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.-AC IF::. AVINtW
Q BEACH, CALIF.



OUT OF WEDLOCK,

BY ALBERT Ross.



AUTHOR OF

"LovE AT SEVENTY," "AN ORIGINAL SINNER,*

"WHY I'M SINGLE," " THOU SHALT NOT,"

" YOUNG Miss GIDDY," ETC.



" There is no motherhood outside of
wedlock that can be tolerated in a civil-
ized country none that will not bring to
its possessor a terrible load of ignominy
and suffering'' Page 12 5.



M. A. DONOHUE & COMPANY

CHICAGO NEW YORK



Made in U. S. A.



CONTENTS.



MR. MEDFORD'S STORY.

Chapter Pag

I. Beginning with a Mystery. . . g

MISS BRIXTON'S PARENTS.

II. "The tragedy of my life." . 16

III. Housekeeping under Difficulties. . . 25

IV. George and Emma 34

V. 4< Tell me you love him !" . . . 43

VI. Mr. Brixton Understands. . . .49

VII. Among the Adirondacks. . . .57

VIII. " Ugh ! What can you do ?" . . . 65

MISS BRIXTON'S GIRLHOOD.

IX. The Birth of Blanche 72

X. " I never had a child." .... 82

XI. Mjbther Love Prevails 92

XII. Forgiveness and Death. . . . 102

XIII. " The risk is too great." . . .114

XIV. An Artificial Rule 123

XV. Professional Services. .... 136

M

2061S69



VI CONTENTS.

MISS BRIXTON A MOTHER.

Chapter

XVI. " Too lovely for anything." . . .146
XVII. An Amateur Detective. ... 156

XVIII. In and About Algiers 166

XIX. " He insulted a woman." . . . 175

XX. Fantelli Astonished 182

XXI. Blanche Goes Abroad in Haste. . . 188
XXII. " Quel age as tu, mon bebe ?" . . 196

XXIII. At Boulogne-sur-Mer 206

MR. MEDFORD AGAIN.

XXIV. Everything up to Date. . . 211

MISS BRIXTON'S DILEMMA.

XXV. Meeting Monsieur Martine. . . . 215

XXVI. A Visit to a Monastery. . . . 227

XXVII. " The priest told you !" ... 235

XXVIII. A Great Clue Exploded. . . .244

XXIX. " He is her husband." . . . .255

XXX. A Day at Conde Smendou. . . . 263

MISS BRIXTON'S CONFESSION.

XXXI. A Gentleman of France. . . . 271

XXXII. " If you had searched the world." . 280

XXXIII. Caught in a Trap. . . . . .288

XXXIV. " He looks like Wallace." . . .299

READY FOR THE JURY.
XXXV. And now Suit Yourselves. . . . 308



TO MY READERS.



No question raised in recent years has touched
thoughtful minds more than this " Is Marriage a
Failure ?" When first uttered it seemed to strike at
the very foundation of all things. If marriage was
a failure, said many, what hope was there for man-
kind ?

And still there have been some who, like Ella
Drew, in the novel before you, " have found it
heaven I" And there have been others, like George
Brixton, whom it has cursed ; and yet others, like
his daughter Blanche, who have sought, in all good
faith, to escape its trammels.

Eminent writers in Europe are now discussing
whether there may not be some safe modification of
the marriage vow. Socialists look with confidence
toward a time when an advanced step will be taken
through the economic enfranchisement of women-
But to most of us it is plain that a few cannot with
impunity step aside from the mass in this matter,
any more than they can walk ashore from a steam-
er's deck before it reaches the pier.

[vii]



10 STY READERS.

The other subject of which this volume treat* .
also most serious. One of these days the continua-
tion of the human race will receive as intelligent
treatment as that of the breeding of domestic ani-
mals, or I am mistaken. In the meantime under
present conditions wedlock is a hideous travesty
unless there be common honesty between the parties
to it.

This will reach the first instalment of my second
million of readers. The evidence is ample that they
are not limited to any section of this country, nor
even to the Western continent. In return for the
public's kindness I again promise my best efforts in
a field where I have found such conspicuous appre-
ciation.

ALBERT ROSS.
Cambridge, Mass.
Not., 1894.



OUT OF WEDLOCK.



MR. MEDFORD'S STORY.
CHAPTER I.

BEGINNING WITH A MYSTERY.

"If you want a stranger tale than anything in
fiction, you should learn the true history of Miss
Brixton's baby."

