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Title: Miser Farebrother (vol 3 of 3) - A Novel
Author: Farjeon, Benjamin Leopold
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 "Miser Farebrother (vol 3 of 3) - A Novel" ***

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                                MISER FAREBROTHER.

                                     A Novel.

                                 BY B. L. FARJEON,

    AUTHOR OF "GREAT PORTER SQUARE," "GRIF," "IN A SILVER SEA," "THE
    HOUSE OF WHITE SHADOWS," ETC.


    _IN THREE VOLUMES._

    VOL. III.

    LONDON:
    WARD & DOWNEY,
    12, YORK STREET, COVENT GARDEN.

    1888.

    [_Dramatic rights protected and reserved._]

    PRINTED BY
    KELLY AND CO., GATE STREET, LINCOLN'S INN FIELDS, W.C.;
    AND MIDDLE MILL, KINGSTON-ON-THAMES.



CONTENTS.


    CHAP.                                                           PAGE

       I.--A BAD BUSINESS                                              1

      II.--THE DIAMOND BRACELET                                        8

     III.--SISTER AND BROTHER                                         18

      IV.--JEREMIAH IN TRIBULATION                                    29

       V.--MISER FAREBROTHER THREATENS JEREMIAH                       46

      VI.--A DREAM OF AN ANGEL                                        71

     VII.--BETTER THAN ANY DAY-DREAM                                  77

    VIII.--PHOEBE IN PERIL                                          90

      IX.--FRED CORNWALL TO THE RESCUE                               106

       X.--THE INQUEST                                               118

      XI.--THE TRIAL AND VERDICT--EXTRACTED FROM A POPULAR
           DAILY PAPER                                               144

     XII.--DICK GARDEN TO THE RESCUE                                 170

    XIII.--THE DIAMOND BRACELET AGAIN                                186

     XIV.--RICHARD GARDEN MAKES THE ACQUAINTANCE OF FANNY
           LETHBRIDGE                                                203

      XV.--A STRANGE EXPERIMENT                                      216

     XVI.--JEREMIAH AND HIS MOTHER DISAPPEAR                         224

    XVII.--CHIEFLY CONCERNING FANNY                                  238

   XVIII.--A LIFE AND DEATH STRUGGLE                                 249

     XIX.--OFF FOR THE HONEY-MOON                                    260



MISER FAREBROTHER.



CHAPTER I.

A BAD BUSINESS.


At ten o'clock on this morning Captain Ablewhite, unannounced, and
without knocking at the door, walked into Jeremiah's room in the hotel
at which he had taken up his quarters. Jeremiah was still in bed.
Closing the door carefully behind him and turning the key, Captain
Ablewhite drew a chair to the side of the bed and sat down.

"This is a bad business," said Captain Ablewhite.

Jeremiah was in a parlous condition. His face was haggard; his eyes were
bloodshot; he was shaking like a man in a palsy.

"This is a bad business," repeated Captain Ablewhite, "You are too much
upset to reply. But why, oh, _why_ have you lost your head?"

Jeremiah put his hand up, feebly and despairingly, and passed it
vacantly over his forehead.

"I have here," said Captain Ablewhite, plunging his hands into the
pockets of his gorgeous dressing-gown, "a pick-me-up. It will pull you
round, and then we can talk."

He produced two bottles--one containing the pick-me-up, the other soda.
Taking a large tumbler from a table he poured a good dose of the
pick-me-up into it, and then uncorked the soda, which he emptied into
the glass.

"Drink this."

Jeremiah drank it, and almost instantly became for a while
clear-brained.

"Better?" asked Captain Ablewhite.

"A great deal better," replied Jeremiah.

Then, for the third time, the jovial Captain--he was as fresh as a
two-year-old--said, "This is a bad business."

And still, clear-headed as he now was, Jeremiah did not know what to say
in answer to a very plain statement of fact.

"Let me see," said Captain Ablewhite, taking out his pocket-book.
"There is nothing like looking a difficulty straight in the face. It is
not a bit of good shirking it. What you've got to do is to meet it--and,
Mr. Jeremiah Pamflett, meet it you must. Now, then, for the facts. You
brought down with you to Doncaster a very comfortable sum of ready
money. How much?"

"Two thousand pounds," replied Jeremiah.

"That is right. Speak clearly and plainly. Two thousand pounds. If I had
that in my pocket at the present moment, I would double it before the
day is over. There's a race to be run--however, let that pass."

"What race?" cried Jeremiah. "Is it a certainty?"

"It is a certainty," said Captain Ablewhite, solemnly. "I've got the tip
for the Scurry Stakes, my lad, and the horse can't lose."

"But why not give it to me?" asked Jeremiah, in great excitement. "I
could make everything right--everything--everything...." His voice
trailed off into a whimper.

"Why don't I give it to you?" said Captain Ablewhite, very calmly.
"Because I am beginning to lose my opinion of you. Let me tell you,
though: you may justify it yet if you are not thoroughly white-livered."

"I will, I will!" exclaimed Jeremiah. "Only give me the tip--give me the
tip!"

"Not if I know it. This little affair I will keep to myself, and I'll
sweep the market. You've let too many good things slip by this week.
Come, now, confess: if you had stuck to your 'system,' how much would
you have won? Don't put me off. You've gone all through it, and you know
the figures to the fraction of a shilling."

Jeremiah struck his forehead with his hand. "I should have won seven
thousand pounds."

"Exactly. And you did not win it because you weren't game, and because
you allowed yourself to be led away. What is the good of a man unless he
has the courage of his opinions? Before midnight I'm going to try you;
I'm going to see whether you're worth trying to save (because you are in
a frightful hole, you know, and there's no telling what will happen to
you if you continue to show the white feather), or whether I shall let
you go to the dogs. It depends upon me, old chap. Oppose me, show
ingratitude, try to prove that you're cleverer than I am, and the odds
are that you will have seven years--not less--perhaps fourteen. Oh, you
are clever, you are! Make no mistake, you _are_ clever; but you want
nerve! Why, if you had been open with me--if you had told me honestly
what your system was--we might both have made fortunes. But that's
neither here nor there. Things are as they are, aren't they?"

"Yes, they are," sighed Jeremiah.

"Shall I go on?"

"Yes."

"Well, then. You brought down two thousand pounds with you, and you
blued it. Eh?"

"Yes."

"I don't ask you where you got the money from. It is no business of
mine, and I will have nothing to do with it. I have my ideas, but I'll
keep them to myself. Having lost your two thousand pounds, you get me to
introduce you to a book-maker, who took your bets in the expectation of
paying you if you won, and receiving from you if you lost. And you did
business with him in a false name."

"I didn't get you," protested Jeremiah; "you offered to introduce me;
and it was at _your_ suggestion I used the name of Farebrother."

Captain Ablewhite rose and said, "Good-morning."

"No, no," cried Jeremiah, piteously; "don't desert me!"

"Did I introduce you, or did you ask me to introduce you?" demanded
Captain Ablewhite.

"I asked you--I asked you!" whined Jeremiah.

"And did you use Farebrother's name upon my suggestion? Be careful, old
chap."

"At my own suggestion," faltered Jeremiah.

"Good," said Captain Ablewhite, resuming his seat. "You made bets with
him, and you are in his books over three thousand pounds. Is that
correct?"

"Yes."

"I have I O U's for another two thousand pounds. Is that correct?"

"Yes."

"It is a satisfaction. You hold acceptances of mine for close on that
amount, and the entire amount of cash I have received from you is about
one-fourth of that amount."

"Business is business," groaned Jeremiah.

"All right. I didn't complain, and I don't. You and I are pretty well
squared on that account. Taking it altogether, you have lost this week
some seven thousand pounds, when you might have won as much."

"Oh, Lord!" gasped Jeremiah.

"You may clasp your head till you're blue in the face, and _that_ won't
get you out of the hole. Do you want to get out of it?"

"Yes; of course I do."

"Then," said Captain Ablewhite, enigmatically, "take the 1.33 train to
London. You will get there at five o'clock. Have a bath and a sensible
dinner, and meet me outside the Langham Hotel, on the opposite side of
the road, at nine o'clock to-night. It may be in my power to save you.
No words. If you do not obey me I have done with you. Yes or no?"

"Yes," said Jeremiah.



CHAPTER II.

THE DIAMOND BRACELET.


This was to be a night of surprising adventure to Jeremiah. He was
punctual to time. As the church clock struck the hour of nine he arrived
at the Langham Hotel, and in accordance with Captain Ablewhite's
instructions, waited on the opposite side of the road. There was no
moon, and he paced the flag-stones in shadow. A quarter past nine,
half-past, three-quarters past, then the chiming of ten o'clock, and
still no Captain. Jeremiah was in a bewilderment of agonized suspense;
he was on the brink of a precipice, and he relied upon Captain Ablewhite
to save him--by what means he knew not, but he depended upon the
Captain's word. "He is detained," thought Jeremiah; "the train is late;
he is not a punctual man; perhaps he said ten o'clock instead of nine.
At all events, I'll wait for him." The minutes sped on; a quarter past
ten, half past, three-quarters past, and now another hour had passed. It
was eleven o'clock, and Jeremiah, worked up into a state of terrible
excitement, continued to pace up and down, up and down. Two or three
times a policeman, attracted by his monotonous movements, strolled past,
and carelessly looked at him; and on these occasions Jeremiah strove to
hide his face from the policeman's scrutiny. "Will he never come?"
thought Jeremiah--"will he never come?" At half-past eleven a singular
incident occurred. A voice at his back accosted him. It was a woman's
voice.

"Don't turn," the woman said. "Your name is Pamflett?"

"Yes," answered Jeremiah, much amazed.

"You are waiting for some one?"

"Yes."

"For whom?"

"Captain Ablewhite."

"That is right. Take this."

The woman slipped a packet into his hand and was gone. Jeremiah,
turning, saw no trace of her. No time was afforded him for reflection.
The Captain's voice struck upon his ear.

"Follow me," it said.

Without the evidence of the voice Jeremiah would not have recognized
Captain Ablewhite, who was enveloped in a large Inverness cape, and upon
whose head was a hat unlike that which he usually wore. He followed the
Captain, who walked very fast, until they reached a narrow street at
some distance from the Langham. It was a thoroughfare which appeared to
be quite deserted.

"Well, old fellow?" said Captain Ablewhite.

"Well?" responded the mystified Jeremiah.

"Couldn't help being late. Knew you would wait for me. Ah! you have the
packet, I see."

"This?" said Jeremiah.

"Yes, this;" and Captain Ablewhite took it from his hands.

"It was given to me by a woman, who hid herself from me. What is the
meaning of it?"

"You will know soon enough. Go and fetch a four-wheeler."

Jeremiah departed, and returned with the conveyance.

"Give the driver this half-sovereign," whispered Captain Ablewhite.
"Tell him it is on account, and that he has a good fare. Instruct him to
drive along the Finchley road. No questions, old chap; do as I bid you."

Jeremiah followed out the instructions, and the next moment he and
Captain Ablewhite were in the cab.

"No place like a four-wheeler," said the Captain, "for an interchange of
confidences. Give me your closest attention, friend Jeremiah. You're in
luck's way. Being in one of those awkward fixes which invariably land a
fellow in jail and ruin him for ever and ever, amen! something has
turned up to save you. This is the way of it--but before I go into the
matter you are to understand that you are to make no inquiries. What I
choose to impart I will impart--nothing more. Do you agree?"

"Yes."

"To proceed, then. A lady friend of mine--call her a Duchess--has
pressing need for a large sum of money, and has only one means of
raising it. The amount she requires is four thousand pounds, and she has
handed you jewels worth ten times as much. In a month from this date
the four thousand will be repaid with interest, and the jewels will be
handed back to her. They are in this packet. Seeing's believing; you
shall see them."

He unfastened the packet, and took a morocco case from the wrapper. Then
he produced a box of wax tapers, which he gave to Jeremiah, bidding him
to keep up a light, in order that he might have a good view of the
jewels. He nicked the morocco case open, and exposed to view a bracelet
of diamonds of such extraordinary size that Jeremiah could not help
giving utterance to an exclamation of astonishment.

"You may well cry out," said Captain Ablewhite. "The stones, if they're
worth a penny, are worth fifty thousand pounds. Do you wish to know how
I became associated with the affair? Well, I've no objection to tell
you. The fact is, the Duchess is an old flame of mine. An antique Duke
falling in love with her, and being in his dotage, I naturally consent
to the marriage. But she is an awfully extravagant woman, and needing
instantly the sum of money I mentioned, comes to me. 'I have a friend,'
I say to her, 'in the money-lending way, who, if you give him security,
will obtain millions for you.' Whereupon she says she will leave her
wonderful diamond bracelet with my friend until she pays back the four
thousand with ample interest. That will be your profit, Jeremiah. She
dare not pledge these diamonds in the regular way with the men who deal
regularly in such affairs. It would come to her husband's ears; and
although the diamonds are hers, to do as she likes with, there is the
future to be considered. The Duke makes her a handsome allowance; he has
drawn up his will, leaving her as much as it is in his power to do; he
is a very jealous, irascible, pompous-headed old idiot, and it is
therefore imperative that this little matter shall be negotiated in such
a way as to render it impossible it can come to his knowledge. He brings
his wife to London this evening; his town mansion is not in a fit state
to receive his noble carcass, so his wife drives him to the Langham. She
knows from me that a friend--you, Jeremiah--is waiting outside the
hotel; she comes to you, addresses you, slips her bracelet into your
hand, and vanishes. What confidence! What imprudence! Dear little soul!
As for the interest, charge her sixty, eighty, a hundred per cent. Yes,
charge her a hundred. It won't come out of her pocket, it will come out
of the Duke's. 'But,' say you, '_I_ haven't the money to advance; I'm
clean stumped.' That need not stop the cart, friend Jeremiah. What you
have to do is to go to your governor, Farebrother, and show him these
diamonds. If the sight of them doesn't set his thin blood in a glow,
nothing will. You say to him, 'The lady requires _six_ thousand pounds
on them for a month. She will give one thousand pounds interest.' That
is at the rate of two hundred per cent. per annum, friend Jeremiah. You
continue: 'If the money is not repaid at the end of the month, the
diamonds are yours; they become forfeited. Here is a letter from her to
that effect.' I will give it to you presently, Jeremiah, and you can
hand it to the governor. He won't be able to resist the bait. How about
the ready? Can he lay hands on it?"

"He has bonds that he can sell," replied Jeremiah.

"Good. You can manage that for him. Now, how do _you_ benefit by the
transaction? First and foremost, you get six thousand pounds from the
governor; you hand me four and keep two. From what you let drop, friend
Jeremiah, you need some such sum of ready money to replace the cash you
lost at Doncaster. Well, there you have it, and you will be spared
acquaintance with the criminal court. In a month you will receive four
thousand pounds interest on the loan, of which you hand the governor one
thousand, retaining three, which you pay to me off what you owe the
book-maker. To oblige me, he will wait. The personal accounts between
you and me we will go into by-and-by. You see, friend Jeremiah,
something very disagreeable, shockingly disagreeable, stares you in the
face, and this is the only way out of it. I shall expect you to show
your gratitude. That such a slice of luck should fall to you just in the
nick of time is nothing less than miraculous. Now, then, how does the
thing strike you? Farebrother will lend the money, won't he? If he
doesn't, or if you have any doubt of it, I can take the diamonds
somewhere else."

"I don't think," said Jeremiah, slowly, "that there is any doubt he will
lend the money."

"Very well, then. Carry it through, and keep it dark. See the governor
to-morrow and arrange it. You'll do it?"

"Yes."

"There's nothing more to say, then. Just see the confidence I have in
you, leaving you this treasure without so much as a receipt for it. But
I know you can be trusted just now, because of the fix you're in. I must
see you to-morrow night to hear what you have to tell. Best not to meet
at my place or yours till this little matter is concluded. Say at ten
o'clock, just outside Whitechapel Church."

"You will be punctual?" said Jeremiah.

"Oh yes," said Captain Ablewhite, laughing; "I will be punctual. Ta-ta!
Call to the driver to stop."

He jumped from the cab as the driver was pulling up, leaving Jeremiah to
make his way back to London alone.

On the following night, at ten o'clock, they met outside Whitechapel
Church, and Jeremiah informed Captain Ablewhite that Miser Farebrother
had consented to lend the money. On Tuesday evening Captain Ablewhite
received four thousand pounds from Jeremiah, and the gallant Captain
walked off with a very peculiar smile on his face. A few hours afterward
he was whirling away in the night train to Dover, bound for Italy.



CHAPTER III.

SISTER AND BROTHER.


For a fortnight after Phoebe reached the haven of love in Camden Town
she lay between life and death. It was only when she felt herself out of
danger that her strength gave way. The strain of the last few months in
Parksides produced a dangerous illness, and for many days her life was
despaired of. How tenderly was she nursed! What treasures of love
surrounded her! She was not left alone a minute by day and night. Now it
was Aunt Leth who watched by her bedside, now it was Fanny, now it was
Uncle Leth. In some dim way she was conscious of this spiritual comfort,
and it helped her recovery. On the twelfth day the doctors proclaimed
her to be out of danger.

The Lethbridges could ill afford the expenses of her sickness. There was
the regular family doctor to be paid; there were the fees of the
celebrated physician who was called in, and who came in a carriage and
pair with two footmen; there were the prescribed delicacies to be
provided for. It was all done cheerfully and with full-hearted
affection. Sacrifices were made; money was raised upon such small
articles of jewelry as they possessed, even Uncle Leth's old-fashioned
watch went, and not a murmur passed their lips, not a regretful thought
at the loss of these treasures crossed their minds. They had but one
hope, but one desire--that they might succeed in saving their beloved
girl. It was granted them, and she sat in a dressing-gown in the dear
little parlour, the very walls of which were sanctified in her eyes.

They did not dare to speak to her of her father, nor did she refer to
him; but it needed no words from her to make them understand the cruel
torture and oppression which, prolonged for a few weeks longer, would
have brought death or madness to her. When she was convalescent her
actions were pitiful: she clung to her friends; her hands were for ever
seeking theirs; her eyes constantly travelled to the dear ones who were
ministering to her, and whose eyes never rested on her pale face
without a tender, cheery smile.

Fred Cornwall came daily, morning and evening, with flowers and jellies
and things which it was not possible for her to eat. He had not been
allowed to see her yet; but he always left his constant love for his
dear girl, and messages which it would have occupied an hour to deliver.
When Phoebe was sensible and strong enough, these messages, in a
reasonable form, were conveyed to her, and her relatives were surprised
at the grave pleasure with which she received them. The heavenly delight
which fills a young girl's heart when, in a time of bitter trouble, she
is assured that her lover is true to her was not expressed in her face.
Pleasure she felt; but it was a thoughtful pleasure in which there
seemed to be an element of pain.

"He is true to you! he is true to you!" whispered Fanny to her. "Oh! you
should see him, Phoebe. Except my dear father, there is not a better
man in the whole wide world."

"I am sure," said Phoebe, quietly, "that Mr. Cornwall is a good man,
and my earnest hope is that he will be happy."

"Phoebe!"

"Yes, dear."

"Not _Mr._ Cornwall--Fred--your own dear Fred!" Phoebe did not reply,
and Fanny continued: "He is certain to be happy, with you!"

And still Phoebe made no reply. Fanny was greatly disturbed, and she
told her mother privately that she was convinced there was something on
Phoebe's mind with respect to Fred.

"Do not worry her or argue with her," Aunt Leth said. "Remember the
sufferings she has endured, and leave it to herself to confide in us.
Time will bring happiness to her bruised heart."

"Ask her to see Fred, mamma."

"She will see him this evening, my dear; she told me so; and I have
written a note to him desiring him to come early."

"Then everything will be right," said Fanny. "Mamma, is it not strange
that we do not hear from her father? He must know that Phoebe is with
us."

"He does know, Fanny. I wrote to him, but I have not received a reply."

"I am glad of it. Phoebe is now entirely ours, and will live with us
all her life--that is, till she marries Fred."

Fred Cornwall arrived early in the afternoon, and Aunt Leth opened the
door for him.

"She will see me, Aunt Leth?" he said, eagerly.

"Yes, Fred. She wishes to see you alone. You must be very gentle and
quiet with her."

"Indeed I will be that. Here is some jelly, the kind she likes best."

"Thank you, Fred. Wait a moment in the dining-room. Fanny is with her,
and I must call her away."

Presently Fred Cornwall entered the room in which Phoebe was sitting.
She looked at him gratefully and tenderly; an angelic spirit of
resolution was depicted in her face.

"Phoebe, my darling Phoebe!" he murmured, as he sat by her side and
took her hand; and then he was overcome by her delicate, fragile
appearance, and it was as much as he could do to prevent the tears
running down his face.

She gently disengaged her hand.

"Why do you take your hand away, Phoebe? Let me hold it. Give it to me
of your own free-will."

"No, Mr. Cornwall," she said, in a low, sweet tone. "I cannot--I must
not."

Again "Mr. Cornwall"! He looked at her reproachfully.

"Do you no longer love me, Phoebe, that you are so changed toward me?"

She was compelled to pause before she could answer him.

"You must not ask me to reply to that question," she then said--"for
pity's sake!"

"I _must_ ask you," he said, impetuously. "Oh, I beg your pardon,
Phoebe! Aunt Leth enjoined upon me to be gentle with you, and here am
I forgetting! But Phoebe, dear Phoebe, _my_ Phoebe--consider! I
implore you to consider! You gave me your heart, as I have given you
mine. Have I done anything to forfeit your love?"

"Nothing," she said.

"Why, then, are you so strange to me? Why have you altered so?"

"I am not altered to you," she said.

"Then you love me still!" he cried.

"Will you listen to me?" she asked, "I have been trying to strengthen
myself for this meeting, and you must not weaken me. No; do not kiss me!
There is something that _must_ be told--that you _must_ hear!"

"I will listen to you, my darling--mine, and no other man's. You do not
love another, Phoebe?"

"No, Fred." She was not aware that she had uttered the dear name.

"I am happy," he said. "Go on, my dear."

Then she told him of the oath her father had extracted from her that she
would not marry without his consent, and said that, with that oath upon
her conscience, she could not expect Fred to be bound to her.

"To receive you as my lover," she said, "would be, to my mind, as if I
am spiritually breaking the oath I have sworn. It would make me feel
guilty; it would lower me in my own esteem; it would be playing with my
conscience."

"When you took the oath, Phoebe," said Fred Cornwall, immensely
relieved, but at the same time perplexed, by the revelation, "you were
not aware what you were binding yourself to?"

"I was not aware of it," she said. "My father spoke so kindly to me, and
seemed to regard you with such favour, that I thought he intended to
sanction our engagement. But he may not have known what was in my mind,
as assuredly I did not know what was in his. It is not for me to say,
and you must not press me. I am striving to do what is right. Help me to
do it! I am bound by my oath. Without my father's consent I cannot marry
you; he will never give it, and while he lives we can be nothing to each
other. I have thought of it--oh, so seriously!--and I have decided in
what I believe to be the right way. If in the future I am ever in your
mind, I wish you to think of me with respect."

"Through all the future that is before me," said Fred, "you will be ever
in my mind, and I shall ever think of you with respect. If my love
needed strengthening, what you have said would strengthen it; but it can
never be stronger, more devoted, more complete than it is; nothing can
make it so; and nothing can weaken it. 'Give me your hand, Phoebe.'"
She looked at him pleadingly. "Give me your hand, Phoebe." She gave it
to him. "I swear to you solemnly, on my honour as a man, on my faith as
a Christian, that I will never marry another woman. May misfortune
pursue and overtake me quickly if I ever prove false to the love I have
given you! Have you anything to say to me, Phoebe?"

She understood him. He had given her a solemn pledge. He had a right to
a similar pledge from her.

"If I do not marry you," she said, "I will never marry. Though we may be
parted for life, I will be true to the love I have given you. And
now"--she held out her arms imploringly--"strengthen me, Fred!"

He rose, and stood apart from her, with his face averted. Presently he
resumed his seat by her side.

"Until a happier day arrives," he said, taking her unresisting hand, "we
will not meet as lovers. We are brother and sister. Kiss me, Phoebe."

She kissed him, and he kissed her. Thus the faithful compact was made.

Before the week was at an end, Fred wrote the following letter to Miser
Farebrother:

     "SIR,--Your daughter has told me of the oath she took that she will
     never marry without your consent. She feels herself bound by this
     oath, and will adhere to it. Thus, while you live, a life of
     unhappiness is before her, if you refuse to give your consent to
     our union. She loves me, and I love her with a most perfect love.
     We have pledged ourselves anew to each other, but are both clear
     upon the point that we cannot be wed without your sanction. I ask,
     I implore, you to give it. I am not a rich man; but I have a good
     position and the prospect of a prosperous future is before me. My
     family is a family of standing, and is honoured and respected. If
     you will permit me, I will send you credentials of my character,
     with which you cannot fail to be satisfied. Into my union with your
     daughter the question of money does not enter. We shall be
     satisfied to work our way without help from you in a money shape,
     either now or hereafter. To this I am prepared to bind myself by
     written document; and all that a man can do to make the woman he
     loves happy, that I will do to the utmost extent of my power.
     Respectfully and humbly, I beg of you to release your daughter from
     her oath, and to bestow upon her a happiness for which she and I
     will be ever grateful. I remain, sir, faithfully and obediently
     yours,

     "FREDERICK CORNWALL."

The letter was despatched, and day after day Fred looked eagerly for an
answer to it. But none came.

There arrived, however, at Aunt Leth's house a paper for Phoebe, in
her father's writing. It was not signed, nor was she addressed in it by
name. This was its purport:

"I have received from a certain Mr. Frederick Cornwall a letter in which
he asks me to release you from a solemn oath you voluntarily took, and
to give my consent to your marriage with him. This I will never do, nor
will I ever release you from your oath. In that oath was comprised a
daughter's duty to her father--a duty you have wilfully and
systematically neglected and failed to perform. Your guilty desires can
only be accomplished by my death. When you are prepared to obey me in
the one wish of my life, you can come to me--not until then."



CHAPTER IV.

JEREMIAH IN TRIBULATION.


Jeremiah Pamflett, owing the book-maker with whom he made his bets at
Doncaster over three thousand pounds, very soon made the disagreeable
discovery that Captain Ablewhite had played him false. He had made no
arrangement with the book-maker to give Jeremiah time to settle, and
Jeremiah himself personally was compelled to arrange with the man to
whom he owed so large an amount of money. He found it no easy task. The
book-maker bullied and blustered and threatened exposure, and the result
was that Jeremiah had to part not only with acceptances of his own by
which he was bound to pay sums at stated periods, but also with all the
securities he held on his own account from persons with whom he had had
private business. Among these acceptances was Mr. Lethbridge's for three
hundred pounds, which Jeremiah had discounted for Kiss and the dramatic
author, and which in a very short time would be due.

The terror of this acceptance weighed most heavily upon Uncle Leth. As
the day approached upon which it was necessary it should be paid, his
fears increased to an almost unbearable pitch. He had written to
Jeremiah Pamflett asking for renewal, and the answer he received was to
the effect that the acceptance was in the hands of another person, and
that it would have to be paid on the day of maturity. The reason of
Uncle Leth writing this letter to Jeremiah was that in interviews with
Kiss and Mr. Linton they mournfully declared their inability to raise
the smallest sum to help Uncle Leth in his difficulty. They were
overwhelmed with self-reproaches, but this did not help Uncle Leth in
his difficulty, nor stave off impending ruin. Uncle Leth had succeeded
in discovering the name of the man who held the bill; he had appealed to
him in vain for renewal. "The acceptance will have to be met," said the
book-maker. "If it is not, I shall sell you up. I have ascertained that
you hold a responsible position in a bank. Ask the manager to advance
you the money if you happen to be short yourself."

To ask the bank manager to assist him in paying an acceptance held by a
racing man would be to ask for his dismissal. It would be tantamount to
a confession that he had been indulging in that worst of vices--betting
on horses.

Uncle Leth had confided to his wife, and she, although she strove to
comfort him, was terrified at the prospect. She had thought of Fred
Cornwall, but she knew, from the young man's own indirect admissions,
that he was not in a position to assist them. He knew nothing of the
acceptance, and therefore could make no reference to it in his
confidences with Aunt Leth. "It is an uphill fight," he had said
cheerfully to her; "but I shall come out a victor in the end. At
present, dear Aunt Leth, it is a tight fit." After this how could she
make an appeal to him to help them out of their trouble? Meanwhile the
day was approaching nearer and nearer.

