at the white figure sitting so quietly there in the
arm-chair, with some apprehension. Had Felise’s disappointment impaired
her reason?

“You need not look at me so strangely, mother,” said Felise. “I assure
you I am not mad, as your eyes imply. I am as sane as you are; but I
have said that Bonnibel Vere shall marry my recreant lover, and I mean
to keep my word. She has stolen him from me, and now she shall marry
him and get out of my way! Or perhaps you would prefer to keep her here
to spoil the next eligible chance I get,” said Felise, looking at her
mother with burning eyes.

“I don’t see how you can bring her to consent to such a thing, even if
you are in earnest, my dear.”

“You have got to help me, mother. You shall tell her that you will
not allow her to refuse Colonel Carlyle–that she shall become his
wife, and that if she does not revoke her rejection, you will turn her
instantly into the street!”

“Felise, will you tell me why you are so determined upon their
marriage? I supposed you were unwilling to it–it would be only natural
for you to oppose it–but you seem as anxious for it as Colonel Carlyle
himself. Again, I ask you why?

“Mother, I told you I would take revenge upon my rival. This is a part
of my revenge. Their marriage will be the first act in the drama. Do
not ask me how I am going to proceed. Let me work out my revenge in my
own way. I owe them both a score. Never fear but I will pay it off with
interest!”

“But, Felise, you must know that Bonnibel would sooner declare her
secret marriage than be forced into another one. I can turn her into
the street if you are determined upon it; but I know I cannot make a
girl as truthful and pure as Bonnibel Vere knowingly become the wife of
two husbands.”

“I fully admit your inability to do that, mother. I do not intend to
insist on your performance of impossibilities. As for Leslie Dane, look
here!”‘

She straightened out a folded paper she had carried in her bosom, and
leaning forward pointed out a small paragraph to her mother.

Mrs. Arnold read the brief paragraph with starting eyes, then turned
and looked at her daughter. She no longer kept her finger between the
pages of her novel. It had slipped down upon the floor. She was getting
absorbed in this tragedy in real life.

“Is it possible?” she exclaimed. “Felise, can it be true?”

“Why not?” was the cool interrogatory. “Such things happen often–don’t
they?

“‘Every minute dies a man,
Every minute one is born.'”

“Let me see the date,” Mrs. Arnold said, bending forward. “Ah! it is
very recent. Well, I _am_ surprised. But yet it is a very fortunate
occurrence, is it not? Of course it is genuine.”

“Why, of course it is,” said Felise, with a short, dry laugh. “How else
could it be in the paper? They don’t put such things in for sport, I
suppose.”

“Of course not; but it came upon me so suddenly I felt quite
incredulous at first. Well, this puts a new face upon the matter, does
it not, my dear?”

“Certainly, mother. I will show her this paper, and she cannot have
any pretext for repeating her refusal in the face of the alternative
with which you shall threaten her. I suppose any girl in her senses
would marry Colonel Carlyle and his millions rather than be turned out
homeless into the street.”

She sat still a moment staring before her into futurity with lurid eyes
that saw her revenge already, and curling lips that began to taste its
sweetness in anticipation.

“When must I tell her, Felise?” inquired Mrs. Arnold.

“To-morrow, mother. There is no use in delaying matters. Let us bring
the marriage about as speedily as possible. You will tell her to-morrow
what she has to do, and I will be on hand with the paper.”

She rose slowly.

“Well, I will go, and leave you to finish your novel,” she said; “but
if you take my advice you will retire instead. It is growing late.
Good-night.”

“Good-night, my love, and pleasant dreams,” her mother answered.

She went out as quietly as she had entered, her dark hair flying wildly
over her shoulders and her white robes trailing noiselessly after her.
She was twisting her hands together, and again Mrs. Arnold thought of
Lady Macbeth washing her hands and crying in her sleep, “Out, damned
spot!”

Ah, Felise Herbert! There was a stain on your soul as red as that on
Lady Macbeth’s hand!

Continue Reading

She never names him

Colonel Carlyle was as deeply infatuated with Bonnibel Vere as
the jealous Felise had declared him to be; but, as she had always
asserted, he was very wily and cautious in his advances. He was afraid
of frightening the pretty bird he wished to ensnare. He, therefore,
adopted a deportment of almost fatherly tenderness toward her that was
very pleasant to the lonely girl, who missed her uncle’s protecting
care so much, and who also began to perceive in Mrs. Arnold and her
daughter a changed manner, which, while it could scarcely be colder
than usual, was tinged with an indefinable shade of insolence.

Poor, pretty Bonnibel! she had fallen upon dark days. She had been
deceived by Mrs. Arnold’s protestations at first, but by degrees a new
light began to break upon her. Mrs. Arnold began to practice a degree
of parsimony toward her that was bewildering to the girl. She withdrew
Bonnibel’s allowance of money, and at last the girl found her dainty
little purse quite empty, and likely to remain so–a thing that had
never happened to her before in the course of her life, for her uncle
had been lavishly generous to her in respect to pin-money. Her supply
of mourning was extremely limited, and but for her quiet mode of life
would have been quite inadequate to her needs.

But if Mrs. Arnold had wished to diminish Bonnibel’s beauty by giving
it so meager a setting she failed in the endeavor. The jewel was too
bright to miss extraneous adornment.

The somber black dresses could not dim the gleam of her golden hair,
the sparkle of her sea-blue eyes. Her white brow and throat were like
the petals of a lily, and with returning health a lovely rose-tint
began to flush her cheeks.

Her beauty was a royal dower of which no spite or malignity could
deprive her. Clothed upon with sackcloth she would still have remained,

“A daughter of the gods, divinely tall,
And most divinely fair.”

