Imatges de pÓgina

cases every year in which men and women "Exactly, but not after; in the very are murdered, and of which nothing is nick.” known. I would undertake to kill you “I am glad you think so," said Vane, with a poison of which no trace should gloomily." But you were not beforehand, ever be discovered, to stab you in a vital you will at least acknowledge, when you part, so that you should die instantly, and have read this.” And he handed a note there should scarcely be a drop of blood to across the table. tell where you had been hit. My dear Mr. “Naseby-resigns directorship, no longer Vane, I am horrifying you with my profes- qualified—has sold shares. I was aware of sional talk. You look positively unnerved." this; I received this news by telegram the

“Not at all,” stammered Philip Vane. night before last. Hence my letter to you “I am intensely interested. Pray continue. of yesterday—my return to-day.” You were saying that

“Oh! then you do feel it of importance. “Not another word to-day," said the I am glad to think you are impressed with doctor, rising I must run off; I must, the facts. From the first blush of your indeed. I shall see you to-morrow, when manner you appeared to me determined to I look in to talk to Delabole. Now, adieu.” carry everything off with a high hand.” He shook hands politely, but formally, with “My dear friend Vane, I am always imthe general manager, and took his depar- pressible by facts, and what you mean by ture.

carrying off matters with a high hand, is And Mr. Philip Vane remained for an simply that I keep my wits about me, and hour motionless, passive, and chewing the am not downcast by trifles.” cud of the reflections which Doctor Asprey's "The rats are leaving the sinking ship, words had aroused in his mind.

said Vane, sententiously, pointing to the The next day Mr. Delabole arrived at letter. the office. The very sight of him inspired A very inapt illustration," retorted the clerks, and such of the public as were Delabole. “ In the first place, the ship is doing business in the outer office, with not sinking; in the second, this particular hope and comfort. His eyes were bright, rat was hunted out of it through a mishis cheeks flushed with health, his manner take of the officer left in charge.' jaunty. His diamond rings blazed as he “ You are alluding to me?" asked Philip waved his fat, white, little hand in cour. Vane, flushing with rage. teous acknowledgment of his subordinates' "I am alluding to you, my dear Philip, greeting. The hall-porter essayed to pre- replied Delabole, quietly," and to no one cede him, but Mr. Delabole was much too else. Naseby came here for certain inquick for the plethoric functionary, and formation. He is a wealthy but pompons made his own way into the general ma- little man; you ignored his wealth, and innager's room, into which he passed, after a sulted his pomposity by your-pardon me, sharp decisive rap.

my dear Philip, I have not the advantages Philip Vane was seated at his desk, up of your education, and can find no other to his elbows in an accumulated mass of word for it-by your misplaced cheek;' paper. The sight seemed to afford Mr. he retired in dudgeon, and threw up the Delabole some amusement, as he burst into whole concern." a low but very hearty laugh at once.

" That's his version of the case, and" " Hallo !” said Vane, looking up from “That is my common-sense view of it. his work, “it is you, is it; the prodigal But there is no reason that it should form returned ? Glad you seem amused. You a cause of argument between us, as there would have found it anything but a laugh- are hundreds of other Nasebys, or equivaing matter if you had been here. It has lents to Naseby, in the world. All that we been all very fine for you, spending your have to do is to get hold of them at once.” substance in riotous living, but deuced hard “Yes, that is all,” said Philip Vane, with lines for us who have had to champ away a sneer, “but is it easy ?" at these husks," pointing to the papers,

“ Yes, it is not difficult, provided proper * which the swine refused to swallow.' means are taken,” said Mr. Delabole. “We

“How charmingly scriptural and poetic must, all of us, throw ourselves heart and is the dear boy in his illustrations," mur- soul into the breach, and work our utmost mured Mr. Delabole. Yes, Philip, I until we have accomplished our ends." have returned !”

Yes,” said Philip Vane. “It is well “Not before it was time," growled Mr. for you, who have just returned from a Vane.

fortnight's holiday, to talk about working

your utmost, but I confess I am not able

“I am perfectly certain of it,” retorted to second that admirable proposition. I Delabole. have already twice postponed my marriage “You must bring some very special infor your convenience, and I was only fluence to bear upon me,” said Vane, with awaiting your return to fix an immediate a sneer. day, and arrange for absenting myself from “ I intend to." the City for some little time.'