It was Tuesday. On Wednesday, the following day, the acceptance was due,
and Uncle Leth would have to meet it or go to the wall. The dear old
home would be sold up, and they would be turned into the streets. The
tears that ran down Aunt Leth's face were like tears of blood from her
heart.

On this Tuesday it was that consternation seized upon Jeremiah Pamflett,
and furious anger raged in Miser Farebrother's heart. The cause of these
emotions was a newspaper article, which is here transcribed. It was
headed:

     "A STRANGE AFFAIR--THE BITERS BIT."

"A singular discovery has just come to light, and is in the hands of the
police. Everybody is acquainted with the name of the wealthy miner from
California, Mr. Quinlan, whose income is said to be not less than half a
million a year. His name and his doings have been for a long time past
in everybody's mouth. He is of humble origin, and his eccentricities may
be accounted for by the fact of his having come into a marvellous
fortune, the spending of the income of which would be a tax upon the
ablest man in creation. It may be remembered that his wife died a
couple of years since, and that last year he contracted a second
marriage with an indifferent actress, whose extravagances in her new
position have drawn attention to her in every city she and her husband
have visited. The finest horses, the finest equipages, the finest
dresses, the finest diamonds, the finest everything, in short, that cost
vast sums of money. There came to the ears of Mrs. Quinlan and her
too-generous husband that a diamond bracelet of rare--nay, of
fabulous--value was in the market. The stones were of a monstrous size
and of the purest colour. The price asked for this bracelet was no less
than sixty thousand pounds. The stones alone, if sold singly, were
valued by experts at considerably more than thirty thousand. To obtain
possession of an ornament so rare and costly was a natural desire on the
part of Mrs. Quinlan, and to her husband was a bagatelle. What are sixty
thousand pounds to a man upon whom money continues to roll in a manner
so bewildering? The upshot of the negotiations was that the bracelet was
purchased and paid for, and Mrs. Quinlan the happy possessor.

"About four weeks ago Mr. and Mrs. Quinlan, with their retinue and
treasures, arrived at the Langham Hotel, with the intention of stopping
there for two or three days. But fate willed it otherwise. Mrs. Quinlan
was taken ill, and was confined to her bed. So serious was her illness
that she was a prisoner in her bedroom for more than three weeks. Mr.
Quinlan did not remain in attendance upon her the whole of this time. He
had business which took him frequently to Paris and other places;
consequently, for a greater part of the time during which his wife was
suffering, he was an absentee.

"Among Mrs. Quinlan's serving-women was one of great attractions, and
who was a special favourite with her mistress. This young woman's name
is Alice Frost. She had the entire confidence of her mistress, and, as
events have proved, was unworthy of it. To her was intrusted, during
Mrs. Quinlan's sickness, the charge of the lady's jewels, which were
kept in a very substantial safe in Mrs. Quinlan's bedroom. It was often
impressed upon Mrs. Quinlan that she was imprudent to carry so much
valuable property about with her; but she disregarded these hints, and
took her pleasures in her own way. One of these pleasures, in the
course of her illness, was to have all her jewels and ornaments spread
out before her on her bed, and to handle and gaze upon them. We hold
that she was sensible in this, for what is the use of buried treasure?
The servant who took these priceless gems from the safe for the
inspection of her mistress was Alice Frost.

"Suddenly Alice Frost disappears. She is not discharged, she is not
sick, she is not in disgrace; she simply disappears. Mrs. Quinlan, much
distressed at the loss of so great a favourite, calls in a private
detective. He listens to all that Mrs. Quinlan can impart to him, and
when she has finished, remarks, 'She has run away.'

"'Impossible,' says Mrs. Quinlan. 'Why should she run away? Somebody has
carried her off. She is very good-looking.'

"Says the detective, 'She had charge of your jewellery?'

"'To some extent,' says Mrs. Quinlan. 'But it is all kept in the safe
there.'

"'Would you have any objection to our looking through it,' says the
detective, 'and seeing that nothing is missing?'

"'No objection whatever,' says Mrs. Quinlan.

"Whereupon the safe is unlocked, and the treasures laid forth. With one
exception it is all correct. Nothing is missing but the wonderful
diamond bracelet. That is gone.

"'It accounts,' remarked the detective, 'for the disappearance of Alice
Frost.'

"Mrs. Quinlan fell back speechless, and, when she recovered, bade the
detective track Alice Frost and the sixty-thousand-pound bracelet.

"What has been discovered is this: Alice Frost disappeared one Friday
night. Presumably the diamond bracelet also disappeared at the same
time.

"What occurred in or about the Langham Hotel on that night which may
afford a clue to the discovery of the robber or robbers?

"On that night the policeman on duty observed a man walking on the
opposite side of the road for a space of a couple of hours. This man did
nothing but walk slowly up and down, keeping as much as possible in the
dark, and looking for some person he was waiting for. The policeman on
duty passed him on three occasions, and although the man endeavoured to
avoid him, he obtained a good view of his features. He will be able to
recognize the man.

"At half past eleven a woman came out of the Langham, and went over to
the man. The policeman on duty saw this movement, but is not sure that
he will be able to identify the woman. Of the man he _is_ sure.

"The woman spoke to the man behind his back. The man did not turn his
face. She slipped a parcel into his hands, and walked rapidly away.
Almost immediately the man was joined by another in an Inverness cape,
and the two walked away together. The policeman on duty saw nothing more
of them. From the manner in which they walked away together there is no
doubt that they were intimately acquainted with each other, and that
they were confederates. So far, the policeman; now for the next
evidence.

"As near as the cabman can remember, driver of a four-wheeler, it was
within a few minutes of midnight that a man hailed him and bade him come
along. They went a couple of hundred yards and took up a man in an
Inverness cape. The man who hailed the driver gave him half a sovereign
'on account,' and directed him to drive along the Finchley Road. He did
so, and observed while he was driving that the men inside the cab were
lighting matches, which proves that they were examining
something--probably the diamond bracelet. After driving about an hour he
was called upon to stop, and before he had pulled up his horse the man
in the Inverness cape jumped out of the cab and disappeared. Then he was
directed to drive back to London, and he did so, stopping, by orders, in
Portland Place. The man who hailed him first (now the only one remaining
in the cab) alighted, and the cabman noticed that he had a parcel in his
hand. Again the diamond bracelet. The cabman asked for a few shillings
more, reminding his fare that the half-sovereign given to him was 'on
account.' The man said that he was well paid, and refused to part with
anything further. The cabman began to argue with him, but the man did
not stop; he ran off. The cabman's description of his fare tallies with
that of the policeman on duty at the Langham Hotel. The cabman will be
able to identify him.

"In some way which we are not at liberty to divulge, but in which we may
say the good-looking Alice Frost is concerned, the disappearance of a
blackleg going by the name of Captain Ablewhite bears upon the robbery.
It is known that this Captain Ablewhite took the night train on the
following Tuesday to Dover. Nothing further is at present discovered of
him.

"Now comes the piquant feature in the robbery.

"To Mr. Quinlan, who arrived at the Langham Hotel after the discovery of
the robbery, the detective narrated all the particulars of the affair.
Mr. Quinlan laughed. His wife asked him what he was laughing at.

"'My dear,' he said to her, 'the loss is not so great as you suppose.
Your diamond bracelet is safe.'

"'Safe!' she cried.

"'Here it is.' He pulled it from his pocket. 'The fact is, you would not
be persuaded that it was imprudent to travel with so much valuable
property about you, and I therefore took the precaution of having a
bracelet made exactly like this. All _the stones in the bracelet that is
stolen are false_!'

"An agreeable contemplation for the robbers. The biters are bit.

"The affair is in the hands of the detectives in Scotland Yard, who are
confident that they will be able to track the robbers."

       *       *       *       *       *

This newspaper article it was that struck consternation to the heart of
Jeremiah Pamflett. He turned hot and cold. First he was clammy; the next
moment he broke out into a hot perspiration. He had been swindled,
tricked, betrayed; he, the wretched, depraved thief, had fallen amongst
thieves. He, the sharper, had been sharped. Truly, the biter was bit!

What should he do? How was he to act in order to insure his safety? The
policeman who had been on duty at the Langham Hotel on that Friday night
said that he could identify him. The cabman he had engaged said the
same. If he had had a sufficient sum of money he would have flown the
country, but he had been compelled on that day to make a payment to the
book-maker who held his acceptances for his losses at Doncaster, and he
had not enough left to pay his fare to the Continent. And what would be
the use of his going there if he had? He could not live without money;
he did not understand a word of any other language than English; and he
would be sure to be tracked and brought back. His flight would make it
worse for him; it would be an admission of guilt. Should he stop and
brave it out? Upon reflection he gained a little courage. He argued with
himself, despite the policeman's and the cabman's declarations that they
could identify him, that it was scarcely possible they could do so
unless he betrayed himself. He had been at great trouble to conceal his
features from the policeman's scrutiny, and it only required him to put
a good face on the matter to brazen it out; to so confuse the man, even
if he came into contact with him, that he would pass unnoticed. But
there was no occasion for him to come into contact with the policeman.
He would keep out of the way, and the affair would blow over. Captain
Ablewhite would not, could not, come back. The mere thought of Captain
Ablewhite roused him to fury. He looked blindly round for something to
strangle. If the bland, smiling Captain were before him now! If he
could meet him in some dark place! All surrounding objects seemed to be
swimming in blood.

He ran into his bedroom, and filling the wash-hand basin with cold
water, plunged his head into it. The action recalled him to his calmer
self. Notwithstanding which, he said aloud, with a cunning smile, "I may
find you one day, my Captain, and then, and then!" He clenched his hand
and opened it, and twined his fingers, as though he had them on Captain
Ablewhite's throat.

But there was no telling whether he was in danger or not. What it was
imperatively necessary he should get possession of at once was money, in
order to be prepared. Where could he get it from? Ah, his mother!

He would go down to Parksides immediately. Perhaps he might find Miser
Farebrother's hidden treasure.

He emerged into the streets. As he descended the stairs he saw before
him a vision of blood. Two men struggled for life and death. The house
was very quiet. Only he and the _other man_ occupied space. He tore at
the Shadow's throat, he took a knife from his pocket, he plunged it
in--

Blood, blood everywhere! Above him, beneath him, around him. Again and
again the knife descended. What a delight to punish an enemy so! You
tricked me, you robbed me, you laid snares for me! Take that--and
that--and that!

He laughed aloud before he went into the street, and then he put on a
smug face.

There were a number of persons walking this way and that, but not one
took the slightest notice of him. He nodded to a passing acquaintance,
who nodded back at him, and smiled. He was safe. What cause was there
for fear?

In the sunlight the vision of blood vanished. He was face to face with
the world, and his native cunning asserted itself.

Then he thought he was going down to Parksides to see his mother. He
would have to see Miser Farebrother. He must have some excuse for the
visit. He retraced his steps and went back to the office, arming himself
with account-books, which he took up indiscriminately and made into a
parcel, tying it up with string----

The string was red! Miser Farebrother's offices were very gloomy; the
windows had been frosted, so that no person should see through; a
strange silence prevailed.

As he tied the books together with the string, a streak of blood
appeared, stretched itself along the table, and dropped, drip by drip,
on the floor. Jeremiah held himself in suspense to listen to the
spiritual sound which his mood had brought to his ears. Drip, drip,
drip!

Captain Ablewhite's blood. The policeman's blood. The cabman's blood.
The blood of any person who was his enemy.

Yes, he would crush the life out of them. Like this, like this, like
this! He ground his foot into the floor, and looked down, smiling. Then,
locking the doors and putting the keys into his pocket, he descended the
stairs.

He walked slowly to the street landing. There were not many stairs; but
all the way down he was engaged in the life and death struggle, and all
the space around was bathed in blood. A ruthless ferocity was awakened
within him. His safety, his liberty, his very life was at stake. What
mattered all else? "Every man for himself, and--"

He paused at the next word, "God," against which he mentally strove, and
conquering it, cast a defiant look at the pulsing, bloody shadows which
encompassed him, and threw the street door open.

Once more in the sunlight--and safe! That was the great point. And safe!
He called a cab, a four-wheeler, and looked the driver straight in the
face; then laughed, and directed the man to drive him to the railway
station.



CHAPTER V.

MISER FAREBROTHER THREATENS JEREMIAH.


He usually travelled third-class to Beddington, but on this occasion he
took a first-class ticket. To this piece of extravagance he was impelled
by two reasons. He wished to be alone, and the first-class carriages
were nearly always empty at this time of the day. Then, in the position
in which he found himself--brought about partly by his own folly, but
chiefly by the treachery of Captain Ablewhite--it mattered little how
much he spent. What were pounds, shillings, and pence in comparison with
his safety? He had worked himself into the belief that not only his
liberty, but his life, was in peril.

The three first-class carriages in the train were unoccupied, and he got
into one, and closed the door. No other passenger entered the carriage,
and he travelled to Parksides alone.

He read again the newspaper article upon the diamond bracelet, and his
feelings became more bitter and revengeful. The visions which had
haunted him in Miser Farebrother's office reappeared. The words he was
reading were printed in letters of blood; his eyes became blurred, and
he wiped them with his handkerchief. The blood-shadows were on the
handkerchief as he looked at it; the stains spread to his hands, as
though they had just been employed upon a ruthless deed; the compartment
in which he sat was throbbing with a silent life and death struggle,
from which he emerged triumphant and free.

He was aroused by the stopping of the train at Beddington. He jumped
out, with the account-books in his hands, and gazed defiantly around. No
one challenged or accosted him, and he walked through the village toward
Parksides. He heard a voice calling to him:

"Jeremiah! Jeremiah!"

The currents of his blood seemed to be suddenly arrested. Was he so soon
discovered? Were they after him already?

"Jeremiah! Jeremiah!"

His mother, panting, laid her hand upon his shoulder. He shook her off
violently, and was about to fly when he recognized her.

"How fast you walk, Jeremiah!" He glared at her, and raised his hand
with the intention of striking her, but she caught his arm and prevented
him.

"Well, then!" he said, suddenly. "What do you come running after a
fellow like that for? Just as if--" He did not finish the sentence.

"Just as if what, Jeremiah?" asked Mrs. Pamflett.

"Ask no questions and you'll hear no lies," he replied. "How is it that
you're here instead of at Parksides?"

"Miser Farebrother sent me with a message to the telegraph office."

"A telegram!" he cried, all his fears reviving. "To whom?"

"To you, telling you to come here without a moment's delay."

"Oh, the old thief wants me?"

"He wants you badly, Jeremiah!"

"Does he? Was there nothing else in the telegram except that I was to
come here without a moment's delay?"

"You were to bring the account-books."

"I have them, you see. Was the old thief in a good humour?"

"Jeremiah, I was listening outside his room, and I heard him limping up
and down, muttering to himself. I didn't catch what he was saying, but
he was in a desperate temper. Yet when he rang his bell, and I answered
it, he was sitting at the writing-table, with the sweetest smile on his
face, and his voice was like honey. 'Take this to the telegraph office,'
he said, giving me the message; and he asked me how you were getting on,
and whether you were saving money, and whether I had saved any. I told
him I had a little--"

"How much?" asked Jeremiah, interrupting her.

"I didn't tell him that, Jeremiah."

"Of course you didn't; but _I_ want to know."

"I have got more than a hundred pounds, Jeremiah."

"So--you've been saving up secretly, unbeknown to me!"

"It was done for your good, Jeremiah; it is all for you. Women are not
as strong as men, nor as bold and venturesome, but they see further
sometimes. 'Perhaps,' I thought to myself, 'one day Jeremiah may want a
little help; there may be something he wishes to do and is just a little
short. Then I will give him my savings, and he will praise me for my
prudence and foresight."

"I praise you now, mother," said Jeremiah. "Can you lay your hands on
the money? Is it in your room?"

"No, Jeremiah; it is in the Post-office Savings-bank."

"Curse it! You can't get it out to-day. What's the good of it when I
want it now--this very minute?"

"What for, Jeremiah?"

"That's my business. Go on about the old thief. He pretended to be very
sweet, did he, and tried to pump you? What's that?"

He clutched his mother, shaking like one in an ague. They were in a
narrow lane, and a boy in their rear had uttered a loud shout, and had
thrown a stone at a bird. The boy ran on, and the colour returned to
Jeremiah's face.

"Jeremiah!" whispered Mrs. Pamflett.

"Well?"

"You have been doing something wrong. You are in trouble."

"Yes, I am in trouble. I have been robbed--swindled--tricked and ruined
by a damned scoundrel. If I had him here now, in this quiet lane, with
no one near, his life wouldn't be worth a moment's purchase. There, the
murder's out! What did I say?"

"You said, 'the murder's out.'"

"Did I?" he exclaimed, with a nervous laugh. "Murder, eh? Well, if it's
my life against another man's--"

"Is it as bad as that, Jeremiah?"

"It is. I am in a fearful hole, and I must get out of it. Look here,
mother. Ever since I was born you've been drumming in my ears that you
cared for nothing in the world but me, that you lived only for me, that
you loved no one but me, that you would do anything for me--never mind
what--anything, anything! Is it true, or a lie?"

"It is true, Jeremiah," said Mrs. Pamflett, her thin lips set, but
slightly parted, and her eyes glittering like cold steel. "If you're in
danger, you must get out of it. If I can help you to get out of it, you
have only to show me the way. You don't know what a woman like me--what
a mother like me--is capable of. I will show you. A scoundrel has ruined
you, and something must be done to save you. I understand; I understand.
Whatever it is, if it is for me to do it, I am ready. I have never
spoken one false word to you, and I won't say one word to you now to
reproach you for not having confided in me before to-day. If you had
made your fortune I was to share it. You are in trouble now, and I will
share it. Give me a kiss, and say you love me!"

"I should be a beast if I didn't," said Jeremiah, kissing her. "You're
something like a mother!"

"Jeremiah, if that venomous wretch Phoebe Farebrother had married you,
would you be in danger now?"

"No; there would be nothing to trouble me if she hadn't rounded on me. I
shouldn't have been compelled to do what I have done."

"Ah! She called you a reptile, and I am your mother. Oh, to be even with
her--to be even with her!"

Half an hour afterward Jeremiah Pamflett was in the presence of Miser
Farebrother. The miser received his managing clerk with more than
graciousness; there was even cordiality in his manner, and had
Jeremiah's usually clear mind not been unbalanced by the threatening
clouds which hung above him, this apparently favourable demeanour would
have rendered him suspicious, and put him on his guard. Experience had
taught him that there was always mischief in the wind when Miser
Farebrother's words were smooth and fair.

"I sent a telegram for you, Jeremiah," said Miser Farebrother.

"Yes, sir," said Jeremiah; "my mother told me so. Fortunately I was on
my way to you."

"You have brought the books with you?"

"Here they are, sir."

"You anticipate my wishes, Jeremiah. What master was ever served as I am
served by you--so conscientiously, so faithfully! Is the bank-book here?
Yes, yes; I see it is. We will go into the accounts presently. Before I
sent for you, Jeremiah, I was in great pain, and feared I had not long
to live. That kind of feeling makes a man sad--it unsettles him, and he
is apt to repine at the hard fate which seems determined to snatch him
from all the joys of life. I have not had many of them, and the
consolation I had looked forward to in your contemplated union with my
ungrateful child has been denied me. You look tired, Jeremiah. Doubtless
you have been up late at night, attending to correspondence connected
with the business, and running through the accounts."

"I have been working very hard," said Jeremiah.

"That is it. When I did the work myself I also used to sit up night
after night poring over the books. An anxious mind, Jeremiah--an anxious
mind. And you resemble me--oh, how you resemble me! What does a late
night now and then matter to the young and strong? They can bear it; it
leaves no ill effects behind. _I_ could bear it once; _I_ was once young
and strong as you are; _I_ was once filled with hope and enthusiasm. And
now, look at me. I am a wreck, a feeble wreck, scarcely able to contend
with an infant. My strength gone, my hope and enthusiasm gone, my
confidence gone in every being in the world with the exception of you
and your mother. No reward can be too great for service so faithful! You
are affected. I thank you, Jeremiah--I thank you! That sympathizing
look, those genuine tears, testify to the friendship you bear toward
me."

In point of fact, Jeremiah had taken his handkerchief from his pocket
and had dabbed his forehead with it, and it was this action which Miser
Farebrother chose to construe into an exhibition of sympathy. Jeremiah's
face was damp with perspiration; he was bewildered by the flow of words
which fell like honey from the miser's lips; bewildered also by the
presence of the master he had wronged and robbed, of the man who held
his fate in his hands. Lying back in his chair, Miser Farebrother seemed
to have scarcely an hour's life in him; his strength seemed to be ebbing
away, and death to be fast approaching. What if he were to die there,
within the hour, while Jeremiah was in the room? Then all would be well.
He could obtain possession of the valueless bracelet; he could obtain
possession of the hoards of money which Miser Farebrother had put in
some secret place, which, the miser dead, Jeremiah and his mother would
have little difficulty in finding. Yes; then all would be well. Before
he had presented himself to his master, he had confided to his mother
all the particulars of the danger which threatened him, and they had
debated what had best be done. His mother had said, "If Miser
Farebrother were out of the way," and then had paused. If Miser
Farebrother were out of the way! That is, if he were dead! Yes; if he
were dead! "What then?" Jeremiah had asked, after a terrible silence,
during which their minds were threading labyrinths of awful
possibilities of action which would extricate Jeremiah from his peril.
"What then, mother?" Jeremiah had asked. "Why, then," his mother had
replied, "we could get the bracelet, and would find a means to restore
it immediately to the lady from whom it had been stolen. It would have
to be done carefully and secretly; it would be necessary that we should
not be seen or suspected in the matter. The bracelet restored, the lady
would have nothing to complain of. She has not been robbed of money;
only we and the old man upstairs know where the money came from which
was lent upon the bracelet, and only we should be the losers."

"We could get his hidden treasure as well, mother," Jeremiah had said.
"No one but ourselves knows of that. If it were necessary, we could
leave England for a time." But this suggestion had been stoutly opposed
by Mrs. Pamflett. "It would never do," she had said. "Our disappearance
would draw instant suspicion upon us. We have managed for him so many
years--I here in Parksides, you in the London office. No, Jeremiah; we
must stop and brave it out. I am certain there would be very little to
fear, and that neither the policeman nor the cabman would be able to
identify you. Besides, the bracelet restored, there would be no charge.
The lady's maid stole it, not you, and she will not come back. She is in
sure hiding, and so is that monster Captain Ablewhite. You would be
safe, Jeremiah--you would be safe." And then she repeated, "If Miser
Farebrother were out of the way!" Already their dark thoughts had
compassed the result. The means had not been mentioned or discussed, but
they were ready for any expedient, however desperate which would bring
it about and remove the threatened danger. Mrs. Pamflett, to insure her
son's safety, was prepared for any risk to herself, for any sacrifice.

And here, sitting within a few inches of Jeremiah, was the man whose
death meant life and liberty for him--was the man who could make a felon
of him, who could ruin him absolutely and for ever and ever! "If he were
to die now in his chair!" thought Jeremiah. Then came the thought that
Miser Farebrother was an old man, weak and nerveless, and that two
strong hands around his neck would squeeze the life out of him in a very
few moments. It would be soon over, and there would be an end to the
tortures Jeremiah was suffering. Meanwhile Miser Farebrother was
speaking again.

"Were those the office keys jingling in your pocket, Jeremiah, when you
took out your handkerchief? Let me see them; it may be the last
opportunity I shall have of handling the old friends. Yes, here they
are, all on a single ring--the key of the office door, the key of the
room in which you sleep, the keys of the safe and the deed and cash
boxes. All here, all here! Have you duplicates of them? No! Then without
these keys you could not enter the office, you could not open the safe?
Come, old friends, into _my_ drawer you go--and you are safely locked
there, and the key in my pocket!"

And now, to Jeremiah's astonishment and consternation, Miser Farebrother
rose to his feet and stood upright before his knavish clerk. All his
apparent weakness had disappeared; his face was flushed with anger; in
his eyes there was a look of stern resolution.

"I summoned you here," he said, and his firm voice struck terror to
Jeremiah's heart, "to obtain not only an explanation but satisfaction
from you. Doubtless you have read this."

He held out to Jeremiah the newspaper containing the account of the
robbery of the diamond bracelet. Mechanically Jeremiah took the paper;
but he did not look further than the heading: "A Strange Affair--The
Biters Bit."

"Answer me," said the miser. "Have you read it?"

"No," faltered Jeremiah.

"How do you know you have not read it when you have scarcely glanced at
the paper I have given you? That you lie is proved by your side pocket,
which would not bulge out as it does if it did not contain a copy of
this damnable strange affair, by which you have swindled me out of four
thousand pounds."

"I did not swindle you," Jeremiah found courage to say. "I believed the
diamonds were genuine."

"You lie again, and you will continue to lie. But it will not help you.
I will have my money back! Do you hear, you thief?--I will have my money
back, which you and your confederates have shared between you! I will
not wait long for it. Before twelve o'clock to-morrow you shall count it
out to me on this table. If you do not, you shall stand in the felon's
dock. All your cunning shall not save you. I am a fool to give you one
moment's grace. You thief! you scoundrel! you swindler! I will have my
money! my money! my money! Have I not toiled for it all my life?--and
now to find myself robbed by a scoundrel I snatched from the gutter! If
you don't pay me what you have stolen from me I will so pursue you that
your life shall be a slow torture. You shall wish you were dead; but you
shall live to suffer. At least I will have revenge, and I will pay for
it. I will have your heart's blood, to the last drop! My money! my
money! my money!"

His passion exhausted him, and he was compelled to stop. His torrent of
furious words had, in the first instance, overwhelmed Jeremiah with
despair; but as the miser went on, this feeling was gradually replaced
by one of fierce malignity. He grew cooler every moment.

"Do you wish to know why I wanted the books?" continued Miser
Farebrother. "I will tell you. To-morrow they will be placed in the
hands of an accountant, who shall go through them and examine them, and
who will tell me the full extent of your robberies; for my eyes are
opened now. I have been blind! blind! This swindle of the bracelet is
not your only theft; there are others, and I will have them ferreted
out, and you shall repay me to the last farthing. You thief! you have
fattened upon the money you have stolen from me--you have grown rich by
your knavery! Well, I will beggar you--every shilling you possess is
mine, and I will have it. I leave it to you to judge whether I am in
earnest or not, and whether I will do what I have threatened. Do you
wish to know why I wanted the keys of the office and the safe? I will
tell you. It is that you shall never again enter my doors--it is that it
shall be out of your power to destroy the evidences of your guilt which
are to be found there. Till twelve to-morrow--not one moment longer!
Then, when restitution is made--full, complete restitution--you and your
cat-mother shall pack, the pair of you! I will fling you both into the
gutter, and if you rot and die there, so much the better! I will look
down upon you and laugh. Is what I say plain enough?"

"Quite," replied Jeremiah, in whose heart now reigned a cold, ferocious
cunning; but his voice was very humble. "You force me to confess."

"I thought I should succeed in that, at least. But no confessions will
satisfy me without my money, you vile, ungrateful thief! My money! Do
you hear?--my money!

"You shall have it; you shall not lose one farthing by me."

"Good! good! You are rich, then? You have robbed me systematically! You
villainous knave!"

"I am not rich. I have saved a little, and I have friends who will
assist me in the misfortune which has overtaken me. I have not robbed
you systematically; you do me an injustice, as you will learn when the
accountant has gone through the books. I court inquiry--I invite it--I
_will_ have it, now that you have accused me, and I will compel you to
admit that I have served you faithfully. My character is dear to me, and
I will not allow you to cast suspicion upon it. As for the bracelet, I
_did_ believe that the stones were genuine; and if they _were_ genuine
they would have been worth ten times the sum you lent on them. I laugh
at the public exposure with which you threaten me. Me it cannot harm;
you, it can. For, after all, I am only your servant; you are the
principal. That the business of the bracelet was introduced to me by a
man whose character will not bear investigation is true. I did not know
this at the time; but what if I did? He did not ask _me_ to lend him the
money, he asked me to apply to _you_. Is it the first questionable
transaction you have been mixed up in? Perhaps I could give evidence on
that point. It is pretty well known that Miser Farebrother would do
anything for money; if he could sell his soul for it he would not
hesitate long. You mustn't mind my speaking in this way; I have nothing
to fear, and I am defending myself."

