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lost! I saw, as in a vision, the trampled grass and bushes of the morning; I remembered one who wandered for days in such a place, rescued only by chance hunters from a horrible death. In my fear and terror I cried aloud; nothing answered. The dense branches seemed to catch and smother all sounds. In an agony of supplication, born of extremest peril, I besought Him who alone could hear, to guide and keep me. Then giving loose rein to my horse, that he might choose his own course, we went forward into what to my excited fears and imaginings seemed as the "valley and shadow of death." And now a sense of a great fear and horror seized and possessed me. The air seemed instinct with murmurs and movement.
Shadowy forms shaped themselves in the darkness, flitted and whispered about me, then melted away to give place to their fellows. There were rustlings and glidings, and swift, rushing sounds. The branches touched and caught me as I passed, like ghostly hands, dragging me away. Trembling with horror, I cried aloud. The vast forest seemed full of phantom voices, that called back in mockery and derision. The laurel bushes coiled their snaky roots about the way, and from among their thick, glassy leaves there came a motion and a low, growling sound. My horse shied and trembled, but nothing appeared, and I soothed and coaxed him on. He seemed almost human. Around fallen, decayed trees, across gullies, about huge boulders that sometimes projected across our way, he picked his steps gently and carefully. Once, as I sobbed on his neck, he turned his head, touching me, and softly whinnied, as if in comforting assurance. After long hours a sort of quiet despair settled down upon me. I was exhausted, and shivered with cold, for the heavy dew had dampened all my clothing. Once the ghostly gallows-like form of a deserted derrick lifted itself against the star-lit sky—tombstone of some daring failure. I felt a subtle sense of sympathy with it. It too was alone and desolate.
Thus we measured hour after hour of fear and darkness. I knew not where we were going, but feared to stand still. Suddenly I saw at last a gleam of light; far-off, but surely there. A quick throb of joy thrilled my heart and gave strength to my weary body. The light was miles away, and ere I reached it there were many others. A sharp turn in the way, and in the valley below me
lay a town. Soon the feet of my horse struck with a hollow sound. I was crossing a bridge. Rapidly I made my way over it; then, amid tanks, , engine-houses and barrel heaps, to the first house in view; I rapped loudly with the handle of my whip on the railing in front. A greasy, roughlooking man, lantern in hand, opened the door, and came out; two others followed.
"Where am I? What place is this?" I said, abruptly.
"Petroleum Centre," he answered, looking at me in astonishment.
"Where and how far off is Tankville?"
"Two miles up the bluff road. Dun no as you can get there to-night, though," he went on; "the creek's mighty high, and was well-nigh up to the bluff at sundown."
Only two miles from home! I knew the road was a narrow passage between the creek and the bluff, the three running parallel. Yet I did not hesitate. I must go on. Briefly I explained thi? I had lost my way. Then I bethought me of the time, and taking out my watch held it in the light of the lantern. Twenty minutes of two! As I closed and replaced it, two of the men silently turned and walked swiftly away. What if they should follow me? I knew in all that two miles there was no house. Scarcely waiting to return thanks, I recrossed the bridge and plunged into the darkness. I might outgo them. Every mo ment of the way my heart beat almost to suffocation with fear and apprehension; but it proved without cause, for I passed unharmed. I found the water had indeed covered a portion of the road several inches in depth, but went on, never slackening pace till we stopped, faint and weary, in the light of home.
How John, unavoidably delayed, had come for me, and found me gone; how he, too, had taka the left-hand road, from which I had strayed in the darkness, into what was known as the "Mountain Path," a way full of danger even in daylight, being a narrow passage in the side of an almost perpendicular hill, some hundreds of feet in height, where a single misstep would have sent horse and rider to destruction; how that faithful, sagamco horse carried me over more than twenty dangerom miles in safety; how every way and place it seemed possible for me to be had been traversed <•! searched in vain, was faithfully detailed, and is ( still vividly chronicled in my memory.
TWO OF A NAME
By Harriet N. Smith.
Oh, why had she found it now when her heart was finding rest in the love of this good doctor! Why had this come to destroy all?
She raised her eyes to his, and the anguish in them brought him to her side. She held out the letter without a word. As he hesitated, she said, "read it; it is but just you should see it,"' and he read, and thinking all it brought to him, his cheerful, benign face took on a shadow never seen there before. When he could command his voice, he asked:
"And what shall you do about it, Grace?" '"Oh, what can, what ought I to do?"
"Write to him at once," said the noble man. "Come;" and he showed her to his study, spread paper and pen at her disposal, not trusting himself with a word, and shutting the door, went out to walk swiftly about the grounds, wrestling with self until it was trampled out of sight, and he could come back to her he loved better than himself.
