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CHAPTER XIX.

THE NEWS. ISABEL went with her father to his quiet country home to pass the summer. The winter had been spent in gayety, and she was glad to rest. She had hoped to have Leila with her, and was greatly disappointed that she could not have her wish. Fred urged her to go with him to Saratoga, but Isabel did not care to go; beside, she desired to please her father by remaining with him while it was possible. She never should be separated from him, but of course, after she and Fred were married, there would be a difference.

Her life was monotonous, but by no means unpleasant. She sewed, and read, and idled, entertaining her father and Fred, when they were present, with her merry artless talk and manner.

One evening she sat singing to herself, watching the sunset, and waiting for Fred to come. The moment she saw him approaching the house, she knew that something troubled him. She ran out to meet bim.

“ What is it, Fred? What has happened ?”' she asked, her own face catching the tronble that she saw in his.

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“O Isabel, she is lost !” he exclaimed, in a tone of anguish. “ Leila is lost.”

“Lost?”

“I have seen Philbert, and he says that Malcolm is wild with grief.”'

" Fred, what do you—do you mean ?”'

I hardly know how to tell you,” Fred answered. “Where is your father?”

“Here," said Isabel, as her father came toward them from the house.

In a few words Fred told thein all that he knew of Leila's disappearance, and the three stood a moment gazing dumbly into one another's faces. At length Isabel spoke:

“ I do not believe that Leila has done this of her own free will. It is not like her."

“ That is wbat I said to Philbert, and he said he would not have believed it of her once, but Leila had greatly changed."

“What has been done ?” asked Isabel's father.

“ It has been kept as quiet as possible, while leaving nothing undone to find her."

Is there any clue to her disappearance ?" “None, save the absence of Lascours, and that is almost worse than none."

“O dear!'' said poor Isabel, growing

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pale and red by turns, “I will go myself “The idiot loves her still," thought. and look for her. Fred, father, what can Lascours. we do ?

Do you think she ran away with me ?!** Fred's face grew gloomier, and he did he asked. not atteinpt to soothe her. He could not, Malcolm ground his teeth as he replied: for his own mental suffering was extreme. “I might have thought so once, but now For Leila's anxious friends there seemed I believe differently. It is you who have to remain nothing but to watch and wait. done it all-you-” And, losing his selfTo wait when untold evils might be sur- control, he dashed at Lascours, to fall rounding her! Mr. Malcolm had gone himself almost fainting upon the floor. himself from place to place seeking her in Lascours helped him to rise, and poured vain, until, worn physically and mentally, a glass of wine down his throat, which Mr. he had been obliged to yield to the fever Malcolm refused with his remaining that stole over him, and lay raving and strength to swallow. helpless while others pursued the fruitless Come, come," said Lascours, patting search.

him on the shoulder, “I think it is time After a month had passed, the first in- that I practised forgiveness a little, seeing patient anguish settled into a calm of hor- you take it so much to heart.” ror. Every night Isabel looked for some The wine, or his indignation, or both word from Fred, and always, if any, came combined, roused Malcolm. the word of disappointment. She grew “You false villain !" he exclained, “do pale and spiritless, and her fatlier found it

you prate of forgiveness ?” difficult to cheer her with the promise of a “Yes," said Lascours, coolly, “I forgive hope in which he could not trust himself. the wretched pride, upon which I have

Another month, and Lascours was found, been sufficiently revenged to make forgivebut he knew nothing of Leila, and in no way ness possible. Miss Grey is quite safe, I could it be proved that he had seen her or am told, though I have not seen her since been with her any time since her fatal dis- we parted, in rather an angry fashion, a appearance.

month or two ago." This was not generally believed, but “You knew nothing about her a moneither threats nor persuasions could force ment ago," said Mr. Malcolm. from him any information of her where- • That is true; I do know nothing. I abouts, even if he had any to impart. The you wish for further information, go to niystery was greater than before, and the Fred Markham-with your best clothes on, gloom settled deeper over those wbo loved and your most refined society manner.” the missing one.

