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-_------__------ECHOES OF…

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fALL BIGHTS RESmyrO. ] A MIDNIGHT MARRIAGE. BY MAY AGNES FLEMING, Author of "Lady Evelyn," "The Unseen Bride- groom," "The Heiress of Glen Gower,The Baronet's Bride," Magdalen's Vow," &c. CHAPTER XVII.—(Continued). So it. was all over, and he knew the worst, fie sat down in his shabby little room, drew writing mater als before him, and, without a moment's delay, beiran the promised letter to Leonie De MontrreaU. Decision, resolution, were the young man's characteristics. He told her the truth at once. "I have lost all," he with tragical intensity—"even my yearly allowance. For the first time in my life nothing remains to me I but mv art. I am penniless—a. worker for my dailv bread. Well, be it so—that way honour lies. My future is mv own to make, and it shall be one my Leonie will be proud of. Only wait, my darling. Be true and faithful for a little. whi*le all will come right in the end. I remain here until {ne old man is better or clend: then bark to New York. to love. lo J'ou, and my glorious idol—Art. Write to IHe, my own, my dearest, and let me see tho ¡.aciOl;" wods that tell llJY Lennie will wait 'or her adoring lover." Leonie De Montreuil sat alone in her room— a room beautiful and luxurious as its beautiful and luxurious occupant. She sat by the window, still wearing her morning nrjiliqv, although the October gloaming was settling down over the avenue. She lay back in her cushioned chair, two open letters in her lap, and an expression of unmitigated sulkiness on her tiark face. One little, slippered foot 1Je:>: an angry tattoo on the carpet, and the slender black brows were drawn in an impauent frown. "And after all my waiting, after all my hoping," she thought, bitterly, '"this is the end. Nothing but disappointment on either hand." There was a soft ran at the door. "Come in, Clara," she said in French; "the house is thine own." The chamber door ooened slowly, and her friend and hostess, Mrs. Manners, a pretty young matron, swept in, in rustling dinner dress, ribbons fluttering, jewels sparkling. "Not dressed yet?" she said. "Not even icneed, and past six, my dear Leonie Ah! letters. No bad news, I trust ? _\8 bad as ba.d can be," Leonie said, bitterly. "I am the most unfortunate girl alive, 1 think. Turn which war I will, there seems nothing but vexation and disappointment for me." Air. Manners threw herself into a jauteuil, and drew out her watch. "An hour yet until the dinner-bell rings. I am glad I dressed early. Tell mo all about it, m'amour. Who are your odious correspondents ? "Count De Montreuil and—Ahvyn Bart.ram." "Ah! Alwyn Ibrtram. And what does our handsome artist say for himself ? Is the rich uncle dead, and the curled darling of the gods disinherited ? "Yes, he is disinherited. All goes to a distant cousin." "Robert Bartram-mad Robert. I knew him once. Poor Alwyn What will become of him now ? "Oh, he is to work wonders—to win for himself an immortal name, and wealth, and glory, with a few tubes of paint and a few yards of canvas! I have no patience with such ridiculous nons, ns. When Mr. Bartram has feet and grey hairs, he may possibly have achieved a decent competence, if he has the talent he gives himself credit for. As The young lady shrugged her shoulders, and deliberately tore his letter in two. And the other ? What says the stately count ? That he is coming back to America to search for bis lost daughter. A pleasant prospect for me! He will find her, of course. She will be his heiress, his idol, and I—I shall be the companion, the poor relation—one step higher than mademoiselle's maid! She seized the second letter fiercely, and tore it, also into ;ril,gnents as she spoke. There was a soft rap; then the door opened, and the face of Aglae, Miss De Alontreuil's maid, appeared. The French girl held in her hand a magnificent bouquet of rarest exotics. "With Monsieur Rutherford's compliments," she -aid, piacing it, before her mistress. "When will mademoiselle bo pleased to dress ? "tn half-an-hour, Aglae. Yon may go." She lifted the buuquet, her dark eyes sparkling. Beaut ifnI, are they not?" she said, in- haling their rich fragrance. "Mr. Rutherford has exquisite taste." "Or his florist, Mrs. Manners said. "But Mr. Rutherford's taste is undisputed—in some tilings. He admires you, my pretty Leonie. After all, let uncle and artist both fail, and Le iiile De Montreuil need never sink into playing second fiddle. There are not a dozen wealthier men in wide America, my husband says, than William Rutherford." There was a pause. Miss De Montreuil flung the torn fragments of her letters contemptuously away, and bent her face above the tropical blossoms. "Ah! bul he is old Rutherford," Leonie said, plaintively, "and I don't, like the old men." "Of course not; but, 3011 see, unfortunately one can't have everything in this lower world. U ono Jib, ¡ll1li¡Jlitt.