JIM WAIT, FIREMAN.

JIM WAIT, FIREMAN.

[Written Expressly for The Fireman’s Journal.]

CHAPTER IX.

THE LAST CHANCE.

Both physicians were summoned, and both declared that Mrs. Wait died of rheumatism of the heart. There was nothing that could be done. She had died while sleeping, and probably the pain was so sudden and so slight, she had not been conscious of her danger at all, or she would have called out.

Dr. Andrews gazed upon her dead face long and silently, a proceeding which won for him a mental tribute of respect from both his uncle and Jim. If they could have guessed his thoughts! For they ran in this wise: “After all, how slight a thing may cause death ; and what a blessing that she is gone, for she was troublesome, and only in the way. If it had been uncle it would have been much better, but I am thankful for even this.”

“ During the day he was thoughtful and abstracted ; and once, when Dr. Traynorcame into the room where he was sitting, he sprang up as if in sudden alarm.

“Why, my boy, I believe you are nervous !” the old doctor said, though not unkindly.

“I think I am,” he replied. “The excess of joy I felt last night, and sympathy with Jessie in her bereavement to-day, have unmanned me. Besides, though I know it is foolish, Jessie’s trouble coming so soon after our engagement seems to be a bad omen.”

“ Why, you are dreadfully nervous,” said his uncle. “ I advise you to go out and visit your patients, and then run up home a little while. After this you can return and spend the evening with Jessie.”

“ I don’t care to go home,” he returned, “ for I fancy father and mother will not approve of my engagement, and I don’t care to mention it just yet; besides, I am in no mood to see any one.”

Throughout the day, and indeed for two days after, Dr. Andrews remained in the same morbid state. His uncle, becoming anxious concerning him, and counting upon his ability to persuade his niece into his own way of thinking, determined to visit her and tell her the whole truth. He did so, and was astonished at the storm of indignation he aroused from both Mr. and Mrs. Andrews. They told him of the relationship existing between Jessie and their family, and that they had other plans for disposing of their son’s hand ; as for his affections, he had so many loves already, it was impossible for him to care for this girl. In their anger they disclosed more of their son’s past history than they intended, and the old doctor returned home, vexed with them all, and with his nephew especially, for deceiving him concerning his character.

It was the day after Mrs. Wait’s funeral, and when Dr. Traynor reached home, he found, to his surprise, that instead of his nephew’s spending the evening with Jessie, he was at home, apparently brooding upon some unpleasant subject.

“ If I could think you were mourning for your sins, you confounded scapegrace,” he exclaimed, “ I might have some compassion on you. A pretty one you are, to come with your submissive airs and tender graces, trying to make yourself out a saint when your character, not to speak too strongly, is directly the opposite ! And I have lived for ten months with you under my roof, and never suspected you of any of the infamous acts your father and mother disclosed to me in their anger! Why, if Jim Wait knew a quarter of what I learned to-day concerning you, he would kick you out of his house the next time you set foot in it, and would serve you right, too. And if I live and have my health, I’ll acquaint him with them to-morrow !”

“ Sit down, uncle,” said Dr. Andrews, ” and do not excite yourself, I beg,” feeling that all was lost if he did not conciliate the old gentleman ‘I don’t understand you.”

“Then I’ll lose no time in explaining at once,” said Dr. Traynor, taking the proffered seat. “ I went up to see your father and mother, for I was really touched by your disconsolate manner, told them of your engagement, and said I strongly approved of it.”

“ Oh, uncle !”

“Oh, uncle, indeed! Be kind enough not to interrupt me, sir They flew into a passion, said Jessie was your own cousin—”

“ What!”

“ Do you understand ^English, sir ? I forgot, they did say you were unaware of the fact, though why they kept it from you is more than I know. She is the only child of your father’s sister Laura, the one your grandfather disinherited, it seems, and I believe young Wait knows it, too. What it all means I cannot understand, but it seems as if everybody was keeping secrets from everybody else, and yet every one knows the whole story. They told me, too, enough of your past behaviour to show me you would never make a fit husband for any respectable girl. And now I give you notice to quit my house to-morrow, and I shall, as sure as I live to see the morning sun, send for my lawyer and make a new will, cutting off every blood relative I have in this world, and leave what little property I have to right the wrongs some of them have committed, or bequeath it to some charitable institution !’’

“Uncle,” said Dr. Andrews, “ I own my life, until a year ago, was far from being what it should have been. Since I came here I endeavored to atone for it in a measure, and my love for Jessie has had an elevating influence upon me. In some things I have not been truthful or outspoken, but I love her sincerely, and with my whole heart. Cut me off if you will, but I beg of you do not inform her or her brother of my past life, for if I lose her, I myself am lost forever ! It is the only mercy I ask at your hands.”

Dr. Traynor was struck by the appeal. It had a tone of sincerity, and impressed him in spite of his anger. Seeing this advantage, the young doctor continued to urge his plea, and at last, after yielding slowly and gracefully, the old man made a decided concession.

“ After all, Ned, my lad, what could one expect from such parents as yours? You are not so much to blame. I promise you this much, I will do nothing without having a talk with you first. I’m exhausted, and believe I’ll retire at once. Do bring me a Dovers powder from the surgery, I am all upset and may not sleep without one. In the morning come to me at an early hour—or stay, after breakfast will do, and we will talk the matter over. If I decide to do as I have already said, you shall have due notice. I can promise no more to-night.”

“ Thanks,” his nephew said, and went dutifully for the powder. There were a number*of drugs at hand, and hastily adding as much morphine to the powder as he dared, Dr. Andrew’s folded the paper and returning to the parlor, placed the powder in his uncle’s hand. “ There is a child very ill with croup and lung disorder in the family of an old patient,” he said. “ If I am called in the night, as I am likely to be, I suppose I shall go as usual.”

