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THE " STA^" STORIES

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THE STA^" STORIES FOUNDED ON FACT. [ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. J No. II. ONLY A WOMAN'S LOVE. [BY THE EDITOR] Midway between the city of screws and buttons and the hardware metropolis lies a town which has many interesting associations connected with it. It has been the birthplace of one of the best known novelists of the present day it is the centre of a flourishing trade, and it is, moreover, noted as being one of the go-ahead districts of the kingdom. Situated as it is in that dreary and dingy spot which is euphemistically termed the Black Country," you do not expect te find the scenery of North Wales or Cumberland. Yet to those who have the wit and the wisdom to see them there are beauties even in that depressing atmosphere. About fifteen years ago two young people were to have been seen earnestly talking together, on the outskirts of that town. Their surroundings were of a nature which to the ordinary lover would have been depressing unless he possessed a poetic soul, and could let the imagination have full scope. Around them were blast furnaces in full swing, the snaky flames alternately flaring up, lighting the dullness of the usual November night. To the artist it appeared to be a scene from Dante's Inferno," the workmen being so many lost souls condemned to everlasting torture. JBut to ths practical mind it was a scene which emphasised she dignity of labour, and proved that our commercial enterprise rested OIl a broad and sure basis.. The 'young couple whom I have mentioned would have been ranked among the usual type of mortals. The young man's physique was stunted. There was a preceptible bend in the shoulders, and the hands showed that he was R horny-handed son of the soil in verity and in truth. The maiden was also stunted in growth. Yet there was that quiet dignity in her mica which betrayed that, though she was a daughter of the people, she possessed a soul capable of great things. The conversation was earnest, and at intervals somewhat shrilly, for the voice is not always modulated ia tone amongst the working classes. "Jack," she was saying, I cs,nna, let thee go. You are my love, and soon we shall bs married. Why should we not stay here and be happy, and not go away to Glasgow, where there's so much wickedness ? Nay, love, there are so many temp- tations." Ay, lass, I know all that. But I cannot stay in the usual rut of my fellow-men. Life in the out- side is dull enough, but in the pits it is horrible. You know I am scorned. Why should I at night be troubling my head with books, instead of joining my mates in the pub ? To them it is hap- piness, but to me it is misery. I Jcannot, no. I will not, stay. To Glasgow I shall go in the morn- ing." Ay, lad, if thou will go, you must. But think of all that may happen. Tome Glasgow is as far away as if it were at the other end of the earth." Nay, lass, it is not so far as it seems. It is not so far off as thee thinks. Cheer up and be brave, for we will be married in six motths, and leave this neighbourhood for ever. In my new place there will be no temptations like there are now." But I am afraid. I somehow believe that there will be trouble." Nay, cheer up old girl, and look smilingly at the future there is bound to be something good turning up. Thou hast me remember, and I shall always be true. Come, now, kiss me good- bye." John Jefferson was one of those young men who ought to have been born into a higher sphere. He was endowed with far more than the average brain he was studious, and thera was an honesty of purpose about him that won the respect and the admiration of his mates. His parents were poor terribly poor, and often in this world poverty is a -crime. Consequently his education had been of the most meagra description. This, however, he had supplemented in his leisure hours whilst others, and his own father too, were carousing in one or other of the public-houses which surround ,every working class community. And he had been studying not coal-mining bat shorthand. His ambition was to become a journalist, and this end he had steadily kept in view. Years of toil had made him an adept shorthand writer, he possessed a fair knowledge of sound English literature, and he had an energetic brain. Bus the one thing he -was lacking in was caution. Ha was too easily led away by the impulse of the moment, and this nearly wrecked his oareer. While still a younj man, he was no more than nineteen at that time, he had become engaged to Sarah Turner. Sarah was also the daughter of a collier, and know as well as any lass in that town what were the troubles of a working man's house- hold. Being the eldest, nearly the whole of the household duties fell upon her shoulders, and the cares had not fallen unheeded as her face showed. She knew in truth that happiness was a fleeting quantity, and also that the happy days she had spent were not so numerous as to be lightly for- gotten. Her affection for Jack was of the strongest. He was her ideal; her hero; and yet woman-like she had found out his defects. She was glad in many senses that he was going away to a new sphere of labour which promised to take him away from the drudgery of pit-life for ever and she rejoiced. Still there was a gnawing at the heart, a presentiment of trouble in the future a foreboding which she could not repress, and she, earnestly wished that it was over. Naturally, therefore, she did not view the departure of her lover in the same spirit as he did. « In a brilliantly-lighted dancing-room in Glasgow a year afterwards sat John Jefferson. He knew that the deciding eorner of hia career had to be turned that night, and in front of him led