Part 5 out of 6
closed their eyes in placid content.
During the meal Miss Norris questioned Carl
closely as to his home experiences. Having
no reason for concealment Carl frankly related
his troubles with his stepmother, eliciting
expressions of sympathy and approval from his hostess.
"Your stepmother must be an ugly creature?" she said.
"I am afraid I am prejudiced against her,"
said Carl, "but that is my opinion."
"Your father must be very weak to be influenced
against his own son by such a woman."
Carl winced a little at this outspoken criticism,
for he was attached to his father in spite of his
"My father is an invalid," he said, apologetically,
"and I think he yielded for the sake of peace."
"All the same, he ought not to do it," said
Miss Norris. "Do you ever expect to live at
"Not while my stepmother is there,"
answered Carl. "But I don't know that I should
care to do so under any circumstances, as I
am now receiving a business training. I
should like to make a little visit home," he
added, thoughtfully, "and perhaps I may do
so after I return from Chicago. I shall have
no favors to ask, and shall feel independent."
"If you ever need a home," said Miss
Norris, abruptly, "come here. You will be welcome."
"Thank you very much," said Carl, gratefully.
"It is all the more kind in you since
you have known me so short a time."
"I have known you long enough to judge
of you," said the maiden lady. "And now if
you won't have anything more we will go into
the next room and talk business."
Carl followed her into the adjoining room,
and Miss Norris at once plunged into the subject.
She handed him a business card bearing
BOOTS, SHOES AND RUBBER GOODS,
42a State Street, CHICAGO.
"This young man wants me to lend him two
thousand dollars to extend his business," she
said. "He is the son of an old school friend,
and I am willing to oblige him if he is a sober,
steady and economical business man. I want
you to find out whether this is the case and
report to me."
"Won't that be difficult?" asked Carl.
"Are you afraid to undertake anything that is difficult?"
"No," answered Carl, with a smile. "I was only afraid
I might not do the work satisfactorily."
"I shall give you no instructions," said Miss Norris.
"I shall trust to your good judgment.
I will give you a letter to Mr. French,
which you can use or not, as you think wise.
Of course, I shall see that you are paid for
"Thank you," said Carl. "I hope my services
may be worth compensation."
"I don't know how you are situated as to money,
but I can give you some in advance,"
and the old lady opened her pocketbook.
"No, thank you, Miss Norris; I shall not need it.
I might have been short if you had not kindly paid me
a reward for a slight service."
"Slight, indeed! If you had lost a bank
book like mine you would be glad to get it
back at such a price. If you will catch the
rascal who stole it I will gladly pay you as
"I wish I might for my own sake, but I am
afraid it would be too late to recover my money
At an early hour Carl left the house,
promising to write to Miss Norris from Chicago.
A STARTLING DISCOVERY.
"Well," thought Carl, as he left the house
where he had been so hospitably entertained,
"I shall not lack for business. Miss Norris
seems to have a great deal of confidence in
me, considering that I am a stranger. I will
take care that she does not repent it."
"Can you give a poor man enough money to
buy a cheap meal?" asked a plaintive voice.
Carl scanned the applicant for charity
closely. He was a man of medium size, with
a pair of small eyes, and a turnup nose. His
dress was extremely shabby, and he had the
appearance of one who was on bad terms with
fortune. There was nothing striking about
his appearance, yet Carl regarded him with
surprise and wonder. Despite the difference
in age, he bore a remarkable resemblance to
his stepbrother, Peter Cook.
"I haven't eaten anything for twenty-four hours,"
continued the tramp, as he may properly be called.
"It's a hard world to such as me, boy."
"I should judge so from your looks," answered Carl.
"Indeed you are right. I was born to ill luck."
Carl had some doubts about this. Those who
represent themselves as born to ill luck can
usually trace the ill luck to errors or shortcomings
of their own. There are doubtless
inequalities of fortune, but not as great as
many like to represent. Of two boys who
start alike one may succeed, and the other fail,
but in nine cases out of ten the success or
failure may be traced to a difference in the
qualities of the boys.
"Here is a quarter if that will do you any good,"
The man clutched at it with avidity.
"Thank you. This will buy me a cup of coffee
and a plate of meat, and will put new life into me."
He was about to hurry away, but Carl felt
like questioning him further. The extraordinary
resemblance between this man and his
stepbrother led him to think it possible that
there might be a relationship between them.
Of his stepmother's family he knew little or
nothing. His father had married her on short
acquaintance, and she was very reticent about
her former life. His father was indolent, and
had not troubled himself to make inquiries.
He took her on her own representation as the
widow of a merchant who had failed in business.
On the impulse of the moment--an impulse
which he could not explain--Carl asked
abruptly--"Is your name Cook?"
A look of surprise, almost of stupefaction,
appeared on the man's face.
"Who told you my name?" he asked.
"Then your name is Cook?"
"What is your object in asking?" said the man, suspiciously.
"I mean you no harm," returned Carl, "but I have reasons for asking."
"Did you ever see me before?" asked the man.
"Then what makes you think my name is Cook?
It is not written on my face, is it?"
Carl interrupted him.
"I know a boy named Peter Cook," he said,
"who resembles you very strongly."
"You know Peter Cook--little Peter?"
exclaimed the tramp.
"Yes. Is he a relation of yours?"
"I should think so!" responded Cook,
emphatically. "He is my own son--that is,
if he is a boy of about your age."
"Where is he? Is his mother alive?"
"Your wife!" exclaimed Carl, overwhelmed
at the thought.
"She was my wife!" said Cook, "but while
I was in California, some years since, she took
possession of my small property, procured a
divorce through an unprincipled lawyer,
and I returned to find myself without wife,
child or money. Wasn't that a mean trick?"
"I think it was."
"Can you tell me where she is?" asked Cook, eagerly.
"Yes, I can."
"Where can I find my wife?" asked Cook, with much eagerness.
Carl hesitated. He did not like his stepmother;
he felt that she had treated him meanly,
but he was not prepared to reveal her
present residence till he knew what course
Cook intended to pursue.
"She is married again," he said, watching
Cook to see what effect this announcement
might have upon him.
"I have no objection, I am sure," responded
Cook, indifferently. "Did she marry well?"
"She married a man in good circumstances."
"She would take good care of that."
"Then you don't intend to reclaim her?"
"How can I? She obtained a divorce,
though by false representations. I am glad
to be rid of her, but I want her to restore the
two thousand dollars of which she robbed me.
I left my property in her hands, but when
she ceased to be my wife she had no right to
take possession of it. I ought not to be surprised,
however. It wasn't the first theft she had committed."