Bonnibel knew that she was beautiful. She had heard it remarked so
often that she could not be ignorant of the fact.

In those past happy days that now seemed so far away she had taken a
childish, innocent pride in the knowledge. But now in her trouble and
loneliness she had forgotten it, or cared for it no more. So it never
occurred to her to ascribe the painful change in her aunt and Felise to
the fact that was quite obvious to others–the very plain fact that she
had unconsciously rivaled Felise with Colonel Carlyle and that he only
waited a proper season to declare himself.

There was none of the dawdling and hesitation now that had marked
his courtship of Felise and prevented him from making the important
declaration she had schemed and toiled for. He had virtually jilted
Felise, for he had done everything but speak the important words, but
the proud girl bore his desertion in ominous silence that boded no good
to the man who had thus wronged her.

Lucy and Janet, the respective maids of the two young ladies, held many
a whispered colloquy over Colonel Carlyle’s defection. Janet indeed
was an object of sympathy in those days, for she had to bear the brunt
of Felise’s anger, which was no slight thing to endure. Indeed, it is
probable that the much-enduring maid would have given warning on the
spot had it not been for an _affaire du cœur_ which she was carrying
out with the footman.

Rather than be separated from this object of her fond affections Janet
remained in Felise’s service and endured her caprices and ill-treatment
with that heroic fortitude with which women from time immemorial have
borne slight and wrong for love’s sake.

“Will Miss Bonnibel marry him, do you think, Lucy?” asked Janet at one
of their solemn conclaves.

“I don’t know,” Lucy answered. “Seems to me the child don’t have the
least idea of what is going on right afore her eyes. I don’t believe
she knows that the colonel is a courtin’ her! She thinks he is a
friend, like, and because he knew her father in the army and talks a
good deal about his bravery, she listens to him and never dreams that
she has cut Miss Felise out right afore her face.”

“And serves her right, too,” said Janet, heartily, taking a malicious
pleasure in the defeat of her over-bearing mistress; “I, for one, am
downright glad that she has cut my lady out of her rich beau! It would
be a fine match for Miss Bonnibel since her uncle has left her without
a cent.”

“I hope she will marry him,” said Lucy. “Things isn’t going at all to
my notion in this house, Janet. Sour looks and impident words is flung
around altogether too free in my young lady’s hearing. And she getting
that shabby that she have got but one decent mourning gown to her back,
and I hear nothing said of a new one! As for money I don’t believe Mrs.
Arnold has given her a single penny since her uncle died; I’ve seen her
little purse and it’s quite empty. I’d have put a few of my own savings
into it, only I was afraid she might be angry.”

“I hope she’ll marry Carlyle and queen it over them both,” said Janet.
“I tell you, Lucy, it was very strange that Mr. Arnold’s _will_ wasn’t
found. I am quite sure he made one–he wouldn’t have slighted your
young lady intentionally. He loved that pretty little blue-eyed girl
as the apple of his eye, and there was small love lost between him and
t’other one. ‘Twas mysterious the way things turned out at his death,
Lucy.”

“Aye, it were,” assented Lucy; “I heard Miss Bonnibel, myself, tell
Mrs. Arnold down at Sea View when she were sick, that her uncle told
her he had made a will and provided liberally for her. And Mrs. Arnold
laughed at her and pretended that the fever hadn’t got out of her
head yet. _She_ didn’t want to believe there was a will, Janet, _she_
didn’t! Now I ask you, Janet, what has become of that there will?”

Janet laughed scornfully and significantly.

“Ah! it’s gone where Miss Bonnibel’s blue eyes will never shine on it,”
said she. “It’ll never see the light of day again. All that she can do
is to marry Colonel Carlyle and get even with them all.”

“I wish she would,” sighed Lucy; “but I don’t believe she will. They
said she was in love with a young artist last summer, and that her
uncle drove him away–the same young man they laid the murder on, you
know.”

“Do you believe he did it, Lucy?”

“Not I,” said Lucy, with a scornful sniff. “I’d sooner believe _they_
did it between themselves! I’ve seen the young man when he used to come
visiting the master at Sea View. A handsome young man he was, and that
soft-spoken he would not hurt a fly, I know. But he was poor and made
his living by drawing pictures, and since Miss Bonnibel is poor, too,
now, I’d rather she’d marry that rich old man, for, poor dear, what
good could _she_ do as a poor man’s wife!”

“Has she forgotten the young feller, do you think?” inquired Janet,
thinking of her own “young feller” below stairs with a thrill of
romantic sympathy for Miss Vere’s love affair.

“Oh, dear, _no_, and never _will_,” said Lucy, confidently. “She never
names him; but I know she’s been grieved and unhappy over and above
what natural grief for Mr. Arnold could amount to. But I doubt it’s
all over between them. He’s been in hiding, of course, somewhere, ever
since they accused him of the murder, and I doubt if Miss Bonnibel ever
sets her sweet blue eyes on his handsome face again.”

“If he’s not guilty why don’t he come out and prove his innocence?”
exclaimed the romantic Janet. “What a fine scene there would be–Miss
Bonnibel all in smiles and tears of joy, and t’other ones scowling and
angry at them two lovers.”



Processed with Snapseed.

“Ah! I can’t tell you _why_ he doesn’t do so,” answered Lucy, sighing;
“but there must be some good reason for’t. No one could get me to
believe that Mr. Dane did that wicked and cruel murder! My young
mistress, so innocent as she is herself, could never have loved a man
that was mean enough to do that deed!”

The loud peal of Miss Herbert’s dressing-room bell resounding through
the house broke up the conference between the maids, and Janet went
away to answer it, muttering, angrily:

“Lucy, I do wish we could change mistresses for awhile. I’m that tired
with tramping up and down to wait on that ill-natered upstart that all
my bones are sore.”

