Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

2 articles on this Page

ADELA AND CLARICE.

News
Cite
Share

ADELA AND CLARICE. A Life Sketch. I. vV hat shall I do?—oh, what shall I do? Aunt Sarah, will be so angry." Adela March, wrung ber white, jewelled hands, and looked in despair at the portentously lengthy dress- maker's bill, and the rather threatening note that ac- Qjrapanied it, She was a tall, beautiful girl, with elorions black j eye, and glossy, blue-black hair-a girl who might have realised one's ides of an eastern Sultana; and the sumptuously fnrixished apartment in which she stood would have carried out the Oriental fancy not ungrace- fully, "Turee hundred giiinc-.rs! mused Adela, biting her trash scarlet lip, with a groan. Who would have imagined it could nnunt no so P And she wiii appeal to my aunt if it is not instantly settled—to Aunt Sarah, who is so indignant if I venture to spend a sllilling without her sanction and allowance. No-my aunt must never kno v of this, Hile started like a guilty thing as a soft knock Bounded at the coor. Oh, Clarice, it is only you; how you frightened 4 Blender, delicate-looking girl stood at the door, with timid bine eyes, cheeks like the fainteat pink reflection of a winter tsunset, and shining braids of golden hair, "Adela, my aunt wants you. Mrs. Elton is in the i,fi wing- i.-oom. Tell her I'll be ¿o"Vll in a minute, Clarice," said Ado'ia, hiding away the dressmaker's bitt in the folda of her dress, and hurriediy beginning to re-arrange half. And Clarice went down stairs to resume the plain wing which was her daily occupation. For although the girls wera alike relations of Mrs. Tracy, there was a wide difference in their social position. Adela was the petted, (spoiled niece of the lady herself; Clarice was the orpbased daughter of her dead husband's youngest brother. One was beloved—the other fearely tolerated; and most keenly and bitterly did poor Clarice feel the distinction. firs. Tracy was a very elegant-looking woman as she sat in her handsome drawing-room—large, portly, ana commanding, with a complexion that was blooming still, and garnet silk draperies, trimmed with exquisite thread lace. But yoa haven't shown me the emerald bracelet tfcat your POU Beat you trqm Paris," said her visitor, a bustling, black-eyed little lady, whase observant g.'anco took in everything around her. "The sweetest thing," ejaculated Mrs. Traoy, lifting tip her plump hands. Clarice, here is the key ef my jaivol drawer: go and get the crimson velvet case ia the left-hand corner. Qoics, child-don't creep like a snail." Clarice stepped forward from her obscure corner, seoekly took the key and left the room. What a pretty girl that is," said Mrs. Elton, as m I- ll'.£ oye mechanically followed the graceful motion of the young creature. Her hair is the real poet's gold, im't Do you think P-,o P said Mrs. Tracy, shrugging her shoulders. For my part, I never could see any- thing to admire in those faded-looking blondes. Adeia, now, is altogether different." 4; Ah—and that reminds me," said Mrs. Elton, archly, of what Dame Rumour aays: tnac George St, Maur is losing his heart to your fair niece, Adela." Mrs, Traoy smiled, and adjusted her lace sleeves knowingly, People mil gomp, she said, It wwuid be a grand match for Aàelaj" said Mrs. Elbon. He is very handsome, aud then so vreaithy. Adela ought to marry a rich man." It was not until that instant that Mrs. Tracy saw Clarice standing just behind them, with the velvet -ve! case in her hand. She started violently. :1 My goodness, child, how pale you ato. What's the matter ?" "I am quite well, Aant Sarah," said Clarice, in a -low, stifled voice. Here is your bracelet." bhe returned te the pile of unfinished plain sewing ia i-,he window recess, while Mrs. Tracy proceeded to display her new trinket to her friend with aU the adjectives of feminine delight and admiration. Meanwhile Adela March, sweeping down through hex aunt's room with pale cheeks artificially touched with a ehadotT of roue, went to the elegant rosewood dressing bureau to sprinkle her lace handkerchief with scented waters. She started a little as she caught sight of her aunt's jewel drawer with the key still in il;, The next moment she had opened it and stood looking at the sparkling array within. 