Mr. Malcolm started, and grew pale Mr. Malcolm, as soon as he was able, again. sought Lascours, and tried to force from If you are deceiving me,” he said, as him the truth concerning Leila. Lascours he groped for his hat, and staggeringly left tipped his hat on one side, and denied any the room, "you shall rue it." remembrance of her whatever.

As the door closed, Lascours lighted his Why, I've known a thousand pretty cigar, and between the puffs soliloquized: girls this last year," he said. “I hope I've "I hope they'll let me alone now. If not to keep an account of them all for the I'd thought of being taken to account by benefit of their friends. I hope I'm not 80 many people, I wouldn't have done itresponsible for any elopements they may no, not for the sake of seeing that proud choose to make.”

fellow lying on the floor there, aud forced “Be careful how you talk to me, sir,”' to take my wipe. They're paid, at any said Mr. Malcolm, eyeing him sternly. rate — for their impertinence — and I'm “ You know of whom I am speaking; you paid, too, for my little part in the game; dare not deny it upon your oath."

and, despite my reputed wealth, I'm very “I haven't taken any oath,” said Las- glad of the money."

“By the way,” he added, suddenly, “I “ You shall take one, and you shall tell must see Sterne.” And hastily putting or me everything you know about her.” Mr. his hat, he left the room. Malcolm was weak yet, and his voice faltered in speaking the last word.

Cours.

CHAPTER XX.

Isabel grew suddenly alarmed on Fred's

account. A STRANGE PROCEEDING.

“You have heard something about him," MR. STERNE, after resigning his guar- she said; “ what is it?" dianship, left Fred's house, and took up “Another time-another time," muttered his abode in one of his own, not far dis

Mr. Malcolm, hurrying away, leaving Isatant. It was a small but elegant little

bel wondering and frightened. She wrote dwelling, well kept by a pale-faced fair

two hasty notes, one to Fred and one to haired woman, who seemed a mere autom

her father, and at noon they both presented aton, and moved one way or another as Mr.

themselves. Sterne desired. Fred sometimes called to

“ Did you see Mr. Malcolm ?” she asked see his guardian, but not oftener of late

of the former. than formerly. On the day of Mr. Mal

“Malcolm ? No; has he been here?” colm's interview with Lascours, Fred re

Isabel related the fact of his call, and ceived a hasty note from Mr. Sterne, re- the strangeness of his manner. quiring his immediate presence.

Curious," " said Fred. “I met one or “Some word from Leila, maybe," he two of my acquaintances to-day who resaid; and joyfully obeyed the summons.

garded me as if something new and strange Therefore, when Mr. Malcolm called at had happened to me; and Sterne threw out his lodgings, he found him gone. Fred's hints that I could in no wise understand.” house had been closed, to remain so until “I do not like Mr. Sterne," said Isabel. the return of Isabel and her father to the

“I believe he could tell us something about city, when they were all intending to re- Leila if he had a mind to." main there for the winter, the spring hav- "And he implied the same of me this ing been fixed upon for the wedding, when morning," said Fred. they were to depart, to spend six months

“Of you!” or a year in Europe.

Isabel looked indignant, but her father “But not until Leila is found,” persist- glanced up suspiciously. He had been ed Isabel. “I can do nothing until then.” counselling Fred to marry, believing in his

She was sitting listlessly, wondering if own mind that Leila never would be found; the sunshine ever would again seem as and he wished Isabel to be roused from beautiful to her as it used when she and the brooding state into which she had Leila sat in it together, when, looking fallen; but Fred put off his marriage, sayfrom the window, to her surprise she per ing Isabel did not wish it yet, nor did he. ceived Mr. Malcolm approaching the house. Therefore, when Mr. Sterne's charge She had not seen him since Leila's loss, against Fred was made known, he felt the and her first impulse was to run away and doubt waken in his own heart against him. hide herself, not knowing what to say to He waited until Isabel had left them, then him; but her father was not there, and, he said to Fred : restraining her emotion, she opened the “As children you and Leila were fond door for him. Their hands met, and they of one another po looked at each other, but neither of them “Yes," said Fred, chokingly, “and that could find a word to say.

