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´╗┐Title: Sawn Off - A Tale of a Family Tree
Author: Fenn, George Manville, 1831-1909
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 "Sawn Off - A Tale of a Family Tree" ***

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Sawn Off
A Tale of a Family Tree
By George Manville Fenn
Published by Henry and Co, London.
This edition dated 1891.

Sawn Off, by George Manville Fenn.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________
SAWN OFF, BY GEORGE MANVILLE FENN.

VOLUME ONE, CHAPTER ONE.

NABOTH AND HIS VINEYARD.

"Well, I'm--"

"Papa!"

"Hi! don't, Very.  Let me breathe," cried Doctor Salado, removing a very
pretty little hand from over his mouth, and kissing the owner, as pretty
a little girl as ever stepped; though just then her pretty creamy face
was puckered into the most lovable of dimples, and there was trouble in
her great dark eyes, over which were lashes and brows as black as the
great clusters and waves of luxuriant hair.

"You shall not."

"I was only going to say `blessed.'"

"You were not, papa.  You were going to use that dreadful word again."

"So I was, Very, and enough to make me," said the Doctor, passing his
hand over his high bold forehead and crown.  "Why, it completely cuts
off our view of the park and the manor-house at the end of the beautiful
vista of oaks."

"Never mind, dear; we'll take to the drawing-room, and look out at the
back at the grand old pines."

"Well, upon my soul," said the Doctor again.  "Of all the malicious bits
of impudence!  They must have been at it all night."

"Yes, papa; I heard them knocking, and I could not sleep."

"Hang me if I don't take an axe and cut the old thing down," cried the
Doctor again, as he stood gazing out of his breakfast-room window at
where--just across the road, and exactly opposite his delightful little
cottage--half a dozen carpenters and labourers were rapidly completing a
great range of hoarding fifty feet long and full twenty high.

"You mustn't, papa.  We are not in South America now."

"No.  I wish it was.  But--Well, that beats all!  Well, I _am_--Very, my
pet, let me swear once.  I shall feel so much better then."

"You shall not, papa.  But what a shame!"

"Worse than that, my darling.  It's all a confounded planned insult, got
up by my lord and that sneaking scoundrel of an agent," he continued, as
he watched a bill-sticker busy at work pasting placards on the new raw
deal boards just nailed on the rough pine poles.  "Selling off, etc.  To
be sold by auction," read the Doctor, "Guy Bunting's boots."

"Oh! is this a land of liberty, where one is to be insulted like this,
and not even allowed the British prerogative of a good honest--"

Veronica's lips were pressed upon the speaker's lips, as near as they
could get for the crisp, grey, shaggy hair of an enormous moustache, and
said,--

"You shall not say it, papa; and you are too proud and dignified to
notice such contemptible treatment.  Now come and have your breakfast.
The cutlets are getting cold."

"Then Teddington Weir him!" said the Doctor.

"What do you mean, dear?"

"Never mind.  Hah!  I am hungry.  But look here, Pussy--more sugar,
please--and milk.  It's all your fault."

"It is not, papa," said Veronica, colouring a little.  "It was through
your buying this cottage."

"Well, how was I to know he wanted it?  Suppose the grounds do run like
a wedge into the estate.  Hang the blackguardly Ahab!  Can't a poor
miserable Naboth like myself have his own vineyard without his wanting
it for a garden of herbs?  Bitter herbs I'll make them for him!"

"No, you will not, papa."

"Yes, I will, tyrant.  The next thing will be his confounded Jezebel of
a wife setting him to--"

"Papa!  I cannot sit here and listen to you," cried Veronica, flushing
deeply now.  "Lady Pinemount is a sweet, lovable woman."

"How do you know?"

"Everybody says so."

"Including her son?"

"Papa dear!" cried the girl, with her eyes filling with tears.

"There, my dear, I don't want to hurt your feelings; but the old man
will never consent to it, and I'm going to forbid Mr Rolleston the
house."

Veronica was silent, but such a look of hopeless misery came into her
face that the Doctor got up from his chair and went and knelt on one
knee by his child's chair, drawing her beautiful head down on his
shoulder and softly stroking her cheek.

"And you--after turning up this pretty little nose at all the gallant
young Spanish dons and settlers about the Pampas--to come and strike
your colours like this, Very!  I say, are you so very fond of him?"

"I--I think so, papa; I can't help it."

"Humph!  But he's an Englishman born and bred, and you're half a
Spaniard, Very."

"But you are an Englishman, papa."

"I suppose so.  But thirty years in South America seem to have altered
me.  Yah! hammer away.  What a blackguardly trick of his father!"

"Don't talk about it, papa.  Mr Rolleston said Lord Pinemount was
furious with his steward for not bidding higher and buying this estate."

"More fool he!  I'd have bid his head off.  He'd never have got it."

"And he was very angry, too, because you refused his offer afterwards to
take it off your hands."

"I don't care for his anger.  I came over to England to end my days in
peace.  I bought the Sandleighs, and I mean to keep it."

"Papa!"

"There, then--there, don't cry, and I will not make use of bad language
about that hoarding; but if this is the behaviour of an English
nobleman, I'm glad I'm plain Doctor Salado.  Now breakfast; and my
coffee's cold."

VOLUME ONE, CHAPTER TWO.

HIS LORDSHIP IS ANGRY.

"I say it's a shame, father, and a disgrace to you."

"And I say you are a confounded insolent young puppy; and if you dare to
speak to me again like that--"

"Oh, hush, Edward dear!  Denis, my boy, pray don't!"

"But I shall be ashamed to go about the place, mamma.  It is so mean and
petty."

"How dare you, sir! how dare you!" cried Lord Pinemount.  "Don't dictate
to me.  I've put up with too much, and I mean to end it all.  How dare
he--a confounded Yankee!"

"Doctor Salado is an English gentleman, father."

"Nothing of the sort, sir.  Look at his name.  Comes here from nobody
knows where."

"Yes, they do, sir.  He comes here from Iquique, and he is one of the
most famous naturalists of the day."

"I don't care what he is.  Comes here, I say; and just as at last that
wretched old woman dies, and the Sandleighs is in the market--a place
that ought by rights to belong to the manor--he must bid over that idiot
Markby's head, and secure the place.  I told Markby distinctly that I
wanted that cottage and grounds.  Went at such a price, he said.  Fool!
And then, when I offered this miserable foreign adventurer five hundred
pounds to give it up, he must send me an insulting message."

"It was only a quiet letter, my dear," said Lady Pinemount, "to say that
he had taken a fancy to the place, and preferred to keep it."

"You mind your own business," said his lordship, his florid face growing
slightly apoplectic of aspect.  "I'm not blind.  But I won't have it.
You write and ask the Elsgraves here; and you, Denis, recollect that I
expect you to be civil to Hilda Elsgrave.  The Earl and I quite
understand each other about that."

"If you expect me to begin paying attentions to a girl whom I dislike,
and who dislikes me, sir," said the young man firmly, "I'm afraid you
will be disappointed."

"No, sir: look here--"

"Edward, my love--"

"Hold--your--tongue.  I'm master while I live, and I'll have my way.
You, Denis, you've got to marry Hilda; and if I hear of your hanging
about the Sandleighs again, and talking to that half-bred Spanish
hussy--"

"Look here, father: when you insult Miss Salado, you insult me."

"Silence, sir!" roared his lordship.  "Listen to what I say.  Insult
you!  Puppy!  How dare you!  The father's an adventurer, and you're mad
after a big-eyed adventuress."

"She is a lady, sir."

"Silence!  And as for you, Lady Pinemount, you must have been mad to
call upon them.  That was the beginning of the mischief."

"Miss Salado is a very sweet, refined girl, Edward," said her ladyship
quietly, "and it was a social duty to call."

"Then you've done your duty, and there's an end of it.  I won't have it,
and I won't have the fellow staring over into my park.  Coming and
sticking himself there!  Won't sell the place again, won't he?  Never
another inch of timber or head of beasts does that auctioneer sell for
me."

The Honourable Denis Rolleston was about to speak, but a meaning look
from handsome, dignified Lady Pinemount silenced him, and the angry head
of the family rose from his half finished lunch and paced the room.

"Taken a fancy to the place, has he?  I'll make him take a fancy to go.
The sooner he's out of Lescombe the better.  Like to buy the manor,
perhaps?  But I'll make it too hot for him.  And you, Denis, understand
me at once.  I can't interfere about the title; but look here, sir, you
marry as I wish you to,--keep up the dignity of our family tree.  You
are the head, sir, but if you don't do as I tell you, sir, not a penny
do you have to support the title, for I'll disinherit you.  Yes, sir,
you think you're a devilish fine branch, no doubt, but damme, I'll saw
you off!"

As his lordship spoke, he bounced out of the dining-room, banged the
door, and directly after mother and son saw him going straight across
the fields to inspect the hoarding he had ordered to be put up.

"I am very sorry, Denis, my dear," said Lady Pinemount.

"Can't be helped, mother dear," said the young man, passing his arm
round her and walking up towards the window, where they stood watching
his lordship's diminishing figure.  "I want to be a good son, and I
never kick against the dad's eccentricities, except when they are too
bad.  That is such a petty, ungentlemanly trick--an insult to as fine a
fellow as ever breathed, and--"

"You do love Veronica, my boy?" said Lady Pinemount, gazing wistfully at
her son.

"Love her?" said the young man, with his frank, handsome English face
lighting.  "Mother dear, could I pick out a sweeter wife?"

Lady Pinemount sighed, and kissed her son.

VOLUME ONE, CHAPTER THREE.

HOW THE DOCTOR HIT.

"Down again, Very!" cried the Doctor, a week later, as he came in from a
botanical ramble to breakfast.  "Why, eh?--yes--no: it has been burned."

"Yes, papa: didn't you see the flames?"

"Not I.  Slept like a top, and I went out through the sandpits and among
the fir trees this morning."

He hurried out of the French window, and out into the road, and looked
over the hedge into the park and then returned.

"Seems to have been splashed with petroleum or paraffin.  Twice cut
down, and once burned.  Well, somebody else does not like the hoarding."

"But, papa, you gave orders for it to be destroyed!"

"I?  Hang it all, Very, am I the sort of man to do such a shabby thing?"

"No, papa: I beg your pardon."

"Granted, pet.  Some one in the village thinks it's a paltry thing to
do, and has constituted himself our champion.  Confound his insolence!
What did he say in his letter?"

"That if you dared to destroy his property, he would prosecute you,
papa," said Veronica.

"Yes, and he has sent me a summons."

"Oh, papa!"

"Fact, my dear; and I shall be puzzled as to how to defend myself and
prove my innocency.  I say, Very, my dear, this looks bad for you."

The girl sighed, and bent over her cup.

"Wouldn't be a pleasant alliance, my dear, even if it could come off,"
continued the Doctor, watching his child furtively.  "Ah, dear me! how
strangely things do work!  Who'd have thought, when we landed in
England, that there was the heir to a baron bold waiting to go down on
bended knee to my little tyrant, and make her an offer of his heart and
hand?"

"Oh, papa, how you do delight in teasing me!"

"Teasing you?  Well, isn't it a fact?  You shot him through and through
first time we were at church, and your victim has been our humble
servant ever since."

"But, papa, do you think Thomas could have destroyed the hoarding?"

"Well, I don't know, my dear.  He was very indignant about it, and said
if this was his place he would soon down with the obstruction."

"Then it must have been he.  You ought to scold him well."

"What, for getting rid of a nuisance?"

"No: for getting you into such trouble with Lord Pinemount."

"Hah!" said the Doctor dreamily; "it's a strange world, Very.  Perhaps
we had better go back to Iquique."

"Oh, papa!" cried the girl in dismay.

"Don't you want to go?"

"What, leave this lovely place, where it is always green, and the
flowers are everywhere, for that dreadful dry desert place where one is
parched to death?  Ah, no, no, no!"

"Humph!" said the Doctor--"always green.  Don't seem so, Very:
something, to my mind, is getting ripe at a tremendous rate."

"I don't know what you mean, dear," said the girl consciously.

"Don't you?  Ah well, never mind.  But you need not be uneasy,--I do not
mean to go back: this place will just suit me to write my book, and I'm
not going to stir for all the Lord Pinemounts in England."

"I wonder how you could ever leave so beautiful a country as England,
papa," said Veronica, as the breakfast went on.

"You wouldn't wonder, if you knew all," said the Doctor thoughtfully.

"All, papa?--all what?"

The Doctor was silent, and his child respected his silence.  The
breakfast was ended, and the paper was thrown down.

"I don't see why you should not know, my dear.  You are a woman now, and
thinking about such things."

Veronica looked across at him wonderingly.

"You asked me why I left England, or some such question.  It was because
of the woman I loved, my dear."

"Mamma?  To join her at Iquique?"

"No," said the Doctor thoughtfully; "it was before I knew of her
existence."

"Ah, papa!"

"Yes, my dear.  I was desperately in love with a lady before I knew your
dear mother."

Veronica rose with wondering eyes, and knelt down beside her father,
resting her elbows on his knees and gazing up in his face.

"Do people--?  You loved mamma very dearly, papa?" she whispered.

"Very, my child; and we were very happy till it pleased Heaven to take
her away.  She taught a poor, weak, foolish man what a good woman really
is."

There was a long pause, and then Veronica said,--

"Do people love more than once, papa?"

"I don't know, dear," he said, smiling.  "I loved here in England very
desperately, and when the lady I worshipped threw me over for another, I
swore I would never look a woman in the face again with the idea of
wedding; and in utter disgust left England, and all I knew, to roam for
a time in the Malay Archipelago; and from thence I went to South
America, following out my natural history tasks.  Then I found out I had
been a fool."

"I do not understand you, papa."

"I found, my darling, that I had wasted the strength of a young man's
first love upon a miserable handsome coquette."

"How did you find that out, papa?"

"By meeting your dear mother, who was everything a true woman should be;
and instead of my life proving to be a miserable state of exile, it was
all that joy could give till the day of the great pain."

There was another long pause, and then the Doctor said cheerfully,--

"And that's why Doctor Salado went away from England.  By the way, Very,
I'm not a regular doctor, though I studied medicine after I left England
very hard."

"How can you say so, dear, when you know how all the poor people cried
at your going away?  They said no one would ever cure them of the fever
again as you did.  Why, they always called you the great doctor."

"Yes, my dear: but people here would call me the great quack.  There,
I'm going for my walk round.  But--hullo! here's his lordship to see the
burnt hoarding."

For just at that moment Lord Pinemount's loud, harsh voice floated in at
the window.

"Disgraceful!" he cried.

Then there was a murmur of another voice, and again of another, as if
two men were respectfully addressing his lordship.

"An old scoundrel!" came in at the window again.

"He means me!" cried the Doctor excitedly, rising.

"No, no, papa--please, please!" whispered Veronica, clinging to him.

"But I'm sure he does, Very."

"I mean, don't go out, papa dear: you would be so angry."

"Would be?  I am!--furiously angry.  How dare he call me an old
scoundrel!"

"Pray, pray don't quarrel with him, dear."

"I'm not going to, pet; but I'll knock his head off for him."

"No, no; you shall not go out, dear.  I will not have my dear father
disgrace himself like that."

"I declare, Very, you are worse than your poor mother used to be.  I
must go and hit him, or I shall explode."

"Then please explode here, papa dear, at me."

"You're a strange girl, Very, 'pon my soul," cried the Doctor.

"Yes, papa dear," she said quietly, but clinging tightly to his arm.

"How dare he come and damage my property!" floated in through the
window.

"Buzz-buzz-buzz," from another voice.

"But I will, sir.  How dare he?  I'll lay the horsewhip across the
scoundrel's back!"

"Buzz-buzz--buzz-buzz."

"Law or no law, he shall have the horsewhip first and the fine or
imprisonment afterwards.  These foreign rowdy ways shall not be
tolerated here."

"Let go, Very.  I can't stand it, I tell you," said the Doctor.  But
Veronica threw her arms now about his neck, and laid her head close to
his cheek, and clung there.

"Will you let go?"

"No, papa."

"Do you want me to hit you?"

"Yes, papa dear."

"Hang it, Very, it's too bad!  You're a coward.  You know I can't."

"Yes, papa dear; I know you'd sooner cut off your hand."

"A blackguardly old scoundrel!" floated through the window.

"Yes? my lord."

"Ah!  I am, am I?" cried the Doctor.  "Let go, Very."

"No, papa dear: never."

"Out, I suppose?" came, as if shouted for the inmates of the cottage to
hear.

"I will be directly, you pompous, titled bully," muttered the Doctor.

"Buzz-buzz--buzz-buzz," in two different keys.

"Yes, I suppose so," cried his lordship; "but if he thinks he is going
to defeat me he is sadly mistaken."

"Yes, my lord."

"Very! will you untie those wretched little arms of yours from about my
neck?"

"No, papa dear; and I'm not afraid of your hitting me."

"Then, if you don't let go, I'll hit myself."

Veronica raised her head a little, and kissed him.

"No: at home, and dare not show his face!" roared Lord Pinemount.

"There!" cried the Doctor.  "Every word is a stinging blow in the face,
Very."

"Yes, papa; but I'm kissing the places to make them well," said
Veronica, suiting the action to the word.

"But I'll let him see."

"Buzz-buzz-buzz,--boozz-boozz-boozz," and the sound of horse's hoofs
slowly dying away.

"Gone!" cried the Doctor passionately.  "Very, you've made me seem like
a miserable cowards that man will despise me, and insult us more than
ever."

"You are angry, papa dear; but when you grow calm you will tell me I've
done quite right."

"Humph!  I'll tell you so now, my darling," said the Doctor, kissing her
affectionately; "but my fingers itched to knock him down."

"And when you had done so, you would have been very sorry, papa dear;
for you would have hurt yourself."

"What, my knuckles?"

"No, papa--your dignity as a gentleman; and you would have hurt me, too,
very much."

"You're a witch, Very," said the Doctor, drawing a long sigh.  "What an
overbearing brute it is! and I'll be bound to say that son of his will
develop into just such another animal."

"Papa!"

"Hallo! what have I said?" cried the Doctor, with his eyes winking.

"Hit me after all," said Very to herself, as she ran sobbing out of the
room, but only to be caught upon the stairs and tenderly kissed and
petted till her eyes grew dry, and the hysterical sobs which would rise
to her lips had cleared.

VOLUME ONE, CHAPTER FOUR.

STOP!

About a couple of hours later the Doctor was down in his garden with a
large note-book in his hand, a pen behind his ear, and an exciseman's
ink-bottle suspended by a piece of silk ribbon to his button-hole.
Every now and then, as he walked up and down the gravel walk, he stopped
to gaze away south at the lovely prospect, his eyes resting longest on a
magnificent clump of fir trees which grew just beyond the bottom of the
grounds, and hid from sight some very, shabby sand pits, which had
something to do with the place being called "Sandleighs."

They were splendid old trees, every one having grown straight and clean,
for the sandy soil suited them, and a timber merchant would have looked
at them longingly, and thought what fine sticks of timber they were, and
what fine broad planks they would make if borne to a saw-mill.

Veronica was busy too, but not too busy to run to her father from time
to time, as she saw that he took his pen from behind his ear, dipped it,
and carefully wrote some note for his work.  This note he would read
aloud to her, and ask her opinion; after which Veronica hurried back to
her work, pricking her fingers in spite of her thick gloves, as she
carefully went over her rose trees to free them from the enemies with
which they swarmed.

Close at hand, upon his knees, which were protected by an old mat, was
Thomas, the old gardener, who was diligently extracting little tufts of
weed from the gravel walk, and making observations to his young mistress
as he went on.

"Make a deal o' fuss at the Manor 'bout her ladyship's roses; but they
ain't nowt to yourn."

"Indeed!"

"Nowt, miss.  You see that this guaney jooce as I waters 'em with is
reg'lar hessence, and I saves it up.  Seven gard'ners, 'cloodin' a boy,
they keeps there; but they can't touch us in roses, miss."

_Chod_!

"What's that?" said Veronica, looking up as a peculiar sound struck her
ear.

_Chud_!  Then _chad_! and directly after, _chod_!

Thomas was kneeling bolt upright now, and took off his very shabby cap,
and began from habit to scratch his head with the blunt point of the old
weed knife.

"Don't you hear, Thomas?" cried Veronica, keeping a rose grub in
suspense between her finger and thumb; and as she spoke the sounds came
at regular intervals.

"Ay, miss: sounds like some 'un a choppin' 'ard."

"Ah!" ejaculated Veronica, as she caught sight of a couple of men
through an opening in the shrubbery at the bottom of the lawn, and she
ran to where her father was busily writing down a note, speaking aloud
as he went on.

"In the half-ruined capsule--"

"Papa!"

"One moment, my dear.  `The sun causes the outer covering to contract,
and assume the form of a shiny and--'"

"Papa, they're cutting down those beautiful old trees."

"What!" cried the Doctor, turning in the direction of the clump.  "Oh
no; it must be a mistake."

_Chod_!  A tremendous chop.

"By Gladstone!" he roared; and, thrusting his book into his pocket, he
ran down the lawn, and, leaping the hedge, passed through to the open,
furzy piece of land, where, full in view now, two men were plying their
woodmen's axes rapidly, and making the white chips fly as a ghastly
notch began to appear in the side of one of the outer trees.

"Hi! what are you doing?" roared the Doctor, just as Veronica reached
the bottom and looked over.

The two men stopped, and rested the heads of their axes on the ground as
they grinned.

"Cuttin' down the trees, sir," said one of the men.

"What!  By whose orders?"

"Lordship's, sir.  Sent us up, and he's comin' hisself soon."

"Do you mean to say that his lordship gave orders for this beautiful
clump of trees to be cut down?"

"Yes, sir."

"But it will disfigure the estate horribly."

"Well, sir, my mate and the head gardener said as it were a pity."

"Oh, it's a mistake, man.  You are cutting down the wrong trees."

"Nay, sir; these here's right.  Lordship said bottom o' the Sandleighs
garden.  Can't be no mistake about that."

"Then it's an insult to me," said the Doctor furiously; "and it shall
not be done.  Here, come away directly."

The men looked at one another, and smiled uneasily.

"Do you hear?  I say it shall not be done."

"But his lordship said--"

"Something his lordship!" roared the Doctor.  "You strike a blow, either
of you, again on one of those trees, and I'll strike you.  There!"

"Papa!" cried Veronica from the garden; but the Doctor was too angry to
hear that or anything else.

"Beg pardon, sir, here is his lordship," whispered one of the men; and
Lord Pinemount came cantering up over the short turf and furze.

"Here, what's the meaning of this?" he cried.  "Why are you not going on
with your work?  Two of these trees ought to be down by now.  Who is
this man?"

He had so far ignored the Doctor; and as Veronica saw the impending
collision she tried to get through the hedge, but stuck fast.

The Doctor flushed, but spoke very quietly, as he raised his hat.

"Lord Pinemount, I believe?" he said.

"Yes," said Lord Pinemount.  "Who the devil are you?  How dare you
trespass on my grounds and delay my workpeople?"

The Doctor's lips worked under his stiff beard, and he could not speak
for a moment.

"Do you hear me, sir?  Be off!" cried his lordship, who was pale with
rage.  "You men get on with your job."

The men touched their hats, spat in their hands, and swung up their
axes; and Veronica saw things through a mist, but started as much as
Lord Pinemount did, for the Doctor roared, in a voice of thunder,--

"Stop!"

And the men stopped.

"How dare you!" cried his lordship, white now with fury.  "What the
devil do you mean?  Of all the insolence!  Go on, men, at once; and as
for you, sir, I have already instructed the police for your destruction
of my property.  Now I shall proceed against you for trespass."

"Stop!" roared the Doctor again, as the men swung up their axes; and
Veronica turned cold, and felt as if her delightful love-dream was at an
end.

Lord Pinemount dragged his horse's head round, and rode closer to the
Doctor.

"What do you mean, fellow?" he roared.

"Have the goodness to recollect that you are addressing a gentleman.
Stop those men.  I will not have my property disfigured by these trees
being cut down."

"Oh, papa, papa!" sighed Veronica.

"What, you dare!" cried his lordship.  "Your property--disfigured!"

"Then I will not have the Manor disfigured by that timber being taken
down."

"Are you mad?" yelled his lordship.

"No, sir; but from your display of temper, and your insulting language,
I presume that you are," said the Doctor, who grew more cool and
dignified as his lordship became incoherent with passion.  "Have the
goodness to remember that you hold this estate upon certain conditions,
and that you have no right to impoverish or destroy.  I say that your
action now would injure this property as well as mine beyond that hedge.
Cut down a single tree more, and I'll make you smart for it in a way in
which you little expect.  Now order your workpeople off home, and--No:
cut down that disfigured tree now, and grub up the stump.  But if you
touch another, Lord Pinemount, you will have to reckon with me.  Go on,
my lads, and be quick and get your hateful job done."

For a few minutes his lordship could not speak.  Then, growing more
incoherent minute by minute,--

"Where is Mr Rolleston?" he cried.

"Went round with the head-keeper, my lord," said one of the men.

"Blue cap spinney, I think, my lord," ventured the second man.

"Are we to cut down one tree, my lord?" said the first man, touching his
hat.

Lord Pinemount said something decidedly strong, drove his spurs into his
horse's side, and went off at a furious gallop; while the two men
grinned, and, as if moved by one spirit, wiped their noses on their bare
arms.

"This here's a rum game," whispered one to the other.

"Come, my lads," cried the Doctor, "down with that tree, get the stump
cut down and the chips cleared away by to-night, and I'll give you five
shillings for beer."

"Thankye, sir," they cried in duet, and then set to work vigorously;
while the Doctor, who looked very knowing and severe, went slowly back
to where Veronica stood, pale and troubled.

"Oh, papa dear!" she whispered, "what have you done?"

"Given Lord Pinemount a lesson that he has needed for a long time, my
dear.  I thought I could cow him."

"Yes, papa; but how can you ever be friends at the Manor now?"

"Eh?  Denis?  Humph!  I never thought of that," said the Doctor, passing
his arm round his child, and walking with her slowly up the lawn,
passing Thomas, who, as soon as the encounter was over, slipped back
from where he had been watching it, and was now extracting weeds at a
furious rate, chuckling to himself, and with his opinion of his master
wonderfully heightened, while he thought of how he would tell them at
the "Half-Moon" at night about the way in which the Doctor had taken his
lordship down.

"Humph!" muttered the Doctor, "how can we be friends at the Manor now?
Very, my dear, have I made a mistake?  No.  I must bring him to his
senses.  This has been too much to bear."

Veronica looked wonderingly at the stern, commanding face before her;
but she could not help her own trouble, and the countenance of Denis
Rolleston creeping in like a dissolving view, which grew plainer and
plainer, and then died out again, her vision being blurred by tears.

VOLUME ONE, CHAPTER FIVE.

DENIS APOLOGISES.

"Eh, Miss 'Ronica, but the master ought to ha' been a lord!" said old
Thomas some days later, as he was nailing up some loose strands of
clematis against the house; and he stopped for a moment to take a couple
of garden nails from his mouth, for they hindered his speech, though he
had removed a third from his lips when he began.

He was up on the ladder, ten feet from the ground, and kept looking down
at Veronica for instructions.

"Nonsense, Thomas!" she said, rather pettishly; "and raise that long
spray higher; I want it to go close up by my window."

"You shall have him just where you like, miss; and I'll give him some
jooce at the roots to make him run faster.  Hallo! what, have I got you,
my fine fellow?" he continued, as he pounced upon a great snail which
was having its day sleep after a heavy night's feed, close up under the
window-sill.

He descended the ladder slowly with his prize, and was about to crush it
under his heel on the gravel path, when Veronica interposed.

"No, no!" she cried; "don't do that.  It is so horrid.  I hate to see
things killed."

"But sneels do so much mischief, miss."

"Never mind; throw it out into the field."

"To be sure," said the Doctor, coming along.  "Do you know what Uncle
Toby said, Thomas, to the fly?"

"Your Uncle Toby, sir?  Nay."

"Everybody's Uncle Toby.  He told the fly there was room enough for both
of them in the world."

"Mebbe, sir," said Thomas, scratching his head with the claws of his
wall-hammer; "and I doan't say nowt again flies; but if Uncle Toby had
grown lettershes and strorbrys he wouldn't ha' said as there was room
for sneels and slugs in his garden."

The Doctor laughed, and went on down his favourite path, while, after
jerking the snail over the hedge, Thomas returned to the ladder.

"Let him eat his lordship's stuff," he said, with a chuckle.  "An' the
master ought to ha' been a lord, miss.  The way he put down his
lordship's amazen.  They do nowt but talk about it every night at the
`Half-Moon.'"

"Now, nail up that long loose strand, Thomas," said Veronica hastily.

"Ay, miss, I'll nail him," said the man, climbing the ladder once more;
"but would you mind asking the master, miss, to give me something for my
back?"

"Why don't you ask him yourself?"

"I did, miss, four times over; and he always says the same.  `Go to the
properly qualified doctor,' he says,--just as if there was any one in
these parts o' such guid quality as he is.  Nay, miss, you might speak
to him for me: he did me a wonderful lot o' guid once.  Mint iles is
nothing to that tincture as he gives me.  I say it, and I'll say it
agen--Wo ho!"

(This to the ladder, which shifted a little, and had to be rearranged
against the wall.)

"--Agen anybody," continued Thomas, with a shred in his lips.  "The
master's a wonderful doctor, and he ought to ha' been a lord."

Just then the Doctor called his child.

"Coming, papa."

"Here's young Master Rolleston coming along the road, miss," continued
Thomas, hammering away at his bines.  "Not much like his father, he
ain't.  Wouldn't ha' ketched him sticking shutter-boards up in the very
front o' people's houses, and wanting to cut down the trees.  Nice young
gent, he is, as ever stepped, miss.  Very different to my lord, and--
Hullo, when did she go?" said the gardener, looking round to find that
his young mistress had gone.

"Ah!  I see.  Gone into the house 'cause Mr Rolleston's coming.  Tck!
Shouldn't be a bit surprised to hear them two asked in church some day;
and a very pretty pair they'd make.  Mum! here's the master."

Thomas went on hammering away; for the Doctor, who had been to the gate
to meet his visitor, had received him coldly, and slowly led him into
the room where Veronica was seated.

"Well, Mr Rolleston, may I ask the meaning of this visit?" he said,
after a conscious greeting between the young people.

"Doctor Salado, pray, pray don't take that tone with me!" cried Denis
appealingly.

"What other tone can you expect, after the treatment I have received?"

"I know, sir.  It has been most painful; but I have come to apologise."
As he spoke he glanced at Veronica, who was seated, looking pale and
troubled, with her eyes cast down.

"Oho!  An apology?  That alters the case.  Then his lordship is
apologetic, and acknowledges that he is in the wrong?"

The young man flushed.

"I--I regret to say, sir, that my father does not know of my visit."

"Then you have came to apologise for him without his leave?"

"No, sir; I have come to apologise for myself, and to ask you not to
think ill of my father."

"Humph!  Very right of you to defend your father, young man."

"He is a little hasty and irritable, sir.  He has been put out ever
since you took this place, for he had set his mind upon it for years.
It was a disappointment to him, sir."

"I had set my mind upon having the place, and it would have been a
bitter disappointment to me to have missed it.  Let me see, Mr
Rolleston: with the paddock, garden, and orchard there are about six
acres."

"So I have heard, sir."

"And your father has thousands of acres?"

"Yes, sir."

"And he grudges me my little bit.  Hardly fair, eh?"

"I can make no defence, sir.  I only throw myself upon your mercy.  My
father is too unwell and irritable to see the matter in the light I do."

"Ah! you are a prejudiced observer," said the Doctor drily.

"I hope not, sir: I wish to be just; and I ask you not to think ill of
us for this affair."

"Humph!  And are you apologising for Lady Pinemount too?"

"For my mother, sir?  There is no need."

"Oh!  Why, I thought when Ahab coveted Naboth's vineyard, the queen--"

"Doctor Salado!" cried Denis, springing from his seat with flashing
eyes, "how dare you.  It is an insult to my dear mother, who is as
pained and grieved as I am."

"I beg her ladyship's pardon humbly," said the Doctor, as he saw Denis
glance again at Veronica, and that she made him an imploring sign.

"I--I beg yours, sir," faltered Denis.

"What for, my lad?  Defending your mother?  It was quite right.  Shake
hands."

Denis caught the Doctor's hand, and Veronica uttered a sigh of relief.

"There now, sit down, and let's talk sensibly; and next time a man
insults Lady Pinemount like that, knock him down.  So you have come to
apologise, eh?"

"Yes, sir.  It is most painful to me.  I have no authority, but I know
you to be a straightforward English gentleman who sees my position, and
I ask you to be lenient with my father and forbearing towards him."

"But you see this is all selfishness, Denis Rolleston."

"Yes, sir; but you don't know all."

"All what?  That you have a silly, boyish liking for my child."

"Silly! boyish!" cried the young man, flushing.  "Don't you be hard upon
me too."

"It's the simple truth," said the Doctor drily; "and very simple too.
Here are you, son of the nobleman who holds this handsome estate, with a
right to look very high in a matrimonial alliance, and yet you come
hanging about here after a young lady, daughter of such a nobody as an
eccentric old naturalist who has spent the past thirty years abroad.
You must be very weak-minded, young man."

"Words, sir," cried Denis eagerly.  "You know in your heart you think I
am as wise as I know I am."

His eyes met Veronica's again, and there was a proud look of happiness
in his glance.

"Bah--bah--bah!  Heroics, sentiment.  Rubbish!" cried the Doctor.
"Come, be frank.  Your father knows of your inclinations?"

"Yes, sir."

"And he flew into a rage when he found it out?"

Denis was silent.

"Of course he did, and threatened to disown you, eh?  There, you need
not answer: I know it all by heart.  Quite natural.  You expect to be
Lord Pinemount some day, and must choose a suitable wife."

"You told me not to indulge in heroics, sir, so I will remain silent."

"Quite right.  It will not do.  Your father threatened to disown you,
disinherit you, and all that sort of thing, eh?"  Denis made no answer.

"There, you see, Veronica, my child.  You have done wrong in encouraging
this young man so far.  You don't want to blight his prospects?"

"Ah, no, papa," cried Veronica, with the tears slowly welling over from
her eyes.

"Then you are quite ready to forget what has passed?"  Veronica slowly
covered her eyes with her hands, and was silent, while Denis stepped to
her side and took her hand.

"Let me answer for her, sir," he said firmly.  "I have never spoken out
plainly to her in the happy days I have known your daughter.  It has
seemed enough to be near her, and to feel that I might hope; but I do
speak out now, and say--`Veronica, I love you dearly: let me tell your
father that you care for me, and will never change.'"

"Very pretty and sentimental," said the Doctor coldly, "but I cannot let
this go on.  I believe your father would disinherit you if you persisted
in this--this--this _mesalliance_."

"On your child's part, sir?" said Denis, smiling, and then giving her a
loving look.

"No, the other way, sir.  I'm not going to let my child stoop to enter a
family where they look down upon her; and I'm not going to let a young
fellow in your position ruin himself with his father for her sake.  No,
no: no more--that will do.  Lord and Lady Pinemount must come and ask
for the alliance; so now you had better go."

"Yes, sir, I'll go," said the young man quietly, as he raised Veronica's
hands to his lips,--"I'll go, for I don't feel downhearted.  I tell you
this, though, that I will never give her up.  I'm going to wait."

"Humph!"

"And now, before I go, sir, I want to apologise again for the annoyance
I have given you."

"You? none at all.  Always were civil enough."

"You don't know, sir, so I will confess.  It was I who destroyed those
hoardings."

"You!" cried the Doctor; and Veronica started.