So Bonnibel’s circumstances and prospects were discussed in high life
up-stairs, and by servantdom down-stairs, while she herself, the most
interested party, was ignorant of it all.

How could she, whose torn heart was filled with one single aching
memory, take note of all that went on about her?

She was still living in the past, and took small heed of the present.
She thought Colonel Carlyle was still fond of Felise, and that his
little kindnesses and attention to her were offered to her for her
father’s sake. She felt grateful to him, but that was all. She was not
pleased when he came, nor sorry when he went. So, when the long, cold
days of winter wore away and nature began to smile with the coming of a
genial spring, and Colonel Carlyle could restrain his impatient ardor
no longer, his proposal of marriage, worded with all the passion of a
younger lover, came upon her with the suddenness of a thunderbolt from
a clear sky.

“Surely, Mr. Carlyle, I have misunderstood your meaning,” she said,
looking up at him when he ceased to speak, with terror and fright in
her large eyes. “You asked me to–to—-”

“To _marry_ me,” said the colonel. “You have not misunderstood me,
Bonnibel. I love you, my darling, as passionately as any young man
could do. I ask you to give yourself to me for my cherished wife. It
would be the sole aim of my life to make you happy. Will you be my
wife, little darling?”

“Why, you–you are engaged to Miss Herbert,” said Bonnibel, in surprise
and reproach.

“I beg your pardon, my dear. I am not. I admire and esteem Miss Herbert
very much, but I have never addressed a word of love to her. It is
_you_ whom I love–_you_ whom I wish to make my wife,” exclaimed the
ardent colonel.

“I certainly understood that you would marry Felise,” answered
Bonnibel, gravely.

“It was a very serious error on your part, my dear little girl, for I
have been trying all the winter to make you see that I loved no one but
_you_.”

“I never dreamed of such a thing,” exclaimed the girl, in a tone of
genuine distress.

“Then you are the only one who did not suspect it,” said he, in a
mortified tone. “The fact was very patent to all others.”

Bonnibel looked down at the shimmering opal on her finger, and a blush
of shame rose over her delicate features. She thought to herself,
impulsively:

“This is dreadful for me–a wedded wife–to sit here and listen to such
words without the power of protesting against them.”

“Perhaps you think I am too old for you, my angel,” said the colonel,
breaking the silence; “but my heart and my feelings are much younger
than my years. I could not have loved you more ardently thirty years
ago. But if age is a fault in your eyes, my darling, I will atone for
it by every indulgence on earth, and by a deathless devotion.”

“Oh, pray, do not say another word, Colonel Carlyle. It can never be,
sir. I can never be your wife!” exclaimed the girl, in deep agitation.

“But why not, my dearest girl?”

“I do not love you, sir,” said the girl, cresting her graceful head
half-haughtily upon her slender throat.

“I will teach you to love me, darling. Come, say that you will let me
take you away from this house, where I can see that they hate you,
and make your life more happy. I will do anything to further your
happiness, Bonnibel,” urged the colonel.

“What you wish is quite impossible, sir. I beg that you will dismiss
the subject, my dear, kind friend, and forget it,” repeated Bonnibel,
earnestly.

“I will not take _no_ for an answer,” replied the colonel, obdurately.
“I have taken you by surprise, and you do not know your own mind, my
dear little girl. I will give you a week to decide in. Think of all the
advantages I can offer you, Bonnibel, and of my devoted love, and say
_yes_ when I come back for your answer.”

So saying he abruptly took his leave.

Continue Reading

She was furiously angry

“No, don’t attempt to excuse yourself, mother! If you had taken my
advice, and turned your wax doll out upon the world to look out for
herself, this would never have happened! But no, you must saddle
yourself with the charge of her, and pamper her as foolishly as her
uncle did! And now you see the result of your blind folly. It needed
but one sight of her baby-face by that old dotard to ruin my prospects
for life. I hope you are satisfied with your work!”

It was ten o’clock at night, and Felise Herbert had come into her
mother’s room in her dressing-gown, with her dark hair hanging over her
shoulders, and her eyes flashing angrily, to upbraid her mother for her
weakness in the matter of Bonnibel Vere.

“You should have turned her adrift upon the world,” she repeated,
stamping her slippered foot angrily. “She might have starved to death
for all I cared! _After all I did for you_, I think you could have done
that much to please _me_!”

“But, Felise, you know it was quite impossible to take such extreme
measures without incurring the censure of the world, and perhaps its
suspicion!” said Mrs. Arnold, deprecatingly.

“Who cares for suspicion–they could not prove anything!” said Felise,
snapping her fingers.

“No, perhaps not,” Mrs. Arnold answered, “but all the same, I should
not like to run the risk. You are blinded by anger, Felise; or you
would reason more clearly. You know I did not want to keep the girl
here. I hate her as much as you do. I have hated her ever since she was
born, but you know I dare not turn her off. Society would taboo us if
we dared hint such a thing. Turn a girl of her aristocratic antecedents
out upon the world to earn her living, while I am rolling in wealth!
A girl who knows no more of the world than a baby! The daughter of
General Vere, the niece of my dead husband! Felise, you must see that
it would never do!”

“It would if I had been suffered to have my way,” answered the girl,
marching angrily up and down the floor. “To be thwarted this way in my
prospect of making the most brilliant match of the season is too bad!
It is shameful! For her to step into my place this way makes me hate
her worse than ever!”

“But, Felise, she _cannot_ step into your place, my dear. Did you not
tell me you had learned from Leslie Dane’s intercepted letters that
the girl was secretly married to him? Why did you meddle with their
correspondence, anyway? Why not have let him come back in time to claim
her? She would then have been out of your way!”

