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Title: Dorothy's Double - Volume II (of 3)
Author: Henty, G. A. (George Alfred), 1832-1902
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Dorothy's Double - Volume II (of 3)" ***

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                          DOROTHY'S DOUBLE

                           BY G. A. HENTY

AUTHOR OF 'RUJUB THE JUGGLER' 'IN THE DAYS OF THE MUTINY' 'THE CURSE OF
CARNE'S HOLD' ETC.

IN THREE VOLUMES--VOL. II.


    London
    CHATTO & WINDUS, PICCADILLY
    1894

    PRINTED BY
    SPOTTISWOODE AND CO., NEW-STREET SQUARE
    LONDON



DOROTHY'S DOUBLE



CHAPTER IX


Just before twelve o'clock on the following day Mr. Hawtrey's carriage
drew up at Charles Levine's office. In the waiting room they found
Danvers, who had arrived shortly before them.

'Thank you for coming,' Mr. Hawtrey said, as he shook hands with him; 'I
think I am rather afraid of Levine by himself. Of course I know that he
is the best adviser one can have in a business of this sort, but that
way he has of lifting his eyebrows makes me nervous. I feel as David
Copperfield did with that man-servant of Steerforth's; he thought him
very young indeed. It does not make me feel young, but rather that he is
considering me to be an old fool. I don't suppose he means exactly that,
but that is the impression I get from those eyebrows of his.'

'I am sure he does not mean that, Mr. Hawtrey,' Danvers laughed, 'though
it may be that the action is expressive of a passing doubt in his mind,
or rather of his perceiving some point that is unfavourable to the cause
he is retained to defend. I hope you have come here to say that you
agree with our view in the matter.'

'You will hear presently, Danvers. I came to that conclusion yesterday,
but the position is somewhat changed.'

At this moment the door opened, and a clerk asked them to follow him, as
Mr. Levine was now disengaged.

'This is your client--my daughter Dorothy,' Mr. Hawtrey said, as he
introduced her to the lawyer; 'this is Mr. Singleton, an old friend and
neighbour of ours.'

Mr. Levine shook hands with Dorothy, looking at her scrutinisingly as he
did so; she looked as frankly at him.

'So you thought I was guilty, Mr. Levine?'

'I am sure that your father will do me the justice to say that I said
nothing that could in any way be construed into such an opinion, Miss
Hawtrey,' he replied, courteously.

'Perhaps not, but you thought so all the same. I am learning to be a
thought reader. I saw that, and also I think that a slight feeling of
doubt came into your mind as you shook hands.'

'I must be careful, I see,' he said, smiling; 'however, without either
admitting or denying anything, I may say that I am glad that Mr. Hawtrey
brought you with him.'

'And now, Mr. Levine,' Mr. Hawtrey said, 'I will tell you what we have
come about. Yesterday we had quite made up our minds to take your
advice, although my daughter assented to it only with the greatest
reluctance. A fresh complication has occurred which I will leave Mr.
Singleton to tell for himself.'

Mr. Levine took up a pen and prepared to take notes, as Mr. Singleton
began the story with his conversation with Dorothy at Mrs. Dean's. At
the point when Dorothy called her father, Mr. Levine interposed.

'Pardon me for interrupting you, but it is very important that I should
understand the position exactly before you go farther. Whatever this
matter may be of which you are about to tell me, do I understand that it
was one entirely between Miss Hawtrey and yourself?'

'Entirely.'

'It was one of which you never intended to have spoken, and of which
Miss Hawtrey felt perfectly confident that under no circumstances
whatever would you have revealed it?'

'Certainly, I have known her from a child, and nothing whatever would
have induced me to have mentioned it to any one, and Miss Hawtrey had, I
am certain, an absolute confidence that I would not do so.'

'It was then, therefore, a wholly spontaneous action on the part of Miss
Hawtrey in summoning her father to her side, and asking him to take you
home with him.'

'Entirely so; I was myself absolutely bewildered at what appeared to me
her determination to make her father acquainted with the particulars of
the painful scenes of which I will now tell you.'

And he then related the particulars of the interview in his chambers.

'At the time,' he concluded, 'no doubt whatever entered my mind, that
the person who called upon me was Miss Hawtrey. Thinking it over now,
and having an absolute confidence in her, I see that I may have been
mistaken; she was veiled when she entered, and in all the years I have
known Miss Hawtrey I have never seen her wear a veil. A veil certainly
alters the appearance of a face, and for an instant when she entered I
did not recognise her, but the likeness must be very great, for my
hesitation was only momentary. Afterwards she had a handkerchief up to
her face during the greater part of the interview, and during the whole
time she spoke in a low voice broken by sobs. No doubt there must be
some similarity between the voices, but heard in that way it was so
different from her usual outspoken tones, that I should be sorry to be
called upon to swear whether at other times it would resemble her voice
or not.'

'I may add, Mr. Levine,' Mr. Hawtrey said, when he had finished, 'that I
have this morning received a bill from Allerton's, where my daughter
usually gets things, for four silk dresses and two mantles which were
ordered on the same day and at about the same hour at which the jewels
were stolen and this interview with Mr. Singleton took place. I drove
down there after breakfast, and found that the goods were taken out and
placed in a cab that was waiting at the door, my daughter saying that
she wished to take them at once to her dressmaker. I also called in at
Gilliat's, and found that there, as well as at Allerton's, the woman was
veiled when she gave the orders.'

Mr. Levine had listened with close attention to Mr. Singleton, glancing
keenly at times towards Dorothy, who was sitting with her side-face to
him, absorbed in the repetition of the story.

When Mr. Hawtrey ceased speaking, he was silent for a minute, and then
said--

'In the first place, Miss Hawtrey, I have to make an apology to you. You
were right. I see so much of the bad side of human nature that I own
that, until I saw you, I did not entertain a shadow of a doubt that you,
driven by some pressure, had resorted to this desperate expedient of
raising money. The whole story appeared to be consistent only with your
guilt, providing that you were possessed of an extraordinary amount of
self-possession and audacity. I admit and apologise for the mistake, now
that I hear the same thing has been done in two other cases, and that
within an hour or two of the first; it is to me conclusive that your
father's theory is the correct one, and that you were personated by some
clever woman who must bear an extraordinary likeness to you. That a
young lady of your age, driven into a corner, should commit a barefaced
robbery is a matter that my experience has taught me to believe to be
very possible, but that she should a few minutes afterwards proceed to
raise money from a friend, and still more, to commit the petty crime of
swindling a tradesman of four silk dresses, or rather the materials, of
the value perhaps of thirty or forty pounds, seems to me incredible. For
once I have been entirely at fault.'

'Now as to paying this money for the jewels, Mr. Levine,' Mr. Hawtrey
said, 'do you still advise it?'

'I must think that over. It is an extremely difficult matter on which to
give an opinion, and I shall be glad, in the first place, to have Mr.
Danvers' opinion about it. Perhaps he will be good enough to come and
see you after we have talked it over; but I will not give a final
opinion until I have turned it over in my mind for a day or two. Perhaps
I may ask you to come and see me again.'

Danvers went out to the carriage with them. 'I congratulate you most
heartily, Miss Hawtrey,' he said. 'There is no doubt that this will
immensely strengthen your position. It has had, at any rate, a great
effect on the mind of Levine. It is not often he has to own that his
first impressions are entirely erroneous. I will come round this evening
if you will be at home.'

'We will be at home, Danvers,' Mr. Hawtrey said, 'and I particularly
want to see you about another matter. Come to dinner. Half-past seven.
Can you come too, Singleton?' he went on as the carriage drove off. 'You
are in the thick of it now, and are indeed one of the parties
interested, for of course I shall see that you are not a loser by your
intended kindness to Dorothy.'

'If I hear any nonsense of that sort,' Mr. Singleton said, hotly, 'I
will get out of the carriage at once and have nothing more to do with
the affair. Dorothy is my god-daughter, and if I choose to give her one
thousand or ten I have a perfect right to do so. So let us hear no more
about it.'

Mr. Hawtrey shook his old friend warmly by the hand. 'You always were an
obstinate fellow,' he said 'and I suppose I must let you have your own
way. Dorothy, I think I will get out at the top of St. James's Street,
and if Ned Hampton is not in leave my card with a line, asking him to
join us at dinner. He has worked most nobly for us, Singleton, as I told
you last night, and ought certainly to be told of this new development.
It will make us an odd number, for my cousin, Mary Daintree, has--I was
going to remark I am glad to say, but I suppose I oughtn't--not yet
recovered from the shock given her by Dorothy breaking off her
engagement, and is keeping to her bed. However, it does not matter about
there being an odd number.'

'Of course you can ask Captain Hampton if you like, father,' Dorothy
said, coldly, 'but at any rate for my part I would rather that he did
not meddle any more in my affairs.'

'Hulloa! hulloa!' Mr. Singleton exclaimed, 'what is in the wind now,
Dorothy? I thought you and Ned Hampton were sworn friends, and next to
yourself, Ned has always stood very high in my regard. A nicer lad than
he was I have not come across; I only wish he was master of the old
place down there instead of his brother, who is by no means a popular
character in the county; although, perhaps, that is his wife's fault
rather than his own. What have you been quarrelling with him about? I
should have thought that for a young fellow, after being six years from
England, to give up everything for a month, and spend it in your
service, was in itself a strong claim to your regard.'

'There has been no quarrel between Captain Hampton and myself,' Dorothy
said, as coldly as before. 'I do not say that it was not kind of him to
take the pains he did about my affairs; but he acknowledged that he had
doubted me, and after that I do not wish him to trouble himself any
further in the matter.'

'What nonsense, Dorothy,' her father said, warmly. 'Who could have
helped doubting you under the circumstances? Why, without half the
excuse, even I was inclined to doubt you for a moment. Levine doubted
you; Danvers, though he has not said as much, no doubt took the same
view; and even Singleton here, when he gave you, as he believed, that
money, thought that you had got into some horrible scrape. Singleton
could not disbelieve the evidence of his eyes, and you are not angry
with him for it. Why should you be so with Hampton, who also believed
the evidence of his eyes?'

'What was that, if I may ask?' Mr. Singleton said. 'I have heard nothing
about that, and I am quite sure that Ned Hampton would not have doubted
Dorothy without what he believed to be very strong evidence.'

'Well, Singleton, I will tell you, though I should not tell either
Levine or Danvers, for it is undoubtedly the strongest piece of evidence
against Dorothy. He went up to Islington late in the afternoon of the
day when all this took place, to see if he could light upon that
scoundrel Truscott, and he saw Truscott in close confabulation in a
quiet street with the woman who came to your chambers, and whom he, like
you, of course, took to be Dorothy. At that time neither he nor any one
else knew of the jewel robbery, but naturally it struck him, as, of
course, it would have struck every one, that Dorothy had got into some
scrape, and that she had met that man to endeavour to persuade or bribe
him to give up the letters, or, at any rate, to move, and so escape from
the search we were making for him. Ned went out of town at once, and
came back just about the time we heard of the jewel robbery. By that
time he had, on thinking it over, concluded that his first idea was
altogether erroneous, and when, at my wits' end, I told him of the jewel
affair, he said at once it was absolutely impossible that Dorothy could
have done such a thing, and that indeed it seemed to him a confirmation
of the theory he had formed that some adventuress having a singular
likeness to Dorothy was personating her. The idea had never occurred to
me, and I was delighted on finding a possible explanation of what seemed
to me a blank and absolute mystery. I consider that Dorothy is even more
indebted to him for that suggestion than for the pains he took in trying
to discover Truscott.'

'I certainly think you are wrong, Dorothy,' Mr. Singleton said, gravely,
seeing that the girl listened with cold indifference to her father's
explanation. 'He did no more than I did, namely, believe the evidence of
his eyes, and on that evidence both of us were forced to believe that
you had got into a scrape of some sort, and were under the thumb of a
rascal.'

'I cannot argue about it, Mr. Singleton. I only know that I believed
Captain Hampton would trust me implicitly, as I should have trusted him,
and it is a great disappointment to me to find that I was mistaken. I do
not defend myself; I admit that it may be silly and wrong on my part. I
only say that I am disappointed in Captain Hampton, and that I would
much rather he did not interfere in any way in my affairs.'

Mr. Hawtrey shrugged his shoulders. Mr. Singleton lifted his eyebrows
slightly and then glanced with a furtive smile, which it was well that
Dorothy did not detect, at her father, who looked somewhat surprised at
this unexpected demonstration.

'At any rate, Dorothy,' the latter said, 'I must ask him to dinner;
there will be no occasion for him to interfere farther in the matter, so
far as I can see, and I should think that after your manner to him he
will not be inclined to do so; still, it is impossible, after the pains
he has taken in the matter, not to acquaint him with what has occurred
here. We are at the top of St. James's Street,' and he pulled the check
string. 'I suppose you will get out here too, Singleton?'

'Certainly, it is my lunch time; I will walk round with you to Ned
Hampton's, and you had better lunch with me at the Travellers'. I will
take him round there too, if we find him in.'

'Tell James we shall be five to dinner, Dorothy, as soon as you get
back.'

As the carriage drove away Mr. Singleton indulged in a quiet laugh.

'What is it, Singleton? I could not make out that glance you gave me in
the carriage. I own I see nothing at all laughable in it; to my mind
this fancy of Dorothy's is at once utterly unreasonable and confoundedly
annoying, and is, I may say, altogether unlike her.'

'My dear Hawtrey, I would ask you a question. Has it ever entered your
mind that you would like Ned Hampton as a son-in-law?'

'As a son-in law!' Mr. Hawtrey repeated in astonishment. 'What do you
mean, Singleton? No such idea ever occurred to me--how should it? There
was a boy and girl friendship of a certain kind between them before he
went away, but at that time Dorothy was a mere child of twelve years
old, and of course no idea about her future marriage to him or any one
else had entered my mind. When he came home the other day she was on the
verge of being engaged to Halliburn, and was so engaged a week later. So
again the idea could not have occurred to me. He is the son of an old
friend and was constantly in and out of our house as a boy, and I have a
very great regard and liking for him, but I certainly should not regard
him as a very eligible match for Dorothy.'

'I should think, Hawtrey, you have had enough of eligible marriages,'
Mr. Singleton said, sarcastically, 'and I should think Dorothy has, too.
Next time I hope her heart will have something to say in the matter. I
don't see why Ned Hampton should not be eligible. He is a younger son
'tis true, and has, I believe, only about four hundred a year in
addition to his pay. Dorothy has, I know, some twenty thousand pounds
from her mother's settlements, and some land that brings in about two
hundred more, and she will some day have what you can leave her besides,
which, as you have told me, would be something like fifteen thousand
more; so with her money and his, it would come some day to not very far
short of two thousand a year. As I told you, I have put her down in my
will for five thousand. I should have put her down for more had I
thought she wanted it, but as it seemed likely that she would make a
good match, I did not think it would be of any use to leave her more. I
have put him down for a like sum, and certainly if those two were to
come together, I should considerably increase it. I have no children of
my own. My relations, as far as I know of them, are well-to-do people,
and therefore I am perfectly free to do what I like with my money and
estate. That being so, I think you may dismiss from your mind any idea
that Dorothy is likely to come to poverty if she marries Ned Hampton.'

'Well, old friend, that certainly alters the case. However, as you see,
there is no probability whatever of the young people taking that view of
the case. Ned Hampton has always been like an elder brother or, if you
like, a favourite cousin of Dorothy's, and since he came home I have
never seen the slightest change in his manner towards her. As to her,
you have just heard what she has said.'

'I know nothing of his ideas on the subject, Hawtrey, but as Dorothy was
and is, so far as he knows, engaged to the Earl of Halliburn, Ned,
whatever he might think, would scarcely embark in a flirtation with her.
As to Dorothy, as you say, she showed pretty clearly the state of her
mind just now.'

'Yes, she has evidently taken a strong prejudice against him, Singleton.
It is a pity, too, for I like him exceedingly, and I don't know any one
to whom personally I would more willingly entrust Dorothy's happiness.'

'I don't know,' Mr. Singleton remarked meditatively, 'why fathers should
be so much more blind about their daughters than other people are. You
don't suppose that if Dorothy had been quite indifferent as to Ned
Hampton's opinion of her she would have been so exceedingly sore at his
having doubted her. I do not say she loves him. I do not even suppose
that she has the remotest idea of such a thing. I only say that she
evidently attaches a very great weight to his good opinion, and is
proportionately grieved at what she considers his want of confidence in
herself.

'She makes light of having broken off her engagement to Halliburn, but
we know she must feel it a great deal more than she pretends to do. No
girl in her position in society would break off such a match without
feeling sore about it--however convinced she might be that it was the
best thing to do--and in that temper the defection, as she considers it,
of a faithful ally would naturally be keenly felt. Of course, there is
nothing to do but to let the matter rest; only, please do not attempt to
argue the point with her, but let her have her own way, without comment.
She is far more likely to come round in time if left alone than if
constantly put upon the defence. But, bless me! here we are at Waterloo
Place, and have forgotten altogether the business in hand, which is to
call at Ned Hampton's lodgings. Well, they are about half-way along
Jermyn Street, so that we may as well turn up here. Now--to continue our
conversation for another minute or two--I should say we had best put all
this out of our minds for the present, and leave matters to right
themselves. There are more urgent things to think of, for I am afraid,
Hawtrey, there is a good deal of trouble ahead for her and for you,
whatever course you may decide to take about Gilliat's matter. We who
know and love Dorothy may be absolutely certain of her innocence in
these matters, but you must remember that unless we can produce the
woman, it will be uphill work indeed to get the world to see matters in
the same light, if it comes to a trial and all the facts come out. On
the other hand, if you compromise, it is morally certain these things
will go on. You will be absolutely driven to fight one of these claims,
and every claim you pay you will make it harder to resist the next, so
that either way there is trouble, I am afraid great trouble, ahead, and
the only way out of it that I can see is to find this man and woman, who
may for aught I know at the present moment be on the other side of the
Atlantic. There does not seem to be a shadow of a clue which we can
follow up, and a wild-goose chase is a joke to it.'

'I agree with you entirely, Singleton. Of course, in an affair like this
money is nothing, and I shall employ the best detectives I can get.
Levine will be able to tell me of good men. If I find Ned Hampton in I
will tell him the whole story at once, which will save explanations this
evening.'

'You mean you will tell him while we are at lunch, Hawtrey, for it is
past two o'clock now, and at my age one cannot afford to neglect the
inner man in this way.'

They met Captain Hampton half way along the street.

'We were just coming for you, Ned,' Mr. Hawtrey said. 'Singleton wants
you to come and lunch with him. He and I want to have a talk with you.'

'I have only just finished my lunch, but I am perfectly ready for the
talk, Mr. Hawtrey.'

'Where were you going now?'

'I think I was principally going to smoke a cigar. I have been in all
the morning, and on a day like this one gets restless after a time.'

'Then you shall take a turn for twenty minutes, Ned. There is nothing
more unpleasant than looking on at people eating, unless it is eating
with people looking on; besides, we could not begin our talk now. What
do you say, Hawtrey? Shall we join him, say, at the foot of the Duke of
York's steps, turn in to St. James's Park and sit down, if we can find a
bench free of nursemaids? as I daresay we shall, as they won't come out
till later. At any rate, we don't want to be overheard, and we can never
make sure of that in a club smoking-room.'

'That will suit me very well, Mr. Singleton, but don't hurry over your
lunch; you will see me somewhere about when you are coming down the
steps. I have just time to stroll down the Mall and back by Birdcage
Walk.'

'Well, we will say in half-an-hour from the time you leave us.'

'This is another proof, Mr. Hawtrey, that our suspicion that Truscott is
at the bottom of it all is well founded,' Captain Hampton said, when he
had heard the story. 'It must have been somebody who was accurately
acquainted with your affairs; some one who knew that Mr. Singleton was
an intimate friend; so intimate that your daughter would be likely to go
to him were she in any trouble, and that he would be likely to assist
her.'

'It is certainly another link in the chain,' Mr. Hawtrey agreed.

'I would give a thousand pounds if we could lay our hands on the
fellow,' Mr. Singleton exclaimed fiercely.

'But if we could find him, Singleton, we could not touch him; you and I,
Ned, may be morally certain that he is at the bottom of all this, but we
have not the remotest shadow of evidence on which a magistrate would
grant a warrant for his arrest. If we found him, he would snap his
fingers in our face.'

'You forget, Mr. Hawtrey,' said Ned, 'if we find him we are pretty sure
of being able to find this woman. I do not say we are certain to find
her, because we know nothing of their relations to each other; perhaps
they are only united to carry out this piece of swindling. Truscott is
shrewd enough to see that it would be better for them to part; perhaps
they kept together until they went over to Hamburg, and sold the
diamonds; then she might go over to Paris, and he to America, or they
may have gone to any other two widely separated places in the world. If
they have kept together, and are still in England, I should say they are
most likely to be at present in some quiet and respectable lodgings at
some large watering-place, where they pass as father and daughter. I
quite agree with you in what you say that the fact of these two fresh
robberies altogether alters the case, and that you can never calculate
upon being free of annoyance, still I should say that you are safe for
some little time. They ought to be satisfied with what they have got,
and will naturally wait to see whether there is any stir made, and what
comes of it, before repeating the same game. Have you seen Levine
again?'

'Yes, we were there an hour and a half ago, and I am glad to say these
last occurrences have completely changed his opinion of the case. We
left him going into the matter with Danvers, who is coming to dine with
us this evening, and will tell us what they think as to fighting
Gilliat.'

'What does Halliburn think of it?' Captain Hampton asked, suddenly.
'After all, everything will depend, I should think, upon his opinion.'

'On that point, fortunately, we have not got to consult him,
Ned--Dorothy has definitely broken off the engagement. As soon as we
heard from Gilliat of the robbery, she declared that it was positively
impossible that the matter should go on, and I quite agreed with her
decision.'

Captain Hampton made no remark for a minute or two.

Mr. Hawtrey presently went on. 'I want you to come round to dinner too,
Ned. There will only be Singleton and Danvers, and it will be a sort of
family council.'

'Thank you, Mr. Hawtrey,' Captain Hampton replied, after a pause, 'I
think I would rather not come. I have been unfortunate enough to offend
Miss Hawtrey deeply already, and I don't think that my presence at such
a council would be in any way agreeable to her, and that being so, I
need hardly say that it would not be pleasant to me.'

'Tut, tut, lad, that is all nonsense. For a moment I was inclined to
doubt her myself; those fellows' story seemed so terribly
straight-forward that I was completely taken aback. Singleton let
himself be led to believe that she had got into some terrible scrape,
and how could you disbelieve your eyes more than he could? She will soon
get over her little touchiness.'

'I rather doubt it, Mr. Hawtrey. I think it natural that she should feel
very much hurt. Just at present my taking any part in the affair would,
I feel sure, be very distasteful to her. But when you say to me,
"Dorothy has quite got over her indignation and wants you to come and
have a chat with her," I shall be delighted to come. In the meantime I
would rather give no opinion whatever as to the matter, but I shall,
nevertheless, work quietly in my own way and do my best to discover some
clue as to the movements of this man. I have the great advantage of
knowing him by sight, which no detective would do. I am certain I am not
likely to make any mistake as to the woman. Please don't mention to
Dorothy that I am taking any further part in the affair. Levine will, I
should think, advise you to put the matter into the hands of detectives,
and I shall be glad to know from time to time what their opinion is and
whether they have gained any clue as to their whereabouts. I would
suggest that you should get from Allerton two or three small pieces of
each of the silks that were taken; should there be anything at all
peculiar in colour or pattern, it might be an aid to the detectives.'

'You are right there, Ned,' Mr. Singleton said; 'an adventuress of that
kind, having got hold of some handsome silks, would not be able to
forego the pleasure of having them made up and showing off in them. Do
you mean to pay Allerton, Hawtrey?'

'I gave him a cheque at once. I told him that this was one of several
robberies that had been committed by some woman personating my daughter,
but that it would be so unpleasant to go into the matter, and so
difficult to find the thief, that I would rather pay the money at once.
In addition to the patterns of the dresses I will get him to have some
sketches made of the mantles. They will probably have some others like
them, but if not they are sure to know the exact particulars of them.
There may be some slight peculiarity about the fashion of the things
that would help a detective.'

'I think you would do even better than that,' Captain Hampton said, 'if
you got a dozen of your daughter's daguerreotypes; they would assist
detectives much more than anything else in making inquiries; they would
only have to show them to a waiter in any hotel where this woman
stopped, and they could hardly fail to be recognised at once, for she
would certainly attract attention wherever she went. Dorothy gave me one
a few days after I came back, but as I should be very sorry to have that
knocked about I should be glad if you would let me have another.'

'That is an excellent idea, Ned. I will order a couple of dozen of her
photos this afternoon from Watson, who took the last she had done. Well,
I am sorry you won't come and dine with us; though I don't know but that
it is better for you to leave her to herself for a short time. I admit
that she has not quite got over it yet, but I expect that she will come
round before long. Which way are you going?'

'I think I shall sit where I am for a bit, Mr. Hawtrey; it is very
pleasant here in the shade, and I want to think over all that you have
been saying. I must try and see what I had best do next.'

He got up, however, half an hour later with an impatient exclamation.

'What is the use of my wasting my time here? I was three weeks looking
for the fellow before, and Slippen found him a few hours after taking
the matter in hand. I will take his advice anyhow. He is more likely to
have an idea as to what a fellow like this would do under the
circumstances than I could have.'

