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FLORABEL'S LOVER; 1 OR, RIVAL BELLES. A NOVEL. By LAURA JEAN LIBBEY, Author of "A Mad Betrothal," "lone," "Parted by Fate," We Parted at the Altar," etc. etc. CHAPTER XVI. I TOOK A FAXCY TO YOU AT FIRST SIGHT." IT was quite two weeks before Florabel dis- covered the fru; state of affairs, and how ahort, her spendthrift brother was for funds. It came about in this way: Aa she was leaving her room one morning she met their irate landlady in the hall. "Good morning, Miss," she said stiffly. "I was just coming up to see you, and about a very important matter, too." Florabel opened her beautiful haz 1 eyes in wander. Just step inside the parlour, Misa," she said, throwing °p,n the door. Florabel followed her. "Now, then, Mi-a," she exclaimed, ooolly, turn. iag and facing the girl, her fall face growing dark with anger, I'll ask the same queatiuaof you I aaked of your brother—when am I to get the money for your board? and his, too, as for that matter, which has been due a fortnight?" Florabel turned first white, then red. "I—I—do not comprehend," she gasped, in diaaaay. I think I spoke in tolerably good Eagliah," retorted Mrs. Dickson, grimly. "I said your brother owed me a big board bill, promising to pay every week and it's not paid yet. Then he bringa pott on, and I say that a a little too much. I want my money to day, or I want my rooms-and by rtcoe, too. You can comprehend that muoh, I prosume." And with a toes of her head she flounoed out of c.a room, leaving Florabel standing there pale as (lsalb. She turned to the bell-rope to call for her brother, bat as she stretched out her hand Arthur appeared in the doorway. "I have heard all,Florabel," he said, nervously, "ad I regret to tell you what she says is quite Ime. I have been in a little hard luck lately, and have run behind. I have been trying hard to get a position in some mercantile house, but fate seems against me, for I can give them no referenoe; tait is where the trouble lies." tait is where the trouble lies." "Ot, Arthur!" she sobbed; "if I could only g-.t something to do. It never ooourred to me In fore that I woald be a burden to you if I came to you." I "honld not mind if I had plenty of money," ha retorted but, as I said before, being out of a position, it makes it a little hard for me now." ,nh,- jook off her two pretty diamond rings and laid them in his hand. T&kw these and sell them, Arthur," she said. iuey are presents from Max, and very costly. I-I-would rather part from everything I have K. ihe world than owe a dollar." He refused at first to take them, but she iv»r*«ed, and at last he yielded to her wishes. I will return within an hour," he aaid, as he turned away. The hoafra rolled slowly by, but brought with them no Arthur. •fact as the clock from an adjacent, beifrey tolled t he hour of noon a messenger came with a fitter for her. With trembling Sagera she broke bsie seai. Why had Arthur written to her ?' she wondered ""5uely. aa she opened the letter. thsre were but a few lines, and read as follows DKAK LITTLE FLOBABEL: When you read what I have written here, do not And is m your hiart to quite curse me for yielding to sin and temptation, as I herein conieas I have done. I avow myself the most miserable fellow that olTer lived. I will not keep you in suspense as to my sia, I raised, quite a sum of money on thq diamonds, Florabel A mad temptation came upon me to double the e m, if I could. I struggled hard against 4b; but t;.6 old habit eonquered my will to do. right. And, on I bitter is my repentance. I have lost every dollar. I cannot face you so I am going away. Farewell, dear. You shall never 40o&upon the face again of hiafwho is all unworthy to w called /• YOPS BSSEROKR." The letter fell from Fiorabel's hando. She started to, her feet with a cry. Her heart almost stopped beating. < "Oa Heaven she sobbed, wildly, "it every o;i3 false in this world, and no one true? Oh! »• £ shall I do ? What sban I do 1" At that moment Mrs. Dickson's knock was 1 hoard on her door; Florabel answered the summons with head thrown proudly erect. She remembered when she had bought her ticket she had thrust two bills Max had given her a few days previous, into tne hraast pocket of her travelling cloak. She had q iite forgotten them until now. They should pay, tha landlady as fsr as they "wents She wouid- g; va her her pretty little jewelted watch for the T U.mcder, even thoagh it broke her heart to part fr >na it, for that was Max's first present to her. "Well," said Mrs. Dickson, brusquely, U I sup- pose you know what brings me here, Miss." Florabel looked at her with calm despair. "1 am here for the amcunt of my bill—forly-five dollars. Have you got ft ? Fiorab«! stepped over to the wardrobe, to where h»i t'oak hmig. Hearing a slight noise behind h;u j!