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[.VOW JflBST PCELISH20. j THE LASS THAT LOVED A MINER. By J. MONK FOSTER, Affthor of "Slaves of Fate," "A Miner's Million," "The White Gipsy," "A Crimson Fortune," "A Pit Brow Lassie," &< &c. [ALL BIGHTS RESEEVEJ).] SYNOPSIS OF PREVIOUS CHAPTERS. CHAPTEE3 I. to III.—Shadrach Deane, a collier tt Amberswood, effects the rescue of a fellow- Workman named David Southworth, who was Utlwisoned by a fall of roof. Southworth's toother introduces him to a factory lassie, named Nannie Wilson, and an intimacy springs up which tipefts into affection. CHAPTERS IV. AND V.-Shadrach Deane's Mreetheart, Nannie Wilson, is also loved by David Sonthworth, who threatens Deane if he feohnea to give her up. As they are working in the pit a sound like a pistol shot is heard, the ropf falls, and Shadrach and another are im- prisoned. Southworth, who is heard near, is tailored to render assistance, but he replies that M would not lift a finger to save him, adding that be would have to give up Nannie Wilson BOW. CHAPTKBS VL AND VII.-Shadraeh Deane \I8d bioI drawer are ultimately rescued, and soon the whole village is ringing with the news of Stwrthworth's meanness and cruelty. He is publicly charged with it m a pubiic-honse in the village by a man named Alec Watson, and a dis- turbance ensues, a rough and tumble tight en- wung. In the meantime, Nannie and Shadrach agree to get married at once. .,L. j CHAPTER VIII. A Strange Letter. It was a quiet Sabbath morning, a. couple of feoprs before noon. The air was clear and frosty, the ground rang sonorously under the feet of the lew pedestrians who were about, and a wide halo 3f jfamt silvery haze hanging low iu the south- faskt< sky was all the evidence visible to the vulgar eye to denote the position of the dull Wmter sun. Here and there at the corners of the four thoroughfares abutting; upon the village green at Amberswood small knots of men wero lounging— jome of them resting their backs against the Wall*, while others were sitting in true collier fashion on their haunches and lazily discussing aome tcpio of local interest in and out of the ,,Iok opened doors of the cottages women and twfces passed occasionally, busy with some errand vt household import on the unpavi*! square a Itw lads of the rougher kind. who seldom entered lidaer a Sunday-school or a day one, were playing at.. stonies "-a Lancashire term for irarble-rnd Ware quarrelling noisily over the game, while .and again a villager of the more repectable tCtt might be seen wending his or her way towards the church or some of the other places of worship In the place. I reckon," quoth a grizzled old pitman fitting ou the flags at the corner of the Fox and Boose, as )ig thrust down with a hard, black fore- Snjrer the dust in his old clay, >4 that owd Nancy Wilson's dowter is gooin' to get wed." Which on 'em. Phil ?" another crony asked. Nannie, o' coorse," the first speaker replied. "But ah never heered that the wench were Wiortin' said a new voice. •" Tba' art alius th' last, Bendy," spoke out old PWT, in a sarcastic way. to heer owt. Why, J bin kpepin' company with that theer chap— Shadrach some'at, they ca' him-for months *<*w ?" An h«a th' axins bin put up yet ?" They're to be axed eawt fort' l ist tahme this flSornin'—so eawr Betty was telhn' me afoor ah am eawt. Well Nanny is a reg'iar pratty ■reach and Shadrach seems a gradelydacent scart 9* a felley." t Hello, look there lads, someone exclaimed at this point. Heap's Nannie Wilson an' that chap 5 ,■ >' her's comin up-tfr lone together. What's up I wonder." They're goin' to th' church ah'll bat to heer th' ax in*A nahc» pah? aren't they chaps ? It's agoodish bit neaw, Bendy, sin' we did eawr 4 eoortin' There was a general snigger at this sally of the old miner, and just then Shadraoh Deane and his sweetheart, attired in their Sunday clothes, passed by on the farther side of the village green. I Shrewd Phil MAlding had not made a bad guess when he ventured the remark that the lovers were an their way to the church standing over the way in order that they might heaL. their marriage bapas published for the third and final occasion. It was one of the unwritten laws of custom holding good in the hamlet that neither the man nor the woman who were about to contract a ■ matrimonial alliance should visit the sacred place during the first and second time of the publication of the banns. To do so was held, for some occult veaaon or other, immodest; yet to have been absent when the "axtns" were put up for the third time would have been considered dis- respectful, even indecent. And so Shadrach and Nannie were going to øbarcb on this wintry Sabbath morning and in dpflfcf to. avoid the prying eyes and