Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: A Secret of the Sea.  (Vol. 1 of 3) - A Novel
Author: Speight, T. W. (Thomas Wilkinson)
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 "A Secret of the Sea.  (Vol. 1 of 3) - A Novel" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Internet Web Archive



A SECRET OF THE SEA.



Transcriber's Notes (Volume 1):
 1. Page scan source: Web Archive
    https://archive.org/details/secretofseanovel01spei
    (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)



A SECRET OF THE SEA.


A Novel.


By T. W. SPEIGHT,
AUTHOR OF
"IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT," "UNDER LOCK AND KEY," ETC., ETC.


IN THREE VOLUMES.
VOL. I.



LONDON:
RICHARD BENTLEY AND SON.
1876.

(_All Rights Reserved_.)



CONTENTS OF VOL. I.
CHAPTER
      I. IN THE LAWYER'S OFFICE.
     II. MISS BELLAMY.
    III. THE STORY OF THE MURDER.
     IV. A BROKEN LIFE.
      V. GERALD AT PEMBRIDGE.
     VI. "THAT'S THE MAN!"
    VII. MISS DEANE FINDS A NEW HOME.
   VIII. GERALD AT STAMMARS.
     IX. FOUND.
      X. IN HARLEY STREET.
     XI. IN KENSINGTON GARDENS.
    XII. THE FACE IN THE GLASS.



A SECRET OF THE SEA.



CHAPTER I.
IN THE LAWYER'S OFFICE.


It was a December morning, clear and frosty. The timepiece in the
office of Matthew Kelvin, attorney-at-law, Pembridge, Hertfordshire,
racing noisily after the grave old Abbey clock which had just done
chiming, pointed to the hour of ten. With his back to the welcome
fire, and turning over yesterday's _Times_ with an air of contemptuous
indifference, stood Mr. Podley Piper--whose baptismal name was
universally shortened into "Pod"--a short, thickset young gentleman of
the mature age of sixteen. His nose was a pure specimen of a pug, and
his short scrubby hair was of a colour sufficiently pronounced to earn
him the nickname of "Carotty Pod" from sundry irreverent small boys of
his acquaintance. His nose and his hair notwithstanding, Pod was a
keen, bright-looking lad, with an air of shrewdness and decision about
him by no means common in one of his age.

"Awfully dry reading--the _Times_," muttered Pod, tossing the paper on
Mr. Kelvin's desk. "Only one suicide, and not a single murder in it.
It's not worth buying. And yet there must be something in it, or so
many people wouldn't read it. I suppose that by the time I'm fifty,
and wear creaky shoes and carry a big gold watch in my fob, and have
to count my hairs every morning to see that I haven't lost one
overnight,--I suppose, when that time comes, I shall think as much of
the _Times_ as Sir Thomas Dudgeon does. But just at present I'd rather
read the 'Bounding Wolf of the Prairies.'"

Hardly were the last words out of Pod's mouth, when the inner door was
opened, and Matthew Kelvin walked silently into the room. In silence
he sat down at his desk, after one sharp glance at Pod and another at
the fire, and set to work at once at the task immediately before him.
This task was the opening of the pile of post letters which had been
placed ready to his hand by Pod. A brief glance at the contents of
each was generally sufficient. In very few cases did he trouble
himself to read a letter entirely through. Three or four of the more
important documents were put aside to be attended to specially by
himself; the rest of them had a corner turned up on which Pod
pencilled down in shorthand Mr. Kelvin's instructions for the guidance
of Mr. Bray, his chief clerk. It was his cleverness at shorthand that
had gained Pod his present situation.

"That will do," said Mr. Kelvin, after a few minutes of this sharp
work. "Give those papers to Mr. Bray, and tell him not to come in till
I ring."

Something out of the ordinary way was evidently the matter with Mr.
Kelvin this morning. After making one or two futile attempts to read
over for the second time, and more carefully than before, the letters
left behind by Pod, he gave up the attempt as a bad job.

"I don't feel as if I could settle down to anything this morning," he
said. "And no wonder. How well the secret has been kept! Even I had
not the remotest suspicion of such a thing. What a strange example of
the irony of events that I, of all men in the world, should have to
break these tidings to Eleanor! What will my proud beauty say when I
tell her? I could never have devised so exquisite a revenge. And yet
it is not my hand that will drag her down. It is the hand of Jacob
Lloyd that smites her from out his grave."

He fell into a reverie which lasted till he was disturbed by a knock
at the door. "Come in," he said mechanically, and the head of Pod was
thrust into the room.

"A lady to see you, sir. Says her name is Miss Deane."

"Olive Deane!" said Mr. Kelvin, in surprise. "Show her in."

Matthew Kelvin at this time was thirty-five years old. He was a
handsome, large-nosed man, with full grey eyes and rather prominent
teeth. He was already partially bald; but what hair he had left was
carefully trimmed and parted down the middle, while his bushy
dark-brown whiskers showed no traces of age. He always dressed well,
and was very particular as to his boots and gloves and the cut of his
trousers. He had studied the art of dress as carefully as he had
studied many other things, and the result was a success.

For his inferiors and those in his employ, Mr. Kelvin had a brusque,
imperious manner that was not unmixed with a sort of hard
contemptuousness. For his rich clients and those above him in the
social scale, he had a pleasant, smiling, dégagé style, which sat upon
him so easily and naturally that it was impossible to doubt its
genuineness. To such people he was a man who never seemed to have much
to do beyond trimming the nails of his very white hands, and sniffing
at the choice flowers in his button-hole, and now and then dashing off
his signature at the foot of some document which he never seemed to be
at the trouble of reading.

Yet no one ever seemed to doubt Matthew Kelvin's ability in his
profession, unprofessional as he was--judged by the ordinary types of
provincial lawyers--in many of his ways and doings. But, then, he was
a sort of second cousin to Sir Frederick Carstairs of Wemley, and that
perhaps made some difference. Many people thought it did, for the
Carstairs were a very old family; and where's the use of having good
blood in one's veins unless it declares itself in some shape or other?

Mr. Kelvin was fond of hunting, and subscribed liberally to the
Thorndale pack. Few faces were more familiar in the field than his,
and he was always nominated as one of the stewards of the Hunt Ball.
Having a good voice, and being fond of singing, it was only natural
that he should be a member of the Pembridge Catch Club; besides this,
he was chairman of the Literary Institute. One winter he gave a couple
of lectures on "Some Recent Discoveries in Astronomy," with
illustrative drawings by himself; while on more than one occasion he
had treated the whole of the workhouse children to an Orrery or a
Panorama, and even to that wicked place--the Circus.

Matthew Kelvin lived with his mother, in the house where he had been
born. His father had been dead some twelve years when we first make
his acquaintance. The business had come down from his grandfather, who
had been the first Matthew Kelvin known in Pembridge.

Perhaps the finest trait in Matthew's character was his love and
reverence for his mother, who had been more or less of an invalid for
many years. For her sake, when she was ill, and hungered for his
presence by her bedside, he would give up his most pressing
engagements, and sit by the hour together reading novels to her--a
class of literature to which he rarely condescended at other times.

Mrs. Kelvin, who was a sensible, clear-sighted woman enough in the
ordinary affairs of life, still cherished a strange preference for the
milk-and-water novels and vapid romances of the Minerva Press school,
such as had been fashionable when she was a girl; and it was pleasant
to see her son reading out this rubbish to her with the gravest air
possible, hiding his contempt and weariness under a well-feigned
interest in the fortunes and misfortunes of some book-muslin heroine,
or some hero with chiselled features who was never anything less than
a lord in disguise.

Of such books as these Mrs. Kelvin never seemed to tire. It may be
that they carried her back for a little while to the days of her
youth, when she too was young and blooming; and that when buried in
their pages she forgot for a brief hour or two that she was nothing
now but a grey-haired woman--old, sickly, and a widow.

There were people still alive in Pembridge, to whom the one romantic
episode in the life of Barbara Kelvin was known in all its details. It
was this:--The present Mathew Kelvin's father had run away with and
married Miss Barbara Carstairs, an orphan niece of the late Sir
Frederick Carstairs of Wemley, one of the chief magnates for twenty
miles round. Miss Carstairs, to be sure, had not a penny that she
could call her own, and was living the life of a genteel dependent at
Wemley, when young Kelvin--who was passing backwards and forwards
between Sir Frederick and his father, in connection with certain law
business--persuaded her to elope. But the fact that Miss Carstairs'
sole earthly possessions consisted of the clothes on her back and a
solitary spade guinea in her purse, by no means lessened the magnitude
of the offence of which the audacious young lawyer had been guilty.
There was an outcry of horror, accompanied by a turning up of eyes and
a holding up of hands, as the news spread from one country house to
another; but nothing could be done save to excommunicate the late Miss
Carstairs, with "bell, book, and candle," and try to forget that any
such creature had ever had an existence.

Whether, when the romance of girlhood was over, Mrs. Kelvin ever
regretted that she had forgotten the obligations of caste in order to
become the wife of a provincial lawyer, was a fact best known to
herself; but if any such regret ever made itself felt at her heart, it
never found expression at her lips. Her husband was fond of her, and
never stinted her in any way, and her life, quiet though it was, was
not without its consolations. It was surely better to have a husband
and a home, and to be the recognized leader of middle-class Pembridge
society, than to live and die in single blessedness, a wretched
nobody, in her uncle's grand cold mansion at Wemley. Like a sensible
woman, she made the best of her position. She had her little
re-unions, her Tuesdays, when everybody that was worth knowing in
Pembridge, met in the little drawing-room over her husband's office,
and where her simple hospitalities were dispensed with a grace and
refinement that would have done no discredit to Wemley itself. But all
those things now belonged to the past. At the time we make Mrs.
Kelvin's acquaintance she had seen her sixtieth birthday, and was a
confirmed invalid.

This home of the Kelvins for three generations was a
substantially-built red-brick house that dated from the era of the
second George. It was not in the Pembridge main street, but formed one
of a dozen houses similar to itself in a short retired street that
opened out of the busier thoroughfare. It was the kind of house
that--if houses could do such things--you would naturally expect to
shrink into its foundations with horror, if ever compelled to have for
its next-door neighbour anything so vulgar as a shop. The massive
front door, with its lion's head knocker, opened into a good-sized
entrance-hall, at the far-end of which was a tiny glass-fronted den
sacred to the use of Mr. Piper; from which coign of vantage that
ingenuous youth could see everybody who came in or went out, could
tell this person to wait or usher that one into his master's office,
and answer all inquiries; and could furthermore refresh himself by
keeping up a guerilla warfare of repartee and chaff with the clerks as
they passed into or out of their office. On the left as you entered
from the street was the door which opened into Matthew Kelvin's
private office. On the right hand were, first, the door which opened
into the clerk's office, and secondly, the door of a waiting-room.
Beyond these was a door which opened on to a private staircase. The
real entrance to the private part of the house was down a covered
passage at the side. Such passages were by no means infrequent in
Pembridge. Many of the best houses in the place opened, not from the
street, but from these side entries. Behind the house was an extensive
piece of garden ground, containing fruit trees and rustic seats, and
any quantity of old-fashioned sweet-smelling flowers such as our
grandfathers and grandmothers dearly loved, but which look so
dreadfully out of place in these days of riband-gardening and floral
mathematics.

"Why, who on earth expected to see you?" said Mr. 'Kelvin, as he shook
hands heartily with Miss Deane.

"Not you, I daresay, Matthew," answered Miss Deane, with a blush and a
little sigh, as she looked straight into his handsome face.

"Why not I as much as anyone?" queried her cousin with a smile, as he
placed a chair for her at no great distance from his own. "You always
were fond of change, Olive."

She smiled again, a little bitterly. "Why don't you add--like all my
sex?"

"Because I was speaking to one of your sex. Had I been talking to a
man, I should probably have used those very words. Olive, I'm really
glad to see you, whether you come holiday-making, or whether you come
because you have left Lady----Lady----?"

"Lady Culloden. Yes, I have left her. I grew tired of my situation.
Slights innumerable; one petty insult after another: my position not
properly recognised: till at last I felt that I must speak my mind or
die. I did speak my mind, and in a way that her ladyship is not likely
to forget. We parted. I felt a longing to see Pembridge and my old
friends. I wanted to see my aunt--and you."

"You know that you are always sure of a welcome here."

"But my aunt--how is she?" asked Miss Deane.

"No better, I am sorry to say; neither do I see much prospect of her
ever being so. She is confined very much to her own room."

"Poor dear aunt! I am very very sorry to hear that she is no better.
Does she keep up her good spirits?"

"Yes," replied Mr. Kelvin; "her spirits are, as they have always been,
something wonderful."

"I believe, Matthew, that I love her better than I ever loved my own
mother."

"No one can know my mother without liking her," he returned.

"And then what a gentlewoman she is!" said Olive. "There is as much
difference between her and Lady Culloden as there is between a flower
cut out of a turnip and a real camellia."

Olive Deane at this time was twenty-eight years old. The money which
her mother--a sister of the second Matthew Kelvin--had taken as a
dowry to her husband had soon been squandered in wild speculations,
and it had been impressed upon Olive's mind, almost from the time when
she could remember anything, that she would have to earn her own
living; and she started with that idea the very first day she went to
school. Her mother died when she was ten years old, and her father
when she was fifteen; and from the latter age till now she had been
altogether dependent on her own exertions for her daily bread. The
Kelvins would gladly have assisted her, both then and subsequently,
but the girl would accept no help. She went out as nursery governess
in the first instance, and had gone on, step by step, till she could
now command her ninety or hundred guineas a year as finishing
governess in families of distinction. Olive Deane had taken to
teaching as naturally as a duck takes to water. She had had five years
at a really good French school before her father's death, but
everything else she owed to her own love of knowledge and indomitable
perseverance. The wasteful extravagance of which she had been a
witness when a child at home, had not been without its effect upon
her. She grew up thrifty, self-denying, economical in every way; and
now, at twenty-eight years of age, she was mistress of four hundred
pounds, which her cousin Matthew had advantageously invested for her
in Pembridge gas shares.

Olive's sole recreation was a visit now and then to the theatre. A
classical play of the sterling old school, she delighted in. She was
an omnivorous reader. Anything, from a French novel to the last
philosophical essay, had an interest for her. To learn: to know: was
all she asked. The quality of the knowledge mattered little or
nothing. Wherever she might be, she generally contrived to have half
an hour's reading of the _Times_, so as to keep herself _au courant_
with the chief political movements of the day. She had a clear, hard
masculine intellect, with no sentimental nonsense about it, as her
cousin Matthew often declared--and he was a great admirer of Olive: in
fact, he had been heard to say that if Olive had been a man he would
have made her his partner long ago.

Miss Deane was a little above the ordinary stature of her sex. She had
a lithe, slender figure, and in all her movements she was graceful,
easy, and self-possessed. She had clearly-cut, well-defined features,
and many people would have called her handsome. But she certainly
lacked colour. Her clear olive complexion--strangely in accordance
with her name--was too clear and too colourless. Only on very rare
occasions was its waxen pallor flushed through with the faintest tinge
of damask. She had magnificent eyebrows, and eyes of the darkest
brown, that looked jet-black by candlelight, with a keen, watchful
look in them, begotten, perhaps, of the time when, little more than a
child, she had to fight her way through the world and found a thorn or
a pitfall at every step she took. Her hair, too, was black, but a
dull, dead, lustreless black, without the slightest gloss of
brightness in it, and very fine in quality. She almost invariably
dressed in black, with white linen cuffs turned up from the wrist, and
a white linen turn-down collar fastened with a simple bow of mauve or
violet riband. No ear-rings, no brooch, no ornaments of any kind
visible, except an inch of the gold chain that held her watch.

"I thought we should have heard the news of your wedding before now,
Olive," said Mr. Kelvin.

"The news of my wedding, Matthew! You will never hear that."

"Never is a long word, Olive. Such a nice, clever girl as you are
can't be destined to live and die an old maid."

Olive's black eyebrows came together for a moment, and she tapped the
floor impatiently with her foot.

"It almost seemed at one time, Olive, as if you and I would have come
together," went on Kelvin, while his fingers toyed absently with a
paper-knife. "Those were pleasant days--those old days on the sands at
Redcar, when I was recovering from my sprain, and you did your best to
nurse me. You used to read novels to me, and play to me on that vile
old lodging-house piano; and out of gratitude I taught you cribbage
and écarté. I have never enjoyed a holiday like that. Do you remember
our long row by moonlight, and how we kissed as we stepped out of the
boat on to the wet sands?"

No word from Olive: only a far-away look in her eyes, and the thin
straight line of her lips looking thinner and straighter than before.

"And yet it all came to nothing!" resumed Kelvin, glancing carelessly
at her. "It might have come to something: who knows? Only, two hours
later, I was telegraphed for to London, and----

"And, as you say, Matthew," interrupted Olive, "it came to nothing. So
much the better probably for both of us."

"Certainly so much the better for you, Olive; but whether or not for
me, may be open to doubt. Why, even in those old days that now seem so
far away, when you and I were girl and boy together, how fond we were
of each other! Do you remember that afternoon when the swing broke
down and I pitched on my head, and how you cried over my bruises as if
your heart would break?"

"I have not forgotten," said Olive, in a low voice.

"Whenever I go into a chemist's shop, it takes me back in memory to
your father's little surgery. How cleverly you used to help him with
his drugs and mixtures! You seemed to know the contents of every
gallipot and bottle almost as well as he did. If you had been a man
you would have been a doctor."

"Possibly so," said Olive.

"I remember when Farmer Sinclair's dog bit you," continued Mr. Kelvin,
"how bravely you bore the pain. The dog died a week after, and some
people said you had poisoned it; but I scouted the idea."

"But I did poison the brute," replied Olive.

"You did?"

"Why not? It bit me in the wrist. I have the scar now. It was not fit
to live."

Matthew Kelvin shrugged his shoulders, but did not rejoin.

"But why call up such reminiscences?" said Olive. "I want to hear
about yourself.  A rising man like you, Matthew--a man born to fight
his way upward--how is it that you are still unmarried? A rich wife
would do so much to help forward your ambitious schemes!"

"My ambitious schemes, indeed;" said Kelvin, with a sly twinkle in his
eye. "What has a simple-minded country lawyer like me to do with
ambition?"

"I know you too well, Matthew, not to feel sure that in ten years from
this time you hope to be in a very different position."

Kelvin dropped the paper knife with which he had been playing, and
gazed steadily at his cousin for a moment before speaking.

Her eyes met his unshrinkingly.

"You are right, Olive," he said, speaking 'gravely enough now. "I _do_
cherish some strangely bold dreams. I _am_ an ambitious man; but you
are the only person who seems to have divined that fact. I am far
richer than the world knows of; and, but that it would almost break my
mother's heart, I should have given up the old business years ago. In
any case, I shall dispose of it before long. I can afford now to put
it behind me. The first step in my ambition is to get into Parliament.
And so you think I ought to get married, eh?"

"Yes--to a woman who could help you forward in your career by
sympathizing with and comprehending the aims and objects of your
ambition. No mere drawing-room doll must be your wife, but a woman
fitted in heart and brain to be your companion."

"I won't say that you are not right," said Mr. Kelvin. "But in these
matters men rarely do that which their friends think they ought to do.
Cupid, you know, never went to school, and his problems cannot be
worked out by rule-of-three."

"That may apply to a very young man, who lacks sense to know what is
best for him and where to look for it; but not to you."

"That is just where you make a mistake, Olive. What will you say of my
strength of mind--of my common sense--when I tell you that I have
fallen in love with a simple country girl with nothing to recommend
her save a pretty face and the finest eyes in the world?"

Olive Deane rose slowly to her feet. Her face grew whiter; her eyes
blacker; her thick brows made a straight, unbroken line across her
forehead. If looks had power to slay, Mr. Kelvin would have been
annihilated on the spot. But his face was turned the other way. His
own thoughts held him. He was gazing meditatively into the fire.

"And she--she accepted you, of course?" said Olive, at last, her voice
hardly raised above a whisper.

"On the contrary, she rejected me."

"How I hate her for it!" Then she added, under her breath, "But I
should have hated her worse if she had accepted him."

"You are the only person in the world, Olive, to whom I have breathed
a word of this."

"Your confidence is safe with me, Matthew."

"I am sure of that, and it is a relief to me to talk to you. To you,
Olive, I can always talk as to a sister."

"Yes--as to a sister," she said, with a slow nod of the head. Then she
shivered slightly, as if with cold, and held out her hands to the
blaze. "Go on, Matthew. You are sure of my sympathy in any case."

"Need I tell you any more, Olive?"

"I want you to tell me all about the affair, from beginning to end.
You have piqued my curiosity, and now you must satisfy it."

Kelvin paused for a moment or two, as if to pull himself together.

"It seems strange to take even you into my confidence," he said, "and
yet I feel as if I must tell some one--especially after what happened
yesterday. To begin, then. I fell in love with this girl, Eleanor
Lloyd--madly, desperately in love. Her father, Jacob Lloyd, was a
well-to-do small landowner, whose affairs I managed for him. He
seconded my suit, but, as I have said already, the girl rejected me. I
am a patient man. I waited six months, and then I spoke to Miss Lloyd
again--spoke more warmly and strongly than a less infatuated man would
have done. Again she rejected me; this time in a way that I can
neither forget nor forgive. I vowed that I would some day humble her
haughty pride--and that day has come. Six months ago Jacob Lloyd died
without a will. He had been speculating greatly for years, and Eleanor
Lloyd, much to her own surprise and that of everyone else, found
herself an heiress to the amount of something over twenty thousand
pounds. When I first knew this, I thought that the day of my revenge
had gone by for ever. But I was wrong. Such was the state of affairs
yesterday: to-day they are very different."

"In what way are they different to-day?"

"Listen. Before administering to Mr. Lloyd's will, it was necessary
that I should be in a position to prove that Miss Lloyd was really the
person the world believed her to be. Jacob Lloyd left an immense mass
of papers behind him, amongst which I was not long in finding his
marriage certificate; but I failed to find any document having
reference either to the birth or baptism of his daughter. Having some
other important matters on hand just then, and there being no
particular hurry in the affair, I did not prosecute my search very
vigorously. I knew that about the time Miss Lloyd was born, Jacob
Lloyd and his wife were travelling, either for health or pleasure,
from place to place, and I had little doubt that when a proper search
came to be made I should be able to find the information I wanted. A
few days ago, however, there came into my hands certain documentary
proofs, full and complete, of the truth of what I am now going to tell
you. Eleanor Lloyd is not the daughter of Jacob Lloyd, nor any
relation of his whatever. She is neither more nor less than a child
adopted in infancy by him and his wife, they having no family of their
own. The fortune left by Jacob Lloyd is the property of a nephew,
Gerald Warburton, now living somewhere on the Continent. The woman who
rejected me is an 'absolute pauper."

"A strange story--a very strange story, indeed, cousin Matthew!"

"Eleanor Lloyd has to come here two hours hence to sign certain deeds.
She will enter this room a rich woman; she will leave it penniless!"

"And you will be revenged?"

"And I shall be revenged."

They were both silent, thinking their 'own thoughts.

"Where has she been living since the death of her father?" said Olive.

"She has been living very quietly at Bridgely, her own home."

"But has it not been her intention to take up a position in society,
such as her supposed wealth would entitle her to occupy?"

"Lady Dudgeon, the wife of one of out Pembridge magnates, has taken
her by the hand, and has constituted herself Miss Lloyd's chaperone.
Eleanor is to accompany her ladyship to London in the spring, and will
then make her début."

"To how many people is Miss Lloyd's true parentage known?"

"Not a soul in the world knows of it except myself--and you."

"Good. And your idea of revenge is to break this news to Miss Lloyd
suddenly here--this very morning--and so crush her?"

"It is."

"A man's idea--poor and commonplace. Shall I tell you what mine--a
woman's idea of revenge--would be in such a case?"

"You are a clever girl, Olive, and you pique my curiosity."

"Were I in your place, I would keep my discovery a profound secret for
some time to come. I would let her for a little while taste all the
pleasures that wealth can confer. I would let her go on till a life
of ease and self-indulgence should have become as it were a second
nature to her I would let her live on in blissful ignorance, of
the thunderbolt you have in store for her till she has learned to
love--perhaps even till she is engaged to be married."

"Eleanor married to another! I never thought of that," said Kelvin,
under his breath.

"Then, when you think the comedy has lasted long enough, you shall go
to her some day when she is surrounded by her fine friends--on her
wedding morning itself, if it so please you--and, touching her on the
shoulder, you shall say to her, 'Eleanor Lloyd, you are a beggar!' Her
fall from wealth to poverty will then seem infinitely greater than it
would do now, and yours will be a revenge worthy of the name."

"A devilish scheme, Olive, and one which only an Italian--or a
woman--would have thought of!"

"You flatter me," said Olive, with a little lifting of the shoulders,
and the ghost of a smile playing round her thin lips.

To say that Mr. Kelvin was thoroughly startled, is to say no more
than the truth. Olive was right. There would be a refinement--a
subtlety--about such a scheme which his own scheme altogether lacked.
But, would it not be a mean and dastardly advantage to take of an
innocent girl like Eleanor Lloyd? He got up from his chair and crossed
to the window, and then walked slowly back again and sat down without
a word. He was a man whom circumstances had never before tempted to
step out of the beaten track of morality. The orthodox path had for
him been paved with golden guineas. So far as he had seen, it was only
reprobates who went astray, or were foolish enough to do anything
which the general opinion of society condemned; simpletons, in fact,
who could not understand that to do right--in a worldly point of
view--was a far better paying game than to do its opposite. But
Olive's words had found the weak place in his armour. His judgment did
not fail him so utterly as to mislead him with regard to the meanness
of what he meditated, but his own wishes and desires in the matter
threw a sort of lime-light glamour over it, which made it seem
something altogether different from what it really was.

"I'll do it, Olive," he said at last. "Yes; for good or for evil, I'll
do it! I'll crush her proud spirit to the dust. I will humiliate her
as she humiliated me. She shall suffer as I suffered. I will repay
scorn with scorn: insult with insult. At the moment of her greatest
triumph I will strip her of love, of wealth, of friendship; and show
her to the world for what she really is--a pauper and an outcast!"

"Bravely spoken, Matthew! Don't let her soft looks or winning ways
melt you from your purpose," said Olive, as she pushed back her chair.
"And now I will go upstairs to my aunt."

Kelvin put his elbows on the table, and rested his face in his hands.
Olive stood looking down at him for a moment. There was a tear in the
corner of her eye, but a smile played round her mouth. She went up to
him and laid her hand gently on his shoulder. "I shall see you later
in the day, shall I not?"

"Yes--later in the day," he answered, absently, without looking up.

Olive went; and presently Mr. Piper's head was seen.

"Captain Dixon, sir, has sent for you. He's been taken ill and wants
his will drawn up without delay."

Kelvin roused himself from his abstraction. "Another fool who has put
off till the day of his death what he ought to have done years ago."
He began to put his papers together, but still in an absent-minded
way. "This is a damnable thing to do. I despise myself for promising
to do it," he muttered. "And yet why should she not suffer? I have
only to call to mind her words--her looks--that summer evening in the
garden, when for the second time I pleaded my love before her: I have
only to remember how she turned on me, as if I were a reptile, to feel
my purpose harden within me, and every grain of pity melt out of my
soul!"



CHAPTER II.
MISS BELLAMY.


The place was Miss Bellamy's lodgings in Ormond Square, Bayswater, and
the time eight p.m., on a frosty evening in mid-winter. The people
were two: Miss Bellamy herself, and her guest, Mr. Gerald Warburton.

Miss Bellamy was forty-five years of age, but looked older. She was
spare in person and lengthy in nose, but still retained considerable
traces of former good looks. She wore her hair, which was fast turning
grey, in three old-fashioned curls, fastened down with combs on either
side her face. She always wore silk in an afternoon, either brown or
black--thick, rustling silk, made to wear and last, that would turn
and dye, and then look nearly as good as new. Privately, Miss Bellamy
used spectacles, but no one had ever seen her wear them except Eliza,
the maid-of-all-work; and it was currently reported in the house that
that young person had been bribed with two half-crowns never to
divulge the terrible secret.

