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An Artist In Crime

An Artist In Crime image
Parent Issue
Day
19
Month
May
Year
1899
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

Copyright, 1895, by G. P. Putnaru's Sons.J CHAPTER VIH LüCETTE. Two days af ter the events jnst related Emily Remsen's ruaid announced that she had just received news that her mother was very il], and that she had been notified to go to her at once. Her mother, she said, lived in Elizabeth, N. J. She wished to go at the earliest possible moment, and begged that her consin Lucette should be allowed to attend to her duties till her return, ■which she hoped would be iu a very few days. Asked if her cousin was competent, she said yes, and especially apt at arranging the liair, baving served an apprenticeship with a French hairdresser. Indeed the girl's real name was Lncy, but slie had changed it to Lucette to pretend that, be.ing French, she ■was necessarily a good maid. In lieniben's njind thischanging of her name was nothing ïu the girl's favor, but as her own maid was thns suddenly taken froin her, aud as this other was ofl'ered at once, she agreed to the proposaL Lucette arrivecl during the afternoon, and Miss Eeruseu was delighted with her. Expecting a talkative, intrusive person, assnming Freiichified maunerisms, she was surprised to find a quiet, unpretentious creature," who imniediately showed herself to be well acquainted with the duties required of her. Within the first 24 hours she found herself so ruueh better served than by her absent maid that she almost wished that the mother would require her for a long time. Dora, too, was charmed ■with Lncette. "Queen, " said she the next afternoon, "whatdo you thinkof your new maid?" "Who? Lucette?" answered the sister. "Oh, I think she does verv well. " "Does very well? Wby, Queen, she is a jewel. If you do not appreciate Lei1, I wish you would bequeath her to me when Sarah returns. " "Oh, hol So rny young miss wants a maid to herself, does she?" "Oh, no, Bot especially, but I want to keep Lucette in the family. She is a treasure. Dressing the hair is not her only accomplishment, either, tbough I never saw yours look more beautiful. She has just arrangejl the table for our 'afteruoon tea, ' and I never saw anything like it. It is just wonderful what that girl can do with a napkin in the way of decoration. " "Oh, yes," said Emily, "Lucette is clever, but don 't let her know that we think so. It might make her less valuable. Now teil me, Dora, dear, who is coming this afternoon?" "Oh ! The usual crush, I suppose. " "Including Mr. Randolph?" "Queen, there is a mystery about him. Let me teil yon. In the flrst place, he has not been here for over a week, and tben yesterday I saw him coming down Fif th avenue, and - would you believe it? - just as I was about to bow to him he turned down a síde street. " "He did not see you, my dear, or he surely would have spoken. He would have been too glad. " "Well, if he did not see me, he must have suddenly contracted nearsightedness; that is all I have to say. " Shortly after company began to arrive, and very soon the rooms were filled by a crowd which is aptly described by the term used by Dora. One goes to these affairs partly from duty and partly from habit. One leaves mainly from the instinctive sense of self preservation inherent in alL Dora was besieged by a nimiber of adruirers and took pleasure in avoiding Mr. Randolph, who was assiduous in his atteritions. He seemed auxious to get her off iiito the seclusion of a corner, a scberue which the youug lady frustrated without appearing to do so. Mr. Thauret was also present, though he did not rernain very loug. He ohatted a short time witb Eruily on eonventioual subjects, and then worked his way to the side of Dora, where he lingered longer. He said severa! prety things to her, such as she had heard already in different forms froni other men, but with just a tone which seemd to in dicate that he spoke from his heart rather tban fvom the mere passing fancy of pleasing. It was very skillfnlly done. There was so little of it that no one, certainly not an inexperienced girl íike Dora, could suspect that it was all studied. Yet after he had gone, and the company was thinuing out, Mr. Randolph foúnd his long Bonght opportunity, and sat down for a tete-a-tete with Dora. He begau at once. "Miss Dora, why do you allow a cad like tbat Frenchman to make love to you?" "Are you alluding to my friend, Mr. Thauret? She accentuated the word "friend" merely to exaspérate Mr. Randolph, and succeeded admirably. "He is