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.,I .A daring gmie.i

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( \I.,) .f FiJI" j .A daring gmie. By HARRIET L&WIS. ,LvMor of ''The Secret of His History," The Old Life's Shadows," "Sundered Hearts," n Darkwocd." &c. g CITAPTER XXXV. >jf Tub inauguration op hostilities. r The Budden entrance of Neva Wynde into the 3aidat cf her exulting enemies struck them dumb. Craven Biacfc sat with bands outstretched, as they had grasped the letter Neva had snatched from thcrn, his face growing livid, and a look of coEiiei^atior glaring from his eyes. Octavia Black stood, half-leaning still over her hus- band's shoulder, as if turned to stone, the mocking K/jilc frozen on her lips, a look of terror ar;d defiance on her face. Mrs. Artress, retaining mere of self-possession than the others, itared at Neva with unmistakable hatred and lTiun; ph. Die treacherous Frenchwoman dropped her gazt, ¡.rod grew pale and awe-stricken. Neva, stiii clutching the letter to her bosom, looked st her ersmies one by one, her red-brown ayes fclazinz. It seemed to those who looked upon l:fr i».•»» red flames leaped from her eye? of gloo; i. :hey trembled before her. Her pure, ;J was deathly white, but it was *tcrri ai d ;>v. a:l !« its wondrous beauty, as she ?Mrrci) it from one to another in an expression at tr&thing contempt that stung Craven and Gcliivir. h\.i< is to the very soul. vhhoiit a but with her letter still {j¡, ¡:! :ed against her panting breast, the jonng girl swept from the room with the air, the step, and the haughty carriage of an insulted empress. The coR'Hrator* ht'srd her slowly ascend the stairs to her own room. They stared at each jther for a V •-«- -pocc in an utter and terrible t silence. f, s. (.raven -Bitick was the first to speak, and her foinpnnitms started am her voice broke the c!h». ):rJ awful husli. my word! she ejaculated, a *Ur.r. £ e, hoarse, and uneasy laugh, j.irred on the ears of her fellow-con- spirr.1. "A of tragedy muttered Mrs. rclerrii s.: to Neva's appearance and 'Jej ft: tfri.ui t ii-,ir presence. Craven Black, siched and scowled darkly. An ugly cii^iinirud his mouth. "Well, i.o'Miu:, "matters huve been brought io a crisis. I would have preferred to keep up the semblance of friendship a while longer, but the (firl has torn the masks ft\.m o .r faces, she hat- declared war, so war let it hi. In the fight before uf. the strongest niust ;tuquer! "J ccuid Hot dream she would follow me," "p;d the Frenchwoman deprecatingly. "I am 1..1 to blaice. I am sure, very sure, that she coirv: to run away. She will leave the Wilderness to-uight." The ugly smile deepened upon Craven Black's tisage. uWe will see! he said, and his voice was terrible in its significance and threatening. The Frenchwoman had read Neva a purpose wight. The young lady went up to her room and rloeed her door, and held in the flames of the bright wood fire the torn and crumpled letter she had written to her lover, and which she had rescued from the hands of Craven Black. She let the armill barning remnant of paper fall up m the blazing log, and watched the blue shrivelled ash wave to and fro in the current jf air, then whirl upward into the capacious chimney. The Î,H, r thusrlestroyed, Neva, with a white Face an i eyeaj set about her few pre- paration • fo-r departure. Her soul was in a iumufd her brain seemed on fire. She could riot tlLnK or reason yet; she only knew that dw long 3 to get away-that she must get away. She put "n her round hat above her braids, vad. was bout to throw about her a light »hatvi", when a sudden fierce rattling of the jabemeir s in the wind warned her that a night in late Sopt,ember in the Scottish Highlands was iikely t,; be cold. She opened one of her trunks and dragged out to the light a pretty sleeved jacket of the soft and delicate f:1r of the silver fox, and this she put on. She took up her auff and dressing-bag and hurried into the ante- room, porting and breathless, eager for the tuterair. The door opening from the ante-room into the hmli was closed. Neva pulled it open, and found herself face to face with Mr. and Mrs. Craven Black, Mrs. Artress and the French- woman The girl recoiled an instant before this human barricade as if she had received a blow. Then the waved her hand in a haughty, commanding gesture, and said "Let ice pass Stand aside "Not so fast, Miss Wynde," said Craven Black mockingly. "This lady, my wife, ic your personal guardian, and she has the authority to control your movements The girl's passionate eyes flashed stormily at enemies.. "Let me pass, I say! she cried, in a low, cuppre:èd voice. "Attempt to detain me here, and I will arouse the household "Do so," said Craven Black tauntingly. aThe two stolid women in