This is a short story (132 pages) very similar in some ways (and different in yet others) to Ouida's full length novel, Signa.
Here we have an orphan girl who was found among the reeds and water
lilies as a baby and brought up by an old man and his wife in Brussels.
is hardworking and kind and the neighbors dote on her for she always
thinks of those less fortunate than herself and has time for the young
and old alike.
At age sixteen, Bebee finds herself alone. Old
Antoine has died and left the little hut to her. She carries on selling
flowers in the city and tending her garden at home. She is naive and
trusts the goodness and honesty of all. This is probably her finest
quality and her worst fault .
One day, she is approached by a
handsome young man in velveteen; an artist with a slick tongue and sly
ways. He offers her fine, fashionable things ...without result. He
offers her gold... without result. He offers her books and
knowledge...ah! the hook has snagged. He offers her love...
book has an almost fairytale feel to it. Think, Orphelia meets the Big
Bad Wolf and you get an idea. Its melodramatic and flowery and won't
appeal to everyone but I think its great. It also teaches a good moral
lesson that every young woman should heed.
*This book is free on Public Domain and the kindle version is very readable with few typos.