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Trapped By A Heiress

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A cosier place than the big sittingroom at llillcrest woukl have been hard to find, if one liad travelled from Land's End to John O'Groats ; and this eventful evening, when the destinies of two worthy people were about taking defmite form - two people who had never seen each other, and who liad hearü of each other so of ten that both were curiously eager to meet - on tliis important evening the sitting-room at llillcrest had never loaked pleasanter or cosier. A huge lire of logs glowed like molten carbuncles in the open fire-place; i on the tablein the eentre of the tloor whose cover matehed the glowing crimson of the carpet, was a silver stand that held a dozen snowy wax tapers, whose beaming light contrasted I exquisitely with Jhe ruddy glow of the flre. Beside tlie table, in a big, cushioned chair, with his feet thrust toward the i genial warmth on the hearth, his gray ilressing-gown sitting comfortably on hisportly form, his gold-rimmedglassesonhisnose, sat the owner and master of Hillcrest, Mr. Abiah Cressington, rieh, good-natured, and fond of his own way. (pposite hi.n was the mistress of the place- little, shrew-faced, sharp-nosed, merry Aunt Cornelia, his I sister, who, since her widowhood, had I come to Hillcrest to make her j bachelor brother's home as pleasant as i she could. That she had succeeded was very evident by the way now in which he looked up from a letter he had been reading - the confidential, kindly way in which he did it. "Walter writes a curious letter in response to my invitation to come and spend a few weeks at Hillcrest as soon as he gets over his fatigue from his ocean voyage home, after his flve years' tour abroad. 111 read it to you." He leaned near the softly-glowing lights, and began the short, concise reply that Walter Anstin had written from his chamber in the Temple : - "You are very kind, indeed, Uncle Abiah, toask me down to Hillcrest for as long as I wish to stay, and 1 can assure you that I have been so long a wanderer that the idea of a home is very pleasant to me. But when I take into consideration the peculiar importance you propose attachingto my visit, 1 am unwilling to accept the invitation. To me, the idea of having my fancies and inclinations put into harness, and to feel that I am on continual duty to win my way into the good graces of my second cousin, Mabel, whom you are good enough to wish me to marry - " Mrs. Cornelia interrupted sharply, - 'Abiah, you never surely went and told our grandmother that you had in view liis marriage with Mabel?" Her tone was energetic, almost reprehensive. "Whynot? I certainly did. I told him in my letter that it was a chance for him he'd never get again, and that he needn't feel under such terrible obligations to take a i'ancy to rhil's little Mabel, but to come down and be cousinly, and if anythinj should happen, ït'd be right al] i round." Mrs. Cornelia knitted yigorously, ner lavender cap-ribbons quivering in the mellow taper glow. "All 1 have to say is, you're - a fooi, Abiah! Walter is right. A young man doesn't like to have his fancies ander rein and whip, and the very fact that we want him to marry, will make him indisposed to do it. You've made a great mistake in the beginning." Mr. Cressington looked aghast at his sister's determined face. "Why, I really didn't snppose - " "Of eourse you didn't. It's only natI ural stupidity, you dear old fellow! Men are all alike. Don't I know them likeabook? And you've ruined your hopes f or Mabel and Walter at the very outset." Mr. Cressington started discomfitedly. "I am sure I meant it all right enough, Cornelia. I certainlr wanted Walter to know what a little darling oor Mabel is, and what a nice little wife she would make for any man." 'Very commendable, indeed ; only, if you had consulted me upon the lettel you sent, I should have advised you to say nothing about Mabel, or her charnis or her expectations. I should have simply asked him to come and see us, and have left the rest to Mabel's blue eyes. You see Abiah '(" His lips compre ssed slowly. "I think I see. And my hopes il that direction are all ruined !" The silver needies clicked rapidly and the snow-white yarn came reelinj merrily off the ball under her arm. 'Not at all. Leave that to me, and Hl see what can be done. Trust a woman's wit to get even a blundering old fellow like yourself out of a scrape.' She smiled and nodded, and looked i iltogether so mischievous that Mr. i 'ressington became quite excited ovev . ier little mysiery. "Do explain, Cornelia." And when she explained he leaned )ack in his chair, with an expression of positive awe and admiration on his ] ace. "What a woinan you are, Cornelia! declare, it beats anything I ever heard n the whole course of my life!" After dusk, a glorious winter day, 1 with here and there a star twinkling ' n the pale gray sky, and the lights and ires in the Hillcrestsitting-room ' ng an eloquent welcome to "Walter ' Austin, as he stood in the midst of the ïome circle, tall, gentlemanly, ' ome and self-possessed. Old Mr. Cressington was iu his richst humor as he led forw.ard tvvo young ' girls. ' "Come, don't be shy, now. Walter, his is your cousin Mabel Cressington, and this is her good friend and inseparable companion, Irene Vanee, come to ïelp entertain you. My nephew, Mr. Walter Austin, girls. And this is Vunt Cornelia - you remember lier ' well enough, hey V" And so the presentation wasinerrily : gotten