not your friend. In my opinión he is nobody's friend but his own. " "That has been said of so many that it is no new idea." "But do be serious, Miss Dora. You must not allow this fellow to worm his way into your circle, and, more than all, you must not allow bim to make love to you. ' ' " You surprise me, Mr. Randolph. I had no idea that Mr. Thauret was making love to me. I could relate everything that be said, and it would scarcely bear out your assumption. " "That is only his cunning. He is too shrewd to speak plainly so soon. " And yet tbis young pbilosopher was notwise enougb to see that he was damaging his own cause by putting ideas into the girl's mind whicb bad not yet entered tbere, "Why, Mr. Randolph, yon are realiy becoming amusing. Yon are like Don Quixote fighting windmills. Yon imagine a condition, and then give me a ■warning. It is entirely unnecessary, I assure yon. Mr. Thauret was not aoting in any such way as y ou impute to him. ' ' "You are not angry with me, I hope. You know what prompted me to speak?" "No, I fear I am not so clever as you at reading other people's motives. " "But surelyyou must have guessed that"- "Guessed what?" Dora looked at him so candidly that he was abashed. It was his opportunity to declare himself, and he might have done so had not Mr. Mitchel entered the room at that moment. Seeing him, Mr. Randolph thought of the peculiar position he ■would be in if his friend should be proved to be a criminal. Por this reason he hesitated, and thus lost a chance which did not recur again for a very long time. He replied in a jesting tone, and soon after left the house. The company had departed. Dora had gone to her oto room, leaving Mr. Mitchel and Ernily alone together. "Emily, my Queeu," said Mr. Mitchel, taking one of her hands carelessly within both of his, as they sat upon a tete-a-tete sofa, "I almost believe that I am dreaming when I tbink that you love me. " "Whyso, R07?" "Listen, little woman. I am in an odd inood toriight, and I wish very mnch to talk to you. May I?" For answer she tonched him lightly, lovingly, ou the face with her disengaged hand and bowed assent. "Then listen while I make my confession. I am different froru other men, much as I count you different from all wonien. I have met maDy, in all the capitals of Europe, and here in my own country. I have never been affected by auy as I was by you. In the first instant of meeting you I had chosen you for my wife. Vhen I asked for you, I had not the least idea tbat you would refuse until, huvijig spoken, I saw the bold audacity of my words, and for half an instant the idea lived with me that I was too presumptuous. " "You were not, my Roy. Like you, I have passed lovers by as unaffected as by the ocean breezes. When I met you, I said to myself, 'This is my master. ' " "God bless you, Eniily. Let me continue. I have chosen you to be my wife. As heaven is my witness, I shall never deceive you in aught. But - and this is the hard test which your love must endure - I inay be compelled at times to keep you in ignorance of soine things. Do you think that your love is great enough to believe that when I do so it is from love of you that I keep a secret froin you?" "Roy, perhaps this is couceit, but if bo, still I say it. A weaker love than mine would say to you, 'I trust you, but I love you so that you need not hesitate to share your secrets with me. ' I teil you that I trust you implicitly ; that I am content to hear your secrets or nat, as your own judgment and love for me shall decide." "I knew that you would speak bo. Had you said less I should have been disappointed. I will teil you then at once that there is a secret in my life which I have shared with no one, and whicb I am not willing yet to reveal to you. Are you still content?" "Do you doubt it? Do you think that I would make an assertion only to draw back from my boast as soon as tried?" "Ko, my Queen, but it is asking much to ask a woman to marry while there is a secret which cannot be told - especially when there are those who may believe that there is shaine or worse concealed. ' ' "No one would dare to so misjudge you!" "Indeed, but you are mistaken. There are those who do not count me as irreproachable as I may seein to you. What if I were to teil you that a detective watches me day and night?" "Oho! Tbat would not frightèn me. You have explained all about your wager. I suppose Mr. Barnes is keeping an eye on you. Is that itr" "Partly that, and partly because he thinks that I am connected with this mnrdered womaa. To a certain extent he is right. " "You mean that you