(l diamonds and pocket- money, a box at the opera, the best metropolitan society, a villa in the Highlands, a cottage on the Hudson, a brown-stone paiace on Fifth Avenue, one must be content to endure a few drawback. There was blank silence. Miss De Montreuil was looking steadfastly out of the window. Mrs. Manners a second glanced at her watch. Half-past six. Really. Leonie, your maid will not havr: time to do herself justice this t-veiling. I will go and send her up at once, book your pre'tbst, and wear Mr. Rutherford's flowers, and be as sensible when he takes you in to dinner as it is the nature of eighteen to be. For the prtsent, adieu Mrs. Manners tripped lightly away, and sent Mile. Aglae upstairs at. once. She wns very fond of her pretty guest, and the rich Rulher- ford was a remote connection of her own. "I hope have sense," she thought, as rho sailed into the drawing-room to receive her .<„. "3 hope she won't be siliv and senti- And I don't think she will." the dinner-bell was clanging forth its nunmons as Miss De Mcntrenil floated—she always floated — into the gas-lit drawing-room. Very beautiful she looked in her pink silk dinner dress—the colour of strawberry ice— with pearls in her rich, black hair, and eyes like ebony slars. A. cluster of Mr. Ruther- ford's waxed {lowers nestled amid the loamy lace of her corsage, and Mr. Rutherford's old eyes absolutely lit up as he recognised them. lIe came towards her, and took possession at 3nce, as one having the right—a short, stout, red-faced old man of sixty, with a protruding under lip and two or three double chins. "Beauty and the Beast," whispered an nviouB adorer, hovering in the d I tance-" Venus and Vulcan, Mirando and Caliban, My and Decern tier! His companion laughed.. d be sarcastic. I think your j^able December will make an eminently s^one p-iir. She has 110 more heart than » ml -5 Mils De Montreuil ami ^^TutherfoTd did" not the and the pretty brunette tvos eTer too gUid to converse much. But all through the meal his. eyes Wandered to her exquisite faC«» W'Tf) 1/ lnfatuation only to be seen in the eyes of old men making idiots of themselves. Ii fat whisper. y expected it ",p"% and 1 ,m "5, ™ h„d l„ the draiving-room, and Mr* drawn the little belle to a remote sola just big enough to hold both. A Ule Piano was singing » XSfonS flirta,iong;tTriCedVorn.°f WhiCh jf /dioifght it'Awo,,idW 1 e"Vy thC fl°*ent*i ,he would be at your service." Ion are very g d" ♦ !,?UUJtllow 1 have come heie o I accept every to tins house ? Wfcy j am»' happy out of it Ot late ? rl "How should I?" Because vou are here 1" burst forth tho '"JW. 1 «. fundi* in 1ot« with you, beautiful Leonie, and want- you for I my wife!" There it was! Leonie's heart seemed to stand stock still, and she felt herself growing cold all over. 'The odious red face wa» very near hsr own. "I'm an old man, Miss De Montreuil, but, I am also arich man, and 1 lay my heart and my fortune here at your feet. I will only live to gratify your every whim —1 will bo your slave, your worshipper—my gold shall flow like, w ater at your bidding. Only sa;, you will be my wife! His hot breath was or. her cheek—his inflated face almost touched her own. Leonie Dc Montreuil turned for an instant so deathly sick with repulsion that her parted lips refused to obey. And yet the bad, ambitious purpose within her never faltered. "Speak!" the old man said. "Someone may come. Speak, and tell me you consent. Promise to be my wife." Someone was coming Mrs. Manners. Leonie found her voice by an effort. "You are very good," she repeated, shrinking back a little as she said it, "and I promise. I will bo your wife." CHAPTER XVIII. "on, MY MINE NO MORE!" A suniess and giotv Kovember day late in the month, the dead leaves whirling in wild drills before the chill wind, a threatening of snow in the leaden air. A dull and cheerless November afternoon, the black sky, low-lying, a wail of coming winter in the sobbing blast tearing through the trees. And on this desol- ate autumn afternoon all that was mortal of Mr. Wylder, the wealthy stockbroker, was laid in its native clay. Ashes to ashes dust to dust! The clergyman s teeth chattered in his head as he rattled over tho burial service, and tho group gathered round the grave, whilst th6 sods clattered down, shivered in their great- coats. There were not many mourners—the miserly stockbroker had made but few friends. Foremost among those few stood the dead man's nephew—the rejected heir. Disinherited as he was, ho was yet generous enough to be sincerely sorry for the old man, his soie living relative, and hitherto his kindest, fnend. The