“Mother, you talk like a fool!” exclaimed the daughter, angrily. “You
know I dare not let Leslie Dane return here! I am compelled to keep
him out of the country for the sake of my own safety. I am compelled
to separate the two because he must not hear of the charge of murder
that we made against him. If she should hear it, as she is likely to
do at any time, and should communicate it to him, what would be the
consequence? He would return here and disprove the charge at once.
Bonnibel was with him that night. They went to Brandon and were married
while your husband was being mur—- put out of the way. He could prove
an _alibi_ at once. You talk of suspicion–where would suspicion fall
then?”

“Surely not on us, Felise!” said Mrs. Arnold, fearfully.

“And why not?” sneered the girl. “If the now quiescent subject were
agitated again what absurd theories might not be propounded by the
suspicious world? Who can tell whether Wild Madge could keep the
secret? I tell you I have only consulted our vital interests in
separating Leslie Dane and Bonnibel Vere, though to do so I have had
to destroy my every prospect of becoming the millionaire’s wife. I am
compelled to keep that beggarly artist out of the country at any cost.”

“But, my dear, there is no chance of Bonnibel marrying Colonel Carlyle
even though she should be separated forever from her artist-husband,
for she is a married woman anyhow. One hint of this to Colonel Carlyle
would make your affair all right with him again!”

“It would not,” answered Felise, passionately. “He is madly in love
with her. Have I not seen it in these few weeks since she has been
well enough to come down-stairs? Has not the old fool hung over her as
dotingly as any boy-lover could do? Suppose I told him the truth? Do
you think he would return to me? No, he would only hate me because I
had shattered his brilliant air castle!”

“I am surprised that Bonnibel tolerates his attentions as she does,”
said Mrs. Arnold, stirring up the fire that was beginning to burn low
in the grate.




“She does not suspect what the old fox is after; I will do her that
much justice,” said Felise, bitterly. “He is very cautious. He has
a thousand tales of her father’s prowess with which to pave his way
and awaken her interest. She makes an idol of her wretched father who
squandered every penny of her mother’s fortune, and only redeemed
himself by dying recklessly in some foolish charge on the battle-field!”

She resumed her walk up and down the floor which she had temporarily
ceased during the last outburst. She was furiously angry.

Her eyes blazed luridly, her lips were curled back from her glittering
teeth, her step seemed to spurn the floor. Her mother watched her
uneasily.

“Felise, do you not fret yourself, my dear. I am persuaded that
everything will come right soon. Suppose Colonel Carlyle is in love
with Bonnibel. If he proposes to her she is compelled to refuse his
offer. What more natural than that he should return to you then, and
make you his wife. Hearts are often caught on the rebound, you know.”

“Mother, hush! You talk like a simpleton as you are!” was the fierce
retort.

Mrs. Arnold was stung to anger by the unprovoked insolence of her
daughter. She rose and looked at her in dignified displeasure.

“Felise,” she said, threateningly, “you are my daughter, but you must
not suppose that I will tamely bear the continued disrespect and
contumely I have lately been forced to receive at your hands. In your
rage at losing Colonel Carlyle you seem to forget that it is in my
power to make you almost as wealthy as he could do. Remember, I am a
very rich woman, and I can leave my wealth to whom I please.”

“And who placed you in that position?” sneered Felise. “How much would
you have been worth but for my constant care of your interests? A third
of your husband’s property, which was all you could legally claim! That
was what he said to his big wax-doll. The balance of his money was
for her, to make her a queen and win the homage of the world for her.
Perhaps you will leave her the money I have risked so much to gain for
you?”

“Felise, this is but idle recrimination. You know I would not leave
Bonnibel Vere a penny to save her soul from perdition, and you know
I have been scheming all my life to get that money for you, and that
I will certainly give it to you. But I do not understand your mood
to-night. What is it that you wish me to do?”

“Nothing, nothing! Months ago I begged you to send the girl away and
you refused me. You knew I hated her, and you knew I spared nothing
that came in my way. She has come between me and my dearest ambition.
Now let her look to herself. I tell you, mother, I will take a
_terrible revenge_ on Bonnibel Vere for what I have lost. _I have sworn
it, and I will surely keep my vow!_”

She stood still a moment with upraised hands, looking fixedly at her
mother, then she turned and went swiftly from the room.

Mrs. Arnold stared after her blankly. She was a cruel and wicked woman,
but she would not have dared to go such lengths as her daughter. She
was afraid of her daughter, and frightened at the terrible intent
expressed in her tone and manner.

“My God!” she murmured, with a shiver, “what rash act is she about to
commit?”

Continue Reading

There was silence a few moments

“‘Italia, oh, Italia, thou who hast
The fatal gift of beauty: which became
A funeral dower of present woes and past,'”

repeated the voice of a young man leaning from an upper window, and
looking down upon the antique streets of famous Rome.

“I think you have more taste for poetry than painting, Carl,” said a
second voice.

The scene is an artist’s studio, up four flights of stairs, and very
near the sky. A large skylight gives admission to the clear and radiant
light, and the windows are open for the soft breeze to enter the room,
though it is the month of December in that fair Italian clime, where it
is always summer. Pictures and palettes, statuettes and bronzes adorn
the walls, and somewhat litter the room, and its only two occupants
wear artists’ blouses, though one of the wearers sits idly at the
window gazing down into the street. He is blonde and stout, with gay
blue eyes, and is unmistakably German, while his darker companion, who
is busily painting away at a picture, is just as certainly an American.
They both bear their nationalities plainly in their faces.

“Poetry and painting are sister arts, I think,” said Carl Muller,
laughing. “The poets paint with words as we do with colors. They have
the advantage of us poor devils, for their word-paintings remain
beautiful forever, while our ochres crack and our crimsons fade.”

