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6 CHAPTER XIIContinued. Be saw the calm, confident look in her face, and a breath of hope stirred his fainting manhood. "Anythingeverything!" he saidi, at length. "If you will yield implicit obedience to meif you will be guidedI shall clear the way for you. ^ill you9" "Yes." "Human life or Hives must not be regarded. We have no friends we are surrounded by enemies we must, put aside conscience and sentiment to win we musit hesitate nowhere. Do you understand? And do you con- sent?" "I shall leave it all to you, moth er. What is first to be done?" "Meet Louise here at six o'clock,' and take your cue from me. She' must be disarmed of suspicion." From the moment of his surrender Raymond! Holbin was ripe for any thing his mother might suggest. It was her mind that conceived the plan to convince Louise that she would be permitted to ride through the con federate picket line that, under an arrangement secured by Raymond through friends in the war depart ment, only a pretense cf firing upon her would be made. It was a plan that would have deceived no other than a woman. That six o'clock tea was the tri umph of a brilliant diplomatist's ca reer. Louise was forgiven, caressed, received back as a member of the family, her claims and WTongs ac knowledged, and full reparation agreed upon. No one could have ex celled Mrs. Brookin in the tender ness with which she treated the now happy woman. She blamed Raymond openy for having concealed ttie truth from her. "I knew nothing of the unfair ad vantage he topk of younor of the child." she said to Louise. "My hus band's niece! It was indteed a crime! And yet I see now that I largely haye been to blame. I threatened him my heart was set upon another plan. My dear child,, if loving care and sym pathy can compensate in part for what you have suffered, they shall be yours. But although the circum stances sieem to demand that mar riage should at once be solemnized, the ceremony must net be performed in Richmond. In all likelihood this city wild be your home, and you should come here as Raymond's wife. Fortunately, he has given no one here reason to suppose he is single, and it will be very easy at the right time to have you and the little girl arrive. I assure you, my daughter, that your reception will leave no room for doubt as to your future position." HARRlTTILLWLL^^5 Copyright, 1S99. by J. B. Lipptacott Company. .Ml Bights teseired As Louise sat looking into the benevo lent face of the older woman, with tearful eyes, her heart overflowed with gratitude "M.\ child, madam," she faltered. "Where is she?" "Near the city, but just now be yond the lines. You will be directed how to reach her when you get thiough or better, Raymond will join you, and together you will find her Louise went back to the hotel al most content. CHAPTER XIII. Raymond Hclbin had found it diffi cult to advance his cause with Frances, if for no other reason than that few opportunities for seeing her alone presented themselves. He had sought interviews repeatedly and ottered the many little courtesies which the male resident of a house may extend to those of the other sex, but they had been declined with a persistance that only added fuel to tne flames which were consuming him. The girl seldom dined with the family she had during her father's long illness instituted a little house keeping plan of heT own and took her meals in her apartments, a mat ter very conveniently arranged by reason of the position of the apart ments and the constant attendance of mammy. Occasionally, yielding to the insistence of her stepmother, she joined the family upstairs, but on such occasions she carefully avoided a tete-a-tete with Raymond, with drawing always with the elder wom an. On such occasions*, the inevitable topic had been the war, its vicissi tudes, and the responsibilities it in volved. In these meetings and the presence of great events she after awhile learned, if not to like her step mother, at least to suspend judgment upon her indeed, sometimes she had been tempted to doubt the correct ness, of her former judgment, for When the city began to be crowded with wounded! Mrs. Brookin threw open her house to thjjm. and gave much of her time to tfteir care. The gentleness with which ihe eldr wom an enteTed into this work, her gen erosity and her universal courtesy were boufcd to impress fcuch a girl a|. Frances. O/nce-, a! though yielding to a noble impulse, tjhe placed her arm about the gtfrl and said: "My child, yo^have^surprised and gratified me 61 late. If 1 haa known you years ago we should never have been less than friends. Try to forget the days when I seemed unkind, please, and do not cherish anger towards an old woman." Frances tried to forget, but always in the presence of Mrs. Brookin she felt a constraint. She seemed ever to have entered an atmos phere that had been stripped of its