Gerald Warburton was a tall, dark-complexioned young fellow, some six
or seven and twenty years old. He had a refined aquiline face, a pair
of dark eyes, behind which a smile seemed always to be lurking, and
black, silky hair. He had an easy, lounging, graceful manner, more
common among Frenchmen or Italians than among us stiff-necked
islanders; but then, he had lived so much abroad that he could hardly
be said to belong to one country more than another. He possessed the
happy faculty of adapting himself with ease to whatever place or
persons he might be associated with. Whether living among Laps and
reindeer, or smoking the pipe of peace in an Indian wigwam, he made
himself equally at home; and what was still rarer, he made those with
whom he happened to be feel that, for the time being, he was one of
themselves. No Frenchman would have made a mistake as to his
nationality, but in a walk down Regent Street or Pall Mall it is not
improbable that half the people who noticed him would have set him
down as a foreigner.

Just now he was employed, after a thoroughly English fashion, in the
slow but sure consumption of a thoroughly English beefsteak.
Occasionally he paused to refresh himself from the cup of fragrant tea
at his elbow. Miss Bellamy sat opposite to him, looking on with
admiring eyes. The more beefsteak he ate and the more tea he drank,
the more Miss Bellamy admired him, from which we may conclude that she
at least was thoroughly English. Gerald had just reached London, after
twenty-four hours of unbroken travelling.

"I wish I could induce you to take another lump of sugar in your tea,"
said Miss Bellamy. "I never think that you get the real flavour of the
leaf without plenty of sugar to assist it."

"There you must allow me to differ from you," said Gerald. "To put
sugar in tea seems to me simply to spoil it." Miss Bellamy smiled and
shook her head.

"Then you really have some faint recollection of having seen me when
you were a child?" she said, after a pause.

"Yes, a very clear and distinct recollection of sitting on your knee
and being fed with sugar plums."

"Ah, you are far too big now to care for sugar plums," said Miss
Bellamy with a little sigh.

"Not at all too big. Only that I now require a different kind of sugar
plum to keep me good, from those I cared for then."

"Why, you could not have been more than four years old!"

"I suppose that was about my age."

"And I never saw your poor dear mamma after that day!"

"I was just ten years old when I lost my mother," said Gerald,
gravely.

"Four of us, there were, all bosom friends, and they called us the
Four Graces in the little town where we were born and brought up; and
now I am the only one that is left alive!" said Miss Bellamy, with a
little quaver in her voice. "There was Ellen Barry; she married your
uncle, Jacob Lloyd. Then there was Minna, Jacob's sister, who married
your father. The third was Mary Greaves, who married Mr. Ambrose
Murray. There seemed to be no husband left for me: but, thank Heaven,
I have never felt the need of one!"

"It is never too late to make a change for the better," said Gerald,
demurely, as he pushed away his plate.

"In my case it would have been for the worse. I should only have
tormented some poor man's life out of him, and no one can lay that to
my charge now."

As soon as Eliza had cleared the table, Miss Bellamy put a tiny copper
kettle to simmer on the hob, and then produced a bottle of whisky, a
lemon, and the other materials necessary for brewing a glass of punch.
From another cupboard she brought out a box of cigars, which she had
made a special journey into the City to buy. Being no judge of such
articles, or their cost, she had brought back a box of what Mr. Piper
would have called "duffers."

"Snuff-taking among gentlemen is going quite out of fashion nowadays,"
she had said to herself. "But I've no doubt Gerald is fond of a cigar,
and I'll not trouble about the curtains for once."

"You don't seem in the least curious about the news I've got to tell
you," said Miss Bellamy at last.

"No, I'm very comfortable," said Gerald as he sipped his grog, "and
more than that a man need not wish to be."

"And yet you have come all the way from the south of France to hear
it?"

"And yet I have come all the way from France to hear it! But I daresay
it will keep a little longer."

"Just your poor mother's careless way of looking at things," said Miss
Bellamy with a smile and a shake of the head. "Just the same easy way
that I remember so well." She gazed into the fire for a few moments,
her mind far away among the things of the past.

"How long did you say that your father has been dead, Gerald?"

"A little more than two years."

"And no reconciliation ever took place between your uncle Jacob and
him?"

"None whatever. My father knew he was in the wrong, and that only
served to embitter him still more against my uncle. My uncle could
neither forgive nor forget my father's cruel treatment of my mother. I
believe that if a woman's heart was ever broken, hers was."

"Don't talk in that way, Gerald. You must not forget that the man was
your father."

"Can I ever forget it?" said Gerald, bitterly. "You were my mother's
friend, and I tell you distinctly that my father broke her heart. The
bitterest tears that ever I shed, or that I ever can shed in this
world, were those with which I mourned her loss."

"You left home soon afterwards, did you not?"

"I was thirteen years old when I ran away to sea. By that time
my father's tyranny had become unendurable. One victim had eluded
him by dying, but I was still left. On the morning of my birthday
I left home to seek my fortune, my sole earthly possessions being
four-and-sixpence in money, two ally-taws, an apple, and a thick slice
of bread."

"But you saw your father again after that?"

"On two occasions only, and then only at an hotel where we met by
appointment. Time had softened my bitterness against him, but not his
against me. Had I been a dog at his feet he could hardly have treated
me worse. Reconciliation on the terms proposed by him was impossible."

"Were you not with him when he died?"

"No. He died rather suddenly, and I was abroad at the time."

"But at least, he surely did not forget you in his will?"

"He left everything to different charities in the town where he died.
There is some talk of erecting a statue to him."

"My poor boy! And how have you contrived to live, all these years?"

"As I best could; but all things considered, I have not done amiss. I
stopped at sea till I was seventeen; then I got a situation as a
storekeeper on a South American hacienda, and there I stayed till I
was twenty. Growing tired of that, I set up a photographic apparatus
and travelled some thousands of miles with it, earning my bread as I
went. Those were some of my happiest days. When I was of age, I came
into possession of two hundred and fifty pounds a year, left me by my
mother. Since that time I have lived chiefly on the Continent,
pottering about among antiquities, buying now and again a bronze, a
coin, or a tazza in a cheap market, and selling it in a dear one;
writing at odd times an article for one or other of the magazines;
having no settled home, leading a vagabond, Bohemian kind of
existence, but by no means an unhappy one."

"You did hear that your uncle Lloyd was dead?"

"Quite by chance I saw the announcement in an English newspaper."

"And yet you never thought it worth your while to inquire whether he
had remembered you in his will?"

"Knowing that he had a daughter, and that he had never seen me since I
was six years old, it did not seem to me worth while to make any such
inquiry."

"It might have been," said Miss Bellamy, drily.

"Your uncle died between seven and eight months ago," resumed Miss
Bellamy. "I was away in Guernsey at the time, and did not hear of it
till my return to London, some seven week's since. It was a great
shock to me. Your aunt and I had been like sisters, and after her
death the friendship between Mr. Lloyd and myself remained unbroken.
It is only about eighteen months since I left Pembridge and came to
reside in London; and up to that time I was a frequent visitor at
Bridgeley, the place where he lived for the last eighteen years.
Several years ago Mr. Lloyd put into my hands a sealed packet of
papers, addressed to a certain person, and labelled 'not to be opened
till after my death,' with a request that I should keep it till that
event took place, and then forward it to the person to whom it was
addressed. At the time that he placed the packet in my hands he told
me of what the contents consisted. The chief document was a statement
of certain events in his personal history which were already well
known to me, and about which he and I had often talked. As already
explained, I did not know of your uncle's death till six or seven
weeks ago, consequently it was not till six months after that event
that the packet I held could reach the person to whom it belonged.
That person ought to have acted on the contents of the packet without
a day's unnecessary delay. Seven weeks have gone by, and as yet he has
taken no action in the matter. It is for that very reason that I sent
you so imperative a summons to come to me here as quickly as
possible."

Gerald stared across the table at Miss Bellamy as if he could hardly
believe the evidence of his ears. "But in what possible way can all
this affect me?" he asked.

"All this affects you very nearly indeed," answered Miss Bellamy.
"Your uncle Lloyd had been a prudent man. When he was dead, it was
discovered that he was worth something over twenty thousand pounds. He
died without a will, and you are his heir-at-law."

"I my uncle's heir-at-law!" said Gerald, with a little laugh. "How can
that be, my dear Miss Bellamy? You seem to forget that my uncle had a
daughter."

"Your uncle had no daughter."

Gerald sat speechless for several seconds. "If my cousin Eleanor is
dead, I certainly never heard of it."

"You never had a cousin Eleanor."

"My dear Miss Bellamy," said Gerald, "will you kindly run a pin into
my arm, so that I may make sure I am not dreaming."

"You are not dreaming, Gerald Warburton. The young lady you have
hitherto believed to be your cousin, is no relation whatever to you,
neither was she any relation to your uncle, Jacob Lloyd. She was
simply his adopted daughter."

After hearing this startling news, Gerald's silence was not to be
wondered at. He woke up like a man rousing himself from a dream.

"You have all along known what you have just told me, Miss Bellamy?"

"Yes, I have known it all along. But to no one else was the secret
ever imparted by your uncle and aunt. Eleanor was adopted by them when
she was quite a little thing, and when they were living in a town more
than two hundred miles away from Pembridge. For certain reasons they
gave her their own name. She never knew, she does not know now, that
they were not really her parents. She loved them as such, and they
could not have thought more tenderly of her had she been that which
the world believed her to be. But Jacob Lloyd was not only a
kind-hearted man: he was a just one. He shrank from revealing the
truth to Eleanor while he was alive, but it was imperatively
necessary, for certain reasons which I may one day explain to you,
that she should become cognisant of everything after his death. Hence
the sealed packet: which contains a duly authenticated statement of
these facts."

"You take my breath away! There is nothing in the 'Arabian Nights'
half so exciting," exclaimed Gerald.

"The one unfortunate feature of the case is this," resumed Miss
Bellamy. "From what your uncle hinted to me at different times, I am
perfectly convinced that it was his intention to provide very
handsomely for Eleanor. Unfortunately, he kept putting off the making
of his will till it was too late. One morning he was found dead in his
bed, and the girl whom he brought up and cherished as his own child is
left an absolute beggar."

A tear stood in Miss Bellamy's eye, as she ceased speaking. "There
need be no trouble on that score," said Gerald emphatically. "If, as
you state, I am my uncle's heir, and the young lady, through an unwise
oversight, has been left penniless, why, then, my duty lies clearly
before me. Whatever may be the amount that will come to me from my
uncle, whether it be a hundred pounds or twenty thousand pounds, this
young lady, whom I cannot help looking upon as my cousin, is clearly
entitled to half of it. And half of it she shall have, as sure as my
name is Gerald Warburton!"

"Don't make any rash promises, Gerald, in the heat of the moment. You
may regret them afterwards."

"Such a promise as this I could never regret. I should indeed be
base."

"It was certainly not in my province to send for you, and tell you all
that you have just now heard," said Miss Bellamy, "and, under other
circumstances I should not have thought of doing so. The lawyer in
whose hands was the management of Mr. Lloyd's affairs is the proper
person to have communicated with you. He ought to have broken the news
to Eleanor, and have communicated with you at the same time. The
sealed packet has been in his hands for upwards of seven weeks, and,
as yet, he has done neither one thing nor the other."

"May I ask how you know that he has not yet broken the news to Miss
Lloyd?"

"Because I had a letter from Eleanor only three days ago, written from
Stammars, the residence of Sir Thomas Dudgeon, where I find that she
is visiting. She talks of coming to London with Lady Dudgeon very
shortly, and says that her ladyship treats her quite as one of the
family--proof positive that Eleanor is still living on in happy
ignorance."

"Perhaps the lawyer did not know where to find me? Perhaps he has
delayed breaking the news to Eleanor on that account?"

"No: I suspect that there is some other motive at the bottom of
Matthew Kelvin's strange silence. He has sense enough to know that any
letter addressed to you at Brexly would be sure to find you. He knows
all about Brexly, and the quarrel between your father and Mr. Lloyd."

"Kelvin--Matthew Kelvin?" said Gerald, musingly. "I seem to have heard
that name before."

"You can readily understand why I never breathed even the faintest
suspicion of the truth to Eleanor. Such a revelation would be too
painful for me to make to a person whom I have known and loved from a
child. Therefore I have sent for you: and my advice is that you at
once go down to Pembridge, see Mr. Kelvin, give him to understand that
you know everything, and demand from him an explanation of his
singular silence."

"Is this Mr. Kelvin aware that you have any knowledge of the real
facts of the case?"

"No: I am convinced that he has no such knowledge."

"His silence certainly seems rather singular; but we shall probably
find on inquiry that he has been ill, or away from home, or something
of that sort."

Miss Bellamy shook her head. She was far from being convinced. "A
clever schemer, but not to be trusted," she said, presumably with
reference to Kelvin.

"But about this cousin who is no cousin--about Eleanor," said Gerald.
"You know that I have never seen her. What is she like? Is she
good-looking? Is she nice?"

"I don't know what you young gentlemen call nice," said Miss Bellamy.
"I don't see young ladies with the eyes that you see them with.
Eleanor Lloyd is a dear good girl; slightly impulsive, perhaps, but
open and honest as the day--a girl that any man might be proud to call
his wife."

Gerald pursed his lips a little. Miss Bellamy's outline was too vague
to take his fancy. "A country-bred hoyden, evidently, with red cheeks
and large hands, and a healthy appetite," he muttered to himself.

"There is one point that you have not enlightened me upon," he said
presently. "But perhaps it is one on which I have no right to question
you."

"Tell me what it is."

"You say that Eleanor, when an infant, was adopted by my uncle and
aunt. She must have been somebody's child. You have not yet told me
who and what her friends were."

Miss Bellamy's face became more grave and troubled than Gerald had yet
seen it. "Pardon me," he said, "if I have unintentionally wounded your
feelings."

"You have not wounded my feelings. You have only brought back the
memory of a very old trouble. But, as I have told you so much, I see
no reason why I should not tell you the remainder. You must learn the
story sooner or later, and you had better hear it from my lips than
from the lips of anyone else."

"I am so sorry----" began Gerald.

"Pray don't say another word. How were you to know?--Yes, Gerald
Warburton, I will tell you the story, painful though it be--but not
now. You have heard enough to ponder over and dream about for one
night. I shall just mix you one more glass, and then I shall send you
oil to bed."



CHAPTER III.
THE STORY OF THE MURDER.


Gerald Warburton had not been in London for some time, and two or
three days passed quickly and pleasantly away in hunting up old
acquaintances, and in seeing sights that he had never seen before.
Besides which, he wanted a little time to familiarize himself with the
thought of his new-found fortune. By nature and disposition, he was
one of the least worldly of men, and the wandering life he had led for
many years had tended to make him more unpractical than he might
otherwise have been. For money, as money, he cared nothing: nay, he
told himself that he thoroughly despised it: but that was probably an
exaggeration. He was one of those men who never think of saving--of
putting away for a "rainy day," as the phrase goes--and who never can
save, not even when their incomes are doubled or trebled, unless some
pressure of an extreme kind (a thrifty wife, for instance, who has a
will of her own) is brought to bear upon them.

As a matter of course, despite all Gerald's unpracticality, one of the
most frequent thoughts in his mind just now--a thought turned over and
over in his brain during his long solitary walks through London
streets--was what he should do with the ten thousand pounds that was
coming to him. He had quite made up his mind that the other ten
thousand should be handed over to his cousin Eleanor, as he could not
help still calling her to himself. Had anyone asked him a few days
previously whether ten thousand pounds would have satisfied all his
earthly wants from a monetary point of view, he would have laughed,
and answered that half that sum would satisfy his every wish. And yet,
now, when so much money was really coming to him, it was quite
remarkable what a long list of things that might almost be considered
indispensable he could count up in his mind. Instead of ten thousand,
thirty or forty would be needed before he could get through even the
first few pages of his mental catalogue.

But having got so far, Gerald was obliged to pull himself up suddenly.
He called to mind that it was not ten thousand a year that he was
coming into, but simply one sum of that value; and that, however
pleasant it might be to think how easily and agreeably to himself he
could have spent the whole of it in the course of a few days in London
or Paris, it would be the height of folly so to do; such an act would
indeed be killing the goose with the golden eggs. No: by judiciously
investing his ten thousand pounds, he might secure for himself a
comfortable little income of five hundred a year, which sum, when
added to the income he could already call his own, would serve to make
life tolerably pleasant in time to come. He would live in Paris, of
course: somehow he always felt more at home in Paris than in London.
He would be able to dabble a little more than heretofore among his
favourite bronzes, and coins, and old cups and saucers. He could
afford a stall rather oftener at the Opéra or the Français. He would
drink a choicer wine to his dinner, and honour his wine with a better
repast. A month or six weeks among the glaciers, or in the Black
Forest, need no longer be a serious question with him on the score of
expense. Altogether, he felt very well satisfied with the pleasant
future that seemed looming before him. That he was somewhat of an
Epicurean, addicted to self-indulgence, and hardly knowing the meaning
of self-sacrifice, cannot be denied; but it is to be hoped that we
shall not altogether lose our interest in him on that account. He had
many vague noble impulses, as most of us have at one time or another;
but, as yet, no necessity had arisen in his life for testing whether
those impulses were strong enough to bear chaining down to the hard
rough usages of everyday life.

Often in his solitary musings he would ask himself of what possible
use or service he was to the world in which he found himself; and now
and then a dim idea would trouble him for awhile that there were many
kinds of wheels turning in it, to one or other of which, if he were so
minded, he might put his shoulder with some little profit both to
himself and his fellows. But when next day came, it would find him
leading his old slip-shod far-niente kind of life. Amid the glitter
and bustle of the Boulevards, noble impulses and vague ideals seemed
of the stuff that poets rave about, and girls weave into the tissue of
their dreams.

The more Miss Bellamy saw of Gerald, the better she liked him. The
easy geniality of his disposition, and the soft courtesy of his
manner, were alike pleasing to her. Gerald, on his side, conceived a
very warm regard for the true-hearted lady who had been his dead
mother's dearest friend. He soon got into the way of calling her
"aunt"; the relationship seemed a natural one between them, and the
assumption was satisfactory to both.

Miss Bellamy's sitting-room was a pleasant apartment, with three
French windows that opened on a balcony and that looked out on the
grass and trees of the square. It was pleasantly furnished, too; in a
somewhat old-fashioned style it must be admitted; but then, Miss
Bellamy herself was somewhat old-fashioned, so that there was nothing
incongruous between the room and its mistress.

One of Miss Bellamy's most valued possessions was a portrait of her
uncle, the late Dean of Winstead. It was a three-quarter-length in
oils, with a very ornate frame, and it occupied a post of honour,
being hung immediately over the chimney-piece, where it at once
attracted the eyes of all who came into the room. The Dean, a
very atrabilious-looking gentleman, with a bald head, was represented
as seated at a table with one elbow resting on three thick volumes of
his own sermons, and with his thumb and forefinger pressed lightly
against his cheek. Pens and ink were upon the table, and the Dean was
presumably thinking out another of his discourses. Several copies of
his sermons, together with an income of three hundred a year, had come
to Miss Bellamy on the death of her reverend relative, so that she had
ample reasons for cherishing his memory. You could not pay Miss
Bellamy a higher compliment than to tell her that there was a strong
family likeness between herself and her uncle, and her admiration for
him rose almost to the height of hero-worship. She made a point of
reading one of his sermons through every Sunday of her life. Her firm
belief was that there were no such eloquent and soul-stirring appeals
to an unawakened conscience to be met with in the lukewarm religious
literature of to-day, and that you must go back to the days of Jeremy
Taylor to find anything like their equal. From long habit, when
sitting near a table, either thinking or working, she naturally fell
into the same pose as that of the Dean in his picture--her elbow
resting on the table, her thumb and forefinger pressed against her
cheek--and those who knew her weakness--her friends, her toadies, and
her pensioners--whenever they saw her sitting thus, would not fail to
remark to her how like she was to her Very Reverend Uncle.

However deeply Gerald's curiosity might be excited to hear the sequel
of the strange story which Miss Bellamy had promised to tell him, the
subject was evidently so painful a one to her that he could not
venture even to hint at his wishes in the matter. There was nothing
for it but to wait patiently till she should feel in the humour to
tell him what he wanted to know. He was in no particular hurry to take
the journey to Pembridge, and a few days more or less in London were
of no consequence to him. She had promised to tell him all about
Eleanor, and he felt sure that she would not break her promise. In so
thinking Gerald was quite right, but it was not until the evening of
the fourth day after his arrival in London that Miss Bellamy recurred
to the subject in any way.

"I will tell you to-morrow," she said to him that evening, as he shook
hands with her at parting. "And then you must get down to Pembridge as
quickly as you can. You have lingered in London quite long enough."

Miss Bellamy was a believer in suppers. In fact, she still stuck to
the old-fashioned hours for meals to which she had been accustomed
when a girl at home: dinner at half-past one, tea at six, and supper
at ten. In such a case supper is generally the pleasantest and most
sociable meal of all; people then seem more inclined for talking than
at any other time, and subjects that one hardly cares to mention
during the day seem to assimilate themselves quite naturally to the
time and place, and come to be discussed without much difficulty.

Supper was over, and the cloth removed. The night being cold, Miss
Bellamy had drawn her easy chair up close to the fire, and now sat
resting her chin in the palm of one hand, and gazing silently into the
glowing embers. Gerald, prepared to listen to a sad story, had thrown
himself into an easy chair opposite Miss Bellamy on the other side of
the fire. At length Miss Bellamy roused herself with a sigh, and
turned on Gerald a face that seemed suddenly to have grown five years
older.

"Twenty years ago, this very month," she said, "a terrible murder was
committed. All murders are terrible in a greater or a lesser degree,
but this one was terrible, not merely from the crime itself, but from
the after consequences that arose out of it. The name of the murdered
man was Paul Stilling; the place where he was murdered was the Pelican
Hotel, Tewkesbury; and the name of the man who was accused of the
crime was Ambrose Murray."

Gerald started.

"Stilling was a young man, the junior partner in a firm of Birmingham
jewellers. At the time he met with his death he had property on him of
the value of four thousand pounds. It was for the sake of this
property that he was murdered. He was found dead in his bed, stabbed
to the heart. In the portmanteau of Ambrose Murray, who was stopping
that night in the same hotel, was found a bracelet of the value of two
hundred pounds, which had belonged to Stilling. No other portion of
the property has, to my knowledge, ever been found from that day to
this.

"Ambrose Murray was arrested, committed for wilful murder,
subsequently tried, and condemned to death in due form," went on Miss
Bellamy. "Before, however, the time had come for carrying out the last
dread sentence of the law, symptoms of undoubted insanity manifested
themselves in the condemned man, and his sentence had to be commuted
into imprisonment for life."

Gerald sat lost in wonder.

"So far, I daresay, you see nothing uncommon in my story--nothing that
has any particular interest for you. But when I tell you that Ambrose
Murray's wife was my intimate friend, as well as being the intimate
friend of your mother and your aunt--when I tell you that Ambrose
Murray's wife died heart-broken within twelve months of the time her
husband was taken from her; when I tell you that the child adopted by
your uncle and aunt was none other than the child of a man condemned
to death for murder, and that Eleanor Lloyd is in reality Eleanor
Murray--when I tell you all this, you cannot say that my story has no
interest for you, you cannot say that I have claimed your attention
without sufficient warrant for so doing."

"What a strange chapter of family history you have opened for me,"
exclaimed Gerald. "What you told me the other night seemed to me
sufficiently wonderful, but this is stranger than all. Poor Eleanor
poor girl!" he added. "Although I have never seen her, I have always
felt that when we did meet I should come to regard her as a sister;
and now you tell me that I cannot even claim her as a cousin."

Miss Bellamy said nothing. She was gazing into the fire again, but
with thoughts that were far away. She was roused at last by a direct
question from Gerald.

"How much of the story you have just told me will be known to this Mr.
Kelvin, when he comes to open the sealed packet which you sent him by
my uncle's instructions?"

"He will know that Eleanor is no relation of your uncle, and that is
the news which he will have to break to her. Inside his own packet is
a second packet, sealed up and directed to Eleanor, and to be opened
by her alone. This packet will tell her everything."

"What a shock for a girl like her!"

"You are right, Gerald; it will be a terrible shock. I cannot tell you
how grateful I am that I have been spared the pain of enlightening
her."

"About her father. Did you believe him to be guilty or innocent?"

"I would stake my life on Ambrose Murray's innocence. No one who ever
knew him would for a single moment believe in his guilt. He was one of
the gentlest-hearted men I ever met. There was something almost
feminine about him. His was, indeed, a most lovable disposition."

"What was he by profession?"

"A doctor. He had been staying at Malvern for the benefit of his
health--he was always delicate--and was walking home by easy stages.
He had got as far as Tewkesbury, and happened to be stopping there on
that one particular night when Paul Stilling was murdered."

"Is he still alive?"

"He is. I saw him only a few months ago. In fact, I have been in
the habit of visiting him at intervals ever since his wife's death.
For many years he did not know me. But gradually--imperceptibly
almost--his reason has come back to him, and he is now, and has been
for the last five years, as sane as either you or I."

"Is there no prospect of his ever being released?"

"None whatever, I'm afraid. You see, the crime--assuming him for the
moment to have been guilty of it--was committed before his insanity
declared itself. It is not as though he had been a lunatic at the time
of the murder."

"What a terrible fate! Does he know that his daughter is alive?"

"He knows everything. It is at his own wish that Eleanor has been kept
in ignorance of her real parentage for so long a time; and, had Jacob
Lloyd lived, the secret would not have been told her even now."

"But how did it happen that none of the gossips of Pembridge found out
that Eleanor was not my uncle's child?"

"It was not till about a year after their adoption of the child that
your uncle, aunt, and Eleanor made their first appearance at
Pembridge, your uncle having just bought Bridgeley, where he lived
till he died. They had come from a town two hundred miles away, and
did not know a soul in the place."

"Has no rumour of the truth ever crept out?"

"Never, I am certain."

"And Eleanor herself has never had any suspicion?"

"Not the slightest, so far as I know. How should she? She was but
eleven months old when her mother died: far too young to have the
faintest recollection of anything that happened."

At this moment, they both heard a knock at the front door, but without
paying any heed to it. Miss Bellamy was never troubled with late
visitors. There were other lodgers in the house, and the knock could
come from no one in search of her.

But presently came the sound of footsteps on the stairs, followed by
Eliza's timid tap at the room door. "Come in," said Miss Bellamy, a
little more sharply than usual. She felt annoyed that her tête-à-tête
with Gerald should be thus interrupted.

The door opened, and Eliza's head was intruded. "A gentleman to see
you, ma'am. He won't give no name."

"A gentleman to see me!" said Miss Bellamy, as she started up in
surprise. She felt slightly scandalised to think that any gentleman
should be so indiscreet as to call upon her at such an hour as eleven
o'clock p.m.

But by this time the gentleman, who followed the girl upstairs, had
pushed himself into the room; and Eliza, a little frightened at his
audacity, slunk timidly out and shut the door quickly behind her.

"May I ask, sir----" began Miss Bellamy frigidly, and then something
in the stranger's face suddenly froze her into silence.

And yet not much of his face was to be seen, all the lower part of it
being hidden in the folds of a large plaid, and the upper part shaded
by the broad brim of a soft felt hat, from under which looked forth
two dark melancholy eyes of singular beauty. Miss Bellamy's hands
began to tremble, and she leaned against the table for support.

The stranger did not speak, but swiftly unrolling his plaid, let it
half drop to the ground and took off his hat. Miss Bellamy's face grew
as white as death. She started forward; and then she shrank back, all
a-tremble. Gerald Warburton's eyes turned from the stranger to her,
and then went back to the man; a tall, thin, frail-looking figure,
with a long white beard, and white hair that fell over the collar of
his coat.

"Sir--you--you are either Ambrose Murray or his ghost!" slowly gasped
Miss Bellamy. "In Heaven's name, what has brought you here?"

