“Never!” the woman cried, “while you are beneath this roof. If ever you settle down in a house of your own, and your husband permits you to aid so disreputable a being as I am, I may listen to you. All you have now belongs to Carl Walraven; and to offer me a farthing of Carl Walraven’s money is to offer me the deadliest of insults.”
“How you hate him! how he must have wronged you!” Again that burning blaze leaped into the woman’s haggard eyes.
“Ay, girl! hate and wrong are words too poor and weak to express it. But I bide my time—and it will surely come—when I will have my revenge.”
She opened the door and passed out swiftly. The listener at the key-hole barely escaped behind the cabinet—no more.
Mollie, in her rosy silken robes, like a little goddess Aurora, followed her out, down the stairs, and opened for her the house door.
The first little pink clouds of the coming morn were blushing in the east, and the rag-women, with their bags and hooks, were already astir.
“When shall I see you again?” Mollie said.
Miriam turned and looked at her, half wonderingly.
“Do you really wish to see me again, Mollie—such a wretched-looking being as I am?”
“Are you not my aunt?” Mollie cried, passionately. “How do I know there is another being on this earth in whose veins flow the same blood as mine? And you—you love me, I think.”
“Heaven knows I do, Mollie Dane!”
“Then why wrong me by such a question? Come again, and again; and come soon. I will be on the watch for you. And now, farewell!”
She held out her little white hand. A moment, and they had parted.
The young girl went slowly back to her room to disrobe and lie down, and the haggard woman flitted rapidly from street to street, on her way to the dreary lodgings she called home.
Two days after, running her eyes greedily over the morning paper, Miriam read, heading the list of “Personals:”
“BLACK MASK.—I wish to see you soon, and alone. There is no deception meant. Appoint time and place, and I will meet you. WHITE MASK.”
“So,” said the woman to herself, “she has kept her word. Brave little Mollie! Oh! that it may be the man she loves! I should be almost happy, I think, to see her happy—Mary’s child!”
Miriam waited impatiently for the response. In two days it came:
“WHITE MASK.—To-morrow, Friday night, ten o’clock. Corner Fourteenth Street and Broadway. BLACK MASK.”
“I, too, will be there,” said Miriam. “It can do no harm; it may, possibly, do some good.”
MRS. CARL WALRAVEN’S LITTLE GAME.
Mysterious Miriam, in her dismal garret lodging, was not the only person who read, and intelligently comprehended, these two very singular advertisements.
Of all the hundreds who may have perused and wondered over them, probably there were but four who understood in the least what was meant—the two most interested, and Miriam and Mrs. Walraven.