|Rights||No Copyright - United States (NoC-US)|
|Publisher||Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah|
|Article Title||Won at Last|
I I WON AT LAST. HE o) H BY HELEN BEEKMAN. IT WAS n lovely picture of rolling woodland and grassy slopes, with HB the peaceful river in the distance re- Hi itcctlng the glories of the dying sun, HJj nnd Hie rich masses of cloud tinged with HE myriad rainbow dyes, but before Hell Hi Fielding's eyes a mist of tears inter- HK ened. None sparkled ou the jetty HS lushes, no trace of them was left ou the Hi fair, Hushed cheek, but they blurred the HV vision for all that, as she choked them HK back on her sad heart. Around her was Hi every evidence of wealth. The house ris- Hb itig in the buck-ground, a grand old pile HB of graystone, worthy (he name of castle. HB the grounds surrounding it, kept in cx- HB quisite order, giving every sign of oulti- HB votlon and taste, her own dress rich and HB costly, yet Mie tears so nearly shed were HB eijused by the bi terness of depeudenee. HB It was her uncle's house she shnied, HE tiie privileges which by right belonged BB solely to her cousin, her beautiful cous- BB In May proud ami beautiful, the idol BB of her father, u mnn stern and grave BB f-avc to the daughter, whose smile nielt- BB ed the chilliest frost in which he en- BB wnippcd himself. BB Years before Hell, too, had known a BB father's love, but that Archer Fielding BB had ever been own brother to this man BB of iron seemed impossible. Urrenrliest BB recollections were of a bright, genial BB nature, eyes and lips formed only for BB laughter, forbidding concealment and BB dis'trust, a heart always ready to listen BB to her childish wants, ever open to en- BB fold and protect her, alien silence and BB mystery. His name was never men- HH 'tioned now in her uncle's home. She BB bad been taught to think him dead, BH though sometimes rose a great h'ope HH in her soul that somewhere on this wide BH earth he might yet live and the day BH would come when she might find him. HH She could complain of no unkindness, BH "I -will go away," she said, aloud. "I HH ' cannot bearit. Tarn young, I am strong. BH! I can work or if needs be starve nny- HB thing rather than accept crumbs-i-aye, HH , or a -whole loaf leavened by stern du- HBT ty, without one nw?et morsel of love." H "Sdliloquizlng, Miss fleU?" interrupt- HH ed a voice, and the girl turned, her face HH flushing, then paling. us theyoung man HH who had thus addressed hei approached HH and drew her arm within his. For a mo- HH incnt she let It rest there, as though it HH were pleasant to her then made a mo- HJ lion to withdraw it, but he laid a de- HH taining grasp on the small, white fin- Hj gers, as he questioned: "Why will you HH not accept my escort? Is your own so- Hj ciety so far preferable?" HH "My cousin is expecting you, I be- HH? Heve, Mr. Armstrong, nt the house. May HH does not brook delay." HH "Indeed! Nor do I; therefore, since I HH was seeking you, nllow me at least a HJ brief reward. I wbb not aware Miss Hi Fielding had any claim upon my time. HH nt least notMissMny Fielding!" Again BHJ his listener's face Hushed as she made a HHJ half impatient movement of dissent. HH "Bell," he went on, with sudden, im- HBm pctuous manner, "is it possible you do HH not know the ehorm which has drawn HHj mchereV Ilaveyou not longugo read the HJ story of my love for you? It is true BHj that I have been polite to your cousin, HH? although my attentions have hardly HBl been so marked as to admit of miscou- HHf struction. Tliink you we care for the BHJ; snow-capped mountains, when at our HBl very feet lies the valley of plenty? BBS Through her I have gained speech with BBb you. Surely such subterfuge is in no Bv way to be despised. T have seen your HHf proud spirit suffer, have known some- BBb thing of its pangs. Darling, will you BBB not end them? Will 3-011 not accept the J home L oiler you, as fair a one as that BBS you leave, where you shall reign its BBB honored mistress, queen of all, even my BBI BBB Was she dreaming? Was it, indeed, BBB love for Loring Armstrong she so long BBB had held within such irrepressible bar- BBB rlcrs, that now at his words leaped in H I Kuch mad, strong currents through HHV ' every pulse? She no long had looked HBV upon him as May's lover, she so well HHV knew his declaration had been expected HHV by her, which would gratify for her BBBB follier every desire of his parental nm- BBB billon; so fully realized their baffled dis- HBB appointment when they discovered it HHV was she whom he loved, 41iat her brain HBH whirled, but those Jast words, "she w . ' ' .. , ... '" -" - ,-, ' " , , -IL-g whom he loved," gave lier strength. What could she not bear for such a price? iti Loring Armstrong been penniless she Ull could have gladly gone forth to the emlsC the world, and now, now, she could only raiw happy, tenr-hedlmmed eyes to his, and sob out her new-found joy on the unexpected shelter of his heart. "But May? What will she say?" she questioned, at last, "Barling, do you think because I have been so happy as to win you, every one must envy you the prize? I doubt if Miss May has a heart, save when it beats triumphantly as she looks at the reflection reflec-tion of her own beautiful face in her mirror. But come, little trembler. We will go and announce our dawning bliss and put your foolish fears to ilight." So saying, he threw his arms once more about the slender form, and drew her toward the house. On the broad piazza, impatiently opening and closing the fan she held within her jeweled hand, the beautiful heiress sat awaiting their approach, or rather the approach of one nlone, for she raised her penciled eyebrows with haughty inquiry accompanied by a dls-dainful dls-dainful shrug of the graceful shoulders when she saw who was his companion; but as they drew nearer, and she noted the action of acknowledged protection, a deathly pallor overspread the beautiful beauti-ful face, and one drop of blood rested on the crimson lip where her small, white tcoth had left its cruel