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The Breton Mills

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Jopyrlgnted by the Author, and published by arrangement with him. CHAPTER XXXIV. CXVVELCOME VISITOKS. The watehman at the milis was not a little surprised, as he went his first round that uight, to see a man's figure leaning against a pillar in one of the weave rooms. The f ellow did not appear to mean anyharm; he was not breaki)i{t anythihg or stealing any cloth, but how could he have found his way inside? The watcBman feit a little uneasy in spite of himself; it was such a thing as had never happened lxfore. "Hëllo! what business have you got there?" But the interloper did not appear to hear him. How oddly he looked at the looms, as if they were living things that he loved. He had not spoken, and his hat shaded his eyes, but the expression of the attitude was so plain that even so rude a man as the watchman could read the tender reminisoence in his heart. Perhaps the f ellow might be crazy, but this was no place for him. Ohl I didn't know you, Mr. Breton. It's a nice evenin', sir." But the mili owner did not even answer him, and moved away toward the window as if impatient at being interrupted. The moon was ruil, and the sky was clear, only for a few silver edged clouds. One, he fancied a ship sailing over the sea, but how slowly it glided; could it go no faster? All! suddenly it parted into bright fragmenta, and the wind scattered them pitilessly. He looked across at the other milis; the moonlight kissed their grim walls fondly, and sparkled in their Windows like a hundred brilliant lamps. Why. here were his fire escapes, close to the wiudow coping - his first business venture. Philip raisei the window and stepped outside. It must be nearly time for Bertha to come with the carriage, as he had arranged, to avoid possible suspicion. No, there was half an hour yet. But Philip dosed the window behind him and went down the silent staira He went into his office. He would wait there for the carriage, it would not be very long, and then there was ono last duty ho must altend to before it caine. Ho struck a . and the gas shot up so brightly it dazzlfj his eyes. He turned away for an instaut. A massive form stood in the doorway. Philip must have left the eounting room unloeked when he had come in. Some one had followed him, apparently. But the young mili owncr took only one 'step toward the intrudex. It was no stranger that erossed his threshold, but a man whose name was bumed into his heart. It was the rightful busband of Plrilip Breton's wiLe- Curran. His hair had grown long and almost straight about his nc?k. His eheeks were thin and rd, and the f orín that had been like a proud oak was bowed as if it had been weighed down by a trarden too heavy even for a giant to bear. Philip stopped shortand looked at the man with spoechless terror. Hu had su] i hundreds of miles away. Could it le jmssible the outraged uusband had ik the village since their last meetiu a,ps his flashing eyes had watcheö Philip wooing his wite a second time, and begrudged him his few eold ldsses. Perhaps he had peered in through the windows of Philipjs home; had ho not a right to. look at his vvile, and followed them forth on every walk md drive, waiting to strike till the blow should fall most deadly. He had chosen his linie welL Poor Bo'tha, with her dreams of Como and Chamouni. But what would he doi Leap upon his enemy and kill him? The man in the doorway looked too mie and ill for sueh violence; would he then teap curses upon him, the bitterest human lips ever uttered? But Curran ad vaneed into the room with outstretched hand. "Don't you know me, then, friend?" Philip hesitated again. There might be a grain of hope yet; he would surely never have given the young man his hand if he had known - or called him friend. "Some one wrote me to come. I dont know wbat he wanted," Curran eiplained wearüy. ' 'They expect so much of a man ; they want him to be a God ; and if he were they would crucify him." Pliilip was recovering his composuro.. At first he had feit a wild impulse to confess every thing to the wronged husband. He seemed so grand, so magnanimous; he would not be cruel. But then nis reasou came back to him. In such a case as this there could be no amends. Innoc.piitly, Bertha and Philip had done him a ten Die wrong - and themselves; f orgi venees could not blot it out. God in hih mercy might spare them the penalty of infamy ; but the injured husband had no choice but vindícate his honor, when he came to know. "You look UI," said Philip at last, draw.'ng him out a chair. Should he detain hitn Bertha might come before her time and break in upon them, the two men both of whom she had iujured so terribly! Oh! that must not happen. Was uot that a step in the passage now Í Should he let Curran go, then ? The first man he met would pour tho story of his shame into his ears, and then the catastrophe. He must not go - but he must not stay. PhHip looked out into the passage. No one was there. Curran had dropped into the chair Philip had offered him. "Do I look ill f he asked, pushing his long hair back from his forehead. "Did you ever love a woman who hated you ? Did you ever want to pour out your lif e f or her, and see that she despised you f You know whom I mean. AVhy I once fancied you and she were lovers, till she told me not. I mean Bertha." He spoke the name so tenderly, a thrill of shame passed over Philip. Bertha was this man's wife. Had he not a right then to speak her name tenderly ! And so Curran had fancied Bertha and he were lovers till she told hün not - ah. Bertha. "She has left me," Curran went on in the same soft, tender tone. "I don't suppose it interests you. But if I could only sec her now, I have such a strange feeling that I might win her back. She made such a tender sweetheart." Then he lifted bis eyes more flnnly to Philip's face, set like a wall of rock. "Is there any trouble among your help?'1 "Yes, they have flung all my offers in my teeth." "It must have been that which made them send for me. I had hoped, or feared, I hardly know which, it might be something of Bertha. It is queer, isn't it, a woman like her should turn my head so completely What is there about her, did you ever think of it? Of course 3'ou haven't." Curran seemed to mako an eifort to dismiss all thoughts of