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Title: Roland Yorke - A Sequel to "The Channings"
Author: Wood, Mrs. Henry (Ellen)
Language: English
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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.

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Transcriber's Notes:
     1. Page scan source: Google Books
        https://books.google.com/books?id=U3gpAQAAIAAJ
        (Library of the University of California)



[Illustration: Frontcover]



[Frontispiece: Shot in the Leg.]



ROLAND YORKE.

A Sequel to

"THE CHANNINGS."



BY
MRS. HENRY WOOD,
AUTHOR OF "EAST LYNNE."



_TENTH EDITION_.


LONDON:
RICHARD BENTLEY & SON, NEW BURLINGTON STREET.
Publishers in Ordinary to Her Majesty.
1880.

[_All Rights of Translation and Reproduction are Reserved_.]



   "And Deering's Woods are fresh and fair,
        And with joy that is almost pain
    My heart goes back to wander there,
    And among the dreams of the days that were
        I find my lost youth again.
        And the strange and beautiful song,
        The groves are repeating it still:
        'A boy's will is the wind's will,
    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'"

                                                  Longfellow.



CONTENTS.


             PROLOGUE.

CHAP.

          I. In the Moonlight.
         II. Up to the Monday Evening.
        III. Before the Coroner.
         IV. Going Home with the News.
          V. Mr. Butterby in Private Life.
         VI. GODFREY PITMAN.


             PART THE SECOND.
             The Story.

        VII. In the Office.
       VIII. Arrival from Port Natal.
         IX. Unexpected Meetings.
          X. Going into Society.
         XI. Day Dreams.
        XII. Commotion in the Office of Greatorex and Greatorex.
       XIII. Taking the Place of Jelf.
        XIV. Gerald Yorke in a Dilemma.
         XV. Visitors for Mrs. Jones.
        XVI. Winny.
       XVII. At Fault.
      XVIII. Mr. Brown at Home.
        XIX. A Fountain Shivered.
         XX. Grand Reviews.
        XXI. Roland Yorke's Shoulder to the Wheel.
       XXII. A Little More Light.
      XXIII. Laid with his Forefathers.
       XXIV. As Iron into the Soul.


             PART THE THIRD.
        XXV. During the Autumn.
       XXVI. Arriving at Euston Square.
      XXVII. A Private Interview.
     XXVIII. Disappeared.
       XXIX. Restless Wanderings.
        XXX. A New Idea for Mr. Ollivera.
       XXXI. Mr. Galloway Invaded.
      XXXII. In the Cathedral.
     XXXIII. A Startling Avowal.
      XXXIV. A Telegram To Helstonleigh.
       XXXV. Life's Sands Running on.
      XXXVI. Gerald Yorke at a Shooting Party.
     XXXVII. In Custody.
    XXXVIII. Between Bede and his Clerk.
      XXXIX. Nearer and Nearer.
         XL. Godfrey Pitma's Tale.
        XLI. A Telegram for Roland Yorke.
       XLII. A Wide Black Band on Roland's Hat.
      XLIII. Dreams Realized.
       XLIV. Conclusion.



ROLAND YORKE.
-------------

Prologue.


CHAPTER I.
IN THE MOONLIGHT.


The scene of this Prologue to the story about to be written was a
certain cathedral town, of which most of you have heard before, and
the time close upon midnight.


It was a warm night at the beginning of March. The air was calm and
still; the bright moon was shedding her pure light with unusual
brilliancy on the city, lying directly underneath her beams. On the
pinnacles of the time-honoured cathedral; on the church-spire, whose
tapering height has made itself a name; on the clustering roofs of
houses; on the trees of what people are pleased to call the Park; on
the river, silently winding its course along beneath the city walls;
and on the white pavement of its streets: all were steeped in the soft
and beautiful light of the Queen of Night.

Surely at that late hour people ought to have been asleep in their
beds, and the town hushed to silence! Not so. A vast number of
men--and women too, for the matter of that--were awake and abroad. At
least, it looked a good number, stealing quietly in one direction
along the principal street. A few persons, comparatively speaking,
assembled together by daylight, will look like a crowd at night. They
went along for the most part in silence, one group glancing round at
another, and being glanced at, back again: whether drawn out by
curiosity, by sympathy, by example, all seemed very much as if they
were half ashamed to be seen there.

Straight through the town, past the new law-courts, past the squares
and the good houses built in more recent years, past the pavements and
the worn highway, telling of a city's bustle, into the open country,
to where a churchyard abuts upon a side-road. A rural, not much
frequented churchyard, dotted with old graves, its small, grey church
standing in the middle. People were not buried there now. On one side
of the church yard, open to the side way, the boundary hedge had
disappeared, partly through neglect. The entrance was on the other
side, facing the city; and where was the use of raising up again the
trodden-down hedge, destroyed gradually and in process of time by boys
and girls at play? So, at least, argued the authorities--when they
argued about it at all.

People were not buried there now: and yet a grave was being dug. At
the remotest corner of this open side of the churchyard, so close to
the consecrated ground that you could scarcely tell whether they were
on it or off it, two men with torches were working at the nearly
finished, shallow, hastily-made grave. A pathway, made perhaps more of
custom than of plan, led right over it into the churchyard--if any
careless person chose to enter it by so unorthodox a route--and the
common side-road, wide enough to admit of carts and other vehicles,
crossed it on the exact spot where the grave was being dug. So that a
spectator might have said the grave's destined occupant was to lie in
a cross-road.

Up to this spot came the groups, winding round the front hedge
silently, save from the inevitable hum which attends a number, their
footsteps grating and shuffling on the still air. That there was some
kind of _reverence_ attaching to the feeling in general, was proved by
the absence of all jokes and light words; it may be almost said by the
absence of conversation altogether, for what little they said was
spoken in whispers. The open space beyond the grave was a kind of
common, stretching out into the country, so that there was room and to
spare for these people to congregate around, without pressing
inconveniently on the sides of the shallow grave. Not but what
every soul went close to give a look in, taking a longer or shorter
time in the gaze as curiosity was slow or quick to satisfy itself.

The men threw out the last spadeful, patted the sides well, and
ascended to the level of the earth. Not a minute too soon. As they
stamped their feet, like men who have been in a cramped position, and
put their tools away back, the clock of the old grey church struck
twelve. It was a loud striker at all times; it sounded like a gong in
the stillness of the night, and a movement ran through the startled
spectators.

With the first stroke of the clock there came up a wayfarer. Some
traveller who had missed his train at Bromsgrove, and had to walk the
distance. He advanced with a jaunty though somewhat tired step along
the highway, and did not discern the crowd until close upon them, for
the road wound just there. To say that he was astonished would be
saying little. He stood still, and stared, and rubbed his eyes, almost
questioning whether the unusual scene could be real.

"What on earth's the matter?" demanded he of someone near him. "What
does it all mean?"

The man addressed turned at the question, and recognized the speaker
for Mr. Richard Jones, an inhabitant of the town.

At least he was nearly sure it was he, but he knew him by sight but
slightly. If it was Mr. Jones, why this same crowd and commotion had
to do with him, in one sense of the word. Its cause had a great deal
to do with his home.

"Can't you answer a body?" continued Mr. Jones, finding he got no
reply.

"Hush!" breathed the other man. "Look there."

Along the middle of the turnpike-road, on their way from the city,
came eight men with measured and even tread, bearing a coffin on their
shoulders. It was covered with what looked like a black cloth shawl,
whose woollen fringe was clearly discernible in the moonlight. Mr.
Jones had halted at the turning up to the churchyard, where he first
saw the assembly of people; consequently the men bearing the coffin,
whose heavy tread and otherwise silent presence seemed to exhale a
kind of unpleasant thrill, passed round by Mr. Jones, nearly touching
him.

"What _is_ it?" he repeated in a few seconds, nearly wild to have his
understanding enlightened.

"Don't you see what it is?--a coffin. It's going to be buried in that
there cross grave up yonder."

"But who is in the coffin?"

"A gentleman who died by his own hand. The jury brought it in
self-murder, and so he's got to be put away without burial service."

"Lawk a mercy!" exclaimed Mr. Jones, who though a light shallow,
unstable man, given to make impromptu excursions from his home and
wife, and to spend too much money in doing it, was not on the whole a
bad-hearted one. "Poor gentleman! Who was it?"

"One of them law men in wigs that come in to the 'sizes."

Mr. Jones might have asked more but for two reasons. The first was,
that his neighbour moved away in the wake of those who were beginning
to press forward to see as much as they could get to see of the
closing ceremony; the next was, that in a young woman who just then
walked past him, he recognized his wife's sister. Again Mr. Jones
rubbed his eyes, mentally questioning whether this second vision might
be real. For she, Miss Rye, was a steady, good, superior young woman,
not at all likely to come out of her home at midnight after a sight of
any sort, whether it might be a burying or a wedding. Mr. Jones really
doubted whether his sight and the moonlight had not played him false.
The shortest way to solve this doubt would have been to accost the
young woman, but while he had been wondering, she disappeared. In
truth it was Miss Rye, and she had followed the coffin from whence it
was brought, as a vast many more had followed it. Not mixing with
them; walking apart and alone, close to the houses, in the deep
shade cast by their walls. She was a comely young woman of about
seven-and-twenty, tall and fair, with steady blue eyes, good features,
and a sensible countenance. In deep mourning for her mother, she wore
on this night a black merino dress, soft and fine, and a black shawl
trimmed with crape, that she held closely round her. But she had
disappeared; and amidst so many Mr. Jones thought it would be useless
to go looking for her.

A certain official personage or two, perhaps deputies from the
coroner, or from the parish, or from the undertaker furnishing the
coffin and the two sets of bearers--who can tell?--whose mission it
was to see the appointed proceedings carried out, cleared by their
hands and gestures a space around the grave. The people fell back
obediently. They pressed and elbowed each other no doubt, and grumbled
at others crushing them; but they kept themselves back in their
places. A small knot, gentlemen evidently, and probably friends of the
deceased, were allowed to approach the grave. The grave-diggers stood
near, holding the torches. But for those flaring torches, the crowd
would have seen better: they saw well enough, however, in the bright
moonlight.

In the churchyard, having taken up his station there behind an upright
tombstone, where tombstones were thick, stood an officer connected
with the police. He was in plain clothes--in fact, nobody remembered
to have seen him in other ones--and had come out tonight not
officially but to gratify himself personally. Ensconced behind the
stone, away from everybody, he could look on at leisure through its
upper fretwork and take his own observations, not only of the ceremony
about to be performed, but of those who were attending it. He was a
middle-sized, spare man, with a pale face, deeply sunk green eyes,
that had a habit of looking steadily at people, and a small, sharp,
turned-up nose. Silent by nature and by habit, he imparted the idea of
possessing a vast amount of astute keenness as a detector of crime: in
his own opinion he had not in that respect an equal. Nobody could
discern him, and he did not intend they should.

Amidst a dead silence, save for the creaking of the cords, amidst a
shiver of sympathy, of pity, of awful thoughts from a great many of
the spectators, the black covering was thrown aside and the coffin was
lowered. There was a general lifting off of hats; a pause; and then a
rush. One in the front rank--a fat woman, who had fought for her
place--stepped forward in her irrepressible curiosity to take a last
look inside the grave; another followed her; the movement was
contagious, and there was a commotion. Upon which the men holding the
torches swept them round; it threw out the flame rather dangerously,
and the rushers drew back again with half a cry. Not quite all. A few,
more adventurous than the rest, slipped round to the safer side, and
were in time to read the inscription on the lid:

"JOHN OLLIVERA.
   Aged 28."

Short enough, and simple enough, for the sad death. Only a moment
after the cords were drawn away did it remain visible; for the
grave-diggers, flinging their torches aside, threw in the earth,
spadeful upon spadeful, and covered it up from sight.

The shallow grave was soon filled in; the grave-diggers flattened it
down level with spades and feet: no ceremony accorded, you see, to
such an end as this poor man had made. Before it was quite
accomplished, those officially connected with the burial, or with the
buried, left the ground and departed. Not so the mob of people: they
stayed to see the last; and would have stayed had it been until
morning light. And they talked freely now, one with another, but were
orderly and subdued still.

Mr. Jones stayed. He had not mixed with the people, but stood apart in
the churchyard, under the shade of the great yew-tree. Soon he began
to move away, and came unexpectedly upon the detective officer
standing yet behind the gravestone. Mr. Jones halted in surprise.

"Halloo!" cried he. "Mr. Butterby!"

"Just look at them idiots!" rejoined Mr. Butterby, with marked
composure, as if he had seen Richard Jones from the first, and
expected the address. "So _you_ are back!" he added, turning his head
sharply on the traveller.

"I come in from Bromsgrove on my legs; missed the last train there,"
said Mr. Jones, rather addicted to a free-and-easy kind of grammar in
private life: as indeed was the renowned gentleman he spoke to. "When
I got past the last turning and see these here folks, I thought the
world must be gone mad."

"Did you come back on account of it?" asked Mr. Butterby. "Did they
write for you?"

"On account of what? As to writing for me, they'd be clever to do
that, seeing I left 'em no address to write to. I have been going
about from place to place; today there, tomorrow yonder."

"On account of _that_," answered the detective, nodding his head in
the direction of the grave, to which the men were then giving the last
finishing strokes and treads of flattening.

To Mr. Jones's ear there was something so obscure in the words that he
only stared at their speaker, almost wondering whether the grave
officer had condescended to a joke.

"I don't understand you, sir."

Mr. Butterby saw at once how the matter stood: that Dicky Jones--the
familiar title mostly accorded him in the city--was ignorant of recent
events.

"The poor unfortunate man just put in there, Jones,"--with another nod
to the grave--"was Mr. Ollivera, the counsel."

"Mr. Ollivera!" exclaimed the startled Jones.

"And he took his life away at your house."

"Lawk a mercy!" cried Mr. Jones, repeating his favourite expression,
one he was addicted to when overwhelmed with surprise. "Whatever did
he do it for?"

"Ah, that's just what we can't tell. Perhaps he didn't know himself
what."

"How was it, sir? Poison?"

"Shot himself with his own pistol," briefly responded the officer.

"And did it knowingly?--intentional?"

"Intentional for sure, or he'd not have been put in here tonight. They
couldn't have buried a dog with much less ceremony."

"Well, I never knew such a thing as this," cried Mr. Jones, scarcely
taking in the news yet. "When I went away Mr. Ollivera, hadn't come;
he was expected; and my wife----Halloa!"

The cause of the concluding exclamation was a new surprise, great as
any the speaker had met with yet. Mr. Butterby, his keen eyes strained
forward from their enclosed depths, touched him on the arm with
authority to enjoin silence.

The young woman--it would be no offence against taste to call her a
lady, with her good looks, her good manners, her usually calm
demeanour--whom Mr. Jones had recognized as his wife's sister, had
come forward to the grave. Kneeling down, she bent her face in her
hands, perhaps praying; then lifted it, rose, and seemed about to
address the crowd. Her hands were clasped and raised before her; her
bonnet had fallen back from her face and her bright flaxen hair.

"It _is_ Alletha Rye, isn't it, sir?" he dubiously cried.

"Hold your noise!" said Mr. Butterby.

"I think it would be a wicked thing to let you disperse this night
with a false belief on your minds," began Miss Rye, her clear voice
sounding quite loud and distinct in the hushed silence. "Wicked in the
sight of God; unkind and unjust to the dead. Listen to my words,
please, all you who hear me. I believe that a dreadful injury has been
thrown upon Mr. Ollivera's memory; I solemnly believe that _he did not
die by his own hand_. Heaven hears me assert it."

The solemn tone, the strange words, the fair appearance of the young
woman, with her good and refined face deathly pale now, and the
moonlight playing on her light hair, awed the listeners into something
like statues. The silence continued unbroken until Miss Rye moved
away, which she did at once and with a rather quick step in the
direction of the road, pulling her bonnet on her head as she went,
drawing her shawl round her. Even Mr. Jones made neither sound nor
movement until she had disappeared, so entire was his astonishment.

"Was there ever heard the like of that?" he exclaimed, when he at
length drew breath. "Do you think she's off her head, sir?"

He received no answer, and turned to look at Mr. Butterby. That
gentleman had his note-book out, and was pencilling something down in
it by moonlight.

"I never see such a start as this--take it for all in all," continued
Mr. Jones to himself and the air, thus thrown upon his own
companionship.

"And I'd not swear that you've seen the last of it," remarked Mr.
Butterby, closing his note-case with a click.

"Well, sir, goodnight to you," concluded Mr. Jones. "I must make my
way home afore the house is locked up, or I shall get a wigging from
my wife. Sure to get that in any case, now this has happened," he
continued, ruefully. "She'll say I'm always away when I'm wanted at
home in particular."

He went lightly enough over the graves to the opposite and more
frequented side of the churchyard, thus avoiding the assemblage; and
took his departure. There being nothing more to see, the people began
to take theirs. Having gazed their fill at the grave--just as if the
silent, undemonstrative earth could give them back a response--they
slowly made their way down the side-path to the high-road, and turned
towards the city, one group after another.

By one o'clock the last straggler had gone, and Mr. Butterby came
forth from his post behind the sheltering gravestone. He had his
reasons, perhaps, for remaining behind the rest, and for wishing to
walk home alone.

However that might be, he gave their progress a good margin of space,
for it was ten minutes past one when he turned out of the churchyard.
He had just gained the houses, when he saw before him a small knot of
people emerge from a side-turning, as if they had not taken the direct
route in coming from the heart of the city. Mr. Butterby recognized
one or two of them, and whisked into a friendly doorway until they had
passed by.

Letting them get on well ahead, he turned back and followed in their
wake. That they were on their way to the grave, appeared evident: and
the acute officer wondered why. A thought crossed him that possibly
they might be about to take up what had been laid there.

He went into the churchyard by the front gate, and made his way
cautiously across it, keeping under the shadow of the grey church
walls. Thence, stooping as he crossed the open ground, and dodging
behind first one grave then another, he took up his former position
against the high stone. They were at the grave now, and he began to
deliberate whether, if his thought should prove correct, he should or
should not officially interrupt proceedings. Getting his eyes to the
open fretwork of the stone, Mr. Butterby looked out. And what he saw
struck him with a surprise equal to any recently exhibited by Mr.
Jones: he, the experienced police official, who knew the world so
thoroughly as to be surprised at little or nothing.

Standing at the head of the grave was a clergyman in his surplice and
hood. Four men were grouped around him, one of whom held a lantern so
that its light fell upon the clergyman's book. He was beginning to
read the burial service. They stood with bowed heads, their hats off.
The night had grown cold, but Mr. Butterby took off his.


"I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth
in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth
and believeth in me shall never die."


The solemn words doubly solemn at that time and place, came distinctly
to the official ears. Perhaps in all the times he had heard them
during his whole life--many and many that it had been--they had never
so impressed him. But habit is strong; and Mr. Butterby found himself
taking observations ere the psalm had well commenced, even while he
was noticing how heartily the alternate verses were given by the
spectators.

Three of them around the grave he recognized; the other one and the
clergyman he did not. Of those three, one was a tall, fine man of
forty years, Kene, the barrister; the next was a cousin of the
deceased, Frank Greatorex, whom Mr. Butterby only knew by seeing him
in the inquest-room, where he tendered some slight evidence; the third
was a gentleman of the city. Neither the clergyman nor the one who
held the light did Mr. Butterby remember to have seen before. The
elder and other cousin of the deceased was not present, though Mr.
Butterby looked for him; he had been the principal witness on the
inquest--Mr. Bede Greatorex.

The officer could but notice also how singularly solemn, slow, and
impressive was the clergyman's voice as he read those portions of the
service that relate more particularly to the deceased and the faith in
which he has died. "In sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to
eternal life." He almost made a pause between each word, as if he
would impress on his hearers that it was his own belief the deceased
had so died. And again, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord."
And towards the end, in the collect, in the beseeching prayer that
when we depart this life we may rest in Christ, "as our hope is this
our brother doth." It was not to be mistaken that the clergyman, at
least, held firm faith in the absence of guilt of the deceased in
regard to his own death. As indeed the reading of the service over him
proved.

With the Amen of the concluding benediction, there ensued a silence;
every head was bowed in prayer. The clergyman was the first to look
up. He waited until the rest did.

"Allow me to say a word ere we depart," he began then, in a low tone;
which nevertheless quick-eared Mr. Butterby distinctly caught. "From
the bottom of my heart, I believe a foul deed of murder to have been
committed on my good and dear brother. It shall be the business of my
life to endeavour to bring it to light, to clear his name from the
cruel stain pronounced upon it; and my whole time apart from what must
be spent in my appointed duties, shall be devoted to this end. So help
me, Heaven!"

"Amen!" responded the young man who stood by Mr. Kene.

"So! he's the deceased man's brother" was Mr. Butterby's comment on
the clergyman, as he saw him take off his surplice and roll it up.

Blowing out the light in the lantern, they silently took their
departure. Mr. Butterby watched them away, and then finally took his,
his mind in full work.

"Just the same thing that the girl, Alletha Rye, said! It's odd. I
didn't see any doubt about the business: in spite of what Kene said at
the inquest; neither did the coroner; and I'm sure the jury didn't.
Dicky Jones was right, though. Take it for all in all, it's the
queerest start we've had in this town for many a day."



CHAPTER II.
UP TO THE MONDAY EVENING.


On the Saturday previous to the events recorded in the last chapter,
the cathedral city had been the scene of unusual bustle. The judges
came in from Oxford to hold the Spring Assize, bringing in their wake
the customary multiplicity of followers: attendants, officers,
barristers, and others. Some of the witnesses in the different cases
to be tried, civil and criminal also came in that day, to remain until
they should be wanted the following week: so that the town was full.

Amidst the barristers who arrived was Mr. Ollivera. He was a young
man; and it was only the second time he had come on circuit. After
leaving college he had travelled a good deal, and also sojourned in
different foreign countries, acquiring legal experience, and did not
take up his profession at home as early as some do. A fresh-coloured,
pleasing, bright looking man was he, his curly hair of a light auburn,
his eyes blue, his figure elastic and of middle height. All the world
liked John Ollivera. He was essentially of a practical nature, of
sound sense, of pure mind and habits, holding a reverence for all
things holy; and in every respect just the last man who could have
been suspected of a tendency to lay violent hands on himself.

He had written to secure his former lodgings at Mr. Jones's in High
Street, and proceeded to them at once on arriving at the station. It
was the third time he had lodged there. At the previous assizes in
July he had gone there first; and the whole of the month of October,
during the long vacation, he had been there again, having, as people
supposed, taken a liking to the town. So that this was the third time.

He got in between six and seven on the Saturday evening. Ordered tea
and two mutton chops, which were got for him at once, and then went
out to pay a visit to a lady who lived within the precincts of the
cathedral. She was a widow; her husband, Colonel Joliffe, having died
about a year before, leaving her with a slender income and three
expensive daughters. During the colonel's lifetime they had lived in
good style, about two miles from the town; but a great part of his
means died with him, and Mrs. Joliffe then took a small house in the
city and had to retrench in all her ways. Which was a terrible
mortification to the young ladies.

To this lady's house Mr. Ollivera took his way when his frugal dinner
was over. He spent a couple of hours with them, and then returned to
his rooms and got out his law papers, over which he remained until
twelve o'clock, when he went to bed. He occupied the drawing-room,
which was on the first floor over the shop, and looked to the street;
and the bedroom behind it. On the following day, Sunday, he attended
early prayers in the cathedral at eight o'clock, staying to partake of
the Sacrament, and also the later service at eleven, when the judges
and corporation were present. In the afternoon he attended the
cathedral again, going to it with the Miss Joliffes; dined at home at
five, which was also Mrs. Joliffe's dinner hour, and spent the rest of
the evening at her house. Mrs. Jones, his landlady, who had a vast
amount of shrewd observation--and a shrewd tongue too on occasions, as
well as a sharp one--gave it as her opinion that he must be courting
one of the Miss Joliffes. He had been with them a little in his few
days' sojourn at the July assizes, and a great deal with them during
his stay in October.

On Monday morning the trials commenced, and Mr. Ollivera, though he
had no cause on, was in court a great portion of the day. He left it
in the afternoon, telling Mr. Kene that he had an appointment for
half-past three, a disagreeable commission that had been entrusted to
him, he added, and must go and keep it. About half-past four he
appeared at his rooms; Mrs. Jones met him in the hall, and spoke to
him as he went upstairs. When his dinner was sent up at five, the maid
found him buried in a heap of law papers. Hastily clearing a space at
one end of the table, he told her to put the dinner there. In less
than half an hour the bell was rung for the things to be taken away,
and Mr. Ollivera was then bending over his papers again.

The papers no doubt related to a cause in which he was to appear the
following day. It was a civil action, touching some property in which
Mrs. Joliffe was remotely though not actively interested. The London
solicitors were the good old firm of Greatorex and Greatorex; Mr.
Ollivera was a relative of the house; nephew of old Mr. Greatorex, in
fact; and to him had been confided the advocacy of the cause. The name
of the local solicitor it does not signify to mention. It was not a
very important cause: but a new barrister thinks all his causes
important, and Mr. Ollivera was an earnest, painstaking man, sparing
himself no trouble that could conduce to success. He had declined a
proffered dinner engagement for that evening, but accepted an
invitation for the next. So much was known of his movements up to the
Monday evening.

On that same evening, Mr. Bede Greatorex arrived at the station by the
six o'clock train from London; took a fly, and was driven to the Star
and Garter Hotel. He was the son of old Mr. Greatorex, and the second
partner in the firm. His journey down had reference to the next day's
action: something new had unexpectedly arisen; some slight information
been gained of a favourable nature, and Mr. Greatorex, senior, had
despatched his son to confer with Mr. Ollivera in preference to
writing or telegraphing. Bede Greatorex was nothing loth, and entered
on his flying journey with high good-humour, intending to be back in
London by the following midday. He was a tall, fine-looking man, in
face not unlike Mr. Ollivera, except that his hair and eyes were dark,
and his complexion a clear, pale olive; his age about thirty-four. The
cousins were cordial friends.

On arriving at the Star and Garter he declined refreshment then,
having taken an early dinner before leaving town and asked to be
directed to Mr. Ollivera's lodgings in High Street: which was readily
done, High Street being in a direct line with the hotel. Mr. Bede
Greatorex gained the house, and found it to be one of commodious
proportions, the lower part occupied as a hosier's shop, whose windows
were of plate-glass. Over the door in the middle was inscribed
"Richard Jones, hosier and patent shirt-front maker." There was a side
entrance, wide and rather handsome; the house altogether being a good
one. Ringing at the side bell, he inquired of the answering servant
for Mr. Ollivera, and was at once shown up to him.

Mr. Ollivera was seated at the table, his back to the door. The papers
he had been engaged upon were neatly stacked now, as if done with; he
appeared to be writing a note; and a pistol lay at his elbow. All this
was shown both to Mr. Bede Greatorex and the maid, by the bright flame
of the moderator lamp; then lighted.

"Well, John!" cried the visitor, in a gay, laughing tone, before the
girl could speak. "Don't be surprised at seeing me."

Mr. Ollivera turned round at the voice and evidently was surprised:
surprised and pleased.

"Why, Bede!" he cried, starting up. "I'd as soon have expected to see
a ghost."

