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I




WEAKER THAN A WOMAN



BY



BERTHA M. CLAY,

AUTHOR OF

DORA TBORUE," "THE EARLE'S ATONEMENT," "FOILED BY LOVING,
ETC., ETC.



CHICAGO:

DONOHUE BROTHERS,
407-429 DEARBORN ST.



WEAKER THAN A WOMAN,



CHAPTER L

THE LEGACY.

" It is true, Kate every word of it. I was, like you, in-
credulous at first ; but I heard the will read, and I assure
you that Mrs. Hardman hao left me six thousand pounds."

"I cannot believe it, Darcy. Seehow rry hands tremble.
I have hardly the strength to speak. It is impossible.
Six thousand pounds ! Oh, Darcy, if there should be any
mistake, let me know it at once, before I begin to found
any hopes upon such good fortune before I take it into
my heart of hearts as a truth."

"My dear Kate, there is no mistake there can be no
mistake. I should not have told you had there been the
least probability of such a thing. The money is our own,
and will be paid to us when the estate is settled."

"Six thousand pounds! Why, Darcy, that means three
hundred a year, does it not?"

"Certainly," replied Darcy Lonsdale, "properly in-
vested."

"And three hundred a year means freedom from anxiety,
trom the constant toil of trying to make both ends meet. It
means a larger and better house, a tfoveniess for t ho chil-
dren. Oh. R-ii-ey. how ran we be thankfnl enough f

"My dear Kate,' 1 said the lawyer, s : mp]y, "I assure you
that for some time after I had heard it I did not know how
I felt. The most pleasant part of it was coining homo to
tell vou. I knew how deli-bled YOU would be."

" ilave you told Felix '{" asked the anxious wife.



2135140



6 WEAKER THAN A WOMAN.

u No ; I have not seen him yet. He is gone over to Nun
combe He will be pleased. I can take him into partner-
ship now. which is a thing that I have long wished to do.
We have had a hard struggle together, Kate, but it is al-
most over now. I should not have believed that money
could make such a difference in any one's sensations.
!-day I felt that the world was my master; to-day I
feel that I have mastered the world."

" We shall be able to go to the sea-side now, and you can
take a rest occasionally ; and we can get some good port
wine for little Nellie."

The lawyer smiled.

"And my bonnie Kate shall have a superb dress, " ho
said, "one that shall make her look young and beautiful
to others as sh: does to me. In truth, Kate, I see no end
to the relief, the ease, the happiness, that this unlocked
for legacy gives us."

4> We must take Vale House; it is to be let," remarked
Mrs. Lons'lale. " It is just such a house as I always longed
for; it is so large, so convenient, and has a much better
drawing-room than that of the Mertons. What do you
think, Darcy ?"

" Yes ; I think we might take Vale House. I will go out
to-day, and inquire about the rent, rates, and taxes."

"What will Mrs. Merton say?" mused Mrs. Lonsdale.

" Never mind about that," replied the lawyer. " All that
we have to do is to enjoy our good fortune. I really do
not know, but I think that such a sum of money never
made people so happy before. Kiss me, Kate, and we will
not forget to thank Heaven together. ' '

The speakers were Darcy Lonsdale and his wife. Darcy
Lonsdale was the principal lawyer in the clean and well-
built town of Lilford in Loomshire a man who had had a
hard hand-to-hand struggle with the world. He had been
twice married. His first wife died in her twentieth yer,
leaving an only son, Felix ; and ten years afterward ihe
lawyer married again. His second wife was a blithe,
bonnie, rosy girl who loved him with all her heart, a-nd
thought no one in the wide world so clever, so great, or so
good. For his sake she took little Felix to her heart, and
loved the dark-haired, handsome boy as much as she did
her own children. The lawyer's one drawback was his
large family; nearly every year a pretty, rosy, smiling
baby appeared, until, as he pleasantly declared, he had
ceased to count them, for their mimber frightened him.
"small army" he called them; and, though he was



WEAKER THAN A WOMAN. 7

proud of them and fond of them, though he would not have
missed one fair head from the circle for the whole world,
yet the number told upon him he could not save money,
ikl not even buy a house, his ingenuity was taxed to
make both ends meet. The bills were so numerous little
feet must be shod, little fair heads must be covered, little
minds trained ; and nothing could be done without money.
Still Darcy Lonsdale was a very happy man; he \.
charming wife, beautiful children, a good practice, and ho
liked work. The one pride of his life was his tall, hand-
some son, Felix, in whom the honest, simple-hearted 1.
hail concentrated all his hopes and ambition. The "small
army" were all under twelve, so that he oould not build
any hopes on them at present.

ilis life had on the whole been a pleasant one ; but he did
wish at times that he had a little more money. His prac-
tice was a good one ; still it could hardly be called lucra-
tive in the small pleasant town of Lilford. There was not
miK-h to occ\ipy a lawyer ; the setting forth and renewal of
3, the drawing up of title deeds, the making of wills,
the framing of agreements, composed the whole of his busi-
ness.