elec tricity. Try as she might, it had been impossible to respond unreservedly to her advances the best she could do was to meet them with courtesy. The presence of wounded men in the house gave Raymond for a short time an opportunity to see something of Frances., and he, too, became a famous nurse. But one day Frances assured him that if he should prove as good a fighter as he was a nurse promotion would follow then he came less often. Twice before she had been unable to resist the temptation to touch the raw .place once she had asked him directly how it was that a man.could keep out of a war in which other men were win ning fame and once, in reply to his question: "Will you ever like me, Frances?" she said: "A Virginia woman should not be expected to like civilians overmuch when Virginia soil is invaded.*' At length, to avoid him, she gave more of her time to the hos pital, yielding the care of those in the home to her stepmother and the trained nurses. Mrs. Brookin won golden opinions in those days. A week seldom passed without the appearance of her name in print coupled with lav ish commendation. Dr. Brodnar, busy every hour of the twenty-four in which his giant strength could sustain him awake, had but little time to'spare for Frances but one day in the hospital he got a brief report of the girl's new experi ence. "If I had not discovered that I am better at sawing off legs than fighting scheming women, my child, I should say that you have never been in so much danger as now but I have re tired as an adviser of young women. By the way, have you decided that you will come out and keep us company at home? My wife sends an invitation not less than once a week." "No," she said, "it would seem like running. But tell Mrs. Brodhar I am vefy grateful for her kindness." "All right. Come when you please and, Frances, call me a.fool as often as you wish, but be careful what you eat in j-our ^tepznother's houseand take no medjclne'there! How have you sat isfied them about tjje n,ight when a frjignd Of ours'g'Ot his wound?" "They have never been satisfied, I think. The$ tell me I am full of whims, and perhaps they class that night among them. You have not heard?" "Not a word. Good-by!" Dr. Brod nar in the brief meetings with Frances would never discuss Somers. It is likely that his friend's choice of sides had been an immense disappointment. Frances was bound to receive Brod nar's hint unfavorably when she con sidered the new and continued kind ness of her stepmother. 6ften the lat ter said: "When it is all over, my child, this cruel war, these scenes of suffering, we will take our trunks and go abroad somewhere for a year of rest." The idea seemed to be a favorite one with her she told all of her acquaintances that she and "poor dear Frances" were going abroad as soon as hostili ties closed that the child was simply worked down. And in the face of this tender solicitude and the old lady's de votion to confederate sufferers, peo ple shook their heads and acknowl edged that one should not always be lieve the unkind things whispered of a neighbor. From the isolation of a sus pected person, in a year Mrs. Brookin achieved immense popularity and won the confidence of even the highest of ficials, in whose home circles she was as welcome as they were in hers. How welcome they were might be estimated from certain government recofds, if the records were accessible and possi ble of translation now. Holbin had heard of Frances' latest whim, the union soldier. He had not interested himself in the latter's wel fare, but he made his appearance in the wingroom on the day after Louise had been pacified, and, finding only mammy there with the wounded man, he entered and engaged him in cheer ful conversation. He gave him the latest news from the front, and sup plied him with cigars. Responding to these attentions, the soldier readily told his story. When the name of Rich ard Somers, his former enemy, was reached, Holbin was visibly excited. Still, not for one instant did it occur to him to connect the presence of the wounded man in that room with the fact that Somers was his captain and the soldier himself naturally took it for granted that the cause of his pres ence was well understood by all. Frances found Holbin there, andi stood silently resentful upon the threshold until he had explained his visit. "I ana told by the clerk in the de partment," he said, "that you hatl secured a passi for yoxir protege, and I was repentant that you had been forced to ge there in person. I have called now to offer nay assistance. k* There is something else to be done for a woundied man besides getting him a pass. He must have transportation and assistance generally." "I have been thinking of that," she admitted, troubled. "If I may be allowed to do a wound ed enemy a service," said Holbin, "I shall take him in my buggy to our outposts'." "I am sure that he will be