"Can this be true?" asked Carl, excited.
"Yes, I married her without knowing much
of her antecedents. Two years after marriage
I ascertained that she had served a year's term
of imprisonment for a theft of jewelry from
a lady with whom she was living as housekeeper."
"Are you sure of this?"
"Certainly. She was recognized by a friend
of mine, who had been an official at the prison.
When taxed with it by me she admitted it, but
claimed that she was innocent. I succeeded
in finding a narrative of the trial in an old
file of papers, and came to the conclusion that
she was justly convicted."
"What did you do?"
"I proposed separation, but she begged me
to keep the thing secret, and let ourselves remain
the same as before. I agreed out of consideration
for her, but had occasion to regret
it. My business becoming slack, I decided to
go to California in the hope of acquiring a
competence. I was not fortunate there, and
was barely able, after a year, to get home. I
found that my wife had procured a divorce,
and appropriated the little money I had left.
Where she had gone, or where she had conveyed
our son, I could not learn. You say
you know where she is."
"Will you tell me?"
"Mr. Cook," said Carl, after a pause for
reflection, "I will tell you, but not just at present.
I am on my way to Chicago on business.
On my return I will stop here, and take you
with me to the present home of your former
wife. You will understand my interest in the
matter when I tell you that she is now married
to a relative of my own."
"I pity him whoever he is," said Cook.
"Yes, I think he is to be pitied," said Carl,
gravely; "but the revelation you will be able
to make will enable him to insist upon a separation."
"The best thing he can do! How long before
you return to Albany?"
"A week or ten days."
"I don't know how I am to live in the meantime,"
said Cook, anxiously. "I am penniless,
but for the money you have just given me."
"At what price can you obtain board?"
"I know of a decent house where I can obtain board
and a small room for five dollars a week."
"Here are twelve dollars. This will pay for
two weeks' board, and give you a small sum besides.
What is the address?"
Cook mentioned a number on a street by the river.
Carl took it down in a notebook with which
he had provided himself.
"When I return to Albany," he said, "I will
call there at once."
"You won't forget me?"
"No; I shall be even more anxious to meet
you than you will be to meet me. The one
to whom your former wife is married is very
near and dear to me, and I cannot bear to
think that he has been so wronged and
"Very well, sir! I shall wait for you with
confidence. If I can get back from my former
wife the money she robbed me of, I can
get on my feet again, and take a respectable
position in society. It is very hard for a man
dressed as I am to obtain any employment."
Looking at his shabby and ragged suit, Carl
could readily believe this statement. If he
had wished to employ anyone he would hardly
have been tempted to engage a man so
discreditable in appearance. "Be of good courage,
Mr. Cook," he said, kindly. "If your story is correct,
and I believe it is, there are better days in store for you."
"Thank you for those words," said Cook, earnestly.
"They give me new hope."
FROM ALBANY TO NIAGARA.
Carl took the afternoon train on the
following day for Buffalo. His thoughts were
busy with the startling discovery he had made
in regard to his stepmother. Though he had
never liked her, he had been far from imagining
that she was under the ban of the law.
It made him angry to think that his father had
been drawn into a marriage with such a
woman--that the place of his idolized mother
had been taken by one who had served a term
at Sing Sing.
Did Peter know of his mother's past disgrace?
he asked himself. Probably not, for it
had come before his birth. He only wondered
that the secret had never got out before. There
must be many persons who had known her as
a prisoner, and could identify her now. She
had certainly been fortunate with the fear
of discovery always haunting her. Carl could
not understand how she could carry her head
so high, and attempt to tyrannize over his father
What the result would be when Dr. Crawford
learned the antecedents of the woman
whom he called wife Carl did not for a
moment doubt. His father was a man of very
strict ideas on the subject of honor, and good
repute, and the discovery would lead him to
turn from Mrs. Crawford in abhorrence. Moreover,
he was strongly opposed to divorce, and
Carl had heard him argue that a divorced person
should not be permitted to remarry. Yet
in ignorance he had married a divorced
woman, who had been convicted of theft, and
served a term of imprisonment. The discovery
would be a great shock to him, and it
would lead to a separation and restore the
cordial relations between himself and his son.
Not long after his settlement in Milford;
Carl had written as follows to his father:
"Dear Father:--Though I felt obliged to
leave home for reasons which we both understand,
I am sure that you will feel interested
to know how I am getting along. I did not
realize till I had started out how difficult it is
for a boy, brought up like myself, to support
himself when thrown upon his own exertions.
A newsboy can generally earn enough money
to maintain himself in the style to which he
is accustomed, but I have had a comfortable
and even luxurious home, and could hardly
bring myself to live in a tenement house, or
a very cheap boarding place. Yet I would
rather do either than stay in a home made
unpleasant by the persistent hostility of one
"I will not take up your time by relating
the incidents of the first two days after I left
home. I came near getting into serious trouble
through no fault of my own, but happily
escaped. When I was nearly penniless I fell
in with a prosperous manufacturer of furniture
who has taken me into his employment.
He gives me a home in his own house, and pays
me two dollars a week besides. This is enough
to support me economically, and I shall after
a while receive better pay.
"I am not in the office, but in the factory,
and am learning the business practically, starting
in at the bottom. I think I have a taste for
it, and the superintendent tells me I am making
remarkable progress. The time was when
I would have hesitated to become a working
boy, but I have quite got over such foolishness.
Mr. Jennings, my employer, who is considered
a rich man, began as I did, and I hope some
day to occupy a position similar to his.
"I trust you are quite well and happy, dear
father. My only regret is, that I cannot see
you occasionally. While my stepmother and
Peter form part of your family, I feel that I
can never live at home. They both dislike me,
and I am afraid I return the feeling. If you
are sick or need me, do not fail to send for me,
for I can never forget that you are my father,
as I am your affectionate son,
This letter was handed to Dr. Crawford at
the breakfast table. He colored and looked
agitated when he opened the envelope, and
Mrs. Crawford, who had a large share of
curiosity, did not fail to notice this.
"From whom is your letter, my dear?" she
asked, in the soft tone which was habitual with
her when she addressed her husband
"The handwriting is Carl's," answered Dr.
Crawford, already devouring the letter eagerly.
"Oh!" she answered, in a chilly tone. "I
have been expecting you would hear from him.
How much money does he send for?"
"I have not finished the letter." Dr.
Crawford continued reading. When he had finished
he laid it down beside his plate.
"Well?" said his wife, interrogatively.
"What does he have to say? Does he ask leave
to come home?"
"No; he is quite content where he is."
"And where is that?"
"That is not far away?"