her that unmanned hirn. "You needn't be afraid oí me; I thought you seemed a littlo strange when I caine in." Philip started involuntarily, but Curran continuod: "I sha'u't encourage any strikes against you. God will bless your Hfe for your work for the poor. If he liasn't vet, he will give you a happier love tlian Le has given me." Then he rose with newenergy to his f eet. "I must go and stop the mischief. I can do more with your labcrers for good or evil than any man in the world. I supposo they may be in the hall to-niïht?" "Yes." But Philip hurrieiup to him and laid his hand on his arm. "3ut don't go, not y et." "I must. Shall you be here long? Well, I will see you again to-night." "God grant not," murmured Philip Breton, as the door closed after him. Then Philip unlocked the great safe and swung back its green door of iron. He took out a packet and locked the safe again, and carried his packet back to his office. He turned the gas stiil higher and held the packet in the ñame till all that was left of it was a little heap of charred paper on the floor- all that was left of Philip Breton's wilL With that act he olosed up, as he believed, all that part oí bis life worthy to be remembered. He. was young and strong,but he hnd f ailed. Heneoï'.,rth mustióos on whilo others worked. Futo hnd taken Iris work away from bim. Ha must sit back on tilo seats with tho wornen and ehildren, and look on and applaud when great deeds wero doing. He would have liked to work, too; but perhaps others would do lijs work better. "Hallo, hallo, Phil, don't you work pretty late?" It was Giddings, the lawyer, in a coudition of decided intoxication. "I'll bet ver dollar you don't knovp what I came for? ha, ha, ha; you think money; don't you; more money? But I aint that sort of a feller." Philip had been simply disgusted at flrst, but there seemed a terrible leer in the drunken eyes. Could it be the man had come to expose Mm i Whatwas the use of struggling against his destiny any longer? lf he could have gone yesteruay, he -would have saved all risks. But he had waited just too long. Curran had returned to claim his wife. Jane Ellingsvvorth had discovered everything. And now this Giddings in his drunkard's foolishness was threatening what ruin he could bring. "You are not going to do anything rash are you," said Philip, dropping his eyes in huiniliation. But Giddings came close to him and laid his hand on his sboulder. Then he put his face close to Philip's, with a drunken man's false measure of distance. The young man writhed at his' touch, and held his breath to avoid taking the hot fumes of bad liquor the fellow exhaled. But he did not dare to anger the low creature. "Did you think," continued Giddings with gushing reproachfulness, "that I aint eot any conscience? You're doin' wrong. Mr. Breton. I aiut got no right - no right to letit go on. Dïd you think I aint got no conscience " Philip shook him off and his face grew so temblé that the fellow winced as he had done before at that look. "Don't strike- don't kill me, Phil- Mr. Breton, I was only jokin'- can't you teil when a man's jokin'. Got any money 'bout clothes, say 50; 'm awful hard up. I wouldu't hurt you; your altogether too nice feller." He leéred affeetionately at the young man, then suddenly he winked frightfully. Philip threw him a roll of bilis. It was the last blood money the scoundrel would ever draw. By to-morrow morning Philip Breton and his wife would be bevond the reach of harm, or beyond the reach of help, one or the other. ' 'There is $100 ; take it and go, I have business. "' "Ten, twenty, and tw-enty makes thirty, ten, and twenty and twenty, here aint but $80. Thought" I's too drunk to coun' did you '." "There is S100 there." " 'S lie. Yer takin' vantage rae cause I'm drunk." This creature must be away if it cost f 1,000. He crowded another $20 bilï into the fellow's clammy hand. "Now go, or you'll stay longer thau you want to." Giddings dried his tears and gathered his timp joints together to go. But he insisted on Phllip's shaking hands. But r Giddings had got into the hall Philip heard the fellow muttering to himsflf. He stepped hurriedly to the door of his office to caten tho word, but could not. If Pbi,lip had been a little quicker he would have heard this: "Somethin' up, I ain't so drung but I ca' see that. Guess 'sil g'up to tho boy'a house. His wife '11 know me, he, he." Would Bertha never come? If thcy escapad now it must be but by a hair's breadth. Ruin would be close upon them. For the adjustment óf a ribbon she would sacrifico everything. It seemed a great while since Curran had left the office for the labor meeting, and he had not so far to go. Something might have delayed the terrible disclosure for a few moments, but by this tune he must surely have heard the whole story of his shame and dishonor. It would stir liim to madness. His noble eyes would flash lightnings, and thunderbolts of hate and seorn would drop from his lips. No human being could stand against the divine dienityof such a maivs righteous wrath. Philip fancied the mob sweeping up the road behind this outraged husband, seeking out his wife for the doom that would satisfy his mad thirst for vengeance. Now, perhaps, they were bursting in the gates, now breaking doivn the oaken door. And Philip could not be there to protect the beautiful woman who had only sinned through love for him. How the color would flee her cheeks as she looked out on the pitiless faces of the frenzied mob. There was no arm now to shield her, none but Curran's, whose love was now embittered into hate. There was no pity in his white, wasted face, only insulted love, only scorn that could grind her fair life, without one throb of tenderness, beneath his feet. "Why did she not come ! Philip was almost wild with mingled terror and hope. Ho walked the room like a caged lion. Ñowho, rushed to the docr and glanced desperately op and down tho street. His horses were champing their bits at her door, but the light yet burned in her chamber. There was hardly time to cateh the train at the Lockout station. The wild mob with the maddensd lover, the most terrible of enemies, at their head would be at her door in a moment. Still other dangers Philip did not guess threw a gathering shadow across her path. But she lingered yet. ,fO BE COXTINTED.}


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