greatly obliged." The soldier expressed him self grateful, and Holbin went away', making light of the service and with out further effort to trespass upon the girl's rare mood. On the inner stair he paused in deep thought, his dark face savagely triumphant. His moth er met him in the hall above and read excitement in his every move ment. "What is it, Raymond?" He hesi tated and smiled wickedly. "I am afraid even you would be shocked, mother mine. But trust me, when I do tell you about it, you will not be ashamed of your cub." "Raymond, how dare you?" The woman's face grew crimson, and then white as from a sudden terror. He showed his teeth and disappeared be fore she could stop him. Angry and uneasy, she sought her own room. The wounded soldier rode next day with Raymond Holbin, his pale face reflecting the light of liberty's sun THE CONFEDERATE 1 ICKET FOUND A FEDERAL SOLDIER LYING DEAD WITHIN" THEIR LINES. not yet risen for him, his blue uni form dusted and cleaned until every button waa as of gold. "Qood'-by, miss," he said "I'll de liver your message, an' I know the cap'n '11 be a proud man to see me back!" He offered mammy his last greenback, but it was indignantly re fused, witnesses being present. "Dat green money ain't no good down here nohow." "It will be," said the soldier, sim ply- Holbin returned next day and gave a vivid account of his parting with the happy prisoner and then he imp mediately sought his own room but not before Frances, a little ashamed of herself, had thanked him warmly for his kindness to her soldier. Upon the same day the confederate relief picket found a federal soldier lying dead within their lines. He had been shot from behind with a pistol held so close to his coat that it was burned by the powder. The affair afforded but a few minutes' discussion, for the explosion of fire arms Was almost incessant at timesi, and dead men in June, 1862, were plentiful around Richmond. The only part of the mastery worth consider ing from the military standpoint was how the man got through the lines at that particular place. A watch taken from his body contained the names of Capt. Richard Somers and the regi ment to which he was attached, and also the likeness of an elderly wom an. It was surmised that the victim of the pistol shot was a deserter and robber that he had been captured and killed while attempting violence or an escape. The officer into whose possession the watch drifted was in charge of a burial party next day un der a flag of truce, and, learning that Capt. Somere was among the troops opposite, sent the watch to him with a courteous explanation. The grati fication of Capt. Somers was only equaled by his bewilderment Many weeks before he had intrusted the jewel to his, faithful artilleryman, and this soldier, he had been assured, was left dead upon the bloody battlefield. His conclusion was that some one had robbed the body at that time and had been overtaken by fate while en gaged in some other nefarious enter prise. But when Capt. Somers cas ually opened the locket and found therein a long, slender curl of red dish-golden hair and on the narrow ribbon with which it was tied, the name "Frances," he was involved in a hopeless mystery. He was within sound of the Richmond church bells that morning, and between the inter vals of fighting and moving to new positions he had already in imagina tion entered that city. The name thus sent was the only tidings of Prances he had ever received, and. it made him a sadly happy man. THE PEINCETOK UKIOlsr^gTHUllSDAY, MAY 9. 1901. CHAPTER XIV Locked within his own room, Ray mond Holbin drew from his pocket the packet of papers taken by him from the rcmrdered man with the official order for which he had committed the crime. The order read: "Pass the bearer. Thomas Rilej, paroled prison er, through the lines." "It will not do Loiuse much good, anyway," he said, "even were I disposed to give it to her." The name "Martha Somers" upon the sealed packet attracted his attention, and he recognized in a Dela ware address beneath the home of Richard Somers. He remembered then the dead soldier's description of the battle in which he was wounded, and guessed that the packet contained the papers given to him to deliver. Holbin would hardly have troubled himself to wade through a score of farewell pages from a soldier to his mother, and would have promptly destroyed the whole collection, but that the remaining en velope, addressed to Richard Somers, lay before him, and upon it his eye caught the Brookin crest. "This is very different," he said to himself with interest. "Let us see what Frances has to say to the fellow." He broke the seal and read: "I send you back, well and free, the man who saved your life I found him grievously woundeda prisoner. It is all that I have been able to do in return for your kindness to me, a stranger, and for the wound you received in my house. Think me not indelicate when I say that the sweetest memory my heart carries is in the memory of your face beneath the match that night and of the words 'Frances, my wife,' which you have en graved in your locket, and over which I have placed a message to you. Forgive me it can never matter much, for a sea of blood rolls between us. Good night. God be with you till we meetin Heaven. 