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Warded Of A Warding

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If the reader who has tiiis page bef ore his eyes be one of those who wiïl believe only what tliey understand, or who-beeau8e some imposters, pretending to deal with. the supernatural, have been exposed - treat '.ritu ridicule the idea that spirit3 eau or will interpose iu the affairs of mortals herO bclow, let Hm skip the whoie artícle, and go on to the noxt. He vili haye a very good dime's worth -without it. To the more tolerant I would explain that I teil thi tale as it I was told to me, supprewwtig real ñames and altering th níehe, according to a promise X hate made. Iwillnotattempt to aociwftnt for anything. The main facts wore narrated by a person sane iu mind and strong of body - a man of singularly tmthful disposition. The sequel I witnessed vrith my own eyes, so you may be quite sure that you -willnot come acrosa the oíd familiar "dodge" of making -vonders turn out to bo "the baseless fabric of a visión." In the year 1864, when I first met Frank Conroy, he was a bandsome, brave, simple-minded boy. Eleven years later I snw him again. He was a greatdealbigger, but very little changedï The same dark-brown curly hait with a glint of red in it, the same laughing blue eyes, the same almost-girlisk smile, the same contempt for all that was mean or cruel ; oiily he didn't burst out crying 110 w when touched by such thiügs. He stood six-feet-ono in his rowing shoes, and I would just as soon have a mulé kick me as feel the full weight of his arin. A gentle giaut, this Frank Conroy, with fair abilities, good prospects, a happy home, troops of friends, and the sweetest girl in Virginia loving him with all her heart. This was Annie Annesley, the only daughter of a planter whose fortunes had survived the ravages of the civil war, and who lived in a grand old house on the James river, somo fif ty miles above Richmond. Her mother had died when she was a child. Annie was netite, of course, or she would not have had big Jbrank at ner tiny feet ; and there was a roundness and softness about the lower part of her ; face which appeared to be of the waxdoll order you had taken in her eyes and brow. I say "taken in," because they grew upon you. She vas not a reigning belle, however. Frank snapped her up as soon as she carne out - that was one reason. She did not consider dancing the Germán as the end i and object of existence ; and she ried too many guns for the ' beaux of the period - that was another. There were ups and downs, in and outs, in the characters of this pair which favored the forging of an excellent weid wlien the great hammer-man, Love, should place them, all aglow, on his anvil. At first big Frank was in Jolen t, little Annie ambitious ; ho was realistic, she romantic ; he sornewhat too easy-going to keep off foes, she somewhat too given to cynicism to gain friends. In a short time they began to rub off each others' anglep, and to flll up each others' deflciencies. He was 21, and she 18, and they wero to be married as soon as he had taken his degree. in all sorts 01 atmetic contests ana cxercises he liad already graduated witli the highest honors. ín public little Annie rather discouraged these pursuits, but her heart glowed with delight when the Harvard boat dashed first under the string, and No. 3, the Captain, was carried out of it in triumph. She tore her pretty lace handkerchief into shreds during the flrst laps of the three-mile foot-race, as the runner who wore her colors on his great heaving chest appeared only fifth in tho contest. She couldn't bear to see him beaten; and when at last he put on his spurt and went through his men like a rocket, her heart beat faster than his om. At the time whon this account commences he was in training for another great boatraoe, and reading hard too; for your rowing man can be a good book-worker if he please. Now staying on a visjt at the home of your betrothed is bothuseful and charming; useful, because it gives yon un insight into her charaetcr which is not to be gained out in society; and chiirrning - well, there Í3 no need to elabórate that cause. But it does not conduce to close study. St. Anthony himself coiüd not keep hia eyes on his book wfcen thq 1' atlier oí Jttivu iook uíb tuutpu ui i jjiuiu,y wonian - to whoni, by-the-by, he was not engaged; so how can yon expcot that a warmhearted young feDow frona Harvard coiüd work ia the presenco of liis lady-love ? Wby did lie not lock himseif up in bis room? He did, but what was the use? If she went about singing, as was her wont, he listene d, and Plato might reason as he pleased unattended to. If she was silent, he (big Frank, not Plato) wondorcd what she was doing, and Orestes raved in vaiu. The only chance for work was when she went away from house and grounda visitiug soma neighbors; and this, when she knew the oonaequences, she did as often AYftS pi'Onii 0 lover, and