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The Heiress
by [?]

KATE DARLINGTON was a belle and a beauty; and had, as might be supposed, not a few admirers. Some were attracted by her person; some by her winning manners, and not a few by the wealth of her family. But though sweet Kate was both a belle and a beauty, she was a shrewd, clear-seeing girl, and had far more penetration into character than belles and beauties are generally thought to possess. For the whole tribe of American dandies, with their disfiguring moustaches and imperials, she had a most hearty contempt. Hair never made up, with her, for the lack of brains.

But, as she was an heiress in expectancy, and moved in the most fashionable society, and was, with all, a gay and sprightly girl, Kate, as a natural consequence, drew around her the gilded moths of society, not a few of whom got their wings scorched, on approaching too near.

Many aspired to be lovers, and some, more ardent than the rest, boldly pressed forward and claimed her hand. But Kate did not believe in the doctrine that love begets love in all cases. Were this so, it was clear that she would have to love half a dozen, for at least that number came kneeling to her with their hearts in their hands.

Mr. Darlington was a merchant. Among his clerks was the son of an old friend, who, in dying some years before, had earnestly solicited him to have some care over the lad, who at his death would become friendless. In accordance with this last request, Mr. Darlington took the boy into his counting-room; and, in order that he might, with more fidelity, redeem his promise to the dying father, also received him into his family.

Edwin Lee proved himself not ungrateful for the kindness. In a few years he became one of Mr. Darlington’s most active, trustworthy and intelligent clerks; while his kind, modest, gentlemanly deportment at home, won the favor and confidence of all the family. With Edwin, Kate grew up as with a brother. Their intercourse was of the most frank and confiding character.

But there came, at last, a change. Kate from a graceful sweet-tempered, affectionate girl, stepped forth, almost in a day, it seemed to Edwin, a full-grown, lovely woman, into whose eyes he could not look as steadily as before, and on whose beautiful face he could no longer gaze with the calmness of feeling he had until now enjoyed.

For awhile, Edwin could not understand the reason of this change. Kate was the same to him; and yet not the same. There was no distance–no reserve on her part; and yet, when he came into her presence, he felt his heart beat more quickly; and when she looked him steadily in the face, his eyes would droop, involuntarily, beneath her gaze.

Suddenly, Edwin awoke to a full realization of the fact that Kate was to him more than a gentle friend or a sweet sister. From that moment, he became reserved in his intercourse with her; and, after a short time, firmly made up his mind that it was his duty to retire from the family of his benefactor. The thought of endeavoring to win the heart of the beautiful girl, whom he had always loved as a sister, and now almost worshipped, was not, for a moment entertained. To him there would have been so much of ingratitude in this, and so much that involved a base violation of Mr. Darlington’s confidence, that he would have suffered anything rather than be guilty of such an act.

But he could not leave the home where he had been so kindly regarded for years, without offering some reason that would be satisfactory. The true reason, he could not, of course, give. After looking at the subject in various lights, and debating it for a long time, Edwin could see no way in which he could withdraw from the family of Mr. Darlington, without betraying his secret, unless he were to leave the city at the same time. He, therefore, sought and obtained the situation of supercargo in a vessel loading for Valparaiso.