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Don't cross, but rather yield to, and even humor her. I shall for a little while keep close quarters, having part writing on hand. Let me have my meals alone."

I promised to attend to his instructions. It was Tuesday morning, I believe, when they were received. The evening of the following day was dull, and a low sluggish wind moaned in the garden-trees and crevices of the house, as if distressed by the remembrance of injuries inflicted in its wild, boistering, rollicking moods.

A little after nine, while a strong twilight reigned around, Bella came bouncing unceremoniously into my room, her garrulous humor in intense force.

"Oh, Bertha, Bertha! See! See ! There you have her sweet, mild face. friend again!"

Yonder's the moon. My old friend, my old

She had almost dragged me to the window. Her "lunar companion" had just cleared a ridge-like mass of cloud, that seemed to have made a fruitless dash at obscuring her glory, and was displaying her soft full-orbed beauty in a broad acre of her nightly circuit, which the thickening shadows of the east were fast deepening to a rich blue.

"Oh, wouldn't you like to fly to the moon? And then to Canaan? And then-I would." She pressed her brow, and paused suddenly. Then she resumed, "The skin on my head is so tight to-night, Bertha. Is it swollen ?" She indicated that the allusion was to her forehead. "How full it feels! I'm. dizzy. There, I shall be all right soon."

I had drawn her down into a chair beside me. How wild her eye! How restless her manner! But what beauty! Strangely veiled, it was true. But how finely lined! How soft its bloom! How airy its grace! I pressed that aching brow to my own, and loved her with a sister's love.

"Be still, my dear, and rest."

"Oh, I can't, I can't!" she replied, disengaging herself. "I must move-rove-run. Come to the chamber, Bertha. She'll be there. Do come."

"Wait a little, dear." I hoped to divert her thoughts and entice her to bed. But no. At ten, half-past, eleven, she repeated, with growing urgency, her request. Go I must, if I

would not cross her.

It was a strangely lonely, neglected room. It contained a bed, chairs, dressing-table and glass. She would close the door. Then she constrained me to sit down. What an oppressive hush!

"There! See, see!" she whispered, with a hiss that struck my courage with palsy. I looked around. On the floor was the pale moonlight, in which the quivering leaves and fluttering branches of some tall trees were freckling with shadows, that seemed to dance and gambol in a sort of weird merriment. I perceived nothing else calculated to suggest strange fancies. Ah," she observed, in a tone of disappointment and despair, "she won't come.'

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"No, dear. So let us descend, and go to bed."

"To bed?" she repeated thoughtfully. She had risen, and halted with one foot on the margin of moonlight that seemed to me just then not unlike a golden deep, in which the oddest forms of life were disporting. "Go to bed? yes, you go, Bertha. Now do. Leave me here. All alone. Leave me now. Have you a light? Tinder? Oh, I've got one down here. Away to bed."

We came to my room. She thrust me in, and sped away, as I supposed, for a light. I was intensely uncomfortable, excited, anxious, suspicious.

"What can she mean? Fire? She's capable of it." Instantly there flamed up before my mind the whole house in one mighty blaze. "I'll slip back to the room we've left, and watch her."

My blood well nigh curdled as I crept in and secreted myself behind the bed. There was such an air of solitariness in the place; it might have been a sepulchre, I wondered if Mrs. Brown really did come again. If she would come that night. Come to me. I gasped. The room began to move; my hair to creep. A thrill of horror shot along each nerve; a clammy sweat boiled out of each pore. A white figure appeared on the ceiling. Then it leaped to the wall. Then to the floor.

"It's the form of a female," whispered fancy. "Mrs. Brown." I might have screamed had I been able. But I could

not. A nightmare was on every power. Its movements were quick as lightning. Yet I could hear it step-breathe-sigh. Now it was directly above me. It spoke. It said faintly, "Canaan," and then-Bella appeared with a light.

In the door was a chink. Through this chink a ray from the candle had streamed. This was the apparition that had so terrified me. Poor Miss Brown did the breathing and sighing and whispered the word Canaan.

Seeing all this with the readiness of instinct, I was so far able to control myself as to watch her movements.

"Can it be? Surely I'm mistaken. It's an illusion. It must be." I rubbed my eyes. "Horrible? what can she mean? I will-I must-call Mr. Brown.”