is-why-" Isabel never would forget the look of “ It cannot be,” thought Mr. Hastings. misery in Mr. Malcolm's face, or he the “Poor fellow!” he said, patting him on pitying tenderness in hers. He would not the shoulder, “poor fellow !" enter the house, but asked in a strangely The next day Fred received another urconstrained voice if Fred were there.

gent request from Mr. Sterne that he would “I have not seen him," Isabel replied. come to his house, appointing an hour for “He was in the city to-day."

him to do so. He had intended to spend “I have been at his lodgings," said Mr. the day with Isabel, and she was expecting Malcolin, “and he is not there.”

him, and was greatly disappointed to find “He may be at Mr. Sterne's," said Isabel. that he had altered his mind and was going “Must you see him to-day? To-morrow to the city. he will be here."

“You are so restless," she said, “I must see him as soon as I can, my never have a quiet pleasant evening now.” poor child."

“ How can we?"

we

“We cannot,” answered Isabel, sadly. Then the darkness stole over him again, “O) Leila! Leila! I wonder if you guess to vanish at the sound of a sweet endearhow we suffer on your account!"

ing voice that said: The very words that Mr. Malcolm said I cannot deceive you longer, Fred, over again and again to himself as he left you or my poor proud heart; I love you as Mr. Sterne's after a conversation with him I can never love another." that served only to plunge him still deeper “Am I dreaming, or is this, at last, the in mystery. He bad engaged to return the bitter end of my dream ?" asked Mr. Malfollowing day at a specified hour to Mr. colm of himself, as, pale and haggard, he Sterne's, when, that gentleman implied, pushed aside the curtains and entered the some important revelation should be made room, surprising Fred, with one arm round to him.

Leila, upon whose cheek he had that moHe spent a sleepless night, and rose ment pressed a kiss. early, only anxious for the hours to go Leila sprang up, uttering a cry of fear that he might present himself. Weary at and recognition, while Fred sank back last with waiting, he seated himself in his upon the sofa powerless to speak. armchair and fell into a gentle doze. The " Explain yourself," said Mr. Malcolm, striking of the clock aroused him, and, confronting him; “how long have you finding it past the appointed time, he hast- and pointing at Leila—" how long have ily set out.

you been happy in my unhappiness? O As he approached Mr. Sterne's house he heaven! I would say that I forgave them if saw Fred just entering; he hastened to my heart were not too broken!” he added, overtake him, but the door was closed be turning from them that he might not see fore he reached it, and he stood waiting their sad shamefacedness. outside a long time.

Leila was the first to speak. To his surprise he was told that Mr. “ Until this hour, Richard," she said, Sterne was not at home.

“I have been true to you in word and “But you are to wait,” said the pale deed. It was only-when-worn with prifaced woman. And she showed him into vation-with resistance-of that base, base a small room adjoining the drawing-room, inan-I was at last released by-himand communicating with it by means of a whom I loved so-once" doorway hung with damask curtains looped “And now," said Malcolm, “you love either side away from the opening.

him now?" “A note for Mr. Malcolm,” she said, Leila paused, unable to utter a denial. laying her fingers upon a bit of folded paper “With all my love for you," said he, “I on the table.

have never once wakened in your heart a “For me?” said Mr. Malcolm; and he tenth part of the love you feel for him. I opened it and read, “Look, and listen.” must love you must love you, my little

“Not particularly honorable advice," Leila-but you shall not be forced any thought Mr. Malcolm; and he hesitated longer to love me; you are free." about obeying, even when he heard voices “No, Richard, no," cried Leila, clinging strangely familiar, and footsteps coming to him, “do not say that I am free. I down the stairs into the hall.

need your love so, to keep me from this of “ Take me away from here," pleaded a mine. Help me, Richard, to be true!" voice that thrilled while it rendered him He placed her gently in a chair, while motionless.

Fred, with bowed head, sat silent and imHe heard the drawing-room door open, movable. and Fred Markham's voice saying:

“ Tell me all that has happened, Leila, “Not yet, Leila dearest; we must wait since we parted that night so long ago.