They shook hands heartily, and Mr. Bede Greatorex sat down. The maid,
to save coming up again to ask, took the opportunity of inquiring when
Mr. Ollivera would like tea; and was answered that he might not want
any; if he did, he'd ring: he might be going out. As the servant shut
the door she heard the visitor begin to explain his errand, and that
his father had sent him in preference to writing. Her ears were always
full of curiosity.

In about an hour's time, Mr. Bede Greatorex departed. A young man
belonging to the house, Alfred Jones, who happened to be passing up
the stairs when Mr. Greatorex was quitting the drawing-room, heard
that gentleman make an appointment with Mr. Ollivera for the morning.

Mr. Bede Greatorex walked back to the hotel, ordered a fire made in
his bedroom against night, took a glass of brandy-and-water, for he
felt cold, washed the travelling dust off his face and hands, which he
had not done before, had his coat brushed, and went out again. It was
nine o'clock then, and he bent his steps quickly towards the cathedral
to call on Mrs. Joliffe, having to inquire the way. It took him
through High Street again, and as he passed his cousin's lodgings, the
same servant who had shown him in was standing at the front-door,
recognized him and dropped a curtsey.

In the drawing-room with Mrs. Joliffe were her three daughters,
Louisa, Clare, and Mary; some three or four friends were also
assembled. They were astonished to see Mr. Bede Greatorex: none of
them knew him well, except Louisa, who had paid a long visit to his
father's house the previous year. She changed colour when he was
announced: and it may have been that his voice took a tenderer tone as
it addressed her; his hand lingered longer in clasping hers than it
need have done. She was an excessively fashionable young lady: not
very young, perhaps six or seven-and-twenty: and if Bede Greatorex
coveted her for a wife it was to be hoped his pockets were well lined.
He spoke just a word to Mrs. Joliffe of having come down on a mission
to Mr. Ollivera; not stating explicitly what it was; and said he was
going back home in the morning.

"We are expecting Mr. Ollivera here tonight," observed Mrs. Joliffe.
"He is late."

"Are you?" was the reply of Mr. Greatorex. "John said he might be
going out, I remember, but I did not know it was to your house. Don't
make too sure of him, Mrs. Joliffe, he seemed idle, and complained of
headache."

"I suppose he is busy," remarked Mrs. Joliffe. "All you law people are
busy at assize time."

"Louisa, is it as it should be between us?" whispered Bede Greatorex,
in an opportunity that occurred when they were alone near the piano.

"Don't be silly, Mr. Greatorex," was the answer.

"Silly!"

She bent her bead, not speaking.

"What do you mean, Louisa? Our engagement was entered upon
deliberately: you gave me every hope. You cannot play with me now.
Speak, Louisa."

He had taken possession of her hand, and was keeping her before him;
his dark eyes, gleaming with their doubt and love, looked straight
into hers.

"What?" she faintly asked. "Why do you question it?"

"Because your manner is strange: you have avoided me ever since I came
in."

"The surprise was so great."

"Surely a pleasant surprise. I intended it as such. Do you suppose I
should have cared to come down on this business to Mr. Ollivera, when
writing would have answered every purpose? No: I came to see you. And
to learn why----"

"Not now. Don't you see mamma is looking at me?"

"And what though she is? I should have liked to speak to your mother
tonight, but for----"

"Not tonight. I pray you not tonight. Take another opportunity."

The words reassured him.

"Then, Louisa, it is all right between us."

"Yes, yes, of course it is. You offended me, Bede, last January, and
I--I have been vexed. I'll write to you as soon as you get back home,
and explain everything."

He pressed her hand with a lingering touch, and then released it.
There was nothing in the wide world so coveted by Bede Greatorex as
that false hand of hers: as many things, fair outside, false within,
are coveted by us poor mortals, blind at the best. But Miss Joliffe
looked half scared as she left him for a safer part of the room; her
eyes and manner were alike restless. Bede followed her, and they were
talking together at intervals in an undertone during the rest of the
evening. Louisa being evidently ill at ease, but striving to conceal
it.

At a quarter to eleven Mr. Bede Greatorex took his departure. In
passing up High Street, his cousin's lodgings were on the opposite
side of the way. He momentarily halted and stepped off the pavement as
if he would have crossed to go in, and then hesitated, for the
sitting-room was in darkness.

"The light's out: he's gone to bed, I dare say," said Mr. Greatorex,
speaking aloud. "No good to disturb him." And a tradesman, who
happened to be fastening his side-door and had got it about an inch
open, overheard the words Mr. Greatorex having doubtless been quite
unaware that he spoke to an auditor.

Towards the top of High Street he met Mr. Kene, the barrister. The
latter, after expressing some surprise at seeing him, and assuming he
had come direct from Mr. Ollivera's, asked whether the latter was in.

"In and in bed," replied Mr. Greatorex.

"Indeed! Why it's not eleven o'clock."

"At any rate, there's no light in his room, or I should have gone up.
He complained of headache: perhaps he has gone to bed early to sleep
it off."

"I want to see him particularly," said the barrister. "Are you sure he
is in bed?"

"You can go and ascertain, Kene. Ring the people of the house up,
should they have gone to bed too. I could see no light anywhere."

Mr. Kene did not care to ring people up, and decided to leave his
business with Mr. Ollivera until the morning. He had been dining with
some fellows he said, and had no idea how the time was running on.
Linking his arm within that of Bede Greatorex, they walked together to
the Star, and there parted. Mr. Greatorex went up at once to his
chamber, stirred the fire into a blaze, rang for the waiter, and
ordered another glass of hot brandy-and-water.

"I think I must have taken cold," he observed to the man when it was
brought to him. "There has been a chill upon me ever since I came
here."

"Nothing more likely, sir," returned the waiter. "Them trains are such
draughty things."

However Mr. Greatorex hoped he should be all right in the morning. He
gave directions to be called at a quarter before eight, and the night
wore on.

Some time before that hour chimed out from the cathedral clock, when
the morning had come, he found himself aroused by a knocking at his
door. A waiter, speaking from the outside, said that something had
happened to Mr. Ollivera. Mr. Bede Greatorex, thinking the words odd,
and not best pleased to be thus summarily disturbed, possibly from
dreams of Louisa Joliffe, called out from the downy pillow (in rather
a cross tone, it must be confessed) to know _what_ had happened to Mr.
Ollivera: and was answered that he was dead.

Springing out of bed, and dressing himself quickly, Bede Greatorex
went downstairs, and found that Kene, who had brought the news, was
gone again, leaving word that he had gone back to High Street. Mr.
Greatorex hastened to follow.

The tale to be told was very singular, very sad, and Bede Greatorex
could not help shivering as he heard it. His cold was upon him still.
It appeared that nothing more had been seen or heard of Mr. Ollivera
after Mr. Greatorex left him the previous evening. Mrs. Jones, the
mistress of the house, had gone out at seven, when the shop closed, to
sit by the bed-side of a dying relative; her sister, Miss Rye, was
also out: the maid left in charge, the only servant the house kept,
had taken the opportunity to spend _her_ time in the street; standing
now at her own door, now at other doors half a score yards off, as she
could get neighbours' servants to gossip with. About half-past ten it
occurred to the maid that she might as well go up and inquire if Mr.
Ollivera wanted anything: perhaps the fact of his not having rung at
all struck her as singular. She knew he had not gone out, or she must
have seen him, for she had contrived to keep a tolerably steady
lookout on the street door, however far she had wandered from it. Up
she went, knocked at the door, got no answer, opened it, saw that the
room was in darkness, and regarded it as a sure proof that Mr.
Ollivera had left the room for the night, for he never put the lamp
out in any other case.

"He's gone to bed early tonight," thought the girl, shutting the door
again. "I hope to goodness he didn't ring, and me not hear it.
Wouldn't missis fly out at me!"

And when Mrs. Jones came in, as she did soon after the girl got
downstairs again, and inquired after Mr. Ollivera, she was told he had
gone to bed.

Now it appeared that Miss Rye sat over the sitting-room fire (a
parlour behind the shop, underneath Mr. Ollivera's bedroom) for some
time after the rest of the house had retired to rest. When at length
she went to bed, she was unable to sleep. Towards morning she dropped
into a doze and was awakened (according to her own account) by a
dream. A very vivid dream, that startled and unnerved her. She dreamt
she saw Mr. Ollivera in his sitting-room--dead. And, as she seemed to
look at him, a terrible amount of self-reproach, far greater than any
she could ever experience in life, rushed over her mind, for not
having gone in earlier to discover him. It was this feeling that awoke
her: it had seemed that he cast it on her, that it came out direct to
her from his dead presence, cold and lifeless though he was. So real
did it all appear, that for some minutes after Miss Rye awoke, she
could not believe it to be only a dream. Turning to look at her watch
she saw it was half-past six, and the sun had risen. An early riser
always, for she had to get her living by dressmaking, Miss Rye got up
and dressed herself: but she could not throw off the impression made
upon her; and a little before seven she went down and opened the door
of Mr. Ollivera's sitting-room. Not so much to see whether it might be
true or not, as to show to herself by ocular demonstration that it was
not true: she might forget the impression then.

But it was true. What was Miss Rye's horror and astonishment at seeing
him, Mr. Ollivera, there! At the first moment of opening the door, she
observed nothing unusual. The white blinds were down before the
windows; the tables, chairs, and other furniture were as customary;
but as she stood looking in, she saw in an easy-chair near the table,
whose back was towards her, the head of Mr. Ollivera. With a strange
bounding-on of all her pulses; with a dread fear at her heart, that
caused it to cease beating, Miss Rye went in and looked at him, and
then flew out of the room, uttering startled cries.

The cries arose the house. Mrs. Jones, the young man Alfred Jones, and
the servant-maid came flocking forth: the two former were nearly
dressed; the maid had been about her work downstairs. Mr. Ollivera lay
back in the easy-chair, dead and cold. The right arm hung down over
the side, and immediately underneath it on the carpet, looking as if
it had dropped from the hand, lay the discharged pistol.

The servant and Alfred Jones ran two ways: the one for a doctor, the
other to Mr. Kene the barrister, who had been intimate with Mr.
Ollivera; Mrs. Jones, a shrewd, clever woman, locking the room up
exactly as it was, until they should arrive.

But now, by a singular coincidence, it happened that Mr. Butterby,
abroad betimes, was the first to meet the running servant-maid, and
consequently, he was first on the scene. The doctor and Mr. Kene came
next, and then Bede Greatorex. Such was the story as it greeted Bede's
ears.

On the table, just as both he and the servant had seen them the night
before, were the neatly-stacked law papers. Also a folded legal
document that had been brought from town by himself, Bede Greatorex.
There were also pens, ink, and a sheet of note-paper, on which some
lines were written. They were as follows:--


"My Dear Friend,--It is of no use. Nothing more can be done. Should I
never see you again, I beg you once for all to believe me when I say
that I _have_ made efforts, though they have been ineffectual. And when

"The pistol is ready to my hand. Goodbye."


The first portion of this letter, up to the point of the abrupt
breaking off, was written in Mr. Ollivera's usual steady hand. The
latter portion was scrawling, trembling, and blotted; the writing
bearing but a faint resemblance to the rest. Acute Mr. Butterby
remarked that it was just the kind of writing an agitated man might
pen, who was about to commit an evil deed. There was no clue as to
whom the note had been intended for, but it appeared to point too
evidently to the intention of self-destruction. Nevertheless, there
was one at least who doubted.

"Is it so, think you?" asked Mr. Kene, in a low tone, as he stood by
the side of Bede Greatorex, who was mechanically turning over the
papers on the table one by one.

"Is it what?" asked Bede, looking up, his tone sharp with pain.

"Self-destruction. There never lived a man less likely to commit it
than your cousin, John Ollivera."

"As I should have thought," returned Mr. Greatorex. "But if it is not
that, what else can it be?"

"There is one other possible solution, at least: putting any idea of
accident aside."

The supposition of accident had not occurred to Bede Greatorex. A
gleam of surprised cheerfulness crossed his face.

"Do you indeed think it could have been an accident, Kene? Then----"

"No; I think it could not have been," interrupted the barrister. "I
said, putting the idea of that aside: it is the most improbable of
any. I alluded to the other alternative."

Mr. Greatorex understood his meaning, and shrunk from its
unpleasantness. "Who would harm Ollivera, Kene? He had not an enemy in
the world."

"So far as we know. But I declare to you, Greatorex, I think it the
more likely thing of the two."

Bede Greatorex shook his head. The facts, so far as they were yet
disclosed, seemed decisive and unmistakable.

They passed into the bedroom. It was all just as the servant had left
it the past evening, ready for the occupation of Mr. Ollivera. On a
small table lay his Prayer-book, and the pocket Bible he was wont to
carry with him in travelling. Bede Greatorex felt a sudden faintness
steal over him as he looked, and leaned for a few moments against the
wall.

But he had no time for indulging grief. He went out, inquiring for the
telegraph office, and sent a message with the news to his father in
town, softening it as well as circumstances allowed: as we all like to
do at first when ill news has to be told. He simply stated that John
(the familiar name Mr. Ollivera was known by at home) had died
suddenly. The message brought down his brother, Frank Greatorex, some
hours later.

To say that the town was thrown into a commotion almost equal to that
of Mrs. Jones's house, would be superfluous. A young barrister, known
to many of the inhabitants, who had come in with the judges only on
Saturday; who was to have led in a cause in the Nisi Prius Court on
that very morning, Tuesday, and to be junior in another cause set down
for Wednesday, in which Mr. Kene, the experienced and renowned Queen's
Counsel, led, had been found dead! And by such a death! It took the
public by storm. Mrs. Jones's shop was besieged to an extent that she
had to put up her shutters; High Street was impassable: and all those
in the remotest degree connected with the deceased or with the
circumstances, were followed about and stared at as though they were
wild animals. Five hundred conjectures were hazarded and spoken: five
hundred tales told that had no foundation. Perhaps the better way to
collect the various items of fact together for the reader, will be to
transcribe some of the evidence given before the coroner. The inquest
was fixed to take place on the Wednesday morning, in the club-room of
an inn lying conveniently near.



CHAPTER III.
BEFORE THE CORONER.


The coroner and jury assembled at an unusually early hour, for the
convenience of Mr. Kene, who wished to be present. It had been thought
that the only brother of the deceased, a clergyman, would have come
down; but he had not arrived. After viewing the body, which lay still
at Mrs. Jones's, the proceedings commenced. Medical testimony was
given as to the cause of death--a pistol-shot that had penetrated the
heart. The surgeon, Mr. Hurst, who had been called in at the first
discovery on Tuesday morning, stated that to the best of his belief,
death (which must have been instantaneous) had taken place early the
previous evening, he should say about seven or eight o'clock. And this
view was confirmed in rather a singular manner. Upon examining the
quantity of oil in the lamp, which Mrs. Jones had herself filled, it
was seen that it could not have burnt very much more than an hour:
thus leaving it to be inferred that the deceased had put it out before
committing the rash deed, and that it must have been done shortly
after Mr. Bede Greatorex left him.

Alletha Rye was called. She spoke to the fact of finding Mr. Ollivera,
dead; and electrified the court, when questioned as to why she had
gone to the sitting-room, seeing that it was an entirely unusual thing
for her to do, by saying that she went in to see whether Mr. Ollivera
was there dead, or not. In the quietest, most composed manner
possible, she related her singular dream, saying it had sent her to
the room.

"Surely," said the coroner, "you did not expect to see Mr. Ollivera
dead?"

"I cannot say I did! I went rather to convince myself that he was
_not_ there dead," was the witness's answer. "But the dream had been
so vivid that I could not shake it from my mind; it made me uneasy,
although my better reason did not put any faith in it whatever that it
could be true. That is why I went to the room. And Mr. Ollivera lay
dead in his chair, exactly as I had seen him in my dream."

The coroner, a practical man, did not know what to make of this
statement: such evidence had never been tendered him before, and he
eyed the witness keenly. To see her stand there in her black robes,
tall, upright, of really dignified demeanour, with her fair features
and good looks--but there were dark circles round her eyes today, and
the soft colour had left her cheeks--to hear her tell of this in her
sensible, calm accents, was something marvellous.

"Were you at home on Monday night?" asked the coroner. And it may as
well be remarked that some of the questions put by him during the
inquest, miscellaneous queries that did not appear to be quite in
order, or have much to do with the point in question, had very
probably their origin in the various rumours that had reached him, and
in the doubt breathed into his ears by Mr. Kene. The coroner did not
in the least agree with Mr. Kene; rather pitied the barrister as a
visionary, for allowing himself to glance at such a doubt; but he was
fond of diving to the bottom of things. Living in the same town,
knowing all the jury personally, in the habit of exchanging a word of
news with Mrs. Jones whenever he met her, the coroner may have been
excused if the proceedings were slightly irregular, involving some
gossip as well as law.

"No," replied the witness. "Except that I ran in for a few minutes. I
had been at work that afternoon at a neighbour's, helping her to make
a gown. I went in home to get a pattern."

"What time was that?"

"I cannot be particular as to the exact time. It must have been nearly
eight."

"Did you see the deceased then?"

"No. I did not see any one except the servant. She was standing at the
open street door. When I had been upstairs to get what I wanted I went
out again."

"Did you hear any noise as you passed Mr. Ollivera's rooms?"

"Not any. I do not know anything more of the details, sir, than I have
told you."

The next witness called was Mr. Bede Greatorex. He gave his evidence
clearly, but at portions of it was evidently under the influence of
some natural emotion, which he contrived to suppress. A man does not
like to show such.

"My name is Bede Greatorex. I am the son of Mr. Greatorex, the
well-known London solicitor, and second partner in the firm Greatorex
and Greatorex. The deceased, John Ollivera, was my cousin, his father
and my mother having been brother and sister. A matter of business
arose connected with a cause to be tried in the Nisi Prius Court, in
which Mr. Ollivera was to be the leading counsel, and my father
despatched me down on Monday to communicate with him. I arrived by the
six o'clock evening train, and was with him before half-past six. We
held a business conference together; I stayed about an hour with him,
and then went back to my hotel. I never afterwards saw him alive."

"I must put a few questions to you with your permission, Mr.
Greatorex, for the satisfaction of the jury," observed the coroner.

"Put as many as you like, sir; I will answer them to the best of my
ability," was the reply.

"First of all--what was the exact hour at which you reached Mr.
Ollivera's rooms?"

"I should think it must have been about twenty minute after six. The
train got in to time, six o'clock; I took a fly to the Star and
Garter, and from thence walked at once to Mr. Ollivera's lodgings, the
people at the hotel directing me. The whole could not have taken above
twenty minutes."

"And how long did you remain with him?"

"An hour: perhaps rather more. I should think I left him about
half-past seven. I was back at the hotel by quarter to eight, having
walked slowly, looking at the different features of the streets as I
passed. I had never been in the town before."

"Well, now, Mr. Greatorex, what was the manner of the deceased while
you were with him? Did you perceive anything unusual?"

"Nothing at all. He was just as he always was, and very glad to see
me. We"--the witness paused to swallow his emotion--"we had ever been
the best of friends and companions. I thought him a little quiet,
dull. As he sat, he bent his forehead on his hand and complained of
headache, saying it had been close in court that day."

("True enough," murmured Mr. Kene.)

"The news you brought down to him was not bad news?" questioned the
coroner.

"Quite the contrary. It was good: favourable to our cause."

"Did you see him write the note found on his table, or any portion of
it?"

"When the servant showed me into the room, he appeared to be writing a
note. As he sat down after shaking hands with me, he put the blotting
paper over what he had written. He did not take it off again, or write
at all while I remained."

"Was it the same note, think you, that was afterwards found?"

"I should think it likely. I noticed that some few lines only were
written. About"--the witness paused a moment--"about the same quantity
as in the first portion of the note."

"Did he put the blotting paper over it to prevent you seeing it, do
you suppose, Mr. Greatorex?"

"I do not know. I thought he was only afraid it might get blotted. The
ink was wet."

"Did any one come in while you were with him?"

"No. I wished him goodnight, intending to see him in the morning, and
was shown out by some young man."

"Do you know to whom that note was written?"

"I have not the slightest idea. Neither do I know to what it alludes."

"Then--your theory, I presume, is--that he added that blotted
concluding line after your departure? In fact, just when he was on the
point of committing the rash act?"

"I do not see what else can be believed. The pen lay across the words
when found, as if thrown there after writing them, and appeared to
have caused the blots."

"Did he say anything to you about any appointment he had kept that
afternoon?"

"Not anything."

"And now about the pistol, Mr. Greatorex. Did you see one on the
table!"

"Yes."

"Did it not strike you as singular that it should be there?"

"Not at all. Mr. Ollivera never travelled anywhere without a pistol;
it was a fancy he had. Some years ago, when in a remote part of Spain,
he was attacked in his chamber at night, robbed, and rather seriously
hurt; since then he has when travelling taken a pistol with him. I
asked him what brought it on the table, and he said he had been
putting a drop of oil on the lock.

"Did you know that it was loaded?"

"I did not. I really did not think much about it one way or the other.
We were busy over the business on which I came down: and I knew as I
have said, that he used to carry a pistol with him when travelling."

"Then--in point of fact, Mr. Greatorex, you can throw no positive
light on this affair for us?"

The witness shook his head. "I wish I could. I have told you all I
know."

"Do you think there can be any reasonable doubt--any doubt
whatever--that he committed suicide?"

"I fear there can be none," replied Mr. Greatorex, in a low tone, and
he shivered perceptibly as he gave it. It was a crime which Bede
Greatorex had always held in shrinking, pitying abhorrence.

"One question more, and then we will release you and thank you for the
clear manner in which you have given your evidence," said the coroner.
"Did you see cause to suspect in that last interview that his mind was
otherwise than in a sane state?"

"Oh no; certainly not."

"It was calm and clear as usual, for all you saw?"

"Quite so."

"Stay. There is one other point. Was the deceased in any kind of
embarrassment, so far as your cognizance goes, pecuniary, or else?"

"I feel quite sure that he was in no pecuniary embarrassment
whatever," returned the witness warmly, anxious to do justice to his
cousin's memory. "As to any other kind of embarrassment, I cannot
speak. I am aware of none; and I think he was one of the least likely
men to get into any."

That was all. Mr. Greatorex bowed to the coroner and gave place to
another witness. A little dark woman in black, with an old-fashioned
black chip bonnet on, and silver threads beginning to mix with her
black hair; but her eyebrows were very black still. Certainly no two
women could present a greater contrast in appearance than she and Miss
Rye, although they were sisters.

"Your name is Julia Jones," began the coroner's man, who knew Mrs.
Jones intimately in private life.

"Yes, it _is_ Julia Jones," emphatically replied the lady, in a tart
voice, and with an accent on the "Jones," as if the name grated on her
tongue. And Mrs. Jones was sworn.

After some preliminary evidence, touching Mr. Ollivera's previous
visits to her, and the length of time he had stayed, which she entered
upon of her own accord and was not checked, Mrs. Jones was asked what
she knew of the calamity. How it was first brought to her knowledge.

"The first was through my sister, Alletha Rye shrieking out from the
first-floor landing below, a little before seven o'clock on Tuesday
morning," responded Mrs. Jones, in the same tart tone; which was, in
fact, habitual to her. "I was in my bedroom, the front room on the
second floor, dressed up to my petticoat, and out I flew, thinking she
must be on fire. She said something about Mr. Ollivera, and I ran
down, and saw him lying in the chair. Jones's nephew, in his waistcoat
and shirtsleeves, and his face all in a lather, for he was shaving,
got into the room when I did."

"When did you see the deceased last, Mrs. Jones?" was the next
question put, after the witness had described the appearance of the
room, the pistol on the carpet, the blotted note on the table, the
quantity of oil in the lamp, and so forth.

"When did I see him last? why on the Monday afternoon, when he came in
from court," responded Mrs. Jones. "I was crossing the hall at the
foot of the stairs, between the parlour and the shop, as he came in.
He looked tired, and I said so; and he answered that he had been about
all day, in the court and elsewhere, and _was_ tired. That's when I
saw him last: never after, till I saw him in his chair, dead."

"You heard nothing of his movements on that evening?"

"I wasn't likely to hear it, seeing I went out as soon as the shop was
shut. Before it, in fact, for I left Jones's nephew to put up the
shutters. Old Jenkins is dying, as all the parish knows, and I went to
sit with him and take him some beef-tea. Jones's nephew, he went out
too, to his debating club, as he calls it. And precious debating it
must be," continued Mrs. Jones, with additional tartness, "if the
debaters are all as green and soft as he! Alletha Rye, she was at work
at Mrs. Wilson's: and so, as ill-luck had it, all the house was out."

"Except your servant, Susan Marks," observed one of the jury. "She was
left at home to keep house, we hear."

"And in a very pretty manner she did keep it!" retorted Mrs. Jones, as
if she had taken a pint of vinegar to set her teeth on edge; when
Susan Marks, at the back, gave a kind of groan, and burst into fresh
tears. "Up the street here, down the street there, over the way at the
doors yonder, staring, and gossiping, and gampusing--that's how _she_
kept it. And on an assize night, of all nights in the year, to be
airing her cap in the street, when barristers and other loose
characters are about!"

The gratuitous compliment paid to the barristers raised a laugh, in
spite of the sad inquiry the court had met upon. Mrs. Jones's epithet
sounded, however, worse to others than to herself.

"And she could tell me, when I got in just before eleven, that Mr.
Ollivera had gone to bed!" resumed that lady, in intense aggravation:
"which, of course, I believed, and we all went up to our rooms,
suspecting nothing. Let me ever catch her out at the street door
again! home she'll go to Upton Snodsbury."

Groans from the back, in the vicinity of Susan Marks.

"Had you known previously, Mrs. Jones, that Mr. Ollivera was in the
habit of bringing with him a loaded pistol?"

"Yes; for he told me. One day last October, when I was up dusting his
drawing-room, he had got it out of the case. I said I should not like
to have such a weapon near me, and he laughed at that. He used to keep
it on the chest of drawers in his bedroom: that is, the case; and I
suppose the thing itself was inside."

"Your husband was not at home when this unfortunate event happened,
Mrs. Jones?"

"No, he was _not_," assented Mrs. Jones; and it was as if she had
swallowed a whole gallon of vinegar now. "He has been off to Wales
last week and this, and is as likely as not to be there next."

Another question or two, not of much import, and Mrs. Jones gave
place to her husband's nephew. He was known in the town for a steady,
well-conducted young man, quite trustworthy. He had not very much to
tell.

"My name is Alfred Jones," he said, "and I live with my uncle, Richard
Jones, as assistant in the shop----"

"----Which wouldn't want any assistant at all, if Jones stayed at home
and stuck to his duties," put in Mrs. Jones's sharp voice from the
back. Upon which she was admonished to hold her tongue: and the
witness continued.

"On Monday night, I put up the shutters at seven, as usual in the
winter season; I changed my coat, washed my hands, and went to the
debating club in Goose Lane. Soon after I got there I found I had
forgotten a book that I ought to have taken back to the club's
library. The time for my keeping it was up, and as we are fined
twopence if we keep a book over time, I went back to get it. It was
then half-past seven. The street door was open, and Susan, the
servant, was standing at it outside. As I ran up the stairs, the book
being in my bedroom at the top of the house, I heard the drawing-room
door open just after I passed it; I turned my head, and saw a
gentleman come out. He----"

"Did you know him, witness?"