“Certainly, but you had better get to bed now,” for there was a wild look in the young man’s face which troubled the old doctor.

“I will go in a few moments,” he returned, and then he was left alone.

As soon as the door closed after his uncle’s retreating form. Dr. Andrews sprang to his feet and began pacing the floor.

“ I will not lose all alter a year’s penance ! he muttered with an oath, “ I say I will not!”

Presently he left the room and went cautiously into his uncle’s office. He already possessed a duplicate key of the doctor’s secretary, he obtained it some months previously, with a view of examining the will to see if it was worded to his liking. Satisfied in this particular he still kept the key, and to-night he brought it forth to use again. The desk was opened, the will abstracted, and then he quickly left the room.

“ If he only takes the powder,” thought he, “ I shall be all right.” This thought uppermost in his mind, he went up-stairs, and listened at his uncle’s door. He could not see through the keyhole, but there was a small round aperture which had been made through the door for a patent lock at one time, and the lock was afterward removed. The place had a small bit of paper crowded into it, and this the doctor removed with his penknife, drawing it through the side where he stood, fearing it might attract his uncle’s attention if he pushed it through. For a few moments all was still, save that he could occasionally hear the old man turn restlessly in his bed. At last, greatly to his joy, Dr. Traynor rose, and mixing the powder swallowed it. He then retired to his bed, and after waiting for some time longer, the watcher was rewarded by hearing him breathe regularly and rather loudly, as if in deep slumber.

So far, all was right. He went up another flight, on tiptoe, and found the housekeeper was still stirring in her room. He remembered hearing her say she had for years been deprived of a sense of smell and this he regarded as extremely fortunate. Then he began operations in the back parlor and office, pouring.whatever inflammable liquid the surgery contained upon the carpets on the floors, and saturating the furniture, so far as possible. He was engaged in this for a long time, and at length he was startled by a ring at the door. Creeping hurriedly to his room, he waited a moment and saw the housekeeper pass down and open the door. She turned to come up the staircase, and he called down in a low tone, asking what was wanted.

She replied that the doctor was wanted at a certain house, giving the address, and bidding her not rouse his uncle, who was not well, said he would attend to the call at once. She went up to her room, and he prepared to go out. When all ready excepting his boots he went up to the woman’s room again, found all dark, and everything quiet, so he took his way down again, darkened all the windows and proceeded deliberately to set fire to the rooms below. It was now about one o’clock, and the street quite deserted. He met no one when he went out, until he had proceeded some distance.

“ His life is of no value,” he muttered; “ he must go soon in any case, and he had better die to-night than live to ruin me. This was my last and only chance.”

CHAPTER X.

WHAT THE FIRE BROUGHT.

The alarm reached the station nearly an hour later. It was scarcely more than the space of a breath before the engines were out and dashing to the scene of the fire. Jim was half-crazed with anxiety, knowing whence the alarm came. When they reached the spot Kitty had bundled her crying children out on the sidewalk, and glancing up he saw Jessie with her black dress and white face at the open window, watching.

“ Stay where you are !’’ he called to her. “ You are quite safe,” and she nodded in return.

The doctor’s house was burned almost to a shell, but the engines were soon pouring huge streams of water over it, and they hoped to keep the adjoining houses safe. The doctor’s housekeeper had escaped, but she declared that Dr. Traynor was still in the burning house. She had knocked at his door and called as loudly as she could, but it was impossible to waken him or effect an entrance to his room. Dr. Andrews was absent, visiting a sick child.

Some one must go into the house and save the old man, but who? It seemed useless as well as dangerous to attempt it, for the walls were trembling perceptibly. No doubt he was already dead, and yet the search for him must be made. Jim knew’ his room, it was in front, and volunteered to go. Another fireman, equally brave, offered to assist him. There was no time to be lost. Once more Jim glanced up to the window, where Jessie stood, waved his hand as if in token of farewell and ascended the ladder, his comrade in d.mger closely following.

“Stand outside the window,” Jim said, “and tak« the doctor when I bring him. If the wall shakes too much, save yourself,” and then he rushed through the window, as it seemed, in the midst of the smoke and flame. A moment later he appeared again, with something in his arms, something which bore a semblance to a human being, but whether dead or alive no one could tell, for it was blackened with smoke or fire. This Jim threw into the arms of the man waiting to receive it.

“Quick, for your life !” he shouted, leaping after, and then the roof came crashing down, bringing the upper portion of the front wall with it.

The fireman who bore Dr. Traynor in his arms escaped with little injury. The doctor evidently was not dead, for when they put out the fire that was smouldering here and there about his clothing, he opened his eyes and stared about in a blank, dazed sort of a way. Jim was felled to the ground by some of the bricks from the falling wall, but whether fatally injured or not no one could tell.

Jessie had come down out of the house by the policemen’s advice ; she reached the sidewalk in time to see Jim lying prostrate on the ground, pinioned by the bricks that were piled over his left arm. His eyes were closed and he lay quite motionless ; some one was removing the bricks rapidly and carefully, and heeding no one, she sprang to his side and bent over him, scanning his face in an agony of suspense.

“ My darling 1” she was moaning, under her breath ; “ my darling 1 Oh, Jim, Jim !” but he did not move or speak.

They lifted him carefully and laid him down a little farther away, in hopes the cool air might revive him ; Jessie was sitting upon the ground with his head in her lap, her tears raining over his face.

” Cannot you take him home ?” she said. “ lie told me it was sale, and I am not afraid.”

“It is safe now,” said a policeman, “ for the fire is well in hand. We were only afraid when we saw the walls were falling. There is no danger now.”