“You should turn poet, then, Carl.”

“I had some thought of it once,” said the mercurial Carl, laughing,
“but upon making trial of my powers, I found that I lacked the divine
afflatus.”

“Say rather that you lacked the more prosaic attribute that you lack in
painting–_industry_,” said the American.

“Whatever failing I may have in this respect is fully atoned for by
you, Leslie. Never saw I a poor dauber so deeply wedded to his art.
Your perseverance is simply marvelous.”

“It is the only way to conquer fame, Carl. There is no royal road to
success,” said the artist, painting busily away as he talked.

Carl yawned lazily and repeated Beattie’s well-known lines:

“‘Ah! who can tell how hard it is to climb
The steep where Fame’s proud temple shines afar;
Ah! who can tell how many a soul sublime,
Has felt the influence of malignant star,
And waged with fortune an eternal war!'”

“The ‘malignant star’ in your case means _idleness_, Carl. You have
talent enough if you would but apply yourself. Up, up, man, and get to
your work.”

“It is impossible to conquer my constitutional inertia this evening,
Leslie. To-morrow I will vie with you in perseverance and labor like a
galley-slave,” laughed the German, stretching his lazy length out of
the window.

There was silence a few moments. Carl was absorbed in something going
on in the street below–perhaps a street fight between two fiery
Italians, or perhaps the more interesting sight of some pretty woman
going to mass or confession–while Leslie Dane’s brush moved on
unweariedly over his task. Evidently it was a labor of love.

“I should like to know where you get your models, Leslie,” said Carl
Muller, looking back into the room. “You do not have the Italian type
of women in your faces. What do you copy from?”

“Memory,” said the artist, laconically.

“Do you mean to say that you know a woman anywhere half as beautiful as
the women you put on your canvas?”

“I know one so transcendently lovely that the half of her beauty can
never be transferred to canvas,” said Leslie Dane, while a flush of
pride rose over his features.

“In America?” asked Carl.

“In America,” answered Leslie.

“Whew!” said the German, comprehensively. “I thought you did not care
for women, Mr. Dane.”

“I never said so, Carl,” said Leslie Dane, smiling.

“I know–but actions speak louder than words. You avoid them, you
decline invitations where you are likely to meet them, and the handsome
models vote you a perfect bear.”




“Because there is but one woman in the whole world to me,” answered
Leslie Dane, and he paused a moment in his painting, and looked away
with a world of tenderness in his large, dark eyes.

Carl Muller began to look interested.

“Ah! now I see why you work so hard,” he said. “There is a woman at the
bottom of it. There is always a woman at the bottom of everything that
goes on in this world whether it be good or evil.”

“Yes, I suppose so,” said Leslie, resuming his work with a sigh to the
memory of the absent girl he loved.

“Love rules the court, the camp, the grove,
For love is heaven, and heaven is love,”

hummed Carl in his rich tenor voice.

“Leslie, you will accompany me to the _fete_ to-night?” said he,
presently.

“Thank you. I do not care to go,” said Leslie.

“Heavens, what a selfish fellow!” said Carl, turning back to the
window.

Silence fell between them again. The soft breeze came sighing in at the
window ruffling Carl’s sunny curls and caressing Leslie Dane’s cheek
with viewless fingers.

A pot of violets on the window ledge filled the air with delicate
perfume. After that evening the scent of violets always came to Leslie
Dane wedded to a painful memory.

There was a heavy step at the door. Their portly landlady pushed her
head into the room.

“Letters, gentlemen,” she said.

Carl Muller sprang up with alacrity.

“All for me, of course,” he said. “Nobody ever writes to Dane.”

He took the packet and went back to his seat, while his companion, with
a smothered sigh, went on with his work. It was quite true that no one
ever wrote to him, yet he still kept waiting and hoping for one dear
letter that never–never came.

“Ah, by Jove! but I was mistaken,” Carl broke out suddenly. “Hurrah,
Leslie, here’s a love letter from the girl you left behind you.”

He held up a little creamy-hued envelope, smooth and thick as satin,
addressed in a lady’s elegant hand, and Leslie Dane caught it almost
rudely from him. Carl gave a significant whistle and returned to his
own correspondence.

Leslie Dane tore open the letter so long waited and hoped for, and
devoured its contents with passionate impatience. It was very brief.
Let us glance over his shoulder and read what was written there:

“LESLIE,” she wrote, “your letters have kept coming and coming, and
every one has been like a stab to my heart. I pray you never to write
to me again, for I have repented in bitterness of spirit the blind
folly into which you led me that night. Oh, how could you do it? I
was but a child. I did not know what love meant, and I was bewildered
and carried away by your handsome face, and the romance of that
moonlight flitting. It was wicked, it was cruel, Leslie, to bind me
so, for, oh, God, I _love_ another now, and I never can be his! But
at least I will _never_ be yours. I have burned your letters, and I
shall hate your memory as long I live for the cruel wrong you did me.
God forgive you, for I never can!

“BONNIBEL.”

Leslie Dane threw that dreadful letter down and ground it beneath his
heel as though it had been a deadly serpent. It was, for it had stung
him to the heart.

Carl Muller looked up at the strange sound of that grinding boot-heel,
and saw his friend standing fixedly staring, into vacancy, his dark
eyes blazing like coals of fire, his handsome face pallid as death, and
set in a tense look of awful despair and bitterness terrible to behold.

Carl Muller sprang up and shook him violently by the arm.

“My God! Leslie,” he cried, “what is it? What has happened to move you
so? Is there anyone dead?”

The handsome artist did not seem to hear him. He stood immovable save
for the horrid crunching of his boot-heel as it ground that fatal
letter into fragments.