"I was so annoyed, sir, that I came twice over and sawed the supports,
and let them down; and as they were put up again, I came last night,
deluged the hateful boards with spirits, and set fire to them."

"And a pretty mess you have got me in, sir," cried the Doctor angrily.
"Do you know I am summoned to appear before the magistrates?"

"That's all over, sir, for I shall tell my father it was my doing.
Good-bye, Veronica: I shall wait.  You will shake hands, sir?"

"Humph! oughtn't to, after such a scampish trick.  Well, there,
good-bye, my lad.  Don't come here again till you are asked."

There was a sad and long pressure of two hands directly after; and Denis
went off back towards the Manor, while Veronica, after kissing her
father, stole up to her room for the maiden's consolation--salt and
water, warm, shed copiously into a piece of cambric.

"Can't help liking the young dog," said the Doctor.  "Humph!" he added,
laughing: "nice son to destroy his father's ungodly works!  So it was
he?"

VOLUME ONE, CHAPTER SIX.

SAWN OFF.

Lord Pinemount was seated in his library, biting his nails mentally, as
he lay back in his easy chair glaring at his steward, who stood before
him wishing he could get another post, where his master would not be a
tyrant, and thinking that, if it had not been for the fact that he had a
large wife and a small family at home, he would resign at once.

"And you are sure?"

"Oh yes, my lord--quite."

"Went straight there?"

"Yes, my lord; and I hope your lordship considers I have done my duty in
telling you according to your orders."

"I consider, sir, that you have behaved like a miserable, contemptible
sneak."

"But your lordship told me to--"

"Don't talk to me, sir.  Leave the room."

The steward left the room, and as he closed the door he turned round,
showing his teeth, and shook his fist.

"Old beast!" he said aloud: "I'll serve you out for this some day."

Then his countenance changed, his jaw dropped, and he drew to one side
to allow Lady Pinemount to pass, fully conscious that she must have
heard his words and seen the expression on his face.

"It's all over," he groaned, as her ladyship passed into the library.
"I'm a ruined man.  She'll tell him, and--oh dear, oh dear!  The
workhouse stares us all in the face."

But Lady Pinemount did not tell her husband, for she knew that the
unfortunate steward must have been smarting from one of the injuries his
lordship knew so well how to inflict.  In fact, if she had felt so
disposed she would not have had the opportunity, for the moment she had
closed the door she was addressed.

"Ah, here you are!" cried her lord.  "I hope you are satisfied."

"Satisfied, dear?"

"Dear?  Bah!  You've encouraged and sided with that scoundrel of a boy,
till he is in open rebellion against me; and then you call me dear."

"I have not encouraged him," said Lady Pinemount.  "I have always tried
to set you two at one.  What is the matter now?"

"Why, I've found out this morning that Denis himself cut down and burned
that hoarding."

"Over whose destruction you insulted Doctor Salado."

"I made a mistake," said his lordship.  "I daresay even angels make
mistakes sometimes."

"I don't know," said her ladyship quietly.  "Of course you will
apologise to the Doctor?"

"The Doctor?  The quack!  No, madam, I am not going to stoop to that."

Lady Pinemount sighed.

"And that's not the worst of it.  I forbade the young scoundrel to go
near those people again.  Did I, or did I not?"

"You did, dear, emphatically.  But if Denis really cares for Miss
Salado--"

"He sha'n't have her--there!  I forbade him to go there; and, not
content with insulting me by grubbing down and burning the hoarding I
erected to keep off obnoxious people, he has gone there again and again,
encouraged by the adventurer of a father."

"I am very sorry, dear."

"Sorry?  What good does that do?  And he's there now."

"No, my dear," said Lady Pinemount; "he is just coming across the park."

"Ah! is he?" cried Lord Pinemount, leaping up and running to the window.
"Here,--hi!  Denis!  Come here!"

The young man came calmly enough up to the window.

"Ah, mamma!" he said.  "You want me, sir?"

"Yes.  Where the devil have you been?"

"Over to Sandleighs, sir.  And have the goodness to remember, in
addressing me, that I am not one of the grooms."

"Denis!"

"All right, mamma.  I am not a child now, and if his lordship addresses
me in that tone I shall resent it."

"Ah, indeed!" said the father sarcastically.  "May I respectfully
inquire, then, why you have been over to Sandleighs?"

"To apologise to Doctor Salado for causing him so much annoyance."

"Say Don Salado, my dear son," cried his lordship: "and may I ask how
you have annoyed him?  By making eyes at the adventurer's daughter--bah!
wench!"

The young man's eyes flashed, but he spoke quite calmly.

"I apologised for causing him to be suspected of destroying that
hoarding which I cut down and burned."

"Yes, I know you did, sir."

"I am not surprised, father.  I thought one of your spies would be
watching me."

"Oh, Denis, Denis!" cried Lady Pinemount appealingly.  "Right, mother
dear.  I'll speak and act quite calmly; but I will not be treated as a
schoolboy."

"Then you have apologised to Doctor Salado, the Spanish-American
adventurer, and you are going to espouse his daughter, I presume?"

"Yes, father.  I love her very dearly, and--"

"That will do, thank you," said his lordship quietly, though he was pale
with suppressed fury.  "I have no time to listen to silly sentiment.
Good morning: there is the door."

Lady Pinemount ran to her son's side.

"Don't quarrel, Denis, for my sake," she whispered; and he pressed her
hand.

"Did you hear me, Mr Rolleston?  Have the goodness to go.  Of course
you will get the title when I die, and the estate.  But not a penny do
you have from me beside; and the estate will nearly ruin you, without
money to keep it up.  You say you are a man: act like one, and go."

"You wish me to leave your house finally, sir?"

"Wish?  I order you to go; and until you come over humbly and ask leave
to pay your addresses to the Lady Jenny, never darken my doors again."

"Very well, sir.  I will see you again, mother, before I go."

"Denis!  Husband, pray, pray do not let this trouble come upon us."

"Mr Rolleston, being angry makes me ill.  I wish to behave politely and
calmly to you.  Please to go."

Denis caught his mother to his breast, and then hurried out of the room,
to go and order the valet to pack up his portmanteau and send it across
to the station; and then he went off across the park, to see the Salados
and say good-bye.

VOLUME ONE, CHAPTER SEVEN.

GOOD-BYE.

"Back again so soon, Mr Rolleston?" said the Doctor, as Denis presented
himself before the father and daughter; Veronica having risen from her
seat and laid her hand upon her father's shoulder, reading at once in
their visitor's eyes that something serious was the cause of his visit.

"Yes, sir: I have come to say good-bye to you both."

"For good?" said the Doctor, taking his child's hand and pressing it
warmly.

"I hope for good," said Denis, smiling encouragingly at Veronica.  "I am
going abroad."

"What for?"

"The same reason that others go for, sir.  To make my fortune."

"You!  I thought you were Lord Pinemount's heir."

"So I am, sir; but my father may live twenty or thirty years,--I hope he
may,--and I have nothing now except what I earn."

"Humph! then you have come to an open rupture with him?"

"No, sir; he has come to an open rupture with me."

"Because you come here?"

"Because I refuse to obey him and make matrimonial overtures to a lady I
dislike."

"Overture to a very bad opera, eh?"

"I could not do it, sir.  It would be base, contemptible, and--There--
you know."

"Humph!  Then you have beggared yourself because you think you care for
Veronica?"

"No, sir; I am ordered away till I go and beg pardon and promise to
marry as my father orders; so there is a breach that will never be
healed."

"Better go and heal it.  This is all very fresh.  Very will soon forget
you, and you'll forget her."

"Doctor Salado!"

"Well, I know the world, sir.  Sad thing for a young man like you to
sacrifice his prospects."

"I don't agree with you, sir.  It is the best thing that could have
happened, and will make a man of me.  I shall go to Canada or Vancouver,
I think; and in justice to Miss Salado I have come to say that I bind
her by no promise,--I only trust in her faith.  Some day I shall return
to ask her to be my wife.  Till then--"

He could not finish, but stood with his lips compressed.

"Humph!  Well, I think you are quite right, sir.  Come, Very, be a
woman.  How much capital have you to take with you?"

"None, sir."

"Then you'll want some five hundred or a thousand.  I have the latter
amount, and no particular use for it.  I'll lend it to you at five per
cent."

"Thank you, sir," said Denis warmly, "but I must decline.  I'll go and
fight the battle for myself, and prove to my father that I am not the
weak boy he thinks."

"Quite right.  Go and fight the battle for yourself."

"Papa!" whispered Veronica, with a look of agony in her eyes.

"Yes, my dear; it's the best thing he can do.  You both feel a bit sore,
but you will soon forget the trouble.  Good-bye, Denis Rolleston.
You're more of a man than I thought you.  Write to me now and then, and
let me hear how you are getting on.  We shall both be very pleased to
hear of your welfare.  It's a pity your father is so severe; but there--
all fathers are.  I am.  Good-bye, my lad.  I'd select a good ship, and
I wouldn't go steerage."

"Why not?" said Denis, through his set teeth.  "Better begin at the
bottom, sir."

"Well, yes, my lad, perhaps you had.  Now, Very, my dear, say good-bye
to him like a woman, and wish him well.  Some day in the future you two
will meet at dinner and laugh at this rosy-posy boy-and-girl love
business.  And by the way, Rolleston, my lad, keep your eyes open, and
send me any little natural history specimen you find."

"Good-bye, Veronica," said Denis, who did not seem to hear the Doctor's
words.

"Good-bye," she said, giving him a wistful look; and her voice was
almost inaudible, while her eyes looked dull and her cheeks ashy pale.

He took her cold limp hand, held it for a few moments in his, then
turned and rushed out of the house.

"Papa!  Father!"

Only two words; but their tone was enough for the Doctor, who caught her
to his heart, then placed her in a chair and turned to the window.

"Hi!  Denis!" he roared; and the young man turned, coming back in
obedience to the signals the Doctor made, and standing once more in the
room.

"Look here, sir, you had better have that money: you'll want it over
yonder."

"Did you call me back for that, sir?" said the young man bitterly--"to
go through this agony again?  No: I will make the money I want myself."

"Bravo!" cried the Doctor, seizing his hand.  "But you sha'n't go!"

Denis stared.

"Do you think I am going to have my little pet here die of a broken
heart, for the sake of you, you ugly young scoundrel?  No! you sha'n't
go.  Here: you stop and comfort Very, and I'll go over to the Manor and
bring my Lord Pinemount to his knees."

"Doctor Salado!" cried Denis excitedly.  "No, no: it is impossible.  You
must not go.  You would be insulted."

"Then I'll insult him.  Here, Very, my pretty: I'm not to let this boy
go, am I?"

For answer the girl flung herself upon Denis' breast, and clung there
sobbing.

"This--this is too hard, sir!" cried Denis passionately.

"I am only man, after all."

"Well, what do you want to be, boy?  There, I don't like you, and I
don't like your father; but I'm not going to let that stand in the way.
I'm going over to the Manor to bring my lord to his knees."

"You don't know what you are saying," cried Denis.  "Veronica, he must
not go."

"I do know what I'm saying.  Am I not Doctor Salado--a moral magician in
my way?  Did I not make him give up cutting down the trees?"

"Yes, sir; but you cannot make him retract from driving me off the
family tree for a time," said Denis, with a sad smile.  "I am only a
beggar now, and I must go."

"Indeed you will not.  And as for being a beggar, Very here will have
plenty for you both."

"Which I could not take."

"Then, confound you, sir!" cried the Doctor, with mock fury, "I'll bring
an action against you for breach of promise of marriage.  There, pet,
don't cry: you shall have your pretty boy."

"Doctor Salado, you must not go.  You don't know my father."

"Thoroughly, my lad.  There--take heart, both of you.  Denis, my lad,
you sha'n't be a pensioner on my bounty.  Come, I'll bet you five pounds
that your father and mother dine here with us to-night, and talk to my
Very here as if she were their child, as she has to be."

"Doctor Salado, are you mad?"

"Yes, my lad.  I have been all my life, but I'm not at all dangerous.
God bless you, my lad!  I believe in you, and when I come back you'll
believe in me."

VOLUME ONE, CHAPTER EIGHT.

DOCTOR SALADO'S MAGIC.

"Take the good the gods provide you," seemed to be Denis Rolleston's
motto, for he was very happy with Veronica, while the Doctor made off
across the park, gave the bell at the open door a tremendous tug, and
then waited till a serious-looking butler came to the front.

"Tell his lordship I want to see him directly."

"Not at home, sir," said the man stolidly.

"Tell his lordship I want to see him directly," cried the Doctor
sternly.  "He's in the library: I heard his laugh as I came up to the
house."

"But--"

"Stand aside, fellow!" cried the Doctor; and he marched in, flung open
the library door, and shut it sharply, as Lord Pinemount rose from his
chair pale with rage.

"Morning," said the Doctor.  "Sit down.  I want a chat with you."

He took a seat coolly, and looked critically at the angry man before
him, who was breathless with passion.

"How dare you!" he said at last--"how dare you force your presence here!
Go, sir, before I send for the police."

"Don't make a fool of yourself, sir: sit down.  You must know that the
business is important, or I should not act like this."

"You are a madman, sir!"

"Yes, perhaps: sit down."

There was such a tone of authority in the Doctor's words that his
lordship dropped back in his chair wondering at his own action.

"That's better.  Now then, Pinemount, let's look the state of affairs in
the face.  Your boy loves my child."

"I have no son, sir.  I have cut him off."

"Humph!  All talk, sir.  Can't be done.  He loves my girl, and she loves
him.  He is up at my house now; and after I have talked to you I want
you to bring her ladyship over to the young people, and make things
comfortable."

"Yes, you are mad," said his lordship, reassuring himself.  "How dare
you presume like this!  Leave my house, sir!"

"Don't raise your voice, man, and let all the servants know you are in a
passion."

"The insolence--the presumption!  Look here, sir: if you are not mad,
who and what are you, that you dare to come and make such a proposition
to me?"

"Ah!" said the Doctor, as Lady Pinemount entered, looking anxiously from
one to the other, while the visitor advanced to meet her, took her hand,
kissed it with courtly grace, and led her to a chair.

"I repeat, sir, who and what are you, that you presume to come and sow
dissension in my peaceful village--heartburnings in my home?  Who are
you?"

"Your cousin Richard, who died abroad."

"What!" roared his lordship.  "Impostor, you lie!"

"No, sir: you are the impostor, or rather usurper.  I grieve to say,
madam--Mrs Rolleston--that I am Lord Pinemount, and that your husband
has no right whatever here."

"I--"

"Silence, sir!" said Lord Pinemount, with dignity.  "Accept the
position, and hear what I have to say."

"Is this true, sir?" faltered the lady.

"You will know if you listen, madam.  Nay, you both must know, by the
inquiries that were made before your husband succeeded to the title and
estates.  I saw all the papers with the advertisements; but I was happy,
was rich, and detested England for an old association, and I preferred
to remain dead to all who had known me.  When at last I did return to
England, for my child's sake--a widower--I came down here.  The
Sandleighs was for sale, and I bought it."

There was something like a groan here, and the lady gazed wildly at her
husband.

"Of course I thought of claiming the title; but I met you and your son,
and I said to myself, `Why should I make his family wretched?'  Then, as
you know, while I was in doubt, Love came and cleared away the
difficulty and decided me.  If I had claimed the title it would have
been for Veronica's sake.  Well, Denis loves her; and in due time--a
long time hence, if your husband will study his health and not cut his
life short by passion and apoplexy--Denis will be My Lord,--my child My
Lady.  That is enough for me.  I am contented to be the Doctor and go on
as the naturalist still."

"But--but--" faltered the lady.  "My husband--Mr Rolleston, if what you
say is true--"

"He knows it is true.  But not Mr Rolleston,--Lord Pinemount still.
Madam, I tell you I am very rich, and my wants are very few.  The title
is nothing to me.  Yes, it is--it is my one secret.  There, Pinemount,
am I an impostor now?"

"I am stunned," faltered the bearer of the title.

"Bah! that will soon go off.  Lady Pinemount, our esteem, I am sure, is
mutual, and I believe you like your son's choice."

"Indeed, indeed I do!" cried Lady Pinemount eagerly.

"You would not be a woman if you did not," said the Doctor warmly.
"There, Pinemount, you may take my word--the more easily that you see I
want nothing from you but your cousinship.  Still the family lawyers can
see papers that would convince the greatest sceptic living.  Let bygones
be forgotten.  Give me your hand."

The said hand was raised doubtingly, but it was seized and warmly
grasped.

"Now then," said the Doctor, "I promised your son to bring you up to ask
my child to be your son's wife."

"Is this some dream?" said Lord Pinemount, in a subdued voice.

"No, sir--the broad sunlight of fact.  There, my dear cousin, Lady
Pinemount, is eager to take my darling in her arms, and you are as eager
to grasp the hand of as true and brave a young fellow as ever stepped.
Will you order the carriage, Lady Pinemount?"

"But--but," faltered Lord Pinemount, "do I understand that you will not
ask me to give up the title--the estate?"

"Only when the great end comes, and your son reigns in your stead--and
ours, sir.  God bless him! for I love him as if he was my son.  Lady
Pinemount--cousin, sister--you will come on at once?"

She could not speak, but pressed the hand he gave her and held it to her
lips.

"But what magic is this?" whispered Denis two hours later, when he had
felt the warm grasp of his father's hand, and seen him kiss and bless
Veronica, who was now seated on a couch with Lady Pinemount's arm round
her waist "Doctor Salado's magic, my dear boy.  Some day I will give you
the recipe.  There--never mind now.  You will represent the family tree,
and its finest limb is not sawn off."

VOLUME TWO, CHAPTER ONE.

THE GILDED PILL--A HOMELY COMEDY.

DOVE AND DAWS.

"Richard Shingle, Shoemaker.  Repairs neatly executed."

This legend was written in yellow letters, shaded with blue, upon an
oval red board.  Red, blue, and yellow form a pleasing combination to
some eyes; but when the yellow is drab, the blue dirty, and the scarlet
of a brick-dusty tint, the harmony is not pleasing.  Moreover, the
literary artist could not be complimented upon his skill in writing in
pigment with a camel-hair brush; for, not content to be staid and
steadfast in Roman characters, he had indulged in wild flourishes, which
gave the signboard the appearance of a battle-field, upon which certain
ordinary letters were staggering about, while three or four tyrannical
capitals were catching them with lassoes, which twined wildly, round
their heads and legs.

For instance, the first "d" was in difficulties, the "g" was pulled out
of place, the "h" and "o" tied tightly together, while just below, the
"repairs" seemed to be neatly executed indeed, for the "r" had a yellow
rope round its neck, having been hung by "Richard," beneath which word
it was suspended, with the rest of the letters kicking frantically
because that initial was at its last gasp.

But this idea, probably, did not present itself to the inhabitants of
Crowder's Buildings, a pleasant _cul de sac_ in the neighbourhood of the
Angel at Islington.  Crowder, once upon a time, bought two houses in a
front street, between and under which there was an entrance like a
tunnel, leading to the back gardens and back doors of the said houses;
and Crowder--now dead and numbered with the just--being a man of frugal
mind, gazed at the gardens of his freehold messuage and tenements, and
saw that they were useful as cat walks, to make beds growing oyster and
other shells, and vegetables of the most melancholy kind.  He let the
fact dawn upon his understanding that the vegetables grown might be
bought better for sixpence per annum, and resolved that he would utilise
the space.

To do this, he built up two rows of staring-eyed, four-roomed tenements,
sixteen in all, separated by twelve feet of pavement, whitewashed them
as they stood staring at one another, and turned the two garden deserts
into a busy, thrifty hive, where some twenty or thirty families
flourished and grew dirty.

The occupants of the two houses in the street complained, and left; but
Crowder let the houses at a higher rent without the gardens--let the
little tenements each at ten shillings a week, and turned out those who
did not pay; and for the rest of his life collected his own dues, did
his own painting and whitewashing--even plastered upon occasion; and at
last, while repairing a chimney-stack and putting on a new pot, at the
age of seventy-five, like a thrifty soul as he was, he slipped from the
ladder, rolled off the roof of Number 10, fell into the open paved
space, with his head in the centre gutter, where the soapsuds ran down,
and his heels on a scraper--every house had a scraper, to make it
complete--and was so much injured that Nature gave him notice to quit
his earthly habitation, evicted him, and, save in name, the buildings
knew him no more.

For they passed into the hands of Maximilian Shingle, "broker and
setrer," as his brother said--a most worthy member of society: a
sticky-fingered man, who, through this last quality, was enabled to lay
up honey in store.  In fact, he was so well off that, when Crowder's
Buildings were brought to the hammer by Crowder's heirs, executors,
administrators and assigns, the hammer that knocked them down knocked
them into Max Shingle's possession, and they were paid for with Mrs
Fraser's money--a certain amount in thousands which she bestowed, with
her two sons Fred and Tom--upon the man who re-won her heart six months
after Fred Fraser senior's death.

It was a retired spot after passing through the tunnel, and hence it
became the popular playground of the children of the neighbourhood, who
chalked the pavement, broke their knees and heads upon its harsher
corners, and made it the scene of the festive dance when a dark-visaged
organ-man came down to grind the last new airs of the day.

By a great act of benevolence, Maximilian Shingle, who was a lowly, good
man, a shining light at his chapel, where he was deacon, had, though
inundated with applications for Number 4 when it became empty, let it to
his unlucky brother Richard, who flourished under the sign that heads
this chapter, made boots and shoes, and neatly executed the repairs in
the dilapidated Oxonians and strong working-men's bluchers that came to
his lot.

It was first-floor front-room cleaning-up day at Richard Shingle's; and
Mrs Shingle--familiarly spoken to as "mother"--was in her glory, having
what she called "a good rummage."  Had her home possessed a back yard or
a front garden, every article of furniture would have been turned out;
but as there was not an inch of back yard, and the front garden was very
small, being limited to six flowerpots behind a small green fence on the
upstairs window-sill, Mrs Shingle was debarred from that general
clearance.

But she did the best she could to get at the floor for a busy scrub
while her husband and daughter were away; and the consequence was that
the side-table had its petticoats tucked up round its waist, thereby
revealing the fact that its legs were not mahogany, but deal; the
hearthrug was rolled up, and sitting in the big-armed Windsor chair; the
fender had gone to bed in the back room; and the chairs seemed to be
playing at being acrobats, and were standing one upon the other; while
the chimney ornaments--shepherds and shepherdesses for the most part--
were placed as spectators on the top of the little cupboard to look on.

Mrs Shingle finished her task of cleaning up before descending,
carrying a pail which had to be emptied and rinsed out before her hands
were dried.

Mrs Shingle was a pleasant, plump woman, who had run a good deal to
dimple; in fact, the backs of her hands were full of coy little pits,
where the water hid when she washed, and her wedding ring lay in a kind
of furrow, from not having grown with her hands.

She gave a few touches with a duster to the lower room, which was half
sitting, one-fourth kitchen, and one-fourth workshop, inasmuch as there
was a low shoemaker's bench, with its tools, under the window, beneath
which, and secured to the wall by a strap, were lasts, knives, awls,
pincers, and various other implements of the shoemaker's art.  On a
stand close by stood a sewing machine, and on the table were patches of
kid and patent leather, evidently awaiting the needle.

Mrs Shingle had finished her hurried cleaning, and the furniture was
put back; had been to the glass and arranged her hair, and finished off
by taking out three pins, which she stuck in her mouth, as if it were a
cushion, giving herself a shake, which caused her dress, that had been
round her waist, to fall into its customary folds; and then, sitting
down she was busy at work binding boot-tops, when the open door was
darkened, and a fashionably dressed young man, of five-and-twenty,
tapped on the panel with the end of his stick, entered with a languid
walk, said, "How do, aunt?" and seated himself on the edge of the table.

The visitor's clothes were very good, but they had a slangy cut, and
might have been made for some Leviathan of a music-hall, who intended to
delineate what he termed "a swell."  For the cuffs of the excessively
short coat nearly hid the young fellow's hands, even as the ends of his
trousers almost concealed his feet; his shirt front was ornamented with
large crimson zigzag patterns, and his hat was so arranged on the back
of his head that it pressed down over his forehead a series of unhappy,
greasy-looking little curls, which came down to his eyebrows.

Mrs Shingle nodded, and stabbed a boot-top very viciously as the young
man saluted her.

"Old man out?" he said.

"You know he is," retorted Mrs Shingle, "else you wouldn't have come."

"Don't be hard on a fellow, aunt.  You know I can't help coming.
Where's Jessie?"

"Out," said Mrs Shingle, sharply.

"She always is out when I come," drawled the young man, tapping his
teeth with his cane.  "I believe she is upstairs now."

"Then you'd better go up and see," exclaimed Mrs Shingle.  "Look here,
Fred, I'm sure your father don't approve of your coming here."

"I can't help what the governor likes," was the reply.

"I'm not going to ask him where I'm to go.  Is Jessie out?"

"I told you she was, sir."

"Don't be so jolly cross, aunt.  It's all right, you know.  The old man
will kick a bit, but he'll soon come round.  Don't you be rusty about
it.  You ought to be pleased, you know; because she ain't likely to have
a chance to do half so well.  I shall go and meet her."

As he spoke, the young man--to wit, Frederick Fraser, step-son of
Maximilian Shingle, Esq, of Oblong Square, Pentonville--slowly descended
from the table, glanced at himself in the glass, and made for the door.

"She's gone down the Goswell Road, I know," said the young man, turning
to show his teeth in a grin.

"No, no," exclaimed Mrs Shingle hastily.

"Thank ye, I know," said the young fellow, with a wink, and he passed
out.

"Bother the boy!" exclaimed Mrs Shingle petulantly.  "Now he'll meet
her, and she'll be upset, and Dick will be cross, and Tom look hurt.
Oh, dear, dear, dear, I wish she'd been as ugly as sin!"

There was an interval of angry stitching, as if the needle was at enmity
with the soft leather, and determined to do it to death, and then Mrs
Shingle cried, "Here she is!"

"Ah, my precious!" she added, as a trim, neat little figure came
hurrying in snatched off her hat and hung it behind the door.

She was only in a dark brown stuff dress, but it was the very pattern of
neatness, as it hung in the most graceful of folds; while over all shone
as sweet a face as could be seen from east to west, with the bright
innocence looking out of dark grey eyes.

"Back again, mother," accompanied by a hasty kiss, was the reply to Mrs
Shingle's salute.

Then, brushing the crisp fair hair back from her white temples, the girl
popped herself into a chair, opened a packet, drew close to the sewing
machine, and in response to the pressure of a couple of little feet,
that would have made anything but cold crystallised iron thrill, the
wheel revolved, and with a clinking rattle the needle darted up and
down.

"Have I been long?"

"No, my dear--quick as quick!" said Mrs Shingle, watching her child
curiously.

"I wanted to get back and finish this, so as to take it in," said the
girl, making the machine rattle like distant firing.

"Did you meet Mr Fred?"

"Fred?  No, mother," was the reply, as the girl started, coloured, and
the consequence was a tangle of the threads and a halt.  "Has he been
here?" she continued, as with busy fingers she tried to set the work
free once more.

"Yes, just now, and set out to meet you.  I wonder how you could have
missed him."

There was a busy pause for a few minutes, during which some work was
hastily finished; and while Mrs Shingle kept watching her child from
time to time uneasily, the latter rose from the machine, and began to
double up the jacket upon which she had been at work, and to place it
with a couple more lying close by on a black cloth.

"I hope you don't encourage him, Jessie," said Mrs Shingle at last.

"Mother!" exclaimed the girl, and her face became like crimson--"how can
you?"

"Well, there, there, I'll say no more," exclaimed Mrs Shingle--"only it
worries me.  Now, make haste, there's a dear, or you'll be late.  Don't
stop about, Jessie; and, whatever you do, don't come back without the
money.  Your uncle'd sure to come or send to-day, and it's so unpleasant
not being ready."

"I'll be as quick as I can, mother," said Jessie briskly.

"And you won't stop, dear?"

"I don't know what you mean, mother," said the girl, with a tell-tale
blush on her cheek.

"How innocent we are, to be sure!" exclaimed Mrs Shingle, tartly.
Then, smiling, she continued, "There, I'm not cross, but I don't quite
like it.  Of course, Tom don't know when you go to the warehouse, and
won't be waiting.  There, I suppose young folks will be young folks."

"I can't help it, mother, if Mr Fraser meets me by accident," said
Jessie, blushing very rosily, and pouting her lips.

"But he mustn't meet you by accident; and it oughtn't to be.  Uncle Max
would be furious if he knew of it, and those two boys will be playing at
Cain and Abel about you, and you mustn't think anything about either of
them."

"Mother!" exclaimed Jessie.

"I can't help it, my dear; I must speak, and put a stop to it.  Your
father would be very angry if he knew."

"Oh, don't say so, mother!" pleaded Jessie, with a troubled look.

"But I must say it, my dear, before matters get serious; and I've been
thinking about it all, and I've come to the conclusion that it must all
be stopped.  There! what impudence, to be sure!  I believe that's him
come again."

"May I come in?" said a voice, after a light tap at the door.  And a
frank, bearded face appeared in the opening.

"Yes, you can come in," said Mrs Shingle sharply.  But, in spite of her
knitted brows, she could not keep back a smile of welcome as the owner
of the frank face entered the room, kissed her, and then turned and
caught Jessie's hands in his, with the result that the parcel she was
making up slipped off the table to the ground.

"There, how clumsy I am!" he exclaimed, picking up the fallen package,
and nearly striking his head against Jessie's, as, flushed and agitated,
she stooped too.  "Well, aunt dear, how are you?"

"Oh, I'm well enough," said Mrs Shingle tartly, as she stretched a
piece of silk between her fingers and her teeth, and made it twang like
a guitar string.  "What do you want here?"

"What do I want, aunt?  All right, Jessie--I'll tie the string.  Thought
I'd come in and carry Jessie's parcel."

"Oh, there!" exclaimed the girl.

"Now, look here, Mr Tom Fraser," said Mrs Shingle, holding up her
needle as if it were a weapon of offence: "you two have been planning
this."

"Mother!" cried Jessie.

"Oh no, we did not, aunt," cried the young man; "it was all my doing.
No, no, Jessie--I'll carry the parcel."

"No, no, Tom; indeed you must not."

"I should think not, indeed!" cried Mrs Shingle, who, as she glanced
from one to the other, and thought of her own early days, plainly read
the love that was growing up between the young people; but could not see
that her first visitor, Fred, had come back, and was standing gazing,
with a sallow, vicious look upon his face, at what was going on inside,
before going off with his teeth set and an ugly glare in his eyes.

"Tom Fraser," continued the lady of the house, "I mean Mr Tom--Mr
Thomas Fraser--you ought to be ashamed of yourself, to behave in this
way.  You quite the gentleman, and under Government, and coming to poor
peopled houses, and wanting to carry parcels, and all like a poor
errand-boy!"

"Stuff and nonsense, aunt!--I'm not a gentleman, and I'm only your
nephew; and whilst I'm here I'm not going to see Jessie go through the
street carrying a parcel, when I can do it for her."

"But you must not, indeed, Tom--I mean Mr Fraser," said Jessie,
half-tearful, half-laughing.  "I'm going to the warehouse, and I must
carry it myself."

"I know you are going to the warehouse," said Tom, laughing; "but you
must not carry the parcel yourself."

"But, my dear boy," said Mrs Shingle, who was evidently softening,
"think of what your father would say."

"I can't help what he would say, aunt," said the young man, earnestly;
"I only know I can't help coming here, and I don't think you want to be
cruel and drive me away."

"No--no--no," said Mrs Shingle, "but--"

"Do you, Jessie?"

"No, Tom--Mr Fraser," faltered Jessie.  "But--"

"But--but!" exclaimed the young man impatiently.  "Bother Mr Fraser!
My dear Jessie, why are you turning so cold here before your mother?
Are you ashamed of me?"

"No--no, Tom," she cried eagerly.

"And you know how dearly I love you?"

"Yes, Tom," faltered Jessie sadly; "but it must be only as cousins."

"And why?" said the young man sternly.

"Because," said Jessie, laying her hand upon his arm, "I'm only a very
poor girl, Tom, and half educated."

"What a wicked story, Jessie!" cried Mrs Shingle, who had her apron to
her eyes, but now spoke up indignantly--"why, you write beautiful!"

"And," continued Jessie, "your father--my father would never consent to
it; for I'm not a suitable choice for you to make."

"Why, Jessie," cried the young man, "you talk like a persecuted young
lady in a book.  What nonsense!  Uncle Richard, if he felt sure that I
should make you a good husband, would consent.  And, as to my
step-father--"

"Now, look here, you two," said Mrs Shingle, "it's important that
Jessie should get to the warehouse with those things, and you're
stopping idling.  It's late as it is."

"Come along, then," cried Tom, seizing the parcel.

"No, no," cried Jessie, who looked pale, and trembled.

"No, indeed; he must not go with you," said Mrs Shingle.

"Don't be cruel, aunt," said Tom appealingly.  "I don't like Jessie to
go by herself."

"There, then, she's not going by herself; I'm going with her," exclaimed
Mrs Shingle.

"Then let me go instead."

"No, no," cried Jessie, getting agitated; "you must not."

"You have some reason, Jessie," said Tom, looking at her suspiciously.

"No, no, Tom.  Don't look at me like that," she cried.

"Then tell me why," he said, sternly.

"The man at the warehouse made remarks last time you came," said Jessie,
hesitating.

"I'll make marks and remarks on him, if he does," cried Tom.  "Aunt," he
continued angrily, "I can't bear it.  It's not right for Jessie to go
alone; and I don't believe you were going.  It makes me half mad to
think that she may be insulted by some puppy or another, and I not be
there to knock him down."

"But no one will insult her, my boy," said Mrs Shingle, looking at him
admiringly.

"But people do, and have," cried Tom, grinding his teeth.  "She has told
me so.  Because she goes with a parcel through the streets, every
unmanly rascal seems to consider she is fair game for him; and--hang it,
aunt, I can't help it!--if any scoundrel does it again, I'll half kill
him!"

"Oh, Tom, Tom!" whispered Jessie, as he strode up and down, with the
veins in his forehead starting, and then uttered a sob.

"I can't help it," he cried; "it's more than a fellow can bear.  I'm not
ashamed to own it.  I love Jessie dearly; and if she'll be my little
wife I don't care what anybody says.  Poor girl, indeed!  Where's the
lady in our set that can stand before her?"

"Not many, I know," said Mrs Shingle proudly.

"She can't help uncle being poor, and I can't help my step-father being
rich.  Come, aunt, you'll let me go?"

"I mustn't."

"Then it's because that brother of mine has been here," cried Tom
angrily.

"No, no, no!" cried Mrs Shingle; "indeed it isn't, my dear boy.  But I
mustn't allow it--I mustn't indeed.  Your father will never forgive me."

"Jessie dear," cried the young man, taking her hand, "you know I love
you."

"I know you say you do," she faltered.

"And I think you care for me--a little."

"Oh no, I don't think I do--not a bit," she said, half archly, half with
the tears in her sweet eyes, as they would look tenderly at him, and
seemed to say how much she would like him to come and protect her.

"I do not believe you, my darling," he cried impetuously.  "I'm quite
satisfied about that.  Aunt dear, you'll let me go with her?"

"I don't like it," said Mrs Shingle; "and I'm sure it will lead to
trouble."

"Not it.  Come, Jessie!"

"No, no, no!" cried Jessie.  "Indeed you ought not to come, Tom."

"Tom!  Well, I must come after that," he cried.

"Oh no: I did not mean it."

"Well, look here," said the young fellow.  "Listen, both of you.  If you
will not let me walk with you side by side, I'll follow like a shadow."

