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"That is my name," assented Mer
"I saw you four years ago in Broc
t'on and remembered you. Mr: Mer
rill, because it lies heavy on my con
science, because you are too good a
man to go through the world sad
dened by the mystery of the disap
pearance of the woman you loved, I
am about to make a confession. I
was the cause of Estelle Harraden
leaving Brocton and you."
"You!" exclaimed Merrill, incredulously.
"At the behest of another, Bruce
Wyant. The other was the man who
swore that you should never .wed the
woman he coveted. He led me to
pose as one you had already mar
ried and deserted. He furnished me
,with forged proofs to sustain the fic
tion. I did my work because he
claimed he sought only revenge, be
cause he promised to make me his
wife if I would. He followed Miss
Harraden, but she ignored him with
scorn. He failed in his promise to
me. He was killed in a quarrel in a
gambling den and I shuttered a low,
.plaintive moan "I have suffered
deeply for my wicked action."
"You have no idea where Estelle
Miss Harraden went to?" eagerly in
quired Merrijl. x
"None," was the depressing reply.
"You will curse me, but I had to re
lieve my mind," and, despite his gen
tle words of forgiveness, his proffers
of money aid, the poor creature van
ished in the throng.
It was then that Merrill renewed
his quest for Estelle. He advertised
in the papers, he even employed de
tectives, but no trace was found of
missing or hidden Estelle Harraden.
His grief was the more poignant,
however, now that he knew that a
plot, a lie, had driven from his side
the lovely girl and probably de
stroyed her faith in all mankind.
He had a miraculous escape in a
railroad wreck in a little town in
Iowa and was compelled to remain'
there owing to a bruised limb for sev
eral days. It was the first day he
had been able to walk readily since
the accident, and he was turning a
corner when an automobile came
whizzing around the corner. A little
child passed directly in its path. Merj
rill sprang forward He drew the
child aside in safety and held her in
his arms as she sobbed with fright;
"Don't cry, dearie," spoke Merrill
"But my books, look! they are all
in the mud."
"We will soon fix all that," prom
ised Merrill encouragingly, and he,
gathered up two books 'held by a:
strap, unloosened them and with his
handkerchief rubbed off the damp
dirt that had gathered on them.
"You see, Miss Bartlett gave me
the books," explained the little one.
"She's taught me the alphabet and
soon as I can read words I am going
to the school."
"Here they are, all nice and clean,"
said Merrill, but in handing the hooks
back to the child one of them
chanced to come open. Merrill start
ed, stared, his breath came quickly,
for across the fly leaf was written in
a dear, familiar hand the name: "Es
telle Harraden," and after it the date
of the year she had disappeared.
"Child! child!" he uttered eagerly,
"you say a lady gave you the books.
Where, who is she?"
"Miss Bartlett? Oh, every one
knows her," prattled the little one.
"She is a music teacher."
"Yes! yes!" '
"She lives with the school princi
pay's family in that gray house see
it, just, beyond the church."
Alton Merrill tried to control him
self. A clue at last oh, surely! for
Estelle had been a musician along
with her other accomplishments. So
abruptly did he leave the little child
that she stood staring wonderingly
after him. '
Merrill approached the gray house
beyond the church. Could he be mis
taken was he cherishing false
hopes? Oh, surely not! for as he