Miser Farebrother was not in the least discomposed by Jeremiah's
defence of himself. "Words, Jeremiah, words!" he said, with a sneering
laugh. "Are you a fool as well as a rogue? What you have said is as so
much air, and will not save you from the felon's fate. In everything I
have done the law is on my side; I have seen to that. As to what is
between us, let matters be settled quickly. You have saved a little, you
say; you have friends who will assist you. Good! By noon to-morrow pay
me the money you induced me to advance upon the bracelet. If this is not
done, at one o'clock I will place it in the hands of the police, with a
faithful description of the manner in which it came into my possession.
The police are looking for you, you shallow knave, and I will set them
on your track. Then see if you can save yourself. The office accounts
will come afterward. If you have stolen, you shall repay--with interest,
you thief!"

"I will not use abusive words in return," said Jeremiah. "There is
nothing for which I am to blame, except the bracelet, and I was an
innocent victim. You have it, of course?"

"Trust me for that," replied Miser Farebrother; "I have it safe enough.
Do you think I have been simple enough to part with it?"

"Well, give it to me," said Jeremiah, "and before twelve to-morrow
morning I will return you the money you advanced on it."

Miser Farebrother burst out into a loud laugh. "Give it to you,
Jeremiah, and simply for the asking! You miserable knave, do you think I
am in my second childhood? No, Jeremiah, no! When you give me back my
money you shall have it--not till then. Fail in this restitution, and
you have but a few hours of freedom before you. By my blood! by my life!
I will abide by what I say?"

"Then there is an end of it," said Jeremiah, "and it _shall_ be as you
say. I must get back to London to-night so that I may be here in time
to-morrow."

"Be sure you _are_ in time, Jeremiah!"

"I _will_ be sure!" said Jeremiah, and left the room.

The moment he closed the door behind him he felt his mother's hand clasp
his. She led him down the stairs, and Jeremiah, hearing the sound of his
own footsteps, did not wonder that he did not hear hers. It would have
been difficult, she trod so softly, and she had taken off her boots.
She accompanied him like a spirit: not the only one which walked beside
and before him. By his blood! By his life! Miser Farebrother's words.
Well, it might come to that. What other road of escape was left open?

In the kitchen below, Mrs. Pamflett put her forefinger to her lips.

"Speak low, Jeremiah. I listened outside, and heard all. He has the
heart of a devil! That is his gratitude for faithful service. His life
has been in my hands for years past. I could have sent him to his grave
and no one the wiser. I am your cat-mother, am I? And he will fling us
into the gutter, and laugh at us? He and his daughter are a pair. He has
had the best years of our lives, and he spits in our faces. Have you
told me the whole truth, Jeremiah? About the books and the safe--is
there anything against you there? Can he get you into further trouble?"

"Mother," said Jeremiah, "if he calls in an accountant, as he threatens
to do, I am lost. There is no hope of escape for me. If I don't get back
that bracelet, I am lost. And he has money, too, here, hidden away, and
not a soul knows it but him and ourselves."

"Not a soul, Jeremiah."

"No one comes to the house but us?"

"Not a person has been here for a month past."

"But--attend to me, mother--there comes here to-night, late, a man to
see Miser Farebrother. It might be!"

"It might be," his mother echoed, gazing at her son with a fierce
expectancy in her eyes.

"This man has been here frequently before; he has been in the habit of
coming once in every six or seven weeks, and Miser Farebrother expects
and receives him. They talk in secret in Miser Farebrother's room, with
the door locked. You are never admitted. You are sent to bed, and
sometimes you have awoke in the middle of the night, and have heard
sounds in the miser's room, which proved that the man was still there.
You never knew at what hour he went away, but it must have been nearly
always not earlier than two or three in the morning. It might be!"

"It might be."

"That he came upon business is a reasonable construction, and that this
business was of a nature which would not bear the light is another
reasonable construction. Once, passing the miser's room on the way to
your own, you heard them quarrelling and you heard the miser say, 'I
have but to lift my finger, and I could send you back to the hulks! I
will give you twenty pounds for the bonds, and no more.' A reasonable
story, mother?"

"Perfectly reasonable, Jeremiah. Living here in seclusion as he has done
for so many years, with no servant but me, who is to dispute it? That is
not the end, Jeremiah."

"That is not the end. To-night, late, the man comes again, and is
admitted. You go to bed as usual, and leave them together as usual.
To-morrow morning you get up, and wait for Miser Farebrother to ring his
bell for breakfast. He does not ring it, mother," and Jeremiah put his
lips close to her ear. "Can you guess the reason why he does not ring
his bell?"

"I can guess the reason, Jeremiah," she replied, in a cold, malignant
voice. "After to-morrow he will never raise his hand again!"

"And I am safe!" said Jeremiah.

"And you are safe, my dear, dear lad; and he is punished as he deserves
to be."

"He has been in the grounds at night very often these last few weeks,
mother?"

"Very often, Jeremiah."

"Whether he dies in the house or out of the house, the story holds
good."

"The story holds good," she echoed.

"You can describe the man's dress and appearance: there is nothing like
being exact in these matters: there are peculiarities about him by which
you will be able to recognise him when he is arrested."

"Leave all that to me, Jeremiah. I will show you what I am capable of.
And you--where will you be in the morning?"

"In the office in London, as usual, having possessed myself of the keys
which he tricked out of me upstairs. Give me a drink of brandy--ah! that
puts life into one! And some bread and meat--no, I cannot eat."

"You must, Jeremiah; you must! It will give you strength. That's right.
Force yourself to eat. Don't drink much. Keep cool for what is to come!
Now go--and keep out of sight. You must not be seen in the village. The
monster upstairs never wanders near the beeches; you will be safe there.
I will come to you in an hour or two."

Stealthily, warily, Jeremiah crept from the house, and proceeded in the
direction indicated by his mother. The sun was setting, and blood was in
the sky. It shone upon the rising ground and upon the topmost branches
of the trees. His eyes did not rest upon the glories of a lovely sunset,
but upon blotches and streaks of blood. Once, standing where he could
not himself be seen, he turned to the house, and watched the blood-red
stains in the windows. Behind the crimson panes lurid shadows moved; the
rooms were alive with murderous shapes and forms engaged in fierce
conflict. Above him and all around him lurked the spirit of murder!



CHAPTER VI.

A DREAM OF AN ANGEL.


"Oh Aunt Leth, Aunt Leth!" cried Phoebe. "Can nothing be
done?--nothing, nothing!"

"I fear not, dear child," said Aunt Leth, in a voice of quiet despair.
"Your uncle and I have thought of every possible way in which our dear
home might be saved, but thinking and talking will not stave off
impending ruin. To-morrow we shall be beggared and disgraced."

There was no light in the room. On a stool sat Uncle Leth, with his face
buried in his hands; Aunt Leth sat on a chair by his side with her arm
upon his neck, vainly striving to console him; Fanny lay upon the sofa,
sobbing; Robert sat moodily in a corner. To-morrow the acceptance for
three hundred pounds was due, and they had not a shilling to meet it.

They had been talking in the dark for an hour, and the parents had
deemed it right that their children should be made acquainted with the
blow that was about to fall upon them. Phoebe, as one of the family,
could not be left in ignorance, although they would cheerfully have
spared her the grief into which they were plunged. All was now known,
and ruin stared them in the face.

Aunt Leth was the least demonstrative of the group, and she suffered
perhaps the most. Her trembling limbs, her quivering voice, her pitiful
glances as her eyes wandered around, denoted the agony of her soul.
Phoebe could not bear to look toward her. Dark as was the room, she
saw and understood it all, and she was racked with anguish.

Had it been any other person than Jeremiah Pamflett from whom the money
had been borrowed, they believed that some respite would have been
granted them; but he was their bitterest enemy, and they were convinced
that he was the moving spirit through whom the relentless decree had
been issued that not a day's grace would be allowed. Troubles and griefs
had fallen to the lot of Aunt Leth in the course of her happy married
life, and she had met them cheerfully; but this overwhelming stroke had
broken her down. There are shocks against which the bravest cannot
contend, and this was one.

"It is I," suddenly cried Uncle Leth, starting up, and pacing the room
in a frenzy of excitement--"It is I who have brought this ruin and
disgrace upon the beloved ones I should have shielded and protected!
This is how I have repaid them for the love which has been showered upon
me! Wretch that I am!--I do not deserve to live!"

They clung about him, and besought him to be calm. They called him by
the most endearing names. Only Phoebe did not move from her chair.

It was terrible to witness his agony; but so sweet and tender and true
were their ministerings that they succeeded in their loving endeavours.
He burst into tears, and sank upon the stool, and laid his head upon his
wife's knees.

"This morning," he said, presently, in a voice so pitiful that their
tears flowed afresh, "as I walked to the bank I had a dream of hope. It
was foolish, I know, and neither manly nor practical--for life's
troubles are not to be surmounted by dreams--but I could not help it.
These dreams have happened to me, and I should have done my duty better
to my dear ones here had I not encouraged them." He passed his hand
across his forehead with the air of a man upon whom a sudden mental
bewilderment had fallen. "What was I saying, mother?"

"You had a dream of hope," said Aunt Leth, raising his hand to her lips
and kissing it, "as you walked to the bank this morning."

"I do not remember what it was," he said, helplessly; "only that an
angel came forward and saved us."

Phoebe stole softly out of the room--so softly through the darkness
that they did not for a little while observe her absence. To a certain
extent she had kept aloof from them during the last hour.

She went up to the bedroom occupied by her and Fanny. She wanted to be
alone. What was it her uncle had said? That an angel had come forward
and saved them! The words impressed themselves upon her mind.

How kind these dear ones had been to her from her earliest remembrance!
Giving her ever of their best, eager that she should share their joys
and pleasures, making dresses for her, and bringing light into her life,
which but for them would have been utterly devoid of it. How sweet, how
good they had been!

What had she given them in return? Nothing. True, they had not asked for
anything, had not expected anything. All the more precious their tender
services of love.

Their more than love. The unselfish sacrifices they had made for her, of
which they spoke never a word. Not to be measured by a human standard.

It was only on the afternoon of this dolorous day that it had come to
her knowledge that her aunt had paid a doctor's bill for her of some
seven or eight pounds, and she knew that her illness must have
considerably increased the household expenses of the once happy home,
now on the point of being wrecked.

An angel had come forward to save them? No, not an angel, but a loving,
grateful girl! It was in her power, at least, to make an effort which by
a happy chance might be successful. She could go to her father and
appeal to him. She would humble herself to him; she would implore him
on her knees; she would promise to obey him in everything--

"In everything?" Yes, in everything. She shuddered as she thought of
Jeremiah Pamflett. But even that sacrifice she would make if all else
failed.

The effort must be made at once--this very night--and it must be made
without first consulting Aunt Leth. Full well did she know that the dear
woman would divine the sacrifice she was prepared to make, and would
endeavour to prevent it.

She put on her hat and mantle, and quietly left the house. A few doors
down the street she met 'Melia Jane.

"Why, Miss Phoebe!" cried that model servant-of-all-work. "Where are
you going all alone?"

"If my aunt or my cousin asks for me," said Phoebe, hurriedly, "tell
them I have gone to Parksides to see my father."

Before 'Melia Jane could reply, Phoebe had turned the corner of the
street, and was hastening to the railway station.



CHAPTER VII.

BETTER THAN ANY DAY-DREAM.


At five o'clock of the following afternoon two men paused in front of
Uncle Leth's house in Camden Town, and looked up at the windows.

"This is the number," said one.

"Yes," replied the other; "she lives here."

A rat-tat with the knocker brought 'Melia Jane to the street door.

"Is Mr. Lethbridge at home?" asked one of the men.

"No, sir," replied 'Melia Jane; "he's at his bank."

"Is Mrs. Lethbridge in?"

"Yes, sir."

"Her niece, Miss Phoebe Farebrother, is stopping here, is she not?"

"Yes, sir."

"Is _she_ in?"

"Yes, sir; but you can't see her, if that's what you've come for."

"Why can't we see her?"

"'Cause she's too ill to be seen by anybody but us. Poor thing! she's no
sooner out of one fit than she's into another."

"Ah!" And the speaker glanced at his companion. "I'm sorry to hear
it--very, very sorry." His voice was soothing and sympathizing, and
'Melia Jane, who had not been too favourably impressed by the strangers,
became instantly mollified. "How long has she been ill?"

"Oh, come!" exclaimed 'Melia Jane, relapsing into her original view.
"_You_ don't belong to the family, as I'm aware of."

"No, we do not, my good girl," observed the man; "but that would not
prevent me from feeling pity for any young lady who is ill, I hope." He
smiled so kindly upon 'Melia Jane that she did not know what to think of
him. "Perhaps it's what occurred last night that has upset her?"

"I don't know what occurred last night," said 'Melia Jane, sharply; "do
you?"

"Why, my girl, a number of things occur every night. Which particular
one do you refer to?"

"I once knowed a girl," said 'Melia Jane, with an air of scornful
defiance, "who knowed another girl who had a friend who lived in Pump
Court."

"Well?" said the stranger, seemingly much amused.

"In Pump Court he lived," said 'Melia Jane. "And he lived _by_ it as
well as _in_ it. Lor' bless you! The artful way in which he'd pump
people, so's to get out of 'em every blessed thing he wanted to know--it
was a sight, that's what it was!"

The man laughed heartily. "So you think we've come to pump you, my good
girl! Perhaps you're right and perhaps you're wrong. Now if I were to
ask you whether Miss Phoebe Farebrother slept at home last night--I
mean here, in her aunt's house--I suppose you would call that pumping?"

"I should--and I shouldn't answer you."

"But why, my good girl?--why? Is there any reason for secrecy in so
simple a matter? However, I will _not_ ask you, and in proof that I'm
not quite the bad sort of fellow you take me for, I will just inquire
whether this brooch belongs to Miss Farebrother."

He produced the brooch which Mrs. Pamflett had given to Phoebe on her
birthday.

"Yes, it's hern," said 'Melia Jane, holding out her hand for it.

"Did she wear it yesterday?"

"Pumping ag'in!"

"My good girl, you're enough to put one out of patience. Isn't it an act
of kindness to restore lost property? But one must be sure first that it
gets back into the hands of the right owner. Can you remember whether
Miss Farebrother wore this brooch yesterday?"

"No, I can't remember. And now I come to think of it, I 'ain't seen her
wear it for a long time past."

"But she wore this yesterday." He produced a veil.

"Yes," said 'Melia Jane, a little eagerly; "she had it on when she went
away last night to--"

"Why don't you finish, my good girl? When she went away last night to
Parksides." He returned the brooch and the veil to his pocket. "I won't
trouble you any more. Be kind enough to tell Mrs. Lethbridge that we
wish to see her."

"What name shall I say?"

"Never mind the name; she will not know it. You can say, on particular
business."

Leaving the men in the passage with the street door open, 'Melia Jane
went up to Phoebe's bedroom, and gave the message to her mistress, who
came down at once, and asked the stranger what his business was.

"It will be best for me to speak to you in private," said the man.

Aunt Leth led the visitors into the parlour, and the one who had spoken
all through commenced the conversation.

"My name is Beeminster, and I am attached to the police force. I am
engaged upon an inquiry of a serious nature, and it has, in the first
place, led me to your house."

Aunt Leth's heart fainted within her. Knowing nothing whatever of
business, or of the pains and penalties attending the dishonouring of an
acceptance for three hundred pounds, she feared that the terrible
anxieties through which she had passed with respect to her husband's
liability were about to be renewed. She had believed that this special
difficulty had been happily tided over for a time, and her reason for
this belief needs in this place a word of explanation.

Almost heart-broken, Uncle Leth had left his home on this morning to
walk to the bank in which he had held an honourable though humble
position all his life. He could not touch his breakfast; he could not
speak; he could scarcely see before him. So utterly prostrate was he
that his wife had refrained from uttering a single word upon another
anxious subject which filled her with alarm. Phoebe had been absent
all the night, and had returned as Uncle Leth was getting out of bed.
Her condition was so pitiable as to cause Aunt Leth and Fanny the utmost
distress. There were marks of violence upon her, she was bruised and
bleeding, her clothes were torn, her mind was distraught. They could get
nothing from her but sobs and tears. On the previous night when her
absence was remarked, and they learnt from 'Melia Jane that she had gone
to Parksides, they were almost distracted. Tom Barley, being off duty,
was sought for immediately, and upon being made acquainted with what
had taken place, had started off instantly for Parksides to protect
Phoebe and bring her back. He had not much time to spare, as he had to
go on his beat again early in the morning; but he managed to get to
Parksides and to reconnoitre for half an hour. He did not succeed in
finding Phoebe, and he was compelled to return to London without
her--determined, however, to go back to Parksides when he was free
again, and restore Phoebe to her relatives. Phoebe's reappearance in
Camden Town rendered the carrying out of his resolution unnecessary. He
had seen something at Parksides which perplexed and troubled him; but he
had mentioned it to no one.

Utterly absorbed and overwhelmed by the disgrace and ruin with which he
was threatened, Uncle Leth knew nothing of Phoebe's absence or return,
and he started for his bank with so heavy a weight upon his heart that
he almost prayed for death. No day-dreams on this morning; the reality
was too crushing. He thought it was a dull morning; but the sun was
shining and the air was sweet So he walked on--to ruin, as he believed.

But a wonderful thing occurred, and yet a simple thing. For, surely,
when, within a quarter of a mile of the bank he was clapped on the
shoulder by Fred Cornwall, an incident so trivial was scarcely worth a
second thought. But when he reflected upon it afterward, he was of the
opinion that it was worth much more than a second thought, and that
indeed it was the most wonderful thing that ever happened to him, that
for the first time in his life he should be clapped on his shoulder by
Fred Cornwall while he was walking to business. Not only the most
wonderful thing, but the most fortunate, as it turned out.

Fred greeted him heartily and cordially, and he made no reply. At first
Fred did not notice his strange silence, for the young man was bubbling
over with an event of great importance which had on this morning
occurred in his own career. He had received a brief in a case in which
some hundreds of thousands of pounds were involved, and he was in high
feather about it. With great animation he made Uncle Leth acquainted
with this piece of good fortune, and went on talking and talking until
Uncle Leth's singular silence and abstraction had their effect upon
him, and he suddenly paused and asked Uncle Leth whether he was unwell.

"Pardon me, Mr. Cornwall," said Uncle Leth humbly; "I have not
understood a word of what you were saying."

The "Mr." Cornwall struck strangely upon Fred's ears. It had always been
Fred; but the fact was, Uncle Leth, feeling that he had lost his
honoured place in the world, deemed the familiarity an act of
presumption on his part. Therefore the "Mr." instead of Fred.

Then Fred, bending down to look into Uncle Leth's face, saw that there
were tears in his eyes. Uncle Leth was as tall as Fred, but on this
morning he stooped lower than usual; if he could have hid his face from
the sight of all men, he would have been glad to do so.

"Uncle Leth," said Fred gently, "what is the matter?"

"Don't speak to me like that," sobbed Uncle Leth, turning away; "don't
speak to me like that!"

"Ah, but I must," said Fred, hooking his arm in Uncle Leth's. "You are
in trouble, and you want me to run. Not likely, Uncle Leth. I love you
and yours too deeply. Only one word first. Has Phoebe anything to do
with it?"

"No, Fred."

"You _are_ in trouble?"

"Yes."

"About money?"

"Yes."

"Then tell me all about it. I give you my honest word I will not leave
you till you do. You have a good ten minutes to spare. You started from
home earlier than usual this morning."

It was a fact, but until this moment Uncle Leth had not been aware of
it.

"Now tell me, Uncle Leth."

And so, in less than the ten minutes there were to spare, the story of
the impending ruin was told.

"And is that all?" cried Fred, to Uncle Leth's astonishment.

Uncle Leth strove to disengage his arm from Fred's. It was cruel of the
young man to make light of such a blow. But Fred held Uncle Leth's arm
all the tighter, and he could not release himself.

"Do they know it at home?" asked Fred.

"Yes."

"And you have left all of them in trouble?"

"They are heart-broken," sobbed Uncle Leth; "and so am I!"

"Now, Uncle Leth," said Fred, with a comfortable squeeze at Uncle Leth's
arm, "just you listen to me a moment. There is nothing to be
heart-broken about when you have a friend like me at your elbow."

"Don't mock me, Fred."

"God forbid that I should! What! After all your sweet goodness to my
darling Phoebe! after all your kindness to me, to think that I should
mock you! I am going to get you out of your trouble. A nice thing
friendship would be if it wasn't equal to such a little matter as this!"

"A little matter, Fred! You call it a little matter!"

"Of course I do. On my word and honour as a man, as a true friend, you
shall have the acceptance for three hundred pounds in your hands, if not
to-night, at all events to-morrow. Give me the name and address of the
man who holds it and who demands his pound of flesh. He shall have it
to the last grain. Leave it to me, and go to your work with a cheerful
heart."

"Do you mean it, Fred?" asked Uncle Leth, solemnly.

"As truly as I stand here! As truly as I love my Phoebe, the dearest
girl in all the wide world, of whom I should be unworthy if I failed you
at such a pinch--as truly as I hope, despite all obstacles, to make her
my wife, and to live a long and happy life with her! Quick, now, your
time is almost up. Give me Shylock's name and address, and the thing is
done. Ah; that is it, is it? I shall be able to settle the affair with
him."

"God bless you, Fred!" said Uncle Leth, carried away by the young man's
impetuous enthusiasm. "God in heaven bless you!"

"I hope so. And you and yours, and my own dear girl! Why, here's a
telegraph office, three doors from the bank! We have just forty-five
seconds to send a telegram to Aunt Leth. I will write it out. 'My dear
Wife,--Do not worry about the bill. It is paid, and I am happy. God
bless all at home! Uncle Leth.' How much? One-and-a-penny-ha'penny. How
is that? Oh yes, the address! Quite right. Tenpence-ha'penny change.
Thank you. Now, here we are outside, and there's your bank;
and--hi!--here's a hansom. Good-bye, Uncle Leth. What a lovely morning!"

He rung Uncle Leth's hand, gave him a bright smile, jumped into the cab,
and was whirled away.

How he managed it need not be here recapitulated. Sufficient that he
_did_ manage it, and that the affair was arranged before one o'clock.
Perhaps he borrowed a trifle from a friend or two; perhaps he scraped up
every shilling of his own; perhaps he paid a business visit to a
gentleman whose trade-mark was three beautiful golden balls; perhaps he
left another acceptance for a smaller amount than the original bill,
with his own and a good friend's name on it, in Shylock's hands. But all
the "perhapsing" in the world would have been useless had he not
succeeded in bringing the matter to a satisfactory issue. And there he
was at the bank exactly as the clock struck one, and asking to be
allowed to say a word to Mr. Lethbridge, whispered in his ear, "It is
all right."



CHAPTER VIII.

PHOEBE IN PERIL.


After this breaking out of the sun in the dear home in Camden Town, with
respect to the money trouble, Aunt Leth's heart, as has been stated,
fainted within her when Mr. Beeminster, introducing himself, said that
he had called upon an inquiry of a serious nature. She mustered courage
to say: "Is it anything about a debt? Is it anything about my husband?"

Mr. Beeminster stared at her, and answered: "No, not that I am aware of.
The inquiry upon which I am engaged relates to Miss Farebrother--your
niece--and her father."

A sigh of relief escaped Aunt Leth's bosom, and Mr. Beeminster stared
the harder at her.

"Have you heard anything?" he asked. "Do you know what has occurred?"

"I do not understand you," she replied.

"Miss Farebrother has resided with you for--how long?"

"I cannot exactly say. For some time; since she left her father's house
and came to us. But why do you question me?"

"You are not compelled to answer. It may be that you have something to
conceal."

"I have nothing to conceal," said Aunt Leth indignantly.

"Or that, Miss Farebrother having got herself into trouble, it is your
wish to screen her."

"My niece has not got herself into trouble," said Aunt Leth, feeling
herself in a certain sense helpless in the hands of this man. "She is
not capable of doing anything wrong. I will answer any reasonable
questions you may put to me."

"It may be as well. Otherwise you might be suspected of a guilty
knowledge. Miss Farebrother left her father's house and came to reside
with you?"

"Yes; she has been in the habit of coming and stopping with us, from
time to time, since she was a child."

"But never for so long a time as this?"

"That is true. We have a deep love for her. Our home is hers."

"She ought to be grateful for it."

"She is."

"Her friends will best serve her by being open and frank."

"But what has our dear child done?" asked Aunt Leth, in an imploring
tone. "What has she done?"

"You will hear presently, if you have a little patience. On this last
occasion of her coming to you did she do so with her father's consent?"

"It is a family secret," replied Aunt Leth despairingly.

"It will tell against her if you refuse to answer. I am here in the
cause of justice."

"Of justice?"

"Yes, of justice. You refuse, then, to say whether she left her home in
Parksides with her father's consent?"

"I do not refuse. Her father was not kind to her; he turned her from his
house."

"Then when she came here they were not upon friendly terms. It is the
construction which every person would place upon it. Have you any
objection to say why he turned her from his house?"

"He wished to force her into a hateful marriage; she would not consent."

"Were you and her father upon friendly terms?"

"We were not."

"You harboured her, then, against his wish?"

"She had no other shelter. We have always regarded her as a child of our
own. Her mother was my sister."

"I know it. Since she has been living permanently with you has Miss
Farebrother heard from her father?"

"He wrote to her, but not in answer to any letter of hers."

"Did he not say in his communication that if she would obey him she
could return to Parksides?"

"Yes," said Aunt Leth, amazed at the extent of Mr. Beeminster's
knowledge, and in an agony of apprehension.

"Did Miss Farebrother reply to that letter?"

"No, she did not."

"I suppose that her conduct met with your approval? She would be guided
by you?"

"I endeavoured to guide her aright. Her father showed no love for her."

"But you may be prejudiced. Since your marriage there has been no love
lost between you and Miser Farebrother?"

"I cannot deny it."

"I beg your pardon; these are matters which, perhaps, I should not go
into. They will, no doubt, be investigated elsewhere. They are, however,
an evidence of prejudice. Did Miss Farebrother leave your house last
night?"

"She did."

"With your knowledge and consent?"

"We did not know of it until she was gone. She met our servant, and gave
her a message to us that she had gone to Parksides."

"Did you send after her?"

"We did."

"Who was your messenger?"

"A young man of the name of Barley."

"Barley!" said Mr. Beeminster, turning to his companion with a look of
intelligence. "Tom Barley?"

"Yes."

"There is a man of that name in the force."

"It is the same. He is a policeman."

"Ah! Did he obtain any information of her?"

"No. He could not remain long away. He had to return to his duty here in
London."

"So that he came back alone?"

"Yes."

"Miss Farebrother, however, came back?"

"Yes."

"She is in the house now?"

"She is."

"I believe she is not well?"

"She is very ill, and I am anxious to go to her."

"A little patience, please, and all will be cleared up. At what hour of
the night or morning did she come back?"

"At between nine and ten o'clock this morning."

"A strange hour for a young lady to come home. Had she been to
Parksides?"

"I do not know to a certainty."

"She has not told you?"

"No."

"Did she see her father?"

"I cannot say."

"You do not know? She has not told you?"

"She has not."

"Then if she went to Parksides and saw her father, she is concealing the
fact from you?" Aunt Leth did not reply. These cold, relentless
questions, with their strange and close adherence to fact, bewildered
her. "When she left this house last night she was in good health.
Contradict me if such is not the case, and in anything I may say which
is opposed to the truth. She was in good health at that time. She
returned this morning, sick and ill. Has she worn this veil lately?" He
produced it, and handed it to Aunt Leth.

"She wore it yesterday."

"She must have worn it when she went out last night. It was found in the
grounds of Parksides to-day. Therefore Miss Farebrother must have been
there. Do you recognize this brooch?"

He handed her the brooch he had shown to 'Melia Jane.

"It was given to my dear niece by her father's house-keeper."

"Mrs. Pamflett?"

"Yes."

"It was found in the grounds of Parksides to-day." Mr. Beeminster took
his companion aside and whispered a few words to him; the man nodded and
left the room. Aunt Leth heard him close the street door behind him.
"When, within your knowledge, did Miss Farebrother wear this brooch
last?"

"I cannot say positively; it is a long time since. I believe she did not
bring it away with her from Parksides when she left her father's house
to come to us."

"Can you swear to that?"

"No; but my niece will be able to tell you."

"I shall not ask her; it might be used in evidence against her."

"In evidence against her! For God's sake tell me what you are here for!
Do not keep me any longer in suspense!"

"Not for a moment longer. Miser Farebrother is dead."

"Dead!"

