Next day the balance of the debt was borrowed upon the security of the western deed, and Henry Woodruff was a free man once more. When the five hundred dollars jumped to thousands in a sudden boom, he bought a neat home. Here, Margaret, the valued friend, supplied produce from her farm.
Eleanor was never quite content till Harry had looked up her two maligners, and brought them to the pleasant domain where she presided, and which her painfully awakened energy had helped to buy. In time she told her secret, and thanked them for that ten minutes’ gossip. In time, too, sons and daughters came and found a mother prepared by self-denial for the exigencies of life.
Twilight dropped its soft, somber curtain upon a handsome southern home. Sadly out of keeping with the peaceful landscape and cheerful hearthstone, were the feelings of a man who crept close to the window shutter, and peered cautiously within the cosy apartment. And brighter grew the twinkle in his rapacious eyes as the brilliant objects upon which he glared shone in the lamplight.
Upon a table in the center of the room was a mosaic casket, the raised lid disclosing a collection of jewels rarely to be found in the possession of a single individual.
With glowing cheeks and radiant eyes Netta Lee surveyed her treasures; but the glow and sparkle were for the tall figure beside her, however her feminine pride might be gratified at this splendid array. So long as Richard Temple honored her among women with his heart’s devotion, there needed not the glitter of gems to complete her happiness.
“Our friends are most kind with their wedding gifts,” said the prospective bridegroom, “these are royal!—”
“Yes, and oh, Richard! just see these pearls. Exquisite, aren’t they! One hundred years old, and a present from my grandmother.”
“What a queer, old-fashioned case,” said Mary, a younger sister taking up the flat, square box of red morocco, where nestled in its white satin lining lay the milky brooch and ear-rings.
“So much the more valuable; in this love-of-the-antique age,” remarked Bertha Lee. “Netta, who sent these gorgeous corals?”
“Aunt Winifred;—wasn’t it good of her?”
“Pooh! No more than she might do for each of us,” replied the saucy girl. “Heigho! I wish my fate, if I have one, might appear. Couldn’t you innocently suggest to the old lady that I have no jewels for the all-important occasion—a bridesmaid, too?”
“Why not select from these?” said Richard. “There is enough here, and to spare, for all. Let’s see—pearl, diamond, amethyst, coral, emerald, turquoise, filagree—I declare it is a veritable jeweler’s display.”
“You must recollect, though, Richard, I had some of these before.”
“Her friends seem to have discovered her weakness,” observed Mrs. Lee, entering the room.