inquisitive re- marks of the congregation they had decided to find a quiet corner in the sacred building ere the bulk of the worshippers made their appear- Wide. With light feet and light hearts they tripped i (aily along, feeling that they were objects of in- terest to everyone they met and passed. Their love filled them to the lips that morning the future appearing a long pathway strewn with tOWerøt joys, pleasures, and all manner of good thiags, and the grey old world wsis bright and beautiful from horizon to horizon—from Nadir to 2raith. They found the church completely unoccupied, ød selecting a quiet corner on the eastern side where the light trom a stained window dyed their iaees and figures with variegated glow, they waited patiently, exchanging scraps of conversation in osdertones. I Presently a measured footfall coming along the unearpeted aisle caught their ears, and on turning j they saw the elderly clerk, John Simmons, approaching. He nodded as he saw the lovers nach answered with a smile and all inclination of ththfitd. Then be passed the foot of the pulpit ad turned into the vestry to prepare for his tovotional duties. Presently one or two of the old people ambled !lito the church and seated themselves, with much puffing, coughing, and wneezing, in the places they were. wont to occupy. These were mostly special pensioners of the kindly old vicar's, and they :nade point of coming early in hope of getting r to see Mr Reade before the service began. When ihey did get to see him ou Sunday mornings it meant a douceur of not less than sixpence. "We're a lot too soon, Nannie," Shadrach said, with hi# eyes fixed lovingly on the flue profile of L, hrs affianced wife. We should have been soon fe Hteugh if we had gone through the field's and r some round by way of Alley Bury'* Lane." •4 But we might have been late, Shadracb," she TWponded with a curious puckering of her sweet hStlemouth, which spoke volumes, and then Sferybody would have been staring at and talk* ihf about us. I'd much rather be here, Shad, MO wait—wouldn't you ? f? Of course I would, you Jtttle silly, if you say r ? She had nestled against him, and his hand Might hers atffectioriately-biit WAS removed TOddenly as he noticed the old verger approach- The Vicar wishes to speak to you, Mr Bfee," be said. Will you step into the vestry, aii ?. 0M» «feh ta m N&n—Miss WrTstm— lkb ? Shadrach asked as he rose. Ob, no be wants to see you alone for a atoment or two, so he told me to say." t *>».be a minut* tear," the miner said to owsWMiheart, as he followed Simmons to the wastry, which was only half a dozen yards awav. As Deane entered the little room, the Rev. Mr Reads asked him to take a seat, while the verger I dosed the door and slipped away. | t- "Will you read this letter, Mr Deane," the dMvyman said, "and tell me what it means?" The miner took the sheet of paper the Vicar Wd out, and read as follows Liverpool, 29, Calliton-court. TO the Reade, Vicar of St. Cuth- bert's, Amberswood. Dear Sir,—This letter is to inform you that you must not on any account whatever marry Mr Shadrach Deane and Miss Nannie Wilson. In the first place, he is a married man, who is passing himself off as a single one; and secondly his real name is not Shadrach Deane at all, but William Worthington. The writer of this letter is pre. pared to prove all she says when the right time aomes. We were married nearly three years ago in Staffordshire. He's a real bad man, as full of deceit as a Jew. I never want to see him any more. but I don't want a respectable woman to fee ruined by a scamp like him. I shall never bother him unless he goes on with the wedding. If bo doee he will have to go to prison for bigamy. Tell him so, and mark my word he will give up hid dirty work at once. I' Yours Very Respectfully, 1" MARY WORTHINGTON." ••Well, Mr Deane," said the Vicar, as Shadrach faisbed the letter, and looked up, what does it ■lean ?" The minister's voicf was cold, his eyes had in Iktm a suspicious look but the young pitman'd them a suspicious look but the young pitman'd efee Were open and frank, his voice vibrated with [ dwp feeling as be answered. | Jt means, sir, one of two things." | Isdeed. Will you kindly explain, and be j brief, 11 for I have only a couple of minutes to spare." Well, this is either a dastardly scheme that is beinpr worked hy some scoundrel to part me and Miss Wilson, or it is a practical joke." Is there no truth in this letter ? Not a word, sir. It is absolutely untruthful from beginning to end, My real name, as I can pasily prove, is Shadrach Deane I never was in Staffordshire in my life and God above knows that I am not married. I think you speak the truth. Am I to publish the banns this morning ?" Certtin!v—I and