“Leslie,” exclaimed Carl, “speak, for mercy’s sake! You cannot imagine
how horrible you look!”

Thus adjured Leslie Dane shook off his friend’s clasp roughly, and
strode across the room to a recess where a veiled picture hung against
the wall.

He had always refused to show it to his brother artist, but now he
pushed the covering aside, disclosing a female head surrounded by
silvery clouds like that of an angel. The face, framed in waving masses
of golden hair, was lighted by eyes of tender violet, and radiantly
beautiful.

“Look Carl,” said the artist in a changed and hollow voice, “is not
that the face of an angel?”

Carl Muller looked at the lovely face in wonder and delight.

“Beautiful, beautiful!” he exclaimed, “it is the face of a seraph!”

“Yes, it is the face of a seraph,” repeated Leslie Dane. “The face of a
seraph, but oh, God, she is _fickle_, _faithless_, _false_!”

He stood still a moment looking at the fair young face smiling on him
in its radiant beauty, then caught up his brush and swept it across the
canvas.

One touch, the tender blue eyes were obliterated, another, and the
curved red lips were gone with their loving smile, another and another,
and the whole angelic vision was blotted from the canvas forever.

Continue Reading

You seem very curious over my ring

“A merry Christmas, Bonnibel, and many happy returns of the day.”

Bonnibel Vere, lying helplessly on the sofa in her dressing-room,
looked up with a start of surprise.

Felise Herbert was entering with her cat-like steps and a deceitful
smile wreathing her thin lips.

“Thank you, Felise,” she answered wearily, “though your wishes can
scarcely bear fruit to-day.”

“Are you suffering so much pain to-day?” asked Felise, dropping into an
easy-chair and resting her head with its crown of dark braids against
its violet velvet lining.

“My ankle is rather painful.”

“We are going to have a few friends to dine with us to-day–Colonel
Carlyle is among them–and we thought–mother and I–that you might
be well enough to come down into the drawing-room,” said the visitor,
watching the invalid keenly under her drooping lashes.

But the feverish flush on the girl’s cheek did not deepen under the
jealous scrutiny of the watcher. She watched with a sigh of positive
relief.

“Many thanks, but it is not possible for me to do so, Felise; Doctor
Graham said that I must remain closely confined to my sofa at least
two weeks. And indeed I could not leave it if I tried. My foot is much
swollen and I cannot stand at all.”

She pushed out the little member from under the skirt of her warm white
wrapper, and Felise saw that she spoke truly.

She rose and came nearer under pretense of examining it.

“Why, what a pretty little ring you wear–is it a new one?” said
she suddenly, and in an instant she had dexterously slipped it off
Bonnibel’s finger, and, holding it up, read the inscription within,
“Mizpah!” “Why, how romantic! Is it a love token, Bonnibel?”

Bonnibel’s lips were quivering like a grieved child’s, and quick tears
sprang into her eyes.

“Felise,” she said, reproachfully, “you should not have taken it off.
I never meant for that ring to leave my finger while I lived, never!”

Felise laughed–a low, sneering laugh–and tossed her jetty braids.

“Here, take your ring,” she said scornfully; “I did not know you were
going to be such a baby over it. It must have been the gift of a lover
to be so highly prized–perhaps it was given you by Leslie Dane.”

Bonnibel slipped the ring back on her tapering third finger, while a
hot flush mounted to her brow.

“You seem very curious over my ring, Felise,” she said, angrily. “I do
not suppose it can matter to you at all who the giver may be.”

“Oh! not in the least,” said Felise, airily. “I beg your pardon for
teasing you about it. But if someone should give me a prettier ring
than that soon I should not mind telling you the donor. And by the
way,” said she, walking to the window and peering out through the lace
curtains, “you must tell me, Bonnibel, how you liked Colonel Carlyle
the other day.”

“I should be very ungrateful if I did not like him very well,” said the
girl, simply. “He was very good to me.”

“That is an evasive answer,” said Felise, laughing. “Should you have
liked him if you had not been prompted thereto by gratitude?”

“I am sure I do not know. I was suffering such acute pain I hardly
thought of him until he told me he had been an intimate friend of my
papa while in the army. And he praised papa so highly I could not
choose but like him for his words.”

“The cunning old fox,” said Felise to herself, while she drew her black
brows angrily together. “Already he has been trying to find the way to
her heart.”

“He is rather fine-looking for one who is certainly no longer
young–don’t you think so, Bonnibel?” pursued the wily girl.

“Certainly,” said Bonnibel, willing to praise Colonel Carlyle because
she thought it would please Felise; “he does not seem so very old, and
he is quite handsome and stately-looking.”

Whatever Felise might have replied to this was interrupted by the
entrance of Lucy, Bonnibel’s maid. A broad smile lighted her comely,
good-natured features at the sight of the visitor.

“For you, miss,” said she, going up to Bonnibel and putting in her hand
a small volume of splendidly-bound poems and a rare hot-house bouquet,
whose fragrance filled the room, and turning to Miss Herbert she added:
“Colonel Carlyle is waiting in the drawing-room, Miss Herbert.”

Felise made no answer to the maid. She swept forward and looked at the
flowers in Bonnibel’s hand.




It was a lovely bouquet, composed almost entirely of white flowers. A
lily filled the center, surrounded by exquisite rose-buds and waxen
tube-roses and azalias. The border of the lovely floral tribute was a
delicate fringe of blue forget-me-nots. On a small white card depending
from the bouquet was written these words:

“MISS VERE, with the compliments of the day from her father’s friend.”

“Her father’s friend,” said Felise, reading it aloud. “That must mean
Colonel Carlyle.”