"Shadows can't carry parcels," said Jessie merrily.

"This one can, and will."

"There, go along, do, both of you," said Mrs Shingle, whose eyes
twinkled with pleasure as she looked on Tom's eager face.  "You'll be
dreadfully late."

"All right," cried Tom joyfully; "we'll make haste, and if we are going
to be late we'll take a cab."

"Because we are ashamed of the parcel," said Jessie demurely.

"Ashamed!" cried Tom.  "Why, if you'll come with me I'll take the parcel
under one arm and you under the other, and walk all round the quadrangle
at Somerset House when the clerks are leaving, just to make them all
envious."

"Go along, do!" cried Mrs Shingle.  And she stood gazing after them as
there was a playful struggle for the parcel at the door; while, as they
disappeared, the plump little woman took up her shoe-binding, began
stitching, and sighed--

"Heigho!  I'm afraid I've done very wrong."

VOLUME TWO, CHAPTER TWO.

HOPPER--SHIP'S HUSBAND.

"Halloa, you sir!" said a snarling voice; "mind where you're running
to."

"Beg pardon!  Halloa, Mr Hopper, is it you?" exclaimed Tom.

"Eh?  What?  Yes, it is me, you rough, ill-mannered cub.  Tom Fraser, if
you were my son, hang it, sir, I'd thrash you, sir--trying to knock down
a respectable wayfarer who is getting old and infirm."

The speaker shook the ugly stick he carried at the young man as he
spoke, and his great massive head, with its unkempt grizzled hair and
untended beard and whiskers, looked anything but pleasant; for from
beneath his shaggy, overhanging brows his eyes seemed to flash again.

"I didn't try to knock you down," shouted Tom, putting his face close to
that of the old fellow, who looked as if his seventy years had been
spent in gathering dirt more than in cleaning it off.

"Don't shout.  I'm not so deaf as all that, you ugly ruffian.  Pick up
those boots."

Tom stooped, and picked up a very old pair of unpolished boots that the
other had been carrying beneath his arm, and had let fall on the
pavement in the collision.

"There you are, Mr Hopper, and I beg your pardon, and I'm very sorry,"
said Tom, smiling pleasantly.  "There you are," he continued, tucking
the boots under his arm.  "It's all right now."

"What are you halloaing like that for, you ugly young bull-calf?"
snarled the old fellow, shaking his stick.  "Do you think I want all the
people in the Buildings to come out and listen?  Don't I tell you I'm
not so deaf as all that, hang you?  What are you going to do with that
girl?"

"Only going down into the City," replied Tom.

"Hey?" said the old fellow.

"City!" shouted Tom.

"Oh!  Does your father know you're going with her?" cried the old
fellow, with a malevolent grin beginning to overspread his countenance.

"No," said Tom, flushing slightly; while Jessie began to look troubled.

"Hey?"

"No!" shouted Tom.

"Does her father know you've come?" said the old fellow, pointing at
Jessie with his stick.

"No!" said Tom stoutly, and beginning to grow indignant.

"Then," continued the old man, chuckling, and rubbing his hands
together, and dropping first his stick and then his boots, which Jessie
hastened to pick up, "I'll go and see Mr Shingle to-night, and tell
him; and I'll wait here till Richard Shingle comes home, and I'll tell
him; and there'll be the devilishest devil of a row about it that ever
was.  You've no business here, and you know it, you scoundrel.  She
isn't good enough for you.  You're to marry the fair Violante--the
violent girl.  There'll be a storm for you to-night, young fellow; so
look out."

"I'll trouble you to mind your own business, Mr Hopper," exclaimed Tom
hotly.

"Hey?" said the old fellow, holding a boot up to his right ear, like a
speaking trumpet.

"I say, if you get interfering with my affairs, Mr Hopper," cried Tom
angrily, and paying no heed to a whispered remonstrance from Jessie,
"I'll--"

"I can't hear a word you say: try the right side."

As he spoke, he held the other boot to his left ear, and leaned forward
in an irritating manner, grinning the while at the speaker.

"I say that if you dare to--"

"Tchsh!  I can't hear a word if you mumble like that.  Oh, be off with
you: I've got no time to waste.  I'm seventy, and if I'm lucky I've got
ten years to live.  You're five-and-twenty, and got fifty-five, so you
are wasteful of your time, and spend it in running after girls who don't
want you--like your beautiful brother Fred.  Bless him! if I had any
money to leave I'd put him down in my will for it--an artful, designing
scoundrel!"

"Look here, Mr Hopper," cried Tom hotly, "you can abuse me as much as
you like, and tell tales as much as you like, and play the sneak; but
because you've known me from a child I won't stand here and hear my
brother maligned."

"There, it's no use, I can't hear a word you say," grumbled the old
fellow; "but it don't matter,--I can see by your manner that you are
abusing a poor helpless old man, the friend of your mother and that
girl's father, and you are keeping her back, so that she'll be late with
her parcel, and make her lose the work, and then you'll be happy."

"Confound--" began Tom.  "Here, come along, Jessie," he cried, snatching
her arm through his; and the old man stood chuckling to himself as he
watched them out through the tunnel, before he made for the door with
the red sign, and giving a sharp rap with his stick entered at once,
nodding quietly at Mrs Shingle.

"Here, I've brought Dick a job," he said, carrying the old pair of boots
to the bench.  "He's to do them directly, and they're to be sixpence--I
won't pay another penny.  Are you listening?"

Mrs Shingle nodded, and went on with her work.

"He's to put a good big corn on the last of the left-hand foot, and then
cut away the leather, well beat a patch and put it on.  My left foot
hurts me horrid."

"You ought to have a new pair," said Mrs Shingle.

"Hey?"

"You ought to have a new pair," she continued, a trifle more loudly.

"Have a new pair?"

Mrs Shingle nodded.

"Bah!  How can I afford a new pair?  Times are hard.  Ships' husbands
don't make money like they used.  New pair, indeed!  They're good enough
for me.  Tell him to mend 'em well, and they are to be sixpence, d'yer
hear?"  Mrs Shingle nodded, with her silk in her mouth, gave it a
twang, and went on.

"You'll break your teeth one of these days," said the old fellow, taking
off his hat, placing it on his stick, and standing it in a corner.
Then, going in a slow, bent way to the well waxed and polished Windsor
chair, he gave the chintz cushion a punch, took a long clay pipe off the
chimney-piece, made it chirrup, reached an old leaden tobacco-box from
the same place, set it up on the table, and sat down.

"My teeth are used to it," said Mrs Shingle, smiling pleasantly, as if
she were quite accustomed to the old fellow's proceedings.

"Hey?"

"I say my teeth are used to it," repeated Mrs Shingle.

"Oh!--Don't shout.--I say, this tobacco's as dry as a chip," he
continued, filling his pipe.

Mrs Shingle sighed.

"Dick's been going it awfully," grumbled the old fellow; "there was
nearly half an ounce here last night."

Mrs Shingle rose, took the matches from the chimney-piece, struck a
light, and held it to the bowl of the pipe; the visitor puffed the
tobacco into a state of incandescence, and then subsided into his chair
with a satisfied grunt, and sat staring straight before him, while Mrs
Shingle sighed and went on with her stitching.

"I met those two," said the old fellow, after a pause.

Mrs Shingle looked up sharply.

"Won't do," said her visitor.

"What won't do?"

"Hey?"

"I say, what won't do?" said Mrs Shingle, colouring, and looking at him
anxiously.

"I can hear you--don't shout," said the old fellow.  "I say that won't
do.  Has Tom been here much?"

"No, not much," said Mrs Shingle.

"I don't quite understand Tom," said the old fellow.  "But I think he's
a scamp."

"Indeed, I'm sure he's not!" cried Mrs Shingle excitedly.  "Sure he's
not?" chuckled the old fellow.  "Of course.  Just like you women.  You
take a fancy to a man, and the blacker he is the more you say he's
white."

"I'm sure Tom is a very good, gentlemanly young fellow."

"Of course.  But it won't do, Polly--it won't do."

"I don't see why it shouldn't do," said Mrs Shingle, tossing her head.
"They're both young and nice-looking."

"Bah! will that fill their insides?"

"And they're getting very fond of each other."

"More shame for you to let 'em," said the old man composedly.  And his
eyes twinkled with malicious glee as he saw the little woman begin to
grow ruffled, like a mother hen, and the colour come into her wattles
and comb.

"And pray why?" said Mrs Shingle loudly.

"Don't shout," said the old fellow.  "Why, indeed!  What will Max say
when he knows of it?"

"Ah!" sighed Mrs Shingle, "what indeed!"

"He'll boil over in his confounded sanctified way, and kick Tom out of
the house without a shilling of his mother's money."

"Oh, dear, dear, dear," said Mrs Shingle, letting her work fall into
her lap and wringing her hands; "that's what I've been thinking, and
I've tried all I could to stop it; but the more I try, the fonder they
get of one another."

"Of course they do.  That's their way--the young fools!" snarled the
visitor; "and if you let 'em alone, Jessie will marry the young noodle,
fill his house full of children, and make him a poor man all his life."

"That wouldn't matter much if they were happy," sighed Mrs Shingle.

"Same as you've kept poor old Dicky?"

"Indeed! and we never had but one little one," said Mrs Shingle
indignantly.

"Hey?"

"I say we never had but one little one--Jessie," said Mrs Shingle
indignantly.

"Gross piece of extravagance, too.  You couldn't afford children."

"No, indeed," sighed Mrs Shingle.

"And now you're encouraging that pretty young baggage, who coaxes and
carneys round you, to get herself in the same mess, and then you'll be
happy."

"Oh, dear, dear, dear, dear me!  I wish I knew what to do," sighed Mrs
Shingle.

"What to do!" chorused the old fellow.  "No business to have married.  I
didn't, and I've saved just enough to live on with strict economy; and
see how happy I am."

"You don't seem to be," said Mrs Shingle tartly; "for you're always
finding fault."

"Finding fault?"

Mrs Shingle nodded.

"Makes me happy.  Then I come and smoke a pipe here one day, and one at
Max's another day; and you're both so glad to see me that that makes me
happy too.  Ha! you've spoiled that girl of yours, or she wouldn't go on
like she does."

"I'm sure Jessie couldn't |be a better behaved girl!" exclaimed Mrs
Shingle.

"Stuff!  You never whipped her well, and Max never trained those boys.
Good thing flogging!  Makes the skin soft and elastic.  Gives room to
grow.  Where's Dick?"

"Gone to his brother's."

"Gone to his brother's?"

Mrs Shingle nodded.

"What's he gone there for?"

"Take home a pair of new boots."

"What! did Max give Dick an order for a new pair?"  Mrs Shingle nodded.

"Wonderful!  Max is getting more virtuous than ever.  I'll praise him
next time I go."

"No, don't--please," said Mrs Shingle earnestly.  "Every little does
help so just now; and we can't afford to offend Max."

"So you make traps, and put Jessie in for a bait, and try to catch his
wife's two boys, eh?"

"Indeed I did not," cried Mrs Shingle; "it was all Tom's own doing."

"Ah, I dare say it was; but young Fred's always hanging about here too;
and as soon as-ever Max hears of it, there will be no end of a row.  I
shall put him on his guard."

"Pray say nothing!" cried Mrs Shingle imploringly.  "Why not?  Best for
both the young noodles to be brought to their senses."

"No, no; it would make them so unhappy.  Let matters take their course.
It will be quite time enough for the trouble to come when Maximilian
finds it out for himself.  Hush! here's Dick."

"Hulloa!  What's that?  The old game.  Woman all over.  Keeping secrets
from your husband.  Glad I never married!"

Mrs Shingle darted an indignant look at him, and no doubt a sharp
retort was on her lips; but it was checked by a voice outside, and
Richard Shingle, the occupier of the house, the mechanic who made boots
and shoes and neatly executed repairs, entered the room, followed by his
boy, with "Hallo, Hoppy, old man, how are you?  Glad to see you.  Too
soon for the B flat yet; but you stop all day, and we'll polish that bit
off to rights."

"How are you, Dick--how are you?" said the old man quietly.  And then
refilling his pipe, he lit up, half turned his back, and seemed to
ignore that which followed, and to be totally ignored, on account of his
deafness.

Richard Shingle was not an ill-looking man of forty; but he had a rather
weak, vacillating expression of countenance, over which predominated a
curious, puzzled look, which was due to something you could not make
out.  One moment you felt sure it was his eyes, but the next you said
decidedly it was his mouth, while just as likely you set it down to his
fair hair or his rather hollow cheeks, or the turn of his chin.  The
fact was, it was due to all his features, his figure, and his every
attitude; for Richard Shingle, as he stood before you, seemed as if he
had just taken you by the button-hole and said in full sincerity, as
applied to the general scheme of life and man's position on earth: "I
say, what does it all mean?"

For he was one of those men who had never "got on."  He said he wanted
to get on, and he worked very hard; but the world was too much for him,
and he was always left behind.  If he had lived at the equator, where it
is hot, and man naturally feels inert, while the world races round at
the rate of a thousand miles an hour, it is only natural to suppose that
he might have been left behind; but it would have been just the same if
Richard Shingle's existence had been upon the very Pole itself, north or
south, where he would only have been called upon to turn once round in
twenty-four hours.  As he lived in that part of the temperate zone known
as Islington, where the medium rate of progress is in force, it remained
then, that not only could poor Dick never get ahead, but was always, in
spite of his misplaced efforts, getting a little more and a little more
behind.

And yet he looked a sharp, animated man, full of action, as on this
occasion, when he turned to his wife with "Well, mother, here we are
again, boots and all!"

"But you've not brought them back again, Dick?" said Mrs Shingle,
looking anxiously up from her work.

"What do you call that, then?" said Dick, taking a blue bag from the
doleful-looking, thin, white-faced boy with very short hair, and turning
the receptacle upside down, so that the contents fell out on the floor
with a bang.

"Oh, Dick!"

"He said they were the wussest-made pair of boots he ever see.  After
all the pains as I took with 'em," said the speaker, gloomily picking up
the freshly polished leather, and examining it.

"Oh, Dick--how tiresome!"

"And swore he couldn't get his feet into 'em,--leastwise," he added
correctively, "he didn't swear--Max is too good to swear--he said as he
couldn't get his feet in 'em."

"Tut--tut--tut!" ejaculated Mrs Shingle, stitching away at her work.

"He blowed me up fine; said I wasn't fit to shoe a horse, let alone a
Christian man.  When--look at 'em.  Did you ever see a prettier pair--
eh, Hoppy?" he shouted.

The old man glanced at the boots and grunted, turning away again
directly.

"Look at 'em, mother--rights and lefts, and the soles polished off
smooth; and see how prettily they put out their tongues at you, all
lined with a bit o' scarlet basil.  Called me a cobbler, too, he did;
and after laying myself out on the artistic tack, so as to get his
future patronage, and that of Mrs S.'s two boys."

"Oh, Dick, Dick!"

"Yes, it is `Oh, Dick, Dick!'  Bad, too, as we want the money.  Wouldn't
fit you, I suppose, Hoppy?"

"Hey?"

"I say they wouldn't fit you, would they?  You should have 'em cheap."

"Bah, no!  I couldn't wear boots like these.  Couldn't afford it--
couldn't afford it.  There's a pair for you to mend."

"All right, old man--all right; I'll do 'em.  Of course they wouldn't do
for you," he continued; "bad, too, as we want the money.  Said it was
what always came of employing relatives; but he did it out of charitable
feeling--so as to give me a lift.  Called me a bungler, too, when, look
here, mother, how nicely I made a little mountain on that side to hold
his bunion, and a little Greenwich-hill on that side to accommodate his
favourite corn.  That's working for relations, that is.  Dressed up a
bit, too, this morning to take 'em home, so as not to disgrace him by
looking too shabby, and made Union Jack walk behind to carry the blue
bag, same as if I was a sooperior kind of tradesman, and his servants
shouldn't look down on me.  Said I was Mr Richard Shingle, too, when
the maid opened the door.  But it was all no go.  Another of my
failures, old gal.  Tell you what it is, mother, it'll be what the
drapers call a terrific crash if it goes on like this."

"But, Dick dear, you don't mean that he won't have the boots at all?"

"That's just what I do mean.  He's shied 'em on my hands.  'Taint as if
he'd shied 'em on my feet."

"Oh, dear, dear, dear!" ejaculated Mrs Shingle.  "Dear!" said Dick,
trying to raise a feeble laugh.  "That's just what they are.  I can't
afford to wear a pair of handsome boots like them.  Only look at 'em.
Leather cost me nine shillings before I put in a stitch."

"I declare, it's too bad, Dick," whimpered Mrs Shingle; "and us so
badly off too.  Brother, indeed!  He's worse than--"

"There, that'll do," said Dick, taking off his coat, "Don't you get
letting on about him, mother, because he is my brother, you know.  Blood
_is_ thicker than water."

"I don't see what that's got to do with it, Dick, if it's ten times as
thick," said Mrs Shingle, stabbing away at her boot-binding as if the
kid leather were Maximilian Shingle's skin.

"No, you don't," said Dick, rolling up his sleeves, and tying on his
leather apron, before going to the chimney glass, and putting a piece of
ribbon round his rather long hair, apparently to embellish his
countenance, but really to keep the locks out of his eyes when he bent
down over his work.  "No, mother; that's because you're put out, and
cross, and won't see it; but blood is thicker than water, ain't it,
Hoppy?"

"Hey?" said the old fellow, taking his pipe out of his mouth.

"I say blood is thicker than water, ain't it?"

"Ever so much," growled the old fellow, going on with his smoking; while
Dick, glancing over his shoulder, and seeing that his wife's attention
was taken up with the binding, slipped a half-ounce packet of tobacco
into his old friend's hand, with a nod and a wink, to indicate that the
strictest secrecy must be observed.

"Yes," continued Dick, retiring towards his bench; "that's what I always
say--brothers is brothers, and blood's thicker than water.  And as to
Max--well, it's a way he's got, and he can't help it."

"Stuff!" ejaculated Mrs Shingle sharply.

"No, no, mother, it ain't stuff neither; so don't talk like that.  Here,
you sir," he cried to the boy, who was standing staring from one to the
other, "get to work, you luxurious young rascal.  That ain't the way to
improve your shining hours.  Wax up and get ready a pair of fine points
to mend them old shoes."

"All right, master," said the boy.  And, slipping off his threadbare
jacket, he sat down on a stool, and began to unwind a ball of hemp.

"I don't believe in such brothers," said Mrs Shingle bitterly.
"Brothers, indeed!"

"No, that's it, mother; it's because you are a bit put out.  But you'll
see it in the right light soon."

"Ah!" he continued, rearranging the band round his forehead; and then,
catching sight of a letter tucked behind the glass, "Now, if old Uncle
Rounce's money--or present, as he calls it--would drop in now, it would
be welcome."

As he spoke he opened the often-perused letter, which was written on
thin paper and bore Australian postmarks, and began to read aloud:

"`Thinking that a little money might be useful, I have sent you a
present'--and so on.  Now, I wonder when that money's coming."

"Never," said Mrs Shingle tartly.

"Now, there's where you are so wrong, mother," said Dick.  "It's very
kind of the old fellow, who must have got on famously to be able to send
us a few pounds--it's sure to be pounds when it does come."

"And it won't never come," said Mrs Shingle; "for you've had that
letter nine months."

"Well, if it don't, mother, it don't--that's all; but what I say is,
blood is thicker than water, or else old Uncle Eb--as I never see, only
heard o--wouldn't have said he'd send me a present--would he, Hoppy?"

"Hey?"

"I say Uncle Rounce wouldn't have said he'd send me a present if blood
warn't thicker than water."

"No.  Have you got it yet?" said the old fellow.

"No, not yet.  I asked Max about it, and he said he didn't believe it
would come."

"He said that, did he?"

"Yes, he said that," replied Dick, doubling the letter again, and
replacing it behind the old looking-glass.  "I dessay it'll come,
though, some day."

"You had better try and sell those boots at once," said Mrs Shingle
rather impatiently, and as if she had not much faith in the coming
money.

"Sell 'em?  Yes; but who's to buy 'em?  There's only two feet in London
as will fit 'em, and they're Max's."

"I declare it's too bad, Dick dear, and we so pressed for money.  The
rent's due, you know.  Rolling in riches, as he is, and to behave so to
his poor brother, who works so hard."

"Gently, mother, gently: it's only a way he's got.  But I do work pretty
hard, don't I?--only I'm so unlucky."

"Why don't you make a good dash at something, instead of plodding,
then?" said Hopper suddenly.

"Come, now," cried Dick, with an ill-used look and tone, "don't you turn
round on me, Hoppy, old man.  We're too good friends for that.  It's
what Max always says; and I ain't clever, so how can I?"

Hopper relapsed into silence.

"There, there, I shall get over it," continued Dick, working away; "and
as to rolling in riches, why, Max can't help rolling in riches, any more
than I can help rolling in nothing.  It's his way.  But I say, mother,
if we had riches, I think I could roll in 'em with the best."

"Don't talk nonsense, Dick," said Mrs Shingle, "when we're so worried
too.  There," she added, in a whisper, as their visitor rose, "we're
driving him away."

"Going, Hoppy, old man?" said Dick, as their visitor rose and laid aside
his pipe.

"Yes, going now," said the old fellow.  "I'll drop in, perhaps, in the
evening."

"We haven't put you out, have we?" said Dick.

"No, no, my lad; it's all right.  Dick, just lend me sixpence.  My money
is not due till Monday."

Dick's countenance fell, and he glanced at his wife.

"Have you got a sixpence, Polly?" he said.

"Not one," was the reply.

"I'm very sorry, Hoppy, old man," said Dick, looking more puzzled than
ever, and as if this time he really could not understand why he should
be so poor and his brother so rich--"but really I haven't got it."

"Never mind," said the old fellow--"never mind; I dare say I can do
without."

And, grumbling and muttering, he took up his hat and stick, and went
off.

VOLUME TWO, CHAPTER THREE.

A POOR JUDGE ON THE BENCH.

"Now he's put out," said Dick, looking puzzled at his wife.  "I did not
mean to upset him; but a man can't lend another man what he hasn't got,
can he, mother?"  There was no answer--only the clicking of Mrs
Shingle's needle against her thimble.

"I say a man can't lend what he hasn't got, can he, mother?" said Dick
again, as he bent over some strange performance that he was achieving
with an awl and some wax-end.

"I wasn't thinking of that, Dick," said his wife, with a sigh, "but of
the money for the boots."

"There, you needn't fidget about that," said Dick, throwing out his arms
so as to draw the hemp tight; "for we shouldn't have had the money if he
had kept the boots."

"Not had the money?"

"No--he meant to keep it for the rent.  He said so."

"There!" exclaimed Mrs Shingle.  "Well, that comes of having your
brother for your landlord.  He's as hard again as any one else."

"Well, Max always was a hard one, certainly, my dear.  Ever since we
were boys together, `Merry, merry boys--since we were boys together,'"
he sang.  Then, descending once more to everyday-life conversation, he
went on, "He was a hard one, Max was; and as to money, he'd always have
a penny or twopence when I had none, even if he borrowed it of me."

"And never paid it again," said his wife contemptuously.  "Well, it was
a way he had," said Dick.

"I haven't patience with him."

"No, my dear, you never did have patience with Max.  Clever chap too.
Marries his widow with lots of tin and a pair of boots--boys I mean--
ready made.  Why didn't I?"

"Ah! why indeed?" said Mrs Shingle sharply.

"Because I was a fool," said Dick, smiling pleasantly.  "Fools are best
off too, mother.  I say, fancy me with a wife like Max's!"

The idea seemed to please Dick so that he laughed and wiped one eye.

"There are worse women than Mrs Max," said Mrs Shingle.

"Yes, and there's better ones than you, I suppose, mother.  But I'm
contented, and never wanted a divorce yet."

"Dick, how can you talk so before that boy?"

"All right! but I say, mother--Here, go on with your work, you young
rascal.  Keeping your ears staring wide open like that!"

"Please, master, I couldn't help hearing," said the boy dolefully.  "I'm
a-learning my trade, and trying to obey my pastors and masters as hard
as ever I can."

"Now, lookye here," said Dick, taking up his hammer and gazing
threateningly at the boy, "I never have given it to you yet, John
Johnson, or, as I familiarly call you, from where you came and the
stripes you had on you when you came, Union Jack--"

"No, master," whined the boy, "you've been very kind indeed to me."

"I have, you hungry young alligator," said Dick.  "So look here, I won't
have it; I'm as bad as Mr Hopper that way,--I hate people to preach and
sling catechism at me so don't you do it again."

"No, master; please, I'll try very hard indeed, and obey you, as it is
my dooty to."

"Will you leave off?" roared Dick, striking his bench with the hammer,
so that the tools and nails jumped almost as much as the boy.  "You're
at it again, talking in that canting, whining, tread-underfoot,
workhouse style; and I won't have it.  What did I tell you you was?"

"A free-born Briton, please, master."

"Then why don't you act as such, and say `Yes, sir,' and `No, sir,'
outright and down straight?--not whine and grovel like a worm without
any sting in his tail."

"Please, master, I'll try and order myself lowly and reverently to all
my betters."

"Now, just hark at him!" cried Dick to his wife.

"Please, master, I'm very--"

"Ah!" shouted Dick.

"All right, master," said the boy; and he bent to his work.

"I say, mother;" said Dick, "Max is a bit put out with us."

"So it seems," said Mrs Shingle, biting her silk and stitching away.
"I think he'd be glad if we starved to death."

"Well, I don't know about that, my girl, because it wouldn't be nice to
look at, and he never liked unpleasant things; but he's a bit put out
about our Jess."

"What?" said Mrs Shingle, turning very red.

"About our Jess," said Dick, hammering away very viciously at an
inoffensive-looking bit of leather.  "He's got to know about those boys
being so fond of coming here."

"Our Jessie's as good as his boys," said Mrs Shingle sharply, and ready
to stand her ground, now that the truth was out.

"So she is, my gal--so she is, every bit; but she's only copper, and
they're silver-gilt in his eyes, if they ain't gold.--Here, you sir,
you're listening again, instead of working," he shouted to the boy, who
began to gum his hands liberally with wax and roll the threads on his
lath-like knees.--"But Max has been on to me about it, and he says he
won't have it; and I always told them so, 'specially Tom.  `Tom,' I
says, `your governor won't like your coming here,' I says; `and he'll
think all sorts of things about it.'"

"Just as if money need make any difference!" exclaimed Mrs Shingle.

"It needn't, my gal," said Dick, grunting over his work; "but it do--it
makes all the difference; you see if it don't.  For if you don't go off
with that bit of shoe-binding of yours, and bring back the money, we
sha'n't get any dinner, and that's very different to having it.  But
where's Jessie?"

"Gone to the warehouse."

"What, all-alone!  Now, look here, mother--I won't have it.  She's too
young and pretty to go there all alone, and I won't have her left to be
followed and annoyed by counter-jumpers, and that fellow as gives out
the work.  You know she came home crying on Friday.  Why didn't you go
with her?"

"I had this to finish, Dick."

"You've always got _this_ to finish," said Dick testily.  "Then you
should have kept her till I came back."

"But it would have been too late, Dick.  Where are you going?" she
cried, as he rose and began to untie his apron.  "To meet her," he
exclaimed angrily.

"But she hasn't gone alone, Dick," said the wife softly.

"If you've let her go there with that Fred Fraser, Polly, I'll never
forgive you," cried Dick.

"She's gone with Tom, dear."

"Tom, dear, indeed!  It isn't `Tom, dear,' and it isn't going to be
`Tom, dear,'" exclaimed Dick, re-tying his apron viciously.

"But he came, dear, just as she was starting, and he begged so hard that
I was obliged to let him take her."

"There you go!" cried Dick, hammering again at the piece of unoffending
leather.  "You'll ruin me before you've done.  Here's Max says only this
morning, says he, `I won't have that gal of yours hanging about after my
wife's sons.'  He said `_gal_' and `my wife's sons.'  And I, feeling a
bit up, says back, `Lookye here, Max, I can't help your _boys_ coming to
my house.  I'm not going to send my _daughter_ away.'  I think that was
pretty sharp on him, you know; when, `Damn your impudence,' he says.--
Look here, Jack," continued Dick, pointing at the boy with his hammer,
"I promised the workhouse authorities as I'd bring you up moral, so
don't you go telling anybody as your master swears, because that was
some one else."

"All right, master," said the boy smartly.

"That's better," cried Dick; "don't whine.  Well, mother, then he gets
in a towering rage, and showed me what was the matter with the boots.
They'd got Jessie in 'em; that's where they wouldn't fit.  `How dare you
speak to me in that familiar way, sir!' he says, sticking himself out
and looking big, like a poor-law guardian.  `When I employ you, sir, as
an humble tradesman, I desire you pay me proper respect.'  And now,
mother, you've been and made worse of it.  Hang me, if I don't turn
burglar, or something to make money, if things don't mend!  I'm sick of
being poor."

"No, don't, please, master," said the boy, with a whine.  "Honesty's the
best policy.  And he who steals comes to a bad end."

"Now, just look here, young fellow," cried Dick, with a serio-comic look
on his face, as he raised his hammer once more, "burglary's bad enough,
but killing's worse.  There was a man once who had a boy from a workus,
just as I've had you, to teach you a trade--"

"Yes, master," said the boy, with eyes and mouth wide open.

"Well, he killed him with ill-usage, that's all.  I shouldn't like to
kill you, you know, so don't you get chucking any more of your copy-book
texts at me again."

"All right, master," said the boy, wiping his eyes.

"Now, look here, mother: once for all, I won't have it.  I'm as poor as
I can be to get along; and though we've swallowed my watch, and the
sugar-tongs and spoons, I haven't swallowed my little bit of pride; and
the next time that Tom or that Fred comes here, see if I don't call him
a son of a purse-proud, stuck-up father, and slam the door in his
face.--Now, you be off."

"Yes, Dick," said his wife meekly; and she rose and gathered together
her work.  "But, Dick, you're not very cross with me?"

"Well, perhaps not," he said; and his eyes endorsed his words.

"But, look here, Dick: if Tom comes back with Jessie, you won't say
anything unkind to him--for her sake?"

"Won't I?" cried Dick sharply.  "I'll shy the lapstone at him!  If he's
too good for my Jessie, she's too good for him."

"But don't hurt their feelings, Dick," she whispered, so that the boy
should not hear.

"I don't want to hurt her feelings," said Dick, yielding to his wife's
influence.  "But there, you're trying to come the soft on me again, as
you always do, and I won't have it.  Now be off."

"Yes, Dick--I'm going," she said quickly, as she put on her bonnet and
shawl.  "But I know you won't be unkind."

"Won't I?" said Dick, as the door closed.  "I'll show some of them yet!
I can be a regular savage when I like--can't I, Jack?"

"Please, what did you say, master?" whined the boy.

"I can be a regular savage when I like--can't I?" shouted Dick.

"Yes, master.--Please, master, I'm so hungry."

"So what?"

"So hungry, please, master."

"Hungry?  Why, the boy's mad!" cried Dick, looking up in mock
astonishment.  "How dare you, sir?  Hungry, indeed!  There, take that
wax-out of your mouth.  You're always trying to ruin me by eating the
wax or chewing leather."

"I can't help it, master," said the boy.  "Please, I'm so hungry."

"Hungry!" exclaimed Dick, with mock heroic diction.  "Brought up, too,
as you were, at one of the first workhouses in the kingdom!"

"Please, master, I can't help it," said the boy.  "I feel so hollow
inside."

"Hollow?  Nonsense, sir!  It's bad tendencies, or desire for gluttony
and wine-bibbing.  And after I've been such a good master to you!"

"Yes, master; and I'll never, never, never--"

"`Never, never, never shall be slaves,'" sang Dick, in his musical tenor
voice.  "But don't you say that, Jack, my boy; because if you keep on
running out of your trousers as you do, and looking like something
growing out of two beans, which is your boots, and then joining in the
middle and running up to a head, I sha'n't want you, specially if you're
going to be hollow, and want filling out."

"But I don't want filling out, master, only just a little sometimes.  I
can't help feeling hollow, and as if something was gnawing me."

"Gnawing?  Yes, that's it," cried Dick.  "I always told you so.  That's
it.  You will devour your food in such a way that it don't digest; and
that's what you feel, sir--gnawing pains.  There, fix up them bristles.
You ain't hungry."

"It feels very much like as I used to feel at the House, master," said
the boy.  "We all of us used to feel hollow there sometimes on rice
days.  I can't help it, please."

"Now, look ye here, my fine fellow, it won't do, so I tell you.  I'm
your master, ain't I?"

"Yes, please," said the boy, making a scoop with his hand.  "Leave off!
I won't have it!" cried Dick.  "You ain't to bow to me.  I say as your
master I ought to know best, and I say you ain't hungry; and, look here,
don't you chew wax and leather any more, because they're my property,
and you'll be tempted to swallow them, when it will not only be petty
larceny, but they'll disagree with you.  Now, go on sorting out the best
o' them bits o' leather."

"Yes, master," said the boy.

Dick rose from his bench, and went to the cupboard to see if there was a
crust of bread and some butter to give to the boy; but it was quite
empty, and he began to walk up and down, talking to himself.

"It's very hard," he muttered dolefully; "but the more I try to get on
the more I don't, and if things don't mend God knows what's to become of
us.  Poor Polly! she frets a deal, only she hides it; and as for
Jessie--There, there, there, I can't bear to think of it!" he groaned.
"I must have been a fool, and so can't get on."

He scuffled back to his seat, for a familiar step was heard in the
court; and, taking up his work, he began to sing merrily, after adjuring
the boy to go on ahead.

"Hollo, mother!" he cried, as his wife entered the room: "brought the
money?"

"No, Dick," said Mrs Shingle sadly; "they don't pay till next week."

"Don't pay for a week!" said Dick, letting his hands drop, but
recovering himself directly.  "All right!" he cried,--"so much in
store.--`Cheer up, Sam, and don't let your spirits go down,'" he sang.
"I say, mother, ain't it time that Jessie was back?"

"Yes," said Mrs Shingle sadly; "she'll be back soon.  It's very hard,
though, and it seems as if it never rained but it poured."

"Never does," said Dick cheerily; "`So put up your gingham and drive
away care,'" he sang.  "Hang it, mother, I hope it won't really rain
before she comes back.  Did she take the big umbrella?"

"No, father."

"Ah! bad job; but never mind--perhaps it won't rain.  Go along, Jack, my
lad: you don't feel hollow inside now, do you?"

"Yes, please, master--ever so much hollower," said the boy pitifully.

"I never see such a boy," cried Dick.  "Here, open the door, mother,--
it's Jessie.  Hollo!" he cried, jumping up; "what's the matter?"

"Oh, father, father!" sobbed the girl, running to his arms.

"Why, my precious!" he exclaimed, patting her cheek, "what is it?  Has
any one dared?  Oh, that's it, is it?" he muttered; for his brother,
closely followed by his younger step-son, entered the room.

VOLUME TWO, CHAPTER FOUR.

A BROTHERS' QUARREL.

Maximilian Shingle was a heavy, broad-faced man, very cleanly shaven,
and with grey hair very smoothly brushed.  His black suit was as glossy
as a first-class undertakers, and he always wore an old-style bunch of
seals beneath his vest, with which he played as he spoke, spinning them
round, while his other hand flourished a black ebony stick, with a gold
top and a good deal of tassel.

Metaphorically speaking, there was a good deal of tassel all about
Maximilian, for he swung and flourished about in his words and deeds,
and always seemed to be more showy than substantial; and even now, when
he was very white, and evidently in a towering passion, he flourished
his seals and stick, and turned threateningly upon his brother; whilst
the boy, who seemed to see in him a workhouse official or Poor-law
guardian, softly stole into the back room, and surveyed the proceedings
through the crack of the door.