the kitchen cannot hear pu; and if they could, they have been are pare,' for your outcries, and will not heed shem. The sailors are on the yacht, in the loch below. You are out of the world up in this Ingle's eyrie, and you may beat your wings against tie bars of your cage till you drop dead, ypretty bird, but no one will heed Tcur L! i-ings. Call, if you will. Try the affect r.; a shriek I He took a step nearer to Neva, who retreated before him, shrinking from his touch. He went j.5t r her into the room, his companions follow: Celeste closed the door, and placed jiers^lf against it. down, Neva," said Octavia Black, with a inucAing intonation. "Lay aside your hat and iacket. Don't abandon us upon the very avenin- of our arrival in our new residence. NevV n ade no answer, but Octavia shrank before the stern accusing of the girl s gloomy, P"i"tu7egu,rcli.n," «ua Mrs Bi«t. «- ao,erinT Iter self-poesflssion, wmch had been £ 0m"r.Lrily ,hake.T"I "> you v ere about to go when we intercepted *°"I rr.VLt refuse to answer, madam," replied Neva, biit you know as well as I do was about to start for Inverness on foot, ana that I intended to go back to Hawkhurst and to my friends. Unfortunately, Mrs. Black, you are my personal guardian but Sir John Freise and my other guardians are-desiroiis that I should choose another in your stead, and I shall now do so. Your character, madam, is at last re- vealed t,, "me in all its moral hideousness. My reor-nt vague suspicions of you have become eertaincies. Mr. Atkins was right in his dis- trust of you. But, madam, because my dead father loved and trusted you to the last hour of his life; because you have borne his honoured aame, I will spare you from blame and obloquy, and screen your ill-doings and ill-treatment of me even from my guardians. I will agree to thus screen you if you will stand aside and let me go forth now, at this moment," "Bur, Neva," said Mrs. Black, "you will ioae your-way on the mountains; you will snake a misstep over some cliff, or into some (ravine or you will die of cold and exhaustion long j,efore you can reach Inverness. It is twenty iniles as the crow flies. It is y as you would have to travel. We will act send you in the yacht. Your scheme of departure is impracticable. In fact, you cannot go." "lon mean to detain me here a prisoner ? "Call yourself by what name you will," said Craven Black "you cannot go." The young girl looked around her desperately, like a hunted deer. There Was no pity or sympathy in those hard and greedy fitces. Had «he been penniless, she would havo been as free a* tho birds of the air; but, being rich, her enemies looked upoa her as their rightful prey. "Ar3 vou a pack of outlaws?" demanded Neva, l.cr young voice ringing through the room. u How dare you thus interfere with the liberty of an Et-orlislrwaman ? s-e not aa Englishwoman. J)ut"oniy..M! • ntrlish girl," interrupicvi wctavla X5:act. iou sue a mii.or, without right to liberty or the 'p?ercit>e of your own will. You are n y ward, I'evn, and as your guardian I command your obedience. How can you reconcile it with your Bcnscience to rebel against your step-nicthrr ? "You arc not my step-motlier I cried Neva hctly. "When you ceased to be my father's widow, you ceaped to be my step-mother." I think the law takes another view of such case," said Slxs. Bluck. "But, at any rate, I au still your guardian, and as such I have a rigm to read all the letters you write or receive. I read your letter to Lord Towyn and exhibited it to my husband-" ".And to your husband's cousin and to your ma.id said Neva. "I am aware of all that. As to your right to examine my letters, I do not believe in it. Your action in opening my letter to Lord Towyn," and Neva's cheeks flamed, "and in reading its contents aloud to your familiars was an act of the grossest indelicacy, and want of honour and moral principle. Any person with a gr*in of decencj in his composition will affirm what I say." Mrs. Craven Black was stung to fury" by this outspoken declaration, its truthfulness giving it keener effect. She compressed her lip«, being unable to speak, and hurried to and fro with uneven tread like a caged tigress. "We will not discuss the right or wrong of Mrs. Black's very natural and proper act," said Craven Black. She had the right to read your letter, and therefore did read it. I think you have no further fault to find with us than this ? "ASuch an indelicate letter for a young lady to write! murmured Mrs. Artress, turning her eyes upward. My own dear Arthur. I never was so shocked Neva turned her back upon the woman with- out a word, and replied to Craven Black as if she had not heard bis cousin speak. "I have other fault to find with you, Mr. Black," the young girl said haughtily. '"You and