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THE STRANGE CLAIMANT; , OR,…

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THE STRANGE CLAIMANT; OR, TWICE WED. CHAPTER I. TIIE FISHERMAN'S WEDDING. "GOOD morning, mate-a glorious morning Aye, aye-a right morning for a wedding!" Are you bidden to it, Dan ?" Oh, aye me and my dame, and the lasses the lads is to row the bride's boat, for you know, I suppose, it is her fancy to be married at the old church at Bontryst; her father and mother both lays there, poor lass! Proud enough the lads be, I'll assure you, and proud my dame be of 'emâsix as stout and handsome chaps as you'll meet in these parts. Be you bidden, Ben ?" Aye, aye and glad I'd ha' been to join the party, seeing the lass were always a favourite o' mine and my poor dame that's gone but I had gi'en my word to go up Rockton wi' Jem Apaley's fishâhim bein' laid up wi's bad arm, and I wouldn't break my word to the lad but my lasses be goin'; and, to speak truth, Meg s been a' yesterday in wi' Nelly, helping at the wedding clothes. I'd be bound, they two ha' never been to bed this blessed night, !o.- I see the smoke comin' from the chimney afore daybreak." j§ "Like enough, mate, like enough! There be nothing on earth the lasses do take so kindly as the making of wedding-tackle; unless, indeed, it be the gear of the smaller craft-the Daby clothes. But there's not a soul in the village but would gladly do a good turn for Nelly Heartsom; and it's no wender, for a sweeter nor kinder lass never set foot on theBe here sands." So she is, so she is, neighbour; she's as good as she's pretty, and you couldn't say more. Why,|when my dame lay ill, and my Meg were away at yonder, didn't Nelly tend her-aye, like a daughter ? Night and day were she at her bedside, and never took off her clothes, nor got a wink o' sleep till such as Meg came home, and then she would keep on 8 off; and never to say left off nursing till my P??1" wife were past wanting |help in this world. in heaven bless her, say I i Aye, aye, Ben Stratton, it's all true; and, mind you, I ha' knowed Nelly sin' she were that hig". I knew her father; we sailed many a voyage together, and it were me settling down here as led him to give up a seafaring life and take to the fishing boats. Aye, mate and I were the first as come across him that morning after the fearful night, when his craft went to pieces on the very rocks that beat the life out of his poor body! It were me found him, poor Heartsom! and me it was they would have break the awful news to his wife." It was before I came to this part," said his com- pamion. Aye, aye, it was a terrible sight, to be sure. The poor wife well nigh out of her mind, and little Nell âshe was about five then-just old enough to under- stand, and to miss her father. The baby was born after, and died same day and the poor wife fretteo herself away in less than two years after. Lor' ble* you, mate, any of us would ha' took that child kept it same as our own but, bit of a thing as She were, she had that spirit-no, she'd earn her says she-her father, bless you, all over, that wO- and so she'd nurse the babies, and knit the stockings, and do heaps of odd jobs, she did; and so fr0⢠house to house she soon made herself worth her I can tell you; and, as she grew up, she took that bit of a place yon; and one give a hand, and another give a hand, and put it ship-shape, and you know the trim little berth the lass has it now. And what with mending the nets, and makmg^ o *em, and nursing the children, and their mothers and writing of letters to the sweethearts for the girls, and one thing an' another, w,hy, Nelly has done bravely." They ha' been long courting-" "Aye, that were the lass's independence, just- she would not hear of launching, till such time as she'd got together all the wedding sear, and needful 'â stores aboard-sheets and quilts, I take it, an sucn like. To say the truth, mate, I be right- glad the day's come, and she's to be made fast; for though i: the lass is true as gold, she's over-pretty and light- hearted to go alone in this world." t You're right, mate, you're right; and there 3 been v more than one hankering after the prize." ? "Aye, Ben