“Mollie, for Heaven’s sake—”
But Mollie, like a tragedy queen, waved her hand and interrupted him:
“They say life is sweet—I suppose it is—but if I am your wife I have no desire to live, unless, indeed, to be revenged on you. Put a dose of arsenic in yonder coffee-cup and give me the draught. I will drink it.”
Dr. Oleander grinned horribly a ghastly smile.
“I had much rather give you a love-philter, Mollie,” he said, recovering from his first scare. “Unhappily, the age of love-philters seems to have passed. And now I will leave you for the present—time will work wonders, I think. I must go back to New York; no one must suspect I have left it for an hour. I will return in a day or two, and by that time I trust you will no longer be in such a reckless frame of mind. I don’t want you to die by any means; you are a great deal too pretty and piquant, and I love you far too well. Good-bye, my spirited little wife, for a couple of days.”
He bowed low and left the room, locking the door carefully. And when he was gone Mollie drooped at once, leaning against the mantel, pale and trembling, her hands over her face—alone with her despair.
MIRIAM TO THE RESCUE.
An artist stood in his studio, overlooking busy, bright Broadway. He stood before his easel, gazing in a sort of rapture at his own work. It was only a sketch, a sketch worthy of a master, and its name was “The Rose Before It Bloomed.” A girl’s bright, sweet face, looking out of a golden aureole of wild, loose hair; a pair of liquid, starry, azure eyes; a mouth like a rosebud, half pouting, half smiling. An exquisite face—rosy, dimpled, youthful as Hebe’s own—the radiant face of Mollie Dane.
The day was near its close, and was dying in regal splendor. All day the dark, dreary rain had fallen wearily, ceaselessly; but just as twilight, ghostly and gray, was creeping up from the horizon, there had flashed out a sudden sunburst of indescribable glory.
The heavens seemed to open, and a glimpse of paradise to show, so grand and glorious was the oriflamme of crimson and purple and orange and gold that transfigured the whole firmament.
A lurid light filled the studio, and turned the floating yellow hair of the picture to living, burnished ripples of gold.
“It is Mollie—living, breathing, lovely Mollie!” the artist said to himself in sudden exultation—“beautiful, bewitching Mollie! Fit to sit by a king’s side and wear his crown. Come in!”
For a tap at the studio door suddenly brought our enthusiastic artist back to earth. He flung a cloth over the sketch, and leaned gracefully against the easel.
The figure that entered somewhat disturbed the young man’s constitutional phlegm—it was so unlike his usual run of visitors—a remarkable figure, tall, gaunt, and bony, clad in wretched garb; a haggard, powerful face, weather-beaten and brown, and two blazing black eyes.