“ Where is Dr. Andrews ?” asked Kitty, who now joined those who were gathered around the two injured men.

Jessie started.

“ I had forgotten such a man lived,” she said.

The housekeeper again explained his absence, and then Jessie thought of sending for a physician.

“Take both the doctor and Jim to our apartments,” she said, “and some one please send for a physician as soon as possible. But wait— what doctor will soonest come?”

Dr. Traynor now opened his mouth as well as as his eyes ; he was beginning to recover his senses.

“ Jessie,” he said, solemnly, ” send at once for Dr. Burt.”

She didjas he requested.

” Lean your head closer to me,” he said, once more ; and as she bent her face close to his he whispered: “ I want to tell you, for I may become unconscious; if you value Jim’s life or mine, do not admit Dr Andrews to the house 1”

It was no time for further explanations ; indeed, Jessie seemed to desire none. Jim was beginning to recover; he opened his eyes and smiled, assuring her he was not much hurt.

Both men were taken into Jessie’s parlor, the doctor, who was small, being put on the sofa, and Jim laid upon a cot that was quickly prepared for him. The physician soon arrived, and began to inquire into Dr. Traynor’s injuries, but was brusquely ordered by the old doctor to look after Jim first.

” It doesn’t matter whether I die or not,” he said, ” for my life is of no value in any case, but the life of that brave boy is worth much.”

It did not seem strange to Jessie to hear Jim spoken of as a boy, but then twenty-five did not seem so old to her as it did four years ago, for she had learned that one could be manly and boyish too, even at thirtytwo. This flitted through her mind as she rendered quietly all the assistance she could to Dr. Burt, and watched his face anxiously every moment, letting not a single expression escape her. Jim’s arm was broken, and his ancle sprained ; he was also bruised in several places more or less severely.

“Well ?” asked Jessie, when the arm was set, the wounds dressed and the ankle bandaged, and the doctor was turning to his other patient.

“He is not dangerously injured at all,” said Dr. Burt,“but you will have him on your hands for two months, and perhaps three.

Jim looked at Jessie and smiled.

“ I never had such a holiday in my life,” he said, ” as I shall have now. If it does not grow irksome to you, Jessie—”

” Hush, Jim !” she replied. ” In spite of everything, I don’t believe I was ever so happy before in my life. Why, if I had you always, just as helpless as you are now, I should still be thankful all my days because you were alive. Now lie still and sleep if you can, while I help attend to the doctor.”

She gave him a kiss as a sort of anodyne, which certainly had a quieting effect, though it did not tend to produce sleep. But he dutifully closed his eyes as she turned to the doctor’s couch. The old housekeeper was bustling about, suggesting this and that, but Dr. Burt dismissed her quietly and called Jessie to his aid instead, which proceeding astonished, though it failed to anger her. Even the doctor’s wounds were less serious than were supposed, the burns being slight, but painful in the extreme.

“ Don’t stuff me with narcotics,” he said to Dr. Burt as, the bums being dressed, he was about to write out a prescription. “ I want my wits about me while I do live, and especially to-morrow, or to-day, whichever it may be.”

“ There’s the trouble of attending a physician,” retorted Dr. Burt.

“ He always wants to prescribe for himself.”

Jessie, who was reporting to Jim the state of the fire, opened her ears at the remark which followed.

“ If I had prescribed for myself last night,” he said, instead of trusting to some one else, I would have come out of the fire with a whole skin.”

“ Why, how was that ?” inquired Dr. Burt.

” I was restless and asked for a Dovers powder, and was given one of morphine instead, and that is why I did not wake in time to save myself. However, in that case I would not have known how courageous Fireman Jim, here, was. I dare say I shall doze a little, but I want you to be here at eleven o’clock this morning, sharp ; I have a little business transaction to go through.”

“ All right,” returned the doctor, as he took his leave, first bidding Jessie keep her patients quiet, and advised Kitty, who was hovering about under the delusion that she was rendering valuable assistance, to go up-stairs and keep her children still. He promised Jessie to give a report of Jim’s case to his foreman and comrades, for the other engines had all retired, only the one that was first at the scene remaining to play upon the ruins, which still smoked, though feebly,

Jessie sent her servant and the doctor’s housekeeper to bed, and then for a few moments, the doctor conversed with Jim. Jessie hovered between the two, though rather nearest to Jim, and at last, when there had been silence for some time, she found he was asleep. Then the old doctor beckoned her to his side. In a low tone he stated to her that it was his belief that Dr. Andrews gave him the morphine prfrposely and fired the house after, especially, as he had questioned the housekeeper while Jim’s wounds were being dressed, and she stated that she saw the young doctor watch his uncle through a hole in the door, and afterward creep up to her room to watch her. She wondered at his conduct, but thought no more of it after he went out of the house. After this, the old doctor questioned Jessie closely upon many matters, and she answered unreservedly, and apparently to his satisfaction. Then he informed her that, holding the opinion he did of his nephew, he felt it his duty to make his will in favor of some charitable object or institution, and he wished her to send for his lawyer, to come at ten o’clock

Because,” he said, “if that scamp fired the house, he has the will safe, and that leaves nearly everything to him. I know I may torment you a long time by lying here, and getting well at last, but f want to lose no time in setting this thing straight.”

Jim woke in time to hear the doctor’s last remark, but the old man, seeming satisfied, in turn fell asleep, and then Jim urged Jessie to try and get a nap in the easy chair, but that was impossible, for she was wide awake as noon-day.

