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The Dalton Mystery

by Anna Sheilds

I knew there was a mystery in Ralph Dalton’s house, a shadow over his life, as certainly as I knew that he loved me, and tried to conquer his love. It was a miserable joy to me to encounter him, to make him fall in love with me over again, when I knew he had been hiding away, battling with my influence over him, striving—and vainly—to thrust me out of his heart.

It was no boy and girl infatuation, for I was twenty-three when I inherited Wolfston from my uncle; a stately old house, with extensive grounds, named from some old-world estate in our family. I found a housekeeper, and brought with me a companion, a widow of sixty, Mrs. Latimer, and we settled down in the new house very happily. There was no lack of pleasant society, and I had attention from many gentlemen residing near us. But the first person to welcome me was Ralph Dalton, who had been my uncle’s close friend for years, and who lived upon the next place to mine. He held for me some private letters, some jewelry of my grandmother’s, and other little matters uncle felt it best to confide to private keeping, and after his trust was over he came again and again, until we loved each other. Then he ceased his visits, and I met him only by chance, if a persistent effort on my part could be called so.

What did I love in him? He was many years older than myself—forty I should judge—without great personal attraction. His features were large and gave an impression of strength; he was tall and broad-shouldered. I have heard him called an ugly man, but his large, melancholy brown eyes were beautiful. He was grave to sadness, and reserved to a fault; yet once the ice of his reticence was broken, he could converse easily and gracefully upon any topic,… Read More