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"Stay," put in an inner voice. May be, you have before you the clue to a mystery-the bloody key to a dark secret." She was standing opposite the glass, fastening her bonnet, the beauty of her fair face terribly marred by excitement. On the table were a glittering knife and pistol of modern manufacture. Her own hands had placed them there. The work for which they were designed, the end or ends meant to be accomplished by them; here was the source of my painful speculations and perplexity. Her bonnet all right, she took up the pistol, examined the flint and then replaced it. That done, a heavy sigh was heaved. The knife was next examined. It seemed sharp as a razor, and had a strong horn haft. This weapon she fastened in a belt worn around the waist. I could see its terrible sheen distinctly in the glass, as she stood cortemplating her figure.

Suddenly she was roused. The pistol was snatched up, she turned quickly round and pointed it at the bed. In a twinkling I cowered, "You're seen or heard, or both," I said to myself. I expected each instant to have every sense confused by the flash and smoke and rolling thunder of a discharge; but there was no discharge. Instead, there was a minute's profound silence, after which the light was extinguished, and she walked cautiously out of the room.

I followed, attempting, of course, to tread lightly as a mouse. Heavens! she stole straight to my room. The door was cautiously thrust open and she entered. It happening to communicate with the children's room, I slided into their dormitory. The inner door was ajar. I peered in. She was groping about the bed. Twice, thrice, she passed her right hand over the pillow, feeling, I supposed, for an indentation. She then sighed out "No." That negative had then a strange horror for my ears. Then she stood still, as if meditating. What did she mean? Was it my life she sought? Foiled in her aim, whither would she next bend her stealthy steps? I resolved to watch her.

There was a deep silence of three or four minutes' duration, I'm sure. Not a sign of life was audible, excepting the calm breathing of the children, which was measured as the slow strokes of some wide-sweeping pendulum. It was broken by those ominous words :


Well, I'll away into the moonlight, for there I can see to work." The room was quitted, the door closed. I hastily groped out some things and followed.

She tried the front, but by some consideration was led to turn to the kitchen. Old Sarah hadn't gone to bed. Some words passed between them and she then went out. Sarah was astonished when I appeared. She hadn't noticed aught unusual in Miss Brown. At times she was very strange; but they were used to it. Though odd, she was harmless, and they had always received her all right from her wanderings. She would wait up until we returned.

It was a beautiful night, for the clouds had dispersed. A light was in Mr. Brown's library. Although Bella exercised, apparently, a little caution, she yet moved on at a quick pace. By means of friendly angles and the opportune shadows of walls and trees and cottages, I was enabled, however, to keep within a short distance without attracting her attention.

She came to the old church. There was a halt. How still, how solitary, how hoary, in the white moonlight! But that wasn't her destination. With hurried step she resumed what I hoped was nothing more than a purposeless ramble. A few hundred yards beyond the church there was a large, handsome house. It fronted the road and received just then the full benefit of the moon's light. Opposite this house she stood still and

gazed, as I thought, up at its windows. I crept into the shadow of the wall and continued slowly to near her. I had approached within twenty yards, when I caught sound of the click of a horse's shoe. The rider was coming in our direction at a smart trot. As he passed the church, Bella turned round. I trembled, for the knife and pistol were fresh in my recollection. When within a few yards of her he drew up and lowered his head to catch sight of her face. He stopped, observing probably that she wished to speak.

"What is it?" he said.

"Does Ross live in that house, sir ?"

"I don't know."

"Tell me, because I'm here to shoot him. Are you Ross?'' I saw that he wasn't Ross. He didn't own that face. But he probably feared that the fate meditated for Ross might befall him if he lingered, for without another syllable he put spurs to his horse and with lightning speed shot away in the direction of the lonely moor. For a minute she seemed bewildered, then suddenly pointing the pistol in the direction of the flying horseman, she fired. Of course it was a perfectly harmless discharge, that woke terrible echoes in the wood below us. I saw my opportunity had come; so, without a moment's delay, I rushed upon her, demanded to know the meaning of such strange conduct, and insisted on the surrender of her dangerous weapons.

She offered not the least resistance, expressed delighted surprise at seeing me, and then began to weep bitterly. I hurried her towards home, and remonstrated with her on the subject of her wickedness. She had not meant me any harm. She had merely wished to assure herself that I was in bed before sallying forth on her dark errand.

"And why seek to shoot Mr. Ross? What an awful thing!" "Because he is Satan, Bertha. And because he torments my father. And because he would take me from you all into a strange land that isn't Canaan. Oh Bertha! I wish I were with my mother! I wish I were!"