Jessie sent for Dr. Traynor’s lawyer as he requested, and when he came the old doctor turned everybody else out of the room except Jim, (who declared he would not go) and then he made a will, as he said, ” in accordance with the facts.” When it was made Dr. Burt arrived with a man nurse he had brought to assist Jessie, and there was quite a commotion when it was found that Kitty, the housekeeper, Dr. Burt and the nurse were all to witness it, and the doctor was to assert in a separate place, over his signature, that Dr. Traynor was of sound mind.

A week passed before Mrs. Andrews considered it necessary to call. In truth, she was a long time learning the facts as publicly reported, and now she came, all smiles, sweetness and condescension, to condole with her dear uncle and ask after her truant boy.

” How very inconvenient it must be lor Mis3 Pelton to have you here,” she said, “when she has so little room. You must be removed to my house at once. Why did you not send for me as soon as this accident occurred, uncle ?”

“ Because I would have died before your arrival,” he said, gruffly. “ ]f nothing else had threatened my life, I should have died of starvation before you could have found time to come.”

“ You will have your joke, I see,” she returned, laughing, with a little gesture in an aside to Jessie, as though she considered him inexpressibly funny.

“ When shall I send the carriage for you ?” she asked, a moment later.

“ When Jessie puts me out,” he replied, “but not before.”

“ But I can make you so much more comfortable,” she declared. “ And why is it that my son did not come up and tell me all about it ?”

“ I cannot answer, except that I imagine he was in too much haste to leave the country after he found 1 was not burned up according to the programme he arranged when he set the house on fire.”

“ Uncle, you have no right to speak in this way of my son. He may have his own faulis, but he would never commit a serious crime.”

“ 1 am glad you have so good an opinion of him, but circumstances forbid my concurrence with the sentiments you express.”

“Uncle,” looking frightened, “it is a very easy matter to hint suspicions, just or unjust, but it is a very hard matter to prove them ; it is almost as hard to prove even facts, sometimes.”

” That 1 acknowledge. But 1 have taken pains to prove so many facts, that it will be rather unsafe for him to appear in this country again, no matter whether 1 am dead or alive.”

Mrs. Andrews said no more, but rose, weeping, to leave the room, Jessie followed her to the head of the staircase. She could not resist a feeling of sympathy for her, and then, too, Dr. Traynor had informed her of the relationship existing between them.

“Good-by, aunt,” she said, softly.

Mrs. Andrews turned back, and kissed her as she had done once before.

“ My child,” tie said, “ my heart is broken.” And then she hurried away.

In a month Jim was able to walk about the house, though his arm was still in a sling, and his ankle weak. The old doctor, however, did not progress so favorably. His burns would not heal, his appetite grew capricious and then failed him altogether. He became very peevish, and sometimes tried Jessie sorely, but she was very gentle and patient with him. He would have no one wait upon him but her, and the weaker he grew, the more arbitrary he became.

“ 1 know 1 vex you,” he said to her once, “ but you are very, very kind, and when 1 am gone you will not regret having been kind to me.”

” 1 do not regret it now,” she said with her usual gentleness. “ But 1 can do so little for you; 1 wish I might do more to ease your sufferings.”

He seemed very feeble, and they all knew the end was near; so no one was surprised when presently he put out his hand as if groping in the dark, and finally let it rest upon Jessie’s head—she was kneeling beside him.

” I’m going, dear,” he said, faintly and slowly. “ God bless you 1 And then he dropped asleep.

Mrs. Andrews was notified, and went to the funeral in the same carriage with Jessie, and Jim, who was now able to ride out.

“ I suppose your home will be broken up, now,” she said, when they returned,” and so, Jessie, you must come and live with me.”

“ We have formed no plans as yet,” Jim answered, “ but Jessie and I will consult together to-night. Dr. Traynor desired his will to be read at our house to-morrow, and if you please, we would like you to come in the morning at eleven, the time the doctor’s lawyer has set for the reading.”

Mrs. Andrews bowed, and was present with her husband at the hour named. Jim had said little to Jessie the previous evening, concerning her future.

“You know what I wish,” he said, “ if you think you can learn to care enough for me. But if you will be happier with your aunt, you must not consider me, but go.”

“ I will te’l you to-morrow,” she said, softly, but they were sitting in the twilight and he could not see her face.

There were several small legacies in Dr. Traynor’s will. Many old friends were remembered, among them his housekeeper, and Mrs. Andrews was left the sum of one thousand dollars. The remainder— which, however, amounted to little more than the house Mrs. Wait had occupied, and the now vacant lot beside it—was bequeathed to Jessie, who was the only one surprised at the bequest.

Mrs. Andrews was very sweet to Jessie, and when those assembled began to disperse, she warmly urged the young girl to make her home with her, and Mr. Andrews joined in the invitation.

“ My eldest daughter is on the eve of marriage,” she said, “ come my dear, and fill her place. I do not urge you to come blindly, your uncle and I both desire you to return with us and spend a short time at our house before you decide. I wish Mr. Wait to accompany us and remain to dinner, if possible. He will then understand that I can make it more comfortable for you than he can.”

Jessie looked up in Jim’s face.

“ Let us go,” he said.

So they went. And when they reached the stately mansion and were ushered into the luxurious drawing-rooms, it seemed both to Jessie and to Jim as though they were in some enchanted palace.

“ My house is a house of harmonies,” Mrs. Andrews said, smiling. “ Do you like it, my dear?”

And Jim’s heart sank within him when he saw how entranced Jessie seemed with it all. But he was used to being patient and he tried to school his heart to meet its disappointment with resignation—if fore seen troubles can be called a disappointment—and when the time came to go he turned to Jessie with the sad look his face wore that night at the theatre when the music was like the wail of a broken heart.

“ When shall I come for your decision ?” he said, and Mrs. Andrews touched the bell and ordered the carriage to take Mr. Wait home.

