7;-- a -m .-.s.-
TIIE VGIRZXS OTVN PAPER.
“IF LOVING HEARTS WERE NEVER
As Madge and Elsie sat talking
through that long afternoon, Guy was
very differently engaged. .
During their two weeks in Monte
Carlo, he had been passing his time in
his usual careless, reckless manner, and
the anxious look on his face the previous
evening was not without due cause.
The downhill road had been smooth and
easy enough so far, but he had come to
a barrier now, and a chasm yawned
before him, which, if he had not the
courage to turn back, would engulf him.
And on that bright sunny afternoon,
while Madge laid bare her heart to
Elsie Merton, Guy was put to the test
For the first week fortune had favoured
him at the gaming tables, but since, he
had lost steadily and heavily. In the
early hours of that afternoon he staked
nearly everything he had left, in a wild
venture to win all back ; and lost all.
He left the Casino, as countless others
have done before and will do again,
while the terrible curse of gambling
stains the earth-a ruined man.
He did n0t'see the people that passed
him; he did not see the pitying looks
that followed him; he did not see the
spring flowers or the sunshine; he saw
only a vision of utter ruin. . .
“’ith toilsome steps and bent head he
climbed a narrow cliff path, and at the
top he sat down and buried his face in
At first he was too much dazed to
think. One overwhelming fact alone
filled all his mind and wrung his inmost
heart, and that was that he must leave
About this there seemed no question
whatever to him.
He had gambled away his substance
but he had not lost his sense of honour,
and the idea ofliving on his wife under
such circumstances was impossible to
No, no, it was all his own fault, all
his own blind foolishness, and now he
must go away where his disgrace would
not touch her.
He raised his head and looked away
across the blue waters, and a mighty
conflict waged within him.
“I can't go," he said with clenched
hands and teeth. “I can't bear not to
be with her."
" You must," saidavoice within him.
“You can't live on her, and what else
can you do here? Besides, when she
knows she will turn from you; she will
despise you; how can you face that?"
“How can I go and leave herall
alone?" he urged fiercely. “ I am her
husband, it is my right to remain with
her and take care of her."
‘ You have forfeited your right," re-
plied the voice. " She is better without
you now, and you know she would wish
MADGE HARCOURT’S DESOLATION,
BY GERTRUDE PAGE.
it. She is not afraid of being alone;
she is self-reliant and independent and
will not miss your protection. She only
liked you before; she did not love you;
‘she will despise you now-do you hear? V
-she will despise you.”
He groaned aloud and rose hastily, as
if it were more than he could bear. He
looked down the face of the cliff and for
one wild, delirious moment he meditate-d
suicide. “ Butl must see her again,”
he muttered between his teeth, and
turned away. As he did so his atten-
tion was drawn to a small church not
far away. The door stood open and he
heard voices singing. The impulse to
go nearer moved him, and with drag-
ging steps he entered, and sat down in
a dusky corner alone, leaning forward
with his face buried in his hands. He
remained thus some time, for the service
seemed to soothe him. '
But as he sat there, in that little
foreign church in his hour of bitter need
and heard ‘the quiet praying, ,for the
first time in hislife he had a gleam of
what was contained in the true heart of
W’ithout a word passing his lips or i
being addressed to him, aquiet strength
seemed to enter his soul and the conflict
grew less fierce. V
“Yes, he must go," he said to him-
self. “ It was the only course open to
him, and the only one which gave him a
chance of retrieving his wrong steps
and regaining his right, once more to
watch over her. How could he expect
to win her love now, and what right had
he to seek it?” he asked, “ since by
his own act he had made himself
Then once more a great wave of
anguish and weakness passed over him,
and he ground his teeth fiercely to-
gether and clutched his hands tighter to
The thought of leaving her wrung
him past endurance. “I can't go," he
muttered. “ It isn't as ifshc didn't care
for me at all; she must care a little.”
“ But does she care enough to forgive
you?” asked the voice, and his only
answer was a stifled groan.
And meanwhile the people thronged
past him, out of church, unheeded.
IVhen at last he looked up, he found it
had grown dusk, and that but for one
or two others he was alone.
Then came that moment of all others
in a man's life-tlie moment when he
first desires to pra '.
For the first time in his life, Guy‘
Fawcett went down on his knees and
buried his face in his hands in silent,
‘And as he knelt thus, such a sense of
his own httleness and iinworthiness
swept over him, that he hardly dared to
breathe, but the cry of the publican was
in his heart, “ Oh, God! be merciful to
me a sinner l ”
And who shall say that wordless
prayer did not find its way straight to
God’s . Mercy-seat, for are not the
secrets of every heart known to the
Great Creator P
How long he remained thus, with the
stillness all about him he never knew,
but he was aroused at last by the gentle
touch ofa hand on his shoulder and a
voice saying, “ My son, I have a message
He looked up and his eyes met the
tender, sympathetic gaze of an aged
man, who said softly, “The Master
said, ‘Come unto Me all ye that labour
and are heavy laden, and I will give
you rest.’ " Then he passed on his way,
and Guy, after bowing his head once
more for a few minutes, rose and left
the church with a heart that was strong
to do and dare.
But there was one thing for which he
lacked courage, and that was to say
farewell to Madge.
He simply dare not trust himself and
decided not to run the risk of it ; fearing
to undermine his determination and undo
all that it had cost him so much to
bring his mind to.- Accordingly he
wrote to her instead, and gave the note
to a trusty messenger, to deliver ma
few hours. Then he wrote one or two
business letters, and afterwards went to
the station and took the first train to
Marseilles with intent to sail in the next
vessel leaving for a foreign country. ,
He had just sufficient money to get
all he required and pay his passage;
afterwards he must do the best he
Thus it happened that rather later
than Guy’s usual hour of returning, whlltf
Madge was sitting lost in thought over
heraftemoon’s conversation, she received
the following note-
“ DEAR MADGE,
“I have to leave Monte Carlo hur-
riedly on important business and have
not time to come up and see you-
will write in a day or two. Don't be
anxious. -I yours‘
“ UY Fawcizrr."
“ Has the messenger gone?" She
asked looking up quickly. .
“Yes,” was the reply, “ he said there
was no answer.”
“Very well, I will have dinnergnt
once; Mr. Fawcett will not be returning
to-night,” and a few minutes later.
without showing the slightest perturba-
tion, she sat down to her solitary meal.
IVhen it was ended she went to bed.
as her head ached badly after her rather
trying afternoon, and it must be con-
fessed her thoughts were far more 06-
cupied with what had passed then, than
with her husband's unexpected absence.
The latter did not surprise her yery
much, for he had been a little erratic in
his movements once or twice, and slit:
supposed he would be back in a few
' (To be conlinueii.)