'I have been doing nothing more about that case, Captain Hampton,' the
detective said, when the caller was shown in by a boy who reminded him
strongly of Jacob; 'I wrote to Mr. Hawtrey that the man had altogether
disappeared, but that I would have the racecourses watched, and that if
he turned up at any of them we would let him know. That is three weeks
ago, and he certainly has not shown up at any racecourse, and my men
have ascertained beyond much doubt, that none of his usual pals have
seen or heard anything of him from the day he left his quarters at
Islington. I am glad you have come, as I was going to write to Mr.
Hawtrey, to ask if he considered it worth while keeping up the search.
Certainly it seems to me that if a man like that, who has been a
constant attendant at the races for the last twenty years, and makes his
living out of them, doesn't go near them for three weeks, it must be
because he has either gone away or is very ill, or has taken to some new
life altogether.'

'That is just the opinion that I have formed, Mr. Slippen, and I wanted
to ask your opinion about it. We have a very strong idea that there is a
woman acting in concert with him, and between them they have victimised
a friend of Mr. Hawtrey's out of a considerable sum of money. We may
take it then for granted that they have means sufficient to live on for
some little time, or to take them wherever they may want to go. I fancy
myself that they must have left London; a man like that could hardly
keep away from racecourses altogether; therefore I agree with you, that
nothing but severe illness or absence can be the cause of his staying
away from racecourses and from all his own intimates for three weeks.'

'That is just how I reasoned it, Captain Hampton; and now that you tell
me that he has got hold of some money, I have not the least doubt that
he has sloped.'

'Well, from your experience in such matters, Mr. Slippen, where do you
think that a man like that would be likely to go?'

'There is no saying at all. He might go down to some quiet place in the
country, but Lor' bless you, a man like that could never stand three
weeks of it. It is very likely that if he is in funds and has got a
clever woman with him they may have got themselves up and be staying at
some swell hotel at one of the seaside places, or at Harrogate or
Buxton, and be carrying on some little swindle there. Then again, after
this job you say they have managed, they may think it best to make
themselves scarce altogether, and may be at some foreign watering-place.
A clever sharp can always make his living at those sort of places,
especially with a woman to help him. I suppose she is young and pretty?'

Captain Hampton nodded.

'Bound to be,' the detective went on. 'Well, a sharp fellow with a girl
like that, if she is shrewd and clever, can just turn over money at
places of that kind. They are full of young fools, most of whom have got
money in their pockets. Well then, again, they may have gone across the
water somewhere--more likely the States than anywhere else; it is a big
place for hiding in, and when a fellow has done a bit of clever sharping
here and knows that he is wanted, he somehow always makes for the
States, just as naturally as a duck takes to water.

'Have you agents who would be of any use at these places?'

'No, I will acknowledge frankly that I have not, Captain Hampton. It
would be no use taking Mr. Hawtrey's money for a job of that sort; it is
too big for me. If there was any one place to which you could track them
I could send out a man there well enough. But I could not work either
the Continent or the States. If you have got proof of a bad piece of
swindling against this man, your best plan will be to go to Scotland
Yard and get them to put a man at your service. The foreign police would
not move a finger if I were to write to them, but they would be willing
enough to move if Scotland Yard had the thing in hand.'

'Mr. Hawtrey has put himself in Charles Levine's hands, and in these
matters he will have to act as he suggests; but I am taking the matter
up on my own account. I have spent a good deal of time over it, and
don't like to be beaten, and if you could have undertaken it, and it
would have been at all within my means, I would have arranged with you.
As it is, I shall come to you again for advice and assistance if I
require them. I think you had better send in your account to Mr. Hawtrey
for the work done so far, with a letter asking for instructions. He may
like to have the racecourses watched for a bit longer. If you see him do
not mention this talk with me. By the way, I found that boy you had, on
my door-step a few days ago. He told me he had left you, and as he
seemed a sharp little fellow I have taken him on to run errands and that
sort of thing.'

'He is not a bad boy, as that sort of boy goes. They are all young
scamps, but he took it into his head to be cheeky, and I had to kick him
out. I am glad to hear he has not gone on the streets again. You will
have to look pretty sharp after him, but you may find him useful, if, as
you say, you are going to try to unearth this fellow we have been in
search of.'



CHAPTER X


'We shall be only four at dinner, Dorothy,' Mr. Hawtrey said, when he
returned. 'I could not get Hampton to come.'

'Engaged, I suppose,' Dorothy said indifferently.

'No, dear, he simply said that as he had had the misfortune to displease
you--I think those were his very words--he thought it would be better to
stay away. I could not say that I did not agree with him and so the
matter dropped. Of course I am sorry, for I have always liked the lad.
Naturally the interest he has shown in us in this trouble and the pains
he has taken about it have quite renewed the old feeling. I have turned
to him for advice and talked matters over with him almost as if he had
been a son, and, of course, I shall miss him a good deal now--but it
cannot be helped.'

'I am sure I don't want him to stay away from the house, father,'
Dorothy said, in an aggrieved tone.

'I don't know whether you want it or not, Dorothy; but naturally that
has been the effect. You do not suppose that a man who has been on so
friendly a footing with us for the last twenty years is going to put up
with being called Captain Hampton, and addressed as if he were a
stranger, and treated with a sort of freezing politeness by a girl whom,
almost from the day when he arrived in England, he has been giving up
his time to assist. I think he is perfectly right to keep away from the
house, and I think any man of spirit would do the same.'

'Did he say that he resented it, father?'

'Well, no, he didn't. He seemed to think that while it was reasonable
that I, your father, should have had doubts, and that your old friend,
Singleton, should have readily accepted the evidence of his senses and
have believed that you had got into some sort of bad scrape, that you
should feel hurt because he did so. Singleton and I both said that it
was preposterous. However, he stuck to his own opinion just as you do to
yours. However, there is an end of the matter. I am heartily sorry. I
don't think one makes so many real friends as he has of late shown
himself to be, that one can afford to throw even one away, especially
just at a time like this. Well, it is of no use talking about it any
more.'

Danvers' report of the consultation between himself and Charles Levine
left matters pretty nearly as they were before. It was greatly desirable
for the purpose of preventing any further personation that the
jeweller's claim should be contested, but upon the other hand it was
equally certain that it would be an extremely unpleasant thing for Mr.
and Miss Hawtrey. The chances of obtaining a verdict were very slight,
as they had merely an hypothesis to oppose to the direct evidence of the
jeweller and his assistants. It was a case that the principals must
decide for themselves. In case they were willing to meet the inevitable
unpleasantness of a trial, it would be incumbent on them to use every
possible effort to obtain some evidence in confirmation of their
hypothesis. Scotland Yard should be communicated with and detectives set
to work; a reward, say of 100_l._, might be offered in the papers for
information that would lead to the arrest of the female who had been
personating Miss Hawtrey and in her name obtaining goods under false
pretences, a description of the woman's appearance being given. Even if
no evidence was forthcoming from the advertisement it would serve as a
preparation for the trial, and the defence to the claim would not come
as a surprise. Moreover, the appearance of the advertisement would deter
the woman from attempting for some time to repeat her operations. Mr.
Levine also recommended that a letter should be sent to all the shops
where they dealt, to warn them that it was possible that a person very
closely resembling Miss Hawtrey might attempt to obtain goods, and that
everything ordered should be sent to the house, and not delivered
personally; and it would be desirable, if possible, that they should be
told that in future Miss Hawtrey, when giving an order, would give her
visiting card, and that of Mr. Hawtrey; and that any person purporting
to be her, and being unable when asked to give her card, should be
detained, and given in charge of the police. This, at least, was the
line which they recommended should be adopted; but, of course, the
matter would be further considered and gone into later on, if Mr.
Hawtrey decided to contest the claim.

'Levine considers it one of the most difficult cases he has ever been
engaged in,' said Danvers. 'He says frankly he does not think you have
the remotest chance of getting a verdict, unless before the trial comes
on you can lay your hand on this woman, and he suggests that you and he
together should see Gilliat--who, of course, has no personal feeling in
the matter, and would naturally be most averse to taking anything like
hostile action against you--and inform him of the exact position of the
case, and your desire that they should not send in their account to you
for another three or four months. This would give at least six months
before the trial would come on, and in that time, if ever, we ought to
be able to lay our hands on this woman, and you would still have the
option of paying, if before the case comes on you can obtain no
evidence. Lastly, he says that, unpleasant as it is to contemplate the
possibility of such a thing, it must not be forgotten that in the event
of the trial coming on, and the verdict being an adverse one, it is
quite upon the cards that if public opinion is strongly aroused on the
subject, the Treasury may feel compelled to order a prosecution of Miss
Hawtrey for perjury--if not for obtaining goods under false
pretences--or possibly for theft.'

'Would it be possible to trace the jewels in any way?' Mr. Hawtrey
asked, after a long pause.

'Quite possible, if they were pawned or sold to a jeweller in this
country, but that is hardly likely to be the case. Very few jewellers
would purchase such goods without making enquiries as to the vendor, and
the same may be said of the class of pawnbrokers who would be in a
position to advance so large a sum. It is much more probable that the
tiaras were broken up an hour after they were stolen and the setting put
in a melting pot and the diamonds taken over to Hamburg, and as they
have not been advertised there would be little or no trouble in
disposing of them to a diamond merchant there. Enquiries can be made in
that direction, only we must obtain from Gilliat the technical
description of the size, number, and weight of the gems.'

'Do I understand that your opinion completely agrees with that of
Charles Levine, Danvers?'

'Precisely; those are the two courses, Mr. Hawtrey; and it is a matter
entirely for you and Miss Hawtrey to decide upon. The easiest, the most
pleasant, and, I may say, the cheapest--for costs will follow the
verdict--would be to pay the money; the other course would involve
immense trouble and annoyance, the payment of detectives, public
scandal, and, I am afraid, an adverse verdict from the public as well as
from the jury.'

'I should say, Hawtrey,' Mr. Singleton put in, 'you had better take a
sort of middle course; tell Gilliat that the thing is a swindle, but
that if you cannot obtain proof that it is so within six months you will
pay him, and in the meantime move heaven and earth to discover these
people. If you succeed, well and good. If you don't, pay the money; it
seems to me that anything would be better than going into court and
being beaten.'

'I think that is very sound advice,' Danvers said, eagerly. 'Gain time,
fight if you can fight with a chance of success, but if not, pay him; in
that way you will save all legal expenses, for you can arrange with
Gilliat to take no steps until you give him a decided answer six months
hence, and you will avoid all the terrible scandal the trial would
entail. The detectives will, of course, cost money, but I do not see how
that is to be helped.'

'I think that would be the best plan,' Mr. Hawtrey said. 'I hope you
agree with me, Dorothy. I own that the prospect of a trial terrifies me,
and I would do anything to avoid it.'

'Just as you like, father; it seems to me that I would rather fight than
be robbed; but as everyone seems to think that we should be certainly
beaten I am willing to agree to anything you wish.'

'Then we will consider that matter settled, Danvers,' Mr. Hawtrey said,
in a tone of relief, 'and the decision has taken a tremendous load off
my mind. Will you kindly see Levine? Tell him I put myself entirely in
his hands as to the employment of detectives. I got samples after I left
you, Singleton, of the silks that hussy took, and I am bound to say that
they are handsome and do credit to her taste. I am to have sketches of
the mantles to-morrow. Will you ask Levine, Danvers, whether he advises
I should still put in the advertisement you spoke of, and write to the
tradesmen? You can mention that we shall go abroad next week, and on our
return go down into Lincolnshire, so that perhaps it would be well not
to stop these people, for of course if they were to repeat the trick
when we were in a position to prove that we were hundreds of miles away
at the time, it would be a pretty conclusive defence if we fought
Gilliat's claim.'

'It would be so conclusive a defence, sir, that Gilliat would never
bring the case into court. The moment he saw that there really was an
impostor going about as Miss Hawtrey, he would see that he had been
victimised, and that his only course was to apologise to Miss Hawtrey
for having doubted her word, and to withdraw his claim. Yes, there is no
doubt it would be the wisest plan to do nothing whatever in the way of
advertising or warning the tradespeople.'

A week later the authorities at Scotland Yard had notified the French,
Belgian, and German police that a man and woman whose description was
accurately given, and a likeness of the latter sent, would be probably
passing themselves off under an assumed name, and that should they show
themselves they were to be arrested as swindlers. Small samples of four
pieces of silk and drawings of the mantles were also enclosed to aid in
the identification of the female prisoner, who would probably have these
clothes with her.

Similar letters were also sent off to the police authorities in all
large towns and watering-places in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Hawtrey called twice in Jermyn Street, but found that Captain
Hampton was away. He wrote him, however, a full account of all that had
been decided upon, and asked him, should he return before they started
for the Continent, to call and see them. He came in on the last evening
before they left town.

'I only returned an hour ago,' he said. 'I was delighted to get your
letter, and to find the decision you had arrived at.' He had shaken
hands cordially with Mr. Hawtrey, formally with Mrs. Daintree and
Dorothy. Mr. Hawtrey glanced at the former and shook his head, to
intimate that that lady had not been taken into the family council.

'Mary knows nothing about it,' he took occasion afterwards to say, in a
low voice; 'the whole thing has been kept a secret from her. She kept
her bed for four days after that Halliburn affair, and had she known
that Dorothy was accused of stealing, she would have had a fit.'

'You mean as to going away before the season is quite over, Captain
Hampton,' Mrs. Daintree said, in reference to his remark on entering.
'Yes, I think it is very wise. Dorothy has been looking far from well
for the last month, and the excitement and late hours have been too much
for her. I shall be very glad myself to be back again in my quiet home.
The season has been a very trying one.'

'I am sorry to hear you have been poorly, Mrs. Daintree. London seems
pleasant enough to me, though there have been two or three very hot
days.'

'What are you going to do, Ned?' Mr. Hawtrey asked. 'I suppose you are
not going to stay after every one else has gone? I have heard nothing
more about that yacht you talked of.'

'I have given up the idea. I daresay I should have enjoyed it very much,
but one wants a pleasant party, and it does not seem to me that I can
get one together, so I have abandoned it and intend taking a run across
the Atlantic for two or three months. I did Switzerland and Italy before
I went away, and should not care about doing Switzerland again at the
time when every hotel is crowded; and as for Italy it would be too hot.
I have always thought that I should like a run through the States, and I
am never likely to have a better opportunity than this.'

'I suppose you will be back by Christmas, Ned? I need not say how glad I
shall be if you come down and spend it with us; it would be like old
times, lad.'

'Thank you, Mr. Hawtrey, I should like it greatly, but I will make no
promises.'

'Well, suppose you come down to my den and smoke a cigar, Ned. There are
several matters I want to chat with you about.'

'Why I want to get off in a hurry,' he went on, when they were seated in
the library, 'I saw Halliburn on the day after the affair was broken
off, and I suggested to him that the matter should not be made public
for a week or two. The House will separate next week, and I thought it
would be pleasanter to both parties if nothing was said about it till
after that, when both will be away, and society scattered, so that all
gossip or annoying questions would be avoided. He agreed with me
thoroughly, as he evidently objected quite as much as I did to there
being any talk on the subject; so I wrote a paragraph with his approval.
It will be sent round to half-a-dozen of these gossipy papers the day
after Parliament goes down. This is it: "We are authorised to state that
the match arranged between the Earl of Halliburn and Miss Hawtrey will
not take place. We understand that the initiative in the matter was
taken by the lady, who, in view of the malicious reports concerning her
that have appeared in some of the papers, has decided to withdraw from
the engagement, much, we believe, to the regret of the noble Earl."'

'That will do excellently,' Captain Hampton agreed. 'I may tell you
frankly, Mr. Hawtrey, that the idea of going to the States only occurred
to me after reading your letter. For the last week I have been working
along the south coast watering-places, giving a day to each. I began at
Hastings and went to Eastbourne, Brighton, Worthing, Southsea, and
Southampton, and took a run to Ryde and Cowes. I went to every hotel of
any size at each of those towns, saw the manager and two or three of the
waiters, and showed them the photograph and the scraps of silk, but none
of them had had any lady at all answering to that description, or
resembling the likeness, staying there. I intended to have made the
entire tour of the seaports, but now that instructions have been sent to
all the local police officers I need spend no more time over it. They
will do it infinitely better than I could, for whereas I could only see
to the hotels, they will naturally keep an eye upon all visitors, and it
is as likely that they may be in lodgings as at an hotel; more likely,
indeed, for at present they are flush of cash, and would not want to
make the acquaintance of people, especially at hotels, where there would
be the risk of running up against somebody who knew Miss Hawtrey. So
with England and the Continent both provided for I am free to try the
States. I should not have said anything to you about it, but I want you
to write to me if the police find any trace of them. I will go to the
Metropolitan Hotel at New York, and when I leave will keep them posted
as to my whereabouts, so that they can forward any letter to me.'

'My dear Ned,' Mr. Hawtrey said, feelingly, 'you are indeed a good
friend. I do not know how to thank you enough, but I really do not like
you to be wasting your holiday in this fashion.'

'Don't worry about that; if it hadn't been for this I should have been
hanging about with no particular object, and should have been heartily
sick of doing nothing long before my year was out. This will give an
interest and an object in travelling about, and it is always a pleasure
to be working for one's dearest friends. There are but few people in
England now for whom I really care. I never got on with my brothers, and
beyond yourself and kind old Mr. Singleton, I have really no friends
except Army men or school chums, like Danvers, and every time I come
home their number will diminish. You must remember I am a police
officer, and I suppose the instinct of thief-catching is strong in me.
Certainty I shall not feel happy until I have got at the root of this
mystery. You must remember the hypothesis as to this woman is my own,
and I feel that my honour is concerned to prove its correctness; but,
mind, Mr. Hawtrey, I particularly request that Dorothy shall know
nothing of the matter.'

'Why not, Ned?'

'I have not been successful so far, and in fact have done more harm than
good, and the betting is very strongly against my succeeding. They may
not have gone to America. I simply choose it because the other ground is
occupied, and also because there is an undoubted tendency among
criminals to make for the States. In the next place, even if they are in
America, it is almost like looking for a needle in a cart-load of hay.
Still, if fortune favours me, I may possibly succeed; but if I do not, I
certainly do not wish to let Dorothy know that I have been trying. I
have wronged her by having doubted her for a moment, and I do not wish
to compel her to feel under an obligation to me merely because I have
united amusement with a little work on her behalf.'

'Well, I think you are wrong, Ned--wrong altogether; but of course you
must do as you like in the matter. Have you sketched out any plan for
yourself?'

'I have not thought it over yet, but it will be similar to that I have
been just working. If they have gone to America, New York is, of course,
their most probable destination. I suppose there are not above five or
six hotels that are usually frequented by people coming from England. I
shall try them first, then go down rather lower in the grade, and if I
do not succeed there I shall try Boston; then I must take the other
ports to which liners run, until I have exhausted them. I have at least
one advantage there. There will be no question as to their going direct
into lodgings. They will be certain to put up at an hotel at first.
There is no saying as to where they will go afterwards. My movements
will depend entirely on whether I can pick up a clue. If I cannot get
one at any of the seaports there is an end of it, for it would be mere
folly to search at random in the interior. Of course, before starting I
shall go to all the steamship offices in London, and find what vessels
sailed between the 17th and 24th of last month. That will give me a
margin of a week. If they did not go within a week after the robbery
they won't have gone at all.'

'Perhaps we had better join the ladies again or they may be suspecting
us of arranging some plan or other.'

'I will just go up and say good-bye and go. I hope I shall find Dorothy
looking better on my return. The troubles of the last eight weeks have
told their tale on her, but I hope that two months' change and then a
time of rest and quiet will soon set her up again.'

'Well, God bless you, Ned. I hope that your search will be successful;
but I shall not build upon it at all, and pray do not worry yourself if
you do not succeed.'

They went upstairs again. Mrs. Daintree had already gone to bed.

Dorothy was sitting with the tea-tray before her when her father and Ned
Hampton entered.

'I was just going to send down to you, father; I thought that you must
have nearly finished your cigars.'

'Thank you, I won't take any tea, Miss Hawtrey,' Captain Hampton said,
as she was about to pour out two cups. 'I only came up to say good-bye
and to wish you a pleasant time abroad. As I only came back half an hour
before I came across to you, I have a pile of notes to open and answer,
and as I shall sail in a day or two, I shall have my hands full.'

Dorothy stood up and shook hands.

'Good-bye, Captain Hampton; thank you for your good wishes; I hope that
you too will enjoy your trip.' It was said in the tone of voice in which
she might have said good-bye to the most ordinary acquaintance.

Captain Hampton dropped her hand abruptly, and shook hands heartily with
Mr. Hawtrey, who said, 'Good-bye, Ned; don't get yourself into any
scrapes with Indians, or grizzly bears, or anything of that sort.'

'I will try not to, sir,' and Captain Hampton turned and left the room.
Mr. Hawtrey turned as the door closed, and was about to say something
sharply, when he saw that there were tears in Dorothy's eyes. He gulped
down his irritation, took his cup of tea off the tray, and stirred it
with unnecessary violence. Then he abruptly asked Dorothy if her packing
was all finished.

'We must breakfast at seven sharp,' he said, 'so as to catch the boat
with a quarter of an hour to spare. The exodus has begun and there is
sure to be a crowd.'

'Ten minutes in the morning will finish everything,' Dorothy said. 'I
will be down at a quarter to seven. Mildred can put the rest of the
things in while we are at breakfast. All the boxes are packed and corded
but one, and can be brought down as soon as I am out of the room. Is
Captain Hampton going to shoot bears and that sort of thing, that you
gave him warning?'

'He does not seem to have any fixed plan, Dorothy, but I fancy from what
he said that he is more likely to wander about and look at the towns,
and such places as Niagara and the other places tourists go to as a
matter of course. He certainly did not say a word about shooting, and my
warning was in no way given seriously. If we were not going away
ourselves I should miss him amazingly, for a better fellow never trod in
shoe leather. Now, it's half-past ten, dear, and the sooner we are both
in bed the better, for we are to be called at six.'

While Ned Hampton had been away Jacob had spent his whole time in
wandering in the suburbs in the vain hope of catching sight of the man
and woman of whom he was in search. Ned had shown him the portrait, and
the boy had examined it closely.

'I shall know her when I see her, Captain; one doesn't see gals like
that every day. I seem to have seen some one like her, but I can't think
where. I am sure she was not so pretty as that, not by a long way; but
there is something in the picture that I seem to know.'

He was in when his master returned from the Hawtreys.

'No luck, Captain,' he said, apologetically, 'and it ain't been from
want of tramping about, for I have walked about every day from eight in
the morning and got home at evening that tired I could hardly get
upstairs to bed.'

'By the way, Jacob, have you ever thought of whom the likeness reminded
you? I told you to try and think who it was.'

'Yes, I know who it was now, but it ain't in our way at all. Four or
five years ago I lived up a court at Chelsea, not far from that big
hospital where they put the old soldiers. Well, there was a gal about
two years older than me lived up in the attic of one of the houses in
the court along with a woman. I don't remember what the old one's name
was now, but she used to drink awful. She was about fifteen--the gal I
mean--and I was about twelve. That gal had something of the look of the
lady in the picture, except that the picture is smiling, and she used in
general to look cross. I don't know what there was in her face that
comes back to me as being like the picture, but there must have been
something, else it would not have made me think of her.'

'Was the woman her mother?'

'I don't know, sir.'

'Well, you go down to that court to-morrow, Jacob, the first thing, and
find out if that woman is there still, and whether the girl is with her;
and if they have moved, try to find out where they have gone to. I don't
suppose there can be the slightest connection between that girl and the
woman that I am in search of, for the woman must have been educated to a
certain extent, or she would have been detected by the jeweller or Mr.
Singleton directly she spoke; still, as there is nothing else for you to
do, it would be just as well for you to make inquiries.

'There is something else I want to speak to you about, Jacob. In a day
or two I shall leave for America, and may be away some months--I only
settled the matter an hour ago--and I don't see what I am to do with
you; I don't know what sort of place you are fit for here, and if I did
know I don't see how I could get it for you.'

'Take me with you, Captain,' Jacob said promptly. 'Couldn't I be of use
to you there, sir, as well as here? I knows as I haven't done no good
yet; but it ain't been for want of trying, I will take my davy on that.'

'I don't say that you would not be of use Jacob, but you would add very
heavily to my expenses; the distances there are very great, and the
extra train fares would come to quite a large sum. You would not cost
much besides; not more perhaps than here.'

'I would not cost so much, Captain,' Jacob said confidently. 'I calls it
just chucking money away as it is now. I would be willing to live on dry
bread if you would take me. Three pennyworth a day would do me fine, and
I could take my old clothes with me and put them on at nights and sleep
anywhere. As to the trains, Captain, I could walk first-rate, and I
expect I could get a lift in a waggon sometimes.'

'Well, I will think it over, Jacob. I don't quite see what use you would
be to me, though there might be occasions when I might want some one to
keep watch. Well, go off to bed now. I shall have thought it over by the
time I see you in the middle of the day.'

While Captain Hampton sat smoking he finally settled the question.
Common-sense, as he told himself, was altogether against taking the boy.
His passage out and back in the steerage would cost eight or ten pounds,
there was no saying how much the railway fares would be if he got on
these people's track and found they had gone inland. It was not likely
that the boy could be of any material use to him.