"And so do I, dear.

and go to bed."

"Then why don't you say it shan't be, and deliver your daughter and yourself from this state of misery." "Because I daren't. I fear Ross. Isn't that explicit enough?" I felt my next question would be an impertinent one, but I determined to persevere. So looking fixedly and intently at him, I said—

"And why fear him?"

"Why fear him? If you lived on a magazine of gunpowder and a train ran directly to the lodging of an evil-minded blackguard who could any moment apply a match and send you up into high air, wouldn't you fear him? fear to thwart, exasperate, disappoint him?"

"But what is that which answers to this magazine?"

"I dare not tell you, Bertha. Oh, Bertha! I'm a miserable wretch, chained to misery-ever eating its wormwood, drinking its gall, tossing on its thorns, seeing everywhere its gloom, sighing for its death! And yet," he continued, coming close to me and looking right into my face, "I believe myself capable of happiness. If I might, I could yet enjoy life; I'm warmed by a new passion; I could find a Canaan, not where Bella's is, but on earth, if let alone. Good-night, Miss Bland. Don't, don't on any account forsake me! Give me your hand; do. I respect the conditions you laid down, don't I?'' "Yes, sir."

I gave him my hand out of pity, respect; more-in homage to his manly beauty. Did I right? Let a pure heart judge me. "Mr. Brown, you don't confide."

"Not sufficiently to feed your curiosity, perhaps; but judgment forbids. Will you please leave me at present? Some other time I may, if "—he paused abruptly and turned away with a sigh. I left him without another word.

That night I didn't sleep-couldn't, for the crowd of thoughts surging, like an excited mob, through my beating brain. I'd made additional discoveries, descended a few more steps into the gloom of a mystery, the solution of which I was gradually But see, here's home. Let us turn in nearing. Littleton was Ross's stepson; then Ross had married


I SAW her into her room; then, having observed the light still in the library, I repaired thither. I informed Mr. Brown of all that had occurred, showing him the deadly weapons. Poor man! I really did pity him, and not a little, as he now paced his room, and now covered his face with his hands, talked now of flight and now of self-destruction.

"Mr. Brown, I wish-never more ardently-that I could be of service to you, and I can't help thinking I could, if you would confide in me."

"Bertha, I will confide, I'm in your hands," he exclaimed, with an air of wild distraction; "I've unbounded confidence in your judgment and tact. I'm yours to follow anywhere." "Then answer me some questions-who's Ross?'' "Ross! he's Ross to be sure."

"Has he always been Ross?"

"No; he wasn't Ross a thousand years ago."

"Nor a thousand days ago, I guess; however, let that pass," -for, in fact, I've received my answer. "Does he reside in yon house?"

"Of course."

a widow; was she living? Brown hated Ross, because of his forcing on this proposed marriage. But why should Ross do so? Where was the point at which his interest in the business jutted out? I didn't see it, and couldn't imagine it. What a risk, he ran! How dangerous was this eccentric Bella! What a tragedy we had been on the verge of! Why didn't Brown look at it more seriously? He ought to do. A terribly black suggestion here presented itself- -was Bella's partial idiocy a cloak under which Ross was to be murdered with impunity? It might be; it was possible. I thrust the suggestion away-it was really horrid, but back it came with startling impudence and assurance. Shall I leave here?

"Yes," said a voice, "Go, flee as from a doomed city." "How can you be so cruel?" interrogated another voice. There was a third speaker, a certain passion yet in the bud, which challenged me thus

Can you leave? Are you free-in no sort of bondage? Isn't there an idol that has thrown around you strong bands which wounded pride would scorn as green withes, but which the heart owns are growing strong as cables?"

I was in a strait, and didn't then see a way of escape. In a little while I didn't wish to see a way of escape, for I had lost all desire to leave my friends. My life, though secluded, was congenial. I had found a home-a home where I might

"Your replies are curt, Mr. Brown. Does he own it or is he reign and not serve. My wants were anticipated, my mere the tenant?"

"He lodges there. In truth, he's a London gentleman, ing in the neighborhood for a specific purpose."'

wishes obeyed. How much I had become attached to my new stay-home was developed by a small atom of news, communicated to me some three weeks after Bella's strange adventure. I received

"Thank you, sir. He's Lord Mayor of Dublin, isn't he? it in Mr. Brown's library. Now, Mr. Brown, for what purpose is he here?"