In fact, the moment you saw Max Shingle, you said to yourself, "What a
splendid man for a beadle!"  And so he was: put him in uniform, and he
would have been simply perfect--from the soft roll of fat under his chin
to the well-rounded calf of his leg, which showed so prominently through
his well-cut trousers.  His very appearance aggravated you, and caused
an itching beneath the nail of your right toe; for he was one of those
men whom nature out of pure beneficence moulded to be kicked as a relief
to abnormal irritation.  His appearance at every turn suggested it,
inasmuch as he was padded with tissue of the most elastic nature, such
as would yield easily to the foot; and thus the kicker would run no
risks either of hurting himself or committing homicide, while he
obtained the satisfaction all the same.

"Now, sir," began Max, fiercely addressing his brother, "what have you
to say?"

"Well, I don't know yet," said Dick, looking in a puzzled way from one
to the other.  "What is it?"

"Don't know!" cried Max.  "Didn't I speak to you, sir, an hour or two
back?"

"Was it an hour or two back?" said Dick, who still held and soothed
Jessie, as she clung to him.

"Yes, it was, sir!" cried Max, who was surprised that his brother did
not cower, according to his wont.  "I told you an hour or two ago that I
would not have these disgraceful proceedings."

"What disgraceful proceedings?" said Dick sullenly.

"These," cried Max, pointing with his stick first at Jessie and then at
Tom.  "I speak to you, and warn you--"

"Let me say a word," began Tom.

"Hold your tongue, sir!" cried Max, holding up his stick; but the young
man did not flinch.  "I say, I speak to you and warn you, and directly
after I find your girl arm-in-arm with this foolish son of mine in the
open street, sir--in the open street."

"Well, Max, you can't have the streets shut up," said Dick quietly.

"How dare you address me, sir, like that?" cried Max.  "Will you listen,
Mr Shingle?" cried Tom, who was losing patience--"it was all my fault."

"Silence, sir!  I will not hear a word.  Your conduct is disgraceful,
and after the Christian example that has been set you--"

"I don't see anything unchristianlike in loving a good, sweet girl,
sir," said the young man stoutly.  "I cannot stand here and let you
speak like this."

"Then go, sir, go; and never dare to enter beneath this roof again while
these people are here," cried Max.  "I suppose you have had baits set to
coax you into the trap, you silly pigeon?"

"Indeed--"

"But let me tell them all," said Max, looking round with supreme
disgust, "that if their nefarious scheme had succeeded, you would not
have received a shilling from me."  Dick broke in here.  He had been
ready to explode several times, but had been kept back by wife and
child.  Now he could contain himself no longer.

"Here, let me say a word," he exclaimed.  "He hasn't been coaxed here,
nor anything of the sort, Mr Max.  We don't want him, and won't have
him; so there now."

"Oh, father!" exclaimed Jessie.

"You hold your tongue, miss," cried Dick, "and just try and have some
pride in you."

"How dare you speak to me like that, sir!" cried Max, frowning
portentously--"how dare you!  You, whom I've tried to raise out of the
mud, but who always would persist in grovelling!"

"I shouldn't have had to grovel so much if people paid me for the boots
they ordered," said Dick.

"You contemptible wretch!" cried Max.  "You cloven-hoofed viper, who
persists in turning and biting the hand that helped you!  And after all
we meant to do for you to try and raise you!--to endeavour to clothe and
educate your neglected child, whose conduct as a work-girl is most
reprehensible."

"Look here," cried Dick, whose face was working with anger.

"Silence, sir!" cried Max, thumping his stick upon the floor.  "You grow
lower and lower year by year, and now try to reward me by making this
despicable plan to drag yourself up to my level.  Now, look here.  I've
warned you, and it has been of no use.  I have let you occupy this
house, when I might have had a better tenant, and you have got in
arrears."

"Only two weeks," cried Mrs Shingle indignantly.

"Silence, woman!" cried Max.

"Don't bully her, Max, or there'll be a row," exclaimed Dick fiercely.

"Silence, both of you!  I say I've let you get in arrears of rent for my
property; and now you shall leave it.  I'll let the house to honest
people who will pay--"

"Oh, Mr Max!" cried Mrs Shingle imploringly.

"And then I shall see the last of you, and have no more of these
disgraceful meetings."

"Mr Shingle, this is too bad," cried Tom.

"Silence, boy!" said Max, placing one hand in the breast of his glossy
frock-coat, and scowling round at all in turn.  "Does any one here think
I'd disgrace my honourable wife by permitting such an alliance?"

"Nice brotherly behaviour, this!" cried Dick indignantly.

"Brotherly?" cried Max.  "Sir, I disown all relationship with you.
You've hung on to my skirts too long, and now I'll be free of you.
Miserable, grovelling beggar!"

"I never begged or borrowed of you," said Dick.

"No; because I checked the impulse, or I should have had to keep you.
And now you want to disgrace me and mine."

"I'm sure no man could have been more industrious," put in Mrs Shingle.

"Industrious?" cried Max, looking round at the shabby half workshop,
half sitting-room.  "Industrious?  Yes, always idling in his wretched
slough, instead of trying to improve his position--to get on.  But I'll
have no more of it: leave this place you shall at once."

"Oh, Mr Shingle--Uncle Max!" cried Jessie piteously, "it was all my
fault: I ought to have known better.  Don't turn poor father and mother
out.  They work and try so hard."

"Bah!" ejaculated Max contemptuously; while Tom made for Jessie, but a
heavy arm was laid across his chest.

"Don't--pray don't," sobbed Jessie, joining her hands and looking
piteously up in the smooth, smug face.  "Don't do that, and I'll promise
never to see--never to see Tom.  No, no: I can't--I can't--I can't!" she
cried, bursting into an agony of weeping.

"You shall promise no such thing, Jessie--dear cousin," cried Tom, in a
manly way, as, extricating himself, he stepped up to her side and tried
to take her hand; but she shrank from him and clung to her mother.
"Jessie," he exclaimed, "as I'm a man, I'll be true to you in spite of
everything."

"This is your work," cried Max furiously, as he turned to his brother.
"Do you see now what you have done?"

"That was well spoke, Tom, and I never thought better of you than I do
now," said Dick, rousing himself, though his face looked more perplexed
than ever.  "But I've had enough of this here.  You and your father
belong to the swells, and I'm a poor working man.  You two are ile, and
floats on the top--we're only water, and goes to the bottom.  But
p'r'aps the water's got as much pride in it as the ile; and so's my poor
girl, when she's got her bit of sorrow over.  You're no match for her."

Max gave a loud, contemptuous laugh, which made Mrs Shingle look up as
if she would wither him.

"Not," continued Dick, "but what she's the best girl in the whole world,
though I as her father says it."

Dick took up his hammer in a helpless, meaningless way, and turned it
over and over, examining the handle and the head, and gazed from one to
the other, as if asking their opinion about the quality of the tool.

"I don't think I was ever so hard up in my life," continued Dick--"and
mother here will bear me out if I don't speak what's good as Gorspel;
but afore I'd stay under your roof I'd try the workus.  You needn't be
afraid, Mr Maximilian Shingle, as your poor shoemaker of a brother, as
has been unlucky all his life, a and never see the way to get up the
ladder without shouldering and pulling some one else down--which wasn't
his way--will ever trouble you again, nor let your wife's boys come
hanging about after his poor dear gal.  I never encouraged it, and never
shall.  Some day, p'r'aps, you'll come yourself and ask for it to be."

"I ask!" cried Max--"a common sempstress, an impudent drab!"

"Mr Shingle!" cried Tom furiously.

"Silence, sir!" shouted Max, who, roused by the opposition he had
received, struck at his step-son with his tasselled cane.  "I said an
impudent, bold-faced drab!"

"Stop!" roared Dick, from whose face the puzzled look seemed to have
departed, to give place to one of angry decision; and he stepped, hammer
in hand, close up to his brother.  "Look here, Max," he cried, in a low,
hoarse voice, "I don't want to play Cain, and there ain't much of the
Abel about you; but my poor gal here,"--he placed his arm round her as
he spoke, and she hid her hot, indignant face upon his shoulder--"my
poor gal here, I say, once read to me when she was a little un about a
blacksmith knocking a man down with his hammer because he insulted his
daughter.  Now, you've insulted my dear, sweet gal, as the very poorest
and lowest labourer about here has a respectful word for, and even the
very costers at the stalls; and you've made my blood bile--poor, and
thin, and beggarly as it is.  So, now then, this is my house till I
leaves it.  I ain't Wat Tyler, and you ain't a tax-gatherer, but if you
ain't gone in half a moment I'll give you what for."

"You scoundrel--you shall repent this!" cried Max.

But Dick made at him so menacingly that he hurried out of the house.

"Uncle," began Tom, who had stopped behind.

"Off with you!" cried Dick sternly.  "I won't hear a word.  No: nor you
sha'n't touch her.  Jessie, say good-bye to him, and there's an end of
it.  We'll emigrate."

"Oh, father, what have I done?" cried Jessie.

"Nothing, Jessie, but what is right, my own darling; and here, before
your father and mother--"

"Tom!" shouted Max from without.

"I swear," continued Tom, "that I'll never give you up."

"That'll do," said Dick, uncompromisingly.  "He's calling you.  Out of
my house!"

"Uncle," said Tom, "when you are cooler you'll think better of me, I
hope.  I can't help this.  I do love Jessie dearly."

"I won't hear a word," cried Dick.

"But you'll shake hands with me?"

"No: I'm a poor shoemaker, and you're a gentleman.  Be off!"

"Oh, father! father!" cried Jessie; and she flung her arms round his
neck.

"No, I won't give way," cried Dick; but he was patting and soothing his
child as he spoke.

"Shake hands with him, Dick," whispered Mrs Shingle.  "It ain't his
fault."

"I won't!" cried Dick.  "It _is_ his fault.  He had no business to
come."

"No, father, it was my fault," sobbed Jessie.  "Shake hands with him--
please do!"

All this while Tom was standing with extended hand; and at last Dick's
went out to join it for a moment, and was then snatched away.

"Good-bye, dear Jessie," said Tom then; "but mind, I shall keep to my
word."

"Is that scoundrel coming?" said Max from without.  Dick made a vicious
"offer," as if to throw his hammer at the door; but Mrs Shingle took it
from his hand.

"I'm coming," said Tom loudly; and then, taking Jessie's hand, he kissed
it tenderly, and, as the poor girl began to sob piteously, he hurried
out of the house and was gone.

VOLUME TWO, CHAPTER FIVE.

FRED IS BUSY.

The offices of Maximilian Shingle were on the first-floor, in a narrow
turning close to the Royal Exchange; and, though they were dark and
inconvenient, they were handsomely furnished, as befitted a suite of
three rooms for which a heavy rent was paid.  The outer room was
occupied by four clerks, the second room was allotted to his wife's
elder son, and the inner sanctum was Max's own.

A morning or two after the visit to Crowder's Buildings, Fred was seated
at his table, with a small open book before him--one which evidently had
nothing to do with stock-broking; but he was studying it so hard that
the lines were deeply marked upon his effeminate face.

Twice over he started, and closed it hastily, as he heard a step
outside; but, after listening for a few moments, he resumed his task,
and kept on with his study for some time.  Then he closed the little
memorandum book with a sigh, placed it carefully in his pocket, and
opening a drawer, took out some doubled blotting paper, between which,
on opening it, lay a piece of tracing paper and an old bill of exchange.

Placing this convenient to his hand, he also took a large blotter,
arranged in it a sheet of paper, and wrote in the date and some
half-dozen lines, before moving blotter and letter into a handy
position.

This done, he listened for a few moments, and then taking the tracing
paper and bill, began to go over the signature very carefully, writing
it again and again, beginning at the top of his tracing paper, and
forming a column of signatures.

Then there was a knock at the door; and as Fred cried "Come in!" the
blotter was drawn deftly over the tracing paper, and he went on writing.

A clerk brought in a couple of letters to be signed, and this being done
he retired; when Fred resumed his task, working away patiently, and
always going over the writing again.

This went on for half an hour or so, until the young man started, and
hastily drew the blotter over his work; for the door was being opened
very slowly and quietly, and in a heavy, noiseless way, old Hopper
entered the room.

"How do, Fred?" he said, approaching the table slowly.

"How do?" was the short, sharp reply.  "What does he want?" he muttered.

"Hey?"

"I say what hot weather."

"Don't shout: I'm not so deaf as all that," said the old fellow hastily.
"Father in his room?"

"Yes," said Fred; "he's in there."

"Hey?"

"I say he's in there," roared the young man.

"I wish you wouldn't shout so, my lad," said the old man sourly.  "I
don't want the drums of my ears split.  I could hear what you said.  And
how is the dear, good man, eh?"

"Same as usual," replied Fred, with a grin.

"Ah!" said Hopper, "you ought to be a very good young man, having such a
step-father."

"I am," replied Fred.

"Hey?"

"I say I am," shouted Fred.

"So I suppose," said the old fellow, chuckling, and looking at him with
a strange expression of countenance.  "Well, tell him I want to see
him."

_Ting_!

There was the sharp sound of a gong heard in the next room, and Fred
rose to answer it.  He glanced first at the old man, and then down at
his letter; but a second stroke on the gong made him hurry to the inner
door, which he opened, and stood with his head half inside; but a few
sharp peremptory words were heard, and he went in and closed the door,
leaving Hopper waiting.

Fred was not gone many minutes; and when he returned it was to find the
visitor had taken a chair, and was busy over the contents of a bulky
pocket-book, which he secured as the young man appeared, and returned to
the pocket in the breast of his ugly, ill-cut dress-coat.

"He says you can go in, but he can only give you ten minutes," said
Fred.

"Won't see me for ten minutes?" said the old fellow.

"Says you may go in for ten minutes," shouted the young man; and then,
in a whisper, "Confounded old nuisance!"

Old Hopper turned half round, and gave him a peculiar leer, shaking his
head and chuckling to himself as he went slowly towards the door of Max
Shingle's office, putting down his stick heavily in the recurring
pattern of the floorcloth, closely followed by Fred, who showed him in.

"What the governor has that deaf old beetle hanging about him for, I
can't make out," said the young man, returning to his seat; and he was
about to continue his task when a fresh knock at the door made him
hastily thrust his papers into the drawer of the table, lock it, and
take out the key.

"Ah, my dear Hopper, how are you?" said Max, smiling amiably, and making
his eyes beam upon his visitor.

"Hey?  How am I?" snarled the old fellow, giving his stick a thump on
the floor.  "What's that to you?  I'm not dying yet.  Ain't you sorry?"

"Sorry?  Heaven forbid!" said Max unctuously, as he shook his head
reproachfully at his visitor, and then, taking hold of his watch-ribbon,
threw himself back in his chair and began to spin the seals round and
round.

"Don't!  Be quiet!" cried Hopper, thrusting out the point of his stick,
so that the seals struck upon it and were arrested in their motion.
"Think I'm not bilious enough with looking at you, without having that
thing spun round in my face?"

Max laughed, but looked annoyed; while the old fellow took a seat
unasked.

"What can I do for you?" said Max at last, smiling blandly.

"Give me a glass of wine.  I'm hot and tired."

"Really, I--" began Max.

"It's in that stand," said the old fellow, chuckling, as he pointed with
his stick at a handsome mahogany cellarette at one end of the room; when
Max, whose smile was tempered a good deal with a look of annoyance,
rose, sighed, secured the door with a little bolt, and then unlocked the
cellarette and took out a decanter and glass.

"No, thank you--I don't smoke cigars," said the old fellow, as he
watched the sherry poured into the glass.  "Hey!  You weren't going to
offer me one?  Ho!  I was afraid you were."

Max had not spoken; but he winced as he heard these words--preserving
his smile, though, when he turned his face to his visitor and passed the
wine.

"Not bad, Max--not bad," said the old fellow, tasting the sherry and
smacking his lips before pouring the rest down his throat.  "How you
must mug yourself here!  Lucky dog, lucky dog!  Now, if I had taken to
stock-broking instead of ship's husbanding, I might have been as well
off as you."

"Oh dear, no; I'm not well off," said Max.

"Hey?"

"I say I'm not well off," said Max, more loudly.

"That's a pity," said the old fellow.  "Never mind, I'll have another
glass, all the same.  Fill it full this time."

Max shut his teeth with a snap, but he filled the glass brimming full,
and then restopped the decanter.

"So you're not well off, hey?" said Hopper.

"Very, very short," said Max, with his mouth close to his visitor's ear.

"Humph!  Sorry to hear it, because I want to borrow five pounds of you,"
said Hopper.  "You've got that, I suppose?"

"Indeed, no.  I'm very sorry," began Max.

"So am I," said the old fellow shortly.  "Hah, Max Shingle, how you'd
have liked to stick a dose of poison in that wine, wouldn't you?"

"Really, Mr Hopper," began Max indignantly, and he half rose.

But the old man laid his stick upon his shoulder like a sceptre, and
forced him down.

"Sit still, stupid!" cried the old man.  "I know what you are going to
say.  Surprised at my making such remarks, and so on.  But you would
like to, and I believe you'd do it if it was not for the fear of the
law.  I say, Max," he chuckled, "it would take a strong new rope to hang
you."

Max laid his hands upon the arms of his handsome, well-stuffed easy
chair, and turned of a pale dough colour, as he glared at his visitor.

"I don't wonder at it," chuckled Hopper.  "It must be very unpleasant to
have a man come to see you, and invade the sanctity--sanctity, yes,
sanctity, that's the word--of your home and private office, who knows
what a scoundrel you are."

"For Heaven's sake, speak lower!" cried Max, in a hoarse whisper.

"All right," said Hopper, nodding.  "Especially to a man like you, who
goes in for the religious dodge, and is so looked up to and respected by
every one.  Ha! ha! ha!" he chuckled--"what a wonderful deal is done in
this world, Max, by humbug!"

Max began to wipe his wet face with his handkerchief, glaring the while
helplessly at his tormentor.

"You're such a good man, too, now," said Hopper, laughing, and evidently
enjoying the other's discomfiture.  "I saw you coming from service last
Sunday, with the wife, and that dear youth in the next room, Fred, all
carrying limp hymn-books.  I say, Max, your prayers must be precious
limp, too."

"Say what you have to say, and then go, for Heaven's sake!" gasped Max.

"Hey! say what I have to say?  How I can read your fat lips, Max!  I
never feel my deafness when you are speaking.  Well, I am saying what I
have to say.  I don't often speak out like this."

"Only when you want money," muttered Max.

"Only when I want money?  Right.  There, I told you I could read off
your lips every word you say, so don't begin to curse me, and wish I was
dead, because it will only make me want more.  Think it, if you like.  I
say, you must look sharp after that boy Fred, or he'll go to the bad."

Max frowned.

"If he was half such a lad as Tom!"

"Tom's a scoundrel--a vagabond!" exclaimed Max furiously.

"Yes, yes, of course.  To be sure he is.  Every one is who doesn't do as
you wish, Max Shingle.  I'm a horrible old scoundrel, and yet you're
obliged to put up with me.  You can't afford to offend me, and I come to
your house as often as I like; and I shall keep on doing so, because
it's good for you.  I'm like a conscience to you, and a devilish ugly
old conscience, eh?--a deaf conscience--and I keep you from being a
bigger scoundrel than you are.  I say, Max, you'd give a thousand pounds
down, now, to hear I was dead, wouldn't you?"

"What is the good of talking like this?" said Max, leaning over to
whisper to his visitor.

"Hey?  What's the good?  A deal--does you good.  I say, Max, I've often
thought that you might be tempted to get me killed--by accident, of
course.  It is tempting, I know.  You'd feel as if the old slate with
the nasty writing on was wiped clean with a sponge.  But it would be so
ugly for such a good man to be exposed to such a temptation, and uglier
still to add the crime of side-blow murder to his other sins.  So do you
know what I've done to save you from temptation?"

There was a curious malignity of expression in the old man's face as,
with a chuckling laugh, he asked his question and saw its effect.

"No!  What?" exclaimed Max, in agony.

"Well, I've written it all down neatly on paper--not on a slate; and
I've deposited it with my will."

"Where?"

"Ah, yes, that's another thing.  Where it would be opened and read
directly I was dead.  Ha! ha! ha!  Max, what an _expose_ that would be!
But don't be nervous, man, and look so white.  It wouldn't be a hanging
matter."  Max stretched across the table, and laid his hand upon his
visitor's lips; but the old man thrust his chair back, gave the hand a
sharp rap with his stick, and Max shrank back in his chair.

"It isn't, I say, a hanging matter.  But I say, Max, old fellow, I
should look sharp after that boy Fred.  Don't let him get into
temptation.  Like father, like son.  Now, Tom--"

"Curse Tom!" cried Max, biting his nails.

"Not I," laughed the old man.  "He isn't so bad; and you curse him quite
often enough, you know.  Ah, Max, what a blessing and relief it must be
to you that you have reformed so, and become such a good, pious man!"

Max raised his hands.

"One of those dear, good creatures," chuckled the old fellow, "who go
through life saying `Have mercy upon us miserable sinners,' and then
feel so happy.  Not a bit of the Pharisee about you, Max--all humble
Publican.  I say, why don't you build a church or a chapel?  That's the
proper thing to do.  `Publican' put me in mind of it.  It's what the
brewers and distillers do.  Make fortunes out of the vice and misery of
the people, and then buy a seat in the heavenly Parliament by building a
church--"

"My dear Hopper," began Max.

"And endowing it."

"Will you listen to me, Hopper?"

"They think they can cheat God with their sham repentance.  Ha! ha!
ha!--it's a rare joke, 'pon my word.  Now, you know, Max, I'm just such
a fool in my way, for I get thinking He'd have more respect for an
honest old reprobate like me.  But we shall see, Max, when we die--when
we die; when you die, and the gravedigger puts you to bed with a
shovel."

A spasm seemed to shoot across the other's face at these last words.

"I am an out-and-out bad one, you know, Max.  I never go to chapel and
hold the plate--never dip a little out of it, Max, in the vestry!"

"Man, are you the Devil?" muttered Max.

"Yes, if you like."

"Then you are not deaf!" cried Max triumphantly.

"Honestly; but I can read your lips as well as your heart, my dear
friend.  Devil?  Because I know about that ugly bit of forgery for which
you ought to have served your time."

"Will you be silent?" cried Max, with an agonised look at the door.

"No," said the other coolly.  "Devil because I saw through the Uncle
Rounce business?  Perhaps I am," he continued, as he saw Max wince, "for
I never believed in the Excelsior game--to go up higher--because it's so
cold.  I'm not a pure-minded man, Max, but would rather stay in the
valley, and lay my head on the nice, pleasant, plump young woman's
breast--so comfortable and cosy and warm.  Eh, you dog--eh?"

He poked Max with his stick as he spoke, and then chuckled at the
other's horrified air.

"I'm no cackle-spinner, like you, Max; I never went through the world
saying it was all vanity and vexation of spirit, and a vale of tears;
and howled hymns, declaring that I was sick of it, and wanted to die and
get out of it as soon as I could, because it was such a wicked, wretched
place.  I never told people I had a call, like you did; and played
shepherd in a white choker, and went and delivered addresses to the lost
lambs outside the fold."

"They'll hear you in the outer office," cried Max vainly, for Hopper
went on:--

"Because I was always a wolf, and liked the world, and thought it very
beautiful, and loved it; and when I caught a lost lamb I took him and
ate him right off, because it was my nature.  Not like you, my gentle
shepherd, who, of course without any vanity or self-interest, coaxed the
lambs into the fold; and when you killed one, you had him nicely dressed
with mint sauce.  Eh, Max? mint sauce--the tap out of the barrels that
they take into the bank."

"Are you mad?" exclaimed Max, at last.

"Mad as a hatter," said the old fellow, grinning; "that's why I chose
the wrong way.  Not like you.  Ah, Max, when we both die, what a
beautiful plump cherub you'll make up aloft there, and what an ugly old
sinner I shall be down below!  How sorry you'll be for me, won't you?"

"Pray, let us bring this interview to an end," gasped Max.

"No hurry," said Hopper.  "I told you I was bilious when you were
spinning that bunch of seals of yours.  This is all bile.  I'm getting
rid of it.  I shall be better afterwards.  I have not had a go at you
for a twelvemonth.  I haven't half done yet.  I'm not a pithy man, like
you--more pith than heart--but long-winded.  Ah, I'm a wicked old
wretch, ain't I, and always turned a deaf ear to what was good?"

"But I am busy," pleaded Max.

"So am I," said Hopper, chuckling, and giving a box on the table a poke
with his stick--"busy giving you a taste of my bile.--What have you got
there, my pious old saint?  `Donations for the debt fund of St Ursula's
Church.'  Ah! that's a pretty respectable way of doing things--that is.
Church in debt.  Built up, I'll be bound, with fal-lals and fancy work
and stained glass, and a quire inside--twenty-four sheets to wrap up
singing men and boys.  Now, look here, Max: if I built a place and
hadn't money to pay for it, you'd call me a rogue."

"Shall we try and transact the bit of business you came about?" said Max
humbly.

"Presently," said Hopper, who was now wound up, and determined to go on.
"Ah, Max, you don't know what a wicked old man I've grown," he
continued, with a sly twinkle in his eye.  "But you see I can preach
morality--my fashion."

"We shall never agree upon such points," said Max wearily.

"Of course not, till you convert me, Max.  I'm a brand for the burning,
Max.  Why don't you try and save me?  Teach me to sing some of those
nice hymns you know by heart--`Fain would I leave this weary world.'
Bah!  How many would fain?  Who made it weary?  Who filled the beautiful
world full of diseases and death and wickedness?  Humbugs, sir--humbugs.
I'm an old worldling, and I was put here in the world, and the longer I
live the more beautiful I find it; and I don't want to leave it, even to
carry your secret with me, friend Max Shingle.  I mean to live as long
as I can, taking my share of the bad as bitter to make the good sweet;
and when it's time to set sail for the other land, I mean to go like a
man, and say `Thank God for it all.  Amen!'  There's a wicked old
reprobate for you, Max.  Why don't you try to convert this old
scoundrel, eh?  Ah!  I'm a bad one--a regular bad one--hopelessly lost.
And now I've got rid of all my bile, and feel better, get out your
cheque-book."

Max rose with a sigh, unlocked the iron safe in the corner, and took out
a cheque-book and laid it upon a table.

"I can very ill spare this, John Hopper," he said.  "Five pounds are
five pounds now."

"Always were, stupid!" said the old fellow.  "Dear me, how much better I
can hear to-day!  Got rid of all that bile," he added, considering.
"But don't you draw that for five pounds.  Make it ten."

"Ten pounds!" gasped Max.

"Yes.  Five extra for your conscience.  You don't suppose your poor
conscience is going to preach to you, as it has to-day, for nothing?"

"But--" commenced Max.

"Ten pounds, you goodly saint--you man after Heaven's own heart--you
halo-promised piece of piety and man of heavenly manna!" cried Hopper.
"Make it ten pounds directly, O smooth-faced piece of benignity, or I
shall want twenty in less than a minute."

Max Shingle hastily drew a cheque for ten pounds, blotted it, and passed
it over; for he knew only too well that his visitor would keep his word,
and that he should be obliged to obey.

"That'll do--for the present," said Hopper, grinning, as he folded the
cheque and placed it in his gouty pocket-book.  Then he rose to go.

"Good-bye: God bless you, Max!  What a good thing it is for me that I
have a wealthy saint who can relieve my necessities!  Thank you, my
dearest and best friend.  I sha'n't give you any acknowledgment, because
I know you mean this for a gift.  Good-bye."

"Good-bye," said Max, who could hardly contain his rage.

"Good-bye.  And a word more from your conscience.  Good advice, mind.
Look after Master Fred.  Don't let him go your way."

"You've got your money.  Now be silent!" cried Max, savagely.

"All right," said the old fellow; and he walked out, making his stick
thump the floor, and nodding at Fred as he passed through to the outer
office; while Max, as soon as he was alone, ground his teeth with rage,
as he heaped a series of very unchristianlike curses upon his visitor's
head.

"Yes," he said in a hoarse whisper, "he must be a devil, or he couldn't
have known about Uncle Rounce."

VOLUME TWO, CHAPTER SIX.

THE FLY ON THE WALL.

"Well, mother, it might have been worse," said Richard, sitting down to
his humble dinner about a week later.  "Here, Jessie, pull my ears."

Jessie, who looked very pale and red-eyed, as if with weeping, went
behind her father's chair, took hold of his ears playfully, and pulled
them, while he drew one hand before his face.

"Will that do, dear?" she said, drawing his head back so that she could
kiss his puzzled forehead.

"Beautiful, my darling!  Nothing like it.  Tightens the skin, and takes
out all the wrinkles.  Keeps you young-looking, and makes your wife fond
of you.  Don't it, mother?"

Mrs Shingle sighed, but looked at him affectionately, as she placed a
spoon in the potatoes.

"That's right," said Dick.  "Smiles is human sunshine, and don't cost
anything.  You both look as bright again to-day.  Hallo! old fellow," he
continued, thrusting a spoon into some hash.  "Now, it won't do, you
know.  You can't deceive me, in spite of your brown gravy.  You're that
half-shoulder of mutton we had on Sunday."

"Yes, it is, Dick," said Mrs Shingle.

"I knew it.  Didn't he gape wide open as soon as I cut into him, and
pretend that three people had been helped?  Oh, I knew him again!  Come,
look bright, both of you: things might be worse.  See how I'm trying to
shine!  Come on: the best side of the looking-glass, both of you.  The
glue and wood will do for old Max."

In spite of his endeavours, the dinner was a sorry repast, the only one
who enjoyed it being the boy; and as soon as it was cleared away, Dick
and the others resumed their work.

"Do you really mean to go, Dick?" said his wife at last, after making
three or four efforts to speak.

"Yes, certain!" he said; and he glanced at Jessie, who was just then
looking at him, when both lowered their eyes directly.

"But how can we leave without paying?"  Mrs Shingle ventured to say at
last.

"Sell the furniture," said Dick bitterly.  "There--it's no use, mother,
I won't humble myself to him no more.  I've as good as took a couple of
rooms off St John Street, and go we will--for many reasons," he added.

"But, Dick dear--"

"Hold your tongue, mother!" he cried sternly.  "I'm going to turn over a
new leaf.  Other folks make money; I'm going to make some now--somehow.
But I don't know how," he added to himself.  "Now, you sir, get on--
we've got to make a fortune yet," he continued, hammering away; while
Jessie's sewing machine clicked musically, and her little
white-stockinged feet seemed to twinkle as they played up and down.

Mrs Shingle looked very much in trouble, for every now and then she
wiped a furtive tear from her eye.

"How much money did you bring from the warehouse this morning, my gal?"
said Dick suddenly, as he looked up from playing cat's-cradle over a
boot.

Jessie gazed at him in a frightened manner, and then dropped her head
lower over her machine, while her hands trembled so that she could
hardly direct her work.

"I say, Jessie, my gal, how much did you draw this morning?"

"None, father," said Jessie, with a sob.  And then, covering her face
with her hands, she burst into a passion of weeping.

"Why, Jess, my gal--Jess!" cried Dick, dropping stirrup-leather and
boot.  "Here, you sir: here's a penny.  Go down to Wilson's and get a
pen'orth o' wax."

"But here is plenty, master," said the boy.

"Go down to Wilson's and get a pen'orth o' wax," said Dick sternly.

"Hadn't I better go to Singley's, sir? it ain't half so far."

"Go and get a pen'orth o' wax at Wilson's," said Dick angrily.  And he
saw the boy off the premises before he crossed to Jessie.

"Why, what's the matter, my pretty one?" he said tenderly.

"Oh, father dear, don't be cross with me," she sobbed.  "I couldn't tell
you before."

"Just as if your poor stoopid old goose of a father could be cross with
you!" he said, fondling her and drawing her close to his heart.  "At
least," he added, "I could be cross, but not with anything you'd go and
do.  Now, then, what's the matter?"

"Oh, father, I can never go to the warehouse again."

"What?" said Dick; "not go--"

"No, father," she sobbed: "that man--"

She stopped short, and Dick, with his face working, patted her tenderly
on the shoulder, and then rolled up his sleeves.

"It's only father, my precious: tell him all about it," he whispered.

As he spoke he made a sign to Mrs Shingle to be silent.  "That man,
father," she sobbed hysterically--"several times lately--insulted me--
dare not say anything--the money--you so poor, dear!"

"Jessie," cried Dick, in a choking voice, "my poor darling,--if I'd
known!"

"Yes, father dear, I know," she cried, placing her arm round his neck
and kissing him tenderly; "but you wanted the money so badly, I would
not speak."

"But it was wrong, my darling," he said angrily.  "But tell me--all."

"This morning--I went," she faltered, "and there was no one in the room,
and he caught me in his arms--and kissed me," she sobbed, with her face
like crimson.  Then, indignantly, "I screamed out, and Tom--"

"Was Tom there?" cried Dick reproachfully.

"Yes, father; I could not help his being there.  We had never spoken
since that dreadful day, when Uncle Max--"

"Yes," said Dick hastily: "go on."

"But he has come and watched me every day, father, at a distance, and
seen me go to and from the warehouse."

"Bless him!" muttered Dick.

"And when I shrieked out," continued Jessie, with a look of pride
lighting up her face, "Tom rushed in; and, oh, father, it was very
dreadful!"

"What was?" said Dick hoarsely, for he was evidently suffering from
suppressed passion.

"Tom!"

"Mr Thomas Fraser, my gal?"

"Mr Thomas beat him dreadfully," continued Jessie, "till he cried for
mercy; and dear Tom--"

"Mr Thomas, my gal," said Dick, correcting.

"Made him go down upon his knees and beg my pardon, and then he brought
me away."

"God bless him!" said Dick fervently, "But it's Mr Thomas Fraser, my
dear; and he's nothing to you but a brave, true young fellow, who acted
like a man.  But, that it should come to this!" he groaned, striding up
and down the room.  "This is being a poor man, and having to eat other
people's bread.  Oh, it's dreadful, dreadful!  If she'd been rich Max's
daughter, mother, no one would have dared to insult her; and as for this
blackguard, I'll--"

He caught up the hammer, and had reached the door, when Jessie and her
mother ran and clung to him, Mrs Shingle locking the door till he
promised to be content with the castigation the fellow had received.

"Mr Tom would be sure to beat him well, father," said Mrs Shingle.

"Well, that is one comfort," said Dick, cooling a little.  "I should
have nearly killed any blackguard who had touched you.  Well, mother,"
he continued, "when things comes to the worst they mends; but it don't
seem to be so with us any more than with shoes, unless some one mends
'em, I mean to mend ours somehow.  `Why don't you try?' every one says.
Well, I do try."

Just then the boy came back, and making a sign to Jessie and his wife
not to let him see their trouble, all tried to resume their work, but in
a despairing, half-hearted manner, in the midst of which, in a doleful,
choking voice, Dick began to sing over his sewing, while the boy seemed
to keep time with the hammer with which he was driving in nails.

  "For we always are so jolly, oh--
  So jolly, oh--so jolly, oh--so jolly--"

sang Dick; but he had soon done, and his voice trailed off into a dismal
wail, as, unable to contain themselves, Jessie's face went down over her
sewing machine and Mrs Shingle hid hers in her apron.

"My God! what can I do?" the poor fellow moaned, as, with a catching in
his breath, he glanced at those most dear to him.  "I hav'n't a shilling
in the world, and the more I try--the more I try--"

He caught up a hammer savagely, and began to beat vigorously at the
leather, forcing himself to sing again, as if he had not seen the
trouble of his wife and child--

  "To get his fill, the poor boy did stoop,
  And, awful to state, he was biled in the soup."

