A Fragment of Nellie Bly’s Lost Serial
Three chapters of Eva, the Adventuress: A Romance of a Blighted Life.
2021 update: Every novel Nellie Bly wrote has now been published in book form, thanks to the work of novelist and editor David Blixt, as The Lost Novels of Nellie Bly. Eva the Adventuress is volume 2 of 11, for instance, and Little Luckie is volume 6.
The serials Nellie Bly wrote for The New York Family Story Paper were thought to be lost, but the Villanova University Digital Library has one issue from that period — coincidentally, from January 25, 1890, the day she finished her celebrated trip around the world in seventy-two days. A little optical character recognition, some quality checks and, voilà! Now chapters 18–20 of Eva, the Adventuress: A Romance of a Blighted Life are easier to read.
Deidre Johnson, who keeps the 19th-Century Girls’ Series website, tells me the NSFSP was republished in London as The London Story Paper, available at NewspaperArchive. It’s locked behind a paywall, but apparently the rest of Eva, the Adventuress is there, as well as other Nellie Blye serials (for instance, Little Luckie: Playing for Hearts began its London publication on May 21, 1892). Since I haven’t gotten my hands on those British issues just yet, chapters 18–20 are all I can offer right now.
Before reading the chapters, two things:
First, Nellie was not a good novelist. The Mystery of Central Park (which I made available on Amazon) is bad. Eva, the Adventuress might be worse. Caveat lector.
Second, for more information about Nellie Bly in general and her contract with the Family Story Paper specifically, I recommend Brooke Kroeger’s Nellie Bly: Daredevil. Reporter. Feminist. The NYFSP signed Bly for U$12,000 a year for three years in 1890 to write serials, about U$330,000 in today’s money. Why someone would offer that kind of dough for her services as a writer is a much better story than what you’ll read below.
“EVA THE ADVENTURESS” was commenced in № 846 of THE NEW YORK FAMILY STORY PAPER. Back numbers can be obtained of any newsdealer.
Eva, the Adventuress.
A ROMANCE OF A BLIGHTED LIFE,
By NELLIE BLY,
Who is now attempting to make the circuit of the world in seventy-five days.
[This Story will not be Published in Book-form.]
THE FIRST SKIRMISH IN THE BATTLE OF REVENGE.
“Where most sweets are, there lies a snake.
Kisses and favors are sweet things.”
“Like Dead Sea fruit that tempts the eye,
But turns to ashes on the lips.”
Eva was radiant. Never, since that fated breakfast that he remembered so well, had Robert Loran seen her in the humor that seemed to possess her.
She jested with that same reckless abandon that had so fascinated him at that time.
There was nothing bold in her conduct, nothing with which Loran could find the slightest fault, but there was a luxuriance, a perceptible warmth, an irresistible attraction that no man could withstand.
Even the great beauty of her face and form sunk into utter insignificance when compared with the witchery of her manner.
Marshall Randall sat dumb. He was a man usually of quick perceptions and ready wit, never at a loss for an answer that would stamp him at once any opponent’s equal in a war of words, but beside that dainty, cool woman, with her remarkable flow of spirits, he felt dull and heavy, incapable of remark or of any move. He desired simply to sit and watch her with something of the same sensation that one feels in the first effect of hypnotism.
Occasionally she leaned toward him, and the soft breath intoxicated him more than the really excellent Chambertin, with which his glass was filled to the brim.
Loran looked on with something very like jealousy tugging at his heart.
There was nothing that really justified it, but several times he found himself repeating the most uncomfortable mental question:
“Is that woman using me as a cat’s paw?”
But he put it from him as unworthy of himself. Had she ever done anything that indicated a desire of that kind? Never! And yet he watched her!
He was leaning over one of the young ladies in a most cavalier manner, but never losing a tune of Eva’s voice as later they were in the parlor, Eva at the piano running her fingers lightly over the keys while she talked in a desultory way with Randall, allowing her eyes to say more than her tongue could do.