"No; not more than sixty miles."
"Does he ask for money?"
"No; he is employed."
"In a furniture factory."
"Oh, a factory boy."
"Yes; he is learning the business."
"He doesn't seem to be very ambitious,"
sneered Mrs. Crawford.
"On the contrary, he is looking forward to
being in business for himself some day."
"On your money--I understand."
"Really, Mrs. Crawford, you do the boy
injustice. He hints nothing of the kind. He
evidently means to raise himself gradually as
his employer did before him. By the way, he
has a home in his employer's family. I think
Mr. Jennings must have taken a fancy to Carl."
"I hope he will find him more agreeable than
I did," said Mrs. Crawford, sharply.
"Are you quite sure that you always treated
Carl considerately, my dear?"
"I didn't flatter or fondle him, if that is
what you mean. I treated him as well as he
"Did you treat him as well as Peter, for example?"
"No. There is a great difference between the
two boys. Peter is always respectful and obliging,
and doesn't set up his will against mine.
He never gives me a moment's uneasiness."
"I hope you will continue to find him a
comfort, my dear," said Dr. Crawford, meekly.
He looked across the table at the fat,
expressionless face of his stepson, and he blamed
himself because he could not entertain a
warmer regard for Peter. Somehow he had
a slight feeling of antipathy, which he tried
"No doubt he is a good boy, since his mother
says so," reflected the doctor, "but I don't
appreciate him. I will take care, however, that
neither he nor his mother sees this."
When Peter heard his mother's encomium
upon him, he laughed in his sleeve.
"I'll remind ma of that when she scolds me,"
he said to himself. "I'm glad Carl isn't coming
back. He was always interferin' with me.
Now, if ma and I play our cards right we'll
get all his father's money. Ma thinks he won't
live long, I heard her say so the other day.
Won't it be jolly for ma and me to come into
a fortune, and live just as we please! I hope
ma will go to New York. It's stupid here, but
I s'pose we'll have to stay for the present."
"Is Carl's letter private?" asked Mrs.
Crawford, after a pause.
"I--I think he would rather I didn't show
it ," returned her husband, remembering the
allusion made by Carl to his stepmother.
"Oh, well, I am not curious," said Mrs.
Crawford, tossing her head.
None the less, however, she resolved to see
and read the letter, if she could get hold of it
without her husband's knowledge. He was
so careless that she did not doubt soon to find
it laid down somewhere. In this she proved
correct. Before the day was over, she found
Carl's letter in her husband's desk. She
opened and read it eagerly with a running fire
"`Reasons which we both understand,'" she
repeated, scornfully. "That is a covert attack
upon me. Of course, I ought to expect that.
So he had a hard time. Well, it served him
right for conducting himself as he did. Ah,
here is another hit at me--`Yet I would rather
do either than live in a home made unpleasant
by the persistent hostility of one member.'
He is trying to set his father against me. Well,
he won't succeed. I can twist Dr. Paul Crawford
round my finger, luckily, and neither
his son nor anyone else can diminish my
influence over him."
She read on for some time till she reached
this passage: "While my stepmother and
Peter form a part of your family I can never
live at home. They both dislike me, and I am
afraid I return the feeling." "Thanks for
the information," she muttered. "I knew it
before. This letter doesn't make me feel any
more friendly to you, Carl Crawford. I see
that you are trying to ingratiate yourself with
your father, and prejudice him against me and
my poor Peter, but I think I can defeat your
She folded up the letter, and replaced it in
her husband's desk.
"I wonder if my husband will answer Carl's
artful epistle," she said to herself. "He can
if he pleases. He is weak as water, and I will
see that he goes no farther than words."
Dr. Crawford did answer Carl's letter. This
is his reply:
"Dear Carl:--i am glad to hear that you
are comfortably situated. I regret that you
were so headstrong and unreasonable. It
seems to me that you might, with a little
effort, have got on with your stepmother. You
could hardly expect her to treat you in the
same way as her own son. He seems to be
a good boy, but I own that I have never been
able to become attached to him."
Carl read this part of the letter with satisfaction.
He knew how mean and contemptible Peter was,
and it would have gone to his heart to think
that his father had transferred his affection
to the boy he had so much reason to dislike.
"I am glad you are pleased with your
prospects. I think I could have done better for
you had your relations with your stepmother
been such as to make it pleasant for you to
remain at home. You are right in thinking
that I am interested in your welfare. I hope,
my dear Carl, you will become a happy and
prosperous man. I do not forget that you are
my son, and I am still your affectionate father,
Carl was glad to receive this letter. It showed him
that his stepmother had not yet succeeded in alienating
from him his father's affection.
But we must return to the point where we
left Carl on his journey to Buffalo. He
enjoyed his trip over the Central road during the
hours of daylight. He determined on his return
to make an all-day trip so that he might
enjoy the scenery through which he now rode
in the darkness.
At Buffalo he had no other business except
that of Mr. Jennings, and immediately after
breakfast he began to make a tour of the
furniture establishments. He met with excellent
success, and had the satisfaction of sending
home some large orders. In the evening he
took train for Niagara, wishing to see the falls
in the early morning, and resume his journey
in the afternoon.
He registered at the International Hotel on
the American side. It was too late to do more
than take an evening walk, and see the falls
gleaming like silver through the darkness.
"I will go to bed early," thought Carl, "and
get up at six o'clock."
He did go to bed early, but he was more
fatigued than he supposed, and slept longer than
he anticipated. It was eight o'clock before he
came downstairs. Before going in to breakfast,
he took a turn on the piazzas. Here he fell in
with a sociable gentleman, much addicted to gossip.
"Good-morning!" he said. "Have you seen the falls yet?"
"I caught a glimpse of them last evening
I am going to visit them after breakfast."
"There are a good many people staying here
just now--some quite noted persons, too."
"Yes, what do you say to an English lord?"
and Carl's new friend nodded with am important
air, as if it reflected great credit on the hotel
to have so important a guest.
"Does he look different from anyone else?"
asked Carl, smiling.
"Well, to tell the truth, he isn't much to
look at," said the other. "The gentleman who
is with him looks more stylish. I thought
he was the lord at first, but I afterwards
learned that he was an American named Stuyvesant."
Carl started at the familiar name.
"Is he tall and slender, with side whiskers,
and does he wear eyeglasses?" he asked, eagerly.
"Yes; you know him then?" said the other,
"Yes," answered Carl, with a smile, "I am slightly
acquainted with him. I am very anxious to meet him again."
CARL MAKES THE ACQUAINTANCE OF AN ENGLISH LORD.