"Oh, master, please, master, don't sing that dreadful song," cried Union
Jack, with a dismal howl.  "I can't bear it: please, master, I can't
bear it, indeed."

"Hold your tongue, you young ruffian," cried Dick, with a pitiful
attempt at being comic.  "It's a good job we've got you in stock; for if
things do come to the worst, you'll make a meal for many a day to come."

"Oh, please, don't talk like that, master," cried the boy.

"Dick, dear," whispered his wife, "don't tease the poor lad: he half
believes you."

"I'm not teasing of him, mother," said Dick aloud; "only it's a pity to
have to boil him all at once, instead of by degrees.  Here, get out the
cold tea, mother, and let's take to drinking--have a miserable day, and
enjoy ourselves.  Jessie, my gal, you'll rust that machine raining on it
like that.  Come, mother, rouse up; it'll all come right in the end."

"I was not crying, Dick," said Mrs Shingle,--"not much."

"Yes, you were," he cried, with a rollicking air of gaiety.  "I saw two
drips go on your apron and one in that child's shoe.  Come, cheer up."

There was a pause then, during which all again tried hard to work; but
the knowledge that they were about to turn out of the little home, and
that their prospects were so bitter, combined with sorrow for their
child, made a sob or two burst from Mrs Shingle's breast, while even
the boy kept on sniffing.

"Here, I can't stand this," groaned Dick at last, getting up and walking
about the room.  "I don't spend no money, mother--only a half-ounce or
two of tobacco for myself, and one now and then for poor old Hopper, who
seems to be cutting us now we are so down.  You don't spend much,
mother: and it's as true as gorspel about shoemakers' wives being the
worst shod; while as for me, I haven't had a real new pair this ten
years."

"Don't take on about it, Dick," said Mrs Shingle, making a brave effort
to smile.  And she took and patted her husband's hand affectionately.

"I wouldn't care, mother, if things were better for you two; and I can't
see as it's my extravagance as does it."

"Oh, no, no, Dick dear."

"One half-pint of beer this month, and it's the beer as is the ruin of
such as me," he said, with a comical look--"and one screw of tobacco
this week, and the paper as was round it, for thickness, why, it was
like leather."

"Don't, don't mind, Dick," whispered Mrs Shingle.  "We'll sell the
things, and clear ourselves, and start free again."

"It's all right, mother," he cried, with a kind of gulp.  "It's got to
the worst pitch now--see if it ain't.  Don't make it rain indoors," he
added, in a remonstrating tone; "'specially when we've only one umbrella
in the house, and it's broke.  Here, Jessie, my gal, what's that song
you sing about the rain?"

"`There's sunshine after rain,' father," said Jessie, looking up in so
piteous a way that Dick had hard work to keep back a sob; but with
another struggle to drive off his cares, he cried--

"To be sure.  `There's sunshine after rain, my boys; there's sunshine
after rain,'" he sang, making up words, and a peculiar doleful tune of
his own, as he set-to again and hammered vigorously at a piece of
leather.  "Work away, Union Jack, and sing, you dog--`There's sunshine
af--aft--after--'"

The hammer fell at his feet, and he rose once more.

"Go away, Jack, my boy," he said, in a different tone of voice.

"No, no, master: don't send me back," cried the boy passionately.  "I'm
very sorry; and I'll try so--so very hard not to be hungry."

"Hush, my boy, hush!" said Dick softly.

"And when I am, master, I'll never--never say I am.  Don't send me
away."

"Tell him--tell him, mother," whispered Dick, who had been so near
breaking down before that the boy's passionate appeal completely
unmanned him.

"There's nobody to care for there, master, and it's all whitewash.  Miss
Jessie, please ask him not to send me away."

"Come here, Jack," said Mrs Shingle.

"No, no, missus; I'll stop here on bread and water--I will, missus.
Please let me stay!"

"I--I only want you to go outside for a bit, Jack," said Dick, with his
lips quivering.  "Go out and play, my boy."

"But," said the boy suspiciously, "you won't cut off, master, and leave
me.  Fain larks, you know."

"No, no, no, my lad.  Go and stop out in the court."  The boy gazed
keenly in his face, and then, with a suspicious look in his eyes, went
outside.

"It seems to me as the poorer people is the fonder they get of you,
mother," said Dick pitifully.  "Oh, my gal, what have we done, that we
should be so poor?  Here have I worked early and late for the few pence
we drag together, and can't get on.  It's because I'm a wretched
bungler, and it would have been better if I'd never been born."

"Dick, dear Dick," whispered his wife, as he sat down despairingly, and
leaned his head upon his hand, while she bent over him.  "Don't give
way.  I can bear anything but that."

"I do try, my gal, harder than you think," he groaned; "and when I'm
making most of a fool of myself, and laughing and singing, it's because
I've got such a gnawing here."

He raised his hand to strike his chest, but it was caught by Jessie, who
drew it round her neck as she knelt at his feet.

"And I've been so much trouble instead of a comfort, father; and it's
all my fault," she sobbed.

"Your fault, my precious!" he cried, as he took her piteous face in his
hands and kissed it a dozen times over--"your fault!  Why, you've been
like sunshine in the place ever since you used to sit on your little
stool there, and play with the bits of leather, and build houses with
mother's cotton-reels.  Your fault, my darling!  There--there--there!
It's all over, mother, and the sun's coming out again.  It won't rain
any more to-day."

There was a pause here, and the little place was very silent as the
cries of the children at play floated in.

"There, we'll have Jack in again.  And, look here: it's cowardly and
mean of me to give up like that; but it's the last time.  So there,
mother," he said, smiling, as he rose and stood between them, "as a
respectable tradesman I object to swearing, as is only allowable when
you want to take an oath.  I'm going to take an oath now, when I says
I'll be cussed if I give way again, and--"

"Here's a letter, master!" cried the boy, rushing in.

"A letter?" said Dick, taking it with his apron.  "Who's been a-writing
to me?  Perhaps it's about that money, mother, and we shall--Here, my
eyes are all of a swim.  Did the postman give it to you, Jack?"

"Yes, master, at the door," said the boy eagerly.

Mrs Shingle took the letter, and opened it, to find a clean, new
ten-pound note inside, which she spread out and held to her husband.

Dick took it, turned it upside down, over, round and round, and held it
up to the light.

"It's--it's a duffer, mother," he said at last, with his voice
trembling; "it's a flash note, like--like they are at the races.  Bank
of Elegance."

"`For the Governor and Company of the Bank of England,'" read Jessie
slowly.

"No!  Does it say so?" cried Dick excitedly.  "Then it's a good one, and
it's a mistake.  It isn't for me.  Give me the envelope."

He took it hastily, and read aloud, "Mr Richard Shingle, Shoemaker,
Crowder's Buildings, Lower Street, Islington."

"That's me, mother," he said, looking from wife to daughter, "ain't it?"

"Yes, Dick, it is for you."

"Let's look inside.  What does it say in the letter?"

"Nothing!  There, we've only the blank sheet of paper in which the note
was wrapped.  Yes, on one corner, the words--`For you, Richard
Shingle.'"

"Then, it's from that Tom Fraser," cried Dick, plucking up; "and I won't
take it."

"No, father," cried Jessie eagerly; and she trembled, too, as she took
the paper.  "It is not his writing; and he would have said `_Mr_.
Richard Shingle.'"

"So he would, my gal," said Dick, nodding.  "Then it's from Max; and
he's sorry he's been so hard on me--dear old Max!  And he wants to be
friends again.  Blood is thicker than water, after all, mother; and I
always said it was.  There, I'm as pleased as if it was a hundred from
any other man."

The tears stood in his eyes, as he looked from one to the other; but to
read no sympathy in the countenance of wife and child.

"That's five times, you know, the money's come like that," said Dick,
"and always when we've been in great trouble.  It is from Max, mother;
and his roughness is only the way he's got."

A faint flush of hope illumined Jessie's face as she tried to believe
her father's words; but it died out directly.

"Why, mother," cried Dick joyously, "we can clear all off, and have some
money to go on with; and- But, I say, if Max sent this, he wouldn't like
us to go."

"Max did not send it," said Mrs Shingle decidedly.  "Eh?"

"I am sure of it," she said.

"Then you know who did?"

"If I knew who sent it, Dick," said the poor woman, laying her hand upon
his arm, "you'd have known too."

"So I should, mother--so I should," he said quietly, as he nodded his
head.  "Who could it be, then?"

"Some good, true friend, who don't want to be known," said Mrs Shingle.

"It would be a bitter pill to swallow," said Dick thoughtfully, "if it
was done in charity--a gilded pill, mother, wrapped up in that bit of
paper.  Oh, mother, mother!" he cried, stamping up and down the room,
"I'm only a poor, miserable fellow, but I've got my pride, like better
men.  I don't like this beggarly dependence on other people--this taking
money in charity.  If I could only hit a bright--invent some new thing
that all the world would buy!"

"Watts was an inventor, and made the steam engine," said the boy softly.

"Hang Watts!" cried Dick impatiently.  "Here, you be quiet.  I don't
want your union-school copy-books here."

"All right, master," said the boy, with a sniff.

Dick walked up and down the room in an excited way, with the bank-note
in his left hand, while a bluebottle fly came in at the window and
buzzed round the room, now up, now down, its loud hum rising and
falling, as, apparently taken off from his previous thoughts, the man
followed it, and as it settled he twice made ineffectual efforts to
catch it.

"_Buzz_--_uzz_--_buzz_!  _Um_--_um_--_um_!" went the fly; while Jack
stood with open mouth and an old slipper, ready to hit at the insect if
it came his way; Mrs Shingle and Jessie glancing at one another, and
then following Dick in a troubled fashion with their eyes, as he still
pursued the great bluebottle.

"You've a fine time of it, you have," he said, "you great, lazy
wind-flitter!"

"_Buzz_--_buzz_!--_um_--_um_--_um_!" went the fly, round and round.

"Ah," said Dick, "some men hit bright ideas, and make fortunes, but I
don't; and it seems (ah!  I nearly had you that time)--seems, mother, as
if we go on as we are that we may toil on (well, he is a sharp one, but
I'll have him yet)--toil on till we get to the workhouse!"

"Oh, don't, please, master--don't go there," cried the boy.  "Now,
master--quick, quick.  He's settled on the edge of the last shelf."

"I see him," said Dick, going cautiously up, with hand ready to catch
the fly.

But, before he reached it, away it went round and round the room again.

"_Buzz_--_uzz_!--_um_--_um_--_um_!"

"There's nothing done without trying, mother," continued Dick, who was
excited now over his chase.  "Try again, try again till you succeed's
the way.  Now, you know, if I was to--was to--(Ah, gone again; but I'll
have you yet)--you see, I might--"

"Now, master, there he is," whispered Jack; "you'll have it now."

"Yes," said Dick, "I shall get it now.  You see, mother, shoemaking and
cobbling's all very well, but it means starvation to us, though it's a
thing in common demand.  If I could invent--(Ah!  I shall have you
directly)."

He went cautiously across the room.

"Invent a pair o' boots as won't never wear out, master," whispered the
boy.  "Now look, master--there, on the wall!"

The buzzing had ceased, and all was very still in the low, shabby room,
as the bluebottle settled on the centre of a figure in the common
wall-paper; and Dick went forward, on tiptoe, while, somehow drawn into
a keen interest in the pursuit, they knew not why, Mrs Shingle and
Jessie still looked on.

Slowly and cautiously, as if determined to make up this time for his
many failures, Richard Shingle advanced closer and closer, just as a ray
of sunshine fell on the wall, making the fly, which was cleaning and
brushing itself, stand out plainly before them all.

It was as if the capture of that fly had something to do with their
future in life, and the activity that Dick threw into the pursuit was
shared by all present.

Would he catch it?  Would he fail?

That was the mental question asked, as he made a scoop of his hand, drew
just within the required distance, paused for a moment, and then--

There was a rapid dash of a hand across the sunlit patch, and Dick stood
up, with outstretched arm and closed fist.

"_Bizz_--_izz_--_izz_" went the captured fly, within the tightened hand,
as Jack gave his knee a delighted slap.

"At last--at last!" shouted Dick.  "I've got it, mother, now.  Do you
hear, Jessie?  I've got it."

"Got what?" they cried.

He paused for a moment or two, turned to them with a curious look upon
his face, and then said quietly--

"The fly on the wall."

"Jessie, my darling--he's mad," whispered Mrs Shingle, running to him.
"Oh, Dick, Dick!"

"No, mother," he cried, "I'm not mad; and I've made my fortune."

As he spoke he held his hand to the window, unclosed it, and the fly
darted into the sunshine--free.

"At last!" said Dick softly.  "`Hit a bright,'" Max said, "and--I've let
it go."

VOLUME TWO, CHAPTER SEVEN.

WHO WAS THAT?

"Got your Australian money yet, Dick?" said Hopper the next day, when he
dropped in as usual.

"No," said Dick; "but I've got this," and he flourished the ten-pound
note before his old friend.

"Hey?  Got that," said Hopper, putting on a pair of tortoiseshell-rimmed
spectacles, and taking the note in his fingers.  "Why, it's--it's a
ten-pound note.  It's a bad one."

"No," said Dick triumphantly; "it's a good one.  I asked our grocer."

"Hey?  A good one!  Come by it honestly, Dick?"

"Of course he did," cried Mrs Shingle indignantly.

"Ah!  I don't know--I don't know," said the old fellow.  "There's a deal
of trickery in the world.  If it's a good one, then, Dick, and you did
come by it honestly, you'll lend me a few shillings, Dick, eh?  Say
ten."

"Hopper, old man," said Dick, "you shall have a pound if you like.  And,
look here, I've hit a bright idea at last."

"No--have you?" said Hopper, whose hearing seemed wonderfully good.

"Yes, old chap; and a fortune will come of it.  And, look here: we've
been best friends when it was hard times,--there's an easy chair in the
corner for you when it's soft times.  None of your turning proud, you
know."

"Hey?  Turn proud?  No; I sha'n't turn proud.  You will.  Won't he,
Jessie?"

"No," said Jessie, speaking up.  "Father will never alter--never."

"Well, I don't know about that," said Dick, with a peculiar smile, which
he seemed to wipe off directly by passing his hand across his mouth.
"Perhaps I may alter, you know, and a good deal too.  But, look here,
old Hopper, you stop to-day, and we'll have a holiday--the first I've
had for years."

"Hey?  Holiday?  What, go out?"

"No," said Dick, "stay at home.  We'll have a bit of supper together,
and drink the health of him as sent me that money--bless him.  I can't
work to-day.  I'm ripening up something, and I can do it best over the
old fiddle.  We haven't had a scrape for weeks."

"Scrape?  No," said the old fellow, "we haven't;" and, getting up, he
toddled to the corner cupboard, from which he drew out a violoncello in
its faded green baize bag, and, patting it affectionately, brought it
out into the middle of the room.  "I was going to take it away to-day,"
he said.  "It's too valuable to be lost."

"Thought we were going to be sold up, eh, Hopper, old man?" said Dick,
taking down a violin that hung by the eight-day clock.

"Hey?"

"Thought we were going to be sold up, eh?  I should have taken care of
your old bass," said Dick, with a nod and a smile.  "It should not have
come to harm, Hopper, anyhow.  Now, missus, and you, Jessie, give us a
cup of tea, with srimps and creases, and a nice bit of supper about
eight.  We'll have a happy day in the old house for the last one."

"Last one, Dick!"

"Yes, mother, the last one.  I shall move into better premises
to-morrow."

"Dick dear," cried Mrs Shingle imploringly--while Hopper seemed to be
busying himself over the strings of the 'cello--"what does all this
mean?  What are you going to do?"

"Do!" said Dick, making his violin chirrup: "throw away wax-end and
leather.  They say, let the shoemaker stick to his last; but I've stuck
to it too long.  Mother, I'm going to make a fortune."

"But how, Dick--how?"

"Wait and see."

"You'll tell me what you are going to do?" said Mrs Shingle, half
angrily.

"I sha'n't tell a soul," replied Dick firmly; and then, seeing the
effect his words had upon his wife, he kissed her, tuned up his violin,
and began to turn over the leaves of some very old music with the bow.
"Here's the note, mother; and don't spare expense--as far as five
shillings go.  Get a drop of whiskey, too."

"Hey! whiskey?  Who said whiskey?" exclaimed Hopper.  "Going to have a
drop of whiskey to-night, Dick?"

Dick nodded.

"That's good," said the old fellow, laughing and nodding his head.
"We'll drink success to the new venture, Dick."

"We will.  Now, then, what's it to be, eh?  Here we go: `Life's a
bumper!'  That'll do, for it is; and many a bump and bruise it has given
me."

Hopper's head went down over his 'cello, Dick's cheek on his violin; and
the oddly assorted couple began to solemnly scrape away, sometimes
melodiously, sometimes getting into terrible tangles over the score,
consequent upon its being set for three voices or instruments, and Dick
having to dodge up and down, from the treble to the tenor and back;
while Hopper, with half-closed eyes, and his head moving to and fro like
a snag on an American river, kept on sawing away, regardless of
everything but the deep tones he evolved from the strings.

From "Life's a Bumper" they went on to "Vital Spark," and from "Vital
Spark" to the "Hallelujah Chorus," and from the "Hallelujah Chorus" to
"Forgive, blest Shade;" and then Dick tried a solo known as "The
Cuckoo."  But it was a failure; for though he managed the first note of
the bird, the second would not come--all owing to want of practice,--so
he gave way to Hopper, who, with knitted brows, played his solo, "Adeste
fideles," with variations; the effect upon the boy being absolutely
painful, causing him to thrust his legs up under the stool, and head
down, with his arms crossed over his person.  His face, too, was drawn;
and had it not been for the variations, it seemed probable that he would
have had a fit of sobbing.  These latter, being more lively, saved him;
though he had a painful relapse during the third variation, which was
_largo_, and in A minor, his face during the performance being a study.
However, he became convalescent during the _allegro finale_, and all
ended well.

Tea being declared ready, the musicians ceased their toils for the time
being, and feasted on watercress and shrimps; and though the "creases,"
as Dick called them, were a little yellow, and the shrimps dull in hue,
and too crumby and soft for crustaceans, the meal was a great success,
and Hopper actually made a joke.

Like giants refreshed, Dick and he returned to their instruments, and
sawed away until supper, which was luxurious, consisting, as it did, of
a highly savoured rump-steak pudding, with so much pepper in it, in
fact, that both took off their coats, and perspired in peace.

"Ha!" said Hopper suddenly--"I like this; it's better than eating curry
in company at your brother's, where you can't scratch your head."

"Yes, nice pudding," said Dick, with his mouth full.  "You've put a good
lot of salt in it, Jessie."

"Lot!" chuckled Hopper.  "I had one bit that tasted as if Jessie had put
in Lot's wife as well--the whole pillar.  But, never mind, my dear;
that's the best pudding I ever ate in my life.  I could taste your
fingers in the crust."

The table being cleared, half a bottle of whiskey and the pipes were
placed, with hot water, on the table by Jessie, whose eyes were always
wandering nervously towards the door, as if expecting to see some one
come in.

Hopper was the first to help himself to whiskey, which he did liberally,
apparently not being able to judge the quantity on account of the
foreshortening effect of the tumbler.

"That boy Fred been about here lately?" he said, taking his pipe from
his mouth, and poking at the lump of sugar in his glass with a spoon, as
if he were offended with it, or looked upon it as Fred's head.

"Not for some days," said Dick, puffing out a cloud of smoke, while he
glanced at Jessie, whose forehead contracted, and she turned slightly
away.

"Don't have him here: he's a bad one," said Hopper.  "I don't like him.
Look at his moustaches."

"Ain't here."

"Hey?  Ain't here?  Who said he was?  Just look at his moustaches,
stretching straight out on both sides, and worked into a point with
wax."

"Well, they ain't pretty, certainly."

"Pretty?  Did you say pretty?"

Dick nodded.

"Look as if they were fixed there as handles to open his mouth with, or
to steer him.  I don't like that boy.  You, Jessie, if you let that chap
make love to you--Heyday, what's the matter now?"

The matter was that Jessie had darted an indignant look at him and gone
upstairs to her bedroom.

"Look at that now!" said Hopper.

"Well, you shouldn't speak to her like that," said Mrs Shingle
indignantly.

"Oh, if it's coming to pride, I'm off," said Hopper.

"This is getting on in the world."  And, laying down his pipe, he
prepared to go.

"No, no, no--what nonsense!" cried Dick and his wife.  And together they
forced the old fellow back into his chair, where, becoming somewhat
mollified after another glass of whiskey and water, he began to talk.

"She oughtn't to have huffed off like that," he said.  "But I like
Jessie: she's a sensible girl, wears her own hair, and doesn't turn her
boot-heels into stilts and walk like a hen going to peck the ground with
her beak; though how she expects to get on without being more
fashionable I don't know.  Ah! it's a strange world, but it's a great
nuisance that we shall all have to die some day.  Max won't mind it a
bit," he chuckled, "he's such a good man."

"You leave Max alone," said Dick gruffly.

"Hey? what say?"

"I say you leave Max alone.  He's my brother; and blood is thicker than
water after all--ain't it, mother?"

"Hush!" said Hopper, suddenly removing his pipe and making signs with
the stem.

"What's the matter?"

"There's some one outside, under the window," he said, in a whisper.

"Why, you can't hear," said Dick, in the same low voice.

"Can't hear?  No; but I can feel some one there."

"It's the boy," said Dick.

"No; he's gone to bed this hour," said Mrs Shingle nervously.

"Let's go and see," whispered Hopper.

"Stop a moment," said Dick, frowning; and, getting up, he opened the
door that led upstairs, when a low whispering was plainly heard from
above.

Dick shut the door quickly, and turned to his wife.

"Mother," he said huskily, "I wouldn't have believed this if I'd been
told.  Did you know of it?"

"No, dear--no," she cried agitatedly.  "But pray--stop.  What are you
going to do?"

"Put an end to it!" he cried fiercely.  "My gal's going to be a lady;
and do you think I'm going to let her be the talk of the town?"

"Don't do anything rash, Dick, old chap," said Hopper, laying his hand
upon the other's arm.

"Rash!" cried Dick, bitterly.  "I've been waiting for prosperity to come
all my life; but, curse it, give me poverty again, if riches are to be
like this."

A complete change seemed to have come over the man, as he darted to the
door and swung it open, just as there was the rush of rapid footsteps
along the paved court, and he ran off in pursuit; while Mrs Shingle and
Hopper followed.

They met Dick at the entrance, coming back panting; and he motioned them
into the house, and closed the door.

"Mother," he panted, in a voice that trembled with grief and passion,
"I've left it to you to train our girl while I earned--no, tried to
earn--the bread; and it's been my pride through it all to hold up my
head and point to our Jessie, and say to folks, `Look at her--she's not
like the rest as go to the warehouse for work.'"

"But, Dick--dear Dick, don't, pray don't judge hastily," cried Mrs
Shingle.

"I won't," said Dick hoarsely.  "All I say is there was a man out there,
and she was talking to him on the sly.  Is that right, Hopper?  I say,
is that right?"

The old man looked at him vacantly, and seemed not to hear.

"Curse him! whoever he was," cried Dick hoarsely; "he was ashamed to
meet me.  It was Tom Fraser, I'll swear; and he's not the man I thought
him.  Here," he cried, swinging open the door that led upstairs,
"Jessie--Jessie, come down!  Hopper, old man, you're like one of us--you
needn't go."

The visitor, with a sorrowful look upon his face, had already reached
the door, where he stood, leaning upon his stick, as Jessie slowly
descended, looking very pale, and glancing anxiously from one to the
other.

Mrs Shingle was crossing--mother-like--to her child's side; but Dick
motioned her back.

"Stop there!" he said fiercely; and then, taking a step
forward--"Jessie, you were talking to some one outer window just now?"

She did not answer for a moment, but gazed at him in a frightened way.

"I say you were talking to some one outer window?"

"Yes, father," she faltered.

"It was to Tom Fraser," he said, in a low, angry voice.  "And he's a
sneak."

There was no answer.

"I say it was--to Tom Fraser."

"No, father, it was not," said Jessie, in a low clear voice.

"Who was it, then?" cried Dick.

There was no answer.

"I say, who was it, then?"

"It was to his brother Fred, father," said Jessie, almost in a whisper.

But all the same Tom Fraser had stood at the entrance to the court, and
been a witness of the scene.

VOLUME TWO, CHAPTER EIGHT.

AFTER A LAPSE.

Max Shingle lived in the unfashionable district of Pentonville; but he
had a goodly house there, and well furnished, at the head of a square of
little residences that some ingenious builder had erected to look like a
plantation of young Wesleyan chapels, growing up ready for transplanting
at such times as they were needed to supply a want.

Mrs Max, relict of the late Mr Fraser, was a tall, bony, washed-out
woman, with a false look about her hair, teeth, and figure; large ears,
in each of which, fitting close to the lobe, was a large pearl, looking
like a button, to hold it back against her head.  She was seated in her
drawing-room, but not alone; for opposite to her, in a studied, graceful
attitude, sat Max's ward, Violante, daughter of a late deacon of his
chapel--a rather good-looking girl in profile, but terribly disfigured,
on looking her full in the face, by a weakness in one eye, the effect of
which was that it never worked with its twin sister, but was always left
behind.  Thus, whereas her right eye turned sharply upon you, and looked
you through and through, the left did not come up to its work until the
right had about finished and gone off to do duty on something else.  The
consequence was that when talking to her you found you had her attention
for a few moments; and then, just as you seemed to have lost it, eye
Number 2 came up to the charge, and generally puzzled and confused a
stranger to a remarkable extent.

"Dear me!  Hark at the wind!" said Mrs Max; "and look at it.  Give me
my smelling bottle, Violante.  I'm always giddy when the wind gets under
the carpet like that."

The smelling bottle was duly sniffed; and then, changing her position so
that her fair hair and white eyebrows and lashes were full in the light,
Mrs Max looked more than ever as if there had been too much soda used
in the water ever since she was born; and she sighed, and took up her
work, which was a large illuminated text on perforated cardboard.

In fact, Max Shingle's house shone in brightly coloured cards and
many-tinted silken pieces of tapestry, formed to improve the sinful
mind.  Moral aphorisms about honesty and contentment looked at you from
over the hat-pegs in the hall; pious precepts peeped at you between the
balusters as you went upstairs, and furnished the drawing-room to the
displacement of pictures.  Many of them lost their point, from being
illuminated to such an extent that the brilliancy and wondrous windings
of the letters dazzled the eye, and carried the mind into a mental maze,
as you tried to decipher what they meant; but there they were, and Mrs
Max and the ward spent their days in constantly adding to the number.

The hall mat, instead of "Cave canem," bore the legend "Friend, do not
swear; it is a sinful habit," and always exasperated visitors; while, if
you put your feet upon a stool, you withdrew them directly, feeling that
you had been guilty of an irreverent act; for there would be a line
worked in white beads, with a reference to "Romans xii." or "2
Corinthians ii."  If you opened a book there was a marker within bidding
you "flee," or "cease," or "turn," or "stand fast."  If you dined there,
and sat near the fire, a screen was hung on your chair, which was so
covered with quotations that it made you feel as if you were turning
your back on the Christian religion.  But still, look which way you
would, you felt as if you were in the house of a good man.

Pictures there were, of course.  There was a large engraving of Ruth and
Boaz, to which Mrs Max always drew your attention with--

"Would not you suppose that Mr Shingle had sat for Boaz?"

And when you agreed that he might, Violante always joined in, directing
one eye at you, and saying--

"People always think, too, that the Ruth is so like Mrs Maximilian."
Then the other eye came slowly up to finish the first one's task, and
seemed to say, "Now, then, what do you think of that?"

The place was well furnished, but, from the pictures to the carpets,
everything was of an ecclesiastical pattern; and when Max came in, with
a white cravat, you felt that you were in the presence of a substantial
rector, if he were not a canon, or a dean.

In a wicked fit, Dick had once dubbed his brother and sister-in-law
"Sage and Onions"--the one from his solid, learned look; the other from
her being always strangely scented, and her weakness for bursting into
tears.

Upon the present occasion, she sat for a few minutes, and then, taking
out her handkerchief, began to weep silently.

"Your guardian is always late for dinner, my dear; and everything will
be spoilt.  Where is Tom?"

"Gone hanging about after Miss Jessie, I suppose," said Violante, with a
roll of one eye.  "And Fred as well," she added, with the other.

"It is a strange infatuation on the part of my two sons.  Your dear
guardian's Esau and Jacob," said Mrs Max, wiping her eyes.  "I wonder
how it is that poor creature, Richard Shingle, makes his money."

"I don't know," said Violante.  "They've set up a very handsome
carriage."

"Dear me!  It is a mystery," said Mrs Max, still weeping.  "Two years
ago Richard was our poor tenant; now he must be worth thousands.  I hope
he is honest."

"Perhaps we had better work him some texts," said Violante, maliciously.
Then, raising her other eye, "They might do him good."

"I don't know," sighed Mrs Max; "we never see them now they have grown
so rich.  It is very shocking."

Violante did not seem to see that it was shocking, for she only tossed
her head.

"Has Tom been any more attentive to you lately, my dear?"

"No, not a bit," said the girl spitefully, and one eye flashed at Mrs
Max; "nor Fred neither," she continued, bestowing a milder ray with the
other.

"The infatuation will wear off," said Mrs Max, wringing her hands, but
seeming as if wringing her pocket-handkerchief, "and then one of them
will come to his senses."

"I shall never marry Tom," cried the girl decidedly.  "Don't speak so,
my child," said Mrs Max.  "You know your guardian has so arranged it;
and he can withhold your money if you are disobedient."

"Yes," cried Violante, "money, money, money--always money.  That's why I
am kept for the pleasure of those two scapegraces, and mocked at by that
saucy hussy of a Jessie.  I wish I hadn't a penny."

"Hush, hush!" cried Mrs Max, "here is your guardian."  As she spoke she
hastily wiped her eyes--pretty dry this time--and put away her
handkerchief, for voices were heard below.

In fact, half an hour before, Max Shingle had been rolling grandly along
from the City, looking the full-blown perfection of a thick-lipped,
self-inflated, sensual man, when he encountered Hopper, who hooked him
at once with his stick.

"Hullo, Max Shingle!" he cried: "been doing good, as usual?  Here: I'll
come home to dinner with you," he continued, taking his arm.

Max swore a very ugly oath to himself; but he was obliged to put up with
the annoyance--a feeling modified, however, by his curiosity being
excited.

"I've just come from your brother Dick's," said Hopper, winking to
himself.

Max was mollified directly, for reasons of his own; for, though over two
years had passed, Dick had kept his own counsel so well that not a soul,
even in his own family, knew the full secret of his success.  Hopper was
as ignorant as the rest; but he assumed a knowledge in Max's presence
that he did not possess.

"Is--is he doing well?" said Max, in an indifferent tone.  "Hey?"

"I say, is he doing well?" shouted Max.

"Wonderfully!  Keeps his brougham, and a carriage besides, for his wife
and daughter."

"Ah!" said Max.  "Is he civil to you?  No music now, I suppose?"

"Only three nights a week," said Hopper, winking to himself.  "Fine
princely fellow, Dick.  Ah! here we are.  Very glad--I'm hungry.  He
wanted me to stay, but I would not."

Max opened the front door with his latchkey, and drew back for Hopper to
enter which that worthy did, and began to wipe his feat upon the mat,
which said in scarlet letters, "Friend, do not swear," etc.

"Damn that mat!" exclaimed Hopper loudly, as he caught one toe in the
long pile, and nearly fell headlong, while Max gazed at him in horror.

"Couldn't help it," said Hopper apologetically.  "Didn't swear, did I?"

"Indeed, sir, you did."

"Hey?  What say?"

"You did, sir," shouted Max.

"Did what?"

"Swore--at the mat."

"Hey?" said Hopper, who had grown wonderfully deaf since he had been in
the hall.

"I say you--swore--at--the--mat."

"I swore at the mat?  Did I?  Tut, tut, tut!  How hard it is to break
oneself of bad habits!  Now, I'll be bound to say you never did such a
thing as that, Max?"

Max shook his head.

"No, of course you would not.  Ah, Max, I wish I was as good a man as
you.  It's wonderful how some men's minds are constituted."

Hopper took off an unpleasant-looking respirator that he had been
wearing more or less--more when he was speaking, less when he was not;
and when it was in its place it seemed to have the effect of sticking
his grey moustache up into his nostrils, like a fierce _chevaux de
frise_.  Then he put his hat on his hooked stick, and his great-coat on
a chair, so as not to confront the moral aphorisms that were waiting to
catch his eye, and followed Max up into the drawing-room, where the
ladies looked horror-stricken at the sight of the guest.

But there was no help for it; and Mrs Max, at a sign from her lord, put
on her most agreeable air, though Violante gave him, uncompromisingly,
an ugly look with one eye, which seemed to pierce him, while she
clinched the shaft with the other, Hopper replying with his lowest bow.

The brothers Tom and Fred came in directly after,--Tom to offer his
hand, while Fred gave a supercilious nod and went up to his mother.

Hopper nodded, and as soon as the dinner was announced, offered his arm
to Mrs Max, and they went down to the dining-room.

A well-ordered house had Max Shingle, and his dinners were nicely
served; and since he was obliged to receive the visits of Hopper, he
made a virtue of necessity, trying all the dinner-time to lay little
traps for him to fall into about his brother Richard.  But as Hopper saw
Tom lean eagerly forward, and Fred turn sharply to listen to his
answers, while a frown passed between the two brothers, he misunderstood
every word said to him as the dinner went on.

"So Richard is doing uncommonly well, is he?" said Max.

"Hey?  You're not doing uncommonly well?  So I heard in the City.  Some
one told me your house was quite shaky."

"Who told you that?" cried Fred fiercely.

"Hey?"

"I say who told you that?" cried Fred, more loudly.

"I can't hear a word you say, young man," replied Hopper; "you must come
round.  This, is a bad room of yours for sound, Maximilian--I'd have it
altered."

There were several little encounters of this kind during the repast; for
Hopper, as soon as he saw the object of his host, strove religiously to
frustrate his efforts, and with such success that Max gave up in
disgust, and tried another tack, after making up his mind to call on his
brother and become reconciled.  This he was the more eager for, since it
was a fact that he had lost very heavily of late, and his house was
tottering to its fall.

"Ah!" said Max at last, as the dinner progressed slowly, "it's a pity,
Hopper, that you have no money to invest."

"Hey?  Money to invest?  No, thank you.  But don't talk shop, man.  I
wonder so good a creature thinks so much of money.  But you keep a
carriage?"

"Oh yes," said Max, smiling good-humouredly at his wife, as if to say,
"You see, he will have his joke!"

"And horses?"

"Of course," said Max, smiling.

"There, don't put on that imbecile smile," cried Hopper.  "There's only
been one decent dish on the table yet, and I've got some of it now.  You
don't send your horses out to work in their nosebags? so don't make me
work when I've got on mine.  I'm hard of hearing, but I'm fond of my
digestion.  Don't treat your guest worse than your horses."

"You always did like a joke, Hopper," said Max.

"Joke!--it's no joke," cried Hopper, pointing at a pie before him.
"Look at that--there's a thing to eat!  Look at the crust: just like the
top of a brown skull, with all the sutures marked, ready to thrust a
knife in and open it,--only it's apple inside instead of brains."

Mrs Max gave a horrified glance at Violante.

At last the dessert was placed on the table, and in due time the ladies
rose, Tom following them shortly, and Fred, with a sneering look at his
brother, rising, and saying he should go and have a cigar.

"You don't smoke, I suppose, old Hopper?"