The more he thought of it the more absurd the idea of taking him
appeared, and yet that was what he decided upon doing. It was a luxury,
but he had laid by money each year to enable him to enjoy his trip home
thoroughly. Circumstances had occurred that had altogether upset the
programme he had formed, and there was no reason why he should not enjoy
the luxury of having Jacob with him.

He had taken a strong liking to the boy. Jacob had attached himself to
him without any other reason than that he liked him, and he was certain
that he would serve him faithfully. He was as sharp as a needle, with
that precocious sharpness which comes of want and necessity. Supposing
these people were found, they would certainly have to be watched until
an extradition warrant could be obtained from England; but, above all,
in such a quest it would be a satisfaction to have some one to talk to,
some one who would be as keen in the search as he was himself.

'I don't suppose it will cost more than fifty pounds,' he said, finally,
'and that bit of extravagance won't hurt me.'

In the morning his first visit was to Danvers' chambers.

'I was wondering where you had hidden yourself, Hampton. I have seen
scarcely anything of you for the last fortnight.'

'I have been trying to get to the bottom of this affair of Hawtrey's on
my own account, and of course have failed. I am going for a run over to
the States. I don't care for the Continent in August and September, the
hotels are so frightfully crowded. It has struck me that it is possible
that these people may have gone to the States, and I will stop a day or
two in New York to see if I can find any trace of their having passed
through there. I found a letter from Hawtrey when I came home last
night, telling me all that you are doing. As you are acting in the
matter with Charles Levine I thought it would be a help to me if you
would get a letter for me from Scotland Yard to the police there, saying
that I was in search of two notorious swindlers, and asking them to give
me any assistance they can.'

'That is a very good idea, Hampton. It is quite on the cards that they
made for the States directly they had realised the money for their
plunder.'

'How long do you think they would have been doing that?'

'Two or three days. It is not likely they would sell the diamonds here.
The man probably started with them for Hamburg the night they were
stolen, and a few hours would be sufficient there.

'The robbery was on the 15th of last month. There is no reason why they
should not have sailed by the 20th from Liverpool; or he may have taken
her with him, Danvers, and they may have gone by one of the German
steamers.'

'That is likely enough,' Danvers agreed, 'if they have gone to the
States; and if there happened to be a steamer anywhere about at that
time, it is the route they would naturally choose. They would, of
course, be pretty sure that it would be some days before the robbery of
the diamonds would be discovered; still longer before it occurred to
anyone that Miss Hawtrey herself had nothing whatever to do with it.
Still, they would not care to delay, and would certainly prefer a route
that would obviate the necessity for their passing through England.

'Well, I will see about this matter at once, I have not been in
communication with Scotland Yard myself; of course, all that comes into
Levine's province. I will go down to him, and ask him to get the letter
at once. When are you leaving?'

'I have nothing to keep me here, and if I find there is a steamer going
on Wednesday I will take a berth in her; I can be ready to leave here
to-morrow night; indeed, I could leave to-night if necessary.'

'Wednesday is the regular mail day; that is, I know letters have to be
posted here on Tuesday afternoon. So you will get one of the fast boats
on Wednesday. You have heard all the fresh developments, I suppose, in
Miss Hawtrey's affair?'

Captain Hampton nodded.

'I tell you it surprised me, and it surprised Levine even more. He
scoffed altogether at the suggestion, of which Mr. Hawtrey told me you
were the author, that it was a case of personation, but these two cases
staggered him. I don't think that the getting money from Singleton would
have done so alone, but the getting the silk dresses seemed to him
conclusive. He quite believed that a girl might be driven to any straits
if threatened by a scoundrel who had a hold on her, but that Miss
Hawtrey should have taken to motiveless petty swindling seemed to him
incredible. I was not as surprised as he was, because, strong as the
case seemed against her, I could not bring myself to believe altogether
that she was guilty. I am heartily glad, at any rate, that we have
persuaded Hawtrey to pay the money if he cannot get any evidence in
support of the impersonation theory.'

'So am I, Danvers. Hawtrey told me that you both said he had no chance
whatever of getting a verdict, and I quite agree with you; but even if
the jury had been persuaded, numbers of the public would still have
believed her guilty, and the story would have told against her all her
life.'

'I am very sorry that I am engaged this evening, Hampton, or else we
might have dined together. It is one I cannot very well get out of. How
long do you mean to be away?'

'It is quite uncertain. If I can get any trace of these people I mean to
follow it up if it takes months to do it.'

The other nodded.

'I suppose Hawtrey told you that that engagement was broken off?' he
said carelessly.

'Yes,' Hampton said shortly, 'Hawtrey told me. I was very glad to hear
it, for this sort of thing might have been started on an even bigger
scale if she had married him, and might have ruined her life altogether.
It is bad enough as it is.'

'No means of writing to you, I suppose, while you are away?'

'I shall be glad if you will write to me to the Metropolitan Hotel, New
York, if anything should be heard of these people here or on the
Continent, and I shall telegraph to those hotel people two or three
times a week saying where I am, so that they can forward anything on to
me; but I don't think that letters will be likely to overtake me, as I
shall be moving about. I suppose you have arranged to telegraph at once
to him if you get any news from the foreign police?'

'Yes; he is going to send me a line three or four times a week with his
address for the next day or two.'

'Then in that case it would be of no use your writing to me, as he will
know directly you do if anything turns up. Well, good-bye, old fellow.'

'Good-bye. I suppose that you will be back by the end of the year? At
any rate, I hope so. I am off to-morrow myself; I am going to Vienna. I
have a case coming on next sessions and want to see some people there,
so I can combine business with pleasure. I think it possible that I may
go on from there to Constantinople, and then go down to Greece, and home
by water. I should have started a week ago if it had not been for this
business of Hawtrey's, which seemed at one time to look so serious that
I really did not like to go away until something was settled.'

Captain Hampton's arrangements occupied him little more than
half-an-hour. He bought a case of cartridges for his revolver, took a
passage for himself, and one in the steerage for Jacob. He hesitated as
to whether to get the boy some more clothes, but decided to put that off
till he got out, as there might be some slight difference in make that
would attract attention; the only thing he bought for him was a small
portmanteau. After taking his passage, therefore, he went home and read
the paper till Jacob came in.

'Well, Jacob, to begin with, what is your news?'

'The woman died two years ago, sir; drank herself to death, the
neighbours say. The gal had left her two years before. No one knows
where she went to, no one saw her go. The woman let out some time
afterwards as she had gone: "A friend had took her," she said; but no
one heard her say anything more. She wasn't a great one for talking. The
woman wasn't buried by the parish; an undertaker came and said he had
been sent to do the job, and she was buried decent. There were a hearse
and a carriage, and some of the people in the court went to the funeral,
'cause she wasn't a bad sort when she was sober. And please, Captain, am
I going with you?'

'Yes, I have made up my mind to take you.'

The boy threw up the cap that he held in his hand to the ceiling and
caught it again. 'Thank you, sir,' he said; 'I laid awake all night
thinking on it. I will do all that you tell me, sir, and if I don't act
right, just you turn me adrift out there--there ain't nothing as would
be too bad for me.'



CHAPTER XI


The Hawtreys were ten days out from England, and were spending the day
in a trip up Lake Lucerne. Not as yet were the great caravansaries that
have well nigh spoiled Lucerne and converted the most picturesque town
in Europe into a line of brand new hotels that might just as well be at
Brighton, Ostend, or any other watering place, so much as thought of.
Not as yet had the whole of the middle class of England discovered that
a month on the Continent was one of the necessities of life, nor had the
great summer invasion from the other side of the Atlantic begun. Such
hotels as existed were, however, crowded when the season was over in
London, and those who had met so frequently during the last four months
came across each other at every turn, in steamboats, diligences, and in
hotels. Not as yet had the steam whistle seriously invaded Switzerland,
and travellers were content to jog quietly along enjoying the beauties
of Nature instead of merely rushing through them from point to point.
Mr. Singleton was with the Hawtreys. He had said good-bye when he left
them on their last evening at home, without a hint of his intention of
accompanying them, but he was quietly walking up and down the deck of
the boat at Dover when they went on board.

'Why, there is Mr. Singleton, father,' Dorothy exclaimed in surprise, as
her eye fell upon him as she went down the gangway. 'Why, he did not say
anything about coming over when we said good-bye to him last night.'

'Well, my dear,' her godfather said, as he came up to them, 'you did not
expect to see me.'

'No, indeed, Mr. Singleton. Why didn't you say yesterday when we saw you
that you were going across to-day?'

'I don't know that I had quite made up my mind, Dorothy. I had been
thinking about it; but I often think of things and nothing comes of it.
After I had left you I thought it over seriously. I had not been abroad
for some years, and I said to myself "If I don't go now I suppose I
shall never go at all. Here is a good opportunity. It is lonely work
when one gets the wrong side of sixty, to travel alone; at my age one
does not make acquaintances at every turn, as young fellows do. No doubt
I should meet men I know, but, as a rule, people one knows are not so
fond of each other's society as they are in London. I think my old
friend Hawtrey, and my little god-daughter, would not mind putting up
with me, and I can travel with them till they begin to get tired of me,
and then jog quietly back my own way."'

'Then you will stop with us all the time, Mr. Singleton. I am delighted,
and I am sure father is, too.'

'That I am,' Mr. Hawtrey said heartily, understanding perhaps better
than Dorothy did why his friend had at the last moment decided to go
with them. 'When did you come down?'

'I came by the same train you did. I came straight on board, for I have
brought my man with me and he is looking after my things. I have got
into regular old bachelor ways, dear, and am so accustomed to have my
hot water brought in of a morning, and my clothes laid out for me, and
my boxes packed and corded, that I should feel like a fish out of water
without them.'

'It is your first trip abroad, isn't it? At least, I know you went to
Paris last year, but I don't think you got any further?'

'No, we stayed there a fortnight, but that was all.'

'Well, you had better take your things down now,' Mr. Hawtrey broke in,
'in case you have to lie down. There seems to be a fresh wind blowing
outside.'

'Oh, I don't mean to be ill, father. I think it was a rougher day than
this last time, and I did not go below. Still, I may as well secure a
place.'

'This is awfully good of you, Singleton,' Mr. Hawtrey said; 'I know you
are doing it out of regard for her.'

'A little that way, perhaps, Hawtrey, and a good deal because I am sure
I shall enjoy myself greatly. As a rule, I should be very chary of
offering to join anyone travelling; a third person is often a nuisance,
just as much so in travelling as at other times. I own that I don't much
care for going about by myself, but I thought you really would be glad
to have me with you. Dorothy has had so much to try her of late that I
felt this was really a case where a third person would be of advantage.
I can help to keep up conversation and prevent her from thinking and
worrying over these things. Besides, there is no doubt you will be
running continually against people you know. The announcement that will
appear to-morrow of the breaking off of her engagement will set people
talking again. It is just one of the things that the last arrival from
England will mention, as being the latest bit of society news, and I
think, somehow, that three people together can face public attention
better than two can.'

'Thank you, old friend; it will be better for her in every way. I am not
a good hand at making conversation, and it will be the thing of all
others for Dorothy; she always chatters away with you more than with
anyone else, and I can assure you that I feel your coming a perfect
god-send. She scarcely said a word coming down this morning, and though
I tried occasionally to talk about our trip, she only answered with an
evident effort. I am afraid it will take some time to get all this out
of her mind.'

'It would be strange if it didn't, Hawtrey. For a girl who has
practically never known a care to find herself suddenly suspected and
talked of, first as having compromised herself with some unknown person,
and then as being a thief, is enough to give her a tremendous shaking
up.

'Then the breaking off of her engagement was another trial. I don't say
that it was the same thing as if she had loved the man with a real
earnest love; still, it is a trial for any girl to break off a thing of
that sort, and to know that it will be a matter of general talk and
discussion, especially coming at the top of the other business.

'Here she comes again, and looking a hundred per cent. better than she
did before she caught sight of you, Singleton. I shall begin to be
veritably jealous of you.'

They had stopped two days in Paris, and as much at Basle, and had now
been four days at Lucerne, where they had met many of their own set. The
news had already been told, and Dorothy was conscious of being regarded
with a certain curiosity at the _table d'hôte_ as the girl who had just
broken off a brilliant match, but she betrayed no signs of consciousness
that she was the object of attention, and those who had been most
intimate with her, and had been inclined to condole with her, felt that
in face of the light-hearted gaiety with which she chatted with her
father and Mr. Singleton, and the brightness of her looks, anything of
the kind would be out of place.

'She looks quite a different girl to what she did during the season,'
one of her acquaintances said to Mrs. Dean, who had arrived at Lucerne
the day before the Hawtreys. 'I suppose she never really cared for
Halliburn after all. No doubt those curious stories that there were
about had something to do with the affair being broken off. For my part
I think it would have been better taste for her----'

'To have gone about with a long face. I don't agree with you at all,'
Mrs. Dean replied warmly. 'I am an old friend of hers and am delighted
to see her look so much happier and better. I said a month ago that I
thought the marriage would never come off. I was at a dinner party with
them, and Halliburn was there. If I had been Dorothy Hawtrey I would
have given him his _congé_ that evening. His conduct was in the worst
taste. Instead of showing the world how entirely he trusted her and how
he despised these reports, he was so fidgety and irritable that it was
impossible to avoid noticing it. The man is a peer and a rising
politician, a clever man and a large landowner, but for all that he is
not a gentleman. I always said that he was not good enough for Dorothy,
and I am heartily glad she has broken it off. At any rate, it is quite
evident that she feels no regret about it, whatever was the actual cause
of the rupture. She might laugh and talk and try to look
unconcerned--any girl of spirit would do that under the
circumstances--but she couldn't have got her natural colour back again
or have made her eyes laugh as well as her lips, unless she had really
felt relieved at being free again.'

Mrs. Dean had been a good deal with the Hawtreys during their four days
at Lucerne, and Dorothy had felt her society a great assistance to her
in supporting the first brunt of public remark. She was the only person
who had spoken to Dorothy of what all the others were talking about.

They were standing together on the deck of a steamer going up the lake,
when Mrs. Dean said suddenly,

'I know, Dorothy, you will not mind an old friend speaking to you, and I
really want to congratulate you heartily on breaking off your match. I
don't know the exact reasons that influenced you, but I am sure that you
were right. I don't think you would ever have been really happy with
him; there would never have been any true sympathy between you. Some
women could be content with rank and wealth, but I am sure you could
not.'

'No. I think it was a mistake altogether, Mrs. Dean,' Dorothy said
thoughtfully. 'I did not become engaged to him for that--I mean for rank
and wealth. I don't say they did not count for something, but I honestly
did think I liked him, and there was no real reason for its being broken
off, except that I found that I had made a mistake. I should not say so,
of course, to anyone but an old friend like you. I shall never say
anything about it, but let people think what they like; and I know that
you will never repeat it.'

'Certainly not, Dorothy; but if you don't say it in words I think
everyone could see that, at least, there is no regret on your part at
the match being broken off. The wonder won't last long--another week and
something fresh will be talked of, and by next year the whole affair
will have died away. People have wonderfully short memories in society.
Do you know, I rather take credit to myself as a prophetess, for on the
evening of that dinner party where I last met you and Halliburn
together, I told Captain Hampton that I didn't think your match would
ever come off. By the bye, what a nice fellow he is. He is wonderfully
little changed since I knew him as a boy down in Lincolnshire, before he
went into the army. Sometimes boys change so when they become men, that
it is quite a pleasure to meet one who has grown up exactly as you might
have expected he would do. You saw a good deal of him I believe?'

'Yes, at the beginning of the season. We did not see so much of him
afterwards. I don't think he is so little changed as you do.'

Mrs. Dean gave a quick, keen glance at Dorothy, who was looking a little
dreamily at the mountains at the head of the lake.

'No?' she said carelessly. 'Well, of course, you knew him better than I
did; he was so often over at your father's. You were but a child then
and I daresay that you endowed him, as most young girls do boys older
than themselves, with all sorts of impossible qualities.'

'No; I don't know that it was that,' Dorothy said; 'but he seems to me
to be changed a good deal in many respects; he was almost like an elder
brother of mine then.'

'Yes, dear, but then, you see, when he came back he found that another
had stepped into a much closer place than even an elder brother's, and
he could hardly have assumed his former relationship. These brother and
sisterhoods are very nice when the young lady is twelve and the boy
eighteen or nineteen, but they are a little difficult to maintain when
the boy is a man of six-and-twenty and the girl eighteen, and is engaged
to somebody else who might, not unreasonably, object to the
relationship. A boy and girl friendship is not to be picked up again
after a lapse of six years just where it was dropped; it would be very
ridiculous to suppose that it could be so. It seems to me that you have
been expecting too much from him. For my part I think he has changed
very little.'

'I did not expect anything of him, Mrs. Dean, one way or the other. I
had often thought of him while he was away, because he was very kind to
me in the old days. I used to write to him when he first went out, and
he wrote to me. Of course that dropped. But when he came home, just at
first, it seemed to me that he was exactly what I expected, though I
found, in some respects, that he was changed. However, I don't know why
we are talking about him. Captain Hampton has gone to America, I
believe, and it is likely enough we may not see him again before he goes
back to India.' Then she changed her tone. 'It is rather a sore subject
to me, Mrs. Dean; it is the last of my illusions of childhood gone. I
quite agree with you that it was very foolish of me to think that we
could drop quite into our old relations, especially as things stood, but
at least I expected something and was disappointed. He has been very
kind and has taken an immense deal of trouble to assist my father to get
to the bottom of some of the things that have been troubling us. I have
not the least ground for complaint--on the contrary, I have every reason
to be grateful to him; but, as I say, I have, all the same, been
disappointed in some of my illusions, and I would rather not talk about
it. What a change it is to be on this quiet lake and among these great
silent hills after six months in London; there one always seemed to be
in a bustle and fever, here one feels as if nothing that happened could
matter.'

'The London season is pleasant enough,' Mrs. Dean said, 'and though this
is all very charming and delightful for a change, and very restful, I
fancy that before long we should get tired of this changeless calm of
Nature and begin to long for, I won't say excitement, but the pleasure
of society--of people you like. We only came up to town for three
months, and I own that I enjoyed it heartily, there is so much to look
at. I have no daughters to marry off, no personal interest in the
comedy, so I look on and like it, and enjoy my home during the other
nine months all the better for having been away. We do not often come
abroad. I suppose now these railways are being made everywhere there
will be a great deal more travelling about, but I don't think we should
often come. You talk of the bustle of life in London, it is nothing to
the bustle of travelling. As soon as one gets settled down at an hotel
it is time to be going on. If I come out again next year I shall
persuade my husband to take a little châlet high up on the hill there,
where one can rest and take one's fill of the view of those mountains. I
shall bring plenty of work with me, and my own maid; then I could sit in
the shade and pretend to embroider and talk to her while William read
his "Times" and amused himself in his own way, which lies chiefly in
going about with a hammer and collecting geological specimens.'

This last was addressed partly to Mr. Dean, who just then came up with
his friends.

'I fancy you would be tired of that sort of life long before I should,
Sarah,' he said laughing. 'Women always seem to have an idea, Hawtrey,
that one rock is as good as another, and that if a man goes out with a
hammer it can make no difference to him whether he brings in twenty
specimens from a radius of a hundred yards from a house or the same
number collected during a fifty miles ramble. Personally I should not at
all mind making my head quarters for six weeks or so on this lake,
providing one did not go up too high. One wants to be within a
quarter-of-an-hour's walk of a village, where one can hire a boat, to
land where one likes, and make excursions among the hills. I should not
want to do any snow-climbing, but there are plenty of problems one would
be glad to go into, if one could investigate them, without that. It is
really a treat to me, after Lincolnshire, to get into a country where
you can go into geological problems without having to begin by digging.'

'I may frankly say that I know nothing about it,' Mr. Hawtrey replied.
'The only problem connected with digging that I have been interested in
is how to get the heaviest crops possible out of the ground. Well, here
we are at the head of the lake. It will be two hours before a steamer
goes back. I propose lunch in the first place, and then we shall have
time for a walk to Althorp, where we can examine the market-place where
William Tell shot at the apple; that is to say, if--as now seems
doubtful--William Tell ever had an existence at all.'

'I won't have it doubted, Mr. Hawtrey,' Mrs. Dean exclaimed. 'It would
be the destruction of another of one's cherished heroes of childhood,'
and she glanced with a little smile at Dorothy, who smiled back but
shook her head decidedly.

A group of people were gathered on the wharf to see the steamer come in.

'Why, there are the Fortescues--father, mother, and daughters,' Mrs.
Dean exclaimed, 'Captain Armstrong and Mr. Fitzwarren. One cannot get
out of London.'

A moment later they were exchanging greetings on the wharf. The
Fortescues had arrived that morning in a postcarriage from Milan.
Captain Armstrong and Fitzwarren had got in an hour before by diligence
from Como. Both parties were going down by the boat to Lucerne.

'It is too hot for anything in Italy,' Mrs. Fortescue said; 'it was
foolish of us trying it. Of course, we ought not to have gone over there
until the end of September, or else in May. May was out of the question
because of the House. September was equally so, because of the shooting;
so my husband paired till the end of the session, and we started early
last month. We have been doing Florence and Bologna and Venice, and the
places along to Milan, and then I struck. The heat was unbearable; so
now we shall spend a fortnight in Switzerland before we go back. I
suppose there are lots of people one knows at Lucerne?'

'But you won't be back in time for the 1st, Mrs. Fortescue, if you do
that.'

'No; we have lately settled to give up the idea. It would be such a pity
now we are here to deprive the girls of the pleasure of a ramble through
Switzerland. So Mr. Fortescue has made up his mind to sacrifice himself,
and we have promised faithfully that he shall be back in time for the
pheasants.'

Mr. Fortescue, a tall, powerfully-built specimen of English squiredom,
shrugged his shoulders unseen by his wife. He was not altogether
unaccustomed to sacrifices. His career as a legislator was altogether a
sacrifice. He hated London, he hated Parliament, where his voice was
never heard except upon some question connected with the agricultural
interest, and if he had had his own way he would never have been seen
outside his native county. But as Mrs. Fortescue held that it was
clearly his duty, for the sake of his family, that he should represent
his division, and that the season should be spent in town, he had in
this, as indeed in almost every other matter, to give way. Experience
had taught him that it was well to do so at once, for that it always
came to the same thing in the end. Upon the present occasion he had
indeed remonstrated. He hated travelling, and was longing to be at his
country seat; and to keep him out another five weeks was a clear and
distinct breach of the agreement that had been made before starting.

While they were talking with Mr. Hawtrey and Mrs. Dean, the girls and
Dorothy, who had been intimate in London, were holding a little colloquy
apart.

'Is it true, dear--the news we heard at Milan just before we started?'
the eldest asked.

'I suppose I know what you mean, Ada. Yes, it is quite true, and best
for all parties; so we need not say anything more about it.'

'You are looking wonderfully well, Dorothy,' Clara, the younger of the
two girls, remarked, to change the subject, which, she saw, was not to
be discussed. 'It is quite refreshing to see you. We are feeling quite
washed out. Talk about the season! I felt quite fresh when I left town
to what I do now; we have scarcely known what it is to be cool for the
last month, and there has been no sleeping at night, half the time,
because of the mosquitos. It is nice meeting Captain Armstrong and Mr.
Fitzwarren here, isn't it?'

Dorothy said 'Yes,' but she did not feel at all sure about it. Captain
Armstrong, who was in the Blues, had been among her most persistent
admirers at the beginning of the season, and she had refused him a month
before her engagement to Lord Halliburn. Doubtless, he also would have
heard of her engagement being off, and might renew his attentions. He
was a very popular man, and she was conscious that she liked him, and
had said no, if not less decidedly, at least after more hesitation and
doubt than she had done to any of her previous admirers. She felt sure
that she should give the same answer if he ever repeated the question,
but she did not want it repeated, and she wished that they had not met
again, just at this time.

The awkwardness of the rejection had long since passed, they had met and
danced together a score of times since. She had said when she rejected
him, 'Let us be friends, Captain Armstrong; I like you very much, though
I don't want to marry you;' and they had been friends, and had met and
chatted just as if that interview had not taken place. The only allusion
he had ever made to it had been when they met for the first time after
her engagement had been announced, and he had said, 'So Halliburn is to
be the lucky man, Miss Hawtrey. I don't think it quite fair that he
should have all the good things of life,' and she had replied, 'There
are good things for us all, Captain Armstrong, if we do but look for
them, and not, like children, set our minds on what we can't get.' 'I
think I would rather see you marry him than most people, Miss Hawtrey,
perhaps because he is altogether unlike myself.'

She had made no answer at the time, but had thought afterwards of what
he had said. Yes, the two men were very unlike and there was, no doubt,
something in what Captain Armstrong had said. She thought that if she
loved a man she could bear better to see him marry a woman altogether
unlike herself in every respect than one who resembled her closely,
though perhaps she could hardly explain to herself why this should be
so.

They were a merry party on board the steamer going down the lake, and
the new comers took rooms at the same hotel as the Hawtreys.

'Well, what do you mean to do, Armstrong?' Fitzwarren asked, as they
strolled out to smoke a cigar by the lake after the rest of the party
had gone to bed. 'You know what I mean. You told me the other day about
your affair with Miss Hawtrey.'