Thus spoke my friend, Joseph Medford, as we
strolled together along the shore at Lake Leman.
We had met unexpectedly at the Hotel Suisse,
Geneva, where I was stopping on my way to the
resorts higher up the mountains.

Medford was the last man to whom I should have
gone for the plot of a novel. He was a retired
merchant, who had made a fortune. It surprised
me very much when lie remarked that he had read
several of my works, and the conversation that en-
sued led to the statement quoted above.

[91



10 OUT OF WEDLOCK.

" Miss Brixton ?" I repeated, with a smile at what
I supposed was his carelessness of pronunciation.
"You mean Mrs. Brixton, I presume."

Medford put on the air of one who does not like
to be corrected.

" If I had meant Mrs. Brixton, I should have said
so," he responded, with a certain dignity. " I said
Miss Brixton, I believe."

To this I vouchsafed a single syllable " Ah !"
Before my mind there arose the ever-recurring
tragedy a girl led away by specious promises or
fallen a victim to her own wild and curbless passion.
It is a theme that has been used by a thousand
novelists, and it seemed impossible that there could
be anything essentially new in such an experience.

" Does the case differ so much, then," I inquired,
" from those that have already been made the sub-
ject of romance ?"

"In every particular," replied my. friend. "At
least, it is totally unlike anything / have seen in
print. Not only this, but I believe it unique as
an actual occurrence. If you wish, I will outline it
to you."

My curiosity was now fairly alive. I begged Mr.
Medford to begin at once, and not to content him-
self with an outline either, but to give me the fullest
details of which he was possessed. He answered
that this would need considerable time, and I said
I was at his disposal, even if it took all night.

u I cannot tell," he said, " whether it will require
five hours or ten to give you the details I have
gathered. They are in a somewhat chaotic state in my
mind, and will have to be put together slowly. And,
as I hinted in the first place, the most interesting part



BEGINNING WITH A MYSTERY. 11

o- die matter is still veiled in mystery. Perhaps you
will be able to unravel the hidden threads and com-
plete the story to your own satisfaction ; but cer-
tainly, none of Miss Brixton's friends have yet been
able to learn the least thing beyond what she has
chosen to tell them."

I asked Medford if he would permit me a few
questions in advance of his narrative.

" By all means," he said. " As many as you
please."

" To begin with, how did you learn the facts you
are about to relate ?"

" From George Brixton, Mrs. Brixton and Miss
Brixton, mainly," was the affable response. " The
young lady's father made a confidant of me in many
things. Her mother I also knew to some extent.
Then I have talked by the hour with Stephen Drew
and his wife, with Dr. Robertson and Mrs. Rey-
nolds. (You will hear more of these people pres-
ently.) Blanche that is, Miss Brixton has dis-
cussed matters with me as freely as if I were her
brother, or even her sister. And the baby Miss
Brixton's baby knows me as well as a young gen-
tleman of his age could be expected to do, and has
jumped and crowed in my arms within the last three
weeks."

I was silent for a moment. Then I remarked in a
subdued tone that such cases were very sad, espe-
cially when they happened among the better edu-
cated and more cultured classes. They made one
doubt whether the world was not growing worse
instead of better.

" Miss Brixton would not agree with you," said
Medford, quickly. " She is the happiest young



12 OTTT OF WEDLOCK.

mother I ever knew. In her sweet face there is not
a single tinge of regret."

I stared at my friend in astonishment.

" And she is an unwedded mother !" I exclaimed.

" Precisely."

"Then her reason must be unhinged," I asserted,
soberly.

" Certainly not in the ordinary sense," he answered.
" Aside from this matter of the child, she appears as
sensible as any other healthy girl. She conforms
in nearly everything else to the prevailing fashions.
She dresses, for instance, in the usual mode. She
looks, lives and acts like the rest of her sex, so far
as I can see. Her signature on a business paper is
never disputed. She keeps to herself a good deal,
but that is because the majority of women do not
like to associate with one who has proved her belief
in such ultra, or, as she would call them, ' advanced '
doctrines. Blanche, however, does not care for
society. Her time is more pleasantly spent with
her child, whom she passionately adores. Sane ?
Why, yes. No jury would question her ability to
care for herself, her boy or her property."

I waited a moment, and then inquired who was
the father of the infant.

" That is the mystery," said Medford. " From the
little we have learned it appears that the man is
dead. Dr. Robertson drew this from her, with a
few other particulars of little importance, during a
few hours when she stood in imminent danger of
dying, and she has never denied or modified her
statements. The only trouble is, she will not add
the least syllable to them."



