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A WOMAN'S WILL; CR, E N E…

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AUNT MARGARET'S JEWELS.

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AUNT MARGARET'S JEWELS. "AUNT MARGARKT is dangerously ill and wants me to go to her at once," said Hilda llcman-, as she seated herself at the breakfast-table one bright winter'*morning. U Then, my little girl, I suppose we must try to spare you, but I do not know what will become of us all with- out your active hands and bright smiles, replied her father. Well might Mr. Hcmans look grave at the prospect of losing the services of his eldest daughter. His wife had been dead three years, and Hilda had supplied as far as it was possible her mother's place in the household. She had bra.ely renounced the oidinary pleasures of a. young girl's life to educate and c-are for her five little brothers and si.-ters. She was housekeeper, to;); and though her father's means were limited, had contrived to make their home truly happy and comfortable. A brave heroine of the right sort was Hilda, fulfilling woman's highest missionâthe daily round of uncongenial duties per- formed in a loving, cheery spirit; quiet, unceasing, entire sacrifice of self; such a woman as is only really appreciated when her absence has left a void which no Other can fill in either heart or home. Mr. Ilemans regretfully bade his daughter good-by, as he saw her that same morning leave for her aunt's house at Be; ton. Aunt Margaret lived in an old-fashioned, rambling building, partly surrounded by trees. A well-kept garden separated the house from the road, and at the rear there extended large orchards, ending ina vast tract of pasture- land. Everything in the house was old and quaint as the architecture. The chairs were solid mahogany, so heavy as not to be easily lifted the mantle-shelves were of rudely-carved oak the doors and wainscot massive enough to survive till the c ack o' doom. The air of the place showed that Aunt Margaret was a woman of wealth and of peculiar tastes. Hi da's al riyal at Leon Ilou-e seemed to remove the gloom which hung over it. She was a little sunbeam, and deservedly her aunt's favourite niece. Aunt Margaret was weak and feeble to the last degree, and when Hilda entered her room,. he found her propped up assiduously with a formidable array of eider-down pil- lows before a small table. L'espite the deep interest which Hilda took in the the transformation which hatl taken place in her bedroom since her last visit attracted her attention, and excited in her considerable curiosity. The bedroom had in fact been turned into a museum of valuable ornam nts, and resembled one of those stores devoted solely to antique curiosities found in the great cities of the world. Close by her aunt's side stood a small old-fashioned cabinet, the contents of which delighted and surprised the unsophisticated young girl. In the open drawers lay treasures she hall hitherto dreamed of, but had never seen. Flashing back the pale winter sunlight and mellowing its radiance were strings of pearls such as Eastern beauties love to entwine amongst their dark tressesâsoft, milky pearls oil which the eye rested some- times with wonder, sometimes with delight. In other drawers were curiously bright-looking ornaments in rococo, which would have rejoiced the heart of an anti- quary. Heavy goJd chains, similar to those worn by Mexican princesses delicately-carved silver filigreefroin Venice; rara diamonds also Hashed from massive gold settings. A fortune had been sunk in these jewels which it was thought was safely invested in securities and British consols. All this show was a perfect mystery to Hilda. She thought she knew every nook and cranny in Leon House. Yet the sweet, mild, silver-haired o:d lady had so well kept her treasures seer t that none of her own family had even suspected their existence. With a pleased smile Aunt Margaret watched Hilda examine each article in a way which showed how fully she admired them. Then she snid When I am gone, dear little niece, these will all be yours. This is the fortune I jeave you, and you well deserve it." Hilda remained speechless with stoni hment for a few moments. Then she threw her arm round the old lady's neck and murmurel her thanks. A ittle later oil, wh:lla the jewels still sparkled on the table, and Aunt Margaret related how she had become possessed of them, her niece, with natural curiosity, wished to kr.-ow why she had kept them so secretly. "I loved my jewels, Hilda, and gazed on them each day with renewed pleasure; but I knew that I should stand in the greatest possible danger of being robbed were it known that I owned them. I acted, therefore, on the principle that if the secret was not worth my keep- ing it was not worth anybody else's while to keep it. Still, before I died, I wished to give myself the pleasure of showing you the treasures which will soon be your own." Hilda clasped her aunt's hand, and the two remained silently absorbed in thought. Twilight was fast enveloping the house in an un- usually soft winter gloom. A bla/.ing jire threw its radiance over the sick chamber, lighting up now its occupants, and now its treasures. Had not death been hovering near, the light and wealth inside would have contrasted pleasantly with the dreary snow-white land- scape stretching away for miles around. Aunt Margaret's room, owing to her illness, was fur- nished sumptuously as bed-room and sitting-room. There were two windows, both reaching to the ground. Hilda sat opposite to one of these opening out into tho garden. Suddenly a slight, hardly perceptible sound startled her, and she raised her eyes. Her surprise and terror were so great that she could not repress the cry which escaped her lips. Ah, aunt, there is a dreadful face at the window! We have teen watched Hilda's terror was perfectly natural. The apparition which frightened her might even have made a more courageous girl tremble. An ill-looking, jagged face, with large prominent eyes and ilaming cyclizills, and surrounded by that amount of shaggy, unkempt hair, which often denotes the reckless villain, had peered through the window with a lightning glance, which, in