"Hey?  Not smoke?  Yes, I do; but I shall have a pipe."  Left alone, the
visitor condescended to talk about Richard, and gave Max a full account
of his handsomely furnished house; growing so confidential that, when he
took his cup of coffee, he drew nearer and nearer, gesticulating as he
described the rich Turkey carpets.

"He must be very rich," said Max at last, as he tapped the mahogany
table with his fingers.

"Not saved much, I should say," replied Hopper; "but he's making money
fast.  So are you."

"Um--no.  I'm very heavily insured, though."

"Not in the Oldwives' Friendly?" said Hopper, with a curious look,
though he knew the fact well.

"Well--er--er--yes, I am," said Max.

"They'll go to smash," said Hopper eagerly.  "Haven't you heard the
rumours?"

"Ye-es," faltered Max.

"The scoundrels!  And you such a good man, too, who has saved up and
toiled for his family.  I tell you what I'd do," he said earnestly.

"What?" cried Max, turning to him with the eagerness of one in peril.

"They must last another twelvemonth, and pay up liabilities till then."

"Yes, they must do that, I should say," said Max.

"Then die at once, and let your people draw the money!" cried Hopper,
slapping him in the breast, and gazing at him with the most serious of
aspects.  "So good and self-denying!  You all over."

Max started back, with horror in his countenance, and glared at Hopper,
whose countenance, however, never for a moment changed; and he hastily
poured himself out a glass of port and tossed it off.

"Very hard upon you, Max.  I wish I was rich, and could help you.  For
you have been hit hard, of course.  Never mind: you've that violent
girl's money in hand--six thousand.  Make one of your boys marry her,
and that'll be all right."

Max winced visibly.

"Haven't spent it, have you?" continued Hopper, watching him from the
corners of his eyes.  "No, you're too good a man for that? and it would
be ugly."

"Shall we go up to the drawing-room?" said Max, rising.

"Hey?  Go upstairs?  No, not to-night, thankye.  Say good-bye to the
ladies.  I'll be off now.  Thankye for a bad dinner.  More wine?  No,
I'm going to my lodging, for a quiet pipe and a glass of toddy before
bed.  Wretched weather, ain't it?  All right: I can get my coat on.
Thankye, Max, thankye.  I sha'n't die yet, you know; your secret's all
right.  Stop till I put on my respirator, so as to keep my lungs all
right for your sake.  Now my hat and stick.  Thankye."

He buttoned his coat tightly, looped the elastic of his respirator over
his ears, and then stumbled to the door, gave the mat an ugly stab with
his stick, nodded, did not shake hands, and went stumping down the
street, talking to himself the while.

"I wonder whether that Tom is a trump at bottom?" he said.  "I don't
know yet, but there's a bit of a mystery over it all; and about Fred and
that girl Jessie.  She's a puzzle, too.  I wouldn't have thought it of
her; but I never did understand women.  And so old Max is hit hard.
Well, it's the old saying, `Money got over old What's-his-name's back's
spent under his chest;' and I'm sure of it.  I'd swear it.  He's spent
every penny of that violent girl's fortune, as sure as my name's Hopper,
which it really is."

VOLUME TWO, CHAPTER NINE.

A GREAT CHANGE.

Richard Shingle was seated in his study--his own special room, tabooed,
as he said, to every one but the specials--the specials being those whom
he admitted.  The place had a gay bachelor look about it, with a
smoking-cap putting out a fiery bronze Amazon, and the green shade of a
gas globe perched on one side, giving it a rakish air, as if it had been
out all night.  Cigars were in a box on a table, a handsome soda-water
and spirit stand was on a sideboard, ready for use.

The furniture of the room was handsome, and in excellent taste; but it
seemed as if finishing touches had been put by the owner himself, the
said touches not being in keeping with the rest of the arrangements.
There was an absence of books, too, in the place, which certainly had
not a studious air.  There were, however, plenty of newspapers and
reviews; and it was observable that while the _Saturday_ and _Spectator_
were in an uncut state, _Reynold's_ and _Lloyd's_ were crumpled with
much reading.

Richard Shingle, Esquire, was lolling idly back in a comfortable easy
chair, in a rather loud-patterned shawl dressing-gown; one leg was
thrown negligently over the chair-arm, a good cigar was in his lips, and
as he smoked he diligently read the _Times_.

There was an appearance about Richard Shingle of having been dressed and
had his hair brushed by somebody else, with the result that he was not
quite comfortable; and every now and then he looked at the stubby
fingers of his right hand, and had a bite at the hard skin at the sides,
as if to help them to grow soft and genteel; for though as clean as if
he had boiled them every day, to get them rid of old stains, they looked
as thorough a pair of workman's hands as it was possible to encounter in
friendly grasp or clenched in warfare unpleasantly near your nose.

"Phew! this is hard work," said Dick, pulling out a crimson silk
handkerchief and wiping his forehead.

Then, laying down the paper, he rose, crossed the room, and poured
himself out a little brandy from a decanter, before taking up a bottle
of soda-water.

There was a sharp explosion: the cork struck a gas globe with a loud
ring, and before Dick could pour out the contents of the bottle, half of
it was on the Turkey carpet, drenching his hands and the front of his
dressing-gown.

"If it was only genteel to swear," he thought, "I'd have such a good
one.  Yah, it's as gassy as brother Max.  Wonder he has never found me
out.  Here's a pretty mess!  Ah! that's better, though," he continued,
as he poured out and drank the refreshing draught before returning to
his seat, wiping his hands upon his crimson silk handkerchief.  "It's
very good sort of stuff, brandy and soda, specially the brandy; but I
don't know that I like it so well as half a pint of beer just drawn up
cool out of a cellar, with plenty of head.  Ah, those were days after
all!" he said, sorrowfully.  "One can't go and have half-pints now.
Hold hard, my lad!  Taboo! taboo!  That's all taboo, you know.

"Well, I was always grumbling then, and wanting to be well off; but,
somehow, we was very happy," he continued, reseating himself in his easy
chair.  "Now I'm well off, I'm always feeling as if I wanted something
else.  But I don't know: if Jessie would only look all right again, and
matters be square, I don't think I should grumble much.  Well, here goes
once more."

He gave the paper a fierce shake, got his leg well over the arm of the
chair, and went on reading aloud.

"`The Chancellor of the Ex-exchequer ap-peal-ed to the 'Ouse to give doo
con-sid-e-ra-tion to the wote--vote--and said--plead--' Blow the paper!
it's awfully dry work going through all this 'Ouse of Commons business
every morning.  Not half so interesting as the little bits about the
accidents and murders and 'saults down at the bottom of the weekly
papers.--One never knows where one is; and the way I get the two sides
of the 'Ouse mixed up together makes me thankful I ain't in Parlymint,
or I should be doing some mischief.  I wish Jessie would come.  The
members don't seem to talk quite so much stuff when she reads.  Poor
lass!  I'd give a thousand pounds down--and I could give it, too," he
added, with a fierce slap on his knee--"to see her looking as well and
happy as she used to."

He stopped, thinking for a few minutes.

"No," he said aloud, "I haven't done wrong.  I've said it a dozen times,
and I says it again.  `No, my lass, I ask no questions about it,' I
says; `but that was an unpleasant piece of business about Fred Fraser,
as is a reg'lar scamp; and if you loved Tom you didn't do right.  You
says he came and threw up something at the window, and you opened it,
thinking it was Tom.  Well, my gal, you didn't do right then, after what
had happened.'  But there, it's all over now--they belong to another
set, unless they find out as we're well off now, and Max wants to be
friends.  Ha! ha! ha!  I shouldn't wonder if he did some day.  Ah, well!
let's have some more paper."

He went on reading for five minutes, and then threw the sheet
impatiently away.

"If it wasn't for seeming so ignorant, I wouldn't read a blessed line of
it," he cried.  "Talk, talk, talk!  Why, they might say it all in half
an hour; only one seems so out of everything if one can't talk about
politics.  No one ever says a word about the interesting paragraphs.
I'm getting very tired of it all, and if ever I go into Parlymint I
shall try for a comfortable seat below the gangway, or a hammock in the
cabin."

He pulled out a handsome self-winding gold watch, looked at the time
with a sigh, and turned it over in his hand.

"Yes, you're very pretty, and very valuable; but now I've had you six
months I don't care tuppence about you, 'specially as I don't want to
serve you as we used the old thirty-shilling silver vertical.  `Make it
ten shillings this time, Mr Dobree--do, please,' I says, one night,
`and I've got tuppence in my pocket for the ticket.'  `No,' he says;
`seven shillings--the old price; take it or leave it,' he says.  `Take
it,' I says.  And so it went on till we lost it.  Taboo--taboo!"
exclaimed Richard, giving himself a tap on the mouth and putting away
his timekeeper.  "But I often wonder what's become of the old watch.  It
was a rum one.  You never knowed what it meant to do.  One week it was
all gain, and another all lose; and the way in which it would shake
hands with itself, as if it enjoyed having such a lark, was fine, only
it forgot to leave go, and the two hands went round together.  Ah,
well!--the cases was worth the seven shillings; so Uncle D. didn't lose
very much by the last transaction."

The door opened, and Mrs Shingle entered, looking plump and well; and,
having been very tastefully dressed by a good _modiste_, she was a fair
example of what money will do.

It must be certainly owned that if she were to be calculated by the
standard of refinement, it would have been necessary for her to hold her
peace, as at the first words a considerable amount would have had to be
taken from her value; but, all the same, there was very little trace
left of the homely mechanic's wife.

"Well, mother," said Dick, smiling, as she entered, "what's the best
news?"

"Bad."

"Isn't Jessie any better?" he exclaimed anxiously.

Mrs Shingle shook her head.

"What does she say?"

"Nothing," said Mrs Shingle sharply: "she's like her father--has her
secrets, and keeps them."

"Don't--don't, mother! don't go on like that!" cried Dick imploringly.
"I've only got one secret from you."

"One, indeed!" said Mrs Shingle, growing red in the face; "but it's
such a big one that it's greater than all the things you've told me all
your life."

"Well, it is a big one, certainly," said Dick, caressing his chin and
smiling blandly.  "But it's been the making of us."

"And you keep it from your own wife, who's been married to you over
twenty years."

"Over twenty years!" said Dick, smiling at her--"is it, now?  Well, I
suppose it is.  But lor', who'd have thought it?  Why, mother, you grow
younger and handsomer every day!"

"Do I?" said Mrs Shingle, evidently feeling flattered, but angry all
the same.  "If I do, father, it's not from ease of mind."

"Come, come, mother," he said, getting up and putting his arm round her,
"don't turn cross about it.  I made a sort of promise like, when I
thought of the idea that I've worked out into this house and this style
of grounds for you, and your watch and chain and joolery, that I'd keep
it all a secret."

"Then it isn't honest, father."

"That's what you've often said, mother, when you've been a bit waxy with
me, and that's what I felt you might say when I first thought it out and
promised to keep it a secret."

"Who did you promise?"

"Him," said Dick, taking up an envelope and pointing to it with pride.
"See--

"`_Richard Shingle_, _Esq_., _The Ivy House_, _Haverstock Hill_,'" he
went on, reading the address.  "That's the man I promised."

"Yes," said Mrs Shingle, trying to escape from his arm, but very
feebly; "and kept it from your own wife."

"Well, yes," said Dick, with the puzzled look very strong in his face.
"I have kept it from you; but it's a sort of religious oath--like
freemasonry."

"Like free stuffery!" cried Mrs Shingle.  "When we were poor you never
had any secrets from me."

"No, my dear," said Dick, kissing her--"never had one worth keeping; and
see how badly it worked--how poor we were!  Now I have got a secret from
you--see how nicely it works, and how well off we are!"

"I'd rather be poor again, then."

"Well, they was happy times," said Dick; "but there was a very rough
wrong side.  It was like wearing a good pair of boots with the nails
sticking up inside."

"If I've asked you to tell me that secret night and day--I say, if I've
asked you once," cried Mrs Shingle, excitedly, "I've asked you--"

"Two thousand times at least," said Dick, interrupting her: "you have,
mother, you have--'specially at night."

"Then I'll make a vow too," cried Mrs Shingle, throwing herself into a
chair.  "Never more--no, not even when I'm lying on my dying bed, will I
ask you again."

She leaned back, and looked at him angrily, as if she expected that this
fearful vow would bring him on his knees at her feet.  And certainly
Dick did come over to her; but it was with a look of relief on his
countenance as he bent down and kissed her.

"Thankye, mother," he said--"thankye.  You see, it's a very strange
secret, and mightn't agree with you."

"It's agreed with you."

"Well, yes, pretty well," he said, smiling complacently; "but there,
I've never told a soul--not even old Hopper; and fine and wild he's been
sometimes about it."

"I should think not, indeed!"

"There, there, don't look like that, mother," cried Dick; "you have got
such a sweet, comfortable sort of face when it's not cross; and--there--
it's all right, isn't it?"

It seemed to be, for Mrs Shingle smiled once more, and Dick drew a
chair close to her.

"Now, look here," he said: "I want to talk to you about Jessie."

Mrs Shingle sighed, and laid her head upon his shoulder.

"Poor Jessie!" she said.

"Now, what's to be done about--"

"I'm sure I don't know."

"Do you think she cares about Tom now?  Because, if she does, I'll
swallow all the old pride and hold out the 'and of good fellowship to
him--that is, if he's a honest, true sorter fellow; if he ain't, things
had better stop as they are."

"But that's what I don't know," said Mrs Shingle; "she won't talk about
it.  You know as well as I do that it's all come on since that night at
the old home."

"Taboo! taboo!" muttered Dick.

"That letter was the worst part of it."

"What, the one that come from Tom next day?"

"Yes," said Mrs Shingle; "it must have been very bitter and angry, for
she turned red, and then white, and ended by crumpling it up and
throwing it into the fire."

"And Tom's never tried to come nigh her since?" said Dick, musing.

"No."

"Well, p'r'aps that's pride," said Dick.  "He's waiting to be asked.  I
don't think the less of him for that."

"No," said Mrs Shingle, "Jessie won't talk about it; but it's my belief
that Tom must have seen Fred come to see her that night, and he told her
so, and threw her off, and she's been fretting and wearing away ever
since."

"Fred's often hanging about, though.  Does she see him, do you think?"

"Oh no," said Mrs Shingle, "I don't think she does.  Heigho!  I don't
know how it's to end.  She's getting as thin as thin, and hardly eats a
bit; and she's always watching and listening in a weary, wretched way,
that makes me wish she was married."

"Well, that's it," cried Dick; "let's get her married."

"Are you in such a hurry to part with her, then?" said Mrs Shingle
bitterly.

"Part with her?  Not I!  I'm not going to part with her.  Whoever it is
as has her will have to come and live here."

"Don't talk nonsense.  Nice thing, for a young couple to be always
having their father and mother in the house!  Suppose whoever it is
should want to bring his too?"

"Well, that would be awkward," said Dick, rubbing his nose.  "Hush! here
she is."

For Jessie came in just then, very gently, and her aspect justified Mrs
Shingle's words.  She looked thin and wasted, while a sad, weary smile
played about her lips, as if she were in constant pain and trying to
hide it from those around.  "Why, Jessie, my gal," said Dick, "where
have you been all this long time?  Come along.  I've got to leave soon--
11:20 sharp," he continued, glancing at his watch, and shutting it with
a loud snap as Mrs Shingle rose and left the room.

Jessie went to his side, and kissed him, staying leaning upon his
shoulder; but soon after walked away to the window and looked out.

"That's what she's always doing," muttered Dick--"always looking for
some one as never comes.  It must be about one of those two fellows.
Jessie!" he cried.

"Yes, father."

"I met Fred Fraser yesterday."

She started round, and looked at him with dilated eyes.

"And Tom Fraser, his brother, the day before."

Her face flushed, and an angry look darted from her eyes as he spoke,
but she turned away.

"It must be Fred," he muttered.  "I don't like it," he continued; "I
never did see such things as gals--girls.  If she wants such and such a
fellow, why don't she say so? and if money'll get him, why, he's hers;
but I'm not going to see her die before my eyes.  I'd sooner she married
a scamp--if she loves him.  But he don't have the playing with any money
I may give her.  Now, if Max would only make the first advances, we
might be friendly again.  I can afford to be, and I will; but I don't
like to make the first step.  Jessie, my girl, if--I say if--if I was to
become friends with your uncle again--"

"Friends with Uncle Max?" cried Jessie, starting.

"I've been thinking of it, you know; and I was going to say he did give
you--us, I mean--the rough side of his tongue once."

"That's--that's all forgotten now, father," faltered Jessie softly.

"You forgive him, my gal, for what he said to you?"

"Yes, father, yes," she cried, with a sob.

"And you wouldn't mind meeting him again?"

"N-no, father, I think not," she faltered.

"And you wouldn't mind meeting your cousin Fred, eh?"

"I--I don't think so, father; I would try not to mind."

"I wouldn't press you, my dear," he said; "but you know Uncle Max is my
brother, and blood is thicker than water, eh?  I say blood is thicker
than water; and some day I must die, and I should like to be friends
first."

"Die, father!" said Jessie, with a weary look.  "Would it be very hard
to die?"

"Here, I say, Jessie, my pet, don't talk in that way.  How should I
know?  I never tried.  What makes you say that?"

"Because--because, father--"

She stopped short.

"Oh, there, my gal, no one's going to die yet; but I say, Jessie, your
cousin Tom--you wouldn't mind meeting him, too?"

She turned upon him a mingled look of joy and dread; and then, shaking
her head--

"No, no, father," she exclaimed, closing her eyes, and with the veins in
her forehead standing out--"I could not bear to meet him."

"It's Fred!  I said it was," exclaimed Dick to himself.  "Well, I'm
sorry; but it can't be helped.  I'll talk to him like a father, and
bring him round.  Now, if--What do you want, John?"

He turned sharply round, for the door opened, and a page in a neat
livery, hardly recognisable as the 'prentice of the shoemaker's
workshop, entered the room.

"Please, sir, here's a gentleman to see you."

"Who is it?" cried Dick; "and what are you grinning at?"

"Please, sir, it's Mr Maximilian Shingle; and 'ere's his card."

Max Shingle had made up his mind, without any allusion to blood being
thicker than water, to make the first advance to his brother.  For it
was very evident that Dick had hit upon some means of making money
rapidly, whilst of late matters had been turning out very badly in his
own business arrangements.  No matter what he tried, or how he
speculated, everything went wrong; until, in a kind of reckless gambling
fit, to try and recoup himself for past losses, he had plunged himself
more deeply in the mire.

He had broached his intentions to his wife and ward at breakfast time,
and Mrs Max had shed tears.

"I'm sure I don't know what to say, Max," she whimpered, "unless it
be--_oh_!"

She uttered a loud shriek.

"My poor darling! what is it?" cried Max.  "Another of your little fits?
There, go to her, Violante.  She will be better soon."

"Yes, yes--it is nothing," faltered the unhappy woman.  "I shall be
better directly."

She looked in a frightened way at her smooth, smiling lord, as she
ground her teeth and pressed her lips together, to keep from moaning
aloud.

Violante, who did not know what was the matter, jumped up and went to
Mrs Max's assistance; while the cat, who did know, having felt Max
Shingle's boot whisk by her ears as it struck Mrs Max, crept out of
harm's way, and curled up on the mat.

Tom Fraser and his brother Fred had risen and left the table, the one
for Somerset House, the other for the office, before this incident
occurred, or probably it would not have taken place; but Max had his
reasons for not speaking sooner--one being that he fully intended Tom to
marry his ward, and the other that he wished to pay his visit before the
young men were aware of the fact.

On reaching his brother's house, it was with a feeling of annoyance that
he was ushered by the boy into the handsome dining-room, opening upon a
conservatory, where, amongst other pictures, that of Dick and his wife
occupied conspicuous places.

"So you say your master is at home, my man?" said Max, with his most
urbane smile, as the boy came back from the study.

"Yes, sir; he don't go out till nearly midday on Toosdays.  He says will
you wait five minutes, sir?"

"You didn't know me again," said Max, smiling in an ingratiating manner.

"Oh, don't I just know you again, sir!" cried the boy.  "You're master's
brother, as used to come to the old place."

"Quite right, my man, quite right; I am your master's brother."

"You didn't know me again, sir?"

"No, my man, no," said Max, putting up his glass and gazing at the boy
with great interest; "you have improved so wonderfully.  Ah! you look
better than you did in those old days."

"I should think I did, sir.  Things is altered now.  Master never talks
about the shoemaking; he always calls it taboo."

"Does he really?"

"Yes, sir, and everything's different.  Never feel hollow now--nothing
never gnaws inside; and master says it's all because my 'gestion's
better.  He knows."

"Stop a moment, my man," said Max insinuatingly; "here's a shilling."

"Thankye, sir: shall I go now?"

"In a moment.  So he's in his study, is he?  Making patent boots and
shoes?"

"Bless your 'art, no, sir; it's patent, but he don't make no boots and
shoes now.  He buys all the very best.  Look at that," said the boy,
holding out a foot.

As he spoke, Dick made his appearance behind them at the conservatory
door, when, on seeing Max talking to the boy, he drew back.

"Ah, yes," said Max, "that's a handsome boot; and you've got a good
foot, my lad."

"Them's the best boots in the trade, sir," said the boy proudly.

"He's going to pump him," muttered Dick.  "Well, if he plays those
games, I shall do the artful too."

"So you never feel hungry and hollow now, my man?" said Max.

"I should think not, sir.  Master gave orders that I was always to have
as much as I liked to eat.  And I do," he added unctuously.

"He don't know much," muttered Dick; "but if he gets putting old Max on
the scent, I'll smother him."

"So you eat and drink as much as you like, do you, my man?" continued
Max.

"Don't I?" said the boy, laughing.  "I should just think I do.  Why,
I've growed out of two suits of livery since we've been here."

"And how long's that?"

"Twelve months, sir; and these is getting too tight."

"You were not in quite such a fine house as this before were you?"

"Oh no, sir, nothing like; but we've been doing very well lately."

"You young villain!" muttered Dick; "if you get telling tales I'll never
forgive you."

"So I suppose," said Max.  "And so you are very happy and comfortable?"

"It's lovely, sir."

"Master and mistress very kind, I suppose?"

"They jest are, sir.  Missus and miss seems like two angels, sir."

"And your master--does he ever give you the stirrup-leather now?" said
Max, laughing.

"Give me the sterrup-leather!" said the boy, looking pugnacious; "no, he
jest don't.  I should like to ketch him at it.  Sterrup-leather! why, he
treats me just like a son."

"But of course you are not his son?" said Max, with a peculiar smile.

"There's impudence!" muttered Dick, from behind a great camellia.  "Nice
brotherly attack on me.  Why, the young ruffian's going to say he is,
just out of pride and vanity!"

"No, sir; I was a workusser."

"A what?"

"A workusser, and was sent out to one o' the whitewashy schools.  That's
where master got me.  I'll go and see if he's ready."

"Wait a moment, my lad," said Max; "there's another shilling, for being
such a good boy and stopping in your place."

"Stop, sir!" said John, grinning, as he bit the edge of the coin and
then slipped it in his pocket--"I should think I do stop: master
couldn't afford to part with me."

"If that boy tells all he knows, I'll about half kill him," muttered
Dick, who, playing the eavesdropper, stood a fair chance of suffering
the listener's fate.

"I suppose not; you're so useful to him in his business, I suppose?"

"Pooty well, sir."

Max tried another tack.

"Master look well, John?"

"Lovely, sir!" cried the boy.  "He's a regular swell now."

"Is he, though?"

"Tip-top, sir; never puts on a shirt twice, and wears three pairs o'
boots every day--shiny leather ones."

"Does he, though?" said Max, drawing nearer to the boy.  "And so he
wouldn't like to part with you?"

"Oh no, sir.  I goes to the City with him every day--on the broom
sometimes."

"He keeps a brougham, then?"

"My master could keep anything he liked," said the boy proudly; and Dick
took a two-shilling piece out of his trousers pocket and placed it handy
in his vest.  "He's going to have a yatched."

"A what?"

"A little ship of his own, to go sailing about in."

"Then he must be very rich?"

"Rich?" said the boy.  "I should think he is."

"And what did you say his business was, my lad?"

"Master's business is master's business, and nobody else's," said the
boy sharply.  "Here he is, sir."

For just then Dick's cough was heard, and his step in the conservatory.
And then, in the whitest of vests and the glossiest of frock-coats, he
came into the room as the boy backed out.

"My dear Richard!" cried Max, with effusion--and the tears stood in his
eyes as he stretched out his hands--"I am delighted to see you again."

"Are you?" said Dick coolly, and without taking any notice of the
suggested embrace.

"So glad, I cannot tell you," cried Max, taking out and unfolding a
cambric handkerchief, which he held to one eye, looked at it afterwards
to see if there was a moist spot for result, and, as there was not,
tried the other eye with rather better success.  "You'll shake hands?"

"Oh yes," said Dick.  "How are you, Max?"

"Quite well, my dear brother: but why haven't you been to see me all
these long months?"

"Long months, eh?  I never found 'em long.  I began to think I was being
took advantage of now that I was well off, and getting short measure."

"Then you are very well off?"

"Tol-lol, tol-lol; nothing much to grumble about.  But sit down."

He placed an easy chair for his brother, seating himself afterwards on
the edge of the table and watching his visitor sharply.

"I'm very glad of it, Richard," cried Max, after a glance round.  "You
know, I always thought that a man with your brains was throwing himself
away on trade, and wasting his energies."

"Oh! you did, did you?"

"Always, my dear brother; and that's why I used to speak so sharply to
you--to rouse you--to awaken you."

"Well, you did that, and no mistake!" said Dick, laughing.

"And look at the result.  You set-to and hit up some bright idea; and
now, before two years have elapsed, I come and find you a millionaire."

"Well, not quite that, Max: a million's a stiff sum, Max--a very stiff
sum."

"Hah! it's refreshing to come and hear you call me again by that
familiar name, Richard: it reminds me of when we were boys."  And Max
again raised his handkerchief to his eyes.

"Well, old fellow, I wouldn't cry about it if I was you.  It's all right
now.  You always was pretty well down upon me when I was a poor man; but
as you've come and showed, as I said to Polly, that blood's thicker than
water, why, we'll forget all about the past."

"We will," cried Max, taking his brother's hand and beginning to pump it
up and down, clinging to it the while as if he were afraid of being
parted, and ending by trying to embrace him.

"I say, don't do that!" cried Dick sharply.  "I'm pretty well off, but I
can only afford one clean shirt a day."

"Jocular as ever," said Max, holding his head on one side, and looking
at him admiringly.  "Humour flourishes in a golden soil.  And so, my
dear Richard, you make your twenty per cent, out of your profession?"

"Twenty per cent!" said Dick contemptuously.  "Why, you don't think this
sort of thing's done on twenty per cent, do you?"

"How much, then?"

"Well, I don't know.  I'm not particular.  I take a hundred per cent,
when I can't get a hundred and fifty."

"A hundred and fifty per cent!  My dear Richard, you must put me on to
this.  We must be partners, Dick--Shingle Brothers, eh?  But, my dear
boy, what business are you in?"

"Oh, yes--that's it!" said Dick, closing one eye slowly, and keeping it
shut while he fixed the other on the ceiling.  "But here are the
ladies."

As he spoke, Mrs Shingle and Jessie entered the room.

"Never!" exclaimed Max, with an air of wonderment.  "My dear sister, my
dear niece--years younger on the one side, years more beautiful on the
other.  What a change since I saw you last!"

"There's better light in this room than in the old one, Max; and it
flatters, perhaps," said Dick.

"Yes, so there is, Richard.  That was a cruel cold place.  But why speak
of the past?  My dear niece, you have really grown beautiful.  Fred
would be charmed to see you."

Jessie's eyes contracted as she gazed full at him, and then, bending her
head slightly, turned away.

"Haven't you married him to a lady of fortune yet?" said Dick.

"Oh no!" cried Max hastily.  "He is not engaged.  Tom is--to my ward,
Violante--a charming girl."

Jessie stood as if turned to stone, but no sound escaped her.  Dick,
however, saw that she was suffering, and he said, sharply--

"Ah! fine young fellow, Tom; but deuced low in his tastes.  Wanted to
marry a poor shoemaker's gal--girl, I mean.  But there, come into my
study, and I'll give you a glass of genuine port.  Mother, tell them to
bring in the comic port."

"Comet port," she whispered.  "I told you before."

"All right--only meant to get him away.  Look at Jessie."

"I shall be delighted," said Max.  "Ladies, good-bye for the present."

His bow was perfection; and then Dick led the way through the
well-filled conservatory, while Mrs Shingle caught her child's clammy
hand in her own, for Jessie seemed about to faint.

VOLUME TWO, CHAPTER TEN.

A LUNATIC.

"Jessie, are you ill?" cried Mrs Shingle.

"No, mother, no," said Jessie, making a brave effort to recover herself.
"It is all past now."

"It was them talking in that heartless manner about those two fellows,"
cried Mrs Shingle indignantly.  "What is it, John?"

"Here's another gentleman to see you, mum," said the boy.

As he spoke, Mr Fred Fraser, elaborately dressed, walked into the room,
a pull at the bell sounding through the house as he made his
salutations, and, in a light and airy way, began to converse as if they
had been the greatest intimates all along.

"Mr Thomas Fraser," said John, in a loud voice.  And, in a hasty,
excited manner, Mrs Max Shingle's elder son entered the room, to look
angrily at his brother, as he saw him seated there.

"You here?" he cried sharply.

"Ya-as, I'm here, Tom," was the cool reply.

"Aunt--Jessie!" exclaimed Tom, advancing.  "I by chance heard that my
step-father had come here; and, taking this as an augury that we were to
be friends once more, I followed him; but I did not expect to find my
brother here, and that I should be--"

"_De trop_," said Fred, with an irritating smile; "but you are."

Tom turned upon him sharply, but, mastering his passion, he crossed to
where Jessie was seated, and held out his hand.

"Jessie," he said, in a low, earnest voice, "you will shake hands with
me?  I forgive all the past now, and wish you every happiness."

At his first words a glad light had leaped into the poor girl's eyes,
and she half raised her hand to take his; but, as he finished his
sentence, a stony rigidity stole over her, and she shrank back, letting
her hand fall upon her lap.

It was too hard to bear, and she would have given worlds to have been
able to rush from the room--anywhere, so as to be alone--and sob and
wail aloud, to relieve her bursting heart.  But it was impossible.  She
could not stir--only look up at Tom, as with knitted brows he stood
there, resenting her coldness.

Never once had her thoughts strayed from him; and yet he had misjudged
her so cruelly, believing that she trifled with him, that she played
with his heart, while she coquetted--behaved lightly--with his brother.
And now, after these long, weary months--after what would soon be two
years of misery--now that he had come, her heart had whispered, to tell
her that he had been wrong, and misjudged her, while he asked her pardon
for the past--a pardon that she would joy in according--she had to hear,
first that he was engaged to another, and then read in his face that his
doubts and misgivings were stronger than ever.

Jessie's heart, that had been expanding fast, like the petals of a
flower, to drink in the sunshine of hope and love and joy, seemed to
contract and shrivel up, blighted and seared, as, cold and trembling,
she sat there, while, with a look of contempt, Tom turned away.

"As you will, my fair cousin," he said, in a low, bitter voice.  "I
suppose I am to call you sister some day.  How the world changes?
Better poverty and truth than this."  When a word would have set all
right.

He turned abruptly, and began speaking to Mrs Shingle; while Fred,
seizing the opportunity, took a seat beside Jessie on the couch, and
began to talk to her rapidly about the various trifles of the day--
chattering on, while she seemed to be listening to him, for she replied
in monosyllables, though she was striving, with every nerve strained, to
hear what was said by his brother.

Before many words had passed, though, voices were heard from without,
increasing in loudness; and Mrs Shingle started up, for it was plain
that her husband was in a towering rage.

In fact, as he came through the conservatory, he struck a handsome
jardiniere a heavy blow with his open hand, shivering it upon the
tesselated tiles of the floor.

"Hallo!" cried Dick angrily, as he entered, followed by Max, "you are
all here, are you!  Why didn't you bring the wife and the servants, and
take possession?  It's all right--there's plenty of room.  Here, you
sir, get off that sofa!"  The young men rose as he entered--Fred very
slowly, and evidently amused; while Tom's face flushed with rage.

"Oh, father!" cried Jessie, whose face had become suffused from shame
and annoyance.

"There, I know what I'm doing," he said.  "Hold your tongue.  You and
your mother had better be off.  You'll stop?  Well, then, stay."

"Is your husband subject to a little--er--er--?  You know, Mrs
Richard," said Max, tapping his forehead.

"No," said Dick sharply, "he isn't.  And now, may I ask, young fellows,
how it is you condescend to be here?  If it's to order boots and chuck
'em on my hands for misfits, you've not come to the right shop."

"They came unknown to me," said Max hotly.

"I dessay they did," cried Dick; "but whether they did or not, they've
come to the wrong place, and, once for all, I forbid them my house."

"Come, father," said Tom sternly; while Fred took a step to Jessie's
side, and whispered--

"Dear Jessie, for heaven's sake let this make no difference to us."

She turned her eyes upon him for a moment, and Tom saw the glance; and
then, as she gazed at him, directed a look upon her of withering
contempt, beneath which she shivered.

"Don't be in too great a hurry," said Dick.  "As you are here, we may as
well have it out.  We don't often meet.  Now, Max, my most affectionate
brother, have the goodness to say that again, and let your wife's sons
hear what sort of a man you are."

"No," said Max, "I leave now.  I shall take my own steps about it."

"You will?" said Dick, looking startled.

"I shall, sir--I shall.  I don't consider you are fit to be trusted.
There are such cases as inquiries in lunacy."

"Bah!" said Dick, who looked startled all the same.  "Well, if you don't
say what you said to me, here out loud before them all, I shall say it
myself."

"Then I will say it!" cried Max desperately.  "What I said was this: As
your uncle has hit upon some scheme for making a fortune, I have a
right, as his own brother--"

"Very own, indeed," said Dick quietly.

"To share with him in the secret."

"And what I say to it is," cried Dick--"and you can all hear me--that
what I invented with my own brains is my own property, and I won't be
bullied out of it by all the brothers in Christendom."

"Then I shall follow out my own course."

"Follow it, then," said Dick scornfully, "and let your boys come after
you."

Tom turned upon him resentfully, but merely ground his teeth; while Fred
winked, and tapped his teeth with his cane.

"I have not been idle during my interview with my poor afflicted
brother," continued Max; "and I have seen enough from his wild behaviour
and language to know that the mental disease that has been threatening
for years has now obtained such a hold that he is no longer fit to
manage his own affairs."

"I say, hold hard there!" cried Dick, looking at him in a puzzled way.

"I shall, of course, make due arrangements for the proper carrying out
of his business, and for protecting the interests of his wife and
child."

"Mr Shingle!" cried Tom, stepping forward, "this is atrocious: there
are no grounds for what you say."

"Silence, sir!" roared Max; while Dick's countenance underwent a
complete change.

"There!" cried Dick angrily, as he appealed in turn to all present;
"what did I always say?  Max, you always were, and always will be, a
'umbug!"

"What?" cried Max.

"A 'umbug, sir.  U-m, um--b-u-double-g, bug, 'umbug!  That for you!"
cried Dick, snapping his fingers in his brother's face.

"Ah!" said Max, with a heavy sigh--"all proof of what I say--the
violence, the excitement, these strange outbursts.  My poor brother!"

He took out his handkerchief, and applied it to his eyes.

Dick looked at him for a moment, then at his wife and child, and then
his face grew longer and his hand played nervously about his face.

"But, I say, Max," he cried, "you don't mean this.  I'm as right in the
upper story as you are."