wanted kim to take a good degreo. These absences generally lasted till luscheon-time; but ono day she came down to break f ast in her riding'habit, and told bim sbe was going to seO the Meivilles. the Meivilles meant a ride, out and home, of two-and-twenty miles. " Mayn't I go with you ?" he asked. "No, sir. You have been shamefully idle lately; besides, 1 have lots of things to say to Janey " (her chief bride-maid elect), " and you would be in the way. You need not expeot to see me again till dinner," sho replied. Seven o'clock Was their usual dinnertime. iFrank improved the shining hours - read till noon, then he took a brisk walk till 2, the he read till 5, then, like a wige man, he put awíiy his books, and packed up what he had learned into his brain. It was autumn when t.lio twilight comes eooii ahd quickly. deepens into night. The time plipped away, as it will do when one's mind is busy, and when Annie camo into the room, dressed for 1 n J L- 2 __ a_ K ,, ■ i . . , _ ■_ ,-, lili n tti ij l, J " Back again so sbon ! anti aressëcl already!" he crclaSmedj rteing io greet ber ;" but febe.inoved away froin bim towvrtl tiie window, and stood there süent, gaziDg into tho rapidly cleepening twilight, "Frauk dcar," slie said, af ter a pause, "I want to wam you about saöiething." "AU right ; go on" he replied, again j advaiieiug, "No, do not come near me. Stay where you are. Do not be surprised if some day you seea lady in your room." " A la'dy !" "Who wifl be tliere," slie continued, not heeding bis interruption, "for no light pr.rpose. If she should Bpeak to you, take good heed of what sbe sayS, for- for tbe sake of ber wboloves you." ' '■ Wby not say ' for my sake ?'" "Well, tben, for my sake." " And who is thits mysterious counselor?" mine!." " Oh, but I do mine!, lt thero ís anything I hate, it is the idea of any one coming between you and me. Whon I have sömething to say to you, I say it right out, and I -want you to do the same. ís this person a, friend ?" "A great friend." "Then introduce us, and let us áll thrce talk it oyer, whatever it is ; or, better still, hear what she has to say, and tell me yourself." " We can not ai ways manage tliat such things as these should come exactly as we wish," she ansvrered, in a low, sad roice. "No; but don't you think, Annie, that my receiving a lady in my room is not as good an arrangement as could be made?" "I told you not to be surprised if she carne. I did not say positivety that she would como." "If she does come, it 'will be with your consent ?" " She could nöt do feo without. "Theb you won't be jealoub?" he askeu, without a smile. "There -will be no cause for jealousy." "Tou seem to be in a very strange humor to-day, dear. " Wliy do yon think that?" "Yonr voice andmamier are changed. Are you ill, darling! ís - " "Stay where you are," sho again iiiterrupted, raotioning liim back to his seat. "This will pass. Let us say no more on the subject. Giveme your solemn promise tbat you will.notsay another word about it - only rememb&r." " Well, dear, I think that is the very best thing I can do, for really - " "Promise." "I promise - there ! And now - " "No, you shall not move. Let me go. I will come down again in a few minutes. Be a good boy, Fmnk, and let me have my way." He turnea round, half vexed, to put away bis notes, and when he looked up again she was gone. He kept his promise, and he had his reward. Annie was evon more than usually bright and loving all the rest of that evening. The next day passed as usual, and on the next but one there I was a picnic, which would not have ended as pleasantly as it began bnt for big Frank. Eeturning by the light of the moon, thü negro coachman (who had taken more champagne heel-taps than conduced to carelul dnvmg) nianaged to put the two off wheels of the carriage whioh oontained the Annesley party into the diteh at a turn in the rond where the horses could not get a straight pull at it, and ten miles from home ! Frank just lifted the wholo thing out bodily - Aunie and all ; fur (as he said with one of his clieery laughs) "You don't weigh i any thing." Then he drove them home, leaving Sambo to sober himself by a walk. "I wonder if Sarnson was mueh stronger than you are?" eaid Annie, as he kissed her good-night, looking up, full of loye and prido, into his handsome face. " Poor old Samson 1 His sirength did not do him mueh good, af ter all," he laughed. "Oh, Frank! It stwed his country, and holped Mm to a glorious end. I think there ia nothing ia liistory so splendid as the rotribution he worked on his persecutors - crushing tliem in the hour of triurnph, with the templo of their false gods." "The muff! he should have gono outside and pushed, ' said prosaic ï'ranK. When he opened the door of tfle room he found that the lamp was alight This was unusual, íor lio always had Kt it himself. There were French windows ou two sides of this chamber opening into the gallery. Two faced him as he entered ; the other pair were