"There they are now," said the stranger,
suddenly pointing out two persons walking
slowly along the piazza. "The small man,
in the rough suit, and mutton-chop whiskers,
is Lord Bedford."
Carl eyed the British nobleman with some curiosity.
Evidently Lord Bedford was no dude. His suit was
of rough cloth and illfitting. He was barely five
feet six inches in height, with features decidedly plain,
but with an absence of pretension that was creditable
to him, considering that he was really what
he purported to be. Stuyvesant walked by
his side, nearly a head taller, and of more
distinguished bearing, though of plebeian extraction.
His manner was exceedingly deferential,
and he was praising England and everything
English in a fulsome manner.
"Yes, my lord," Carl overheard him say,
"I have often thought that society in England
is far superior to our American society."
"Thanks, you are very kind," drawled the
nobleman, "but really I find things very
decent in America, upon my word. I had been
reading Dickens's `Notes' before I came over
and I expected to find you very uncivilized,
and--almost aboriginal; but I assure you I
have met some very gentlemanly persons in
America, some almost up to our English standard."
"Really, my lord, such a tribute from a man in your
position is most gratifying. May I state this on your authority?"
"Yes, I don't mind, but I would rather not get into
the papers, don't you know. You are not a--reporter, I hope."
"I hope not," said Mr. Stuyvesant, in a lofty tone.
"I am a scion of one of the oldest families in New York.
Of course I know that social position is a very different
thing here from what it is in England. It must be a
gratifying thing to reflect that you are a lord."
"Yes, I suppose so. I never thought much about it."
"I should like so much to be a lord. I care little for money."
"Then, by Jove, you are a remarkable man."
"In comparison with rank, I mean. I would rather be a lord
with a thousand pounds a year than a rich merchant with ten
times as much."
"You'll find it very inconvenient being a lord
on a thousand; you might as well be a beggar."
"I suppose, of course, high rank requires a large rent roll.
In fact, a New York gentleman requires more than a trifle
to support him. I can't dress on less than two hundred
pounds a year."
"Your American tailors are high-priced, then?"
"Those that I employ; we have cheap tailors,
of course, but I generally go to Bell."
Mr. Stuyvesant was posing as a gentleman
of fashion. Carl, who followed at a little distance
behind the pair, was much amused by
his remarks, knowing what he did about him.
"I think a little of going to England
in a few months," continued Stuyvesant.
"Indeed! You must look me up," said Bedford, carelessly.
"I should, indeed, be delighted," said Stuyvesant, effusively.
"That is, if I am in England. I may be on the Continent,
but you can inquire for me at my club--the Piccadilly."
"I shall esteem it a great honor, my lord.
I have a penchant for good society. The lower
orders are not attractive to me."
"They are sometimes more interesting,"
said the Englishman; "but do you know, I am
surprised to hear an American speak in this way.
I thought you were all on a level here in a republic."
"Oh, my lord!" expostulated Stuyvesant,
deprecatingly. "You don't think I would associate
with shopkeepers and common tradesmen?"
"I don't know. A cousin of mine is
interested in a wine business in London.
He is a younger son with a small fortune, and
draws a very tidy income from his city business."
"But his name doesn't appear on the sign, I infer."
"No, I think not. Then you are not in business,
"No; I inherited an income from my father.
It isn't as large as I could wish, and I have
abstained from marrying because I could not
maintain the mode of living to which I have
"You should marry a rich girl."
"True! I may do so, since your lordship
recommends it. In fact, I have in view a
young lady whose father was once lord mayor
(I beg pardon, mayor) of New York.
Her father is worth a million."
"Well, no, dollars. I should have said two
hundred thousand pounds."
"If the girl is willing, it may be a good plan."
"Thank you, my lord. Your advice is very kind."
"The young man seems on very good terms
with Lord Bedford," said Carl's companion,
whose name was Atwood, with a shade of envy
in his voice.
"Yes," said Carl.
"I wish he would introduce me," went on Mr. Atwood.
"I should prefer the introduction of a different man," said Carl.
"Why? He seems to move in good society."
"Without belonging to it."
"Then you know him?"
"Better than I wish I did."
Atwood looked curious.
"I will explain later," said Carl;
"now I must go in to breakfast."
"I will go with you."
Though Stuyvesant had glanced at Carl, he
did not appear to recognize him, partly, no
doubt, because he had no expectation of meeting
the boy he had robbed, at Niagara. Besides,
his time and attention were so much
taken up by his aristocratic acquaintance that
he had little notice for anyone else. Carl
observed with mingled amusement and vexation
that Mr. Stuyvesant wore a new necktie, which
he had bought for himself in New York, and
which had been in the stolen gripsack.
"If I can find Lord Bedford alone I will put
him on his guard," thought Carl. "I shall
spoil Mr. Stuyvesant's plans."
After breakfast Carl prepared to go down
to the falls.
On the way he overtook Lord Bedford walking
in the same direction, and, as it happened,
without a companion. Carl quickened his
pace, and as he caught up with him, he raised
his hat, and said: "Lord Bedford, I believe."
"Yes," answered the Englishman, inquiringly.
"I must apologize for addressing a stranger,
but I want to put you on your guard against
a young man whom I saw walking with you
on the piazza."
"Is he--what do you know of him?" asked
Lord Bedford, laying aside his air of indifference.
"I know that he is an adventurer and a thief.
I made his acquaintance on a Hudson River
steamer, and he walked off with my valise and
a small sum of money."
"Is this true?" asked the Englishman, in amazement.
"Quite true. He is wearing one of my neckties at this moment."
"The confounded cad!" ejaculated the Englishman, angrily.
"I suppose he intended to rob me."
"I have no doubt of it. That is why I
ventured to put you on your guard."
"I am a thousand times obliged to you. Why,
the fellow told me he belonged to one of the
best families in New York."
"If he does, he doesn't do much credit to the family."
"Quite true! Why, he was praising everything English.
He evidently wanted to gain my confidence."
"May I ask where you met him?" asked Carl.
"On the train. He offered me a light. Before
I knew it, he was chatting familiarly with me.
But his game is spoiled. I will let him
know that I see through him and his designs."
"Then my object is accomplished," said Carl.
"Please excuse my want of ceremony." He
turned to leave, but Bedford called him back.
"If you are going to the falls, remain with me,"
he said. "We shall enjoy it better in company."
"With pleasure. Let me introduce myself as Carl Crawford.
I am traveling on business and don't belong to one
of the first families."
"I see you will suit me," said the Englishman, smiling.
Just then up came Stuyvesant, panting and breathless.
