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Kidnapped at the altar

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Title:KidnappedattheAltar
or,TheRomanceofthatSaucyJessieBain
Author:LauraJeanLibbey
ReleaseDate:January15,2010[eBook#30980]
Language:English
Charactersetencoding:ISO-8859-1
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ALTAR***

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KIDNAPPEDATTHEALTAR
OR


TheRomanceofthatSaucyJessieBain
TheLatestandMostThrillingStoryFreshfromthePenofthe
Peoples'FavoriteAuthor,


MISSLAURAJEANLIBBEY



THEARTHURWESTBROOKCOMPANY
CLEVELAND,OHIO,U.S.A.

Copyright,1909,
—By—
TheARTHURWESTBROOKCOMPANY.


CONTENTS
ChapterI. SomeYoungGirlsFindLoveSoSweet
ChapterII. FateIsAgainstSomePeople
ChapterIII. WhenThoseWeLoveDriftAway
ChapterIV. TheGirlWhoPlaysatFlirtation
ChapterV. TheMysteriousHouseonWau-WinetIsland
ChapterVI. TheLettersThatCeasedtoCome
ChapterVII. EveryYoungGirlWouldLikeaLover
ChapterVIII. AMother'sDesperateScheme
ChapterIX. Gerelda'sEscapeFromWau-WinetIsland
ChapterX. WhatIsLifeWithoutLove?
ChapterXI. GereldaCouldHaveSavedHer
ChapterXII. OutintheCold,BleakWorld
ChapterXIII. "ILoveJessieWithHeartandSoul!"
ChapterXIV. "DoNotLeaveMe!"


ChapterXV. "HubertCaresForMeNoLonger!"
ChapterXVI. WhatOughtaGirlToDo?
ChapterXVII. LoveIsBitter
ChapterXVIII. WeddingBellsOutofTune
ChapterXIX. TheCollision—ThePilotattheWheel
ChapterXX. LoveisaPoisonedArrowinSomeHearts
ChapterXXI. SoHardtoFacetheWorldAlone
ChapterXXII. "PermitMetoEscortYouHome"
ChapterXXIII. JessieBainEnterstheHouseofSecrets
ChapterXXIV. "Oh,ToSleepMyLifeAway!"
ChapterXXV. "IfIButKnewWhereMyLoveIs!"
ChapterXXVI. HubertVarrickRescuesJessieBain
ChapterXXVII. "IWouldRatherWalkByYourSide"
ChapterXXVIII. AMother'sPlea
ChapterXXIX. ReturningGoodForEvil


ChapterXXX. ATerribleRevelation
ChapterXXXI. TheMidnightVisitor
ChapterXXXII. CaptainFrazierPlotsAgain
ChapterXXXIII. IntheToils


KidnappedatTheAltar


OR


TheRomanceofthatSaucyJessieBain


CHAPTERI.

SOMEYOUNGGIRLSFINDLOVESOSWEET;TOOTHERS
ITPROVESACURSE.

Itwasamagnificentevening,inbalmyJune,onthefar-famedSt.Lawrence.
Thesteamer"St.Lawrence"wasmakinghernightlysearch-lightexcursiondown
thebay,ladentoherutmostcapacity.
The passengers were all summer tourists, light of heart and gay of speech; all
saveone,HubertVarrick,ayoungandhandsomeman,dressedintheheightof
fashion,whoheldalooffromtherest,andwhostoodleaningcarelesslyagainst
thetaffrail.
Thesteamerwasmakingitswayinandoutofthethousandgreenisles,thegreat
lightfromthepilot-housesuddenlythrowingabroad,illuminatingflashfirston
thisandthenonthat.
As the light swept across land and water from point to point, Varrick lightly
laughed aloud at the ludicrous incidents, such as the sudden flashing of the
light'spiercingraysonsomelover'snook,wheretwosoulsindulginginbutone
thought were ruthlessly awakened from sweet seclusion to the most glaring
publicity, and at many a novel sight, little dreaming that at every turn of the
ponderouswheelshewasnearinghisdestiny.
"Wherearewenow?"heinquiredofadeck-hand.
"AtFisher'sLanding,sir."
The words had scarcely left his lips ere a radiant flood of electric light swept
overthejuttingbitofmainland.InthatinstantaneouswhiteglareVarricksawa
sightthatwasindeliblyengraveduponhismemorywhilelifelasted.