“ I think 1 will decide now,” she answered, blushing.

“Very sensible of you, my dear,” her aunt said.

“ I am fully aware,” she began, of all I owe to Jim. He saved my life when I was a little child, and has cared for me tenderly ever since. He loved me always, and I used his great love lavishly, knowing it would never fail. As a protection, comfort, balm, I used it, yet never thinking how precious it was. I did not know it was one love in a thousand, and when another which seemed fair because it was new, was offered, I took it, believing it could take the place of his. But the night the fire wakened me ; I awoke indeed. When I thought Jim dead, and his great love gone out forever, then, and not till then did I know what it had been to me—then I knew what the world would be to me without it.

“So, though I owe you little, and him much, I shall trespass still further upon his bounty and kindness, knowing well how great they are. Feeling distrustful of yours, I cannot live in your house of harmonies ; with its brooding air of insincerity and its discordant hearts within, so instead I will chose a home where my heart is, with my future husband, Jim Wait, Fireman.”

And Jim? while she spoke the troubled look gradually left his face, and over it stole an expression of gladness and thankfulness until it was flooded with light like one transfigured. And when she closed and turned to him, faltering and blushing as though she had been overbold, he drew her close to him with his strong right arm, and with tears in his eyes kissed and blessed her before them all.

This was a year ago. A week later they were married, removing to a cosy, quiet home only a stone’s throw from Jim’s quarters, as he once suggested. He resumed his fireman’s duties as soon as able, and a rumor has recently been circulated to the effect that he is about to become Assistant Foreman, while he is said to be competent to fill even a higher position. Since he is fitted for it it will come to him, no doubt, in time; meanwhile he performs his duties faithfully and is content.

“ I love the service,” he says, “ for it has brought me—ah, what has it not brought me !”

As for Jessie, there is not a happier woman in the city to-day, than the wife of Jim Wait, Fireman.”

[THE END.]

JIM WAIT, FIREMAN.

JIM WAIT, FIREMAN.

[Written Expressly for The Fireman’s Journal.]

CHAPTER VII.

A PROPOSAL.

Jim questioned Jessie concerning how she had spent her evening, and found she had been introduced to both Mr. and Mrs. Andrews, and that neither had hinted the possibility of her being related to them. He breathed a trifle easier, when he found they were not likely to make any attempt to take her from him, yet in regard to his danger of losing her in another way, his mind was in nowise relieved. The following Monday was his day off, he would leave everything until then. The only preparation he made was to engage to take Jessie to the theatre on Monday evening.

When Monday morning arrived, and Jim, when breakfast was over, came out to sit with Jessie and his mother, he watched the girl closely, and detected a certain uneasiness in her manner.

It is time for Dr. Andrews, is’nt it ?” said Mrs. Wait, presently,

A deep blush overspread Jessie’s lace at the name, and for a moment she did not speak.

It is nearly time, I think,” she said, after a pause.

I want you to see him, Jim,” remarked Mrs. Wait. “ I know you will like him.”

too, wish to make his acquaintance,” Jim said. What time does he usually call ?”

About half-past nine, and it is after ten now,” said his mother.

Did he know it was my day at home?” inquired Jim.

Yes,” replied Jessie, told him it was, and said I would like him to meet you.”

Perhaps he did not echo the sentiment, and is staying away on my account,” Jim said.

“ For shame, Jim !” exclaimed his mother. You will see presently how unjust you are.”

Jessie said nothing, but began to watch from the window anxiously. An hour passed, but no one came.

I believe 1 will send for him,” said Mrs. Wait.

No,” interposed Jim, let us wait until after lunch. Perhaps he may come after all.”

Jessie gave him a quick, grateful glance, and nothing was Said further, until lunch was over. Then Mrs. Wait sent her servant, Nancy’s successor, to ask Dr. Andrews to call.

He came in response to the summons, excused himself for having failed to come earlier, was cordial in his manner toward Jim, gentle in his questions and demeanor toward Mrs. Wait, and deferential to Jessie, as usual.

“No mean adversary,” thought Jim,* as he took him in at a glance. “ One of these taking fellows who say much they do not mean, but with an air which gives the idea of sincerity—”

They talked quietly, and seemed mutually pleased, while each measured the other mentally and by stealth.

“Surely.” thought Jim, he will speak a few words to Jessie before he goes, and then I will know.”

He was right. The young physician rose at last, went to the sofa and addressed Mrs. Wait, for a blind,” thought Jim, who, therefore, was not surprised to see him pause by Jessie’s side.

How goes the work to-day?” he said, smilingly.

I don’t think it goes on as fast as usual,” she replied, as she sewed on.

Don’t work too steadily, or you will spoil your eyes,” he said.

Then she looked up, a shy, fluttering glance. He smiled down in her eyes and turned to go. Jim watched the expression of his face. It was flushed slightly, it had a subdued, tender look upon it, there was no triumph, no expression of trifling, but had more of truth in it than any look Jim had previously seen it wear.

He is insincere in all but his love for her,” was the thought that flashed through Jim’s mind, and in that he is terribly in earnest. Alter he bowed the Doctor out he sat in silent thoughtfulness, never speaking until, after waiting to see if he would not give his opinion of the doctor unasked, Mrs. Wait became impatient and put the question squarely.

“One can scarcely judge on so short acquaintance,” Jim replied. He certainly has an agreeable manner, but strangers are apt to come to one at their best. Of what his life has been through the twenty-five years he lived before we saw him, I know nothing, and shall, probably, never know except what he may choose to tell me. He has relieved you of pain, and for that I am thankful. He has a name calculated to win friends, he won you and Jessie the first hour you met him, and tor many reasons, I hope he is all that he seems.”