"My lord," he said, "I lost sight of you. If you will
allow me I will join you.
"Sir!" said the Englishman, in a freezing
voice, "I have not the honor of knowing you."
Stuyvesant was overwhelmed.
"I--I hope I have not offended you, my lord," he said.
"Sir, I have learned your character from this young man."
This called the attention of Stuyvesant to Carl.
He flushed as he recognized him
"Mr. Stuyvesant," said Carl, "I must trouble
you to return the valise you took from my stateroom,
and the pocketbook which you borrowed.
My name is Carl Crawford, and my room is 71."
Stuyvesant turned away abruptly. He left the valise at the desk,
but Carl never recovered his money.
WHAT CARL LEARNED IN CHICAGO.
As Carl walked back from the falls he met
Mr. Atwood, who was surprised to find h*is
young acquaintance on such intimate terms
with Lord Bedford. He was about to pass
with a bow, when Carl, who was good-natured,
said: "Won't you join us, Mr. Atwood?
If Lord Bedford will permit, I should like
to introduce you."
"Glad to know any friend of yours, Mr. Crawford,"
said the Englishman, affably.
"I feel honored by the introduction," said Atwood,
"I hope you are not a friend of Mr.--ah,
Mr. Stuyvesant," said the nobleman, "the person
I was talking with this morning. Mr.
Crawford tells me he is a--what do you call
it?--a confidence man."
"I have no acquaintance with him, my lord.
I saw him just now leaving the hotel."
"I am afraid he has gone away with my valise and money,"
"If you should be inconvenienced, Mr. Crawford,"
said the nobleman, "my purse is at your disposal."
"Thank you very much, Lord Bedford," said Carl,
gratefully. "I am glad to say I am still
fairly well provided with money."
"I was about to make you the same offer,
Mr. Crawford," said Atwood.
"Thank you! I appreciate your kindness,
even if I'm not obliged to avail myself of it."
Returning to the hotel, Lord Bedford
ordered a carriage, and invited Atwood and Carl
to accompany him on a drive. Mr. Atwood
was in an ecstasy, and anticipated with proud
satisfaction telling his family of his intimate
friend, Lord Bedford, of England. The peer,
though rather an ordinary-looking man,
seemed to him a model of aristocratic beauty.
It was a weakness on the part of Mr. Atwood,
but an amiable one, and is shared by many
who live under republican institutions.
After dinner Carl felt obliged to resume his
journey. He had found his visit to Niagara
very agreeable, but his was a business and not
a pleasure trip, and loyalty to his employer
required him to cut it short. Lord Bedford
shook his hand heartily at parting.
"I hope we shall meet again, Mr. Crawford,"
he said. "I expect, myself, to reach Chicago
on Saturday, and shall be glad to have you call
on me at the Palmer House."
"Thank you, my lord; I will certainly
inquire for you there."
"He is a very good fellow, even if he is a lord,"
Our young hero was a thorough American, and was
disposed to think with Robert Burns, that
"The rank is but the guinea, stamp;
The man's the gold for a' that!"
No incident worth recording befell Carl on
his trip to Chicago. As a salesman he met
with excellent success, and surprised Mr.
Jennings by the size of his orders. He was led,
on reaching Chicago, to register at the Sherman
House, on Clark Street, one of the most
reliable among the many houses for travelers
offered by the great Western metropolis.
On the second day he made it a point to find
out the store of John French, hoping to acquire
the information desired by Miss Norris.
It was a store of good size, and apparently
well stocked. Feeling the need of new footgear,
Carl entered and asked to be shown some shoes.
He was waited upon by a young clerk named Gray,
with whom he struck up a pleasant acquaintance.
"Do you live in Chicago?" asked Gray? sociably.
"No; I am from New York State. I am here on business."
"Staying at a hotel?"
"Yes, at the Sherman. If you are at leisure
this evening I shall be glad to have you call
on me. I am a stranger here, and likely to
find the time hang heavy on my hands."
"I shall be free at six o'clock."
"Then come to supper with me."
"Thank you, I shall be glad to do so,"
answered Gray, with alacrity. Living as he did
at a cheap boarding house, the prospect of a
supper at a first-class hotel was very attractive.
He was a pleasant-faced young man of
twenty, who had drifted to Chicago from his
country home in Indiana, and found it hard
to make both ends meet on a salary of nine
dollars a week. His habits were good, his manner
was attractive and won him popularity
with customer's, and with patience he was
likely to succeed in the end.
"I wish I could live like this every day,"
he said, as he rose from a luxurious supper.
"At present my finances won't allow me to board
at the Sherman."
"Nor would mine," said Carl; "but I am allowed
to spend money more freely when I am traveling."
"Are you acquainted in New York?" asked Gray.
"I have little or no acquaintance in the city,"
"I should be glad to get a position there."
"Are you not satisfied with your present place?"
"I am afraid I shall not long keep it."
"Why not? Do you think you are in any
danger of being discharged?"
"It is not that. I am afraid Mr. French will
be obliged to give up business."
"Why?" asked Carl, with keen interest.
"I have reason to think he is embarrassed.
I know that he has a good many bills out,
some of which have been running a long time.
If any pressure is brought to bear upon him,
he may have to suspend."
Carl felt that he was obtaining important information.
If Mr. French were in such a condition Miss Norris
would be pretty sure to lose her money if she advanced it.
"To what do you attribute Mr. French's embarrassment?" he asked.
"He lives expensively in a handsome house near Lincoln Park,
and draws heavily upon the business for his living expenses.
I think that explains it. I only wonder that he has been able
to hold out so long."
"Perhaps if he were assisted he would be able to keep
his head above water."
"He would need a good deal of assistance.
You see that my place isn't very secure, and
I shall soon need to be looking up another."
"I don't think I shall need to inquire any farther,"
thought Carl. "It seems to me Miss Norris had
better keep her money."
Before he retired he indited the following
letter to his Albany employer:
Miss Rachel Norris.
"Dear Madam:--I have attended to your
commission, and have to report that Mr.
French appears to be involved in business
embarrassments, and in great danger to bankruptcy.
The loan he asks of you would no doubt
be of service, but probably would not
long delay the crash. If you wish to assist
him, it would be better to allow him to fail,
and then advance him the money to put him
on his feet. I am told that his troubles come
from living beyond his means.
By return mail Carl received the following note:
"My Dear Young Friend:--Your report
confirms the confidence I reposed in you.
It is just the information I desired.
I shall take your advice and refuse the loan.
What other action I may take hereafter I cannot tell.
When you return, should you stop in Albany,
please call on me. If unable to do this, write
me from Milford.