over, and Walter found himself at home in the most pleasant family ie had ever known. ïhey were remarkably pretty girls, . with blue eyes - although Miss Vance's were decidedly the deeper blue and ' nore bewitching - andlovley, yellowjold hair. Walter found himself adniring the style of Miss Ara:ice's ■ fure before he had known her an hour ; and when he went up to his room that I night he feit as if between the two, roguish Mabel and sweet little Irene, he never would come out heartwhole. "For Mable is a good little darling," thonght he, "and I will take Greatuncle Abiah's advice and fall in love with ier, and thereby secure a generous share of the Cressington estates. Egad! hat's a happy thought!" But the handiome young gentleman went to sleep and dreamed, instead of Slable's laughing eyes, of Irene's gen;le, tender ones; and awoke somewhat in the middle ot the night, unable to get to sleep again for thinking of her. And the after days were not much setter. Despite the golden value of Mabel, there was something about [rene Vanee that made this headstrong j fellow very loolishly indifferent to the , advice he had sworn to follow. "Because, by Jovel a fellow would haye to be made out of granite to resist the sweet, shy ways of such a little darling as Irene! And 111 marry her if she'll have me, and the money and property may go to the - dogs ! I've a head and a pair of hands, and blueeyed Irene shall not suffer !" It was not an hour later that he met tier in the hall, carrying great boughs of holly, with which to festoon, down the walnut staircase. "Give me your burden, Irene." said he. "Why did you not teil me you were going to gather it, and let me go with you 'i It is altogether too heavy a burden for your arms to bear." He managed to get the lovely sprays from her arms, but it required an immense amount of tardy effort on his part, and shy, sweet blushing on hers. "Answer me, Irene. Why didn't you let me go with you? Wouldn't you tiave liked it 't" He demanded her answer in the most captivating-, lordly way, and she dropped her eyes in great confusión. "Y-e-s." "Then why were yon so cruel to me ?" "I am not cruel to anybody. I ndeed Imust go now." Walter placed himself squarely in the way, and was looking down at her rose-tinted face. "Ko, you can't go yet. Irene, you are cruel, or you would never deprive one of the opportunity to enjoy the blessedness of your society." Ris voice lowered tenderly, and he dropped his head nearer her golden curls. "You know I think it cruel in you to be so distant, and shy, and reserved with me - don't you, Irene ?" She shrank away, her lovely form drooping like a lily, her clieeks hanging out the signáis of distress and confusión. "Oh, please don't talk so to me. Indeed I myst go! Mabel is waiting tor the holly, and she - they won't like it if- " But she was a prisoner in his tight clasp. "If what V If they flnd you and me talking so confldentially together ?" "ïio! I mean if I don't take the holly at once." Walter put his arm around her waist before she knew what he was doing. "Ireïle, look up. You shall not go until you let me see in your eyes if you love me as well as I love you ! Irene, my dear little girl, I do love you very dearly !" She was silent for one second, and he saw the quiver of her red Ups. Then she raised her head slowly, shyly. "Youlove me?" Oh, Walter, what will they all say '{ Don't you know it is Mabel you should say that to? 1 am nobody, Wal ter, and Mabel is an heiress?" Walter had both arms around her by thistirne, and was looking ardently in her glowing face. "I know Mabel is an heiress, and a nice little girl ; and I also know you are a darling - my darling - and the only girl I ever asked to be my wife, or ever shall ask! Say yes, pet." Ilis tojies were low and tender, but triumphant. "And you can deliberately give up so much for only justme?" Her wondrous eyes niet his bravely now, and thrilled him with the love light in them. "Only just you my own darling! Why, you are more than all the world to me! Come, we will go teil Tnele Abiah at once. Just one kiss flrst - you must!" And he had more than one or two, before he led her blushing, with tears trembling on her lashes, like diamonds on a golden thread, to Uncle Abiah who sat in his library with Mrs. Cornelia, industriously looking over a reeeipt book. They looked up in surprise as Walter marched in, Irene on his arm, a picture of confusión. "If you please, ITncle Abiah, I want your blessing and cordial consent to receive this little girl for your niece. 1 love her, and she loves me." Uncle Abiah looked shrewdly over his glass at Mrs. Cornelia. "Well, sister, what shall we say to this youth's demand?" A broad smile of perfect delight was on her merry face. "Say ? Why, teil them yes, and come ; and let tliem know their Aunt Cornelia isn't a fooi if their Uncle Abiab is." Walter looked astonished, and feit lrene's liand tremble on nis arm. "What isit, dear?" She smiled through her tears as she looked into nis inquiriug eyes. "Oh, Walter, I am afraid you will be angry. 1 am Kabel after all, and - and - " "And you have made love to your Bousin, the lieiress, in spite of yourself, iny boy! So Hillcrest is a foregune Cate, af ter all, en?" "Don't scold, please, Walter!" Mabel pleaded, in a low voice, witli her blue eyes looking into his. "As if I could scold you, my love! Since I have you what need I care?" And Mrs. Cornelia turned over the leaves of the receipt-book untU sec ;'nne to cake," and avars that she made the match herself.


Old News
Michigan Argus