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The Print of a Finger

by David Ker

Chapter I, — An Unlucky Meeting

"Edward! you here!” The tone was as joyous as might be expected of a young lady at the unexpected appearance of the man who was always foremost in her thoughts. But there was a quiver of unmistakable fear along with it, and not without reason.

Here, in the very house which her father had ordered him to quit once for all, three months before, stood Edward Ashley, holding her hands in his own—the saucy fellow!—and papa was at home, and might at any moment make a third at the interview. Oh, goodness, what should she do?

What Mr. Ashley should do he seemed to know without telling. To kiss the blooming face beside him half a dozen times at least, to place a chair for the young lady, and to seat himself at her side, was, as the penny novelists say, “the work of a moment”; and considering the chances of detection, and the fact that the “stern parent” who held him in such aversion was at that moment in the room below, this exemplary young gentleman looked provokingly at his ease as he observed:

“Don’t look so frightened, my pet; old Symonds, the butler, is an old friend of mine, and I can trust him to smuggle me out as cleverly as he smuggled me in. Come, clear away all the ruffles from that bonnie little face, and tell me all that’s happened since I’ve been away.”

The girl did so, not failing to lay ample stress upon the utter desolation of her life after he was gone, the dreadful scoldings that “papa” used to give her for thinking so much about him, and the odious attempt recently made to induce her to marry “a horrid man whom she couldn’t abide “—at which last communication Ashley started and muttered a very shocking word, which, luckily, was not clearly audible.

Then his turn come, and he told her how he had turned his back upon… Read More