Thedockwasdesertedbyallsaveoneperson—ayounggirl,wavingherhand
towardthesteamer.
She wore a dress of some white, fleecy material, her golden hair flying in the
wind,andflappingagainstherbareshouldersandhalf-baredwhitearms.
"Greatheavens!whoisthat?"Varrickcried.
But as he strained his eyes eagerly toward the beautiful picture, the scene was
suddenlywrappedindarkness,andthesteamerglidedon.
"Whowasthat,andwhatplacewasit?"heaskedagain.
"It was Fisher's Landing, I said," rejoined the other. "The girl is 'Saucy Jessie
Bain,'astheycallherhereabouts.She'sCaptainCarr'sniece."
"Hasshealover?"suddenlyaskedVarrick.
"Lord bless you, sir!" he answered, "there's scarcely a single man for miles
aroundthatisn'tinlovewithJessieBain;butshewillhavenoneofthem.
"There's alittle story aboutJessieBain. I'lltellittoyou,sinceyouadmire the
girl."
ButthestorywasnotdestinedtobecomeknowntoVarrick,forhiscompanion
wascalledawayatthatmoment.
Hecouldthinkofnothingelse,seenothingbutthefaceofthegirlhehadseenon
thedockatFisher'sLanding.
Thiswasparticularlyunfortunate,foratthatmomentHubertVarrickwasonhis
waytobemarriedonthemorrowtothebeautifulheiress,MissNorthrup.
Shewasafamousbeautyandbelle,andVarrickhadbeenmadlyinlovewithher.
ButsincehehadseenthefaceofJessieBainhefeltastrange,half-definedregret
that he was bound to another. He was not over-impatient to arrive at his
destination, although he knew that Gerelda Northrup and a bevy of her girl
friendswouldundoubtedlybeatthedocktowelcomehim.
Thisprovedtobethecase,andamomentlaterhecaughtsightofthetall,stately
beauty,whosweptforwardtomeethimwithoutstretchedjeweledhandsanda
gladwelcomeonherproudface.
"Iamsodelightedthatyouhavecomeatlast,Hubert,"shemurmured.


But she drew back abashed as he attempted to kiss her, and this action chilled
himtotheveryheart'score.
HewasquicklypresentedtoGerelda'sgirlfriends,andthenthepartymadetheir
wayuptotheCrossmonHotel,whichwasonlyafewyardsdistant,Varrickand
MissNorthruplaggingalittlebehindtherest.
"I hope you have been enjoying your outing this season, my darling," said
Varrick.
"Ihavehadthemostdelightfultimeofmylife,"shedeclared.
Varrick frowned. It was not so pleasant for him to hear that she could enjoy
herselfinhisabsence.Jealousywasdeeplyrootedinhisnature.
"Isthereanyspecialonewhohashelpedtomakeitsopleasant?"heasked.
"Yes.CaptainFrazierishere."
"Haveyoubeenflirtingwithhim,Gerelda?"heasked.
"Don'tbejealous,Hubert."
"Iamjealous!"hecried."YouknowthatisthecurseoftheVarricks."
By this time they had reached the hotel. Throngs of beautiful women crowded
thebroadpiazzas,yetVarricknoticedwithsomepridethatGereldawasthemost
beautifulgirlthere.
"You must be very tired after your long journey," she murmured. "You should
retireearly,tobefullyrestedforto-morrow."
"Doyoumeanyouwishtoretireearly?"askedHubert,ratherdown-heartedthat
shewantedtodismisshimsosoon."IfyouthinkitbestIwillleaveyou."
Wasitonlyhisfancy,ordidhereyesbrightenperceptibly?
Afewmoreturnsupanddowntheveranda,afewimpassionedwordsinacozy
nook, and then he said good-night to her, delivering her to the care of her
chaperon.
But even after he had reached his room, and thrown himself across his couch,
Varrickcouldnotsleep.