-io utrned hastily around. Mrs. Diokson was c i- iUilly examining the contents of her opea sit; hoi, which lay oq the centre table. ilt -f. D ckson cried the girl, aghast, what I ar« j on Going f The womin's face turned a dull rnd. "I'm locking to see what you've got that's worth selling to pay my bill," she answered, bold!? at,d defiantly, "and all that I can fiod is a cuff button—a man's cuff batten at that." "You must not touch that!" cried Florabal, .«pru.j:ng forward. "It is" all bwlonged to one dearer than life-itself- to n e. Quia could not buy it from me, I priz- it, so." A harsh laugh answered her as the woman alinped tha edT Sutton into the dtp'i, of her j.o k.«: "Gruld will buy it from me," she retorted,- gntuLy. Beggars cannot be you know," sha wciii on, hard-heartedly. You are lucky to he allowed to keep on the lane clothes voQ're wsaring, I can tell you." Fiora-bel turned away with tear-drowaed eyes, sii«!y taking Lhe money from her travelling c' a; pocket. What was it that caused her to SLlf oack with an exuiamttioH of deep surprise At the first glance, as ehe unrolled rhe twob'I' r she saw that they were each of fiity dollars denomi- nation. She had not noticed what they were when Mas had handed them to her, but had thrust them • carelessly into her pocke;. What an unexpected blasting they were to her now T.<. cabling with excitement, she sprang across tha room. "Here is your money, madam!" bbe cried, tremulously and now I wish that cuff button returned, please." Tha landlady looked arc her aghas;, her hand closing greedily over the money. "So you had the amount all along, you naughty gid she gasped, confusedly. Laws now, what. a neat triok to play on me but I was up to it. L knuD right vrsli you had it. And likewise, of course, dearie, I kept up the little juke. I intended to return the cutf button to you an the time," declared Mrs. Dickson, flushing guiltily. "A keepsake's a keepsake, and I know what store poople do set by 'em. I'd like right well to have yuu stay and keep this room," aha went on, in that cajoling tone of flattery which is so offensive, for, if I do say it to your face, I never had a lodger that I took such a fancy to as I have to you." I may stay for the present," said Florabel, drsarily. Mrs. Dickson's face was beaming with smiles. "It'll be like home to you, dearie," she declared. By the way, I guess I'll get you up a good warm dinner. It's long past the hour, but you didn't corne down, and you look kind of faint." "[shall be glad if you would do so," replied Fiorabel. "I will pay you what you think is right for it." Pay me! JJ reiterated Mrs. Dickson, in a high | key. "Do you think I'd accept money for doing you tinning favour like that? No, indeed. I'll be I Klf loo glad to serve yon. If you want anything that I ean get for yon, dearie, don't ba afraid to call for it." And she bustled out of Florabel's room, her broad, florid face wreathed in smiles. S!}e was mentally calculating how long the ramaitjing fifty-dollar bill would last, which she saw in her hand, and how long it would be pra lent to be pleasant with her. That'.Was the first real glimpse poor Florabel had of the Jiower of gold. LdL to herself, Fiorabel's emotion was so great after the lull in the excitement that she almost fainted. What she had gone through brought on a violent headache. I will g.) out in the air—to the park-to dispel it," she told herself; "and there I can think what had best be done." To think ah, the very effort of thinking had b :c >ine5 a torture to her. •Si-se quietly donned her hat and cloak, tying a h ok veil over her face. and quietly left the house, a !y intending to be back for lunoheon, for she qui e hungry as well as being faint. ,1 D jsson met her in the hall. s You're not going out, are you?" she called, "I am getting you up a fine dinner, ■ <{.»OW." Y I know," said Florabel. I am only g ¡: little way. I will soon be back." A- Mrs, Dickson saw that beautiful face then ah" never saw it again. It was many a long year et tiM wis