'I should not have said anything about it,' the other returned, 'if I
had had any idea that her engagement with Halliburn would come to
nothing. We had been talking over that business of hers, and I expressed
my opinion pretty strongly as to Halliburn's behaviour to her in public
and said that I wondered she stood it. Then getting heated I was ass
enough to say that had I been in his position, I should have behaved in
a different sort of way, and generally expressed my contempt for him.
Then you asked why hadn't I put myself in his position, and I told you
it was no fault of mine, for that I had tried and failed, when you made
some uncomplimentary remarks as to her taste, and we nearly had a row.

'You ask me what I am going to do. Of course, if we had not heard that
news when we got to Milan I should have gone this afternoon, directly we
arrived here, to take my place in the first diligence that started, no
matter where. Now I shall stay and try my luck again. It is quite
evident by her manner that she never really cared for the fellow, and
that this breaking off of the engagement is a great relief to her. I
never saw her in higher spirits, and I am sure there was nothing forced
about them. I am sure she would not have accepted him unless she thought
she liked him; she is not the sort of girl to marry for position alone,
though I dare say if it had not been for the other business she would
have married him, and would have believed all her life that he was a
very fine fellow. Well, you see, he came very badly out of it, and
showed himself to her in his true light as a selfish, cold-hearted,
miserable little prig, and, you see, directly her eyes were opened she
threw him over. So it seems to me that there is a chance.'

'One could not have met her again under more favourable circumstances.
One gets ten times the opportunities travelling about together that one
does in a London season. However, I think my chance is worth very
little. She said honestly that she liked me very much before, and I
could see it really pained her to refuse me. I don't think it was
Halliburn who stood in the way, although he was attentive at that time.'

'I should have thought that would have been all in your favour if she
acknowledged that she liked you very much, and was cut up at refusing
you. Why should she not like you better when she sees more of you?'

'Because, Fitzwarren, it was not the right sort of liking. We were, if I
may so express it, chums; and I am afraid we shall never get beyond that
on her side. You see, a woman wants something ideal. Now there is
nothing ideal about me. I suppose I may say I am a decent, pleasant sort
of fellow, but there are no what you may call possibilities about me.
Now Halliburn, you see, was full of possibilities. He had the reputation
of being somehow a superior sort of young man--and there is no doubt he
is clever in his way--he will probably some day be in the Cabinet, and
the idea of one's husband being a ruler of men is fascinating to the
female mind. I suppose there was no woman ever married a curate who had
not a private belief that he would some day be an archbishop. Now there
is not a shadow of this sort of thing about me. I may possibly get to
command the regiment some day, and then when I have held the command for
the usual time I shall be shelved, and shall, I suppose, retire
gracefully to my estate in Yorkshire. I suppose I am good enough for the
ruck of girls, but I feel sure that I am not up to Dorothy Hawtrey's
ideal, and that though this may end by our being greater friends than
before, I doubt whether there is much chance of anything else coming of
it.'

'It is no use your running yourself down in that way, Armstrong. When a
man stands six foot two and is one of the best-looking fellows in
London, and one of the most popular men, and is not only a captain of
the Blues, but has a fine estate down in Yorkshire, he ought to have a
fair chance with almost any girl.'

'Even accepting all you say as gospel, Fitzwarren, it comes to the same
thing. It might succeed with most women, as you say, but I don't think
it will with her. It may make her like me, but I don't think it will
make her love me. I don't think she is a bit worldly, and I know by what
she let drop one day when we were chatting together, when we got rather
confidential at the beginning of the season, that she had got the idea
in her head that a woman ought to respect her husband, and look up to
him, and had in fact formed a distinct notion of the sort of man she
should choose; and I felt at the time, though there was nothing whatever
personal in our talk, I was the very last sort of fellow she would
choose for her husband. Well, I shall try again; I have won more than
one steeplechase after a horse going down with me at a bad fence. This
is the same sort of thing after all; it is of no use mounting and going
on again when you see another fellow sailing away ahead, and close to
the winning post, but if he has fallen too, and nothing seems to have a
better chance than you have, a man who gives up the race because he has
had an awkward purler is no better than a cur.'

'As it does not make much difference to me which way we go, Armstrong, I
am willing enough to keep with you for a bit, and see how things go; but
I don't suppose I shall be able to stand it long, and I shall reserve to
myself the right of striking off on my own account, or joining someone
else if I find your society insupportable.'

'That is all right, old fellow; our arrangement was to travel together.
Of course, if I give up travelling and take to loitering about, you are
free to do what you like, and I am the last man to wish you to alter
your plans because I have changed my mind. As a rule, I think it is
always wise to steer clear of people one knows when one is travelling,
and to be free to do exactly as one likes, which one never can if one
gets mixed up with a party. I have always been dead against that. They
want to see things you don't want to see, they want to stay in towns and
to potter about picture galleries and churches, while you want to go
right away up a hill----'

'That is not the worst of it, Armstrong, it is the danger.'

'The danger? What do you mean?'

'The danger of going too far. A flirtation means nothing in town, but it
is apt to become a very serious matter when you are travelling about
together. A row in a boat on an evening like this, or, as you say, going
about to churches and picture galleries, when you are dead certain to
get separated from the rest of the party, or a climb through a pine
forest--these things are all full of peril, and you are liable to find
yourself saying things that there is no getting out of, and there you
are--engaged to perhaps the last girl that you would, had you calmly and
patiently thought the matter out, have gone in for.'

Captain Armstrong laughed.

'Ah, it is all very well for you to laugh. In the first place you have
been what is called a general flirt for years, and would not be
suspected of serious intentions, unless you went very far indeed; and in
the second place you could afford to marry a girl without a penny if you
had any inclination to do so. It is a different thing altogether with
fellows like myself, who have no choice between remaining single and
marrying a wife with some money. There are some luxuries I absolutely
cannot afford, and among them I may reckon travelling about in a party
in which are some tocherless damsels--for instance the Fortescues, who,
I daresay, will for the next ten days or a fortnight travel with the
Hawtreys. They are nice, unaffected girls, pretty and pleasant, but they
have three elder brothers. I could not afford one of them. My line in
life is clearly chalked out. Not for me is the gilded heiress; her
friends will look after her too sharply for that. I have pictured to
myself that in another eight or ten years I may be able to secure the
affections of the relict of some respectable man who has left her with a
snug jointure. She will not be too young, but just approaching nearly
enough to middle age to begin to fear being laid on the shelf. Then in
the comfortable home that she will provide for me I can journey
pleasantly and contentedly down the vale of life.'

Captain Armstrong burst into a loud laugh. 'You will never do it,
Fitzwarren, never. There is a vein of romance in your composition that
will be too much for you. It is always young men who fancy they are
prudent who end by falling victims to some nice girl without a penny.
You may take all the precautions you like, walk as circumspectly as you
will, but when the time comes you will succumb without a struggle.
However, do not let me lead you into the net of the fowler; keep away
from the snare as long as you can; when your fate comes upon you you
will be captured, and I doubt whether you will make as much as a
struggle.'

'We shall see, Armstrong; at present you serve as a terrible example.
Well, I suppose we may as well turn in.'

There was a great consultation after breakfast the next morning. Mr.
Hawtrey had already marked out his own line of travel and had arranged
for a carriage by which they would travel by easy stages through Brienz,
Interlaken, Thun, Freyburg, and then on to Lausanne. They would stay for
a week by the Lake of Geneva and then take another carriage to Martigny.
Beyond that nothing was at present settled, but they would make Martigny
their head quarters for some little time. The Fortescues had no
particular plan and were quite ready to fall into that of their friends,
though, as they had as yet seen nothing of Lucerne, and intended to make
some excursions from there, they said that they must stop there for a
few days, but would join the others at Martigny.

The girls indeed would gladly have gone forward at once, being really
fond of Dorothy, and thinking that it would be nice to travel together,
but their mother overruled this.

'No, no, my dears, we must see what there is to be seen, and it would be
a great pity to hurry away at once. We shall all meet again at Martigny,
and may, perhaps, have a fortnight there together. Besides, there are
inconveniences in two parties travelling together. One may happen to
have faster horses than the other, and be kept waiting for their meals
until the other arrives; then they don't always want to stop at the same
places, or for the same time. Whoever gets in first may be able to find
accommodation at an inn, while the second one may find it full. Don't
you think so, Mr. Singleton?'

'Yes, I quite agree with you. Two parties are apt to be a tie upon each
other. I think that your plan that we should all meet at Martigny is the
wisest.'

'What are your plans, Captain Armstrong?'

'Beyond the fact that we have a month to wander about before we are due
in London we have no particular plans. We, of course, stick to diligence
routes; bachelors do not indulge in the luxury of posting, and, indeed,
I greatly prefer the banquette of a diligence to a carriage--you get a
better view, you meet other people, and learn more of the country. We
intend to do a little climbing--I don't mean high peaks, I have no
ambition that way whatever, but some of the passes and glaciers. I was
at Martigny last year; it is, perhaps, the best central position for the
mountains, and I think it is very likely that we shall be there while
you are.'

'I hope you will,' Mr. Hawtrey said cordially. 'These three young ladies
will be only too glad of two stalwart guides. As far as carriages can
go, or even donkeys, we elders can accompany them, but when it comes to
scrambling about on glaciers, or doing anything like climbing, we are
getting past that.'

'Nonsense, father,' Dorothy exclaimed. 'Why, you are often out for eight
or ten hours over the turnip fields with a gun, you know; you could walk
four times as far as I could.'

'Not twice as far, Dorothy. I have known you walk fifteen miles more
than once, and I certainly should not care about walking thirty. But
that has nothing to do with climbing, which is a question of weight and
wind. You have only half my weight to carry. I am sure that after
dancing through a London season your lungs ought to be in perfect order.
However, I dare say I shall be able to go with you if your views are not
too ambitious; but the mania for climbing always seems to seize young
people when they get among mountains, though for my part I prefer the
view in a valley to one on the top of a hill. At any rate we shall be
glad to see you both, Captain Armstrong, at Martigny, whether we
requisition your services as guides or not. I am sorry, Dorothy, the
Deans are not coming our way. He told me yesterday they were going to
Zurich, and then by Constance into Bavaria.'

'I am sorry, too, father; I like them so much, and it would have been
very pleasant indeed if they had been with us.'



CHAPTER XII


During the voyage Captain Hampton saw but little of Jacob. Each day he
went to the rope across the deck marking the division between the cabin
and the steerage passengers, and the boy at once came running up to him.
His report always was that he was getting on 'fust rate,' while each day
his wonder at the amount of water increased.

'I would not have believed if I hadn't seen it that there could be so
much water, Captain. I can't think where it all comes from. I heard some
of them say it was tremendous deep--ten times as deep as that monument
with the chap on the top of it in Trafalgar Square. Why, it must have
rained for years and years to have got such a lot of water here as this.
And it tastes bad. I had a wash in a bucket on deck this morning, and
some of the water got in my mouth and it wur as nasty as could be--awful
it wur. What can make it like that? Why the water in the Thames looks
ten times as dirty, but it don't taste particular nasty for all that.'

'I will tell you about it some day, Jacob; it is too long to go into
now. You remind me of it some evening, when we are at a lonely inn, with
nothing to do. How do you get on at night?'

'I sleeps all right, sir; it is awful hot down there in them bunks, as
they call 'em, one above another, just like a threepenny lodging-house
where I used to sleep sometimes when I had had good luck. The first
night or two was bad, there was no mistake about it. Most of 'em was
awful ill, and made noises enough to frighten one. I could not think
what made them so; it seemed to me as if someone must have put pison in
the food, and I kept on expecting I was going to be took bad too; but a
young chap tells me in the morning as most people is so the first day
they goes to sea. If they wur to drink that water I could understand it,
but it is all right what they gives us; and there are some of them as
grumbles at the food, but I calls it just bang up. How much more of this
water is there, sir?'

'About five more days' steaming, Jacob; it is a twelve-days' voyage from
Liverpool to New York. I suppose some day they will get to do it in six,
for they keep on building faster and faster steamers.'

'We are going wonderful fast now,' the boy said; 'a chap's cap as was
sitting up in the end there blew off yesterday, and I ran to keep
alongside with it, but it went a lot faster than I could run. I shall be
glad when it is over, Captain; not as I ain't jolly, for I never was so
jolly before, but I ain't doing nothing for you here, and I wants to be
at work for you somehow. If they would let me wait on you, and put stuff
on those white shoes, I should not so much mind.'

'I am very well waited on, Jacob, and if you were to try to wait on me
at table while the vessel is rolling, you would be pretty sure to spill
a plate of soup down my neck, or something of that sort. You amuse
yourself in your own way, and don't worry about me; when there is
anything to do I know you will do it.'

'I find you won't land till to-morrow, Jacob,' Captain Hampton said, as
the vessel neared the wharf. 'Here is the name of the hotel where I
shall be, in case by any chance I should miss you. They say you will
probably come ashore at nine o'clock in the morning.'

'Why can't we all land at once, sir?'

'It is late now, Jacob, and it is as much as they will be able to do to
get through the cabin passengers' baggage before dark; indeed it is
probable they will only examine the light luggage.'

'What do they want to examine it for, sir? What business have they with
your luggage?'

'They always do it when you go into a foreign country. They do it in
England too, when you come in from abroad; everything has to be opened.
There are some things that pay duty going into a country, and they want
to see that you have got none of them in your boxes; for, if you have,
you must pay for them.'

'Then must I open my box if they ask me?'

'You must, Jacob.'

'And let them rummage my things about?'

'If they want to, Jacob; but I don't suppose they search the steerage
baggage much; they will probably ask you who you are, and where you are
going, and you must tell them that you are my servant, and that I am at
the Metropolitan Hotel. But I am pretty sure to be here to see you
through.'

However, at half-past eight, as Captain Hampton went to the door of the
hotel with the intention of taking a vehicle down to the wharf, he saw
Jacob coming along carrying his little portmanteau.

'Why, Jacob, I was just starting to the wharf. They told me that you
were not to land till nine.'

'They said so last night, Captain, but they began just about seven. I
heard there was another ship come in and they wanted to get us out of
the way. I was one of the fust ashore, and it didn't take many minutes
afore I was out of the shed where they looks at the things. I says to
the first chap I meets, "Where can I take a 'bus to the Metropolitan
Hotel?" "You won't get no 'bus here," says he. "How far is it?" "Better
than two miles," he says. That settled it, and I started off to walk. I
ought to have been here sooner, but some one I asked the way of put me
wrong, I suppose, and a box like this feels wonderful heavier the second
mile than it does the first.'

An arrangement had already been made for Jacob's board and lodging, and
a messenger boy showed him up to his little room at the top of the
house, and then took him down to a room where the few white servants in
the hotel had their meals. In half an hour he returned to the hall which
served as smoking-room and general meeting-place. Captain Hampton had
already had a talk with the clerk.

'I have not seen a young woman like that,' the latter said positively,
when the photograph was produced, 'but then if the man had registered
and written her name and his she might not have come up to the desk. If
you go up to the entrance of the dining-room and ask the negro who takes
the hats there, he will tell you for certain. He has a wonderful head,
that chap has. Sometimes there are as many as three hundred come in to
dinner between five and seven. He takes their hats and puts them on the
pegs and racks, and as they come out he will give every man his own hat
and never make a mistake. I never saw such a chap for remembering
faces.'

The negro replied unhesitatingly, on seeing the photograph, that no such
lady had taken any meals at the hotel.

'De ladies don't come into my department, sah, but I notice them as they
goes in and out, and if that young lady had been here I should have
noticed her for sartin.' Captain Hampton returned to the clerk in the
hall, who, as he happened for the moment to be disengaged, was not
averse to a talk. 'The darkey has not seen her.'

'Then you may be sure she hasn't been here. Yes, I reckon that is about
the list of the hotels most of the passengers by the steamers go to,' he
said, as he glanced down a list of names Captain Hampton had got a
fellow passenger to draw up. 'I will put down two or three others; they
are not first-class, but they are a good deal used by people to whom a
dollar a day more or less makes a difference. And so you say they have
been doing some swindling across the water. She don't look that sort
either from her photograph, but they get the things up so one can never
tell. I see you haven't got any German hotels; and if, as you say, you
think they came by the line from Hamburg, they might have gone to one of
them.'

'I should not think it likely they spoke German,' Captain Hampton said.

'Oh, that makes no odds. The waiters all talk English, and like enough
on the voyage they would make friends with some Germans who have been
here before, and they would recommend them one of their own people.'

'That is probable; and they would be likely to go there too,' Captain
Hampton agreed, 'because anyone coming over to search for them would be
less likely to search in such places than in houses like yours.'

'Then, again, you see, they might have gone straight through without
going into an hotel at all. That would be the safest way, because then
there would be no trace left of them.'

'But I suppose not many people do that.'

'Oh, yes, they do--lots of them. A man saves his hotel bills if he goes
straight to the train, and there is only one move; but, of course, that
is only when a man has quite made up his mind where he is going. As a
rule, when a Britisher comes here he waits a few days and asks
questions, and tries to find out about things, unless he is going
somewhere straight to a friend. Is that boy looking for you? he has been
standing there staring at you for the last five minutes.'

'Oh, yes, that is my servant. Will you give me the address of the
Central Police Station?'

The clerk wrote the address on a piece of paper and handed it to him.

'I don't think you will get much good from them,' he said. 'When people
want to hunt a man up here they generally go to an agency. They are a
way ahead of the regular police, and have got some smart fellows among
them, I can tell you.'

'Thank you. I should prefer carrying out the matter myself if I can. If
not I will certainly go to an agency.'

'There is one advantage in going to the police first,' the man said.
'You will find at a good many hotels the people will have nothing to say
to you if you go by yourself. It is no business of theirs whether the
people who stay at their hotels are swindlers or not, and they ain't
going to meddle in it; but if you can get the police to give you a sharp
officer to go round with you it will be a different thing altogether.'

'Yes, that is what I thought myself, and why I am going to the police in
the first place.'

Turning from the desk he joined Jacob.

'You have had your breakfast?' he asked.

'I just have had a breakfast, Captain; I never seed such a lot of
things--and scrumptious, too; I only wish I could have eaten twice as
much.'

'I am going out now, Jacob, and as I shall be calling at several places,
you had better go your own way. Remember this street is Broadway; it is
the principal street here, so if you do by any chance lose yourself any
one can tell you the way.'

'What time am I to be here again, Captain?'

'Did you ask what time dinner was, Jacob?'

'The black man who brought the things to me said it was two o'clock, but
I shan't never be able to eat again so soon.'

'Oh, yes, you will, Jacob. Take a good long walk and you will soon get
your appetite back again.'

On stating his business at the Central Police Station, he was shown into
the room of the chief, a quiet but keen-faced man, dressed in plain
clothes. He presented to him the letter from Scotland Yard.

'I shall be happy to help you, Captain Hampton, if I can,' he said,
after glancing through it. 'If you had known for certain what steamer
they came over by, we should no doubt be able to lay hold of them in the
course of a few hours, if they are still in the city.'

'I think the probabilities are greatly in favour of their having come by
the "Bremen," which sailed from Hamburg on July 20 and got here, as I
saw, on August 4. If they did not come by that I think it likely they
sailed from some English port two or three days later. My first object,
of course, is to find the hotel at which they put up.'

'I will send one of my men round with you,' and the chief touched a
bell. 'Is Mr. Tricher in? If so, ask him to come here.'

A young man entered the room two minutes later.

'Mr. Tricher, this gentleman has brought us a letter from Scotland Yard;
he is in search of two swindlers who have made off with a good deal of
money. His name is Captain Hampton; he does not belong to the British
force but is a friend of some of the parties who have been swindled, and
has made it his business to find these people. They are believed to have
come out in the "Bremen," which arrived here on August 4; but, if not,
they may have come by a boat from an English port within a few days of
that date. Of course they may have come to Boston or Halifax, or one of
the Southern ports. Our first step is to inquire at all the hotels here;
will you please to go with him and give him any assistance you can? If
you are unsuccessful in your search, Captain Hampton, I shall be glad if
you will come in again and talk the matter over with me. I have all the
dates of the arrivals of the steamers from the other side, which may
help you in deciding at which port you had better continue your search.'

Captain Hampton's guide proved to be a pleasant and chatty young fellow.
'Your first visit here, Captain Hampton?' he asked, as they issued out
on the street.

'Yes, it is the first time I have crossed the Atlantic. I have not had
much chance of coming before, for I have been out with my regiment in
India for the last six years.'

'I suppose it is a big business this, as you have taken the trouble to
come out about it.'

'No; in point of money it is not a very large amount. A thousand pounds
in money and about two thousand pounds worth of diamonds. I am
interested in the matter chiefly because suspicion has fallen upon a
lady of my acquaintance, between whom and this woman there is an
extraordinary likeness: so great a one that I myself was once deceived
by it. The woman herself knows of it, for she personated my friend, and
in her name obtained the jewels and money; so you see it is a matter of
extreme importance to get her back to England.'

'I can quite understand that. I suppose you have a likeness of her?'

'Yes; at least, a likeness of the lady, which will be quite sufficient
to enable anyone to identify the woman at once.'

He handed Dorothy's likeness to the detective.

'There ought to be no difficulty in identifying that,' he said, after
examining it closely. 'No one who has seen her will be likely to forget
it in a hurry; and what is the man like?'

'He is old enough to be her father, and no doubt passes as being so. He
is a clean-shaved man--at least he was when I last saw him. He is a
betting man of the lowest type, but has had the education of a
gentleman, and when well dressed and got up would no doubt pass as one
anywhere. This is the list of hotels I obtained as being those they
would be most likely to go to. You see there are some German ones
included, as, if they came out in the "Bremen," they might have been
directed by Germans returning here to go to one of their hotels, and
would have done so, as they would be less likely to meet English people
and attract attention.'

'Yes, that is a good idea. However, we will try the others first.
Nineteen out of twenty cabin passengers who land here and don't go
straight on, put up at one or other of the principal places.'

Hotel after hotel was visited, until they arrived at the end of the
list. The detective did the talking; he was well known to all the
clerks.

'I generally am put on hotel thief business,' he said, as his companion
remarked on his acquaintance with all the houses they visited; 'no doubt
that is why the chief sent me with you. Now we will try these German
houses. You may take it for granted that they have not been at any of
the others. If none of the clerks or waiters recognise that photograph,
it is because she wasn't there. You see they all said "No" right off
when they saw it. If it had been an ordinary face, they would have
thought it over, but they did not want half a minute to say they had
never seen her.'

At the first two German houses they went to they received the usual
answer.

'Now I have rather hopes of this next place,' the detective said; 'it is
a quiet sort of house, and used by a good class of Germans--rich men who
have been over to Europe, and are waiting here for a day or two before
they go West again. If the man was asking, as he would be likely to do,
for a quiet hotel, and said that he did not mind paying for comfort, a
German who knew the ropes would probably send him here. This is the
house.'

He went up to the clerk's desk.

'Good morning, Mr. Muller. How goes on business?'

'Pretty brisk, Mr. Tricher. What can I do for you, this morning? You are
on business, too, I suppose.'

'Yes. The chief asked me to come round with this gentleman, Captain
Hampton, from England. He wants to find out about a man and a woman who
are believed to have come across on the "Bremen," which arrived here on
August 4. I think it likely enough that they may have been recommended
to your house. Will you turn to August 4?'

The clerk turned over the leaves of the register.

'Had you an English lady and gentleman, father and daughter, arrive on
that day?'

'I had. Mr. and Miss White. The man was clean shaven, about forty-five
years old.'

'This is the portrait of his daughter.'

'That is all right,' the clerk said. 'She was just as good-looking a
girl as ever I saw.'

Captain Hampton uttered an exclamation of satisfaction. Here then was
the first absolute proof that his theory was correct, and that there
really existed a double of Dorothy, and the evidence of this clerk would
in itself go far to disprove the charge against her.

'How long did they stay here?' the detective asked.

The clerk turned to the ledger. 'Two days. They left on the evening of
the sixth. They were charged the full day.'

'How did they go?'

'By carriage. Here is the charge--a dollar and a half.'

'Which station did they go to?'

'Ah, that I cannot tell you. We have two carriages and they are both out
now, but I can find out this evening. Anything else?'

'Yes; I want to know if they made any inquiries about trains.'

'I don't know that they inquired, but the man spent a whole morning
going through the train books and looking through the tables hanging up
there. I wondered what in thunder he could be wanting to spend such a
time over them, when a couple of minutes would have shown him the train
time to any place he wanted to go to. I expect he had not made up his
mind where to go. I reckon that was it. I saw him come in with half a
dozen books under his arm the morning after they got here.'

'Well, we can do nothing till we hear what station they were taken to. I
will look in again this evening.'

'Do you mean to say they were bad ones, Mr. Tricher?'

The detective nodded.

'Well, well, one never knows what to believe. I don't know about the
man, but that gal I should never have thought could have been bad.'

'Please look at the photograph again,' Captain Hampton said. 'Examine it
closely; is it what you would call a very good likeness?'

'It is a good likeness,' the man said. 'I should have known it if I had
seen it in a shop window anywhere; but photographs are never quite
like--men's may be, but I have never seen a woman's that was the real
thing. They always smooth out their faces somehow, and put on a sort of
company expression. This is as like her as two peas, and yet it isn't
quite like, if you can understand it. That has got a pretty, innocent
sort of expression. The girl's face was harder than that; it was just as
pretty, but somehow it looked older, as if she had had some sort of
disappointment, and had had a bad time of it. This one looks like the
face of a thoroughly happy girl. The other didn't, you know. I said to
myself that she had made up her mind to marry some chap her father
didn't like, and that he had brought her over here to get her out of his
way. You see, she was an unusual sort of woman. I don't know that I ever
saw a much prettier one--and one naturally reckoned her up a bit. She
only went out once while they were here, and did not seem to have much
interest in the city.'