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"Well, he's here to force on a marriage between this stepson of his, Littleton, and my daughter Bella." "And Bella is aware of it?"

"Of course she is, and that's why she doesn't like him. She doesn't wish to be married, nor does Littleton wish it either." "Nor you?''

"I! Do I wish to have my flesh eaten off my bones as by a canker, to die by inches, or rather to be crushed at once by a ponderous calamity?"

"Bertha," he said, the very essence of wretchedness in his face, "what shall I do, what can I do? I'm ruined, and what will you do?"'

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"Who, or what, is the ruler of your destiny, Mr. Brown?" 46 Ross."

"And does Ross demand my dismission ?"

"Yes; do you doubt?" I was silent; I appeared, I fancy, to doubt. "Look at that," he added, tossing to me a note. It was from Ross, and the demand was very imperiously put. How my heart leaped! how hot and confused I became! You were rendered indignant by the impudence of the man-no, I

with a shade of surprise at, and contempt for, his bondage, "is to me a marvel. Were I you I would buckle on my best armor, and either break it or perish."

"Would you?" he rejoined, with a sneer expressive of a mixture of scorn and incredulity.

"Yes. I would," I answered, with a bluntness not usual to me.

"Must I shoot him, Bertha ?"

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"You trifle," was my brief reply.

I rose, with an air of haughtiness I'll admit, and left him; my heart was swelling with a rising tide of emotion. Alone I yielded to the weakness of tears. I thought again of

"Of course, if you must oblige Ross," I answered, "I must flight-of clandestine and immediate flight. Immediate, I deleave."

cided, it ought to be, as each day was weaving new ties to the "And yet," he replied, with a sort of desperation, "I had home I already found it would be difficult to quit, and clandesrath r part with every fraction of property I possess." tine it was desirable it should be, as otherwise Mr. Brown would be sure to pursue me, and constrain me to return.

"The power of this man over you, Mr. Brown," I observed,

"What things shall I take?" I asked myself, surveying with | crime, met me by a counter-proposal, and then begged me to tear-dimmed eyes my wardrobe. Bella just then appeared, and, after kissing me fervently, said I was, wanted.

"By whom?"

"Littleton, my instructions were--"

visit him the following night. From the remainder of that memorable evening's interview I would rather not draw the curtain. God knows I sought to dissuade from crime.

Mr. Brown was waiting impatiently my return. I was cruelly

"Inform Littleton I cannot see him this evening; he must reserved. He begged; but no, my heart was a rock to his apcall again." peals for the most meagre communication. How I pitied him, Poor Bella, how she stared! My trouble-stricken counten- as I thought of the deception, the black craft and intrigue, of ance quite bewildered her. which he was the innocent victim!

In a few minutes she returned with a carefully-folded letter from the young man. I was to be sure and read it. It was with scant favor I regarded it; but Bella happening to withdraw, and not being disposed to leave my room, and having nothing particular to engage my attention, I opened and read. Gracious! it was a love-letter! It recorded the yearnings of his enthralled heart for Bertha Bland. I was amused; literally smiled, tittered through my tears. In the end I laughed outright. Poor youth! my heart's response was not love, but pity-pity genuine and deep. I was informed that the attentions he paid to Bella were forced. I had become his idol; this he avowed to Mr. Ross. Ah! there was a key! how my whole nature bristled up! what interest the epistle had for me at once! There was a postscript on a separate slip of paper; it contained only a few words. The paper was a part of a letter; the writing on the other side-strange, of course, to me--was but very partially erased. As I glanced carelessly at it my eye fell on the name Brown; it was quite legible. I looked more closely, read nearly every word, once, twice, thrice, twenty times. What? That which caused me to treasure up the slip, to pace my room, hot and fidgety, to descend, tap at the door of the library, enter, close it, kneel down beside Mr. Brown, look into his troubled and astonished face, and whisper this question:

"Mr. Brown, have you a brother?"

He looked eagerly at me, and turned pale as death; then drawing in a full breath, as if nothing less would enable him to reply, said:

Yes, I have, Miss Bland."

"Would you," I continued (I recollect I rested my clasped hands on the table, and that, with a delicate fondness, he spread his own over them), "would you feel it a relief if he were delivered from the burden of his days?"

He drew himself up, and looked searchingly at me. I waited anxiously for his answer.

