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you lying in his arms," said
the witch, peering into the translucent
stone. "I see you lying on his bed"

" In life and death r faltered Cora,
handing her the money.

"In life and death," repeated tk*
solemnly. Page 65.


W WQW .',ir.w. t a t ww iMt

W. Dillingham Co., Publishers.


L " He's rich, that's the mara thing." . 7
II. " Love ! what is Love ?" $

III. One way to enter Harvard. . . -37

IV. A midnight compact 45

V. " How did you live in Brazil ?" . . 52

VI. Three is a crowd 66

VII. " I prefer the sofa," he said. . . 73

VIII. Jessie makes a shrewd guess. . . 82

IX. Shooting Bears at Cambridge, Mass. . 91

X. Amateur photography 98

XI. " How innocent she looks there asleep !" tod
XII. Cora goes buggy riding. . . . 11$

XIII. Mr. Johnson, the lawyer. . , . iaj

XIV, A few weeks at Swampscott. . . 133
XV. " My husband has never asked." . . 144

XVI. Mrs. Ashleigh takes rooms. . . 15*

XVII. " I'm very sorry, if you really mean it." 160

XVIII. " Mamma, do you wish me to marry ?" 169

XIX. " Turn te tum-i-ty, turn te turn !" . . i&

XX The wedding ring 191

XXI. "It is Fate," 199



XXII. Lulu and Claude 107

XXIII. One kind of matrimony. . . ti4

XXTV. "And shall you r ai

XXV. Duties of maternity take precedence 229 ,
XXVI. Captain Hawkins, of the Engineer

Corps. 236

XXVII. "As a mother it is a very different thing." 245

XXVIII. Some say it was a cyclone. . . 259

XXIX. Where Wenona leaped to death, . .271

XXX. "One kiss before you go!" . . .279

XXXI. Who paid that $10,000 ? . . .289

XXXII. Dr. Elton peruses documents. . . 298

XXXIII. "If it were not for Lulu I could lore

her." 306

XXXIV. Belle and Lulu exchange presents. .314
XXXV. Mrs. Wilkins makes trouble. . . 323

XXXVI. Cora strikes with a sharp weapon. . 331
XXXVII. " I mean to touch Jack Bltca's heart." . 339
XXXVIII Cleopatra. 336

XXXIX. In life and de&th. 355

XL. Behind the portiew*, . . . . j* 3


When it beet me evident, (within three months of
iits publication) ;hat my novel entitled "Thou Shalt
Not" would achieve a circulation larger than that ever
attained by any anonymous piece of American fiction,
my publisher asked me to do two things : First, to
allow him to use my name in the later editions ; and
second, to give him the manuscript of another book as
soon as possible.

I hesitated to comply with his request. "Thou
Shalt Not" had been written with the intention of con-
veying a great moral lesson. It was meant to show
that measure for measure may be meted to men of
unchaste lives ; that no man who laughs at the virtue
of women should expect the serpent to avoid his own
hearthstone. But I socn saw that certain reviewer*,
running through a few of its pages at hap-hazard,
were giving the public a totally erroneous opinion of
its character. I found myself accused of impro-
prieties. The dark background to my picture was
paraded as the picture itself. Hector Greyburn's early
sins were dilated upon and his temole punishment
Ignored. The stainless purity of Clara Campbell, the


heroic life and death of Lena, the r.gid morality of
John Binsmore, were forgotten.

There were honorable exceptions, however. There
were reviewers who saw what I had tried to do and
gave me full credit therefor. They perceived that
(< Thou Shalt Not" was a tragedy, designed to impress
in the strongest manner the heinousness of violating
the Seventh Command, and one of them said : " When
ten thousand platforms are devoted to decrying the
abuse of the wine-cup ; when a hundred thousand
pulpit voices are raised in protest against the growing
desecration of the Sabbath may not one little book
be permitted to point plainly to the blasting path of
the adulterer ?"

So I read what the various critics wrote and saw
how widely their opinions varied ; and I told my pub-
lisher he might use my name and gave him another
story. I called the new book " His Private Character,"
and here you have it.

Though written with more circumspect language
and with a less bold hand, (the subject did not require
it) "His Private Character" has its lesson also. I
pity the man or woman who can read these pages from
beginning to end and not find it.

Address :

No. 119 West ajd Street,
New York City.




"What is His Private Character?"

Having uttered this question, Mrs. Henry Madisos
leaned back in her armchair with the air of one who
had performed an important duty and waited for her
young friend, Miss Isabelle Vaughan, to reply.