“I suppose so,” said Bonnibel, simply. “He is very kind to remember me
to-day. You will thank him for me, Felise.”

“Certainly,” Felise answered.

She took up the book–a handsome copy of one of the modern poets–and
glanced rapidly through it, but found no writing or underscoring within
it, as her jealous fancy had expected.

“I must go,” she said, putting it down and trailing her silken skirts
hurriedly from the room.

Lucy looked after her with a slight smile. She, in common with all
the domestics, hated the overbearing Felise and it pleased her to see
what her innocent young mistress never dreamed of–that Mrs. Arnold’s
daughter was furiously jealous and angry because of her suitor’s
tribute to Bonnibel.

The colonel’s tribute to Miss Herbert was a much more pretentious one
than that which had been the cause of arousing her jealousy up-stairs.
He brought her a bracelet of gold, set with glowing rubies, and a
bouquet that was a perfect triumph of the floral art. Its central
flower was a white japonica, and sprigs of scarlet salvia blazed around
it; but Felise remembered the modest white lily up-stairs, with its
suggestive circle of forget-me-nots, and her eyes blazed with scarcely
concealed anger as she thanked the colonel for his gifts.

Colonel Carlyle was in brilliant spirits to-day. Always a fine talker,
he surpassed himself on this occasion, and the guests exchanged
significant glances, thinking that surely he had proposed to Miss
Herbert and been accepted, for she, too, appeared more fascinating
than usual, and exerted herself to please her elderly suitor. She had
laid aside the more cumbrous appendages of mourning, such as crape and
bombazine, and appeared in a handsome black silk, with filmy white
laces at throat and wrists. A single spray of the scarlet salvia,
carelessly broken and fastened in her dark hair, brightened her whole
appearance, and made her creamy, olive complexion beautiful by the
contrast. She was looking her best, as she wanted to do, for she felt
that she was about to lose her slight hold upon the millionaire’s heart
and she meant to do her best to win back her lost ground.

Alas for Felise’s prospects! A pair of tearful, violet eyes, a little,
white face, a quivering baby mouth, drawn with pain, had totally
obscured the image of her bright, dark beauty in the colonel’s heart.
He was as foolishly in love with Bonnibel’s dainty loveliness as any
boy of twenty, and through all his brilliant talk to-day his heart
was bounding with the thought of her, and he was revolving plans in
his mind to free himself from what had almost become an entanglement
with Miss Herbert, that he might spread his net to catch the beautiful
little white dove that had fluttered across his path.

“Miss Vere is better, I trust,” he found courage to ask of Mrs. Arnold
before he left that evening. His guilty conscience made him shrink from
asking Felise even that simple question. He knew that he had paid her
sufficient attention to warrant her in expecting a proposal, and now he
began to feel just a little afraid of the flash of her great dark eyes.

“She is better,” Mrs. Arnold answered, coldly; “but not able to leave
her sofa. Doctor Graham thinks it will be several weeks before she is
well.”

“So,” the enamored colonel thought to himself, “it will be several
weeks before I can see her again. That seems like an eternity.”

Continue Reading

People crowded around her immediately

A blind chance at last brought about the fatal meeting between
Bonnibel Vere and Colonel Carlyle which Felise Herbert so greatly
dreaded and deprecated.

As the autumn months merged into winter Bonnibel had developed a
new phase of her trouble. A great and exceeding restlessness took
possession of her.

She no longer moped in her chamber, thinking and thinking on the one
subject that began to obscure even the memory of her Uncle Francis. She
had brooded over Leslie’s strange silence until her brain reeled with
agony–now a strange longing for oblivion and forgetfulness took hold
upon her.

“Oh! for that fabled Lethean draught which men drink and straightway
all the past is forgotten!” she would murmur wildly as she paced
the floor, wringing her beautiful hands and weeping. “Either Leslie
has deserted me or he is dead. In either case it is wretchedness to
remember him! Oh! that I could forget!”

Shrouded in her thick veil and long cloak she began to take long
rambling walks every day, returning weary and fatigued, so that sleep,
which for awhile had deserted her pillow, began to return, and in long
and heavy slumbers she would lose for a little while the memory of the
handsome artist so deeply loved in that brief and beautiful summer.
Those days were gone forever. Her brief spring of happiness was over.
It seemed to her that the only solace that remained to her weary heart
was forgetfulness.

Once, rendered desperate by her suspense, she had written a letter to
Leslie–a long and loving letter, full of tender reproaches for his
silence, and containing the whole story of her uncle’s tragic death.
She had begged him to send her just one little line to assure her that
she was not forgotten, and this beautiful little letter, filled with
the pure thoughts of her innocent heart, she had directed to Rome,
Italy.

No answer came to that yearning cry from the aching heart of the little
wife. She waited until hope became a hideous mockery. She began to
think how strange it was that she, little Bonnibel Vere, who looked so
much like a child, with her short hair, and baby-blue eyes, was really
a wife. But for the shining opal ring with its pretty inscription,
“Mizpah,” which Leslie had placed upon her finger that night, she would
have begun to believe that it was all a fevered dream.

She was thinking of that ring one day as she walked along the crowded
street, filled with eager shoppers, for Christmas was drawing near, and
people were busy providing holiday gifts for their dear ones.

“_Mizpah!_” she repeated to herself, walking heedlessly along the wet
and sleety pavement. “That means ‘_the Lord watch between thee and me
while we are absent one from another_.’ Oh, Leslie, Leslie!”

Absorbed in painful thoughts she began to quicken her steps, quite
forgetful of the thin sheet of ice that covered the pavement, and which
required very careful walking. How it happened she could not think, but
the next moment she felt one ankle twisting suddenly beneath her with a
dreadful pain in it, and found herself falling to the ground. With an
exclamation of terror she tried to recover her balance, but vainly. She
lay extended on the ground, her hat and veil falling off and exposing
her beautiful pale face with its clustering locks of sunny hair.