“Vanderfelt must have been mad!” Randall muttered, heavily, more to himself than to her.
The fingers struck the keys with a discordant sound, the full lips paled for a moment, but it was only for a moment. She leaned slightly toward him.
“I beg that you will not speak of him!” she said, with a little gesture of disgust. “There is nothing that one dislikes to remember so much as an occasion upon which one has acted the fool. There is but one thing that makes the memory of Maurice Vanderfelt tolerable to me.”
“And that is — ”
She lifted her eyes and allowed them to rest upon his curiously for a single instant, then they were lowered, while a delicious flush dyed the round cheeks.
“Some time in the future that the present promises, I will tell you!” she answered, so low that the words barely reached him.
His face crimsoned, then paled. He was but a man; he saw no reason why she should care to deceive him; when it came to a question of money, he felt sure that she knew that Loran had fifty dollars to his one.
He could not see that the cry of her untutored heart for vengeance was forcing her into a course that her innate virtue scorned.
“Do you know that you are maddening me?” he cried passionately. “I think my nature and yours most be identical. That night the expression of your face, as you bent above that rug, appeared to me to be that of a fiend, now it seems that of a siren.”
“But they destroyed while they attracted!”
“The illusion will be complete it you fail to listen to me. I — ”
She arose hastily, her manner indicating the greatest agitation.
She knew well that he had meant to make a declaration of love to her; she knew that the fascination she meant to exert was complete; but she did not intend to allow him to speak then.
She wanted to wait until the chain was stronger — she wanted to know that the end of the noose was in her hand by which she could surely lead him to destruction!
There was no one to speak a word of warning to Eva Scarlett, no one to tell her that her nervous hand had closed over a fate whose horror no woman has yet escaped.
She drew it to her as Cleopatra hugged the asp.
“Don’t leave me,” Randall pleaded. “You must not lift me to heaven to cast me so Quickly into perdition. Let me — ”
“Not now! You may come again.”
“If you will.”
“At what hour? Make it an early one, as I shall cease to live until it comes. Are you a sorceress, that you can so completely bewitch one?”
“No,” she answered, with a thrill in her voice that set his heart on fire. “I am a woman who — loves.”
She walked away from him with an unsteady step, entering the library at the rear of the room.
He followed her.
“You have maddened me,” he whispered, clasping her waist with his arm, and leaning over her until his hot breath touched her bare throat. “You must listen to me! I love you!”
How she prevented herself from strangling him was ever after a mystery.
She loathed him with a cold hatred that was startling, yet there was a warm smile upon her lips as she turned to him.
“Yet, until tonight you hated me! No — no! You must prove it. You must prove it so that it will be impossible for me to doubt. You think me pretty, perhaps; the situation is romantic; it appeals to the love of conquest in us all, but it is not yet that giving up of heart and soul, that yielding of self, of life, even of honor that I must have! My nature is absorbent. I give a world of passionate adoration, I must receive even more. Ah!” — with an upward motion of the round, perfect arms — “what is there in life but love, warm, delicious, palpitating love! Neither gold, nor fame, nor social glory can compare with it. This life is all we know. Why not live it to its fullest?”
Her eyes glowed, her face flushed, her voice trembled with the fire of her speech.
Randall would have given all he possessed to have kissed her lips at that moment; but she pushed him from her with a laugh that would have completed his subjugation had it not been complete before.
“Wait!! she whispered, placing a chair between them, but leaning toward him temptingly. “A man never appreciates what he wins too easily. There is as much in anticipation as in realization. Come tomorrow.”
“You have not named the hour.”
“No, eleven, Have some pity upon my impatience!”
“I may serve you as I did once before.”
There was a smile upon her lips that belied her words, and he laughed aloud.
“I should welcome even that from your hands, my Circe, my Psyche. I mu willing to resign life or the world for your sake as you may desire, my Cleopatra!”
“Too much fire burns itself out.”
“But it burns out all around it as it dies. A sudden fire is always the most destructive, being beyond control before it is discovered. I — ”
“Hush! I will listen to nothing more tonight. At eleven tomorrow.”