Carl was detained for several days in Chicago.
He chanced to meet his English friend,
Lord Bedford, upon his arrival, and the nobleman,
on learning where he was staying, also
registered at the Sherman House. In his
company Carl took a drive over the magnificent
boulevard which is the pride of Chicago, and
rose several degrees in the opinion of those
guests who noticed his intimacy with the English guest.
Carl had just completed his Chicago business
when, on entering the hotel, he was surprised
to see a neighbor of his father's--Cyrus
Robinson--a prominent business man of Edgewood
Center. Carl was delighted, for he had
not been home, or seen any home friends for
over a year.
"I am glad to see you, Mr. Robinson," he
said, offering his hand.
"What! Carl Crawford!" exclaimed Robinson,
in amazement. "How came you in Chicago?
Your father did not tell me you were here."
"He does not know it. I am only here on a business visit.
Tell me, Mr. Robinson, how is my father?"
"I think, Carl, that he is not at all well.
I am quite sure he misses you, and I don't believe
your stepmother's influence over him is
beneficial. Just before I came away I heard
a rumor that troubled me. It is believed in
Edgewood that she is trying to induce your
father to make a will leaving all, or nearly all
his property to her and her son."
"I don't care so much for that, Mr. Robinson,
as for my father's health."
"Carl," said Robinson, significantly, "if such
a will is made I don't believe your father will
live long after it."
"You don't mean that?" said Carl, horror-struck.
"I think Mrs. Crawford, by artful means
will worry your father to death. He is of a
nervous temperament, and an unscrupulous
woman can shorten his life without laying herself
open to the law."
Carl's face grew stern.
"I will save my father," he said, "and
defeat my stepmother's wicked schemes."
"I pray Heaven you can. There is no time to be lost."
"I shall lose no time, you may be sure.
I shall be at Edgewood within a week."
MAKING A WILL.
In Edgewood Center events moved slowly.
In Carl Crawford's home dullness reigned
supreme. He had been the life of the house,
and his absence, though welcome to his stepmother,
was seriously felt by his father, who
day by day became thinner and weaker, while
his step grew listless and his face seldom
brightened with a smile. He was anxious to
have Carl at home again, and the desire became
so strong that he finally broached the subject.
"My dear," he said one day at the breakfast table,
"I have been thinking of Carl considerably of late."
"Indeed!" said Mrs. Crawford, coldly.
"I think I should like to have him at home once more."
Mrs. Crawford smiled ominously.
"He is better off where he is," she said, softly.
"But he is my only son, and I never see him,"
pleaded her husband.
"You know very well, Dr. Crawford," rejoined his wife,
"that your son only made trouble in the house while he was here."
"Yet it seems hard that he should be driven from his father's home,
and forced to take refuge among strangers."
"I don't know what you mean by his being driven from home,"
said Mrs. Crawford, tossing her head. "He made himself disagreeable,
and, not being able to have his own way, he took French leave."
"The house seems very lonely without him," went on Dr. Crawford,
who was too wise to get into an argument with his wife.
"It certainly is more quiet. As for company, Peter is still here,
and would at any time stay with you."
Peter did not relish this suggestion, and did not indorse it.
"I should not care to confine him to the house,"
said Dr. Crawford, as his glance rested on the plain
and by no means agreeable face of his stepson.
"I suppose I need not speak of myself.
You know that you can always call upon me."
If Dr. Crawford had been warmly attached
to his second wife, this proposal would have
cheered him, but the time had gone by when
he found any pleasure in her society. There
was a feeling of almost repulsion which he
tried to conceal, and he was obliged to acknowledge
to himself that the presence of his wife
gave him rather uneasiness than comfort.
"Carl is very well off where he is," resumed
Mrs. Crawford. "He is filling a business
position, humble, perhaps, but still one that gives
him his living and keeps him out of mischief.
Let well enough alone, doctor, and don't
interrupt his plans."
"I--I may be foolish," said the doctor,
hesitating, "but I have not been feeling as well
as usual lately, and if anything should happen
to me while Carl was absent I should die
Mrs. Crawford regarded her husband with
"Do you mean that you think you are in
any danger?" she asked.
"I don't know. I am not an old man, but,
on the other hand, I am an invalid. My father
died when he was only a year older than
I am at present."
Mrs. Crawford drew out her handkerchief,
and proceeded to wipe her tearless eyes.
"You distress me beyond measure by your
words, my dear husband. How can I think
of your death without emotion? What should
I do without you?"
"My dear, you must expect to survive me.
You are younger than I, and much stronger."
"Besides," and Mrs. Crawford made an
artful pause, "I hardly like to mention it, but
Peter and I are poor, and by your death
might be left to the cold mercies of the world."
"Surely I would not fail to provide for you."
Mrs. Crawford shook her head.
"I am sure of your kind intentions, my husband,"
she said, "but they will not avail unless you provide
for me in your will."
"Yes, it's only right that I should do so. As soon as
I feel equal to the effort I will draw up a will."
"I hope you will, for I should not care to be
dependent on Carl, who does not like me. I
hope you will not think me mercenary, but to
Peter and myself this is of vital importance."
"No, I don't misjudge you. I ought to have
thought of it before."
"I don't care so much about myself," said
Mrs. Crawford, in a tone of self-sacrifice,
"but I should not like to have Peter thrown
upon the world without means."
"All that you say is wise and reasonable,"
answered her husband, wearily. "I will attend
to the matter to-morrow."
The next day Mrs. Crawford came into her
husband's presence with a sheet of legal cap.
"My dear husband," she said, in a soft,
insinuating tone, "I wished to spare you trouble,
and I have accordingly drawn up a will
to submit to you, and receive your signature,
if you approve it."
Dr. Crawford looked surprised.
"Where did you learn to write a will?" he asked.
"I used in my days of poverty to copy documents for a lawyer,"
she replied. "In this way I became something of a lawyer myself."
"I see. Will you read what you have prepared?"
Mrs. Crawford read the document in her hand. It provided
in the proper legal phraseology for an equal division
of the testator's estate between the widow and Carl.
"I didn't know, of course, what provision you intended
to make for me," she said, meekly. "Perhaps you do not
care to leave me half the estate."
"Yes, that seems only fair. You do not mention Peter.
I ought to do something for him."
"Your kindness touches me, my dear husband,
but I shall be able to provide for him
out of my liberal bequest. I do not wish to
rob your son, Carl. I admit that I do not like him,
but that shall not hinder me from being just."
Dr. Crawford was pleased with this unexpected
concession from his wife. He felt that he should
be more at ease if Carl's future was assured.