knew her?" "Yes." Mr. Mitchel paused to see whether she would ask another question after his admission. Butshe meant all that she had said when asserting that she trusted him. She remained siJent. Mr. Mitchel continued: "Naturally Mr. Barnes is desirous of learning how muuh I know. There are urgent reasons why I do not wish him to do so. You have it in your power to aid me. " "I will do so!" "You have not heard what it is that I wish." V'I do not care what it is. I will do it if you ask me. " "You are worthy of my love. " He drew her gently toward him and kissed her lightly on the Ups. "I say it not in egotista, for I love you as much as mau may. Were you unworthy - I ehould never love again. " "You may trust me, Roy." Her words were simple, but there was a passioa of truth oontained in their utterance. "I will teil you at once what I wish, for it must be done promptly. You must be ready - Who is that?" Mr. Mitchel spoke the last two words in a sharg tone, rising_ from_ his seat and taking" a step forward". The large room was but dimly lighted, the gas having been lowered to please Emily, who abhorred well lighted rooms. At the farther end some one was standing, and had attracted Mr. Mitchel's attention. It was Lucette, and she replied at once: "Yonr mother sent me to know if you are ready for supper, Miss Emily. " "Say that we will be in in a few minutes," replied Emily, and Lucette left the room. "Who is that girl?" askedMr. Mitchel. Emily explained how the new had been. engaged,. and. Mr. ï speaking in a toue loude ly necessary, said: "She seems to be a quiet, good girl. Rather too quiet, for she startled me coming in so noiselessly. Shall we go in? What I have to teil you will keep. It is something I wish you to do for me the day af ter tomorrow. " After snpper Mr. MitcJiel took the two girls and their mother to the theater, mnch to the delight of the latter, who was always shocked whenever Emily went nnattended by a chaperon. The party walked going and coming, and as Dora and her m,other were anead Mr. Mitchel had ampie opportunity to explain to bis fiancee the favor which he wished her to do for him. When leaving the house that night he said : "Yon will not see me again for a couple of days. Keep well til] then. " Lucette, who had overheard this remark, was therefore rather astonished to see Mr. Mitchel walk in the next morning as earlyas 10 o'clook. She was still more surprised to have her mistress annouuce that she was going out. What puzzled her most of all was that Emily went out alone, leaving Mr. Mitchel in the parlor. In fact, this seemed to give her so muoh food for reflectiou that, as though struck by the conolusions arrived at, she herself prepared to go out. As she was passing along the hall, however, the parlor door opened and Mr. Mitchel confronted her. "Where aro you going, Lucette?" "I have au errand to do, sir," she roplied. with a slight tremor. "Come into the parlor first. I wish to speak to you. " She feit compelled to obey, and walked into the room, Mr. Mitchel opening the door and waiting for her to pas8 through. He then followed, after closing the door bebind him, locking it and taking the keyfrom the lock. "Why did you do that?" asked Lucette angrily. "You forget yourself, Lucette. You are a servant, and good servante such as you have proved that you know how to be never ask questions. However, I will answer you. I locked the door because I do not 'wish you to get out of this room. " "I won 't be locked in here with you. I am a respectable girl. " "No one dotibts it. You need not get escited. I am not going to hurt you in any way. " "Then why have you brought me in here:" "Simply to keep you here till - well, ay till 12 o'clock. That is about two hours. Do you mind?" "Yes, I tro mind. I won't be kept in fcere alone with you for two hours. " "You amuse me. How wi)l you prevent it?" Lucette bit her lip, but said nothing. She saw that there was no help for her. She might scream, of course, but Mrs. Remsen and Dora had gone out before Emily. She and Mr. Mitchel were alone in th apartment. She might attract the attention of the janitor or of people in the street. As this idea occurred to her she glanced toward the window. Mr. Mitchel divined her thonghte in a moment. "Don't try screaining, Lucette," said he, "for if you do I will be compelled to gag you. You will find that very uneomfortable for two hours. " "Will you teil me why you wish to keep me here?" "I thought I did teil yon. The f act Is, I do not wish you to do that little wrand of yours. " '_'Xdon_'tLpnders;atld _yjjn.___ (To be uontinued.)