"Dead. Found murdered this morning in the grounds at Parksides. A cruel
murder. I have brought a copy of an evening paper with me containing the
information. It was just out as I came here. Would you like to read it?
But you do not seem in a fit state. I will read it to you."

Mr. Beeminster unfolded the paper and read:

"FRIGHTFUL MURDER.--A MYSTERIOUS CASE.

"This morning, at eleven o'clock, the discovery was made of a horrible
murder committed on a small estate known as Parksides, on the outskirts
of Beddington.

"For a number of years Parksides has been inhabited by a man who, from
some cause or other, was generally spoken of as Miser Farebrother. He
was a man, it is understood, of penurious habits, and the only servant
in the house was a house-keeper, Mrs. Pamflett. He had one child, a
daughter, who for some time past has not resided with him, but who found
a home with an aunt and uncle living in London. Mrs. Pamflett bore the
reputation of being an attentive and capable servant, and of faithfully
performing her duty. Like her master, however, she was not a favourite
in the village. The establishment altogether was not in good repute,
although the only charge that can be brought against the inmates is that
they did not court society, and kept themselves from their neighbours.
This remark does not apply to Miser Farebrother's daughter. She was
generally liked, and has been in the habit of going frequently to London
and paying long visits to her aunt and uncle. The only persons in
Parksides yesterday, until the afternoon, were Miser Farebrother and
Mrs. Pamflett, the house-keeper. Then the house-keeper was sent by her
master to the telegraph office with a message to his manager in London,
requesting him to come down to Parksides, presumably upon business. The
business conducted in London was a money-lending business, and--Miser
Farebrother being confined to his house by gout and rheumatism--the
confidential manager here was Mr. Jeremiah Pamflett, the son of the
house-keeper. Before the telegram could reach him in London Mr. Pamflett
was on his way to his master, having an important matter of business to
discuss with him. The business settled, Mr. Pamflett left for London.

"At about ten o'clock last night a man called at Parksides to see Miser
Farebrother, and being expected, was admitted to Miser Farebrother's
room. For the last three or four years this man has been in the habit of
paying periodical visits to Miser Farebrother: he always came at night,
and always departed after the house-keeper had retired to rest. This was
in accordance with her master's orders. Last night as usual she retired
to her room while her master and his visitor were closeted together.
Before seeking her rest, however, she paused outside the door of her
master's apartment, and inquired whether she could do anything for him.
He called out to her that he did not require anything further from her,
and that she was to go to bed. She obeyed him, and getting into bed, was
soon asleep. She describes herself as a sound sleeper, and difficult to
awake. It was strange, therefore, that she should awake in the middle of
the night, with an impression that some person had entered the house.
She looked at her watch; it was twenty minutes past one o'clock. Not
being satisfied with a mere impression, she left her room in her
night-dress and went down to the kitchen. There, to her surprise, she
saw Miser Farebrother's daughter. The house-keeper does not know how she
got into the house, nor for how long a time she had been there. Miss
Farebrother asked her angrily why she came down without being summoned,
and the house-keeper, in explanation, replied that she had been awakened
by a sound of some person moving in the house, and that she naturally
came down to see what it was. Still speaking in anger, Miss Farebrother
said that she was mistress there, and she ordered the house-keeper back
to her room. After this order there was no apparent reason why the
house-keeper should remain, and she retired from the kitchen and went to
bed again. As she left the kitchen she observed a large knife, with a
horn handle, which she frequently used for rough work, lying on the
table.

"As she lay in bed the house-keeper shortly afterward heard the voices
of two persons in altercation in the grounds, and she recognised the
voices of her master and his daughter. It seemed to her that they were
wrangling violently, but this was not an unusual occurrence when Miss
Farebrother was at Parksides. Miser Farebrother was, besides, a person
of eccentric habits. He was frequently in the habit of wandering through
his grounds in the middle of the night. The sounds grew fainter, as
though the miser and his daughter were walking away; or, as the
house-keeper explains, they may have entered the house and ceased their
dispute. However it was, she fell asleep again, and did not awake till
morning. Going down to her work, she found everything as she had left it
on the previous night, with the exception that the knife with the horn
handle was missing.

"Miser Farebrother usually rang for the house-keeper at nine o'clock in
the morning. On this morning, however, he did not summon her at the
accustomed time. Neither to this circumstance did she attach any
particular importance.

"When ten o'clock struck, however, the house-keeper felt it strange that
she did not hear her master's bell. She waited another half-hour, and
then she went to his room. She knocked, and received no answer. Then she
opened the door, and found that the room was empty, and that there was
no appearance of the bed having been slept in. Somewhat alarmed, but
still not suspecting the dreadful truth, she went to her young
mistress's room. That also was empty, and the bed had not been occupied.

"Her alarm increased. She searched the grounds for her master and
mistress. Her mistress she did not find. Her master she did. He was
lying upon the ground, at some distance from the house. Bending over
him, she was horrified by the discovery that he was dead--not only that
he was dead, but that he had been cruelly, ruthlessly murdered! A
dreadful wound was in his breast, and near him was the knife with the
horn handle, clotted with blood.

"She rushed into the village, and brought assistance back--a doctor and
a policeman, who were followed by two or three idlers. It needed only a
slight examination on the part of the doctor to prove that a frightful
murder had been committed.

"Here, for the present, the matter rests. The inquest will be held
to-morrow.

"Certain discoveries have already been made which it would be premature
here to refer to. The affair is in the hands of the police, who are
confident they will succeed in bringing the murderer to justice."

Aunt Leth listened to the account of the murder with a feeling of
unutterable horror. Quiet and observant, Mr. Beeminster carefully folded
the newspaper and put it into his pocket, saying as he did so:

"The 'certain discoveries' to which the newspaper reporter says it would
be premature to refer are Miss Farebrother's brooch and veil which were
picked up in the grounds."

"Gracious God!" cried Aunt Leth, with a pallid face and horror-struck
eyes. "You do not--you cannot suspect--"

"Best to say as little as possible," said Mr. Beeminster, rising.

"You brought a companion in with you," said Aunt Leth. "What was it you
whispered to him, and why did he go away?"

Mr. Beeminster was standing near the window, which faced the street. He
looked out, and Aunt Leth's eyes followed the direction of his. The man
she referred to was on the opposite side of the road, strolling a few
steps leisurely this way and that, but never too far to lose a clear
view of the house upon which his eyes were fixed.

"Have you placed him there to watch us?" asked Aunt Leth, faintly. "And
for what reason?"

"A murder has been committed," replied Mr. Beeminster. "Miss Farebrother
will most likely be served with a notice to attend the inquest
to-morrow."

"It will kill her! it will kill her!" cried Aunt Leth.

Mr. Beeminster, without replying, quietly left the room.



CHAPTER IX.

FRED CORNWALL TO THE RESCUE.


So overwhelming was Aunt Leth's despair after Mr. Beeminster's departure
that she almost lost her senses. She could not think coherently, but she
had a vague consciousness that something--she knew not what--must be
immediately done, and she put her hands over her face and pressed her
forehead hard in the endeavour to recall her wandering thoughts. She was
not successful; her mind grew more confused, and she might have remained
for a long time in this most terrible bewilderment had it not been for a
loud and rapid knocking at the street door. The interruption had a
salutary effect upon her; it caused her to start to her feet, and to
become sensible to what was actually occurring. What did that knocking
portend? Some fresh calamity?

"Fred! Fred!" she cried.

He hastened into the room, and she fell into his arms, and sobbed there
hysterically.

"Aunt Leth! Aunt Leth!" said Fred, in a soothing tone. "There, there, be
calm! You have heard the dreadful news, then?"

"And you," whispered Aunt Leth, amazed that he should be so cool: his
voice was solemn, it is true, but there was in it no note of despair:
"you know all?"

"All," he replied. "I bought a newspaper, and came here at once. Has
Phoebe been told?"

"No."

"My poor girl!" said Fred. "How will she bear it?"

"What paper did you buy?" asked Aunt Leth, bewildered by his manner.

He gave it to her, and wiping the tears from her eyes and looking at the
column he pointed out, she saw that it was a different newspaper from
that which Mr. Beeminster had brought with him. Fred's newspaper
contained the simple announcement that Miser Farebrother had been found
dead in his grounds at Parksides under such circumstances as would lead
to the belief that he had been murdered.

"You do not know the worst," said Aunt Leth; and then, in as calm a
voice as she could command, she related what had occurred.

He listened in horror and amazement. Until this moment he had been
ignorant of Phoebe's visit to Parksides on the previous night, and of
her return to Camden Town at ten o'clock that morning; and he instantly
saw that his darling girl was in peril. The name of the paper from which
Mr. Beeminster had read the account of the murder was being called in
the street by a newspaper boy, and Fred darted out and purchased a copy.
After perusing the report he remained quiet for a minute or two, with
his head resting in his hand. "We must be calm, Aunt Leth," he said.
"There is in this paper the first notes of a terrible accusation against
our dear girl. It is due to Mrs. Pamflett's malice. She shall be
punished for it--she and her infamous son!"

"You will protect Phoebe!" implored Aunt Leth, laying her hand on
Fred's arm. "You will save her!"

"I will protect and save her. My poor Phoebe! my poor Phoebe! But
she will be able to clear up the mystery, although she may not lead us
immediately to the discovery of the actual murderer. She can give us an
explanation of her own movements. What has she told you, Aunt Leth?"

"I have not got one sensible word from her, Fred, since she came home."

"What does the doctor say?"

"That she must be kept quiet. He is coming again this evening."

"I must see her, if only for a moment. I will not agitate her, but it is
imperative that we learn something from her which will enable us to act.
Take me to her, Aunt Leth."

Aunt Leth recognized the reasonableness of Fred's request, and she led
him upstairs to the bedroom. Fanny was there, her eyes red with weeping.

"Has she spoken, Fanny?" asked Aunt Leth. "Has she said anything?"

"Only one word, mamma. Oh, Fred, isn't this dreadful! There, mamma, that
is all she says--'Father! father!'"

"Go out of the room for a little while, Fanny," said Fred Cornwall.
"You can return when we leave." And then to Aunt Leth, when Fanny was
gone, "Does Fanny know of Mr. Beeminster's visit?"

"She knows nothing, Fred," replied Aunt Leth.

It required a supreme effort on Fred's part to control his agitation as
he gazed upon the white pitiful face of his dear girl. Her body was
quite still, but her head tossed from side to side on the pillow, and in
her distressful moans there could be distinguished but one
word--"Father! father! father!" repeated incessantly.

"Phoebe!" whispered Fred, bending over her.

"She recognizes no one, Fred," whispered Aunt Leth; "not even me or
Fanny."

They remained with the suffering girl for a quarter of an hour, and then
they stole softly from her bedside and went down-stairs. Fred was very
grave; he realized that his dear one was in no light peril.

"Mr. Beeminster set a man to watch the house," said Aunt Leth, pointing
to the window.

Fred looked out, and then, saying he would not be gone a minute, left
the house.

"There is a man watching also at the back of the house," he said, when
he returned.

"Oh, Fred," cried Aunt Leth, "what does it all really mean?"

"The meaning is clear enough," replied Fred, and the concentrated
expression on his face showed how busily his mind was employed; "there
has been a suspicion of the horrible crime thrown upon the suffering
angel upstairs. If I were only Phoebe's lover, Aunt Leth, I should be
in a fury of rage at the wicked accusation; but I am her champion and
her defender, and I must keep my feelings well under control, or I shall
not be able to serve her. Some devilish plot has been invented, and we
must meet it. Phoebe, by her actions last night and this morning, even
by the state in which she now lies, unfortunately gives some colour to
the vile, infernal accusation. Everything depends upon coolness. Such
strange cases are being daily brought to light that the public are ready
to believe anything. Now tell me: what was Phoebe's motive in leaving
last night for Parksides without first letting you know?"

"I can only guess at it, Fred; but I am sure it is the truth. We were
in the most dreadful trouble--I thought nothing worse could happen to
us, but I was mistaken; this is a thousand times more terrible!"

"Don't give way, Aunt Leth. Remember what I said: everything depends
upon coolness. I know of your trouble, and that you are, thank God! out
of it; it was a money trouble, and the money is paid."

"Yes, Fred; but how did you know?"

"Never mind; go on about Phoebe."

"We were sitting in the dark, talking and mourning over it. My husband
was in despair. There was only one way to prevent ruin, and that was to
obtain a sum of money at once--it was three hundred pounds, Fred; a
fortune--and we saw no way. So we sat talking, and trying to console
each other. Suddenly I missed Phoebe; she had left the room so quietly
that we did not observe it. A little while afterward 'Melia Jane told us
that she had met Phoebe, who had given her a message to us that she
had gone to Parksides to see her father. There was but one reason for
her doing this; it was to try and obtain the money from her father that
would prevent us being turned into the streets. She must have left us
just as my husband was saying that as he walked to the bank he had a
dream of hope, and that an angel had come forward to save us. Then, I
suppose, the idea occurred to our dear girl to go to her father and
entreat him to help us. If she had spoken to me first, I should have
convinced her of the impossibility of her errand meeting with success."

"You have placed the right construction upon her leaving unknown to you.
She felt that if you suspected her intention she would be unable to
carry it out. When you put her to bed this morning did you search her
pockets?"

"Yes, Fred; and I hoped to find something that would clear up the
mystery. I found nothing."

"You found something," said Fred. "Her handkerchief, her purse?"

"Yes, of course, those; and her gloves."

"She was not wearing them, then?"

"No."

"Was there any money in her purse?"

"Not one penny, Fred."

"I hear 'Melia Jane's step on the stairs; I must have a word with her."
He went to the door and called the girl, who entered the room. "I want
to ask you a question or two," he said to her. "In answering me do not
say a word you are not certain of."

"I won't, Mr. Cornwall," said 'Melia Jane.

"When you met Miss Phoebe last night did she seem very much agitated?"

"Very much, Mr. Cornwall. More nor I can express. She was crying, but
she didn't want me to see. She tried to keep her face from me."

"You did not attempt to stop her? You asked her no questions?"

"Lor', Mr. Cornwall, she didn't give me time to get out a single word!
She said what she had got to say, and she ran away like lightning."

"Did she wear a veil?"

"Yes, Mr. Cornwall, she did. The veil that man as come 'ere this
afternoon showed me, and arksed me whether Miss Phoebe wore it last
night when she went away. 'Owever he got 'old of it is more than I can
guess."

"When he asked you whether Miss Phoebe wore the veil, what did you
say?"

"I sed, yes, she did. And he showed me a brooch, and wanted to git me to
say that she wore that last night; but I didn't, because I ain't seen
that brooch on Miss Phoebe for a long time."

"You could swear," said Fred, eagerly, "that she did not wear a brooch
when you saw her last night?"

"No, Mr. Cornwall, I couldn't swear that. I could swear I didn't see
it--that's all. But I could swear to the veil."

Fred bit his lip. "If any man you don't know asks you any further
questions about Miss Phoebe, do not answer him."

"I won't, Mr. Cornwall; they sha'n't pump me. That feller tried to, but
he didn't git very much."

"He got enough," thought Fred, and said aloud, "That will do, 'Melia
Jane; you can go. And now, Aunt Leth, quite apart from the statement
which Mrs. Pamflett gave the reporters, it is proved that Phoebe was
at Parksides last night. How did she get there?"

"I really can't say, Fred. I think she must have been too late for the
last train."

"Have you an 'A B C' in the house?"

"No."

"I must see at what time the last train starts. Do you think she came
back to London by the train this morning?"

"I don't know, Fred. Poor child! her feet were very much blistered."

"Good God! Surely she could not have walked!" He paced the room in great
excitement. "About the brooch, Aunt Leth? Can you fix any definite
time--any particular day--on which you last saw it in Phoebe's
possession?"

"No, Fred; but I am sure I haven't seen it for a good many weeks."

"That she has not worn it for a good many weeks?"

"Not to my knowledge."

"You could not swear she has not worn it?"

"No."

"You could not swear she did not wear it last night?"

"No. But it is scarcely likely, with her feelings toward that wretch
Mrs. Pamflett, that she would ever wear it after she was turned out of
her father's house. What I am saying seems to trouble you."

"It does trouble me. I pray that I may be wrong in my impressions, but I
fear that dark days are before us."

"If we speak the truth, Fred, there is nothing to fear."

"I am not so sure," said Fred, gloomily.

"But we _must_ speak the truth, Fred!"

"Yes; it must be spoken--by us at least."

"Your fears may be groundless, Fred."

"I am afraid not."

"All we can do is to hope for the best."

"Not at all, Aunt Leth. What we have to do is to work for the best.
Hoping never yet overcame a villainous plot. I must go now. There is
much to do. I shall be here again in the evening."



CHAPTER X.

THE INQUEST.


The following report of the inquest appeared in the special editions of
the evening papers on the following evening:

"The inquest upon the body of the gentleman known as 'Miser'
Farebrother, who was found dead in the grounds of Parksides, was held in
Beddington this morning.

"The coroner, addressing the jury, said that they were about to
investigate what there was little reason to doubt was a foul murder.
Certain witnesses were present whose evidence would enable them to
decide under what circumstances death had taken place. He was informed
that one witness was absent whose evidence might have an important
bearing upon the inquiry, although it would not probably alter the
verdict which would be given. Their first duty was to identify the body
of the dead man.

"This being done, the actual inquiry commenced. The first witness
called was Mrs. Deborah Pamflett. Before she was examined, however, Mr.
Frederick Cornwall, barrister, rose, and asked to be allowed to say a
few words.

"The Coroner: 'Have they any bearing upon this inquiry?'

"Mr. Cornwall: 'A direct bearing. I appear here to watch the case on
behalf of the only child of the murdered man, and I request permission
to put some questions to the witnesses, if I consider it necessary to do
so.'

"The Coroner: 'I shall have no objection to pertinent questions being
put to the witnesses, but it must be done through me.'

"Mr. Cornwall: 'I thank you, sir. You have referred to the absence of a
witness whose evidence would be likely to have an important bearing upon
this inquiry. I assume that the witness referred to is the lady I
represent. An unhappy circumstance prevents her attendance. I hand you a
certificate, signed by two doctors, to the effect that Miss Farebrother
is suffering from brain-fever, and that she is not in a fit state to be
removed from the house in which she is lying, or to be examined either
there or here. Were she well enough she would be present on this
occasion, painful as it would be to her.'

"The Coroner: 'In whose house is Miss Farebrother being nursed?'

"Mr. Cornwall: 'In her aunt's house in Camden Town. You will find the
exact address on the certificate.'

"The certificate was handed in, and the examination of Mrs. Pamflett was
proceeded with.

"'Your name is Deborah Pamflett?'--'Yes.'

"'You are a widow?'--'Yes.'

"'In the service of the deceased?'--'Yes.'

"'In what capacity?'--'As his house-keeper.'

"'How long have you been so employed?'--'Eighteen years.'

"'Were there any other servants in the house?'--'None.'

"'Not at any time during your service?'--'Not at any time.'

"'Of how many persons did the household of the deceased
consist?'--'Usually of three--himself, his daughter and me.'

"'Why do you say usually?'--'Because his daughter was frequently absent
on visits to her aunt and uncle, in London.'

"'Was she absent on the day of the death of your master?'--'She had been
absent from the house for some weeks, but on the night my master met his
death she was present.'

"'Relate the occurrences of that day, as far as your memory will serve
you.'--'My memory is pretty faithful. My master rose at his usual hour,
and the day passed quietly. He received one visitor in the afternoon--my
son, who managed his business for him in London, and who, I believe,
will be examined here. Before my son arrived my master sent me to the
telegraph office with a message to him, asking him to come upon
business. My son, however, anticipated the message, and alighted from
the train just as I sent off the message. He met me in the village, and
we walked to Parksides together. When I went to my master and told him
that my son had arrived, he expressed himself as being very pleased.
Between my master and my son the most friendly and cordial relations
existed; they never had a word of difference. This made my own service
in the house very pleasant, so far as my master was concerned. I was
present during some portion of the time my son was with our master, who
spoke in great praise of the way my son was conducting the London
business. They had tea together in my master's room, and after that my
son left for London.'

"'At what hour did he leave?'--'At about seven o'clock. I did not take
particular note of the time, there being no occasion for it, but that
was about the hour, within a few minutes one way or another. At eight
o'clock my master rang the bell for me, and I went up to him. I was in
the habit of sitting with him often when there was no one else in the
house, and sometimes of reading the paper to him. He was very lonely,
and very much troubled and unhappy about his daughter.'

"Mr. Cornwall (rising): 'I submit, sir, that these observations do not
come within the scope of the present inquiry.'

"The Coroner: 'I think the witness is giving her evidence fairly. It
will, however, be as well that she should confine herself as much as
possible to facts.'

"Witness: 'I am stating facts, sir.'

"The Coroner: 'I mean facts relating to the death of the deceased. It is
sufficient, perhaps, at present to know that there was some disturbance
of those affectionate relations which should exist between father and
daughter.' To witness: 'Under what circumstances did Miss Farebrother,
on the last occasion, leave her father's house? I must request you not
to interrupt the proceedings, Mr. Cornwall. You are here only upon
courtesy.'

"Mr. Cornwall: I might contest that, sir; but I will interrupt as little
as possible.'

"The Coroner (to witness): 'Answer my question.'--'I do not know the
precise circumstances, sir. All I know is that they had a violent
quarrel late at night, and that Miss Farebrother left against her
father's wish, and without his consent. After her departure he was very
unhappy, and shed tears.'

"The Coroner: 'Proceed now with the events of the day you are
describing.'--'I sat with my master till ten o'clock, and then there was
a ring at the gate bell. My master said it was a visitor he was
expecting, and I went down and admitted him. I do not know his name,
but for the last three or four years he came perhaps four or five times
a year--always at night--and he and my master would be closeted together
for two or three hours. On this occasion that he was with my master I
went down to the kitchen, and did my work there. I put everything in
order, and saw that the things were in their right places. Among other
things, the knives, which I kept in the dresser drawer.'

"'Have you any reason for particularly mentioning the knives?'--'Yes,
sir. Among them was a large knife with a horn handle, which I had
recently sharpened. My work being finished, I went up to my bedroom,
stopping on my way outside my master's door, and asking him whether he
wanted anything. He answered no, and that I was to get to bed. It was
his usual answer, and I obeyed him; there was nothing to excite my
suspicions. At a little after eleven I was in bed and asleep. I slept
for over two hours, and then I awoke. Sounds in the lower part of the
house had roused me. I listened, and heard some one moving about.
Lighting a candle, I looked at my watch. It was twenty minutes past
one. I was not easy in my mind, and I went down-stairs. I listened a
moment at my master's door, but all was still in the room. There was a
light there, however, and I knocked softly. I got no answer, and I
gently tried the handle; the door was unlocked, and I took a step into
the room. There was no one there but my master, and he was asleep in his
chair. He sometimes slept so for a few hours; he suffered greatly from
gout and rheumatism, and he has said to me that he felt easier in that
position than in bed. I closed the door quietly and went down to the
kitchen, and there, to my astonishment, I saw Miss Farebrother. She had
a knife in her hand, the knife with a horn handle, and she put it
hastily on the table as I entered. The drawer in which I kept my knives
was open; when I went to bed I left it closed. Miss Farebrother was very
angry at my making my appearance, and she asked me how I dared to play
the spy upon her. I told her that I was not playing the spy, and that I
had been disturbed in my sleep by a noise in the house, and I came down
to see what it was. I said something, too, about how astonishing it was
that she should come home at such an hour, and she replied that it was
no business of mine, and that I was to go to my room at once, or she
would have me bundled out of the house the first thing in the morning.
It was no use answering her; she was my mistress, and I had to obey her;
so I went up to my room again. I can't exactly say how long it was
afterward, but it could not have been very long--perhaps half an hour or
three-quarters, bringing the time to past two o'clock--that I heard the
voices of my master and his daughter outside the house. Whether she had
gone up to him and woke him, or whether he had gone out, as he sometimes
did in the middle of the night, I don't know, but at the time I heard
them they were in the grounds. They both seemed to be very angry. Miss
Farebrother, as well as I could make out, was insisting that her father
should give her a sum of money, and she was using threats toward him.
Presently he spoke in a more gentle tone to her, and I heard him say,
"Wait till I am dead and it will all be yours, if you will come back and
behave as a dutiful and affectionate daughter to me." And I heard her
answer: "I will do as I please and go where I please. You ought to have
been dead long ago! You had better be careful!" After that the voices
grew fainter and fainter, as if they were moving away.'

"The Coroner: 'Hearing what you did, why did you not go down to
them?'--'I did not like to; and, to tell the truth, it would have been
as much as my situation was worth to interfere. They had often
quarrelled like that, though not in the exact words I heard then; and
twice, some time ago, when I did interfere, I was sent away, and told
not to mix myself up with family quarrels.'

"'Who used these words to you?'--'Principally Miss Farebrother; but my
master also said, very sorrowfully, that I had better never trouble
myself, and that my interference would only make things worse.'

"'Had they ever quarrelled in the middle of the night before?'--'Yes;
and she was continually threatening him, so that there was nothing very
unusual in this quarrel, although it was as bad as any that ever reached
my ears.'

"'When you could no longer hear them, did you fall asleep?'--'Not
immediately; perhaps not for half an hour; I can't be sure.'

"'Did you hear them return to the house?'--'I heard nothing more of
them.'

"'Well, then, you fell asleep. At what hour in the morning did you
awake?'--'At a little before seven--my usual time. By seven o'clock I
was in the kitchen, going on with my work.'

"'Did you observe anything particular in the kitchen?'--'Nothing
particular. Things were pretty much as I had left them on the night
before.'

"'The drawer in which you kept your knives--was it closed?'--'Yes, it
was closed.'

"'The knife with the horn handle--where was that?'--'I did not know. I
had no occasion to use it, and I did not look for it.'

"'At what time in the morning did the deceased usually ring his bell for
you?'--'At nine o'clock or thereabouts; but there were exceptions, and
when nine o'clock passed and I was not summoned, I did not attach any
importance to it.'

"'You supposed Miss Farebrother to be in the house?'--'Oh yes; but I did
not expect to hear her bell for a long time. She generally slept till
ten or eleven o'clock. I waited till half-past ten, and then, being
uneasy at not hearing my master's bell, I went to his room, and as there
was no answer to my knock, I opened the door. My master was not there,
and the bed had not been slept in. Then I went to Miss Farebrother's
room, and she was not there, and she had not slept in her bed. I became
frightened, and I thought I would look about the grounds. It was then
that I discovered my master lying dead, with blood upon him, and the
knife with the horn handle lying near him, with clotted blood on it. I
flew to the village for assistance, and some people came back with me,
and said that my master had been murdered.'

"'How far from the house is the spot upon which you discovered the body
of the deceased?'--'I cannot say. Perhaps a quarter of a mile.'

"'Could you, being in the house, have heard any sounds proceeding from
that spot?'--'It would be almost, if not quite, impossible.'

"'So that if there had been any cries for help, they would not have
reached your ears?'--'No, they could not.'

"'Now, did you observe anything particular about Miss Farebrother's
dress when you found her in the kitchen so late at night?'--'She was
dressed as she usually was.'

"'Fully dressed?'--'Yes.'

"'Did she wear a hat?'--'Yes.'

"'With a veil to it?'--'Yes, there was a veil to it.'

"'Would you be able to recognize the veil?'--'Yes.'

"'Is this it?' (Veil produced.)--'Yes, this is it.'

"'Did she wear any ornaments?'--'I noticed only one, and I should not
have noticed that if I had not presented it to her as a birthday gift.'

"'What was the ornament?'--'A brooch.'

"'Can you identify it?'--'Oh yes; it is a very particular brooch. My
mother had it before me.'

"'Is this it?'--'Yes, this is it.'

"'That is all I have to ask you.'--'Thank you, sir.'

"Mr. Cornwall: 'A moment, please.'

"The Coroner: 'You understand, Mr. Cornwall, that I shall check you if
you ask any questions irrelevant to this inquiry?'

"Mr. Cornwall: 'I quite understand it, sir.' To witness: 'Are you
positive that your memory is faithful upon all the events you have
described?'--'I am very positive, sir.'

"'As to what took place between you and Miss Farebrother in the
kitchen?'--'Everything is as I had described.'

"'The conversation between you?'--'Yes, sir.'

"'And the knife with the horn handle?'--'It is as I have said, sir.'

"'You swear that Miss Farebrother frequently threatened her
father?'--'Frequently, sir, I am sorry to say.'