Among his clients was an eccentric widow lady, named
Martha Hardman, and Darcy Lonsdale had for twenty
been her faithful friend, adviser, and guide. She said
to him, laughingly, one day:

You will have something to thank me for when I am
dead."

"How can I thank you when you are dead ?" he asked.
nodded her head gravely.

i will see," she replied. "You have done everything
for me since you began to practice ; but I shall not 1>
make my will. Tell me whom you would advise me to
send for to d

Thinking that she was in a capricious mood, he an-
cd .

ud for George Malcolm ; he is an honest laws or and
an honest man. But why not let me make your will.
Hardman?"

"Because I am going to leave y<>u something in it ; and I
have not read of the glorious uncertainties of the English
law for so many years without wishing to be on the safe
side. I may fail, but I will take all reasonable precau-
tions."

He laughed at the time, giving little heed to what slm
said, and soon afterward he forgot all about the incident



8 WEAKER THAN A WOMAN.

Three years later Mrs. Hardman died, and her nephew, her
heir-at-law, came upon the scene. Darcy Lonsdaie had all
her papers, an exact list of all her moneys, her deeds,
leases, documents of various kinds but he had no will.

" Did she make a will ?" asked the heir-at-law.

"I cannot tell," replied Darcy Lonsdaie. "I have cer-
tainly drawn up no will for her. ' '

" Has she ever mentioned a will ?" pursued James Hard-
man.

Suddenly the lawyer remembered that she had men-
tioned a will, and his face flushed as he thought of the
conversation. James Hardman looked at him suspiciously.

" She did speak of her will to me once ; she told me that
I should not draw it up for her, and asked me to name
some lawyer. I told her that George Malcolm was an hon-
est lawyer and an honest man ; but I never heard whether
she sent for him or not."

"You know, of course, of what her property consists,
and that I am her heir-at-law."

"Yes, "was the cheerful reply; "we have often talked
about you. I can give you the particulars of the late Mrs.
Hardman's property. She owned the estate called Wood-
burn, consisting of a large farm and a good substantial
house ; and she had, besides this, twelve thousand pounds
in the Funds."

" And that is, of course, mine ?" said James Hardman.

" I know nothing as to that," replied Darcy Lonsdaie. " I
did not make her will, nor did she ever ask my advice
about it. ' '

After the funeral George Malcolm came "with the will and
the instructions that he had received from Mrs. Hardman.
It was read aloud ; and then it was discovered that the
lady had left Woodburn and six thousand pounds to her
nephew, James Hardman, while to her true friend and
adviser, Darcy Lonsdaie, in acknowledgment of his long
friendship and faithful services, she had bequeathed the
sum of six thousand pounds.

On hearing that the lawyer hurried home, delighted
with the intelligence, to his wife. What a vista of com-
fort this legacy opened out to them ! For the first time in
his long honorable career the lawyer felt some relief he
could meet his expenses now, and when he died there
would be something for his wife and children.

Nor was his wife less delighted. In her heart she had
longed for the same luxuries that the wives of other pro-
fessional men enjoyed for a drawing-room like Mrs. Mer



WEAKER THAN A WOMAN. 9

ton's, for a nursery governess such as the doctor's wife,
Mrs. Dalverley, had engaged, for a silk dress like the one
that the rector's wife wore. But of these desires she had
never spoken. She knew that her husband did his best in
every possible way, and gave her all the money that he
could. But now she ventured for the first time to indulge
in such blissful reveries. They were no longer idle dreams ;
they would be realized. She would live in Vale House,
that delightful residence she would have a charming draw-
ing-room, a nursery governess, and a costly silk dress.

While she sat dreaming with a smile on her face her
step-son, Felix, entered the room. There was the warmest
attachment between these two kindly liking and respect
for his step-mother on his part, the highest admiration and
the truest love for a step-son on hers. She was so young
when Darcy Lonsdale brought her to the great white square
house in Castle street, Lilford, that it seemed absurd for
Felix to call her mother. As he grew older it appeared to-
him that, with her soft Italian beauty, the most suitable
title for her was madre. He looked at her now.