BEGINNING WITH A MYSTEKY. 13

*' She does not appear to mourn him very deeply ?"
I suggested.

"No. Not as a woman would mourn a husband
or a lover. The Doctor says the tears came into her
eyes when she mentioned that he was no more, but
she has not put on crape, either literally or figura-
tively. She sings, smiles, dines well, and acts quite
the opposite of broken-hearted."

To this I remarked, after reflection, that her con-
duct was not to be wondered at, judged from one
standpoint. A fellow of that kind did not deserve
to be very sincerely regretted.

" A fellow of what kind ?" asked Medford, quiz-
zically.

" One who would deceive a girl and then desert
her."

My companion smiled.

" But this man did nothing of the sort," said he.

" Did nothing of the sort ?" I echoed. " Did not
deceive or desert her?"

" Neither the one thing nor the other.'

" Pshaw ! That is a riddle," I replied.

" Nothing but the simple truth. Miss Brixton
freely admits, to all who care to discuss the matter
with her, that if there were any deception, it was on
her part, not his."

I nodded ironically.

" Oh ! It was Miss Brixton who deceived and
deserted her lover !"

" Something of that nature," assented Medford,
with another laugh. " But let me say that if you
keep on at this rate you will take all the interest out
of my story. It is a girl's way, rather than a man's,



14: OUT OF WEDLOCK.

to skip through the pages of a book and read the
last chapter first."

I admitted the truth of the observation, and said
there were only one or two other things that I
wanted to know before settling myself into the
attitude of a patient and uninterrupting listener.

" I presume you will tell me next " I added, " that
the father of Miss Brixton's child met his death on
account of a broken heart, superinduced by his
regret at losing her."

" I would oblige you with the greatest pleasure,"
replied Medford, "if I were inventing a tale for the
occasion. As mine is, unfortunately, a truthful one,
I must do otherwise. No ; as I understand it, the
pangs of unrequited love did not cut short the career
of this person, but a much more prosaic thing a,
bullet."

It was getting interesting indeed !

" So she shot him !" I exclaimed. "Well, a man
who would permit a woman to deceive, betray and
desert him deserved no better fate."

Mr. Medford's amused face showed me, even
before he spoke, that I had fallen into another
error.

" She did not shoot him," he said.

"Then he shot himself, which was quite the best
thing he could do."

"No, he did not shoot himself."

" Was there another woman in the case ?" I
asked.

, "It is not believed that there was. When you
have heard all I know about this matter in case
you are ever ready to let me tell you your theories
will be advanced with more precision. Dr. Robert-



BEGINNING WITH A MTSTEfST. 15

son and I have concluded, by comparing the little
we have heard, that Miss Brixton cared about as
much for this man as you do for that blonde lady
on the opposite side of the way, to whom you have
never spoken. He became the father of her child
without the least affection on her part, and he did
not live many days after she met him. He was dead
and buried months and months before little Wallace
was born."

There was a chilly air about the story. I was glad
that Medford could assure me that the father came
to his death by other hands than those of the fair
Miss Blanche, even if it was " by some person or
persons to the jurors unknown." Otherwise,
thoughts of seraglio life, where guilty lovers of
sultanas are sewn in sacks and dropped into the
Bosphorus, would surely have obtruded themselves.

" If all you say is without deception," I said,
" there is but one other tenable theory. Miss
Brixton was the victim of an atrocious assault."

Medford laughed once more, the exasperating
laugh of one who has a certainty of his secret.

" Wrong again !" he replied. " In that case the
man would surely have died by her hand instead of
by that of another. You would agree to this if you
had met Miss Brixton. I should be happy to intro-
duce you, by the way, if you ever happen to meet
us together. Would you care to have me ?"

I responded that I could tell better about that
when I had heard the whole of his story.

" Very well," said Medford. " In order to get to
the end of a tale, one of the principal essentials is to
make a beginning ; and that, if you will excuse me



16 OUT OF WEDLOCK.

from answering any more questions at this time, I
will now proceed to do."

I bowed and asked him to proceed.

And Medford proceeded.

[The reader will please understand that the following
chapters, to the end of the twenty-third, are in the language
of Mr. Medford. And to ease the mind of those who
remember that his story was begun while we were stroll-
ing on the lake shore, let me explain that it was finished very
late that night in my apartment at the hotel. A. R.]



MISS BRIXTON'S PARENTS.