“You will give me one kiss to live upon until then?”
“Not one! I must know first that there is no chance that you can ever or will ever change. With me this is life or death.”
There was a passionate earnestness in her tone that stamped her words with truth; but as she intended he should, he misconstrued them.
She left him before he could speak again.
“Eva, when is this nonsense between us to end?” Loran asked, when they had been left alone.
She raised her eyes coldly.
“You asked me to allow you to be my friend, did you not?” she interrogated coolly. “There was never any promise of anything but friendship between us. Good-night, Bob. I’m sleepy.”
She stifled a yawn and left him, locking herself in her own room.
There was not the slightest change in her countenance save a compression of the lips as she undressed herself and went to bed.
“I shall win!” she muttered, as her head touched the pillow. “The sun of my day is rising. Now, you who have injured me, beware! I can scarcely wait for the morning!”
“For I am the only one of my friends that I can rely upon.”
“Defend me from my friends; I can defend myself from my enemies.”
“You are trifling with me!”
The expression of Marshall Randall’s face was fierce as he stood before Eva the following day, taking leave of her.
Their interview had been one of promises — promises of passionate affection on her part, and of lifelong devotion upon his.
If she were over-acting, he was too blinded by his infatuation to see it. He had wondered a thousand times if there was ever a situation so romantic as the one in which he found himself placed; but he remembered her ingenuousness upon the occasion when he had performed that false ceremony between her and Vanderfelt, and could not bring himself to believe that she could be anything but truth itself.
And she understood it all as well as though she were dictating his thoughts. She had laughed at his impatience to call again as he was leaving, which called forth his exclamation.
“I swear to you that there was never a woman in this world further from trifling than I am!” she replied with covert meaning.
He crushed her hand in his with a force that hurt her.
“Keep that oath,” he whispered, “and there is nothing that I will not be to you. In one short hour you won my heart and soul. I cannot understand it myself! I seem to have resigned all to you. It is the strangest thing, under the circumstances, that ever happened to man, but I am your most willing slave! Eva, if you should deceive me, I believe that I should kill you!”
She laughed again softly.
“It is the will of Heaven!” she said, believing that her own words were true.
He endeavored to draw her to him, but she eluded him, and stood back with a tantalizing smile upon her lips.
“Not yet. my impatient Romeo!” she cried coquettishly. “Remember that I have been deceived once and cannot afford to take chances again. I must know that you love me! I must make no mistake — I must be satisfied.”
“And you will not allow me to see you until tomorrow?”
She shook her head in the negative.
“Cruelty in a beautiful woman is adorable! Good-bye, Cleopatra!”
He took her hand and was about to raise it to his lips, when the door opened and Loran entered.
The greeting between the two men was exceedingly cool and decidedly strained, Eva looking on with some-thing like a fiendish amusement.
She had been bitterly wronged by a man, and all men were her legitimate prey. That was her theory in accordance with the old Mosaic law.
Randall was not many moments in taking his departure, and the door had no sooner closed upon him than Loran turned with a heavy frown upon his face to Eva.
“What was that man doing here?” he asked angrily.
“Calling!” she answered coolly.
“What right had he to do so in my absence?” demanded Loran, his temper rising still higher.
She looked at him curiously, her lip curling with irrepressible scorn.
“In your absence!” she repeated, making no endeavor to conceal her sneer. “Do you take me for a child that is not yet out in society, that I must have a chaperon? You must be mad!”
“Not mad, but disgusted with your ignorance, or your willful deception, whichever it may be. You know perfectly well what I had every right to expect when I brought you to this flat. I have put up with so much nonsense from you that every man of my acquaintance would laugh in derision if he knew it. Now in my absence I find you receiving other men. I tell you that I have been used as a cat’s paw just as long as I will submit to it!”
He paused and looked at her. She was white to the lips, but her hands did not even tremble as they rested upon her lap, as she sat in the chair that she had taken when Randall made his exit.