Nannie are here on purpose to hear them called out for the last time. Not to go on with their publication now would fill everybody's month." "Soit would," said the cleric, gravely "Well, I will do as you wish. Good morning, Mr Deane. I am very sorry that this letter was ever written." Thank you. Good morning, sir. But would yoYi mind letting me have the letter? "Here it is—but if what you state be true I would not bother myself about it." Shadrach thrust the letter into his pocket, and returned to his sweetheart, who was eagerly watching for his coming. I suppose Mr Read's has been preaching a small sermon for our own special benefit, Shad- rach ? she whispered, jocosely. You've guessed it, dear, the first time," he whispered in answer, thinking it bette'r not to mention the strange letter at that moment. The service was beginning now, and the sweet- hearts tried to forget themselves and their, love, and to remember only their devotional duties. But the miner found such a task no easy matter to accomplish. Strive as he would to banish the letter from his thoughts the words he had so recently read roseup persistently before his mind's eye and claimed his attention to the exclusion of all other things. Judging from the handwriting the writer was a woman. What woman of his acquaintance either in Amberswood or elsewhere cculd desire to do him an 111 turn ? He reflected but failed to remem- ber anyone. Then there must have been someone behind the writer. Who could that one be ? Savo David Southworth he had not an enemy that he was aware of, and such a scheme seemed beyond the conception and execution of his rival. Per- haps after all it was only meant as a joke by some of the village wags. Suddenly Shadrach's thoughts were brought back to his surroundings. The visnr was about to publish the banns. He felt Nannie crouch a little nearer to him as if the critical moment had un- nerved her—saw the minister look around upon his congregation with a slow inquiring gaze, and then those vibrant tones were rising and falling on the ears of the worshippers. It was tha old formula which runneth — "I publish the banns of marriage between Shadrach Deane and Anne Wilson, both of this parish. If any of you know cause, or just im- pediment, why these two persons should not be joined together in holy matrimony, ye are to de- olare it. This is the third time of asking." The lovers felt that the eyes of all about them lought their faces while the metallic-sounding voice ef the parson was piping out the banns, and when the ordeal was past-when the moment cf silonce which followed the declaration had passed and there came no voicejof dissent -emeli.bremthed a email sigh of relief. Later, when Nannie and Shadrach stood in the porch, she said— How early it is—barely a quarter-past 12, Shadrach. Suppose we go round by Alley Bury's- Jane, noW ? Dinner won't be ready, you know, till 1 o'clock?" If you like, dear," he answered, with a graver countenance than she had expected to see. The miner was to have dinner that day with his sweetheart at her home, and turning to the left they made their way through the frozen fields, under the black !ean. s< trees and alongside the ragged brown hedgerows. Shadrach was momentarily expecting that his sweetheart would hark back to his interview with the vicar, and he had fully resolved now to keep the letter a secret. It was eminently probable, he thought, that nothing further would ever be heard of the matter, and it was useless to trouble her by talcing her into his confidence. And so he deter- mined to say nothing. CHAPTER IX. The Strange Woman. Three weeks ?ped away on flying feet and the day fixed ftJr the wedding of Shadrach and Nannie was less than a fortnight distant. During the last twenty-four hours the first snowfall of the winter had occurred, and coming late the fall had been a heavy one. Amberswood now appeared a btack sput in a great wilderness of white. But the inclement weather did not keep the happy lovers either ftpart or indoors, Nannie had said that she dearly loved to be out among the snow—it was so pretty to watch the great flakes swirling in the gaslight about one's bead, and pleasant to feel one's feet gliding over the white fleece. So they had wrapped themselves up wntmly, had borrowed Mrs Mason's stout ging- ham, and had struck along Hollmgford-lane at a rattling pace. Since that morning in the vestry Shadrach had never heard a syllable respecting either the letter or its writer. He had kept both his eyes and ears open in the anticipation of hearing some word fall from the lips of someone or another which would betray the knowledge of the epistle and its author. But no such word was ever spoken. No miner or villager asked him about the woman