"I have escaped!" exclaimed the man in a low, hoarse voice. "Escaped
at last!"

He clasped his hands suddenly above his head, gave utterance to a
short, sharp, hysterical laugh, staggered forward a few steps, and
would have fallen to the ground had not Gerald Warburton caught him in
his arms.



CHAPTER IV.
A BROKEN LIFE.


Gerald Warburton did not leave London for Pembridge next day, nor for
several days afterwards.

When Ambrose Murray learned that Gerald was the nephew of Jacob Lloyd,
the man who had so befriended his daughter, and that Gerald's mother
was the Minna Lloyd whom he remembered, and who had been one of his
wife's dearest friends, he clung to him as a man who is being carried
away by the tide will cling to the life-buoy which his hands have
unexpectedly grasped. And, indeed, this man, who, after having been
closely shut up from the world for twenty years, found himself thrown
again on the great stream of life, seemed as helpless and bewildered
as some weak swimmer who contends in vain against the resistless tide
that is fast carrying him away. He was more than bewildered--he was
frightened by the vast whirlpool of London life in which he found
himself such an infinitesimal atom. There had always been an element
of weakness, of vacillation, in his character. He had always been one
of those men who are inevitably crushed into the background in the
great rush and struggle for life with which they are mixed up--men not
lacking talent, but simply from want of energy and physique, and power
of elbowing their way to the front, drifting year after year
helplessly into the rear, seeing themselves distanced by younger and
fleeter feet, and seeing the prizes that in the flush of youth seemed
so close at hand and easy of attainment, receding hopelessly into the
distance. Sometimes disappointment and bitterness of heart sour such
men for ever; sometimes they sink into mere dreamers and idealists,
who console themselves for the buffets of the real world by living as
much as possible an inner life of their own, in which destiny is
carved out by them in accordance with their varying fancies, and in
which they grasp--in imagination--whatever prizes please them best.

If at twenty-five years of age Ambrose. Murray had been ill-fitted to
withstand the rubs of fortune, it was hardly to be expected that his
armour should be stronger or his sword brighter after his twenty years
of incarceration from the world. It was, indeed, evident from the
first, both to Miss Bellamy and to Gerald, that he would have to
be treated in many ways as if he were neither more nor less than a
grown-up child. He had forgotten so much, and he had so much to learn!
The march of events had left him so terribly in the rear, that it
seemed doubtful whether he would ever be able to reach the world's
full stride again.

Then, again, as time went on and they grew to know him better, a doubt
would sometimes make itself felt, both with Miss Bellamy and Gerald,
as to whether some shadow of the terrible affliction which had
overclouded his mind for years did not linger there still. On
ninety-nine topics out of a hundred he would talk as sanely and
sensibly as anyone; but the introduction of the hundredth would elicit
from him some observation so bizarre, so outrageous, or, on the other
hand, so childishly simple, that his hearers could only look at each
other in dismay, and change the conversation as quickly as possible.

Ambrose Murray's chief employment in prison since the recovery of his
reason would seem to have been the cleaning and repairing of all the
clocks and watches in the establishment. When a boy of twelve at home
he had been able to take his father's watch to pieces, clean it, and
put it together again. The delicacy of the workmanship, and the
exquisite adjustment of each part with reference to the whole, had for
him, even at that age, a fascination, a charm, that might have led
him, step by step, into the highest walks of mechanics, had not a
stern parental will decided for him that he was born to be a doctor.

As a result of his labours on the prison clocks and watches, Mr.
Murray had contrived, little by little, to save up the sum of twelve
pounds. Ten pounds of this amount he placed in the hands of Miss
Bellamy the morning after his arrival in London, with a request that
she would act as cashier for him in every way as far as the money
would go, and that when it was exhausted she would not fail to let
him know--although what he would have done in such a case to replenish
his purse it would have puzzled him to say. Just then, however, no
such consideration troubled his mind. In his best days he had not
understood or troubled himself much about money matters, and
nowadays ten pounds seemed amply sufficient to last him for an
indefinite length of time. And it did last him a very long time,
thanks to Miss Bellamy's remarkable management; for when, at the end
of two months, he said to her, "I think the ten pounds must be getting
rather low, Maria"--he had always been in the habit of calling Miss
Bellamy by her Christian name--she only answered with a smile: "That
shows how little you know about money matters. There's more than half
of it left yet." Ambrose Murray was quite content to think that it was
so, and troubled himself no further about the matter.

That first night Gerald took him to his own rooms; but the question
that had to be settled next morning was, where he should live for the
future. In London he would undoubtedly be safer from pursuit and
detection than in the country; besides which, he wanted to be near
Miss Bellamy. She was the one link that connected him with the past:
away from her he would have felt as helpless as a being who had
wandered by mistake on to a wrong planet. As it happened, there were
two furnished rooms to be let in the next house to that in which Miss
Bellamy lodged, and it was decided that there, for awhile at least,
the fugitive should pitch his tent. It was highly necessary that he
should both change his name and disguise himself to a certain
extent--not that Murray himself would ever have thought of adopting
any such precautions, but would have gone about as openly and
unsuspiciously as the freest man in England. That some pursuit would
be attempted, that some effort would be made to recapture him, there
could be no manner of doubt; and both to Miss Bellamy and Gerald it
seemed quite evident that unless some few obvious precautions should
be adopted, his whereabouts could not long remain unknown to the
police. It was accordingly agreed that for the time being he should
change his name from Murray to Greaves--that having been his wife's
maiden name; and that he should pass as a cousin of Miss Bellamy, who
had come to London to look after some property that was in Chancery.
The next thing to do was to reduce the length of his flowing white
beard and of his long white hair. What was left was then died
black--its normal colour--and this simple change was enough to
disguise him beyond the chance of recognition by any one who had only
seen him as he was when he first took off his hat and plaid in Miss
Bellamy's room.

As he was still barely fifty years old, there was nothing incongruous
about his black hair and beard; and when his sartorial needs had been
duly attended to, the world saw him as a rather tall, frail-looking
man, with a thin, scholar-like face, who stooped a little as he
walked, and who seemed ever more intent on his own secret thoughts
than concerned with anything that was passing around him. Not that the
world, as exemplified by Ormond Square and its neighbourhood, ever saw
much of him. He rarely stirred out of the house till dusk, and more
frequently than mot it was ten or eleven at night before he crossed
the threshold, except when he went to see Miss Bellamy--which he did
every day; but as he had only to step from one house into the next in
order to do that, it could hardly be considered as going out. The
noise and bustle of the streets distracted him--even daylight
itself, except when it came winnowed through the interstices of the
venetian blinds, seemed distasteful to him. The friendly silence of
the long, dark suburban streets, where were no gaudy shops or glaring
gin-palaces, suited him best. There he could think his inmost thoughts
and commune with his strange fancies in silence and peace. There he
could feel sure that no keen eyes were prying into his, and trying to
find therein some gleam, some lurking trace, of that terrible demon
whose fingers had scorched his brain once already, and who still, at
times, seemed terribly near at hand, waiting--as in his childish days
he believed robbers used to wait for him--round some dark corner no
great distance away, with his black cloak in his hands, ready to throw
it over his victim's head the moment he passed that way.

After awhile both Gerald and Miss Bellamy were able to tell when this
demon was haunting Murray's steps more closely than common. At such
times, when not conversing with others, he would talk inaudibly to
himself for hours together, unless interrupted, his lips moving as
though in earnest assertion, but no sound coming therefrom. At such
times, when walking out, he would turn his head slowly from side to
side, but without raising his eyes from the ground, as though in
search of something.

On the first occasion that Gerald noticed this peculiarity, they were
walking together, and he said to him, "Have you lost something, Mr.
Murray?"

Murray started, looked up, smiled, and pressed his companion's arm
more closely.

"Yes, I have lost something," he said, with a little sigh. "I don't
exactly know what it is--but it's something. I shall find it again one
of these days, I do not doubt."

His voice was full of pathos as he spoke. Gerald never mentioned the
subject again.

"Now that you are settled for some time to come, I presume that you
will not be long before you break the news to Eleanor? You must
remember that as yet she knows absolutely nothing."

So spoke Miss Bellamy to Ambrose Murray one evening across the
tea-table. Gerald was also there. This was the first time that
Eleanor's name had been mentioned since Murray's arrival, and Miss
Bellamy could bear the father's strange silence no longer.

"It is not my intention to tell my daughter anything at present. Why
should I?" said Murray.

Miss Bellamy looked at him as though she could scarcely believe her
ears.

"Why should you not?" she said. "It seems to me that one of the very
first things you ought to do is to tell everything to your only
child."

Murray stirred his tea slowly for a few moments before answering.

"Eleanor is well and comfortable, I hope," he said at last.

"Quite well and quite comfortable."

"She is still living among her friends at Pembridge?"

"She is."

"And wants for nothing?"

"And wants for nothing, so far as I know."

"That is well. And she still believes that Jacob Lloyd was her
father?"

"I am not aware that anyone has undeceived her on that point."

"Why should I be the first to undeceive her?"

"Jacob Lloyd is dead. You are her father, and you are now a free man."

"Precisely so. I am a free man because I have broken my prison bonds.
I am a free man who is liable to recapture at any moment. I am a free
man to whose name the stain of murder still clings."

"But Eleanor would never believe you to be guilty, as I have never
believed you, to be guilty."

"Possibly not. But why distress her by making her the recipient of so
painful a revelation?"

"She is your daughter, and she has a right to be told the truth."

"As you say, she is my daughter, and perhaps she has a right to be
told. But seeing that her ignorance has lasted for twenty years, it
cannot matter greatly if she be kept in the same ignorance for a few
weeks or a few months longer. That ultimately everything will be told
her, I do not doubt; but not now--not till--till----" Overcome by some
hidden emotion, he faltered, and was dumb.

"Not till what, Ambrose?" said Miss Bellamy very gently.

"Not till I have proved my innocence to the world."

Miss Bellamy sighed, but said nothing. If Eleanor was not to be told
her father's story till his innocence should be proved, then would it
remain untold for ever.

"Do not think," resumed Ambrose Murray, "that I have not thought over,
times without number, all that can be urged either for or against the
telling of my story to Eleanor, but I have come to the conclusion that
for a little while to come it had better remain untold."

"And do you think, Ambrose, that after such a length of time there is
any chance, however remote, of your being able to prove your
innocence?"

"I don't know: I cannot tell. I can simply hope. The world is full of
apparent wonders, and Providence works out its ends in a way that we
cannot fathom. I know how vain and futile must seem to you the
prospect of my ever being able to prove my innocence; but it is for
that purpose, and that alone, that I am now here. Had I not been
sustained by such a hope, I believe that I should not have cared to
seek my freedom. Years since, the desire for freedom, for freedom's
own sake, burnt itself to a cinder in my heart by its very intensity.
I came at last to cling to the narrow walls that had been my home for
so long a time, as a limpet clings to its boulder on the beach,
neither knowing nor caring for any horizon beyond its own few inches
of rock and sand. How is it possible for me to make you comprehend
what simple things may become dear to a man who has been cut off from
the world as I have been? The pair of robins that I used to feed, the
candy-tuft that grew outside my bedroom window, the head-warder's
motherless child, the laurel-walk in the garden, my box of tools--the
source of so many happy hours: it was not without a pang of bitter
anguish that I cast these behind me for ever, even though freedom
itself was beckoning to me from the hill-tops!

"But an inner voice seemed to urge me forward, a will superior to my
own seemed to guide my footsteps. In saying this I may be merely the
victim of self-delusion. My hopes and wishes in this matter may have
no better foundation than a few incoherent dreams. Once already my
mind has been like an empty room that is open to every wind that
blows; and sometimes even now--Heaven help me!--I seem as if I had
hardly strength enough to hold the door against the troop of demons
that press and hustle to get in, and complain that I have dispossessed
them of their home. But be this as it may, I am held and sustained by
the hope of which I have spoken. It may prove to be nothing better
than a broken reed, but till it is so proved, I will in no wise let it
go: and till that time shall come, my daughter and I must remain to
each other the strangers we have hitherto been."

"Have you no desire to see Eleanor--to kiss her--to clasp her to your
heart?"

"Do not ask me!" he said, with a sudden shrillness in his voice. Then,
in a moment, he broke down utterly, and began to cry in a helpless,
broken-hearted way that was painful to see.

Miss Bellamy went round to him and laid her hand gently on his
shoulder.

"Oh, Ambrose, forgive me!" she said, with tears in her eyes. "I did
not think to hurt your feelings. I cannot tell you how sorry I am."

"It is I who am so foolishly weak," he said; "but I shall be better in
a minute or two." He held out one of his hands. Miss Bellamy pressed
it affectionately between both hers, and then went softly back to her
seat. For a little while no one spoke.

Ambrose Murray was the first to break the silence. "Upwards of twenty
years have gone by," he said, "since Paul Stilling was murdered one
night at the Pelican Hotel, Tewkesbury, and the prospect of my being
able to prove my innocence after such a lapse of time would to most
people appear an utterly hopeless one; and even to me, in my most
sanguine moments, the chances of success seem very faint and far away
indeed. Still, it is for this hope alone that I now live."

"Has any fresh evidence been discovered since the trial?" asked Miss
Bellamy; "anything tending to exculpate you and fix the crime on the
real murderer?"

"So far as I know, nothing has been discovered. The case virtually
came to an end with my condemnation. The world believed me to be
guilty--no one cared to sift further into the matter, and I was left
to my fate."

"We none of us believed you to be guilty," said Miss Bellamy, with
much earnestness. "But the evidence was so terribly against you, and
events followed each other so quickly, and we poor women were all so
bewildered and heart-broken, that--that we felt as if we could do
nothing."

"As you say, Maria--you could do nothing; and I have never wronged any
of those who were my friends at that sad time by thinking that more
could have been done for me than was done. What was wanted was time,
and that the law would not grant: time, and a man of strong will and
clear brain, and then, perhaps, the mystery might have been fathomed."

"Then what it is now requisite to do," said Gerald, joining in the
conversation for the first time, "is to reopen the case; to set to
work on it, in fact, as if the murder had been committed only last
week, instead of twenty years ago."

"That is precisely what I propose to do," said Murray.

"And the first step is----?"

"To find out whether Max Jacoby is living or dead."

"Max Jacoby?" said Miss Bellamy. "I have not heard that name for
years; but what a flood of painful reminiscences the mention of it
recalls!"

"Who was the man you speak of?" asked Gerald.

"He was the man who murdered Paul Stilling!"

"You stare at me as if you believed me to be still mad," he added,
after a pause, addressing himself to Miss Bellamy: "and you ask me in
your thoughts, if you do not with your lips, what evidence I can bring
to prove the truth of what I have just stated. My answer is, that I
cannot adduce one tittle of evidence that would be considered worth a
moment's notice in a court of law: but not the less sure am I that he
was the man."

Neither Gerald nor Miss Bellamy could help being impressed by his
earnestness, however disposed they might be to think that nothing but
disappointment could ever issue from it.

"Have you any clue by means of which it may be possible to trace the
present whereabouts of this man, Max Jacoby?" asked Gerald presently.

"I have no clue of any kind." He said this, not despondently, but as
cheerfully as though the point involved were of no consequence
whatever.

"As you said just now, Gerald, we must go into the case _ab initio_,"
he resumed. "I say we, because it may chance that now and then I shall
claim your assistance in the matter; and should I have to do so, I
know that I shall not claim it in vain."

"That you will not," said Gerald warmly. "You may count on my poor
services in any and every way."

"You must bear in mind," said Miss Bellamy to Murray, "that Gerald has
not such an intimate knowledge of the case as either you or I have. He
has heard a bare outline of the facts from me; but would it not be as
well if you were to tell him the story in detail from your own point
of view, and so enable him to judge for himself as to the mode in
which he might be best able to assist you?"

"You are right, Maria, as you always are," said Murray. "Gerald shall
have the story. It will not take long to tell. As a narrative of
events, nothing could appear more clear, simple, and straightforward;
and yet, underneath it, there still lurks the foul mystery that
poisoned my life--that condemned me to a horrible death--that broke my
wife's heart--and that made of me the wretched creature I am now!"

He rested his head in his hands, and was silent for a little while,
calling up the memories of a bitter past.

"As you are no doubt already aware," he began, "I was brought up, at
my father's request, to be a surgeon. I was in practice for myself,
and had been married about two years, when my health, which had always
been delicate, broke down. I was ordered to Malvern to try the
hydropathic system, and there I stayed for four months, gathering
strength daily. At length I found myself well enough to start for
home. I had always been fond of walking, and on the present occasion I
determined to shun the railways and do the entire distance on foot,
going by easy stages so as not to over-fatigue myself. In pursuance of
this plan I got as far as Tewkesbury, where I had made up my mind to
stay all night. But already I found I was doing myself more harm than
good by walking, and it was evident that I should have to finish my
journey by rail. I sought and found shelter for the night at the
Pelican Hotel. My purse was not very heavy, and I joined the company
in the coffee-room. The company in question consisted but of two
individuals,--Paul Stilling, a young Englishman, and Max Jacoby, a
Dutch or German Jew of about the same age as myself. Stilling was a
tall, slim, handsome young-fellow, with closely cropped black hair and
a thin silky moustache. He was junior partner in a firm of Birmingham
jewellers, and it transpired that he was then on his way, with a
parcel of valuable jewellery, to the house of a well-known nobleman,
resident no great distance from Tewkesbury. There was about to be a
wedding in the family, and he was taking a selection of goods from
which sundry bridal presents were to be chosen. He had engaged a bed
at the Pelican for that night, and had ordered a fly to be ready at
ten next morning to take him forward to his destination. Jacoby was a
broad-built, resolute-looking man, with a thick sandy beard and
ear-rings. He was travelling for a firm of Sheffield cutlers.

"The two men had been dining together, and the meal was just over when
I entered the room. Stilling at once entered into conversation with
me, but the German only sat and looked at us. After I had finished my
steak I joined them over cigars and a bottle of port. The evening was
chilly, and we all drew up close to the fire. Stilling had evidently
been drinking earlier in the day, and his voluble tongue had been made
more voluble still by his potations. He did not fail to tell us who
and what he was, and the object of his visit to Tewkesbury; in fact,
he had the conversation pretty much to himself. I joined in
occasionally, but Jacoby did little except smoke and turn his keen
eyes from one to the other of us, interjecting now and then a gruff
Nein or Ja when a point-blank question was put to him by the jeweller.

"At length nothing would satisfy Stilling but showing us the wedding
jewellery, on the beauty of which he descanted in glowing terms. So he
ran upstairs as nimbly as a lamplighter, and presently came back,
carrying a small, square leather case under his arm. This case, when
unlocked, was found to contain a small box, made of polished oak,
clamped with silver, and having the initials P. S. outlined on the lid
with silver nails. The box was duly opened, and was found to be lined
with purple velvet, and divided into compartments which were filled
with jewels of various kinds. One after another Stilling lifted them
tenderly out of their soft resting-place, in order that we might
examine them. They flashed and scintillated in the gaslight, and threw
out a thousand brilliant rays. Happening to turn my head, I could not
help being struck with the change in Jacoby. He had put down his cigar
in order that he might examine the jewels more closely, and was at
that moment holding in his hairy, muscular hands a necklace of
magnificent brilliants. But his hands were trembling as he held it,
and his face had taken a yellow tinge, and his forehead had become
clammy, and he was biting his under lip; and while I was looking, he
flashed across at Stilling a look which said plainly enough: 'To make
these mine I would kill you and a thousand like you!' That was how I
read his look then; that is how I read it now. If ever there was
murder in a man's eyes, there was in Jacoby's at that moment.

"When the jewels had been sufficiently admired, they were put back
into their resting-place and locked up. A little later we bade each
other goodnight, and went off to our several rooms. I had ordered an
early breakfast, and I left Tewkesbury by the seven a.m. train, having
taken a ticket through to Bristol. By the time I reached Gloucester,
however, I had changed my mind. The weather was brilliant, and I
should not be looked for at home for several days. Why not go down
Hereford way, and explore the scenery of the Wye, and by so doing
gratify a wish that dated back for several years? I accordingly
quitted the Bristol train at Gloucester, and booked myself through by
another line to Hereford, which place I reached late in the afternoon.
I was sitting next morning in the coffee-room of the hotel, plodding
through my breakfast, when the door was opened, and a heavy hand was
laid on my shoulder, and next moment I found myself arrested on a
double charge of robbery and murder. Stilling had been found dead in
his bed at the Pelican Hotel: the silver-clamped box could not be
found, and I was charged with the double crime.

"But I must not weary you. At the very bottom of my travelling bag was
found a bracelet set with turquoises and diamonds, that had been the
property of Stilling. In the murdered man's room was found a
handkerchief marked with my initials. I had taken a railway ticket to
Bristol, but had left the train at Gloucester, and had gone forward by
another line in order to baffle pursuit--so they said. Taken in
conjunction, these facts were enough to condemn any man, and they
condemned me. Twelve men unanimously found me guilty, and the judge
told me that he quite concurred in their verdict. And then I saw the
black cap put on, and heard my own death-sentence pronounced, and
heard my wife's wild shriek for mercy, where no mercy could be shown.
Can you wonder that my brain gave way?"

He paused. In the silence they heard the clocks strike twelve.

"The same hand that put the bracelet into my bag put my handkerchief
into the murdered man's room. It was the hand of Jacoby! How I know
that--how I feel so sure of it--I cannot explain to either of you, and
if I could you would only smile at me. In this world much of our
highest knowledge comes to us intuitively, and by intuition only
do I know that it was Max Jacoby who compassed the death of Paul
Stilling--but that suffices for me."

"Then your idea," said Gerald, "is to find out whether this Max Jacoby
is still alive?"

"It is. And I want you, out of your knowledge of the world, to advise
me as to the best mode of setting about this business."

"I am going out of town to-morrow for a couple of days. I will think
over very carefully all that you have said, and will make a point of
seeing you immediately upon my return."

With this agreement they separated for the night, and early next
morning Gerald set out for Pembridge.

Miss Bellamy had not deemed it necessary to say anything to Ambrose
Murray as to the fact of Eleanor still passing as Jacob Lloyd's
daughter, and still believing herself to be the heiress to his
property. To have told him would only have unsettled his mind still
further, and would have served no useful purpose. Besides which,
Gerald's visit to Pembridge was for the express purpose of seeing Mr.
Kelvin, and of ascertaining from him why he had omitted to carry out
the instructions conveyed to him in the sealed packet. In a few days
more at the most, Eleanor would learn that she was not the daughter of
Jacob Lloyd, and not the heiress she believed herself to be.
Meanwhile, it was better, as far as Ambrose Murray was concerned, that
these matters should remain untold.



CHAPTER V.
GERALD AT PEMBRIDGE.


The mention of Matthew Kelvin's name by Miss Bellamy touched a chord
of recollection in the mind of Gerald Warburton, but some time elapsed
before he could trace back in his memory to the particular occasion on
which he had heard it last. He had been groping about for some time,
when suddenly a single flash revealed to him everything that he was
looking for. It showed him a country inn in the Lake district, and two
men, weather-bound by the unceasing rain, perforce dependent on each
other for companionship and the practice of those minor social virtues
which such an occasion should undoubtedly call forth. They meet as
strangers meet under such circumstances, but by the end of the third
day they seem to have known each other for years. Glad as they are on
the fourth morning to find that the clouds have dispersed and that the
hill-tops can be seen again, they do not part without a certain
feeling of regret, or without a cordial grip of the hand and a hope
that, unlikely as such a thing seems, they may one day meet again. One
of those men is Matthew Kelvin, the other is Gerald Warburton. Kelvin,
at parting, had given Gerald his address, and had begged of him that,
should he ever find himself in the neighbourhood of Pembridge, he
would not fail to look him up. Gerald, at the time, had no address to
give. In fact, it was not as Gerald Warburton, but under the name of
"Jack Pomeroy," that he had made Kelvin's acquaintance.

A year or two previously, in the course of one of his rare interviews
with his father, the latter had said to Gerald: "You are a disgrace to
the name of Warburton!"

"If that is the case, sir," said Gerald, bitterly, "it shall be
disgraced no longer."

When he next went out into the world, it was as John Pomeroy. His full
name was Gerald John Warburton. So he took the John and tacked it to a
name that had been common in his mother's family for generations; and
it was as Jack Pomeroy, a vagabondising young artist, rather out at
elbows, as clever young men often are, but a decidedly amusing
companion for a wet day, that he had made Kelvin's acquaintance.

"I wonder whether he will know me again," muttered Gerald to himself,
as he walked down the main street of Pembridge on his way to Mr.
Kelvin's office. "There was a little about him that I liked, and a
great deal that I didn't like. His joviality was merely on the
surface; it had no foundation in his disposition. It was a mere
will-o'-the-wisp, flickering fitfully over the darker depths of his
character. Me he tolerated as one tolerates a droll when tired of
one's own company, and with nothing more serious to do. For the time
being he even made believe to be a Bohemian himself. It was a phase of
character that he had rarely encountered before, and for forty-eight
hours it fascinated him; forty-eight hours later he would have turned
his back on it and me with a sneer.

"It is indeed a strange chance that has brought us together again
after so long a time! I will tell him neither my name nor my errand
for a little while. I will go to him as the Jack Pomeroy in whose
society he once spent three days of bad weather. I will even pretend
to be hard up, and to stand in need of a helping-hand. Probably he
will order me out of the office; perchance he will ask me to dinner
and put a sovereign into my hand at parting. It will be time enough to
tell him my real business after I have put him to the test. Besides
which, by concealing my identity for a little while, I may perhaps be
able to glean some information as to his reason for keeping back for
so long a time the contents of the sealed packet from Eleanor." It was
in pursuance of this idea that Gerald had put on for the nonce an
older suit of clothes than common, and had locked up in his
portmanteau at the hotel his watch and chain and scarf-pin. He
found Kelvin's office in due course, and made his way into the
entrance-hall, and was there received by Mr. Piper.

That young gentleman was what he himself would have called "down in
the dumps." The obligations of gentility extend from the highest
stratum of society to the lowest, and Mr. Piper felt that this morning
he had lost caste in the eyes of Mr. Hammond--his guide, philosopher,
and--in a far-off, Olympian kind of way--his friend. Mr. Hammond,
walking down a by-street on his way to business, had come suddenly on
Pod, who, in company with several other youths, was scraping with a
knife the sweet interstices of an empty sugar-cask that was standing
on the pavement in front of a grocer's shop. Unseen till he laid his
gloved hand on Pod's shoulder, Mr. Hammond had said to him: "Here's a
penny for you, Piper, to buy some sweetmeats with, but do, for
goodness' sake, leave the sugar-cask alone." And so, with a smile and
a sneer, had gone daintily on his way. Pod felt as if he could have
bitten his head off, had such an anatomical feat been at all possible.
He would not have cared half so much had he been seen by anyone
else--even by Kelvin himself. But to have been seen thus ignominiously
engaged by the elegant, the scented, the fastidious Mr. Hammond!
Besides which, this was not the first occasion on which Mr. Hammond
had found him engaged in a pursuit derogatory to that assumption of
manhood and gentility which it was the secret ambition of his life to
maintain in the eyes of his patron. On his way home, one evening, Pod
had been overtaken by a temptation which he found it impossible to
resist. The temptation on this occasion took the shape of marbles. Pod
had fallen in with three or four of his old schoolmates engaged in a
game of knuckle-down, and, fired by the recollection of his prowess in
olden days, had for once flung gentility to the winds.

Carefully depositing in a corner his chimney-pot hat, for the next ten
minutes he was a boy again. This time, also, it was Mr. Hammond's
voice which recalled him to a consideration of how far he had
forgotten himself. "Well done, Piper," he said, as he came suddenly
round the corner. "With practice and perseverance you will make a
tolerable player. By-the-by, I promised to buy you something on your
birthday. What shall it be? A hoop, or a kite, or a pretty coloured
ball that you and the baby can amuse yourselves with in wet weather?"