"His Private Character!" echoed Miss Vaughan
"How in the name of goodness should I know?
There is a question of far greater moment, it seems te
me ' How much money is he worth ?' and that, within
a reasonable margin, I can tell you. As for Claude'i
Private Character, most likely it is like that of other
men, which means that the less you investigate it th
happier you will be. ' Private Character,' indeed *
What have the men of to-day to do with suc>
things !

Miss Vaughan made a pretty picture, as she sat
there in Mrs. Madison's sitting-room She was a pro
ounced blonde of perhaps one-and-twenty summers.



of good height and with one of those well-rounded
figures which would better please did they not arouse
fears of too great avoirdupois in the distant future
At present she was as nearly perfect a Hebe as it it
possible to imagine. Her mass of straw-tinted hair
was arranged in a manner that would have become a
queen. Her head was poised grandly on her shapely
aeck. She had a bright color thai was all her own,
and her excessive vivacity became her well.

Mrs. Madison was a widow of about forty years of
age, who might once have been beautiful, but who now
seemed to feel the cares of life too heavily to mind the
deep furrows which time had hastened to place in the
lines of her pale countenance. She had a certain air of
matronly dignity, as one who had seen better days,
and could rise, in thought at least, above the misfor-
tunes of recent years. The house which she occupied
was situated within pistol shot of Harvard College, in
the city of Cambridge. It was a comfortable, old-
fashioned structure, set back from the street, and
almost hidden from the gaze of pedestrians by the
shade trees and very tall hedge which bordered the
sidewalk. Her support came almost wholly from the
letting of rooms to students, from which source she
managed to support, in a modest manner, herself and
ler two daughters. She listened with much interest
to Miss Vaughan's rejoinder, and then said :

" He is rich, then ?"

"You may set that down as assured when I have
promised to marry him," smiled the young lady.
" His grandfather was one of those Lowell mill owners
who made such a pile of money fifty years or so ago
He left it all to Claude when he was a baby -that ia,
to his guardians, of eours and it has kept oc grow-


*ay and growing, as such fortunes do. Oh, yes, Clan do
is rich enough ; but as for his Character, that's quite
aaother thing. I haven't got as far as that yet"

The speaker paused and looked contentedly at her
companion. If the troubles of this world had mad
much impression on her young life there was no out-
ward evidence of it. A big yellow cat which sat
sleepily on the window seat, a few yards away, seemed
quite as much worried by either past or present as she.
Yet this young lady had a history which would make
the foundation of a romance. An air of mystery per-
vaded her life, which no one seemed able to penetrate.
She had her moods, too, and the Isabelle Vaughan of
one of them seemed very little like the Isabelle
Vaughan of another.

Mrs. Madison had known her when a child. Her
father, Captain Arthur Vaughan, was a Cambridge
man, and when her mother died Mrs. Madison saw
much of the pretty little orphan girl, until the captain
took her out to South America, whence he never re-
turned. One of the first things Belle did, after com-
ing back a grown young lady, was to seek out Mrs.
Madison's house. The old friendship was renewed and,
as is often the case, it gained strength from the fact
that the two ladies were so totally dissimilar, as well
as from other causes which will appear later on.

"I am glad, indeed, Belle, that you are to be so
happy," said the widow. " Money is not a thing to be
despised, and those who pretend to so consider it art
only striving for effect. I have often felt the need of
! .t since my husband died, partly for myself, but much
aiore for Cora and Jessie. Money will do a great deal
to make life pleasant, but the first requisite in a mat-
' rimonial partner should be Private Character. Ym

10 " art WOT, murt not JULES

cannot comprehend this fully, Belle; you are fa*
young. You remember Henry. There were thing*
about him which I could have wished different, but ae
one ever impeached his Private Character. When th
bank officials found that he had fled, with the books in
such bad shape and thirty thousand dollars gone, it was
a blow to me. The news which followed so soon of his
death abroad was very hard to bear. My only consola-
tion in my distress was the reflection that, whatever
he might have done, his Private Character was untar-

There was a momentary suspicion of amusement
in Miss Vaughan's deep blue eyes, but she mastered it
before it attracted her friend's attention, and said :

" I am sorry to say I can't agree with you. If try
husband should ever run away, he might take all the
women in America with him for all of me. But if he
forgot to leave me a handsome pile of cash, I'd never
forgive him, never! I have Claude all right on that
score in advance. The day we are married he is to
give me fifty thousand dollars. That'll make a sure
foundation for me in case anything should happen.
Ah ! Mrs. Madison, if every husband would do as
well, how much more married happiness there would

Miss Vaughan laughed at her own pleasantry and
the elder lady's features relaxed a little.