in Calli- fop-court, Liverpool, who bad written to the vicar claiming him as her absconding husband por had any one alluded even in jest to the allegation that he was a married man. He had killed the practical joke at the moment of its birth, and foiled the joker's pretty game by simply taking no notice of the matter. So Shad- rach thought whenever he considered the strange business, but to night, as he and his dearly beloved one tramped through the snow, both the missive and its writer faded out of his memory. There was only room at that time in his brain for thoughts of the happy future which was jnst beginning to unfold itself for Nannie and him- self. Next Sunday but one would witness the solemnisation of the ceremony which would bind him and Nannie to each other for all time, and it was joy enough for the moment to dream of that alone. For an hour or more the lovers strolled along the quiet lane and then back again talking of the sweet common-places sweethearts ever find so delightful. At length they came to the corner of the low stone wall topped by an iron rail-work surrounding the church of St. Cuthbert, and there came to a standstill before bidding each other good night. "Only a few days more. Nannie, only a few days more!" SI)Adrach whispered, tenderly. "After that we shall not have to say good night any more. I wish it was all over, and that we were man and wife.' How impatient you are, Shad," the sweot girl answered, her manner showing an affected petulance which her softly-breathed words dis- proved. It's just the other way with me now, dear. Now that the time is so dreadfully near, I wish it was a bit further away." Oh, Nannie How can you say that ?' the young fellow pleaded. It's not because I don't love you, Shad, for you know that I like you more and more every day. It's just because I feel so afraid of having to tace them all. I feel sure tbat tbe churcb will be filled with folk next Sunday but one." Of course, it will but that only shows," he said, proadly, that everyone in Amberswood thinks so much about you. And no wonder, Nannie, for you are the best and handsomest girl in all the world 011. Shad, what nonsense Still I'm glad you think so, dear and I do mean to be ever such a good and true wife to you." His arm stole around her slender figure, he drew her to him, and their lips met in a close, clinging kiss. Then he responded, Darling, you will never know what your love means to me, and I'm afraid that I shall never be able to put it into words. But I'll try to translate my love into acts, and with God's help and fortune will make you happy all your life." He spoke with a fervour that brought a sudden mist to her eyes her throat swelled with a spontaneous access of love and emotion, and for a little while she was quite unable to voice her thoughts. "There Don't give ma another word of praise, Shadrach," she said presently, if you don't want to spoil me altogether. I'm afraid, dear, that I'm not half so good-nor one quarter as pretty as you think I am." He broke out in a fresh torrent of laudatory terms, tnd ended by saying, "I shall be pleased, Nannie, if you will get away from the factory on Saturday as soon as you can, as I am thinking of going to Holling- ford." "Of course I will, Shadrach," Miss Wilson answered, pleasantly and readily. "Doyouwish me to go with you ?" Yes, I gave notice last night at the post-office in the town to withdraw my savings, and I intend that we shall go together on Saturday afternoon to buy the furniture and all the other things we shall need." How nioe, Shad, that will be," the girl res- ponded, all aglow with the thoughts his last statement had originated. Why it makes one feel like a real married woman to think of going about buying things for our own home." I suppose you have given in your notice to cease work at the factory, Nannie ?" Yes. You insisted that I should do so, you know." Of course. Bub I had quite iorgotten to ask if you had done as I wished you." I did, and I shall finish work this week end. Bnt I think, Shadraoh, that it would have been better had you permitted me to continue working. I am young ana strong and able, and wo conia have saved all my wages." The idea of your working after our marriage, is very distasteful to me, Nannie," was his loving answer. I always held that it was a man's business to work, and that it was wrong for to marry a woman unless he could keep her." But on the other hand, dear," she retorted with a playful and tender remonstrance. "You must admit that it is every woman's duty to help her husbnnd as much as she can, and in every way she can ? "Well-ves." He Admitted her contention with apparent reluctance, because he knew that such an ad- mission was against himself, and