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THE STRANGE CLAIMANT; OR, TWICE WED. CHAPTER II— (Continued). THE sun was high in the heavens when the brigfc sounds of the music came across the water, and again called forth the inhabitants of Sandcombe to welcome, en masse, the returning couple. The style of music had been well chosen; at the starting, soft, persuasive, and cheering—-it was now lively, joyous, energetic feet moved involuntarily as the strains came nearer and nearer; young girls, who had hurried through their allotted duties to ret dressed and run down to meet the party on the beach, were already getting up impromptu dances; and the heads of the elder ones kept time to the measure to which they danced the infants in their arms; while the aged grandames—recognising the good old airs of their young days—beat their sticks upon the sands, and wagged their chins in sympathy. As the foremost boat rounded the projection, a loud cheer went forth from the assembled multitude; it was echoed by the boat's party, and the rocks and cliffs, taking up the rejoicing, prolonged and repeated the welcome. Amid sounds so hearty, Aaron Franklen leaped ashore, and handed forth his bride. No tears now; all radiant and smiling, Nelly answered with words, and nods, and hasty hand- shaking, the genuine congratulations of her friends and neighbours. Perhaps moved to milder thoughts by a distant sight of their happiness, perhaps in a changed mood, Meghorn did not trouble by his presence the wedding party, who were soon in the full enjoyment of holiday delights. There was no fashion—no great world, you know, to co nsult among the fishermen of Sandcombe, and so the bride did not run away the moment she had chan gad her dress. Nelly's, though it was pretty, and becoming, and suitable as could be, was not too fine to allow her to assist in the hospitable entertainment of her friends. Such a feast was spread as good taste and kindly feel- ing, though with but humble means, could command, and to these simple, hearty people it was a feast in- deed. Th en there was more music, and races were run by th e young men and there was some good singing among the girls, and dancing on the smooth level, where they played bowls and cricket. Then an ex- tensive and hospitable tea, and story telling—more singing and music and dancing, till the sun went down into tho sea, and the moon and stars looked out overhead. Then good nights were bidden, and good wishes passed. And, left at length alone, the young husband and wife, for the first time, closed their doors upon all the outer world to shut in to themselves their own world of hnoio. Dear Ndly is nestling her fair head upon the shoulder of her lover husband, whispering to him all her love, HS they stand together in the silent moon- f v >10! ,^° l°°k at that sweet face, with its masses or sou; h -ir, its half-closed, gentle eyes, and loving mouth, wouid think it could raise that storm upon the chff we bebOlld tins morning—could play, wilfully, deceit and fairness? u„ wilfully would Nelly have hurt aught that eathed or had a name. With as sensitive a heart, ,?Tln £ a nature, as ever belonged to woman, yet had 7 played that cruel, heartless, and deceitful thing, a coquette. natn1' u°W 80me people err in excusing by gaiety of of coquetr ^ou £ htlessnesB, *>y desire to please, the sin It has no excuse. thrmor'vf been *on £ alone in the world—that, £ "pendent spirit, she yearned for support, ,rcounselto others—that, eager for the i' f kind, she mistook (a fatal error) admi- ion for love, and angled for it; and tbat, withal, wif ^en^e simplicity was in itself so attractive, that ir1n»re ( meant only to be obliging, she conveyed the Eomething more: this might have nlft,e thnfl B- excUf6» if excuse there could be; but, I fePeolI' Durifr18 Vfnie- It is the destroyer of all realty* ofman's l ,truth; woman's greatest curse, the P° almost the corrupterof all innocence-I had ML. decency. taking twif^ Worth or sense will no more thin toyed th* u a C0(luette, with whom he has flirted S of eW h? would take to cord his luggaf thrown sn*PPed> and as the other. ae~-the one is as untrustworthy a reso ected*h^n°'1 ky nature nor habit a ° «o-bufc she* had played the feelingS °f ^Ind^eall know W *5 ill-temper and disagree^ w her lover, ahe perodttad the attentions of S»u the fair in an gw • S j £ °- Tded' ideed, little inducement to *umself in her way. +>.A Half in jeati h £ f vanity, she gave hm nob the an* denialn her power-praise of^er-own Wer; for it is