'FRANCES." Hplbin sat gazing blankly upon the lines. His head was in a whirl. "Her husband! her husband! Pshaw!" he exclaimed with an uneasy laugh, springing to his feet and begin ning to walk the floor, "this comes of the damnable work out yonder to-day my nerves are simply unstrung." He took a bottle from his dreser. poured out a stiff drink, and tossed it off with one gulp. Then he went back to his table and, picking up the letter, read aloud: "wound received in my house" "your face beneath the lighted match." As he stood thus the letter slipped from his hand. "Louice!" he whispered, "the man whom Louise shot!" Not in all the vicissitudes of his wild career had Holbin recehed such a shock of surprise. His mind dazed and bewildered, could not ar range a deduction beyond the discov ery that Richard Somers was the man around whom so much of mystery had gathered, and that Frances referred to him in the tender word "husband." He laid^ his hand upon the bell-cord and hesitated then his wicked smile came back again as he pulled it. "TeH your mistress I shall be glad if she will favor me with her presence here," he said to William. When, a few minutes later, Mrs. Brookin came into the room he failed to hear her. "What is it, Raymond?" she asked. He roused himself and spoke rapidly. "Frances got her wounded soldier a pass through our lines, and to please her I carried him to the front. After he left me I found these papers in the buggy where he had dropped them. The fellow's captain is Richard Somers." "Richard Somers!" "And now, madam, read the note from Frances to him and let me con gratulate you upon" She read it rapidly, and when her amazed face was lifted he added: "Your son-in-law." "I do not understand! What does it mean?" "Answer that question for me, moth er my head has ceased to be of any assistance. Undoubtedly, however, the woman who you lead me to believe gave you her promise to marry me some day is already in point of law Richard Somer's wife and has forfeited her right to any part of her father's es tate. Madam, fortune favors the bold I congratulate you!" His manner be trayed an intense excitement and bit terness. "Wait, waitl" said the woman, qui etly, her eyes riveted upon the letter. "It seems that he was her husband that night. Was not that night prior to the signing of the will?" "Yes, the night before." The son, looking upon his mother's face, could find no evidence of satisfaction there. It was ghastly. "Why, what is it now?" "A stronger will and a clearer head than we imagined has been at war with us. I do not know the law, but they were trying to defeat the will in ad vance. It does defeat it in some way. or our enemies would not have taken the risk. If Frances were really mar ried before the will was signed, she cannot comply with its requirements, and the law will not demand an impos sibility." "Well!" He bent forward, his voice reduced to a whisper. "We have lost, you and I. Except for my pittance, we shall be beggars upon the day that Frances comes of age and that day is near at hand." A long silence followed, and then the eyes of mother and son met. "Do you not share alike if the will fails?" "Xo. The intention of my husband will be operative only the condition fails. There is no hope that way." His mother looked from him and spoke slowly. "Is there no remedy?" he asked. "Yes. If Richard Somers is not liv ing when Frances comes of age, or shtould Frances" "Mother, mother, take care!" The words burst in sudden energy from the wretchedi man. "Lift a hand to harm but one hair of her head, and, b}r the Mother of God" "Hush! Hush!" she said, quietly. "You love her that is enough. She is safe." "Swear it." "Read the other letter," she said, disregarding him. "It is likely that a man would mention his wife in his last letter to his mother." Raymond stripped off the envelope and shook two letters to the table. One, unsealed, was addressed to Mrs. Martha Somers. "Nothing but gush," he said, running his eye hurriedlj- over the lines. Mrs. Brookin had picked up the other, which was addressed to Dr. Brodnar. "We are getting to the heart of the mystery," she said. "Read this one." Raymond read in silence first, and then, leaning forward, excitedly read aloud: "Go to the girl I married at your request and say death ha's dissolved the bond. Break the news to her as gently as pos sible, (or nave been vain enough to Re lieve that the child 'oves me. You pre- pared the way by your partiality, and her loneliness and excess of gratitude accom plished the