"Very well, my dear," he said, cheerfully.
"I approve of the will as you have drawn it
up, and I will affix my signature at once."
"Then, shall I send for two of the neighbors
to witness it?"
"It will be well."
Two near neighbors were sent for and
witnessed Dr. Crawford's signature to the will.
There was a strangely triumphant look in
Mrs. Crawford's eyes as she took the document
after it had been duly executed.
"You will let me keep this, doctor?" she
asked. "It will be important for your son as
well as myself, that it should be in safe hands."
"Yes; I shall be glad to have you do so. I
rejoice that it is off my mind."
"You won't think me mercenary, my dear
husband, or indifferent to your life?"
"No; why should I?"
"Then I am satisfied."
Mrs. Crawford took the will, and carrying
it upstairs, opened her trunk, removed the false
bottom, and deposited under it the last will
and testament of Dr. Paul Crawford.
"At last!" she said to herself. "I am secure,
and have compassed what I have labored for so long."
Dr. Crawford had not noticed that the will
to which he affixed his signature was not the
same that had been read to him. Mrs. Crawford
had artfully substituted another paper
of quite different tenor. By the will actually
executed, the entire estate was left to Mrs.
Crawford, who was left guardian of her son
and Carl, and authorized to make such provision
for each as she might deem suitable. This,
of course, made Carl entirely dependent on
a woman who hated him.
"Now, Dr. Paul Crawford," said Mrs. Crawford
to herself, with a cold smile, "you may
die as soon as you please. Peter and I are
provided for. Your father died when a year
older than you are now, you tell me. It is
hardly likely that you will live to a greater
age than he."
She called the next day on the family physician,
and with apparent solicitude asked his
opinion of Dr. Crawford's health.
"He is all I have," she said, pathetically,
"all except my dear Peter. Tell me what you
think of his chances of continued life."
"Your husband," replied the physician, "has
one weak organ. It is his heart. He may live
for fifteen or twenty years, but a sudden
excitement might carry him off in a moment.
The best thing you can do for him is to keep
him tranquil and free from any sudden shock."
Mrs. Crawford listened attentively.
"I will do my best," she said, "since so much
depends on it."
When she returned home it was with a settled
purpose in her heart.
PETER LETS OUT A SECRET.
"Can you direct me to the house of Dr. Crawford?"
asked a stranger.
The inquiry was addressed to Peter Cook
in front of the hotel in Edgewood Center.
"Yes, sir; he is my stepfather!"
"Indeed! I did not know that my old friend
was married again. You say you are his stepson?"
"He has an own son, about your age, I should judge."
"That's Carl! he is a little older than me."
"Is he at home?"
"No," answered Peter, pursing up his lips.
"Is he absent at boarding school?"
"No; he's left home."
"Indeed!" ejaculated the stranger, in surprise.
"How is that?"
"He was awfully hard to get along with, and
didn't treat mother with any respect. He
wanted to have his own way, and, of course,
ma couldn't stand that."
"I see," returned the stranger, and he eyed
Peter curiously. "What did his father say
to his leaving home?" he asked.
"Oh, he always does as ma wishes."
"Was Carl willing to leave home?"
"Yes; he said he would rather go than obey ma."
"I suppose he receives an allowance from his father?"
"No; he wanted one, but ma put her foot down
and said he shouldn't have one."
"Your mother seems to be a woman of considerable firmness."
"You bet, she's firm. She don't allow no boy to boss her."
"Really, this boy is a curiosity," said Reuben Ashcroft
to himself. "He doesn't excel in the amiable
and attractive qualities. He has a sort of brutal
frankness which can't keep a secret."
"How did you and Carl get along together?" he asked, aloud.
"We didn't get along at all. He wanted to boss me,
and ma and I wouldn't have it."
"So the upshot was that he had to leave the house
and you remained?"
"Yes, that's the way of it," said Peter, laughing.
"And Carl was actually sent out to earn his own living
without help of any kind from his father?"
"What is he doing?" asked Ashcroft, in some excitement.
"Good heavens! he may have suffered from hunger."
"Are you a friend of his?" asked Peter, sharply.
"I am a friend of anyone who requires a friend."
"Carl is getting along well enough. He is at work
in some factory in Milford, and gets a living."
"Hasn't he been back since he first left home?"
"How long ago is that?"
"Oh, 'bout a year," answered Peter, carelessly.
"How is Dr. Crawford? Is he in good health?"
"He ain't very well. Ma told me the other
day she didn't think he would live long.
She got him to make a will the other day."
"Why, this seems to be a conspiracy!" thought Ashcroft.
"I'd give something to see that will."
"I suppose he will provide for you and your mother handsomely?"
"Yes; ma said she was to have control of the property.
I guess Carl will have to stand round if he expects any favors."
"It is evident this boy can't keep a secret," thought Ashcroft.
"All the better for me. I hope I am in time to defeat this
"There's the house," said Peter, pointing it out.
"Do you think Dr. Crawford is at home?"
"Oh, yes, he doesn't go out much. Ma is away this afternoon.
She's at the sewing circle, I think."
"Thank you for serving as my guide," said Ashcroft.
"There's a little acknowledgment which I hope will be of service to you."
He offered a half dollar to Peter, who accepted it joyfully
and was profuse in his thanks.
"Now, if you will be kind enough to tell the doctor
that an old friend wishes to see him,
I shall be still further obliged."
"Just follow me, then," said Peter, and he
led the way into the sitting-room.
Dr. CRAWFORD IS TAKEN TO TASK.
After the first greetings, Reuben Ashcroft
noticed with pain the fragile look of his friend.
"Are you well?" he asked
"I am not very strong," said Dr. Crawford, smiling faintly,
"but Mrs. Crawford takes good care of me."
"And Carl, too--he is no doubt a comfort to you?"
Dr. Crawford flushed painfully.
"Carl has been away from home for a year,
he said, with an effort.
"That is strange your own son, too! Is there
anything unpleasant? You may confide in me,
as I am the cousin of Carl's mother.'
"The fact is, Carl and Mrs. Crawford didn't
hit it off very well."
"And you took sides against your own son,
said Ashcroft, indignantly.
"I begin to think I was wrong, Reuben.
You don't know how I have missed the boy.
"Yet you sent him out into the world without a penny."
"How do you know that?" asked Dr. Crawford quickly.
"I had a little conversation with your stepson
as I came to the house. He spoke very frankly
and unreservedly about family affairs;
He says you do whatever his mother tells you.
Dr. Crawford looked annoyed and blushed with shame.
"Did he say that?" he asked.
"Yes; he said his mother would not allow you to help Carl."
