This long-lost bit of Alcott's early, gothic-romance hack writing--written for, but never published by, a popular magazine in 1866--proves the proposition that not every bit of prose penned by favorite authors is worth the trouble to read. ""I tell you I cannot bear it! I shall do something desperate if this life is not changed soon,"" moans 18-year-old Rosamond, a beautiful orphan confined to the lonely island estate of her grandfather. Fortunately for Rosamond, a handsome visitor has arrived on the island even as she says these words--a man who strongly reminds Rosamond of the portrait of Mephistopheles hanging in the hall. The resemblance is, of course, prophetic, as the mysterious Phillip Tempest spirits away ""the sweetest piece of womanhood he had ever seen"" on his yacht, marries her at her insistence, and sets up house with her in his luxurious villa near Nice. For a while Rosamond is happy with her older protector and his faithful boy-servant, Ippolito--until she learns that Phillip is already married, that his English wife refuses to divorce him until he surrenders custody of their son, and that their son is in fact Ippolito!. Her heart broken and her virtue compromised, Rosamond flees to Paris, only to find that the evil Phillip is too obsessed with her to leave her in peace, instead committing murder and mayhem in his efforts to recover her. Phillip's desperate schemes and Rosamond's sudden changes of heart grow increasingly arbitrary and erratic as the story rambles on (and as, one imagines, the weary Alcott grows ever more impatient with the job), but it is no surprise that the villain is foiled in the end. Much as one longs for insight into the young author's developing talent, this written-to-order serial sheds more light on what lengths a writer will go to pay for room and board.