Thesoundoflaughterfloateduptohim.
ThoughitwasanhoursincehehadbiddenGereldagood-night,hefanciedthatit
washervoiceheheardintheporchbelow;andhefancied,too,thatheknewthe
otherdeeprichvoicethatchimedinnowandthenwithhers.
"ThatiscertainlyFrazier,"hemuttered.
Seizinghiscoatandhat,hedonnedthemhurriedly,lefthisroom,steppedoutof
thehotelbyarearentrance,madeatourofthethicklywoodedgrounds,untilat
last,fromhishiding-placeamongthetrees,hecouldgainanexcellentviewof
thebrilliantlylightedpiazza,himselfunseen.
Hissurmisehadbeenbutonlytootrue.
Madwithjealousrage,Varrickturnedonhisheel.
Herusheddownthepathtothewater'sedge.Alittleboatwasskimmingoverthe
water, heading for the very spot where he stood. Its occupant, a sturdy young
fisherman,wasjustabouttosecureittoanironring,whenVarrickapproached
him.
"Ishouldliketohireyourboatforanhour,"hesaid,huskily.
Varrickwantedtogetaway,tobebyhimselftothink.
Thebargainwasmadewiththeman,andwithafewstrokesfromhismuscular
armsthelittleskiffwassoonwhirlingoutintothedeepwatersofthebay.Then
herestedonhisoarsandfloateddownwiththetide.
Suddenlyaclearandyetshrillvoicebrokeuponhisear.
"Halloo!Halloothere!Won'tyoucometomyrescue,please?"
Varrick could hear the girlish voice plainly enough, but he could not imagine
whenceitcame.
Againtheshrillcrywasrepeated.Justthenheobservedaslightfigurestanding
downnearthewater'sedgeoftheislandhewaspassing.
Varrickheadedfortheislandatonce,andashedrewsonearthatthefaceofthe
girlcouldbeeasilydistinguished,hemadeawonderfuldiscovery—thegirlwas
JessieBain.


"Iamsogladfordeliveranceatlast!"shecried.
"Howintheworldcameyouhere?"exclaimedVarrick.
"I came out for a little row," she said, "and stopped at this island for some
flowersthatIhadseenhereyesterday.IsupposeIcouldnothavefastenedmy
boatverysecurely,forwhenIcametolookforit,itwasgone;and,oh!myuncle
wouldbesoangry;hewouldbeatmeseverely!"
Somehow one word brought on another, and quite unconsciously pretty little
JessieBainfoundherselfchattingtothestranger,whovowedhimselfasonlytoo
pleasedtorowoutofhiswaytoseehersafelyhome.
"Yourhomedoesnotseemtobeahappyone,"hesaidatlength.
"Itwouldn'tbe,iftheycouldhavetheirway.Itusedtobedifferentwhenauntie
wasalive.Nowmycousinbeatsmebadlyenough,andUncleJohnbelievesall
shetellshimaboutme.ButIalwaysgetevenwithher.
"In the morning my cousin went to her work (she clerks in one of the village
stores), but before she left the house she picked the biggest quarrel you ever
heardof,withme—becauseIwouldn'tlendhertheonlydecentdressIhaveto
wear.Sheexpectedherbeaufromaneighboringvillagetocometotown.
"I would have lent it to her, but she's just the kind of a girl that wouldn't take
care of anything, unless it was her own, and I knew it would be ruined in one
day.
"Ittookmeawholeyeartosavemoneyenoughtogetit.Isoldeggstobuyit,
and,oh,golly!didn'tIcoaxthosechickstolay,though!"
Varrickcouldnothelpbutsmileashelookedather.
Andshewassoinnocent,too.Hewonderedifshecouldbemorethansixteenor
seventeenyearsold.
"Aboutfouro'clockshesentanotetothehouse,andinitshesaid:
"'DearCousinJessie,Iamgoingtobringcompanyhome,soforgoodness'sake
dogetupagooddinner.Isendawholebasketofgoodthingswiththeboywho
bringsthisnote.Cookthemall.'
"Well, I cooked the supper just as she wanted me to do. Oh! it was dreadfully