your wife have been false and treacherous to me from the beginning. You planned to come to this place before you left Hawkhurst, and you sent Mrs. Artress on in advance to prepare this house for your reception. Yet you pretended to me that we were to go by rail into Yorkshire. You allowed me to convey that impression to my friends, while you intended the impression to be a false one. The manner in which you proceeded from the railway station to Gravesend, and in which you have come to this place, has been secret and furtive, as if you meant to throw off pursuit. You have shame- fully deceived me, and I regard your conduot and that of your wife, now that my eyes have been opened, as base, mean, and treacherous. Begard it as you like," said Craven Blact airily, although his face flushed. "My dear child, you are beating against your bars like the bird m the cage to which I likened you. Don t waste your strength in this manner. Be reasonable, and submit to the power of those who have right and strength upon their side." Mrs. Black paused in her walk before Neva, and said vindictively, and even fiercely "That is what you will have to do Neva- submit We are stronger than you. I should think your conscience would reproach you for rebelling against me in this manner. Did not your father a score of times enjoin you in his letters to love and obey me ? Did he not in his will enjoin you to cling to me, and be gentle and loving and obedient to my wishes ? Is it thus you respect his wishes and memory-" "Stop I" cried Neva imperiously. "How dare you urge my father's wishes upon me ? How dare you speak of respect to his memory, which you outraged at the time of your recent and third marriage, when you summoned my father's tenantry to a ball, and made merry in my father's house, thus virtually rejoicing in his death ? I cannot hear my father's name from your lips, madam." On, you can' t! sneered Octavia Black. "You will have to hear whatever I may choose to say of him; let me tell you that, Miss Neva. You may fling off my authority and your late father's together, if you choose, but h:s last letter to you should be held sacred by you, and its injunctions fulfilled to the letter, 18 sacred commands from the dead to the living." That last letter! said Neva. The letter written by Craven Black, with your assistance and connivance Ah you start. You see that I comprehend you at last-that I have fathomed vour wickedness! That letter, now in the hands of Lord Towyn, or Mr. Atkins, or Sir John Freise, emanated from Craven Black's brain and hand. It was a clever forgery, but, thank God, I know it to be a forgery t My father could never have so coolly and easily iisposed of his daughter's future. He never wrote that letter The girl spoke in a tone of such .firm convic- tion, as if she knew whereof she affirmed, that the discomfited plotters made no attempt to deny her assertion. The Blacks looked at each other darkly, and read in each other's eyes incitement to continue in their wickedness with unabated courage. Mrs. Artress looked on, evilly exultant. She had never liked the heiress of Hawkhurst, with her dainty beauty, her piquant witchery of face and manner, and with all the wealth that seemed so boundless. Mrs. Artrea. was jealous, envious, and full of hatred of ber, and her greed of money had been enlisted aoiinst the young girl. There A 2Ls a. briaf pause, during which Neva lat down, laying aside her muff and dressing- bae. Presently she said: 1 understand yen now, as you know. 1 crust that you understand me. I will not trouble you to deal more in subterfuges and deceptions. I comprehend that I have been decoyed here for a purpose, and that I am now your prisoner. What is your purpose against me ? w "We have no purpose against you, Neva, said Octavia Black, quite calmly, and even pleasantly. "You deceive yourself. We saw you anxious to plunge into marriage with Lord Towyn, but, disapproving the match, I have brought you here. I stand in the relation of a parent to you, and use a parent's authority, as I have a right. I h.ive other designs for you. A worthy and accomplished young man, the son of my present husband, has solicited your hand in marriage, and I am anxious that you should enter the same family with myself. We will not coerre you but I am sure, after a residence more or less prolonged at this Wilder- ness, you will be g!ad to marry Rufus Black and go back into society. You shall have sufficient time for consideration. I am readv to sacrilice myself and remain here all winter, if necessary, to bring you to the desired view of the subject." "One thing we may as well make plain," said Craven Llltwk deliberately. "Whon you leave this house, Miss Wynde, ^it will be as the promised bride of my son. Neva's eves flashed mutiny. "Is Rufus Black a party to this scheme? she demanded. (((T t,inw. "No, "said Mr. Black promptly. He I £ °ws nothing of my designs. I have to d hi™ to hope that you will relent, and he thinks that his step-mother has unbounded »n:f you, which she will use in his behalf. 