She had just completed her letter, and held it out for his inspection. He read:
"my Friend: Did you, eight months ago, address me a letter containing an offer of marriage? Such a letter has, by accident, just come into my possession. If so, will you at once write me, addressing to the old number, eighty-three Spring street? Yours, Grace B. Bradley."
He gave it back to her, and dropped into a chair. After she had sealed and directed it, he asked:
"But why did you never receive it, Grace?"
"That is what I've been wondering about all the time. Can you imagine why?"
He thought a moment, and then said:
"You recollect Mr. Bradly of whom I bought this house had a daughter of the same name as yours, with the exception of the B."
"Oh, yes," she said, with wondering eyes, "I recollect her; but as I never had any acquaintance with her, had forgotten all about it. Yes, she is the one who I told you he was supposed engaged to; she is out West now.
"Is that so? Then I think I begin to read the riddle; but we will wait his answer."
"Yes, I must go now," she said, wearily rising, as though years had gone over her since she came there. He noticed it. How his generous heart went out in pity to the tried girl! No thought for his own hopes.
They bade the mother good-by with such altered faces as to set her wondering. They drove to the office, posted the letter, and then he set her down at her home with only a kind "good-night," and she went to her room to weep, and wonder how it would all end. A little note reached her in the morning, saying:
"Little Grace: It will be best for both of us that I should not see you until the answer to your letter arrives. Then, if you wish, I will come.
"Delicate and generous as ever! Oh, how can I grieve him by ever letting any one come between us!"
Ah! that supposed buried love had already achieved a resurrection. How she went through her school duties that long week that ensued before the arrival of the answer to her letter, she could never tell. It came at last.
"Yes, he had written it; it was the true feelings of his heart at the time. He had heard she was now engaged to Doctor Day; was it so? if she would answer at once he would feel greatly obliged. Would she also be so kind as to say would she have accepted the proposal,—could she have returned his love,—had she received the letter at once?"
And here was the hard place for Grace. If she told him, she felt that all might be over between her and Doctor Day. If she concealed it from James, who she supposed engaged to another, and married the man she had promised herself to, would it not be best? But she was too conscientious to long waver. No, I will tell him the truth, and at once she wrote:
"My Friend: I will be frank with you. At the time that letter was written, I could have returned your love; now I have engaged myself to another, a good, a noble man. I will not say I love him as I did you. Will you be as frank with me, and tell me if what I have heard that you are engaged to another is true? Yours,
His answer, as soon as possible, was this:
"my Friend: I am saddened indeed with the contents of your last letter. God help us both, for I am still free; but, oh, I still love you as I can no other! I tell you this because you ought to have the truth, and not to influence you in any way. My own heart has ached too much for your supposed loss to wish such sorrow to fall upon your affianced; but oh, if it could be, if knowing of the miscarriage of the letter—the reason of which I have found out, and will some time let you know —he will be generous, always supposing you choose between us. Oh, tell me at once. Yours,
Grace passed a sleepless night; but as morning dawned came to her decision. Had not James the first right to her? She could but answer yes; but oh, she must now see him. God help her, indeed I
She sent for him. He started at the sorrowful, tear-stained face that met him at the door. He divined it all before reading the letter she handed him. Before opening this, he said:
"My child, I see it all; you love him still. I resign all claims; choose between us as though no engagement existed."
As he read James's last letter and folded it up, she cried out:
"Oh, my friend, my kind friend, what shall I do?"
"This," and came over and took both her hands in his, and for a moment struggled with an overmastering emotion, and at last, with trembling voice, said, "Tell him I resign you to the one you love best; but your friendship and his I shall still claim."
"God bless you, my dear friend ever;" and Grace's kiss and tears fell upon his hands. He mingled his own a moment with hers, and then rising, said:
"Good-by, my little sister; I shall be better when we meet again, and you must not grieve about it a moment."
She followed him tearfully to the door, and they parted with a wordless clasp of hands.
He had informed his mother of the discovery of the letter and the destruction of his hopes; but as he saw how wistfully she followed him about, grieving with him, he assumed a more cheerful manner, and assured her, after all, he believed he would make a bitter friend than husband for any one; and I believe the unselfish fellow was right; that such natures as his really take more satisfaction in seeing others' happiness than in furthering their own.
The next week Grace received a letter from James full of a lover's rhapsodies. Imagine, then, my reader, just to suit yourselves. It ended with these words, "I shall come on at the end of my school term, which is in three weeks. Let me hope, my dearest, you will return with me. Say to Doctor Day, 'I honor, I esteem you more than words can tell.' God bless you forever."