People crowded around her immediately, but the first to reach her was a
gentleman who was coming out of a jewelry store in front of which she
had slipped and fallen.

He lifted her up tenderly, and a woman restored her hat and veil.

Bonnibel tried to stand upon her feet and thank them both for their
timely aid.

To her terror a sharp twinge of pain in her ankle warned her that she
could not stand upon it. She uttered a cry of pain and her blue eyes
filled with quick tears.

“I–I fear my ankle is sprained,” she said, “I cannot stand upon it.”

“Never mind,” said the gentleman, melted by the tears and the beauty
of the sufferer. “Here is my carriage at the curbstone. Give me your
address and I will take you home immediately.”

Bonnibel was growing so faint from the pain of her sprained ankle that
she could scarcely speak, but she murmured brokenly: “Fifth Avenue,
number —-,” and with a slight exclamation of surprise he lifted her
into the carriage and gave the order to the driver.

She leaned her head back against the satin cushions of the carriage and
closed her eyes wearily!

“I beg your pardon,” said her companion’s voice, arousing her suddenly
from the deathly faintness that was stealing over her, “but I think you
must be Miss Bonnibel Vere, Mrs. Arnold’s niece. Perhaps you have heard
her mention me. I am Colonel Carlyle.”

Bonnibel opened her eyes with a start, and looked at him, instantly
recalling the gossip of her maid, Lucy. So this was Colonel Carlyle,
Felise Herbert’s elderly lover. She gave him a quick, curious glance.

He was an old man, certainly, and apparently made no attempt to
disguise the fact, for the curling locks that still clustered
abundantly on his head were silvered by time, as well as the long beard
that flowed down upon his breast.

His features were aristocratic in contour, his mouth rather stern, his
eyes still dark and piercing, though he could not have been less than
seventy years old. He was dressed with taste and elegance, and his
stately form was quite erect and stately.

“Yes, I have heard of you, Colonel Carlyle,” Bonnibel answered,
quietly, “but I cannot imagine how you could know who I am. We have
never met before.”

“No,” he answered, with a gallant bow and smile, “we have not, I have
never had the happiness of meeting you, though I have frequently
visited at your home. But the fame of Miss Vere’s beauty has gone forth
into the land, and when you named your address I knew you could be no
other.”




Bonnibel bowed silently. Something in the graceful flattery of his
words or tone jarred upon her. Besides, she was in such pain from her
ankle that she felt it an effort to speak.

He observed the whiteness of her face, and said quickly:

“Pardon me, but I fear you are suffering from your sprain.”

“Somewhat,” she admitted, through her white lips.

“Bear it as bravely as you can,” he said. “In a few minutes you will
be at home, and can have medical attention. Sprains are quite serious
things sometimes, though I hope yours may not result that way.”

“I hope not,” she echoed, growing paler and paler, and biting her lips
to repress the moan of pain that trembled on them. She was really
suffering acute pain from the twisted ankle.

He was silent a minute, studying the beautiful, pale face with admiring
eyes.

She looked up and met a world of deep sympathy shining on her from his
keen, dark eyes.

“I was very fortunate in meeting you, Colonel Carlyle,” she said,
gently. “Believe me, I am much indebted for your timely aid.”

“I am glad to have been of service to your father’s daughter,” said
the colonel, bowing. “I knew your father intimately in the army, Miss
Vere. We were friends, though the general was my junior in age and my
superior in rank. I have often wondered what poor Harry’s daughter was
like. He was so frank, so handsome, so chivalrous, so daring.”

The girl’s blue eyes lit up with pleasure at his praise of the father
who had died in her infancy, but whose memory she loved and revered.
She put out her hand, saying proudly:

“I thank you for your praise of him, Colonel Carlyle. Let my father’s
friend be mine also.”

And the wealthy colonel gave the little hand a fervent pressure,
feeling that those timely words of his had gained him a great
advantage–one of which he would not be slow to avail himself.

He was about to express his pride and satisfaction at her words in
glowing terms when, with a faint cry, she sank back against the
cushions and closed her eyes. She had succumbed to her pain in spite of
herself and fainted.

Fortunately they were within a block of the house. The colonel seated
himself beside her and supported her helpless head on his arm until
the carriage stopped in front of Mrs. Arnold’s splendid brown-stone
mansion. Then he carefully lifted the fair burden in his arms and
carried her across the pavement and up the steps, where he rang the
bell.

The obsequious servant who opened the door to him stared in surprise
and alarm at his burden, but silently threw open the drawing-room door,
where Felise and her mother sat in company with a few visitors.

Both sprang up in bewilderment as Colonel Carlyle entered with a bow
and laid the insensible Bonnibel down upon the sofa. She looked like
one dead as she lay there with her closed eyes and deathly-white face,
and limp hands hanging down helplessly.

“What has happened, Colonel Carlyle?” demanded Felise, stepping
forward, as he bent over Bonnibel, while her mother and the guests
echoed her words: “What has happened?”

“Miss Vere slipped and fell upon the ice,” he answered, “and has
sustained some serious injury. She has suffered much pain. Let her have
medical attendance at once.”

“But you,” said Felise, abruptly, and almost rudely. “How came you with
her?”

Colonel Carlyle looked at her in slight surprise.

“I was about crossing the pavement to enter my carriage,” he explained,
rather coolly, “when the accident occurred, and I had the happiness to
be of service in bringing her home.”

And Felise, as she watched him bending anxiously over the girl she
hated, wished in her heart that Bonnibel Vere might never recover from
the swoon that looked so much like death.

Continue Reading