one moment, plainly told his purpose. He was evidently bent on mischief. The man had appeared suddenly, and as suddenly with- drew. The first tremor of fear passed, Hilda rang loudly for the servant. A few hurried words explained the situation, and John, the butler, darted out into the garden in pursuit. Suspense and anxiety for her aunt agitated Hilda. She trembled violently. Then a new fear rushed in upon her. The man must have seen the jewels. If so, an attack might be expected at any moment. Loud voices in the hall and the tramp of heavy footsteps increased indefinitely the agitation of the girl. It's only Luke Jones, Miss," said the servant, after he had reached the door of the bedroom. Here he is." I only come to ask about the old lady," said the unkempt Luke, boldly. "I hked to hear how she was gettin' on." A short lecture from Hilda about giving people frights by coming at nnsecmingly hours to the windows of private rooms, dismissed Luke from her presence, and imme- diately after the fellow was shown out through the back door. The cause of this sudden alarm had been, at one time, one of Aunt Margaret's servants, and had been sent oil for evasion, lying, and suspicion of dishonestv. A few hours later on Aunt Margaret became restless, and feeling tired of her own chamber, would not be satis- fied unless she were removed to an old-fashioned room at the other enel of her house. This chamber was not unlike those seen in the houses in Normandy and Brit- tany, in France. It had many' doors, many windows, niany cupboards, many crannies. No one had occupied it since the death of George Mayfair, Aunt Margaret's husband. The upholstery, though of rich damask, was musty and dust-laden, and this, with the heavy, chilling smell all round, gave the room a weird, "sennlnhral appearance. -1 n, Thither Aunt Margaret had to be removed, and she wo Id have no one to sit up with her but Hilda. Meanwhile all the jewels had been put away carefully. Midnight had passed, and the inmates were in profound slumber. After the doctor's usual call every effort was made to give Aunt Margaret the quiet which should induce sleep. Hest," said the doctor, is the one essential thing for her now. Three hours' sleep may save her life. Upon no account let her be disturbed." Hilda watched over her aunt lovingly, wrapped in one of the old lady's rich cashmere shawls. Perfect, death- like silence reigned in the room. All at once a heavy breathing caused her to lift her head from the Look she was reading. All was again silence. Then another sudden snort. Hilda was startled, and would have raised an alarm but for the doctor's in- junction. What was she to do ? It was evident that there was some one hidden in the cupboard, and no person could be there but with an evil purpose. Each moment suggested new dangers to her, and added to her alarm and Wretchedness. The man's face at the window returned vividly to her fancy, and something told her he was the sleeper. To wake the person would be madness. To allow him to come forth after waking would be equally foolish. Tilen there WAS no iock to this particular cupboard. Every circumstance combined to make the situation painful, agitating and dangerous. Hilda's eyes, as they wandered round the room in des- pair, rested upon a small bottle of chloroform. A moment's thought determined her to use it. Saturating a handker- chief with a portion of it, she opened the cupboard door quietly, and applied the narcotic to the fellow who slept there doubled up as if he was in a basket. Then she closed the door again, and crept silently back to her chair near the fireplace. As tilt minutes passed, she watched the face of her aunt with breathless anxiety and a beating heart. The snoring had ceased but how long would it be so ? So two hours of mortal terror and heroic resolve were passed by Hilda. At length a heavy sigh from Aunt Margaret, followed by a sudden movement of her hands, showed that the old lady had just awoke. To remove her from the room was her niece's first thought. I am better, Hilda," she said. 11 But I feel so cold." The room is damp, aunt, and very dangerous for you. Everything is so long out of use in it." "Then better get on to my own room at once. You are so good and thoughtful." With gentle hands, Hilda saw two servants remove the invalid back to her own apartment. And then following the domestics, she beckoned them to come after. To their surprise they found in the cupboard the long- Suspected Luke, lying in an unconscious condition. Hilda charged them to watch him carefully,and when he awoke to secure and pinion him. Her instructions were carried ou-t faithfully, and the burglar was handed over to the authorities, and in due time sent to the county prison. The villain had been prowling about the house the afternoon on which he had frightened Hilda, with a view to robbery. The sight of the jewels had stimulated his cupidity. After pretending to leave the house, he had returned through a side entrance, crept up stairs, and hidden himself away in the disused chamber, meaning to carry off the jewels during the night. The intense cold had caused him, while waiting, to take frequent draughts from a brandy-flask he kept in his pocket, and the powerful spirit had rendered him drunk, and thrown him into a profound slumber. Aunt lúargaret rallied temporarily, and when strong enough to hear of the attempted robbery of her jewels was told of Hilda's thoiightfulness, foresight, and courage in the whole affair. The dangers to which she saw she had exposed herself and her niece by keeping so many valuables in her house appeared to her in their true colours. Murder has often been the final rellut of an attempt at robbery. Aunt Margaret strongly reproached herself with having exposed Hilda's life to danger for the indulgence of a capricious fancy. A sale of the jewels was determined upon, a few only being reserved because of the special favour with which they were regarded. A few months afterward Aunt Margaret,who had never ceased to regret the loss of her treasures, passed gently away in Hilda's arms, and left her favourite niece her sole heiress.

A KEEN TASTE.

"MISCELLANEOUS EXTRACTS. --+-

LADIES' COLUMN. -

USEFUL HINTS.