“May I ask what it is ?” “I am greatly afraid, my dear Vane," “ If you do, I answer you plainly. The said Mr. Delabole, firmly, but with perfect loss of Mrs. Bendixen and her sixty thoncalmness, “that that cannot be."

sand pounds." “Cannot be !" repeated Vane, starting You overrate your influence in that from his chair. “And why not ?” quarter, my good sir,” said Philip Vane,

“Because," said Delabole, still calmly, with a sigh of relief. “ because the business of the office will not "It is not my influence, my good sir, permit it."

but the influence of the law; the influence “Business of the office be d—d!” said of the parish register of Chepstow Church, Vane, savagely. “What business is there of Margaret Pierrepoint, your wife, the that

presses for which I am specially re-actress whom you went down to see by quired ?”

stealth at Wexeter, and whom I went “A little matter involving peculiar down to see too ; whose life I have tracked nicety of handling," said Mr. Delabole, backward and forward, and whose life's rising from his seat. “No one there,” he history I have at my tongue’s end. Do continued, closing the door after he had you wish further personal evidences ? opened it suddenly and looked out. “It is Shall I ring the bell for Gillman, whom well to be particular both as regards eye. I employed to work the case out for me, shot and ear-shot in these matters,” he or do you acknowledge the authenticity added, poking the escutcheon of the lock of my information ?” over the keyhole with his stick. “I see “I acknowledge it,” said Philip Vane, from the letter you sent me that our further faintly," and will do what you require.”. application to Sir Geoffry Heriot has been “ Exactly,” said Mr. Delabole, cheerfully. fruitless and that he still refuses to sign “We will discuss the matter later. Now, the deed."

if you please, I will look through the “ That's so."

minutes and see what has been going on “In this crisis," said Mr. Delabole, while I have been away. Mr. Packham," Irving's co-operation would be invaluable he called out, putting his head into the

outer office, “be good enough to bring " That co-operation we shall never get." the current minute-book.”

“Unless Sir Geoffry gives us his signa- The clerk speedily came with the minuteture," said Mr. Delabole, looking straight book and read out many entries to Delainto the air before him, and playing with bole. But Philip Vane did not pay much his watch-chain.

attention to that proceeding. He was en“He is a hard, inflexible man,” said tirely engrossed in thinking over what DocPhilip Vane. “He will never give in !" tor Asprey had said to him that morning.

Then,” said Mr. Delabole, slowly, and with his eyes still in the air, we must get

JUST PUBLISHED, THE somebody to get his signature for us.”

EXTRA DOUBLE NUMBER FOR “And that somebody- - ?"

CHRISTMAS, 1871, “That somebody is you, my dear Philip,” said Mr. Delabole, fixing his eyes on Vane's

SLAVES OF THE LAMP. face, and pointing straight at him with his forefinger.

Now ready, price 5s.6d., bound in green cloth, “I! cried Vane, loudly; then lowering

THE SIXTH VOLUME his voice in deference to a gesture from his

OF THE NEW SERIES OP companion, he added : “Do you think you will get me to do this job for you ?"


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She was

sun, dreamed by the fireside, prayed, laughed, in the girl, but thought all the time that wept, talked, mused. And at last, when the change was a little too extreme. Yet she had explored every outlet of her life to how was this to be avoided? What ought its extreme limits, and wrought herself up a young girl to be? Miss Martha looked to a very high pitch of nervous fancy, back into her own youth, and sought in Aunt Martha, who had been quietly ob- vain for any experience of her own which serving her, spoke. It was now quite time might apply to her niece. Miss Martha that she should give up her childish free had never been imaginative. Where one dom, and settle down into a useful, well- young thing lives entirely with elder conducted young woman. On that occa- people, in an atmosphere at once antiquated sion May had burst into passionate tears. and still, romantic and wild, it is likely The humdrum life that she was dreading that the young spirit will be either too had overtaken her. Time would not spare much oppressed or too much emancipated. her to her dear wild life. On receiving her Miss Martha did not quite see this, but she lecture she had disappeared instantly, and knew that a little change was sometimes for the day. But in the evening she had wholesome for young people, and she presented herself in the parlour, tidy in wished that May had a little change. person, serious, and ashamed.

Thus she had not given an absolute going to do all and be all that was expected denial when Sir John had expressed a wish of her.

to see May at Camlough. She had conSo now May, being twenty years old, veyed the idea to the gentleman that, if the and having been for three years labouring ladies of his family exerted themselves proearnestly to tame herself and walk in quiet perly, she would not insist that the thing ways, may be fairly said to have sown her could not be done. May, on hearing of the wild oats. She wore housewifely clothing matter, had looked a little frightened, and and smooth hair. She had put aside ro- had said, very gravely, “I think I would mances, and plays, and poems, and set her rather not go. Yet a certain controlled self to apply to graver studies. She took excitement of expectation had evidently to making pastry, and spent a considerable hung about her since. time at her spinning - wheel. She relin- On the day when Katherine came from quished her idea that an excessive joy was Camlough to seek her, May, as it happened, the object of life, and prayed night and was busy in the kitchen. Bridget was out morning to be delivered from her wild for a holiday, and Miss Martha had stepped dreams and fancies. She even thought down to the meadow with old Nanny to of a likely spot for her grave, and won- hold counsel over a sickly cow. The sun dered if it could be possible she should was hot and strong, the yellow blind in the live to be as old as Aunt Martha ; and kitchen was down, and the window open. then perhaps live longer still. In the There was a pot of lavender and sweet mean time she was good to her poor neigh- marjoram on the window-sill, and the fire bours, and as helpful as she was able, and winked under the saucepans. The walls she kept up her intercourse with the ani- were glittering with tin implements, and in mals and birds. When she went out of a the middle of the red-tiled floor sat May, morning to the sunny side of the rain, and shelling peas into an earthen dish. She nestling in the ivy, stretched out a hand was smooth and neat, and looked suitand made a cooing sound, then they all able to the time and place in her apron came round her, rabbits, and pheasants, and green gingham gown. and dogs, and ducks, and geese,