Max shook his head.

"My dear Richard," he said, "I'd give my right hand to know you were.
This is dreadful."

"Dreadful?  It's worse than dreadful," cried Mrs Shingle, catching her
husband's arm.  "Dick, make him leave the house."

"My dear Mrs Shingle," said Max deprecatingly, "this is folly.  You
only excite him terribly."

"Excite him?"

"Yes, my dear," said Dick, wiping the perspiration from his face, "it do
excite me a deal.  I don't know that Max ain't right; but he won't be
hard on me--Max won't.  I have felt a little--little confused and upset,
you know, about my business sometimes."

"Father, it is not true," cried Jessie, running to his side, "your mind
is perfectly clear."

"I'm afraid it ain't, my dear," he said.  "But your Uncle Max won't be
hard on me.  No sending to asylums or that sort of thing.  Just a
friendly visit from a doctor or two, and I should be soon put right."

"Whatever the cleverest medical man I could procure--a specialist on
your particular ailment--said, I should go by," replied Max sadly.

"There, mother--there, Jessie, what did I tell you?" cried Dick,
brightening up.  "Blood is thicker than water.  I always said it was.
He'll do what's right."

"With Heaven's help I will," said Max solemnly; while, unable to contain
his disgust, Tom walked to the window.

"Of course he will," cried Dick; "it'll be all made up now, and we shall
be the best of friends--eh?"

"Yes, dear Richard--the best of friends," said Max, glancing at Mrs
Shingle, and then shrugging his shoulders and raising his eyes.

"But about my business," said Dick uneasily.  And he began to bite the
bits of tough skin at the sides of his fingers.

"Richard, are you mad?" cried Mrs Shingle excitedly.  "You shall not
talk about it.  You have kept it secret so long, even from your own wife
and child, and you shall not talk about it to him."

Dick smiled at her rather vacantly.

"Well, it do seem hard, mother, certainly; but it was sure to come out
some day, and it's best for one's own brother to know of it--better than
anybody else, because he'll do what's right and best for every one--you
and Jessie too, of course; for if I get worse (as I may, you know) it
would be sad, of course, for it all to go to ruin for want of a
master-mind, and no one left to take care of you--and--you come to ruin,
and not even your poor husband to make boots and shoes for you again."

He laughed hysterically, and Mrs Shingle threw her arms round his neck.

"Oh, Dick! dear Dick! what has come to you?" she cried.  Then, rousing
herself, she turned angrily upon Max.  "This is your doing," she cried.
"He was quite well till you came."

Max shook his head sadly, and wiped his eyes, while Fred tried to take
Jessie's hand; but she motioned him away, and stood by her father,
keenly watching all present.

"Don't talk like that, my dear," said Dick, patting his wife's shoulder;
"it hurts me, and makes me worse.  Max means well, and he'll see to
things being carried out right for all of us, won't you, Max?"

"Indeed I will," said Max piously; and Tom still gazed from the window.

"But--but--but do you think, Max," said Dick, drawing his hands from his
wife and child, and speaking in a desultory, wandering way, as if trying
to collect his thoughts, "do you think that if you came in with me as
you proposed, and saw to the management of the business, so as to
relieve me and let me rest, it would be necessary for me to go anywhere
away from home?"

"We would take advice over that," said Max; "the best to be had--
medical."

"N-no," said Dick shrewdly, "I shouldn't quite like that, Max; those
very clever doctors are too clever sometimes, and they might want to
lock me up.  I should be better at home with mother here and Jessie.  It
would make me worse to go away."

"Oh, that could be managed, perhaps," said Max; "but you must have your
business arrangements seen to--they are so important."

"Yes, yes, of course," said Dick, who shuddered and looked horrified at
the thought of having to go away; "but you'd make time for that.  You
could go halves, Max, and manage for me; and the business is growing
fast--and you'd see, even if I got worse, that Jessie and mother here
always had enough."

"I cannot bear this any longer!" cried Mrs Shingle; while Jessie stood
aghast.

"It's all right, mother--it's all right, mother.  Max is a good fellow.
When he used to row me it was to do me good.  And you'll take all in
hand, won't you, Max?"

"Dick, you shall not make any such arrangements," cried Mrs Shingle.
"Will no one take our side?"

"I will, aunt," cried Tom fiercely; "for I will never stand by and see
such a blackguardly wrong committed.  Jessie," he cried, "you have
treated me badly, and behaved with cruel treachery to the man who loved
you very dearly; but that's all past now--and while I've hand to lift or
voice to raise, I'll never see you or yours wronged by father--or
brother," he added, fiercely turning on Fred, while Jessie uttered a
sigh of relief, and buried her face on her mother's shoulder.

"Tom," whispered Max, catching him by the shoulder, "if you are not
silent, I'll strike you down."

"Look here, if you dare to touch me," roared Tom, "I shall forget that
you are my poor weak mother's husband.  I will not stand by and see my
uncle wronged.  If he is unfit to attend to his affairs, aunt, see some
trustworthy lawyer; but you shall not be, imposed upon like this."

"Fred, stop him," cried Max furiously.  "Turn him out of the room.  He's
as mad as his uncle."

Fred hesitated for a moment, and then, stepping forward, he caught Tom
by the arm.

"Here, come out!" he cried.

"Stand back!" cried Tom huskily.

"No--out you go," cried Fred, who gathered courage on finding his
brother did not resent his attack.

"Stand back, I say!"

"Out you go," repeated Fred--"you fool!"

Tom drew back for a moment; and, as Jessie looked up, roused by a
movement on her father's, part and a cry from her mother, she saw Tom's
fist dart out from his shoulder, and then there was a dull sound, and
Fred staggered back, tripped over a mat by the open window, and fell
with a crash amongst the plants in the conservatory, bringing down an
avalanche in his fall.

As Tom turned, it was to see that a complete change had come over Dick,
who had leaped at his brother's throat, catching him by shirt front and
white cravat, bringing him upon his knees, and shaking him with all his
might.

"You cursed scoundrel--you sanctified, hypocritical cheat!" shouted
Dick, as he shook Max till he began to turn purple, and something white
fell on the floor between his knees.  "Mad, am I?  Send me to an asylum,
would you?  Let me off if I give you half my income?"

"Help, help!" moaned Max, whose dark, smooth hair glided from his head
on to the floor as Dick shook away.

"Didn't I--say--you were--a 'umbug?" cried Dick, panting, and throwing
all his energies into a kick.  "Yes, and a fool.  This is my clever
brother, who let himself be taken in by the weakest, transparentest do
that ever a man tried to invent.  Softening of the brain, have I!  That
was a pretty hard kick for a man with that complaint!" he roared, as he
stood over his brother, threatening with his foot as if about to punish
him again.  "There!  Get up, and out of my house, and never darken the
doors again.  You ain't a brother to me, and never were.  Being born of
the same mother only half makes brothers.  I'll never own you as mine.
Eh?  Oh, I've done, Tom, now."

Dick made no resistance as Tom dragged him away from his brother; and
Max got up, looking very strange about the head, as he hastily picked up
and dragged on his wig.

"You--you--shall smart for this," he mumbled.  "As for you, sir, never
enter my house--"

"Be off!" roared Dick; and he made at his brother again.  "Be off, you
artificial sham!"

But Tom, with a look of bitter mortification in his face, restrained
him; and Max, clinging to Fred, hurried out of the door, leaving Mrs
Shingle trembling in a chair, where she had sunk; while Jessie knelt
beside her, white as ashes, and holding her hand.

It was an ignoble plight, made more absurd by Dick, who suddenly ran to
the fireplace and took the tongs, with which he picked up a
handkerchief, and ran to the door.

"Here, Saint Maximilian!" he shouted, "you've left your weeper;" and he
threw the tongs out with a crash into the hall.

"Take care!" cried a familiar voice; "_I_ haven't done anything."

"What, Hopper, old man!" cried Dick, "you there?"

"Yes, I am, and heard it all--all I could," he added, stumping into the
room.

Dick threw himself laughing into an easy chair, as he heard the door
bang; but started up directly, as he saw Tom standing silent and
mortified in the middle of the room.

"Thankye, Tom," he cried, as he held out his hand, which the young man
took for a moment and then dropped.  "Ah! you're put out, of course; and
I don't wonder.  It's enough to rile any young fellow with stuff in him;
and you've got that, and acted like a man."

Tom gazed at him in silence, but did not try to speak.

"He's ordered you out of his house, my lad," continued Dick.  "Not
pleasant between father and son.  There, I ain't going to abuse him," he
hastened to add, as Tom made a deprecating gesture; "but don't you mind
that,--you acted like a man, and your conscience will set you right.
Now, good-bye, my lad; and mind this: if you ever want a hundred pounds,
or two hundred, or five hundred pounds, you've only got to say so to
your uncle, Richard Shingle, and there it is."

"I thank you, sir," said Tom sadly; "but I shall not ask.  Good-bye!"

"Good-bye?"

"Yes.  I shall go abroad, and we may never meet again.  I cannot stay
here now.  Good-bye, aunt.  Good-bye, Jessie," he cried passionately.

But she did not hear him; for, as Tom hurried to the door, she sank,
fainting, at her mother's knee, while he passed out, closely followed by
the last-comer on the scene.

VOLUME TWO, CHAPTER ELEVEN.

HOPPER ON SUICIDE.

"Here! hold hard, you sir--hold hard!" cried Hopper, hooking Tom at last
by the arm with his great stick.

Tom turned upon him savagely; but the old man did not move a muscle.

"Where are you going?"

"To the devil!" said Tom bitterly.  "To drown myself, I think."

"Hey?  Drown yourself?  Well, don't go to do it on an empty stomach.  I
knew a man once who tried it, and he did nothing but float.  Come home
with me, and have a bit of dinner first."

Tom Fraser was just in the humour to be led, and he could not help
smiling at the old man's words.  The next moment Hopper seized his arm,
and began signalling wildly with his stick to a passing hansom cab, into
which he thrust him.

"Get over farther," he cried, poking at him with his stick; and then,
following, he shouted to the man, "Clement's Inn."

Nothing was said during the journey; and, on reaching the gateway,
Hopper got out first, and, literally taking Tom into custody, led him to
a black-looking house, and up a dingy old staircase, to a door at the
top covered with iron bands and clamps.  This he unlocked, and pushed
his companion into a very old-fashioned-looking room, cumbered with
pictures, curiosities, and odds and ends piled up amongst the antique
furniture.

"There!" said Hopper, stopping to caress a cat that came rubbing itself
up against his left leg, and another that purred against his right,
while a third and fourth leaped upon his back when he stooped, "this is
my kennel--cat's kennel, if you like: I've got eight.  That's their
garden," he continued, throwing open a sliding window that looked upon a
parapet; "they can run far enough along the roofs of the houses here.
Good view this, Tom Fraser.  Ah! the very thing," he added, catching the
young man's sleeve; "look down there--eighty feet, and good firm stones
at the bottom.  You say you want to go to the devil: jump down--I won't
stop you."

Tom glanced below, and turned away with a shudder.  "Well, it would make
a nasty mess on the pavement, certainly," said Hopper, looking at him
curiously, while the cats rubbed and purred about them; "but they'd soon
sweep that away; and the dead-house is close by, in the Strand.  I'll go
as witness."

"For God's sake, hold your tongue!"

"Hey?  Hold my tongue?  Why?  Better and quicker than jumping into the
river, and struggling up and down, and wanting to get out; besides
running the risk of floating to and fro with the tide, and looking like
swollen bagpipes."

"Be silent!" shouted Tom, gazing at him in horror.

"What for?" chuckled the old man.  "You'd look so ugly, too, with your
nose rubbed off.  Tide always rubs their noses off against the barges,
and ships, and piers of bridges.  Lots of people wouldn't drown
themselves if they knew how nasty they'd look when they were dead.  I've
seen 'em--dozens of times."

"Do you find any pleasure in tormenting me?" cried Tom furiously.

"Torment you, hey?  Not I," chuckled Hopper.  "You said you were going
to drown yourself--that takes nearly five minutes; and they may fish you
out with a boat-hook and bring you to, which they say isn't pleasant.  I
only, as the oldest friend of your family, suggested a quicker way."

Tom turned from the window, and threw himself into a chair.

"Ah! you're better," said Hopper, poking the fire up to make it blaze.

"Better!" groaned Tom.

"Yes, ever so much.  You're not fretting about your step-father, but
about Jessie: you're in love."

Tom was starting up, but the old man forced him back into his chair.

"Sit still, you young fool.  You are in love, arn't you?"

"I suppose so," said Tom bitterly.

"I'll give you a dose for the complaint," chuckled the old fellow.

Then there was a knock at the door, which he opened, and a neat-looking
servant bustled in and spread the table with the snowiest of cloths and
brightest of old-fashioned glass and silver, ending by placing the first
portion of a capitally cooked dinner on the table, and sending all the
cats out of the window into the gutter, where they sat down patiently in
a row, to gaze solemnly through the panes of glass till the repast was
at an end.

"Why, I thought you were very poor!" said Tom, gazing curiously at his
shabbily dressed host, as he opened a massive carved oak cellaret, and
took out a wine bottle that looked as old as the receptacle.

"Hey?  Thought I was poor?  More fool you!--you're always thinking
stupid things.  You've gone about nearly two years thinking Jessie don't
care for you."

Tom started as if he had been stung; but he sank back in his chair,
gazing wonderingly at the quaint old fellow, as he opened the bottle to
pour out a couple of large glasses of generous fluid; and began
wondering how much he knew.

"There, you handsome young long-eared donkey!" cried Hopper, placing one
glass in the young man's fingers--"that's the finest Burgundy to be got
for love or money.  That'll give you strength of mind, and blood to
sustain, and make you take a less bilious view of things than you do
now.  Catch hold!  I'm an old-fashioned one, I am.  Here's a toast.  Are
you ready?"

Tom took the glass, and nodded.

"Here's my darling little Jessie.  God bless her! and may she soon be
happy with the man of her choice."

He looked maliciously at the young man as he spoke; but Tom set down his
glass untasted.

"I can't drink that," he said sternly.

"Hey?  Not drink it!  Why not?"

"Because, if she marries my brother, she will never be a happy woman."

"Bah!  Idiot!  Young fool!" chuckled Hopper.  "She won't marry Fred.
I'd sooner poison her.  Drink!  You care for her, don't you?"

"I do," said Tom fervently.

"Then drink to her happiness, and don't be a selfish ass.  If you can't
have her, don't grudge the pretty little sweet bit of fruit to some one
else.  Drink."

"Jessie!" said Tom, softly and reverently; and he drained his glass.

"You're getting better," chuckled Hopper; "and I shall make you well
before I've done."

Certainly a great change did come over Tom Fraser as he partook of the
excellent dinner brought in nice and hot by the neat servant; the old
fellow seeming to be far less hard of hearing than usual, and chuckling
and laughing as he took his wine freely, opened a fresh bottle, and
finally brought out pipes and cigars, as the dinner was replaced by
dessert.

"Thought I was poor, did you, Tom, my boy?" he cried, slapping the other
on the shoulder.  "I'm not, you see; but that's my secret.  Your
step-father's got his; your Uncle Dick his; so I don't see why I
shouldn't have mine.  I never bring anybody here hardly.  Your father
has never been, nor your Uncle Dick neither.  Lucky dog!  He's made lots
of money, and goes on making it too, a fox--and hang me if I know how."

"The same way as you, perhaps."

"No, that he don't I do a bit in the City, and speculate in a few bills
occasionally.  I've got paper with names on that would startle you, I'll
be bound."

"I daresay," said Tom sadly.

"There, there, man! take another glass of your medicine.  You're coming
out bad with your old complaint again--lovesickness."

"Ah!" cried Tom, who had, like his host, got into the confidential
stage.  "You don't know what it means."

"I don't know what it means?" cried the old fellow, rising, and leaning
his hands on the table as he laid down his pipe.  "Look there, Tom
Fraser--look there!" he cried, crossing to a drawer, unlocking it
hastily, and taking out an old-fashioned miniature of a very beautiful
woman.

"My grandmother!" said Tom, starting, as he held the portrait to the
light.

"And my love," said the old fellow, in a softened, changed voice.  "Yes,
Tom, I loved her very dearly--as dearly as I hated the man who took her
from me.  Not that she ever cared for me.  Hah! she was an angel.  Your
grandfather was a scoundrel, and the blood of the two has run its
different courses.  Women somehow like scoundrels," he said, as he
reverently put away the miniature.

"They do," groaned Tom.

"But not all, Tom--not all.  There, man, fill up and drink.  Here's my
little darling Jessie--your darling, if you're the man I take you for."

"If you talk like that, I must go," said Tom.

"Hey?  What! go?  Stuff, man!  Have a little faith.  I don't say
Jessie's perfect; but she's a better girl than you believe her.  Try her
again, man."

Tom shook his head.

"Fred is always there in my light."

"Turn him out of it, then.  Bah!  You weak idiot!  You imagine twice as
much as you have any grounds for.  Take my advice, or leave it--I don't
care which.  I only give you the hint for your own sake.  Puss, puss,
puss!"

He got up, opened the window, and the cats came trooping in, to leap
upon him and show their delight, while he petted first one and then
another as they thrust their heads into his hands, Tom sitting back and
watching him the while.

"Curious, isn't it?" said Hopper, chuckling.  "But a man must have
friends.  I've got very few, so I take to cats, and they are as faithful
as truth.  Capital things to keep, Tom, my lad.  Only behave well to
them, and it don't matter how great a scoundrel you are, they never find
you out, nor believe what the world says--they stick to you to the end."

Tom took another glance round the quaint room, to see dozens of fresh
objects at every look--old china, ancient weapons, curious watches,
besides articles of vertu that must have been of great value; and the
old fellow chuckled as he saw the direction of his glances.

"Queer place to live in, Tom, and queer things about Look at this, my
lad: here's my will.  I keep it in this old canister, just where it can
be found--ready for my executors.  What!  Hey?  Going?  Well, good-bye.
Come again--often--I shall be glad to see you."

"Do you mean this?" said Tom, returning the old man's warm pressure of
the hand.

"Hey?"

"I say, do you mean it?"

"Oh yes!  I heard.  Mean it?  Of course I do, man, or I shouldn't ask
you.  Only come in a sensible way, not in a ghostly form.  None of your
drowned ghosts, without their noses.  I mean you in the flesh, not in
the spirit."

"You need have no fear," said Tom sadly.  "My mad fit is past.  I should
not be guilty of such folly."

"I should think not!" said Hopper, laughing.  "We make nearly all our
own troubles, my boy; and then men are such cowards that they run away
from them.  Have another cigar?  That's right--light up.  Good-bye, lad.
I say, why don't you go round by your uncle's house, and have a peep at
some one's window?  There, be off; you're a poor coward of a lover,
after all!"

VOLUME TWO, CHAPTER TWELVE.

PRIVATE INQUIRY.

Several weeks passed.  Jessie seemed to have received a serious shock
from the encounter that had taken place at her father's house; and for
days together she would be depressed, silent, and stand at the window
watching, as if in expectation of some one coming.  Then an interval of
feverish gaiety would set in, during which, with brightened eye, she
would chat and play and sing, showing so much excitement that Dick would
shake his head to his wife and declare it was a bad sign.

"It's all fretting, mother," he would say.  "She's thinking of that
scamp Fred."

Whereupon Mrs Shingle would shake her head in turn, and declare tartly
that he knew nothing at all about it, for she was sure it was Tom.

"You are very clever, no doubt, Dick, at keeping secrets and hiding
things away from your wife--"

"That's right," said Dick.  "Go it!  I wish I was poor again."

"But you know no more about that poor girl's feelings than you do of
Chinese."

"Well, I don't know much about Chinese, mother, certainly, but I'm sure
it ain't Tom.  How can it be?"

"I don't know how it can be," said Mrs Shingle tartly, "or how it can't
be; but fretting after Tom Shingle she is, and it's my belief he's very
fond of her."

"There you go," said Dick, who was warming himself, with his back to the
fire, waiting for the object of their solicitude to come down to
dinner--for she had been lying down the greater part of the day--"there
you go, mother, a-showing yourself up and contradicting common-sense.  I
say it's after Fred she's fretting."

"I know you do," said Mrs Shingle, tightening her lips and giving her
head a shake, which plainly said--"I'll die before I'll give in."

"Let me have one word in, mother, if it's only edgewise," cried Dick.

"There, go on--I know what you are about to say."

"No, you don't, mother; so don't aggravate.  I say it's Fred."

"I know you do."

"For this reason.  He's forbid the house, and I won't have it; for I
hear nothing but what's bad spoken of him.  I won't have him here.  He
ain't worthy of her.  So he can't come, and she, poor girl, frets about
it; and if she don't get better I shall have to give in.  Now, you say
it's Tom."

"Yes," said Mrs Shingle, nodding her head.

"Well, then, why don't he come? or why don't she send for him and make
it right?  Can't you see that if it were as you say, all would be right
directly?"

Mrs Shingle shook her head.

"That's right; be obstinate, mother, when you know there's nothing to
prevent his coming."

Jessie came in directly, looking very pale and sweet in her sadness: her
eyes were sunken with wakefulness, but she had a smile for both, and an
affectionate kiss before taking her place at the table; where, after
kicking himself in his misery, Dick set-to, pretending not to notice his
child's depression, though he felt a bitter pang at his heart as he was
guilty of every bit of clowning in his efforts to bring a smile from the
suffering girl's eyes.

At times, though, he was very absent, and his tongue went on talking at
random--of the last thing, perhaps, that he had seen--while his mind was
far away.  In fact, had his brother been present, with witnesses, he
would have had strong grounds for saying that Dick's brain was softening
at the very least.

He began with grace, standing up, and very reverently said the customary
formula, ending "truly thankful.  Amen.  Pure pickles, sauces, and
jams," he continued, for his eye had lighted upon the label of a bottle
in the silver stand.

He started the next moment, and looked round, with one hand in his
breast, to see if the string of his front was all right, for he
occasionally put on one of those delusive articles of linen attire when
he dressed for dinner, and always went in torture for the rest of the
evening, on account of the treacherous nature of the garment--one which
invariably seeks to betray the weakness of a man's linen-closet by
bursting off strings or creeping insidiously round under his arm.  In
fact, one of Richard Shingle's, on a certain evening, deposited the
bottom of the well-starched plaits in his soup, by making a dive out
from within his vest as he leaned forward.

"Glass of wine, Jessie?" said Dick, as the dinner went on; and to oblige
him the poor girl took a little, just as Mrs Shingle exclaimed--

"Bless me!  I have no handkerchief.  Did you take my handkerchief,
Jessie?"

"Lor'! mother, don't talk of your handkerchief as if it was a pill.  You
do roll 'em up pretty tight, but not quite so bad as that."

The boy, who was waiting at table, exploded in a burst of laughter,
which he tried to hide by rattling the glasses on the sideboard, and
then turning uncomfortable as his master gave him a severe frown.

"What's the pudden, my dear?" said Dick at last.

"It's a new kind," said Mrs Shingle.  "You'll have some?  I told the
cook how to make it."

"That I will, and so will Jessie.  I always like your puddens, mother,
they make one feel so good while one's eating them--they're so
innocent."

"You've not seen any more of your brother, I suppose?" said Mrs Shingle
just then, inadvertently.

"Well, I have seen him," said Dick,--"twice.  He's up to some little
game."

"What do you mean?"

"Why, that he's got a man always watching me.  He follows me like my
shadow.  He wants to find out my business, or else he's going to try on
his little dodge again.  But I'm not afraid.  Jessie, my gal, what is
it?"

"Nothing, father--nothing," she said, trying to smile as she rose from
the table.  "The room is too hot.  I think I'll go upstairs."

"I'll go with you, my darling," exclaimed Mrs Shingle; but Jessie
insisted on her staying, and she had her own way, going up to sit at her
window, as was her wont, to watch wistfully along the darkened road for
the relief that seemed as if it would never come.

She had been there about an hour, when suddenly she started up, and
gazed down excitedly into the garden, where she could plainly make out
the figure of a man; and as she looked he raised his hands to her and
sharply beckoned her to come down.

"At last!" she cried, with a look of joy flashing from her eyes; and,
going to the door, she listened for a few moments, hesitated, and then
went below to the breakfast-room, which opened with French casements on
to the garden, unfastened one, and in the dim light a figure passed in
rapidly and closed the window.

There were two men standing in the shadow of a gate on the other side,
one of whom scribbled something quickly on a page of a note-book, and
gave it to the other, with the words--

"Run--first cab!  Don't lose a moment."

A quarter of an hour later, just as Dick and his wife were about to
leave the dining-room, there was a sharp knock at the door, followed by
the trampling of feet in the hall, and Union Jack's voice heard in
protestation--

"I tell you he's at dinner, and won't be disturbed.  Master always gives
strict orders that--"

"Tell your master that Mr Maximilian Shingle insists upon seeing him on
business."

"Does he?" said Dick sharply.  And he stood at the door, looking at his
brother, and flourishing a dinner napkin about, as his eyes lighted upon
his two companions; while a nervous feeling akin to alarm came upon him,
for he saw that they were two well-dressed, keen-looking men.

"They're mad doctors--both of 'em," thought Dick, "and they're going to
listen to what I say, sign certificates, and have me dragged away.
They'll have a tough job of it if they do, though," he muttered.  "Yes,
and there's the carriage just come up that's to take me off," he
continued, as there was the noise of wheels stopping at the door.
"Don't open that door, John," he cried aloud.

But he was too late; for the boy had opened the door on the instant, and
before he could shut it, Hopper, closely followed by Tom, entered the
hall.

"Oh, it's you, is it?" said Dick, nodding, and feeling relieved.

"Hey?  Yes, it's me," said Hopper quietly.  "We thought we'd just drop
in."

"Well, then, Mr Max Shingle, perhaps you'll be good enough to tell me
what you want, disturbing me at my dinner?" said Dick sharply.

"Well, the fact is," said Max, smiling maliciously, but rubbing his
hands and trying to look smooth the while, "these gentlemen and I--"

"Let's see," said Dick coolly; for he felt now that he was well backed
up.  "But, stop a moment.  John, my lad, fetch a policeman."

"By all means," said Max eagerly.  "Get one, my boy."  The lad, who had
been staring with open eyes, unfastened the door, to find one close at
hand, beating his gloves together, probably attracted by the scent of
something going on.

"Here's one outside, sir," cried the boy eagerly.

"That's right," said Dick.  "Here, you Number something, come in.
You're to see fair over this, my man."

He nodded to Tom and Hopper, who were both singularly silent, and then
turned to Max, as the front door was closed; and Mrs Shingle stood half
in the dining-room, a wondering spectator of the proceedings.

"Now, Mr Max, if you please," said Dick quietly, "proceed.  You say
these gentlemen--who I know again: they've been watching me, I suppose,
to make up a case, ever since that little brotherly quarrel of ours; and
now, I suppose, they've found it all out."

"You shall hear what they've found out directly," said Max, rubbing his
hands.

"My secret, I suppose," said Dick, laughing.  "Well, I don't mind that."

"It will be a lesson to a disobedient son, too," said Max, turning and
darting a withering look at Tom.  "One who fortunately happens to be
here."

"Well, when you've got through the introductory matter, or described the
symptoms," said Dick, laughing, "perhaps you'll administer the pill.
Your friends are mad doctors, I suppose?"

Max laughed derisively; and the taller of the two men--a curious-looking
fellow, whose ears stood out at either side of his head so that you
could look into them--in a sharp, businesslike way took out his
pocket-book, and presented a card.

"That is my name and address, sir," he said--"E.  Gilderoy, private
inquiry agent.  This is one of my assistants."

"Thankye," said Dick, smiling.  "There now, let's have an inquiry in
private."

Max hesitated for a moment, and then went on.

"The fact is, Mr Richard Shingle, I have employed these gentlemen to--"

"I know--watch me," said Dick sharply.  "There, you needn't shrink, Max;
I was quite satisfied with the thrashing I gave you before, and if I
want you turned out I shall set X Number something to work."

"I am accustomed to your insults," said Max, "so say what you like.  I
say, I employed these gentlemen in the interest of your wife and child
as much as in that of the family, since you are so imbecile that you
cannot take care of yourself."

"All right: go on," said Dick, coolly picking his teeth.

"I don't care; say what you like--I deserve something for that kicking I
gave you."

"And these gentlemen have reported to me that for many nights past your
house has had a man lurking about it, evidently for no good purpose."

"One of these two, I suppose?" said Dick contemptuously.

"Your interruptions are most uncalled for," said Max.

"Besides us, sir," said Mr Gilderoy, nodding at his assistant.

"Yes, sir, besides us," said that worthy.

"This evening the matter culminated in the man gaining entrance to your
house," said Max, with a malignant look in his eyes.

"Nonsense!" cried Dick.

"Oh no," said Max, with a sneer, "it's truth."

"I don't believe it," cried Dick.  "I'll question the servants."

"There is no need," said Max maliciously; "you had better search the
house, for he is here still."

"It's a lie--an invention!" cried Dick indignantly.

"You'd better ask Miss Jessie if it is," said Max, laughing.  "Ask--ask
Jessie?" cried Dick, looking from one to the other.  "What do you mean?
To--Oh, I won't have it.  Who dares to say anything of the kind?"

"Fact, sir," said the private inquirer sharply.  "Young lady, sitting at
window on first-floor, sits there every evening watching along the
road."

"Yes," said Dick, in a bewildered way; "she does--but--"

"To-night, at seven fifty-six, tall gent in dark coat came up, jumped
the railing, crossed the flower-bed, and made signs."

There was a pause, and Tom sighed.

"Dark gent, with big beard--something like this gent, sir," said the
private inquirer, pointing to Tom.

"Was it you, Tom?" said Dick, with his old puzzled look growing more
distinct upon his lined brow.

"No, uncle," said Tom hoarsely; and then to himself--"Would to God it
had been!"

"Oh no, sir, not this gent," said the private inquirer, referring to his
note-book--"something like him, but not him.  He signals to the lady at
the window.  Lady comes down.  Lady opens breakfast-room window."

"How the devil do you know which is the breakfast-room?" cried Dick
savagely.

"My duty to know, sir," said the man, in the most unruffled way.
"That's the breakfast-room door, sir.  Gent goes in through window--
shuts it after him; and he didn't come out."

"How do you know?" cried Dick.

"Men watching back and front, sir," said the private inquirer
imperturbably.

"Well, Max, and if some one did, what then?" said Dick.  "Suppose a
policeman or some one comes to see one of the maids?"

"You had better turn him out," said Max.  "I should search the room."

"That's soon done," said Dick, throwing open the door.  "Here, John--a
lighter."

The boy took a taper to the hall lamp, and a couple of the burners in
the breakfast-room being lit, they entered, to discover nothing.

"There," said Dick, wiping the perspiration from his face, "you see
there is no one here.  I won't have any more of your poll-prying about.
You pay men to see things, Max, and they see them."

"That's an aspersion on my word, sir," said the private inquirer
sharply.

"Serve you right!" cried Dick fiercely.  "What do you come watching for?
No one else saw, I'll swear.  You saw nobody come in, did you,
Hopper?--nor you, Tom?"

Neither answered, and Dick grew more and more excited.

"I won't have it!" he cried.  "I'll have the house cleared."

"Without clearing your daughter's name?" said Max, with a sneer.

"Clear my daughter's name?  It wants no clearing," cried Dick angrily;
and now his nervous, weak manner was thrown off, and he stood up proud
and defiant.  "Here, stop!  You, Tom Fraser, and you, Hopper!  I won't
have you go, if it comes to that."

"I would rather go," said Tom sadly, from the hall.

"But I say you shall not go."

"Uncle," said Tom--and he spoke in a low whisper--"let me go, for
Heaven's sake: I cannot bear it."

"No," said Dick sternly; "you shall not go till this has been set right.
Do you, too, believe ill of my girl?"

"God forbid, uncle!  I only wanted to know that my case was hopeless;
and I have heard."

"Heard what?" whispered Dick.

"What these men told you," said Tom bitterly.

"Do you dare to say--"

"I say nothing, uncle--only that what those men have said is true."

"Here!" cried Dick furiously, "mother, quick!--tell Jessie to come here.
Oh, you are there," he cried, as, hearing a door close on the landing,
he looked up and saw Jessie.

"Uncle, for Heaven's sake think of what you are doing," cried Tom,
catching his arm.

"I am thinking, sir, of clearing her name.  My girl would not be guilty
of--"

He stopped short; for he recalled the little incident in the old home.

"I don't care," he cried passionately.  "I'm driven to it, and it shall
be sifted to the bottom."

As he spoke, he ran up the stairs, closely followed by Max and his
private inquirers.

"Mr Hopper," cried Tom passionately, "this is your doing, to bring me
in here.  Come away.  It is too cruel to her."

"Hey? cruel?--I don't care," said Hopper sturdily.  "I'll see it out;
for look here, Tom, and you too, Mrs Richard,--I say, as I've said
before, she'll come out of it clear as day.  Now, come up."

He stumped hastily upstairs, Tom feeling compelled to follow, but hating
himself for the part he was playing, the result of hanging about the
house time after time, for the sake of catching a glimpse of Jessie, and
then telling Hopper that evening what he had seen.

The old man had been astounded when, half-frantic, Tom had met him on
his way to Richard Shingle's; and then insisted upon his coming to have
the matter cleared up, vowing that there was a mistake.

As the party reached the large landing, Jessie stood in front of the
door of her room, the policeman being the last to complete the
half-circle that surrounded her; and then Dick spoke.

"Jessie, my darling," he said, tenderly, "I know this will upset you;
but, my girl, when cruel conspiracies are hatched against us by
scoundrels, we must meet them boldly."

"Yes, father," said Jessie, who did not shrink, but darted a reproachful
look at Tom that went to his heart.

"Your uncle, to stab your fair fame, my dear, has brought these men to
swear that they saw you let in some one to-night by the breakfast-room
window; and they say he has not gone out.  Speak out, my dear, and tell
them it's a lie."

There was no reply, and Mrs Shingle caught at her husband's arm; but he
flushed up with passion and shook her off.

"Jessie," he cried in a choking voice, "speak out quick!--is any one in
that room of yours?"

Jessie looked wildly from face to face, her glance resting longest on
those of Max and Tom.

"I say, is any one in that room?" thundered Dick, catching her by the
wrist, which she snatched away, and, spreading her hands from side to
side, as she stood back against the door, she cried out, wildly--

"No, father, no!"

As she spoke there was a sharp creaking noise from within, as of a sash
being thrown up; and Dick once more caught her by the wrist.

"No, no!" she cried, struggling with him frantically.  "Tom, dear Tom,
for pity's sake save me from this disgrace!"

Tom dashed forward, and caught her in his arms, more in sorrow than in
anger; for Dick had swung her round with a savage oath, throwing open
the door, and dashing in with the private inquiry men, to return
dragging out a man with a strong resemblance to Tom, till Gilderoy gave
his beard a twitch, and pulled it off, revealing the sallow, frightened
countenance of Fred.

VOLUME TWO, CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

AFTER THE DISCOVERY.

"Fred!" cried Max, in alarm.

"Yes," said that gentleman savagely--"if you must blab it out."

"Tom, Tom," whispered Jessie, "for your own sake save him,--he is your
brother."

He turned from her with a sigh, as he freed himself from her grasp and
placed her hands in those of her mother.

"And this is my child!" groaned Dick.

"Oh, father!" cried Jessie, "don't condemn me unheard.  Frederick, speak
out."

"Not I," he said cynically.  "Why should I?"

"And this is my son!" exclaimed Max, who was completely taken aback.

"There, don't cant, old man," cried Fred, brutally.  "I don't suppose
you have always been so very particular."