rest. Let me confess that I have been foolish enough to love her and to dream that some day you would permit me to return and openly seek her out. But this cursed war has killed my dream, Brod nar, and if this letter reaches you, it will be after it has killed your friend also! Go to her and sa that since he met her Rich ard Somers has loved her as a man loves but once." There were other lines dealing with the friendship between the two men while in Paris and containing a tender farewell. "It is now plain to me," he said. "The meddlesome scoundrel Brodoiar is the author of the whole plot!" Mrs. Brook in folded the letters into their places. Her hands were without a tremor. "Let them keep their secret. To in form them is to arm them. We will continue to betheir dupes. Richard Somers may not be living when Fran ces reaches twenty-one who can tell? The man who lost those letters has, I suppose, ere this made a full report." "The man who lost the letters, moth er, has reported elsewhere with a bul let through his heart." "Raymond!" "What does it matter? We are kill ing them in front of our lines every day. One behind counts for little. He had a pass I needed it. I need it now more than ever." The woman's face glowed with a sudden light. "You are too rash, my boy take no steps before consulting me. In the meantime these papers have no value for us. Burn them, burn them now! But no! give me the letter to Brod^ nar it may be valuable some day as evidence that Richard Somers is dead." One by one Holbin held the others o\er lighted matches and saw them vanish into cinders. His moth er placed her hand upon his shoulder. "Raymond, 3011 are again planning to cross the lines*' "I know what I am doing! Do not seek to influence me "What do jou mean?" "There is no time for explanation, nor is there any need, for jou already understand. It is sufficient to say that I am going across the lines for more than one purpose now." "There are all sorts of people in an army," she said "I have seen it stated that many officers killed in battle are shot from behind." "That is one," he replied, "and men who serve1 their country in time of war are forgiven many things. I am in possession of that which will se cure for me a review of my case and restore to me my commission. I have offered my sword to the confederacy once the next time I will offer it point first!" "You have valuable information for sale. Is that what you mean? Go slow upon that line if you draw your sword against Virginia openly you sacrifice all interests here. Better be a friend to both sides, and when you come back with proofs that Richard Somers is really dead all may jet be well. It she is free at 21 the will is binding, even if it were held that she has not already sacrificed her in terest." "Come what may," he said, pas sionately, "while I live Brodnar shall never see Frances Brookin the wife in truth of Richard Somers." "Nor while I live," said his mother "there is my hand tipon it." "Keep out of it, mother, keep out, or you will regret it!" said the wretched man. "Ungrateful boy! Where is your promise? Do you repudiate that? Have you forgotten your danger?"' "No, but she shall not suffer at your hands. Leave her to me. And. mother, if you ever find us dead to gether in that room downstairs, have no thought of me. The man who has neither love nor revenge has noth ing to live for." He seized his hat and rushed from her presence. CHAPTER XV. Col. Richard Somers dismounted and took refuge upon the veranda of a little cottage that fronted a cross road near Mechanicsville while his ar tillery thundered by and unlimbered in position to face the e&emy. Men, horses and officers were worn out with fatigue and hard fighting and eager for an opportunity to snatch a few hours of rest. The two great armies had entered upon the memorable sea'en days' fight which was to swing around Richmond and leave a bloody path to Malvern Hill. The cottage seemed deserted, but, presently an aged negress made her appearance from somewhere and patheficallj^ at tempted to extend its hospitalities to the officers who began to swarm into the yard. Clinging to her skirts was a little girl of six or seven years, whose fair complexion, blue eyes and silken curls bespoke a patrician par entage, but whose frail figure and in cessant cough gave evidence of a fatal weakness. "Her ma is done dead, sah," said the old woman, respectfully, when Col. Somers hurriedly questioned her con cerning the family, "an' her pa left 'fS' you-all come done come yistiddy an' go right back to town. He don't stay hyar anyhow." "But that child must not remain here she is in danger every moment You must move out!" "Whey we goin' move, sah? Don't know nobody any better off'n we are roun' hyah. Marster tell me to stay right hyah. an' I goin' ter stay hyah. Better tek yo' folks an' move on. sah, whey you started." Somers had other things to think