and From fifteen to twenty May had gained chickens, the calf, and the donkey, and the in beauty. She was not of more than jackdaws from the belfry. Tame and wild middle height, her figure full yet slender, they clustered about her, and fed at her and replete with all womanly curves and feet, or out of her hand. But she petted fair lines. Her features were hardly so them now as a superior being, not as for much regular as harmonious, large enough merly when she was only their companion for dignity, yet small enongh for feminine and playfellow. The enactment of this

grace. Her eyes had still that brownscene was the one folly of her day, all the purple hue which Paul Finiston had thought rest of the time being spent in serious be- so lovely, still those circling tinges of haviour and steady occupation. She was shadow which had charmed the old monk. as staid and demure as any one could wish, Her hair was black, with a tinge of brown or as any one could regret to see her. in it, her complexion of a creamy fairness, Miss Martha beheld the wholesome change which made the darkness of her eyes very deep and striking, and a blush upon her finding anything so lovely here; did not face very perceptible and beautiful. Her want anything so lovely at Camlough. But mouth was, perhaps, the jewel of her face. a moment passed, and the whisper of vanity Most lips can express joy in smiles and had soothed and appeased her. She was trouble in heaviness. It is a rarer thing to more beautiful by far even than this; so see a mouth which shows involuntarily all much so, that there never could be rivalry the subtle shades of feeling that hover be between herself and this mountain-reared tween pleasure and pain, ali the flickerings maiden. And in some sense the whisper of fancy, perhaps the nervousness and spoke truth. As a mere piece of flesh and steadfastness of a difficult courage. When blood, as a statue of perfection to be meayou knew May awhile, you forgot about the sured and criticised, she was a handsomer redness of her lips and the loveliness of creature than May. their curves. You thought more about “You have not forgotten me?" she said, their thousand unuttered revelations. smiling, and holding out both her pretty

" What an odd, ridiculous place !" cried hands, while the folds of her riding-habit Katherine, as she and her cavalier rode

ир fell away from them, making graceful to the gate of Monasterlea. And there was drapery all round her on the floor. more here to discern of grandness and "No, indeed," said May, stepping forward quaintness than Miss Archbold could take to take the hands. note of in a week. An artist would have “ This is not my first visit to Monasseen it in a glance. But Katherine was terlea,” said Katherine, tenderly, “and I not an artist, and saw something very un- have very good reason to remember the finished in the majestic ruin with the homely first.” cottage in its arms; the picturesque con. “She is changed,” thought May, triumfusion of crosses and rose-gardens, bloom- phantly." And how beautiful she is ! Now ing hedges and black archways; the acres I should like to go to Camlough. of mounded graveyard upon one side, and “Your aunt has promised you to us,” apon the other and further away, the corn said Katherine, " and I have come to know fields and the sweet farm-lands. It is true wben we may expect you.” And all the she had seen the place long ago, but she while Miss Archbold was wondering how had not then thought it so exceedingly in. May would look if she were not dressed elegant.

like a housemaid. "It is fine !" cried Christopher, with a “But she cannot have much wardrobe touch of that enthusiasm which Katherine here,” she calculated, “and we shall get had never felt, but immediately relapsed her as she is.” into a strain which pleased her better. “ Aunt Martha is in the meadow,” said "You beautified the whole place when you May. “Shall we go out and meet her ? visited it years ago," he said, raving rap- It is a pretty walk." turously as he received her into his arms Christopher, Miss Mourne; Miss Mourne, from her saddle.

Mr. Lee,” said Katherine, and the three The door of Miss Martha's dwelling stood young people stepped out into the sunopen, and the blinds were all down to keep shine. And then May remembered that out the heat.

There was no one about, she had heard that Miss Archbold was enand it suited Miss Archbold's humour at gaged to be married to a wealthy young the moment, rather to walk in without cere- gentleman who was staying at the house. mony, than to stand knocking at the door. This was the second young gentleman whom Meeting no one, she proceeded to explore May had ever spoken to, and naturally she the bouse, looking into rooms left and right, compared him with the first. Mr. Lee was and perfectly unconcerned as to how the amiable and manly-looking enough, but he dwellers in the cottage might approve of had not the countenance and bearing of her intrusion. A sweet mocking laugh Paul. from the passage came floating over her Miss Martha was still engaged in her pea-pods and her dishes to May, who conference with Nanny over the cow, when looked up with notice of something un- she saw the three young figures bearing usaal in the house. And there stood down upon her from the gate into the fields. Katherine and her lover in the doorway. “Ah, this is very pleasant; Miss Arch

As May arose, with quickened eye and bold herself,” said Miss Martha. “May colour, in a pretty confusion to meet her, shall certainly go; it will do her a world it must be confessed that Katherine re- of good. And I declare there is the pedlar ceived a shock. She had not counted on coming across the hill. Nanny, run and

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