"No, sir, he was a stranger to me. I know him now for Mr. Greatorex.
He was talking to Mr. Ollivera. They were making an appointment for
the next morning."

"Did you hear what was said?"

"Yes, sir. As I looked round at the gentleman he was turning his head
back to the room, and said, 'Yes, you may rely upon my coming early;
I'll be here before nine o'clock. Goodnight, John.' Those were, I
think, the exact words, sir."

"Did you see Mr. Ollivera?"

"No, sir, he did not come out, and the gentleman only pushed the door
back a little while he spoke. If it had been wide open I couldn't have
seen in; I was too far, some two or three steps up the stairs. I
turned back then to attend Mr. Greatorex to the street door. After
that I ran up for my book, and left the house again. I was not two
minutes in it altogether."

"Did you see Mr. Ollivera as you came down?"

"No, sir. The drawing-room door was closed, as Mr. Greatorex had left
it. I never saw or heard of Mr. Ollivera again until Miss Rye's
screams brought me down the next morning. That is all I know."

"At what hour did you go home on Monday evening?"

"It was close upon eleven, sir. We generally disperse at half-past ten
but we stayed late that night. Mrs. Jones and Miss Rye had not long
come in, and were in the sitting-room."

The next witness called was Susan Marks. The young woman, what with
her own heinous offences on the eventful night, the dreadful calamity
itself, and the reproaches of her mistress, had been in a state of
tears ever since, fresh bursts breaking forth at the most unseasonable
times.

Susan Marks, aged nineteen, native of Upton Snodsbury, cook and
servant-of-all-work to Mrs. Jones. Such was the young woman's report
of herself, as well as could be heard for her sobs and tears. She was
attired neatly and well; in a print mourning gown and straw bonnet
trimmed with black; her face, that would otherwise have been fresh and
clear, had small patches of red upon it, the result of the many tears
and of perpetual rubbing.

"Now, young woman," said the coroner briskly, as if he thought time
was being lost, "what have you to tell us of the events of Monday
night?"

"Nothing, sir," replied the young woman, in a fresh burst of grief
that could be called nothing less than a howl. "I never see Mr.
Ollivera at all after I showed the gentleman up to him."

"Well, let us hear about that. What time was it?"

"It was past six, sir; I don't know how much. I had washed up Mr.
Ollivera's dinner things, and was putting the plates and dishes on the
dresser shelves, when Mr. Ollivera's bell rang. It was for his lamp,
which I lighted and took in: he always wanted it afore daylight was
well over when he was busy. He seemed in a hurry, and drew down
the window-blinds himself. I lighted the gas-burner outside the
drawing-room door, and went back to the kitchen. No sooner was I
there--leastways it couldn't have been five minutes--when there came a
ring at the street door bell. I went to answer it, and saw a tall
gentleman, who asked for Mr. Ollivera, and I showed him upstairs to
the drawing-room."

"Who was that gentleman?"

"It was Mr. Greatorex. But I didn't know him then, sir. I thought it
was a barrister; he didn't give no name."

"Did you see Mr. Ollivera when you took this gentleman up?"

"Yes, sir. He was sitting with his back towards us, writing at the
table, and I see the things on it. I hadn't noticed them much when I
took the lamp in. I see the papers put together tidy, which had been
all about when he was at his dinner. I think he was very busy that
evening," urged the witness, as if the fact might plead an excuse for
what afterwards took place: "when I removed the dinner things he told
me to put the sherry wine away on the sideboard; sometimes if he
wanted to drink any, he'd have it left on the table."

"Did he seem glad to see Mr. Greatorex?"

"Yes, sir, very. They shook hands, and Mr. Greatorex began telling him
what he had come down about, and said his father had sent him in place
of telegrumming. I asked Mr. Ollivera what time he'd like to have tea,
but he said he didn't know whether he should take any, he might be
going out; if he wanted it, he'd ring. How was I to think, after that,
that I ought to have went up to him, to see how he might be getting
on, which missis has been a going on at me ever since for not doing?"
demanded the witness with a stream of tears.

"Come, come! there, wipe your face," said one of the jury, with gruff
kindness. And the questions went on, and the witness's replies.

It was about an hour that Mr. Greatorex stayed, she thought She saw
him come out at the street door, and go away. Well, yes, she _was_ a
yard or two off, at a neighbour's door, next house but one. After
missis went out and the shop was shut, and Alfred Jones went out, and
there wasn't nobody indoors to want her, she thought it no harm to
stand at the street door a bit: and if she did go a step or two away
from it, she never took her eyes off the door, and no person could go
in or out without her seeing them and that she'd swear. She saw Mr.
Greatorex come out and walk away up High Street; and she never heard
no sound in the house whatsoever.

"Did any one go in?" the coroner asked.

"No, sir, not a soul--barring Alfred Jones and Miss Rye Alfred Jones
came back after he first went out, saying that he had forgot
something, and he went upstairs to fetch it. He wasn't there no time;
and it was while he was up there that Mr. Greatorex came down and
left. Soon after that, Miss Rye, she come in, and went upstairs, and
was there ever so long."

"What do you call 'ever so long'?"

"Well, sir, I'm sure she was there a quarter of an hour," returned the
witness, in a quick, positive sort of tone, as if the fact of Miss
Rye's being there so long displeased her. "I ought to know; and me
a-standing inside the doorsill, afraid to move off it for fear she
should come out."

"Were you alone?"

"Well, yes, sir, I was. Mary, the housemaid at the big linendraper's
next door but one, can bear me out that I was, for she was there all
the time, talking to me."

Perhaps the coroner thought the answer savoured of Hibernianism, for
something like a smile crossed his face.

"And you heard no sound whatever upstairs all the evening, Susan
Marks? You saw no one, except the persons mentioned, go in or come
out; no stranger?"

"I never heard no sound, and never saw no stranger at all," said the
witness, earnestly. "I never even saw Godfrey Pitman leave. But I
b'lieve he was away earlier."

The concluding assertion fell with some surprise on the room; there
ensued a pause, and the coroner lifted his head sharply. Godfrey
Pitman? Who was Godfrey Pitman?

"Who is Godfrey Pitman, witness?"

"It was the lodger at the top of the house, sir. He had the front
bedroom there--and a fine dance it was to carry his meals up. Missis
gave him the offer of eating them in the little room off the kitchen,
but I suppose he was too proud to come down. Anyway, he _didn't_
come."

"Is he lodging there now?"

"Oh no, sir, he was only there a week and a day, and left on the
Monday. He was a traveller in the spectacles line, he told me, passing
through the town; which he likewise wore himself sometimes. Well, sir,
I never see him go at all, and he didn't never give me a shilling for
having waited on him and carried his trays up all them stairs."

The girl had told apparently what she knew, and the coroner requested
Mrs. Jones to come in again. He questioned her about the lodger.

"It was a person of the name of Pitman," she answered, readily. "He
was only passing through the town, and occupied the room for a week."

"Who was he?" asked the coroner. "Did you know him?"

"I didn't know him from Adam," answered Mrs. Jones, tartly; "I didn't
know anything about him. I called him Alletha Rye's lodger, not mine,
for it was she who picked him up. He may have told her all about
himself, for aught I can say: she seemed to take a desperate fancy to
him, and mended his travelling bag. He didn't tell me. Not but what he
seemed a civil, respectable man."

"When did he leave you, Mrs. Jones?"

"On Monday, about half-past four, when he took the five o'clock train
for Birmingham. He came to the inner shop door as he was going out,
and thanked me for my kindness, as he called it, in taking him in at a
pitch; he said it was not what every one would do for a stranger.
Neither is it."

"You are sure he left you at that hour?"

"Have I got the use of my eyes and senses?" demanded Mrs. Jones.
"Sure! I walked to the side door after him, and saw him go up the
street towards the railway with his blue bag. Of course I am sure. It
was as I crossed the hall, on my way back, that Mr. Ollivera came in,
and I spoke to him as I have told you."

It was therefore placed beyond doubt that the lodger, Mr. Pitman,
could have no part or act in what took place in the house later. The
coroner would have dismissed the subject summarily, but that one of
the jury, a man who liked to hear himself talk, expressed an opinion
that it might be satisfactory if they questioned Miss Rye. With a
gesture of impatience the coroner called for her.

She came in, was asked what she knew of Mr. Pitman, and stood before
them in silence, her face a little bent, her forefinger, encased in
its well-fitting black kid glove, pressed lightly on her lip, her
clear blue eye looking out straight before her. It was as if she were
trying to recall something to her memory.

"I recollect now," she said, after a minute "I could not remember what
took me up by the railway station where I met him. It was on last
Sunday week, in the afternoon. Mrs. Hillman, who lives up there, was
ill, and I had been to see her. As I was leaving her house, towards
dusk, a few passengers were coming down from the station. I stood on
the doorstep until they should have passed; and one of them, who had a
blue bag in his hand, like those that lawyers' clerks carry, stopped
and asked me if I had a room in my house that I could let him occupy
for a week. I supposed he took the house where I stood for mine. He
went on to say he was a traveller and stranger, had never before been
to the town, felt very poorly, and would very much wish to be spared
the bustle of an hotel. I knew that my sister, Mrs. Jones had a
bedroom ready for letting," continued Miss Rye, "and I thought she
might not object to oblige him; he spoke quite as a gentleman, and I
felt rather sorry for him, for he looked haggard and ill. That is how
it happened."

"And your sister admitted him, and he stayed the week?" cried the
juror.

"Strictly speaking, I admitted him; for when we reached home I found
Mrs. Jones had gone to sit with old Jenkins for the rest of the day.
So I took it upon myself to do so. On Saturday last Mr. Pitman said he
would, with our permission, remain a day over the week, and leave on
Monday.

"And did he pay the rent, Miss Rye?" asked the juror, who perhaps had
a doubt on the point.

"He paid the first week's rent as soon as he was admitted to the
house, and gave a sovereign towards the purchase of his provisions,"
was the answer. "What remained he settled for on the Monday, previous
to his departure by the five o'clock train for Birmingham."

"Who was he, witness? Where did he come from?"

"I really cannot tell much about him," was Miss Rye's reply. "I
understood him to say he was a traveller; his name, as he wrote it
down for us, was Godfrey Pitman. He was laid up with a bad cold and
relaxed throat all the time he stayed, and borrowed some books of me
to read."

There appeared to be no further scope for the exercise of the juror's
powers; no possible loophole for bringing this departed Mr. Godfrey
Pitman into connection with the death of Mr. Ollivera; and Miss Rye
was allowed to depart.

Little more evidence was to be gleaned. Mr. Kene, tendering evidence,
spoke of his long intimacy with the deceased, and of their last
interview, when he was just the same that he ever had been: calm,
cheerful, earnest-purposed. He could not understand, he added,
how it was possible for Mr. Ollivera to have laid violent hands on
himself--unless, indeed, the headache, of which he had complained, had
proceeded from some derangement of the functions of the brain, and
induced temporary insanity.

But this suggested theory was wholly incompatible with the letter that
had been found, and with Mr. Bede Greatorex's testimony of the sane
mind of the deceased when he quitted him. The jury shook their heads:
keen-eyed Mr. Butterby, looking on unobtrusively from a remote nook of
the room, shook his.

The inquest drew to a close; the one fatal element in the evidence
being the letter found on the table. The coroner and jury debated upon
their verdict with closed doors, and only re-admitted the public when
they had decided: It did not take them long.

"Felo-de-se."

In accordance with the customary usage, a mandate was issued for a
night interment, without Christian rites; and the undertaker promised
to be ready for that same night.

The crowd filed out of the room, talking eagerly. That it was
undoubtedly a case of self-murder, and that in the most unhappy sense
of the word, none doubted. No, not one: even Mr. Kene began to waver.

As they were dispersing hither and thither along the street, there
came hastily up a young man in the garb of a clergyman. It was the
Reverend Henry William Ollivera, brother of the deceased gentleman. He
had just arrived by train. In as few words as possible, his cousin,
Frank Greatorex, and Mr. Kene imparted to him some hasty particulars
of the unhappy event.

"He never did it," said the clergyman, solemnly. "Bede"--for at that
moment Bede Greatorex joined the speakers--"how could you suffer them
to bring in a verdict so horrible?"

But Mr. Ollivera had not heard the full details yet. By common
consent, as it were, they had not at first told him of the letter.
Bede would not tell it now. Let the worst come out to him by degrees
thought he.

"I am going up to town," said Bede Greatorex. "If----"

"And not stay for tonight?" interrupted one of them, in an accent that
savoured of reproach.

"Nay, I must consider my father," was the grave reply of Bede. "He is
in suspense all this while, waiting for news."

So they parted. Bede Greatorex hastened to catch the departing train
for London. And the others remained to see the last of the ill-fated
John Ollivera.

He was carried out of Mr. Jones's in the bright moonlight, soon after
eleven o'clock had struck. Whether intentionally, as best befitting
the scanty ceremony to be performed, or whether in accidental
forgetfulness the undertaker had failed to provide a covering for the
coffin. And Mrs. Jones, with sundry sharp and stinging words of
reprimand to the man, as it was in the nature of Mrs. Jones's tongue
to give, brought down a long woollen black scarf-shawl, and helped to
spread it over the coffin with her own hands.

Thus the procession started, preceded by many curious gazers, followed
by more, Alletha Rye stealing on amidst the latter number; and so went
on to the place of interment.

You have seen what took place there.



CHAPTER IV.
GOING HOME WITH THE NEWS.


In the vicinity of Bedford Square, so near to it that we may as well
designate the locality by that name throughout the story, stood the
large professional residence of Greatorex and Greatorex. It was large
in every sense of the word; both as to the size of the house, and to
the extent of the business transacted in it. A safe, good, respectable
firm was that of Greatorex and Greatorex, standing as well in the
public estimation as any solicitors could stand; and deservedly so,
Mr. Greatorex was a man of nice honour; upright, just, trustworthy. He
would not have soiled his hands with what is technically called dirty
work; if any client wanted underhand business done, swindling work
(although it might be legal) that would not bear the light of day, he
need not take it to Greatorex and Greatorex.

The head of the firm, John Greatorex, was still in what many call the
prime of life. He was fifty-eight, active and energetic. Marrying when
he was very young, he really did not look a great deal older than his
son Bede. And Bede was not his first-born. The eldest son had entered
the army; he was in India now, Captain Greatorex. _He_ also had
married young, and his little daughter and only child had been sent
home to her grand-parents in accordance with the prevailing custom.

The wife of Mr. Greatorex had been Miss Ollivera, sister to the father
of John Ollivera, the barrister, whose sad end has been lately
recorded. Mrs. Greatorex had fallen into ill-health or some time past
now; in fact, she was slowly dying of an incurable complaint. But for
not liking to leave her, Mr. Greatorex might have hastened down as
soon as the sad news reached him of his nephew's premature end. I say
he "might;" but Mr. Greatorex was, himself, only recovering from an
attack of illness, and was scarcely strong enough to travel. And so he
waited at home with all the patience he could call up, understanding
nothing but that his nephew John, who had been as dear to him as were
his own children, was dead. His children had been many: eight. James
(Captain Greatorex), the eldest; Bede the second, one year younger;
next came two daughters, who were married and away; then a son,
Matthew, who was working his way to competency in Spain; the two next
had died, and Francis was the youngest. The latter, called Frank
always, was in the house in Bedford Square, but not yet made a
partner.

The young barrister just dead, John Ollivera, left no relations to
mourn for him, except his brother Henry William, and the Greatorex
family. The two brothers had to make their own way in the world, their
uncle Mr. Greatorex helping them to do it; the elder one choosing the
Bar (as you have seen); Henry William, the Church. John had his
chambers in Lincoln's Inn, and would certainly have risen into note
had he lived: Henry William was a curate.

Three o'clock was striking in London on Wednesday afternoon, as a
train slackened its speed and drew into the Paddington terminus. One
of the first of its passengers to alight was Mr. Bede Greatorex. He
had a small black bag in his hand, and jumped with it into a hansom
cab.

"Bedford Square!"

The cabman answered with a nod as he touched his hat. He had driven
Mr. Bede Greatorex before, who was sufficiently well known in London.
Instead, however, of being permitted to dash up to the well-known
door, the man found himself stopped a few yards short of it.

"I'll get out here," said Bede Greatorex.

Paying the fare, he went on with his bag, and glanced up at the
windows as he crossed to the house. All the blinds were down. It was a
very large house: it had been two originally. In the old, old days,
some thirty or more years ago, Mr. Greatorex had rented only one of
the houses. As his family and business increased, he bought the one he
occupied and the next adjoining, and made them into one. There were
two entrances still; the one pertained to the house and Mrs.
Greatorex; the other was the professional entrance. The rooms on the
ground floor--and there were several--were taken up by the business;
one of them, looking to the garden, was the sitting-room of Mr.
Greatorex.

Bede went to the private entrance, and let himself in with his
latchkey. Lodging his small bag at the foot of the handsome staircase,
he walked through some passages to his father's sitting-room, which
was empty. Retracing his steps he went upstairs; a maidservant
happened to meet him on the first landing; he handed her the bag and
opened the door of the dining-room. A spacious, well-fitted up
apartment, its paper white and gold, with streaks of crimson slightly
intermingled to give it colour.

Mr. Greatorex was there. He sat over the fire and had fallen asleep.
It surprised Bede: for Mr. Greatorex was a man not given to idleness
or indulgence of any kind. Indeed, to see him sitting upstairs in the
day time was an event almost unknown. Bede closed the door again
softly. There was a haggard look in the elder man's face, partly the
effect of his recent illness; and Bede would not disturb him.

Outside the door, he stood a moment in hesitation. It was a spacious
landing-place, something like an upper hall. The floor was carpeted
with dark green; painted windows--yellow, blue, crimson--threw down a
bright light of colour; there was a small conservatory at one end,
containing odoriferous plants on which the sun was shining; and a
chaste statue or two imparted still life to the whole.

Bede hesitated. None but himself knew how horribly he hated and
dreaded the tale he had to tell about poor John Ollivera. All the way
up he had been rehearsing to himself the manner in which he should
break it for the best, but the plan had gone clean out of his head
now.

"I'll go up and wash my hands first, at any rate," decided Bede. "The
dust was worse than we had it on Monday."

Ascending to the second landing, he was quietly crossing it to his own
room, when a door was flung open, and a pretty little girl in blue,
her curling hair bound back with ribbons, came flying out. It was the
daughter of Captain Greatorex. The young lady had naturally a will of
her own; and since her arrival from India, the indulgence lavished on
her had not tended to lessen it. But she was a charming child, and
wonderfully keen.

"Oh, Bede, have you come back! Grandmamma has been asking for you all
the day."

"Hush, Jane! I'll go in to grandmamma presently."

Miss Jane did not choose to "hush." She evaded Bede's hand, flew
across the soft carpet of the landing, and threw open a bedroom door,
calling out that Bede had come. As to styling him Uncle Bede, she had
never done anything of the kind.

He heard his mother's voice, and could almost have boxed the child's
ears. Back she came again, laying hold of him this time, her saucy
dark brown eyes, grave now, lifted up to his face.

"Bede, how came John Ollivera to die?"

"Hush, Jane," he said again. This was precisely the point on which he
did not care to hold present communication with his mother. He wished,
if possible, to spare her; but the little girl was persistent.

"_Is_ he dead, Bede?"

"Yes, child, he is dead."

"Oh, dear! And he can never kiss me again, or bring me new dolls! I
broke the last one in two, and threw it at him."

Her eyes filled with tears. Bede, deep in thought, put away the little
hands that had fastened on his arms.

"I liked him better than you, Bede. What made him die?"

"Bede! Bede! is that you?" called out his mother.

Bede had to go in. Mrs. Greatorex was on the sofa, dressed, her back
supported by pillows. Her complexion was of dark olive, showing her
Spanish extraction; a capable, kindly woman she had ever been in life;
and was endeavouring now to meet the death that she knew could not be
far off, as a Christian should. He stooped and kissed her. In features
he resembled her more than any of her children.

"Do you feel better, mother?"

"My dear, you know that there can be no 'better' for me here. The pain
is not heavy today. Have you just come up to town?"

"Just got in now."

"And what have you to tell me? I cannot _believe_ that John is dead.
When the telegram came yesterday morning, your father happened to be
with me, and they brought it up. But for that, I dare say he would not
have told me yet. He spares me all the trouble that he can, you know,
dear. I fainted, Bede; I did indeed. The death must have been very
sudden."

"Yes," replied Bede.

"Was it a fit? Jane, run to the schoolroom. Your governess will be
angry at your staying away so long."

Jane's answer to this mandate was to perch herself on the arm of the
sofa, side by side with the speaker, and to fix her eyes and her
attention on the face of Bede.

"None of the Olliveras have been subject to fits; remember that,
Bede," continued Mrs. Greatorex. "Neither did John himself look at all
likely for one. To think that he should go before me! Jane, my little
dear one, you must indeed go to Miss Ford."

"I am going to stay here, grand'ma, and to hear about John."

"There's nothing much to hear, or to tell," spoke Bede, as much
perhaps for his mother's ear as for the child's. "If you do not obey
your grandmamma, Jane, I shall take you myself to the schoolroom.

"No, you won't, Bede. Why don't you answer grand'ma about John?"

Mrs. Greatorex had nearly left off contending with Miss Jane; weary,
sick, in pain, it was too much effort, and she generally yielded to
the dominant little will. As she appeared to do now, for it was to
Bede she spoke.

"Bede, dear, you are keeping me in suspense. Was it a fit?"

"No; it could not be called a fit."

"The heart, perhaps?"

"His death must have been quite sudden," said Bede, with pardonable
evasion. "Instantaneous, the doctors thought: and therefore without
pain."

"Poor John! poor John! The veil is lifted for him. Bede!"

Bede had begun to turn his attention to the young lady, and was
putting her down from the sofa. He wheeled round at the word, and Miss
Jane mounted again.

"What, mother?"

Mrs. Greatorex dropped her voice reverently: and her dark eyes,
looking large from illness, had a bright, hopeful, yearning light in
them as she spoke.

"I think he was fit to go."

"Yes," answered Bede, swallowing a lump of emotion. "It is the one
drop of comfort amidst much darkness. At least----. But I must keep my
word," he added, breaking suddenly off, and seizing the child again,
as if glad of an excuse to cease; "you go now to Miss Ford, young
lady."

She set up a succession of cries. Bede only carried her away the
faster.

"You'll come back and tell me more, Bede," said Mrs. Greatorex.

"I will come by-and-by," he turned to say. "I have pressing things to
do; and I have not yet spoken with my father. Try and get your
afternoon's sleep, mother dear."

Miss Ford, a nursery governess, stood at the schoolroom door, and
began to scold her pupil as she received her from the hands of Mr.
Bede Greatorex. He shut himself into his room for a few minutes, and
then descended the stairs in deep thought. He had begun to ask himself
whether the worst could not be kept from his mother; not for very long
could she be spared to them now.

Mr. Greatorex was then coming out of the dining-room. He shook hands
with his son, and they went back and sat down together. Bede grew
quite agitated at the task before him. He hated to inflict pain; he
knew that John Ollivera had been dear to his father, and that the blow
would be keenly felt. All the news as yet sent up by him to Bedford
Square was, that John was dead.

Whence, then, that grey look on his father's face?--the haggard mouth,
the troubled, shrinking eyes going searchingly out to Bede's? Mr.
Greatorex was a fresh-looking man in general, with a healthy colour
and smooth brown hair, tall and upright as his son. He looked short
and shrinking and pale now.

"Bede, how came he to do it?"

Something like a relief came into Bede's heart as he heard the words.
It was so much better for the way to have been paved for him!--the
shock would not be so great.

"Then you know the particulars, sir.

"I fear I know the truth, Bede; not the particulars. _The Times_ had a
short paragraph this morning, saying that John Ollivera had died by
his own hand. Was it so?"

Bede gravely nodded. His breath was coming and going faster than is
consistent with inward calmness.

"My God!" cried Mr. Greatorex, from between his quivering lips, as he
sank into a chair, and covered his face with his hands. But the sacred
word was not spoken in irreverence; no, nor in surprise; rather, as it
seemed, in the light of an appealing prayer.

"And what could have induced it?" came the question presently, as he
let his hands fall.

"I had better tell you the whole from the beginning," said Bede, "you
will then----"

"Tell it, of course," interrupted Mr. Greatorex. "Begin at the
beginning."

Bede stood up, facing the fire; his elbow on the mantelpiece, his
back partially turned to his father, while he told it: he did not care
to watch the anguish and horror of the usually placid face. He
concealed nothing: relating how he had reached the City and held an
interview with his cousin; how he had left him after the lapse of an
hour, promising to be with him in the morning before starting for
town; and how he had been aroused from his bed by the tidings that
John was dead. He described the state of the room when found; the
pistol lying underneath the hand; the note on the table. As well as
Bede Greatorex could repeat the details, as testified to before the
coroner--and we may be very sure they were implanted with painful
exactitude on his memory--he gave them all faithfully.

"It might have been an accident," urged Mr. Greatorex, in an imploring
kind of tone, as if he wanted to be assured that it was.

Bede did not answer.

"I forgot the writing, Bede; I forgot the writing," said Mr.
Greatorex, with a groan.

"Whatever it might be, whether accident or self-intended, it is an
awful shame to bury him as they are going to do," burst forth Bede, in
a sudden access of anger.

And the words served to tell Mr. Greatorex what the verdict had been.

"It is a sin, sir; yes, it is. I could not stay to see it."

"So it may be, Bede; but that's the least of it--that's the least of
it. I'd as soon have believed myself capable of such a thing as that
John Ollivera was. Oh, John! John!"

A painful silence. Bede felt glad that his task was so far over.

"His motive, Bede? What could have been his motive?"

"There was no motive, father; as far as I can see."

"You were young men together, Bede; of the same pursuits--frequent
companions; did you ever suspect he had any care, or embarrassment, or
trouble?"

"No. He had none, I feel sure."

"Those first words of the note, as you have related them, sound
curious," resumed Mr. Greatorex. "What was it that he was trying to
accomplish?"

"We cannot discover; no clue whatever has come to light. It would
almost seem as though he had written them to the air, without
foundation."

"That would be to say his senses had deserted him."

"Kene thinks that the headache of which he had complained may have
proceeded from some disordered function of the brain, and induced
insanity."

"Do _you_ think it?" asked Mr. Greatorex, looking at his son. "You
were the last person who saw him alive."

"I should be glad to think it if I could. He was quite calm and
collected when I was with him; just as usual."

"The extraordinary thing to me is, that nobody should have heard the
discharge of the pistol."

"The people of the house were all out. Even the servant-girl had gone
about the neighbourhood gossiping."

"It might have been heard in the street."

"If the street were quiet, perhaps yes. But on assize nights, they
tell me, there is an unusual deal of outdoor bustle."

Mr. Greatorex sat looking at the fire, and revolving the different
points of the dreadful history. Bede resumed.

"I was wondering whether the worst of the details could be kept from
my mother. They would try her terribly. She only thinks as yet, I
find, that he died suddenly."