funeral over, Mr. Bartram made no longer delay in the Southern city. There was nothing now to detain him there, and he was feverishly impatient to get back to New YorK, to low, to Leonie. He had heard from her but cnee-the briefest of brief notes, in answer to that first impassioned letter. She was sorry for his illfortune she hoped his bright dreams of future greatness might be realised she hoped his uncle might yet relent, and—that war *r Alwyn Bartram reached New York, and wen,, to his lodgings at once to change his dress, preparatory to calling upon Miss De Montreuil. A pile of letters lay awaiting him-chiefly duns. Ill news flies "apace, and already the tailor and the bootmaker, and the florist and the jeweller, were sending in their little reminders to the discarded heir. Some half- dozen cards of invitation were there, too— one to a conversazione at Mrs. Leesom's for that very night. He flung the duns aside, in angry impatience, and began his evening toilet at once. And the spoilers came down How soon the vultures alight on the dead carrion It is no longer Sir. Bartram, the prospective heir to the Richmond stockbroker's wealth, but Alwyn Bartram, the impoverished artist, whom those gentlemen dun. I begin to find out the pleasantness of poverty very soon. 1 suppose I must, give up these apartments with the rest," glancing around the elegant rooms, and play Sybarite no longer. It must be bread and damp bee: and an attic chamber, and a threadbare coat for the future. No more the old life— nothing but hard work for the next twelve months at least. Well, so long as Leonie is true, that fate has no terrors for me. How stnmge she has not written-not, one of my letters answered Surely, she is ill or out of town I" 1'0; Miss De Montreuil was neither. Mr. Bartram discovered that, when, an hour later, he stood on Mrs. Manners's marble doorstep, she was well and still in town, but "not at h- une." He remembered afterwards the odd look with which the servant regarded him as he said it, but he turned away carelessly, leaving his card. "It is only a question of an hour or two," he said to himself. "She is certain to be at Mrs. Ll'PR0111'S." But again he was disappointed. When, a few hours later, looking wonderfully handsome and interesting in his mourning, Mr. Bartram pre- sented himself in Mrs. Leesom's elegant j drawing-room, he saw hosts of people he knew, but no Leonie. "She is always late; she will be here pre- sently," he thought. The disinherited heir found that his story had preceded him, weeks ago, and was forced to listen to speeches of condolence right and left. But the handsome face was so infinitely calm nnd serene that people began to think their condolence a little out or place. His placid countenance only clouded for the first, time when midnight sounded and his black-eyed enchantress bad not arrived. "IIow very late Miss De Montreuil is to- night he said, carelessly, to Clara "And yet one invariably finds her heiv. Miss Lecsom turned suddenly round up us him. with a broad stare. "\Yhat I" sho exclaimed, "Is it realiv possible you don't know ? Why, I though? cl alt people She stopped abruptly, colouring a little. A dull, quick pang of apprehension shot through the heart of the lover. "Noth.irj; )-s hsrpencd, I trust ? lie -aid. "Miss lie Meiiueuil IS well ? "Perfectly well, I believe; only Is it reailv possible, Mr. Bartram, that you had not heard ?" I iiave heard nothing. Remember, I havt but just, returned to the city, within the past few hours. I called upon Miss De Montreuil, but she was not, at home." "Ah!" Clara Leesom said, and there was a world of meaning in the brief ejaculation. •'Miss De Montreuil is invisible, to most of her friends just now. And you really do not know ? You, of all people! How very odd. I took it for granted everyone knew it." "Knew ,hut? T'or Heaven's sake, Miss Leesom, what, do you mean ? Surely, slir,.Jy," as a horrible pang of doubt shot through him, "h.. has not ?:one l'aek to Fru!lre The young lady laughed. "Oh, dear, no! Quite the reverse. "She 18 a lix'ure in New York now,! fancy. Made- moiselle Leonie is not here to-night because one has not time for society the week befoie one is married." Married he repealed, the word lopping mechanically fiom his lips. "Mauiei nd to hoin ? Oh, Mr. Eutherford. of coor« best pfi)' in the market. You J r- *utrain, Miss De Montreuil is 1111 ennnently sensible voung lady, and, to be a nttle vulgar, kil0wS on which side her bread is buttered. Mr. Rutherford is rather a deteimined old gentle- man, and when he proposed, rumour savs. it was after the fashion ol the lady in the Irish pong—'Take L !l> "1 the humour, end that's just now*. leonie's coquetry would jini do hpie* talie >ue or leave me, and tJecide at once. sj,e «>f course— vho.could say Ao f0 a millionaire ?