'Well, I think we have been pretty lucky, Captain Hampton,' the
detective said when he went out.

'Wonderfully lucky. I am more thankful than I can express; the evidence
of that man alone would go a long way towards clearing my friend, for it
would at any rate prove that just after these robberies were committed,
and at the exact time at which a thief would reach here from England, a
woman precisely like her arrived here with a man answering to the
description of the one believed to be her accomplice.'

'That would be a great thing certainly; at any rate, if I were you,
Captain Hampton, I would get an affidavit, made by Muller and one or two
of the waiters, to the effect that a man of whom they would give a
description, and the original of a portrait that would of course be
marked for identification, arrived at the hotel on August 4, having come
by the steamer "Bremen" from Hamburg. There is nothing like getting an
affidavit when you can, and the waiters are to hand now; there is no
saying where they might be three months hence. I don't say that Muller
is likely to leave, but he is bright, and might get a better offer any
day from one of the big hotels at St. Louis or Cincinnati, or any other
place where there are many Germans.'

'I will certainly do so, and send it across to England at once.'

Arranging with the detective to call for him at the Metropolitan at
seven o'clock that evening, Captain Hampton returned to the hotel. It
had been a splendid morning's work. Even if all further search was
unsuccessful, enough had been done to establish at least a strong case
in favour of the contention that the person who called upon the jeweller
and Mr. Singleton was not Dorothy Hawtrey. The interview he himself had
witnessed, which, had he been compelled to give evidence, would have
been in itself almost fatal to her, was now strongly in her favour, for
it showed the connecting link between the person who had taken the
jewels and this man who was now proved to be passing as her father in
the States. It was no longer Dorothy Hawtrey buying off the man who had
been persecuting her, but Truscott's partner in the crime informing him
of the success of her operations.

Jacob was standing at the door of the hotel when he arrived there. He
had long since been made acquainted with the object for which a search
was being made for the betting man Marvel, and the woman whose likeness
he had been shown. He was greatly delighted at learning that a trace had
been obtained of him, and eager to set to work to follow it up.

'It will be bang up, Captain, if we find them here while all them
perlice at home is running after them everywhere.'

'Well, I did not think of it in that light, and I don't much care
whether they are run down by us or by any one else, so long as they are
caught at last, but it is a long way between hearing of them here and
catching them. You must remember that this country is twenty times as
large as England, and we have really nothing to go upon. We don't know
what the man's intentions are. If he intended to go in for swindling, I
should think he would have done better on the Continent than here. There
are not many very large towns where he could as a stranger expect to
make much money, and it would be easier to trace him here than in
Europe, where the distances are so much shorter that one can get out of
any country in a few hours. If he intends, as I should think most
likely, only to stop over here for a short time so as to be out of the
way, and then go back and begin the same thing over again, he might take
lodgings here or anywhere else.

'He may know some one who has come over here and has gone in for
farming, and may be going to stay with him for a time. There is no
saying, in fact, what he may be going to do. I do not suppose that he
has the slightest fear that the share he and this woman have played has
been discovered, and his motive in coming away was chiefly to ensure
Miss Hawtrey's disgrace, and he was anxious that there should be no
chance whatever of any one who knew her meeting this woman and
discovering that there was some one about who was so strikingly like
Miss Hawtrey as to be able to pass for her. My best hope is that we
shall get some clue this evening from the man who drove them away from
the hotel.'

This hope was realised. On reaching the hotel with the detective the
clerk at once sent for the driver. 'He remembers the parties well
enough, but I don't know that you will find his news altogether
satisfactory. You have got a crafty bird to deal with. Here is the man,
he had better tell you himself. Now, Mike, this is the gentleman who
wants to know about those people I was speaking to you about.'

'I mind them well enough, sor--a gintleman with as pretty a little girl
as I've seen since I left ould Ireland. I drove them down to the wharf
and saw the baggage carried on board the steamer.'

'And what steamer was it, Mike?' the detective asked.

'The steamer for New Orleans, of course; that was where they told me to
take them. She had got her steam up when we got there, and a
nice-looking crowd there was going on board.'

'Would the steamer touch anywhere else on its way?' Captain Hampton
asked.

'It might put in at Mobile; some do and some don't,' the detective
replied, 'but as we know the day she sailed there will be no difficulty
at finding that out at the office.'

'That was the lady, I suppose,' Captain Hampton said, showing the
photograph to the driver.

'That's her, sor. I would swear to her anywhere.'

'Well, here is a couple of dollars for you now; I shall want to see you
again to-morrow.'

'We shall be getting some affidavits out,' the detective said to the
clerk. 'It is important to us to be able to prove that they have been
here, even if we never succeed in catching them. It will be a simple
thing, merely a statement signed before a justice of the peace to the
effect that you make oath that a man of the appearance and description
set down and a young woman passing as his daughter, and whose
photograph, which will of course be marked and verified, you recognise
as being hers without any possibility of doubt, arrived at this hotel on
August 4, and left on August 6, being driven from here and seen on board
a steamer starting for New Orleans. I shall be glad of the signatures of
yourself and as many of the waiters as attended upon them at their meals
and can recognise the portrait, also of the chambermaid. We shall have a
separate affidavit drawn out for the driver.'

'Very well. Can you leave the photograph with me? I will give it to the
head waiter and tell him to show it to the others; as they were here two
days and took all their meals here I should say most of the crowd would
recognise her. Look here, you had better bring a justice round here to
swear them, for it would be difficult to let a dozen of them all go at
once.'

'I will manage that. Well, can you spare a couple of minutes to come
round into the bar and have a drink?'

The clerk thought he could manage it, and drinks were taken in due
course.

'Now what is my best way of getting down to New Orleans?' Captain
Hampton asked, as they left the hotel.

'Steamer,' the detective said; 'the railway is not fairly through yet,
and it will take pretty nearly as long as if you go by boat, and be a
deal more uncomfortable.'

'How often do the boats go?'

'Once or twice a week, sometimes more. There are considerable people
travelling down there now. A good many of the folk going to California
go that way; they either strike across from there or go up the river by
steamer and then make across the plains; it saves a long land journey.
But I will tell you about it when I see you in the morning. I will go
round the first thing and find out whether that boat that sailed on the
6th put in anywhere, and also what her name was; also whether they took
their berths under the name of White or changed them again; then I will
see when the next boat goes. I will bring the man before whom they can
take an affidavit round here with me--I know two or three I can lay my
hands on any time--and then we will go together to the hotel.'

By twelve o'clock next day the business was finished, and the affidavits
sworn in duplicate by thirteen witnesses, in addition to that of the
driver.

When all was done, Captain Hampton asked the detective as to how much he
was indebted to him.

'Nothing at all, sir. My services were placed at your disposal by the
chief, and it is all in the way of business. I am very glad to have been
of assistance to you.'

'You have been of immense assistance, indeed, Mr. Tricher, and I feel
deeply obliged to you. I should never have got on by myself in the same
way; it was entirely owing to the clerk at the hotel knowing you that he
so readily gave me the information I required, and interested himself in
the matter. Well, will you come round and lunch with me at the hotel at
two o'clock? We shall go on board the steamer this evening. I am going
round now to thank your chief.'

'I shall be happy to lunch with you, and, by the way, you might as well
ask the chief to give you a line to the chief at New Orleans. You might
find it very useful there; it is a pretty lively place, and if this man
happens to have any pals there, you may find it mighty useful to have
the aid of the police.'

'Thank you very much for the suggestion, which I will certainly follow.'

On saying good-bye to the detective, Captain Hampton, with much
pressure, succeeded in inducing him to accept, as a remembrance, a
handsome meerschaum that he had the evening before admired.

Upon the voyage down, Captain Hampton was much struck at the difference
between the passengers on board the 'Enterprise,' and those with whom he
was associated on his passage across the Atlantic. There were among them
a sprinkling of Southern gentlemen, a few travellers and Northern
manufacturers, but the majority were men who were bound to the far west,
some to Texas only, but California was the destination of the greater
part. These again were sharply divided into two sections, the one
composed of hardy-looking men, the sons of Eastern farmers, or British
emigrants who were going out with the fixed intention of making their
fortune at the goldfields.

Few of the other section were, he thought, likely to get so far. They
were simply rough characters who were more likely to remain at New
Orleans or some of the river towns than to undertake a long and perilous
journey. Whatever might be their nominal vocation, he set them down as
being thieves, gambling-house bullies, or ruffians ready to turn their
hand to any scoundrelism that presented itself. The real working men
soon came to know each other, and being bound by a common object kept
aloof from the others, and generally sat in little groups discussing the
journey before them and the best methods of proceeding.

Some were in favour of ascending the Missouri to Omaha, others of going
up the Arkansas and striking across by the Santa Fé route. All had
evidently studied the newspapers diligently, and had almost by heart the
narratives of travel that had appeared there, and before the end of the
voyage several parties had been made up of men who agreed to journey
together for mutual aid and protection.

In the saloon gambling went on all day. As night came on, voices were
raised in anger, and fierce quarrels took place, which were only
prevented from going further by the captain's prompt intervention, and
by his declaration that any man who drew pistol or bowie knife should be
put in irons for the rest of the voyage.

Captain Hampton was heartily glad when the vessel entered the
Mississippi. He had associated principally with two or three of the
Southern gentlemen, and had kept as far as possible aloof from the rowdy
portion of the passengers. This, however, he had been unable to do
altogether. He himself was an object of general curiosity. He was a
Britisher; he was not bound for the West; he was not thinking of taking
up land; he was unconnected with any commercial house. His explanation
that he was travelling for pleasure and intended to go up the two great
rivers of the continent, was considered altogether unsatisfactory, and
one after another most of his fellow passengers endeavoured, by a series
of searching questions, to get at the facts of the case. Jacob, on the
other hand, enjoyed the voyage greatly; unconsciously to himself he was
a student of human nature, and this was a phase entirely new to him.

'It seems to me, Captain,' he said to his master one evening, 'that most
of this 'ere gang ought to be in Newgate. Why, to hear what they say of
themselves, there is scarce one of them that hasn't killed one or two
men in his time. I have been a-listening to some of that black-bearded
chap's stories, and if all that he says is true, he has killed over
twenty; I counted them up careful. I can't make out how it is that a
chap like that is going about free; why, he would have been hung a dozen
times if he had been at home. What is the good of the perlice if they
lets a chap like that go on as he likes?'

'You may be sure that the greater part of his stories are lies, Jacob,
though some of them may be true. New Orleans is perhaps as rough a city
as any of its size in the world, and as you go farther West, life
becomes still more unsafe. In so vast a country the law is powerless,
and men settle their disputes in their own way. Almost every one carries
arms, and shooting affrays are of common occurrence, and as long as what
is considered fair play is preserved, no one thinks of interfering. A
man who is killed is buried, and the one who killed him goes his way
unconcernedly; so, though a good many of these stories you hear are
lies, there may be more truth in some of them than you would think.'

'They have been a-pumping me, lots of them has,' Jacob said, 'and trying
to find out what you are doing out here. I have stuffed them up nicely;
I have told them as you had been out in India, and had killed thousands
upon thousands of lions, and tigers, and elephants.'

'What was the use of telling lies, Jacob?' Captain Hampton asked
angrily.

'Well, sir, I don't suppose as they believe it all, because I don't
believe their stories; but it was, I thought, just as well as they
should think you was a great fighter, and could shoot wonderful
straight. I know by what they said that some of them was half inclined
to get up a quarrel with you. "'Cause," as they said, "you was stuck up,
and thought yourself better than other people;" and it seemed to me as
it was best they should think as you wasn't a good man to quarrel with.
"Bless you," says I, over and over again, "there ain't nothing stuck up
about my master; only I know as he hates getting into trouble, 'cause he
don't like having to kill a man and so he keeps hisself to hisself;" and
then I pitches it in strong about killing Indians, and that sort of
thing, and I do think, Captain, as it has kept them a bit quiet.'

Captain Hampton laughed.

'Well, perhaps it may have done, Jacob; these fellows seldom interfere
with a man unless they think it safe to do so. Still, I would much
rather in future you did not invent any stories about me. Always stick
to the truth, lad; lying never pays in the long run.'



CHAPTER XIII


Ten days later the party were re-united at Martigny. The Fortescues had
been there two days, having travelled faster than the Hawtreys had done.
Captain Armstrong and Mr. Fitzwarren only turned up the next day; they
had learnt at Lucerne the inn at which the Hawtreys intended to stay,
and went straight there. The others were all absent on an excursion to
the Col de la Forclaz, and did not return until late in the afternoon.
Captain Armstrong and Mr. Fitzwarren were standing on the steps of the
hotel when the three girls clattered up on donkeys, the elders having
been left a quarter of a mile behind.

'How are you both?' Ada Fortescue, who had won the race by a length,
said, as they came down the steps. 'No, thank you, Captain Armstrong, I
can slip off without any assistance. We were talking of you this morning
at breakfast, and wondering when you were likely to turn up.'

They stood talking at the door of the hotel until the others arrived.

'Which way have you come?' Mr. Hawtrey asked, after they had shaken
hands.

'We went over the Brunig Pass to Interlaken; we stopped there a day or
two and came from Thun over the Simmenthal to Aigle; we stayed there
four days, and a day at St. Maurice, and got in here half an hour after
you had started, and have since been for a stroll among the pines.'

'We were over at St. Maurice the day before yesterday.'

'It is splendid up here,' Ada Fortescue put in; 'we have been grumbling
ever since we came because we did not come on here at once instead of
spending those four days at Lucerne. It was all very lovely, but it was
so hot one really could not enjoy it as one ought to have done. Up here
it is so deliciously cool, at least except in the middle of the day,
that one feels up to anything. I wish you could persuade papa to let us
go up one of the mountains; not a difficult one, of course. At present
mamma won't hear of it; though Mr. Hawtrey said he would go with us and
Dorothy. I don't think papa would mind,' she added confidentially.

Captain Armstrong smiled. Mr. Fortescue was really but a cipher in the
family. He accompanied his wife and daughters, and was very useful in
looking after the luggage and paying bills, but his wife was the real
manager of the party. She was not one of those women who assert their
predominance over their husbands; upon the contrary, she made a point of
consulting him on everything, but as his opinions were always in accord
with hers, this was little more than a form. She herself, among her
intimates, frequently bewailed her husband's disinclination to take a
leading part in anything.

'It is a great disadvantage to the girls, for it compels me to put
myself much more forward than I like. It is always bad for a mother to
have to do so; it gets her the name of being a managing woman, and there
is nothing men are more shy of.' And yet in spite of Mrs. Fortescue's
disclaimer, there were people who believed that if Mr. Fortescue had had
a chance there would have been no occasion for his wife to take matters
so entirely in hand as she did. Within an hour of meeting Captain
Armstrong and Mr. Fitzwarren, she had discussed the matter with her
husband.

'I don't know what to think of these men coming here just as we have
arrived. It must mean one thing or the other.'

Mr. Fortescue remarked that no doubt it did.

'Captain Armstrong is of course an excellent match,' she said. 'The
question is, has he come here on his own account or on that of Mr.
Fitzwarren? If on his own account, it must be in order to see more of
one of our girls, or of Dorothy Hawtrey. On the other hand, Mr.
Fitzwarren cannot be considered at all an eligible person; of course he
is in society, and all that sort of thing, and is very well connected,
but that won't keep up a household. It would not do at all, and I shall
warn Ada and Clara that they are not to think of flirting with him, and
that if I see any signs of them doing so we shall at once move away.'

'He is a very pleasant young man,' Mr. Fortescue said. 'I believe he has
a good position in the Foreign Office, and is private secretary to Lord
Wolverhouse.'

'Yes, that is all very well,' Mrs. Fortescue said, sharply, 'and I dare
say it is a very good position for a clerk in a foreign office, but, as
I said, it won't do to keep up an establishment, so I shall keep my eyes
open.'

This Mrs. Fortescue did for the next four days, and the results were so
far satisfactory that she assured herself that Mr. Fitzwarren had no
design upon either of her daughters. He always made one of the party on
their excursions, but divided his attentions equally between the three
girls, and there was nothing in his manner that could excite the
smallest suspicion, even in her mind, that he viewed one with a greater
degree of preference than the other. Captain Armstrong appeared equally
general in his attentions, and even Dorothy, who had felt at first a
certain uneasiness when they joined, thought no more of the matter. He
happened to be there when they were, and it was natural that he should
attach himself to her party, and she soon ceased to feel at all shy with
him or to think of him in any other light than as a pleasant companion
in their rambles.

For the first week Mrs. Fortescue always formed one of the party, but as
the walks extended and they went higher and higher up the hill-side she
was glad, as soon as she felt that her suspicions of Mr. Fitzwarren's
attentions were unfounded, to let them go under their father's escort.
Mr. Singleton was the only person who complained.

'I wonder how long those two men are going to stay here,' he said to Mr.
Hawtrey one day.

'I have not heard them say anything about it. I shall be sorry when they
go, for they are both pleasant, and it makes it very much more agreeable
for the girls to have them to go about with. Of course, when we take the
carriage we all ride together, but I am sure the young people enjoy
walking much more; they are capital climbers, and I can tell you they
pretty nearly tire me out sometimes.'

'I don't care how soon they go, Hawtrey. You know what my hopes are
about Dorothy, and I feel pretty confident that Armstrong has altogether
different views on the matter. I have nothing to say against him
personally; I admit that he is a downright good fellow. Every one knows
he has a good estate, so I have nothing to say against him, except that
I see he is doing his best to upset my special plans.'

'I have not seen anything of it at all. I did not notice on our walks
that he was more with her than with the others. I imagine that it is
only fancy on your part.'

'You do not suppose he would be wasting his time in rambling about here
with three girls unless he had some sort of object. It is one of the
three, and I have not the least doubt that it is Dorothy.'

'I don't fancy so, for--quite between ourselves, Singleton--I can tell
you that she refused him some months since.'

'Umph,' Mr. Singleton grunted, 'that must have been just before she
became engaged to Halliburn. Now he is out of the way again, and a
better opportunity for love-making than Armstrong has got he could
hardly desire.'

'I don't see that I can do anything in the matter, Singleton; even
supposing that your suspicions are correct.'

'No, I don't suppose you can,' the other said irritably. 'If we were to
go away he would come after us. If he means to ask the question he will
ask it. And the worst of it is that he is such a good fellow, so
unobjectionable in every way. But it is hard that while the other is
spending his time in looking out for evidence that will completely clear
Dorothy from these abominable charges, this man should be cutting in and
making all the running here.'

'I don't think Dorothy suspects anything of the sort, Singleton.'

'No, I don't suppose she does; but a girl can't be thrown with a
pleasant man day after day like this without getting to like him. I am
sure she does not know it herself--she is too frank and natural with
him; still when the time comes and he asks her the question again it
will come upon her how much she does like him, and the contrast between
him and Halliburn will be all in his favour. We might move to Chamounix.
Pretend you are tired of this place, and see whether all the others will
go too.'

'We may as well do that anyhow,' Mr. Hawtrey agreed. 'We have done
pretty well all the walks and drives near here. It will be a change,
anyhow.' And accordingly at breakfast next morning Mr. Hawtrey said, 'I
think we have pretty well done this neighbourhood; it will be a change
to move on to Chamounix. We could stay there for a week and then go on
to Geneva.'

'I think that would be a very good plan,' Mr. Singleton put in. 'I own I
am getting rather tired of this valley. It is all very well for you
young people who can climb about among the hills, but I think I know the
exterior of every house in the place, and have made the acquaintance of
almost every man, woman, and child in it.'

Mr. Fortescue at once assented.

'It makes no difference to me,' Captain Armstrong said, carelessly, 'but
I have been thinking for the last day or two that there would be more to
be seen at Chamounix. I have rather an idea of climbing Mont Blanc.
Fitzwarren finds that time is running short, and has made up his mind to
turn his face homewards.'

After some farther talk it was arranged that the carriages should be
ordered for the following morning. There was much regret expressed at
Mr. Fitzwarren's departure, or as the girls called it, his desertion,
but his determination was not to be shaken. He had talked it over with
Armstrong on the previous evening when the latter had urged him to stay
a week longer.

'I cannot afford it, my dear fellow,' he said. 'It is pleasant, very
pleasant, but it is too dangerous a pleasure to be indulged in. However
strict a man's principles may be, he's but human. Another week of this
might be fatal to me. I cannot afford to marry Clara Fortescue, even if
she would have me and her mother were willing, which, by the way, I am
perfectly sure she would not be. The way she played duenna the first few
days, would have been amusing if it had not been annoying. It was almost
heroic. Whenever I happened to be a few yards ahead or a few yards
behind with either of her girls, she would be certain to range alongside
in the course of two or three minutes, and though naturally she did not
express her feelings in words there was no possible mistaking her
manner. She was the watch-dog, I was the wolf; and she was prepared to
do battle to save her lambs from the devourer. At that time I had no
idea of devouring, and indeed I have no idea now; nevertheless I am
beginning to feel that the repast would not be an unpleasant one.
Against the ordinary temptations that occur in ball-rooms and
conservatories, at fêtes, and even country houses, I am proof, but this
daily companionship, wandering, and picnicking is beyond me. My armour
is giving way, and I feel that flight is the prudent course before I am
too severely wounded.'

The next morning, therefore, he took his place on the diligence, and
half-an-hour later two carriages started up the valley with the rest of
the party. They had sent on a letter the previous day to secure rooms,
and were comfortably established there late in the afternoon.

'The dinner-bell will ring in five minutes, Dorothy,' Mr. Hawtrey said,
tapping at his daughter's door.

Dorothy was ready, and went down with him to the drawing-room. As they
entered, she caught sight of Ada Fortescue's face, which wore a puzzled
and disturbed look, and she gave what seemed to Dorothy a warning shake
of the head. She moved across the room towards her chair to inquire what
she meant. A gentleman stepped aside to make way for her. She looked up,
and as their eyes met each gave a slight start, for it was Lord
Halliburn who stood before her.

It was an awkward moment, but, as usual, the woman was the first to
recover her presence of mind.

'How do you do, Lord Halliburn?' she said, cordially, holding out her
hand. 'Who would have thought of our running against each other here?'

'Certainly I did not, Miss Hawtrey. I heard that you left town a
fortnight before I did, but, though I had no particular reason for doing
so, I supposed you had gone down to Lincolnshire. When did you arrive
here?'

'Only half an hour ago; when did you come in?'

'Yesterday. I came up from Geneva.'

'We came the other way,' Mr. Hawtrey said. He had only just noticed whom
Dorothy was speaking to, and had at once come up to her assistance. The
three stood chatting together for a time.

'Terribly awkward--most unfortunate, is it not?' Mrs. Fortescue remarked
to Mr. Singleton. 'It quite gave me a shock when I saw him come into the
room just now.'

'I don't think it matters much, Mrs. Fortescue; there is no reason in
the world why they should not meet, and they might just as well do so
here as in London.'

'Do you think there is any chance of its coming on again?' the lady
asked.

'Not the slightest in the world,' he replied curtly; then he rose from
his seat and went across to the little group, who were directly
afterwards joined by Ada Fortescue and her father.

As the party stood laughing and chatting together, no one unacquainted
with the circumstances would have guessed that the meeting had been so
embarrassing to two of the number.

'Are you wandering about by yourself, Halliburn, or are you with a
party?' Mr. Hawtrey asked.

'Ulleswater and Dick Trafford are with me,' he replied. 'I suppose you
have been all travelling together.'

'Yes, we first met at Lucerne; then we came on, and the Fortescues
joined us at Martigny. Captain Armstrong and Fitzwarren were there too,
so it made a pleasant party. Fitzwarren left us this morning; he was off
home again.'

At dinner the two parties were at opposite ends of the long table.

'Deuced awkward for you, Halliburn,' Lord Ulleswater said.

'Oh, I don't know. I don't mind if she doesn't.'

'I should say we had better move on, anyhow, Halliburn. If it gets known
that you are here together it is sure to be reported the affair is on
again.'

'I certainly shan't run away. If I had known she was coming I should not
have come here, but now we have met and spoken I don't see there will be
anything gained by my leaving; besides, it would look as if I had done
something to be ashamed of if I were to go directly they came.'

'I think perhaps you are right. She behaved very pluckily, I think.
Clara Fortescue had just whispered to me she was here. I was coming
across to warn you when she came in and I watched the meeting. I must
say she pulled herself together wonderfully. It was an awkward moment
for her, meeting you here so suddenly, with a dozen people who knew all
about it looking on. I see Armstrong is sitting there with them as if he
belonged to the party; he and the elder of those Fortescue girls seem to
be on rather confidential terms.'

'That is Armstrong's way,' Lord Halliburn said; 'he means nothing, and
by this time I should say that most of the girls know that he means
nothing. I can't make out why he doesn't marry.'

Ada Fortescue at any rate understood that Captain Armstrong's manner at
the present moment meant nothing; she had from the first detected that
Dorothy Hawtrey was the attraction that kept him with the party, but she
had said no word when her mother had frequently expressed her surprise
at his prolonged stay at Martigny, and had cautiously endeavoured to
learn her opinion on the subject. Ada's silence was due partly to a
feeling of loyalty towards Dorothy, partly because she shrewdly
conjectured that their own stay there was not unconnected with an idea
in her mother's mind that something might come of it, and that did Mrs.
Fortescue believe Dorothy to be the attraction, she would lose no time
in leaving for England. Captain Armstrong said no word regarding the
meeting with Lord Halliburn until she began the subject.