tempting,andrighthereletmesay,wheneverthere'sabrokencuporsauceror
plate in the house, or fork with only two prongs, or a broken-handled knife, it
alwaysfallstome.Mycousinalwayssays:'It'sgoodenoughforJessieBain;let
herhaveit.'
"Ipreparedthedainty supper,ranandgoteverygoodknifeandforkandplate
andcupandsaucer,andhidthemunderanoldoak-treefullyhalfamileaway.
"Ileftoutonthetableonlythebrokenthings,toseehowshe'dlikethem.
"Byandbysheandherbeaucame.IranoutthebackdoorasIheardthemcross
thefrontporch.
"Oh!butwasn'tshemad!Iwatchedherthroughthewindow,laughingsohardI
almostsplitmysides,andshefairlyflewatme.ThenIwentdownandjumped
intomylittleboat,andpushedawayfordearlife,tobeoutofherreach.Irowed
down to this island, thinking to fetch her back some flowers to appease her
mighty wrath; but I was so tired that I fell asleep. I was frightened nearly to
death when I awoke and saw that it was dark night. I had a greater fright still
whenIdiscoveredthatmylittleboatwasgone—haddriftedaway."
Varrickhadalmostforgottenhisownturbulentthoughtsinlisteningtothegirl.
"Areyounotafraidofpunishment?"heasked,astheynearedFisher'sLanding.
Hecouldseeaquick,frightenedlooksweepoverthegirl'sface.
"Idon'tknowwhattheywilldowithme,"shesaid.
"Iftheyattempttoabuseyoucomestraighttome!"criedVarrick,quiteforgetful
intheeagernessofthemomentwhathewassaying.
By this time they had reached Fisher's Landing. He sprung from the skiff and
helpedherashore.
"Good-night,andthankyoueversomuch,"shesaid.Andwithaquick,childish,
thoughtless motion, she bent her pretty head and kissed the strong white hand
thatclaspedherown.
He had been so kind, so sympathetic to her, and that was something new for
JessieBain.
Hewatchedherinsilenceassheflittedupthepath,untilshewaslosttosightin


thedarkness.
Thenhere-enteredhisboatandmadehiswayslowlybacktothebay.
The spacious corridors of the grand Hotel Crossmon were wrapped in silence
whenhereachedit.
He half expected to see the two whom he had left in that flower-embowered
lovers'nookattheendofthepiazzastillsittingthere.
Thenhelaughedtohimselfatthefollyofthethought.


CHAPTERII.

FATEISAGAINSTSOMEPEOPLE,FROMTHECRADLETO
THEGRAVE.

Changeisthelawofwindandmoonandlover—
AndyetIthink,lostLove,hadyoubeentrue,
Somegoldenfruitshadripenedforyourplucking
Youwillnotfindingardensthatarenew.
L.C.M.>
When Gerelda Northrup bid Captain Frazier good-night, and linked her arm
within her mother's, and retired to their apartments, Mrs. Northrup could not
help notice how carefully her daughter guarded the great crimson beauty rose
sheworeonherbreast.
Themotheralsonoticedthatthehandsomecaptainworeabudofthesamekind
inthelapelofhiscoat.
"Mydear,"shesaid,"IthinkyouaregoingalittletoofarwithCaptainFrazier.It
will not do to flirt with him on the very eve of your marriage with Hubert
Varrick."
"There isn't the least bit of harm in it, mamma," Gerelda answered. "Captain
Frazierisadelightfulcompanion.Whyshouldn'tIenjoyhissociety?"
"Becauseitisplayingwithedgedtools,"declaredMrs.Northrup."Thecaptainis
desperatelyinlovewithyou."
"Youshouldnotblamehimforlingeringbymysidetotheverylastmoment."


"Troublewillcomeofit,Ifear,"returnedtheother."Heisalwaysatyourside."
"Saveyourlectureuntilto-morrow.Iamsureitwillkeep.Dopleaseringthebell
formymaid;itisnearlyeleveno'clock,andImustnotlosemybeauty-sleep."
Gerelda Northrup knew in her own mind that all her mother said was but too
true; but the spirit of coquetry was so deeply imbedded in her nature that she
wouldnotresignhersceptreoverheroldlovers'heartsuntilthelastmoment.
Of course the captain understood thoroughly that all her love was given to
HubertVarrick,andthatitwasonlyaverymildflirtationwithhimselfshewas
indulgingin.
ShewouldhavetrembledcouldshehavereadthethoughtsofCaptainFrazierat
thatverymoment.
In his elegant apartment, at the further end of the corridor, the captain was
pacingthefloor,wildwithhisownthoughts.
"My God! can I live through it?" he muttered. "How can I live and endure it?
HowcanIstandbyandseethegirlIlovemadeanotherman'sbride,withoutthe
mad desire to slay him overpowering me? If I would not have the crime of
murder on my soul, I must leave this place to-night, and never look upon
Gerelda'sbeautifulfaceagain.Onedaymoreofthiswoulddrivememad.Great
Heaven!whydidIlingerbyhersidewhenIknewmydanger?Therearetimes
whenIcouldalmostswearthatGereldacaresquiteasmuchformeasshedoes
forHubertVarrick.IfIhadhadafairchanceIthinkIcouldhavewonherfrom
him.No,Iwillnotseeheragain—Iwillleaveherethisverynight."
Thecaptainrangthebellfuriously,andcalledforabrandyandsoda.
Soonafterheleftthehotel,sayingthathewouldsendforhisluggagelater.
But even after he had done all that, Captain Frazier stood motionless in the
groundswatchingthedarkenedwindowsofGerelda'sroom.
Thefireinhisbrain,producedbythepotionhehadtaken,madesadhavocwith
his imagination. He thought of how the knights of old did when the girls they
lovedwereabouttowedrivals.
Washelessbravethanthey?Andhethought,standingthereunderthenightsky,
how cleverly the gypsy had outwitted Blue-beard at the very altar to which he