certaiiy true. whatever young l^es J»y have read to tKoSSrj. that m*n seldom- god suit so replied to. Thus, from day to dr, from week to week, p»wn—a short absence f the young to* pouring it-till the da when, alarm^by^ore Passing importunity, Nlly told the dark b *tnnger who, to sa^'trujhalf scare going to be married. His rage and mdig at this announcement causl her to fr0m h Q( had nf-ver seen him eino.. f _ii 0f what ?oung Aaron knew sometf0*' but n h&l passed. a _.f i.. Bhl the villagers whc^1^ honest and BS? it: '> and the fUI?f never let thought filing as day's own light, L Sed • he was f'Vil approach the name of^^ j vjug of the too intent upon the finishing «d his Utte cot among the cliffs, wher he and, in dear prize, to give a thought > auf ?0 dear, hetheart of hearts, Nelly felt^e held him^0 aea thi Bhe even afford to trf> wlth°° irch ? Can »oes tbe lily, When handled,'fP0 retain the driven snow dare the contact ear handsome, intsct its whiteness? Young JF0T} wf„n;c maiesty active, athletic, but wanting in toned the lr^nce' which ha*f awed' S Of Dride too, fooi sh Nelly yet made her feelM1 o«■< £ ha; a man so much older, with s'h a *g and grand, should care to and WWt' h, kSjuS h'T"impl° oflMin8Vi ««'ed "ot gifM. K. Zao»™T'2or* SZS bracelrt, n s,e»t, CTeen »5T«1 It, Šhth eyes. that glittered like firejd ;t herself She kept it two days, but she taking it. She took it back to cjjg. go t^A6 t?,RCCePfc it. and she dashed • hfc hav the poId, rubies, and emeralds a aeen m}gbt ha™ nTLna\8rVn^b0tt0h0ftheanda'»en the foo,ish' lovbe u-n^ h°we" fje bless her face, and t '1 f :;Td b?sdeeP' ea"e8t fer, while away; when Shc felt:Hi^d^tecting arm jug- hated herself sti^ Siant took hiq lshfid a » jmbe, and the P'ep.r Lrt,;p,irlurfJfr0 ?an Oughts of him the myswyof the big, s^r-V ^.T„6," '"5lh°t«w "»'? f« tok lioLf' fD ^kose occupation hfi 0AtehtesfcT^en they, too, forgot f; of V?ning of the wedding, hov p J t that out-of-the-way little hoi>tbe 0 Day, started at the ha«h tones, which, with an oath at her tardiness ere she h^h° °^el?ended the order, demanded some brandy to» be sent in to the fireside, ln there," as the rude P01ntmg before him, strode on to the small parlour or tap r00m (for it was the only one), within. "It's Saul Meghorn come ack, she whispered to her husband; what on earth s he doing hereabouts again ? Spending his ? as he always does," growled her sp attend f.enough for us, wn't it ? and he hastened to attendhis guest. Take away the 1!8 • ill do. Leave me to myself! was the ,.0^ the stranger, as the obsequious host se ^or and a candle, and busied himself 1 J rangements of the room. 'M That'll SO al°D?ff Ts thJ«°lU7What viIe stuff is this you're brought m ast all done, then ?" Yes, captain a^™ teU the truth, I've been °"There go!tak,? °andle a^ay yonder's the X^^1 £ LaS.4p »"er and Meghorn reirained, hin upon his hands, from time to timeto the liquor- which he did 1,0 i.u0 beach n j at—then gazing moodily out towa a00(3e(j u over the wide ex- panse of ocean, no v? 8ame silver light which was rcstmfiT j Nelly'a soft tresses, mingling itself jn the pure slumbers of the fair young *»»■ CHAPTER III <W™s°*Taa aoRizoK. IT was a setting sun ff8SP wh0se' sleen» D3^r'ad brilliant hues, the placid ^°L70Tto thef Waves th^ ™ calm and ?r0m the of *he lofty cliffs, <« king of iV, the beauty of aDreadine th? town. Seturned fishermen we P • lr nets, or with their f1""8 r"dj th? ssssrggj——»Cisra xn or0fl8h8toMdi.WM T°ice 9ome fflr' a 8natch 0f ^?an.haiIin? to a fellow 5aihwr his solitary ^vourite old song, 10 COtt!boveinBeaWmMk,h n°oks and sheltered From the jej. brightest, the broad glow throug that fencJ^ shed a rich radiance on the jutting ro« half-open i 6 cofc on every side5 playing ove^ welcome^,™iture within, gave token of » made quite the twilight, now i turning chilly. n^f «M^eptable. < A plEVftnklen had taker, J- COmfort ifc was, to which < Aaron Ft*1jt now ^.r18 young wife. 1 Look v«d settle, the U C08y fireside'its amPl6 high-backed a.glitter witk'rubbcd chests, and rows of shelves, au Pewter and delf; and even j a copper .ftr permij^ion in those parts). t The door Sandco a peep into the adjoining chamber. jB_yo^be--noted for its cleanli- 1 ness as »» Iittle chamw"11 not find 80 Prefcty and ( tastefully bed win, The window \t». snow-white hangings, the neat a» bunch of stains, the sweet-smelling ( shrubs, ana de the j Autumn flowers in the glass jar, which. iewel.8tan)>»g-glass, take the place of scent-bottles. iashionabI^. and all the many trifling etceteras