" And you have been engaged for mere than a
year," said Mrs. Madison.

" Yes, and I would make it ten if I couldthat is,
if 1 dared for he might have heart disease and go off
suddenly. I could get him to give me the money now,
but that would have a disagreeable look. I think
Claude would wait for me a century, if I compelled


Sum to. Talk about infatuation! Why, you
heard of such a case as his in your life!"

"Tell me all about it," said Mrs. Madison, moYing
her chair an inch closer. " Tell me everything. Belle ;
I want the whole truth."

Miss Vaughan colored a little and waited some
seconds before replying. Then she said:

" Well, I will, for I know what I tell you will go no
further, and I really should like to tell some one. You
won't judge me harshly, I'm sure, for you've known
me ever since I was smaller than Jessie and I've
always regarded you just like a mother. But, really,
I fear my story will shock even you."

She paused.

M The telling of it can do no harm," said the other
lady, evidently feeling the curiosity, for which her sex
is noted, becoming stronger. " If you have done any-
thing imprudent I may be able to advise you and pre-
vent its repetition."

The young lady laughed silently and gave her
companion a sly look.

" Well, here it is," she began. " At Newport, last
summer, 1 was introduced to him for the first time.
There was a yachting party, and I had on the stun-
aingest suit imaginable. A yachting costume just
iets me off, and I knew the minute I glanced around
the boat that I had no riva. there. I noticed Claude
standing with the skipper, who seemed to know him
rell, and as he was by far the best looking man
aboaid, I assed an elderly gentleman, in a quiet way,
who he was. 'Why, that's Claude Wyllis,' he replied,
* oue of the best fellows as well as richest here this
season. Let me present you.' It was an inspiratioa.


Mrs. Mcdison, that led me to decline that old mam's

Mrs. Madison looked much puzzled.

" You declined to be introduced ?"

" Right the first time," said Miss Vaughaa, M tt I
hadn't declined, I should never have been to-day the
blushing fiancee that you see before you."

Mrs. Madison shook her head. " Your riddles are
too hard for me, Belle."

" Did you ever catch bluefish from a boat under
full sail ?" asked the young lady.

" Bluefish ?"

" Yes. You cast out your line with a spoon-hook
and scud as fast as you can through the waves. The
bluefish see the shining thing ; they dive for it aad
swallow it bait, hook, spoon and all !"

" Well ?"

" I was the spoon-hook, and Claude the bluefish

Mrs. Madison caught a short breath, and said :
u Ah !"

" I thought you would. Claude saw I did not
want an introduction and that made him all the
more anxious to get one. He got the ear of the old
gentleman to whom I had spoken of him. I couldn't
hear them, but I knew exactly what they were saying
though I had my eyes on a ship a mile away all tht
time. ' Who is that pretty girl ?' asked Mr. Claude
I'm not vain, but I'm not a fool, either, and I've
looked in the glass. I know he said ' pretty.' Them
the old man answered, ' Her name is Vaughan, aad
she is staying with the Mitchells at their cottage.'
Then they waited a minute. Then Mr. Claude said,
'Introduce me,' and the old man bless his heart !-^

**' Ml'* KIOH, THAT 8 THi MAIM TKEfft." 18

replied, ' I can't ; she has declined it already/ At this
Mr. Claude opened his big eyes and was disposed to
get angry Then, for a little while, he affected not
to care. And then then he made up his contrary
masculine mind that he would make my acquaintance,
whether I liked it or no, and see what sort of young
woman it was who had given him the first snub of his
dainty life."

Miss Vaughan stopped to take breath, and looked
triumphantly at her interested listener.

" Shall I go on ?" she asked. " Or shall I continue
this narrative the next time I come over ? I shall
have to stop and think up some of it before I can
make a connected story. It's more than a year since
it happened, you know."

" Go on, by all means," said Mrs. Madison. " I am
quite entertained."