"'Did you ever mention this continual disagreement to any person?'--'No,
sir, except to my son. I have no acquaintances.'

"'Not one?'--'Not one.'

"The Coroner: 'In this place, Mr. Cornwall, these questions do not
appear to me to be pertinent. Some are repetitions of questions already
asked and answered, others do not affect the particular inquiry upon
which we are engaged.'

"Mr. Cornwall: 'I am sorry to hear that expression of opinion from you,
for there is to me, and doubtless to others, something like a direct
accusation in the witness's evidence.'

"Witness (in a quiet tone): 'I do not accuse any one. I am speaking the
truth.'

"Mr. Cornwall: 'Then it is the truth, and you swear it, that when you
last saw Miss Farebrother she wore the brooch which you gave her as a
birthday gift?'--'It is the truth, and I swear it.'

"'Can you describe the man who visited the deceased on the night of his
death?'--'I can, sir.'

"The Coroner: 'It is a proper question, and it should have been asked. I
should doubtless have recalled the witness to answer it.'

"Witness: 'He is a man not much taller than I am. I am above the usual
height of a woman. His face is dark; he has a large mouth and a small
nose; his eyes are blue.'

"'How dressed?'--'In a dark tweed suit.'

"'Wearing any jewellery?'--'A silver chain and a large diamond ring.'

"'They scarcely match. The man who can afford to wear a large diamond
would be likely to wear a gold chain.'--'I don't know about that. The
diamond may not be genuine.'

"'About what age would you suppose?'--'About forty.'

"The next witness called was Dr. Playfellow. He deposed that the
deceased had met his death by violence. It was caused by the wound in
his breast, inflicted by precisely such a weapon as the knife with the
horn handle. Asked whether the deceased might not have stabbed himself,
Dr. Playfellow said that from the direction of the wound and the
position in which the body was found, it was impossible that death could
have been inflicted by his own hands.

"Jeremiah Pamflett was next examined. He is the son of the murdered
man's house-keeper, and he testified that he had been in the employment
of the deceased since he was a lad, and that he had risen from the
position of a petty clerk to that of sole manager of Miser Farebrother's
business. Between him and his master the most perfect harmony existed;
they had never had a word of difference, and his master reposed complete
confidence in him. On the afternoon before his master's death he went to
Parksides to submit certain accounts to Miser Farebrother, anticipating
the telegram which was sent to him requesting him to come. The deceased
expressed great satisfaction at his attention to business, and in the
course of the interview informed the witness that it was his intention
to admit him as a partner. He, the witness, left Parksides in a very
happy frame of mind at this promised reward of his long and faithful
service. Miser Farebrother was a kind and liberal master; the witness
declared he could not desire a better.

"A Juryman: 'You say he was a kind master. Was he in other respects a
kind man?'--'Very kind and considerate; he deserved greater happiness
than he enjoyed.'

"Being asked to explain the meaning of this statement, the witness
exhibited a reluctance to reply, and said he was sorry he had let the
words slip. He was, however, pressed to explain, and he then said that
the deceased was made very unhappy by the want of affection shown to him
by his daughter.

"The Juryman: 'Was he kind to his daughter?'--'Very kind.'

"'Was there any disagreement between them?'--'There was continual
disagreement; but it was not my master's fault. He did all he could to
please her.'

"'Do you know the cause of this disagreement?'--'It was partly about
money.'

"'That she asked for, and that he would not give?'--'Yes.'

"'But you said he was very kind to her. The deceased was a man of means.
Why should he refuse to give his daughter money?'--'From what my master
said to me at different times, it was because she demanded sums of money
for purposes of which he did not approve. He was exceedingly liberal to
her where she herself was concerned; but he objected to his money being
given to persons who hated him.'

"'To what persons do you refer?'--'To her relatives in London--the only
relatives she has.'

"'What is the name of these relatives?'--'Lethbridge. They live in
Camden Town.'

"'And Miss Farebrother wanted money for them?'--'According to what my
master said, she was always wanting money for them.'

"'Was she in the habit of visiting them?'--'Continually.'

"'With the consent of the deceased?'--'Against his consent. He
frequently remonstrated with her for paying long visits to persons who
bore him such ill-will.'

"'In spite of these remonstrances she continued to visit them?'--'Yes.'

"'Mention has been made of a man who was in the habit of visiting the
deceased in his home at Parksides late at night. Do you know anything of
him?'--'Nothing, except what my mother has told me and has told you.'

"'Did he not visit the office in London?'--'No. I never saw him.'

"'Did no conversation ever pass between you and the deceased respecting
him?'--'None.'

"'Then you do not know upon what business he came?'--'No; but it could
not have been upon the affairs of the London business, or I should have
heard it.'

"The only questions put to this witness by Mr. Cornwall were these:

"'By what train did you leave for London on the occasion of your last
visit to the deceased?'--'By the 8.12.'

"'Did you go direct to the office when you reached London?'--'Yes.'

"'At what time did you arrive at the office?'--'At about ten o'clock.'

"'You sleep there?'--'Yes.'

"The next witness called was Mrs. Lethbridge, whose evidence was to the
following effect:

"'You are a relative of the deceased?'--'I am his sister-in-law.'

"'Were you upon friendly terms with him?'--'No.'

"'Nor any of your family?'--'No. But we are not to blame for that.'

"'Was his daughter in the habit of visiting your house?'--'Yes.'

"'Frequently?'--'Frequently.'

"'And of remaining there for any length of time?'--'Yes; generally for
three or four days.'

"'Your intimacy with her, then, was of a thoroughly friendly
nature?'--'Of a most affectionate nature. I love her as a child of my
own.'

"'Was that the sentiment of all your family?'--'Yes.'

"'Were Miss Farebrother's visits to your house paid with the consent of
the deceased?'--'Yes.'

"'Did you learn this from him?'--'No. We very seldom saw him.'

"'In point of fact, how many times have you or any of your family seen
him, say within these eight or nine years?'--'Only twice.'

"'Where? At your house in London?'--'No; at his house in Parksides.'

"'At his invitation?'--'No. The first time we were asked by his
daughter. It was her birthday, but we understood that our visit would be
agreeable to him.'

"'You understood. From whom?'--'From my niece.'

"'On that occasion how long were you at Parksides?'--'For five or six
hours.'

"'Did you and your family partake of any meal there?'--'We had tea.'

"'Was the deceased present at the table?'--'No; he sent word that he was
not well enough to join us.'

"'Was your second visit paid upon his invitation?'--'No; we went of our
own accord.'

"'Who went?'--'I, my niece, and Mr. Cornwall.'

"'Is Mr. Cornwall the gentleman who represents Miss Farebrother at this
inquest?'--'Yes.'

"'Why did he accompany you?'--'Must I answer?'

"'It is at your own discretion. I cannot compel you.'

"Mr. Cornwall: 'Answer the question, Mrs. Lethbridge.'

"Witness: 'Mr. Cornwall had proposed to my niece, and he accompanied us
for the purpose of asking Mr. Farebrother's consent to the engagement.'

"'Was that consent given?'--'No.'

"'Did the deceased turn you and Mr. Cornwall from his house?'--'Yes.'

"'In the question I am about to ask you I will not confine myself to the
last eight or nine years. I will go as far back as the birth of the
deceased's daughter, who is now of a marriageable age. During this long
period did the deceased ever visit your house?'--'No.'

"'Not once?'--'Not once.'

"'Did he correspond with you, or you with him?'--'No.'

"'Not a letter, then, passed between you?'--'Not a letter.'

"'Nor a direct communication of any kind? You hesitate!'--'I was
considering. There was one letter.'

"'Written and sent by you or the deceased?'--'By Mr. Farebrother. It was
a great many years ago. My niece then was scarcely two years of age, and
her poor mother was dying. She wished to see me before she died, and it
was at her direction that her husband wrote to me.'

"'It appears that even previous to that time you were not upon friendly
terms with him?'--'It was so, unhappily.'

"'Did you comply with the request contained in that letter?'--'Yes; and
I saw my sister. I was with her when she died, and I promised to look
after her child and to love her as my own.'

"'I wish you to understand that it is entirely at your discretion
whether you reply to certain of my questions. On that visit, so long
ago, did you gather the impression that the deceased was glad to see
you--that you were, in fact, welcome in his house?'--'I must speak the
truth. He was not glad to see me; I was not welcome.'

"'We can, therefore, arrive but at one conclusion--that there existed an
absolute and distinct antipathy on one side or both. I come now to the
night upon which the deceased met his death. Your niece was living with
you then?'--'Yes.'

"'I will not inquire into the circumstances of her taking up her
residence with you when her father's home was open to her.'--'It was not
open to her.'

"'You say that? Not under any conditions? Had he positively refused ever
to receive her again as a daughter?'--'Unless under conditions which
were repugnant to her.'

"'Then her father's home _was_ open to her if she were prepared to
behave dutifully, and to obey him?'--'I cannot deny that; but as I have
said, his conditions were repugnant to her.'

"'Into those domestic matters it is not our business to inquire. A few
hours before her father was murdered she left your house?'--'She did.'

"'With your knowledge?'--'Without my knowledge.'

"'How did you become acquainted with her movements?'--'She met our
servant, and desired her to give us a message that she was going to
Parksides to see her father.'

"'It was a strange hour for her to leave. Did she return to your house
on that night?'--'No.'

"'The next morning?'--'Yes.'

"'At what time?'--'At about ten o'clock.'

"'Did she give you any explanation of her movements?'--'She could not do
so. She was in a state of exhaustion and was very ill.'

"'What was the nature of her illness?'--'She was delirious.'

"'We have a certificate that she has brain fever.'--'It is unhappily
true.'

"'Do you recognize this veil?' (Veil produced.)--'It is one my niece
wore.'

"'On that night?'--'I cannot positively say, but it is hers.'

"'Do you recognize this brooch?'--'I have seen it, but I do not think
it has been in her possession for some weeks.'

"'Can you swear to that?'--'No, I cannot swear to it.'

"'When she returned home, did it strike you that she must have
experienced some excitement?'--'Yes.'

"'Some very strong excitement?'--'Yes.'

"'And she gave you no explanation of it?'--'She could not, because of
her condition.'

"Mr. Cornwall asked no questions of this witness, who several times in
the course of the examination was much agitated.

"Witnesses were called who proved that the veil and the brooch were
found near the body of the murdered man.

"The coroner having addressed the jury, they considered their verdict,
which was that Miser Farebrother had been murdered by some person or
persons unknown.

"We understand that a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Phoebe
Farebrother on the charge of murdering her father, Miser Farebrother."



CHAPTER XI.

THE TRIAL AND VERDICT--EXTRACTED FROM A POPULAR DAILY PAPER.


"The trial of Phoebe Farebrother for the murder of her father,
commonly known as Miser Farebrother, terminated last evening, and will
be long remembered as one of the most remarkable and painful in criminal
records. The extraordinary interest exhibited by the public in the case
is only partially due to the murder itself and to the relations which
existed between the unhappy prisoner and the deceased; chiefly it may be
set down to the youth and beauty of the young woman who was accused of a
crime so horrible and atrocious. As she stood in the dock it was almost
impossible to believe that a being so lovely and gentle could harbour a
thought that was not innocent and pure, and the demeanour of those who
were present at the trial was sufficient to prove that popular sympathy
was enlisted on her side. Fitting it is--and especially fitting in this
case--that justice should be blind.

"Now that the trial is over, the verdict given, and the sentence
pronounced, we propose to devote some brief attention to those features
in it which rendered it remarkable. The case is one of circumstantial
evidence, and turned no less upon the statements of those who testified
uncompromisingly against the prisoner than upon the statements of her
friends, whose sorrowful evidence weighed heavily against her.

"The household of Miser Farebrother, in the lifetime of the unfortunate
man, was eminently cold and cheerless. Love occupied no place therein. A
man of wealth and means, all the avenues of enjoyment were open to him,
but he cared only for the accumulation of money. This may be said to
have been his one object, and he devoted to it all his energies. An
attempt was made to prove that he was of an affectionate and tender
nature, and that his behaviour toward his child was that of a loving
father, but this view of his character may be unhesitatingly dismissed.
It renders the crime no less heinous; that he was ruthlessly murdered
is an established fact.

"He had earned the sobriquet of 'miser,' and he was entitled to it. A
miser he was, whose supreme passion was that of accumulating wealth. His
business--that of a money-lender--was in keeping with his ambition, and
enabled him to compass it. Had he been animated by sentiments of a
nobler kind they would have found vent in action which would have won
for him esteem and gratitude; but he did good neither openly nor by
stealth. That the two persons who served him, Mrs. Pamflett and her son,
Jeremiah Pamflett, should speak well of him is natural and to their
credit. Were it left to them to write his epitaph mankind would be
deceived--as it is in many instances by words graven on tombstones.

"He led in Parksides practically a lonely existence, and it would be
difficult to imagine a more mournful picture than that of a motherless
child brought up amidst such surroundings. Spacious as are the grounds
of Parksides, they were allowed to run to waste; with the exception of
his house-keeper and her son he had not a friend; he received no
visitors, and neither dispensed nor accepted hospitality of any kind;
his child had no child companions, and between her and her father's
servants existed a feeling of strong antipathy; he made no effort to
provide her with any sort of education; in the great house they occupied
the light of home never shone. His daughter, however, was not entirely
without friends. Her aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Lethbridge, and their
two children, lived in London, and for some years past Phoebe
Farebrother has been in the habit of visiting their house, and of
participating, through them, in ordinary and moderate enjoyments. We may
at once admit that the character borne by Mr. and Mrs. Lethbridge is
unimpeachable--and this, despite the evidence given by Mrs. Pamflett and
her son, in which may be discerned a distinct bias against them as
designing persons, whose aim was to extort money from the murdered man.
No direct testimony to the establishment of this view is forthcoming,
and the general repute of the Lethbridges is a contradiction of it. A
feeling of bitterness appears to have existed for years between these
parties; on one side, Miser Farebrother and Mrs. and Jeremiah Pamflett;
on the other, Miser Farebrother's unhappy daughter and her relatives in
London. This was the state of affairs when Phoebe Farebrother, a few
weeks before her father's death, left his house, and found her way to
her aunt's home in London, where she was received with open arms.

"There are side issues to which we do not intend to refer at any length;
these issues relate to Miser Farebrother's desire that his daughter
should marry a man of his choosing, and to her having already set her
affections upon a man of whom her father did not approve. In connection
with these opposing desires is an incident which will presently be
mentioned.

"It has been elicited that on the night of Miser Farebrother's murder,
and for some time previous, the Lethbridges were in pecuniary
difficulties, to extricate them from which a sum of money was
immediately required. A puzzling feature in the whole of this sad case
is the absolute frankness which the Lethbridges have displayed as to
their position and the movements of the prisoner up to the hour when the
warrant for her arrest was issued. So far as can be seen there has been
no concealment whatever of anything within their knowledge, and this is
the more strange because much of their evidence told directly against
the prisoner.

"There seemed to be only one way of obtaining the money required to
extricate the Lethbridges from their difficulties, and that was by a
successful application to Miser Farebrother. There is no evidence that
they asked their niece to appeal to her father in their behalf; they
positively deny having done so, and she herself says that no word fell
from their lips to that effect. When she left their house in London with
the intention of proceeding to Parksides, she did so without their
knowledge. There can be no doubt that she was actuated by a wish to help
them. From the moment she left them until she returned the next morning
in a state of prostration, physically and mentally, they are in darkness
as to what occurred, and can throw no light whatever upon her movements.
During that night Miser Farebrother met his death. At the trial three
articles were brought in evidence against the prisoner. The first is a
brooch presented to her on her last birthday by Mrs. Pamflett. This
brooch was found in the grounds of Parksides, near to the body of the
murdered man. There is conflicting testimony upon the subject of this
brooch. Mr. and Mrs. Lethbridge and their daughter, Miss Fanny
Lethbridge, have no recollection of having seen the brooch from the time
the prisoner left Parksides to take up her residence with them. They
cannot swear that on the fatal night she did not wear it; but Miss
Lethbridge is positive that her cousin did not bring it with her from
Parksides. The two young women slept together, and not a word passed
between them with respect to this ornament. Miss Lethbridge's statement,
therefore, is based upon an assumption. The prisoner avers that when she
quitted her father's house she did not take the brooch with her. On the
other hand, Mrs. Pamflett swears positively that the prisoner did take
it away with her. The house-keeper made repeated examinations of the
room in Parksides in which the prisoner slept, and never saw the brooch
after she left. Here, then, we have a positive oath against a vague
assumption, and this sworn evidence is strengthened by the fact of the
brooch having been found close to the body of her master. If the
prisoner did not wear it on the night of the murder, how could it have
got into the grounds?

"The second article brought in evidence against the prisoner is her
veil. Here there is no conflicting testimony. The prisoner admits having
worn the veil when she went to Parksides, and this veil was also found
in the grounds close to the body.

"The third article is the prisoner's handkerchief, which her aunt took
from her pocket when she returned in the morning. There were stains of
blood upon the handkerchief, which the prosecution declares was the
blood of the murdered man. The prisoner declares that the blood
proceeded from scratches she received by stumbling in the dark against
fences and coming in contact with the branches of trees. That she did
sustain some such slight wounds is undoubtedly true; and although the
weight of conflicting evidence as to the blood-stains on the
handkerchief is about equal, the theory of the prosecution is
strengthened by independent circumstances in connection with the murder.

"What Mrs. Pamflett knows of the strange and sudden visit of the
prisoner to Parksides at midnight need not here be recapitulated. Her
evidence has been printed in our columns on three occasions: first when
the inquest on the body was held; again, when the prisoner was brought
before the magistrate and committed for trial; and again, at greater
length, during the trial just ended. What passed between her and the
prisoner, the incident of the knife with the horn handle with which the
deed was done, the high words in the grounds between the prisoner and
her father, especially those uttered by the prisoner: 'I will do as I
please, and go where I please. You ought to have been dead long ago! You
had better be careful!'--all this has been fully reported. The visit of
a strange man to Miser Farebrother on this night is still a mystery. It
was hoped by the prosecution that the endeavour to trace this man would
have been successful, or that he himself would have voluntarily come
forward to give evidence, but the hope has not been fulfilled. He
remains in hiding, and will probably so continue to remain. The theory
of the prosecution is a feasible one--that this man's visits to Miser
Farebrother being paid in secret, his business was of a questionable
nature, the revealment of which would bring him into trouble. Great care
and caution were always displayed on the occasion of these visits, and
the minute description of his dress and appearance given by Mrs.
Pamflett is of little value, in the absence of any other evidence
respecting him, so long as he chooses to remain hidden.

"The prisoner's statement as to what occurred, so far as she can
remember, from the time she left her aunt's house in London on the night
of the murder to the hour she returned to it on the following morning,
is as follows:

"She admits that when she went away, unknown to her relatives, she did
so with the purpose of going to Parksides and appealing to her father to
give her a sum of money which would extricate the Lethbridges from their
difficulties. 'Had I told them what was in my mind,' she says, 'they
would have prevented me from leaving them, having no hope that my errand
would be successful. But I had thought of a plan by which I could induce
my father to comply with my request. I did not dare to mention this plan
to my aunt, because it would only have strengthened her opposition to my
project.' She thus explains the nature of this plan: Between her and
her father were two causes of disagreement. The first was her intimacy
with the Lethbridges. He disapproved of it, and wished her to
discontinue her visits, and to have nothing more to do with them. To
this she was now ready to agree if he would advance her the money she
asked for. 'I could not promise to forget them,' she says; 'that would
have been impossible--my love for them was so great, and also my
gratitude for the kindness and affection they showed me from the time my
mother died. But I would have borne my suffering in secret, and would
never have spoken of it reproachfully to my father. I should have been
only too thankful if he would have assisted me to repay them, in some
small measure, for all their wonderful kindness to me. They have made
great sacrifices for me. Should I hesitate to make a sacrifice for them
in return? It was only my own happiness that was at stake, and perhaps
death would have soon come to me to put an end to my misery. There was a
time when I used to pray for death.' This, however, was not the only
sacrifice she avers she was ready to make; there was another of an
infinitely graver nature. Her father wished her to marry a man she
abhorred. She had shrunk in horror from the proposal, but she was ready
to submit to it now. She would humble herself to her father's will. Her
father had written these words to her, 'When you are prepared to obey me
in the one wish of my life, you can come to me; not until then.' Upon
these words she was prepared to act. She would go to him and say that
she was ready to obey him if he would assist her in the way she wished.
Animated by this resolve--which, if it were the truth, would have been
most noble and heroic--she took the last train to Beddington, and
arrived at Parksides late in the night. She did not take a return
ticket, not having sufficient money to pay for it. She cannot fix the
hour of her arrival, nor indeed has she anything to say as to time. It
may have been midnight, it may have been earlier or later--her mind is a
blank upon this. The night, she says, was dark, and the house itself was
in darkness; she saw no one moving, inside or out. She was afraid to
knock, because her summons would have brought Mrs. Pamflett down, and
she feared that the house-keeper, who hated her, would have driven her
from the place, and prevented her from seeing her father. So she
concealed herself in the grounds quite near to the house, her intention
being to pass the night in the open, and the first thing in the morning,
when the door was unlocked, to enter it and go straight to her father's
room, unknown to Mrs. Pamflett, and tell him what she came for. We now
take up her own words as to what followed:

"'I do not know how long I waited outside, crouching down in
concealment; it seemed to me very, very long, and I was so agitated that
I cannot depend upon my memory. I did my best to keep my eyes open, but
they would close in spite of me, and at last I must have fallen asleep.
When I opened my eyes it was with an impression that some one was
standing over me, and seeing no one as I looked up, I thought that I
must have been mistaken; and yet I could not shake off the idea that
some person had been near me. I was very frightened and very confused,
and I made up my mind not to close my eyes again, but to wait till
daybreak. I did not have to wait so long. In the distance I saw a light,
the light of a lantern, moving slowly on. I was overcome with gratitude
at the thought that it might be my father, and that I might speak to
him at once. I knew that my father sometimes went out into the grounds
at night, but I was not aware for what purpose. I rose to my feet, and
softly followed the light till I was sure it was held by my father. Then
I went up and spoke to him. I cannot recall what I said, or in what way
he answered me. I know that he was at first surprised that I should come
to him at so strange an hour, and that, when he got over his surprise,
he was in a furious passion. I know, although he continually interrupted
me, that I must have succeeded in making him understand why I had
presented myself to him. I know that he threatened me and spoke most
bitter words, and that he said I had come too late, that he had no
longer a child; that every one in the world was his enemy, and was
conspiring to ruin him, and that he would drive me from his gates. I
have a remembrance of pleading to him, of going on my knees to him, and
that he dragged me to my feet, and threw me violently off. I fell
fainting to the ground, and remember nothing more of him. When I
recovered I was alone, and it was still dark. Heart-broken, bewildered,
and sick, and scarcely knowing what I was doing, I dragged myself away
from Parksides, and there was no light in the sky when I left Parksides
behind me. It is useless for me to attempt to describe what followed. I
must have known the direction to London, and my idea was to get back to
my dear aunt, and at the same time to conceal myself from the sight of
every one on the road. Whether I succeeded or not I cannot say, and it
was only by God's mercy that I reached my aunt's house. There is
something so horrible in the accusation that is brought against me that
I cannot realize it. I can only pray to God to bring the truth to
light!'

"There is in this statement an element of romance and improbability
which renders it impossible of belief, especially when it is placed side
by side with established evidence. The prisoner refers to a letter she
received from her father, in which he says that when she is prepared to
obey him she can return to her proper home. But that letter also
contains the words: 'Your guilty desires can only be accomplished by my
death.'

"We come now to the evidence of another witness, the policeman Tom
Barley, which told fatally against the prisoner; which perhaps turned
the scale against her, and dispelled any doubts which the jury might
have entertained. This man, who receives from his superiors a character
in every way satisfactory and honourable, was a servant in Miser
Farebrother's house during the childhood of the prisoner. His devotion
to the prisoner cannot be doubted; his belief in her innocence is not to
be shaken, and yet he gave fatal evidence against her. We append here a
résumé of the evidence to which we allude, leading up to it by a few
questions put to other witnesses, all of them friends of the prisoner.

"Mrs. Lethbridge is examined:

"'On the day the prisoner left your house secretly for Parksides, what
was the colour of her dress?'--'Blue.'

"'Did she wear it the whole of the day?'--'Yes.'

"'In the evening, when you and your family were sitting at home, the
prisoner being with you, had she this blue dress on?'--'Yes.'

"'Did she change it at all during the day or night?'-'No.'

"'You are positive she left your house wearing this blue dress?'--'I am
positive.'

"Miss Fanny Lethbridge, the prisoner's cousin, is examined:

"'Do you remember the dress the prisoner wore on the night she left your
parents' house for Parksides?'--'Yes.'

"'What was its colour?'--'Blue. It is her favourite colour.'

"'You have no doubt in your mind that her dress was blue?'--'No.'

"'Could she have changed it unknown to you?'--'No; she had only one
other dress, a grey one, and that was hanging up in our room.'

"'Melia Jane, maid of all work in Mrs. Lethbridge's house, is examined:

"'You met the prisoner shortly after she left your mistress's house on
the night her father was murdered?'-'Yes.'

"'She gave you a message to deliver to your mistress?'--'Yes; she said
she was going to Parksides to see her father.'

"'Did you notice the dress she was wearing?'--'I saw it.'

"'What dress was it?'--'Her favourite frock, a blue one.'

"'Is there any doubt in your mind upon the point?'--'None at all. She
had her blue frock on.'"

Tom Barley is examined:

"'You were in the service of the murdered man?'--'For many a long year.
My grandfather and grandmother were care-takers there before Miser
Farebrother took possession.'

"'Answer only the questions that are put to you. What age was the
prisoner when you entered her father's service?'--'Miss Phoebe
couldn't have been more than two. I was there when she first came.'

"'You were previously engaged, then?'--'Yes; at two-pence a week, and I
never got more.'

"'What inducement was there for you to remain?'--'Well, I grew up there,
so to speak; and I couldn't bear the thought of leaving Miss Phoebe.'

"'The prisoner?'--'Yes.'

"'To serve her was a pleasing duty?'--'I would die for her.'

"'If it were in your power you would testify in her favour?'--'I should
be sorry to say a word against her.'

"'But you would tell the truth?'--'I must.'

"'Were you as much attached to your master?'--'No. If he was alive I
would tell you what I thought of him.'

"'But being dead you say nothing?'--'It's more decent.'

"'Apart from their relationship as father and child, what kind of
feeling existed between them?'--'He had no feeling for her; he hardly
took notice of her. She would have loved him if he'd have let her; but
he had other notions.'

"'You left his service less than a year ago?'--'Yes. I'll tell you the
reason of it.'

"'We do not want to know the reason. Do you remember the night of the
murder of Miser Farebrother?'--'Yes.'

"'On that night did you go to Mrs. Lethbridge's house?'--'Yes.'

"'After or before the prisoner left it?'--'After Miss Phoebe left.'

"'Were you spoken to about her having gone away?'--'Yes.'

"'By whom?'--'By Mrs. Lethbridge.'

"'What did she say to you?'--'That Miss Phoebe, without asking her
advice, had gone to Parksides, and would I go after her and see that she
would come to no harm.'

"'Was there any fear of her coming to harm in her father's house?'--'A
good deal. She wasn't safe there.'

"'That is your opinion?'--'Yes, it's my opinion, and the truth.'

"'You went?'--'Yes. I had time, without interfering with my duty.'

"'You were glad to go?'--'I was glad to do anything to serve Miss
Phoebe.'

"'Did you go by the train?'--'I was too late for trains; I walked.'

"'A tiring walk?'--'Not for me. I shouldn't think anything of forty
mile.'

"'What did you do when you arrived at Parksides?'--'I looked about for
Miss Phoebe.'

"'Did you see her?'--'No.'

"'Did you remain there for any length of time?'--'Up to the last safe
minute. I had to get back to London to my duty by a certain time.'

"'I understand, then, that you remained until the last safe
minute?'--'Yes.'

"'When you left Parksides, was it night or morning?'--'Morning. The sun
was rising.'

"'You could distinguish objects perfectly?'--'Yes.'

"'Did you walk about Parksides freely? Was there any restraint upon your
movements?'--'I don't know about restraints. It is the truth that I did
not wish to be seen.'

"'Why?'--'There was no love lost between me and Miser Farebrother. He
wouldn't have been pleased to see me.'