hadledhisblushingbrides.
Great was Miss Northrup's consternation the next morning when she learned
throughalittlenoteleftforherthatCaptainFrazierhadtakenhisdeparturefrom
theCrossmonHoteltheprecedingnight.Asighofrelieffellfromherredlips.
"Perhapsitisbetterso,"shesaid.
Amessengerwhobroughtagreatbasketoforchidsandwhiteroses,entered.
Hiddenamongtheflowers,GereldafoundalittlenoteinVarrick'shandwriting:
"Ihopemydarlingrestedwell.Heavenhasmadethedaybeautifulbecauseitis
ourmarriagemorn."
ItwasanoddnotionofGerelda'stostealawayfromtheirelegantcitymansion
andherdearfivehundredfriends,tohavetheceremonyperformedquietlyupat
theThousandIslands,withonlyaselectfewtowitnessit.
Greatpreparationshadbeenmadeinthehotelfortheapproachingmarriage.The
spaciousprivateparlorstobeusedwereperfectfairybowersofrosesandgreen
leaves.
Up to this very morning Miss Northrup's imported wedding-gown had not
arrived. Mrs. Northrup and Hubert Varrick were wild with anxiety and
impatienceovertheaffair.Gereldaalonetookthemattercalmly.
"It will be here some time to-day," she averred. "The wedding will be delayed
butafewhours,afterall,andIdon'tknowbutthatIpreferaneveningwedding
toamorningone,anyhow."
Itwasalmostdarkerethelong-looked-forbridaltrousseauarrived.Varrickdrew
agreatbreathofrelief.
He welcomed the shadows of night with the greatest joy. He never afterward
rememberedhowheliveduntilthehourofeightrolledround.
He had not long to wait in the little anteroom where she was to join him. The
few invited guests who were so fortunate as to receive invitations were all
present.
A low murmur of admiration ran around that little group as the heavy silken
portières that separated the anteroom from the reception parlor were drawn


aside,andHubertVarrickenteredwiththebeautifulheiressleaningonhisarm.
In her gloved right hand she carried a prayer-book of pearl and gold. A
messenger had brought it, handing it to her just as she was about to enter the
anteroom.
"Itisfromanunknownfriend,"whisperedtheboy,solowthatevenVarrickdid
notcatchthewords."Asimplewishaccompaniesit,"theboywenton,"andthat
is,whentheceremonyisbutjustbegun,youwillraisethelittlebooktoyourlips
forthesakeoftheunknownfriendwhosendsittoyou."
Gereldasmiledandpromised,thoughtlesslyenough,thatshewouldcomply.
"Areyouready,mydarling?"saidHubert.
His thoughts were so confused at the time, that he had paid little heed to the
messengerornoticedwhathehadbroughttoGerelda,orwhattheirconversation
was about, or that the boy fled like a dark-winged shadow down the corridor
afterhehadexecutedhiserrand.
Shetookherplacebyhisside.Ah!howproudhewasofhersuperbbeauty,of
herqueenlycarriage,andherhaughtydemeanor!Surelyshewasabrideworth
winning—aqueenamonggirls!
Slowlyandsolemnlythemarriageceremonybegan.Varrickansweredpromptly
and clearly the questions put to him. Then the minister turned to the slender,
staturesquefigurebyhisside.
"Willyoutakethismantobeyourlawful,weddedhusband,tolove,honor,and
obeyhimtilldeathdoyoupart?"heasked.
Atthatmomentallassembledthoughttheyheardalow,muffledwhistle.
Beforemakinganswer,Gereldaraisedthebeautifulpearlandgoldprayer-book
andkissedit.
Shetriedtospeakthewords:"Iwill;"butallinaninstantherlipsgrewstiffand
refusedtoutterthem.
Nosoundsavealowgaspbroketheterriblestillness.
Shehadkissedthelittleprayer-bookasshehadsolaughinglyandthoughtlessly
promisedtodo,eresheutteredthewordsthatwouldmakeherHubertVarrick's