"Because she only knows as much as your telegram said. It will be
impossible to keep it from her; the newspapers will be full of it.
Three times today has your mother sent down for _The Times_, and I
have returned an excuse. There's no help for it, Bede."

"Then you shall tell her, sir. I can't. It must be broken to her by
degrees. How was it William Ollivera was so late in coming down?" he
suddenly resumed. "He only arrived today as I was departing."

"William Ollivera was out of town, and did not return until last
night. You have said nothing about our cause, Bede."

"That's all right. It was taken yesterday afternoon. Kene led in the
place of John, and we got the verdict."

"Where are John's papers and things?"

"His brother and Frank will take charge of them. I have his private
letters. I thought it best to come up to you at once, knowing you were
in suspense."

"A suspense that has been grievous since I read that paragraph this
morning, Bede. I have been fit for nothing."

Neither was Bede that day. Mr. Greatorex rose to go to his wife's
room, there to enter upon his task--just as his son had been entering
upon it with him. Bede paced the carpet for a few minutes alone. It
was a long room; the furniture not dark and heavy, but light-looking
and pleasant to the eye, though comprising all the requisites for a
well-appointed dining-room. Bede took a look at himself in the
pier-glass, and pushed his hair off his forehead--his sisters used to
accuse him of inordinate vanity. And then quitted the room and the
house.

He was bending his steps to Lincoln's Inn, to the chambers occupied by
his cousin. Not many yards had he gone, before someone darted across
the street and pounced upon him.

"Halloa, Greatorex! What's this, that's up about Ollivera?"

It was a Chancery barrister, who had known John Ollivera well. Bede
Greatorex explained in a few short words, and hurried off.

"I can't stay to tell you more now," he said in apology. "There's a
great deal to do and to be thought of, and I hardly know whether our
heads are on our shoulders or off. I'm on my way to his chambers to
search if there may be any paper, or aught else, that can throw light
on it."

A hansom passed at the moment, and Bede jumped into it. He might have
met fifty questioners, else, and reached his destination after dark.
The chambers were on the third floor, and he went up to them. Mr.
Ollivera's clerk, a small youth of nineteen, was at his post; and the
laundress, who waited on Mr. Ollivera, was there also. The news had
brought her up in tears.

Perhaps it was excusable that they should both begin upon Mr. Bede
Greatorex in their thirst for information. Respectfully, of course,
but eagerly. He responded in a few quiet words, and passed into the
rooms, the woman's sobs following him.

Here was the sitting-room where John saw people; next to it his
bedroom; all in neat order. Near the bed was a small mahogany stand,
and a cushioned chair. On the stand lay his Bible--just as the other
one was seen but yesterday resting on its stand elsewhere. Bede knew
that his cousin never failed to read that Bible, and to fall on his
knees before the chair morning and evening. He turned away with a
groan, and proceeded to his work of search.

Only a casual search today; there was no time for minute examination.
Just a look here and there, lest haply he might come upon some paper
or letter of elucidation. But he could not find any.

"I am going to lock the rooms up, Jenner," he said to the clerk.
"Things must be left as they are until the Reverend Mr. Ollivera comes
to town. He will have the arrangement of matters. I don't suppose
there's any will."

"Am I to leave the service at once, sir?--now?" asked Mr. Jenner, in
excessive surprise.

"You must leave the rooms now--unless you would like to be locked up
in them," returned Bede Greatorex. "Call in Bedford Square tomorrow
morning; we may be able to recommend something you to: and perhaps you
will be wanted here again for a few days."

They quitted the chambers together; and Mr. Bede Greatorex took
possession of the key. "I suppose," he said to the clerk, as they went
down, "that you never observed any peculiarity of manner in Mr.
Ollivera that might tend to induce suspicion of aberration of mind?"

The young man turned round and stared, scarcely taking in the sense of
the question. Certainly there had not been anything of the kind
observable in Mr. Ollivera.

"He was cheerful and sensible always, sir: he didn't seem to have a
care."

Bede sighed, and proceeded homeward. A recollection came over him, as
he went along in the dusk, of the last evening he had walked home from
his cousin's chambers; it was only the night before John had gone on
circuit. Oh, the contrast between that time and this! And Bede
thought, in the bitter grief and sorrow of the moment, that he would
willingly forfeit his own life could he recall that of John Ollivera.



CHAPTER V.
MR. BUTTERBY IN PRIVATE LIFE.


The bustle of the assizes was over; the tramp and tread and hum had
gone out of the streets; the judges, the barristers, and the rest of
the transitory visitors had departed, to hold their assize at the next
county town.

A great deal of the bustle and the hum of another event had also
subsided. It does not linger very long when outward proceedings are
over, and sensational adjuncts have ceased; and Mr. Ollivera, at the
best, had been but a stranger. The grave where he lay had its visitors
still; but his brother and other friends had left for London, carrying
his few effects with them. Nothing remained to tell of the fatal act
of the past Monday evening; but for that grave, it might have seemed
never to have had place in reality.

The Reverend Mr. Ollivera had been firm in refusing to admit belief in
his brother's guilt. He did not pretend to judge how it might have
happened, whether by accident or by some enemy's hand; but he felt
convinced the death could not have been deliberately self-inflicted.
It was an impossibility, he avowed to Mr. Butterby--and he was looked
upon, by that renowned officer, as next door to a lunatic for his
pains. There was no more shadow of a doubt on Mr. Butterby's mind that
the verdict had been in accordance with the facts, than there was on
other people's.

Always excepting Alletha Rye's. She had been silent to the public
since the avowal at the grave; but, in a dispute with Mrs. Jones, had
repeated her assertion and belief. Upon a report of the display coming
to Mrs. Jones's ears, that discreet matron--who certainly erred on the
side of hard, correct, matter-of-fact propriety, if on any--attacked
her sister in no measured terms. There were several years between
them, and Mrs. Jones considered she had a right to do it. Much as Mrs.
Jones had respected Mr. Ollivera in life, she entertained no doubt
whatever on the subject of his death.

"My opinion is, you must have been crazy," came the sharp reprimand.
"Go off after that tramping tail to the grave! I wish I'd seen you
start. A good name is easier lost than regained, Alletha Rye."

"I am not afraid of losing mine," was the calm rejoinder.

"Folks seldom are till they find it gone," said Mrs. Jones, tartly.
"My goodness! not content with trapesing off there in the middle
of the night, you must go and make an exhibition of yourself
besides!--kneeling down on the damp earth to pray, in the face and
eyes of all the people; and then rising to make a proclamation, just
as if you had been the town bellman! Jones says it struck him dumb."

Alletha Rye was silent. Perhaps she had felt vexed since, that the
moment's excitement had led her to the act.

"Who are _you_, that you should put yourself up against the verdict?"
resumed Mrs. Jones. "Are you cleverer and sharper than the jury, and
the coroner, and me, and Mr. Ollivera's friends, and the rest of the
world, all of us put together? There can't be a _doubt_ upon the
point, girl."

"Let it drop," said Alletha, with a shiver.

"Drop! I'd like to see it drop. I'd like the remembrance of it to drop
out of men's minds, but you've took care that shan't be. What on earth
induced you to go and do it?"

"It was a dreadful thing that Mr. Ollivera should lie under the
imputation of having killed himself," came the answer, after a pause.

"Now, you just explain yourself, Alletha Rye. You keep harping on that
same string, about Mr. Ollivera; what grounds have you for it?"

The girl's pale face flushed all over. "None," she presently answered.
"I never said I had grounds. But there's that vivid dream upon me
always. He seemed to reproach me for not having sooner gone into the
room to find him; and I'm sure no self-murderer would do that. They'd
rather lie undiscovered for ever. Had I kept silence," she
passionately added, "I might have become haunted."

Mrs. Jones stared at the speaker with all the fiery fervour of her
dark, dark eyes.

"Haunted! Haunted by what?"

"By Mr. Ollivera's spirit; by remorse. Remorse for not doing as I am
sure he is wishing me to do--clear his memory."

Mrs. Jones lifted her hands in wonder, and for once made no retort.
She began to question in real earnest whether the past matters had not
turned her sister's brain.

Dicky Jones was present during this passage-at-arms, which took place
on the Thursday, after breakfast. He had just been enduring a battery
of tongue on his own score; various sins, great and small, being
placed before him in glaring colours by his wife; not the least
heinous of which was the having arrived home from his pleasure trip at
the unseasonable hour of half after one o'clock in the morning. In
recrimination he had intimated that others of the family could come in
at that hour as well as himself; not to do Alletha Rye harm, for he
was a good-natured man, as people given to plenty of peccadilloes are
apt to be; but to make his own crime appear the less. And then it all
came out; and Mrs. Jones's ears were regaled with Alletha Rye's share
in the doings at the interment.

On this same Thursday, but very much later in the day, Frank Greatorex
and the Reverend Mr. Ollivera departed from the city, having stayed to
collect together the papers and other effects of the deceased
gentleman. Which brings us (the night having passed, and a great
portion of the ensuing day) to the opening of the chapter.

Mr. Butterby sat in his parlour: one of two rooms he occupied on the
ground floor of a private house very near a populous part of the city.
He was not a police-sergeant; he was not an inspector; people did not
know what he was. That he held sway at the police-station, and was a
very frequent visitor to it, everybody saw. But Mr. Butterby had been
so long in the town that speculation though rife enough at first upon
the point, had ceased as to what special relations he might hold
with the law. When any one wanted important assistance, he could,
if he chose, apply to Mr. Butterby, instead of to the regular
police-inspector; and, to the mind of the sanguine inquirer, that
application appeared to constitute a promise of success.

Mr. Butterby's parlour faced the street. Its one sash window,
protected by shutters thrown back in the day, and by green dwarf
venetian blinds and a white roller-blind inside, was not a very large
one. Nevertheless, Mr. Butterby contrived to keep a tolerable lookout
from it on those of his fellow citizens who might chance to pass. He
generally had the white blinds drawn down to meet, within an inch, the
mahogany top of the venetian ones; and from that inch of outlet, Mr.
Butterby, standing up before the window, was fond of taking
observations. It was an unpretending room, with a faded carpet and rug
on the floor; a square table in the middle, a large bureau filled with
papers in a corner; some books in a case opposite, and a stock of
newspapers on the top of that; and a picture over the mantelpiece
representing Eve offering the apple to Adam.

Mr. Butterby sat by the fire at his tea, taking it thoughtfully. He
wore an old green coat with short tails sprouting out from the waist,
not being addicted to fashion in private life, and a red-and-black
check waistcoat. It was Friday evening and nearly dusk. He had been
out on some business all the afternoon  but his thoughts were not
fixed on that, though it was of sufficient importance; they rested on
the circumstances attending the death of Mr. Ollivera.

Before the brother of the deceased had quitted the town, he had made
an appointment with Mr. Butterby, and came to it accompanied by Frank
Greatorex; the fly, conveying them to the station, waiting at the
door. The purport of his visit was to impress upon that officer his
full conviction that the death was not a suicide, and to request that,
if anything should arise to confirm his opinion, it might be followed
up.

"He was a good, pure-minded man; he was of calm, clear, practical
mind, of sound good sense; he was fond of his profession, anxious to
excel in it; hopeful, earnest, and without a care in the world," urged
the Reverend Mr. Ollivera, with emotion. "How, sir, I ask you, could
such a man take away his own life?"

Mr. Butterby shook his head. It might be unlikely, he acknowledged;
but it was not impossible.

"I tell you it is impossible," said Mr. Ollivera. "I hold a full,
firm, positive conviction that my brother never died, or could have
died, by his own wilful hands: the certainty of it in my mind is so
clear as to be like a revelation from heaven. Do you know what I did,
sir? I went to the grave at night after he was put into it, and read
the burial service over him."

"I see you doing it," came the unexpected answer of Mr. Butterby. "The
surplice you wore was too long for you and covered your boots."

"It belonged to a taller man than I am--the Reverend Mr. Yorke," the
clergyman explained. "But now, sir, do you suppose I should have dared
to hold that sacred service over a man who had wilfully destroyed
himself?"

"But instead of there being proof that he did not wilfully destroy
himself, there's every proof that he did," argued Mr. Butterby.

"Every apparent proof; I admit that; but I know--I know that the
proofs are in some strange way false; not real."

"The death was real; the pistol was real; the writing on the
note-paper was real."

"I know. I cannot pretend to explain where the explanation may be
hidden; I cannot see how or whence the elucidation shall come. One
suggestion I will make to you, Mr. Butterby it is not clear that no
person got access to the drawing-room after the departure from it of
Mr. Bede Greatorex. At least, to my mind. I only mentioned this
thought," concluded Mr. Ollivera, rising to close the interview; for
he had no time to prolong it. "Should you succeed in gleaning
anything, address a communication to me, to the care of Greatorex and
Greatorex."

"Stop a moment," cried Mr. Butterby, as they were going out. "Who
holds the paper that was found on the table?"

"I do," said Frank Greatorex. "Some of them would have had it
destroyed; Kene and my brother amidst them; they could not bear to
look at it. But I thought my father might like to see it first, and
took it into my own possession."

A smile crossed the lip of the police agent. "Considering the two
gentlemen you mention are in the law, it doesn't say much for their
forethought, to rash at destroying the only proof there may remain to
us of anybody else's being guilty."

"But then, you know, they do not admit that any one else could have
been guilty," replied Frank Greatorex. "At least my brother does not;
and Kene only looks upon it as a possible case of insanity. Do you
want to see the paper? I have it in my pocket."

"Perhaps you'd not mind leaving it with me for a day or two," said Mr.
Butterby. "I'll forward it up safe to you when I've done with it."

Frank Greatorex took the paper from his pocketbook and handed it to
the speaker. It was folded inside an envelope now. Mr. Butterby
received possession of it and attended his guests to the door, where
the fly was waiting.

"You'll have to drive fast, Thompson," he said to the man. And
Thompson, touching his hat to the officer, who was held in some awe by
the city natives, whipped his horse into a canter.

It was upon this interview that Mr. Butterby ruminated as he took his
tea on the Friday evening. In his own opinion it was the most
unreasonable thing in the world, that anybody should throw doubt upon
the verdict. Nothing but perversity. He judged it--and he was a
keen-sighted man--to be fully in accordance with the facts, as given
in evidence. Excepting perhaps in one particular. Had he been on the
jury he should have held out for a verdict of insanity.

"They are but a set of bumble-heads at the best," soliloquised
Mr. Butterby, respectfully alluding to the twelve men who had returned
the verdict, as he took a large bite out of his last piece of
well-buttered pikelet. "Juries for the most part always are: if they
have got any brains they send them a wool-gathering then. Hemming, the
butter-and-cheese man, told me he did say something about insanity;
and he was foreman, too; but the rest of 'em and the coroner wouldn't
listen to it. It don't much matter, for he got the burial rites after
all, poor fellow: but if I'd been them, I should have gave him the
benefit of the doubt."

Stopping in his observations to put the rest of the pikelet in his
mouth, Mr. Butterby went on again as he ate it.

"It might have been that, insanity; but as to the other suspicion,
there's no grounds whatever for it on the face of things at present.
If such is to be raised I shall have to set to work and hunt 'em up.
Create 'em as it were. 'Don't spare money,' says that young clergyman
last night when he sat here; 'your expenses shall be reimbursed to you
with interest.' As if I could make a case out of nothing! I'm not a
French Procureur-Imperial."

Drinking down his tea at a draught, Mr. Butterby tried the teapot,
lest a drop might be left in it still, turning it nearly upside down
in the process. The result was, that the lid came open and a shower of
tea-leaves descended on the tray.

"Bother!" said Mr. Butterby, as he hastily set the teapot in its
place, and went on with his arguments.

"There's something odd about the case, though, straightforward as it
seems; and I've thought so from the first. That girl's dream, for
example, which _she_ says she had; and her conduct at the grave. It
was curious that Dicky Jones should just be looking on at her," added
Mr. Butterby, slightly diverging from the direct line of consecutive
thought: "curious that Dicky should have come up then at all. First,
Alletha Rye vows he didn't do it; and, next, the parson vows it,
Reverend Ollivera. Kene, too--but he points to insanity; and now the
young fellow, Francis Greatorex. Suppose I go over the case again?"

Stretching out his hand, Mr. Butterby pulled the bell-rope--an
old-fashioned twisted blue cord with a handle at the end; and a young
servant came in.

"Shut the shutters," said he.

While this was in process, he took two candles from the mantelpiece,
and lighted them. The girl went away with the tea-tray. He then
unlocked his bureau, and from one of its pigeon-holes brought forth a
few papers, memoranda, and the like, which he studied in silence, one
after the other.

"The parson's right," he began presently; "if there is a loophole it's
where he said--that somebody got into the room after the departure of
Mr. Greatorex. Let's sum the points up."

Drawing his chair close to the table on which the papers lay, Mr.
Butterby began to tell the case through, striking his two forefingers
alternately on the table's edge as each point came flowing from his
tongue. Not that "flowing" is precisely the best word to apply, for
his speech was thoughtfully slow, and the words dropped with
hesitation.

"John Ollivera, counsel-at-law. He comes in on the Saturday with the
other barristers, ready for the 'sizes. Has a cause or two coming on
at 'em, in which he expects to shine. Goes to former lodgings at
Jones's, and shows himself as full of sense and sanity as usual; and
he'd got his share of both. Spends Saturday evening at his friend's,
Mrs. Joliffe's, the colonel's widow; is sweet, Mrs. Jones thinks, on
one of the young ladies; thought so when he was down last October.
Gets home at ten like a decent man, works at his papers till twelve,
and goes to bed."

Mr. Butterby made a pause here, both his fingers resting on the table.
Giving a nod, as if his reflections were satisfactory, he lifted his
hands and began again.

"Sunday. Attends public worship and takes the sacrament. _That's_ not
like the act of one who knows he is on the eve of a bad deed. Attends
again after breakfast, with the judges, and hears the sheriff's
chaplain preach. (And it was not a bad sermon, as sermons go,"
critically pronounced Mr. Butterby in a parenthesis). "Attends again
in the afternoon to hear the anthem, the Miss Joliffes with him. Dines
at Jones's at five, spends evening at Joliffes'. Home early, and to
bed."

Once more the hands were lifted. Once more their owner paused in
thought. He gave two nods this time, and resumed.

"Monday. Up before eight. Has his breakfast (bacon and eggs), and goes
to the Nisi Prius Court. Stays there till past three in the afternoon,
tells Kene he must go out of court to keep an appointment that wasn't
a particularly pleasant one, and goes out. Arrives at Jones's at
half-past four; passes Mrs. Jones in that there small back hall of
theirs; she tells him he looks tired; answers that he _is_ tired and
has got a headache; court was close. Goes up to his sitting-room and
gets his papers about; (papers found afterwards, on examination, to
relate to the cause coming on on Tuesday morning). Girl takes up his
dinner; he eats it, gets to his papers again, and she fetches things
away. Rings for his lamp early, quarter-past six may be, nearly
daylight still; while girl puts it on table, draws down blinds himself
as if in a hurry to be at work again. Close upon this Mr. Bede
Greatorex calls, (good firm that, Greatorex and Greatorex,"
interspersed Mr. Butterby, with professional candour). "Bede Greatorex
has come down direct from London (sent by old Greatorex) to confer
with Ollivera on the Tuesday's cause. Stays with him more than an
hour. Makes an appointment with him for Tuesday morning. Jones's
nephew, going upstairs at the time, hears them making it, and shows
Mr. Bede Greatorex out. Might be half-past seven then, or two or three
minutes over it; call it half-past. Ollivera never seen again alive.
Found dead next morning in arm-chair; pistol fallen from right hand,
shot penetrated heart. Same chair he had been sitting in when at his
papers, but drawn aside now at corner of table. Alletha Rye finds him.
Tells a cock-and-bull of having been frightened by a dream. Dreamt he
was in the sitting-room dead, and goes to see (she says) that he was
not there, dead. Finds him there dead, however, just as (she says) she
saw him in her dream. Servant rushes out for doctor, meets me, and I
am the first in the room. Doctor comes, Hurst; Kene comes, Jones's
nephew fetching him; then Kene fetches Bede Greatorex. Doctor says
death must have took place previous evening not later than eight
o'clock. Mrs. Jones says lamp couldn't have burnt much more than an
hour: is positive it didn't exceed an hour and a half; but she's one
of the positive ones at all times, and women's judgment is fallible.
Now then, let's stop."

Mr. Butterby put his hands one over the other, and looked down upon
them, pausing before he spoke again.

"It draws the space into an uncommon narrow nutshell. When Bede
Greatorex leaves at half-past seven, Ollivera is alive and well--as he
and Jones's nephew both testify to--and, according to the evidence of
the surgeon, and the negative testimony of the oil in the lamp, he is
dead by eight. If he did not draw the pistol on himself, somebody came
in and shot him.

"Did he draw it on himself? I say Yes. Coroner and jury say Yes. The
public say Yes. Alletha Rye and the Reverend Ollivera say No. If we
are all wrong--and I don't say but that there's just a loophole of
possibility of it--and them two are right, why then it was murder. And
done with uncommon craftiness. Let's look at the writing.

"Those high-class lawyers are not good for much in criminal cases,
can't see an inch beyond their noses; they don't practise at the Old
Bailey, they don't," remarked Mr. Butterby, as he took from the papers
before him the unfinished note found on Mr. Ollivera's table, the loan
of which he had begged from Frank Greatorex. "The idea of their
proposing to destroy this, because 'they couldn't bear to look at it!'
Kene, too; and Bede Greatorex! _they_ might have known better. _I'll_
take care of it now."

Holding it close to one of the candles, the detective scanned it long
and intently, comparing the concluding words, uneven, blotted, as if
written with an agitated hand, with the plain collected characters of
the lines that were undoubtedly Mr. Ollivera's. When he did arrive at
a conclusion it was a summary one, and he put down the paper with an
emphatic thump.

"May I be shot myself if I believe the two writings _is_ by the same
hand!"

Mr. Butterby's surprise may plead excuse for his grammar. He had
never, until this moment, doubted that the writing was all done by one
person.

"I'll show this to an expert. People don't write the same at all
times; they'll make their capitals quite different in the same day, as
anybody with any experience knows. But they don't often make their
small letters different--neither do men study to alter their usual
formation of letters when about to shoot themselves; the pen does its
work then, spontaneous; naturally. These small letters are different,
several of them, the _r_, the _p_, the _e_, the _o_, the _d_; all them
are as opposite as light and dark, and I _don't_ think the last was
written by Mr. Ollivera."

It was a grave conclusion to come to; partially startling even him,
who was too much at home with crime and criminals to be startled
easily.

"Let's assume that it is so for a bit, and see how it works that way,"
resumed the officer. "We've all been mistaken, let's say; Ollivera,
did not shoot himself, someone goes in and shoots him. Was it man or
woman; was it an inmate of the house, or not an inmate? How came it to
be done? what was the leading cause? Was the pistol (lying convenient
on the table) took up incidental in the course of talking and fired by
misadventure?--Or did they get to quarrelling and the other shot him
of malice?--Or was it a planned, deliberate murder, one stealing in to
do it in cold blood? Halt a bit here, Jonas Butterby. The first--done
in misadventure? No: if any honest man had so shot another, he'd be
the first to run out and get a doctor to him. No. Disposed of. The
second--done in malice during a quarrel? Yes; might have been. The
third--done in planned deliberation? That would be the most likely of
all, but for the fact (very curious fact in the supposition) of the
pistol's having been Mr. Ollivera's, and put (so to say) ready there
to hand. Looking at it in either of these two views, there's mystery.
The last in regard to the point now mentioned; the other in regard to
the secrecy with which the intruder must have got in. If that dratted
girl had been at her post indoors, as she ought to have been, with the
chain of the door up, it might never have happened," concluded Mr.
Butterby, with acrimony.

"Between half-past seven and eight? Needn't look much before or much
beyond that hour. Girl says nobody went into the house at all, except
Jones's nephew and Jones's sister-in-law. Jones's nephew did not stay;
he got his book and went off again at half-past seven, close on the
heels of Bede Greatorex, Mr. Ollivera being then alive. Presently,
nearer eight, Alletha Rye goes in, for a pattern, she says, and she
stays upstairs, according to the girl's statement, a quarter of an
hour."

Mr. Butterby came to a sudden pause. He faced the fire now, and sat
staring into it as if he were searching for what he could not see.

"It does not take a quarter of an hour to get a pattern. _I_ should
say not. And there was her queer dream, too. Leastways, the queer
assertion that she had a dream. Dreams, indeed!--moonshine. Did she
invent that dream as an excuse for having gone into the room to find
him? And then look at her persistence from the first that it was not a
suicide! And her queer state of mind and manners since! Dicky Jones
told me last night when I met him by the hop-market, that she says
she's haunted by Mr. Ollivera's spirit. Why should she be, I wonder? I
mean, why should she fancy it? It's odd; very odd. The young woman, up
to now, has always shown out sensible, in the short while this city
has known her.

"That Godfrey Pitman," resumed the speaker. "The way that man's name
got brought up by the servant-girl was sudden. I should like to know
who he is, and what his business might have been. He was in hiding;
that's what he was. Stopping indoors for a cold and relaxed throat! No
doubt! But it does not follow that because he might have been in some
trouble of his own, he had anything to do with the other business;
and, in fact, he couldn't have had, leaving by the five o'clock train
for Birmingham. So we'll dismiss _him_.

"And now for the result?" concluded Mr. Butterby, with great
deliberation. "The result is that I feel inclined to think the young
parson may be right in saying it was not a suicide. What it _was_, I
can't yet make my mind up to give an opinion upon. Suppose I inquire
into things a bit in a quiet manner?--and, to begin with, I'll make a
friendly call on Dicky Jones and madam. She won't answer anything that
it does not please her to, and it never pleases her to be questioned;
on the other hand, what she does choose to say is to be relied upon,
for she'd not tell a lie to save herself from hanging. As to
Dicky--with that long tongue of his, he can be pumped dry."

Mr. Butterby locked up his papers, changed his ornamental coat for a
black one, flattened down the coal on his fire, blew out the candles,
took his hat, and went away.



CHAPTER VI.
GODFREY PITMAN.


Mrs. Jones was in her parlour, doing nothing: with the exception of
dropping a tart observation from her lips occasionally. As the
intelligent reader cannot have failed to observe, tartness in regard
to tongue was essentially an element of Mrs. Jones's nature; when
anything occurred to annoy her, its signs increased four-fold; and
something had just happened to annoy her very exceedingly.

The parlour was not large, but convenient, and well fitted-up. A good
fire burnt in the grate, throwing its ruddy light on the bright
colours of the crimson carpet and hearthrug; on the small sideboard,
with its array of glass; on the horsehair chairs, on the crimson cloth
covering the centre table, and finally on Mrs. Jones herself and on
her sister.

Mrs. Jones sat at the table, some work before her, in the shape of
sundry packages of hosiery, brought in from the shop to be examined,
sorted, and put to rights. But she was not doing it. Miss Rye sat on
the other side the table, stitching the seams of a gown-body by the
light of the moderator lamp. The shop was just closed.

