“I must set myself to work to ascertain the trouble that must dwell in her heart so constantly to becloud her face. I’ll bribe Helen to find out for me. It may be some unfortunate love affair—who knows? I think I would like to put any fellow out of the way that might be seeking her hand. I believe I would kill him, if necessary. Perhaps, dear Journal, I should not have written that terrible monosyllable, but as you tell no tales, I’ll let it stand.
“Now, I must to bed, and sleep, if I can—sleep away some of the tedious hours that lie between me and another sight of the fair Leah.
“Already the clock strikes two.”
“And Mark was not there to-night, as I had hoped and expected,” sighed Leah, as she stood before the elegant dressing-case of her bed-chamber, and laid aside the articles of her toilet, after the revel was done. “Only another disappointment! And yet, I know that Bertha invited him, and lie promised me to attend. I should not have worn these ear-rings and this brooch, which were my mother’s, had I known Mark would have been absent. Oh, my angel mother!”
A tear stole slowly down her face, and fell upon the shining pearls that she still clasped between her fingers. “Why did not the grave cover us both? Why was I left alone and so desolate in the world? Can it be that Mark has deceived me—Mark Abrams, the only friend in the world that I implicitly trust? God only knows. I remember now, how he looked at my mother—what mockery to call that woman mother!—when I asked him if he would attend the tea-party. I remember furthermore, that she followed him to the door after he bade us adieu; and what words she may have let slip there, Heaven only knows! I have had a lurking suspicion for some time, that she was planning to win Mark’s love from me, and secure it for my sister Sarah. What if she should succeed. Oh! how wretched I should be! It has been a year, nearly, since Mark and I secretly pledged our love, and he promised then that we should be married soon after I finished at Madam Truxton’s. How fondly I have looked forward to that coming day! It has been the one single hope of my miserable life; and now that the time draws so near, is it possible that my dream must vanish into nothingness? Must this heart taste the bitterness of deception, among its other sorrows? Miserable girl that I am! Surely some evil star shone over the hour and place of my birth. But I’ll hope on for the best, and still continue to look forward to the coming day, when my life shall be separated from the wretched woman who now so darkly overshadows my existence. I’ll hope on, even though disappointment come at last.” The soliloquy ended, Leah laid away the pearls in the velvet-lined case, and turned to slumber and dreams.
Mark Abrams, the early friend and lover of Leah, was the oldest son of a talented and highly-esteemed rabbi, who presided over the most flourishing and wealthy Jewish congregation in the Queen City; and Mark himself was highly esteemed, as a young man of unimpeachable integrity and unusual brilliancy of intellect.