This had been very galling to Pod, especially when said before his
schoolmates; and now, to-day, he had given Mr. Hammond an opportunity
of sneering at him for the second time. This Mr. Hammond was Matthew
Kelvin's one articled pupil. Attracted by Pod's shrewdness, and keen
common sense, he had "taken him in hand," as he himself phrased it;
although whether such taking in hand would ultimately prove beneficial
to Pod, seemed somewhat doubtful at present. Mr. Hammond found Pod
useful as a go-between in his love-affairs. He was engaged to a young
lady against the wishes of her friends. Any letters sent by him
through the post were intercepted, and it was only by trusting to
Pod's skill and diplomacy as a messenger that he could contrive to
communicate with her at all. In such a case as this, Pod might be
trusted implicitly, and Hammond knew it. He was rewarded chiefly with
cigars, and now and then with an odd half-crown, or a pair of soiled
lavender kid gloves; which latter articles, when cleaned, looked
almost as good as new, and although somewhat large, created quite a
sensation among Pod's friends and acquaintances, when worn by him on
his evening stroll along the Ladies' Walk. Then Mr. Hammond had made
Pod a present of an old silver-mounted meerschaum, which, although he
found it somewhat full-flavoured at present, he would doubtless be
able to smoke with comfort when he should have practised on it for
five or six months longer.

But far beyond any pecuniary reward was to be counted the happiness of
being in Mr. Hammond's confidence, and the inestimable boon of his
society. Since Mr. Hammond had taken him by the hand, Pod felt himself
to be quite a different sort of person--he had, as it were, emerged
from the grub into the butterfly. The world and he were on altogether
different terms from what they had been on twelve months ago. A year
ago, for instance, he would not have thought of wearing a chimney-pot
hat, or of wearing stand-up paper collars of the same shape as Mr.
Hammond's, or of carrying a slim silk umbrella to and from business.
To be sure, the umbrella, however elegant and even useful it might
seem when folded tightly up, was in reality so worn and dilapidated as
to be quite incapable of being opened; but as this was a secret known
to Pod alone, it did not matter greatly. Then it was surely a
brilliant stroke of inventiveness to allow himself to be seldom seen
in the town without a _Times_ newspaper under his arm--generally three
or four days old; but that was of no consequence. To be so seen seemed
to add a foot to his stature, and it is impossible to say how much to
his consequence.

But with all his precocious ways, Pod was a good son to his mother--a
poor hard-working widow with a large family, of whom Pod was the
eldest. He did his best to help her in every way, and would nurse the
baby for hours together when he got home of an evening. He was not
unmindful that his education had been a poor one, and three evenings a
week he attended a night school, where he laid a tolerable foundation
both of French and Latin; but of this he said nothing to Mr. Hammond.
Neither did he say anything of the numerous books he was in the habit
of obtaining from the town library, and over which he would pore of a
night long after everyone else in the house was fast asleep.

Gerald Warburton was duly ushered by Pod into the private office.

"If you can wait a minute or two, Mr. Kelvin won't be long," he said,
as he handed Gerald a chair and a newspaper.

Five minutes later, Matthew Kelvin opened the door and walked in.
Gerald rose as he entered, smiled, and held out his hand. For a moment
or two Kelvin was evidently at a loss.

"I seem to know your face," he said, "and yet you must excuse me if
for the moment I fail to recollect where I have seen it before."

"Don't you recollect Jack Pomeroy and the Jolly Anglers' at Grasmere?"

"Of course, of course!" shaking him by the hand. "How one's memory
fails as one grows older! But sit down and tell me how you have been
getting on all this long time."

"Oh, with the proverbial luck of the rolling stone," said Gerald, as
he resumed his seat.

Kelvin by this time had been able to note his visitor's appearance--to
note that his clothes, although originally well-made, were now worn
and shabby: and Kelvin never liked a man who did not dress well; to
note that there was not a single item of jewellery visible, that his
scarf was without a pin, and his pocket minus a watch, and that
altogether there was a decidedly impecunious look about his unwelcome
Bohemian acquaintance. In Kelvin's estimation, a man who could not
afford to carry a gold watch was hardly worth knowing. He elevated his
eyebrows, and felt sure in his own mind that before ten minutes were
over he should be called upon to disburse five guineas.

"That's the worst of making chance travelling acquaintances," he said
to himself. "They are sure to turn up at some future date, and want
you to do something for them. So many people want you to do something
for them!"

"Not quite made your fortune, then?" he said aloud.

Gerald's only answer was an expressive shrug of the shoulders.

"When I saw you last you talked about going to the Antipodes. What has
brought you back again?"

"Partly that lack of pence with which all really great men are
afflicted, and partly a little private business which required my
presence at home."

"You are a born Bohemian, Pomeroy--one of those incorrigibles on whom
argument and advice alike are thrown away."

"Utterly thrown away--utterly; and I glory in the confession."

"And what are your prospects for the future?"

"I am happy to say that I have no prospects in particular. Never had
such things in my life."

"Nor any present necessities?"

"Ah! now you touch me on a tender point."

"How can I be of service to you? Is there anything I can do for you in
a modest way?"

"Well--you may invite me to dinner if you like."

"That I'll do willingly. I suppose if the dinner were supplemented
with an offer of a five-pound note you would not feel offended."

"Offended! Not a bit of it," said Gerald, with a laugh. "But remember
this, Kelvin, I have not asked you for money."

"Oh, I fully appreciate your delicacy of feeling," answered Kelvin,
not without a sneer. "Well, we dine at six sharp. No company, only my
mother and my cousin."

Gerald rose and took up his hat.

"I suppose you would find it somewhat difficult," said Kelvin,
"after vagabondising about the world for so long a time, to settle
down to any quiet steady employment--too monotonous, and that sort of
thing--eh?"

"I don't know so much about that," said Gerald. "Certainly liberty is
sweet, and it is pleasant to be one's own master. Besides which, as
yet I have given no hostages to fortune, and having only my own
unworthy self to look after, I dare say that I should find it
difficult to settle down into a steady, sober, tax-paying citizen, who
sits on a stool from one year's end to another, and who knows the
amount of his income to a penny. No, I am afraid that I should find
such a life slightly tedious."

Kelvin laughed.

"Why don't you go in for marrying an heiress." he said.

"You talk, mon ami!--talk as if heiresses were as plentiful as
blackberries."

"I don't think your heiress is a difficult fish to catch, especially
by such a clever angler as I do not doubt that you are. But then you
must make up your mind to be indifferent to good looks, and good
breeding, and a few other simple et ceteras."

"Ah! there's the rub."

"But do you mean to say that the idea of marrying for money is one
that you have never turned over in your mind?"

"I can't say that exactly; but my ideas on the point have been very
hazy ones indeed--quite nebulous, I assure you--nothing solid or
tangible about them."

"Nebulosity of ideas is a very bad thing in anybody. The sooner you
bring them down from the clouds and condense them into a practical
shape the better. First catch--not your hare, but your heiress; then
bring all your powers of fascination to bear upon her, and then----"

"My powers of fascination, indeed! You talk of me as if I were a
rattlesnake."

Again Kelvin laughed, then recollecting an appointment, he looked at
his watch.

"Well, don't forget to be here at six sharp," he said.

And with that Gerald went.

"A dinner, a five-pound note, and exit Jack Pomeroy; that is what
Kelvin means," said Gerald to himself. "Well, he might have treated me
worse than that. I'll not tell him who I really am till the last
minute. I wonder what his motive can be for keeping back the
information from Eleanor. But I suppose I shall know all about it by
to-morrow at this time."

Gerald passed a by no means unpleasant evening. Neither Mrs. Kelvin
nor Olive had ever been further from home than Paris. They were eager
in their questions about the different strange places which Gerald had
visited on his travels, and he was by no means loth to gratify their
curiosity. What pleased Kelvin most was to see his mother so lively
and full of spirits.

"Give me a look in at the office about eleven to-morrow," he said to
Gerald, as they parted at the door.

Half an hour later, Kelvin received a telegram which necessitated his
starting for Scotland by the 7 a.m. train next morning.. He was down
betimes to breakfast; but early as it was, Olive was there before him,
waiting to pour out his tea and attend to all his little wants.

"I shall not be able to see Pomeroy," he said. "You can explain to him
bow I have been called away, and tell him that if he will leave his
address I will write to him on my return."

"Have you any idea of doing something for him?" asked Olive.

"My idea is to send him a five-pound note and have done with him."

"You were mentioning, the other day, that Sir Thomas Dudgeon was in
want of an amanuensis and secretary. It seems to me that Mr. Pomeroy
would be just the man for such a position."

"Oh, he's got ability enough for such a berth, I daresay. But, in the
first place, I believe the fellow is too much of a Bohemian ever to
settle down steadily to anything; and, in the second place, I know
nothing about either himself or his antecedents. How would it be
possible for me to recommend a man to Sir Thomas respecting whom I
know nothing?"

"However much of a Bohemian, as you call it, Mr. Pomeroy may have
been, he has both the manners and education of a gentleman; and I
daresay that he would be able to satisfy you as to his respectability.
Aunt was quite taken with him last evening, and when I went into her
room this morning she desired me to tell you that she would take it as
a kindness to herself if you would interest yourself for Mr. Pomeroy
in whatever way you might think would benefit him most."

"Of course, if I thought it would please my mother, I might stretch a
point in his favour, though really----"

"It would please my aunt greatly if you would do so. It struck me that
this situation at Sir Thomas Dudgeon's would be just the thing for Mr.
Pomeroy."

"But, really, I don't at all see how I can recommend a man about whom
I know nothing."

"You are going away; Mr. Pomeroy is to call here at eleven; let me see
him in your place, and if he can satisfy me as to the respectability
of himself and his connections, may I promise him the situation in
your name?"

"Really, Olive, you seem very much interested in this man."

"I am interested in him, Matthew."

"Take care that your interest in him does not deepen into something
far more dangerous; take care that you don't lose your heart to him."

Olive's colourless cheek flushed for a moment, but she answered quite
calmly:--

"Your warning on that point is quite unnecessary, Matthew. But you
have not answered my question."

Kelvin looked at his watch, and then rose hurriedly. It was later than
he had thought. He had barely time to catch his train.

"Do as you like about it," he said, not without a touch of irritation
in his voice. "When my mother and you lay your heads together and
conspire against me, I know that I may as well give in at once. Mind
you, I don't think this fellow is worth half the trouble that you two
women are taking about him."

"Blind--blind as ever!" muttered Olive to herself as she stood at the
window and watched Kelvin hurrying down the street in the direction of
the station. "A woman of my own age and any brains at all would detect
ray motive at once, but a man can rarely see beyond his nose."



CHAPTER VI.
"THAT'S THE MAN!"


As already explained, Mr. Piper had a tiny glass-fronted office, or
rather den, all to himself, at the far end of the passage which led
from the main entrance to Matthew Kelvin's premises. In the wall that
divided the sanctum of Mr. Piper from that of his employer, was a
small window of ground glass, which had originally been intended as a
means of communication between one office and the other. Of late
years, however, it had never been so used, Mr. Kelvin having adopted
the modern invention of India-rubber tubes as the readiest and most
convenient method of making known his wishes either to Mr. Piper or to
the clerks in the general office. Since the little window had fallen
into disuse, a thick green curtain had been hung across it, in order
that the privacy of Kelvin's office might be still further secured;
but, as it so happened, the object in view came at last, to be
defeated through this very precaution.

One cold morning, Mr. Piper, while sparring at an imaginary opponent
in order to keep up the circulation of his system, sent his elbow
incautiously through one of the panes of the little window. There was
no great harm done: a shilling or two would pay for the damage; but,
for all that, Pod thought it best not to let Mr. Kelvin know of the
accident. He knew that Kelvin was going out of town in the course of a
few days, and he would take that opportunity of having the window
mended at his own expense. Meanwhile, the curtain would effectually
hide what had happened from his employer's notice.

In thus making his calculations, there was, however, one point which,
to give Pod his due, had altogether escaped his notice. So long as the
broken window remained unmended, the privacy of Kelvin's office was
altogether gone. Pod had only to put his ear to the fractured pane in
order to hear every word that was spoken in the other room. There was
nothing but the curtain between him and the speakers. Pod, as a rule,
would not have thought it worth his while to listen--would not have
condescended to listen; but happening one day accidentally to overhear
a few words of a certain conversation, he was induced to listen more
attentively, and the result was that he quietly reached his pencil and
notebook and took down the whole of the conversation in shorthand.

"If I don't spoil their little game, my name's not Pod Piper!" he said
to himself with an air of energy as he shut up his notebook. "The
pair of cowardly vipers!"

The conversation stenographed by Mr. Piper, and denounced by him in
such emphatic terms, was that which took place between Olive Deane and
Gerald Warburton on the forenoon of the day following the visit of the
latter to Kelvin's house. When Gerald called at eleven o'clock he was
told that the lawyer had been suddenly summoned away, but that Miss
Deane was desirous of speaking to him. Inwardly wondering what Miss
Deane could have to say to him, he sat down, but was not kept long
waiting. Pod went to tell her that Mr. Pomeroy was there, and Olive
came at once.

"My cousin has been called from home quite unexpectedly," she said;
"and he asked me to see you in his stead."

"He could not have chosen a----"

"No compliments, if you please, Mr. Pomeroy. I think that neither you
nor I care greatly for that sort of thing. Besides, I am here to
discuss a matter of business with you. Pray pardon the question, but
are my cousin and I right in assuming that if some situation could be
found for you, the duties of which would not be onerous, which would
bring you into contact with 'good' people, and which might open up for
you a channel to something far better in the future, you would not be
unwilling, after due consideration, to accept it?"

Gerald hesitated. With the knowledge that ten thousand pounds would
fall into his pocket in the course of a few days, he might well pause
before answering such a question.

"Really, Miss Deane, you quite take me by surprise. I have led a
vagabond existence for so many years, that the idea of a situation of
any kind that would at all cramp that freedom of action to which I
have been so long used, and which has become so sweet to me, could not
but be somewhat distasteful. Still, if I ever do intend to settle down
into a respectable member of the community, it is quite time I began
to think of doing so, and the picture just drawn by you is not without
its allurements. You will not therefore, I hope, think me presumptuous
if I ask you to favour me with a few more particulars."

"I will be quite candid in the matter with you," said Olive. "The
situation to which I refer is that of amanuensis and secretary to Sir
Thomas Dudgeon, the newly-elected member for Pembridge. My cousin has
the management of Sir Thomas's affairs, and has been asked to find
some one suitable for the situation in question."

Gerald was at a loss what to say. The mention of Sir Thomas's name at
once brought to his mind what Miss Bellamy had told him--how Eleanor
Lloyd had been taken up by Lady Dudgeon, was now living with the
family, and was to go to London with them when they moved there for
the season. But how would all that be when Miss Lloyd should be proved
to be penniless?

"You hesitate," said Olive, after a few moments. "You hardly know
whether to say Yes or No."

"You are right--I don't," said Gerald, frankly. "At the same time, my
warmest thanks are due to you and Mr. Kelvin for thinking of me in the
way you have."

"Take time to think over what I have said. Don't give me an answer
now. Suppose you either call and see me, or let me have a line from
you by to-morrow morning? Or shall you want a still longer time before
making up your mind?"

"Thanks," said Gerald, with a laugh; "but till to-morrow will be quite
long enough."

"Matthew mentioned something to me of the conversation that passed
between you and him," said Olive, with a smile. "He told me of his
suggestion that you should elevate your fortunes by marrying an
heiress."

"It was very unfair on Kelvin's part to tell tales out of school."

"But seriously, why should you not marry an heiress?"

"Seriously, I know of no reason why I should not, except this--that
all the ladies with whom I have the happiness to be acquainted are
very little better off than myself."

"Should you agree to become Sir Thomas Dudgeon's secretary, you will
have an opportunity, while under his roof, of ingratiating yourself
with a veritable heiress."

"Come, come, the plot is thickening fast," said Gerald, and he hitched
his chair a little nearer Miss Deane.

"Yes, a veritable heiress, young and charming into the bargain, and
one whose affections, I have every reason to believe, are totally
disengaged."

"Pardon me for saying so," said Gerald, "but it seems highly
improbable to me that any relative of Sir Thomas Dudgeon would
condescend to look upon that gentleman's secretary in the light of a
suitor for her hand."

"The lady in question is no relative of Sir Thomas--she is merely a
visitor under his roof; but a visitor who will probably stay there
till a husband shall take her away to a home of her own. Why should
not you be that husband, Mr. Pomeroy?"

"Why not, indeed! But would it be a breach of confidence if you were
to tell me the lady's name?"

"It would be no breach of confidence," said Olive, "although it was
not my intention to reveal to you the lady's name at present. However,
having been frank with you so far, I may as well continue to be so.
The lady to whom I refer is Miss Eleanor Lloyd--of course, a perfect
stranger to you. Her father died a few months ago, and left her a
fortune of twenty thousand pounds."

All Gerald's self-control was needed to keep him from betraying
himself to the pair of keen eyes that were fixed so steadily on him.
He turned his head away, and affected to be deeply considering the
words he had just heard. He wanted time to recover himself.

Up to a few moments ago, not the slightest suspicion had entered his
mind that the offer which Kelvin had made him through Miss Deane had
sprung from anything but a feeling of genuine friendship on the
lawyer's part; and even when Olive had propounded her theory that he
ought to recoup his fortunes by marrying an heiress, he had looked
upon it as so much quiet chaff on her part, never thinking that any
serious meaning was attached to her words.

But the mention of Eleanor Lloyd's name had changed all this. Suddenly
he seemed to see a pitfall at his feet. His mind, ever active in
moments of emergency, at once whispered certain questions to him, not
one of which he could answer to his own satisfaction. What object had
Kelvin in view in offering to procure for a man whom he I knew only as
a nameless adventurer a situation of trust and responsibility in the
house of such a man as Sir Thomas Dudgeon? What object had Olive Deane
in view in trying to persuade this same nameless adventurer to make
love to and win the hand of Eleanor Lloyd? Was it with Kelvin's
knowledge and sanction that Miss Deane was thus trying to persuade
him? or was she doing it merely in furtherance or some hidden scheme
of her own? Was Miss Deane aware, as Kelvin undoubtedly was, that
Eleanor was not the heiress people believed her to be, nor any
relation of Jacob Lloyd; and if so, what could her object possibly be
in trying to bring Jack Pomeroy and Miss Lloyd together? Finally, came
the oft-recurring questions: Why had not Kelvin written to him as
Gerald Warburton, the real heir; and why had he neglected to reveal
the contents of the sealed packet to Eleanor? There seemed to be
something under the surface that at present he could in no wise
fathom. He could not rid his mind of the suspicion that there was some
hidden link of connection between the concealment of the sealed packet
by Kelvin, and the evident desire of Olive Deane that he should win
Eleanor for his wife. And yet how could there be any such link of
connection? In any case, he would meet stratagem with stratagem. It
should be a case of diamond cut diamond.

He would still be Jack Pomeroy to them, and would seem, for a little
while at least, to fall in with all their views and wishes.

"Really, Miss Deane," he said at last, "you have piqued my curiosity
in the strangest possible way. I hardly know in what terms to answer
you, The position of this Miss Lloyd, who is so far above me in the
social scale, would seem to render utterly absurd and Quixotic on my
part any advances that I might make with the view of ultimately
winning her hand."

"Of course, if you are lacking in boldness and audacity," said Miss
Deane, with the faintest possible sneer, "those are qualities which no
one can lend you for the occasion, and the sooner we bring our
interview to an end the better. But if your hesitation arises from
the fact of your being short of funds, you need be under no
apprehension on that score. Pardon me for speaking so plainly, but my
cousin gave me to understand that you were not one of the richest of
individuals--he insinuated, in fact, that you were almost penniless."

"Not for the first time in my life, Miss Deane--in fact, I rather like
being penniless, it keeps the circle of one's friends and
acquaintances so limited and select."

"To begin with--my cousin Matthew must lend you fifty pounds."

"Fifty pounds! I like the first item of your programme vastly."

"The first necessity in your case is that you should have the dress
and appearance of a gentleman."

"I quite agree with you, Miss Deane. We owe much to our tailor--in the
way of gratitude."

"I have said nothing to you respecting your friends and connections. I
have assumed all along that you would be able to satisfy Sir Thomas
on those points, should he ever choose to question you respecting
them--which I don't for one moment think that he will do."

"On the points you speak of, I do not doubt that I could satisfy
either Sir Thomas Dudgeon or any one else."

"Such being the case, and with the manners, dress, and appearance of a
gentleman, it seems to me that you would have the campaign almost
entirely in your own hands. You would be under the same roof with Miss
Lloyd--an inestimable advantage in your case. You would be in the
habit of seeing her daily, and might make yourself agreeable to her in
many ways. Under such circumstances, where would be the harm if, now
and then, you were to hint vaguely at your expectations--at your rich
relations--at your fashionable friends? Neither would you altogether
omit an occasional mention of your undergraduate days at Cambridge,
nor of your travels abroad."

"My dear Miss Deane, you might safely leave all the delicate little
details, all the nuances of the picture, to me."

"I am quite sure of that. Miss Lloyd is nothing but a simple,
country-bred girl: you are a man of the world. _Voilà tout_."

Gerald rose.

"I may just mention this," said Olive: "Miss Lloyd will be of age in a
few months. She will then be entirely her own mistress, and can give
her hand, and her twenty thousand pounds with it, to the man she likes
best, and no one will have the right or power to say her nay."

"Kelvin himself could not have stated the case more clearly."

"You will let me hear from you, Mr. Pomeroy, by to-morrow morning at
the latest?"

"There will be no need for you to wait till to-morrow morning, Miss
Deane."

"Does that mean that you have made up your mind already?"

"It does."

"And the answer is----?"

"The answer is, that if Matthew Kelvin can obtain this situation for
me, I will gladly accept it. To tell the truth, I am somewhat tired
of the nomadic sort of life that I have been leading since I was
quite a lad. I think I am sufficiently tamed to settle quietly down
to work--provided there is not too much of it, and I am allowed to
have pretty much my own way."

"Any person who chooses to assert himself can have his own way with
Sir Thomas Dudgeon. I am glad that you have decided to accept the
position. I feel quite sure that you will have no cause to regret
doing so."

"It is you who have persuaded me. I feel sure that Kelvin would not
have succeeded as you have."

"Don't forget what I have told you about Miss Lloyd."

"I am not at all likely to do so. I am all anxiety to see her."

"When do you go back to town?"

"This afternoon, by the five o'clock express.

"You will leave me an address before you go, by means of which my
cousin can communicate with you. You may expect to hear from me in a
week at the latest."

Gerald pencilled down the address of a London friend, to which any
letters for him might be sent. A few minutes later he took his leave.

This conversation it was that Mr. Piper thought it worth his while to
take down in shorthand.

"My cousin Matthew's revenge shall be worthy of the name," said Olive
to herself; as soon as she was alone. "Let this Eleanor Lloyd but
engage herself to Pomeroy--let her marry him if she will--and on the
day that Matthew tells her the secret of her birth, he can tell her
also that the man to whom she has given her heart is but a sorry
impostor, whose sole object in marrying her was to obtain possession
of that money which is hers no longer. When that day comes, may I be
there to see! Her proud beauty shall be humiliated to the dust."

When Gerald got back to London, he told Miss Bellamy everything that
had happened. She quite concurred with him that it looked very much as
if some strange conspiracy were afoot; but what the nature and objects
of it might be they were altogether at a loss to imagine. In any case,
it could do no harm for Gerald to retain his incognito for a little
while longer.

A few days later, Gerald received by post a bank-note for fifty
pounds, with Miss Deane's compliments. Mr. Kelvin had not yet got back
home, she wrote, but would doubtless communicate with Mr. Pomeroy
immediately after his return. Mr. Pomeroy pinned one note to the
other, and having sealed them up in an envelope, he put them carefully
away in his writing-desk.

A day or two later, Ambrose Murray called upon him at his rooms. "If
you have nothing better to do," he said, "I wish you would give up the
day to me. I want to visit my wife's grave. She lies among some of her
own people in a little country churchyard, about a couple of miles
from Welwyn. To me such a journey seems quite a formidable
undertaking, and I want you, if you will, to go with me."

Gerald at once assented. They took the train from King's Cross to
Welwyn, and then walked the remainder of the distance. When the
churchyard was found, Gerald left Mr. Murray to himself for half an
hour.

It was still broad daylight when they got back to the station. They
were pacing the platform slowly, waiting for their train, when the up
express came rushing past at the rate of forty miles an hour. They
stood for a moment to watch it. Suddenly Ambrose Murray gripped his
companion by the arm.

"Look! look!" he cried. "That's the man! As I live, that's the face of
Max Jacoby!"

Gerald looked, but already the train had gone too far to allow him to
distinguish any particular face.

"But after twenty years?" said Gerald.

"I should know him at the end of a thousand years!" exclaimed Murray,
his whole frame trembling with excitement. "Max Jacoby is still among
the living. The next thing to do is to find him."



CHAPTER VII.
MISS DEANE FINDS A NEW HOME.


When Matthew Kelvin reached home from his journey, he was certainly
surprised at the budget of news which his mother had ready for him.

"Where's Olive?" was the first question he asked, as he sat down to
his dinner, after kissing his mother, and satisfying himself that she
was no worse in health than when he left her.

"She's gone to see the Leightons, and won't be back till to-morrow, so
that I shall have my dear boy all to myself this evening. It was very
considerate of Olive, I must say."

Mrs. Kelvin was a handsome, stately old lady, with silvery hair and
gold-rimmed spectacles. She wore a richly brocaded dress, a China
crape shawl--even in the house she always wore a shawl--and a black
lace cap of elaborate construction. To see her sitting in her easy
chair by the fire, no one would have suspected her of being an
invalid; but for many years past she had suffered from a spinal
complaint which almost entirely disabled her from walking.

"But we shall soon lose Olive now," added Mrs. Kelvin, a moment or two
later.

"Indeed! bow's that?" asked Kelvin, indifferently.

"She is going to Stammars, as governess to Lady Dudgeon's two little
girls. At her own terms, too--a hundred guineas a year."

"Well done, Olive!" cried the lawyer. "A clever girl, very; but I'm
afraid that she and Lady Dudgeon won't agree long together."

"She may perhaps have a private reason of her own for so readily
accepting Lady Dudgeon's offer. Mind, dear, I only say she may have; I
don't say she has."

Matthew Kelvin knew that it was expected of him to show some curiosity
in the matter.

"Shall I be set down as unduly inquisitive," he said, "if I ask you to
tell me what you suppose this private reason to be?"

"I think it quite possible that Olive may be willing to go to
Stammars, because--well, because Mr. Pomeroy will be there also."

Mrs. Kelvin drew her shawl round her with quite a relish, and shook
her head meaningly at her son.

"Because Mr. Pomeroy will be there also!" said Mr. Kelvin, like a man
who could hardly believe his ears. "Who says that Mr. Pomeroy is going
to Stammars?"

In the pressure of far more important matters, he had almost forgotten
the existence of an individual of so little consequence as Jack
Pomeroy.

"Why, Matthew, dear, I thought it was all arranged that as soon as you
came home, Mr. Pomeroy was to be made Sir Thomas Dudgeon's secretary,
or something of that kind; and Olive and I have advanced him fifty
pounds to provide him with an outfit. You know you told me yourself
that you didn't suppose he had a shilling in the world."

It tested all Mr. Kelvin's powers of self-control to keep down an
explosion of temper. He remembered in time that any outbreak on his
part would be sure to upset his mother and make her ill for several
days, so for a minute or two he did not speak. He put down his knife
and fork, and sipped at his claret, as if in deep thought.

"Fifty pounds is a great deal of money, mother," he said at last.

"It is a great deal of money, Matthew, of course; but Mr. Pomeroy
understands that he is to pay the amount back out of his salary."

"The whole affair seems to be cut and dried, and I have not even
spoken to Sir Thomas about the man!" he said, not without a touch of
impatience. "For anything I know to the contrary, Sir Thomas may have
filled up the situation himself, while I have been away."

"I am sorry, dear, if I have done anything against your wishes; but
really I thought I was managing everything for the best."

Matthew Kelvin could see a tear in a corner of his mother's eye, and
he could not bear that.