It had happened that Dicky Jones, about tea-time that evening, had
strayed into his next-door neighbour's to get a chat: of which light
interludes to business Dicky Jones was uncommonly fond. The bent of
the conversation fell, naturally enough, on the recent calamity in Mr.
Jones's house: in fact, Mr. Jones found his neighbour devouring the
full account of it in the Friday evening weekly newspaper, just damp
from the press. A few minutes, and back went Dicky to his own parlour,
his mouth full of news: the purport of which was that the lodger,
Godfrey Pitman, who had been supposed to leave the house at half-past
four, to take the Birmingham train, did not really quit it until some
two or three hours later.

It had not been Mrs. Jones if she had refrained from telling her
husband to hold his tongue for a fool; and of asking furthermore
whether he had been drinking or dreaming. Upon which Dicky gave his
authority for what he said. Their neighbour, Thomas Cause, had watched
the lodger go away later, with his own eyes.

Mr. Cause, a quiet tradesman getting in years, was fetched in, and a
skirmish ensued. He asserted that he had seen the lodger come out of
the house and go up the street by lamplight, carrying his blue bag;
and he persisted in the assertion, in spite of Mrs. Jones's tongue.
She declared he had _not_ seen anything of the sort; that either his
spectacles or the street lights had deceived him. And neither of them
would give in to the other.

Leaving matters in this unsatisfactory state, the neighbour went out
again. Mrs. Jones exploded a little, and then had leisure to look at
her sister, who had sat still and silent during the discussion. Still
and silent she remained; but her face had turned white, and her eyes
wore a wild, frightened expression.

"What on earth's the matter with _you?_" demanded Mrs. Jones.

"Nothing," said Miss Rye, catching hold of her work with nervous,
trembling fingers. "Only I can't bear to hear it spoken of."

"If Mr. Pitman didn't go away till later, that accounts for the
tallow-grease in his room," suddenly interposed Susan Marks, who,
passing into the parlour, caught the thread of the matter in dispute.

Mrs. Jones turned upon her. "Tallow-grease!"

"I didn't see it till this afternoon," explained the girl. "With all
the commotion there has been in the house, I never as much as opened
the room-door till today since Mr. Pitman went out of it. The first
thing I see was the carpet covered in drops of tallow-grease; a whole
colony of them: and I know they were not there on the Monday
afternoon. They be there still."

Mrs. Jones went upstairs at once, the maid following her. Sure enough
the grease drops were there. Some lay on the square piece of carpet,
some on the boarded floor; but all were very near together. The
candlestick and candle, from which they had no doubt dropped, stood on
the wash-hand-stand at Mrs. Jones's elbow, as she wrathfully gazed.

"Ho must have been lighting of his candle sideways," remarked the girl
to her mistress; "or else have held it askew while hunting for
something on the floor. If he stopped as late as old Cause says, why
in course he'd need a candle."

Mrs. Jones went down again, her temper by no means improved. She did
not like to be deceived or treated as though she were nobody; neither
did she choose that her house should be played with. If the lodger
missed his train (as she now supposed he might have done) and came
back to wait for a later  one, his duty was to have announced himself,
and asked leave to stay. In spite, however, of the tallow and of Mr.
Cause, she put but little faith in the matter. Shortly after this
there came a ring at the side-door, and Mr. Butterby's voice was heard
in the passage.

"Don't say anything to him about it," said Miss Rye hastily, in a low
tone.

"About what?" demanded Mrs. Jones, aloud.

"About that young man's not going away as soon as we thought he did.
It's nothing to Butterby."

There was no time for more. Mr. Butterby was shown in and came forward
with a small present for Mrs. Jones. It was only a bunch of violets;
but Mrs. Jones, in spite of her tartness, was fond of flowers, and
received them graciously: calling to Susan to bring a wine-glass of
water.

"I passed a chap at the top of High Street with a basketfull; he said
he'd sold but two bunches all the evening, so I took a bunch,"
explained Mr. Butterby. "It was that gardener's man, Reed, who met
with the accident and has been unfit for work since. Knowing you liked
violets, Mrs. Jones, I thought I'd just call in with them."

He sat down in the chair, offered him, by the fire, putting his hat in
the corner behind. Miss Rye, after saluting him, had resumed work, and
sat with her face turned to the table, partially away from his view;
Mrs. Jones, at the other side of the table, faced him.

"Where's Jones?" asked Mr. Butterby.

"Jones is off, as usual," replied Jones's wife. "No good to ask where
_he_ is after the shop's shut; often not before it."

It was an unlucky question, bringing back all the acrimony which the
violets had partially soothed away. Mr. Butterby coughed, and began
talking of recent events in a sociable, friendly manner, just as if he
had been Mrs. Jones's brother, and never in his life heard of so rare
an animal as a detective.

"It's an uncommon annoying thing to have had happen in your house,
Mrs. Jones! As if it couldn't as well have took place in anybody
else's! There's enough barristers lodging in the town at assize time,
I hope. But there! luck's everything. I'd have given five shillings
out of my pocket to have stopped it."

"So would I; for his sake as well as for mine," was Mrs. Jones's
answer. And she seized one of the parcels of stockings and jerked off
the string.

"Have you had any more dreams, Miss Rye?"

"No," replied Miss Rye, holding her stitching closer to the light for
a moment. "That one was enough."

"Dreams is curious things; not to be despised," observed crafty Mr.
Butterby; than whom there was not a man living despised dreams, as
well as those who professed to have them, more than he. "But I've
knowed so-called dreams to be nothing in the world but waking
thoughts. Are you sure that one of yours was a dream, Miss Rye?"

"I would rather not talk of it, if you please," she said. "Talking
cannot bring Mr. Ollivera back to life."

"What makes you persist in thinking he did not kill himself?"

Mr. Butterby had gradually edged his chair forward on the hearthrug,
so as to obtain a side view of Miss Rye's face. Perhaps he was
surprised, perhaps not, to see it suddenly flush, and then become
deadly pale.

"Just look here, Miss Rye. If he did not do it, somebody else did. And
I should like to glean a little insight as to whether or not there are
grounds for that new light, if there's any to be gleaned."

"Why, what on earth! are _you_ taking up that crotchet, Butterby?"

The interruption came from Mrs. Jones. That goes without telling, as
the French say. Mr. Butterby turned to warm his hands at the blaze,
speaking mildly enough to disarm an enemy.

"Not I. I should like to show your sister that her suspicions are
wrong: she'll worrit herself into a skeleton, else. See here: whatever
happened, and however it happened, it must have been between half-past
seven and eight. You were in the place part of that half-hour, Miss
Rye, and heard nobody."

"I have already said so."

"Shut up in your room at the top of the house; looking for--what was
it?--a parcel?"

"A pattern--a pattern of a sleeve. But I had to open parcels, for I
could not find it, and stayed searching. It had slipped between one
drawer and another at the back."

"It must have took you some time," remarked Mr. Butterby, keeping his
face on the genial fire and his eyes on Miss Rye.

"I suppose it did. Susan says I was upstairs a quarter of an hour, but
I don't think it was so long as that. Eight o'clock struck after I got
back to Mrs. Wilson's."

Mr. Butterby paused. Miss Rye resumed after a minute.

"I don't think any one could have come in legitimately without my
hearing them on the stairs. My room is not at the top of the house, it
is on the same floor as Mrs. Jones's; the back room immediately over
the bedroom that was occupied by Mr. Ollivera. My door was open, and
the drawers in which I was searching stood close to it. If any----"

"What d'ye mean by legitimate?" interrupted Mr. Butterby, turning to
take a full look at the speaker.

"Openly; with the noise one usually makes in coming upstairs. But if
any one crept up secretly, of course I should not have heard it. Susan
persists in declaring she never lost sight of the front door at all; I
don't believe her."

"Nobody does believe her," snapped Mrs. Jones, with a fling at the
socks. "She confesses now that she ran in twice or thrice to look at
the fires."

"Oh! she does, does she," cried Mr. Butterby. "Leaving the door open,
I suppose?"

"Leaving it to take care of itself. She says she shut it; I say I know
she didn't. Put it at the best, it was not fastened; and anybody might
have opened it and walked in that had a mind to and robbed the house."

The visitor, sitting so unobtrusively by the fire, thought he
discerned a little glimmer of possibility breaking in amidst the utter
darkness.

"But, as the house was not robbed, why we must conclude nobody did
come in," he observed. "As to the verdict--I don't see yet any reason
for Miss Rye's disputing it. Mr. Ollivera was a favourite, I suppose."

The remark did not please Miss Rye. Her cheek flushed, her work fell,
and she rose from her seat to turn on Mr. Butterby.

"The verdict was a wrong verdict. Mr. Ollivera was a good and brave
and just man. Never a better went out of the world."

"If I don't believe you were in love with him!" cried Mr. Butterby.

"Perhaps I was," came the unexpected answer; but the speaker seemed to
be in too much agitation to heed greatly what she said. "It would not
have hurt either him or me."

Gathering her work, cotton, scissors in her hands, she went out of the
room. At the same moment there arrived an influx of female visitors,
come, without ceremony, to get an hour's chat with Mrs. Jones.
Catching up his hat, Mr. Butterby dexterously slipped out and
disappeared.

The street was tolerably empty. He took up his position at the edge of
the facing pavement, and surveyed the house critically. As if he did
not know all its aspects by heart! Some few yards higher up, the
dwellings of Mr. Cause and the linendraper alone intervening, there
was a side opening, bearing the euphonious title of Bear Entry, which
led right into an obscure part of the town. By taking this, and
executing a few turnings and windings, the railway station might be
approached without touching on the more public streets.

"Yes," said the police agent to himself, calculating possibilities,
"that's how it might have been done. Not that it was, though: I'm only
putting it. A fellow might have slipped out of the door while that
girl was in at her fires, cut down Bear Entry, double back again along
Goose Lane, and so gain the rail."

Turning up the street with a brisk step, Mr. Butterby found himself
face to face with Thomas Cause, who was standing within the shade of
his side door. Exceedingly affable when it suited him to be so, he
stopped to say a good evening.

"How d'ye do Cause? A fine night, isn't it?"

"Lovely weather; shall pay for it later. Has she recovered her temper
yet?" continued Mr. Cause. "I saw you come out."

Which was decidedly a rather mysterious addition to the answer. Mr.
Butterby naturally inquired what it might mean, and had his ears
gratified with the story of Godfrey Pitman's later departure, and of
Mrs. Jones's angry disbelief in it. Never had those ears listened more
keenly.

"Are you sure it was the man?" he asked cautiously.

"If it wasn't him it was his ghost," said Mr. Cause. "I was standing
here on the Monday night, just a step or two for'arder on the
pavement, little thinking that a poor gentleman was shooting himself
within a few yards of me, and saw a man come out of Jones's side door.
When he was close up, I knew him in a moment for the same traveller,
with the same blue bag in his hand, that I saw go in with Miss Rye on
the Sunday week previous. He came out of the house cautiously, his
head pushed forward first, looking up the street and down the street,
and then turned out sharp, whisked past me as hard as he could walk,
and went down Bear Entry. It seemed to me that he didn't care to be
seen."

But that detectives' hearts are too hard for emotion, this one's might
have beaten a little faster as he listened. It was so exactly what he
had been fancifully tracing to himself as the imaginary course of a
guilty man. Stealing out of the house down Bear Entry, and so up to
the railway station!

"What time was it?"

"What time is it now?" returned Mr. Cause: and the other took out his
watch.

"Five-and-thirty minutes past seven."

"Then it was as nigh the same time on Monday night, as nigh as nigh
can be. I shut up my shop at the usual hour, and I'd stood here
afterwards just about as long as I've stood here now. I like to take a
breath of fresh air, Mr. Butterby, when the labours of the day are
over."

"Fresh air's good for all of us--that can get it," said Mr. Butterby,
with a sniff at the air around him. "What sort of a looking man was
this Godfrey Pitman?"

"A well-grown, straight man; got a lot of black hair about his face;
whiskers, and beard, and moustachios."

"Young?"

"Thirty. Perhaps not so much. In reading the account in the _Herald_
this evening, I saw Jones's folks gave evidence that he had left at
half-past four to catch the Birmingham train. I told Jones it was a
mistake, and he told his wife; and didn't she fly out! As if she need
have put herself in a tantrum over that! 'twas a matter of no
consequence."

In common with the rest of the town, not a gleam of suspicion that the
death was otherwise than the verdict pronounced it to be, had been
admitted by Mr. Cause. He went on enlarging on the grievance of Mrs.
Jones's attack upon him.

"She'd not hear a word: Jones fetched me in there. She told me to my
face that, between spectacles and the deceitful rays of street lamps,
one, come to my age, was unable to distinguish black from white, round
from square. She said I must have mistaken the gentleman, Mr.
Greatorex, for Godfrey Pitman or else Jones's nephew, both of them
having gone out about the same time. I couldn't get in a word
edgeways, I assure you Mr. Butterby, and Dicky Jones can bear me out
that I couldn't. Let it go, 'tis of no moment; I don't care to quarrel
with my neighbours' wives."

Mr. Butterby thought it was of a great deal of moment. He changed the
conversation to something else with apparent carelessness, and then
took a leisurely departure. Turning off at the top of High Street, he
increased his pace, and went direct to the railway station.

The most intelligent porter employed there was a man named Hall. It
was his duty to be on the platform when trains were starting and, as
the detective had previous cause to know, few of those who departed by
them escaped his observation. The eight o'clock train for London was
on the point of departure. Mr. Butterby waited under some sheds until
it had gone.

Now for Hall, thought he. As if to echo the words the first person to
approach the sheds was Hall himself. In a diplomatic way, Mr.
Butterby, when he had made known his presence, began putting inquiries
about a matter totally foreign to the one he had come upon.

"By the way, Hall," he suddenly said, when the man thought he was done
with, "there was a friend of mine went away last Monday evening, but
I'm not sure by which train. I wonder if you happened to see him here?
A well-grown, straight man, with black beard and whiskers--about
thirty."

Hall considered, and shook his head. "I've no recollection of any one
of that description, sir."

"Got a blue bag in his hand. He might have went by the five o'clock
train, or later. At eight most likely; this hour, you know."

"Was he going to London, or the other way, sir?"

"Can't tell you. Try and recollect."

"Monday?--Monday?" cried Hall, endeavouring to recal what he could. "I
ought to remember that night, sir, the one of the calamity in High
Street; but the fact is, one day is so much like another here, it's
hard to single out any in particular."

"Were you on duty last Sunday week, in the afternoon?"

"Yes, sir; it was my Sunday on."

"The man I speak of arrived by train that afternoon, then. You must
have seen him."

"So I did," said the porter, suddenly. "Just the man you describe,
sir; and I remember that it struck me I had seen his face somewhere
before. It might have been only fancy; I had not much of a look at
him; he got mixed with the other passengers, and went away quickly. I
recollect the blue bag."

"Just so; all right. Now then, Hall: did you see him leave last Monday
evening?"

"I never saw him, to my recollection, since the time of his arrival.
Stop a bit. A blue bag? Why, it was a blue bag that--And that was
Monday evening. Wait an instant, sir. I'll fetch Bill."

Leaving the detective to make the most of these detached sentences,
Hall hurried off before he could be stopped. Mr. Butterby turned his
face to the wall, and read the placards there.

When Hall came back he had a lad with him. And possibly it might have
been well for that lad's equanimity, that he was unconscious the spare
man, studying the advertisements, was the city's renowned detective,
Jonas Butterby.

"Now then," said Hall, "you tell this gentleman about your getting
that there ticket, Bill."

"'Twas last Monday evening," began the boy, thus enjoined, "and we was
waiting to start the eight o'clock train. In that there dark corner, I
comes upon a gentleman set down upon the bench; which he called to me,
he did, and says, says he, 'This bag's heavy,' says he, 'and I don't
care to carry it further nor I can help, nor yet to leave it,' says
he, 'for it's got val'able papers in it,' says he; 'if you'll go and
get my ticket for me,' says he, 'third class to Oxford,' says he,
'I'll give you sixpence,' says he: which I did, and took it to him,"
concluded the speaker; "and he gave me the sixpence."

"Did he leave by the train?"

"Why in course he did," was the reply. "He got into the last third
class at the tail o' the train, him and his bag; which were blue, it
were."

"An old gentleman, with white hair, was it?" asked Mr. Butterby,
carelessly.

The boy's round eyes opened. "White hair! Why, 'twas black as ink. And
his beard, too. He warn't old; he warn't."

Mr. Butterby walked home, ruminating; stirred up his fire when he
arrived, lighted his candles, for he had a habit of waiting on
himself, and sat down, ruminating still. Sundry notes and bits of
folded paper had been delivered for him from his confrères at the
police-station--if Mr. Butterby will not be offended at our classing
them with him as such--but he pushed them from him, never opening one.
He did not even change his coat for the elegant green-tailed habit,
economically adopted for home attire, and he was rather particular in
doing so in general. No: Mr. Butterby's mind was ill at ease: not in
the sense, be it understood, as applied to ordinary mortals; but
things were puzzling him.

To give Mr. Butterby his due, he was sufficiently keen of judgment;
though he had made mistakes occasionally. Taking the surface of things
only, he might have jumped to the conclusion that a certain evil deed
had been committed by Godfrey Pitman; diving into them, and turning
them about in his practised mind, he saw enough to cause him to doubt
and hesitate.

"The man's name's as much Pitman as mine is," quoth he, as he sat
looking into the fire, a hand on each knee. "He arrives here on a
Sunday, accosts a stranger he meets accidentally in turning out of the
station, which happened to be Alletha Rye, and gets her to accommodate
him with a week's private lodgings. Thought, she says, the house she
was standing at was hers: and it's likely he did. The man was afraid
of being seen, was flying from pursuit, and dare not risk the
publicity of an inn. Stays in the house nine days, and never stirs out
all the mortal time. Makes an excuse of a cold and relaxed throat for
stopping in; which _was_ an excuse," emphatically repeated the
speaker. "Takes leave on the Monday at half-past four, and goes out to
catch the Birmingham train. Is seen to go out. What brought him back?"

The question was not, apparently, easy to solve, for Mr. Butterby was
a long while pondering it.

"He couldn't get back into the house up through the windows or down
through the chimneys; not in anyway but through the door. And the
chances were that he might have been seen going in and coming out. No:
don't think he went back to harm Mr. Ollivera. Rather inclined to say
his announced intention of starting by the five o'clock train to
Birmingham was a blind: he meant to go by the one at eight t'other
way, and went back to wait for it, afeared of hanging about the
station itself or loitering in the streets. It don't quite wash,
neither, that; chances were he might have been seen coming back,"
debated Mr. Butterby.

"Wonder if he has anything to do with that little affair that has just
turned up in Birmingham?" resumed the speaker, deviating to another
thought. "Young man's wanted for that, George Winter: _might_ have
been this very selfsame Godfrey Pitman; and of course might not.
Let's get on.

"It don't stand to reason that he'd come in any such way into a town
and stop a whole week at the top of a house for the purpose of harming
Mr. Ollivera. Why 'twas not till the Tuesday after Pitman was in, that
the Joneses got the barrister's letter saying he was coming and would
occupy his old rooms if they were vacant. No," decided Mr. Butterby;
"Pitman was in trouble on his own score, and his mysterious movements
had reference to that: as I'm inclined to think."

One prominent quality in Mr. Butterby was pertinacity. Let him take up
an idea of his own accord, however faint, and it took a vast deal to
get it out of him. An obstinate man was he in his self-conceit.
Anybody who knew Mr. Butterby well, and could have seen his thoughts
as in a glass, might have known he would be slow to take up the doubts
against Godfrey Pitman, because he had already them up against
another.

"I don't like it," he presently resumed. "Look at it in the best light,
she knows something of the matter; more than she likes to be
questioned about. Put the case, Jonas Butterby. Here's a sober,
sensible, steady young woman, superior to half the women going,
thinking only of her regular duties, nothing to conceal, open and
cheerful as the day. That's how she was till this happened. And now?
Goes home on the Monday night at nigh eleven o'clock (not to speak yet
of what passed up to that hour), sits over the parlour-fire after
other folks had went to bed, 'thinking,' as she puts it. Goes up
later; can't sleep; drops asleep towards morning, and dreams that Mr.
Ollivera's dead. Gets flurried at inquest (_I_ saw it, though others
mightn't); tramps to see him buried, stands on the fresh grave, and
tells the public he did not commit suicide. How does she know he
didn't? Come. Mrs. Jones is ten times sharper-sighted, and she has no
doubt. Says, next, to her sister in confidence (and Dicky repeats it
to me as a choice bit of gossip) that she's haunted by Ollivera's
spirit.

"I don't like that," pursued Mr. Butterby, after a revolving pause.
"When folks are haunted by dead men's spirits--leastways, fancy they
are--it bodes a conscience not at rest in regard to the dead. To-night
her face was pale and red by turns; her fingers shook so they had to
clutch her work; she won't talk of it; she left the room to avoid me.
And," continued Mr. Butterby, "she was the only one, so far as can
be yet seen, that was for any length of time in the house between
half-past seven and eight on Monday evening. A quarter of an hour
finding a sleeve-pattern!

"I don't say it was her; I've not got as far as that yet, by a long
way. I don't yet say it was not as the jury brought it in. But she was
in the house for that quarter of an hour, unaccounting for her stay in
accordance with any probability; and I'm inclined to think that
Godfrey Pitman _must have been out of it before the harm was done_.
Nevertheless, appearances is deceitful, deductions sometimes wrong,
and while I keep a sharp eye on the lady, I shall look _you_ up, Mr.
Godfrey Pitman."

One drawback against the "looking up" was--and Mr. Butterby felt
slightly conscious of it as he rose from his seat before the
fire--that he had never seen Godfrey Pitman in his life; and did not
know whence he came or whither he might have gone.



END OF THE PROLOGUE.



PART THE SECOND.
The Story.



CHAPTER VII.
IN THE OFFICE.


The morning sun was shining on the house of Greatorex and Greatorex.
It was a busy day in April. London was filling; people were flocking
to town; the season was fairly inaugurated, the law courts were full
of life.

The front door stood open; the inner door, closed, could be pushed
back at will. It bore a brass plate with the inscription, "Greatorex
and Greatorex, Solicitors," and it had a habit, this inner door, of
swinging-to upon clients' heels as they went out, for the spring was
sharp. In the passage which the door closed in, was a room on either
hand. The one on the left was inscribed outside, "Clerks' Office ";
that on the right, "Mr. Bede Greatorex."

Mr. Bede Greatorex was in his room today: not his private room; that
lay beyond. It was a moderate-sized apartment, the door in the middle,
the fireplace opposite to it. On the right, between the door and the
near window, was the desk of Mr. Brown; opposite to it, between the
fireplace and far window, stood Mr. Bede Greatorex's desk; two longer
desks ran along the walls towards the lower part of the room. At the
one, in a line with that of Mr. Bede Greatorex, the fireplace being
between them, sat Mr. Hurst, a gentleman who had entered the house for
improvement; at the one on the other side the door, in a line with Mr.
Brown's, sat little Jenner, a paid clerk. Sundry stools and chairs
stood about; a huge map hung above the fireplace; a stone bottle of
ink, some letter-scales, and various other articles more useful than
ornamental, were on the mantel-shelf: altogether, the room was about
as bare and dull as such offices usually are. The door at the end,
marked "Private," opened direct to the private room of Mr. Bede
Greatorex, where he held consultations with clients.

And he generally sat there also. It was not very often that he came to
his desk in the front office: but he chose to be there on occasions,
and this was one. This side of the house was understood to comprise
the department of Mr. Bede Greatorex; some of the clients of the firm
were his exclusively; that is, when they came they saw him, not his
father; and Mr. Brown was head-clerk and manager under him.

Bede Greatorex (called generally in the office, "Mr. Bede," in
contradistinction to his father, Mr. Greatorex) sat looking over some
papers taken out of his locked desk. Four years have gone by since you
saw him last, reader; for that prologue to the story with its sad
event, was not enacted lately. And the four years have aged him. His
father was wont to tell him that he had not got over the shock and
grief of John Ollivera's death; Bede's private opinion was that he
never should get over it. They had been as close friends, as dear
brothers; and Bede had been a changed man since. Apart from this grief
and regret and the effect it might have left upon him, suspicions had
also arisen latterly that Bede Greatorex's health was failing; in
short there were indications, fancied or real, that the inward
complaint of which his mother died, might, unless great care were
used, creep upon him. Bede had seen a physician, who would pronounce
no very positive opinion, but believed on the whole that the fears
were without foundation, certainly they were premature.

Another cause that tended to worry Mr. Bede Greatorex, lay in his
domestic life. More than three years ago now, he had married Miss
Joliffe; and the world, given you know to put itself into everybody's
business and whisper scandal of the best of us, said that in marrying
her, Bede Greatorex had got his pill. She was wilful as the wind;
spent his money right and left; ran him in debt; plunged into gaiety,
show, whirl, all of which her husband hated: she was in fact a
perfect, grave exemplification of that undesirable but expressive
term that threatens to become a household word in our once sober
land--"fast." Three parts of Bede's life--the life that lay apart from
his profession, his routine of office duties--was spent in striving to
keep from his father the extravagance of his wife, and the sums of
money he had to draw for personal expenditure. Bede had chivalric
ideas upon the point; he had made her his wife, and would jealously
have guarded her failings from all: he would have denied, had he been
questioned, that she had any. So far as he was able he would indulge
her whims and wishes; but there was one of them that he could not and
did not: and that related to their place of dwelling. Bede had brought
his wife to the home that had been his mother's, to be its sole
mistress in his late mother's place. It was a large, convenient,
handsome residence (as was previously seen), replete with every
comfort; but after a time Mrs. Bede Greatorex grew discontented. She
wanted to be in a more fashionable quarter; Hyde Park, Belgrave
Square; anywhere amidst the great world. After their marriage Bede had
taken her abroad; and they remained so long there that Mr. Greatorex
began to indulge a private opinion that Bede was never coming back
again. They sojourned in Paris, in Switzerland, in Germany; and
though, when they at length did return, Bede laughingly said he could
not get Louisa home, he had in point of fact been as ready to linger
away from it as she was. The Bedford Square house had been done up
beautifully, and for two years Mrs. Bede found no fault with it; she
had taken to do that lately, and it seemed to grow upon her like a
mania.

Upstairs now, now at this very moment, when her husband is poring over
his law-puzzles with bent brow, she is studying the advertisements of
desirable houses in the _Times_, almost inclined to go out and take
one on her own account. A charming one (to judge by the description)
was to be had in Park Lane, rent only six hundred a-year, unfurnished.
Money was as plentiful as sand in the idea of Mrs. Bede Greatorex.

You can go and see her. Through the passages and the intervening door
to the other house; or else go out into the street and make a call of
state at the private entrance. Up the wide staircase to the handsome
landing-place already told of, with its rich green carpet, its painted
windows, its miniature conservatory, and its statues; on all of which
the sun is shining as brightly as it was that other day four years
ago, when Bede Greatorex came home, fresh from the unhappy scenes
connected with the death of Mr. Ollivera. Not into the dining-room;
there's no one in it; there's no one in the large and beautiful
drawing-room; enter, first of all, a small apartment on the side that
they call the study.