Stratton; and, between you and ^0» k there were an ugly craft a-while since, that my did misgive me would run foul of our gallant little sailor." "Saul Meghorn ?" f "Aye, lad; now I love Nelly-lass like one° .J I own, and, when I saw that she was not for "°u the black, big fellow, as she should ha' done, hankering after other men's goods, I up and sp° her fatherly-like, Ben, as you might ha' done,w laughed, and says she, I aint married yet, j"4 ftn(j Bullocks,' she Baysâand then looked so a merry in her way, you know, that makes a .but it man; I couldn't for the life of me be angry» waa do pass my comprehension, ahe, loving young Franklen with all her to holding out the tip of her finger, as you m8^8, ^{,ut that beetle-browed limb of the devil. Lord ⢠Women be the biggeBt puzzles ever sent upo earth to plague it." wbo Don't be hard, don't be hard," put in jn inclined, perhaps, to something more of his judgment, that he had been for upwards years released from the conjugal yoke, hope all be gone now it's a good bit since, and let's n they will go straight wi' the young couple, as There she is!" said Dan Bullocks, dia- him. The door of a small cottage, at a roang tanee bade from the beach, opened, and a I wa8 ^oman had stepped out, pitcher in hand, a doming towards the spot where they stood. Mermen, She hesitated, as she perceived the two wjth 'for a moment, seeming undecided; theby Jhe confidence of real innocence, she _ious- *he slightest possible blush betraying the j. a^e fcess that it was her wedding morning, #B?vuouB, flight be reminded of it by her kind old D61*vy ft B^ep Before she bad reached the spring, tbey» *°rward, had met her, and while Ben ,fc ftt **oui her the pitcher and proceeded to »» jjullocks ffream that gushed sparkling from the roc* > 8un. r*d hold of both her hands in his large, fists. sunshiny God bless you, my lass, this brigfl1' j,0nest a ^°rning, that's to make you the wife of or and as brave a sailor as ever he You're worthy of him, Nelly V forget l Jon bless you both; and, my girl, ° be vf8 an orphan like yourself, and love D roughest of dear, as you can be, Nelly. T&e more ti ^eed a woman's love and tenderness, nv heart, you may think. God bless you frOt0fve ^ay is Nelly, and may you be as happy 89 kissed her forehead, and fc!?9 filled with tears as she said, Than*?, tihank >^|(> Master Bullocks, you're v<ry g000' God bless you, too, Nelly Heartsotu nd there 0 low carno up with the filled pitcher, jear in heaven that blesses you, 0^e was your dear goodness to her wbe ^h, thank you, thank you! Please d°n «e^uv Wâfaid poor Nelly, whose sensitive he» » ^v the honest warmth of the old ft "g out her emotion. Thank TolL. «i come C«^e I'll mind. I'll be very good, ^6 Aaron and me? andâthank you,where pitcher was carried to the door by «. the sobbiDg, laughing, blushing bride. so happy ehe said every body's 80 ân'j that's what you're to cry for, I supp° V?.,De of your tears all over your MM i ^o have off, you naughty, unlucky tning>y Stratton/who, in the capacity of chief D)il1iner« and mistress of the sere &>» x>n herself to lecture the bride..» J»__ had, all in a fluster, seated berse 0,1Kn of the bed, among a heap of Btl.0 .Uy i58' inadvertently gemming tbem wi h Wels she was likely to boast of on the occa- | unlucky, is it, Meg ? I it was l Your father sad old locka spoke so kind just now; every one seems to love me." And so you're crying about it! I suppose, if one of us was to box your ears we might get a laugh. There, go along, and be getting the breakfast, do, you silly girl." But Meg fondly kissed her friend as she pretended to chide. That was the mischief, you see. For one reproof, Nelly Heartsom got twoâaye, half a dozen â âcaresses. If she had had less of one, she might not have needed the other. Smiling through her tears, the bride elect set about getting breakfast for herself and her companion, adding to the usual ordinary fare such extra little dainties as she had made, or as had been sent by kindly neighbours on every side, who wished her well. Intterupted she was, from time to time, by Meg's imperious claim to try on this," or see how this wentand she sa awaiting the indefatigable hand- maiden, at the well-spread