two paths-one of misery and disgrace; the other of ruin. His career in Glasgow had been, on the whole, a success. He had entered con amove into his new duties, and had at length secured a toler- ably firm footing. At first it had been uphill work. The gawoherie of his manners, had made him the butt of several of his fellows; his ignorance of the Doric had led him into many -pit- falls and his inability to make the right friends had nearly proved disastrous. Often he had turned away from the office in disgust, and vowed that he would not return. But the earnest, womanly letters which he had received from his sweetheart had deterrel him. and he had tried once again to win the battle he was fighting. He had well nigh succeeded, and he knew that he could, if he only would. His employers trusted I him he knew that the vocation he had chosen was his right oije, and yet— Six months previously he had met one of those lasses who can bend men under their fingers like twigs. Maggie Summers was not a typical Scotch girl. She was rather a mixture, it would seem, of the French and the Scotch. Her mother had been born at Avignon, and had there married one of those roving Celts, whose home is anywhere but in their own country Archie Summers was, I must confess, a ne'er-do-weel, and this trait had descended to his daughter Maggie. She was a girl of the period in the sense that so long as she obtained enjoyment she did not care where the money came from. She had fascinated poor Jefferson, and it seemed as if the spell would never be broken. Of him she thought little if the truth were known. She was handsome, and the poor struggling collier-journalist was not the man to keep her in the position she wanted. Yet he was a good fellow, and a flirtation was well enough for the present. To do Jefferson justice, he knew that he was under a spall. Maggie had cast a glamour over him, and the hoardings of years had been squan- dered upon her. His marriage was now far more distant than ever, and unless he could break off with this bewitching fairy he knew that his life would be ruined. But how was he to do it? And this was the question which was puzzling his brain. Fate, however, was kind to him. During one of the intervals in the dances he noticed that Maggie was making rather free with one of the gilded youths of the city. She apparently wished to make an impression and she did. Jealousy is a terrible passion, and it entered Jefferson's soul. He did not like to face the idea of losing her, and yet he wanted to Of such mysterious component parts is the human heart I Maggie, too, was be- coming tired of her admirer, and she wanted to get rid of him. And woman-like she succeeded. The gilded youth was smitten and Jefferson was en- raged because he could not have any more dances. Recriminations followed, and there was a stormy scene, after which one went awry vowing vengence on the other. Lovers' quarrels are proverbially made up. There had been many love passages between the two, so it was quite natural to expect that they would soon be reunited. But fate happily stepped in. On going home that night Jefferson found a letter from his sweetheart. That billet was only the outpouring of a girl's affection, and ungrammatical and commonplace besides. Yet it was sufficient to effect its purpose. Honesty was stamped in every line and Jefferson knew that this was the one woman with whom he could be happy. The resolve once taken was not broken. The visits to that dancing saloon ceased, and the steadiness of the young man began to be marked amongst his companions. But the fight was a severe oae and it tested all his powers. Often he wanted to break out, but a sight of that tear stained letter was enough to give him fresh cour- age, and at last he conquered. In a quiet Black. Country Church on Good Friday morning there was a wedding. It had created a great deal of surprise for the bridegroom had made his way in the world and he was uniting his lot with a young woman whose social standing was certainly not equal to his own. People wondered and wondered, and their surmises, though shrewd, were yet far from the truth. Sarah, my darling I" whispered a happy bride- groom that night, "do you recollect that letter which you sent me upbraiding me, nay, dearest, only gently upbraiding me, with not writing to you for nearly a month. That letter saved me when I was on the brink of a precipice." And then like the honest man he was, he told her all. And she forgave him One more scene and I have finished, in the suburbs of a flourishing Midland city live a oouple who have won the respect of all who knew them. The head of the household is now growing grey and the signs of a hard struggle are not wanting 1:19 on the patient face of his wife. They have gone through many trials and have suffered many dis- appointments Journalism has been abandoned for a business career yet he has not entirely forgotten his old love. To the outside world John Jefferson is merely a successful business man to his inti- mate friends he is distinguished by a kindliness of spirit which encourages them on their upward path to his wife he is the best man en earth. And his wife is to him an angel clad in earthly garb-a ministering angel in deed and in truth. Only a woman's love," he once wrote. To many it is merely a phrase; but others think that it should be enshrined in gold. That is our opinion, and we trust it will be shared by all." Maggie Summers ia now a. fine lady. She has succeeded in marrying money, and has a position in society. But I don't think she is happy. At least, when I saw her six months ago she appeared to me to have become one of those cyaioal-minded women, whose only religion is self.

POETRY.

A DUEL TO THE DEATH.

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