'Did you see the meeting, Captain Armstrong? I was on thorns. The
Hawtreys are not on the same side of the hotel as we are, but if I had
known which her room was, I should have made some excuse to slip away
and warn her; however, it did not matter; she behaved beautifully,
didn't she?'

Captain Armstrong nodded. 'It is a nuisance his turning up here,' he
said; 'but I don't think she cares. Do you, Miss Fortescue?'

'No, I don't think she does. If she had done so, I don't think she could
have been so cool and collected all at once. I am sure I couldn't if I
had been in her place. She met him just as she might have met any
intimate acquaintance.'

'If he has got any common sense,' Captain Armstrong growled, 'he will be
off the first thing to-morrow morning.'

Ada was silent.

'Don't you think so?' he urged.

'Well it all depends. I know nothing about why the match was broken off,
beyond that paragraph in the paper that said it was her doing, and
Dorothy has never alluded to it when we have been together. It depends,
I should think, whether he cared very much for her. I suppose he did. It
seems to me that everyone must love Dorothy Hawtrey. If so he may think
it worth trying whether he cannot bring it on again.'

Captain Armstrong muttered something between his lips that she did not
catch.

'I am almost sure you are swearing, Captain Armstrong, and that is very
bad manners. Still I don't say that I shouldn't swear if I were a man
and all this happened, so I forgive you.'

'We have had such a pleasant time,' he said ruefully, 'and if this
fellow is going to stay here I can see it is all going to be spoilt.'

'I don't see why it should be spoilt. At any rate I am sure that if
Dorothy broke off the match, she is not the sort of girl to make it up
again. It must be an awful thing to break off an engagement when
everyone is aware of it, and you know it will set everyone talking. I
don't think I could ever bring myself to do it. I think Dorothy has put
it quite aside; I have seen so much of her in the last fortnight, and if
there had been anything on her mind I should have noticed it.'

'She coloured up when they met.'

'Of course she coloured up. You don't suppose, Captain Armstrong, a girl
can suddenly meet a man she has been engaged to and has been fond
of--for of course she was fond of him--and who has been acting as lover
to her for weeks, and all that sort of thing, without the colour coming
into her cheeks. It did not last a moment either. It just came and went.
I am sure if it had been me, even if I had ceased to care for him, my
cheeks would have flared up, and I should have been hot and
uncomfortable for hours afterwards.'

'I should not think he was ever very lover-like,' Captain Armstrong
said, savagely; 'I don't think he has got it in him.'

'I don't know,' Ada said, demurely. 'I have never been engaged, Captain
Armstrong; so I can't say what men do under such circumstances. I
believe--I suppose that they do take what novelists call a chaste salute
sometimes. Now, if you swear like that, Captain Armstrong, I shall sit
between papa and mamma at the next meal. It is downright scandalous!'

'I really beg your pardon, Miss Fortescue,' Captain Armstrong said,
penitently, 'but there are certain provocations under which even the
mildest of men may be excused for breaking down.'

'I do not see where the provocation comes in,' she said; 'we were merely
discussing the conduct of engaged couples in general, and of Lord
Halliburn in particular.'

'I would rather not discuss the matter at all. I have nothing whatever
to say against him; he may be an excellent fellow for anything I know,
but at the present moment it is distinctly unfortunate that he has
turned up here, and I hope he will have the common sense to see it
himself, and to start the first thing in the morning.'

But this Lord Halliburn did not do; he and his two friends started early
for the Mer de Glace, while the Hawtreys' party went off on mules in
another direction. After dinner the men met in the balcony and smoked
their cigars together, the only absentee being Captain Armstrong, who
went for a walk by himself. On the following day the Hawtreys determined
to visit the Mer de Glace. Mr. Singleton and Mrs. Fortescue declined to
form part of the expedition; the others took two guides with them, as
the ice was said to be in bad condition. They started at six in the
morning, and made a considerable portion of the ascent on mules. When
they reached the edge of the glacier, the guides, who had been
consulting together as they led the way, said that they should not
advise them going far, for the weather looked bad. Mont Blanc was
wreathed in clouds, and the other peaks were also hidden.

'What do you expect, Giuseppe?' Mr. Hawtrey asked. 'There is no wind,
and the clouds do not look any lower than they did an hour ago.'

'The storms here are very sudden,' the guide replied, 'and when they do
sweep down they come with terrible violence, and Conrad and I both think
there may be snow. With these ladies it would not be safe to venture far
on the ice.'

'Well, we will only go as far as you think it safe. It would be a pity
to have had this climb for nothing.'

'All must keep together,' the guide said; 'let there be no straying. The
snow, over some of the crevasses, is very thin and treacherous.'

On they went for some distance, admiring the ice pinnacles, leaning over
crevasses, and peering down into the depths where the deep blue of the
ice walls shaded off into blackness. The guides went ahead, sounding
carefully the snow before them for a few inches, the first precursor of
coming change, had fallen two days before. Suddenly one of the guides
uttered an exclamation.

'See,' he said, 'the clouds are coming down the mountains. We have not a
moment to lose; it will be on us now before we are off the glacier.'

The sun was still shining brightly, and the parties, as they turned,
glanced somewhat incredulously up the mountain.

'By Jove, it is coming down,' Captain Armstrong exclaimed. 'It is more
like an avalanche of snow than clouds.'

A minute later there was a faint moaning sound, which grew louder and
louder.

'Stand close together and take a firm footing,' the guide exclaimed.
'The storm will be on us in a minute. Look after the ladies, messieurs!'

The warning was scarcely out of his lips when there was an icy blast. It
lasted but a second or two, and it was succeeded by a dead calm. Then a
mighty wind struck them with such violence that they were nearly swept
from their feet, while particles of ice, pricking like needles, forced
them to close their eyes, and hold down their heads before the blast.
The sun disappeared, and at the same moment they were enveloped in a
dense mist. Clara Fortescue had clung to her father's arm, and Ada, who
was with Captain Armstrong a few paces in the rear, hurried forward
towards them, but the storm struck them before they reached them.
Unprepared for the sudden shock, Ada would have been swept before it had
not her companion clasped his arm around her. 'You must just fancy that
we are waltzing,' he shouted in her ear. 'Cling tight to me; this can't
last long.' And with great difficulty he dragged her along until they
reached the others.

'That is better,' Mr. Fortescue said, as they arranged the shawls to
cover the girls' heads. 'We will take care of them, Armstrong, if you
will ask the guides how long this is likely to last.'

The guides were but two or three paces away, with alpenstocks firmly
planted in the ice and their heads bent down to meet the force of the
gale. They were talking together when Captain Armstrong joined them.

'Is this likely to last?' he asked in French.

'It may last for twenty-four hours,' the guide said.

'Then we must be moving; the ladies could not stand this cold an hour.'

'It is no easy matter,' the guide said, 'when one cannot see three paces
in front of one. Still we must try; as you say it would be death to the
ladies to stop here, and indeed for all of us. We have only one rope
with us; we did not expect this when we started. It is not long enough
for all. I will be tied at one end, Giuseppe will go ahead and lead the
way, the three ladies and one of the gentlemen will be tied to the rope
behind me, the other two had better walk between the ladies and hold the
rope.'

'I will give them instructions. I have been up some of the mountains.'

The guide fastened the rope round the girls and Mr. Fortescue. 'Now, you
must all understand,' Captain Armstrong said, 'if one goes through,
those in front must stick their alpenstocks in the ice and throw their
whole weight on the rope forward, those behind must do the same with
their alpenstocks, but must stick their heels in the snow and pull
backwards on the rope.'

Ada Fortescue was placed next to the guide, and was followed by Dorothy,
whose father took hold of the rope a yard or two in front of her, while
Captain Armstrong stationed himself between her and Clara, behind whom
came her father. Then they began to move forward in the teeth of the
gale. Giuseppe went ahead, feeling his way cautiously. The mist was so
thick that he could not see the ground he trod on. Talking was
impossible, for it was difficult to breathe in face of the wind and fine
snow. It was slow work, and in five minutes Captain Armstrong passed
forward and joined the guide in front.

'The wind is more on our right hand,' he shouted; 'do you think we are
keeping our course?'

'The wind is no guide,' the man replied. 'It comes down sometimes one
gorge, sometimes another; we may have it all round the compass.'

In 1850 mountaineering was almost in its infancy. The ascent of Mont
Blanc was considered a great feat, and as yet no woman had undertaken
it. The ice-fields and peaks were still almost unknown, and the guides
had not, as now, an intimate acquaintance with every foot of the
mountains. The danger of being lost in a fog or storm was, therefore,
infinitely greater than at present.

Several times Giuseppe was doubtful as to the true course, and the party
halted while he made short casts in various directions. The girls'
strength became rapidly exhausted; the icy wind seemed to deaden all
their energies. Mr. Fortescue had moved up alongside his youngest
daughter to help her along. Mr. Hawtrey had his arm round Dorothy, and
Captain Armstrong was assisting Ada.

Several times the whole party stopped and stood with their backs to the
wind to recover their breath. At last Giuseppe gave a shout, and the
others were soon beside him. He was standing under the shelter of some
rocks which projected through the glacier.

'I know where I am now,' he said. 'We have not gone far from our course;
another ten minutes and we shall be at the edge of the glacier.'

This was welcome news to the men, but to the girls it seemed that it
would be impossible to struggle even for ten minutes further. All had
sunk down close together in the shelter.

'You must not stop here,' Mr. Hawtrey said; 'you can have two or three
minutes to recover your breath, but you must keep moving or you will be
frozen to death.'

Is it necessary to be roped any further, Giuseppe?' Captain Armstrong
asked.

'Not necessary, monsieur, but it is better to continue so; it keeps all
together, and were any to lag behind it would be certain death, for our
shouts could not be heard any distance away in this gale.'

Clara was unable to rise when the guide said they must no longer delay.

'I must carry her,' her father said.

'I will carry her, monsieur; I am accustomed to carry burdens. If you
will lift her on to my back I can fasten the shawl round me so that she
cannot fall. If another gives way, Conrad will take her; if the third,
then two of you together must help her. That will do; let us go
forward.'

Five minutes later Ada Fortescue sank down, in spite of the assistance
Captain Armstrong was giving her. Conrad at once unroped her and took
her on his back.

'Now, Mr. Hawtrey,' Captain Armstrong said, 'if you put your arm round
your daughter on one side and I on the other we can pretty well carry
her along.'

It was soon necessary to carry her altogether.

'I will take her feet,' Mr. Fortescue, who was beside them, said; 'we
shall get along capitally like that. Nevertheless, the ten minutes
seemed to the three men to be a long half-hour, and it was with a
feeling of the deepest satisfaction that they saw a rocky barrier in
front of them, and left the frozen plain they had been traversing.

'We are not out of the wood yet, Mr. Hawtrey said, 'nor shall we be till
we get down among the trees, and I confess that I am feeling rather done
myself.'

'It is awkward walking like this, Mr. Hawtrey, when one can scarcely see
where one is putting one's foot down. If you will let me I will carry
Miss Hawtrey in the same way the guides are doing; her weight will be
nothing if I get her well up on my back. We shall get on ever so much
faster that way.'

There was a feeble protest from Dorothy, who, although utterly exhausted
was not insensible; it passed unheeded.

'Are you sure you can do it, Armstrong?'

'Quite certain, if you and Fortescue will lift her up; that is it, the
weight is nothing now to what it was on the arms.'

The guides had been standing impatiently by while this colloquy was
going on. They started as soon as they saw Captain Armstrong had his
burden fairly arranged.

'Keep close behind me, monsieur,' Conrad said; 'if you follow quite
close, you will see whether I make a step down or up.'

They descended rapidly. From time to time the guides paused and asked if
all were together, and as soon as the reply was given pushed on again.
Powerful man as he was, it taxed Captain Armstrong's strength to the
utmost to keep up with the guides, who strode on rapidly ahead, as if
their weights were nothing to them. The perspiration streamed from his
face--less from the weight than from anxiety lest he should fall, and
several times he only saved himself by means of his alpenstock. Behind
him he could hear the panting breath of the two elder men, as they
hurried along stumbling and slipping. At last the gloom became denser,
the roar of wind increased, and the guides came to a standstill.

'We must halt here,' Giuseppe said; 'we are in the wood. We will rest
for a little while, and see if we can find a shelter and light a fire;
if not we must go on again. There is a break in the ground somewhere
about here. I must look for it.'

Mr. Fortescue and his friend lifted Clara from his back and he hurried
away. In a few minutes he returned.

'It is close by,' he said; 'we shall do there.'

He led the way, and in a minute they stood at the edge of a little
ravine some fifteen feet deep running through the wood. The girls were
carefully carried down to the bottom. The change in the temperature, now
they were sheltered from the wind, was very great. All three girls were
conscious, the motion and the heat of the guides' bodies having revived
both the Fortescues; none of them were, however, able to stand.

'Huddle as close together as you can, girls; the guides are going to try
and light a fire, and we shall soon have you comfortable.'

'Oh, by the way, I have a flask in my pocket with some brandy in it,'
Mr. Fortescue said. 'I had forgotten all about it until now.'

'Thank God for that,' Mr. Hawtrey said; 'it is worth fifty times its
weight in gold. Now take a good sip of it, girls, it will do you a world
of good.'

As soon as they were free of their burdens the guides, accompanied by
Captain Armstrong, had hurried away, and the former were soon engaged in
chopping off strips of bark from the pines, while the latter collected
sticks. A pile was soon heaped up close to where the girls were sitting,
a match struck, and in two or three minutes a bright fire was blazing.



CHAPTER XIV


Two men were sitting together in an inner room in a saloon in New
Orleans.

'I was never more surprised than when you came in yesterday, Bob;
regular floored I was. It was only a few days ago I was thinking over
that rig we were in together. We made a good bit out of that.'

'Yes, we didn't do badly. I have wished sometimes since that I had been
as deep in it as you were, and had bolted and cleared out altogether.'

'Yes, I made most out of it; but then you see I ran most risk by a long
way. You might have got a year or two for being mixed up in it, but what
with nobbling the horse and what with having to pretty near choke the
stable-boy, I should have got fourteen years safe. You could have been
with me in that if you had been game, instead of only taking the part of
getting round the girl, and persuading her to get the stable boy to slip
out to see her for five minutes. If the fools had played their part
better we should have got off without my having to meddle with him, but
she made such a poor story of it that he suspected something was up and
came back again and just met me as I was dropping from the window of the
loft. He knew me by sight, and there was nothing to do but to bolt,
while as you had been swelling it with those false moustaches no one
twigged you from the girl's description, and you were able to spend your
money at home.'

'Well, it did not do me much good. It went after the rest quick enough.'

'You knew where to find me from Laxey, I suppose? I know he is a pal of
yours.'

'Yes, we work together sometimes. We knew each other years and years
ago, when we both had money to spend, and spent it and more besides. He
had more than I had. He came into a biggish fortune when he came of age,
but ran through it in a couple of years. Then he had a bit of luck on
the turf, and more luck still they used to say at cards at the clubs he
belonged to, till he was one day kicked out of one of them, and that did
for him altogether, and he came down to the three-card dodge and games
of that sort. Yes, he was wonderfully clever at cards; could do almost
anything with them. I have seen him bet a company all round that he cut
a king three times following, let them shuffle them as much as they
liked, and he never touched the cards till he cut, and I never saw him
miss it though there were a score of men round looking at his fingers.'

'Aye, I have seen him do that trick, and nobody was ever able to make
out how he did it. He could make the cards do 'most anything. I have
written to him half a dozen times within the last few years, telling him
what an opening there was out here for a chap with such talents as he
has got; but I told him straight it was of no use his coming unless he
was ready to play with pistols as well as with cards, and I expect that
is what has kept him away. I fancy it was, from what he wrote. Laxey's
weak point was that he never had nerve--if it had not been for that, he
could have made money anywhere.'

'Well, he gave me your address. It suited my book to be out of England
for a few months, and when I had got across the water I said to myself,
"I will go down and see Joe Murdoch at New Orleans." I am not as handy
with the cards as Laxey, and I don't know who is, but I have worked the
three-card trick, and many an evening when Laxey and I have been
together, in my room or his, we spent an hour or two over the cards, and
he has put me up to some of his tricks, and I have worked at them when I
have had nothing else to do and could not sleep, till I have come to do
some of them pretty near as well as he does. I don't mean to say that I
thought of going into that line when I came down here, but I said to
myself, "There is Joe Murdoch; we have played more than one game
together, and I can trust him and I think he can trust me. He has been
out here six years, and I expect he must know the ropes and can give me
some good advice, whether we go in for anything together or not."'

'That is so, Warbles. We can run straight together, or if we don't run
together perhaps I can put you on to a line of country where you may
make good running for yourself. You left England suddenly, I suppose?'

The other nodded.

'Turf business?'

'No; I suppose they would call it money under false pretences. I only
ran dark; it was a girl I have got here with me that did the trick.'

'Brought a girl over with you, Warbles? Well, I should not have thought
you would have bothered yourself with a girl out here.'

'Well, no, I don't suppose I should if it hadn't been that I expected to
make her useful. She goes as my daughter, and she looks on me as an old
friend of her father's.'

'Is that so?' the other asked doubtfully.

'That is so, Joe. The girl is straight--as straight as a line. I met
her--never mind how I met her--but I saw she was a sharp girl and would
be a good-looking one, and it struck me that such a girl could be made
very useful. I had her taught a bit and trained, and I fancy she could
pass anywhere as a lady. Well, you know when a respectable gentleman of
my age with an uncommon pretty daughter arrives at a big hotel, say at
Scarborough or Brighton, and the girl is clever, you can see for
yourself that there is money to be made in lots of ways. Young men make
the acquaintance of the gentleman for the sake of the girl. They will
come up to his rooms and, after a little supper, they may take a hand at
écarté. Then you see a young girl can get round a young flat with some
pitiful story or other, and get a loan from him to meet temporary
difficulties. Then when the time gets near for leaving, she may take a
fancy to a few things from jewellers and have them sent to choose from.
Altogether there is no end of money to be made if the game is played
well.'

'Yes, I see that. But your coming over here shows that the game can be
cut short.'

'No, that is the game I am going to play when I go back. We worked in a
different direction last time and brought it off. I think we might have
stopped safely enough, but I had particular reasons for wanting to get
here out of the way, so I tell you I ran off the track and came over
here. Do you think that game could be played here?'

'Not much,' the other replied. 'At some of the summer resorts it might
be done, but it could not last long. There ain't enough big towns and
places to work in; besides, at our hotels there ain't the same chance of
getting to know people that there is at home, or in Paris, or in those
places. People sit down to a little table to themselves to their meals,
and there is no sort of general meeting-place. You would find it very
hard to work it. Got some money, I suppose?'

'About five hundred pounds, Joe.'

The other smoked in silence for two or three minutes.

'Twenty-five hundred dollars,' he said at last, 'is a tidy sum, but it
would not go far here. Besides, if you are thinking of doing anything
with the cards you would have to move about. It wouldn't do to bide too
long anywhere. They are up to most tricks, I can tell you, and they
would think here no more of shooting a man they had a suspicion of
playing false than you would of eating your dinner. Stores are paying
well here, because there is a crowd of people going through to the West,
and most of them lay in their stock for the journey here, but
twenty-five hundred dollars would go no way towards a store. If I were
to sell out, I could with what I could get for this place and what I
have got by me put as much more in. Still, five thousand dollars would
be no use for a store that would make anything of a show. I have thought
a good deal about going West myself.'

'West?' the other repeated doubtfully.

'Yes, to California; there is big money to be made out there; I don't
mean in digging for gold. In a place like that it don't want a deal of
capital. A big tent and a few casks of spirits and a stock of cheap
wines and some tables and benches is about all; but that would be too
much for me by the time I had made the journey across. With your money
and mine I don't know that we mightn't manage it, and if we could it
ought to pay big money. I could run the saloon, you could work the card
rig in a room behind, and if the girl is as good-looking as you say she
is, she would fetch them in crowds if she looked after the bar. There
are no end of mining camps, I hear, and the miners just chuck their gold
about, and one could move off from one to another when we found the game
playing out.'

'It sounds a good thing,' Warbles said, 'but it is a long journey, isn't
it?'

'Well, yes, it's a long journey, there's no denying that, but there are
hundreds of people starting every week. Most of them go by the Southern
route, but I am told it is a much better way to go up the river by
steamer to a place called Omaha, which is growing into a big town, and
strike across from there.'

'It is not the difficulty but the time I am thinking of. I only intended
to stop for a few months.'

'What difference will that make? You want to get money, I suppose? Well,
you would get as much in a week there as you would in a month by your
scheme, which might be cut short any day, and you might find yourself
with your hair cropped and in for five years. Why, from what I have
heard, there are men coining money out there at drinking-saloons, and
after two or three years of it we might cut it and go home, and keep
race-horses of our own if we liked.'

'Well, I will think it over, Joe. It is a biggish thing to decide on,
but there ought certainly to be money in it. As you say there is no
chance of getting five years, but it seems to me from what I have heard
of it there is a goodish chance of a pistol-bullet or a stab from a
bowie-knife.'

'I expect all that there is exaggerated; besides the rows are between
the men that drink, and not between them and those that sell drink; as
to the cards there is no occasion to do any hanky panky with them,
unless you see you have got a greenhorn to deal with and the chances are
good. The cards pay anyhow: they bring men into the place and they help
to sell the drink.'

'Well, I will think it over,' Warbles repeated. 'I am getting tired of
doing nothing all day; how I shall get through three or four months of
it is more than I can think. Perhaps I might as well do this as anything
else. The girl would certainly be useful. To tell you the truth she is
pretty difficult to manage, and I am not sure she might not after a time
kick over the traces altogether; but I don't think she would mind what
we are talking about; I am sure it will be more to her taste than the
other. Well, I will come in again in the morning; it is too big a thing
to be decided on straight off.'

Warbles went back to his hotel. A girl was standing at the window,
looking out upon the river; she turned round as he entered.

'Well, have you settled anything?' she asked. 'I am sick of doing
nothing, but just thinking and thinking.'

'Care killed a cat, Linda,' the man said lightly. 'Thinking is a pure
waste of time. I have had a long talk with Murdoch and he has put an
entirely new idea into my head.'

'An honest idea, of course,' she said scornfully.

'You may scarcely believe me, but you are right, my dear; it is a
strictly honest line.'

The girl looked at him intently.

'Well, let us hear what it is,' she said; 'you promised me the other
should be the last. I did not believe it, and told you so. I shall find
it hard to believe that there is not something crooked about this
somewhere.'

'Well, there; isn't it just honest trade?' and he repeated the
conversation he had had with Murdoch, omitting, however, all allusions
to his skill at cards. Her face brightened as he went on.

'That will do,' she said; 'I should say that will do first-rate. When I
was a young 'un I often peeped in at the doors of big public-houses. I
used to think the women behind the bars had a fine time of it. I should
not think so now--at least, not in a big town--but in places like those
you talk of, it would be different altogether. I should like the
journey, too; it would be like going with gipsies, which I used to think
would be the happiest life in the world. I was afraid when we got out
here you would be wanting to do another thing like the last, and I would
not have helped you--at any rate, not till we were getting down to our
last shilling. But I like the thought of this, and I will do my best for
you. I suppose they are a rough wild lot out there, but I think I can
take care of myself. But this time, mind, I shall want a share; I am not
going to work for years and then be thrown over when it suits you. I
will have my share of the profits paid over to me once a week or once a
month at the outside, and will put it away where I like. How much are
you going to put into this thing?'

'I told him I could manage five hundred, and he said he could do the
same, but I doubt whether that will be enough to carry it out properly.'

'Well, you have got two thousand left now. You said you would go halves
with me. I don't want that, but give me five hundred and you can tell
this man that I have got that money of my own and am ready to put it in
with yours, but that I am going to have an even share. I know you are
calculating that my good looks will draw, and no doubt they will. I am
not a fool, and can see what you are after; and I can see, too, that it
won't be an easy game for me to play. These miners, with their pistols
and their knives, are not like the young fellows who come into a London
bar. They will be in real earnest out there, and it will be a dangerous
game to play with them. One has got to be pleasant with everyone and not
to give a smile more to one than to another; not to give one the right
to think that he has a chance or causes him to believe that another has
a better one than he has.'

'I think that is rather too much, Sal,' Mr. Warbles said, doubtfully. 'I
have always been kind to you.'

'There is no occasion to have any lying between us,' she broke in. 'Why
you took me up and paid for me for years I don't know, and I don't
suppose I ever shall know, but, at any rate, I know you well enough to
be sure that it was not out of pure kindness. If it had been, would you
have put me into the hands of a woman who was always drunk? Would you
have left me to be brought up in that court, to grow up a young thief,
who might any day have been taken off and hauled before a beak? Do you
think I am such a fool as to swallow that? Then came the time when you
took me away, I saw you look me over. I saw that you said to yourself,
"She will do."