little table, some minutes before Meg would leave he? employment. There the latter said, at last, as she entered. « It's all ready now; everything laid to one's hands, even to the pins- â¡, Nelly jOU wjjj 2ook nice «' Dear Meg, you taken a deal more pains than I should have done for myself; but I'll do as much for you when your turn ccnes." "Oh, you'll ave something better to do by then, Nelly other ciotbes to work at, long before Nell's band s opped her mouth, and then straight way conveyed ° it some dainty of her own provid- ing, bidding1 er taste that, and not talk nonsense." Presently came taps at the door, and in dropped, one by oae. matrons with kind tokens of affection, seasoned 1flth sage advice maidens longing to see the brIdal which Meg Stratton triumphantly displaved, preud of her work, nnd justly so. Then came the V0!1, ones, elected to the rank of brides- maids! an laughed, joked, smiled, and were gay, standing around the homely breakfast table, joining in the fragmentary meal. J e In at the open casement nodded the flowering creepers-fvschias, rose, honeysuckle, and heliotrope âthe 80 came laden with the odours of ? 'â he steady, soothing beat of the waves UP°D u?^ each, while the glorious June sun shone brigboy over sea, and rock, and sandy shore. A morning for all heaven and earth to make peace, and for the elements to swear eternal amnesty. A very weddmg morning. J g5acious me â¢' Nelly, there go my brothers! 81a *? 80 Much as your hair done!" "At Patty Bullocks, one of the pretty &ri a, 88 six stalwari young men appeared aloD« the beach from the village. ⢠nearly of a height, and dressed alike in nautIcal, holiday costume, of white jacket and full J. 8traw hats, each with a coloured r ? Bering gaily from its crown, and on the r+ a knot, or favour, corresponding in colour to that on the hkt. y a pretty conceit, each ef the biidesmaids wore C°i?Uur8 ^airmg *ith those of the young rowers, w 11 ?-1; n?l UQfair to conclude, was the token of sympa y n the Owners-with one exception among the young men, who failing, perhaps, of mating him- self with a lady, wore the bride's colour, as did Meg Stratton. "Theyare going to the boat now," cried Patty; and n yu surely call here, to know if we are ready. "v Meg," said Nelly; and away she hurried to her chamber, leaving to her friends the duty of recein g her escort, who did not fail to look in at ^eCu «'<>a o rehearse, in concert with the other ^eir joyous party, the order of their going. r But they sooa hurried on their way, for the bride- g^°? ,> â⢠to. be brought in state (so they planned it) in trim boat, in all its glory, with colours flymg. f o 7%«re. crie(j Meg for the last time as she suc- V«rm^dable achievement of hooking that "bottom hook- for whichshehadthpown intoher ten e combined forces of her body; "there!" fn, + £ e vom her knees, and over Nelly's head, 19 ⢠i Jlt.tle mirror- Well, now, I do declare! "P.°° if you ain't the tiresomest, unluckiest */r 0tl earth is the girl crying at now ?" 1 can'fc helP cobbed the bride, i. 10 AZ arnaB around the neck of Meg, who, on ,er. P'.te the riek to the finery, could not re- frain from an involuntary hug. A «T,a T 5aPPy» and I do so love him, and he is so g0^W^l<Wt deserve him!" j you must try to," said her downright bone Aaron 'fi tw' and her a 8,i»ht 8hake- 1 P? j it- ⢠0x y°ur ears if y°u don't behave. It's wi lânV wiif* lndeed, Nelly; there's no telling what i â come of it, crying over your gown and gloves, too-8eeWe!â J J *ere dimpling Nelly's sweet face as she r2 ll;z,lnt0 fcer little parlour, which her friends f annroval decorated with fresh flowers. A hum bf»' ^^°h even the women could not repress, A stood blushing in their midst; and Tinndfe th«0^- ^anklen came in (having given his nation preferring a less public mode of con- T?