CHAPTER II.

" THE TRAGEDY OF MY LIFE."

It has been well remarked by somebody (said
Medford) that " one cannot be too careful in select-
ing his grandparents." Miss Brixton's chief error
was in the choice of her father and mother. Her
more remote ancestors, so far as I have been able to
ascertain, were people who got along without mak-
ing any particular impression upon the community ;
an eminently proper thing, let me remark, for ances-
tors to do. A person is better off, I contend, with
progenitors of that kind, than with those who hav



"THE TRAGEDY OF MY LIFE." 17

been either great geniuses or great rascals. He
will have neither the bad reputation of the one to
live down, nor the impossibly high standard of the
other to emulate. But Blanche's father and mother
got into trouble over her at a very early stage in her
career, and their conduct must have contributed
toward making her what she is to-day.

Before I had known George Brixton a week I
knew that he was not on the most cordial terms
with his wife. How did I find this out ; by making
inquiries? I made just one, the answer to which
informed me that he was not a widower.

Upon his desk were several photographs of his
daughter, but nothing that indicated the nature of
Mrs. B.'s lineaments. I commented upon the
beauty of the child, and saw the devoted look in
his face as he turned toward the pictures.

" Is she your only one ?" I asked, and there was a
most peculiar expression to his eyes as he answered,
" Yes, my only one !"

Before I had called many times, Brixton began
to give me more particulars about this child. He
seemed delighted to tell of what a comrade she was
to him, of excursions they made together, of even-
ings spent at home in her company. Never did he
make the faintest allusion to his wife, and the whole
tenor of his remarks indicated that he had none.

There are people one " takes to," as if by instinct.
I got to liking Brixton in a very brief time. Soon a
friendship sprang up between us such as does not
often follow a mere mercantile transaction. This is
the more noteworthy because, as he often told me, I
was one of only three or four men with whom he had
ever been in the least degree confidential. His face



18 OUT OF WEDLOCK.

brightened whenever I entered his office, and ottie/
business was always laid aside until my departure.

When I asked him to go to lunch with me, he re-
plied that he invariably took his meals at home.

"Blanche expects me my little girl, you know,"
he said, with infinite tenderness. "I never disap-
point her. When I turn the corner I can always see
her face at the window, in winter time like this, and
in summer she runs to meet me. I fear we appear
silly to the neighbors, now that she has grown so
big. I have been told that I care too much for her,
and perhaps I do. My feelings come very near to the
prohibition against idolatry."

After this confidence I could not help remarking
that it would give me great pleasure to see Miss
Blanche, for whom I admitted I had conceived a
warm admiration. Brixton did not reply to my sug-
gestion for a moment, and I could see his face red-
dening as he realized that a question of politeness
was at issue.

"I did not hesitate," he said, finally, "because I
have any doubt that I should like to have you come,
or that Blanche would be glad to see you. The fact
iSj we receive hardly any visitors. However, an ex-
ception shall be made in your case, and you may
choose as early a date as you desire."

Having said this, Mr. Brixton launched into sev-
eral complimentary expressions, which were very
agreeable to me, coming from a man I esteemed so
highly. I assured him that I should regard the priv-
ilege of entering his home all the more from the fact
that it was one so seldom accorded.

"You put the case too strongly," he smiled. "We
are very plain people. You will see an ordinary



"THE TRAGEDY OP MY LIFE." 19

house, with nothing extravagant in the furnishings.
There is but one jewel within its walls that child of
mine."

" She must be very dear to you," I remarked.

"She is everything to me," said he, gravely. "I
guard her with the greatest care, and yet not in the
way that most fathers would think of following.
While I take pains that her companionships shall be
of the best, I have not kept her ignorant of the fact
that Sin forms a part of the arrangements of nature.
She is hardly thirteen, and yet she is as wise indeed,
in a true sense, wiser than many young women of
twenty. The knowledge that is allowed to come to
most girls in a perverted and distorted shape has
been imparted to her so gradually that it contains
nothing gross. When you have seen her I want you
to say whether she is not as thoroughly unspoiled as
if she had been lied to and cajoled out of informa-
tion as necessary to her well-being as the air she
breathes. I have been warned that it is a great
mistake to be so frank with her, but I do not believe
it. If my experiment were to fail, there would be
some signs of it before now. If there is a danger
point, she has passed it."

As I did not pretend" to understand the subject,
and indeed, did not thoroughly comprehend at the
time what he meant, I was silent. He repeated that
he was at home nearly every evening and should be
glad to see me at my earliest convenience.