"'You knew you had no right to be there?'--'I was doing no harm, and had
no intention of doing any. I wanted to be of service to Miss Phoebe.'

"'You were, however, careful in your movements?'--'Yes.'

"'Now, you say it was sunrise when you left?'--'It was.'

"'And that you could see clearly?'--'Yes.'

"'Is your eyesight good?'--'Very good. I can almost see in the dark.'

"'But you could not distinguish colours in the dark?'--'I don't say I
could. At all events, I wouldn't swear to them.'

"'You have stated that you did not see the prisoner. But did you see any
one you knew?'--'It's hard to answer.'

"'Not at all. You must be able to state whether you saw anything, before
you left Parksides, that attracted your attention.'--'I am able to state
that, but I answer your questions as you put them to me.'

"'And I do not complain of your answers. I am pleased to say that you
are giving your evidence in a perfectly straightforward manner.'--'Thank
you, sir.'

"'Well, then, you say you did not see any one whom you knew; but did you
see any one at all?'--'Yes, I did. A woman.'

"'How do you know it was a woman?'--'By her dress.'

"'You saw that?'--'Clearly.'

"'I wish to lead up intelligibly and distinctly to this, and I am sure
you will assist me--your desire being that justice shall be done?'--'It
is my desire, sir; then everything will be right.'

"'You saw a woman, you say. Did you see her only once?'--'I saw her
three times.'

"'At what distance was she from you?'--'Say thirty or forty yards.'

"'Always at about that distance?'--'Always at about that.'

"'Among the trees?'--'Yes.'

"'Did you walk toward her?'--'Yes.'

"'Well?'--'Then she disappeared.'

"'On every occasion?'--'On every occasion.'

"'As if she were hiding from you?'--'It looked like it.'

"'As if discovering that you were walking toward her, she did not wish
you to see her?'--'It's fair to say that.'

"'Was her face turned toward you?'--'Never once.'

"'Then you could not recognize it?'--'It wasn't possible.'

"'That is why you say you did not see any one whom you knew?'--'Yes,
that is the reason.'

"'However, you knew it was a woman by her dress?'--'Yes.'

"'By the form or the colour of her dress?'--'More by the colour than the
form, though I am certain both ways.'

"'But the colour enables you to be quite positive?'--'Yes.'

"'Now, what was the colour of the dress worn by this woman?'--'It was
blue.'

"'Is there any possibility that you could have been mistaken?'--'No.'

"'You swear it was blue?'--'I swear it.'

"'And the woman who wore this blue dress, discovering that you were
following her, seemed anxious that you should not see her face?'--'It
seemed so.'

"These were the salient features of the examination of Tom Barley,
corroborated, as they were, by the evidence of witnesses favourable to
the prisoner. Lurking about the grounds of Parksides was a woman in a
blue dress, who was unmistakably anxious that he should not recognize
her. The conclusion is that she was known to him, and that she had
reasons for avoiding him.

"The prisoner, when she left her aunt's house on the night of the
murder, wore a blue dress--her favourite colour. Even without this
evidence there was sufficient to warrant the conclusion that the
prisoner was guilty of the crime of which she stood charged; but it was
natural, perhaps, that her youth and beauty would have won the day with
impressionable men, had it not been for this important evidence of
colour. In association with Miser Farebrother were two women only, Mrs.
Pamflett and the prisoner. Setting a due value upon Tom Barley's
evidence, the prosecution had carefully sifted it, and the conclusion
arrived at was indisputable. Mrs. Pamflett was not a favourite in
Beddington and round about; she had no friends or acquaintances there or
anywhere; but she had been compelled to make her purchases in the
village, and her appearance was familiar by force of circumstance. She
had never been known to wear a blue dress; it was, she said, a
detestable colour, and she would not purchase even a piece of ribbon of
that hue. As the prisoner's favourite colour was blue, so Mrs.
Pamflett's was pink, and in all the housekeeper's wardrobe--which, it
may be mentioned, was thrown open to the investigation of the
prosecution--there was not a fabric of blue.

"Another thing told heavily against the prisoner. In her statement she
said that 'it was still dark when she went away' from Parksides. She
said, 'There was no light in the sky when I left Parksides behind me.'
Tom Barley proved that he saw her in a blue dress when the sun was
rising. A sad duty indeed devolved upon the jury, but it was a duty
which had to be fulfilled. The verdict of 'Guilty' which was returned
was one which could not be avoided by conscientious men, however painful
it must have been. Phoebe Farebrother is not the only beautiful and
apparently gentle woman upon whom sentence of death has been passed."



CHAPTER XII.

DICK GARDEN TO THE RESCUE.


Aunt and Uncle Leth and their children sat in their once happy home in
Camden Town gazing at each other in mute despair. For them the tragedy
of life was complete and overwhelming, and their condition was such that
they could find no words to give expression to their horror and grief.
They were waiting for Fred Cornwall, who had obtained permission to see
Phoebe in prison. When he entered the room his face was white and
stern. He felt the terrible blow which had fallen upon them no less
poignantly than they; but he had not lost the power to act, nor, as with
them, had hope entirely deserted him.

"I have seen her," he said, in a low tone. "She sends loving messages to
you. I expected to find her heart-broken and prostrate, but she is
imbued with a strange strength and resignation. The worst is over, she
says she must not think of the past, but of the future. She is
sustained by a consciousness of innocence, and is inexpressibly
comforted by the thought that we know she is innocent. She begs that you
will not grieve too deeply for her." He paused a moment or two. "That is
the sense of her message to you. She is an angel and a martyr. I can
trust myself to say nothing more of my visit to the prison. I must not
remain with you now, unless you have something to communicate which may
help me in the task upon which I am engaged--of even yet clearing her
from the wicked charge. Yes, Aunt Leth, I will move heaven and earth to
establish her innocence. I will not rest, I will not sleep--" Again he
was compelled to pause; and when he could control himself he said: "I
must see Tom Barley. Has he been here to-day?"

"Yes," replied Aunt Leth; "but I fear it will be long before he comes
here again. There was a dreadful scene between him and 'Melia Jane. The
girl stormed at him for giving his evidence about seeing a woman in a
blue dress at Parksides on that fatal night. She said if it had not been
for him our poor Phoebe would have been set free; and when he asked
what else he could do but answer the questions they put to him, she
answered that he ought to have cut his tongue out first."

"'Melia Jane was right," said Fanny.

"I don't see that he could have acted differently," said Fred,
thoughtfully. "Without his evidence the case against my suffering angel
would have been incomplete; but there can be no question that he spoke
the truth. He did see a woman in a blue dress at Parksides; but it was
not Phoebe. The evidence relating to the dresses worn by Mrs. Pamflett
is not to be shaken, and it could not have been that she wore on that
night a blue dress in order to throw suspicion upon our innocent
darling."

"She could have worn such a dress," said Uncle Leth, "and afterward
destroyed it."

"That is possible enough; but she could have had no hope, supposing her
to be the guilty wretch--"

"Or her son," interposed Fanny.

"She could have had no hope of entangling our Phoebe by so doing. She
knew that Phoebe was living here, and the sudden visit our poor girl
paid to her father could not by any possibility have become known to
her beforehand. If the woman Tom Barley saw was neither Phoebe nor
Mrs. Pamflett, who is she? There are now two mysterious persons in this
horrible affair--the man who was in the habit of visiting Miser
Farebrother late at night and this woman whom Tom Barley saw, and who
was conspicuously anxious that he should not see her face. These matters
must be followed up; we can agitate, we can get time. I hear on all
sides nothing but sympathy expressed for our dear Phoebe, and the case
against her is so entirely circumstantial that I will not, I cannot,
give up hope. A friend of mine who has chambers next to mine is so much
interested in the case that he has offered to help me all he can. He is
clearer-headed than I am just now, and cleverer, and higher up the
ladder. He is convinced that Phoebe is innocent, and that there is a
mystery in the affair which, unravelled, would set her free."

"God bless him!" sobbed Fanny. "What is the name of this good friend,
that I may remember it in my prayers."

"Dick Garden. We are going to work together. He is waiting for me now in
my rooms. He is a good fellow--the best of friends; I rely greatly upon
him. Calm as I appear, I am burning with wrath and indignation, and I am
scarcely to be depended upon for a clear judicial reasoning upon
anything we may happily discover. I must go at once. Then you cannot
tell me where I can find Tom Barley?"

"I will find him for you," said Robert, starting up.

"Do; and send him on to my place immediately. Good-by--good-by. If you
hear anything, don't fail to let me know."

He drove rapidly to his rooms, where he found his friend Richard Garden
awaiting him. This friend was of about the same age as himself; an
ambitious, astute young fellow, determined to get along in the world,
and almost certain to succeed, for the reason that he had brains and
indomitable courage and industry.

He looked up from the paper upon which he was writing when Fred entered.
Upon a smaller table in the room some food was spread: a plate of ham
and beef, a cold pie, and bread; also a jug of ale.

"You have had nothing to eat?" said Garden. Fred shook his head
impatiently. "Of course you haven't; and you think that we can go into
an affair like this with empty stomachs. No, old fellow; we must assist
ourselves like sensible men. A craving stomach is a bad mental
foundation. Come, tuck away; force something down. That's right. Just
taste this cold pie--good, isn't it? A pint of ale between us--here's
your half, no more and no less. You feel better, don't you? Now we are
fit to set to work. You saw her?"

"Yes."

"Did you get her to talk calmly?"

"She was calmer than you are, Dick. She has made up her mind to die."

"Not for many a long year yet. Here's a letter I've written to the
papers, signed 'A Lawyer,' showing up the weak points in the case, and
appealing for sympathy and a surer kind of justice. Just finished the
fourth copy as you came in. My lad is down-stairs; he will take the
letters to the newspaper offices, and to-morrow they will be all over
the country. Don't lose heart, Fred; there is some infernal mystery at
the bottom of this affair, and I mean to get at it. You asked the poor
girl about the dresses Mrs. Pamflett was in the habit of wearing?"

"Yes; and she said she never saw the woman in a blue dress."

"Is she still positive about the brooch?"

"She has not the slightest doubt. When her father turned her from his
house she left the brooch behind her."

"Then it must have been placed in the grounds by some
person--deliberately placed there."

"Unless it was dropped by accident."

"If so, it must have been a female who dropped it. Either way, the
person who dropped or placed it where it was found can be no other than
Mrs. Pamflett. Let us suppose that. If dropped by accident, it proves
that she must have been near the spot where the miser was murdered; if
placed there by her, it must have been placed there for a motive. Miss
Farebrother adheres to the truth of her story as to what occurred on the
night of her visit to Parksides?"

"Yes."

"She did not see Mrs. Pamflett?"

"No."

"But Mrs. Pamflett may have seen her. Let us assume that she or her son
committed the deed. She sees Miss Farebrother in the grounds, and
overhears, perhaps, what passes between the poor young lady and her
father. She witnesses Miss Farebrother's departure from Parksides. After
that the murder is committed. Then, seeing Miss Farebrother's veil on
the ground--in Miss Farebrother's condition there are a thousand
reasonable hypotheses to account for its having become detached from her
hat--the idea presents itself to Mrs. Pamflett to strengthen the case
against Miss Farebrother by placing the brooch also near the dead body."

"You do not forget the female in a blue dress that Tom Barley saw in the
grounds?"

"I do not; and I cannot account for it. Did you ask Miss Farebrother
anything about the man who, according to Mrs. Pamflett, had been in the
habit for years of visiting Miser Farebrother secretly at night?"

"To her knowledge, no such man ever presented himself, and no such
visits ever took place."

"She has no remembrance of anything of the kind occurring?"

"Not the slightest."

"It is inexplicable. There's some one at the door. Come in!"

It was Robert Lethbridge, who came to say that Tom Barley was on duty,
and would not be able to visit Fred Cornwall before the morning; but if
they wished to speak to him at once they would find him on his beat.

"No," said Garden; "we will not go to him. I want him when his time is
his own, so that we can talk quietly and uninterruptedly. Go and tell
him to come and see us at nine o'clock in the morning."

"He can be here earlier, Dick," said Fred Cornwall.

"Nine o'clock is early enough. It will give us time to sleep and rest. I
am physician as well as lawyer in this case, it seems."

Robert Lethbridge departed with the message, and he was barely gone
before two other visitors presented themselves. These were Kiss, the
comedian, and Mr. Linton, the dramatic author. They looked very grave as
they entered. Fred Cornwall introduced them to Richard Garden, who cast
a shrewd glance at them, and then said, quietly:

"You have something to tell us?"

"You can speak freely," said Fred. "Mr. Garden and I are working
together in this terrible matter."

"A terrible matter indeed, Mr. Cornwall," said Kiss, with deep feeling
in his voice, "and Mr. Linton and I are responsible for it." The young
lawyers looked at their visitors in surprise at this statement. Kiss
continued: "It is the melancholy truth that if it had not been for us an
innocent young girl, an angel of sweetness and purity, would not be
lying at death's door as we stand here. Unless we can prove her
innocence it will haunt us to our dying day."

"Why do you accuse yourselves?" asked Garden.

"Was it not through our folly that Mr. Lethbridge was plunged into
difficulties? Believing that my friend Linton had written a play which
would make all our fortunes, did we not go to Mr. Lethbridge and by our
plausible statements induce him to sign a bill for three hundred pounds
which that infamous scoundrel, Jeremiah Pamflett, discounted? You will
remember the play I refer to, Mr. Garden; it was _A Heart of Gold_,
which, because of an extraordinary first-night speech made by Mr.
Linton, blazed up for a fortnight or so, and then spluttered out like a
tallow candle with a damp wick. It was in the hope of helping her uncle
out of his difficulties--for which we, and we alone, were
responsible--that Miss Farebrother paid a visit to her father on the
night he was murdered. Had she not gone he would have been murdered all
the same--there is no doubt in our minds as to that--and, safe and happy
at home with her aunt and uncle, by no possibility could suspicion have
been cast upon her. But she _did_ go, because none of us were able to
pay the money which Mr. Lethbridge borrowed for us. Do you see now how
it is that we are responsible for what has occurred? It is Linton and I
who ought to have been placed in the dock instead of that sweet,
unfortunate young lady. Since the lying accusation was brought against
her, we have not been able to sleep. If exhausted nature compels us to
go off in a doze, we start up in affright and horror. There will never
again be rest for either of us until Miss Farebrother is set at liberty
and her honourable name restored to her."

"Your feelings do you credit," said Garden; "but it is not alone to say
what you have said that you have come here to-night?"

"No; but it leads up to what may be of importance. God knows whether it
will or not, but drowning men catch at a straw. I am glad you are
working with Mr. Cornwall, sir; it is easy to see how he is suffering,
and you must be a comfort to him--if," he added, feelingly, "anybody
_can_ comfort him at such a time as this. Well, sir, Linton and I have
also been putting our heads together, and we decided to set a watch."

"Upon whom?"

"Upon that image of wickedness, Jeremiah Pamflett, and his equally
wicked mother. Sir, that tale of hers as to what took place between her
and Miss Farebrother on the night of the murder is false as--Never mind;
it will not do to be profane."

"That is to say, you believe it to be false? You have no direct evidence
to the contrary?"

"No, sir; unfortunately we have not. It is our belief, as you say, but
none the less incontrovertible. It is not because we have dramatic ideas
that we determined to watch this precious pair. It seemed to us to offer
a chance of discovering something; therefore we set practically to work,
Linton watching the son, I watching the mother. Until this evening we
saw nothing that could be turned against them. You are probably aware
that Mrs. Pamflett left Parksides shortly after the murder?"

"She had to leave," remarked Fred; "as Miss Farebrother's legal
representative, I saw to that before the trial took place."

"Quite proper. And her son had to leave the London office and seek
lodgings elsewhere?"

"Yes; that was also effected through me."

"Being thrown upon their own resources, they took two rooms in
Knightsbridge. We tracked them there. Sometimes they went out together,
sometimes alone. When they were together they scarcely spoke to each
other, and it seemed to us as if this silence had been determined upon
between them; what they said might have been overheard, and they might
have said something injudicious. It almost appeared as if nothing was to
come of our watch. There was a monotony in it which weighed upon us, and
we were almost in despair. We tried to get a room in the house they
lodged in, but there was none to let. The day before yesterday, however,
something occurred to rouse us. We saw a woman watching the house they
lived in. She knocked at the street door, and received an answer to her
questions from the landlady. Then she retired, and from a short distance
kept watch upon the house--you may imagine how excited this made
us--until Jeremiah Pamflett came out alone. He walked along apparently
with no suspicion in his mind that he was being followed by the woman,
and certainly with no suspicion that Linton and I were walking behind
them both. You may be certain that we were very careful. It is excusable
in me as an actor, and in Linton as a dramatic author, that we should
adopt some slight disguise, altered from day to day under my direction,
to lessen the chances of our being detected in case Jeremiah Pamflett
should happen to see us. Well, sir, as the four of us were walking along
in Indian file, what did the woman suddenly do but go up to Jeremiah
and accost him! And what did he do but start violently, turn round to
look at the woman, and then, without saying one word to her, walk
rapidly away with the conspicuous intention of getting rid of her. From
a rapid walk he got into a run, and the woman and we lost sight of him.
So far as that incident was concerned, there was an end of it. We lost
sight, too, of the woman; but not before we saw sufficient of her to be
able to recognize her if we should see her again. Yesterday we were
again in view of the house in which these Pamfletts lodged, and there
again was the same woman watching, as we judged, for her friend
Jeremiah. But he did not make his appearance, and after remaining in the
neighbourhood for nearly an hour, we saw the landlady put a card in her
front window, 'Rooms to let.' Across the road went the woman; she
knocked at the door, made some inquiries of the landlady, and came away
with a spiteful, disappointed expression on her face. I told Linton to
follow her, and find out where she lived. Meanwhile I myself went across
to the home, and inquired about the rooms to let. It was as I suspected:
the Pamfletts had left--'quite sudden,' the landlady said. Putting this
and that together, I came to the conclusion that they had left their
lodgings, and most probably the neighbourhood, because of the discovery
by the woman of their whereabouts. This looked so much like fright on
the part of Jeremiah Pamflett that it stirred me up and made me hopeful.
But where had he and his mother flown to? Sir, this very evening chance
has befriended us, and we are again on the track. Give me, if you
please, your closest attention; I am approaching something rather
startling."

"Stop a moment," said Garden, rising and going to the side-board, from
which he took a bottle of apollinaris and a bottle of brandy, "you seem
rather faint."

"To tell you the truth," said Kiss, "I have scarcely tasted food to-day,
I have been that anxious and distressed."

"We are all engaged in the same good cause," said Garden, smiling, "and
every one, with the exception of myself, seems bent upon starving
himself. Take a slice of this pie; Mr. Linton will join you. You don't
object to brandy and apollinaris?"

"Not at all," said Kiss, speaking with his mouth full; "split it
between Linton and me. Mr. Garden, you are a wise gentleman and a
capable chief. If we are happily successful in the end we have in
view--and I pray God we shall be!--we shall have you to thank for it. Do
you not think with me, Mr. Cornwall?"

Fred pressed Garden's hand with emotion, and Garden, shrewd, cool,
self-possessed, and with all his wits about him, returned the pressure,
and gave Fred a look of encouragement. It was like wine to Fred. His
hopes grew stronger. Perhaps, after all, his dear, suffering girl would,
by the mercy of God, be rescued from her dread peril, and be spared to
brighten his life and the lives of those who held her dear. His eyes
grew dim, and he pressed his hand across them.

"Do not overrate my services," said Garden, in his clear strong voice.
"I am only a moderately skilful engineer, and my hardest task, it
appears to me, is to keep the machinery of which I have direction in
fair workable order. Now, then, Mr. Kiss, you look double the man you
were. We are all attention."



CHAPTER XIII.

THE DIAMOND BRACELET AGAIN.


"Mr. Linton," continued Kiss, "followed the woman who was so anxious to
enter into relations--evidently not new ones--with that abominable
scoundrel Jeremiah Pamflett, and who had exhibited such vexation at his
sudden disappearance; he learnt her address, but could not discover her
name. Inquiring of people who lived in the same house, he was informed
by some that they knew nothing whatever of her, and was told by others
to mind his own business. But, as I said, chance befriended us; not two
hours ago we saw the woman and Jeremiah together. We had failed in
tracking him down; she had succeeded. And of all the corners in this
Babylon where should Jeremiah have taken up his new lodgings but in
South Lambeth, three doors from the house in which Linton lives! That is
not the only piece of luck which chance has thrown in our way. The
landlady of the house in which he rents rooms is a friend of Mrs.
Linton. This good lady, who is as deeply concerned in the terrible
course of events as we are, is now in that house--on the watch. Jeremiah
Pamflett and his mother will not escape us again so easily. So much for
the side issue--what I may call the under-plot. Now for the important
discovery. When we saw Jeremiah and the woman together--he looking very
much disturbed and she very determined and vicious--I desired Linton to
keep in the background. Without flattery, I may say I am a better actor
than he is, and, besides, I was more completely disguised. My object was
to discover what these two were talking about. So I followed them close
enough to hear scraps of their conversation, but not close enough to
draw suspicious observation upon myself. The first thing I heard that
caused me surprise was a name--Captain Ablewhite. It was the woman who
gave utterance to it, and accompanying her mention of the name were some
words by no means complimentary to its owner. 'He's a damned scoundrel,'
said the woman to Jeremiah, as I casually passed them, 'and you're
another!' Now a high-minded, honest man would have fired up at this.
Jeremiah Pamflett did not; he was as meek as a turnip. They passed on
out of hearing; but I did not lose sight of them. 'Captain Ablewhite!'
thought I, 'Captain Ablewhite! How is it that the name seems so familiar
to me?' Does it sound familiar to you, sir?"

"In a vague way, yes," replied Garden; "but I cannot immediately place
it. I am not personally acquainted with any one of that name."

"Nor I, sir; but that did not prevent it bothering me. I took another
favourable opportunity of getting close to the woman and Jeremiah. She
was talking away at a rapid rate, he saying hardly a word; but I
happened to catch a wicked look in his eyes once as he looked down on
her. It was more than wicked, it was devilish; and I could not help
thinking that it was a good job they were not walking in a dark place
with no people about. If ever murder was expressed in a man's face, it
was expressed in the face of Jeremiah Pamflett as he cast that look at
his companion. 'Half the money you and Ablewhite got for the diamond
bracelet'--don't miss a word of this, sir; I am repeating what the
woman said to Jeremiah--'was to come to my share, and a few sovereigns
is all I have managed to screw out of him. The false villain has thrown
me over for another woman, and has given me the slip; but I'll take care
you don't serve me the same. I have found out your new quarters--you
live at No. 12, Surrey Street.' That, sir, is three doors from Linton's
lodgings--he lives at No. 15. You will understand that it would have
been the height of imprudence for me to have remained near this precious
pair for more than a few moments at a time, but what I had already heard
opened my eyes. It came upon me like a flash of lightning. Captain
Ablewhite and a diamond bracelet! Why, that story was in all the papers
a little while ago, and created a regular stir. Linton is making use of
it now in a new drama he is writing. Real life, sir; facts with which
the public is familiar--that's the sort of thing for the stage. You
remember the story, of course?"

"I remember it well," said Garden, cool and collected as ever. "Go on,
Mr. Kiss; something may come of this."

"Something _will_ come of it, sir," said Kiss, his voice growing more
excited. "You haven't got the essence of what I heard; I shall astonish
you presently. You remember what a laugh there was when Mr. Quinlan's
statement was published in the papers. Mr. Quinlan was the husband of
the lady from whom the diamond bracelet had been stolen, and the
information he gave to the police and the reporters was that the
bracelet that had been stolen was one he had had made in imitation of
the genuine article, and that the stones the thieves had got hold of
were false. 'The Biters Bit'--that was the heading in the newspapers."

"I remember it all perfectly."

"Listen now to what I learnt from the stray bits of conversation I
picked up as I followed Jeremiah and the woman. She was Mrs. Quinlan's
maid; the man waiting outside the Langham Hotel was Jeremiah Pamflett.
She gave him the bracelet. Afterward he met Captain Ablewhite, but what
passed between them, of course, cannot be known. The woman knows,
however, that the bracelet was taken to Miser Farebrother, and that it
was he who advanced money on it, Jeremiah being the go-between. I did
not hear all this as I am relating it, but I put it together out of
what I managed to pick up, and I will stake my life that it is near
enough to the truth for us or any one to work upon. That, however, does
not bring down the curtain; you have yet to hear the climax. Linton
could not have worked it up more dramatically. The last words that
reached my ears were these: 'You fool!' said the woman to Jeremiah. 'The
bracelet you received from me was the genuine one. The stones were real,
and are worth forty thousand pounds, and I mean to have my share of the
plunder.' The moment she said this, Jeremiah, in a kind of frenzy,
clapped his hand on her mouth and dragged her away. A cab was passing,
and he hailed it, and hustled the woman in, giving some directions to
the driver. The next moment they were gone. If there had been another
cab in view I would have followed them, but unfortunately there wasn't
one in the street. The first thing I did after that was to run with
Linton to his lodgings, and the first thing Mrs. Linton said to us was
that Mrs. Pamflett and her son had taken the two rooms that had been to
let at No. 12. 'Are you acquainted with the landlady?' I asked, and Mrs.
Linton answered that she and the landlady of No. 12 were friends. 'Go
and bring her here at once,' I said; and no sooner said than done. It
took but a few minutes to get the landlady on our side; it was Mrs.
Linton who did that. It would not have been safe for me or Linton to go
to No. 12 to watch; Jeremiah Pamflett knows us, and at close quarters
might see through any disguise we might assume; but neither he nor Mrs.
Pamflett has ever seen Mrs. Linton, so we appointed her sentinel. The
next best thing we thought we could do was to come straight here and
make Mr. Cornwall acquainted with our discovery. The question is, what
is to be done? We might go to the police--"

Garden held up his hand, and Kiss did not finish the sentence.

"That would be the worst thing we could do," he said. "What you have
discovered must at present be mentioned to no other person but
ourselves. The task upon which we are engaged is that of saving an
innocent young lady's life; all else is of small importance. How was the
woman dressed?"

"Very quietly, in black."

"Does she resemble Miss Farebrother in build?"

"Not at all. She is shorter and stouter."

"Did you hear anything definite as to the length of time she has been in
London?"

"Nothing; but judging in a general way, I should say she has only
recently returned from foreign parts with the idea of obtaining from
Jeremiah Pamflett a share of the proceeds of the robbery."

"A share of the money he received from Miser Farebrother for the
bracelet that was stolen? Yes, that is a natural conclusion." The young
lawyer rose from his seat and went to a corner of the room where a great
pile of newspapers lay. "Mr. Cornwall keeps a file of the _Times_ for
reference; it will help us." He searched through the papers, and soon
found the one he wanted. He smiled quietly as he looked down the
columns. "It is as I suspected. The account of the robbery of the
diamond bracelet was first published on the day preceding that upon
which Miser Farebrother was murdered." They all started at this. And the
young lawyer proceeded: "Let us build up a theory. Jeremiah Pamflett
takes a diamond bracelet of great value to his master, and upon the
strength of his representations Miser Farebrother advances a sum of
money upon it--believing the stones to be genuine. On the day before his
death a newspaper falls into his hands, and he learns from it that he
has been tricked--that the bracelet has been stolen, and that the
diamonds are false. We know that the one passion of his life is
money--it is his idol, his god. We have it in evidence that on that day,
in the afternoon, doubtless, after he made this discovery, he sent a
telegram to Jeremiah Pamflett in London, requesting his manager's
attendance at Parksides. Miser Farebrother was not in the habit of
wasting money upon telegrams; hence his sending of this message was
prompted by some particular motive--say the demand from Jeremiah
Pamflett for the restitution of the money of which he has been
defrauded. Before this scoundrel leaves London for Parksides he also has
learnt that a trick has been played upon him by Captain Ablewhite and
the woman who has tracked him down. At Parksides a stormy scene takes
place between the miser and his scoundrel manager. The miser threatens
criminal proceedings, but perhaps gives the scoundrel time to refund
the money he has advanced. They part with feelings of bitter rage
towards each other. What course is now open to Jeremiah Pamflett? Has he
the money to refund? Unlikely. Can he borrow it? Quite as unlikely. I
bear in mind what I gathered from you, Fred, respecting the bill for
three hundred pounds which Mr. Lethbridge accepted. You arranged for the
payment of that bill with a betting man, who had received it from
Jeremiah Pamflett. Natural inference: that the scoundrel Jeremiah had
been backing horses, and losing. If necessary, we will look that betting
man up. Not seeing his way to refund the money which has been advanced
on the bracelet, nothing but exposure and disgrace lies before Jeremiah
Pamflett. How to avoid impending ruin? How to avoid a felon's fate?
Miser Farebrother lives practically alone in the house at Parksides,
waited upon by the house-keeper, Jeremiah's mother. These two are bound
to each other by mutual interests. Who so likely to profit by Miser
Farebrother's death as Jeremiah Pamflett? Unhappily, on that night Miss
Farebrother goes down to Parksides on her heavenly mission of love. But,
before she makes her appearance there, the murder of her father is
resolved upon. There is no independent evidence that Jeremiah returned
to London and reached his office by eleven o'clock. We have only his
word for it. Had Miss Farebrother not visited Parksides on that night,
suspicion would have fallen upon the Pamfletts, and the hour of the
scoundrel's return to London would have been a vital point. I put aside
the account given by Mrs. Pamflett of the visit of a strange man to
Miser Farebrother. It may or may not be true. Equally it may or may not
be a concocted story, invented beforehand for safety. Here comes in Tom
Barley's evidence as to his seeing in the grounds a female in a blue
dress. The honest fellow spoke the truth; he saw what he was compelled
to swear to. Miss Farebrother wore such a dress. But why should she
avoid him? He was her tried and faithful friend. Convinced as we are of
her innocence, there is no reason for her avoidance. Here lies the
mystery; if we can solve it Miss Farebrother is safe. And solve it we
will----My God!"

