“And sacrifice yourself?” cried Hope, in agony.
“I love him,” said Mary, “and you must spare him.”
“I will have justice for my child.”
Grace was in such terror lest her father should punish Walter that she begged him to consider whether in sacrificing herself she really had not been unintentionally wise. What could she gain by publishing that she had married another woman’s husband “I have lost my husband,” said she “but I have found my father. Oh take me away and let me rest my broken heart upon yours far from all who know me. Every wound seems to be cured in this world, and if time won’t cure this my wound, even with my father’s help, the grave will.”
“Oh, misery!” cried Hope; “do I hear such words as these from my child just entering upon life and all its joys?”
“Hush, papa,” said Grace; “there is that man.”
That man was Mr. Bartley. He looked very much distressed, and proceeded at once to express his penitence.
A WOMAN OUTWITS TWO MEN.
“Oh, Mary, what can I say? I was simply mad, stung into fury by that foul-mouthed ruffian. Mary, I am deeply sorry, and thoroughly ashamed of my violence and my cruelty, and I implore you to think of the very many happy years we have spent together without an angry word—not that you ever deserved one. Let us silence all comments; return to me as the head of my house and the heiress of my fortune; you will bind Mr. Hope to me still more strongly, he shall be my partner, and he will not be so selfish as to ruin your future.”
“Ay,” said Hope, “that’s the same specious argument you tempted me with twelve years ago. But she was a helpless child then; she is a woman now, and can decide for herself. As for me, I will not be your partner. I have a small royalty on your coal, and that is enough for me; but Grace shall do as she pleases. My child, will you go to the brilliant future that his wealth can secure you, or share my modest independence, which will need all my love to brighten it. Think before you answer; your own future life depends upon yourself.”
With this he turned his back and walked for some distance very stoutly, then leaned upon the palings with his back toward Grace; but even a back can speak, and the young lady looked at him and her eyes filled; then she turned them toward Bartley, and those clear eyes dried as if the fire in the heart had scorched them.
“In the first place, sir,” said she, with a cold and cutting voice, very unusual to her, “my name is not Mary, it is Grace; and, be assured of this, if there was not another roof in all the world to shelter me, if I was helpless, friendless and fatherless, I would die in the nearest ditch rather than set my foot in the house from which I was thrust out with shame and insult such as no lady ever yet forgave. But, thank Heaven, I am not at your mercy at all.