At the table sat Jane Greatorex, grown into a damsel of twelve, but
exceedingly little and childlike in appearance. She was writing French
dictation. By her side, speaking the words in a slow, distinct tone,
with a good and pure accent, sat a young lady, her face one of the
sweetest it was ever man's lot to look upon. The hazel eyes were deep,
honest, steady; the auburn hair lay lightly away from delicate and
well-carved features; the complexion was pure and bright. A slender
girl of middle height, and gentle, winning manners, whose simple
morning dress of light cashmere sat well upon her.

Surely that modest, good, thoughtful young woman could not be Mrs.
Bede Greatorex! No: you must wait yet an instant for introduction to
her. That is only Miss Jane's governess, a young lady who has but
recently entered on her duties as such, and is striving to perform
them conscientiously. She is very patient, although the little girl is
excessively tiresome, with a strong will of her own, and a decided
objection to lessons of all kinds. She is the more patient because she
remembers what a tiresome child she was herself, at that age, and the
vast amount of trouble she gave wilfully to her sister-governess.

"No, Jane; it is not _facture_; it is _facteur_. We are speaking of a
postman, you know. The two words are essentially different; different
in meaning, in spelling, and in sound. I explained this to you
yesterday."

"I don't like doing dictation, Miss Channing," came the answering
response.

"Go on, please. Le facteur, qui----"

"I'm tired to death. I know I've done a whole page."

"You have done three lines. One of these days I will give you a whole
page to do, and then you'll know what a whole page is. Le facteur, qui
arrive----"

Miss Jane Greatorex suddenly took a large penful of ink, and shook it
deliberately on the copy-book. Leaving them to the contest, in which
be you very sure the governess would conquer, for she was calm, kind,
and firm, we will go to an opposite room, one that Mrs. Bede called
her boudoir. A beautiful room, its paper and panelling of white and
gold, its velvet carpet of delicate tints, its silk curtains of a soft
rose-colour. But neither Mrs. Bede Greatorex, who sat there, nor her
attire was in accordance with the room.

And, to say the truth, she had only come down from her chamber to get
something left in it the night before: it was her favourite morning
room, but Mrs. Bede was not wont to take up her position in it until
made up for the day. And that was not yet accomplished. Her dark hair
was untidy, her face pale and pasty, her dressing-gown, of a dull red
with gold sprigs on it, sat loose. Seeing the _Times_ on the table,
she had caught it up, and thrown herself back in a reclining chair of
satin-wood and pink velvet, while she looked over the advertisements.
Mrs. Bede Greatorex was tall and showy, and there her beauty ended. As
Louisa Joliffe, she had exercised a charm of manner that fascinated
many, but she kept it for rare occasions now; and, they, always public
ones. She had no children, and her whole life and being were wrapt in
fashion, frivolity, and heartlessness. The graver duties of existence
were wholly neglected by Louisa Greatorex: she seemed to live in
ignorance that such things were. She never so much as glanced at the
solemn thought that there must come a life after this life; she never
for a moment strove to work on for it, or to help another on the
pilgrimage: had she chosen to search her memory, it could not have
returned to her the satisfaction of having ever performed a kind
action.

One little specimen of her selfishness, her utter disregard for the
claims and feelings of others, shall be given, for it occurred
opportunely. As she sat, newspaper in hand, a young woman opened the
door, and asked leave to speak to her. She was the lady's-maid, and,
as Mrs. Bede looked at her, knitting her brow at the request, she saw
tears stealing down from the petitioning eyes.

"Could you please let me go out, madam? A messenger has come to say
that my mother is taken suddenly worse: they think she is dying."

"You can go when I am dressed," replied Mrs. Bede Greatorex.

"Oh, madam, if you could please to let me go at once! I may not be in
time to see her. Eliz a says she will take my place this morning, if
you will allow her."

"You can go when I am dressed," was the reiterated, cold, and decisive
answer. "You hear me, Tallet. Shut the door." And the maid withdrew,
her face working with its vain yearning.

"She's always wanting to go out to her mother," harshly spoke Mrs.
Bede Greatorex, as she settled herself to the newspaper again.

"One; two; three; four; five. Five houses that seem desirable. Bede
may say what he chooses: in this miserable old house, with its
professional varnish, we don't stay. I'll write at once for
particulars," she added, going to her writing-table, a costly piece of
furniture inlaid with mother-of-pearl.

The writing for particulars took her some little time, three-quarters
of an hour about, and then she went up to be dressed; which ceremony
occupied nearly an hour longer. Tallet might depart then. And thus you
have a specimen of the goodness of heart of Louisa Greatorex.

But this has been a digression from the morning's business, and we
must return to the husband, whose wish and will she would have liked
to defy, and to the office where he sat. The room was very quiet;
nothing to be heard in it but the scratching of three pens; Mr.
Brown's, Mr. Hurst's, and Mr. Jenner's. This room was not entered
indiscriminately by callers; the opposite door inscribed "Clerks'
Office," was on the swing perpetually. This room was a very sedate
one: as a matter of course so in the presence of Mr. Bede Greatorex;
and the head of it in his absence, Mr. Brown, allowed no opportunity
for discursive gossip. He was as efficient a clerk as Greatorex and
Greatorex had ever possessed; young yet: a tall, slender, silent man,
devoted to his business; about three years, or so, with them now. He
wore a wig of reddish brown, and his whiskers and the hair on his chin
were sandy.

Bede Greatorex shut some papers into his desk with a click, and began
opening another parchment. "Did you get an answer yesterday, from
Garnett's people, Mr. Hurst?" he suddenly asked.

"No, sir. I could not see them."

"Their clerk came in last evening to say we should hear from them
today," interposed Mr. Brown, looking up from his writing to speak.

It was in these moments--when the clerk's eyes unexpectedly met those
of Mr. Bede Greatorex--that the latter would feel a kind of
disagreeable sensation shoot through him. Over and over again had it
occurred: the first time when Mr. Brown had been in the office but a
day. They were standing talking together on that occasion, when a
sudden fancy took Bede that he had seen the man somewhere before. It
was not to be called a recognition; but a kind of semi-recognition,
vague, indefinite, uncertain, and accompanied by a disagreeable
feeling, which had its rise perhaps in the very uncertainty.

"Have we ever met before?" Mr. Bede Greatorex had questioned; but Mr.
Brown shook his head, and could not say. A hundred times since then,
when he met the steady gaze of those remarkably light grey eyes
(nearly always bent on their work), had Bede stealthily continued to
study the man; but the puzzle was always there.

Mr. Brown's eyes and face were bent on his desk again today. His
master, holding a sheet of parchment up before him, as if to study the
writing better, suffered his gaze to wander over its top and fix
itself on Mr. Brown. The clerk, happening to glance up unguardedly,
caught it.

He was one of the most observant men living, quiet though he seemed,
and could not fail to be aware that he was thus occasionally subjected
to the scrutiny of his master--but he never appeared to see it.

"Did you speak, sir?" he asked, as if he had looked up to put the
question.

"I was about to speak," said Mr. Bede Greatorex. "There's a new clerk
coming in today to replace Parkinson. Nine o'clock was the hour fixed,
and now it is half-past ten. If this is a specimen of his habits of
punctuality, I fear he'll not do much good. You will place him at Mr.
Hurst's desk."

"Very good, sir," replied Mr. Brown, making no comment. The out-going
clerk, Parkinson, had been at Jenner's desk.

"I am going over to Westminster," continued Mr. Bede Greatorex,
gathering some papers in his hand. "If Garnett's people come in, they
must wait for me. By the way, what about that deed----"

The words were cut short by a clatter. A clatter and bustle of feet
and doors; someone was dashing in from the street in a desperate
hurry, with a vast deal of unnecessary noise. First the swing-door
gave a bang, then the clerks' door opened and banged; now this one was
sent back with a breeze; and a tall fine-looking young man came
bustling in, head foremost--Mr. Roland Yorke.

Not so very young, either. For more than seven years have elapsed
since he was of age, and went careering off on a certain hopeful
voyage of his to Port Natal, told of in history. He is changed since
then. The overgrown young fellow of twenty-one, angular and awkward,
has become quite a noble-looking man in his great strength and height.
The face is a fine one, good-nature the predominant expression of the
somewhat rough features, which are pale and clear and healthy: the
indecision that might once have been detected in his countenance, has
given place to earnestness now. Of regular beauty in his face, as many
people count beauty, there is none; but you would scarcely pass him in
the street without turning to look at him. In manner he is nearly as
much of a boy as a grown man can be, just as he ever was, hasty,
thoughtless, and impulsive.

"I know I'm late," he began. "How d'ye do, Mr. Greatorex?"

"Yes, you are late, Mr. Yorke," was the response of Mr. Bede
Greatorex, submitting to the hearty handshake offered. "Nine was the
hour named."

"It was the boat's fault," returned Roland, speaking with loud
independence, just as he might had he been a ten thousand a-year
client of the house. "I went down to see Carrick off at eight o'clock,
and if you'll believe me, the vessel never got away before ten. They
were putting horses on board. Carrick says they'll lose their tide
over yonder; but he didn't complain, he's as easy as an old shoe.
Since then I've had a pitch out of a hansom cab."

"Indeed!"

"I told the fellow to drive like mad; which he did; and down went the
horse, and I out atop of him, and the man atop-faced of me. There was no
damage, only it all served to hinder. But I'm ready for work now, Mr.
Greatorex. Which is to be my place?"

To witness a new clerk announce himself in this loud, familiar kind of
way, to see him grasp and shake the hand of Mr. Bede Greatorex: above
all to hear him speak unceremoniously of the Earl of Carrick, one of
the house's noble clients, as if the two were hail-fellow-well-met,
caused the whole office to look up, even work-absorbed Mr. Brown. Bede
Greatorex indicated the appointed desk.

"This is where you will be, by the side of Mr. Hurst, a gentleman
who is with us for improvement. Mr. Brown, the manager in this
room"--pointing out the clerk with the end of his pen--"will assign
you your work. Mr. Hurst, Mr. Roland Yorke."

Roland took his seat at once, and turned up his coat-cuffs as a
preliminary step to industry. Mr. Bede Greatorex, saying no more,
passed through to his private room, and after a minute was heard to go
out.

"What's to do?" asked Roland.

Mr. Brown was already giving him something; a deed to be copied. He
spoke a few instructions in a concise, quiet tone, and Roland Yorke
set to work.

"What ink d'ye call this?" began Roland.

"It is the proper ink," said Mr. Brown.

"It's uncommon bad."

"Have you ever been used to the kind of work, Mr. Yorke?" inquired the
manager, wondering whether the new comer might be a qualified
solicitor, brought to grief, or a gentleman-embryo just entering on
his noviciate.

"Oh, haven't I!" returned Mr. Yorke; "I was in a proctor's office
once, where I was worked to death."

"Then you'll soon find that to be good ink."

"I had all the care of the office on my shoulders," resumed Roland,
holding the pen in the air, and sitting back on his stool while he
addressed Mr. Brown. "There were three of us in the place altogether,
not counting the old proctor himself, and we had enough work for six.
Well, circumstances occurred to take the other two out of the office,
and I, who was left, had to do it all. What do you think of that?"

Mr. Brown did not say what he thought. He was writing steadily, giving
no encouragement for the continuance of the conversation. Mr. Hurst,
his elbow on the desk, had his face turned to the speaker, surveying
him at leisure.

"I couldn't stand it; I should have been in my grave in no time;
and so I thought I'd try a part of the world that might be more
desirable--Port Natal. I say, what are you staring at?"

This was to Mr. Hurst. The latter dropped his elbow as he answered.

"I was looking whether you were much altered. You are: and yet I think
I should hare known you, after a bit, for Roland Yorke. When the name
was mentioned I might have been at fault, but for your speaking of
Lord Carrick."

"He's my uncle," said Roland. "Who are you?"

"Jos Hurst, from Helstonleigh. Have you forgotten me? I was at the
college school with your brothers, Gerald and Tod."

Roland stared. He had not forgotten Josiah Hurst; but the rather short
and very broad young man by his side, as broad as he was high, bore no
resemblance to the once slim college boy. Roland never doubted: he got
off his stool, upsetting it in the process, to shake heartily the
meeting hand. Mr. Brown began to think the quiet of the office would
not be much enhanced through its new inmate.

"My goodness! you are the first of the old fellows I've seen. And what
are you, Hurst,--a lawyer?"

"Yes; I've passed. But the old doctor (at home, you know) won't buy me
a practice, or let me set up for myself, or anything, until I've had
some experience: and so I've come to Greatorex and Greatorex to get
it," concluded Mr. Hurst, ruefully.

"And who's he?" continued Roland, pointing to Jenner. "Greatorex said
nothing about him."

He was one of the least men ever seen, but he had a vast amount of
work in him. Mr. Hurst explained that Jenner was only a clerk, but a
very efficient one.

"He'd do twice the amount of work that I could, Yorke: I'm slow and
sure; Jenner is sure and quick. How long have you been home from Port
Natal?"

"Don't bother about that now," said Roland.

"Did you make your fortune out there?"

"What a senseless question! If I'd made a fortune there, it stands to
reason I should not have come into an office here."

"How was I to know? You might have made a fortune and dissipated it?"

"Dissipated it in what?" cried Roland, with wide-open eyes. And to Mr.
Hurst, who had gained some knowledge of what is called life, the look
and the question bore earnest that Roland Yorke, in spite of his
travelling experiences, was not much tainted by the world and its
ways.

"Oh, in many things. Horse-racing, for instance."

Roland threw back his head in the old emphatic manner. "If ever I _do_
get a fortune, Jos,--which appears about as likely as that Port Natal
and Ireland should join hands and spin a waltz with each other--I'll
take care of it."

Possibly in the notion occurring to him that idleness was certainly
not the best way to acquire a fortune, Roland tilted his stool on its
even legs, and began to work in earnest. When he had accomplished two
lines, he took it to the manager.

"Will this do, Mr. Brown? I'm rather out of practice."

Mr. Brown signified that it would. He knew his business better than to
give anything of much consequence to an unknown and untried clerk.

"Are you related to Sir Richard Yorke?" he asked of Roland.

"Yes, I am; and I'm ashamed of him. Old Dick's my uncle, my late
father's brother; and his son and heir, young Dick, is my cousin. Old
Dick is the greatest screw alive; he'd not help a fellow to save him
from hanging. He's as poor as Carrick; but I don't call that an excuse
for him; his estate is mortgaged up to the neck."

Mr. Brown needed not the additional information, which Roland
proffered so candidly. His nature had not changed a whit. Nay, perhaps
the free and easy life at Port Natal, about which we may hear somewhat
later, had only tended to render him less reticent, if that were
possible. Greatorex and Greatorex were the confidential solicitors to
Sir Richard Yorke, and Mr. Brown was better acquainted than Roland
with the baronet's finances.

"I thought it must be so," remarked Mr. Brown. "I knew there was some
connection between Sir Richard and Lord Garrick. Are you likely to
stay in our office long?" he questioned, inwardly wondering that
Roland with two uncles so puissant should be there at all.

"I am likely to stay for ever, for all I know. They are going to give
me twenty shillings a week. I say, Mr. Brown, why do you wear a wig?"

Doubtless Mr. Brown thought the question a tolerably pointed one upon
so brief an acquaintance. He settled to his work again without
answering it. A hint that the clerk, just come under his wing, might
return and settle to his. Which was not taken.

"My hair is as plentiful as ever it was," said Roland, giving his dark
hair a push backwards. "I don't want a wig; and you can't be so very
much my senior; six or seven years, perhaps. I am eight-and-twenty."

"And I am three-and-thirty, sir. My hair came off in a fever a few
years back, and it does not grow again. Be so good as to get on with
what you have to do, Mr. Yorke."

Thus admonished, Roland obediently sought his place. And what with
renewed questions to Mr. Brown--that came ringing out at the most
unexpected moments--what with a few anecdotes of life at Port Natal
with which he confidently regaled Mr. Hurst, what with making the
acquaintance of little Jenner, which Roland accomplished with great
affability, and what with slight interludes of writing, a line here
and a line there, the morning wore away agreeably.



CHAPTER VIII.
ARRIVAL FROM PORT NATAL.


Mr. Roland Yorke's emigration to Port Natal cannot be said to have
turned out a success. He had gone off in high spirits, a chief cabin
passenger, Lord Carrick having paid the passage money, forty pounds.
He had carried with him, from the same good-natured source, fifty
pounds, to begin life with when he should land, a small but sufficient
outfit, and a case of merchandize consisting of frying-pans. Seven
years, before, when Roland resolved to emigrate and run away from work
at home, he became imbued with the conviction (whence derived, he
scarcely knew, but it lay on his mind as a positive certainty) that
frying-pans formed the best and most staple article on which to
commence trading at Port Natal, invariably the foundation of a
fortune. Some friend of his, a Mr. Bagshaw, who had previously
emigrated, had imparted this secret to him; at least, Roland was
impressed with the belief that he had; a belief which nothing could
shake. Frying-pans and fortune were associated together in his dreams.
He stood out strongly for the taking out forty dozen, but Lord Carrick
declined to furnish them, allowing only the miserable number of
four-and-twenty. "When ye see for ye'reself out there that there's a
market for them, send me word, and I'll dispatch loads to ye by the
first steamer, me boy," said his lordship sensibly; and Roland was fain
to put up with the advice and with the two dozen accorded. He arrived
at Port Natal, all youth and joy and buoyancy. Seen from the deck of
the vessel, when she anchored in the beautiful harbour, calm as a lake,
Natal looked a very paradise. Ranges of hills on the west of the fair
town were dotted with charming houses and pleasure grounds; and Roland
landed fresh and full of hope as a summer's morning: just as too many
an emigrant from the dear old mother-country does land, at other parts
besides Natal. And he bought experience as they do.

In the first place, Roland began life there as he had been accustomed
to do it in England; that is, as a gentleman. In the second place
there proved to be no especial market for frying-pans. That useful
culinary article might be bought in sufficient abundance, he found,
when inquired for, without bringing into requisition the newly-arrived
supply. The frying-pans being thus left upon his hands, lying like a
dead weight on them, metaphorically speaking, brought the first check
to his hopes; for they had been relied upon (as the world knows) to
inaugurate and establish the great enterprizes, commercial or
otherwise, that had floated in rose-coloured visions through Roland's
brain. He quitted the port town, Durban, and went to Maritzburg, fifty
miles off, and then came back to Durban. Thrown upon his own resources
(through the failure of the frying-pans), Roland had leisure to look
about him, for some other fertile source in which to embark his genius
and energy, and lead him on to speedy fortune. Such resources did not
appear to be going begging; they were coyly shy; or at least came not
flowing in Roland's way; and meanwhile his money melted. Partly in
foolish expenditure on his own account, partly in helping sundry poor
wights, distressed steerage passengers with whom he had made
acquaintance on board (for Roland had brought out his good-nature with
him), the money came to a summary end. One fine morning, Roland woke
up from a dream of idle carelessness, to find himself changing the
last sovereign of all the fifty. It did not dismay him very much: all
he said was, "I must set about money-making in earnest now."

Of course the great problem was--how to do it. You, my reader, may be,
even now, trying to solve it. Thousands of us are, every day. Roland
Yorke made but one more of a very common experience; and he had to
encounter the usual rubs incidental to the process. He came to great
grief and was reduced to a crust; nay, to the not knowing where the
crust could be picked up from. The frying-pans went first, disposed of
in a job lot, almost literally for an old song. Some man who owned a
shed had, for a consideration, housed the case that contained them,
and they were eating their handles off. Roland's wardrobe went next,
piece-meal; and things fell to the pass that Roland was not sure
but he himself would have to go after it. It came to one of two
things--starvation or work. To do Roland justice, he was ready and
willing to work; but he knew no mechanical trade; he had never done an
hour's hard labour, and in that lay the difficulty of getting it. He
would rush about from office to store, hunger giving him earnestness,
from store to workshop, from workshop to bench, and say, Employ me. For
the most part, the answer would be that he was not wanted; the labour
market of all kinds was overstocked; but if the application appeared,
by rare chance, likely to be entertained, and Roland was questioned of
his experience and capabilities, rejection was sure to follow. He was
too honest, too shallow in the matter of tact, to say he had been
accustomed to work when he had not; and the experience in copying
which he acknowledged and put forth, was somehow never required to be
tested. To hear Roland tell of what he had accomplished in this line
at home, must have astonished the natives of Port Natal.

Well, time went on; it does not stand still for any one; and Roland
went on with it, down and down and down. Years went on; and one rainy
day, when about four winters had gone by from the date of his
departure, Roland returned to England. He landed in St. Katharine's
Docks, his coat out at elbows and ninepence in his pocket: as an old
friend of his, Mr. Galloway, had once prophesied he would land, if he
lived to get back at all.

Mr. Roland Yorke had sailed for Port Natal in style, a first-class
cabin passenger; he came home in the steerage, paying twelve pounds
for the passage, and working out part of that. From thence he made his
way to Lord Carrick in Ireland, very much like a bale of returned
goods.

The best account he gave of his travels to Lord Carrick, perhaps the
best account he could give, was that he had been "knocking about."
Luck had not been with him, he said; and there really did seem to have
been a good deal in that. To hear him tell of his adventures was
something rich; not consecutively as a history, he never did that: but
these chance recollections were so frequent and diffuse, that a
history of his career at Natal might have been compiled from them. The
Earl would hold his sides, laughing at Roland's lamentations for the
failure and sacrifice of his frying-pans, and at the reminiscences in
general. A life of adventure one week, a life of starvation the next.
Roland said he had tried all kinds of things. He had served in stores;
at bars where liquor was dispensed; he had been a hired waiter at half
the hotels in Natal; he had worked on the shore with the half-naked
Zulu Kaffirs at lading and unlading boats; once, for a whole week,
when he was very hard up, or perhaps very low _down_, he had cried hot
potatoes in the streets. He had been a farmer's labourer and driven a
waggon, pigs, and cattle. He had been sub-editor in a newspaper
office, _The Natal Mercury_, and one unlucky day sent the journal out
with its letters printed upside down. He had hired himself out as
chemist's assistant, and half ruined his master by his hopeless
inability to distinguish between senna and tincture of laudanum, so
that the antidotes obliged to be supplied to the hapless customers who
came rushing for them, quite outweighed the profits. Occasionally he
met with friends who assisted him, and then Roland was at ease--for
his propensity to live as a gentleman was for ever cropping up. Up and
down; down and up; now fortune smiling a little, but for the most part
showing herself very grim, and frowning terribly. Roland had gone (as
he called it) up the country, and amidst other agreeable incidents
came to a fight with the Kaffirs. He took out a licence, the cost
thirty shillings, and opened a retail store for pickled pork, candles,
and native leeches, the only articles he could get supplied him on
trust. His fine personal appearance, ready address, evident
scholarship, and hearty frank manners, obtained for him a clerkship in
the Commercial and Agricultural Bank, recently opened, and he got into
so hopeless a maze with the books and cash by the week's end, that he
was turned off without pay. Architecture was tried next. Roland sent
in a graphic plan as competitor for the erection of a public building;
and the drawing--which he had copied from a model, just as he used to
copy cribs in the college school at Helstonleigh--looked so well upon
paper that the arbitrators were struck with admiration at the
constructive talent displayed, until one of them made the abrupt
discovery that there were no staircases and no room left to build any.
So, that hope was abandoned for a less exalted one; and Roland was
glad to become young man at a general store, where the work was light:
alternating between dispensing herrings and treacle (called there
golden syrup) to customers over the counter, and taking out parcels in
a wheelbarrow.

But there was good in Roland. And a great deal of it too, in spite of
his ill-luck and his careless improvidence. The very fact of his
remaining away four years, striving manfully with this unsatisfactory
life of toil and semi-starvation, proved it. The brown bread and
pea-soup Mr. Galloway had foreseen he would be reduced to live on, was
often hungered for by Roland in vain. He put up with it all; and not
until every chance seemed to have failed, would he go home to tax his
uncle's pocket, and to disappoint his mother. A sense of shame, of
keen, stinging mortification, no doubt lay at the bottom of this
feeling against return. He had been so sanguine, as some of my readers
may remember; and as he, sitting one day on a roadside stone in the
sand, towards the close of his stay in Natal, recalled; so full of
hopeful, glowing visions in the old home, that his mother, the Lady
Augusta Yorke, had caught their reflection. Roland's castles in the
air cannot have slipped yet out of people's memory. He had represented
to his mother; aye, and believed it too; that Port Natal was a kind of
Spanish El Dorado, where energetic young men might line their pockets
in a short while, and come home millionaires for life. He had indulged
large visions and made magnificent promises on the strength of them,
beginning with a case of diamonds to his mother, and ending--nobody
but Roland could have any conception where. Old debts were to be paid,
friends benefited, enemies made to eat humble-pie. Mr. Galloway was to
be passed in the street by Mr. Roland Yorke, the millionaire; the
Reverend William Yorke to have the cold shoulder turned upon him.
Arthur Channing was to be honoured; Jenkins, the hard-working clerk,
who had thought nothing of doing Roland's work as well as his own, to
be largely patronised; within three months after his arrival in Port
Natal, funds were to be dispatched home to settle claims that might be
standing against Roland in Helstonleigh. That there could be the
slightest doubt he should come back "worth millions," Roland never
supposed; he had talked of it everywhere--and talked faithfully. Poor
Jenkins had long gone where worldly patronage and gifts could not
follow him, but others had not. Roland remembered how his confident
anticipations had so won upon his mother, that she went to bed and
dreamt of driving about a charming city, whose streets were paved with
Malachite marble.

And so, recalling these visions and promises, Roland, for very
disappointment and shame, was not in a hurry to go back, but rather
lingered on in Port Natal, struggling manfully with his ill-luck, as
he called it. Pride and good-feeling alike prevented him. To appear
before Lady Augusta, poor, starving, hatless, and bootless, would be
undoubtedly a worse blow to her than that other alternative which he
(forgetting his height and weight) had laid before her view: the one,
he said, might happen if he did _not_ get to Port Natal--the riding as
a jockey on Helstonleigh race-course, in a pink silk jacket and yellow
breeches.

No. He did try heartily with all his might and main; tried at it for
four mortal years. Beyond a scrap of writing he now and again sent
home, in which he always said he was "well, and happy, and keeping
straight, and getting on," but which never contained a request for
home news, or an address to which it might be sent, Lady Augusta heard
nothing. Nobody else heard. One letter, indeed, reached a bosom friend
of his, Arthur Channing, which was burnt when read, as requested, and
Arthur looked grieved for a month after. He had told Arthur the truth;
that he was not getting on; but under an injunction of secrecy, and
giving no details. Beyond that, no news reached home of Roland.

His fourth year of trial at Port Natal was drawing to a close when
illness seized hold of him, and for the first time Roland felt as if
he were losing heart. It was not serious illness, only such as is apt
to attack visitors to the country, and from which Roland's strength of
frame, sound constitution, and good habits--for he had no bad ones,
unless a great appetite might be called such--had hitherto preserved
him. But, what with the wear and tear of his chequered life, its
uncertain food, a plentiful dinner today, bread and beans tomorrow,
nothing the following one, and its harassing and continuous
disappointments, Roland felt the illness as a depressing calamity; and
he began to say he could not make head against the tide any longer,
and must get away from it. He might have to eat humble-pie on landing
in England; but humble-pie seems tolerable or nauseous according to
the existing state of mind; and it is never utterly poisonous to one
of the elastic temperament of Roland Yorke. In a fit of impulse he
went down to the ships and made the best bargain for getting home that
circumstances allowed. He had been away more than four years, and
never once, during that time, had he written home for money.