They had listened to him in profound admiration. Entranced by his
masterly analysis, it seemed to Fred as if they had only to go to the
prison in which Phoebe was immured and demand her release. But when
he uttered the words "My God!" and started to his feet and paced the
room in a state of excitement, which, for a few moments was
uncontrollable, their feelings of admiration changed to astonishment,
and they gazed at him in amazement.

"What is it, Dick?" cried Fred. "What is it?"

He seized Garden's hands, and would have held him still; but Garden
threw him off, and continued to pace the room.

"Don't speak to me for a moment!" he cried. "What I have suddenly
thought of is so wild that I cannot reveal it. But if it is a true
inspiration, it means salvation! Ask me nothing, for I shall not answer
you. It is for you to answer me. It has occurred to me that Mrs.
Pamflett and Mrs. Lethbridge are about the same height and figure."

"Good God!" cried Fred. "What do you mean?"

"Answer my question, Fred," said Garden, "as you value Miss
Farebrother's life. The women--one a devil, the other an angel--are
about the same height and figure?"

"Yes, they are."

"And from a short distance--say thirty or forty yards--might possibly be
mistaken for each other?"

"Yes, it is possible."

"Thank you." He had succeeded in mastering his agitation, and now to all
appearance was calm. "Meanwhile," he said, sitting at the table and
beginning to write, "what has become of the diamond bracelet?"

The question was uttered in a musing tone, as though he were asking it
of himself. He continued to write for four or five minutes, and having
completed his task, he read what he had written, folded the paper and
put it in his pocket. Then he turned to Kiss and Mr. Linton.

"You have nothing more to say?"

"Nothing."

"You delight in dramatic surprises?" he said, addressing Linton, with a
radiant look.

"If they are new to the stage," replied the bewildered dramatic author,
"they are invaluable."

"I may supply you with one. It is just on the cards." He now addressed
Kiss as well as Mr. Linton. "Our interview is at an end. What I wish
you to do is to so arrange matters that we can at any moment lay hands
upon Mrs. Pamflett, her son, and the woman who is implicated in the
theft of the diamond bracelet. Do you think you can manage it?"

"I will answer for that."

"When you came here to-night," he said, earnestly, "you reproached
yourself for being the cause of an innocent girl being sentenced to
death for a murder she did not commit. You went back, as it were, to
first causes. It is likely--almost certain, indeed, so much depends upon
chance--that if you had not come, the inspiration which may mean
salvation would not have descended upon me. To you, therefore, if all
ends as I fervently pray it may, will belong the credit of directing
justice aright. Humanly administered, it is sometimes fallible."

"Mr. Garden," said Kiss, in a voice no less earnest than that of the
young lawyer, "I have not the slightest idea of your meaning, but you
have won my esteem, and I honour you with all my heart and soul."

"I thank you," said the young lawyer, with dignity and courtesy; "what
you kindly accord to me is worth the winning. Good-night."

When Kiss and Mr. Linton were gone, Garden said to Fred: "I am deeply,
truly in earnest. For a little while leave the direction of this affair
entirely in my hands. Give me your promise."

"I give it, Dick, old fellow, cheerfully."

"I am going now to the office of a newspaper, the editor of which I am
acquainted with. I shall take a cab there and back. Unless some urgent
necessity arises, do not leave the rooms till I return."

       *       *       *       *       *

The next morning, in the columns of one daily London newspaper, the
following interesting item found a place:

"Our readers will remember the incident of the abstraction of a
wonderful diamond bracelet from the jewel-case of a lady of fabulous
wealth. This bracelet was valued at sixty thousand pounds. A singular
and somewhat humorous turn was given to this robbery by the wealthy
husband of the owner, who, when public attention was directed to the
matter, stated that the ornament stolen was one he had had made in exact
imitation of the original, and that the stones of which the thieves had
obtained possession were false. Information has reached us that this was
not the case, and that the missing bracelet is the genuine one. If this
be true, the daring robbers made a rare haul, of which, as nothing
whatever has been heard of them, they have by this time reaped the
advantage. The task of disposing of these diamonds singly in the markets
of the world could not have been very difficult, their identification
being almost impossible. In the interests of justice it is to be
regretted that the truth was not made public in the first instance;
supposing the thieves to have been moderately prudent, it is now too
late to repair the error."

This paragraph was copied in subsequent editions of hundreds of London
and provincial newspapers.



CHAPTER XIV.

RICHARD GARDEN MAKES THE ACQUAINTANCE OF FANNY LETHBRIDGE.


Punctually at nine o'clock in the morning Tom Barley made his appearance
in Fred Cornwall's rooms. Garden, having assumed the command of what
nearly every one but himself would have considered a forlorn hope, of
course was present; he was fresh and bright, but Fred's face was haggard
and anxious. In this respect Tom Barley was no better off; the poor
fellow was suffering a martyrdom. The reproaches hurled against him by
'Melia Jane had caused him to look upon himself as a monster of
wickedness, and to believe that it was his evidence alone that had
brought his beloved young mistress into deadly peril. When Fred Cornwall
offered him his hand he shrank back a little, and stood before the young
lawyers in an attitude of sad humility, with his arms drooping by his
side.

"Why will you not give me your hand, Tom?" asked Fred.

"It's more than I dare do, sir," replied Tom. "I ought to have mine cut
off, and my tongue cut out as well, for saying what I did in court, and
for bringing Miss Phoebe to her death. If I'd had a notion of the
consequences of my evidence, not a word would they have got out of me,
whatever the consequence. 'Melia Jane is right; I don't deserve to live.
It come over me last night that I might have saved Miss Phoebe if,
instead of saying what I did say, I had said something else."

"What?" inquired Garden, in a kind tone.

"Confessed to killing Miser Farebrother myself. I was there, and might
have done it, and would if I'd seen him, as sure as there's a God above
us, if I'd had a notion of what things were coming to! Yes; if I'd said
as much they'd have been bound to believe me, and Miss Phoebe would
have been set free. You see, sir, there was every reason for my killing
him; he treated me like a dog for years, and I hated him worse than
poison. Are you a lawyer, sir?"

"Yes," replied Garden; "and I am assisting Mr. Cornwall in this matter
that we all have so much at heart. I do not at all despair of proving
Miss Farebrother's innocence even yet."

"There's only one way of doing that, sir, if it can be done legally. I'd
like to ask you a question, if you wouldn't mind answering it."

"Go on, Tom."

"Would it be too late for me to go to the police-station now, and give
myself up for the murder? If they'd only believe me I should be a happy
man again. Then Miss Phoebe would be saved, and everything'd be
right."

"It is too late for that, Tom. Besides, it would be depriving us of the
chance of bringing the crime home to the guilty parties and making them
suffer for it."

"Ah! if we could do that, sir, it would be the happiest day's work that
ever was done in this cruel world! I'd be content to die the day after."

"Well, I am not at all sure that we shall not manage it," said Garden,
"and perhaps, Tom, it all depends upon you."

"Upon me, sir!" cried Tom; and Fred also turned to Garden in surprise.

"Perhaps upon you. We shall soon know if the tack I am on will bring us
safe into port."

"Your inspiration, Dick?" asked Fred, anxiously.

"My inspiration, Fred," said Garden, gravely. "If the tack is a wrong
one, we'll try another. Now, Tom, you have nothing to reproach yourself
with. You could do no less than speak the truth."

"I could, sir; I could have held my tongue."

"There is no possibility of your being mistaken in any part of the
evidence you gave?"

"Unluckily no, sir. I say so to you because you're Miss Phoebe's
friend; but if I had the opportunity now I'd swear the other way."

"Don't speak like that, Tom. What we want is to save Miss Farebrother
honestly and honourably: that is our first great object. The next is to
bring the murderers to justice. You were not in court during the whole
of the trial."

"No, sir. I was told when to go to give my evidence, and then I had to
go back to my duty."

"You were not aware, before you answered the questions as to the woman
you saw in the grounds at Parksides and the dress she wore, that other
witnesses were examined with respect to the colour of the dress Miss
Farebrother had on when she left her aunt's house?"

"No, sir, I knew nothing of it; and I wondered what they were driving
at."

"You swore to the colour--blue?"

"Yes, sir," replied poor Tom, hanging his head.

"You would swear to it again?"

Tom looked round helplessly.

"You would swear to it again?" repeated Garden.

"No, I wouldn't," said Tom savagely.

"You would, Tom, because it is the truth; and if I am on the right tack,
only the truth will serve us. Now, although you were not in court during
the whole of the trial, you read the report of it in the papers?"

"I did, sir."

"Clear your mind, Tom, and bend it on what I am about to ask you. In
reading the report of the trial, did anything particular strike you?"

"It was full of lies, sir."

"I am sure of that. But anything very special"--and here Garden's voice
trembled slightly, as though he were approaching a crucial test--"say as
to the colour of dresses? Think, Tom."

"No occasion to think, sir. What they said about Mrs. Pamflett's dresses
was a pack of lies from beginning to end."

"How is that, Tom?" asked Garden, rising and moving a step nearer to Tom
Barley.

"Why, sir, wasn't it said that Mrs. Pamflett hated blue dresses, and
never wore one."

"They did, Tom."

"Damned lies, sir! Why didn't they ask _me_ about that? I ought to know,
living at Parksides the years I did. I've seen her hundreds and hundreds
of times in a blue dress."

Garden caught Fred's hand. "You are ready to swear that?"

"Ready, sir? Yes; and it's the truth--by God!"

A look of triumph flashed into Garden's eyes, and his face was radiant.
"I'm on the right tack, Fred," he cried; "Miss Farebrother is saved!"

On the evening of that day Richard Garden and Fred Cornwall met Kiss by
appointment. The kind-hearted actor had news of vital importance to give
them. Mrs. Pamflett and Jeremiah were still at No. 12 Surrey Street and
had not stirred out the whole of the day.

"Adjoining the room they eat and drink in," said Kiss, "is a little
box-room, too small to let to any lodger, but large enough for lumber,
and that's the use it's put to by the landlady. Formerly it was part of
the room the two fiends have taken, but some time ago it was partitioned
off for boxes and that kind of thing. Consequently the wall that
separates it from the larger room is made of wood instead of brick. It
is a cupboard, nothing more, and anybody concealed there can hear what
is going on in the adjoining apartment. Sir, Mrs. Linton, provided with
sandwiches and cold tea, has been concealed in that cupboard nearly the
whole of the day unknown to the Pamfletts. The woman who stole the
diamond bracelet has been with them, and she heard all that passed. That
strange paragraph which is in all the evening papers about the bracelet
that was stolen being the genuine one, is true. Mrs. Linton heard the
woman swear to it. She wanted to know whether Jeremiah Pamflett had
possession of the bracelet. At first he denied that he had, but the
woman said he was telling a lie, and she did not intend to be done. They
almost got to high words, but the Pamfletts spoke in a low voice and
calmed the woman down; and upon her swearing that if they did not tell
her the truth she would go straight to the police-station and confess
the robbery and have them arrested, they confessed that they _had_ got
the bracelet, but had deposited it elsewhere for safety. 'That being
so,' said the woman, 'you must have stolen it from Miser Farebrother,
and the girl who has been found guilty of his murder is innocent. It was
_you_ who murdered him! You are in my power now, and if you don't pay me
well to hold my tongue I'll have the pair of you hanged!' For a little
while after that Mrs. Linton heard nothing more--only a murmur of
voices; but before she went away she heard the woman say, 'To-morrow
night, then, at ten o'clock; and mind you come with the bracelet and the
money ready. If you don't, your life is not worth an hour's purchase.'
That was all; when the woman was gone, Mrs. Pamflett and her son talked
in whispers, and not a word could Mrs. Linton catch. But I think she
heard enough."

"Quite enough," said Garden, "and you have rendered us an inestimable
service. What you have told us would almost justify our taking immediate
action against the monsters; but there is something else of great
importance to do within the next few hours. We will take them red-handed
to-morrow night, the two murderers and the thief who in the first
instance stole the bracelet. Then the case will be complete, and there
will be no escape for them. Now go back and keep watch upon their
movements. They must not be allowed to go anywhere without being
followed. If you have the slightest reason to fear that they will give
you the slip, lay hands upon them, collect a crowd, and give them in
charge."

"Upon what charge?" asked Kiss.

"Upon the charge of stealing the bracelet. If that will not do, say that
new evidence has come to light respecting the murder of Miser
Farebrother, which proves them to be implicated in it. Give the police
my card, and say I will attend at the police station at ten o'clock
to-morrow morning to prove my case. Meanwhile, you will, of course, let
me know that you have taken action. But the necessity will not arise:
the Pamfletts will not attempt to escape from the woman for the next
twenty-four hours; they are quite aware that sudden flittings from place
to place would be likely to draw attention upon them, and their chief
desire is to avoid observation and be left to themselves, in order that
in a little while they may disappear quietly from the country, taking
with them the bracelet and the money they must have stolen from Miser
Farebrother. If I were not thoroughly convinced of this I should set
aside a most important affair in connection with the evidence upon the
murder, and have the Pamfletts arrested immediately. My object is to
make the case against them so complete that they shall have no loop-hole
of escape. It will hasten the hour of Miss Farebrother's release,
instead of retarding it."

"You are a good general, Mr. Garden," said Kiss; "you put heart into
your soldiers. Your instructions shall be followed to the letter."

Half an hour afterward they were in Aunt Leth's house, and were shown
into the room in which that good woman and Fanny were sitting. Aunt
Leth started up at their entrance, but before she could speak, Garden
said,

"You received my letter?"

"Yes, and Fred's also, telling me to do everything you desired."

"Then you have everything prepared?"

"Yes, everything."

"Try to be calm, I beg of you, for your dear niece's sake."

"I will, I will. But it is all so strange--and I cannot understand--"

"Make no attempt to do so yet; very soon you will know all. You will be
ready to start with Fred at one o'clock?"

"Yes, I shall be ready."

"Wrap yourself up warm; the nights are chilly now. You may have some
time to wait, but you will not mind that. I want to be sure that you
will be there before us. Fred will show you exactly what you have to do,
and the time to do it. Sit down now and compose yourself. It would be
all the better if you could sleep for an hour or two before you start.
If you cannot sleep, you can rest; and remember that everything we are
doing is to save an innocent angel, to restore her to light and love."

"One word only," said the agitated woman: "you have hope?"

"Something more than hope," replied Garden, with a bright look; "almost
a certainty!"

"Oh, thank God!--thank God!" murmured Aunt Leth; and, sinking into a
chair, she covered her face with her hands, and, with tears gushing from
her eyes, prayed silently and fervently.

"Mr. Garden," said Fanny, stepping forward and taking his hand, "you
will save my dear cousin?"

"If it is in man's power to save her," said Garden, gazing earnestly at
her sweet, imploring face, "I will save her."

"It _is_ in your power, is it not? You believe it is in your power?"

"Yes, Miss Lethbridge; I firmly believe it."

All this time she had held his hand, and now she lowered her face to it;
and a thrill ran through Garden's frame as he felt the soft pressure of
her lips. Then Fanny turned and went to her mother's side, and folded
her in her arms.



CHAPTER XV.

A STRANGE EXPERIMENT.


At an hour past midnight Fred Cornwall called for Aunt Leth in a closed
carriage, drawn by a pair of smart horses. Aunt Leth, warmly enveloped
in a cloak which entirely covered her dress, was waiting for him.
Parting from her family with tears and kisses and blessings, she
accompanied Fred to the carriage, and they drove slowly off in the
direction of Parksides.

About a mile behind them, on the same road, trotted a horse attached to
a dog-cart. Garden was driving, and Tom Barley sat by his side. On the
back seat sat a groom.

"What I want you to do, Tom," said Garden, "is to go over the ground
exactly as you did on the night of the murder. Where you stopped then, I
want you to stop now; and it will be all the better if you can remember
the exact turns you took on that occasion."

"There's no fear, sir, of my not being able to remember. Day and night I
think of nothing else."

"And now tell me again what occurred on the night Miss Farebrother was
turned from her father's house, and you rode with her to London on that
scoundrel Pamflett's horse."

Engaged in conversation, they drove along until they heard the sound of
carriage-wheels in front of them; and presently, through the darkness,
they discerned the carriage.

"Hold the horse, Tom," said Garden. "That carriage seems to be going the
same road as we are, and I want to be certain that we are going right."

"We are going quite right, sir. I could take you blindfold, I believe."

"I dare say, Tom," said Garden, jumping down from the dog-cart; "but I
am a self-willed fellow, and I would not make a mistake to-night for all
the gold in the world. We have plenty of time, have we not?"

"Plenty, sir."

"Stop here, then. I will rejoin you presently."

He ran and called after the carriage; and the coachman, obeying
instructions from some one inside, pulled up. In a breathless state,
Garden presented himself at the carriage door.

"Are you all right and comfortable?" he gasped.

"Yes, Dick," replied Fred. "And you?"

"Everything is going on splendidly," said Garden. "A bright night, Mrs.
Lethbridge, isn't it?"

She pressed his hand in acquiescence, her voice failing her when she
tried to answer him. It was a singular opinion to have of a night so
dark that they could scarcely see a dozen yards before them.

"You must take care and not catch cold," said Garden. "Was Miss
Lethbridge well when you left her?"

Fred replied for Aunt Leth. "Yes, Dick; and she sent you the kindest of
messages."

"It was very good of her to think of me. But you don't mean to say you
saw her, Fred? She ought to have been asleep hours before."

"She is not going to bed to-night. Bob will remain up with her. Uncle
Leth will take a little rest on the sofa."

"Well, perhaps it is natural. I must get back to the dog-cart now, or
Tom Barley may be impatient. Drive on, coachman."

As Garden retraced his steps to the dog-cart he saw with his mind's eye
Fanny's pretty face looking up through her tears, and the smile upon his
lips was a proof that the vision was an agreeable one.

It was a little past four o'clock when the dog-cart drew up at the gates
of Parksides.

"Now, Tom," said Garden, as he and Tom Barley alighted, "take me over
the ground, and don't make the slightest mistake."

The strange task upon which they were engaged occupied them till
sunrise.

"Was the light when you saw the woman in the blue dress about the same
as it is now?" asked Garden.

"Yes, sir; only it was a little earlier in the morning. And I was
standing as near as possible on this very spot when I first saw her."

"I want to know the exact direction, Tom. We are facing those trees
yonder. Was it there?"

"Yes, sir; among those very trees."

"Be sure, Tom," said Garden, stepping two or three paces behind, and
taking a white handkerchief from his pocket. "Don't turn, Tom! You are
sure?"

"I am sure, sir," said Tom, looking straight before him.

Garden waved the white handkerchief high in the air, and the next moment
Tom uttered a loud cry, and darted forward. Garden ran swiftly after
him, and caught his arm.

"Why, what is the matter with you, Tom?"

"There! there!" cried Tom, struggling to release himself; but Garden
held him fast. Tom's voice trembled from excitement, and his face was
white. "I saw her this very minute."

"Saw whom?"

"The woman in the blue dress," cried Tom. "Let me go, sir! let me go!"

"You must be dreaming, Tom," said Garden, his heart beating high with
exultation. "Keep still, keep still! Remember you have promised to obey
me implicitly."

"I saw her, I tell you!" cried Tom, shaking all over, but ceasing to
struggle. "And now she has disappeared!"

"As she did on the night of the murder?"

"Yes, as she did then."

"But you saw her again?"

"Yes, I saw her again."

"But not in the same spot?"

"No," said Tom, turning in another direction. "This way."

He walked on fifty or sixty yards, and Garden, holding his arm more
lightly, accompanied him.

"Why do you stop, Tom?"

"Because I saw her in that clump the second time."

Garden took his hand from Tom's arm and stepped behind him. Again he
took his white handkerchief from his pocket.

"Are you quite sure you are not mistaken, Tom?"

"It isn't possible for me to be mistaken," said Tom. Garden once more
waved his handkerchief in the air. "There! there! There she is again!"

"All right!" shouted Garden, as though he were addressing some person in
the distance. Racing after Tom, he threw his arms around him.

"If you don't let me go," screamed Tom, "I shall do you a mischief!
There she is coming towards us!"

Slowly approaching them was a woman in a pink dress, holding her head
down.

"Now, Tom," whispered Garden. "It will be over in a moment or two. For
God's sake keep still, or you will ruin everything! Do you say that
dress is blue?"

"What trick are you playing me?" exclaimed Tom, in a hoarse, broken
voice. "Do you want to drive me mad? It _is_ blue, I tell you! I'll take
my dying oath on it!"

The woman was now very near to them. She raised her head, and Tom
started back in affright as he recognised the face of Aunt Leth.

"Tom," she said, holding out her hand.

But Tom, holding his hands out-stretched before him, shrank from her as
she advanced.

"Tom," said Garden, "you know Mrs. Lethbridge?"

"Yes," replied Tom, in the voice of a man who was utterly dazed, "I know
her."

"Would she knowingly deceive you? Would she, whose one great hope is
that of saving Miss Farebrother's life, knowingly tell you a lie?"

"No; she could not, she could not!"

"Mrs. Lethbridge," said Garden, "what is the colour of the dress you are
wearing?"

"Pink," said Aunt Leth, with wistful trembling.

"Pink!" muttered Tom. "Am I going mad?"

"And here is Mr. Cornwall," said Garden, as Fred joined them. "Fred,
what is the colour of the dress Mrs. Lethbridge has on?"

"Pink," said Fred.

"Mrs. Pamflett's favourite colour," said Garden. "The colour of the
dress she wore when you saw her here on the night of the murder."

"If you've got any pity in you, sir," implored Tom, "tell me what all
this means!"

"It means, Tom," answered Garden, "that Miss Farebrother is saved, and
her innocence proved. It means, Tom, that you are colour-blind. By the
mercy of God this has been discovered in time. See to Mrs. Lethbridge,
Fred; she is fainting!"



CHAPTER XVI.

JEREMIAH AND HIS MOTHER DISAPPEAR.


That was the busiest of days. There was so much for Richard Garden to do
that the wonder was how the young fellow got through it. There were
reports from Kiss and Linton to receive from time to time; interviews to
be held with the Home Secretary; interviews also with the judge and with
the lawyers for the prosecution; test examinations of Tom Barley by
experts in colour-blindness; excursions to Scotland Yard; and a thousand
matters to be attended to. Other persons were busy as well. There was
sunshine once more in Aunt Leth's house; the family were looking forward
with eager impatience to the joy of their dear girl's release; the room
which Phoebe shared with Fanny was made bright with flowers and
ribbons; every bit of furniture in the house was polished, every
saucepan lid scoured. Uncle Leth came home early from the bank, loaded
with delicacies for Phoebe. Yes; everything was for Phoebe. Clean
linen on every bed, a fire in every room, her own chair here in this
corner, on the table the books she loved, the piano open, with her
favourite songs ready, her desk looking like new, with fresh ink and
pens and paper--everywhere spiritual signs of love. "Oh mamma, mamma!"
sighed Fanny again and again, and, clasped in each other's arms, the
mother and daughter wept happy tears, and kissed and laughed, and then
broke into tears again. "But we must be patient, darling," said Aunt
Leth. "See what Fred says in this telegram--'It cannot be to-day. There
are formalities to be gone through. I have seen Phoebe. She knows
something, but not all. I feared that the shock would be too great. They
say in the prison that she is an angel. She sends you her dearest love.
I cannot come to you. Dick and I are very busy. God bless you all!' So
you see, Fanny, we _must_ be patient." Telegrams were flying to and fro
all the day. 'Melia Jane was wild with joy. "Tom may come now when he
likes," she said, "and I shall have a beautiful fortune to tell him."
But Tom did not come to the house, nor did he send a message, of even a
single word.

At eight o'clock in the evening Fred was alone in his rooms, waiting for
Kiss, who had arranged to come for him. In company with Linton and a
policeman in private clothes they were to follow Jeremiah and his mother
when those two left their lodgings to meet the woman who had stolen the
bracelet. They were not acquainted with the place of meeting, but it had
been settled that the Pamfletts should be stealthily followed, and that
steps should be taken to overhear what took place between them and the
woman, and that afterward the three should be arrested. Garden could not
form one of the party: he had too much to attend to.

It was destined, however, that this carefully-laid plan was not to be
carried out. Everything else had succeeded, but this part of the
programme of action was doomed to failure.

Kiss did not appear until half past eight, and when he entered the room
Fred divined from the distress depicted in his face that something had
gone wrong. His first words were:

"They have escaped us, Mr. Cornwall."

"Escaped you!" cried Fred, in great excitement.

"Yes. It is an unfortunate fact. I could beat my head against the wall.
Whether their suspicions were aroused, or whether they had previously
decided upon some course of action of which we were in ignorance, I
cannot say; but they have disappeared, and so mysteriously that we don't
know what to make of it."

"You, or one of you, saw them go, surely?"

"No, sir, we did not; and that is the strangest part of it. We all
thought they were in their rooms; nothing had been heard of them for
three or four hours, and we supposed they were asleep. At last Mrs.
Linton came down from her cupboard, and said she did not know what to
think of it, but it really seemed to her as if their rooms must be
empty. Upon this the landlady said she would go up and ask them whether
they required anything, and she did so; a minute afterward she called to
us to come up, and we went. Their rooms _were_ empty; the fiends had
disappeared; and that they were gone for good was proved by their having
taken certain things with them which, if they had only gone on an
errand, they need not have touched."

"Perhaps they will come back," said Fred.

"Not they, sir," said Kiss, shaking his head. "They are a cunning pair,
and they know what they are about. They have thrown us off the scent,
Mr. Cornwall; there's no doubt in my mind about that."

Fred considered a moment. "You have the address of the woman they were
to meet?"

"Yes, Mr. Cornwall."

"Give it to me. I will rattle there in a cab, and if I cannot learn
anything about her, I will join you at No. 12."

"You will find it difficult to obtain any information of her, sir."

"Money will accomplish anything. I shall find out what I want to know."

Promising the cabman double fare if he drove at his fastest pace, Fred,
in less than half an hour, arrived at the woman's lodgings. The
landlady, as Kiss had foreseen, was disinclined to speak of her lodger,
but a tip of half a sovereign and the promise of another loosened her
tongue.

"I don't see, after all," said the landlady, "why I shouldn't oblige
you. She has left the rooms, and is not coming back."

Then she related how the woman had gone away in an open manner, saying
that she was about to leave England, and did not intend to return. She
was not going abroad alone; some friends were going with her. That was
all.

"Can you tell me her name?" asked Fred.

The landlady replied that she did not know it.

That was the extent of the information Fred could obtain; and there was
nothing for it but to go back to Surrey Street and ascertain whether
anything had been heard of the Pamfletts. Nothing had been heard, and
none of the neighbours could enlighten them. It was evident that they
must have taken the greatest pains to get out of the neighbourhood
unobserved.

When Garden was informed of what had taken place he was inexpressibly
annoyed. It happened that Tom Barley was with him when Fred was giving
an account of the occurrence.