hidden by the bed and its mosquito bar. ïhey ■were all wido open ; for he loved fresh air, and laughed colds to soorn. It w ís almost as light as day. The f uil moon filled tho veranda with its eoft, silvery beams, and tiie dark evergreens below were ablaze with fire-fliés ; a niglit wlii dj, tempte oneto do anything but go ! to bed. J'i-ank took off his coat and boots, made himsdlf comfortable in the rocMflg-chair, filled a big pipe with periqufí, and thought he would read a little, as had passad au idle day. As ho rose twljet hís book he heard a gentío tap at tho Venetian bh'nds outside. Flyiug moths, blunderiug after a light, as is their wont, make such noises ; so he lid not notice it. After a moment or two it was repeated louclr, and a woman's voice said, "May I come in?" Now by tiaJB time he had forgotten all aboul thó -visit hë might possibly receive, but was not svirprisedwhenalady walked in -without waiting for an answer. It does not take long to eay " May I come in ?" vet as she spoke those few vrataa he whol oí )úa flonvevsation v?i.i.U Annifi on the day before yesterday carne back to his inind. " You are not surprised at this inVasion ?" asked his Yisitoí She tWIs apparenüy about 0 years of age ; tall, slight, and elegantly dressed. A laceedged handkerchief was loosely knotted round lier throat, and in her hand ahe carried a common palmetto fan. She spoke in that sub-tone of assertion which a well-bred woinan of ner age has generally acquired without knowing how, and shoddy folk labor after in vain all their lives-, Gl'ant that a stranger couid adopt this mode of presenting herself- and had not Annie told him that she might ? - and nothing could bo more natural. Frank replied that he was -not a bit surprised, and advanced his best chair, which she deelined. " No, thanks," sho said, leuning one hand against the sido of the window spaoe, and fanning hei-self. " Í 'won't come in any farther. Do you sit down and listen to what I have to say. I won't keep you long. Oh ! you may smoke. I don't mind that in the least. But I insist ! I will not say a word till yoú have made four good puffs. ïhat is right. One- two - three - four; now forit." Frank began to feel that he must have known this lady for several years, so completely did she put him at his ease. "Don't you think," she continüed, "that when a liaan is engaged to be married, it is high time for liim to leave off playing like a boy?" " Certainly it is." " That's right. All the running and rowing and jumping is well enough in its way. It makes boys men ; but it makes men just a littlo bit coaise - at least that is niy view." "May I ask if Annie shafes that opinión f' '' Let us leave her out of this discussion. She knows nothing about it." "And y et she prepared me for this - pleasure," said Frank, dryly. " ÏNever mind. I repeat, she knows nothing about my present object. If she did, I arn afraid she would not much assist me, for she is pi-oud of her great athlete. I am old enough to be her mother, and " (with a bright smile) " am not in love with you, so I can talk sense. Now, really, what is there worth winning that you have not already won ? Why risk defeat?" "lam not afraid of that." " The confidence of the man ! Wel!, Til put it anothe ïway. Why not give some one else a chance ? Do you think it is fair to monopolizo all the Slory and silveï cups? You greedy giant !" This shot went home. Frank' despised "pot-hunters." Was he a pot-hunter himself 1 " There, I see you are coming round," his visitor resumed, pursuingheradvantage. " Promise me that you will stick to your books like a good boy, tuke a splendid degree, and give up rowing and all that sort of thing, once and forever." " Would it be indiscreet to inquire wliom I have been ao fortúnate as to in! spire with such a deep interest in my affairs ?" "Ah! do not be sarcastic. You can not teil how it pains me," she said. He looked up, and feit a power of tender, sad pleading which quite subdued his impulse to reeent her interference. "I have no right, I know," she continucd, to asK mis promise ior iiiysen. um ïothing to you; but I love Annie - oh ! ïow fondly ! I plead for her, and this I say, solemnly, Frank Oonroy; if your af'ection be as deep as she deserves it ihould be, you will not hesitate. Man, nan, what is success in a game, that you hould prefer it to the happiness of the roman you love?" "You seem in earnest." " I am in earnest." '; Well, I'll talk it over with her." "Think it over by yourself first," said his visitov, after a pause, during which she seemed to be struggling tñth something she wished to add, md dared not. "And if you oan aot resolve - as I pray you may - then tou can teil her what has passed tonight. Goodby. God bless and guide [ you !" She kissed her hand to hun, and passed out into the bright moonlight. "I ought to havo thanked her, anyhow," he mused, when she had gone. " What an unmannerly dog she '11 think me ! She's not far wrong. I ought to give other