So the subject dropped.

Rather early, that evening, they set out for the theatre. Mrs. Wait urged them off as usual, she was always afraid they would be late. Jim was more silent than usual until they neared the theatre.

took a box, Jessie,” he said.

Oh, you extravagant boy !” she exclaimed.

Dear, I have something to tell you, and you alone, and my opportunities for having you all to myself are so few, I could not let this one pass.”

A frightened look came into her face.

Surely you do not fear me,” he said. Think a moment. Were you ever afraid to tell me of your troubles as a child, even when you fancied you had done wrong ? And did I ever abuse the confidence you bestowed upon me ?”

Never,” she said.

And you are not now afraid to tell me all that is in your heart ? Have you not always done with me exactly as you wished ? Yes, and you always shall, Jessie, so do not fear.”

They were seated at last, but they were quite early, the house was not half filled.

Since my last day at home,” Jim began,—“ in the short space of ten days—my little girl’s heart has gone out of her keeping. Is it not so ?”

Jim,” blushing painfully, and giving him a deprecating glance, “I don’t know. Sometimes I think it has.”

And sometimes ?”

have my doubts.”

And what causes these doubts, Jessie ?”

am not quite sure that he is sincere. As you said to-day, I do not know what he has done all the long years I have not known him, and he is very reticent concerning his past life, only speaking of it in a general way. I have thought he might be trifling with me—”

He would scarcely dare,” Jim interrupted, “and yet some men dare much.”

When he speaks to me in that gentle, protecting way, I confess it is very sweet to me, yet when he goes away I find myself wondering if this has not come from long practice. Those to whom the art of lovemakir.g is new, are sometimes confused and at a loss. He is never so.”

“ My dear child, you are right, and yet, though I only saw him exchange a few words with you, I am sure he loves you. He may at first have only meant to amuse himself with you, but I think you have won him unawares, and in spite of himself. I don’t believe he is sincere as a general thing, and without doubt, he has professed love—perhaps has loved other women, but this would not matter so much, for, if one is loved truly, it is safer, perhaps, to be loved last. But suppose him sincere, and everything he seems, are you sure you love him ?”

“ I think I do, and yet I sometimes wonder if I might not change. I think, were he to go away to-morrow, I could forget him, regretting his absence but little. It might cause me pain for a time, but it would not be lasting. Still, I am greatly pleased with him, I look for his visits and am sad when they are over. I think of him always, and yet I am not quite sure.”

Jessie, it is not idle curiosity which prompts me to ask you things you shrink from speaking of. For a long, long time, ever since—I don’t know when, I have loved you, dear child, and hoped, some day, to make you my wife.”

Her face grew suddenly white, as she looked up into his with quick surprise, almost alarm.

You, Jim !” she cried, “ you ?”

The orchestra struck up an overture, it was filled with wild, weird strains, and she never heard it alter without recalling Jim’s face as it looked that night, so noble and sorrowful, so loving and true; and his great, honest gray eyes seemed filled with a haunting regret.

“ I have loved you all these years,” he said, “ and, whatever comes, I shall love you through all my life, so truly, dear, I want you to be happy whether I am or not. I cannot say I would give you cheerfully to another, but I would not hesitate on account of my own feelings, if I thought it would be for your happiness.”

“ And I—I never guessed it, Jim,” sorrowfully, “ If you had told me before— before he came, I—”

“Jessie ! I could not cage you up so that no one would ever see you,

I did not wish that. Sooner or later you must meet other men, and I did not wish to bind you, it would have killed me to know you were my wife, and yet might sometimes say, when you met a man more noble, more gifted than I “ if Jim had not bound me before I knew my own heart, I might have been happy with some one I could love more than I ever loved him.” I long tor your love, but it must come to me willingly or not at all. I do not tell you of it to-night because I have any hope that you return it, I tell it as a sort of protection to you, that you may know where you will always find shelter and rest if you need it, my child.”

“ Jim, you saved my life when I was a little child. Surely, if you wish it I can do no less than devote it to you.”

“ Hush !” he said. “ There is but one thing I could refuse at your hands, and that is, sacrifices. Go on just as before, and remember there is only one thing in the world that can give me any true happiness, and that is in serving you.”

CHAPTER VIII.

LEFT ALONE.

To the surprise of all his fiiends, Dr. Andrews seemed to sober down and submit to the restraint of living with his aged uncle without demur. His mother often went down to see him, often brought a few friends with her as she had done before, but as spring drew near and she began to make preparations for leaving the city during the summer, her son did not ask permission to accompany her. So the season passed ; she was too much occupied in arranging a suitable match for her eldest daughter to give him much thought, and she fancied him worldly enough to be safe, so long as he plunged in no sort of dissipation.

He, too, deceived himself for a long time with the thought that the feeling he had for Jessie was only a strong admiration. He had a taste for the novel, and she was unlike most girls he had met. He spent much time in her society, and began to take little pleasure in aught else. He seldom met her alone, unti; at length he began to take her for an occasional drive in the park. Jim waited, disliking to speak to him, yet when these drives became frequent, Dr. Andrews was surprised one day as he sat in his room, with the announcement that Jim was waiting to speak with him in the parlor. He went down, and was not long in doubt as to the purport of Jim’s errand, as that young man had a faculty of coming to the point at once in most things he undertook.