" Well, that very evening, after dinner, I strolled
out totally unconscious of any other person's exist-
ence, you understand and took my way idly along
the sand. There was a brisk breeze blowing and I
could only keep my hat on by holding to the ribbons.
My front hair blew around my face and my dress was
nearly unmanageable. There came a terrible moment
wiien I felt my skirts inflating, and I had to choose
quickly between two evils, so I let go of my hat and
iway it sailed through the air. A gentleman, strolling
some rods behind, caught it as deftly as the best
league catcher could have caught a ball, and hastened
to bring it to me. You never could guess who."

' Not' began Mrs. Madison.

" But, odd as it seems, it was. I had secured con-
trol of my skirts by the time he came up and was able
to take my hat, place it on my head and thank him in


a cold, formal manner. I tied the strings tightly
under my chin this time, as I had no further use for a
flying hat, and started on my way. But another gust
came along at that exact moment you never saw
such a gust ! 1 thought I should go up in the air like
an inflated balloon. It was terrible ! My face was
enveloped in my dress skirt in a second, so I never can
testify from actual knowledge the extent of the ruin,
but it was enough. And that terrible man caught my
dress and pulled it down, just as if it was any of his
business. And the first thing I saw, when my burning
face was restored to the light, was his royal highness,
bowing profoundly and hoping I was now quite able
to proceed on my way. Can you conceive of anything
more annoying ?"

" It was, indeed," admitted Mrs. Madison. " What
did you do?"

" What did I do ? I turned on that man with all
the sternness I could muster, stamped my foot on the
ground and said : ' I believe you did that on pur-

"'You're quite right,' he replied, saucily. 'I
brought the wind-squall along here just at the
moment I knew you were coming. I did it, I admit ;
but, if you'll forgive me, I'll never do it again.'

" Now, what could one say to a man like that r"

The face of a beautiful child of ten years peeped
la at the doorway at this juncture. She had heavy
dark hair hanging loosely about her head in half-
taagled masses.

"I only want Tabby, mamma," she said, going to
toe window and taking the big cat in her arms. "We
are playing school and there aren't scholars enough,
We want Tabby to sit in one of the chain. M


The last explanation was made for Miss Vaughan 'i
benefit and that young lady signified her approval at
the scheme by a smile and nod.

" You're going to stay to dinner ?" continued iht
child, interrogatively, as she held the door ajar.
** 'Cause Cora would be very much disappointed if you

" Yes, Jessie," said Mrs. Madison, speaking for her
visitor. " Belle will surely be here to dinner. She is
going to stay several days. Run along now ; we are
very busy with our conversation."

The child hesitated a moment longer.

" Something little girls shouldn't hear, I s'pose,"
she said, wisely. " It's always the way. I shall be s0
glad when I am big enough to hear everything !"

She trudged off with the cat and Miss Vaughan
proceeded :

" What a lovely child Jessie is ! Let me see, where
was I ? Oh, yes ! Well, I drew myself up with what
dignity I could command for I still had a wholesome
fear of what the next gust might do and I said, in
withering tones (only they didn't seem to wither him
at all), ' You are very impertinent, sir ; I wish you a
good evening !' Then I marched off home without
looking around and, as luck would have it, without
further accident."

Mrs. Madison waited for her guest to proceed,
seeming qui'.e absorbed in the story she was hearing.

" If you can conceive of anything more inauspicious
than that in the way of making an acquaintance," con-
tinued Miss Vaughan, "I would like to know it I hid
in the house for three days, overcome with the occur-
rence, and then only ventured out guardedly. But Mr.
Claude was not the sort of youth to be discouraged by

16 " itri *ICH, THAT'S TKB MAZH T*nre."

little things. He happened, as it turned out, to know
Colonel Mitchell, and it was easy enough to get asked
up to the cottage. One day I walked out on the
piazza and came squarely upon him and the colonel,
where there was no escape. ' Belle, this is Mr, Claud*
Wyllis, Mr. Wyllis, Miss Vaughan,' and it was

" Claude bore himself remarkably well at that time.
As for me, I must have looked like a red, red rose.
The good colonel saw nothing these ancient military
men never do and the usual commonplaces followed.
In a few minutes a messenger came post-haste for him
and he excused himself in the briefest manner.

" ' Mr. Wyllis,' said he, ' Miss Vaughan will enter-
tain you, I'm sure, till my return. I sha'n't be over an
hour,' and off he flew. I looked rather helplessly
after him and then, as there seemed no remedy, took a
chair and sat looking at the sea for the next ten min-
utes without a word."

"Goodness, Belle!" exclaimed Mrs. Madison.
' How could you !"