What more he said Mr. Malcolm did not You loved me a little then, Leila." hear. A strange rushing sound in his ears “You were too good to me,” sobbed made him dizzy and faint; a blindness Leila. “How many and many a time in crept over him, and he sank upon the floor, my solitude since I have thought of your conscious of nothing until, coming, as it goodness, and wished that I was worthy of were, to him through miles and miles of it! When I left you that night, it was space, he heard the words:

with a strange foreboding of evil. You “For I have loved you, Leila, always, remember that I was crying, and I could and always shall.”

you.”

not have told you why if I had tried. I who has, poor fellow! fallen into your lay awake until midnight, then fell into a snare as blindly as you would have had sound slumber; when I woke, it was with me, when you represented to me that it a strange sensation of motion. I felt also was at his instigation you stole me away a bandage about my eyes, which I tried to and imprisoned me here." remove, but a hand took hold of mine and You see,” said Mr. Sterne,“ how well drew it down. I was conscious then of they both conspire to throw the blame of being driven at a rapid rate in a close car- their actions upon me.” riage, and, greatly frightened, I spoke “Who is quite capable of bearing it, in your name, asking if you were with me. my opinion,” Mr. Malcolm answered. There was no response.”

* This affair shall be looked into, I assure Leila paused, and Mr. Malcolm, as he you, Mr. Sterne, and the guilty parties punheld her hand, felt a tremor pass through ished as they deserve.” her frame,

“This is your gratitude," said Mr. Sterne. “Do not go on now," he said; "you “I had the power to do whatever I would are fatigued already with emotion. Let it with your treasure, and I restored it to suffice that we have you back again.”

“You will take me back?”' asked Leila. “In order to involve me," said Fred. Mr. Malcolm hesitated.

“Your plan was well and deeply laid, but “If you desire it.”

it has failed; and I promise you it is the “Then it shall not be," said Leila, with

last time that you shall have the power to sudden decision. “I will not wrong your

injure me.” love so far as to accept it. Forgive me, if

“It will be best for you to bring no you can-ard forget me.”

charges against me, unless you wish to As she spoke, Mr. Sterne's voice was ruin yourself, and bring this lady's name heard without, and presently he entered

before the public in a manner unpleasant the room.

to herself and her friends." "Have you sufficient proof of what I “ You shall suffer, if I can make you,” told you ?” he asked of Mr. Malcolm, ig

said Fred, as you have made us suffer.” noring the presence of the other two.

' Hush !” said Leila, placing her hand “ I am still much puzzled,” Mr. Malcolm gently on Fred's arm. “ Can we do less answered. “I entered your house by ap- than forgive, Fred, who have such need of pointment with you, and find you gone. I forgiveness ?” am invited by a note from you to listen “If you can forgive him, I ought,” said and look-advice which I would not wil- Fred, “but” He looked significantly at lingly follow. Mysteriously Leila and Mr. Leila's thin pale face, where suffering had Markham appeared upon the scene, and—" left its mark too plainly ever to be erased. “You discover the intrigue existing be

“It is no time now to decide upon a tween them, in which I have assisted, course of action,” Mr. Malcolm said. merely that in the end I might disclose it “Leila, will you go home with me-will to you."

you not?” he asked, noticing her draw * Intrigue-at which you assisted ?” ex- away from him. claimed Fred, rousing himself. “ Mr. I have nowhere else to go," said Leila; Sterne, are you beside yourself ?!!

“yet how can I go with you?” “Well-acted surprise!" sneered Mr.

“Poor child !” he said, pityingly,“ poor Sterne, “ but it will not do, young man. It troubled child, you may come to me whenis as well for you to confess the part you ever you like. I am your father, guardian, have played, and make all the reparation anything that will give me the power to that you can.”

protect you." Fred stared bewildered.

Leila placed her hand trustingly in his, “ Mr. Sterne," said Leila, “it was you and that night went home with him. who hired Lascours and Castor, and what What rejoicing greeted her! Alice and others I do not know, to steal me away Anna laughed, and cried, and kissed Leila, from those who love me, to threaten me and one another, and questioned her, and even with the loss of my life. It was you

wondered where she had been. who sought to blacken my honor, and now “ Did your hair grow down to your feet, you hope to throw the blame upon another, like the beautiful princess?” asked Anna.

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