she was intelligent enough to see this. Well, then," Nannie ejaculated, if you believe that why do you object to me helping you? There! you must admit that I have the best of the argument ?" I supp ise I mnst, and I don't complain so long as you don't attempt to put your argument into practice. I care tor your love, companion- ship, and comfort much more than I oare for the few shillings a week you would earn by continu- ing to work in the mill when we are married." Perhaps I am wrong after all," sho said, with a pretty pensiveness. Why, I am quite sure I am wrong, dear Shad, now that I come to con- sider," she added, impulsively. "Fancy what it would mean to you if I kept on working at the factory. I should be away all day from home from six o'clock in the morning until six at night, and when you came home from the pit tired and hungry the fire would be out, and you would have to get your own dinner ready. That would be awful, wouldn't it ? It would and I believe I should miss you more than either the fire or my dinner. But there's no fear now of missing either of the three. Now I must be off. Just one before I go. There Good night, darling, and happy dreams/' They kissed and parted iu the best of spirits, and each hurried homeward, never dreaming that the blank shadow of a great trouble was hovering over them at that very moment. The future seemed to each a long unending way suffused with sunshine and bright with flowers. Tnppinttdaintily over the snow-covered ground, Nannie made her way across the village green, and past the corner of the Fox and Goose. There was not a solitary figure to be seen in the thoroughfare along which she was trudging. A faint hubbub of voices caught her ear as she passed the hostelry here and there the light streamed through drawn blinds but the great majority of the cottages were plunged in dark- ness. for it was between nine aud ten o'clock, and the slumberers had to rise early next morning. Just as Nannie Wilson was passing the cornar of the wall which bounded the backyard of the Fox and Goose, a tall, black-Cloaked figure stepped forward in front of her, and stopping right in her path said, I wish to speak to yon for a moment." The voice was that of a woman. What tha stranger's face was like Nannie could not tell for the closely drawn hood. The sudden and totally unexpected appearance of the unknown lady bad natually started the girl, whose thoughts were m the fairy land of love, and for an instant she was too much taken aback to speak. But she quickly mastered her temporary confusion, and Cried. "You wish to speak to me "I do." "What about ?' I will tell you in a moment," But I do not know you—who are you, Mid whatever can you wish to speak to me about I will soon let you know everything," said the stranger, speaking in clear, low, and well- modulated tones. But first of all I must know that you are the right woman. Is not your name Miss Wilson-Miss Nannie Wilson ? Yes, that is my name." Well, I have something to tell you of the utmost importance. But I do not wish anyone to see up together. Where can we go ?' Nannie hesitated. There was something about the woman she dtd not like, and the atmosphere of mystery surrounding her did not tend to dissipate Nannie's uneasiness. "You need have no fear of DiP, Miss Wilson, I assure yuu. I am here for your own sake as much as my own. I have come to speak to you cost and annoyance to myself, and if you are wise you will listen to me. Some day you will thank me and God that I came to yonr aid I do not understand what is it you Want to say ? Where shall we go ?" the girl exolaimed, a vague sense of impending disaster upon her now. Down this opening will do, I daresay, as well as elsewhere," the woman repiied. "Mpst of the people appear to be in bed, and I expect that no one will interrupt us. Come." The strange woman spoke imperatively, and ahe led the way while the factory lassie followed her along the white floored and silent alley. Fifty yards from the corner where they had first spoken the two women came to a stop and faced each pther. The snow had ceased falling half an hour ago, and the heavens were clearing. The moon, so long hidden, was pushing itself now from behind a shattered continent of blnck cloud, and was flooding the white roofs and deserted alley with -a clear light. As Nannie and her companion paased the latter threw back the dark folds of her hood, and for the first time revealed her face, which was that of a bold-looking, handsome-featured woman of thirty. Now I will tell you all 1" the lady cried. AH What does that mean ¥' Nannie de- manded. j. It means that the man you are about to marry is my husband (To be continued).




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