11 Oh, if all these were mine! pondered Adela, with greedy eyes and parted lips. "Fanny Lacy often pawns her diamonds to meet troublesome debta-ancii she can redeem them again within a few days. My allowance is due next week; but Madame frijeune will not wait. I don't think Aunt Sarah would ever know, if I borrowed one of these sparkling toys for aat a week." She stood hesitating, with an exquisite diamond crows in her hand, when there was a footstep in the hall. To hurriedly close the drawer and hide the cross in her bosom was the act of a second—and when Clarice came in to replace the bracelet and lock the drawer, Adela was composedly wetting her hair with eaii, de cologne. My head aches eo," she said, carelessly. II I think I ianced too much at the party last night." "Let me bathe it for you, dea.r Adeia," said Clarice, eagerly. I will be very gentle." "Don't tease me," said Adela, pettishly. "I'm going down to Aunt Sarah now." Poor lonely little Clarice! it did seem as if her clinging love was repulsed everywhere, as if her yearning heart was doomed to find roo answering thrill in any human breast. II. It was ii bleak winter twilight, with atray lakes of snow drifting about in the air, and a diamai wind moaning sadij* through the streets, as Mr. Sc. Metur raauKed opposite the Tracy mansion. "Surely I can't be mistaken," thought Gaorge St. r.Taur, straining his eyes through the uncertain dusk, '♦"it was Adela March—and she came down the steps Where can she be going at this time of night, and by li»raelf! I don't suppose it is any or my basi- n,- Ks • if she had desired an escort, it would undoubt- edly have been forthcoming.. Nevertheless I don't think it is eafe for a pretty girl to be runmBg about the fitreet alone, and I shall just taue the liberty of keeping at a little distance to see that she lea t molested." „ T i-io George Si. Maur lighted his cigar, and calmly walked down the street, a few rods behind t-16 veiled, harrying figure that flitted through the twilight like a phantom. ,T Here's a genuine adventure," pondered, est. lAaur. Where can ehe be going P I thought, of coarae, eae would stop eornewhere hereabouts, but she's going f-rthe." on. I must quicken my pace, or I ehalllose sight of Miss March. Hallo! do my eyes deceive me, or has she actually disappeared into a pawnbroker's dingy establishment P Vary well; then here I shall wait until she ccmes out again." Mr. St. Maur pulled up the collar of his coat, and leaned against a doorway, musing on the passing strange aspect of events, while the dusk grew gloomier still, and the snow began to fall in white dizzy clouds. Five minutes aitarwards Adela came out, with the veil still drawn closely over her face, and George St. Maur, waiting for her to get a few paces in advance, followed her like a dark, haunting shadow. Suddenly, as she essayed to cross the street, her foot slipped in the new enow, and she fell. George sprang forward, quite torgettlEg his incognito in the instinct of chivalrous attention, but he was not quick enough. Miss March had recovered her footing in an instant, s.nd*was speeding on once more. But, under the glare of a flickering lamp, jast where ehe had slipped, thera lay something white and indis- tinct which was not the newly falien snow. George Sr. Maur stooped and picked up a lace-bordered hand- kerchief, reeking with perfume, within whose folds lay —a dingy pawn ticket. St. Manr'a lip curved aa he stood looking at this silent witness of the young lady's errand,. "0 £ course, I shall return it to her," he thought; 41 but first I have a little curiosity to see what Miss AcLjla has pledged in return for this bit of dirty per. I have often heaxd that women are strange ruMles—r.oTr I am beginning to find it cut by experi. aacse." That eelf-same evening Mrs. Tracy's footman carried a- feaalad r.cte to Madame Trijeune, containing the full amount of her bill, and Adela's mind was relieved from the constant apprehensions that her reckless extravagance would be disclosed So her severely judg- ing HI, „ I t(TeIi me, Clarice Tracy,, what you have dona with that diamond cross. I insist upon knowing." Mrs. Tracy's cheeks were flushed, and her eyes sparkling with wrath, as she grasped the arm of her niece. Clarice was pale as ashes, and her large blue eves were dilated—no culprit Gould have I00!j i more conscience-stricken than did the innocent girl. "Indeed., indeed, Aunt Sarah, I have not touched it," ehe faltered, shrinking away from her aunt'a darning glance, while Adela March stood quietly in the window, counting the stitches