—and on Thursday next. ih,y ;U'c to be irawied. 1 am -r?fns/,d J(Hl ilaTe nor lle!lrd it I if. is the C' At eleven o'clock, next ni°rning, the ceremony will take make one of the bridal friends anc* ^eonie weie always such A second sidelong look of feminine spite and triumph. Miss Leesom's vengeance was com- And this was the reason of the unanswered letters—of Leonie's dead silence. False But his white face told little. liven his voice, when he spoke—and it seemed to him he paused for an hour or two before finding it— was but slightly changed. "This is all news to nie. As you say, Miss Leesom, it is most extraordinary some of my many friends did not impart the agreeable intelligence sooner. And so Leonie De Montreuil is to be married to old Rutherford, and next Thursday is the day ? I shall not fail to be at the wedding. Permit me." He led her to a seat, dropped her arm W1,i!°jf a.word of excuse or apology, and walked straight out, of the house. He forgot to go to the cloak-room for his overcoat, and the November night was windy and cold. But he never felt it. He walked straight on, whither he knew not, through the deserted city streets, his f»ce se his eyes iixed, his hand clenched. I streets, streets, streets; homeless woiu^- flitting by him like dark phantoms, r Illen reeling on their way; police.uen straggli g ttlong their beats. Overhead »P»r 1 ■tar. and the keen, yellow moon-the ceasele,. Watcher* in Heaven. He neither felt, nor saw nor heard, not •offered—h« was simply stunned I CHAPTER XIX. LEONIE IS MARRIED. It was morning. The sun rose over ther ztony streets—those noisy, terrible streets of New York—and found Alwyn Bartram miles from home. With the new life of the new day, his stupor, his walking dream, ended. He realised and remembered all. He was worn out; and despairing lovers must eat and sleep, although hearts be shattered and heads be reeling. Leonie De Montreuil was false, but Alwyn Bartram must go home and go to bed, and eat his breakfast presently, despite his bleeding wounds. He hailed a passing cab, and was rattled down Broadway. At his hotel he got out, went up to his own room, and flung himself, dressed as he upon the bed, worn out in body and mind. And sleep, the consoler, took him as a mother might her tired child. It was long past noon ere the young man awoke. As he opened his eyes and started up, memory came back like a sword-thrust, and told him all. False—false—false! His golden idol potter's clay —cruel, heartless, mercenary. On Thursday next to be married to old Kutherford, and this was Saturday morning. "I will see her! he said, setting his tAetlf hard. "From her own lips I will hear how false, and selfish, and cold-blooded she can be She shall see me face to face-she shall, by Heaven And then His face was absolutely livid, his hands clenched, his srrong white teeth ground. "And then," he thought, in the fierce wrath and bitterness of his heart, "men have shot women they loved for less But, though Mr. Bartram might propose, it was for Miss De Montreuil to dispose. An hour after, when for the second time he pre- sented himself at the Manners's doorstep, the answer was Not at home." "Not at home! When will she be at home ?" "Can't say, sir," impassively, but keeping the door between them. "Miss De Montreuil don't receive callers this week." "Then I wish to see Mrs. Manners." "Not at home, sir." Again Mr. Bartram glared; again the tall footman recoiled in alarm. "Give Miss De Montreuil this when she it at home." He drew forth his card, and wrote rapidly on the reverse side: I must see you I will see you I I will call again to-morrow at ten." The man took it with a bow. The next instant the house door closed with a sonorous bang upon the rejected lover. Alwyn passed that night in a horrible fever of suspense, half the time pacing his room. Morning found him haggard, and hollow-eyed. and wretched. l'en 0 clock^ to the minute saw him again at Mrs. Manners s door. "Miss De Montreuil is engaged, and can see no one. She begs Mr. Bartram to excuse her." And, with the pitiless *.&ras, the door absolutely closed in his face, leaving him, whit. and stunned, on the threshold. For fully five minutes he stood motionless; then, with a look on his face the heartless Leonie might never forget had she seen it, he turned away. That was his last visit,—the bride-elect was troubled no more. Immersed in diamonds, point lace, orange-blossoms and white moire, there was little time to think of her slaughtered victims; but at dead of night, in the quiet and darkness of her room, Alwyn Bartram s face rose before her, pale and reproachful as a ghost. She had loved him—she did love him, never so well as now, when of her own free will ehe gare him up for ever. The days went on. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and it was the "night before^the bridal." Up in the bride's "maiden bower," all white and glistening, lay spread the wedding paraphernalia. A parure of diamonds and opals, pearls and torquoises fit for a queon lay blazing in their velvet #s s—Mr. Kutherford's- princely gift. If remorse clutched at Leonie's heart, she had only to lift, the lids of those caskets, and the sunbursts of splendour there hidden con- soled her at once. Upon the bed, in all its white richness, shone the Parisian wedding-robe, the shining veil of priceless lace, the jewelled orange-wreath, the gloves, the slippers—paie as shimmering phantoms. And, in the midst of all this dazzle and EllOWY glitter, the bride walked up and down, clad in a loose dressing-gown, all her rich black hair unbound, the beautiful face white as her dress, the great, luminous eyes darkly sombre. "They are beautiful," she said, turning those dusky eyes upon the blazing gems, the wonderful robe and veil—"they are magnificent! But, after all, is the game worth the candle ? Will Alwyn B.irtram s lace haunt me all my life long, as it has done since I lost him ? Will he despise and hate me. and give his heart to someone else, nnd shall I go mad and die with jealous rage and longing, when it is too late ? She sauk clown in the darkness of her rooUl- the lamps haclnof yet been lit—down in the very dust, her face buried in her hands. As she crouched there in a strange, distorted attitude of pain. her wild, loose hair streaming about her, the lover she had jilted would hardly have asked for sweeter revenge. Presently—hours after, it seemed to Leonie— there was a tap at her door. She lifted her haggard face, but did not rise. "It is I, my dear," Mrs. Manners's voice said "open and let me in." "Not to-night," was the answer; "my head IIChes. Leave me alone this last night." "But, my dear, Mr. Kutherford is here, and most anxious to s-ee you." "I am not dressed. I am going to bed. Tell Mr. Kutherford 1 shall not leave my room to-night." Mrs. Manners turned away with an impatient frown. "Whimsieal, obstinate girl! I believe she is in love with young Bartrarn, after all, and is repenting now that it is too late. But she will not drav back iha.t is one comfort! Leonie slowly rose, twisted up her loose hair, and sat down by the window. The November stars spartcled frostily, the full yellow moon lighted up the deserted avenue. No. not quite deserted opposite, standing still as a statue, gazlllg fixedly up at her window, stood a tall, dar, tgure, morionless. With a low cry, the girl drew back; no need to look twice to recognise Alwyn Bartram. He had not seen her she knew that, after first wild pang of fear. But she could see hi 111 plainly, standing'there, a tall, dark ghost, the moonlight streaming full upon his pale face. How deadly pale that handsome faco was! In his shroud and winding-sheet it could never look more marble-like and rigid. "And it is my doing," she thought, her heart thrilling, "and I love him Oh, Alwyn, Ahvyn, Alwyn She fell on her knees, screened by the window- curtain, and watched. What, would happen ? What, was he doing there ? Was tie waiting to waylay and murder Mr. Rutherford on his way home? He was just the kind of man, this dark-eyed, hot-blooded, fierce-tempered lover of hers, to do such a deed. She shivered convulsively, crouching there, the throbbing of her heart turning her deadly sick. Oh, what would h.ippen to-night ? Nothing happened. The house door opened; Mr. Kutherford came forth and walked briskly up the avenue, and still the dark figure never stirred. It might have been carved in stone, eo motionless it stood. Mr. Rutherford passed from sight-his home was but. a few doors off and Leonie breathed again. "Thank Heaven! she thought. "Thank ISeaven It is to watch 1117 ovr' no'; to commit murder, he i's there. y poor Alwyn WIll anyo My poor, poor AlwJIl! d ne in this world ever love me r.gain as you o?" The fashionable Broadway church' was crowded. Silks rus e Jewels flashed, and perfume filled the air as the tlUe flocked in- As Clara Leesom had 8aid> Mis9 De Montreuil'8 was to b(( the wedding of the season. The eauty of the bride, and the wealth of the 't'egrooiii) were the talk of the city. rj?hey came a last — the bridal train. Mr. Rutherford, red-fared, portly, vulgar, self- consciou. as ever. ^Jut no one glanced twice at im' j .S! Ter"shining vision swept up the carp 1. isle upou the arm of Mr. Manners, fh<»fS!|0r!*0*' S'U dazzling beauty and splendour fairly caught its breath withipeec-b- less adin.ration/ in hle as a lily, but lovely beyond comparison, J1 'hal exquisite dress and veil, half-hidden irt ihe silvery cloud of ]ace, tho long lashes sweep- n the colourless cheeks, Miss De Montreuil "oafed by as Miss De Muntreuil for the laafe 'Vo (To he uilltinued.)