"There, there, mother, don't put yourself out of the way," he said.
"Fifty pounds won't ruin us, even though we should never get a penny
of it back."

"But Mr. Pomeroy was such a nice young man!" continued Mrs. Kelvin.
"So good-looking and well-educated; so gentlemanly in every way."

"Some of the most unmitigated scamps I have ever met with were very
nice young men indeed," returned Matthew. "Not that I know anything to
Pomeroy's discredit; at the same time, I know nothing very greatly to
his credit. He has been a Bohemian--a wanderer to and fro on the face
of the earth for years; and to introduce such a man, about whom, be it
remembered, I know absolutely nothing, into the household of Sir
Thomas Dudgeon, is a serious responsibility."

"Oh, I believe Olive satisfied herself thoroughly as to the
respectability of Mr. Pomeroy and his connections."

Mr. Kelvin smiled grimly at the idea of Olive Deane getting more
information about himself out of Jack Pomeroy than that individual
might be inclined to give; but, as we have already seen, Olive never
troubled herself with any such unnecessary details.

"If women would but refrain from meddling with matters that they don't
understand, what a blessing it would be!" said Kelvin to himself.

"What was that you said just now about Olive and this fellow Pomeroy?"
he asked, presently.

"Why, simply this: that I rather fancy Olive has contracted a penchant
in that quarter. Something has given me that idea, but I may be quite
mistaken."

Mr. Kelvin shrugged his shoulders.

"Of course she is old enough to choose for herself," he said, "and, as
a rule, I think Olive is quite capable of taking care of her own
interests: but if she should ever fall in love, I should like it to be
with a man that one knows something about, and not with a mere
adventurer."

"I can't help thinking that you are a little too hard on Mr. Pomeroy.
It is a long time since I was so taken with any one as I was with him.
A modest, sensible, well-informed young man I set him down as, and a
gentleman withal, or else I don't know what a gentleman is."

"I suppose we men of law see with different spectacles from anybody
else," said Matthew. "Suspicion is part of our stock-in-trade."

"I was certainly very much taken with Mr. Pomeroy," returned Mrs.
Kelvin; "but at the same time my suspicion with regard to Olive made
me interest myself more in his case than I should otherwise have
done."

Mrs. Kelvin was not a woman to readily abandon any point that she had
set her mind on carrying. Before bidding her son goodnight, she won
from him a promise that he would do his best to obtain for Mr. Pomeroy
the coveted situation.

Olive Deane was quite aware that her cousin would be greatly annoyed
when he should come to ascertain what had been done during his
absence, and she wisely left to his mother the task of telling him.
Certainly she would have been anything but satisfied--anything but
pleased--had she heard the conversation between her aunt and her
cousin. The reference to a possible liking on her part for Pomeroy
would have touched her pride to the quick. Very, very different was
the feeling at work deep down in her heart.

Mrs. Kelvin, in fact, had been altogether mistaken with regard to the
reasons which had induced Olive to accept the situation of governess
to Lady Dudgeon's children. Olive had no option but to accept it--or
felt that she had not. When Lady Dudgeon made her the offer, and when
her aunt said, "It would be a capital situation for you, and were I
you I should certainly accept it," Olive felt that she was not at
liberty to do otherwise--not at liberty to live an idle life any
longer. She had always given her aunt to understand that she was
merely taking a few weeks' rest before looking out for another
situation. Here was an excellent situation ready to her hand. How was
it possible that she should refuse it?

And yet--and yet no one but herself knew how bitter it was to her to
have to quit that roof; no one but herself knew how infinitely sweet
to her had been those few weeks of sojourn with her cousin and her
aunt! She had loved Matthew Kelvin with an undivided love from the
time when, as girl and boy, they had played together. It was a love
that had grown with her growth, and had rooted itself more firmly in
her heart with each passing year.

She was clear-sighted enough to know that never since the time of that
brief, romantic episode at Redcar, when she had had him all to herself
for a blissful fortnight, had Matthew Kelvin felt for her anything
warmer than a mere cousinly, or, at the most, a quiet, brotherly
affection. She was sufficiently versed in worldly knowledge to be
aware that the chances that she, a poor governess, neither very young
nor very handsome, should ever become the wife of her ambitious,
well-to-do cousin were about as remote as it was possible for them to
be. And yet, for all that, a dim, faint hope had always held
possession of her heart--so dim and so faint, that she herself seemed
to be hardly aware of its existence--that among the unknown chances
and changes of the future, that out of the involvement and evolution
of the great unrehearsed drama of life, with its unforeseen exits and
entrances, such a happy climax might somehow--she could not tell
how--be brought about.

She had got into the way of looking upon her cousin as a man not
likely to marry. If this view of his character struck the foundation
from her own hopes, it seemed to preclude fear from any other quarter.
When, therefore, Matthew told her the story of his love for, and
rejection by, Eleanor Lloyd, it came upon her with all the force of an
astounding revelation. Happily there seemed no likelihood of Miss
Lloyd altering her determination not to accept Mr. Kelvin; therefore,
as far as she--Olive--was concerned, she would not look upon the
campaign as entirely lost even now.

Many a husband has been won through his rejection by a rival. Men at
such times are prone to seek the first pleasant shelter that offers
itself to them. They want to lie quiet and heal them of their wounds;
and there are plenty of women in the world ready to act the part of
physician to the wounds inflicted by another, provided only that the
wounded knight will agree to wear no other gage than theirs in time to
come.

Such a physician would Olive gladly have become, rather than lose her
knight, if he would but have consented to such a method of treatment.
But Mr. Kelvin was no soft-hearted swain who thinks the world is no
longer good for anything because a certain pair of white arms refuse
to coil themselves round his neck. It is true that he had told her of
his wounds, but he had expressed no desire to be healed of them; he
had given Olive no encouragement whatever to offer herself as his
nurse. He had expressed himself very bitterly with regard to the
person who had so wounded him, and Olive had done her best to
intensify that bitterness; but that was all. She felt that she was not
one step nearer the capture of her cousin's heart than on that day,
now several weeks ago, when he had first told her of his love for Miss
Lloyd. But was that love really dead? Was it not, unknown to himself,
still smouldering in his heart, ready at the slightest provocation to
burst into a flame tenfold more ardent than before?

She felt instinctively that no other woman would ever become the wife
of Matthew Kelvin so long as Eleanor Lloyd remained unmarried; and
this feeling it was that was at the bottom of the plot for inducing
Pomeroy to make love to the latter. That dangerous rival once out of
the way for ever, Olive's ambitious scheme would not look so entirely
hopeless as it did just now.

Chagrined as Olive was at having to quit her cousin's roof with the
hidden purpose of her life no nearer its accomplishment than before,
she yet acknowledged to herself that she would much rather go to
Stammars than anywhere else. She had all a woman's curiosity to see
that other woman about whom she had been told so much, and who had
been in her thoughts, day and night, ever since she had heard the
first mention of her name. At Stammars, too, she would have an
opportunity of seeing Matthew now and then when he should come there
to visit Sir Thomas on business. Then, she would be on the spot,
ready, with deft fingers, to tie up any threads of her plot which
might be accidentally broken, or to hasten Pomeroy's footsteps along
the path she wanted him to tread, should it prove needful to do so. In
any case, she need not stay there longer than was necessary for the
carrying out of her own views. At any time she could pick a quarrel
with Lady Dudgeon, throw up her situation, and go back for a while to
the shelter of her aunt's roof.

Five days after her cousin's return, Olive Deane found herself duly
installed in her new home, and two days after that Mr. John Pomeroy
made his appearance at Stammars.

Mr. Kelvin, despite his irritation and chagrin at what had taken place
during his absence, did not fail to carry out the promise he had made
to his mother. The situation was still open, and Sir Thomas at once
promised it to Pomeroy. Then Kelvin wrote to the latter, telling him
when he would be expected at Stammars, but not in any way alluding to
the loan of fifty pounds. As a matter of course, on passing through
Pembridge, Gerald called to see Kelvin, but the lawyer was not at
home--purposely. He had done his duty by his mother, but he had no
wish to see the man who had caused him so much annoyance; he only
hoped that Pomeroy would do nothing to disgrace his recommendation.
For the present he washed his hands of him.

Mr. Kelvin had not been without his own thoughts all this time as to
the course he had taken at Olive's suggestion in keeping from Miss
Lloyd the contents of the sealed packet sent him by Miss Bellamy. He
was not usually a man whose mind vacillated with regard to any of his
intentions or purposes. "There's no shilly-shallying about Matthew,"
his mother would often say. "When he sees his point he goes straight
at it: fire and water would hardly keep him back."

But in this matter of the sealed packet he did shilly-shally
painfully, blowing hot and cold by turns, making up his mind one day
that he would tell everything, and being as stedfastly determined the
next that he would do nothing of the kind. He was not unaware of the
meanness of what he was doing; it was altogether foreign to his
notions of right and wrong, to act with anything but the strictest
honour towards his clients, rich or poor. Still, about this particular
case there was something so exceptional as to remove it out of the
ordinary category of purely professional business--that is what he
said to himself: but the real reason was that his own feelings were
more deeply interested than they had ever been before. Under such
circumstances it is by no means difficult to argue oneself into the
belief that although the action on which we are engaged may not be
positively meritorious, it is, at least, one from which no one will
suffer. "I am only doing Miss Lloyd a negative wrong," Kelvin would
sometimes say to himself. "If anything, she ought to thank me for
keeping the secret from her as long as possible." Having put off the
revelation for so long a time, he shrank more than ever from telling
her now. One morning on getting up he would swear to himself that he
had never loved Eleanor Lloyd as he loved her now: next morning he
would vow that he had never hated any human being as he hated her. He
had been rendered very wretched by Miss Lloyd's rejection of his suit;
but with all his unhappiness he had never till now lost his own sense
of self-respect: not that he would have admitted for a single moment
that he had so lost it. He made believe, even to himself, that it was
still as safely in his possession as ever it had been. But the acute
consciousness of its loss which came over him at odd times--only to be
at once thrust into the background with a firm hand--by no means
tended to mitigate the intensity of his determination to be avenged,
in one form or another, on the woman to whom he owed this strange new
feeling, which not seldom made him shrink within himself, as though he
were in reality little better than a whipped cur.

Stammars, the residence of Sir Thomas Dudgeon, was, as a family
mansion, still quite in its infancy, being something under twenty
years old. Sir Thomas had stuck to the old house as long as it was
safe for him to do so; but when, during a night of terrible storm, a
great part of it was blown about his ears, he began to see that it
would not be advisable to delay his removal much longer. So, on a
windy knoll about half a mile from the old house, the new mansion was
built. It was built with all modern conveniences and appliances. The
rooms were large and lofty, and had huge plate-glass windows with
venetian blinds. Round about were gardens, and shrubberies, and
hothouses, with a view beyond over miles of pleasant Hertfordshire
scenery. Everybody expressed themselves as being enchanted with the
house, and yet everybody felt that it lacked one essential. There was
no homelike comfort about it. Whether it was that the rooms were too
big and the fire-places too few; whether it was that the house was
built so high above the surrounding country as to be exposed to every
wind that blew, and so had never been able to get itself warmed
through; or from whatever other cause it might arise, certain it is
that Stammars never seemed otherwise than cold and comfortless. Each
room in the house seemed to have its own particular draught, while the
wind seemed to be for ever playing at hide-and-seek up and down the
great wide corridors and staircases, banging every now and then a
bedroom door, or creeping with snake-like motion under any piece of
carpet that had not been firmly nailed down.

The old mansion of Stammars had dated back for upwards of four
centuries, and had originally been the home of the Fyzackerleys, one
of the most ancient families in the county. So ancient, indeed, had
the Fyzackerleys at length become that they had died out, and the
estate had been brought to the hammer. The fortunate purchaser was the
present Sir Thomas's grandfather, at that time a sugar refiner in the
Minories, and some five years subsequently Lord Mayor of London. While
filling the latter office he had the good fortune to be knighted, and
later still by two or three years he was created a baronet. Why such
an honour had been conferred on the worthy but obscure sugar refiner,
no one seemed to know. There was some question about it at the time,
and certain people went so far as to whisper that the baronetcy had
been given in return for a loan of twenty thousand pounds made to a
certain august personage, who would have found repayment of the same a
somewhat inconvenient matter. But such a report was probably the
invention of pure malice. Be that as it may, the sugar refiner took
his title and his money down to Stammars; and there he died, and there
in due course he was buried. After him came his son, and then, in the
ordinary course of events, his grandson, the present Sir Thomas
Dudgeon and the third baronet of that name.

Sir Thomas, at this time, was close upon sixty years of age, and was a
short-statured, podgy man, with white hair, and a red, good-natured
face. He almost invariably wore a black tail-coat, black waistcoat,
pepper-and-salt trousers, and shoes. He wore starched check
neckcloths, and pointed collars that nearly touched his ears. His hats
were always of fluffy, white beaver and as they were very rarely
brushed, they gave him a certain shaggy and unkempt appearance. He had
a trick of whistling under his breath when he had nothing better to
do, and of jingling the keys and loose change in his pocket. It was a
peculiarity of Sir Thomas that his shoes always creaked when he
walked. No one could tell why every pair of shoes that he had should
do so, but they did. At Stammars everybody was so accustomed to this
creaking that if by any possibility he had become possessed of a
noiseless pair, his family would certainly have been alarmed: they
would have taken it as an omen that something dreadful was about to
happen. It was told in Pembridge as a good thing that when Sir Thomas
was presented to his Sovereign, his shoes creaked so loudly that the
eyes of all the great functionaries were turned on him in horror; but
that the little man backed smilingly out of the royal presence,
blandly unconscious of the consternation he had excited. When we first
make his acquaintance he had just been elected member for Pembridge,
in place of the late Mr. Rackstraw, who had represented that borough
for more than twenty years. Parliament would meet in February, when
the family would go up to town, and Sir Thomas would take his oaths
and his seat, and do his best to justify the hopes of his Pembridgian
supporters, that he would speedily become one of the shining lights of
his country's senate.

Lady Dudgeon was a tall, large-boned woman, some half dozen years
younger than her husband. She had a loud, rough-edged voice, and a
magisterial cross-examining manner. She was never happier than when
laying down the law to some of her servants or dependents, or scolding
them for an infringement of one or another of the innumerable rules
and regulations with which she strove to fence round the daily lives
of all those over whom she had any control. Had she been a man, Lady
Dudgeon would infallibly have developed into a Justice of the Peace,
and as such have been a terror to all the evil-doers of the
neighbourhood. With two exceptions, everybody at Stammars, her husband
included, stood in awe of her. Those exceptions were her eldest
daughter, Sophia, aged thirteen; and Eleanor Lloyd.

Lady Dudgeon had only two children living--the aforesaid Sophia, and
Caroline, who was two years younger than her sister. For their behoof
it was that an engagement had been entered into with Olive Deane. They
were two handsome, resolute girls, full of high spirits and mischief
who looked upon governesses as their natural enemies. Three ladies of
this profession they had already worried into resigning their position
at Stammars, and they had looked forward with considerable glee to
worrying Miss Deane in like manner.

It was on a complaint from Madame Ribaud, who was governess number
two, respecting some terrible act of mutiny, that Sophia obtained a
signal victory over her mother, and from that time she had never let
go the advantage thus gained. In consequence of Madame's complaint,
Lady Dudgeon had taken Sophia by the hand, and had led her away with
the avowed intention of shutting her up in a certain dark closet under
the stairs, and there leaving her to do penance during the whole of a
long summer's day--a day when the sun was shining and all the birds in
the shrubbery were calling to her to go out of doors and be one with
them.

"Mamma, you are not going to shut me up in that horrid hole?" said
Sophia, when the door had been flung open for her to enter.

"I certainly am going to shut you up here," said Lady Dudgeon, with a
portentous shake of her head.

"Then do you know what I shall do, mamma?"

"I don't know what you will do, Sophia, neither do I care."

"You are going to have a dinner-party on Friday," said Sophia, with
determination. "In the middle of the dinner I will walk into the room
and tell everybody that you wear a wig and have five false teeth!"

Lady Dudgeon glared down into the girl's bold face as if she could
hardly believe the evidence of her ears. What Sophia had just stated
she had hitherto fondly believed to be a secret known to her husband
and her maid alone.

"You naughty, vile girl," she stammered out. "I will send you right
away from home to a school on the Continent, and you shall not come
back any more until you are quite grown up."

"All right, mamma; I'll go," said the undaunted girl; "but I'll write
to everybody by post and tell them about the wig and the teeth;" and,
as Lady Dudgeon knew, her daughter was just the girl to carry out the
threat. Her ladyship was puzzled. "Look here, mamma," said Sophy:
"between you and me, Ribaud's nothing but an old stupid, and no more
fit to be a governess than I am. You take my advice, and send her
about her business. I'm going to get my rope and have a jolly skip
round the laurels."

And almost before her ladyship knew what had happened, she had been
well hugged, and found herself alone, staring blankly into the closet
under the stairs.

A few days later Madame Ribaud received a month's notice, and Lady
Dudgeon never attempted extreme measures with Sophia after that time.

It is not improbable that she had this very incident in her mind
during her first interview with Miss Deane after the latter's arrival
at Stammars. "I place them entirely in your hands," said her ladyship,
in reference to her two girls. "Exercise whatever discipline over them
you may think best, only don't box their ears, and don't trouble me.
If you find that they are becoming your master instead of you being
theirs, don't come and complain in the expectation that I shall assist
you to maintain an authority that you are not strong enough to keep in
your own hands. Should such a contingency arise, it would be better
for you to resign your situation at once."

For the first two or three days all went tolerably well, but hardly to
Olive's satisfaction. There were no overt signs of rebellion, but the
girls seemed unaccountably stupid. Whether their stupidity arose from
inattention, from weakness of memory, or from a natural lack of
intelligence, she was for some time at a loss to judge. But,
by-and-by, she began to suspect that this stupidity was merely an
assumption on their part purposely to annoy her, and that all the time
they were laughing at her in their sleeves. But at such a game as
that, Olive knew that her patience was far more than a match for
theirs, and so it turned out. Miss Deane seemed so quiet and easy,
that there was evidently no fun to be got out of her without trying
something more practical than stumbling over one's French verbs, or
making mistakes in the spelling of one's copies. Thus it fell out on a
certain morning when Miss Deane was going out for a walk, that she
found it impossible to get her arms into the sleeves of her waterproof
On examination, it was found that the sleeves had been sewn up at the
wrist. Miss Deane hung the waterproof up without a word, and took off
her bonnet. Then she said, "I think, young ladies, we will not go for
our usual walk this morning." Sophy and Carry, half frightened and
half defiant, were nudging each other and making believe that it was
great fun.

When they got back into the schoolroom, said Miss Deane: "As you young
ladies appear to be so fond of playing off practical jokes on other
people, you cannot reasonably object to one being played off on you.
You will, if you please, write out in detail and learn by heart, pages
twenty-five to twenty-nine of the irregular verbs in your French
Instruction Book. And you will not leave the room till you can repeat
the lesson to my satisfaction."

The two girls made a face at each other, but said nothing. It was not
the first time they had had a big task set them for a punishment, but
they had always contrived to win the day either by force or stratagem,
and they did not doubt their ability to do so in the present case.

By luncheon time they had got the lesson written out. It was not
pleasant to have to sacrifice their luncheon, but they were prepared
to submit to that: dinner would make up for everything. They did not
expect that Miss Deane would let them go down to dinner as usual, but
they did expect that she would go down herself, as Madame Ribaud had
done in similar cases. When this had happened, one of the housemaids
had always supplied them surreptitiously with a basket of provisions,
which they had drawn up to their window by means of a cord, and had
afterwards feasted on in secret. No dinners had ever tasted half so
sweet. Thus provisioned, they had been able to set Madame Ribaud at
defiance, who, indeed, had never the heart to extend their quarantine
beyond the usual hour for tea, and would then set her rebels free,
with a little sigh and an ominous shake of her head. As it had
happened before, so would it fall out again, thought the girls; but
they did not know Olive Deane.

Between luncheon and dinner-time they dawdled over their lesson,
skimming it carelessly over a few times, but employing themselves
more in drawing caricatures than in anything else. After a time the
dinner-bell rang--they dined early at Stammars when there was no
company--but apparently Miss Deane took no notice.

"Did you not hear the dinner-bell, Miss Deane?" asked Caroline,
timidly.

"Yes, I heard it; but I don't want any dinner to-day. I am going to
stay here with you."

The girls looked at each other. Carry's eyes flushed with tears; but
Sophy clenched her sharp white teeth, and said something under her
breath. All the same, she was as hungry as a young wolf. Both the
girls, in fact, were blessed with fine, healthy appetites, which they
took care to indulge on every possible occasion; and now their
appetites cried out in a way that it was almost impossible to resist.

Candles were lighted, and the afternoon wore itself wearily on till
tea-time came round. Anxious eyes were turned on Miss Deane. Surely
she would go down to tea; if not, what could she be made of? But no,
Miss Deane merely changed one book for another, and went on with her
reading, totally unconcerned.

Carry snivelled a little in secret, but Sophy looked as fierce as a
young brigand. Presently Sophy wrote a little note, and flung it
across to her sister. "If she doesn't let us out soon, I'll kill her
and roast her for supper."

This made poor Carry tremble violently. She fully believed in her
sister's ability to carry out her terrible threat. And so another
wretched hour doled itself wearily out.

Sophy's wolf was becoming very ravenous indeed. She saw clearly that
her enemy was too strong for her. By-and-by she tossed a scrap of
paper to her sister, on which she had written the words: "It's no use.
She carries too many guns for us"--this was a favourite phrase of her
father. "I'm going to learn my task, and I advise you to do the same."

Three-quarters of an hour later, Sophy walked up to Miss Deane and
held out her book in silence. Then she went through her task without a
single mistake. She took back the book, made Miss Deane an elaborate
curtsey, and marched out of the room with the dignified air of a young
duchess.

Carry did not manage so well. She broke down when about half-way
through, and burst into tears. Olive quietly shut the book, drew the
girl to her and kissed her, and then bade her run off and get some
supper.

From that day forth, Miss Deane and her pupils were on the best
possible terms.



CHAPTER VIII.
GERALD AT STAMMARS.


A pleasant morning-room at Stammars. Lady Dudgeon is busy with her
correspondence. To her enter Sir Thomas and Mr. Pomeroy. The former
has a volume of Hansard under his arm, the latter carries a roll of
manuscript. Lady Dudgeon lays down her pen and looks up.

"There is no fear, I hope, Mr. Pomeroy," she says, "that Sir Thomas's
letter of thanks to his supporters will be too late for the next issue
of the 'Pembridge Gazette'?"

"The editor has promised me that it shall appear on Saturday without
fail."

"Have you got the speech ready that Sir Thomas is to deliver at the
Farmer's Dinner on Tuesday next?"

"Sir Thomas had it from me yesterday."

"Have you looked over it, my dear?"--to the baronet.

"I fell asleep over it last night while you were at the ball."

"And you doubtless found that Mr. Pomeroy had succeeded in faithfully
reproducing your views and ideas with regard to the various important
topics on which you are desirous of addressing our friends on Tuesday
next?"

"Mr. Pomeroy has written the speech. If he would only speak it too,
I----"

"That is nonsense, dear. No one but yourself must be the exponent of
your own ideas. Mr. Pomeroy's share in the transaction is a purely
mechanical one--that of finding words wherewith to clothe the thoughts
of a profoundly original mind. Am I not right, Mr. Pomeroy?"

"Your ladyship could not be otherwise."

"So be it," said Sir Thomas. "Anything for a quiet life. But I'll be
hanged if I ever knew before that I had such a lot of ideas."

"That is just what I have said all along, my dear. If you had never
succeeded in getting into Parliament, what would have become of the
splendid abilities, of the choice gifts of intellect, with which
Nature has so liberally endowed you? They would simply have been
wasted, and your country would have been so much the poorer by the
loss of them."

"That is all very fine, your ladyship; but as for my splendid
abilities--fudge! My abilities lie among my turnips and short-horns,
and not in speechifying to a lot of fellows who laugh at me the moment
my back is turned."

"The modesty of real talent, Mr. Pomeroy."

"Just so, madam."

"I have not been your wife all these years, Sir Thomas, without being
aware that you were born to be a landmark in your country's history."

"Heaven forbid! Why not make a milestone of me at once?"

Sir Thomas sighed deeply, jingled the change in his pocket, and looked
out of the window. Presently he began to whistle under his breath.

Her ladyship folded and addressed a note with slow, mechanical
precision. Turning to her husband, she said--

"You will have to be very industrious in order to get your speech off
by heart in readiness for Tuesday's dinner."

"I shall indeed--more's the pity! I never could get my lessons off by
heart when I was a school-boy, and it is not likely that I can take
kindly to the task at my time of life."

"Now that your election is safe, there will be no necessity for you to
speak, except on very rare occasions. There are too many empty-headed
speakers, too many frothy orators, in Parliament already. All the more
will your grand faculty of silence be invaluable to your country. We
want men of profound thought, with the ability to express themselves
in the fewest possible words. When once it is understood by the House
that you are not a speaker, but a thinker, you cannot fail to be
appreciated. Am I not right, Mr. Pomeroy?"

"Undoubtedly you are right, madam. The House will soon learn to
appraise Sir Thomas at his proper value."

"You will be a man, dear, much sought for on committees. Your opinion
will carry immense weight with it, because it will be so seldom
expressed. There is a massive solidity of brain about you, such as few
of your contemporaries can hope to rival."

"That's all very well; but don't forget to let me have a supply of
lozenges on Tuesday. If I haven't a lozenge in my mouth while I'm
speaking, I shall be sure to break down."

"The lozenges shall not be forgotten," said her ladyship. "I will make
a note of it."

"And I shall want a spare handkerchief in my pocket. Something to
fumble with, you know. I can't bear to be empty-handed when I'm
speaking. So awkward, you know."

"Everything shall be attended to." Then, turning to Mr. Pomeroy, she
added, "How delightful it is to note the little peculiarities of
genius! Lozenges and a spare handkerchief for one; for another, an
orange or a toothpick! When Sir Thomas's biography comes to be
written, these little traits of character must not be forgotten."

"They are very characteristic," said Jack, with the utmost
seriousness.

Gerald (or, as we had better perhaps call him during his sojourn at
Stammars, Jack Pomeroy) could never feel quite sure whether Lady
Dudgeon in her own mind really believed her husband to be possessed of
those superior qualities the presence of which she was continually
striving to impress as an undoubted fact on the minds of all around
her, or whether it was merely an effort on her part to blind people to
the deficiencies of her very commonplace idol.

How was it possible, Jack often asked himself, that such a woman as
Lady Dudgeon could be self-deceived in so simple a matter? On every
other subject her ladyship was shrewd and clear-headed to a degree.
She could scold her servants, or check her tradesmen's accounts; she
could discuss the last fashion in bonnets, or the last bit of gossip
anent a neighbour's shortcomings, as effectively and with as much
relish as any middle-aged lady in the three kingdoms. And yet with
regard to Sir Thomas she seemed so thoroughly in earnest, her
admiration of him (while keeping the matrimonial yoke fixed tightly on
his shoulders) seemed so genuine, that it was next to impossible to
believe that she was merely acting a part in furtherance of certain
hidden views of her own. It was a problem that Jack set himself to
study from the day of his arrival at Stammars; but at the end of a
month he found himself no nearer its solution than he had been at
first.

Sir Thomas himself was by no means elated by the honour which the
electors of Pembridge had thrust upon him. He felt it especially hard
that he should have to leave the country, which he loved so much, and
be obliged to mew himself up in London during the six pleasantest
months of the year.

"What do I want with being M.P.?" he would often ask himself, with a
sort of mild despair. "When a man has got his cows, and his sheep, and
his grass crops, and his wheat to look after, as I have, what more can
he want to make him happy? What a fool I must have been to let Matilda
persuade me as she did! And then that speechifying! Ugh! Matilda may
say what she likes, but I've not got what Cozzard calls 'the gift of
the gab;' and if I had, there's far more talking done in the world now
than there's any need for. If people would only work more and talk
less, we should be all the better for it."