" There are so few entertainments to take a young
girl to," he exclaimed, with a sigh. " One tires of
concerts, be they ever so good. The theatres have
reached a point where many of the plays are out of
the question. We have done the art galleries re-



20 OUT OF WEDLOCK.

peatedly. There is no choice but to stay at home.
Come any evening you like, you will be certain to
find us in."

A night was chosen, the third one from the day
on which we held this conversation, and at eight
o'clock I ascended the steps of Mr. Brixton's resi-
dence. He was watching, and came immediately to
meet me. As soon as my wraps were disposed of he
took me into his library, and before sitting down
went for his daughter.

" Here is my child," he said, leading her in.
" Blanche, my friend, Mr. Medford."

Even if I had never heard anything about the
girl if I had been sitting there on ordinary busi-
ness and had merely noticed her enter the room I
should have been strongly attracted toward her.
My powers of description are wholly inadequate to
convey to you the impression she made upon me.
With the form and stature of a child of thirteen, she
had a look and manner several years older. Though
her face was not understand this perfectly one
of those prematurely aged ones that make us wish
the vanishing youth would tarry until its proper
time for departure ; it was as fresh and rosy as any
infant's.

Before she spoke I noticed her extreme self-
possession, the perfect confidence, the absence of
timidity, and yet nothing like posing. The words
that issued from her lips were correct in enunciation,
but neither pedantic nor strained. Her tones were
sweet and natural. She gave me her hand frankly,
with a clasp something like that of a boy, attribut-
able, no doubt, to the close companionship she had
had with her father, rather than with girls of her



"THE TBAOKDY OF MY LIFE." 21

age. I felt toward her as I had done toward Mr.
Brixton when I first knew him I accepted her with-
out reserve.

There was no attempt at formality in the talk that
followed. We discussed the affairs of the day
exactly as if Blanche had been a grown woman.
She surprised me by proving, in the occasional
remarks that she interjected, that she was a regular
reader of the daily newspapers. She knew, for
instance, a good deal about a tariff bill that was at
that time being discussed in Congress, and expressed
her opinion as to whether it would pass the House of
Representatives, which was shown, by the way, in
after days, to be a correct one. A ministerial trial
for heresy had not escaped her observation. When
it was alluded to by me, she showed much interest
in it, asking a number of questions as to the points
involved that I was entirely incapable of answering.

She knew the city from north to south, and from
river to river, as well as a thousand things I should
never have expected would enter the head of such a
child. It was very seldom, to put it fairly, that her
father and I touched any subject on which she had not
a considerable stock of information. And where she
did not understand, she was ready with her interroga-
tions, anxious to let no opportunity escape to inform
herself.

Two hours passed in this way, to my great enter-
tainment. When the clock struck ten Mr. Brixton
asked Blanche if she would not like to show Mr.
Medford her dolls. Upon which the child smilingly
acquiesced, and excusing herself in the most charm-
ing manner went to fetch them.

" Dolls !" I exclaimed, as soon as she was out of



22 OUT OF WEDLOCK.

hearing. " Has she kept the playthings of her child
hood till now ?"

"Her childhood?" echoed Brixton, with a start.
*' Her childhood ? Why, she is in the very fruit and
flower of it ! Did you think childhood ended when
a girl reached her teens ? Blanche cares for her
dolls as much as she did five years ago ; in fact, I
think she grows fonder of them every day."

This statement filled me with intense surprise. I
had been noting this girl's remarkable stock of
knowledge, and had come to consider her a prodigy
of learning. She had carried herself in our company
with all the ease of ten additional years, retaining
still the gentleness and grace of her extreme youth.
But, dolls ! How could I conceive that the mind which
had been devoted for the previous quarter-hour to
the Triple Alliance and the Franco-Russian under-
standing would turn with equal interest to the
puppets of babyhood !

" Papa," said the young voice, as its owner reap-
peared at the door, " don't you think, as there are
so many, Mr. Medford had better come and see
them in their own quarters ?"

Mr. Brixton and I complied with the suggestion,
and a moment later we were in a room such as I
certainly had never seen before, though no doubt
there are others somewhat like it. The furniture,
with the exception of several larger chairs, was of
a Lilliputian pattern, and consisted of beds, sofas,
bureaus, etc., of a size to fit the mimic occupants,
which were at least fifty in number. It was, in
short, the most complete dolls' nursery you could


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