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"Milly," he spoke outright, "your
father has told me. You are to mar
ry Mr. Wegg."
"I I must."
Her lips drew tight, her face was
a mask of pent-up misery.
"As an old friend," pursued How
ard, "let me ask you one question:
Is there some one else?"
Her eyes were downcast, her face
covered with a quick flush.
"Yes," she barely whispered, her
tones a-tremble, her face half hidden.
Howard gave a great start A sud
den thought, a fancied new discovery
had illumined his mind. In a flash he
saw it all his nephew, Walter! Why,
of course! Had not Milly for months
before the departure of Walter run
in upon them, happy and free as a
member of the family, for weeks and
weeks? She loved another who
could it be but Walter? And had
not "the, boy" written, far away in
the west with a surveying party, that
"only for one he loved the exile would
be a lonesome experience." They
might never have plighted their troth,
but Milly loved Walter, whom else?
And Walter why, they were mated
in temperament and tastes and above
all in youth!
A great tnew thought came to Kirk
Howard. He loved Walter as an own
son. It would take fully a month to
reach him and get him back home.
Daniel Wegg had set a limit of two
days. What was there in life for
himself, reflected Howard and a
miglity resolve thrilled and then fas
"Milly," he spoke steadily as he
could, "your father sees his situation
only in your sacrifice. I can prevent
it, I can aid in getting him out of
the power of Daniel Wegg. Will you
help me to do it? Milly, will you
marry me? I am old, it is true, but
I 'will not be a a burden to you. It
is only to save you. I I "
In amazement he checked the inco
herent torrent of words which he
sought to employ to conceal his real
intentions. Milly had uttered a strange I
7 cry. She bent toward him. It seemed
as if a great gladness showed inkier
relieved face, the flashing glimpse he
had of it. Then, burying her face on
his arm, she clung to him like to a
tired, storm-beaten child seeking and
finding security and peace.
'Tes yes!" she murmured. "Oh,
my best, my dearest of friends!" and
then, sobbing, she darted from the
spot, for her father had intruded.
Plainly, bluntly Kirk Howard stat
ed his position to Mr. Davenal. The
latter had refused money, but be
tween Wegg and Howard there could
be no choice. Yes, let the marriage
take place at once, the money pro
vided to pay off Wegg before the lat
ter would contrive some scheme to
defeat their plans and harass them.
It was strange how grave, how pale
was Howard through that hurried
ceremony. Milly acted like one fii a
dream. No one was present at the
marriage except father, daughter,
Howard and the minister.
"I I have some important bus
iness up at my home," spoke Howard
in a strained, unnatural voice, as the
clergyman went away.
Milly regarded him tremulously.
There was a wistful, pleading look in
her eyes, but he, manlike, construed
it as passing gratitude at her deliver
ance from being wedded to a man she
"I may not return until tomorrow,"
he voiced unsteadily, "I have some
very important papers to make out
to provide for your future, Milly," he
added, and then he was gone, leaving
Davenal stupefied and Milly puzzled.
"What did it mean ? What could it
mean! For an hour Milly sat mar
veling at this strange abandonment.
Somehow the last look Howard had
bestowed upon her troubled her,
haunted her. It seemed to express
sorrow, subtle, infinitely pathetic, yet
it also appeared to bid her hope. Her
father retired. A deserted bride, Mil
ly went to the window and glanced
Over at the Howard house a single
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