of pepf toilette. But Jt < aji that»» 8Potlessness and neat ar- rangement o the charm which is t»o ] often W»B" and fashion are united. AU a .»in its place, and ready to the hand for aB • Hot a curl-paper, not a cast- off shoe-tie, or a«oraefy perfection there is K Believe in « luxury which can excel such mi8tress The yo"Dle ia the 0 °f this pleasant home stood before a w» room, on which was spread diflu4W; to judge by th. odours w tim0 to"H themselves throughout the ropm, »9 Q g^tae she raised the lids of cer- tain pot* J t • that supper would be worth aimematter offers, marriage tries a woman in- «hant from the ftC°okin&- Nelly had come out triumph whatever ^fdeal, as I sincerely trust you allnC,v a housewife in £ be your quality. "Mrs Franklen' of years' experience, envied y°un*hlch were eeDft„.Certain articles of her furnish- %n. in that neighCaI rarities among folks cf her Among these w<J>°ulhood, and in those times. which, not to crowd a handsome chest of drawers, J,Suisbed post i6^e smaller chamber, occupied a f Dutch clock » he outer room, and over these a i™ honest face. Mother object of envy, displayed Many times had ( S when the shadftX*elly consulted it that evening, a° couid no lono *8 deepened ov6r the beach, and f°foW Bhe lighted a* distinguish the forms moving In e0 to and fro t0 i? lamP uPon the toble» and cea8ed „t make up W lhe door to look out, yet still could llloked so cheerine. ^ind to close it quite the light „ the rocky TWR8he knew, as a man mdke his way partly open, th3 f™* below. So it was left still aiore logs upon th 110 air was chilly» and she put Aaron's old CoJJ fire. settle; Aaron's f lttT, within its warmth, upon the shoes) lay on 3? old boots (cut down to house- dish cookmg tlo e hearth; it was Aaron's favourite the trim little at the fire and if you had asked in this home-jjj e» who made so prominent an object which so plenKfC'ure' waa that her favourite colour have told you, orned her dress ?—she would Aaron was 'ah is fynd of it." Sad then, J*- slowly round as it not ? that as the hands move as log after 1face of the little Dutchman, and I and a cloud consumed, the pretty face grew grave, quick footsteJ e UP011 it, which even the sound of a door, did not and the hasty opening of the Nay, that adl8Pel- v heart leap,«, ,en the cherry voice, which made her late!" even Here I am, Nell, I'm so sorry I'm Sad that did not chase away the cloud. she should w^id all h«r preparations for his welcome, all the warto*h°ld that which was more to him than It had b{* • and light, and good cheer on earth, room, and w1 custom to meet him half way in the give him J/th a kiss, that said more than words, to and led he IcOnae, as he folded his arms about her, Her he# ack to their seat beside the hearth. yearn in? „# yearned to do so now, with a double ing herself'61, his long absence; and she was punish- things, ani woefully. Why do women do these they knoJ. try those they love dearest, and whom Wiser i°ve them ? 2 cannot solve the riddle. The h. 8 fchftn mine have been puzzled by it. Nelly iu#^fc of the weary husband sank heavily, as > herself ^Slanced up on his entrance, and then busied He wJ her cooking. shoes atij*10111° the fire-place, and as he changed nis ally inajj* hung up his out-door clothes—sh« gener- how on doing this for him—he was thinking when hf; fop a man te be treated asif he were in fault, ao lone f d' ia ^act» been Tery nnf«rtunate to be kept He the home he was so fond of. the sftfM06 and sat down in his accustomed place on but ye* I am vexed, Nelly, that I was so late, the W ltnow it can't be helped. I'm bound to do He.» Can» y°u know, for your sake, aren 11 r her. ew her towards him as he spoke and kissed receiy^ 8^e longed to return it! but she only passively cel't <i -pM the embrace and said— late j.? *ou wean its through me you're obliged to be an»Ray> nay; now, my girl, you know I don't mean d°&« -te «rt. Don't take it th;t w.y: my Sk Hy, kiss me, and be yourself now. ihdl j COuld not resist that, but it was a very cool reply kn^d t0 his request. If the good husband had Wo°> how hard it was to make it so ^different, he and Id ha^e displayed less anxiety to make his pwce, of J?ot have entered so fully, perhaps, on the account fell had detained him. But he, g°*d ten • COuld little understand the strange mconsw- te!