fellows a turn, and I'm not sure whether a lighter man at No. 3 - Well, I'll sleep on it. Who the deuce can she be?" Who the deuce can she be ? was the question which filled his raind whon he woke - much earlier than usual- in the morning, and diligent inquiries made of all the servants about failed to satisfy it. bbonld he ask Annie? No; ho was a little piqued with Annie. It was absurd to suppose thai; these two were not in i concert. And how unfair to niake him j promise not to speak of what should pass, and then send this porson to lecture him! True, he had " this person's" permission to talk it over with Annie if he could not mako up his miud to f ollow her advice; but ho had done so, and there was an end of that part of the case. He had made a sacrifico much against the grain, and therefore - man like - he uedgeu Dy gettmg cross wim a womitu, He wandered about frora his roora to another, f'retfcing, fidgeting, unseHled. He tried to read. He opened one book, and it was too heavy ; another, and it was too flippant. He went out into the garden, and the chirmping of the bixds j annoyed him. He returned to the house i and made for Mr. Annesley's study. Eis host waa an early riser, and he wimted some one to talk 'to. Mr. Annesley was not down yet. On his table lay a black leather case, witk silver clasps, that Frank had not noticed before. He undid the clasps and opened it. It contained a photograph of (he woman who had visited him the night before. " Now I can find out all about you," he chuckled, " without breakihg any promise. " As he gazed at the picture, and took in its details, a recollection arose which puzzled him. Man as he was, lio remembered that his visitor's dress, though of costly materials and in excellent taste, was made iu a fashion which liac! Jong sineo gono out. The dress of the picture was in the samo style. How was thie ? As ho mused, Annio tópped in, gay aud bright as ever, and he laid a soft little hand on his shoiüder. "Up so early!" filie cried gayly. Then, as she saw what he held, her face became snddenly sad. "Whose likeness is this?" he asked, Lot noticing the change. " Poor, dear mamma's," she' replied, with a sob. Then his heart gave a great bound, and a cold, sickening stupor feil upon him. " Annie, dear," he said, when, af ter a mighty eftbrt, he regained some command over his suspense (she, poor child, only thóught he waa sharnug her sorrow, wluuli the sight ot that lovod. and lost f acó had awakened), it give e ba, my promise, " " What prornise ?" " That I made you the day you rode oVor to see the Melvilles," " Í don't rcrneffiber yottr promising anything that day. Wbat was itf " To remin d yon would be half breaking it. Buroly yon can nöt have forgotten?" "Let mo see. You read me ' How Santa Claus carne to Simpson's Bar ' out of Bret Harte, and pretended that it did not make you cry." " íhat -iras niter dinner." " In the morning you and papa were talking about flahing, and I listened." ' ' It waa not in the mornintr or in the evening that I made you that promise, Annie. It was in the twilight, when you returned from your ride." "Why, Frank ! I went straight upto my room. It was so late I had hardly time to chffflge my things. I never saw you from tlie timo you fnountöd me at 11 o'clock, till when we met at dinner. What are you drearüing about? Oh, Frank darling Í what is the matter ? Are Again the cold, sickening stupor ran through him, and he feil fotward over the table, speeclxless. I, who teil this story, was a surgeoniu tlie navy, and speuding a short leave of absence as a visitor in the house where the scènes I have attempted to desoribe took place. Annie's shrieks called her father, who called me, and, between na, we restored poor Frank to consciousness. I did not like the look of this seizure, but said nothing. No one consulted me. Still I watched him closely, and at breakfast, when the mail-bag carne in, and he read his correspondence, I noticed that he received a seeond shock. Thnt afternoon he called me into his own ïoom, and told me -what had happened tö iiim, altnostasitis wordedhere. He had evidence (acquired since morning) which proved beyond the possibility óf doubt that Annie was miles away from the house when what he iook for her spoke to him in the library. I heard him out, and made the usual reply. He had been dreaming - his nerves were out of ordr. "They are now," he said ; " but suppose any one had asked you about them the day bef ore yesterday, what would ■wnn snirl 3" Had I been obliged to reply, I must lave admitted tnat a leas nervous perion, in the sense of being likely to give ,yay to delusioná, oould hardly be foünd, jut he did not wait for an answer, and ivent on : "As for dreaming, that is- excuse ne, doctor - absurd. I was wide-awake jn Tuesday evening, and I did not go to bed for an hour at least after my visitor left me on Thnrsday night. Now let us jonsider the surroundings. I was ivarned of a warning Warned in the i