“Perhaps I disturbed you,” Jim said, “but I will only detain you a moment. You are aware that Jessie is an orphan, and, especially since my mother’s illness, she has no one to look after her but me. Ever since you came here, you have paid her more or less attention, not remarkable, I grant, and very safe on your part. It seemed to me( indeed, very like that of a politician who stands upon the fence, and thus is enabled to jump either way with safety. You could withdraw your attentions to-morrow, and no one coulJ say you had ever committed yourself, yet I hold a man has no right to go so far as you have with her without serious intentions. It tends to keep the attentions of others away, and is not fair or right. I want you to understand me, please. We are in no hurry—mo’her and I—for our little girl to marry. For my own part, I would much prefer that she did not mairy at all, even you. So I am here o say to you that the ti ne has come to do one of two things—to offer her your baud in marriage, or discontinue your attentions altogether.”

“ I am surprised,” began Dr. Andrews, “ that you should feel it necessary to speak to me in this manner.”

“ I fancied you would be,” Jim replied. “ But I did consider it necessary, and that is enough for me. If it does not satisfy you, I regret it, but I have no further explanation to offer.

“ Do you expect me to give you an answer now ?” said the Doctor, angrily.

“ Not at all,” re’urned Jim, calmly. “ Understand me, please. No one is going to force you one way or the other. I give you two paths to choose. You prefer a medium course, perhaps, but that you shall not pursue longer. I will give you a week in which to make up your mind. If you wish to withdraw, you are to visit my mo her professionally as usual, only visiting her when a physician’s call is required, and limiting that visit to a professional length.”

“ And if 1 do not choose to follow either path you have so kindly marked out for me, what then ?”

“Nothing, except that you shall answer to me for it. Within a week you shall come to an honorable decision, without hinting a word to Jessie of my visit or its purport, or I will know the reason why !’» And with a haughty bow Jim left the house.

Dr. Andrews was stunned. Could it be possible any man had dared to address him in such a manner ?

“ Presumptuous fool!” he exclaimed.

“ I think you .are,” said a voice behind him, and turning, he met his uncle face to face.

The young doctor calmed down at once, and the old man regarded him in evident anger.

“ I heard every word,” he said, “ and Jim is right. I’m sorry to say I wish to heaven you were a thousandth part as manly as he is.”

“ But, uncle,” protested the young man, “ I have every intention of making Jessie my wife.”

“ Then what are you angry about? In that case, no harm is done. I must say that I have thought you were a long time making up your mind—it is nearly a year—and you have visited the girl every day of your life since you came here.”

“ But I was obliged to call professionally.”

“ Do you mean to say you expect to charge for one visit in ten you have made at Mrs. Wait’s ? That would be pretty good. You take a year to woo a girl, visit her every day, win her at last, perhaps, from the man who saved her life as a child, and has cared for her tenderly ever since; a man who loves her to-day more than your narrow, selfish soul can love anything—and then you charge him for your visits as being professional!”

Dr. Andrews began to smile. If Jim did love Jessie, he would be amply avenged by taking her from him, and he had no fear of a refusal at her hands.

“ It would be rather absurd,” he said, “ but I had not thought of that. Do you think it worth while to humor this Mr. Wait by settling the question within the time he specified ?”

It was now the old doctor’s turn to smile.

“ I have no advice to give,” he said. “ However, I suggest to you, if you care to settle it yourself, it will be well to do it within the time set by him. If you don’t, he’ll settle it, I should say about five minutes after the time is up.” And laughing quietly to himself, the old doctor returned to his office.

Left to himself, Dr. Andrew’s saw that something must be done. In reality, he was very anxious to make Jessie his wife, and would have proposed for her long before, only he knew both his parents were opposed to it. He had spoken of it once to them in jest, and both lost no time in impressing the absurdity of the thing upon his mind.

“She is a pretty girl,” his father said, “remarkably so, and I have been much pleased with her whenever I have met her at your uncle’s, but not the girl for you to marry by any means. Let me hear no more of it if you are in earnest about it.”

His son declared to himself, then and there, that if by any possibility his uncle could be induced to depart this life within a reasonable length of time, leaving all his property to him, he would be in a position to snap his fingers at his father, and would make Jessie his wife at once; but, until something was assured, he must not offend his parents.

Now, that Jim had taken the thing in hand, he was in a dilemma. His uncle would, without doubt, make known the state of affairs at once, did he engage himself to Jessie, for a second engagement would be out of the question now. Fie brooded over the thing for some time, but could not see his way clearly. For, on the other hand, he loved Jessie far too well to give up the pleasure of seeing her daily, and he knew unless he did declare his love for her within the week, Jim would make good his quiet threat, and even his uncle would aid him in carrying it out. He had taken the trouble to deceive men before now, but he had no desire to attempt it with Jim, for the reason that he feared it wouldn’t work well. No, unless he gave up Jessie altogether he must declare his intention of making her his wife, and give her up he could not, except he left the place entirely. If allowed plenty of money with whicn to travel abroad, he might be able to get along without her very comfortably, but no one would furnish him this. He had been too wild in his earlier youth to be trusted with money by his father, and his uncle allowed him only a limited sum.

All the better impulses of his nature seemed uppermost when he was in Jessie’s society. He could never bear to have her know any dark passage in his life, he found it impossible to say or do anything which would give her a moment’s anxiety or pain. But it was not because he felt his life would be better and more useful if subject to her gentle influence that he wished her for his wife; he did not care whether his life were good or ill. he wanted her because he loved her more than his selfish nature could love anything else, and so long as they were happy he cared for nothing else.

lie had no definite plan settled upon the next day, when he went out driving with her in the park, only he determined to ask her if Jim had ever spoken to her upon the subject of love. He had such a gentle way of speaking, he could [sometimes ask things in a manner which showed tender solicitude only, which in others would have seemed almost insolent.

” 1 wonder,” he said, as they were driving swiftly along, “ if any one has ever asked your hand in marriage, Jessie ?”

“ Why do you wonder ?” she asked, as calmly as possible.