dtwtmed to meet poor Florabel again ,d then under strange circumstances; and she tit: re:ae:nbired that she watched the girl out of CHAPTER XVII. A MIDNIGHT WARNING. Taic coo: winds of the park soothed the pain in Ftoiabel's head a little; and, sitting by the foun- tain, looking out over the roses, she reviewed her turbulent past, and tried to look calmly at the future. There was no returning over the path which she had come the doors of the past were all closed against her Max had severed his life completely ttomhers. She had wept until the fount of tears was dry had cried out to Heaven to send her dsath but, after all that, the burden of life had to be taken up again. She had sacrificed a life's happiness for her brother, and this was her reward. Had he been worth the terrible sacrifice? How pleased Mu's mother and Misa Olavering must have been at the situation of affairs. Max had declared stormily, that night, if there was a law which could tear their marriage bond asunder, he would avail himself of it. How well Fiorabel remembered those bitter words. It will end by his marrying Miss Olavering," she told herself, and the words brought with it all the old pain. What shall I do with my future?" she asked herself, vaguely. This fifty dollars will not last forever. Then what shall I do Y" But the great problem of life was not so eaei!y solved. >. "I must make it last as long as I can," she sighed, reaching into her cloak pocket for the bill I' to put? it away more safely. A cry 6f terror fell from her lips. The bill teas gone She made a hurried ana thorough search. It was certainly gone; yet she remembered distinctly that it h'ni been in her pocket just as she passed through the crowd of loiterers about the park gate. The money has been stolen," ehemarmmei, with a- sob." HdaveO help Me f What am I to do?" There was little use of returning to Mrs. D ek- son's now. Like ode dazed, with trouble falling so thickly and so fast upoa her, Florabel passed out of the park. At the first corner she observed quite a commotion. A pair of bays attaohed to ablUket phaeton were tearing like lightning down the boulevard, and the occupant of the phaeton, a delicate, fair-haired lady, "wasolinglng to the dash-board, soreaming frantically. Florabel was brave and daring by nature, an in an instant, AI she beheld the frightfllt scene, a brave thought suggested itself to her. I,, jump pLehe cried out, springing to the edge of the pavement;" jwap J and I wSteatch you i 11 And to the wonder of the breathless* paralysed bystanders, the occupant of the phaeton heard, undsrstood, and- obeyed, ba^ tiot aa instant too soon, for the next moment the phaabon lay, dashed to pieoea, agstacfe an adjacent lamp-post; and the lady, through sheer terror, lay in a deep swoon in arms. While they were in search of medical assistance the lady opened her eyes, and struggled out of Fiorabel's arms to her feet with a cry of pain. My ankle is sprained, I fear," she ct-kd Fiorabel's arms to her feet with a cry of pain. My ankia is aprajaed, I fear," she Cind faintly. I oaaoot. walk. Won't you call a eab, please, and accompany me as far as my bonis?'' she asked, plaintively, looking up into Fiorabel's face. "I am afraid to be left alone. I should be sura to faint again with the pain. Oh, do come!" Florabel could not refuse her. You have saved my life," she said, gratefully to Fiorabel. "I should like to show my appre- cistion in some Waiting way. I see traces of tea.r", on your face Why should one so young and buaulitul asyoucaeit ever weep?" Because I am very unhappy," faltered Florabel. No young girl in this world ever mss with a fate as cruel as mine. My whole life has been uahappy since my childhood." "Are you alone in the world?" asked the lady, quiol|ly. roll," said Florabel, choking back a hard aob. If there is nothing to prevent, how would you like coming to live with me I, too, have rather an life of it, for I am something of an invalid. I have a beautiful home and all that wealth can buy-everything, save health. But I would give every dollar of my fortune," sighed the heiress, "-To be young and strong—and—and beautiful like yon," she added. "IwH only be too glad to eome," returned Fiorabel, Ntmpty, "bdb I oan tell yoa ootSiug oi my ptst lite, Cötdd, fOil trust me, when I toil you that, and not loire faith in nte ? "I will not seek to pry into your past, my dear," istarned the lady. 111 can judge your