'What I was to do for you I neither knew nor cared. You said you would
have me taught--that was enough for me. Then I had three quiet years,
and I made the most of them. You told me something that first day about
expecting me to be useful to you, and when the time came I carried out
your orders. It was only right to do so; you had bought my services. It
was a bargain--but don't let us call it anything else. From the first
you had an object in saving me from starving or from the workhouse, and
I suppose you thought that object was worth spending money on. But
certainly the object was not kindness. You were always kind when you
came to see me once a year all the time I was with that woman, and it is
for that more than anything else that I am ready to help you and to
carry out your orders, but I don't want to be altogether at your mercy,
still less at the mercy of the man you are going to take as partner.

'I will work with you but not under you. I don't want to interfere in
your plans, and as you would be two to one of course you could outvote
me if I did. Still, it will give me a better position if it is known
that I am your partner and not your drudge, and I shall know that I
cannot be cast off or thrown aside and left alone and friendless, and
that I can, if I like, wash my hands of the business.'

'I would not mind agreeing,' Mr. Warbles said, after sitting rubbing his
chin thoughtfully for some time. 'I should not mind your having a third
of the profits, and I think that would be fair enough seeing that you
would put in a third of the capital; and as you rightly suppose, we
consider that you would prove a great help to us. But suppose you took
it into your head to marry, where should we be then?'

The girl waved her hand impatiently. 'I am not likely to marry,' she
said.

'So you think at present, Linda, and so a good many other girls have
thought. Still, there it is. I have got to put the matter before
Murdoch, and it has got to be put in a business shape. Would you be
willing, if we agree with you that as long as you remain with us you
take a third share of the profits, in case of your leaving us, either to
marry or for any other cause, to forfeit your third of the concern? You
see if you weren't to do that your husband, if you had one, might set
himself down as a third owner; or, supposing you did not marry, you
might get a good offer for your share and sell out, and that would not
be fair on us.'

'No, that would not be fair. Yes, I would agree to that. I am to be
joint proprietor with you both, and to take my third of the profits to
do what I like with, but if I leave you I forfeit all I have in the
concern. We will have the agreement made before a lawyer. As far as I am
concerned, there shall be two copies made; one I will take with me, the
other I shall leave with him, so that if by any chance I lose mine I
shall be able to prove my rights. Of course, I have no fear with you,
papa; no man would wrong his daughter, but when there is a third person
in the matter it is as well that one should look after oneself.'

Mr. Warbles with difficulty repressed an angry ejaculation; however, he
was so impressed with the value of his ally that he mastered himself,
and said with an attempt at a smile, 'I had no idea you were such a
businesslike young woman, Sally.'

'I have always had to take care of myself a good deal,' she said
quietly, 'and I mean to do so as long as I can. Now it is time to go
down to lunch, I think; then we might go for a drive and have a look at
the place. Are you going to see your friend again to-day?'

'No, I told him I must think the matter over, and see whether you liked
the idea before I decided one way or the other.'

Joe Murdoch offered no objection whatever when Mr. Warbles informed him
of the conditions on which alone Miss Myrtle--for they had adopted
another name when booking for New Orleans--consented to join in the
venture.

'It is her money, I suppose, that she puts in?' he asked.

'It is her share of the last thing we pulled off.'

'Ah, well, it is hers then. Well, it is only fair that she should have a
third. You were quite right in insisting that if she left us she should
forfeit all further share in it. I don't like her any the worse for
being able to look after her own interests. One wants a long-headed girl
for this business; a weak fool, who would be ready to throw herself away
on the first good-looking miner with his pockets well filled, would be
of no use to us at all. One who would be inclined to flirt right and
left might be worse still, for there would be a shooting affair in the
place in no time. One wants just what I think she is, by your account of
what she said, a cool-headed, clever woman, who has the wit to see that
the best game is to steer clear of them all, show no preference to
anyone, and to give no one an excuse for being jealous. She is exactly
the one we want. I think even better of the thing than I did before,
Warbles. The extra five hundred will make all the difference in our
outfit; I should say it would take us five hundred to get across, but
then we should have the waggon and horses, and they would do to take the
tent or the frame and boardings of the house up, to work backwards and
forwards to the nearest town for spirits and food, and would pay its
expenses by hauling things for storekeepers. I reckon it is a first-rate
look-out.'

'Where would you buy the outfit?'

'Well, we can get a waggon in pieces all numbered and ready to put
together when we get to Omaha. We shan't want a very heavy one as there
are only three of us. We had better buy horses here; there is no saying
how much we might have to pay at Omaha; or, what would be better, I can
send a letter by a boat that starts this evening to a man I know who has
a farm near the last steamboat stopping-place, about a hundred miles
this side of Omaha, and give him a commission to buy me four of the
strongest horses he can get there, and to drive them to Omaha so as to
meet us by next Thursday's boat. There will be nothing to keep us beyond
then.'

'No, the sooner we are off the better. I suppose you know pretty well
what are the things people take with them?'

'Yes; it is generally about the same thing, flour, bacon, tea and sugar,
molasses, and baking-powder. Of course we shall want a few pounds of
salt and some pepper and mustard, and a keg of salt butter. That about
fills the list. Have you got any firearms?'

'No.'

'You will want a brace of Colts--that's revolvers, you know--and a bowie
knife, which is handy for all sorts of things. I have got everything.
The first thing to do is to have this agreement made; I can find a man
to draw it up.'

'That won't do. The girl said this morning that she should ask the
landlord of the hotel for the name of one of the most respectable
lawyers in our place, and should go with us when we give our
instructions to him.'

'Good,' Murdoch said; 'she must be chock full of good sense. It is clear
that there will be no getting over her easily. She is right, you know,
quite right; for the man I was thinking of going to might not have taken
sufficient care of her copy.' And he winked at his associate.

'That is what she suspected, no doubt,' Mr. Warbles said, in an injured
tone. 'After all I have done for her, it is hard to be distrusted.'

'It must be, I should say, Warbles, mightily hard, after, as you say,
all you have done for her.'

'She said when I came out she'd get the name and address before I came
back, and that I had better bring you with me, so that we could go
together at once. You had better tog yourself up a bit.'

'I should think so. You are such a respectable looking swell, Warbles,
that I ain't fit to walk down the street with you, let alone to be
introduced to a young lady. Well, just look at that paper for a few
minutes.'

Mr. Warbles sat down and amused himself until Murdoch's return in
watching the young man in charge of the bar who, having been up till
four o'clock in the morning, was now languidly wiping down the counter,
decanting liquids from one bottle to another, washing glasses, and
generally setting things straight. When Murdoch appeared he was dressed,
and Mr. Warbles looked at him approvingly.

'This is my English suit,' Murdoch explained. 'I have not put it on ten
times since I came over. You see, people here mostly wear either black
or white, with waistcoats cut low so as to show a lot of white shirt. I
dress their way, of course; as a rule it don't do to look peculiar;
besides, there is rather a prejudice against Britishers down here, and
it is no use rubbing them down the wrong way. If you dress as other
people do, and keep a quiet tongue in your head, you have a good chance
of steering clear of rows. Of course you cannot always do that when you
are running a saloon, but even here you can do fairly well if you keep
your eyes open and act according to character. If it is a great big
swaggering sort of bully who gets drunk and kicks up a row, I have
pistols always handy behind the bar, and when I jump over with one in
each hand I can generally get him out as quiet as a lamb. If I see that
it is a regular hard case, a fellow who means downright mischief, I lie
low and take no heed, only sending out my man quietly to fetch a
constable. As a rule he never finds one, still it makes all the
difference. If there is a man shot and an inquest the next morning I am
able to prove that I did my best to put a stop to the matter, and so I
get off without being blamed; for a New Orleans jury are not fools
enough to suppose anyone is going to shove himself between two angry men
when their hands go to their pistol pockets.'

When they arrived at the hotel Mr. Warbles asked his companion to stop
outside while he fetched the girl down.

Joe Murdoch had been prepared to see a good-looking young woman, but he
was completely taken aback by the appearance of the girl who came out
with Mr. Warbles. He had been on English racecourses long enough to be
able to distinguish a lady when he saw her, and he at once decided that
this girl would pass for one in any society. She was well but quietly
dressed, had a graceful walk and a good carriage, while her face was
exceptionally pretty. 'My eye,' he muttered to himself, 'wherever did
Warbles pick her up?'

'This is my old friend, Joe Murdoch, Linda'--for the name of Sally had
been dropped as being vulgar and objectionable, from the day her
training had begun. 'This is my adopted daughter, Joe.'

'Glad to meet her, I am sure,' Mr. Murdoch said, with a humility
altogether uncommon to him. 'I am very glad to think that we are going
to travel together, Miss Myrtle.'

'I shall be glad to travel anywhere, Mr. Murdoch. This seems to me a
dreary place.'

'Not dreary when you know it; far from that. It is a stirring place,
except in the old French quarters, but one wants to know it.'

'We took a drive yesterday,' Linda said; 'and it seems to me that it is
the worst smelling and most unhealthy sort of place I was ever in.'

'Well, yes, I can't say much for it in that way, and occasionally we get
yellow fever here bad, but I have never had an attack myself. Whose
office are we going to, Warbles?'

'I wish you would call me Myrtle,' the latter said irritably; 'there is
no good in calling up that old name here.'

'We are going to Mr. Searle's,' Linda said quietly; 'this is the street
I think. I got the directions how to find it at the hotel. He is a
respectable lawyer, I am told.'

'Very much so, Miss Myrtle, quite highly so. I believe that he is a very
sharp fellow too, and it is not always the two things go together. He
was with his father; the old man died two years ago, and now the young
one has got it all in his own hands. He does all the best shipping
business here.'

On entering they found that Mr. Searle was disengaged, and were at once
shown into his office.



CHAPTER XV


'We wish a deed of partnership drawn out between John Myrtle, that is
myself, Linda Myrtle, and Joseph Murdoch. Each of the three parties
agrees to put in the sum of five hundred pounds, which is to be jointly
expended on the journey to California, and on starting and carrying on a
saloon or other establishment there, the profits to be divided monthly,
each of the three parties becoming absolute possessor of his or her
share. In the event of Linda Myrtle marrying, or leaving the partnership
for any reason whatever, she is to forfeit all share in the property or
effects of the partnership.'

The lawyer listened attentively. 'Do either of the other parties
similarly forfeit their share on leaving the partnership?'

'No; but it might be as well to put in a clause that in the event of his
doing so the partner remaining has the first option of purchasing his
share at a price to be fixed upon by an umpire agreed upon by both.'

'I have a question to ask,' the girl said suddenly. 'Would such a deed
as this be rendered useless or invalid if the names of one or more of
the parties were not those properly belonging to them?'

The lawyer looked at her in surprise. 'It would certainly be very
desirable that the real names should be inserted. This, however, would
not be indispensable if the identity of the parties with those named
here could be proved; for instance if you were to come here to prove the
deed I could testify that you were the lady who signed as Linda Myrtle,
and that under that name for example, you registered at the hotel, and
were generally known. Did you wish to prove it elsewhere, you would take
an affidavit that you were the person designated and known as Linda
Myrtle. Did you sign under your real name, whatever it might be, it
would be just as difficult for you in California to prove that you were
entitled to it, as to that under which you sign. You intend, I suppose,
to continue to pass under the name given, and will be generally known by
it. Moreover, in case of necessity, you might write to me and forward
your likeness, and I could then make an affidavit to the effect that the
original of that portrait was the lady who in my presence signed the
deed of partnership under the name of Linda Myrtle.'

'We should each wish to have copies of the deed of partnership, and I
desire that a fourth copy may be made, and this I shall request you to
hold in charge for me, so that in case I should at any time lose or be
deprived of my copy, I should, by applying to you, be able to obtain
another copy.'

'I will certainly do that, Miss Myrtle, and I think it a very wise
precaution on your part. I will have the draft ready this afternoon,'
the lawyer said; 'I shall be glad if you will call in at three o'clock
to see if it meets your joint views, and if so, I will have the
deed--which will be a very short one--copied four times in readiness for
the signatures in the morning.'

'What did you want to go on like this for, Linda?' Mr. Warbles grumbled,
as he went out into the street. 'Why, the man will suppose that you
suspect us of some plot to rob you.'

'No, I don't suspect anything particular, but there is nothing like
having things put on a satisfactory footing. I see that it is for our
interest that we should act square to each other, and I certainly see no
reason whatever why you should wish to get rid of me. Still, no one can
say what might happen. After all, I am only ensuring to myself my share
of the profits so long as I do my share of the business as well as I
can--and I should think from what you have seen of my powers of acting,
you can rest well assured that I shall do it very well--but I want to be
independent, and I will be so. I don't know anything of this place we
are going to, except that the men are rough and quarrelsome, and I want,
if after two or three months trial I find the life altogether unbearable
to be able to leave, with money enough in my pocket to pay my fare to
San Francisco, if not home, and to be able to keep myself until I can
find some situation.'

'You are right enough, Miss Linda,' Joe Murdoch broke in, 'and I haven't
the least feeling against you for what you have said and done. I like
you all the better that you can stand up for yourself, and though I am
not much of a fighting man I will promise you I will stand by you out
there whatever comes. Any man that says a word to you that he ought not
to say I will reckon with him. I ain't a straight man myself and never
have been since I was a kid, but, by gosh, I would be cut in pieces
rather than see anything happen to a girl that is as straight as you
are.'

'Thank you, Joe,' she said, quietly holding out her hand to him. 'I did
not know you before, but now that I do, I feel there is no occasion for
me to have that fourth copy made.'

'You have it made, miss; it is best you should have one. I might go
under and Bob might get another partner, or he might go under and I
might get another partner, and in either case it would save trouble if
you have your rights clearly marked out and set down.'

'Let us go down to the wharf, Joe,' his comrade said, changing the
conversation. 'It is all as good as settled now, and we may as well
begin to get the things. How long will it take us?'

'It won't take more than two hours, any way,' Joe said. 'There are big
stores here where we can get every mortal thing we want. We could go by
the boat to-night if we wanted to, but we don't want to. In the first
place I have got to settle about selling my saloon, and in the second
the order for the horses is only going by to-night's boat, and it ain't
no manner of use our getting into Omaha before they do. It would cost us
twice as much to live in a shanty, where every square foot is occupied
by sleepers, than it would to stop comfortably in an hotel here. I shall
not be long in getting rid of my place. Two or three of the men who use
it have asked me at one time or another what I would take to clear out
of it. It is handy for the river, and I do a fairish trade with sailors
of an evening. Still, it would take a day or two to arrange it, and it
will never do to look as if one was in a hurry. If they thought I wanted
to clear out they would not offer half the sum they would if they
thought that I did not care one way or the other about making a deal.'

They walked along the wharves looking at the steamers.

'There are plenty of them going up the river,' Murdoch said, 'but
Thursday's boat is the first that goes up to Omaha, and that is about as
close as we can cut it. It is Monday now, and the day is pretty near
half gone; I reckon I shall want all the time for carrying out my deal.
I will go now and see one of the chaps I spoke of. At three o'clock we
have got to meet at that lawyer's office, and then if you like we will
go and get our outfit, and take our passages. I have got more than
enough money to pay for my share. If you will take my advice, Miss
Linda, you will go back to the hotel and overhaul your things and see
what you want for the journey. You will want some good strong plain
dresses and serviceable things underneath, for it is a rough business I
can tell you. You want a store of all sorts of little things--buttons
and such like, needles and thread and all that sort of thing--and plenty
of stout shoes that will bear knocking about. You must bear in mind that
you won't see a shop for four or five months; but remember the less
baggage you take the better, as I have heard that many a waggonload of
emigrants going across the plains have had to chuck everything
overboard, kit and food and all except a sack of flour, so as to lighten
the waggons when the horses broke down. I am not sure, Bob, that it
would not be wiser to write for six horses, or better still for two
mules for wheelers and four horses. It may cost a bit more, but it will
make things more easy and will give us a better chance of getting to the
end of our journey with all our kit.'

'All right, Joe; you know more of these things than I do. If you think
that six are best, order them. I suppose the tent we shall get out
there.'

'Yes, the tent is a mighty heavy thing. I should never think of dragging
that with us.'

'I should not have given you credit for being so soft, Murdoch,'
Truscott growled, as after seeing the girl into the hotel, they turned
away together.

'I dare say not. Softness ain't much in my line, but that girl fetched
me altogether. Here she is, right away from England and without a friend
in the world, and she speaks out as firm and as brave as if she had
twenty men within call ready to help her. If she had been one of the
crying sort she would have got no pity from me, but she regular took my
breath away when she spoke out like that, and I says to myself, "She has
got to be ridden on a snaffle; just touch the curb and she will bolt
with you and will break your neck as well as her own." But I meant what
I said for all that. She is just the girl for what we want, and if she
finds we treat her well and act square by her she will act square by us.
She will keep them all at a distance, and keep her head straight all the
time; only you will have to humour her. I don't know where you picked
her up, but I should wager a dollar to a cent that she is thoroughbred.'

'You would not have said so if you had seen her three years and a half
ago, when I picked her out from a slum in London.'

'I might not have said so then, that is likely enough; one can't always
tell whether a yearling is going to turn out a good horse, and a good
many who think they are clever get sucked in over it; but a man who has
an eye to horseflesh can tell whether a three-year-old is well bred or
not, and I guess I am not far out with this one. Yes, I am struck over
her. It is not often that women, or men either for that matter, get on
the soft side of me. You know pretty well that I wasn't afraid of
running a bit of risk in the old days, and you may guess that this
country doesn't make a baby of one. No, sir, I have seen pistols and
knives out pretty often since I came here, and would use them myself if
there was any occasion, and I guess that if we ever get into a mess you
will find I shall play my part as well as you do; only I want it clearly
understood that in this job we are going in for I am ready to go through
it whatever comes; but I am fixed in my mind that we are going to act
straight to that girl.'

'Who wants not to act straight?' the other said angrily. 'Haven't I
brought her all the way out here because I thought she would be useful?
Couldn't I have slipped away with all the pot we had made, and left her
behind me if I had wanted to? And who is talking about my not acting
square with her now?'

'That is right enough, mate; we won't quarrel over it. So that we three
all act straight to each other all round I am satisfied.'

They did not get away from New Orleans as soon as they had expected. The
various purchases were all made in ample time, but the business of
disposing of Murdoch's saloon was not so speedily arranged. He suggested
that the other two should go on by the 'Mississippi Belle,' and that he
should follow by the next steamer, but Warbles was against this.

'A week won't make much difference one way or the other,' he said. 'It
is better that we should keep together. You are more up to the ropes
here than I am. I suppose they will change our tickets for those of next
week's boat?'

'There will be no difficulty about that; I could change them in five
minutes. There are lots of people who could not get berths on her, and
have had to take them in the next boat, and they would jump at the
chance of going up at once.'

It was not until they had been at New Orleans nearly three weeks that
Murdoch's business was finally arranged and everything was ready for a
start. Warbles was in no particular hurry; he had been accustomed to do
a great deal of aimless loafing about during his career, and found
plenty to amuse him, looking at the busy scene by the riverside; but at
last all was ready, and their goods were all on board the steamer that
was to start on the following morning.

'There is a New York steamer signalled coming up,' Murdoch said, as they
stood together smoking on one of the quays. 'She will be in by five
o'clock. It is the 'Savannah'; she is a smart boat, and I guess she has
made the passage down in four or five days quicker time than you did.'

'I am glad she is in before we start. I dare say she will have papers
from England a good week later than any we have got here. It is as well
to get the last news while we can. We shan't have the chance for some
months again.'

'I don't care for English papers now. I look at them, because sometimes
an English skipper or mate comes into my place, and when they find I am
a countryman and know something about the turf, they will put a few
dollars on some horse or other for the Derby. If the news is expected in
before they sail, sometimes they will turn to the English paper and pick
out a horse just for the fun of the thing for some other race of which
the news ought to be in in a day or two, and put two or three dollars on
it. If it was not for that I should never take the trouble to look at
them, though I always take them regular in the saloon.'

It was not long before a steamer appeared at a distant turn of the
river, and as she came up to the city the two men walked down to the
wharf, where she would arrive, and where a crowd of idlers like
themselves had already assembled. As she warped alongside, Truscott gave
a sudden exclamation and nervously grasped his companion's arm.

'What is up?' the latter asked angrily. 'Confound it, there is no
occasion to grip a man like that. I thought for a moment a big dog had
got hold of me. What is the matter with you?'

Truscott had pulled his hat far down over his eyes.

'Do you see that man upon the hurricane deck, with his hands in his
pockets smoking a cigar?'

'Yes, I see him fast enough; he is an Englishman, one can tell with half
an eye. Well, what about him?'

'Take a good look at him so as to know him again, and then let us get
out of this and I will tell you.'

Murdoch took another look and then followed his companion out of the
crowd.

'Well, you look as if you had had a facer,' he said, when they had moved
a hundred yards away. 'I have seen chaps look like that when they have
had every penny they own in the world on the favourite and it has not
even been placed.'

'I feel something like that, Joe. I believe that fellow is on my track?'

'You do; why, how can that be? How can he have followed you here?'

'That is more than I can say, but it don't much matter if he has
followed me.'

'Are you sure it is the man?'

'Quite sure. I am a good hand at faces. One wants to be when one is a
bookmaker and don't always find it convenient to pay up. I saw that man
at the Oaks; he was talking for some time to a man I knew--the very man
who was mixed up in the job I pulled off before leaving England.'

'You mean it was his money you got at?'

'Yes. Well, that fellow you saw there has been after me. Two or three of
my pals told me there had been a man asking about me on the racecourses,
and one day, it was the only time I went down, one of them pointed him
out to me. He got into the train with me at Epsom; he thought I did not
see him, but I did. He got into the next compartment, but I slipped him
at Vauxhall, and did not see any more of him. I believe that fellow is
on my track, though how he has got hold of it is more than I can guess.
Anyhow, I cannot believe it is accident that brings him alongside of me
again. I should not be surprised if he has got a warrant against the
girl and me in his pocket now.'

'Well, he has brought his pigs to the wrong market if he has,' Murdoch
said fiercely; 'we have gone into this affair now, and if anyone thinks
he is going to meddle with us he will find he is mistaken. Well, there
ain't any time to be lost; if he happens to go to the same hotel you are
at the game is up. You had best go straight back, get a carriage and
have all your things taken right down to the boat; then if you are
smart, you will be in time to get on board the boat that starts in two
hours for Baton Rouge. Get off there and be on the look out for our boat
as she comes along to-morrow. I shall be up in the bow; if you see me
wave my handkerchief you will know it is all right, and you can step
right on board; if you don't see me wave, do you and the girl move off
at once; get behind one of the stores, and come on by the next boat. I
don't think it likely he will be there, mighty unlikely, but it is just
as well to settle what to do in case he is. If he should by any chance
guess that the Mr. and Miss Myrtle he sees in the hotel books are the
pair he is looking for, he would find out that they are bound up the
river, and in the morning he might go down to the steamer to see if it
is them. He would watch till she went off, and when he found out that
you are not among the passengers he would think that he had made a
mistake, and go back to the hotel again, and would hunt about in other
places before he had made up his mind that you had given him the slip.
It is a week before another steamer goes up to Omaha, and we should be a
week out on the plains before he got there.'

'I should like to see anyone talking about an arrest out there. However,
I don't think you need be afraid of him; I fancy I can arrange about
that.'

'You ain't going----'

'Never mind what I am going to do,' the other interrupted. 'I am not
going to have our plans broken up, nor the pleasure of our journey
spoilt by being hunted as if we were dogs. I don't know who this fellow
is, and I don't care; if he chooses to meddle with our affairs, he has
got to take the consequences; he is not in London now. There, don't
stand here another minute; he may land in half-an-hour, and you have got
to be out of the hotel before then. I heard the girl say that the boxes
were all packed. Mind, first get the boxes on board, then go to the
wharf and get on board the Baton Rouge steamer. Look out for our boat;
if you see me wave my white handkerchief it is safe to come on board; if
not, slip away and get behind something till we go on again; then come
by next boat. If he gets off at any of the landings, going up the river,
I shall get off too, and come on board again as you come along.'

Murdoch went back to the landing-place. The passengers were pouring off
the steamer with bags and boxes of all kinds. The man he was to watch
was still walking quietly up and down the hurricane deck, evidently in
no hurry to land until the rush was over. Sometimes he stopped to speak
a word or two to a boy who was standing at the rail, watching the others
landing.

'I guess that fellow is with him,' Murdoch muttered. 'It may be some boy
he has made friends with on the passage. If he has brought him from
England it must be because the boy knows Tom and the girl; but if he
does he could do no harm if the other was out of the way. You are taking
it cool and quiet, my fine fellow. If you guessed that every five
minutes you spent there spoilt your chance, you would not take it quite
so easily.'

It was a good half-hour before the stream of passengers and porters with
baggage had ceased crossing the gangway; then the man and boy left the
hurricane deck, and a minute or two later appeared at the gangway,
followed by two men with portmanteaux. There was but one vehicle
remaining by the wharf. Murdoch knew the driver.

'Mike,' he said, 'here are a couple of dollars for you. If that man just
landing tells you to drive him to Planter's Hotel you take him somewhere
else. Pretend you misunderstood him. I have my reasons for not wanting
him to go there.'

'All right, I will take him to Reardon's; it is at the other end of the
town.'

'Come back here and let me know where you put him down,' and Murdoch
moved off as the gentleman came up to the carriage.

He watched them drive off, and then took a seat on a baulk of timber
till Mike returned.

'He told me to take him to the Crescent City, and it's there I put him
down, Mr. Murdoch.'