” Child, you don’t seem to be aware of it, but you are wonderfully beautiful, and attractive in every way. It seems impossible, even in the secluded life you lead, to escape the admiration of men.”

“ 1 do not think every one is of your opinion,” she replied. “Certainly no gentleman except yourself has offered an opinion upon the subject in my hearing.”

“Indeed!” he exclaimed. “Do you know when I first became acquainted with you I was terribly jealous of Jim?”

“ Because you fancied he might have paid me the compliment you have just given me ?” she asked.

“ How stupid I am to-day ! No, I did not mean that. I wonder if you would tell me something I very much wish to know ?”

“ I cannot tell; perhaps 1 might, though there are many things I tell to no one but Jim.”

“ Jim again, ‘ he said, annoyed. “Are you engaged to marry Jim, Jessie?”

“What a question!” she exclaimed. “I do not believe in secret engagements, and, if you continue a friend of the family, Dr. Andrews, and I ever am engaged, no doubt you will be informed of it in due time.”

” But I want to know it before any one else,” he said. “ Jessie, it is of no use for me to attempt to conceal it, I love you better than my

own life, and I want you to promise that you will be my wife very soon.”

For a moment she was silent. He was not himself to-day certainly, and she hailed the thought with joy. When he was nervous and unable to form smoothly-rounded sentences, he must love her very much indeed.

“ You are so different from other ladies I know,” he continued. “ I love you, oh, so dearly ! and yet you keep me at a distance. Why I have never dared kiss you, even, except once, when I just touched my lips to your hand, and truly I was frightened when I did it. I would have spoken long ago, but it seemed wrong for me to bind you when I had nothing of my own to make provision for a wife* My father is wealthy, but he draws his purse strings closely as far as I am concerned. Uncle has promised to make me his heir; indeed I believe he has a will drawn up in my favor, but until his death I shall have very little. So, darling, I am asking you to be a poor man’s wife after all.”

Jessie was touched at his apparent humility, and touched, too, by his agitated manner, for both were unlike him. She did not doubt his love, and so, with one little remorseful thought upon Jim’s account, she promised to be his wife, though how it could be soon she had no idea. Her mother was too ill for her to leave, as he acknowledged, and for his part he could not think of asking her to come into his uncle’s gloomy old house, he said. Perhaps, for the present, it would be well to tell only Jim, Mrs. Wait and Dr. Traynor. His parents were both charmed with Jessie, but they did not think it right for him to marry as yet, and his mother did not believe in long engagements. He thought Dr. Traynor could be induced to say no hing about it, and. though Jessie consented to have it kept a secret from his father and mother, she felt as though something must be wrong, since he could not trust them with the knowledge of their engagement.

Jim came to his supper that night in a thoughtful mood, and when it was over and he went into the little front room to sit with his mother a few moments before returning to his post, Jessie came forward and told them both that Dr. Andrews had asked her to be his wife and she had promised.

“ He is coming to see mamma to-night,” she said, “ but Jim will not be here then, and I wanted him to know. Jim, won’t you try to like him for my sake ?”

“ My dear child,” he answered, “ I have no word to say against him. His prospects are bright, and I believe he loves you enough to make you a good husband.”

So they both kissed her and they sat in silence until it was time for Jim to go. Then he kissed his mother good-night, saying:

“ After all we will be left to grow old together, for our little girl is going to leave us. But we will not be very sad, for we shall have the memory of the bright days she was with us, and for that I shall be thankful, always.”

“Yes, Jim,” she answered, smiling, “ we will begin a new life together, and I will try and get well so I will be a comfort to you as in the old days, for now my infirmities weigh me down until I am only a burthen.”

“ Never that,” he said, quickly and cheerfully.

“ But I shall not leave you in a long, long time,” Jessie said, with tears in her eyes, “and when I do you must both go with me.”

He turned back to kiss the fair young face with its tear-dimmed eyes and unsteady lips, and hastened away, haunted with the thought of what his life would be when she was gone.

The doctor came in a few moments later, asking Mrs. Wait for Jessie in such a graceful way she was constrained to tell him she never thought she could give her child to any one but Jim until she met h m, but she felt perfectly safe in trusting her to him. He remained until a rather late hour. He had informed his uncle, he said, who was delighted, and was coming in the morning to call upon his future niece. Before he went away he insisted upon carrying Mrs. Wait to her bed, an attention which greatly gratified her.

She did not sleep well that night, and wakeful Jessie was obliged to help her change positions more than once. At length, however, she grew easier.

“ I am so tired,” she said, “ and I feel as though I might sleep at last.”

Jessie slumbered lightly lor awhile, but she rose rather early, creeping out softly in order not to to disturb her mother, and putting on a pretty morning dress, she went about her accustomed duties, feeding her birds and watering the flowers, then’she went out to see that Jim had his favorite breakfast dish, when she heard his footstep on the stairs.

“ Mother was very restless last night,” she told him, “ and she is sleeping late this morning.”

“ We will not disturb her,” Jim said, “but perhaps she will wake before I go.”

Jim ate little, and Jessie nothing, for her heart reproached her.whenever she glanced toward his haggard face. After all, her engagement had not brought her the happiness she hoped for, she had been filled with unrest ever since the first day Dr. Andrews came to their door. Jim’s presence was soothing and comforting, the doctor’s, though welcome always, was more disquie mg. They rose and went into the parlor together, both turning simultaneously to their mother’s room to see if she were waking. Both gazed upon her fixed but placid features a moment, and then silently clasping hands they looked into each other’s faces in wordless grief and awe.

She had indeed begun a new life, but alone. Yet not alone, but in the presence of dear ones gone before, while he who was to have begun the new life with her, was desolate indeed.

[TO BE CONTINUED.]