“Better than my own life!” was instantly replied.
“Then take me to my father. I am too young—too weak—too inexperienced for this.”
“The moment we are united you shall go home,” returned Lawson. “I will not hold you back an instant.”
“Let me go now, Charles! Oh, let me go now!”
“Are you mad, girl!” exclaimed the young man, losing his self-control. And, with a strong arm, he forced her into the next room. For a brief period, the clergyman hesitated, on seeing the distressed bride. Then he opened the book he held in his hand and began to read the service. As his voice, in tones of solemnity, filled the apartment, Caroline grew calmer. She felt like one driven forward by a destiny against which it was vain to contend. All the responses had been made by Lawson, and now the clergyman addressed her. Passively she was about uttering her assentation, when the door of the room was thrown open, and two men entered.
“Stop!” was instantly cried in a loud, agitated voice, which Caroline knew to be that of her father, and never did that voice come to her ears with a more welcome sound.
Lawson started, and moved from her side. While Caroline yet stood trembling and doubting, the man who had come in with Mr. Everett approached Lawson, and laying his hand upon him, said—“I arrest you on a charge of swindling!”
With a low cry of distress, Caroline sprung towards her father; but he held his hands out towards her as if to keep her off, saying, at the same time—
“Are you his wife?”
“No, thank Heaven!” fell from her lips.
In the next moment she was in her father’s arms, and both were weeping.
Narrow indeed was the escape made by Caroline Everett; an escape which she did not fully comprehend until a few months afterwards, when the trial of Lawson took place, during which revelations of villany were made, the recital of which caused her heart to shudder. Yes, narrow had been her escape! Had her father been delayed a few moments longer, she would have become the wife of a man soon after condemned to expiate his crimes against society in the felon’s cell!
May a vivid realization of what Caroline Everett escaped, warn other young girls, who bear a similar relation to society, of the danger that lurks in their way. Not once in a hundred instances, is a school girl approached with lover-like attentions, except by a man who is void of principle; and not once in a hundred instances do marriages entered upon clandestinely by such persons, prove other than an introduction to years of wretchedness.
TWO men were walking along a public thoroughfare in New York. One of them was a young merchant—the other a man past the prime of life, and belonging to the community of Friends. They were in conversation, and the manner of the former, earnest and emphatic, was in marked contrast with the quiet and thoughtful air of the other.