'is a poor, weak young fellow, with a desirable qualities, -and he would sooner CJt his throat than force you into a marriage witn him. No; Rufus is at Hawkhurst, where i have ordered him to remain until our return, or until ho ^ears from me. He supposes us to be in Yorkshire. We are ready to start for your home with you any day, when you shall have criren us your oath that this visit to the HI6 lands shall be kept secret by you, and that you will marrr Rufus on your return to Hawkhurst. These are our tern:.j. "I have said upon what terni3 I am willing to keep your Villainy secret," said Neva haughtily. "My condition i" that I am imme- diately allowed to go free. I pliall not repeat that offer after to-uight. I will never agree to your terms. I will never niarrv Rnfus Black. I am betrothed to a nllhl. honourable gentle- man, and I regard my promise to hit,, as sacred as any oath. In shrift, Mr. and Mrs. Craven Slack, I will stay here until I die before I will yield to your dominion, or perjure myself by a cowardly oath." Very well," said Ulack. "It only remains to see which will hold out the longest, besieger* or besieged. Octavia, let us go. A night of reflection may bring our yonng lady to terms." 1 nave a wura to tu lauiieG rirviv rising, her young face full of bitter anil Cionate rebellion against h«r enemies. "Yoi » not fairly counted the cost of your presrn' undertaking, Mr. and Mrs. Black. The heirrs; of Hawkhurst, the only child of the late So Harold Wynde, the betrothed wife of one ol the wealthiest, young noblemen in Great Britain, cannot disappear in a wnnner so mysteriout without excitinc attention. I shall be sought after far and widf. My three guardians 11 iI, set the officer* of the law upon my track. Eve; now it is quite possible my friends may be or their way to this place. I shall be rescued from your hands, and you will be rewarded with the punishment and the ignominy YOl. deserve." "You believe all this? cried Craven Black. "You think I am clumsy enonrli to permit myself to ba tracked? i!v little you knew me! I defy all tho ,Ie-, in the world tt traoe me. I did not buy the yacht, A frienc bought it in his own name and provisioned it. The three sailors on board the yacht will never see a newspaper, will not stir out of the loch, and will see no ono. I havo attached them to me by a free use of money, and I have a hold upon them in knowing their past. If the omcera of the law were to trace you to the loch below us, the men would not dare to reveal vour whereabouts, for fear of being held as oon- spiratora against your libortv. The two women servants in this house never-stir off the plateau. The cabman I hired to convev us from the London railway station to Gravesend r dis- covered, in my conversation with him, was employed for that day alono, to take the place of the cabman who was ill. The fellow told me he was a navvy, bound for a voyage the next day, and he wished he could sail in our yacht instead of going out to Australia in a steamer. You see how my traco4 are covered ? Your help must come from yourself, not from Lord Towyn. I have no more to say at present. If you choose to come to terms, you can soiul Celeste to my wife at any moment. Permit me to wish vou good-night." He approached her, as if to shake hands, n'a gathered up her effects and retraated into her room. The next instant a kov was inserted in the lock, and the bolt wfis shot home. Neva was in truth a priso!-ier' "Celeste, you will occupy this room," said Airs. Black to her maid, "and you must sleep with one eye open. Miss Wynde is desperate, and may attempt to pick the lock, or to escape by one of her windows." "I am not afraid of pursuit," said Mr. Black meditatively, "but I should like to throw the pursuers upon a wrong scent. I wish I could get Lord Towyn over upon the Continent, with that sharp-ayed Atkins. How can we con- trive to give them the impression that we are gone upon a Continental tour ? They pondered the question for many minutes. "I have it!" said Celeste at last. "I have a sister who lives in Brussels, and who works in a milliner's shop in the Rue Montagne de la Cour. You shall write a letter for Mademoiselle, Mr. Black, in her very handwriting, and date the letter Brus- sels, and I will send it under cover to my sister, to be posted at Brussels. Yes, my faith, we have it! One of the sailors shall post my letter, with its enclosure, from Inverness. It is well, is it not ?" The plan mited Mr. tin4 Mrs. Black, who resolved