“Have you finished?” she asked calmly, a dangerous light flashing in her brown eyes.
“When I tell you that you must make your decision now, I have! Act like a sensible woman, and I am willing, more than willing, to do all I have done and more for you, but this absurdity must end!”
“Bob Loran,” she said, with much dignity, “do you remember the conversation we had in that hotel before I came here with you?”
“Yes,” he answered, sullenly.
“Did I promise to be more to you than I have been?”
“You must have known what I intended!”
“You asked to be my friend. I did not understand you to mean the bitterest enemy that any woman could ever have.”
Loran bit his lip for a moment in silence, still his anger did not abate.
“Why did you tell me that you despised-Randall?” he asked at last, his blue eyes a sort of greenish hue. “You know that was false!”
“It was true as Heaven! There is no man whom I so thoroughly loathe!”
“Then why were you fawning upon him as I entered?”
There was something so insulting and degrading in the question, as he put it, that all the woman’s temper was aflame at, once. Her eyes were ablaze with wrath.
“Fawning!” she repeated, the word seeming to issue with a pulsation of the heart.
“Yes!” he cried angrily. “Do you think I do not know what has occurred? You must imagine me to be a most consummate ass! He has been making love to you, even kissing you, and you have been encouraging it! You have played your part very cleverly indeed, but seeing that you cannot pull the wool over my eyes any longer, you are determined to play Randall for all he is worth. I have found the word that applies to your class, my dear Eva. You are nothing but an adventuress!”
Eva threw up her head with a low, savage growl, like that made by a wild animal.
Infuriated with rage, stung to the quick by the insult, she sprung forward, her lips parted by a fierce cry.
In that moment she was again Bill Scarlett’s daughter, with all the refinements of education forgotten. It was a case of the tamed lioness that turns at a sudden thrust and slays her keeper.
She had forgotten that it was the hand that had fed her, but with the smart of the wound still fresh, she snatched a little gold dagger, that she used as a hair-pin, from her hair and plunged it, before he could ward off the blow, into his breast.
It dropped from the wound even before Loran had fallen.
White with horror at her own deed, she kneeled above him.
After all he had been kind to her, he had not deceived her, for she understood the situation perfectly; there-fore she found no excuse for herself, and sought none.
Even with herself Eva Scarlett was just!
“I have hurt you!” she exclaimed, her voice trembling over the words. “You will not believe me when I tell you how sorry I am.”
“Not believe you!” he gasped, struggling to his feet and supporting himself against the mantelpiece, while he pressed his handkerchief above the wound. “No, you infernal tigress, I do not! You think you might have played me for a few days longer, until you had Randall more securely in the toils. But for my own sake I would hand you over to the police, you — ”
The odious word that fell from the man’s lips would not do to record.
For a single instant the girl looked at him aghast, scarcely comprehending the full meaning of the vile epithet, but when it dawned upon her, the fury of all the demons in Hades could never have equaled hers.
If Eva Scarlett’s life was in the balance then, with good upon the one side and evil upon the other, from that moment “good” kicked the beam and “evil” came downward with an awful thud.
With frightful fury she made a spring in his direction. She felt the strength of a thousand wild beasts and the desire, to tear out his very heart.
As she reached him he caught her and hurled her backward, not intending to hurt her, but thinking very little upon the subject.
She struck a heavy antique oak table and fell backward, the force of the fall stunning her.
When she had recovered, her maid was bending over her, and Loran gone.
She looked about her in a dazed way for a little time, then turned to the girl with her characteristic calmness. “I must have had an attack of vertigo,” she said carelessly. “Where is Mr. Loran?”
“I don’t know. I thought he was with you, but when I heard the noise of the fall I came in and he had gone. Here is your hair-pin, Miss Scarlett.”
“Thank you. It must have dropped from my hair as I fell. Ring for a messenger, Adell, then you may go out if you wish. I shall not need you.”
With lips grimly set, she turned her back upon the girl and walked a trifle unsteadily to her own room.