The "Cozzard" alluded to was Sir Thomas's factotum and chief business
man in all inferior matters. Mr. Kelvin looked after his interests in
matters superior. Cozzard was something more than a gamekeeper,
without coming up to the modern notion of a bailiff. Being Sir
Thomas's foster-brother, he could do and say things that nobody else
would venture on, and was more in his master's confidence, and knew
more of his master's secrets, than Lady Dudgeon herself.

In search of this faithful retainer, Sir Thomas bent his steps this
morning towards the stables, after leaving his wife and Mr. Pomeroy.
He found Cozzard in the harness-room, smoking a short black pipe and
mending a fishing-rod: a spare, grizzled, hard-featured man, in a
velveteen coat and gaiters, with an unmistakable something about him
that spoke of horses, and dogs, and guns, and a free life in the woods
and fields.

"Morning, Cozzard," said Sir Thomas. "I've just looked in to tell you
that we're off to London next week."

"I'm mortal sorry to hear it, Sir Thomas."

"So am I sorry, Cozzard--very sorry."

"It's all through that confounded 'lection. I wish with all my heart
that you'd lost it!"

"So do I wish with all my heart that I'd lost it--only I wouldn't for
the world have her ladyship hear me say so."

"Lord! how we shall all miss you down here at the old place! But
there! it seems months now since we saw you about the fields with your
billycock on your head and your spud in your hand, or riding Gray
Dapple from one farm to another, and all through that confounded
'lection. And now Gray Dapple's that fat for want of exercise she can
hardly get out o' the stable door, and everything looks different
since you took to them 'lectioneering ways."

"I am missed, then, a little bit, am I, Cozzard?"

"I should think you just was, Sir Thomas.--Why even old Granny Roper
at the toll-bar says to me, only yesterday, says she: 'My snuff
doesn't seem to have the right flavour now the squire's not here to
dip his fingers in my box.'"

"The old girl said that, did she! I'll send her a quarter of a pound
of the best rappee this very afternoon."

"Why the very dogs, Spot, and Ranger, and Lob, seem to miss you. I
know they do. And poor old John Nutley as died t'other day--eighty and
five weeks was his age--what were his last words? Why these: 'Give my
respex to Sir Thomas,' says he, 'as has been a good master to me, and
tell him as I should like to have seen him again afore going home. He
would have shaken bands with me, I know he would, if he had been
here.'"

"Poor old John! But why didn't you send for me?"

"You were speechifying at Pembridge," said Cozzard sententiously, not
without a touch of contempt in his voice.

Sir Thomas coughed and turned the subject. "What I want you to do,"
said he, "is to write me a long letter once a week while I'm away in
London, telling me how everything is going on. Not but what I shall
drop down and see you sometimes on a Saturday. I would come every
week--it's not a long journey--only you know----," and Sir Thomas
actually winked at Cozzard.

"Only her ladyship wouldn't like it," said Cozzard bluntly.

"That's just it. When I'm not busy at the House she will want me to go
out with her. She doesn't like me to be gadding about by myself."

"Just like my old woman when she fetches me of a night from the Green
Lion."

"You will write me the letter, won't you, Cozzard--a good long one
every Saturday? You will tell me how the stock is getting on, and how
the crops look, and give a look at the kitchen garden, and see that a
couple of hampers of fresh vegetables are sent up to us every week,
and----"

"But, Sir Thomas----!" pleaded Cozzard, with a visible lengthening of
his thin visage. "I couldn't put down half that, not if I was to write
all day on Sunday. Six lines is the most as ever I could manage, and
then there mustn't be any long words in it."

"Then I'll tell you what you shall do: you shall get my god-daughter,
Sally, to do the writing part. You tell her what to say, and she'll
put it down all right and ship-shape, and I'll bring her a new silk
gown when I come back from London. And now get Gray Dapple saddled,
and find my favourite spud. You and I, Cozzard, will go round the
farms this very morning."


It had been altogether a surprise to Pomeroy to find Miss Deane in the
position of governess at Stammars. Was the coincidence of her being
there at the same time as himself due altogether to accident, or was
there some hidden purpose underlying it?--Was it, or was it not,
connected in any way with the concealment by Kelvin of the contents of
the sealed packet? And yet, how was it possible that Olive Deane could
have any knowledge of the sealed packet? Matthew Kelvin was not a man
who would be likely to take anyone into his confidence in such a
matter. No; Miss Deane's presence at Stammars must evidently be set
down as one of those fortuitous events which happen so often in real
life; events which would seem as if they must have their origin in
some set purpose or prearranged design, but which are in reality due
to the merest accident.

"You did not expect to see me here, Mr. Pomeroy," said Olive with a
smile, as she shook Jack's hand about an hour after his arrival at
Stammars.

"No, indeed," said Jack. "It is quite an unexpected pleasure."

"When I saw you last, I had no idea whatever of coming here. Lady
Dudgeon, knowing I was out of a situation, called on me some three
days after your departure from Pembridge, and offered me the charge of
her two daughters--a charge which I was glad to accept. When one has
to work for one's daily bread, it does not do to be idle for too long
a time."

"I have been used to idleness--to comparative idleness, that is--for
so long a time that I am afraid it will go rather against the grain to
settle down to any daily occupation."

"And yet it must be their very rarity which makes the idle hours of a
busy man seem so peculiarly sweet." Then she turned the subject. "Miss
Lloyd is away visiting in Leicestershire, and will not be back for
about a week." This she said with her searching eyes bent full upon
him.

"So I have been told already," said Jack, drily: but he could not
prevent a little tell-tale colour from mounting to his cheek.

Nothing more was said at that time, nor was Miss Lloyd's name
mentioned again between them till after that young lady's return.

Jack was very eager that she should return. He chafed and fumed at her
absence, but why he should do so he could not have told anyone, unless
it were that he thought he could have spent his time much more
pleasantly and profitably to himself than in cataloguing the books,
and writing the letters, of an unfledged country M.P. But having
advanced so far in his enterprise, he was by no means minded to give
it up. He would await the return of Eleanor Lloyd even though she
should be two months away instead of a single week. He had not yet
decided as to what his line of action should be when he should meet
her. All that he left to time and circumstance: at present he asked
only that he might see this girl about whom so much had been told him,
and towards whom he stood in a relationship so peculiar and uncommon.

He was destined to see her sooner than he was aware of.

Always a great walker, Jack found his greatest pleasure, since he had
come down to Stammars, in long, solitary rambles along the pleasant
Hertfordshire roads, and the more lonely the road, the better he was
pleased. As he was posting along at the rate of four miles an hour one
afternoon towards the end of January, swinging his walking-stick, and
watching the flying clouds, his ear was suddenly caught by a low,
plaintive cry that evidently came from somewhere close at hand. He
stood still to listen. Presently he heard it again, evidently the
wailing cry of a very young child. He looked round him on every side,
but there was not a human being nor even a house visible from where he
was standing. Once again the cry came, this time louder than before.
His eyes, drawn by the sound, concentrated themselves on the root of a
large tree, of a tree which grew out of the hedge and overshadowed the
road. Between the footpath and the hedge was a tiny watercourse, now
covered with a thin coat of ice. Over this Jack strode, and began to
peer about in the hedge bottom. He was not long in discovering the
origin of the cry that he had heard. In a sort of tiny recess formed
in part by the gnarled roots of the tree, and in part by the
close-woven shoots of the hedge, lay a child--a child of apparently
some six months old, with a tiny, pinched face, and dark, serious
eyes, that gazed up wonderingly at Pomeroy for a moment and then
filled with tears.

"A pleasant predicament truly!" muttered Jack to himself. "There must
surely be somebody belonging to it close by."

He swung himself up on to the root of the tree, and took a long,
steady look round. The point where he now was was exactly on the crown
of a small hill. Right and left of him the road dipped down into a
valley with bare, treeless fields on either side. Nowhere was there a
human being visible: had there been one he could hardly have failed to
see it. The child had evidently been deserted--left there to be found
by chance, or otherwise to die.

When Jack had satisfied his mind on this point he dropped quickly from
his perch, flung his stick over the hedge, picked up the child as
tenderly as he knew how, stepped lightly across the brook, and set off
on his way back to Stammars--a three miles' walk. He felt very awkward
indeed, and was possessed by an acute sense of the ludicrous
appearance he must have presented had anyone been there to see him,
which fortunately there was not. The child seemed wrapped up warmly
enough, its outside covering being an old black skirt of some cheap
material. Whether it were a boy or a girl, Jack had no skill to judge,
nor was that a point which had much interest for him. That strange,
serious look in its eyes troubled him a little; but when, after it had
finished its examination of him, a wintry smile flickered over its
little white face, while it seemed to nestle nearer to him, he could
not keep his arms from folding themselves still more closely round it.

The difficulty that now presented itself to Jack's mind was how to
dispose of the child. It would never do to take the little waif to
Stammars: Lady Dudgeon would have been horrified: and yet Jack shrank
instinctively from the thought of leaving it to the tender mercies of
the workhouse authorities, although that was clearly the proper thing
to do. He was still debating the question, when he heard the noise of
wheels behind him. He turned instinctively, and to his great dismay
saw a pony phaeton coming rapidly along the road, driven by a youth in
livery, beside whom was seated a lady--whether young or old Jack could
not yet tell--but evidently well wrapped up in furs. The hot colour
rushed to his face. What should he do? What indeed could he do? There
was no bye-lane up which he could slink--no stile through which he
could wriggle, and so put the shelter of the thick hedge between
himself and the road; and it was quite evident that he could not leave
the child on the footpath and take to his heels. All that he could do
was to pull his hat savagely over his brows, set his teeth, and march
stubbornly on, as if it were the most natural and proper thing in the
world for a gentleman in a fashionable overcoat and kid gloves to be
strolling along a country road in the middle of the afternoon, hugging
a baby--and not a nicely dressed baby either--and acting generally the
part of a nursemaid.

"I hope she's an old lady--a grandmother, or at least a mother," said
Jack to himself in desperation. "In that case, it mightn't be a bad
thing to appeal to her, and tell her how I came to pick up this
pitiful little vagabond. It's quite evident that I can't walk into
Pembridge like this."

But, as it happened, the lady who caused poor Jack to quake so
terribly was neither a grandmother nor a mother. She was, in fact, no
other than Eleanor Lloyd, who was on her way back to Stammars a couple
of days before she was expected there. One of the children having been
taken suddenly ill at the house where she had been staying, she had
hurried her departure. She had quitted the train a couple of stations
short of Pembridge in order to call upon another friend, and it was in
this other friend's phaeton that Miss Lloyd was now being conveyed to
Stammars.

As the phaeton drove past, Pomeroy, struggling gallantly on, with a
very red face, could not resist shooting a little glance out of the
corners of his eyes at the occupant of the carriage. She was young and
had blonde hair--so much he could see; and then he set his eyes
stubbornly before him and would not look again. He could see too that
she gave him one quick comprehensive glance in passing. He thought the
worst was over, and began to breathe again. But hardly had the phaeton
passed him a score yards when a small hamper that had been tied up
under the back seat slipped, and fell to the ground. Unconscious of
her loss, the lady drove serenely on. What was to be done? Unless Jack
should call out, the hamper would be left behind in the road; and if
he did call out they would drive back, and then all concealment on his
part would be impossible. "I'm in for it now and no mistake!" he
muttered to himself, and then he called at the top of his voice.

By the time the phaeton had been driven back and the hamper picked up,
Jack, who had been walking steadily forward all the time, was within
half a dozen yards of the lady. She turned to thank him, but he could
see that all the time she was speaking her eyes were fixed in a sort
of mild surprise on the burden in his arms.

"If you are going my way, perhaps you will allow me to help you along
the road," she said.

"You are very kind, and I will gladly avail myself of your offer," he
replied. "But first a word of explanation. I found this little waif in
the hedge bottom about half a mile from here, evidently deserted. Of
course I could not leave it there; but now that I have brought it away
I am really at a loss to know what to do with it."

"Deserted, did you say?" exclaimed Miss Lloyd, and she was out of the
phaeton in a moment. "Poor, poor little darling!" and before Jack knew
what had happened, he found himself relieved of his burden. Miss
Lloyd's next act was to stoop and kiss the child. When she looked up,
her lovely blue eyes were brimmed with tears, but a half-smile still
dimpled the corners of her mouth. Pomeroy vowed to himself that never
in the whole course of his life had he seen anything half so charming.

Then they got into the phaeton, Jack sitting behind, and Miss Lloyd
still holding the baby.

"What a cruel thing to do!" she said. "Who would believe that there
could be such hard hearts in this beautiful world!"

Jack did not answer, but his heart gave a little sigh. "What a darling
she is!" he thought. "I wonder whether Eleanor Lloyd is half as
pretty. And yet, why wonder, for what is Eleanor Lloyd to me, or I to
Eleanor Lloyd?"

He could not keep his eyes off her, and Miss Lloyd could not keep hers
off the baby. "If it were a duchess's child she couldn't take to it
more kindly," said Jack to himself. "What strange creatures women
are!"

Presently Miss Lloyd turned with a bright look in her eye. "How good
it was of you to pick up the child, and bring it away with you!"

"Under the circumstances, I don't see what else I could have done,"
said Pomeroy, simply.

"Many people would have left the child where they found it, and have
satisfied themselves with telling the inmates of the nearest house of
their discovery."

"That is a plan I never thought of," said Jack, with a smile, "or else
I should very likely have adopted it."

"No, I don't think you would," said Miss Lloyd, earnestly.

"In any case, now that I have saddled myself with the young shaver,
I'm quite at a loss to know what to do with him."

"Do with _him_, indeed!" exclaimed Miss Lloyd. "Don't you know, sir,
that it's a little girl?"

"I certainly didn't know anything of the kind," said the crest-fallen
Jack. "But at that age they are all so much alike."

"Ah, you gentlemen are very ignorant of many things." Then she added,
"I suppose it would never do to take the child to Stammars."

"To Stammars!" exclaimed Jack, in astonishment. "That is the place
where I am living at present."

"Indeed! A guest of Sir Thomas Dudgeon, I presume?"

"Hardly that. My name is John Pomeroy, and I am only Sir Thomas's new
secretary."

"And I am Miss Lloyd. Like you, my present home is at Stammars."

Pomeroy did not answer. He was confounded. But through him there shot
a strange, rapturous thrill, such as he had never felt before. "I wish
we were going to travel together for a thousand miles instead of
three!" was the unspoken thought in his heart. "This is she whom I
have secretly longed to see ever since I was quite a boy. Her name
itself had always a strange fascination for me. And now I see her and
know her. If there be any wit in my brain, any power of pleading in my
tongue, any strength of purpose in my heart--then shall this sweet
creature become my wife!"

"I think," said Miss Lloyd, "that for the present, at least, we could
not do better than place this little darling under the care of Mrs.
Nixon, the wife of the under gardener at Stammars. She is a mother
herself, and will treat it kindly. We shall then have time to think
about its future. It is very singular that you and I should have met
thus. When I passed you on the road I was certainly puzzled at first
to make out what it was that you were carrying," she added, with a
smile. "But when I saw what it really was, I thought that you were
perhaps doing it for a wager. Such things have been done, I daresay.
But to do what you did out of pure compassion, was very nice of you
indeed."



CHAPTER IX.
FOUND.


On the eve of his departure for Pembridge, Gerald Warburton had
promised Ambrose Murray that immediately after his return he would
consult with him as to the steps which it would be advisable to take
in furtherance of that quest on which the mind of the elder man was so
firmly bent, but which to the younger one looked, at that time, so
thoroughly hopeless. The momentary glimpse which they obtained of
Jacoby while standing on the platform of Welwyn Station, happening
just then, came like an apt and singular confirmation of the story
told by Murray. It acted as a spur to Gerald's flagging purpose, and
would have served as an additional incentive to Murray, had any such
been needed, to press forward unflinchingly towards the end he had in
view. From that day forward no one could accuse Gerald of any want of
enthusiasm for the cause he had adopted as his own. He put his hand to
the plough, and he never looked backward again.

The first, and perhaps the most difficult, move in the game they had
set themselves to play, had been solved for them by the merest
accident. Jacoby was still alive. There was no need for them to
trouble themselves further on that score. The next move, and one
hardly less difficult than the first one, was to find out where Jacoby
was now living; and the question that Gerald at once set himself to
answer was this: What is the likeliest and readiest mode of
discovering the whereabouts of this man?

Among the papers which had come into the hands of Miss Bellamy at the
death of Ambrose Murray's wife, were certain verbatim accounts of the
trial for the Tewkesbury murder. These papers Miss Bellamy had
carefully preserved, and they were now handed over by her to Gerald,
who proceeded to read them carefully through three or four times, by
which means he made himself master of all the details of the case as
they had presented themselves at the trial. A certain Mr. Frodsham had
been Murray's counsel on that occasion, and very admirable had been
the speech, and very cogent the arguments, employed by him in his
attempt to prove the innocence of his client--an attempt which, as we
have already seen, did not succeed. To Gerald, turning the whole case
over in his mind, it seemed that the first thing to do was to find out
this Mr. Frodsham, see him, consult with him, tell him in confidence
of Murray's escape, and ascertain whether, after so long a time, his
experience could suggest any feasible plan for proving, or even
attempting to prove, the innocence of a client for whose sake, twenty
years ago, all his eloquence had been exerted in vain.

In setting about the task which he had thus taken in hand, and which
he was thoroughly determined to go through with, Gerald did not expect
to derive much assistance from Murray himself, nor, in fact, did he.
Murray was altogether too unpractical; he had been shut up too long
from the busy, struggling world around him to enable him to cope with
it face to face, or to grope his way through such a blind man's maze
as his own case necessarily involved, at every step of which a knot
would have to be disentangled, or a difficulty of some kind
encountered and overcome. He could asseverate earnestly enough that
Jacoby was the murderer, and that the sole object for which he now
lived was to bring the crime home to him; but when asked by what means
that was to be done, he was like a child who had lost itself in some
dark place. He could only cling to Gerald, and ask him to think, to
devise, to scheme for him. "I have faith--faith the most intense," he
would sometimes say, "that the world will know me for what I am before
I die. Why else was my reason given back to me? why else was a way of
escape shown me? why else am I here, except to prove this thing? And,
oh, Gerald! why has an over-ruling Intelligence sent to me you, the
son of my lost darling's oldest friend--you, with your kind heart, and
clear brain, and knowledge of the world and its ways--except to assist
me, to give to my forlorn weakness that strong helping hand, without
which I can do nothing! Other men might ask: Why should I help this
escaped lunatic? Why should I trouble myself about this criminal
madman, on whose head the guilt of blood still rests? But not you--not
you! You and I, Gerald, have been mysteriously drawn together by the
bonds of an invisible sympathy. We have been brought together, not
that we may be to each other as mere touch-and-go acquaintances, but
for the working out of some hidden purpose. For good or for evil, the
issues of your life and mine are inextricably mingled; like streams
from two distant sources, they have met, never again to be disunited,
till they fall into the far-off Hidden Sea!"

Mr. Frodsham had been too well known in the legal profession for
Gerald to experience much difficulty in obtaining answers to his
inquiries respecting that gentleman. It did not take him long to
ascertain that Mr. Frodsham had been dead for several years. But from
the same source whence he derived this positive information, came
another piece of information not quite so positive, which, being of no
apparent use, was thrown in gratis, as it were, to the effect that
although Mr. Frodsham was dead, Mr. Peter Byrne, who had been his
confidential clerk for many years, was supposed to be still alive.
To Gerald this extra piece of information seemed of no use whatever.
His idea in wanting to see Mr. Frodsham had been, not to obtain
facts--those he had already--but to seek his advice, his counsel,
perchance his assistance. But of what use or assistance Mr. Frodsham's
confidential clerk could be to him, he could not for the life of him
see. Still, as it behoved him to neglect no source of information,
however trivial or apparently unimportant it might seem to be, and as
he was rather nonplussed for the time being as to what was the next
step which it behoved him to take, he decided to have this Mr. Byrne
hunted up, if it were possible to find him, and then see him in
person, on the very faint chance that something might be elicited from
him which would tend to show what line of action it would be advisable
to adopt next.

Five days later Gerald received Mr. Byrne's address by post. It was
No. 2, Amelia Terrace, Claridge Road, Battersea, which place Gerald
next day made it his business to go in search of.

Amelia Terrace was in a desolate locality enough, being shut out from
the world by wide intervening stretches of market garden, very useful
and very productive, no doubt, but which seemed to lack every pleasant
attribute with which a garden is usually associated in one's mind. The
particular house that Gerald was in search of was one of twenty others
exactly similar to it in pattern and design. Little shabby-looking
six-roomed houses, the cheap stucco with which their fronts were
plastered peeling off already in great ugly blotches, the yard of
"garden" on to which their windows looked protected by cheap railings,
broken away in many places, and thick with rust, or twisted out of
shape in others. Inside, the rooms were close and frowsy, with doors
and windows that in some cases would not shut, and in others left
crevices that in this wintry weather had to be stuffed up with rags,
or old newspapers, or even here and there with an old bonnet. At one
corner was a flaring gin-palace, and at the other a huckster's shop,
only its proprietor did not call it a shop, but an "emporium."

Yes, Mr. Byrne was at home, said the slatternly servant who answered
Gerald's knock at No. 2.

Before more could be said, some one called out from the parlour, "Walk
in, sir, walk in, if it's me you are in want of. I saw you when you
were over the way, but I didn't know that you were looking for No. 2."

Gerald accepted the invitation and walked into the parlour, a
shabbily-furnished little room, pervaded by a vile odour of stale
tobacco-smoke. Mr. Byrne, in red morocco slippers, a Turkish cap, and
a faded dressing gown of a flowery Chinese sort of pattern, rose from
the sofa to receive him.

Peter Byrne was a man of sixty, but looked quite ten years younger
than that age, thanks to his dyed hair, his artificial teeth, and the
faintest possible suspicion of rouge, without which, when got up for
the day, he never ventured abroad. But so deftly and artfully was the
hare's foot applied, that not one out of a dozen of his acquaintances
accepted as other than genuine that pleasant, healthy colour which,
whatever the season might be, Peter Byrne's cheeks never failed to
display. He was rather under than over the medium height, was lightly
built, and was very active for his age. His head was large, and
somewhat disproportionate to the size of his body. He had large, but
regular features, and had doubtless thought himself very good-looking
when a young man; but the lines of his face were now coarse and
fleshy, and seemed to indicate a too free indulgence in the good
things of the table, and possibly too great a fondness for
after-dinner potations. He had clear grey eyes, with a keenness and a
steadfastness in them that Gerald liked; and yet there seemed
something factitious about his smile--it came and went too readily to
seem altogether genuine.

Gerald having introduced himself and taken a chair, proceeded at once
to the object of his visit.

"In my search for certain information," he said, "I have been
recommended to call upon you as having been the confidential clerk of
the late Mr. Frodsham."

"I certainly was Mr. Frodsham's confidential clerk for several years,"
said Byrne, "and any information that may be in my power I shall be
happy to afford you--provided, of course, that such information
involve no breach of business confidence."

"You need be under no apprehension on that score," answered Gerald. "I
must ask you, in the first place, to let your memory travel back for
twenty years, and then to tell me whether you have any recollection of
a somewhat remarkable case in which Mr. Frodsham was engaged for the
defence. It was a murder case, and was tried at the Gloucester Spring
Assizes. The crime was committed at Tewkesbury, the murdered man's
name was Paul Stilling, and the prisoner's name Ambrose Murray."

"I remember the case in question quite well," answered Byrne. "In
fact, I was in court when the trial took place. Mr. Frodsham was
busier than usual that circuit, and he took me with him."

"So far that is fortunate," said Gerald. "Then you will probably
recollect that one of the chief witnesses at the trial was a Dutch or
German Jew of the name of Max Jacoby?"

"I recollect distinctly the man to whom you refer."

"My object in coming to see you to-day is to ask you whether you can
in any way assist me to discover the present whereabouts of this man,
Max Jacoby?"

Byrne gave vent to a long, low whistle.

"It's a hard nut, sir, that you've set yourself to crack--the finding
of a man like that after twenty years; and--and really I hardly know
in what way I can help you."

Gerald was silent. He had no intention of accepting Byrne's answer as
final.

"Why don't you apply to Scotland Yard for assistance?" asked Byrne,
after a pause.

"I have private reasons for not doing so," answered Gerald. "But there
is no reason why you should not treat me as your client in this
matter, and endeavour to obtain this information for me either from
Scotland Yard or elsewhere."

"Hum! Such inquiries, whether successful or unsuccessful, cost money."

"Get me the information I ask for, or even show me that you have done
your best to get it but have failed, and we shall not quarrel about
the price."

"But the man may have died years ago, or, being a foreigner, he may be
living in some little town on the continent, in which case our
inquiries could hardly hope to be successful."

"Jacoby was alive, and well, and in London only three weeks ago."

"Oh, come, there's something tangible about a fact like that. And you
know nothing more concerning him?"

"Absolutely nothing."

Mr. Byrne, with due solemnity and deliberation, proceeded to charge
and light a long-stemmed pipe with a painted China bowl, which stood
propped against the chimney-piece ready to his hand.

"I will be candid with you, Mr. Warburton," he said, after a few
preliminary puffs. "I don't anticipate that there will be so much
difficulty in tracing this man Jacoby as there might be in the case of
a great many other people."

"Why should there be any difference in his case?" asked Gerald.

"Because he is a man with whom the police have had dealings, directly
or indirectly, not on one occasion only, but several times. There is
no need for me to say more at present, except this, that such a man is
seldom altogether lost sight of, unless he leaves the country and goes
to live abroad. Still, I should not advise you to be too sanguine."

Gerald promised not to be too sanguine, but still had good hopes of
success. He then went into some monetary details with Mr. Byrne, and
after that he rose to go.

"I dare say you wonder a little to find a man like me living in a
dog-kennel of a place like this," said Byrne, with his expansive
smile, as he stood for a moment or two airing his back at the fire.

"I have seen too much of the world to wonder greatly at anything,"
said Gerald, ambiguously.

"You see, this is how it was," said Byrne, confidentially. "I was Mr.
Frodsham's clerk for a great number of years--not that I ever liked
the profession, but my bread and cheese was dependent on it, and I was
bound to stick to it. By the death of a relative, I came in for ten
thousand pounds, and I at once retired to live on my means. I had
always been fond of the turf, I had always fancied that I knew
something about that noble animal, the horse, and I now determined to
turn my knowledge to account. I made up my mind that I would turn my
ten thousand pounds into thirty thousand. Sir, I did not turn it into
thirty thousand pounds, but into thirty thousand pence. In fact, I
lost the whole of it. I was too old to re-enter the profession, and
having an income of eighty pounds a year for life, I determined to
settle down upon it, and make the best of a bad job. This locality, if
not the most genteel in the world, is cheap and salubrious, and here
Miriam and I have pitched our tent for a little time, while waiting
for summer weather. Relatives, sir, can't live for ever, especially
when turned eighty years of age, and asthmatical into the bargain."

"At the risk of being thought impertinent, may I ask who Miriam is?"

"Miriam, sir, is my daughter--an only child, and a jewel of a girl,
though I say it who ought not. Nature, sir, has been liberal to her,
having endowed her with beauty and talents that would fit her to adorn
a sphere far superior to this one. I hope and trust that there is a
brilliant future in store for her."

This interview with Mr. Byrne took place between the time of Gerald's
first visit to Pembridge and that second visit which resulted from his
acceptance of the position of secretary to Sir Thomas Dudgeon. He gave
Byrne Miss Bellamy's address, to which any communication for him was
to be sent. Such communication would be re-addressed and forwarded to
him at Stammars by Miss Bellamy. He had been at Sir Thomas Dudgeon's
about a week, when he received the following brief note from Byrne:--


"Dear Sir,

"With reference to the subject respecting which you spoke to me a few
days ago, no time has been lost in taking the preliminary steps, and I
am happy to inform you that I believe we are already on the right
track. I hope in a week at the most to be able to supply you with some
positive information. But we must not be too sanguine.

     "Faithfully yours,

                "P. B."