to act upon it. The whole party adjourned to the drawing-room. Mrs. Craven Black brought forth several letters she had formerly received from Neva while at the Paris school, and which she had preserved for pos- sible use. Mr. Black still retained the envelope to the letter Nova had addressed to her lover, and which he had intercepted. With these materials, and his skill at counterfeiting, Craven Black set to work to write a letter in Neva's name, and dated at Brussels. While he was thus engaged, Mrs. Black supplying him with suitable paper and ink, the French maid wrote to her sister at Brussels, requesting her to stamp and forward the enclosed missive. Octavia Black gave her attendant a Bank of England note to enclose in payment of the service. The double letter was finished and sealed that night, and Craven Black went to Inverness the next day in the yacht and posted it. This, then, was the letter which had been brought up to London to Lord Towyn by his steward, and which the young Earl, having read, had so instantly and vehemently pro- nounced a forgery. But though it failed oi its object, and did not deceive the keen-witted young lover as to its origin, it did not enlighten him as to Neva's whereabouts. He continued his search for her, calling in the aid of professional detectives, Mr. Atkins devoting his ikne also to the search, but they failed to ficd a clue to the missing young girl. And she-, hidden in the far-off Scottish wilds, among mountain peaks and in a secluded rocky wilderness, looked in vain for her lover's coming. Her enemies were indeed more cunning thaiv she had dreamt, and it seemed indeed as if the words of Craven Black would prove true, and the matter between the besiegers and the besieged would become a question of resistance. Which would be the first to yield to the loneliness and gloom of the Wilderness, and to the rigours of the swiftly approaching Highland winter f CHAPTER XXXVL MM. BLIGHT BNTERS UPON HEIt MOIrRNrXlg. The sudden death of Mrs. Wroat proved a severe shock to poor Lally Bird, who had grown to love the eccentric but kind-hearted old lady with a daughter's affection. She hurriedly dressed herself, and came down to Mrs. Wroat's chamber, pale and awe-struck, with a horrible sense of desolation and misery. It seemed as if a fatality attended her—thatr those whom she loved were in some way doomed. Her parents were dead, her young husband had been taken from her, and now her great-aunt had died, and she was again alone. She was not selfish in her grief, but she could not help thinking of her own bitter loneliness as she bent over the still figure, and softly and reverently touched the straying locks of grey hair, and pressed her lips to the shrivelled mouth from which the angel smile seemed slowly fading. Peters had by this time regained her self- command. There was much to do, and it devolved upon her to do it. Her tears must wait for a more convenient season. She was anxious that "all things should be done decently and in order," and that due respect should be given the dead mistress she had so loved. Her first act, then, after arousing Lally and the servants, was to despatch the footman to the family physician, and to Mr. Harris, Mrs. Wroat's lawyer. The physician came first. He shewed no surprise at the summons, and acknowledged to. Peters that he bad expected it before. He could only confirm the discovery of Peters that the old lady was dead. The lawyer arrived while the doctor was in the house. M Wroat had requested that Mr. Harris should assume control of her affoirs after her death, and he proceeded to seal her desk and to take charge of her private papers, while he gave directions for the management of the household while the dead should remain in the house. An undertaker was sent for, and all the grim preparations for the sepulchre, so terrible to surviving friends, were entered upon. I The next morning's papers contained the obituary notice of Mrs. Maria Wroat, relict of the late John Wroat, banker, with a statement of her age and of the time appointed for the funeral. The next afternoon brought to the door of the mansion in Mount Street a cab, from which alighted Mr. and Mrs. Blight, of Sandy Lands. They sounded the knocker pompously, ringing the bell at the same moment. The footman hastened to give them admittance. I see by the morning's papers that my dear aunt is dead, Toppen," said the Canterbury lawyer, who was known and detested by- Mrs. Wroat's servants. "Why was I not informed of her dangerous illness ? "Mrs. Wroat died sudden, sir, answered the man respectfully. 3. "Why was I not telegraphed to immediately upon her death ? "I don't know, air. Mr. Harris, he manages

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.,I .A daring gmie.i