^ >18 bride's home), all in his wedding h r bosomaitl> '"ell-fitting, suitableâand placed in !ofnm t(* k <?ne °F those white rosebuds it was his hrinffvou hep» s^ing, "It is the last I'll ever Pfl_ e^y Heartsom," Meg, who was watching unrlv scolil t^ out, "For goodness Bake! some- They all ] r' or cry ftH way to church music com and momen^ sounds of window ⢠nearer and nearer, drew all to the and a little a i°y°U8 huzza burst upon their ears, rounding (.y.Conv?y of boats came into sight, rapidly gleaming i P°int of jutting rocks, their white sails ing in the t'le 8Un> their many-coloured flags flutter- hand awn^n'e breezeâthe joyous notes of the full That BU ln^ willing echoes of the cliffs around, happy brid^6*'8 8Un 8^one uPon 110 fairer nor moro the than she who now walked, escorted by to the boat cre(f and smiling briiesmaids, down and green as the bride's by the white flag In the nMrreath that decorated its prow. then that 041116 the bridegroom and his friends; those bidd ^and j then another filled with thronged to the wedding; then more and more, made hol'fl1^ We^-wishers and neighbours, who had Over to honour to the occasion. enough f Hue waters, where diamonds glittered the oars n, a million bridals, at the splash of burdens ⢠f ^oats danced lightly with their precious waves ⢠t'k 6 white-winged birds resting on the gaily â¢'«8treamers fluttered, the music struck up bore awa a^ain roae the triumphant chorus, as they industrv u t^8 ma'den from the home which her own old chn reared, to the altar among the hills, the coast .°^ Bontryst, some few miles round the have na ei° Nelly had chosenâfor the reasons I aniedâto become the wife of Aaron Franklen. OHAPTEB II. M S A VI' KLOHOBX. sight the bride's veil fluttered out of crtur tk wbite sail gleamed round the jutting the a the little fleet from the village and and wr°iipa and couples who had flocked to doors persed j*8' na^» down to the beach, to gaze, dis- homeg withdrew, gossiping, by the way, to their little ? uP-where the cliffs tewered far above the upon H, 6 ^nlftnd» and the scattered fishing-huts and bv6 ^each» sheltering them from the cold north with ⢠windsâabove the vast downs', clothed the _Wa^ng ferns and purple heaths, wheue browsed CPani^re"f°°ted cattle, and where, in sunny nooks and (â¢ajn les» long since abandoned by prairie and moun- grott â artful speculators erect picturesque the cVff aU(* ^tic chaldtsâfrom up, I say, among an(j 8» the wedding party long remained in view, nj .even where their joyous voices and the merry fori*5 Waa no longer to be distinctly heard, nor the ine m ? ea°k boat's party to be discerned, the floafc- -A '°dy and the glancing track seemed to mingle ooftg in wafts upon the eye and ear, like a â gDed memory of byegone enjoyments. wafJk n°t' such sort, to the only eyes which still w ?ed hungrily the fading vision; for eyes did j after the village below and the ates of the huts upon the beach had ceased to ga*e. f there had turned their eyes upward, back 01 the sea, to those same cliffs, they would have D, sharply defined, in dark outlines against the ummer sky the figure of a man, erect, motionless, ungpilj out to sea. .bey would have lost sight of him for awhile; then, gain, have caught him in view, dwindled to a line,J* Peck even as they gazed, he would have van^lJ nto nothing; for, as the wedding-party distanced 8 acting-point, and clearing the shore, went wi to sea, or again reached inland to the sr?°°. aters, that eaerer watcher had leaped from stniafc~"1?i8faer' hi*her 8tiU'. t° hold fluttering 1 gazing hungrily, greedily, after that fl e'ii' ilnt° that bridal boat! j ^Jll it vanishedâtill even to his hawk s vis agonised eagerness there was perception n > nd the snatches of music on the breeze, t g 8 l!Jthe sunshine seemed to mock him. Wretched man that I am! Have me y °b, merciful Heaven!" .a .He. groaned as he fell upon his knees, wilt^ piercing exclamationâlower, lower, and Jo^wer, itill his face touched the ground, till he sank like ona para- !y8ed, and moaned and uttered words maudible*- spasmodic bursts of real suff<<rine. u it has come to this .I shall see her no more b"t a8 his wifeâno more! no more! at all, lor 1 cannot live and see her so -After some minutes he rose and gazed w y over the sea, but even the mocienea had ceaeed, only the steady, passive wash of the patient waves far below reached him. Why did I not seize her then ? Why did I not, bv one bold stroke, make her mine for ever ? She dared not have returned after a night's absence! That proud young fool would have scorned herâshe must have been inine-she loved meJâshe as good as told me