about, and turned away. Very likely the movement next day would carry them beyond the cot tage, and the danger was not press ing at the moment. In the morning the child might be sent to the rear if necessary, and to-night he rather welcomed the adjuncts of refined life. He had use for the old woman, for he was but recently out of hospital and somewhat spoiled by nursing. He made himwe'lf and officers comfort able in the best rooms after the man- ner of old campaigners and prepared for the short rest which he so much needed. Somers had made the necessary dis positions and, left alone upon thepo-rdb. for a moment, his thoughtsreverted tb the cherished memento in his locket, the worldless message of love which. had so mysteriously reached him. It was just one slender curlthe curl thathadtouchedhischeek, he was sure, and with itaname. They were enough no words could have summoned up more vividly the scenes of that dark ened wing-room, nor have told him more eloquently that within the ex cited city there was one heart which held no hatred for him. Itwasnohour for dreaming, and he roused himself to the present. Around him were con tending hosts of doomed men, the spir it of war hovered over the rude camps, and death lurked in the shadows, eager for his harvest. From the distance, the echoes of dropping shots came faintly to the ear. and presently what seemed to be a small volley. This volley claimed his attention and that of the junior officers, and he had ordered a sergeant up to inquire as to the cause, when the sound of rapid hoof-beats ap proached upon the road, and in the dim. light as he waited a frightened horse, pursued by half a dozen troopers, sped by. Presently the men returned lead ing the captured animal and carrying its late rider. The latter was youthful and clad in confederate gray, which was drenched with blood and covered with dust for the wounded rider, clinging desperately to the mane of the horse as he lay extended upon its neck, had finally fallen and been dragged until the weight stopped the runaw ay. The face of the unfortunate fellow had escaped, and so young and so fair was it, e\en the hardened sol diers were touched. "He insists upon seeing an officer.'* said one of them. "Claims to have se crets to tell." "Place him upon the porch and call a surgeon. Where did he come from?" Somers was strangely affected. "Don't know, sir. He came riding headlong through the rebel pickets. I think, and they shot him. We didn't shoot at all. for at first the horse seemed to be loose, and when we did see the young fellow on him, we knew he was too near gone to escape. We had orders against unnecessary alarms, and so we ran him down." The surgeon came and laid open the jacket of the now unconscious sufferer. He waved back the curious group and motioned for Somers to approach. "A woman!" he whispered. "Is it possible! To my roomto my room!" The rough soldiers again lift ed the frail form tenderly and placed it upon the bed inside. A hurried ex amination disclosed the wound a shot from behind had passed entirely through the body. "She cannot live." said the surgeon, gently, as he arose and covered up the white form. "There is not the slight est chance for her." The sentence of death seemed to inspire her with a sud den consciousness. She opened her eyes widely, and they rested in wonder upon the blue uniforms and strange faces. "What has happened?" she asked, weakly. "Where am I?" "You have been wounded, madam," said the surgeon, "badly wounded but you are in friendly hands." "Ah!Raymondtold methat he hadhad arranged withthe picket to pretend only to fireoh, they have. killed me!" She shuddered, but with sudden return of full consciousness she 'LOUISE!" HE SAID, SADLY, STAND- ING BY HER SIDE. cried aloud: "My papers!they are valuable!where are they?" "We have none, madam." "Oh, God!what agony!oh, sirs, I suffer, I suffer so!" "Drink this," said the surgeon, plac ing a glass of stimulant to her lips "more if you can it will sustain you." "In the saddle pocketsmy papers!" Her eyes closed in exhaustion. A young officer who was sent to find the docu ments came back quicklj-: "Saddle trailing underneath pock ets empty." She heard him and un derstood. "Lost! ThenI, tooam lost. Ray- mond!Raymond!" She turned her face away and wept silently. "Gentlemen," said Richard Somers, hoarsely, "will you leave us? I ftnow this unfortunate woman." He was instantly the focus of wondering eyes but for a moment only. The little group saluted in silence and with drew. "Louise!" he said, sadly, standing by her side. The eyes of the woman were fixed on him as he sought to control his voice. "Who spokewho called Louise?" "It was I" "Richard!" "Yes sadder, olderbut Richard still. God knows I speak the truth when I say I have nothing in my heart for you but the tenderest sympathy." Her eyes clun to his face through the spasm of pain that twisted her rr f i'