“It is but another item upon the old score!” she muttered bitterly. “I owe it all to them, to Maurice Vanderfelt and Marshall Randall, and they shall pay for it if I must walk through the mire of every disgrace to be even. Adventuress, am I? Well, be it so! The name is mine. I will learn from words, and that one has taught me my part to the bitter end. Adventuress! Ha, ha! this is my revenge upon Lil Cartwright! But” — and the sneering laugh gave place to an expression of fiercest determination — “‘everything comes to him who knows how to wait,’ and my day is at hand!”
THE WORK PROGRESSES.
“Mankind, from Adam, have been women’s fools,
Women, from Eve, have been the devil’s tools;
Heaven might have spar’d one torment when we fell,
Not left us women, or not threatened hell.”
“You are quite sure that you love me more than any woman in the whole world, my dearest Marshall?”
It was a different flat, with different surroundings and different servants, a different man as master, but in many respects the woman that ruled there was the same one that had presided at Robert Loran’s table.
She was gowned more magnificently than she had ever been either as Vanderfelt’s wife or the protegee of Robert Loran, and yet the man toward whom she leaned with such tender demonstrations of affection, the man who supplied it was not a wealthy one.
“You are quite sure that no woman has ever touched your heart as you say I have?” she repeated, with a little, soft, rippling wave of laughter.
“You know it!” he cried, passionately, almost fiercely. “You know that I would sell my soul for you tomorrow if you required it, and yet I seem to be no nearer my object to-day than I was a month ago. Eva, when is this to end?”
“I was to be fully convinced first, you know! Remember how I have been deceived! Listen, Marshall! You have talked about giving your soul for me, you have said that you loved me well enough to die for me, but you have never said yet that you loved me well enough to live for me! You have never mentioned wiping out the wrong you did me by making me an honest wife!”
She was leaning toward him, with one round, bare arm resting upon his knee, her beautiful eyes filled with a passion that had every appearance of reality.
Her lips quivered slightly, and an atmosphere of irresistible luxuriance played about her.
Marshall Randall’s brain seemed staggering.
He looked at her for a moment as though scarcely comprehending her meaning, then he pushed her from him and rising, walked unsteadily to the window.
He stood there for some time gazing resolutely into the street, while she watched the back of his head, as though she could read every thought in his brain through it.
When she thought she had allowed him long enough for reflection, she went to him with that same noiseless tread that characterizes the cat, and standing upon an ottoman, she caught his head between her hands, and drawing it backward, kissed him full upon the lips.
In their month’s sojourn together she had never done it before, nor allowed him the slightest liberty, telling him always that she must be satisfied of the truth of his love first.
The act set his blood on fire.
He turned and caught her in his arms, his face flushed darkest crimson.
“I sometimes think that you are doing this to repay me for the part I played in that Vanderfelt affair,” he said, savagely. “That you intend to make me love you until neither honor nor reason are left me, and then cast me away as a punishment. If you did — I should — kill you! You have shown me a way to make sure! I will wipe out the disgrace I helped to put upon you by making you my wife, Eva!”
He held her from him and gazed into the lovely face savagely, as though some evil fate had threatened to take her from him, and so crushing her head backward between the palms of his hands, he kissed her again and again upon the lips, as though he would draw the very soul from her body.
Breathless, half overcome by the suffocating attack he had made upon her, Eva pushed him from her with a short laugh that was soft as the gentle purring of a kitten.
“Monster!” she ejaculated, playfully; “would you eat me?”
“If I could I would, that I might be sure that no other eyes than mine would ever rest upon your face. Oh, Eva, how passionately I adore you! If it were for this that you have been waiting, why did you not mention it before? I would have yielded gladly!”
“Yet you hesitated when I asked.”
She said the words looking at him with an arch sweetness that, to the infatuated man, was maddening.