so, by actions and admissions;âI should have made her happyâoh why did I play traitor to myself when opportunity was given me ? Fool! miserable, wretched, hesitating fool that I was! why did I not avail myself of the last, the only change ? He paced to and fro hurriedly he threw back his thick black hair, and seized his broad forehead in his hands, as if he would have hurled it from the cliff his dark, deep-set eyes gleamed with living nre his hot breath seemed to scorch his parted lips, as it panted through thfm^ Why did I not ? he repeated, smiting his side heavily with his arm. Why! because I am become a pitiful, drivelling, whining, abject coward, before the power of this girl! It was not enough that I abandoned a pursuit that I gloried inâforsook my fellows and the goods we shared because in her eyes I might gain favour, and be an honest man-an honest man I" he sneered out the words bitterly, as if he mocked the speaker. And this was not enough, but my arm must become nerveless, my heart turn to gentleness, my hand forget it.. cunning! Titus was, when the sight of a village bridal would not have st iid me in my path one instant. The thought of their happiness !-bah !-am I become a coward ? Saul Megborn, who has dared the dangers of the sea, the fierce pursuit of armed menâwho, with the gibbet facing him ashore, the night and tempest on the ocean, never yet knew fear-now shrinking from meeting a few harmless peasants! Nay, it is not that! My lOve was lawful; why should it not have met with suc- cess ? I would have made her my wife I loved her oh, bow I love hfr, in spite of all And she loved me âshe did, she must J Why listen to me ?âmeet ice ? âreceive my first giftâthough not the others ? Put she did love me oh, and I hoped, I believed, that the turning-point in my life was comeâthat the drefy past was done with-the dream! Oh, fool! idiot! miserable fool that I was!" He rushed to the side of the cliff, where the pre. cipitous side shelved off abruptly to the sea beneath, fatho.ns down the black, sharp crags bristling Ip from the seething waters, like the foaming jaws of some mammoth sea monster. His dark eyes gleaned luridly, his swarthy forehead was bathed in feverfrh sweats, his white teeth glittered through the massesOf his raven-hued and curling beard he had thrust bek the loose jacket and shirt; his huge, hairy chest ifte exposed to the sea breeze. He looked more like solle unchained fland, gazing back triumphantly upon the abyss be had escaped, than a man of middle age, aid grand herculean proportionsâwho had been haifl- some, too-ere life had set one stamp upon his f" tures. Even more terrible than his previous rage was tlte gloomy despair which gradually took possession of his dark features. Now might I end it all," he said to himself in 8 lower tone, still gazing down upon the rocks and beach below. She would understand it all, when they found and told her of the crushed and batttered corpse of the etranger who has puzzled them, I know, these months past." He was silent awhile, then withdrew from the precipice, and let his gaze wander abroad over the sparkling sea. But why should I ? I cannot believe but that she cared for me then, though some idea of duty, per- haps, held her to her bargain with this paltry young fisherman. At any rate, I will not give upâI will not be baffled." He paced to and fro again upon the rock, then stood still, drew about him the large loose coat which covered his sailor dress, and replaced the broad hat which he had thrown aside. I said I would not see them as they returned why not? If she loves me, she will be pleased; if not, that is but a small instalment of what she shall feel. She made me love her, she let me love her, she gave me hope. Lost! I said but why ? Aye, that was in my puling mood I am better now-myself again. She shall yet be mine-mine only. If I live âdespite the gay procession to the church this dayâ if I live, my wife she shall be. To myself I pledge my word, and when did Saul Meghorn lie to him- self?" (Th be continued.)

ADRIAN FLORENT; OR, THE MYSTERY.

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LADIES' COLUMN.

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VARIETIES.I