"J/ac?re," he said, "you are looking very pleased and
bright ; what is the good news ?"

Mrs. Lonsdale went up to him and clasped her arms
round his neck. She drew the handsome face down to hers.

"Kiss me, Felix," she said; "I have ne\vs to tell you
the best you have ever heard. I know you will be pleased
indeed the very thought of the news makes me tremble
with joy. You could never guess it, Felix. "

" I suppose I never could. Have any of the 'small fry'
distinguished themselves?"

"No; it is nothing of that kind. It is this. You re-
member Mrs. Hardman, of Woodburn ?"

"I should remember her, madre ; some of the dreariest
hours of my life nave been spent in copying deeds bearing
her name."

" My dear Felix, her name must be held blessed among
us for evermore. She has left your father a legacy of six
thousand pounds and to us, my dear, that means so much.
It means Vale House to live in, a governess for the chil-
dren, and a partnership for you."

His handsome face flushed hotly.

" Ami that, mudre that means for me Violet Have."

A tender light came into Kate Lonsdale 's clear eyes.

"I hope so," she said, gently ; " I shall be so pleased if it
is so. Now, Felix, people call money dross. Could you



10 WEAKER THAN A WOMAN.

or I estimate the amount of happiness that lies in six thou-
sand pounds ?"

" I value it because it will give me Violet, ' ' declared the
ardent young lover.

"And I because it will give me every desire of my
heart," said Mrs. Lonsdale. "And, above all, it will give
your dear father a little rest."



CHAPTER II.

WOOING VIOLET HAYE.

Violet Haye ! There is something in a name. More than
one man murmured this one over and over again, won-
dering to himself what sweet magic, what wonderful sor-
cery lay in it. Violet Haye the very sound evoked a vis-
ion so beautiful, so full of witching grace, so dainty, so
delightful, that dwelling on it proved too much for minds
and brains not overstrung. What had not Violet Have to
answer for ? How many prosperous young farmers had
wasted the best hours of the summer days while the hay
spoiled in the meadows and the corn grew over-ripe in the
fields, watching in Castle street, or waiting in the green
lanes, for one glance at the peerless face of Violet Haye?
The young doctor, who had bought the old physician's
practice had almost gone mad for love of her ; and when
she told him, with a sweet, bright smile, that she disliked
medicine and everything connected with it, in pique and
despair he married a prim little old maid who had ceased for
u years to dream of a wedding-ring. Young curates
came, saw, and were comquered ; but beautiful Violet res-
olutely refused to help any parish work she would have
nothing to do with the schools. One after another the
curates went away, with a bitter memory of one of the
lovelist girls in Loomshire. The young tradesmen of the
iilac^ had never dared to lift. their eyes to her, for she be-
longed to the class known in Lilford as the gentry; but
when by chance Violet Haye did enter a shop the mas-
ter of it had need of patience during the next twenty-four
hours, for Violet Haye was a most beautiful girl, and
reigned queen of the country round Lilford.

There was a wonderful charm about the girl. It was not
simply for the sheen of her golden hair, for the wonderful
light of her violet eyes, the exquisite tints of her face, the
beauty of her rosebud mouth, that men loved her so ; it was



WEAKER THAN A WOMAN. 11

not that she was tall and slender, with a perfect figure ; it
was not that she had white hands that wove wondrous
spoils, that she moved with grace that was all harmony, that
she spoke with a voice sweeter than sweet music ; that,
when she laughed, the silvery chime stirred a man's heart
like the sound of silver bells ; it was not for this that men

her. She was not a flirt, not a coquette she never,
by word or looks, made any man believe that she loved
him ; but she could no more have helped the way she had
of (/harming men than she could have helped living. She

be only child of Francis and Margaret Haye, who lived
in a pretty villa called the Limes, on the outskirts of Li 1 ford.
By kind indulgence the Hayes were permitted to rank with

ntry. They were not poor, they were not professionals ;
they were not in trade. Francis Haye had an income
that kept his family in comfort, but it would cease at his
death. He had insured his life for the benefit of his wife
and child, and the money that would come to them from
that insurance was all that he had to leave them ; still they
belonged to the gentry. It was not a numerous cl;
Li 1 ford, and was by no means to be identified with county

' v ; that was a far-off and greater glory a world that
even beautiful Violet with her Greuze-like face had never

: to enter. The gentry comprised old Colonel Maddox
and )r Mr-;. Urownson. a widow lady with a daughter

of uncertain age ; the late rector's widow. Mrs. Uoulders;
a maiden lady. Miss Stanley, the pride of whose life was
that her second cousin had married a baronet, and who, in

i'lence. piqued herself on her high connections, and

1 in a similar way of the aristocracy: and a few
others of the same caliber. It was notf a brilliant circle
but to Violet Haye it was a world.

