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A Fair Mystery by Charlotte M. Brame

Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

In the numbering of chapters, XIV was omitted in the original book.

Inconsistent hyphenation, punctuation, printing and spelling errors have been corrected silently.

The author of this work, Charlotte Mary Brame, was known under the pseudonym Bertha M. Clay in North America.

A FAIR MYSTERY

by

BERTHA M. CLAY

Author of "Dora Thorne," "Beyond Pardon," "Love Works Wonders," etc.

New York International Book Company 17 and 19 Waverley Place

A FAIR MYSTERY.

_THE STORY OF A COQUETTE._

BY CHARLOTTE M. BRAEME.

CHAPTER I.

A VOICE AND A FACE IN THE NIGHT.

"Hush! For the love of mercy, hush, I cannot bear it!"

But that which called forth this protest was only the lisping prayer of a little child at its mother's knee.

Patty Brace lifted the white-robed figure to her lap, and rested the brown head on her bosom.

"Mark!" she said, in mild remonstrance, looking at her husband.

"I say I cannot bear it. You have her pray, 'God bless my home.' It is too much."

"But why not? On this wild, stormy night, when other little ones may be out in the dashing rain and moaning wind, is it not right to pray, 'God bless our home?'"

"But how long will we have a home, Patty? Think of to-morrow! oh, Heaven help me to-morrow! Ruined, disgraced, going out from the home where I was born, and forced into exile. I cannot bear it. We shall never have a home again, and our child will grow up homeless!"

"Dear Mark, you cannot go out disgraced when you have done no wrong; and homeless you will not be, for home is where the heart is, and in any land we three will be together, and Heaven over all."

"I cannot feel as you do, Patty. I am not gentle and good as you. I blame myself that by going security for that smooth-tongued rascal, whom may a curse----"

"Hush!" said Patty, with sudden authority. "Mark, you shall not curse friend, neighbor, nor enemy. It is not your nature; it is wrong. If you curse any one how can you look to have prayer answered?"

"Prayer!" said Mark, bitterly. "I begin not to believe in prayer, or goodness, or any such thing. You have prayed, and that innocent little victim on your bosom has prayed, in her baby way, and has Heaven heard? No! We lose our home, and I was born here!"


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