" How could I do otherwise ? He had no right to
*>e there at all. He should have relieved my embar-
rassment by taking himself out of the way. I gave
him ten minutes to do it and that ten minutes cost
him his freedom for life. I didn't loci as if I was
thinking of anything in particular as I sat there with
my eyes on the ocean, but I was maturing a plan and
I carried it out to the letter."

" A plan ?"

" Yes, A plan to make that saucy fellow come to mo
oa his knees. I knew he was laughing at ane every
minute and I object of all things to being ridiculed.

" n'f *ica, THAT'I THE UAIS THHST." 11

Finally I turned my chair about and looked him full
in the eyes. Yes, he was laughing, just as I suspected,

* 'Colonel Mitchell spoke the truth,' he said, in
response to my scowling look. ' He said you would
Entertain me ; and you do immensely.'

" * Indeed ! That is much more than you do lot
me r I answered, defiantly.

" At that he burst out laughing and I felt the wrin-
kles disappearing, in spite of all I could do.

" ' Come,' he said, holding out his hand. ' Let's be
friends. Why we've got to ! There are reasons !'

" I could have swept into the house and left him >
but that would not have sufficed.

" ' You were on the yacht the other day,' he pursued,
' and you avoided me. We walked on the shore and
the wind championed my cause. I came to this piazza
and that lucky message has aided me. I wish to talk
to you, Miss Vaughan.'

" ' You would do me the greatest favor by leaving
me,' I said. ' You ought to see that your presence
annoys me. Your conduct justifies this statement,
which might otherwise seem rude.'

"' But you heard me promise Colonel Mitchell that
I would wait till his return,' he said, elevating his eye-

"'Then / will go,' I answered, half rising. (Of
course I had no intention of going.)

"' No,' he replied, making a movement to dissuada
me. ' He left you here to entertain his guest and you
mil never let me tell him you disregarded his wish.'

" Then, Mrs. Madison, I made a heroic effort. I
laughed as heartily as I could and professed to have
iateaded the whole affair as a joke, hi a few moments
we were chatting like old friends. Befcre th colons!


returned we were talking of a hundred things and 1
knew I had my fish all ready whenever I chose to
jerk the line."

Bridget opened the door to inquire whether they
would take dinner at the usual hour or wait for Miss

" Oh, wait for Cora, by all means," said Miss Vaug-
han. "She can't be much later." Then she re-
sumed :

'' To make a long story short, Claude hung about
me from that hour. I rode with him, sailed with him,
played tennis, strolled, went to suppers and to balls
with him. I had him insane in a fortnight and maud-
lin in a month. One night, at a german, we got lost
in a conservatory and he tried to kiss me. His arm
was around my waist and his lips almost touching
mine before I suspected his intention. It took abso-
lute strength to stop him. One of his hands was on
my bare shoulder. He looked awfully, eyes bloodshot,
breath coming and going fast I wrenched myself
from him and all the customary things came into my
mind, but I could not utter one of them. I wanted to
tell him he was a brute, that he must never speak to
me again, and a hundred things like that, but I
couldn't How it came out I don't know, but this is
what I said :

" ' There is but one road to my lips, Mr. Wyllis !'

" He staggered backward and I escaped to the ball-
room, where I was relieved to accept an immediate
invitation to dance. When the set was finished a boy
handed me this note :"

Miss Vaughan took a crumpled piece of paper from
her pocket and read it aloud :

" I know the road and I wish to take h. Please answtt by

Mrs. Madison cried out in a startled way and Miss
Vaughan said :

" Yes, he sent me that ; and I answered OB the back
of a card, ' Wait a month and I may tell you.' "

"That was very risky," interrupted the prudent
elder lady.

" No ; I knew him. It was as good as a direct
' yes,' and answered my purpose much better. For the
next thirty days I saw him as little as possible. When
the limit expired, he sent a note asking me to meet
him, and I went. ' How can you look me in the
face ?' was my inquiry. ' You have acted in an ungen-
tlemanly manner.' ' My love overcame me,' he
stammered, for he was really frightened now. ' Your
love !' I echoed. ' It was more like the love of a grizzly
bear than of a gentleman !' ' I'm very sorry,' he en-
treated, humbly. ' You asked me to come here,' I con-
tinued, abruptly, ' what do you wish ?' ' Wish ?'
he repeated, ' why, you! I have waited your thirty days
and I want your answer. Will you marry me ?' 'I

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Online LibraryAlbert RossHis private character → online text (page 1 of 23)