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Only One Love, or Who Was the Heir   By: (-1920)

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"Claire," "Elaine," "Her Heart's Desire," "Leola Dale's Fortune," "Her Ransom," "Leslie's Loyalty," "Lorrie; or, Hollow Gold," "The Marquis," "Only a Girl's Love," "She Loved Him," "A Wasted Love," Etc.



407 429 Dearborn Street




Who Was The Heir?


One summer's evening a young man was tramping through the Forest of Warden. "Forest of Warden" sounds strange, old fashioned, almost improbable; but, thank Heaven, there yet remain, in over crowded England, some spots, few and far between though they may be, still untouched by the greedy fingers of the destroyers, whom men call Progress and Civilization.

To this grand old forest, for instance, whose dim shades echo the soft pit pat of the deer and the coo of the wood pigeon, comes not the tourist, with hideous knapsack and suit of startling check; no panting locomotive belches out its cloud of coal smoke to dim the brightness of the sky and choke the elms and oaks which reared their stately heads before their fell enemy, the steam engine, was dreamt of.

So remote and unfrequented is the forest that there is scarcely a road from end to end of its umbrageous length, for the trail made by the rough carts of the woodmen and charcoal burners could scarcely be dignified by the title of thoroughfare, and a few footpaths that wind about the glades are so faint and seldom used as to be scarcely distinguished from the undergrowth of ferny moss around.

Along one of the footpaths the young man tramped, occasionally stopping for a moment to look up at the sky which shone redly through the openings of the trees or to watch some frightened hare scamper across the glade.

Every now and then a herd of deer would flit through the undergrowth, turning toward him distended eyes of alarm and curiosity, for of the two kinds of men with whom they were acquainted charcoal burners and woodmen he was neither; nor did he belong to the tribe of tourists, for he carried no knapsack, and instead of the inevitable check and knickerbockers, was clad in a loose Cheviot suit, which, though well worn, bore about it the unmistakable stamp of Saville Row.

That he was young and light hearted was evident from the fact that he broke out into an occasional snatch of an air from the last new popular opera bouffe , notwithstanding that the evening was closing in and he had most completely and emphatically lost his way.

Now, to lose your way in a forest reads rather romantic and entertaining than otherwise, but like shipwreck, or falling into the hands of Greek banditti, it is a much pleasanter thing on paper than in reality.

A bed of moss, though very charming in the daytime, is not nearly so comfortable as a spring mattress, and is sure to be damp, and primeval oaks, majestic and beautiful as they are, do not keep out the draught. The worst room in the worst inn is preferable to a night's lodging in the grandest of forests.

But, though he had never been in the Warden Forest before, the young man knew it would be midsummer madness to hope for an inn and was wandering along on the chance of coming across some woodman's hut, or by meeting a stray human being of whom he could inquire his way.

He was tired he had been walking since morning, and he was hungry and athirst, but he tramped on, and smoked and sang as carelessly as if he were strolling down the shady side of Pall Mall.

Slowly the sun set, and the glades, which had been dusky an hour ago, grew dark. The faint footpath grew still more indistinct, the undergrowth denser and more difficult for persons walking.

The pedestrian fought on for some time, but at last, as he stumbled over one of the gnarled roots which a grand chestnut had thrust up through the ground, he stopped and, looking round, shook his head.

"A regular babe in the wood, by Jove!" he exclaimed... Continue reading book >>

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