wife.Andwhathadhappenedtoher?Shewasgaspingforbreath—dying!
Thelittlebookfellunheededatherfeet,andherheaddroopedbackward.
Withagreatcry,HubertVarrickcaughther.
"Itisonlyamomentarydizziness,"saidVarrick,halfleading,halfcarryingher
intotheanteroomanduptothewindow,andthrowingopenthesash.
"Resthere,mydarling,whileIfetchyouaglassofwater,"hesaid,asheplaced
herinachairandrushedfromtheroom.
TheeventjustnarratedhadhappenedsosuddenlythatMrs.Northrupandthose
intheouterapartmentwereforthetimebeingfairlydazed,unabletomoveor
stir.
AndbythetimetheyhadrecoveredtheirsensesHuberthadreappearedwitha
glassofwaterinhishand.
Mrs.Northrupwastooexcitedtoleaveherseat;buttherestfollowedquicklyon
Hubert'sheelstotheanteroom.
One instant more and a wild, hoarse cry in Varrick's voice echoed through the
place.
The room was empty! Where was Gerelda? There was no means of exit from
thatroomsavethedoorbywhichhehadentered.Perhapsshehadleanedfrom
the window and fallen out. He rushed quickly to it and glanced down, with a
wildprayertoHeaventogivehimstrengthtobearwhathemightseelyingon
thegroundbelow.Butinsteadofawhite,upturnedface,andashimmeringheap
ofsatinandlace,hebeheldaladder,whichwasplacedcloseagainstthewindow;
andhalf-waydownuponit,caughtfirmlyupononeoftherounds,hebehelda
torn fragment of lace, which he instantly recognized as part of Gerelda's
weddingveil.
Hecouldneithermovenorspeak.Thesightheldhimspell-bound.Bythistime
Mrs.Northrupreachedhisside.
"Oh!Imighthaveknownit,Imighthaveguessedit!"shewildlycried,clutching
at Varrick's arm. "She must have eloped with—with Captain Frazier," she
whispered.
"Hush!"criedVarrick."Iknowit,Ibelieveit,butnoonemustknow.Iseeitall.


Sherepentedofmarryingmeattheeleventhhour,andereitwastoolateshefled
withtheloverwhomusthaveawaitedher,inanagonyofsuspense,outside."
Alltheguestshadgatheredaboutthem.
"WhereisMissGerelda?"theyallcriedinabreath.
"She must have fallen from the window," they echoed; and immediately there
wasastampedeouttowardthegrounds.
In the excitement of the moment no one noticed that Hubert Varrick and Mrs.
Northrupwereleftbehind.
"Helpmetobearthisdreadfulburden,Hubert!"shesobbed,hoarsely."IthinkI
amgoingmad.IthankGodthatGerelda'sfatherdidnotlivetoseethishour!"
Greatashergriefwas,theanguishonthefacewhichHubertVarrickraised to
herswaspitifultobehold.
Shewasterrified.Shesawthatheneededcomfortquiteasmuchasherself.
The minister, who had entered the room unobserved, had heard all. He quitted
theapartmentasquicklyashehadenteredit,andhurriedthroughthecorridorto
hisfriendDoctorRoberts.
"Thegreatestblessingyoucoulddo,doctor,wouldbetocometohimquickly,
andgivehimapotionthatwillmakehimdeadtohistroubleforalittlewhile."


CHAPTERIII.

"WHENTHOSEWELOVEDRIFTAWAYFROMUSTHEY
ARENEVERTHESAMEAGAIN—THEYNEVERCOME
BACK."