in her embroidery, with a hand that never blenched or trembled. "Is there no one else who could have got to your jewel drawer, ma'am ?" questioned the policeman who had been summoned by Mrs. Tracy's orders,, "No one; no oks but Clarice knows where I keep my key-no cne but Clarice ever goes there. She must have taken it. Tell me, you base girl, you wretched thief, what you have done with it—how you dared to steal it!" Gently, ma'am, gently," interposed the policeman, shrugging his shoulders, and adding in an undertone, These ladies do run on so when once their tongues are loosed, five hundred suits for slander wouldn't stop 'em." Clarice had risen to her fsefc with eyes that were quite calm now, and a round, fiery spot on each pallid cceek,. Adela, cousia Adela!" she pleaded, with a piteous cry, have you no word to speak for me ? You don't believe me to be a thief, Adela! Miss March turned her flinty face away without a word of comfort or encouragement. Confess, girl," reiterated Mrs,. Tracy., or I shall have you sent to prison at once," "I have nothing to confess," said Clarice, wildly. "Aunt Sarah. I am utterly and entirely ignorant of the whereabouts of your diamond cross; I have never seen it you wore it "The hardened liar l" ejaculated Mrs. Tracy, hysterically. *41 Aunt Sarah., these are no words to apply to your husband's niece," said Clarice, with a certain dignity that was not unbecoming. Policeman, I give her in charge," said Mrs. Tracy, "on accusation of stealing a diamond cross worth four hundred guineas. While Clarice Tracy stood there, pale and motionless as a statue of marble, tha door opened, and the foot- man announced Mr. St. Maur! Clarice never moved: Adela held cut her hand with a syren smile, and Mrs. Tracy burst into an incoherent account of her loss, and her certainty that her youngest niece was the thief. George St. Maur looked from Clarice to Adela, who a till stood by the window. /Bo you believe that your cousin stole that cross Miss March ? he asked quietly,. Adela's Beautiful eyelashes drooped sympathetically. "What else can I believe, Air. St.. Maur?" she lisped, gracefully. "Mrs. Tracy," said George, turning to the indig- nant matron, spare your invectives. Miss Clarice is as pu-re and innocent as yonder carved alabaster lily. I know who took your diamond cross—and I know also where it is." He tamed to Adela with a face of ineffable scorn. Allow me to return the pawnbroker's ticket that you received for your aunt's diamond cross. The next time you pawn valuables, let me recommend a little more caution in preserving the ticket!" "Adela!" shrieked Mrs. Tracy, "you pawned my diamond cross There was no answer, for Adela March had fainted. And while the servants busied themselves in restoring her to animation with hartshorn, burnt feathers, and smelling salts, George Sfc, Maur dismissed the police- man, and told the whole story to Mrs. Traoy. Clarice," faltered the lady, turning to her niece, "I am very sorry I accused you falsely; you won't think anything more of it, will you ?" Aunt Sarah," said Clarice, in a low, subdued voice, "I forgive you-fully and freely; but after the terms of obloquy you have heaped upon me-after the base suspicions with which you have regarded me-I can no longer remain an inmate of your house." "Bat where will you go, Clarice? How will you live ? pleaded Mrs. Tracy. "I do not know," said the girl. "I—I am home. less row! Not homeless, Clarice," said George St. Maur, taking her cold hand tenderly. "Hereafter, dearest, my home shall be yours, if you will condescend to accept its shelter as my wife. Clarice, I have long ioved yon, but I never thought to tell my love under such circumstances as these." "But," stammered Mrs. Tracy, "I thought it was Adela you admired! "1 never cared for Adela," eaid George, con- temptuously. It was Clarice only whom I loved." Two hours subsequently, Mrs. St. Mallrwas standing within the handsome apartments of the stately old St. iDvlatir mansion, with her maid's officious hands remov- ing the simple little bonnet that Clarice Tracy had worn until it was preternaturally shabby. It seems so strange, George," she murmured, with her eyes fall of happy tears. Thia morning I was a lonely dependent in an unloved home; now I am-" "The dearest little treasure that ever blessed a husband's heart," interrupted George St. Maur, fold. ing her in his arms. Clarice was happy at last!

| EPITOME OF IEWS, —■—