And so, behold him, out at pocket (except for ninepence) and out at
elbows, but wonderfully improved in tone and physique, arriving in
London early one rainy morning from Port Natal, and landing in the
docks.

The first thing he did was to divide the ninepence with one who was
poorer than he; the second was to get a cup of coffee and a slice of
bread at a street coffee-stall; the third was to hasten to Lord
Carrick's tailor--and a tremendous walk it was, but that was nothing
to Roland--and get rigged out in any second-hand suit of clothes
returned on hand that might be decent. There ill news awaited him; it
was the time of year when Lord Carrick might, as a rule, be found in
London; but he had not come; he was, the tailor believed, in Ireland.
Roland at once knew, as sure as though it had been told him, that his
uncle was in some kind of pecuniary hot water. Borrowing the very
smallest amount of money that would take him to Ireland, he went off
down the Thames in a return cattleboat that very day.

Since that period, hard upon three years, he had been almost equally
"knocking about," and experienced nearly as many ups and downs in
Ireland as at Port Natal. Sometimes living in clover with Lord
Carrick, at others thrown on his own resources and getting on somehow.
Lord Carrick's will was good to help him, but not always his ability;
now and again it had happened that his lordship (who was really more
improvident than his nephew, and had to take flights to the Continent
on abrupt emergencies and without a day's warning) was lost to society
for a time, even to Roland. Roland hired himself out as a kind of
overlooker to some absentee's estate, but he could not get paid for
it. This part of his career need not be traced; on the whole, he did
still strive to do something for himself as strenuously as he had at
Port Natal, and not to be a burthen to anybody, even to Lord Carrick.

To this end he came over to London, and presented himself one day to
his late father's brother, Sir Richard Yorke, and boldly asked him if
he could not "put him into something." The request caused Sir Richard
(an old gentleman with a fat face) to stare immensely; he was very
poor and very selfish, and had persistently held himself aloof from
his late brother's needy family, keeping them always at arm's length.
His son and heir had been content to do the same: in truth, the
cousins did not know each other by sight. Sir Richard's estate was
worth four thousand a-year, all told; and as he was wont to live at
the rate of six, it will be understood that he was never in funds.
Neither had he patronage or influence in anyway. To be thus summarily
applied to by a stalwart young man, who announced himself as his
nephew, took the baronet aback; and if he did not exactly turn Roland
out of the house, his behaviour was equivalent to it "I'll be shot if
I ever go near him again," cried Roland. "I'd rather cry hot pies in
Poplar streets."

A day or two previously, in sauntering about parts of London least
frequented by men of the higher class--for when we are very much down
in the world we don't exactly choose the region of St. James's for our
promenades, or the sunny side of Regent Street--Roland had
accidentally met one of the steerage passengers with whom he had
voyaged home from Port Natal. Ever open-hearted, he had frankly avowed
the reason of being unable to treat his friend; namely, empty pockets:
he was not sure, he added, but he must take to crossing-sweeping for a
living; he heard folks made fortunes at it. Upon this the gentleman,
who wore no coat and very indifferent pantaloons, confided to him the
intelligence that there was a first-rate opening in the perambulating
hot-pie trade, down in Poplar, for an energetic young man with a
sonorous voice. Roland, being great in the latter gift, thought he
might entertain it.

Things were at a low ebb just then with Roland. Lord Carrick, as
usual, was totally destitute of ready money; and Roland, desperately
anxious though he was to get along of his own accord, was fain to
write to his mother for a little temporary help. One cannot live upon
air in London, however that desirable state of things may be
accomplished at Port Natal. But the application was made at an
inopportune moment. Every individual boy Lady Augusta possessed was
then tugging at her purse-strings; and she returned a sharp answer to
Roland, telling him he ought to be ashamed of himself not to be
helping her, now that he was the eldest, instead of wanting her to
keep him. George, the eldest son, had died in India, which brought
Roland first.

"It's true," said Roland, in a reflective mood, "I ought to be helping
her. I wonder if Carrick could put me into anything, as old Dick
won't. Once let me get a start, I'm bound to go on, and the mother
should be the first to benefit by it."

A short while after this, and when Roland was far more at his wits'
end for a shilling than he had ever been at Port Natal--for there he
had no appearance to keep up, and here he had; there he could encamp
out in the sand, here he couldn't--Lord Carrick arrived suddenly in
London, in a little trouble as usual. Some warm-hearted friend had
induced his good-natured lordship to accept a short bill, and
afterwards treacherously left him to meet it. So Lord Carrick was
again en route for the Continent, until his men of business, Greatorex
and Greatorex, could arrange the affair for him by finding the
necessary money. Halting in London a couple of days, to confer with
them on that and other matters--for Lord Carrick's affairs altogether
were complicated and could not be touched upon in an hour--Roland
seized on the opportunity to prefer the application. And this brings
us to the present time.

When under a cloud, and not quite certain that the streets were safe,
the Earl was wont to eschew his hotel at the west end, and put up at a
private one in a more obscure part. Roland, having had notice of his
arrival, clattered in to breakfast with him on the morning of the
second day, and entered on his petition forthwith--to be put into
something.

"Anything for a start, Uncle Carrick," he urged. "No matter how low I
begin: I'll soon go along swimmingly, once I get the start. I can't go
about here, you know, with my toes out, as I have over yonder. It's
awful work getting a dinner only once a week. I've had thoughts of
crying hot pies in Poplar."

To judge by the breakfast Roland was eating, he had been a week
without that meal as well as dinner. Lord Carrick, looking at the
appetite with admiration, sat pulling his white whiskers in
perplexity; for the grey hair of seven years ago had become white now.
His heart was good to give Roland the post of Prime Minister, or any
other trifling office, but he did not see his way clear to accomplish
it.

"Me boy, there's only one thing I can do for ye just now," he said
after silently turning the matter about in all its bearings, and
hearing the explanation of the Poplar project. "Ye know I must be off
tomorrow by the early French steamer, and I can't go about looking
after places today, even if I knew where they could be picked up,
which I don't. I must leave ye to Greatorex and Greatorex."

"What will they do?" asked Roland.

"You can come along with me there, and see."

Accordingly, when the Earl of Carrick went forth to his appointed
interview that day with Mr. Greatorex, he presented Roland; and simply
told the old lawyer that he must put him in a way of getting along,
until he, Lord Carrick, was in funds again. Candid and open as ever
Roland could be, the Earl made no secret whatever of that gentleman's
penniless state, enlarging on the fact that to go dinnerless, as a
rule, could not be good for him, and that he should not exactly like
to see him set up as a hot-pie man in Poplar. Mr. Greatorex, perhaps
nearly as much taken to as Sir Richard Yorke had been on a similar
occasion, glanced at his son Bede who was present, and hesitated. He
did not refuse point blank--as he might have done by almost anybody
else. Lord Carrick was a valuable client, his business yearly bringing
in a good share of feathers to the Greatorex nest, and old Mr.
Greatorex was sensible of the fact. Still, he did not see what he
could do for one who, like Roland, was in the somewhat anomalous
position of being nephew to an earl and a baronet, but reduced to
contemplate the embarking in the hot-pie trade.

"We might give him a stool in our office, Lord Carrick, for it happens
that we are a clerk short: and pay him--pay him--twenty shillings a
week. As a temporary thing, of course."

To one who had not had a dinner for days, twenty shillings a week
seems an ample fortune; and Roland started up and grasped the elder
lawyer's hand.

"I'll earn it," he said, his tone and eyes alike beaming with
gratitude. "I'll work for you till I drop."

Mr. Greatorex smiled. "The work will not be difficult, Mr. Yorke;
writing, and going on errands occasionally. If you do come," he
pointedly added, "you must be ready to perform anything you may be
directed to do, just as a regular clerk does."

"Ready and willing too," responded Roland.

"We have room for a certain number of clerks only," proceeded Mr.
Greatorex, who was desirous that there should be no misunderstanding
in the bargain; "each one has his appointed work and must get through
it. Can you copy deeds?"

"_Can't_ I," unceremoniously replied Roland. "I was nearly worked to
death with old Galloway, of Helstonleigh."

"Were you ever with him?" cried Mr. Greatorex in surprise to whom Mr.
Galloway was known.

"Yes, for years; and part of the time had all the care of the office
on my shoulders," was Roland's ready answer. "There was only Galloway
then, beside myself, and _he_ was not good for much. Why! the amount
of copying I had to do was so great, I thought I should have dropped
into my grave. Lord Carrick knows it."

Lord Carrick did, in so far as that he had heard Roland repeatedly
assert it, and nodded assent. Mr. Greatorex thought the services of so
experienced a clerk must be invaluable to any house, and felt charmed
to have secured them.

And that is how it arose that Roland Yorke, as you have seen, was
entering the office of Greatorex and Greatorex. He was to be a clerk
there to all intents and purposes; just as he had been in the old days
at Mr. Galloway's; and yet, when he came in that morning, after his
summerset out of the hansom cab, with a five-pound note in his pocket
that Lord Carrick had contrived to spare for him, and an order for
unlimited credit at his lordship's tailor's, hatter's, and
bootmaker's, Roland's buoyant heart and fate were alike radiant, as if
he had suddenly come into a fortune.



CHAPTER IX.
UNEXPECTED MEETINGS.


"You can go to your dinner, Mr. Yorke."

The clocks were striking one, as Brown, the manager, gave the
semi-order. Roland, to whom dinner was an agreeable interlude,
especially under the circumstances of having money in his pocket to
pay for it, leaped off his stool forthwith, and caught up his hat.

"Are you not coming, Hurst?"

Mr. Hurst shook his head. "Little Jenner goes now. I stay until he
comes back."

Little Jenner had been making preparation to go of his own accord,
brushing his hat, drawing down his waistcoat, pushing gingerly in
order his mass of soft fair hair. He was remarkably small; and these
very small men are often very great dandies. Roland, who had shaken
off the old pride in his rubs with the world, waited for him outside.

"Jenner, d'ye know of a good dining-place about here?" he asked, as
they stood together, looking like a giant and a dwarf.

The clerk hesitated whether to say he did or did not. The place that
he considered good might not appear so to the nephew of Sir Richard
Yorke.

"I generally go to a house in Tottenham Court Road, sir. It's a kind
of cook's shop, clean, and the meat excellent; but one sees all kinds
of people there, and you may not think it up to you."

"Law, bless you!" cried Roland. "When a fellow has been knocked about
for four years in the streets of Port Natal, he doesn't retain much
ceremony. Let's get on to it. Do you know of any lodgings to be let in
these parts, Jenner?" he continued again. "I shall get some as near to
Greatorex's as I can. One does not want a three or four miles' dance
night and morning."

Jenner said he did not know of any, but would help Mr. Yorke to look
for some that evening if he liked. And they had turned into Tottenham
Court Road, when Jenner halted to speak to someone he encountered: a
little woman, very dark, who was bustling by with a black and white
flat basket in her hand.

"How d'ye do, Mrs. Jones? How's Mr. Ollivera?"

"Now, I've not got the time to stand bothering with you, Jenner," was
the tart retort. "Call in any evening you like, as I've told you
before; but I'm up to my eyes in errands now."

Roland Yorke, whose attention had been attracted to something in a
shop-window, wheeled round on his heel at the voice, and stared at the
speaker. Jenner had called her Mrs. Jones; but Roland fully believed
no person in the world could own that voice, save one. A voice that
struck on every chord of his memory, as connected with Helstonleigh.

"It _is_ Mrs. Jenkins!" cried Roland, seizing the stranger's hands.
"What on earth does he mean by calling you Mrs. Jones?"

"Ah," she groaned, "I am Mrs. Jones, more's the shame and pity. Let it
pass for now, young Mr. Yorke. I should have known you anywhere."

"You don't mean to say you are living in London?" returned Roland.

"Yes, I am. In Gower Street. Come and see me, Mr. Yorke; Jenner will
show you the house. Did you make your fortune at Port Natal? You'd
always used to be telling Jenkins, you know, that you should."

"And I thought I _should_," said Roland, with emphasis; "but I got no
luck, and it turned out a failure. _Won't_ I come and see you! I say,
Mrs. Jenkins, do you remember the toasted muffins that Jenkins
wouldn't eat?"

Mrs. Jones nodded twice to the reminiscence. She went bustling on her
way, and they on theirs. Roland for once was rather silent. Mingling
with the satisfaction he experienced in meeting any one from
Helstonleigh, especially one so associated with the old familiar daily
life as Mrs. Jenkins had been, came the thoughts of the years since;
of the defeats and failures; of the mortification that invariably lay
on his heart when he had to tell of them and of what they had brought
him. He had now met two of the old people in one day; Hurst and Mrs.
Jones; or, as Roland still called her, Mrs. Jenkins. Cords would not
have dragged Roland to Helstonleigh: his mother, with the rest of them
at home, had come over to Ireland to stay part of the summer at Lord
Carrick's, soon after Roland's return from Port Natal; but he would
not go to see them at the old home city. With the exception of scraps
of news learnt from Hurst that day, Roland knew nothing about
Helstonleigh's later years.

"Look here, Jenner! What brings her name Jones? It used to be
Jenkins."

"I think I have heard that it was Jenkins once," replied Jenner,
reflectively. "She must have married Jones after Jenkins died. Did you
know him?"

"Did I know him?" echoed Roland, to whom the question sounded a very
superfluous one. "I should just think I did know him. Why, he was
chief clerk for years to Galloway, that cantankerous old proctor I was
with. Jenkins was a good fellow as ever lived, meek and patient, and
of course Mrs. J. put upon him. She'd not allow him to have his will
in the smallest way: he couldn't dress himself in a morning unless she
chose to let him. Which she didn't always."

"Not let him dress himself?"

"It's true," affirmed Roland, diving down into the depth of the old
grievances. "Our office was in an awful state of work at that time;
and because Jenkins had a cough she'd lock up his pantaloons to keep
him at home. It wasn't his fault; he'd have come in his coffin. Jones
whoever he may be, must have had the courage of a wolf to venture on
her. Does he look like one?"

"I never saw him," said Jenner. "I think he's dead, too."

"Couldn't stand it, I suppose? My opinion is, it was her tongue took
off poor Jenkins. He was mild as honey. Not that she's a bad lot at
bottom, mind you, Jenner. I wonder what brought her to London?"

"I don't know anything about her affairs," said Jenner. "The Rev.
Henry William Ollivera has his rooms in her house. And I go to see him
now and then. That's all."

"Who is the Rev. William Ollivera?"

"Curate of a parish hard by. His brother, a barrister, had chambers in
Lincoln's Inn, and I was his clerk. Four years ago he went the Oxford
circuit, and came to his death at Helstonleigh. It was a shocking
affair, and happened in the Joneses' house. They lived at Helstonleigh
then. Mrs. Jones's sister went in one morning and found him dead in
his chair."

"My goodness!" cried Roland. "Was it a fit?"

"Worse than that. He took away his own life. And I have never been
able to understand it from that hour to this, for he was the most
unlikely man living to do such a thing--as people all said. The
Greatorexes interested themselves to get me a fresh place, giving me
some temporary work in their office. It ended in my remaining with
them. They find me useful, and pay me well. It's four years now, sir,
since it happened."

"Just one year before I got home from Natal," casually remarked
Roland.

"He sends for me sometimes," continued Mr. Jenner, pursuing his own
thoughts, which were running on the clergyman. "When any fresh idea
occurs to him, he'll write off for me, post haste; and when I get
there he puts all sorts of questions to me, about the old times in
Lincoln's Inn. You see, he has always held that Mr. Ollivera did not
kill himself, and has been ever since trying to get evidence to prove
he did not. The hope never seems to grow old with him, or to rest; it
is as fresh and near as it was the day he first took it up."

Roland felt a little puzzled. "Did Mr. Ollivera kill himself, or
didn't he? Which do you mean?"

Jenner shook his head. "I think he did, unlikely though it seemed. All
the circumstances proved it, and nobody doubted it except the Rev. Mr.
Ollivera. Bede Greatorex, who was the last person to see him alive,
thinks there can be no doubt whatever; I overheard him say it was just
one of William Ollivera's crotchets, and not the first by a good many
that he had taken up. The clergyman used to be for ever coming into
the office talking of it, saying should he do this or do the other,
until Bede told him he couldn't have it; that it interrupted the
business."

"What has Bede Greatorex to do with it? Why should Ollivera come to
him?"

"Bede Greatorex has nearly as much to do with it as the clergyman. He
and the two Olliveras were cousins. Bede Greatorex was awfully cut at
the death: he'd be glad to see there was doubt attending it; but he,
as a sensible man, can't see it. They buried Mr. Ollivera like a dog."

"What did they do that for?"

"The verdict was felo-de-se. Mr. Hurst can tell you all about it, sir;
he was at Helstonleigh at the time: he says he never saw such a scene
in his life as the funeral. It was a moonlight night, and half the
town was there."

"I'll get it all out of him," quoth Roland, who had not lost in the
smallest degree his propensity to indulge in desultory gossip.

"Don't ask him in the office," advised Jenner. "Brown would stop you
at the first word. He never lets a syllable be dropped upon the
subject. I asked him one day what it was to him, and he answered that
it was not seemly to allude to the affair in the house, as Mr.
Ollivera had been a connection of it. My fancy is that Brown must have
known something of it at the time, and does not like it mentioned on
his own score," confidentially added little Jenner, who was of a
shrewd turn. "I saw him change colour once over it."

"Who _is_ Brown?" questioned Roland.

"That's more than I can say," was the reply. "He's an uncommonly
efficient clerk; but, once out of the office, he keeps himself to
himself, and makes friends with none of us. Here we are, sir."

The eating-house, however unsuitable it might have been to one holding
his own as the nephew of an English baronet, to say nothing of an
Irish peer, was welcome as sun in harvest to hungry Roland. He ordered
a magnificent dinner, off-hand: three plates of meat each, three of
tart; vegetables, bread and beer _ad libitum_: paid for the whole,
changing his five-pound note, and gave a shilling to the man who
waited on them. Little Jenner went out with his face shining.

"We must make the best of our way back, Mr. Yorke. Time's up."

"Oh, is it, though," cried Roland. "I'm not going back yet. I shall
take a turn round to see Mrs. Jenkins; there are five hundred things I
want to ask her."

One can only be civil to a man who has just treated one to a good
dinner, and Jenner did not like to tell Roland pointblank that he had
better not go anywhere but to the office.

"They are awfully strict about time in our place," cried he; "and we
are busy just now. I must make haste back, sir."

"All right," said easy Roland. "Say I am coming."

His long legs went flying off in the direction of Gower Street, Jenner
having given him the necessary instructions to find it; and he burst
clattering in upon Mrs. Jones in her sitting-room without the least
ceremony, very much as he used to do in the old days when she was Mrs.
Jenkins. Mrs. Jones had been for some time now given to wish that she
had not changed her name. Doing very well as the widow Jenkins, years
ago, in her little hosier's shop in High Street, Helstonleigh, what
was her mortification to find one day that the large and handsome
house next door, with its shop-windows of plate-glass, had been opened
as another hosier's by a Mr. Richard Jones. Would customers continue
to come to her plain and unpretending mart, when that new one, grand,
imposing, and telling of an unlimited stock within, was staring them
in the face? The widow Jenkins feared not; and fretted herself to
fiddle-strings.

The fear might have had no cause of foundation: the show kept up at
the adjoining house was perhaps founded on artificial bases, rather
than real. Richard Jones (whom the city had already begun to designate
as Dicky) turned out to be of a sociable nature; he made her
acquaintance whether she would or no, and suddenly proposed to her to
unite the two businesses in one, by making herself, and her stock, and
her connection, over to him. Mrs. Jenkins's first impulse was to throw
at his head the nearest parcel that came to hand. Familiarity with an
idea, however, sometimes reconciles the worst adversary; as at length
it did Mrs. Jenkins to this. To give her her due, she took no account
whatever of Mr. Jones in the matter; he went for nothing, a bale of
waste flung in to make weight, she should rule him just as she had
ruled Jenkins; her sole temptation was the flourishing shop, à côté,
and the good, well-furnished house. So Mrs. Jenkins exchanged her name
for that of Jones, and removed, bag and baggage; resigning the
inferior home that had so long sheltered her. It was close upon this,
that one of the barristers, coming in to the summer assizes at
Helstonleigh, took apartments at Mrs. Jones's. That was Mr. Ollivera:
and in the following March, when he again came in, occurred his
tragical ending.

Before this, long before it, Mrs. Jones had grown to realize to
herself the truth of the homely proverb, All's not gold that glitters.
Mr. Jones's connection did not prove to be of the most extensive kind;
far from it; the large, imposing stock turned out to be three parts
dummies; and she grew to believe--to see--that his motive in marrying
her was to uphold his newly-established business by beguiling to it
her old customers. The knowledge did not tend to soothe her naturally
tart temper; neither did the fact that her husband took vast deal of
pleasure abroad, spent money recklessly, and left her to do all the
work. Mr. Jones's debts came out, one after the other; more than could
be paid; and one morning some men of the law walked quietly in and put
themselves in possession of the effects. Things had come to a crisis.
Mr. Jones, after battling out affairs with the bankruptcy
commissioner, started for America; his wife went off to London.
Certain money, her own past savings, she had been wise enough to have
secured to her separate special use, and that could not be touched.
With a portion of it she bought in some of the furniture, and set up
as a letter of lodgings in Gower Street.

But that Roland Yorke had not seen the parlour at Helstonleigh (which
the reader had the satisfaction of once entering with Mr. Butterby),
he would have gone well nigh to think this the same room. The red
carpet on the floor, the small book-shelves, the mahogany sideboard
with its array of glasses, the horsehair chairs, the red cloth on the
centre table, all had been transplanted. When Roland bustled in, he
found Mrs. Jones knitting away at lambs' wool socks, as if for her
life. In the intervals of her home occupation, or when her house was
slack of lodgers, she did these for sale, and realized a very fair
profit.

"Now then," said Roland, stirring up the fire of his own accord, and
making himself at home, as he liked to do wherever he might be, "I
want to know all about everybody."

Mrs. Jones turned her chair towards him with a jerk; and Roland put
question after question about the old city, which he had so abruptly
quitted more than seven years before. It may be that Mrs. Jones
recognized in him a kind of fellow-sufferer. Neither of them cared to
see Helstonleigh again, unless under the auspices of a more propitious
fate than the present. Anyway, she was gracious to Roland, and gave
him information as fast as he asked for it, repeating some things he
had heard before. He persisted in calling her Mrs. Jenkins, saying it
came more natural than the other name.

Mr. Channing was dead. His eldest son Hamish was living in London.
Arthur was Mr. Galloway's right hand; Tom was a clergyman, and just
made a minor canon of the old cathedral; Charley Mrs. Jones knew
nothing about, except that he was in India. The college school had got
a new master. Mr. Ketch was reposing in a damp green nook, side by
side with old Jenkins the bedesman. Hamish Channing's bank had come to
grief, Mrs. Jenkins did not know how. In the panic, she believed.

"And that beautiful kinsman of mine, William Yorke, reigns at
Hazeldon, and old Galloway is flourishing in his office, with his
flaxen curls!" burst forth Roland, suddenly struck with a weighty
sense of injustice. "The bad people get the luck of it in this world,
Mrs. Jenkins; the deserving ones go begging. Hamish Channing's bank
come to grief;--bright Hamish! And look at me!--and you! I never saw
such a world as this with its miserable ups and downs."

"Ah," said Mrs. Jones with a touch of her native tartness, "it's a
good thing there's another world to come after. We may find that a
better one."

The prospect (probably from being regarded as rather far-off) did not
appear to afford present satisfaction to Roland. He sat pulling at his
whiskers, moodily resenting the general blindness of Fortune in regard
to merit, and then suddenly wheeled round to his own affairs.

"I say, Mrs. J."--a compromise between the two names and serving for
both--"I want a lodging. Couldn't you let me come here?"

She looked up briskly. "What kind of a lodging? I mean as to position
and price."

"Oh, something comfortable," said Roland.

Perhaps for old acquaintance' sake, perhaps because she had some
apartments vacant, Mrs. Jones appeared to regard the proposition with
no disfavour; and began to talk of her house's accommodation.

"The rooms on the first floor are very good and well furnished," she
said. "When I was about it, Mr. Yorke, I thought I might as well have
things nice as not, one finds the return; and the drawing-room floor
naturally gets served the best. There's a piano in the front room, and
the bed in the back room is excellent."

"They'd be just the thing for me," cried Roland, rising to walk about
in pleasurable excitement. "What's the rent?"

"They are let for a pound a week. Mr.----"

"That'll do  I can pay it," said he eagerly. "I don't play the piano
myself; but it may be useful if I give a party. You'll cook for me?"

"Of course we'll cook," said Mrs. Jones. "But I was about to tell you
that those rooms are let to a clergyman. If you----"

Roland had come to an abrupt anchor at the edge of the table, and the
look of blank dismay on his face was such as to cut short Mrs. Jones's
speech. "What's the matter?" she asked.

"Mrs. J., I couldn't give it; I was forgetting. They are to pay me a
pound a-week at Greatorex's; but I can't spend it all in lodgings, I'm
afraid. There'll be other things wanted."

"Other things!" ejaculated Mrs. Jones. "I should think there would be
other things. Food, and drink, and firing, and light, and wear and
tear of clothes, and washing; and a hundred extras beside."

Roland sat in perplexity. Ways and means seem to have grown dark
together.

"Couldn't you let me one room? A room with a turn-up bedstead in it,
Mrs. Jenkins, or something of that? Couldn't you take the pound
a-week, and do for me?"

"I don't know but I might make some such arrangement, and let you have
the front parlour," she slowly said. "We've got a Scripture reader in
the back one."

Roland started up impulsively to look at the front parlour, intending
to take it, off hand. As they quitted the room--which was built out at
the back, on the staircase that led down to the kitchen--Roland saw a
tall, fair, good-looking young woman, who stopped and asked some
question of Mrs. Jones. Which that lady answered sharply.

"I have no time to talk about trifles now, Alletha."

"Who's that?" cried Roland, as they entered the parlour: a small room
with a dark paper and faded red curtains.

"It's my sister, Mr. Yorke."

"I say, Mrs. J., this is a stunning room," exclaimed Roland, who was
in that eager mood, of his, when all things looked couleur-de-rose.
"Can I come in today?"

"You can tomorrow, if we agree. That sofa lets out into a bedstead at
night. You must not get into my debt, though, Mr. Yorke," she added,
in the plain, straightforward way that was habitual with her. "I
couldn't afford it, and I tell you so beforehand."

"I'll never do that," said Roland, impulsively earnest in his
sincerity. "I'll bring you home the pound each week, and then I shan't
be tempted to change it. Look here"--taking two sovereigns from his
pocket--"that's to steer on ahead with. Does she live here?" he
added, going back without ceremony to the subject of Miss Rye.
"Alletha, do you call her? what an odd name!"

"The name was a mistake of the parson's when she was christened. It
was to have been Allethea. I've had her with me four or five years
now. She is a dressmaker, Mr. Yorke, and works sometimes at home, and
sometimes out."