"Paul, I fear he understands the case only too well.
I don't want to pain you, but your wife
is counting on your speedy death."
"I told her I didn't think I should live long."
"And she got you to make a will?"
"Yes; did Peter tell you that?"
"He said his mother was to have control
of the property, and Carl would get nothing
if he didn't act so as to please her."
"There is some mistake here. By my will
--made yesterday--Carl is to have an equal share,
and nothing is said about his being dependent on anyone."
"Who drew up the will?"
"Did you read it?"
Ashcroft looked puzzled.
"I should like to read the will myself," he said,
after a pause. "Where is it now?"
"Mrs. Crawford has charge of it."
Reuben Ashcroft remained silent, but his mind was busy.
"That woman is a genius of craft," he said to himself.
"My poor friend is but a child in her hands. I did
not know Paul would be so pitiably weak."
"How do you happen to be here in Edgewood, Reuben?"
asked the doctor.
"I had a little errand in the next town, and
could not resist the temptation of visiting you."
"You can stay a day or two, can you not?"
"I will, though I had not expected to do so."
"Mrs. Crawford is away this afternoon. She
will be back presently, and then I will introduce you."
At five o'clock Mrs. Crawford returned,
and her husband introduced her to his friend.
Ashcroft fixed his eyes upon her searchingly.
"Her face looks strangely familiar," he said
to himself. "Where can I have seen her?"
Mrs. Crawford, like all persons who have a
secret to conceal, was distrustful of strangers.
She took an instant dislike to Reuben Ashcroft,
and her greeting was exceedingly cold.
"I have invited Mr. Ashcroft to make me a visit
of two or three days, my dear," said her husband.
"He is a cousin to Carl's mother."
Mrs. Crawford made no response, but kept
her eyes fixed upon the carpet. She could
not have shown more plainly that the invitation
was not approved by her.
"Madam does not want me here," thought
Ashcroft, as he fixed his gaze once more upon
his friend's wife. Again the face looked familiar,
but he could not place it.
"Have I not seen you before, Mrs. Crawford?"
he asked, abruptly.
"I don't remember you," she answered, slowly.
"Probably I resemble some one you have met."
"Perhaps so," answered Ashcroft, but he
could not get rid of the conviction that somewhere
and some time in the past he had met
Mrs. Crawford, and under circumstances that
had fixed her countenance in his memory.
After supper Dr. Crawford said: "My dear,
I have told our guest that I had, as a prudential
measure, made my will. I wish you would get it,
and let me read it to him."
Mrs. Crawford looked startled and annoyed.
"Couldn't you tell him the provisions of it?" she said.
"Yes, but I should like to show him the document."
She turned and went upstairs. She was absent
at least ten minutes. When she returned
she was empty-handed.
"I am sorry to say," she remarked, with a
forced laugh, "that I have laid away the will
so carefully that I can't find it."
Ashcroft fixed a searching look upon her,
that evidently annoyed her.
"I may be able to find it to-morrow," she resumed.
"I think you told me, Paul," said Ashcroft,
turning to Dr. Crawford, "that by the will
your estate is divided equally between Carl
and Mrs. Crawford."
"And nothing is said of any guardianship
on the part of Mrs. Crawford?"
"No; I think it would be better, Ashcroft,
that you should be Carl's guardian. A man
can study his interests and control him better."
"I will accept the trust," said Ashcroft,
"though I hope it may be many years before
the necessity arises."
Mrs. Crawford bit her lips, and darted an
angry glance at the two friends. She foresaw
that her plans were threatened with failure.
The two men chatted throughout the evening,
and Dr. Crawford had never of late seemed happier.
It gave him new life and raised his spirits to chat
over old times with his early friend.
A MAN OF ENERGY.
The next morning Ashcroft said to his host:
"Paul, let us take a walk to the village."
Dr. Crawford put on his hat, and went out
with his friend.
"Now, Paul," said Ashcroft, when they were
some rods distant from the house, "is there a
lawyer in Edgewood?"
"Certainly, and a good one."
"Did he indite your will?"
"No; Mrs. Crawford wrote it out.
She was at one time copyist for a lawyer."
"Take my advice and have another drawn up
to-day without mentioning the matter to her.
She admits having mislaid the one made yesterday."
"It may be a good idea."
"Certainly, it is a prudent precaution. Then
you will be sure that all is safe. I have, myself,
executed a duplicate will. One I keep,
the other I have deposited with my lawyer."
Ashcroft was a man of energy. He saw that
Dr. Crawford, who was of a weak, vacillating
temper, executed the will. He and another
witnessed it, and the document was left with
"You think I had better not mention the
matter to Mrs. Crawford?" he said.
"By no means--she might think it was a reflection
upon her for carelessly mislaying the first."
"True," and the doctor, who was fond of
peace, consented to his friend's plan.
"By the way," asked Ashcroft, "who was your wife
what was her name, I mean--before her second marriage?"
"She was a Mrs. Cook."
"Oh, I see," said Ashcroft, and his face
lighted up with surprise and intelligence
"What do you see?" inquired Dr. Crawford.
"I thought your wife's face was familiar.
I met her once when she was Mrs. Cook."
"You knew her, then?"
"No, I never exchanged a word with her till
I met her under this roof.
"How can I tell him that I first saw her
when a visitor to the penitentiary among the
female prisoners?" Ashcroft asked himself.
"My poor friend would sink with mortification."
They were sitting in friendly chat after their
return from their walk, when Mrs. Crawford
burst into the room in evident excitement.
"Husband," she cried, "Peter has brought
home a terrible report. He has heard from
a person who has just come from Milford that
Carl has been run over on the railroad and
Dr. Crawford turned pale, his features
worked convulsively, and he put his hand to
his heart, as he sank back in his chair, his face
as pale as the dead.
"Woman!" said Ashcroft, sternly, "I believe
you have killed your husband!"
"Oh, don't say that! How could I be so imprudent?"
said Mrs. Crawford, clasping her hands,
and counterfeiting distress.
Ashcroft set himself at once to save his
friend from the result of the shock.
"Leave the room!" he said, sternly, to Mrs. Crawford.
"Why should I? I am his wife."
"And have sought to be his murderer. You know
that he has heart disease. Mrs. --Cook,
I know more about you than you suppose."
Mrs. Crawford's color receded.
"I don't understand you," she said. She
had scarcely reached the door, when there was
a sound of footsteps outside and Carl dashed
into the room, nearly upsetting his stepmother.
"You here?" she said, frigidly.
"What is the matter with my father?" asked Carl.
"Are you Carl?" said Ashcroft, quickly.