He colored, but reached out his hand and drew her to him, as he answered:
“We have all some little thought of the world, my Cleopatra! Forgive me! The hesitation was but momentary. In that single little instant I saw what a bleak, barren waste life would be without you. Why, my darling, I would commit robbery, or even murder for your sake! I love you — I love you! I wish that I might continue repeating the words forever, if they could but make you understand. Now that we have decided upon it I am eager that it should be over. Eva, when will you be my wife?”
She laughed again, so softly that it sounded like the tinkling of little silver bells.
“See how generous I can be!” she murmured, passing her hand across his face, with tender pride in his love. “Think how I must love you,. Marshall, when I have the strength to refuse. Do you think that I will allow you to commit such a blunder as that? You are one of the world’s petted darlings. You are of the blood they call ‘blue,’ and I could never bear to know that I had in any way injured you, my dearest. You say that I am cold. Ah! Marshall, perhaps I have injured you in allowing you to love me, but it was a temptation that I could not resist, dear. I loved you — I loved you so that it seemed to me that every desire in life was encompassed in the one thought of winning your love. I have done it, and in the doing I realize that I have wronged you. But it is not too late, Marshall. I will not allow you to commit a social suicide for my sake, my dearest. Perhaps I have not done just as I should in all things, but you know that, in spite of appearances, I am innocent. I was never anything more to Bob Loran than I have been to you, and I never will be to any man. Marshall” — taking his face between her hands and drawing it down upon a level with her own — “I wonder if you suspect what I am going to say to you, dear?”
She had become very serious, her countenance drawn as though in pain.
Her little white teeth were buried in her under lip, as though endeavoring to force back the tears that would trickle through the dainty eyelids.
Seizing her by the shoulders roughly, he pushed her into a chair, and kneeled before her, still holding her firmly, his brows drawn into a thick line across his fore-head.
“I am afraid I do!” he exclaimed, huskily. “It is some rot about believing it to be your duty to leave me, but I tell you that you shall not. Do you hear? You shall not! One hour of your society is worth more than all the world to me. What do I care for the others? I would be glad never to see one of them again, but to live for you, and you alone. Eva, tell me that you will be my wife!”
Any other woman would have feared him, with that expression of fierce passion upon his face, but Eva seemed to revel in it. It showed her the power that she had gained — the power that was to work her the sweet revenge that she so earnestly craved. She could scarcely conceal her eagerness.
“You really mean that you would never care to see your friends again if by that you could gain me?” she asked breathlessly.
“A thousand times yes!”
“Then, Marshall, take me away from here. Let us go where no one has ever heard of me and the curse that is upon my life, and I will be your wife. I could not bear it here, dear! I could not endure that any one should look upon you with contempt because of me, as they surely would; but, if you really mean that you would give them all up for me, let us go away together where none will know, and I will make your life one long dream of joy, my darling.”
She lingered over the last words, pronouncing them with a delicious languor that seemed to lend them a new meaning.
They thrilled and trembled through his veins like liquid fire.
And yet his face flushed dully.
She watched him as a cat does a mouse, knowing that she had him!
Drops of moisture gradually grew upon his forehead, the veins swelled until they threatened to burst, and still he did not speak!
Then his hands fell away from her lovely, naked shoulders, and he covered his face in her lap, uttering a groan that would have appealed to a heart less hardened by suffering.
“I cannot do it. Eva!” he gasped. “I think it is the bitterness of death to tell you so, but there are reasons why I cannot.”
“And you will not tell me what they are?”
She said it reproachfully, and in a way that he never suspected that she knew as well as he.
He arose and paced the room rapidly, his breathing audible through stinging unrest. At length he paused before her as a lion does in his walk up and down his narrow cage. His eyes were blood-shot, his lips pale as death, his hands were clinched as though be were facing his bitterest foe, while drops of icy moisture stood thickly upon his brow.
“Yes, I will tell you and risk all at once,” he cried hoarsely. “You believe me to be a rich man. I am not. My love for you has caused me to surround you with the luxury that you see, but it has ruined me. Within a month I have expended upon you every dollar that I possess. I did not realize it until today, when I was called upon to settle a bill, and discovered that my account at the bank was already overdrawn. You see now the situation in which I am placed. I love you with all my soul, yet I am powerless to take you away from here, because I am absolutely dependent upon the salary that I receive.”
