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Newspaper Page Text
THE DECISIVE MOMENT
By H. M. Egbert.
(Copyright, 1916, W. G. Chapman.)
Harding had watched the girl with
the brown hair and the sad face ever
since the voyage began. She had
two acquaintances, and she spoke to
no one else. He learned that she was
a Miss Elsa Wayne, the man was
Count Foscari and the white-haired
woman his' mother. And the girl was
en route to Italy to marry him.
Harding was on the way to Naples
to take up a minor cpnsular post.
At 30 he was not the sort to fall in
love at first sight But the girl's
face haunted him and the expression
of sadness intimated to him that the
marriage was distasteful to her.
He tried to scrape acquaintance
with her, but the two watched her
like hawks. It was quite by accident
that he got his chance on the sixth
day of the voyage.
They were near the Azores. For
the first time the girl was on deck
alone. Harding was a little distance
from her when a sudden huge wave,
lashing against the deck, swept her
from her feet She fell toward the
bulwarks. Harding rushed forward
and assisted her to rise.
"You must be more careful,-" he
warned her. "You might have been
"That would' have been no loss,"
she retorted. "I wish I had been.".
He reproved her gently. "You
should not talk that way," he said.
"You have your life before you. You
are young and there is much hap
piness for you."
She turned upon him fiercely. "Do
I look happy?" she asked. "I tell
you since my life began I have never
known what happiness meant. My
parents are the richest people in New
Harding remembered then the fab
ulous wealth of the Waynes. An old
family, they' kept out of notoriety; it
was at the bankers' investigation
that Wayne had coolly announced
himself to be worth a hundred mil
lion, "I was brought up with the one.
idea of marrying well," the girl con
tinued. "Well I am doing it. Count
Foscari is of the oldest family in
Italy. Only I told him that if I mar
ried -him I should run away with him.
I would not endure the mockery of
Harding Swam Toward It.
a marriage at home. My parents in
sisted that I should sacrifice my life
for them. I have done so but I lose
my own means."
There was an intense bitterness In
her voice. Harding looked at her
aghast "You had better go below
(and change your clothes," he an
She turned away scornfully, bat