If, of her numerous lovers she preferred one, it was Felix
It was an old story. He had certainly been her

from the early agi n. He had never thought

of anyone else; to him and for him the world w.
Violet. In the sun'x rays shone Violet; the birds
'Violet;" no sweet (lower bloomed that w
she. He had lived with this one thought; he had studied
iled all for Violet, hoping that the day would
come when he would be able to marry her. He had do

life to this one ohjcct.

Darcy Lonsdalo h.-id contrived to <end his son to Oxford
and at Oxford he had distinguished himself as a scholar
of no mean abilities ; after that he had passed some time in
London ; and now he was with his father, sharing h' '



12 WEAKER THAN A WOMAN.

labors and toils, and working hard, hoping one day to
secure a partnership, and then to marry Violet. He had
once thought of leaving Lilford ; he felt that the place was
but small, the circle of interests limited. Then he put
aside the thought as a temptation ; he mustn't desert his
father or leave his business to the hands of strangers.
There was something almost heroic in the way in which he
looked round upon the great bright glittering world, with
its magnificent battle-fields of skill and intellect, its great
arenas where mind and brain fought mind and brain, and
then said to himself, u No, my duty lies at home, and I will
work there."

He was singularly gifted, this young Englishman, who
was brave enough to make duty his guide. People often
looked at him in wonder, asking themselves whence had
come his clear-cut face a face of the purest type, with
dark clustering hair that waved back from a low, broad
brow his beautiful mouth, that could be rigid and firm,
yet often wore a smile as sweet as a woman's, the dark
eyes that were as true and eloquent as the soul they re-
vealed. It was a poetical face, yet combining with the in-
tellectual and the ideal something of the practical keenness
of a clever man.

Darcy Lonsdale formed great hopes for his son ; he had
rightly estimated his abilities, and he had said to himself
that in time the best business of the county would be
brought to him. He himself was industrious, honest, and
in some degree a good laAvyer ; but his son was a genius,
and the father told himself with a sigh that in these days a
touch of genius was needed before one could make a mark
in the world.

As boy, youth, and man, Felix had loved Violet Haye
to win her, to make her his wife, had been the one dream
of his life. He had had no other ; and it was equally cer-
tain that up to the present time his love had brought him
far more pain than pleasure, far more torment than rest,
far more strife than peace. He could never tell whether
beautiful Violet cared for him or not all the country-side
knew that he loved her. It seemed to him that the very
birds in the trees and the flowers in the hedges knew that.
It had never been a secret ; but he could not guess whether
she cared for him. If ever he felt hopeful and augured
much from a kinder word or a sweeter smile than usual,
the next time she saw him Violet would be cold. She was
BO proud that he could hardly extort a word from her ; and



WEAKER THAN A WOMAN. 13

yet he had a dim, a faint conviction, that she preferred hm
to any other.

Now was his opportunity. He was already making a
fair income by writing reviews and essays. If his father
took him into partnership, his share, though perhaps small
at first, would be certain, and would increase. Now was
his opportunity ; he would delay no longer, but would at
once ask Violet Haye to be his wife.

" It seems almost too good to be true," he thought to
himsolf, " that I should succeed in my profession, that I
should win the girl I love for my wife, that I should be
happy and blessed. What have I done to deserve it?" He
looked up to the sunlit skies. "Done, "he repeated "I
have done nothing. It is the goodness of Heaven that has
given it to me. Heaven grants all to industry," he
thought, "and while I work I need not fear."

In that hour no thought came to him of the storm-clouds
that darken men's lives of the terrible tempests that
rend heart and brain of the despair that looks for death as
a relief. He saw only the blue sky and the golden sunshine.

He saw nothing but the beauty of the fair earth and
the laughing sky when he went to woo beautiful Violet
Haye and ask her to be his wife. He had been waiting
only until he saw a prospect clear and bright before him.
Francis Haye might have objected to a man with an un-
certain future ; Francis Haye would not object to the
junior partner of the old-established house of Lonsdale. He
was only twenty-four, and, after selecting a very choice
flower for his coat, was to be forgiven, if he looked once at
his clear-cut face and dark mustache. As he quitted his
father's house on that lovely summer afternoon there was
perhaps not a handsomer, truer, more noble, or gallant
younir lo\-.-r in all broad England than Felix Lonsdale.