"Fred!" exclaimed Tom savagely, "it is enough that you have brought this
disgrace upon your uncle, without insulting the poor girl you have
injured."

"Bosh!  I shall be off," said Fred, flippantly; and, as he spoke, he
made for the head of the staircase, not noticing that a movement had bee
made in that direction by the private detectives, the principal speaking
to the policeman, who nodded sapiently.

"Stop!" cried Max.  "You shall not go without hearing a few words from
me.  You shall listen, as you are present, to advice that may--"

"Do him good," cried Dick, turning upon him savagely.  "Give it him,
then, in your own place, and not in mine.  You coward--you pitiful
miscreant!  To revenge yourself on me you stoop to this low, beggarly
watching; and when your tools warn you of your opportunity, you are such
a high-toned moral man that you come with your scoundrels to degrade and
disgrace that poor child before her father.  I don't defend her--she did
wrong; but I'm not a high-toned moral man, I'm not.  I know what she has
suffered; and I say to her, `Come here, my poor darling--I'm only a weak
fool, and I forgive you.'"

"Father!" cried Jessie, and she sprang to his breast.

"Yes--lie there, my darling," cried Dick, glancing round at all in turn.
"Now let's see who dare say a word against you--or touch you!  You're
my gal, and always will be, come what may.  I can't cast you off and say
I have no child; but--but, my darling, I'd sooner have been back, a poor
man again, in Crowder's Buildings, and bullied for my bit of rent, than
this should have happened."

"Oh, hush, father--hush!" whispered Jessie--"wait till they're gone--
wait till they're gone."

"No, I've nothing to be ashamed of," cried Dick, "without it is of my
brother and his sons.  All the world may know that I was a poor man who
made his fortune, but never lost his ignorant ways.  So I forgive you,
my gal."

"Uncle," cried Tom, "I have given you no cause to speak to me as you
do."

"Well, perhaps not, my lad--perhaps not.  I'd take it kindly of you and
Hopper, then, if you'd clear the house and then go."

"I'll soon rid you of my company," said Fred.  "Ta-ta, uncle.  Good-bye,
little Jess."

Dick's fist clenched as the young man approached him; and Tom saw that
Jessie shrank from him as if with loathing, though she watched his
movements with a strange, keen interest.

He laughed lightly as he passed, and then started back, for the
policeman placed his hands across from the balustrade to the wall.

"One moment, please, Sir.  This is your photograph, I think?"

He held up a card, but Fred struck it down and tried to leap past; but
the policeman caught him in his arms and forced him back.

"Oh no, you don't, sir," said the constable, laughing.  "E.  Gilderoy,
send your men down to keep the door.  The fact is, Frederick Fraser,
_alias_ Captain Leroux, _alias_ the Hon.  Algernon Bracy, there's a
warrant out against you, and two-fifty reward.  We only knew this
afternoon that you were F.  Fraser, and you were to have been took this
evening; but the job has fallen to us."

"Man, you are mad, or drunk."

"I dare say I am," said the constable, laughing; "but Mr Gilderoy and
me means to have that two-fifty."

"Father--uncle--Tom! this is a lie--an imposition!" cried Fred, wildly
glancing round for a means of escape, but seeing none.

"No, sir," said the constable; "it was them forged bills was lies and
impositions."

"Constable, this is all nonsense--some trumped-up case!" cried Max.  "An
invention, perhaps, of the poor boy's uncle," he added malignantly.

"Oh no, it is not, sir; the game's been going on for close upon two
years, only my gentleman here has been too clever to be caught.  There's
over two thou, been discounted.  It's all tight."

"Fred," cried Max, "why don't you knock this lying scoundrel down?"

"Don't want to bruise my knuckles," said Fred carelessly.  "There, the
game's up, and I'm sick of it."

"What?" cried Max.

"It's all right," said Fred callously.  "I had the cake, so I must pay
for it."

"Reprobate!" cried Max furiously: "do you dare to own to my face that
this is true?"

"True enough," said Fred, taking out his cigar-case.  "I can smoke, I
suppose, constable?"

"Oh yes, sir, and make much of it," said the man, grinning.  "I don't
suppose you'll get another--not just yet."

"Good heavens, that it should come to this!" cried Max, raising his
hands toward the ceiling.  "Lost, depraved, reckless boy! you bring down
your father's grey hairs with sorrow to the grave."

"What!" shrieked Fred, with a sneering laugh.

"After the Christian home in which you have been brought up!"

"Look here!" cried Fred.  "Slang me, if you like, for being an unlucky
scoundrel; but, curse it, give me none of your sickly cant."

"Away with him, constable.  Out of my sight, wretch!  I disown and curse
you!" cried Max.

"Take your curse back," shrieked Fred savagely.  "Example!--Christian
home!  What of the office?  What has been done there?  Where is
Violante's money?"

Max stepped back with his jaw fallen.

"Where is the hundred pounds the old man in Australia sent for Uncle
Dick?  Example, indeed!"

"What?" shouted Dick, starting forward.  "Say that again."

"Say it again!" shrieked Fred, who was now mad with rage: "I say two two
hundreds were sent by an old relative in Australia for you and him, and
he kept them both."

"It's a lie--a base lie!" cried Max, foaming at the mouth.

"Oh, Max, Max, Max," said Dick sadly, "and when I was close to
starving!"

"It's a lie, I say!"

"It's the truth, you pitiful scoundrel!" said old Hopper.  "But I made
you disgorge some of it again, and sent it into the right channel."

"What, you turn against me, too!" said Max, with a groan.  "I say it's a
lie--a conspiracy.  No money was sent: there was no uncle to send it."

"No?" said Hopper quietly.  "Well, I can prove it all; for I sent the
money, for the sake of Dick here, and to try you both."

"I tell you it's a lie!" stammered Max, foaming at the mouth.

"You've got to prove it one," said Fred carelessly.  "Come along,
constable--let's be off.  Here's my last half-crown.  I'll go in a cab."

"Stop!" cried Dick excitedly.  "I won't have it.  I forgive Max.  I
forgive Fred here.  I've plenty of money, constable.  Can't it be
squared?  I'll--I'll pay the reward.  Cash down."

"No, sir," said the constable; "not if you doubled it."

"But I will double it," cried Dick.

"Hold hard, uncle," said Fred, smiling.  "It's no go.  But you always
were a trump--always.  Thank you for it!  Sorry I've disgraced you.
Tom, old man, it's all right.  Uncle, it's all right about your little
girl here.  I came to-night, and she admitted me, thinking it was Tom;
and as soon as I was inside I told her the police were after me, unless
she could help me to escape.  There's the bag inside, with her purse and
the jewels she gave me to sell, watch and chain, and the rest of it; for
I was off across the herring-pond if I could get away.  Fetch it out."

Tom ran into Jessie's room, and brought out a little travelling bag
which lay beneath the open window.

"I didn't like to jump it," said Fred, laughing.  "It was too high: but
I should try if I had another chance."

"Fred--brother!" cried Tom passionately, as he held out his hand; and
Fred seized it for a moment, and then flung it away.

"No, Tom; let me be: I've always been a bad one.  As for you, Jessie--
God bless you! you were a little trump.  I told her it would disgrace
you all, and poor Tom, if I was taken; and she told a lie to save me.
Good-bye, little woman!" he said, holding out his hand.

Jessie ran forward and took it, and he tried to speak in a light,
cavalier manner; but his voice faltered, and he had to make an effort to
keep from breaking down.

"Good-bye, Fred," said Tom, stepping before him, as if to shake hands.
Then, forcing the little bag into his grasp, he whispered, "Run for it,
lad--the window.  I'll cover you--run."

As he spoke, he gave his brother a push into the bedroom, and then faced
round with clenched fists.

For a moment the men were paralysed, but the next they flung themselves
on Tom.

Gilderoy was nearest, and a blow sent him rolling over; but the
constable evaded a second blow, and closed in a fierce struggle, which,
taking place at the doorway, prevented the next man from forcing his way
through.

Mrs Shingle shrieked; but Jessie stood firm, gazing with dilating eyes
at her lover, as he wrestled bravely with the policeman, whom he kept
between himself and the second man, still covering his brother's flight.

They were well matched, and victory might have been on Tom's side but
for the action of Dick, who, seeing the second man about to leap on him,
thrust out his foot and laid him sprawling.

It was unfortunate for Tom, though.  The man was so near that he tripped
over him, and lay for the moment half-stunned; while now all three
rushed into the room and to the open window.

"Below there!" cried Gilderoy--"have you seen him?"

"No," was the reply.  "He came down with a crash, though, into the
shrubs here, and I think he's hurt--he hasn't moved since.  Come down,
and bring a light."

Jessie's window looked down upon a great clump of lilacs, into which it
seemed that Fred must have jumped; and, running back to the landing, the
three men dashed downstairs, through Dick's study, into the
conservatory, and thence to the enclosed back garden.

As they did so, Fred glided out from behind the window curtains, placed
his hand to his lips, and bounded down the staircase, almost into his
brother's arms.

Tom saw the ruse, seized a coat and hat from the stand, and opened the
front door.

"Cabstand at the corner," he whispered.  "Walk--don't run."

Fred went leisurely out, and as Tom closed the door the private inquiry
man came back, and placed himself as sentinel to guard the door.

The search went on for a few moments outside, and then there was a
shout.

"They've got him," cried the sentry eagerly.  "Got him?" he shouted.

"No," cried the constable, running into the hall, hot and panting.  "He
threw a great ottoman out of the window, and didn't jump.  Keep that
door; we must search the house."

The search began, and it was not until every nook and corner had been
hunted over that the men stood looking at one another in the hall.

"A pretty mess you've made of this, Mr Gilderoy!" cried the constable,
at last.

"Two-fifty thrown into the gutter by your bad management," groaned the
other.

"P'r'aps you'd better go and search all London now," said Hopper, with a
sneer, "for he can't be far off."

The men turned upon him angrily.

"We haven't done yet," said the constable.  "We must have some one for
this.  The law can't be resisted for nothing."

"I'm ready to give up," said Tom quietly.

"You'll do nothing of the kind," cried Hopper, hastily pushing him away.
"Here, you there! don't be fools.  Come in here.  The man's gone--off
by the front door.  What have you got to say to that?"

"I must have some one," said the constable surlily.

"Hey?  Have some one?" cried Hopper.  "Then have me."

They followed the old fellow into the dining-room, where a little
private inquiry went on; and the result was that soon after they left
the house, evidently having forgotten to call Tom's behaviour into
question; while, as for Max, he had not been seen to go, which Dick said
was a blessing in disguise, as the encounter might have been painful.

VOLUME TWO, CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

JESSIE'S MALADY.

"`I cannot forgive myself,'" wrote Tom to Richard Shingle--and the
latter read the note aloud--"`I feel, uncle, that I have wronged her
twice in thought most cruelly, and that I dare not hope for her
forgiveness till time has enabled me to prove myself more worthy of
her--'"

"Read more loudly, and don't mumble," said Hopper, who was present.

"`Tell her, uncle, that I love her dearly--more dearly than ever; and
some day, if she has not made another choice, I may come and ask you
all, humbly, if you can forget the past, ignore the misfortunes of my
family, and give me room to hope that there is a happy future where at
present all looks black.'"

"I've read that ten times over," said Dick, "and hang me if I know what
it means.  It's too fine and sentimental for me.  Why, if he was half
the man I took him for, he'd come down here and say, `Uncle, blood's
thicker than water: shall we cry "wiped out" to all that's gone by?--
because, if so, 'ere's my 'art and 'ere's my 'and.'"

"Hey?"

"'Ere's my 'art and 'ere's my 'and," roared Dick.

"And what should you say to that?" chuckled Hopper.

"I should say, `Tom, my lad, I don't want your 'art, and I don't want
your 'and, for I've got a 'art as is, I hope, a warm one, and I've got a
'and to offer to the man I can believe in and trust.  Take yours
somewheres else, and offer 'em where they may be taken.'"

Dick winked at his friend, and jerked his thumb over his shoulder,
where, seen dimly in the farther room, were Jessie and Mrs Shingle--
Dick having taken a house at Hastings, and gone down for change, he
said, but really on account of the weak state of Jessie's health; and
now he and his friend were having a pipe together in the inner room.

"He's too cocky," said Hopper: "he's as proud as Lucifer.  He won't come
and ask till he's made money, and can be independent."

"That's where he's such a fool," said Dick.  "Of course I'm not going to
say `Come down and marry my gal,' who's dying to have him; but he can
have her when he likes; and as to money, why, there's enough for all."

"Tom won't want for money," said Hopper, blowing out a great cloud.

"Oh, won't he?" said Dick.  "Well, a good job too.  What's become of
Fred?"

"Married that violent girl, who was dead on him, and went and joined him
as soon as she knew he was in trouble."

"Did she, though?" said Dick.  "Well, 'ang me if I ever liked her, with
her twissened eyes, till now; but that was a good one.  Hopper, Max
spent all that poor gal's money, which was hard on her.  Could you get
to let her have a hundred pounds if I give you a cheque?  You can come
those dodges of sending money on the sly most artfully."

Hopper chuckled as Dick poked him in the side with his pipe-stem.  "No,
no, no, Dick, they are in America by now; and Fred will be better
without money.  Make him work."

He began to refill his pipe as he spoke.

"I never could make out how it was he got off so easily to America.  The
police wasn't half sharp; but it was a good job.  How about the extra
tradition, as they called it?"

"Hey?  Extradition?" said Hopper.  "Ha! there was a reason for that."

He opened his pocket-book, took out a slip of blue paper, folded it,
and, striking a match, lit the paper and held it to his pipe.

"I say," said Dick, "what's that you're burning?"

"An old bill," was the reply--"I'm using 'em up by degrees."

"An old bill?" said Dick; for Hopper looked at him curiously.

"Yes," said Hopper, "I've done a deal in bills.  This is one of ten--of
Fred's: I bought 'em--for his grandmother's sake," he added softly.

Dick stretched out his hand, grasped the other's, and then turned his
chair to have a look at a ship in the offing, which seemed quite
blurred.

"Pick!  Dick!" screamed Mrs Shingle.

"Yes, yes--what?" he cried, starting up and running in, to find Jessie
lying white as ashes in her mother's arms.

"Quick!" cried Mrs Shingle; "tell--tell the doctor--this is the second
time to-day!  Dick--Dick!" she cried passionately, "she's dying!"

Old Hopper was the most active of the party; and long before the doctor
could be brought Jessie had revived, but only to lie back listlessly,
gazing out to sea; while, when the medical man left, it was with a
solemn shake of the head, which sent a chill to the hearts of Dick and
his spouse.

They had been sitting by their child for about an hour, when old Hopper
came in, and stood looking down at her in a quiet, unsympathising way.

"I've come to say good-bye," he said roughly.

"Good-bye?" said Dick.  "Why, you only came yesterday!"

"I know, but I'm no good here.  Good-bye, my girl.  I wish you better."

She half raised her head to kiss him, and the old man bent down and
pressed his lips to hers very tenderly, before leaving the room, closely
followed by Dick.

"I know it's a dreary place to come to, Hopper," he said; "and we've
only had one tune-up together; but when she's--better--Hopper, old man,
if I wrote and asked Tom to come, would it be wrong?"

"Hey?  Wrong?  Yes.  Don't do anything of the sort.  Hey?  What's that?"

"Only a letter for Max.  I hear he's laid up.  Don't let him know who
sent it--that's all."

The old man nodded, and held out his hand.

"Do you know why I'm going in such a hurry?" he whispered.

"No," was the reply.

"I'll tell you," said Hopper.  "If your girl's left like that, she'll
die.  I'm going to send her the best doctor in town."  Ten minutes after
Hopper was at the station, where he telegraphed one short message,
climbed slowly into his seat, reached the terminus in due time, and on
being driven to his chambers found some one waiting for him.

"How is she?" cried Tom eagerly, as the cats crowded round their master.

"Dying!" said Hopper briefly.

"Dying?"

"Yes.  I've come for the best doctor in London."

"And you sit still there!" cried Tom.  "Have you sent him?"

"No," said Hopper coolly.  "Wait a minute.  Tom, my lad, do you think
you can throw away your pride to save her?"

"I'd throw away my life," he cried passionately.

"That wouldn't save hers.  Here, take this.  Quick--there's a hundred
pounds.  Take it, you young fool!  Go down at once to her, and throw
away all nonsense.  Tell her you love her; ask her to forgive you;
and--"

"Yes--yes," cried Tom.  "Go on."

"And marry her, you young idiot!"

"But a train?" cried Tom despairingly.  "It will be too late to-night."

"You have the money: if necessary, take a special," said the old man.
"What's fifty or a hundred pounds to happiness, or life?"

Tom caught the old fellow's hand in his, and it was retained.

"Stop one moment, my lad," he said.  "You feel some shrinking about your
brother's disgrace.  I was burning these by degrees.  See--the last of
the forged bills."

He took six from his pocket-book, and burned them.

"There," he said, "that business is dead, and you can go with a lighter
heart.  Perhaps I shall come down next week.  Be off."

Tom bounded down the stairs, leaped into the first cab, and bade the man
gallop to London Bridge station.

"All right, sir."

The little door in the roof was slammed down, there was a flick of the
long whip, and for about half a minute the horse broke into a short
canter, one which subsided into a trot a few minutes later.

A loud rattling at the top of the cab spurred the driver to fresh
exertions, and once more the wretched horse cantered, but dropped again
into a trot, and there was an end of it.  Tom had to sit and fume, as at
every turn he seemed to be hemmed in by other vehicles; and, no matter
how the driver tried, there was always a huge, heavily-laden van in
front, blocking up the way.

"I think I'll take a short cut round, sir," said the cabman.  "The
streets is werry full to-night."

"Anything to get there quickly."  So the driver turned out of the main
thoroughfare, and began to dodge in and out of wretched streets, all of
which seemed ill lighted, and so strongly resembled the one the other,
that Tom soon grew bewildered, and sat back thinking, and trying to
arrange his thoughts.

His brain was in such a tumult that he could do nothing, however--
nothing but upbraid himself for his folly and madness, "What have I
done?--what have I done?" he moaned, as he thought of the anguish that
he must have inflicted upon the poor girl, who had slowly pined away,
and was now dying--dying through his wretched blindness and want of
faith.

He tried to excuse himself--pleaded his term of bitter suffering, but
could get no absolution from his own stern judgment.  He had doubted one
who was all that was purity and truth, and here was his punishment--a
bitter one indeed!

He prayed mentally that she might be spared, that he might ask her
forgiveness--forgiveness that he knew he should receive--and then
covered his face with his hands, as a feeling of hope came upon him that
he might still be able to save her.  He might, he thought, bring joy to
her heart even yet.

A sudden stoppage nearly threw him out of the cab; and, looking up
hastily, it was to find that a barrier was across the street, from which
hung a red lantern.

The street was narrow, and he could see beyond, while the driver was
sulkily backing and turning his horse, that the paving-stones were all
up, and the inevitable long fosse and hill of earth lay by the side.

He sank back shuddering, for it looked as if a grave were yawning in the
path; and, with a low moan of despair, he covered his face once more,
and tried to reason with himself that this was merely a superstitious
fancy.

But all in vain.  There was the long, dark cutting fixed upon the retina
of his eye; and he could see nothing else as the cab slowly went back
over much of the ground already traversed.  What was more, his
distempered fancy magnified and added to it, so that he could see trains
of mourners, the clergyman, hear the solemn words of the burial service;
and these the revolving wheels and the rattling cab kept repeating, till
at last it settled itself down into a constant reiteration of the words,
"In the midst of life we are in death,"--"In the midst of life we are in
death," till he grew almost frantic, and stopped his ears in vain
against the weird, funereal sound.

At last, after wearying himself by trying to bring reason to bear, the
cab reached the comparative freedom of London Bridge; and then he began
to think of the hour, and wondered whether there would be a train.

"Perhaps I shall be in time," he thought, as he sprang out of the cab,
and, paying the fare, ran up to the doors, where a porter was standing.

"You should have gone to the other gate, sir," said the man sharply.

"No, no," he replied hastily.  "Main line.  I want Hastings."

"Last train for there was at 8:45, sir."

"What time is it now?" he gasped.

"Ten fifty-five, sir."

"But--but is there nothing more to-night--say, to take me part of the
way?" he exclaimed, for he was mad with the desire to be moving.

"No main line train to-night, sir.  Nothing till six in the morning."

"How long would it take to get a special ready?"

"Oh, not very long, sir.  I dessay they'd get you off in half an hour.
Costs a deal, sir--'bout a pound a mile."

"Where is the superintendent?"

"This way, sir," said the man; and, following him, he was taken to the
official's house, just in time to catch him before he retired for the
night.

"I want a special train--engine and carriage--down to Hastings
immediately," said Tom, hardly able to speak for agitation.

The superintendent looked at him curiously, as if he doubted his sanity.

"It's only excitement--trouble.  It is a case of life and death.  A dear
young friend."

"All right, sir," the superintendent said quickly.  "I see," and there
was a look of sympathy in his eyes.  "But I am only a servant of the
company.  The charge for a special train is high."

"If it is a thousand pounds, man," cried Tom, "I must have it."

"It won't be that, sir," was the reply; "nor yet a hundred."  Then
naming a sum, it was hastily placed in his hand, and the superintendent
left.

He was back directly, and Tom accompanied him then to the telegraph
office, where he gave certain instructions, and the clerk began clicking
the instruments in his cabinet very forcibly.

"Sending word on for a clear line," said the superintendent.  "Warning
for the special."

"How long will they be?" asked Tom.

"What, with the special?  Oh, not long.  There was an engine with steam
nearly up.  But you had better take some refreshment before you go.  The
place is closed, but come to my room."

"I could not touch anything."

"But you have no wrapper or rug," said the superintendent.

"No, I came in a great hurry."

"You must let me lend them to you," continued the superintendent; "and,
excuse me, you have given me all your money.  You had better keep the
gold; you are sure to want some change."

He handed him back the cash, and Tom took it mechanically.

"I cannot thank you now," he said, in a choking voice.  "Some day I
may."

"I hope so, sir," said the superintendent cheerily; "and that the young
lady will come and thank me too."

"Heaven grant she may!"  Tom said, with quivering lip; and he turned
away to hide his emotion, while the superintendent turned back to his
office, leaving Tom walking up and down the platform, where the lamps
quivered in the night breeze, and the whole place looked ghostly, dim,
and cold.

Away to the side the station was bright and busy, for from there started
the local traffic; and trains, with people from the theatres and places
of amusement, left from time to time for the various suburban villages
of the south-east of London; but where he stood all was shadowy, and in
keeping with his terrible journey.

"There, sir--slip that on," said the superintendent.  "Here's a rug,
too, and my flask, with some brandy and biscuits in one of the pockets
of the ulster.  You'll find it cold, and you'll turn faint when you get
on your journey.  Here she comes."

There was a sharp whistle, and Tom could see the lights of an engine
passing out of a shed, to run a little distance down the line, then back
on to another, and come smoothly along to where they stood--hissing,
glowing, and bright.

Tom saw at a glance that there was only an engine, tender, one carriage,
and the guard's break; and, turning to the superintendent, "Can I ride
on the engine with the driver?" he asked.

"No.  In with you."

The superintendent opened the door of the saloon carriage, and shut him
in.  Then Tom heard him give a few quick, decisive orders to the guard,
there was another sharp whistle, he waved his hand from the window, and
the superintendent leaped on to the step:

"Tell them to go as fast as possible," shouted Tom, as the train was
gliding past the platform.

"I have," the superintendent said quickly.  "Hope she'll be better.
Good night."

As he spoke he leaped off at the end of the platform, and, shrieking and
snorting, the little special went rather slowly along, past hissing
goods engines and long black-looking trains, such as might be the
funeral processions of an army.  Lights flashed here and there, and far
to right and left shone the glow of great London; while the big
illuminated clock of the Parliament Houses loomed out of the darkness
like a dull, fog-dimmed moon.

"They are crawling!"  Tom exclaimed, as he started up to look out from
the window.  But, as he did so, the wind was already beginning to
whistle more quickly by his ears: they were clear of obstructions, and
speed was getting up rapidly.  There was the quick, throbbing beat, a
crash as they passed under bridge after bridge, and soon after, as the
engine gave a weird scream, they seemed to skim through a long station,
whose row of pendant lights ran together like closely strung golden
beads; and then, as Tom sank back in his seat, he felt the carriage
begin to vibrate from side to side, and he knew that the telegraph had
flashed its message, that the line was clear, and that, ever increasing
in speed, they were off and away through the black darkness of the
night--the best doctor in London speeding to the patient dying to hear
his words.

VOLUME TWO, CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

A RIDE BY NIGHT.

With the speed of the special train the excitement seemed to increase;
but, for a time, Tom's attention was taken up by the stations they
passed, and he tried hard to recall their names, referring at the same
moment that they passed through to his watch, so as to endeavour to
calculate the speed at which they ran.

But soon they were going so fast that he ceased to hold his watch up to
the thick glass lamp in the roof, and he missed count of the places,
unable to tell one from the other, seeing merely a streak of light
directly after the warning shriek of the engine had told of their
coming.  And now, as he threw himself back and began to think once more
of his trouble, the roar and beat of the engine resolved itself into the
words that had troubled him before; and, with feelings of anguish that
he could not express, he sat listening to the reiteration--"In the midst
of life we are in death,"--"In the midst of life we are in death!"--and,
with a groan of anguish, he bent down and wept like a child.

But for the relief those tears afforded his throbbing brain, he would
soon have been suffering from fever.  The relief was but short, though,
and he rose to gaze out of the window at the thick gloom.  Then,
removing his hat, he lowered the glass and leaned out, letting the cold
night air blow upon his heated face as the train rushed on.

All was black darkness, save the glow shed by the rushing train; and he
could make out nothing but that they were dashing on at a frightful
pace, seeming to tear up the very earth as they thundered along.  Once
or twice speed was slackened, with the engine whistle sounding loudly;
and, looking out, he could see far ahead a red point of light, which, as
they neared it, changed into a green, when, with a triumphant shriek,
the special glided on once more, and they swept by a station and a
hissing engine attached to some long goods train, whose guard stood by
with a lantern in his hand, fresh from the operation of shunting to
allow them to pass.

"Faster, faster!"  Tom began repeating to himself, as, in spite of his
efforts to master the fancy, he kept hearing the words into which the
noise of the train resolved itself; though, as he leaned out again, he
felt a sensation of joy, for he was being borne nearer and nearer to
where his darling lay.

Then he would walk to and fro in the narrow space that formed the saloon
carriage, the difficulty of preserving his balance taking up some of his
attention, and relieving his mind from its dreadful strain.  But it
always came back to his throwing himself back on a seat, to listen to
those dreadful words; and at such times he was for ever seeing the open
grave and the funeral procession, and in a despair that was almost
maddening he, told himself that by his folly he had dashed away the cup
of happiness from his lips, and that if Jessie died he would be little
better than a murderer.

"My poor darling! my poor darling!" he moaned; and then her sweet,
pensive eyes seemed to look up in his, and he was once again with her in
the days of their early love, "And are those times never to come back
again?" he asked aloud; to get back for answer the constant dull
repetition, "In the midst of life we are in death,"--"In the midst of
life we are in death," till he groaned in the anguish of his heart.

Onward still, with a rush and a roar, through tunnels, with a quick,
sharp crash as if wood and brickwork had come into contact; and then on
again.  Over bridges, with a strange quivering vibration, and a dull
metallic roar, and on again through the black darkness, till the engine
began to shriek once more, the speed slackened, grew slower and slower,
and ended by the little train pulling up alongside a platform.

The guard was at the door as Tom let down the window, and met his
question with--

"Tunbridge, sir.  Take in water.  Engine's been detached.  Back
directly."

"Don't lose a moment."

"No, sir.  Like to get out, sir?"

"No."

Tom threw himself back in his seat, and waited impatiently what seemed
an hour, but was really only five minutes; when, just as he was rising
to thrust his head out of the window, there was a slight concussion, the
rattle of chains, and he knew the engine was once more attached.

"Right away!"  A whistle from the guard, an answering shriek from the
engine, and they glided along the platform, while the night porter on
duty looked curiously at the carriage where the young man sat, after
giving the signal to start; and in a few minutes, always gathering
speed, away they went once more, faster and faster, into the darkness of
the night.

It was refreshing to feel the wind blowing against his cheeks, even
though at times he could hardly get his breath; but as he gazed forward
it was almost with a feeling of wonder that they had had no accident, so
black was all ahead.

From time to time a goods train dashed by them in the opposite
direction, while as often they rushed by carriages which stood in
sidings until those on their urgent way had passed.  At last, after
trying all he could to contain himself, and grow calm and fit to see the
poor sufferer whom he feared to encounter, he sat in despair listening
to the dreadful fancied utterances of the train.

With a prayer on his lips that it might not be too late, he lowered the
window on the other side, and gazed out through the darkness in the
direction that he believed to be the one where Jessie lay.  "We must be
near now," he felt; and he began to look out eagerly for the town, which
once reached, his journey would soon be ended.

They seemed to be going at a tremendous speed; and, once more returning
to his seat, he was in the act of taking out his watch, when the whistle
began to pierce the black night air; and directly after, there was a
sharp crash, a stunning blow, the end of the saloon carriage seemed to
come suddenly upon him, and he knew no more.

Tom's next recollection was of feeling drowsy, and being troubled by
some one holding a lantern close to his face.  There was a buzzing of
voices about him, and, close by, the glare of a fire, which flared and
crackled loudly.  Men were moving about, and they would not leave him
alone, so it seemed to him; ending by lifting him up and placing him
carefully upon cushions, which cushions they had laid upon a gate; and
then he was carried some distance to a well-lighted room, where he
seemed to go to sleep.

He must have lain some hours quite insensible, for it was broad daylight
when he came thoroughly to himself, and found he was upon a mattress in
the waiting-room of a station.

"Where am I?" he said wonderingly, for it seemed that the troubled
journey must have been all a dream.

"At Broxton," was the reply; and a gentleman, whom he immediately set
down to be a doctor, came forward.

"But how--what is it?  I remember now!" he exclaimed, with a dull,
aching pain in his head and arm--"there was an accident to the train."

"Yes," was the reply.  "A couple of goods trucks that were being shunted
ran back down the incline, met the special train you were in, and
wrecked it.  You had a narrow escape, sir."

"The driver--stoker--guard?" he said eagerly.

"A bit cut and shaken; but you are the great sufferer."  Tom lay still
for a few minutes, trying to collect himself; and then all came clear
once more.

"I see," he cried.  "Left arm broken--head contused--cut or two.  Much
loss of blood, doctor?"

"Not much," he said.  "A fortnight's quiet.  Well, I think--My dear sir,
are you mad?"

"I hope not," said the injured man, sitting up.  "There, don't touch me,
doctor.  I can judge by my feelings that my case is not serious.  When
is the next down train?"

"In half an hour, sir," said a fresh voice, and a man he had not seen
came from behind the extemporised couch.

"Here, help me to put on my coat and waistcoat.  Doctor, I'm much
obliged for what you've done; but I was travelling special to a case of
emergency.  I must go on, if it kills me."

"I will not be answerable for the consequences if you do," the doctor
said tartly.  "Fever is almost certain to supervene if you exert
yourself, and then I would not give _that_ for your life."

_That_ was a snap of the fingers, evidently given to get rid of some
snuff.

"Make me a sling for this arm," said Tom; and one being extemporised
with a handkerchief, he had to fight hard to master the faintness that
kept attacking him; but he persevered--had the bandages on his head
replaced by strapping where his hair had been cut away on account of a
couple of ghastly cuts; and finally had himself led to the platform,
where he sat down waiting.

Twice over the doctor tried to persuade him not to go; but he felt that
he must, even at the risk of life; and at last, on the morning train
coming up, he stepped in, feeling deathly sick and faint, and leaning
back, reached Hastings at last, hardly able to crawl.

It was with a sense of dizziness that he could hardly counteract that he
reached Richard Shingle's house; and then once more he appeared to sink
into a dreamy state, in which he was always hearing the words--"In the
midst of life we are in death," and then came a long blank.

VOLUME TWO, CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

THE GILDED PILL.

One morning, when the sun was making the sea shimmer and glisten like so
much frosted silver in constant motion, Tom Fraser awoke, calm and
placid, after a long, burning time of fever, to find the soft, pleasant
face of Mrs Shingle bending over him; and, on seeing him awake, she
stole gently away, and, while he lay wondering and trying to make out
what it all meant, and whether it was a dream, the door once more
opened, and he knew he was awake, for Jessie appeared, to creep to his
bedside and clasp him in her arms.

Invalids recover fast under such circumstances.  In his character of the
best doctor in London, sick and injured as he was, Tom's coming had
instantaneously effected Jessie's cure; and now, in turn, she nursed him
back to health, ready to become his wife when he should ask her to crown
his joy.

It was not long first; for at a meeting one day, old Hopper had proposed
to Dick that they should put down so much apiece for the young folks,
and this was done without their consent, the donors almost quarrelling
as to who should give most.

Old Hopper won.

It was some little time after, when Richard Shingle and his wife had
returned to town, that the former called upon his old friend in his
chambers, where there was a long chat about the young people, and also
about Max Shingle.

"Don't you make yourself uncomfortable about him," said Hopper gruffly.
"He won't starve as long as there's any one to swindle.  As for his
wife, young Tom will see that she don't want, and so will I, for the
sake of the past."

"Why, hallo!" cried Dick suddenly, after the conversation had turned
upon music, and they had arranged for what was called "a good
scrape,"--"what have you got here?"

As he spoke he took a small bill from the chimney-piece, and began
looking at it with a grim smile of contempt on his face.

"Can't you read?" said Hopper roughly.  "Plain enough, isn't it?  `The
Gilded Pill for every ill.'"

"Yes, but--"

"`Yes, but,'--I haven't been well lately.  And I'm going to take a few:
they say they're good for nearly everything."

"Oh, but I wouldn't do that," said Dick dubiously.

"Hey? not do it? why not?  Speak up: this traffic makes such a noise."

"Oh, take them if you like," said Dick, smiling.  "They won't hurt you."

"How do you know?" cried Hopper testily.  "Everybody says they're good.
Hey?  How do you know?"

"That's my secret," said Dick, laughing.

"Your what?  Look here: what do you mean?"

"I say, take 'em if you like--hundreds of thousands do.  Small boxes one
and three-halfpence, large boxes two-and-nine, with the Government
stamp."

"Bah!  I know all about that," said Hopper, rattling a box close to his
ear, and then opening it, to show a dozen boluses covered with gold
foil.  "Have one?"

"No, thanks," said Dick, smiling.  "I know 'em by heart--compound
rhubarb and a little new bread.  That's my secret, my fortune, old lad."

"What!" cried Hopper.  "Hey? what!  You made your fortune with these?"

"Yes," said Dick; "the murder's out now.  My bright idea was--_The
Gilded Pill_.  But I was not at all proud of it, so I kept it dark."

"Well, I am blessed," said Hopper.

"Glad of it.  So am I, old man.  It's paid me well, but there was always
a skeleton in the cupboard."

"Hey?"

"Skeleton, old man.  I've paid thousands to Government for stamps, but
they wouldn't have let me off if anything had gone wrong."

"But these pills couldn't go wrong, could they?"

"I don't think so, Hopper; but I never meet a doctor without feeling
queer,--the faculty is like a cloud to me, and behind it I always seem
to see an inquest coming off through somebody taking too much of my
stuff."

"The idea of your keeping it all to yourself!  You might have told me."

"You never told me you were a wealthy man, and Uncle Rounce in
Australia."

"Humph!"

"I say, Hopper, would you give up the pills now?"

Hopper's answer was emphatically--"No."

The End.





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