'All right, Mike; I don't care where he goes so that it isn't to
Planter's.' Then he walked away, and after threading several of the
worst streets of the town, stopped at a low wine shop. There was no one
in but the man behind the bar.

'They tell me that you have sold out, Murdoch, and are going West. Is it
true?'

'That is right. I have had enough of this. I am going to try my luck
West. Have you got Black Mat with you still?'

'No. You will find him at Luttrell's. You know the place, at the corner
of Plantation Street. That is to say, he was there a fortnight ago, if
he has not got shot or hung since. Not thinking of taking him with you?'

'No.' Murdoch laughed. 'He is strong enough and would be useful, but he
gets so confoundedly sulky if he takes a drop too much. That was why I
had to get rid of him. He got into three or four rows, and I had him on
my hands each time for over a fortnight, so I thought he had better go.'

'Yes, you told me about it. I found him useful here, especially when I
wanted the place cleared; but it would not do, he broke one fellow's
shoulder throwing him out, and it was getting me a bad name.'

'Well, good-bye,' Murdoch said. 'I am off by the boat to-morrow. I will
look you up if I come back this way, and let you know how I have got
on.'

Five minutes later Murdoch turned into Luttrell's. A powerful negro,
whose face was disfigured by the scars of several cuts and gashes at
once came up to him. 'Waall, boss, how are you?'

'I am all right, Mat. I came to have a word with you.'

'There ain't no one to prevent you. The boss has just gone out. We don't
do no business here till late.'

'What I want you for is this, Mat. There is a friend of mine just come
from New York. He is going up the River with me, but there is a police
chap just come down after him, and, like enough, he will be at the boat
to put his hand on his shoulder. I want to arrange that he shan't be
there, you understand; I don't want him killed, but I just want him to
have a hint that he had better not meddle with other people's
business--a hint, you know, strong enough to lay him up for three weeks
or a month; and I should not mind paying twenty dollars to the man who
gives him the hint.'

'You point him out to me and the job will be done, boss; only I don't
sees as I can hit it to exact three weeks or a month. When one is in a
bit of a hurry it ain't no easy matter to figure it out just exact.'

'Well, we are not particular to a week; what we want is not to be
bothered with him.'

'I will fix that, boss. You can go on board that boat with your mind
easy.'

'Of course you can't go now?'

'Well, I could go, if it was downright necessary, but it would be rough
on the boss to find no one here when he came back. I expect he will be
in in ten minutes. He said if anyone asked for him he would be back in
half-an-hour, and it is getting on for that now.'

'I will wait, then; I know Luttrell very well; he will let you go out
for a bit with me if I ask him.'

The keeper of the saloon soon returned. 'I can do without him,' he said,
when Murdoch told him that he wanted the negro to do a job for him. 'I
don't expect it will be a very busy night, and if it is I will call my
wife down, and put her behind the bar, while I keep things straightened
out.'

Upon arriving at the hotel Captain Hampton dined quietly. Then he went
to the clerk's desk, had a talk with him over the people who had been
staying there and showed him Dorothy's photograph.

'Nothing like that been here,' the clerk said positively. 'I should have
noticed her at once if she had been.'

'I have no reason to suppose that she came here more than to any other
hotel,' Hampton said. 'I will go round in the morning and try the
others. I suppose there are not a great many where a gentleman with a
lady with him would be likely to put up?'

'Not more than six, I should say, at the outside,' the clerk said, and
gave the names, which Captain Hampton at once wrote down in a note-book.

'It is just possible that they might not have come here at all, but may
have stopped at Mobile, where the steamer touched on her way down;
still, I think it much more likely that they have come here.' Then he
went upstairs and wrote a chatty letter to Danvers, giving him an
account of the voyage.

'I hear there is a steamer leaves to-morrow, and I hope to be able to
give you some news before I close this. I am going round the hotels the
first thing, and hope, if not to find them, to get some news of them.
The latter is most probable. I don't see Truscott could have any motive
in stopping here, and I shall expect to find that they only stayed a day
or two and then went up the river. I have a strong conviction he means
to go to California; but even in that case he may have chosen some other
route--have gone down to Panama and crossed the isthmus there, or may
have taken steamer to Galveston and started from there by the southern
route, though I don't think that is likely, for the Indians are worse on
that line than on the other. Anyhow, whichever route they have taken I
shall follow. I wrote from New York to the War Office, asking that my
leave might be extended for another six months from the end of the year,
on very urgent business that compelled me to travel in America. I have
sent a private letter to Colonel Eversfield, telling him something of
the nature of the work I have in hand, and asking him to back up my
request. I have no doubt he can manage it. That ought to give me plenty
of time; but if the worst comes to the worst and I find myself pinched I
must take ship at San Francisco and get to China, and from there by a P.
and O. to India. This will be the last letter you will get, I fancy, for
a very long time; though for aught I know there may be means of sending
off letters from some of the stations on the plains.'

He addressed an envelope, laid it by the unfinished letter, and then
went downstairs. It was dark now, and beckoning to Jacob, who was
sitting in the hall, to accompany him, he strolled out through the door.
For nearly an hour they wandered about, and at the end of that time came
out on the quays.



CHAPTER XVI


'It is pleasant here, Jacob, after those close streets.'

'It is an awful place for smells, Captain.'

'It is smelly, Jacob. I fancy the town was built on a swamp; I think I
have read something about it. Well, there are no smells here; suppose we
sit down and look at the river for a bit, the air is fresh and
pleasant.'

A minute later a man with naked feet stole up behind them. He was close
to them before any sound warned them of his approach. Jacob looked round
and uttered a sharp exclamation. Captain Hampton was in the act of
springing to his feet when he received a violent blow on the shoulder,
and fell face foremost on the ground. With a cry of rage Jacob sprang at
his assailant and caught him by the throat. The man shook him off and
brought down his hand on the top of his head with such force that he
fell insensible. Then he stooped over Captain Hampton, and having turned
him over on his back felt in his pockets, but rose with an exclamation
of disgust, having only found two or three dollars in them, as Captain
Hampton had taken the precaution of laying aside his watch and emptying
his pockets of money and papers before leaving his room. Ten minutes
later some sailors coming along the wharf came across Jacob, who was
just trying to get on to his feet.

'Hello, mate, what is the matter?'

'I dunno,' he replied stupidly.

'Been having a drop too much?'

'No, it ain't that--oh, I remember now. I was there with my master,
sitting on that log, when a great nigger attacked us. He stabbed my
master, and I suppose he stabbed me; I don't remember much about it
except that I got hold of his throat.'

'Where is your master?'

The question completely aroused Jacob's faculties, and he hurried round
to the other side of the log.

'Here he is,' he cried. 'Oh, my dear master, are you hurt bad?' and
stooping over him he burst out crying.

'That won't do any good, lad,' the sailor said. 'Here, let us have a
look at him. He has been stabbed, sure enough, Jack. He is just soaking
with blood.'

'Is he dead, Bill?'

The sailor tried to turn the body over, but as he did so there was a
faint moan.

'He ain't gone yet, that's clear. Who is he, boy?'

'He is Captain Hampton, an English gentleman. We only got in here this
afternoon. He is staying at the Crescent City.'

'Well, we can't let him lie here. You stay here with him, Jack, and we
will go off and get some one to carry him.'

In a few minutes the men returned with two constables carrying a
stretcher; on this the body was placed, four of the sailors lifted it
and carried it to the hotel, and then up to his room, where two surgeons
were quickly in attendance. Jacob stood by listening with breathless
anxiety to their talk as they examined his master.

'Will he die, sir?' he asked, in a broken voice, as they rose from the
examination.

'No, I reckon he hasn't had his call this time, but it has been a close
thing. What was he doing when he was struck?'

'He was just getting up, sir, from the log that he was sitting on.'

'Ah, that saved him; another half inch and we could have done nothing
for him. You see, he was struck from above; the wound is just behind the
shoulderbone, and it has gone right down inside the bladebone, but has
missed the lungs altogether--at least, we think so. Do you see that dark
mark under the skin below the bone? That is where the point of the knife
came to. Of course he has lost a lot of blood, but there is no reason
why, if he goes on well, he should not be about again soon. Did he
drink?'

'No, sir,' Jacob replied indignantly.

'Well, that is all in his favour; in this climate a man with his blood
heated has but a poor chance if he gets hurt. He is English, the clerk
told me as I came up?'

'Yes, sir; he is an English captain.'

'Ah, well, he will have a chance of fighting some more battles yet. You
are his servant, I hear?'

'Yes, sir.'

'Well, you are not going to lose your master this time; you had better
sit up with him to-night. We will get a nurse for him in the morning. I
will order some lemonade to be sent up, and will bring round some
medicine in half an hour, and sit here for a bit. Doctor Hawthorne will
wait until I come back.'

By this time they had finished bandaging the wound.

'Hullo, what is the matter with you?' he exclaimed, as Jacob reeled and
would have fallen had he not caught him. 'Here is another patient,
Hawthorne. The boy is bleeding from the head somewhere. I thought he
looked half stupid.'

They laid him down and examined him.

'He has had a tremendous blow on the head,' the other said. 'It has cut
right through the cap and has laid the bone bare. I expect that thick
cap saved his life. I wonder what he was struck with.'

They bathed the boy's head with iced water for some time. Presently he
opened his eyes.

'Do not move, lad; you have had an awkward blow on the head. You must
lie still for a bit, else we shall be having you on our hands too. What
did he hit you with?'

'I dunno, sir; he had nothing in his hand but the knife.'

'It wasn't done with a fist,' Doctor Hawthorne said, 'and is certainly
not the cut of a knife.'

'I fancy it was done with the handle of the knife,' the other said. 'The
negro could have had no motive in killing the boy. I expect he had the
knife in his hand, and he struck down on him with the end of the hilt.
That would make just the sort of wound this is. You see, it is a little
to one side of the centre of the skull, and so glanced off the bone. If
it had caught him fairly in the centre it would have staved in the skull
to a certainty.' They placed a pillow from the sofa under the boy's
head, gave him a little lemonade to drink, and then one of the doctors
left, after having aided in placing Captain Hampton on the bed, propped
up almost into a sitting position by pillows. Jacob dozed off into a
confused sleep. Occasionally he woke up and saw the doctor sitting by
his master's bedside, and then relapsed into sleep. At last he started
up at the sound of a voice. The sun was gleaming through the window and
the doctor was standing speaking to Captain Hampton.

'You have a nasty wound,' he was saying, 'but fortunately it has not
touched any vital point. You have been simply insensible from loss of
blood. There is every chance of your doing well, but you must not try to
move.'

'What is the matter with Jacob?' Captain Hampton said feebly, as the boy
appeared at the foot of his bed with a wet towel still bound round his
head.

'I am all right, Captain, though I feel queer and my head is aching
terribly; but I don't care a bit now you have come round.'

Captain Hampton's eyes turned to the surgeon for an explanation.

'He has had a heavy blow on the head. We have heard nothing from him
beyond the fact that he had hold of the throat of the negro who attacked
you. The man evidently struck him down, and from the appearance of the
wound we gather that he struck him with the haft of the knife.
Fortunately it fell rather on the side of his head or it might have
killed him; as it is, it has laid the bone bare; we bandaged it up with
a cloth soaked in ice water and he will be all right in a day or two.'

'Where am I wounded?' Captain Hampton asked.

The surgeon explained the nature of the wound.

'No doubt it was some negro who had gone down to sleep on the wharf, and
seeing you come along with this boy thought he would rob you. Your
pockets were turned inside out.'

Captain Hampton did not speak for a minute; then, with a faint smile, he
said:

'He did not get much for his pains. I put everything in that drawer and
locked it before coming out, and dropped the key into my portmanteau.'

'That is all right,' the surgeon said cheerfully. 'I was afraid you
might have lost a good deal of money. We gave notice to the police last
night, but it is not likely you will ever hear of the fellow again. Such
things are common enough in the streets of New Orleans, and it is not
once in a hundred times that the police ever manage to lay a finger on
the scoundrels. Had you been in any gambling place, because, in that
case, some one may have tracked you?'

Captain Hampton shook his head. 'No; I had only taken a stroll through
the town. How long am I likely to be laid up?'

'You must be in bed for a fortnight at least; the wound was made by a
bowie knife and is a broad, deep cut, and the knife penetrated to its
whole depth, for there is a bruise each side of the mouth of the wound.
If you were to attempt to move earlier than that you might have a great
deal of trouble. Now, there is no occasion for me to stay with you any
longer. Dr. Hawthorne, who was called in with me, will be here at nine
o'clock, and will bring a nurse with him. You must have some one with
you; your wound might break out suddenly at any moment. We shall give
you a little weak broth; but we must not begin building you up at
present; the great thing is to avoid any chance of fever setting in.
Your having lost so much blood is all in your favour in that respect.
Now lad, I will have a look at your head; yes, you had better keep on
applying cloths dipped in ice water to it. I will tell them to send you
up a basin of broth when they send some up to your master. You had
better not take any solid food to-day.'

At ten o'clock, Captain Hampton, having taken a few spoonfuls of broth
from his nurse, fell off into a quiet sleep. Jacob, who had taken off
his boots, so as to move about noiselessly, had tidied up the room. He
had glanced several times towards the unfinished letter and the
addressed envelope on the table, and he now took his shoes in his hand,
and went out through the door, put on his shoes again, and proceeded
down stairs, having, before he left the room, laid aside his wet cloths
and put on his cap.

'When does the post go out for England?' he asked the clerk.

'It is mail day to-day; there is a steamer going direct to England.'

He went back to his master's room, took up a pen, and with infinite
labour scrawled a few lines at the bottom of the unfinished letter,
making several blots and smudges as he did so. These he dried with
blotting-paper, and with much self-disapproval folded the letter, placed
it in the envelope, and, going downstairs again, handed it to the clerk
to post.

For three or four days Captain Hampton remained in a very weak state;
then he began to rally and picked up strength fast. At the end of ten
days he was able to walk across the room.

'What has become of the letter I left on the table when I went out with
you, Jacob?'

'I saw the envelope was to Mr. Danvers, sir, and you had told me about
him. I asked about the post, and they said that it was going out that
day, and as you had written before you went out I was sure that you
wanted the letter to go by it, so I made a shift to write a line at the
bottom to say that you could not finish it because you had got hurt, and
then fastened it up and posted it. I hope that was right, sir.'

'You intended well, anyhow, Jacob; but it would have been better,
perhaps, if you hadn't done it, as it will only alarm him needlessly.'

'I told him the doctor said you would get round, sir.'

'Ah, well, that is all right. I am glad you sent it, as he would be
looking for a letter from me. I suppose you are quite sure that it was a
negro who stabbed me?'

'Quite sure, sir. It was dark, but not so dark that I could not see his
face.'

'Well, in another three or four days I shall be able to be out, Jacob.
If I find that these people were here at the time I landed I shall have
no doubt that this business was their work. I knew the man by sight and
he may have known me. Someone may have pointed me out to him on the
racecourse, as I had been asking about him. Of course it may have been
done merely for the sake of plunder, but I think the other is more
likely.'

Three days later Captain Hampton was able to go for a ride in a
carriage. He went first to the police office.

'We have no news whatever to give you, Captain Hampton,' the
superintendent, who had been to see him several times, said as he
entered.

'I did not expect you would have any,' he replied. 'I have come to see
you about a different business. Here is the letter the head of the
police at New York gave me to you. You see I am in search of two people
from England. By the aid of the police at New York I traced them and
found that they had come on here nearly three weeks before. I followed
them, and was wounded a few hours after my arrival here. I am well
enough to begin the search again, and shall be very glad if you will
send one of your officers with me to visit the hotels.'

The superintendent at once complied with his request, and at the second
hotel they visited he discovered that the people he sought had been
staying there and had left on the evening of his arrival.

'They were booked on the boat to Omaha,' the clerk said. 'I know they
have been getting a lot of things at the stores, as they were going
across the plains. The evening before they were to start Mr. Myrtle said
they had changed their minds and were going on at once to Baton Rouge.
They hurried up, but they were pretty late. They took a carriage from
here and the driver told me they only just caught the boat by a minute;
the bell was ringing when they got to the quay. You won't catch them
now; the 'Arkansas' is a fast boat and I suppose they got on board her
at Baton Rouge. There is no boat going now for the next four or five
days, so they would have a good three weeks start of you.'

'You don't happen to know where they bought their things?' Captain
Hampton asked.

'They got a lot of things at J. B. Nash's stores; a good many came up
here, but I expect the heavy part went straight on board.'

'Thank you. I don't think there is anything more to ask you. We will go
down to these stores,' he added to the policeman, as he returned to the
carriage. 'I may learn something there that may be useful.'

His inquiries showed plainly enough that Truscott really meant to cross
the plains and that they were going to travel by waggon. 'What harness
did they buy?' he asked.

'For six horses, at least, by what I heard them say; for four horses and
two mules. The two men were talking about it, and they wanted bigger
collars for the two wheelers because they would be mules.'

'Were there two men, then, as well as a girl?'

'Yes; the three always came together; one of them belonged to this city.
I knew his face, though I don't know what his name was. I take it he was
a Britisher, though he had been long enough here to lose most of his
accent. He seemed rather to boss the show and the other bought the
things he fixed on. I allow he was a pretty smart fellow and was pretty
well fixed up on prices. We did not get very much out of that deal.'

'What was he like?'

'He was a strong-built sort of chap about forty, I should say, and
looked rather a hard sort of cuss. I don't know what his name was; the
other called him Joe.'

'Thank you. I daresay I shall be coming in to get an outfit for myself
in a day or two. I am thinking of going across the plains, too.'

'Well, I guess we can fix you up with everything you want, squire. But
you don't look as if you was fit for a journey across the plains just
yet. It ain't child's play; I reckon it wants a pretty strong man to
stand the racket.'

'I shall have a fortnight to pick up on board the steamer,' Captain
Hampton said. 'I have just had a bout of illness, but I am shaking it
off, and it will be at least three weeks before I am at Omaha.'

'We are going for a long journey, Jacob,' he said when he returned to
the hotel.

'We have been a pretty goodish long 'un already, Captain.'

'Nothing to what we are going to set out on now, Jacob. We have got a
fortnight or three weeks on board a steamer, and then we start across
the plains.'

'How long shall we be in crossing them, sir?'

'Four or five months, Jacob.'

'My eye!' the lad exclaimed. 'Them must be something like plains; and
what is there the other side of them?'

'There is a country where they find gold, Jacob.'

'What! sovs?' the boy exclaimed.

'The stuff sovereigns are made of.'

'But you ain't going to look for that, sir.'

'No, lad; I am going after these people. They were here that evening
when we came in, and as they started in a hurry half-an-hour after we
landed, I cannot help thinking they saw me. It seems they had another
man with them when they were here, and I expect they came here to join
him. I don't know whether he left with them; my own opinion is he did
not, but when Truscott saw me he hurried off at once to his hotel and
started, leaving the other man to prevent my following them. Probably he
started by the boat in the morning after them, believing the negro he
had hired had done his work. At any rate I have made up my mind to
follow them. I was determined to do so before; but if I hadn't been,
this would have decided me. They have got a long start, but we will come
up to them sooner or later.'

'I should think so,' the boy said, energetically, 'and pay them out for
it too. My eye! won't they be surprised when we drop upon them just as
they are picking up gold. But you ain't fit to start yet,' he went on,
changing his voice; 'you look very white, sir; I think you have been
doing too much, and it won't do for you to start to cross these here
plains until you are strong; it will just be a-knocking yourself up, and
I don't suppose there ain't no doctors living out there.'

'That there are not, Jacob,' Captain Hampton laughed. 'Well, we shall
have three weeks' quiet on board the steamer, and by the time we land I
hope I shall be as strong as ever. I will keep quiet for the rest of the
day. To-morrow I shall have to see about taking our passage and getting
ready for the start. I know nothing about what we shall want yet.'

The next morning Captain Hampton took Jacob with him down to the stores
where he had been on the previous afternoon.

'I have made up my mind to go across the plains,' he said; 'now, what do
I want? I know absolutely nothing about it. Clothes I have got of all
sorts--I want nothing in that way; I want to travel as light as
possible, so as to push on fast.'

'Can you shoot?'

'Yes, I am a good shot, and have a double-barrelled gun and rifle with
me.'

'That will help you a good deal; the game has been mostly shot or scared
away along the line, but there is some to be had, and, you see, any meat
you don't want you can swap for flour and other things with some of the
emigrants. As to your pushing on, you might do that sometimes, but not
very often. There are Redskins all along the line, and a man travelling
by himself would have much trouble in getting through. As a general
thing folks go in parties of ten or twelve waggons, often more, and then
they are too strong for the Redskins to attack. I do not think you could
travel much faster than the ordinary, not even if you had good horses.
The bullocks travel slow, but they go a good many hours a day, and camp
at night where there is water.'

'If you could ride all the way you might do two days' journey in one
sometimes, but you must take some provision along with you. You must
take some flour and some bacon, for you can't always reckon on game, and
tea and sugar, and little odds and ends. And then there are your
clothes; knocking about for four months, and sleeping as you stand, you
want at least two suits besides what you have got on. Then there is your
ammunition. Altogether, go as light as you can, you have got a lot of
things to haul along with you. If you ain't afraid of roughing it I
should say you could not do better than take a strong buggy.'

'That is a four-wheeled vehicle, I suppose?'

The man nodded.

'You can have it with springs or without. Springs make it easy, but if
you break one you are done.'

'Would it be strong enough to carry, say, six hundred weight?'

'Ay, double that, if need be; but of course the lighter the better. You
would want a tarpaulin to cover the things up, and you might make a
shift to sleep under it if it is wet.'

'No, we will sleep under the waggon; we will have hooks put along all
round the bottom board, and a stout canvas curtain with rings to hang;
down to the ground and peg down there.'

'That will make a capital tent; have it to open behind, so that you can
sit at the entrance and have a fire outside.'

'Can you get me such a vehicle and make a sail-cloth curtain for me?'

'I can do that,' the man said.

'About how much will it cost for a good hickory waggon without springs,
and without any particular finish?'

'You would pay about a hundred and fifty dollars; the tarpaulin to come
well over it, and the canvas arrangement, might be forty dollars more,
though I cannot tell you exactly. If you say two hundred dollars
altogether you won't be far from the mark.'

'Very well, you can do it. How much flour shall I take?'

'Well, seeing that you will do some shooting and swap some of the meat
for flour, I should say a hundred and fifty pounds ought to last the two
of you fairly well.'

Half an hour was spent in discussing the other items, including a dozen
of brandy for emergencies, a small stock of medicines, pickles, sauces,
and other items, mounting up to about four hundred pounds in weight. To
these were added some twenty pounds of ammunition.

'Allowing fifty pounds for blankets and clothes, we shall be well under
five hundred,' Captain Hampton said; 'and we shall get lighter as we go
on.'

'When you book your passage you can arrange for the buggy to be taken
up,' said the storekeeper. 'You might put all the things in it. We shall
put all the small items in boxes, and then lash the tarpaulin well over
everything; they will travel safely enough, and you will have no trouble
about them till you get to the end of the journey. Now, what about
horses? What are you going to do? I reckon you will have to pay a mighty
high price if you wait until you get to Omaha.'

'I shall want three horses; a good one for my own riding, and two sturdy
animals for the cart--the boy will drive the cart. Could we get them
taken up too?'

'You can get anything taken up by paying for it. I don't say as you
wouldn't save money, because you would, a good bit, if you were to drop
off at some station, a good way from any town, and look round among the
farmers and get what you want, and go on by the next boat--but I suppose
that would not suit you?'

'Not at all. The great thing is to save time. Do you think that I could
pick up three horses to suit me here?'

'You can pick up anything you like here. I will give you the names of
half-a-dozen stable-keepers, and if you don't find them all at one place
you will at another. But mind, don't give the prices asked. Seeing you
are a stranger they will put on about three times the price they will be
ready to take.'

'They are pretty well alike in that respect all over the world,' Captain
Hampton laughed. 'I have bought some horses in my time, and I don't
think they will take me in much, still I am much obliged to you for your
warning. I don't think I should have been prepared to bid them only a
third, though I should, I dare say, have tried half.'

'A third is enough to begin with, anyhow,' the man said, 'and I
shouldn't rise much on that. You have got five days before you start, so
you can take your time; and I should say don't get town horses, but
critters fresh from the farms. Town horses get their legs knocked about
and can't stand hard work and weather, like those just brought in. I
ain't sure you would not do better to take steamer and go twenty or
thirty miles up or down the river; you will be more likely to get an
honest horse.'

It took Captain Hampton three days before he had purchased three animals
to his liking; but when he had done so, he was well content with his
bargains, all of which he had picked up at farm houses a few miles from
the city. A store of grain sufficient for the passage was sent with them
on board the boat, and everything was in perfect readiness on the
morning of the day when the steamer was to start up the Mississippi.


END OF THE SECOND VOLUME



NEW LIBRARY NOVELS.

THE ONE TOO MANY. By E. Lynn Linton. 3 vols.

IN DIREST PERIL. By David Christie Murray. 3 vols.

THE TIGER LILY: a Tale of Two Passions. By G. Manville Fenn. 2 vols.

THE RED-HOUSE MYSTERY. By Mrs. Hungerford. 2 vols.

THE COMMON ANCESTOR. By John Hill. 3 vols.

DOROTHY'S DOUBLE. By G. A. Henty. 3 vols.

CHRISTINA CHARD. By Mrs. Campbell Praed. 3 vols.





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