"Onlyaheartthat'sbroken,
Thatis,ifheartscanbreak;
Onlyamanadriftforlife,
Allforawoman'ssake.
Yourlovewasajest—Inowseeit—
Now,thoughit'sratherlate;
Yes,toolatetoturnmylife
Andseekanotherfate."
Although search was instantly instituted for the missing bride-elect, not the
slightesttraceofhercouldbediscovered.
Was she Hubert Varrick's bride or not? There was great diversity of opinion
about that. Many contended that she was not, because the words from the
minister:"NowIpronounceyoumanandwife,"hadnotyetbeenuttered.
NowonderthebeautyhadfounditdifficulttochoosebetweenhandsomeHubert
Varrickandthedashingcaptain.
Varrickwasamillionaire,andCaptainFraziercouldeasilywriteouthischeck
foranequalamount.
Thematterwashushedupquickly,andkeptsoquietthateventhesimplevillage
folkatAlexandriaBayneverknewofthethrillingeventthathadtakenplacein


theirverymidstattheCrossmonHotel.Ifthesimplefisher-folkhadbutknown
ofit,atragedymighthavebeenaverted.
Mrs. Northrup was the first to recover from the shock; grief gave place to the
mostintenseanger,andasshepacedthefloorexcitedlytoandfro,shevowedto
herselfthatshewouldneverforgiveGereldaforbringingthisdisgraceuponher.
With Varrick the blow had been too severe, too terrible, to be so easily gotten
over. When morning broke, he still lay, face downward, on the couch upon
which he had thrown himself. The effects of the sleeping potion they had so
mercifullyadministeredtohimhadwornoff,andhewasfacetofaceoncemore
withthegreatsorrowofhislife.
Theybroughthimatemptingbreakfast,buthesentitawayuntasted.Hesentat
onceforoneofthecall-boys.
"Buy me a ticket for the first steamer that goes out," he said. "I do not care
whereitgoesorwhatitsdestinationis;allIwantistogetaway."
Stilltheboylingered.
"Well,"saidVarrick,"whydoyouwait?"
"Ihadsomethingtotellyousir."
"Goon,"saidVarrick.
"Thereisa younggirldownin the corridorwhoinsists upon seeingyou, sir. I
told her it was quite useless, you would not see her; and then she fell into
passionateweeping,sobbingoutthatyoumust,ifbutforamoment,andthatshe
wouldnotgountilshehadspokenwithyou,ifshehadtoremainthereallday."
"Whereisshe?"
"Inthecorridorwithout,sir."
Varrickcrossedtheroomandsteppedoutintothecorridor.Hesawalittlefigure
standinginthedim,shadedlight.
Shesawhimatthesamemoment,andrantowardhimwithalittlecry,flinging
herselfwithagreatsobathisfeet.
"Oh,Mr.Varrick!"shecried.


"Why, it's little Jessie Bain!" he exclaimed in wonder, forgetting for the time
beinghisownmisery.
"It'sjustasyousaiditwouldbe,sir—theyhaveturnedmeoutofthehouse.And
yousaid,Mr.Varrick,iftheyeverdidthat,tobesureandcomestraighttoyou—
andhereIam!"
Varrick'samazementknewnobounds.
What should he do with this girl who was thrust so unceremoniously on his
hands.
"Ifithadnotbeenforyouandyourkindwords,Ishouldhaveflungmyselfin
theSt.Lawrence,"continuedthegirl,"forIwassodesperate.HowkindHeaven
wastosendyoutometohelpmeinmyhourofgreatestneed,Mr.Varrick."
"Comeintotheparlorandletustalkthismatterover,"saidVarrick."Yes,Iwill
surelyhelpyou.Iwillgoandseeyourunclethisveryday."
"Iwouldnotgotohim,"criedthegirl."IsweartoyouIwouldnot!WhenItell
youthis,youwillnotwonderthatIrefuse.Inhisrage,becauseIcamehomeso
latelastnight,heshotatme.Theballpassedwithinahair's-breadthofmyheart,
forwhichitwasintended,andthepowderburnedmyarm—see!"
HubertVarrickwashorror-stricken.Thelittlearmwasallblackenedwithsmoke,
andburnedwiththepowder.Therewasneedforadoctorhereatonce.
"IfIwentbacktohimhewouldkillme,"thegirlsobbed."Oh!donotsendme
back,Mr.Varrick.Letmestayherewhereyouare.
"Youaretheonlybeinginthewholewideworldwhohaseverspokenkindlyto
me. I can do quite as much for you as I did for my uncle. I can mend your
clothes,seeaboutyourmeals,andreadthepaperstoyou,and—"
"Hush,child!"saidVarrick."Don'tsayanymore.Itisplaintomethatyoucan
notbesentbacktoyouruncle.Iwillseewhatcanbedoneforyou.Youshallbe
myprotégéeforthepresent."
"Howyoungandsweetandfairandinnocentthegirlis!"hetoldhimself.
Placing the girl in the housekeeper's charge, he had a long consultation with
DoctorRoberts.


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