A few days later Gerald went up to town to transact certain business
for Sir Thomas Dudgeon, and having some spare time on his hands, he
spent most of it either with Miss Bellamy or Ambrose Murray. It was
while they were all three sitting together one afternoon, that the
postman brought a second note from Byrne to Gerald.


"Dear Sir,

"The person respecting whom you spoke to me at my house is now, I
believe, passing under another name. If you will meet me either this
or to-morrow evening at seven on the steps of the General Post Office,
I will take you to a place where--yourself unseen--you can see the man
to whom I allude, and so have the means of identifying him. Should he
prove to be the person you want, I will afterwards furnish you with
his address. If you decide upon meeting me this evening, wire me to
that effect.

       "Yours faithfully,

                  "P. B."


At seven o'clock that evening, Gerald Warburton and Ambrose Murray
found themselves at St. Martin's-le-Grand, where, two minutes later,
they were joined by Mr. Byrne.

"As I myself am totally unacquainted with the person we are in search
of, never to my knowledge having seen him," said Gerald to Byrne, "I
have been compelled to bring this gentleman with me. Jacoby was well
known to him by sight many years ago, and he does not doubt his
ability to identify him now."

Byrne bowed slightly, and threw a keen glance at Murray; but the
evening was cold, and the latter was so muffled up that very little of
his features could be seen.

They were still standing on the post-office steps, when Byrne, turning
to Gerald, said--

"The man I am about to show you lives in the city, and has done so for
several years. When in town he always dines at one particular tavern.
He is generally to be found there from half-past six till half-past
seven. He dined at this place yesterday and the day before, and I have
no doubt that he is there at the present moment. We must wait near at
hand till he comes out, and then you will have an opportunity of
getting a clear view of him by the light of the lamp over the door."

Here and there in some quiet city nook may still be found one of
those homely, old-fashioned taverns, innocent of lacquer-work and
gilding--panelled, not with looking-glass, but with substantial
mahogany, dark with age, such as were common in the days when Charles
Lamb or Washington Irving were peripatetics about the streets of
London, but which are becoming rarer with each recurring year. To
several of these taverns is attached a dining-room, where a fried sole
or a cut off a wholesome joint may be obtained as late as six or seven
o'clock, and where any one who is known to the house may have a chop
or a steak done to a turn up till midnight. There is no bustle and
confusion here; you are not hurried over your meals; you need not
quit your seat the moment you have swallowed your last mouthful, in
order to make room for some one else. Day after day the same people
come--punctual to the minute, as a rule. They are all on hob-nobbing
terms with each other, and fresh faces are rarely seen.

It was over against such a tavern as this that our three conspirators
now stationed themselves. The street was very narrow, and exactly
opposite the tavern was a dark passage leading to sundry suites of
offices, now silent and deserted. Within the shelter of this passage
they took their stand. Not long had they to wait. Presently the swing
doors were pushed open from the inner side, and the man whom they had
come to see issued forth into the street--a man of fifty, or perhaps
fifty-five, broad-chested, strongly built, and with a face that might
have been carved out of lignumvitæ, so hard, resolute, and determined
was it in every line. He stood for a moment in the full light of the
lamp over the doorway, and then he walked slowly down the street.

Gerald felt Murray's grasp on his arm tighten suddenly as the man came
out.

"Is that the man you wanted me to find? Is that Max Jacoby?" asked
Byrne, in a low voice.

"That is Max Jacoby!" answered Murray, in a whisper.

"We must give him time to get clear away," said Byrne, "and then I
will show you the place where he lives."

Five minutes later they left their hiding-place. Byrne, taking his
companions through several short cuts and narrow ways, brought them
presently to another part of the city, and came to a halt close
against a tall, substantial-looking house. It stood in a narrow way
intended for foot-passengers only, that led from one great artery of
city traffic to another. One side of this footway was bounded by the
blank wall of a range of huge warehouses that had their frontage in
another street. The opposite boundary of the footway consisted of a
low stone wall, crowned with rusty railings, that shut in an ancient
graveyard. The church that once on a time had appertained to the
graveyard had been demolished years ago; but the dilapidated
tombstones, with their "forlorn Hic jacets" all overgrown with rank
and frowsy herbage, were still there, together with a miscellaneous
assortment of old shoes, broken bottles, and other rubbish. As usual,
it was Nobody's business to bring about a different state of things,
and Nobody did his business thoroughly by leaving it altogether
undone.

The house to which Byrne had brought his companions was built into the
graveyard, and its front door was in a line with the raised wall
already spoken of. It was an old-fashioned, red-brick house, and had
doubtless at one time been the residence of the rector, or of some
other functionary connected with the church that was no longer there.
From the windows, both back and front, the view must have been dismal
in the extreme. To-night the whole house looked as dark and deserted
as the graveyard in which it stood. Not a single glimmer of light was
visible in any of its windows. Byrne, after taking a cautious look
round, drew his companions forward. There was a square brass plate let
into the door, on which, by the light of a lamp near at hand, they all
three read these words:


     MAX VAN DUREN.
       General Agent, &c.


"He has changed his name!" said Murray, turning suddenly on Byrne.

"There's nothing to wonder at in that," said Byrne, with a shrug. "In
London one comes across queer changes every day."



CHAPTER X.
IN HARLEY STREET.


By the end of the first week in February Sir Thomas Dudgeon and his
family were comfortably settled in Harley Street.

Sir Thomas, having no permanent residence in London, had been obliged
to take a furnished house for the season. Since the early years of
their marriage, the baronet and his wife had never spent more than
three weeks, or, at the most, a month, of each season in town; neither
had they travelled much abroad. Their adoption of a quiet country life
all these years had not been without good and sufficient reasons. The
chief reason of all was a laudable desire to economize in money
matters. The estate had come to Sir Thomas considerably burdened, and
till every penny of mortgage upon it should be cleared off, both Sir
Thomas and his wife were determined to cut down every expense as much
as possible. The establishment at Stammars was kept up with due regard
to comfort, as well as to the family's position in society; but no
luxuries were indulged in, and all extravagances were carefully
eschewed. A whole season in town, and an autumn on the Continent,
however much she might have enjoyed them, would certainly have been
set down by Lady Dudgeon as needless extravagances: and she had
sufficient heroism in her disposition to give them up without a word
of repining. But all this now belonged to the past. Every penny of
incumbrance had been cleared off the estate some two years ago, and
matters of late had been still further assisted by a handsome legacy
from a distant relative. Then, just in the nick of time, had come the
opportunity for Sir Thomas to offer himself as member for Pembridge.
Lady Dudgeon had been the first to seize the occasion. From the first,
she had seen in her mind's eye all the brilliant results that might be
made to follow "in sequence due" this one bold step. As in a vision,
she had seen the whole glittering pageant. No longer would she be
compelled to content herself with a miserable three weeks in London:
she would have a whole glorious season to flutter through. She would
have a new brougham, and there should be no handsomer horses than hers
seen in the Park. As for garden parties and flower shows, as for the
opera and the theatre--she would simply do her best to make up for
lost time. Poor Sir Thomas, when he allowed himself; very much against
his will, to be nominated at the hustings in place of the late
lamented Mr. Rackstraw, had not the faintest notion of the splendid
conceptions which even then were fermenting in his wife's brain. But
he had not been many days in London before he got some glimmering of
what was in store for him.

"I feel, dear, as if we had been buried all these years--as if we had
never really begun to enjoy life till now," said her ladyship to him
one morning at breakfast.

"And yet it seems to me that we have spent many happy days at
Stammars," returned Sir Thomas.

"Happy after a fashion, of course; but so different from life here!"
continued her ladyship.

"Different indeed!" echoed Sir Thomas, with a sigh.

"To-morrow is my birthday, Thomas; and as you always make me a present
on that occasion, I want you, this year, to let me choose for myself
what it shall be."

"Certainly, Matilda. I shall be most happy for you to do so."

"That noble heart of yours! What I want is that you shall take me to
Long Acre, and buy me a new carriage."

"Good gracious, Matilda!"

"As the wife of the member for Pembridge, I could not think of being
seen about London in a hired brougham; neither, I am sure, would you
wish me to do anything so paltry."

"But the landau at Stammars--if painted and furbished up----"

"A market-cart, my dear--neither more nor less than a market-cart,"
cried Lady Dudgeon. "I should be the laughing-stock of the Park. No;
if you cannot afford me a new brougham out of your legacy, why, I'll
go about in a hansom. I'd far rather do that than be seen in one of
those horrid livery-stable abominations, which always put me in mind
of fevers and other dreadful things."

When in London, Sir Thomas was always one of the most wretched of men;
indeed, a town of any kind was to him a place to be escaped from as
quickly as possible. To him it was ever a mystery how people could be
found to dwell contentedly for years among acres of brick and mortar,
inhaling diluted smoke, and leading lives that were one perpetual
round of noise, turmoil, and confusion. He had not been in London more
than three days before there came over him a longing, that was almost
painful in its intensity, to get clean away out of sight of it--out of
hearing of it--if only for a few hours. Taking advantage of a visit of
his wife to her milliner, he stole out of the house--and he really
felt as if he were doing something that he ought not to do--and a
swift hansom soon set him down at "Jack Straw's Castle." A long
stretch through the valley on the other side of the Hampstead hills,
amid the sights and sounds of country life, sent him back to Harley
Street a happier man for the time being.

But the watch which her ladyship kept over him did not allow of a too
frequent indulgence in such forbidden luxuries.

"I hope, my dear, that you will not be long before you decide as to
the particular question that you intend to make your own this
session," she said to her husband one morning, about a fortnight after
the opening of Parliament.

"Really, my dear," said Sir Thomas, insinuatingly, "everything is so
strange to me just at present--the forms of the House, and all that,
you know--that I have hardly had time to give my mind to anything
else."

"Just so, my love. Of course, every allowance must be made for that.
But still I think you ought to be preparing--working up a subject,
mastering the details, and so on. What do you say to the Sugar Duties,
now? That is a topic about which the public are likely to be greatly
interested before long. Or Indian Finance? That is a fruitful
subject."

"But, then, I know absolutely nothing about either of them."

"So much the better. You will bring to the study and discussion of
these great questions a mind fresh and unprejudiced--a mind unfettered
by the bonds of tradition or the obligations of party."

"But, in addition to not knowing anything about the Sugar Duties or
Indian Finance, I don't care about them--no, not a brass farthing."

"All the more will you be able to discuss them with impartiality. Your
capacious intellect will enable you to look at a question from several
different points of view, and to give to each its proper value."

"But, even supposing I had the inclination--which I certainly have
not," persisted poor Sir Thomas, "I have not the remotest idea how to
set about working up any such subjects as those mentioned by your
ladyship."

"My dear, you surprise me! What is Mr. Pomeroy for? It cannot, of
course, be expected that you should waste your time in picking out a
lot of dreary statistics, or in wading through a heap of dry,
mechanical details. All that forms part of the duties of your
secretary. It is his place to bring to a common focus all the various
facts and figures that may have any bearing on the subject in hand.
Such a summary of facts and figures could be readily mastered by you
in the course of a morning's study. You would then have to consider
the line of argument which you would adopt in stating your case to the
House; and having divided your subject into two or three heads, you
would have, finally, to work up the various points in the most
effective manner possible, taking care to conclude with one of those
glowing perorations--one of those spontaneous bursts of eloquence--for
which you are so justly famed."

Sir Thomas sat staring at his wife in speechless dismay. After a
little while he got up and walked to the window, and stood there
jingling his loose silver.

"What a pity it is, Matilda, that you are not the member for Pembridge
instead of me! You would have done far more justice to the position
than I can ever hope to do."

"Tut! tut! my dear. You must not talk so foolishly," said her
ladyship, complacently. "I know your abilities far better than you do
yourself. All that you lack is confidence, and that will come to you
in due time."

"I suppose those worthy people down at Pembridge wouldn't feel
satisfied unless I made some sort of an attempt at a speech some time
before the session's over, eh?"

"Certainly not. So the sooner you take the plunge, the better for
everyone. How would you like to meet your constituents in the autumn,
if the sound of your voice had never been heard in the House?"

Sir Thomas stood without speaking for a minute or two. At last he
said, "I think I'll go and have a little talk with Pomeroy."

"Do so, my dear. I have no doubt that his views will coincide with
mine. Mr. Pomeroy is a very clever young man--and so exemplary too! I
am highly pleased with him."

Sir Thomas found Jack in the library, where, having nothing to do for
his employer, he was trying to hammer out a few verses for one of the
magazines; only, as the fair face of Eleanor Lloyd would keep coming
between his muse and him, it is to be feared that he was not making
very satisfactory progress.

Sir Thomas gave a little sigh, and sat down at the opposite side of
the table. "Pomeroy," he began presently, "her ladyship seems to think
that it's about time I made a little bit of a splash in the House.
Rather out of my line, you know; but I suppose it has to be done, and
the sooner it's got over the better. So what I want you to do for me
is this: there's to be a big debate on the Sugar Duties in about a
month's time, and I want you to work the subject up, and write out a
bit of a speech for me that I can get off by heart. I know that's a
sort of thing that comes easy enough to a clever young chap like you,
but it would be deuced difficult to me; just as difficult, I daresay,
as it would be for you to buy half a score bullocks at a fair, and
make sure at the same time that you were getting full value for your
money."

"I shall be glad to have a little more to do, Sir Thomas. At present I
don't feel as if I were earning my salary."

"You mustn't make the speech too long, you know, or else I shall be
sure to forget some of it--and you mustn't even hint to her ladyship
that it's not my own composition."

"You may rely implicitly upon my discretion, sir."

"And then I want you to write out a second speech, which must be
simply an amplification of the first, with a few fine words and big
phrases dropped in here and there, like plums in a dumpling. This
second speech is for my constituents, and you must arrange with the
editor for its appearance in the _Pembridge Gazette_ on the Saturday
following my delivery of speech number one in the House."

"I comprehend perfectly, sir," said Jack.

"You are a good fellow, Pomeroy--a very good fellow," added Sir
Thomas. "I like you much. Her ladyship likes you much. She quite
values you. But not a word to her about our little arrangement--and
don't forget the plums in the dumpling."

Sir Thomas had hardly been gone five minutes, when there came a
discreet tap at the door, and in walked Olive Deane.

"Good morning, Mr. Pomeroy," she said. "I hear that the box has
arrived from Mudie's. Her ladyship gave me the privilege of ordering
two or three books on my own account, and I am anxious to see whether
they have come."

"Here is the box," said Jack, "unopened as yet; so that you will have
the pleasure of being the first to explore its contents."

"You seem to understand our sex--a little," said Olive, as she turned
over the books. "It is singular, but true, but I should not derive
half so much pleasure from turning over the contents of this box had
anyone, especially another woman, done it before me. But we women are
full of contrarieties."

"It is precisely those contrarieties which make your sex so charming.
You are so full of surprises. No woman, it seems to me, can ever be
altogether commonplace."

"Oh, I grant you that we are full of surprises," said Olive. "A man,
for instance, has only one or two ways of showing his temper, whereas
we have fifty ways, all different from each other: which prevents
monotony. If we cannot startle you with a wise or a witty remark, we
prefer to try an inane one, rather than not startle you at all. We are
melodramatic to the backbone, and are always studying a climax or a
surprise, if it be only in the petty details of everyday life."

"I feel that I ought to say something pretty here, in deprecation of
the severity of your judgment," said Jack, with a smile, "but nothing
worthy of the occasion occurs to me at present. I fear that I am even
more stupid than usual this morning."

"Stupidity is certainly the great failing of your sex," said Olive,
with candour. "How seldom one meets with a man who has anything to say
worth listening to; or if he has, how rarely he knows how to say it.
No; in comparison of your sex as against ours, it seems to me that
there is only one point wherein we fail--only one grand faculty that
men possess and that we have no idea of."

"And that is----?"

"The faculty of silence. The want of that, and of that alone, has lost
us the supremacy of the world."

Jack laughed, and Olive went on with her examination of the books.

It had been a debatable point with Lady Dudgeon whether or not she
should take her children to London with her; but Sophy's earnest
pleading not to be left behind had at last won a half-reluctant
consent from her ladyship. But there was another reason, of which
Sophy knew nothing, why the young ladies should accompany their mamma.
The truth was that her ladyship found Miss Deane's services so useful
to her in many ways, that she could by no means make up her mind to
let Olive stay behind at Stammars. By so doing she would have to take
on herself again a number of duties of which Miss Deane had of late
relieved her; and how would it be possible for her to do that, with
all the extra demands on her time which a residence in town
necessarily implied? If Miss Deane had been useful to her in the
country, in London she would be invaluable: so to London Olive and the
young ladies were transferred in due course.

Lady Dudgeon was one of those people who delight in keeping an
elaborate series of housekeeping books, in which every item of
domestic expenditure is carefully tabulated, and against which the
tradespeople's accounts can be minutely checked. During the last few
months, however, her ladyship's eyesight had begun to fail her,
whereupon her medical man had threatened her with spectacles unless
she would consent to give her eyes a little more rest. The threat
frightened her. She could not afford to give up her diary; she could
not find in her heart to curtail her correspondence; she must perforce
give up her housekeeping accounts, or delegate the labour connected
with them into other hands.

When, some three months later, Olive Deane arrived at Stammars, her
ladyship's book-keeping had got terribly into arrear. She was greatly
perturbed in her mind thereby, feeling perfectly sure that her
tradespeople were all aware that she no longer checked their accounts,
and that they were leagued together to overreach her in every possible
way. Olive had not been many days at Stammars before she found out
what was amiss, whereupon she begged so earnestly that the books and
accounts might be put into her hands, that her ladyship, not without a
considerable degree of reluctance, agreed at last to entrust them to
her. And she had never had cause to regret having done so. Everything
was done almost--not quite, but almost--as well as she could have done
it herself; and her ladyship was not slow to sing the praises of
Olive.

If there was one thing on which Lady Dudgeon prided herself in secret
more than another, it was upon her epistolary talents. She was,
indeed, a most voluminous and untiring correspondent. However trivial
might be the subject about which she was writing, she had a copious
stream of words at command--a stream that never ran itself dry. The
involution of her sentences was only equalled by the ambiguity of
their meaning. Because her correspondents acknowledged that they had
to read her letters two or three times over before they could
thoroughly comprehend all that was intended to be conveyed by them,
she--and in some cases they also--came to look upon it as a sign of
profundity, of deep thought, clothed with the fine flowers of
rhetoric, that such a difficulty should be so generally admitted to
exist. To have written out a plain statement of facts in a few plain
words, was a feat of which her ladyship was quite incapable, and one
which, to do her justice, she would have despised herself for even
attempting. She had been so often complimented on her letter-writing
(and knowing for a fact, as she did, that several of her
correspondents carefully preserved her epistles) that there had grown
up in her mind a sort of vague idea that, after her demise, some one
would certainly be found who would look upon it as an act of pious
duty to awaken the world to a sense of its loss, to let it see for
itself what a genius had dwelt for years in its midst, save by a few
choice spirits, unappreciated and unknown. There was only one way by
which a heedless world could be thus enlightened, and that was by
publishing--posthumously, of course--a selection of her ladyship's
correspondence. The fame denied to her during her lifetime would be
hers after death. After this fashion it was that Lady Dudgeon fed her
imagination: and yet there were not wanting people who denied her the
possession of any such commodity, and who mentally catalogued her as
one of the most prosaic and commonplace of her sex.

"I hope you have not forgotten our conversation in my cousin's office
at Pembridge?" said Olive suddenly to Jack, as she shut down the lid
of the box and put her own two particular volumes under her arm,
preparatory to leaving the room.

"There are some conversations that I can never forget: that is one of
them."

"I have sometimes thought since how very foolish it was of me to talk
to you in the way I did on that occasion. But you had only yourself to
blame."

"I am not aware that there was any foolishness in the matter: quite
the contrary. But tell me in what way I was to blame."

"In causing my aunt to feel such an interest in you. Me, too, you
interested. We were both anxious to assist you, if it were possible to
do so."

"And you have assisted me, and I thank both you and Mrs. Kelvin very
heartily for it."

"Is not Miss Lloyd charming?"

"Thoroughly charming."

"You seem to have succeeded in interesting her, as you interested my
aunt and me," said Olive, with one of her wintry smiles.

"Miss Lloyd has seen so little of the world, and is so fresh and
untutored, that anyone could interest her whose conversation was not
absolutely stupid."

"John Pomeroy, the Hesperian fruit is within your grasp!" said Miss
Deane, changing her manner in a moment to one of intense earnestness.
"Put forth your hand and seize it. Be not slow to make it your own. If
you are, be sure that some one else will quickly claim the golden
prize." Her black eyes, fixed steadily on his face, seemed full of
some hidden meaning. With a grave inclination of the head, she turned
and slowly left the room.

"I _will_ seize the golden fruit, chère demoiselle; I _will_ make it
my own!" muttered Pomeroy to himself, as Olive closed the door.
"Though why you should feel so strange an interest in my fortunes is
more than I can comprehend. A crooked brain and a dark heart are
yours, Olive Deane, or else my reading of your character is altogether
a wrong one."



CHAPTER XI.
IN KENSINGTON GARDENS.


The feeling of curiosity which had actuated Miss Deane in her desire
to see her rival, as she called Eleanor Lloyd in her thoughts, had
been almost as powerful as that which, for the time being, had made
John Pomeroy its slave. When Miss Deane did see Eleanor, she could not
help acknowledging to herself that Matthew Kelvin's violent passion
for that lady was not without some justification. That Miss Lloyd was
indeed very lovely, she at once admitted; for Olive was free from that
common feminine failing which refuses to acknowledge that another, and
more especially a rival, can be the possessor of superior charms,
either of person or mind; and she told herself at once that, as far as
mere good looks went, she could not hope to stand the slightest chance
in a comparison with Miss Lloyd. So long as Miss Lloyd should remain
unmarried,  Matthew Kelvin would never look with serious eyes
elsewhere; and Olive saw with a sort of savage satisfaction how
quickly and readily Mr. John Pomeroy had fallen into the same toils in
which the lawyer had been enmeshed before him. Her keen eyes saw that
which was suspected by no one else--that a few short hours had indeed
sufficed to seal Pomeroy's fate. So far everything had gone well with
her; everything had answered her highest expectations. But when she
looked on the other side of the question; when she came to ask
herself, "Does this girl return this man's love?" she could not feel
quite so sanguine as to the result. That Eleanor liked the company of
John Pomeroy, and that his conversation interested her, Olive could
see clearly enough. But liking is not love, though it is often a big
stride on the road towards it. All that was left her to do was to hope
for the best and to remain as quietly watchful as she had hitherto
been.

Of all these plottings and counter-plottings that were going on under
her very nose, poor innocent Lady Dudgeon dreamt nothing. She had long
ago made up her mind that her ensuing season in town should be
fruitful of much pleasure and much enjoyment to her. But chief of all
the pleasures that she looked forward to was that of assisting her
darling Eleanor to select--or, better still, of selecting for her--a
suitable partner for life. She had not been more than a fortnight in
Harley Street before she began to cast wary eyes around, and to make
cautious inquiries here and there with respect to the pretensions and
positions of certain individuals who, even thus early, had evinced a
generous alacrity to sell themselves for life for the sake of twenty
thousand pounds--the young lady who was tacked to the money being of
course thrown in as an unavoidable necessity.

The interest shown by Lady Dudgeon in the fortunes of Miss Lloyd had
its origin in a feeling that dated from the time when Eleanor was
little more than a mere child. At the risk of his own life, Jacob
Lloyd had succeeded in stopping her ladyship's ponies one day when
they were running away with her, and making in a straight line for a
very deep gravel-pit that may still be seen close by the edge of
Dingley Common. Jacob having been considerably bruised and knocked
about in his struggle with the ponies, Lady Dudgeon could do no less
than call several times at Bridgeley to inquire after his health.
There it was that she first saw Eleanor, at that time a flaxen-haired,
blue-eyed child of eight, in short frocks and pinafores. She drew the
child to her, looked her fixedly in the face for a moment or two, and
then stooped and kissed her. Impulsive Nelly at once flung her arms
round Lady Dudgeon's neck. "You _are_ pretty, and I _do_ love you!"
she cried; and from that moment her ladyship's heart was won. She
would insist upon taking Nelly back to Stammars, and that first visit
was but the precursor of several others.

Lady Dudgeon was generally looked upon as a cold-mannered,
unimpressionable sort of person, and her strange partiality for Mr.
Lloyd's daughter was a surprise to all who knew her--to her husband as
much as anyone. But Sir Thomas was eminently good-natured, and he
yielded to his wife's whim in this respect as in everything else.
Before long, indeed, he grew almost as fond of his Bonnybell, as he
called her, as Lady Dudgeon herself. Having no children of his own at
this time, he liked very well to have Eleanor about him--he liked to
have her tugging at his coat-tails, or banging on his arm, or sitting
in front of him on his pony as he rode about the fields looking at his
crops or watching his labourers at work.

Even as a child there was about Eleanor Lloyd a native distinction of
manner that few people failed to observe. Combined with this was a
sweet, fearless freedom--like the fearlessness of a fawn--that sprung
from a total unconsciousness of self, and that charmed without being
aware of its own existence. At ten years of age Eleanor felt as much
at home in Lady Dudgeon's drawing-room, among Lady Dudgeon's fine
company, as she did when helping Biddy to make a custard in the
kitchen.

Lady Dudgeon's liking for Eleanor did not lessen with years. The child
was a frequent visitor at Stammars up to the time that she was sent to
Germany to finish her education. And when her two years of absence
were over, and she was back again at home, the intercourse was at once
resumed, although by this time Lady Dudgeon had two young daughters of
her own. After the sudden death of Jacob Lloyd, and the announcement
that Eleanor had come into a fortune of twenty thousand pounds, there
seemed all the more reason why the bond of intimacy should be drawn
still closer: and no one was surprised when it was given out that Miss
Lloyd had, for the present, accepted Lady Dudgeon's invitation to live
with her at Stammars.

A day or two before the departure of the family for Harley Street,
Lady Dudgeon called Eleanor into her bedroom. "My dear," she
said, "I am going to show you something that you have never seen
before--something that no eyes but my own have seen for years. To you
they may, perhaps, seem hardly worth keeping, but they are very
precious to me."

She opened a drawer as she spoke, the contents of which were covered
with several layers of tissue-paper. When the paper had been carefully
removed, there were displayed to Eleanor's view several articles that
had evidently belonged to a child. There was a little crimson frock
and a sash, a pair of tiny shoes, a broken doll, and part of a
necklace of coral beads. Eleanor looked up wonderingly. For the first
time in her life she saw tears in the eyes of Lady Dudgeon. "They
belonged to my little daughter, whom I lost before I ever saw you. She
died when she was four years old. She would just have been your age
had she lived. Like you, she was fair and had blue eyes. That first
day when I saw you at your father's, it almost seemed to me as if my
own lost darling had come back again. I could not help loving you
then, dear, and I have loved you ever since."


From the first moment that Gerald Warburton set eyes on Eleanor Lloyd,
he made up his mind that, if it were in the possibility of things to
do so, he would make her his wife, and from that determination he had
never wavered. The more he saw of her the more settled became his
conviction that he had never really loved till now. Flirtations he had
had, and little love-smarts in plenty. Many a pleasant face had
haunted his dreams for a night or two, but never for longer. In his
writing-desk were two or three crumpled gloves, a ribbon or two, and
at least half a dozen cartes-de-visite: tokens all, as he sometimes
said to himself, of how hard he had tried to love, of how often he had
fancied himself to be in love, and of the very short space of time it
had taken him to discover either what an ass he had made of himself,
or what an ass some girl had made of him. Such mementoes are not
without a certain amount of instructiveness. Gerald looked upon them
in the light of warnings. "How terrible and strange it is to think,"
he said to himself one day, "that each one of these gages d'amour
represents a most foolish moment in my life, a moment that might have
been the turning-point of my existence: such a moment as has been the
turning-point of many a man's existence! How well one knows the
history of such relics A pair of bright eyes, a waltz, a glass of
champagne, a glove or a ribbon dropped by accident or design; or else
a moonlight ramble capped with some poet's soft nonsense, and a little
hand nestling timidly under your arm. Then comes a pressure of the
tiny hand, an appealing glance into the bright eyes, a whispered word,
and unless your enslaver does not really care for you--in which case
nothing but your vanity suffers--your fate is sealed, and the chances
are that you wake up next morning to find that, for the sake of an
hour's foolish romance, you have bound yourself for life to a person
for whom in your heart, you don't care the price of a box of cigars."