kindest, gentlest manner. Why ? If I bad been tmprepared for the second maniíestation, it would havo startled, shocked me. Why was I - a hale, strong man, as yon and all the rest thought me - to be guarded agaiust a shock ? Wby was I to be turned from pursuits which you and all the rest woüld have said yesterday had made me so hale and so strong, by supernatnral means ? Bead that." He handed me a letter - the one he ! had read at breakfast. It was from the Secretary of a life-insuranco company, thanking him for the preference he had shown the seciety, but decliuing his proposal. " The week bef ore last," he continued, " I was examined by their medical ofnCer - as a matter of f orm, they said. He measured me round the ohest, and tapped and stethoscoped me, and this is the result." ' ' Insurance corapanies have all sorts of crotchets - " I began. "Doctor," he interrupted, quietly taking off his coat and vest, and sh'ppiug the brace off his left shoulder, "you know as well as I do what it means. There is something wrong- awfully wrong - her e " (placing his hand on his heart). "That is why I was warned against a surprise ; that is why my poor darling's dead mother conjured me to avoid violent sports ; that is ■why the insuranee company rejected me ; that is whv I confide in you. Now teil me the trtith." I placed rny ear to his side, and took three different sovmdiriga. Then I told hiiB, as carelessly as I could, that I had no stethoscope with me, and he was too agitated just then for a fair examination. " I'll see iL I oan't borrow some tools," I said, " and see you to-morrow morning, when you will be more oomposed." " As you will," he replied; " but yon are mistaken about composure. I shall never be more composed than I am at this moment." " How can you say so, after your attack only a few hours ao? " I asked. " That is all over. Iknowallnow." "Tush !" I neered, trying to get oat of my difliculty by appearing impatient. "You knotv absolutely nothing." " All right, doctor," he said, with one of his bright smiles, and resuming his coat; " I admit it. 1 don't know how I broathe or how I swallow. I don't know how I was borp or what will happen to make me die. I don't know why I wink an eye when a grain of dust comes along in the air. But I do breathe and swallow. I have been bom and I shaU die; and somehow the grain of dust will be caught on my eyelasb. I don t know wliy tliose visitations have come to me; but they have come, doctor, and for a reason. Look rae in the face, and teil me that I have a sound heart." I could not do it. " So farewell," he went on, cheerf ully, "aloDg farewell to all the old f uu. ' Othello's occupation's gone.' " "And he will settle down into aquiet married man,"I added, to humor him; but bis face darkened. "Doyouthink I am justifled - " he bogan. " But you shall answer me that to-morrow." " I hopa you have not aaid anything about this to Miss Annesley?" I asked, after a pause. "Godforbid!" "But she must have guossed that something was wrong when you spoko to her about that promise." "Perhaps slie did for the moment, but my fainting üt - I couldu't help it, doctor - put it out of her mind. If she returns to the subject, I shall get round it somehow. Of courao I may rely upon your silence." ' ' Are you two going to waste all tho day up there?" cried Annie, f rom the garden, " Come down, Frank ; I want you to help me cut some flowers." He joined hor, and 1 stood watching them from the gallcry. To-morrow I would teil him what I know too well already. There was indeed something awfully wrong with his heait. Andwho wonld have thougl't it, to look at him? He seemed the very pioture of health ; but tho laat ten minutes of the foot-raoe, iMt fifty strofes of the oRrf wbeji the, spirit forced the flesh to more than mortal doing, had dor,etheirsilentwork. I shoiüd have to teil him to bo very, very careful. I shonld be able to comfort him by saying that men as badly off as he -was had made old bones, and died in their bedsj at lastf of something else, stood rehearsiiig how this was to be told when I heard Annie's voice again. " No, not that one ; it'a too f uil blown. There is a lovely bud a little higher up. No, no, you stupid great fellow ; there, to your right." They were standing under a climbing rose 'bush, and she was pointing to a spot about a yard over his head. Standing on tiptoe, he oonld just touch the stem of the coveted flower, btit not hold it, and of course it bobbed from his flngers. "If you jump you can catch it," said Annie. As she spoke ho sprang, seized the rose (which was pulled down by his weight), and feil against the fenco upon which the bush was trained. "öh, how awkwardyou are to-day,' Annie cried. " Wëllj why don't you break it off and give it to me ?" The üext moment he slid to the ground at her ftet- dbaö ! The champion athlete of his day was killed in a struggle with a rose-bud.- Harper's Bazar.


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Michigan Argus