"How know you I have a brother whose days are a burden?''

"That another time, sir; what say you to my question?" I saw it pained him, so I modified it. "If you were to hear, from one on whose word you could rely, that God had bereaved you of him, how would the information affect you?''

"First sadden, them move me to unbounded gratitude. Bertha, how and why is this? How comes it to pass that you can put questions which touch me in so vital a part?'' "No more at present; confide in me, Mr. Brown. Good night."

During the following day I was alone as much as possible. Spider-like I was weaving a scheme; it was a bold one, but I bade my nerves be firm, and in the evening turned out to

initiate its execution.

I passed the church, and came to a large house, at which I inquired for Mr. Ross. We were soon alone, and he was soon in a towering passion. I had no right to be at Brown's, was in his way very much, should soon be ruined, and ought therefore to leave at once. I did not believe him as to being in danger of ruin, nor did I fear him. He might storm away, threaten to strike, to murder; I knew I could wield a charm that would disarm him in a moment.

He wouldn't relinquish his scheme in reference to Bella. I begged him to do so. He became fearfully furious, so just as he was about to force me from his room I whispered:

"Margaret Steele," and exposed an old-fashioned watch. He staggered like one shot, and reeled into his chair, tamed in an instant; the boldness of the lion, the ferocity of the tiger, were gone. I was singularly calm. A long conversation ensued, during which his wild eyes rolled in their sockets, and worm-like veins rose on his perspiring forehead. His ear opened to reason. I made a proposal; he hesitated, spake of a dark

The night I spent in writing, the day in collecting together money and valuables. About sunset I troubled Mr. Brown with a strange request-would he lend me a hundred pounds, and excuse another evening's absence? Yes, if I would promise not to desert him; I must have it without conditions, or not at all. Two hundred, if I would remain with him; two hundred I would take.

By ten o'clock I was at the large house again. I was watched for and welcomed. It was twelve when I left, and when I did so I was accompanied by a muffled figure, dark and ugly, which, at that strange hour, shook my hand at a certain wicket, stole not one, but twenty kisses, and whispered husky farewells, until Mr. Brown received me at the door.

"Bertha," he said, sternly, "I must have explanations. We know not each other; your movements are mysterious, and fitted to shake confidence."

"Mr. Brown," I replied, in sobs, "I trust we do. Wait, and curb suspicion. Let us be strangers to each other for three days, and then I'll explain." "You will?'' "Yes."

He held my hands in one of his own, and passed the other over my face.

"Wet," he whispered, "and cold. You shiver, Miss Bland."

"Yes," I answered, "but I trust I shall be all right tomorrow."

"Surely my home is not too bleak a region for such a flower. Heaven forbid it should be nipped by any frost."

I did not reply, but passed on, gently disengaging my hands.

"Oh, Bertha!" he said, fervidly, “good-night; God bless you!"


THE three days would have passed away very slowly and monotonously, had it not been for Bella. Her eccentricities began to revive, which devolved on me care and watchfulness. She crept in and out of my room with the stealthiness of a cat, talked of the chamber with bated breath and uplifted finger, of her loving mother, and of "bright, beautiful Canaan." How The exciting cause of I pitied her, and how thankful I felt! my gratitude and joy she herself alluded to the second day-it was the non-appearance of Littleton. She had expected him, and clapped her hands over the disappointment. Poor Bella! I noted she was thinner, her beauty more ethereal; I detected,

also, or I fancied it, a tremor in her soft voice, that had not struck me before. It seemed affined, indeed, I thought, to a higher, purer, holier region, as, leaning on my shoulder, and wiping away my falling tears, she recited the lines: No chilling winds, no pois'nous breath, Can reach that bealthful shore; Sickness and sorrow, pain and death, Are felt and feared no more.

Bella was what she appeared to be, and had reached the rest for which she sighed.

The third evening came; I was much excited when Mr. Brown's summons reached me. I was already dressed--not in my least tasty style-for I had no expectation, indeed, I had no wish that he would fail to demand the promised explanat ons. He was seated at his table-it was in the library, and received me with a touch of state. A fire had been lit, and was burning cheerfully, before which I sat down with as much ease as I could command. He turned from the table and wheeled round his chair.

"Well," he observed, "are you prepared to return the money, Miss Bland?"

"No," I answered. I looked right into the fire, thankful, indeed, that it was there.

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