He paused with desperate calm. He did not offer to touch her, but stood there looking down upon her with that strained, hungry sort of expression that would have terrified another
Twenty times in that minute Eva had changed color. Her hands trembled, her lips quivered, her eyes dilated and contracted in a way that made them magnetic as those of a snake.
Slowly, and with the same graceful movement of a serpent, she arose and laid her hand upon his arm, bringing her face so near to his that her hot breath fanned his cheek.
He held his breath, waiting for what was to come!
She knew that the whole success of the scheme she had planned lay in the next instant, and her excitement made her thrill and glow like a tropical plant under the influence of a scorching sun.
It seemed to deprive her of voice, and for some time they stood looking at each other with mesmeric influence.
“Marshall,” she said at last, not able to force her voice above a whisper, “you know my disposition, you know that I cannot work, you know that I could not live without money — and yet — my darling — my darling — I love you so — that I cannot give — you up! Why should others have all, and we nothing? How sweet — how sweet it would be — if we — ”
“Hush!” he cried, huskily. “You are maddening me!”
“I cannot hush!” she went on, feverishly. “It is wrong, I know, but so many other things are wrong that we do also. What can it matter, Marshall? They are rich, and coming a little from each one can make no difference to any. Others have done the same thing, and have taken their places afterward in society. Marshall, you are the cashier of that bank, are you not? It would be so easy, so easy! And, oh, my darling, my love, how happy we could be together! You need not work then at all! Day and night we could be together, living in each others’ arms, and happy, happy, happy! You do not love me, Marshall!”
He crushed her to him with a mad force that caused her to cry out.
“Not love you!” he gasped, hoarsely. “Not love you! I worship you! I would gladly welcome eternal torment, if it brought me you!”
“And yet knowing how to win me, you will not!”
“It would but separate us. I should be detected and thrown into prison. And then — I dare not think what would follow.”
“Why need you be detected?” she cried, excitedly. “Look at the number of men who have done the same thing, and live in luxury and happiness today! Canada is not so far but that we could reach it in safety.”
Unable to stand longer, Marshall Randall sunk upon a chair.
Eva knew well enough from his manner that that was not the first time that such a thought had occurred to him.
It would have come to him with greater horror, and She saw clearly that it was not horror he felt at the act, so much as fear.
She sat down beside him, and drew his throbbing head over until it rested upon her bosom.
“Sweetheart,” she whispered, “cannot you risk so much for me?”
Once again she pressed her lips upon his in a long dream of ecstasy. He staggered from under it, and drawing her up in front of him held her where the light fell full upon her face.
“You swear that you will go with me?” he asked, hoarsely. “You swear that you will be my wife?”
For answer, she lifted herself and kissed him once again.
He waited for nothing further. His blood was on fire, his pulses thrilled until he seemed to be going mad.
He snatched up his hat, and straining her to his bosom yet again, he dashed out of the house without even an overcoat.
Eva listened until she heard the front door slam behind him; then throwing back her head she laughed until, from sheer exhaustion, she sunk into a chair.
“At last! at last!” she cried, with desperate glee. “You made me an outcast, Marshall Randall! I shall wipe out my score with you this night! It has come sooner even than I hoped for, but Heaven is just, after all You have branded me as a creature lost to virtue. I have branded you as a thief! It is even — it is even! If I had made you a murderer, it would have been less so. It is honor for honor — honor for honor! This is the first! Oh, Maurice Vanderfelt, your turn is yet to come! This is but the first chapter in the book of my revenge; and, oh, how sweet it is! I feel as if my soul were bulging through my body with joy! I must get into the air, or I believe that I shall suffocate under excess of happiness. God, Thou art good! Thou art good!”
[TO BE CONTINUED IN OUR NEXT.]
(This is it for now.) (See 2021 update at the top.)