"Ah, well," said Garden, presently, "we must make the best of it. We
must put the police on their guard immediately. The night trains to the
Continent must be watched, and to-morrow we will offer a reward for
their apprehension. I may manage to get an advertisement in some of the
papers to-night. I have seen Mr. Quinlan, the wealthy owner of the
stolen bracelet, and he has admitted that it was the genuine one which
was stolen. He said he told the story to the police and the reporters in
order that he should not be annoyed. 'I am rich enough to be able to
afford such a loss,' he said. Wish we were--eh, Fred? I doubt whether I
should have succeeded in prevailing upon him to let me pursue the case
had I not informed him that in connection with it was a diabolical
murder, for which an innocent girl had been condemned to death. 'The man
who has the bracelet,' I said, 'is the man who committed the murder, and
he and another laid an infernal plot to bring a beautiful girl to a
shameful end.' This excited him, and he has given me _carte blanche_ as
to the expenses. So to-morrow we will offer a reward of five hundred
pounds for the apprehension of Jeremiah Pamflett and his mother. It is
good to know that their disappearance will not retard Miss Farebrother's
release; everything is in training for that happy event. Ill as I can
afford it, I would give something out of my own pocket to know what
takes place to-night between the murderers and thieves."

To some extent, the late editions of the newspapers on the following day
supplied him and the country with the intelligence he desired to obtain:

     "THE MURDER OF MISER FAREBROTHER.--THE MYSTERY OF THE DIAMOND
     BRACELET.--STRANGE REVELATIONS.

"The painful interest excited in the public mind by the trial of Miss
Farebrother for the murder of her father, Miser Farebrother--a crime of
which, in the teeth of the verdict, the young lady is now incontestably
proved to be innocent--will be revived by the account we now publish of
an outrage which took place last night, in an untenanted timber-yard
near Nine Elms.

"These premises have been unoccupied for some considerable time. They
are of large extent, and out of the way of regular traffic. Early this
morning, just before sunrise, the policeman on the beat, passing the
timber-yard, heard a sound as of a person moaning within. Entrance to
the yard is obtained through a pair of wooden gates, which are in a very
dilapidated condition, being practically off their hinges. Indeed, by
persons of the neighbourhood they are regarded as unsafe, and as likely
soon to fall to pieces. The policeman, passing through these gates and
going some distance into the yard--his course being guided by the faint
moaning which had first arrested his attention--saw before him a woman
in a frightful state. She was bleeding from a deep wound at the back of
her neck, which must have been inflicted some hours previously, and was
not sufficiently sensible to understand or reply to the questions
addressed to her. Without delay the policeman procured assistance, and
the woman was conveyed to St. Thomas's Hospital, where she was examined
by the surgeon, who pronounced the wound she had received fatal, giving
it as his opinion that she could not live twenty-four hours. Her
pockets, which bore the appearance of having been rifled, contained
nothing which afforded a clue to her name or address, nor were her
clothes marked in a way which would lead to her identification. At ten
o'clock this morning the woman recovered consciousness, and being made
sensible that death was approaching, requested the presence of a
magistrate, to whom she made her dying deposition, which we give here
word for word:

"'My name is Maria Baily. I was in the employ of a wealthy lady, Mrs.
Quinlan. I was acquainted with a man who called himself Captain
Ablewhite, but that is not his right name, and I don't know what is. He
promised to marry me, and he prevailed upon me to steal a diamond
bracelet of great value. It was worth forty or fifty thousand pounds.
What I did with the bracelet after I took it from the jewel-safe of my
mistress has been described in all the papers. We were stopping at the
Langham Hotel. A man was waiting outside on the night I stole it, and I
went and gave it to him, and then I ran away from my service to a room
Captain Ablewhite had taken for me in Leman Street, Whitechapel. Captain
Ablewhite told me that the man to whom I gave the bracelet was named
Jeremiah Pamflett, and that his master, a rich money-lender, Miser
Farebrother, was going to lend money on it. Three days after I stole the
bracelet Captain Ablewhite took me away to Germany, and I remained with
him some time.

"'He told me that Jeremiah Pamflett had cheated him; that he had
promised to get four thousand pounds from Miser Farebrother for the
bracelet, and that Jeremiah Pamflett had given him only two hundred.
When the account was put into the newspapers that the bracelet I had
stolen was of no value, and that the stones in it were false, Captain
Ablewhite said it was not true, and that the bracelet I had given to
Jeremiah Pamflett was the real one. Then Captain Ablewhite quarrelled
with me, and deserted me. Not knowing what to do, I returned to London
and found out Jeremiah Pamflett. I thought it would have been difficult
to find him, but it was very easy, because his master had been murdered,
and there was a great trial just over, in which Miser Farebrother's
daughter had been found guilty of the murder of her father. Jeremiah
Pamflett tried to escape from me; but I would not let him, and the end
of it was that he confessed he had the bracelet in his possession; and
he proposed that he, his mother, and I should all go away together to
America, where he would be able to sell the diamonds, and where,
changing our names, we could live in safety. We were to meet last night
at Nine Elms, and he and his mother were there when I arrived. So that
we could talk together undisturbed, he took me to the place in which I
was discovered, and there we had a quarrel. He wanted to give me ten
pounds only, and said that he would send me more after he got safely
away. I was in a great passion, and I asked him if Miser Farebrother had
given him four thousand pounds for the bracelet--which money he said he
had given to Captain Ablewhite--how it was that it was now in his
possession. He said that was his business; and then we got to higher
words, and I accused him of murdering Miser Farebrother so that he might
rob him. Then Jeremiah Pamflett said: "Do you want to know the truth? I
did kill him; and that is how I got the bracelet back again. But you
shall not live to tell anybody else. I will kill you as I killed the
miser!" As he said that, he plunged a knife into me, and I fell to the
ground. The last words I heard were what his mother said: "She is dead;
you have killed her. Let us get away as quick as possible." I do not
remember anything more. I know I am dying. And I swear to God that I
have told nothing but the truth!'

"Maria Baily signed this deposition, and then almost immediately became
unconscious. The latest reports are to the effect that she cannot live
through the night.

"Thus, in a strange and providential manner, a frightful injustice has
been averted. It is singular that on the very day on which Jeremiah
Pamflett committed this second murder, other evidence was obtained of
the innocence of the young lady who, by an error of justice, was
pronounced guilty of the murder of her father. The strongest evidence
against the unfortunate and cruelly-wronged lady was supplied by a
friend who had a deep affection for her. We refer to the evidence of Tom
Barley, a policeman, who swore that he saw in the grounds of Parksides,
at the time of the murder of the miser, a woman in a blue dress. Such a
dress did Miss Farebrother wear when she went from her aunt's house in
London, with the intention of asking her father for some assistance by
which her aunt's family could be extricated from a temporary difficulty.
It is now proved that Tom Barley is colour-blind, and that the woman he
really saw had on a pink dress, such as Mrs. Pamflett, Jeremiah
Pamflett's mother, wore on that occasion. This strange discovery opens
up a fruitful field of speculation. Other evidence is also forthcoming
which indubitably establishes Miss Farebrother's innocence.

"There is now no reason to doubt that the story related by Mrs. Pamflett
of the events of the night on which Miser Farebrother met his death was
from first to last a cunningly invented fabrication. Part of this
evidence is supplied by a gentleman who has been absent from England on
business, and who testifies that Jeremiah Pamflett did not return to
Miser Farebrother's London office until seven o'clock of the morning of
the murder. It will be remembered that Jeremiah Pamflett swore that he
returned at eleven o'clock on the previous night. He and his mother are
at large: they could scarcely have had time and opportunity to effect
their escape, as a watch was kept upon all the outgoing trains to the
Continent last night. The police are on the alert, and it is to be
hoped, in the interests of justice, that the criminals will soon be
arrested and put upon their trial for their diabolical crimes."



CHAPTER XVII.

CHIEFLY CONCERNING FANNY.


Of all Phoebe's friends and well-wishers there was only one who did
not openly share in the joy occasioned by her release. Congratulations
poured in from all sides, even from strangers at a distance, whose
letters of sympathy were delivered by smiling postmen at Aunt Leth's
house at least half a dozen times a day. Phoebe's escape from her
dread peril was, indeed, universally hailed with thankfulness and
gratitude. Everybody was glad; the newspapers found in it a fruitful
theme for grave disquisition; and Phoebe became a heroine in the best
and sweetest sense of the term. As for Uncle Leth's day-dreams, as he
walked to his bank in the morning and home from his day's labours in the
evening, imagination could not excel them in delightfulness. Sunshine
reigned in his home and in the hearts of all he loved.

The one friend who held aloof was Tom Barley. No person was more
profoundly grateful than he at the proclamation of Phoebe's innocence;
but he contracted a horror of himself as being the principal cause of
his dear young mistress's sufferings. All appeals to him to soften this
hard judgment were vain; he would scarcely listen to them, and when,
against his will, he was compelled to do so, they had no effect upon
him.

"It ain't a bit of good speaking to me," he said, moodily; "I don't
deserve to live. And I shouldn't care to but for one thing."

That one thing was a fierce burning desire to bring Jeremiah Pamflett
and his wicked mother to justice. For, strange to say, all the vigilance
of the police had proved fruitless; the wretches were still at liberty,
and not the slightest clue to their hiding-place had been discovered. A
month had passed since Phoebe's release, and they had successfully
evaded pursuit. It was believed by some that they had escaped from the
country; but Tom Barley held a different opinion. He was still in the
force--a capable, faithful public servant, zealous and judicious in the
performance of his duties, and regarded with esteem by his superiors;
but a blight had fallen upon his life--a blight which he felt would not
be removed until, through him, and through him alone, justice was
satisfied. This idea grew into a kind of disease in him. It seemed as if
he could exist without sleep. When not on duty he was indefatigable in
hunting up clues, in making secret inquiries, in keeping watch in
out-of-the-way places for the monsters of iniquity at whose door a
double murder lay. He took no person into his confidence; he would
accept no assistance; and he devoted every spare minute to the design
upon which he had set his heart. His friends did not relinquish their
efforts to woo him to a more peaceful and better frame of mind.
Accompanied by Fred Cornwall, Phoebe went to him, and begged him not
to torment himself with self-reproach. He listened to her in silence,
with head bent down.

"Will you not speak to me, Tom?" she asked, imploringly.

"What can I say?" was his humble response. "How can I hope that you will
ever forgive me?"

"But there is nothing to forgive, Tom," she said, sweetly, holding out
her hand.

"It is like you to say so," he replied, "and it makes it all the worse
for me."

"I never knew you to be unkind to me before, Tom," she said.

He turned away from her, and would not accept her hand. Fred Cornwall
followed him, and said,

"You should not make her suffer, Tom; you are inflicting great pain upon
the sweetest lady in the world."

"She is that, sir," said Tom, "and more. If I could die at her feet to
save her a minute's pain I'd be glad to do it. Look here, sir; when I
bring two devils to justice I'll ask her to forgive me; but not till
then!"

'Melia Jane tried her arts upon him, and even waylaid him one night in a
quiet corner, with a pack of cards in her hands, with which she begged
to be allowed to tell his fortune; but he was adamant. Nevertheless, his
friends would not desert him.

"He is too good a fellow to be lost sight of," said Fred Cornwall;
"we'll win him back to us yet."

There was a bright future before Fred and his dear girl. Miser
Farebrother had died without a will, and Phoebe came into possession
of the property he left behind him. Investigation proved that it had
been tampered with by Jeremiah Pamflett, but a competence was saved from
the wreck. The greatest happiness Phoebe derived from this was that it
enabled her to assist Aunt and Uncle Leth out of their difficulties.
Happy were the evenings spent in the old home in Camden Town. Affairs
were prospering with Fred Cornwall in the exercise of his profession.
Events had brought his name into prominence, and briefs were flowing in.
In a great measure he had Dick Garden to thank for this better turn in
his fortunes. This astute young fellow would not take all the credit to
himself of setting justice right; he made it public that it was due
equally to his friend Fred, and both of them were on the high-road to
fame. Fred seldom made his appearance in Aunt Leth's house without Dick,
who seemed to find therein some great attraction. The strange and solemn
experiences of the last few weeks had made Fanny Lethbridge quieter and
less lively than of old; but occasionally flashes of her pleasant,
saucy humour peeped out, to the delight of all, and especially to the
delight of Dick Garden, who generally contrived to obtain a seat next to
her. It was too soon for teasing to commence, else Bob, who was
suspected of having a second or third love affair on hand, might have
ventured retaliation upon his sister, and, judging from what was
stirring in Fanny's heart, he would assuredly have had the best of it.
For the present, however, she was spared; the spirit of tender, grateful
love which reigned in the happy home was too profound even for innocent
jest. Doubtless, however, the time would come when the merry equilibrium
would be restored.

"Fred," said Dick Garden, as they were walking home one night from the
Lethbridges', "when are you and Miss Farebrother going to get married?"

"Not settled yet," replied Fred; "nothing said about it. We must let
some nine or ten months pass, I suppose."

"About this time next year, perhaps?"

"Yes; or a little earlier if I can bring it about. Thinking of anything
particular, Dick?"

"Yes, old fellow."

"In connection with our wedding?"

"Well--partly."

"With weddings generally, then?"

"Not generally, Fred, specifically. Of course a fellow doesn't know
anything yet."

"Of course not," said Fred, smiling. "Shall I guess a name?"

"Try."

"Fanny?"

"Yes, Fanny," said Dick Garden, and then there was a little pause.
"Fred, you have known them a long time?"

"I have."

"Good people?"

"The best, the sweetest, the most faithful and devoted. Would to Heaven
the world was filled with such!"

"I am with you there. But what I want to ask you is about Miss
Lethbridge."

"Fanny? Yes."

"I don't wish you to betray family secrets, old fellow; but she is such
a lovely girl--"

"She is."

"With so beautiful a nature that she could not fail to have
attracted--you know what I mean, Fred; I am putting it rather lamely."

"An attachment?"

"Yes; but _you_ put it somewhat coarsely."

"Didn't mean to, Dick. Quite right that you should be sensitive.
Attracted? Rather! A dozen at least have sighed for her, and sighed in
vain."

"Why?"

"Not the right ones, Dick. If there is one quality above another which
distinguishes Fanny it is genuineness. A more genuine girl doesn't
breathe. Dick, to be admitted upon terms of intimacy with that family is
a privilege."

"I esteem it such. Not the right ones, Fred? Of course that must be the
reason."

"It is. Where she gives her hand she will give her heart. They go
together--both or none."

"Do you think--that is, have you any sort of idea--that she has met the
right one at last?"

"Seriously, Dick? In perfect faith and honour?"

"Seriously, Fred. In perfect faith and honour."

"Dick, old boy," said Fred, earnestly, "I _have_ a sort of idea that she
has."

"You are a shrewd fellow, Fred--you have a trick of observation. You
know what I mean?"

"I do, Dick."

"Well, then, good luck to us!"

The month was November; a fog was gathering; a light mist was
dissolving, and falling cold and chill; but Dick Garden was glowing from
within. As he was buttoning his coat a man brushed past them, and Fred
caught a glimpse of his face.

"A moment, Dick," he said, hurriedly, "that is Tom Barley. I must have a
word with him."

He hastened after Tom, and accosted him.

"It _is_ you, Tom. Have you any news?"

"None, sir--that is, none that I can speak of. Don't stop me, please; I
haven't a minute to spare." These words came straggling from Tom's lips,
and in his anxiety he seemed to be hardly aware of what he was saying.

"Am I mistaken in the idea that you have heard something?" asked Fred.

"No, sir, you are not mistaken. I am on their track."

"As you have been before, Tom?"

"That's true, sir," said Tom, with a sigh; "as I have been before."

"Can I assist you?"

"No, sir; nor any one. What I do I'll do single-handed." He wrenched
himself free. "Good-night, sir."

"Only another word, Tom. Have you any message for Miss Phoebe? She
told me, if I met you, to give you her love."

"Did she, sir? She's an angel of goodness. Any message, sir? Yes,
this--if I don't live to accomplish what I've set my life upon, if I
don't live to ask her forgiveness myself, to think of me kindly
sometimes as a man who would gladly have died for her!"

He darted away, and was lost in the mist. Fred gazed thoughtfully after
him, and then he rejoined Garden.

"There goes an honest, suffering man," he said; "thorough to the
backbone. He has inflicted a martyrdom upon himself, and is following a
will-o'-the-wisp."

But the events of the next few hours were destined to prove that Fred
Cornwall was in error.



CHAPTER XVIII.

A LIFE-AND-DEATH STRUGGLE.


It was an hour past midnight, and the fog had deepened so that a man
could scarcely see a yard before him. On the North Finchley Road it lay
particularly thick, and the sky and surrounding space seemed to be
blotted out--as they certainly were from two wayfarers who plodded their
way slowly onward through the darkness. They were a man and a woman,
who, although they were wrapped in gloom, cast apprehensive glances on
all sides, and frequently stopped to listen for sounds of footsteps.

"Jeremiah, my love," said the woman, shivering, "why did you insist upon
our leaving our nice warm quarters on such a night? It will be the death
of me."

"_I'll_ be the death of you," growled the man, "if you call me by my
name! Mind that, you old fool!"

"Don't speak to me so hard!" implored the woman; "no one can hear us.
The night ain't fit for a dog to be out in it."

"That's the reason we're out in it," said Jeremiah, with a curse. "Hold
your row, if you don't want me to do you a mischief!"

"Oh!" murmured Mrs. Pamflett, "that you should say such things to me
after all I've done for you!"

"After all you've done for me! Yes, you _have_ done for me! If it hadn't
been for you dragging at my heels I should have been out of this
infernal scrape weeks ago. You're a nice mother, you are! What's the use
of such as you, I'd like to know?"

They were so well disguised that it would have been difficult even for
those best acquainted with them to identify them; hence Jeremiah's
caution to his mother as to being careful with her speech was not
unnecessary. Nevertheless, he presently spoke again, either because he
deemed that the darkness by which they were surrounded afforded them
sufficient security or because he dreaded the terrors of silence.

"Why did I insist upon our leaving our nice warm quarters? You want me
to tell you that, do you?"

"Yes," she whined. "We were safe there--we were safe there!"

"We were not! Had we remained we should have been nabbed by this time,
and then what chance would have been left for us? The landlord warned
me; he told me we were being hunted down, and that there was danger in
our keeping in our hiding-place another night."

"Who has hunted us down--who, my love?"

"Yah! keep your love to yourself; I'm sick of it. Who? Ah, I should like
to know, and have him here! There'd be no more hunting down for him, I
promise!"

"The landlord was frightened; he wanted to get rid of us."

"Frightened? Perhaps he was; but he would not have been in a hurry to
get rid of such good customers without good cause. He's had a matter of
a hundred pounds already out of me, and he knew I had enough left to go
on with a pretty long time yet. But I kept the diamond bracelet from
him, with all his cunning. He wormed and wormed, but he never got out
of me that I had it safe about me. I was his match there. Let's have a
look at it, mother. It does one's heart good. It's the only thing that
keeps me up."

He crouched down by the side of the hedge and drew forth a dark lantern,
which he lighted. Then he rose, and looked about him, projecting the
light into dark spaces around to make sure that no person was near. He
saw nothing, heard nothing. Down he crouched again, and from an inner
pocket pulled out a jewel-case, which he opened.

"Look at them, mother--how they glitter and shine! Ah, you beauties,
there's nothing false about you! If we were safe in a foreign country,
or in America--I prefer America, mother; looking for us there would be
like looking for a needle in a bottle of hay--if we were safe there,
with this in our pockets, we could live a long life of pleasure and
comfort. I should know how to dispose of the stones one by one,
secretly, secretly! It's the land for diamonds. Then I could have my
fling."

Neither of the pair saw or had any suspicion of the shadow that was
creeping through thicker shadows than itself, closer, closer, closer.
Neither of them saw, or had any suspicion of, the hand of doom coming
nearer, nearer, nearer, to strike terror to their guilty souls.

"Here, take a pull at this, mother," said Jeremiah, handing her a
bottle.

"It warms me, it warms me!" murmured Mrs. Pamflett.

"Don't empty the bottle," cried Jeremiah, snatching it from her. "You're
a selfish cat!"

"What did the landlord tell you, Jeremiah, about our being hunted down?"

"There's been a man making inquiries about the lodgers, and offering
money to find out things. He didn't know who he was, but it looked
suspicious, and we were safer out of the house than in it. Take another
look at the beauties, mother, before I put them away."

Closer, closer, closer crept the shadow. Closer, closer, closer came the
hand of doom.

"Do you think we _shall_ get safe away?" whispered Mrs. Pamflett, as
Jeremiah crouched, gloating over the diamonds.

"Do I think it?--I'm sure of it! The police have been too long off the
scent for them to get on to it again. All we've got to do is to be
cunning, cunning--"

"Jeremiah!" screamed Mrs. Pamflett.

The shadow loomed over them, fell upon them, and seized them and the
diamond bracelet. In a moment Jeremiah had wrested it back again, and
three human beings were engaged in a deadly struggle.

"I arrest you," cried Tom Barley, "for the murder of Miser Farebrother
and Maria Baily!"

The contest was unequal. Strong as Tom Barley was, Jeremiah and his
mother had the strength of desperation, and they succeeded in flinging
him off. But he fell on them again, and his cries for help rang loud
through the night.

"It's you, Tom Barley, is it?" muttered Jeremiah, as the struggle was
proceeding. "It's you that's been hunting us down, is it?"

"Yes, it's me," said Tom Barley, getting his mouth free--Mrs. Pamflett
was endeavouring to stifle his cries with her hand--"and as God is your
judge you're as good as dead!"

"Hold on to him, mother, a moment," said Jeremiah; "fix your teeth in
him! Say your prayers, Tom Barley; it's you that's as good as dead!"

"Ah!" screamed Tom, and he dropped.

Jeremiah had succeeded in plucking a knife from his pocket, and, opening
it, had plunged it into Tom. He had aimed at the honest fellow's heart,
but he had missed, and the knife had gone through the upper part of the
right arm, cutting it cruelly to the bone. It was this that had caused
Tom to let go his hold upon them. They took advantage of the release,
and fled through the darkness. But in a moment Tom was on his feet
again, and pursuing them, the blood flowing fast from the wound. He did
not feel the pain of it; all that he bemoaned was that his arm was
useless and that his voice was growing weak. Before fifty yards were
traversed he had seized them again.

"Curse it!" cried Jeremiah, "I have lost my knife."

"That's my luck," muttered Tom, clinging to them.

"Help! help!"

They beat him frightfully about the head, and he flung it feebly this
way and that in the endeavour to escape the cruel blows; but he did not
loose his hold of them again. In the blind and dreadful struggle they
stumbled wildly about, and suddenly they fell crashing down over an
embankment. And still Tom Barley, feeling now that life was ebbing from
him, held desperately on to them, and still his cries floated on the
air. To the frightful sounds of this contest another was added the
moment they reached the bottom of the embankment. They had fallen upon a
railway track, and a train was approaching. Two huge fierce eyes glared
luridly in the fog. Tom's voice grew fainter and fainter, but he never
relaxed his hold of the murderers.

"Help! help! help! I have caught the murderers! Help! help! help!"

The clatter of the approaching train almost, but not quite, drowned his
appeals. They fell vaguely upon the ears of the engine-driver, and he
instantly slackened steam. But the huge lurid eyes were now very close
upon the struggling forms.

"Damn you!" screamed Jeremiah, "will you let go?"

"No," said Tom, through his clenched teeth, "not till I'm dead! And then
I won't!"

"Then there's an end of you!" cried Jeremiah, and by a determined and
powerful effort he succeeded in throwing the lower portion of Tom's body
across the rails. Fortunately Tom's head was off the line, and his left
arm was wound tightly round Jeremiah's neck. The train passed over Tom's
foot, and cut it clean away, but Tom, although he had swooned, held on
like grim death, and did not even feel Jeremiah's teeth fixed in his
arm. In this position they were found a moment or two afterward, when
the train was stopped, and it was with great difficulty that the
engine-driver and passengers could part him who lived from him who
looked like dead.

The news ran through the length and breadth of the kingdom the next
morning, and telegraph wires flashed it all over the world. Tom Barley
did not wake to find himself famous, for the reason that for several
weeks he was in delirium, and very, very near to death. But none the
less was he made famous and dubbed a hero of heroes for the wondrous
battle he had fought. Newspapers and magazines sang his praises, and
poets deified him. The days of Homer died not in Homer's verse. We have
as glorious heroes to-day as have been handed down, immortalized from
those by-gone times. We have hearts as valiant, and souls as noble, and
love as sweet and pure, in this age which is dubbed commercial and
prosaic; and though Tom Barley has a wooden leg, he is worthy to shake
hands with Achilles. No such desire possesses him, or possessed him,
when he saw Phoebe sitting by his bedside in the hospital.

"You are getting strong again, Tom?"

"Yes, Miss Phoebe; thank God! Is everybody well?"

"Everybody, Tom."

"Your aunt and uncle, and Miss Fanny and Master Robert?"

"They are all well, Tom. They send their love, and will come and see you
when they are allowed."

"They are very good. And Mr. Cornwall, Miss Phoebe--he is well, I
hope?"

"Quite well, Tom. He is below, waiting for me."

"I am glad to hear it, Miss Phoebe. But perhaps I am making a
mistake."

"In what, Tom?"

"In calling you Miss Phoebe."

"No, Tom." She held up her left hand.

"If I dared to ask a favour?"

"You may dare to ask anything, Tom."

"That I may be allowed to come to the wedding?"

"Indeed, Tom, I think that is what we are waiting for. We could not be
happy without you."

"I can't thank you now, Miss Phoebe," said Tom, tears gathering in his
eyes. "I will when I'm stronger. There is another thing."

"Yes, Tom?"

"Say that you forgive me!"

"Ah, Tom!"

"It will make me happy, Miss Phoebe."

"Only because you have that foolish idea in your head--Tom, I forgive
you!"

She stooped and kissed him, as she had kissed him on the morning he
brought her from Parksides and gave her into the care of her good Aunt
Leth.

"I am truly grateful," murmured Tom, in a choking voice, as he turned
his face to the wall.



CHAPTER XIX.

OFF FOR THE HONEY-MOON.


"Welcome the coming, speed the parting, guest." Therefore shall our last
chapter be short.

In the autumn of the following year a quiet wedding-party assembled
after church in Aunt Leth's house. To be exact, it was a double
wedding-party--Phoebe and Fred, Fanny and Dick. It was a gathering of
friends, some of whom have played their parts in this story, and whom, I
hope, we have grown to love. The Lethbridge family, of course--I cannot
stop to relate the wonderful day-dream Uncle Leth had on that
morning--and Mr. and Mrs. Linton and Kiss, and 'Melia Jane and Tom
Barley; those were the principal ones. There were also connections of
Fred Cornwall and Dick Garden, all amiable, pleasant persons, if one
could judge from their faces. Tom Barley had just whispered something to
'Melia Jane, and her answer was,

"Lor', Tom; I'm ashamed to think of it!"

"Then you won't," whispered Tom.

"Yes, I will," replied 'Melia Jane, very quickly. "It was the way the
fortune came out last night. But to think of it, Tom! to think of it!"

And to the surprise of all, not one of whom had heard a word of what had
passed, 'Melia Jane threw her apron over her head, where it hung down
like a bridal veil. She had put on the apron when she came from the
church into the house, to wait upon the company. It was a smarter apron
than usual, and she was proud of it; and, as you see, she put it to good
use--to hide her blushes.

The two young couples will set up house-keeping on the day they return
from their honey-moon tour. The houses are taken, and Aunt Leth will be
very busy while they are away setting everything in order for her dear
ones. Tom Barley will live with Phoebe and Fred as gardener--that is,
unless he and 'Melia Jane decide to set up a separate establishment of
their own. Tom is in a position to do this. He has received the five
hundred pounds offered as a reward for the recovery of the diamond
bracelet, and at least another five hundred subscribed by an admiring
public for his gallant conduct.

"How do you do, Mrs. Cornwall?" whispered Fanny to Phoebe.

"How do you do, Mrs. Garden?" whispered Phoebe to Fanny.

Then they stepped aside and kissed and embraced, with faces like an
April day--one of the brightest and most beautiful of April days.

Their last kisses, their last embraces, are for Aunt Leth. She stands at
the door gazing after the carriages with sweet and wistful eyes. And so
the young people commence their happy wedded life.


THE END


    PRINTED BY
    KELLY AND CO, GATE STREET, LINCOLN'S INN FIELDS, W.C.;
    AND MIDDLE MILL, KINGSTON-ON-THAMES,





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