^8 of a woman's nature; and "he*, though £ .pould eat no more. t:n(r _ii t Then you don't like if, Aaron! after me taking all pains to get it on purpose foe you but'It isn't that, Nelly; the supper's good enough, It that." turned^awiiy from the table as he ^poke that might not see the moisture which, despite ^liness, had gathered in his eyes. • And she, as she rese from the table and began im- E^iately to clear awny the supper, turned aside her heM and smiled, yes— a triumphant smile. Vet her heart was aching, and never did she long >e to twine her arm, about his: neck.and k.ss the Sr sun-burnt face; she was only momentarily de- ^ing the bliss of reconciliation. • p Do TOu doubt the faithfulness of such a picture t 1 can only tell you it is drawn, line by^ne.from ^ture; and that it is tbus, day by {'our, that hundreds of women trite with the^test blessing Heaven can grant them-the love of an honest ^an. God alone knows why! Perhaps home would bb too near heaven, without alloy. It was not the first time Mrs. Franklen had played that pretty game of powir, and she was even now reckoning upon some fresh demonstration of warmth from her fond husband, under which she should gradually thaw her frosty demeanour, and be once more her genial self. But she was not to be gratified. When she returned from the outer place, where she bad desposited the supper things, she found that her husband, weary with the day's toil, had fallen asleep his head resting on his hands, folded on the high wooden arms of the settle. In a moment the woman stayed her quick footsteps on the floor; on tiptoe she stole to his side, placed baneath his head her folded shawl, shaded the lamp from his closed eyes, lifted from the fire a fresh log she bad just put on, which was beginning to crackle forth its noisy tale much too loudly. Then she would have seated herself opposite to him on the hearth, but she started up as the well-known creak of her old rocking chair reminded her of its obnoxious infirmity, and noiselessly she transferred herself to a low stool, where, with" cheek retting on her hand, she sat gazing into the deep hollows of the glowing embers, and listening to the soft breathing of the sleeper, with, who shall say, how heavy a self-re- proach ? But she had not seen the tear that made its way down the sun-burnt facet; she could not know the wordless blessing that went out from the heart of the man she had tended—not s • stealthily but that from his doze he had been awakened, yet excusably feigned the slumber which had purchased for him such tenderness. Fishermen are not ordinarily skilled in metaphysics and it is net wonderful if poor Aaron was somewhat puzzled at the strange inconsistencies of the woman he loved. Half an hour perhaps passed so, when, turning her head quietly, Nelly met her husband's eyes, wide open, and fixed upon her; in a moment she was on her knees, her head on his breast, his arms clasping her to him in a close embrace, and she sob- bing out her sorrow, and repentance, and love, all in a breath. Good, honest Aaron! the worst part of these per- formances was that her humil ty was so genuine, her love so humble and so flattering, in its penitence, that he would too often end by blaming himself, and by vowing to give her no cause for displeasure. These are but passing showers, you will say, and that, like sunshine after thunder, love seems brighter by contrast; but do not forget the ruin by which the scathing bolt has marked its course! Alas! the round face of the little Dutchman had beheld many such storms before six months had passed over the new home and each time the traces more enduring, the sunshine longer in returning. Incessant pricking of but a needlepoint would wear out the strongest; and it is no wonder if Aaron, good husband and honest man as he was, grew weary of these recurring fits of alternate fault-finding and selI. reproach. He lost faith in the certainty of home peace, in the worth of his ewn single-hearted devotion—nay, he ilmost doubted at times the reality of the love which could voluntarily inflict such pain. Still, these were exceptional moments te a life in which, blessed with her earnest, careful affection, Franklen believed him- self the happiest man alive. It was wonderful how the neighbours should have jot any idea of the slight cloud upon the little home, seeing that neither Aaron nor Nelly would, to save iheir life, have let fall a ward concerning one another, mt of tenderness yet too often an expression of con- iolence or sympathy, dropped involuntarily, testified Q the general impression that, as the women said, Nelly, didn't make young Franklen the wife she'd night to." (To be continued.)




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