Impress. "We have come to ask your congratulations, congratu-lations, Miss May, although I have assured as-sured your cousin how sincere I know they will be. Is your father within?" "No, I believe not, and'without the consent of one's guardian, congratulations, congratula-tions, I Infer, are premature. However, you may rest assured of mine, if you consider them of moment." The (tone in which she spoke gave no betrayal of the conflict she endured, and at the words Bell started forward. "How kind of you, dejir cousin, to share my happiness," but n something, unnoticed by the man, warned her to say no more U draw back chilled, she could scarce tell "why, and send the momentary mo-mentary impulse of alleotion back to its fojtntainhead. A shudow of undefined dread crept over her; not even her lover's lov-er's kiss, with his promise to return early in the morning that the important interview might be accomplished, could dissipate a shadow which took visible form, as on the following day she was summoned from tho breakfast room to her uncle's study, and met her cousin just leaving It with an expression of triumphant assurance she was unable to conceal. With unusual urbanity, after carefully careful-ly closing the door, Mr. Fielding motioned mo-tioned her to a seat. "1 hear," he began, clearinghis throat, "that Mr. Armstrong has asked you to Iwcunie his wife. This both amazes and pains me. Amaed because you certainly certain-ly must have conducted your courtship with unbecoming secrecy, and pained because it forces me into disclosures utilch will make this marriage an impossibility." im-possibility." The shadow had fallen now. She felt it sutrocaving her, but she awaited tho rest In silence. , "Had your hand been sought by one whose name was of less lustre, and whose birth, station, and immense wealth forced him to less necessarily maintain it, I might have kept bilent. Now I cannot consistently do wo, therefore there-fore I must tell you your father is not dead, as you have, supposed, but still lives, a fugitive from justicel" "Lives! My father! Thank God!" From her white lips broke the exclamation exclama-tion of gratitude, unheeding the barrier which had forbidden all these years his acknowledging himself to his child. "I will not here speak of the character of his offense, dave that the clemency of one man saved him from disgrace," he continued, lestlessly pacing the floor, as though even his hard nature shrank from his hclf-appoiuted task. His oyes were glancing over at the white, suffering suffer-ing face of the girl he was tabbing with each word. "It only remains for me to apprise Mr. Armstrong of these facts to induce him at once to renounce your hand of his own uccord, or in mercy to your pride inform him you have repented a too hasty decision and wish to be free. Which course will you choose?" "Sir, your blood is in my veins. The question Is therefore scarcely necessary. neces-sary. I shall never see Loring Armstrong Arm-strong ngain. Word it nsyoti will, only if it be true that my fnthcr lives, I would share his exile, aye if needs be his disgrace. Write him it is my wish, and gain quickly his consent." "No letter could reach him. As soon as possible I will let him know of your desire." Slowly Bell rose and left, the room, wondering if yean, had not elapsed since hist she had entered It. A dull wonder took possession of her in the weeks that followed as to why her lover so calmly had accepted her suddi'ii rejection re-jection of his suit. She did not know a ; '" i faint hope had tempered the first force of the blow, the hope that he would break down any barrier, leap any obstacle ob-stacle which might prevent his claiming claim-ing her for his own. But since the few. brief hours they had spent together when he had won her promise, he had vanished. Not even May's wiles could, draw Mm to her side since ho had disappeared dis-appeared from their midst. So, sitting1 sit-ting1 nlone and ry, she was startled one evening, as the first snow lny upon the ground, by the entrance of a stranger. stran-ger. Gray hairs mingled with the brown, but as he stood .silent, one moment mo-ment before her a thrill of expectation gave her a premonition of the future, and when he opened his arms with the talismanic words "My daughter," she sprang to their embrace. But as he released re-leased her, another stood waitlncr. as Turing Armstrong said: "Have I won my reward, Bell?" Glancing for one moment into the noble features of the paren t she had lost so long, and failing to read one sign which should proclaim him capable of wrong, sho could no longer hesitate, ns with rapturous bliss sho felt herself once more enfolded in her lover's arms. Nor did he let her go when her uncle was summoned to their presence, so changed, so white, so fear-stricken that she could but feel a thrill of pity at her heart, n pity which made hcrplead his cause when the sad truth was unfolded, the truth that to save him her own father had assumed his crime, the forgery of a noto. True to a promise made to his mother on her death-bed to protect a younger brother, he had gone forth a wanderer, lenving homo and child even his wealth for the guilty one. Loring Armstrong, insisting upon the issue, had been reluctantly told, nnd he it was who determined to win the girl he loved nt any cost, had sought and found the father, who had sacrificed so much, and from whoso lips, sealed so long, he wrung at last the truth. "You have a daughter," confessed the wretched mnn, when all had been told, "restored to your arms. Bemcmber, I did this for mine, nnd forgive me." So it was the heiress after all Loring Armstrong had won for his bride, and when on the eve of Bell's-wedding day May Fielding's body was discovered, beautiful and white and cold in death, and her uncle left his home a wretched wanderer, unwilling to accept the free forgiveness offered him, her husband iped away her tears, and in his nnd her new-found father's love she learned the lesson, that "While sorrow lasts for the night, joy cometh in the morning." N. Y. Icdger.