ehvajtsr from your face, and I am saro it must be good. You must tell me, of course, your name, my dear. I am Isabel Carlisle, of No. — Lexington Avenue." "And I," answered Florabel, "am Florabel Dean." Vane exclaimed the lady—" Florabai V",De Waat a poetical name, and it jmt suits you. I sbU like you all the better beoauaa your name i3 Vane—that was the name of a dear friend long since dead." Florabel was just about to correct this wrong impression, but an unaccountable impulse seized her to let matters stand as they were. It this lauy liked the-name of Vine so much better, what h:1":n to call her by that ? It. cou'd not matter much. And that one ineidect was the turning point of a strange fate. An hoar later they were both seated in tha heiress's boudoir. Tilt) sprained ankle was nioeiy bandaged, and Miss Cvisits lay back among the cushions of the divan, Out little the worse for so thrilling an accident. "I should like my ankle to be well before a fortnight elapses, she said, thoughtfully, "for on that dci.y my lover comas luck from abroad." She looked keenly and breathlessly into Flot ^bei's fate to see how she received this intelligence. But Fiorabel's face did not betray her thoughts. Are you surprised thai I should have a lover, Are you surprised thai I should have a lover, Miss Vane ?" abt) aeked, sharply. D.) you tilln Ie 1 look too old and plain for a young and handsome mm to admire and wish to marry ine ? No, no, dear lady," replied Florabel, much pained. Why should I think that ? I am sure any one who knows you must learn to love you," she added, earnestly. The great bone of contention between my relatives and myself is about this lover," she said, piaintively, and for that reason I have cut loose from them. 1-1 tell you this because I yearn to have a confidante, Miss Vane. I feet the need of having some one by my aide to tell my thoughts to. I have had many companions, but I sent them away one by one there was no bond of sympathy between uo. You are my trusted friend, who has saved my life. Your sad smile touched my heart at once." I am so glad," returned Florabel, earnestly. "lisach me that clasped velvet case on the mantel, and I will show you my lover's portrait; then you will not wonder that I am willing to eacrifico the whole world for his sake. My relatives can find but one fault with him, and that is that he is poor. But what of that ? I have quite enough foe both. They oall him a fortune-hunter," she added, her eyes blazing but I will not believe it. I could not. He loves me for myself. Ah is he not handsome, Miss Vane?" she exclaimed, opening the case and handing it to Fiorabei. It ws-, indeed, a gloriously handsome face on which Fiorabel gazed. How little she dreamed how strangely this yonng and handsome man's path was to cross her own. "la it not a grand faoe?" murmured Miss Carlisle, proudly. Would it not be easy for any woman to love such a man— king among men ? Florabel murmured an inaudible reply. Fascinating the pictured face certainly was, but it, was not a face to trust. Greed and cunning lurked in the bold, sparkling black eyes. Bjs mouth alone would have betrayed him, had it not been concealed by the dark, curling moustache. "Ho is coming in two week more to set the wedding day," continued Miss Carlisle,softly. It was easy to see how the heiress loved him. But from his portrait, Florabel judged that he was a man who loved himself better than he could ever love any woman. 'I, That eight, when Florabel had retired to her room, there was a light, oautious rap on the door. She opened it, and Anice, Miss Carlisle's maid, entered. "Oh, Miss Vane," she exclaimed, nervously, 1108 you are to be in this house, let there be full confidence between us. I have been Miss Carlisle's maid for long years, and, despite her crossness at times, I love my poor lady. She is about to take a fatal step in wedding a man who does not love her, who would be glad if she died the next day after she married him, for;then he would come into possession of her property. He is marrying her for gold, not for love. Oh, Miss Vane, let me plead with you to use your influence to break this marriage up. Heaven would surely bless you for such an act. And I warn you, too, Miss Vane, to keep out of Gerald Thorndyke's way. He cannot withstand making love to a pretty girl. Remember, I wafn you." (To be continued.)





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