We will now take a little trip West. Grace's first letter James took from the office as he was on his way to fulfill his engagement to the other Grace to spend the Sabbath at her aunt's. He immediately returned to his room and answered it, and after posting it, sat down to think over the strange event.
He could but suspect from the circumstances of its discovery who had detained the letter, and then came swarming into his mind all the agitation Grace, his assistant in the school, had betrayed on many occasions when they had been conversing on old acquaintance at P—. He recalled the flash of exultant feeling that had passed over her face at the intelligence of the engagement of the Grace at P— on that morning Hoyt left him. He saw it all; but how could he prove her guilt? He would let circumstances guide him.
While he was revolving these things in his room, she was restlessly watching at the window for his arrival. At last, as the train swept by without bringing him, she flung herself on a lounge, and in answer to her aunt's question, "What do you suppose detained him?" pettishly replied, "I don't know, I'm sure; perhaps that business he spoke of;" and soon after, taking up her lamp, retired to her room disappointed and tearful. In her dream that night there seemed a foreshadowing of what was to come. She saw him ever, with sad averted face, and after a few hours sleep, woke unrefreshed and feverish. "I shall not go to church this morning," she told her aunt; "I will keep house while you are gone."
Her aunt had been gone but a few moments when, peering through the blinds, she espied him slowly coming down the road. She flew to dress her hair and put on a becoming new wrapper, and ere she was presentable, he rang the bell. Hurrying on the dainty slippers, she opened the door, all radiant with excitement and joy. But the moment her eye fell on his face, her heart seemed to shrink in dismay; so altered, so grave, and yet with such an indefinable joy on the brow.
She offered him a chair; she asked, "Are you sick? Why did you not come last night?"
"I had a letter, the contents of which detained me."
"May I know who it was from?" with one of her bewildering smiles.
"A person of the same name as yours, with the , addition of a B."
The ghostly paleness that came over her face, | the trembling that took possession of her, as with I livid lips she forced herself to ask: "Where does she reside?" Fixing his eyes upon her, he said: "I think you know already, do you not?" He suspects me, she thought. I have lost him, I have lost him; but she forced herself to return his steady gaze for a moment, then her eyes fell, and burning blushes swept over cheek and brow, and she clutched the sofa arm for support as she faltered out:
"Why should I?"
"Grace," and his voice shook with emotion, "do not attempt subterfuge. A letter has been found that I addressed to the writer of the letter I have just received, found in the debris the carpenters made in opening a window of the room you used to occupy in your father's house. As your old teacher, by the friendship we have formed for each other, I ask you how it came there? I feel there can be but one answer to this; will you give me the truth?"
Yes, she well remembered how on that last day of packing up at P—, as she removed the letter from its secret drawer, stopping to take one last look of it, she had been startled by hearing her aunt at the door, and folding it, had hastily pressed it into the crevice under the window-sill of that very room, saying to herself, "effectually buried at last!"
And why should she brave it out? She. had lost her lover; she might keep her friend at least if she told him the truth. Deep in the heart of this wretched girl there came a longing that this high-minded Christian man should not hate her, as he justly might, did she persist in untruth. She had lost him, at any rate. Oh, could she not save something from the wreck! She buried her face in her arms, and sobs shook her frame.
"Tell me all, Grace," he gently said; "only this will relieve your sorrow."
Still no answer.
"It is true, is it not, Grace, that you obtained that letter through a mistake of the postman, as I neglected to direct it to the number, and kept it, did you not?"
"Yes; but oh, James, do you know why?"
"I believe I do, my poor girl; but oh, be assured I forgive you the sorrow it has caused two persons; that I regret more deeply than words can tell the regard for me that led to such wrongdoing." He paused, and she moaned out:
"You will not hate me, James?"
Poor Grace! selfish as she had been in her love for him, how could he hate the crushed woman before him who had, who still loved him.
"No, Grace, I can never hate you, believe me. From my heart I forgive you, and will pray for your welfare. Forget me; but oh, forget not Him who has said, 'Come unto me all that labor and are heavy laden.' Will you take my hand?" and he came to her side.
She would not raise her face, but put out her cold hand. He clasped it with a kind pressure of farewell, glad himself that he had not looked on that proud humiliated face again, and left the house. An hour after her aunt found her in the same place in a burning fever, and quite delirious.
She was nursed back to bodily health and strength, but reason had departed forever. In a Western asylum for the insane wanders about a wan, haggard woman, the hair quite gray and cut close, constantly moaning "The letter, I want the letter!" and is only quieted when a scrap of paper is handed her which, with the cunning of insanity, she instantly hides in her dress, a sad and living comment on the broken command, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."
Very sadly James took his place in school the morning after his farewell to Grace. His happy dreams of the love of his youth so soon to be met, were saddened by the thoughts of the misguided,