So moralized Gerald, as he took his relics out of their resting-place
for the last time and dropped them quietly, one by one, into the fire.
Without a single pang he saw them flare and shrivel into ashes. Let
the dead past bury its dead.

No doubt ever clouded his mind as to the strength and reality of that
passion which in these latter days had taken possession of his heart.
It was no mere will-o'-the-wisp, to be followed with passionate
footsteps through brake and morass, but the Planet of Love itself,
serene and beautiful: the lodestar of his life and fortune shining
down on him at last with a light that nothing but death could ever
again eclipse.

Since that first meeting with Eleanor he had made it his business to
see as much of her as the exigencies of his position would allow of
his doing. Except when they had company, he generally dined with Sir
Thomas and Lady Dudgeon. He had the happy knack of being able to
select topics of conversation that had an interest for both of them.
He did his best to please them, and he succeeded, simply that he might
be able thereby to see more of Miss Lloyd than he could otherwise have
hoped to do. The peculiar circumstances under which Eleanor and he had
first met had done more to break the ice between them than a month of
ordinary intercourse would have done; besides which, it had supplied
them with a subject for conversation that Eleanor seemed never to grow
tired of, and one in which our artful Gerald feigned a far deeper
interest than he really felt.

Days and weeks had come and gone, and he was still as undecided as
ever what steps to take in the matter of the sealed packet. Kelvin
still maintained his mysterious silence. Gerald had said to himself
that, after having been at Stammars for a little while, after having
seen and made the acquaintance of Eleanor, should Kelvin not then have
spoken, he would write to him in his real name, and demand some
explanation of his unaccountable silence. This would at once force
matters to a climax, and he, Gerald, would then be able, in the
natural course of events, to assume his proper name and position. But
day by day was flitting away, and he still neglected to take this very
obvious course. As matters had turned out, he shrank from doing so. He
loved this girl with all the strength of his ardent temperament.
Should he declare himself, such a declaration would take from her all
that she had hitherto deemed her own, all that was most dear to her in
life: name, wealth, position--everything. Should his be the hand to
knowingly strike her such a blow? The more he thought of it, the more
hateful such a proceeding seemed to him. He could never hope to see
Love's sweet light dawn in those beautiful eyes were he to smite her
thus. And then how much more precious to him would it be to win her
love for his own sake, to win it as a poor man, to fight for her
against the host of other suitors who would surely come when they
should discover what a golden prize was there for the winning; to say
no word to her of this thing, but to let her rest in blissful
ignorance till their wedding day was come. After that, she might,
perchance, learn to love him all the more for his long silence. Thus
it was that Gerald argued with himself, and thus it was that to the
world at large he was still known as John Pomeroy, secretary to Sir
Thomas Dudgeon, at an honorarium of one hundred and fifty guineas per
annum.

As Gerald was strolling quietly through Kensington Gardens one day
between luncheon and dinner, he was met by Eleanor, who was coming
from an opposite direction. They shook hands, and Gerald turned and
walked back with her.

"What are you meditating this morning?" asked Eleanor. "A sonnet, or
another speech on the Sugar Duties?" She had seen and heard enough to
know from what fount it was that Sir Thomas derived the stream of his
Parliamentary eloquence.

"Neither anything so sentimental on the one hand, nor anything so
prosaic on the other," answered Gerald. "I was better employed in
listening to the birds, and in marking how the brown buds were here
and there beginning to open themselves to the sun."

"You are easily satisfied. I should have thought that the Ride would
have had more attractions for you."

"Not at all. In London, humanity is so plentiful that trees and birds
seem sometimes the best of company. In the country, where trees and
birds are so common, a fresh face is sometimes a godsend."

"But you, who have been so accustomed to change--to seeing fresh faces
and visiting strange places--must surely find it both dull and tedious
to spend your days among blue-books and parliamentary reports, wading
through columns of dreary statistics, and concocting speeches which
another than yourself will deliver?"

"I did find it both dull and tedious at first, but I don't find it so
now."

"And why do you not find it so now?"

He would have liked to answer: "Because your presence here has made my
work glad. Because I could count no work as slavery if through it I
were brought into contact with you. Because, since I have learned to
love you, life has assumed for me an altogether different complexion
from that which it wore before--is imbued with altogether different
purposes and ambitions." But the time was not yet ripe for him to say
all this, or even part of it. Some more commonplace answer must be
found to her question.

"I think," said he, "it must be because human motives and human
purposes are so intimately mingled with the dry bones of politics,
that politics exercise such a strange fascination over nearly everyone
who is brought into close contact with them. Certainly to me, and that
no very long time ago, they seemed the dryest and most uninteresting
study to which a man could devote his time."

"But you have seen reason to change your opinion since then?" said
Eleanor.

"I have," said Gerald, emphatically. "From the moment I leapt into the
arena--from the moment that I ceased to be a looker-on and became a
gladiator myself--in the very humblest of positions though it was--my
blood seemed to warm to the struggle. I buckled my armour round me
with gladness at the thought that I was about to contend with shapes
of bone and sinew; that my life need no longer have to content itself
with pottering about among the petty dilettanteisms of Art, while
never quite certain in my own mind whether it was Nature's intention
that I should develop into a man of genius or degenerate into a
blockhead."

Eleanor laughed. "Then you think you have found your right groove at
last," she said.

"As to the right groove, I don't know that this particular one is
better for me than any other in which there would be earnest work to
do in which I could take a hearty interest. Certainly I have come to
find a degree of interest in what I am now doing that could surprise
no one more than it does myself."

"You ought to be in Parliament yourself, Mr. Pomeroy, instead of
filling the anomalous position you do now."

"One must learn to creep before one can walk," said Gerald, with a
shrug.

"But some people never get beyond creeping.----If I were a man, I
should certainly strive to get into Parliament," added Eleanor, a
minute or two later. "How easy it is for a man to have a noble
ambition!"

"Then you like a man to be ambitious?"

"I could certainly never look up to anyone who was not so."

"I am afraid that you aim your arrow too high for these commonplace
days. There are many kinds of ambition that a man may occupy himself
with, and yet none of them may be really ignoble: Sir Thomas
Dudgeon's, for instance. It is his ambition to breed superior sheep
and oxen--and it is decidedly for our benefit that he should do so. I
have a friend in Paris who has a crippled sister, and the object of
his ambition is the invention of an invalid's chair that shall be
superior to any other. These are not large ambitions, but they are
certainly very laudable ones."

"If you know the object of a man's ambition, cannot you from that
gauge, to a certain extent at least, the quality of his mind?"

"Undoubtedly you can, to a certain extent, as you say. But there are
many men who keep their ambitious dreams to themselves as closely as
they do their bankbook. When such a man dies, the general verdict is
that he might have succeeded very much better in life if he had only
had a little more ambition, whereas the probability is that he
succeeded so ill because he had too much ambition."

"I hardly follow you," said Eleanor.

"Let us say that such a man's ambition was to stand on the topmost
pinnacle of the Jungfrau; and because he felt that he had neither the
strength nor the skill requisite to carve his way step by step to the
summit, rather than content himself with any lesser altitude, he
preferred to sit quietly down, dumb and disappointed, among the
ignoble crowd at the bottom."

They walked on for a little while in silence. Gerald kept feasting
himself with little side glances at Eleanor's face. And it was a face
well worth looking at. A delicate, slightly aquiline nose; two eyes of
the deepest and tenderest blue, that put you in mind of an April sky
when the clouds have divided after a shower; and massive coils of rich
flaxen hair that seemed full of stolen sunshine. Her upper lip had a
chiselled fineness of curve and outline rarely found among English
women, and this feature it was that gave a special distinction to the
character of her face. But far before everything else was a prevailing
sweetness of expression--a sweetness that was without insipidity, that
only served to heighten that delicate verve--the outcome of an ardent
and generous nature--which shone through everything she said and did.
She had a small basket on her arm this morning, for she had her
pensioners already, and was returning from visiting two of them: a
poor old orange woman who had broken her arm through slipping on the
ice; and a young mother whose husband lay ill of a fever in the
hospital. Gerald, glancing now and again into the beautiful face
beside him, felt his heart thrill strangely. He would have dearly
liked to fling his arms about her and print a thousand kisses on her
lips.

"What is the latest news of the little waif?" asked Gerald suddenly,
after a pause.

"I have no news other than that which you know already."

"Then she has not been claimed?"

"No. She is still under Mrs. Nixon's care."

"It is not at all likely that anyone will now come forward and claim
her."

"I hope with all my heart that they won't. Those to whom she belonged
left her to be found by a stranger, or to perish; and after such an
act as that they can hardly want to reclaim her."

"I should think that they would hardly dare do so."

"The law would surely punish a deed so detestable. But I have little
fear of anyone coming forward. I feel that the child belongs to me,
and to me alone."

"Have I, then, no share in her?" asked Gerald, with a smile.

"It was agreed that you should give your share over to me," answered
Eleanor.

"I may at least be allowed to feel a little interest in the child's
future fortunes?"

"As deep an interest as you like. You are her preserver, and yours
shall be the first name that she shall be taught to speak. But for all
that, you must let me claim her as altogether my own."

"Oh, with all my heart. I should make a very poor guardian, I am
afraid, for such a wee morsel of humanity."

"I have regular accounts from Mrs. Nixon every two or three days, and
next week I am going down to Stammars to see her."

"I wish she only thought half as much of me as she does of that young
customer down at Stammars!" said Gerald, rather disconsolately, to
himself, when he had parted from Eleanor.

"What has come over you, child?" said Lady Dudgeon to Eleanor, two or
three days afterwards. "This is the third time this morning that I
have caught you in a day-dream. Anyone who did not know better, would
certainly say that you were in love."

"Then they would certainly say what was not true," said Eleanor, with
a blush and a smile.

"I hope so, I am sure," said her ladyship, emphatically. "I don't
think your time has come yet, dear."

Eleanor was used to Lady Dudgeon's phraseology, and did not reply.

No; she certainly was not in love, she said to herself. But it was
rather strange how often Mr. Pomeroy had been in her thoughts of late.
She had caught herself thinking about him several times: daydreaming,
Lady Dudgeon called it. And why should she not think about him? she
asked herself. He interested her. There was about him something
different from anyone she had ever met before. If only she could have
assisted him to get into Parliament, how happy that would have made
her! Despite his careless, easy way of talking, she felt sure that he
was ambitious. But with only a hundred and fifty pounds a year, and no
friends to push him forward, a man's ambitious dreams must perforce be
buried in his heart. If only she could endow him with some portion of
her wealth!---- But here she broke off with a blush, and made up her
mind that for the future she would not think quite so much about Mr.
Pomeroy. "I must remember that I am not to think quite so much about
him," she said to herself. But the very fact of having to remember
this had only the effect of bringing his image more frequently to her
mind.



CHAPTER XII.
THE FACE IN THE GLASS.


From Harley Street, Cavendish Square, to Ormond Square, Bayswater, is
but a short distance as the crow flies, but it was enough to transform
the John Pomeroy of one place into the Gerald Warburton of the other.
And such transformations were very frequent with Gerald just at this
time. Now that he had learned to love Ambrose Murray's daughter,
Ambrose Murray himself had acquired a fresh interest in his eyes, and
he very rarely let more than two days pass over without finding
himself in Miss Bellamy's sitting-room. From Miss Bellamy he had but
one secret--his love for Eleanor. Everything else he told her: but to
Ambrose Murray nothing was told. Murray had not the slightest idea
that his daughter was in London; and so incurious was he respecting
her, that he never even asked the name of the friends with whom she
was living; and yet it was impossible to doubt that in his strangely
constituted heart he loved her passionately. He still adhered to his
first determination--not to see her, nor even to let her become aware
of his existence, till he could stand before her, a man whose
innocence the world was now as eager to proclaim as it had been before
to swear that he was guilty.

Miss Bellamy felt it as a great deprivation that she could not go to
see Eleanor, whom she had known and loved from infancy. But had she
done so, Eleanor would have certainly been seen in Ormond Square
before many hours were over--and then, what a meeting might there not
have been! It was requisite that Eleanor should believe that Miss
Bellamy had gone abroad for a short time, and the latter lady went out
less frequently than she would otherwise have done, so great was her
dread of unexpectedly encountering Miss Lloyd in the street.

"What are we to do now that we have found Jacoby?" said Gerald to
Murray the day after their expedition into the City.

"That is just what I want you to tell me," was Murray's complacent
rejoinder, as he took one of Gerald's hands between his thin palms and
patted it gently. "Your knowledge of the world will enable you to say
what the next step ought to be."

"I am afraid that my knowledge of the world, as you call it, is
altogether at fault in this instance," said Gerald, with a dubious
shake of the head. "To find a man, even in the great wilderness of
London, is an altogether different thing from working up a chain of
evidence strong enough to convict him of a crime committed twenty
years ago.

"But don't you see, Gerald," argued Murray, in his quietly earnest
way, "that the very fact of our having found this man constitutes the
first link in the chain? All the proofs in the world would have
availed us nothing had we not been able to find him. But now that we
have got the first link complete, you may depend upon it that the
forging of the second will follow in due course."

He spoke with an air of such thorough conviction, that for a moment or
two Gerald hardly knew how to answer him.

"I am certainly at a nonplus," he said at last. "I was never more in
the dark in my life. Have you any objection to my consulting Byrne?"

"No objection in the world. Consult anybody and everybody, as may seem
best to you."

"Should I find it necessary to do so, have I your permission to tell
him everything?"

"You have: my full permission."

"Mind you, I don't build any hopes on my interview with Byrne. I don't
see how he can possibly help us; but still I will consult him."

"And out of that consultation the forging of the second link will be
accomplished," said Murray. Again Gerald shook his head. Slightly
exasperating to him was Murray's air of thorough conviction, unbacked
as it was by the least fragment of proof, or even the vaguest
suggestions as to either how or where such proof might be forthcoming.

Two days later, having an afternoon to spare, Gerald chartered a
hansom for Amelia Terrace, Battersea, and picked up Ambrose Murray by
the way. He had seen enough of Byrne to make him believe that he was a
man who might be thoroughly trusted, and he had made up his mind to
lay the case before him in its entirety. He left the cab with his
companion in it at the corner of the terrace, and three minutes later
he was closeted with Mr. Byrne.

That gentleman was smoking his long-stemmed pipe with the china bowl.
He squeezed Gerald's outstretched hand, and greeted him with one of
his expansive smiles, which came and went as suddenly as though
produced by a clock-work movement inside his head.

"That was a neat stroke of business that we did the other night, sir,
though it is I who say it," remarked Mr. Byrne.

"Yes; you managed it very cleverly, and it is on that very subject
that I have come to see you again."

"I am yours to command, Mr. Warburton."

"If I recollect rightly, when I saw you before, you gave me to
understand that you were in Court on the day that Ambrose Murray took
his trial for the murder of Paul Stilling?"

"I was in Court at the time, and I retain a very clear recollection of
the different features of the case."

"Can you tell me what impression you formed at the time as to the
guilt or innocence of the prisoner?"

"Now you put a very difficult question to me. Anyone who has seen much
of criminal trials will tell you what an exceedingly unsafe thing it
is to form an opinion from a prisoner's demeanour as to his guilt or
otherwise."

"Never mind the prisoner's demeanour in this case. I simply want to
know what your own impression was, as a result of what you saw and
heard at the trial."

"Well, the weight of evidence, as no doubt you are aware, was dead
against the prisoner, and that very fact will, as a rule, go a long
way in the formation of a person's opinion. Still, in spite of that,
at the time it was my impression that, whoever else it might have
been, Murray was not the murderer."

"I am glad to hear you say that," said Gerald, heartily. "Because,
after being shut up for twenty years, Murray has escaped from prison."

"Phew! That's good news, Mr. Warburton, very good news! I never could
see my way to believe that man guilty."

"That man it was, and no other, who made the third in our little party
the other night."

The china pipe had never been so near being broken as it was at that
moment. It slipped from Byrne's nerveless fingers, and only the
hearthrug saved it. This brought back his presence of mind.

"In telling you this," said Gerald, "you will understand at once the
amount of confidence which I am placing in your discretion."

"Not undeservedly, Mr. Warburton--of that you may rest fully assured!"
said Byrne, warmly. "I feel honoured by your confidence in this
matter, sir: and if I can be of any further assistance either to you
or Mr. Murray, my services are entirely at your command."

"That is just the point to which I am coming," said Gerald. "We do
want your further assistance. It is for that very purpose I am here to
see you to-day: it is for that very purpose Mr. Murray himself has
come to see you."

"Mr. Murray here--to see me!"

"He is waiting in a cab at the corner of the street. I will go and
fetch him."

Presently Ambrose Murray entered, ushered in by Gerald. Byrne regarded
him with mingled feelings of respect, curiosity, and pity. It was
characteristic of the man that during the few minutes of Gerald's
absence he had found time to put on a better coat, and also, if the
whole truth must be confessed, to impart the very slightest extra
suspicion of rouge to his cheeks. The pipe was not again visible
during the interview.

Gerald introduced Mr. Murray in his real name to Byrne, who had hardly
spoken half a dozen words to him at their previous meeting.

"I am proud to see you, sir, under my humble roof," said Byrne, "and I
should have been proud to have entertained you during my days of
prosperity. But that was not to be," he added, with a melancholy shake
of the head.

"And now to business," said Gerald. "Mr. Murray is firmly convinced
that Max Jacoby was the murderer of Paul Stilling."

"Aye, aye!" interjected Byrne.

"As a matter of course, the great desire of his life is to prove his
innocence of the terrible crime of which in the eye of the law he is
still adjudged to be guilty. He can only do this by bringing home the
guilt to the real murderer. Assuming Mr. Murray's view of the case to
be the correct one, the question is, by what means is Jacoby's guilt
to be brought home to him?"

"And that is the problem you have come to me to help you to solve?"
said Byrne.

Murray answered by a grave inclination of the head.

"I don't know that I ever had such a poser put to me before," said
Byrne.

"It is the very difficulty of the problem that has induced me to seek
your services," said Gerald.

"I must put on my considering-cap," said Byrne. "I must sand-paper my
brains."

He was silent for a little while. Then he said, "I see no light at
present--not the faintest gleam. You must let me have time to think
about it--to smoke over it. My old pipe has made many a difficulty
clear for me; perhaps it may help me in this one."

"Take your own time, Mr. Byrne," said Murray. "When the light you seek
is ready to come to you, it will come."

"Yes; but I don't know where to look for it," said Byrne.

"It will come of its own accord."

Byrne shook his bead.

"Poor fellow! he's just a bit touched yet," he said to himself.

After a little more conversation, Gerald and Mr. Murray went. It was
arranged that Byrne should write and let them know when he was ready
to see them again.

It was about a week later when they all met again by appointment.

"Has the light come yet?" was Murray's first question.

"If it has, it is only a tiny ray indeed," said Byrne. "Something like
that of a farthing rushlight, liable to be blown out by the first puff
of wind."

"In such cases as the one before us," resumed Byrne, when they were
all seated, "it often happens that several abortive-attempts have to
be made before the proper channel for exploration is discovered. The
plan which I am about to propose to you will, in all probability,
prove an abortive one, and will result in some other effort in some
other direction having ultimately to be made. The plan in question is,
however, the only one I can think of at present which seems to possess
the least degree of feasibility. Very few words will suffice to lay it
before you."

Mr. Byrne here paused to refresh himself from his daughter's
smelling-bottle, which stood on the chimney-piece. Then he resumed--

"In the course of my various reconnoitrings about the house of Max
Jacoby, or rather Van Duren, as we ought now to call him, I discovered
a card in one of the windows, on which were the words, 'Unfurnished
Apartments to let.' From what I can make out, Van Duren occupies no
more of the house than the basement and ground-floor, the two upper
floors being empty and to let, and having a private side-entrance of
their own. Now, what I propose is, that I and my daughter shall go and
take these empty apartments. Mr. Warburton here shall be my son for
the time being. In that capacity he will be able to call upon me as
often as he may think well to do so. By these means I shall become an
inmate of Van Duren's house--he and I will be under one roof. Should
there be anything to discover, I shall thus be more likely to discover
it; should any clue develop itself by means of which this man's crime
may be traced home to him, I shall be on the spot to follow it up. In
any case, to get near the man seems the first thing to do; away from
him we can do little or nothing."

"I think your idea a most admirable one," said Murray. "As you say,
the first thing to do is to get near the man."

"Will it be essential that you should take your daughter into your
confidence?" asked Gerald. "Will it be requisite that you should
explain to her your reasons for taking up your residence in Van
Duren's house?"

"I have no secrets from Miriam," answered Byrne. "But you need be
under no apprehensions on that score. Miriam can keep a secret as well
as I can; she is no commonplace, talkative school-girl. Besides
which, her presence and co-operation are essential to the scheme I
have in view. Without her, it would be impossible for me to carry it
out. What this scheme is in all its details, you will excuse me from
explaining to you now. I have told you what the first step is to be.
With your permission, and if you can place full confidence in me, we
will leave the remaining steps to develop themselves in the natural
course of events."

"You have our fullest confidence, Mr. Byrne," said Murray. "We leave
you to conduct the case entirely in the way that may seem best to
you."

Gerald, unperceived by Mr. Murray, passed a slip of paper into Byrne's
hand, on which was pencilled these words--

"Say nothing to Mr. M. about money matters. I will call to-morrow and
arrange with you."

Murray and Gerald walked home together arm-in-arm. The former was in
unusually high spirits.

"Did I not tell you, Gerald, that a way would be found out of the
difficulty before long?"

"We are not out of the wood yet, sir," said Gerald, drily.

"Certainly not; but we have got a glimpse of daylight. But I cannot
hope that you will see with my eyes; I cannot hope that the faith that
burns within me will more than faintly warm you."

Gerald walked with Murray as far as the corner of Ormond Square, and
then stopped the first empty cab that passed him, and hurried back to
Harley Street.

Murray did not go straight home, but wandered back to a favourite
second-hand book-stall, where he was well known. His purchases, it is
true, were never of a very extensive character, being always confined
to the threepenny, or, at the most, to the sixpenny box. But he was a
frequent visitor at the stall, and he always made a point of turning
over the entire contents of the box before making up his mind which
particular treasure he would ultimately choose for his own. On the
present occasion, after half an hour's diligent search, he decided on
the extravagance of a double purchase. He bought "Althazar," an
Arabian romance, for which he paid sixpence; and a "Treatise on
Conic Sections," for which he paid threepence. This done, he walked
quietly home, hugging his treasures under his arm, and promising
himself a good long read that very evening, in either one volume or
the other--it did not matter in the least which.

Mr. Murray's small stock of books, all selected from the same
receptacle as his present purchases, was indeed a somewhat
multifarious one. Nothing modern, nothing frivolous, was to be found
there. They were all books that had seen service in their time, and
the authors of which were not only dead, but forgotten. "Musings in a
Churchyard," and "Travels in Africa in 1755," jostled each other on
the same shelf. "A Treatise on the Steam Engine" had heaped a-top of
it, as though there were some danger of an explosion, "An Essay on the
Measurements and Construction of the Great Pyramid," and a thin volume
of elegiac verse "by Mary M.," whoever she may have been.

It was characteristic of Mr. Murray that he seemed to like any one of
these books as well as another. From each and all of them he seemed to
derive either amusement or information, or perhaps both. And then he
was one of those rare readers who will read the same book contentedly
five or six times over. If he happened to be wakeful in the night, he
would light his candle and pick up the treatise on Steam Engines, if
that happened to come first to his hand, and read himself quietly to
sleep again over matter that he had probably, perused attentively only
some three or four days before.

He had not been at home more than five minutes to-day, when he heard a
clatter of little feet on the stairs, and then came a knocking at his
door, followed by a request that "Uncle Greaves" would go down into
the garden and turn Alice's skipping-rope. So down he went, and turned
the skipping-rope dutifully for half an hour. Then came a whisper from
Frank, who was on thorns to know how the big kite was getting on, that
Uncle Greaves had promised to make for him. It was getting on
famously, he was told. "And will it really be as big as me?" asked
Frank, eagerly. "Bigger--ever so much bigger," was the blissful
answer. Then, with a troubled face, up came little Will. His waggon
and horses had somehow come to grief; would Uncle Greaves try to mend
them? Uncle Greaves would try to mend them, and would not only do
that, but would give Dobbin a new coat of paint, and make an
altogether superior animal of him.

When the afternoon grew dusk and chilly, and tea-time was at hand, the
children would not let their darling uncle go till they had kissed him
all round; and little blue-eyed Kitty, out of sheer love, slipped her
old sawdust doll into his tail-pocket, and so made him a present of
her dearest worldly possession.


"Take that card out of the window," said Mr. Van Duren, a few
afternoons later, to his clerk, Pringle.

"Rooms let at last?" asked Pringle.

"Yes, at last."

"To ancient deaf old party and young lady, I suppose," muttered
Pringle to himself, as he removed the card from the window. "Make this
dead-alive hole a bit more lively, maybe. It needs it bad enough."

A strange thing happened to Max Van Duren that night. It was nearly
midnight when he let himself in with his latch-key. His housekeeper
had gone to bed long ago, and all was dark and silent. He lighted his
bed-candle, and tramped slowly upstairs to his own room. He had put
his candle on the dressing-table, and was proceeding to divest himself
of his cravat, when, happening to glance into the large oval glass in
front of which he was standing, he was startled to see there the
reflection of another face beside his own. It was peering over his
shoulder, and its eyes met his in the glass. Black and full of menace,
or it might be of warning, were those eyes; and but for them, the
face, with its thin line of black moustache, would have looked like
that of a corpse, so death-like was its pallor.

Involuntarily Van Duren wheeled quickly round; but he was alone in the
room. Involuntarily his eyes travelled back to the glass; but there
was only the reflection of his own white face to be seen there now. He
staggered back, and sat down in the nearest chair. But he was a man of
very powerful nerve, and it did not take him long to recover himself.
Presently he rose and crossed the room to a little cupboard. From this
he drew a bottle of some cordial, out of which he poured a few drops
into some water, and then drank the mixture.

There was a writing-table near the fire--when he was restless of a
night, and could not sleep, he would often get up and work for an hour
or two. At this table he now sat down, and drawing from a secret
drawer a book of private memoranda, he proceeded to make the following
entry in it, having first written down the day, month, and year of the
occurrence:--

"At five minutes before twelve to-night I saw once again, and for the
fourth time in my life, the Face in the Glass. It is some years since
I saw it last, and I had begun to flatter myself that I should never
see it again. Never have I seen it except as an omen of ill to follow.
The first time it appeared to me was a few hours before I set foot on
board the cursed 'Albatross.' The second time was the night before
Katrinka tried to poison me, and all but succeeded. The third time was
just before I heard the news of the great smash at Amsterdam, by which
I lost half my fortune. Always as a presage of quick-following
misfortune has that face appeared to me. And always his face! I shall
dream of this for a month to come, and wake up every night shivering
with horror. But what is the misfortune that is about to overtake me
now? Vain question! Never did the horizon look fairer to me than it
does at the present moment. Not the faintest cloud or sign of tempest
anywhere visible. And yet, that something is about to happen--that
some great crisis of my life is near at hand--I feel but too well
assured. If only I knew where to look--if only I knew what to expect!
But I am like a man who is condemned to fight a phantom in the dark.

"To-day I let my empty rooms to a deaf old gentleman and his daughter.
What a bewitching creature the daughter is! Were I only twenty years
younger, I know not into what folly I might be led by the sorcery of a
face like hers."



END OF VOL. I.


______________________________________________
BILLING AND SONS, PRINTERS, GUILDFORD, SURREY.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Secret of the Sea.  (Vol. 1 of 3) - A Novel" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home