Wish me good fortune, nta<ln;" he said, bending to kiss
Kate Lonsdale's lovely face "I am going to the Limes."

Kate looked up with a smile. She made no answer.
She kissed him as his own mother would have done, and
watched him as he walked down the str>

"There is no need to wish him good fortune," she said to
herself ; " the girl does not live who would say ' No' to him.

As she went through her round of duties. Mrs. Lonsdale
thought often and anxiously that she would like to know
how Felix was speeding in his wooing.



H WEAKER THAN A WOMAN.

CHAPTER in.

"l HAVE NOT QUITE PROMISED."

It was a glorious afternoon. The country about Lilford
was beautiful in the extreme, with lovely undulating
meadows, great chain of green hills that stretched into the
far distance, dark shady woods with some of the finest
trees in England, lovely green lanes where wild flowers
raised their bright heads. The town itself was quaint and
picturesque ; the pretty old-fashioned houses were almost-
buried in foliage. The one long main street of the town
Castle street might have been a Parisian boulevard, it
was so regularly planted with trees.

This afternoon seemed to Felix Lonsdale one of the finest
that he ever remembered. He walked through the clover
meadows, his heart singing for joy, snatches of song rising
to his lips. The hedges were all pink and white with haw-
thorn, long sprays of woodbine twined round the rugged
trunks of the tall trees, the clover was thick and odorous.
He crossed the path at the end of Oakwoods, where he saw
most glorious vistas of light and shade, entered a long green
lane, and then he reached the fair green fields that led to
the Limes, the home of his love.

Presently he saw Violet Have. He gazed at her in mute
wonder that earth should hold anything so fair. She car-
ried a little basket filled with flowers, and on her golden
head she wore a simple garden hat. Her dress seemed to
him a wonderful combination of white and blue. A feeling
of humility came over him who was he that he should
hope to win this brilliant young beauty and make her his
own ? Then his pride reasserted itself ; his love ennobled
him ; he could hope to win her because he loved her so
dearly. Violet did not see him. She was walking in the
other direction, and he hastened after her.

It was no wonder that he loved her ; the smiles with
which she greeted him would have turned many a wisej
brain than his.

" Felix, "she cried, " I did not dream of seeing you."

"And seeing you, Violet, is like a dream," he replied,
"and after I have left you I think of a hundred things that
I wanted to say to you, and meant to say, and yet forgot. "

"That proves that you have a bad memory, Felix,*

I



WEAKER THAN A WOMAN. IS

laughed Violet ; " but what has brought you to the Lnnea

on this warm afternoon?"

"I have come to see you, Violet."

"I ought to be much obliged to you," she replied ; "buc
the afternoon is a, very busy time with me. I attend to all

(lowers myself."

"I will help you with the. flowers, and I hope that I shall
be no obstacle to your pleasant thoughts, Violet," he said.

They walked together until they readied an opening in
the 1 :s\-n ; there was a bank gay with wild Mowers, a hedge
full of wild roses, and hawthorns crowned it. Felix took
the basket from her hand and placed her on the bank.

"1 have come to talk to you, Violet," he said. "You must

forget your flowers for a few minutes and listen to me.

Such a day as this, Violet, was made for a, love-story. I

an idea that everything in nature is interested in

mine."

"Your ideas are not of the ordinary kind," she remarked.
''No. tl icy are not, I own. Still they please me, Violet.
I have % sweet fancy, Shakespeare says all sweet fancies
L'ome to lovers.''

"But we are not lovers, Felix," she said, gravely.
"Then I hope we soon shall be. I have a fancy, Violet,
that every bird singing in the trees knows why 1 am here,
chat the (lowers and the sunshine know it."
"Then," observed Violet, "they are wiser than I."
"No, not wiser or sweeter or brighter than you; but it
>i idle, pretty fancy, Violet. As 1 walked under the
shady trees every leaf seemed to stir as l j.
the roses in the hedges nodded ; they said, 'The sun shines
and the earth is fair: now is the time for youth and !
Violet, looked up at him with a resigned little sigh.
" Not being either a bird or a. llov. not in their

confidence, Felix ; and perhaps when you have finished
\vitli them you will tell me what you have to say."

"I will tell you now. I have such good news, Violet.



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