"She'd be uncommonly good-looking if she were not such a shadow,"
commented Roland with candour.

Mrs. Jones gave her head a toss, as if the topic displeased her.
"Shadow, indeed! Yes, and she's likely to be one. Never was any pig
more obstinate than she."

"Pigs!" cried Roland with energy, "you should see the obstinacy of
Natal pigs, Mrs. J. _I_ have. Drove 'em too."

"It couldn't equal hers," disputed Mrs. J., with intense acrimony.
"She is wedded to the memory of a runaway villain, Mr. Yorke, that's
what she is! A good opportunity presented itself to her lately of
settling, but she'd not take it. She'd sooner fret out her life after
_him_, than look upon an honest man. The two pigs together by the
tail, and let 'em pull two ways till they drop, they'd not equal her.
And for a runaway; a man that disgraced himself!"

"What did he do?" asked curious Roland.

"It's not very good to repeat," said Mrs. Jones tartly. "She lived in
Birmingham, our native place, till the mother died, and then she came
to me at Helstonleigh. First thing she tells me was, that she was
engaged to be married to some young man in an office there, George
Winter: and over she goes to Birmingham the next Christmas on a visit
to her aunt, on purpose to meet him: stays there a week, and comes
home again. Well, Mr. Yorke, this grand young man, this George Winter,
about whom I had _my_ doubts, though I'd never seen him, got into
trouble before three months had gone by: he and a fellow-clerk did
something wrong with the money, and Winter decamped."

"I wonder if he went to Port Natal?" mused Roland. "We had some queer
people over there."

"It don't much matter where he went," returned Mrs. Jones, hotly. "He
did go, and he never came back, and he took Alletha's common sense
away with him: what with him and what with the dreadful affair at our
house of that poor Mr. Ollivera, she has never been herself since. It
both happened about the same time."

Roland recalled what he had recently heard from Jenner regarding the
death of the barrister, and felt a little at sea.

"What was Ollivera to her?" he asked.

"What! why, nothing," said Mrs. Jones. "And she's no better than a
lunatic to have taken it as she did. Whether it's that, or whether
it's the pining after the other precious runaway, _I_ don't know, but
one of the two's preying upon her. There's Mr. Ollivera!"

Roland went to the window. In the street, talking, stood a dark, small
man in the garb of a clergyman, with a grave but not unpleasant face,
and sad dark eyes.

"Oh, that's Mr. Ollivera, is it?" quoth Roland. "He looks another
shadow."

"And it is another case of obstinacy," rejoined Mrs. Jones. "He has
refused all along to believe that his brother killed himself; you
could as soon make him think the sun never shone. He comes to my
parlour and talks to me about it by the hour together, with his
note-case in his hand, till Alletha can't sit any longer, and goes
rushing off with her work like any mad woman."

"Why should she rush off? What harm does it do to her?"

"I don't know: it's one of the puzzles to be found out. His coming
here was a curious thing, Mr. Yorke. One day I was standing at the
front door, and saw a young clergyman passing. He looked at me, and
stopped; and I knew him for Henry Ollivera, though we had only met at
the time of the death. When I told him I had rooms to let, and very
nice ones, for it struck me that perhaps he might be able to recommend
them, he looked out in that thoughtful, dreamy way he has, (look at
his eyes now, Mr. Yorke!) seeing nothing, I'm certain; and then said
he'd go up and look at the rooms; and we went up. Would you believe
that he took them for himself on the spot?"

"What a brick!" cried Roland, who was following out suggested ideas
but imperfectly. "I'll take this one."

"Alletha gave a great cry when she heard he was coming, and said it
was Fate. I demanded what she meant by that, but she'd not open her
lips further. Talk of Natal pigs, forsooth, she's worse. He took
possession of the rooms within the week; and I say, Mr. Yorke, that,
Fate or not Fate, he never had but one object in coming--the sifting
of that past calamity. His poor mistaken mind is ever on the rack to
bring some discovery to light. It's like that search one reads of,
after the philosopher's stone."

Roland laughed. He was not very profound himself, but the
philosopher's stone and Mrs. Jones seemed utterly at variance.

"It does," she said. "For there's no stone to be found in the one
case, and no discovery to be made in the other, beyond what has been
made. I don't say this to the parson, Mr. Yorke; I listen to him and
humour him for the sake of his dead brother."

"Well, I shan't bother you about dead people, Mrs. J., so you let me
the room."

The bargain was not difficult. Every suggestion made by Mrs. Jones, he
acceded to before it had well left her lips. He had fallen into good
hands. Whatever might be Mrs. Jones's faults of manner and temper, she
was strictly just, regarding Roland's interests at least in an equal
degree with her own.

"Do you know," said Roland, nursing his knee as the bargain concluded,
"I have never felt so much at home since I left it, as I did just now
by your fire, Mrs. J.? I'm uncommon glad I came here."

He was genuine in what he said: indeed Roland could but be genuine
always, too much so sometimes. Mrs. J.--as he called her--brought back
so vividly the old home life of his boyhood, now gone by for ever,
that it was like being at Helstonleigh again.

"My eldest brother, George, is dead," said Roland. "Gerald is grand
with his chambers and his club, and is married besides, but I've not
seen him. Tod is in the army: do you remember him? an awful young
scamp he was, his face all manner of colours from fighting, and his
clothes torn to that degree that Lady Augusta used to threaten to send
him to school without any. Where's your husband number two, Mrs. J.?"

"It is to be hoped he is where he will never come away from; he went
sailing off three years ago from Liverpool," she answered sharply;
for, of all sore subjects, this of her second marriage was the worst.
"Anyway, I have made myself and my goods secure from him."

"Perhaps _he's_ at Port Natal, driving pigs. He'll find out what they
are if he is."

Mr. Ollivera was turning to the house. Roland opened the parlour door
when he had passed it; to look after him.

Some one else was there. Peering out from a dark nook in the passage,
her lips slightly apart, her eyes strained after the clergyman with a
strange kind of fear in their depths, stood Alletha Rye. Mr. Ollivera
suddenly turned back, as though he had forgotten something, and she
shrank out of sight. Mrs. Jones introduced Roland: "Mr. Roland Yorke."

Mr. Ollivera's face was thin; his dark brown eyes shone with a
flashing, restless, feverish light. Be you very sure when that
peculiar light is seen, it betokens a mind ill at rest. The eyes fixed
themselves on Roland: and perhaps there was something in the tall,
fine form, in the good-nature of the strong-featured countenance, that
recalled a memory to Mr. Ollivera.

"Any relative of the Yorkes of Helstonleigh?"

"I should think so," said Roland, "I am a Yorke of Helstonleigh. But
I've not been there since I went to Port Natal, seven years and more
ago. Do you know them, Mr. Ollivera?"

"I know a little of the minor-canon, William Yorke, and----"

"Oh! he!" curtly interrupted Roland, with a vast amount of scorn. "He
is a beauty to know, he is."

The remark, so like a flash of boyish resentment, excited a slight
smile in Mr. Ollivera.

"Bill Yorke showed himself a cur once in his life, and it's not me
that's going to forget it. He'd have cared for my telling him of it,
too, had I come back worth a few millions from Port Natal, and gone
about Helstonleigh in my carriage and four."

Mr. Ollivera said some courteous words about hoping to make Roland's
better acquaintance, and departed. Roland suddenly remembered the
claims of his office, and tore away at full speed.

Never slackening it until he reached the house of Greatorex and
Greatorex; and there he very nearly knocked down a little girl who had
just come out of the private entrance. Roland turned to apologise; but
the words died on his lips, and he stood like one suddenly struck
dumb, staring in silence.

In the pretty young lady, one of two who were talking together in the
passage, and looked round at the commotion, Roland thought he
recognised an old friend, now the wife of his cousin William Yorke. He
bounded in and seized her hands.

"You are Constance Channing?"

"No," replied the young lady, with wondering eyes, "I am Annabel."

Mr. Roland Yorke's first movement was to take the sweet face between
his hands, and kiss it tenderly. Struggling, blushing, almost weeping,
the young lady drew back against the wall.

"How dare you?" she demanded in bitter resentment. "Are you out of
your mind, sir?"

"Good gracious, Annabel, don't you know me? I am your old playfellow,
Roland Yorke."

"Does that give you any right to insult me? I might have known it was
no one else," she added in the moment's anger.

"Why, Annabel, it was only done in great joy. I had used to kiss you,
you remember: you were but a little mite then, and I was a big tease.
Oh, I am so glad to see you! I'd rather have met you than all the
world. You can't be angry with me. Shake hands and be friends."

To remain long at variance with Roland was one of the impossibilities
of social life. He possessed himself of Annabel Channing's hand and
nearly shook it off. What with his hearty words, and what (may it be
confessed, even of Annabel) with the flattery of his praises and
general admiration, Annabel's smiles broke forth amidst her blushes.
Roland's eyes looked as if they would devour her.

"I say, I never saw anybody so pretty in all my life. It is the nicest
face; just what Constance's used to be. I thought it was Constance,
you know. Was she not daft, though, to go and take up again with that
miserable William Yorke?"

Standing by, having looked on with a smile of grand pity mingled with
amusement, was a lady in the most fashionable attire, the amount of
hair on her head something marvellous to look at.

"I should have known Roland Yorke anywhere," she said, holding out her
hand.

"Why, if I don't believe it's one of the Joliffes!"

"Hush, Roland," said Annabel, hastening to stop his freedom, and the
tone proved that she had nearly forgiven him on her own score. "This
is Mrs. Bede Greatorex."

"Formerly Louisa Joliffe," put in that lady. "Now do you know me?"

"Well, I never met with such a strange thing," cried Roland. "That
makes three--four--of the old Helstonleigh people I have met today.
Hurst, Mrs. J., and now you two. I think there must be magic in it."

"You must come and see me soon, Roland," said Mrs. Greatorex as she
went out. Miss Channing waited for the little girl, Jane Greatorex,
who had run in her wilful manner into her uncle Bede's office. Roland
offered to fetch her.

"Thank you," said Miss Channing. "Do you know which is the office?"

"Know! law bless you!" cried Roland. "What do you suppose I am,
Annabel? Clerk to Greatorex and Greatorex."

Her cheeks flushed with surprise. "Clerk to Greatorex and Greatorex! I
thought you went to Port Natal to make your fortune."

"But I did not make it. It has been nothing but knocking about; then
and since. Carrick is a trump, as he always was, but he gets floored
himself sometimes; and that's his case now. If they had not given me a
stool here (which he got for me) I'm not sure but I should have gone
into the hot-pie line."

"The--what?"

"The hot-pie line; crying them in the streets, you know, with a basket
and a white cloth, and a paper cap on. There's a fine opening for it
down in Poplar."

Miss Channing burst out laughing.

"It would be nothing to a fellow who has been over yonder," avowed
Roland, jerking his head in the direction Port Natal might be supposed
to lie. And then leaping to a widely different subject in his volatile
lightness, he said something that brought the tears to her eyes, the
drooping tremor to her lips.

"It was so good in the old days; all of us children together; we were
no better. And Mr. Channing is gone, I hear! Oh, I am so sorry,
Annabel!"

"Two years last February," she said in a hushed tone. "We have just
put off our mourning for him. Mamma is in the dear old house, and
Arthur and Tom live with her. Will you please look for the little
girl, Mr. Yorke?"

"Now I vow!"--burst forth Roland in a heat. "I'll not stand that, you
know. One would think you had put on stilts. If ever you call me 'Mr.
Yorke' again, I'll go back to Port Natal."

She laughed a little pleasant laugh of embarrassment. "But, please, I
want my pupil. I cannot go myself into the offices to look for her."

At that moment Jane Greatorex came dancing up, and was secured. Roland
stood at the door to watch them away, exchanged a few light words with
a clerk then entering, and finally bustled into the office.

"Am I late?" began Roland, with characteristic indifference. "I'm very
sorry, Mr. Brown. I was looking at some lodgings; and I met an old
friend or two. It all served to hinder me, but I'll soon make up for
it."

"You have been away two hours and a half, Mr. Yorke."

"It's more, I think," said Roland. "I assure you I did my best to get
back. You'll soon find what I can get through, Mr. Brown."

Mr. Brown made no reply whatever. Jenner was absent, but Hurst was at
his post, writing, and the faint hum of voices in the adjoining room,
told that some client was holding conference with Mr. Bede Greatorex.

Roland resumed his copying where he had left off, and wrote for a
quarter of an hour without speaking. Diligence unheard of! At the end
of that time he looked off for a little relaxation.

"Hurst, where do you think I am going to lodge?"

"How should I know?" responded Mr. Hurst. And Roland told him where in
an undertone.

"Jenner and I were going along Tottenham Court Road, and met her," he
resumed presently, after a short interlude of writing. "She looks
twenty years older."

"That's through her tongue," suggested Mr. Hurst.

"In the old days down there, I'd as soon have gone to live in a
Tartar's house as in hers. But weren't her teas and toasted muffins
good! Here, in this desert of a place--and it's worse of a desert to
me than Port Natal--to get into her house will seem like getting into
home again."

Mr. Brown, looking off his work to refer to a paper by his side, took
the opportunity to direct a glance at the opposite desk. Whether
Roland took it to himself or not, he applied sedulously for a couple
of minutes to his writing.

"I say, Hurst, what a row there is about that dead Mr. Ollivera!"

"Where's the row?"

"Well, it seems to crop up everywhere. Jenner talked of it; she talked
of it; I hear that other Mr. Ollivera talks of it. You were in the
thick of it, they say."

Hurst nodded. "My father was the surgeon fetched to him when he was
found dead, and had to give evidence at the inquest. I went to see him
buried; it _was_ a scene. They stole a march on us, though."

"Who did?"

"They let us all disperse, and then went and read the burial service
over the grave; Ollivera the clergyman, and three or four more. Arthur
Channing was one."

"Arthur Channing!"

Had any close observer been in the office, he might perchance have
noticed that while Mr. Brown's eyes still sought his work, his pen had
ceased to play. His lips were slightly parted; his ears were cocked;
the tale evidently bore for him as great an interest as it did for the
speakers--an interest he did not choose should be seen. Had they been
speaking aloud, he would have checked the conversation at once with an
intimation that it could not concern anybody: as they spoke covertly,
he listened at leisure. Mr. Hurst resumed.

"Yes, Arthur Channing. The rumour ran that William Yorke had promised
to be present, but declined at the last moment, and Arthur Channing
voluntarily took his place out of sympathy for the feelings of the
dead man's brother."

"Bravo, old Arthur! he's the trump he always was. That's the Reverend
Bill all over."

"The Reverend Bill let them have his surplice. And there they stood,
and read the burial service over the poor fellow by stealth, just as
the old Scotch covenanters held their secret services in caves.
Altogether a vast deal of romance encircled the affair, and some
mystery. One Godfrey Pitman's name was mixed up in it."

"Who was Godfrey Pitman?"

Hurst dipped his pen slowly into the ink. "Nobody ever knew. He was
lodging in the house, and went away mysteriously the same evening.
Helstonleigh got to say in joke that there must have been two Godfrey
Pitmans. The people of the house swore through thick and thin that the
real Godfrey Pitman left at half-past four o'clock and went away by
rail at five; others saw him quit the house at dark, and depart by the
eight o'clock train. It got to a regular dispute."

"But had Godfrey Pitman anything to do with Mr. Ollivera?"

"Not he."

"Then where was the good of bringing him up?" cried Roland.

"I am only telling you of the different interests that were brought to
bear upon it. It _was_ an affair, that death was!"

The entrance of Mr. Frank Greatorex broke up the colloquy, recalling
the clerks to their legitimate work. But the attention of one of them
had become so absorbed that it was with difficulty he could get
himself back again to passing life.

And that one was Mr. Brown.



CHAPTER X.
GOING INTO SOCIETY.


The year was growing a little later; the evenings were lengthening,
and the light of the setting sun, illumining the west with a golden
radiance, threw some of its cheering brightness even on the streets
and houses of close, smoky London.

It shone on the person of the Reverend Henry William Ollivera, as he
sat at home, taking his frugal meal, a tea-dinner. The room was a good
one, and well furnished in a plain way. The table had been drawn
towards one of the windows, open to the hum of the street; the
rosewood cabinet at the back was handsome with its sheet of
plate-glass and its white marble top; the chairs and sofa were covered
with substantial cloth, the pier-glass over the mantlepiece reflected
back bright ornaments. Mr. Ollivera was of very simple habits, partly
because he really cared little how he lived, partly because the scenes
of distress and privation he met with daily in his ministrations read
him a lesson that he was not slow to take. How could he pamper himself
up with rich food, when so many within a stone's throw were pining for
want of bread? His landlady, Mrs. Jones, gave him sound lectures on
occasion, telling him to his face that he was trying to break down.
Sometimes she prepared nice dinners in spite of him: a fowl, or some
other luxury, and Mr. Ollivera smiled and did not say it was not
enjoyed. The district of his curacy was full of poor; poverty, vice,
misery reigned, and _would_ reign, in spite of what he could do. Some
of the worst phases of London life were ever before him. The great
problem, "What shall be done with these?" arose to his mind day by
day. He had his scripture readers; he had other help; but destitution
both of body and mind reared itself aloft like a many-headed monster,
defying all solution. Sometimes Mr. Ollivera did not come in to dinner
at all, but took a mutton-chop with his tea; as he was doing now.

Four years had elapsed since his brother's mysterious death (surely it
may be called so!) and the conviction on the clergyman's mind, that
the verdict was wholly at variance with the facts, had not abated one
iota. Nay, time had but served to strengthen it. Nothing else had
strengthened it. No discovery had been made, no circumstance, however
minute, had arisen to throw light upon it one way or the other. The
hoped-for, looked-for communication from the police-agent, Butterby,
had never come. In point of fact Mr. Butterby, in regard to this case,
had found himself wholly at sea. Godfrey Pitman did not turn up in
response to the threatened "looking after;" Miss Rye departed for
London with her sister when affairs at the Jones's came to a crash;
and, if the truth must be told, Mr. Butterby veered round to his
original opinion, that the verdict had been a correct one. Once, and
once only, that renowned officer had presented himself at the house of
Greatorex and Greatorex. Happening to be in London, he thought he
would give them a call. But he brought no news. It was but a few weeks
following the occurrence, and there might not have been time for any
to arise. One thing he had requested--to retain in his possession the
scrap of writing found on the table at the death. It might be useful
to him, he said, for of course he should still keep his eyes open: and
Mr. Greatorex readily acquiesced. Since then nothing whatever had been
heard from Mr. Butterby, or from any other quarter; but the sad facts
were rarely out of the clergyman's mind; and the positive conviction,
the _expectation_ of the light, to break in sooner or later, burnt
within him with a steady ray, sure and true as Heaven.

Not of this, however, was Mr. Ollivera's mind filled this evening. His
thoughts were running on the disheartening scenes of the day; the
difficult men and women he had tried to deal with--some of them meek
and resigned, many hard and bad; all wanting help for their sick
bodies or worse souls. There was one case in particular that
interested him sadly. A man named Gisby, discovered shortly before,
lay in a room, dying slowly. He did not want help in kind, as so many
did; but of spiritual help, none could be in greater need. Little by
little, Mr. Ollivera got at his history. It appeared that the man had
once been servant in the house of Kene, the Queen's counsel--Judge
Kene now: he had been raised to the bench in the past year. During his
service there, a silver mug disappeared; circumstances seemed to point
to Gisby as guilty, and he was discharged, getting subsequently other
employment.

But now, the man was not guilty--as he convinced Mr. Ollivera, and the
suspicion appeared to have worked him a great deal of ill, and made
him hard. On this day, when the clergyman sat by his bed-side, reading
and praying, he had turned a deaf ear. "Where's the use?" he roughly
cried, "Sir Thomas thinks me guilty always." It struck Mr. Ollivera
that the man had greatly respected his master, had valued his good
opinion and craved for it still; and the next morning this was
confirmed. "You'll go to him when I'm dead, sir, and tell him the
truth then, that I was not guilty? I never touched the mug, or knew
how or where it went."

Returning home with these words ringing in his ears, Mr. Ollivera
could not get the man out of his mind. So long as the _sense of being
wronged_ lay upon Gisby, so long would he encase himself in his hard
indifference, and refuse to hear. "I must get Kene to go to see the
man," decided Mr. Ollivera. "He must hear with his own ears and see
with his own eyes that he was not guilty, and tell him so; and then
Gisby will come round. I wonder if Kene is back from circuit."

Excessively tired with his day's work, for his frame was not of the
strongest, Mr. Ollivera did not care to go out that evening to Sir
Thomas Kene's distant residence on the chance of not finding him. And
yet, if the judge was back, there ought to be no time lost in
communicating with him, for Gisby was daily getting nearer to death.
"Bede Greatorex will be able to tell me," suddenly thought Mr.
Ollivera, when his tea had been long over and twilight was setting in.
"I'll send and ask him."

Moving to his writing-table, he wrote a short note, reading it over
before enclosing it in an envelope.


"Dear Bede,--Can you tell me whether Sir Thomas Kene is in London? I
wish particularly to see him as soon as possible. It is on a little
matter connected with my parish work.

"Truly yours

"WILLIAM OLLIVERA."


It was a latent thought that induced Mr. Ollivera to add the
concluding sentence and the motive shall be told. He and Bede
Greatorex had come to an issue twice upon the subject of his so
persistently cherishing the notion that the now long-past death was
anything but a suicide; or rather, that he should pursue it. Bede
heard so much of it from him that he grew vexed, and at length vowed
he would listen to him no more. And Mr. Ollivera thought that if Bede
fancied he wanted to see Sir Thomas Kene on that subject, he might
refuse to answer him.

Ringing the bell, he gave the note to the servant with a request
(preferred with deprecation and a plea of his own tired state, for he
was one of those who are sensitively chary of giving any extra
trouble) that it should be taken to Mr. Bede Greatorex, and an answer
waited for.

But when the girl got downstairs, there arose some slight difficulty;
she was engaged in a necessary household occupation--ironing--and her
mistress did not care that she should quit it. Miss Rye stood by with
her things on, about to go out on some errand of her own. Ah me! these
apparently trifling chances do not happen accidentally.

"Can't _you_ just step round to Bedford Square, with it, Alletha?"
asked Mrs. Jones. "It won't take you far out of your way."

Miss Rye's silent answer--she seemed always silent now--was to pick up
the note and go out with it. She knew the house, for she worked
occasionally for Mrs. Bede Greatorex, and was passing to the private
entrance when she encountered Frank Greatorex, who was coming out at
the other door. He wished her good evening, and she told him her
errand, showing the note directed to Bede.

"He is in his office still," said Frank, throwing open the door for
her. "Walk in. Mr. Brown, attend here, please."

Miss Rye stepped into the semi-lighted room, for there was only a
shaded lamp on Mr. Brown's desk; and Frank Greatorex, closing the
door, was gone again. Mr. Brown, at work as late as his master, came
forward.

"For Mr. Bede Greatorex," said Miss Rye, handing him the note. "I will
wait----"

The words were broken off with a faint, sharp cry. A cry, low though
it was, of surprise, of terror, of dismay. Both their faces blanched
to whiteness, they stood gazing at each other, she with strained eyes
and drawnback lips, he with a kind of forced stillness on his
features, that nevertheless told of inward emotion.

"Oh, my good heaven!" she breathed in her agitation. "Is it _you?_"

Miss Rye had heard speak of Mr. Brown, the managing clerk in the
department of Mr. Bede Greatorex. Jenner had mentioned him: Roland
Yorke had commented on him and his wig. But that "Mr. Brown" should be
the man now standing before her, she had never suspected; no, not in
her wildest dreams.

"Sit down, Miss Rye. You are faint."

She put his arm from her, as he would have supported her to a seat,
and staggered to one of herself. He followed, and stood by her in
silence.

"What are you called _here?_" she began--and, it may be, that in the
moment's agitation she forgot his ostensible name and really put it as
a question, not in mocking, condemnatory scorn:--"Godfrey Pitman?"

Every instinct of terror the man possessed seemed to rise up within
him at sound of the name. He glanced round the room; at the desks; at
the walls; as if to assure himself that no ear was there.

"Hush--sh--sh!" with a prolonged note of caution. "Never breathe that
name, here or elsewhere."

"What if I were to? To speak it aloud to all who ought to hear it?"

"Why then you would bring a hornet's nest about heads that you little
wot of. Their sting might end in worse than death."

"Death for you?"

"No: I should be the hangman."

"What do you mean?"

"Listen, Miss Rye. I cannot tell you what I mean: and your better plan
will be never to ask me. If----"

"Better for whom?" she interrupted.

"For--well, for me, for one. The fact is, that certain interests
pertaining to myself and others--_certain reminiscences of the past_,"
he continued with very strong emphasis, "have become so complicated,
so interwoven as it were one with the other, that we must in all
probability stand or fall together."

"I do not understand you."

"I can scarcely expect that you should. But--were any proceeding on
your part, any word, whether spoken by design or accident, to lead to
that fall, you would rue it to the last hour of your life. _That_ you
can at least understand."

The faintness was passing off, and Miss Rye rose, steadying herself
against the railings of Mr. Hurst's desk. At that moment the inner
door was unlatched, and the clerk, recalled to present duties, caught
the note from her unresisting hand.

"For Mr. Bede Greatorex," he said aloud, glancing at the
superscription. "I will give it to him."

It was Mr. Bede Greatorex who came forth. He took the note, and
glanced at Alletha.

"Ah, Miss Rye! Is it you?"

"Our maid was busy, so I brought it down," she explained. "Mr.
Ollivera is waiting for an answer."

Bede Greatorex went back to his room, leaving the intervening door
open. She sat and waited. Mr. Brown, whose work was in a hurry, wrote
on steadily at his desk by the light of a shaded lamp. A minute or
two, and Bede Greatorex brought her a bit of paper twisted up, and
showed her out himself.

With the errand she had come abroad to execute for herself gone clean
out of her head, Alletha Rye went back home, her brain in a whirl. The
streets she passed through were crowded with all the bustle and jostle
of London life; but, had she been traversing an African desert, she
could not have felt more entirely alone. Her life that night lay
within her: and it was one of confused tumult.

The note found Mr. Ollivera asleep: as the twilight deepened, he had
dropped, in sheer weariness, into an unconscious slumber. Untwisting
the scrap of paper, he held it near a lighted candle and read the
contents:--


"Dear Henry,--Kene is back, and is coming to us this evening; we
expect two or three friends. Louisa will be pleased if you can join
us. Faithfully yours,

"B.G."


Mr. Ollivera eschewed gaiety of all kinds, parties included. Over and
over again had he been fruitlessly invited to the grand dinners and
soirées of Mrs. Bede Greatorex, until they left off asking him. "Two
or three friends," he repeated as he put down the note. "I don't mind
that, for I must see Kene."

Dressing himself; he was on the point of setting out, when a messenger
arrived to fetch him to a sick person; so that it was half-past ten
when he reached the house of Mr. Greatorex. And then, but for his
mission to the Judge, he would have quitted it again without entering
the reception-rooms.

Two or three friends! Lining the wide staircase, dotting the handsome
landing, crowding the numerous guest-rooms, there they were; a mob of
them. Women in the costly and fantastic toilettes of the present day;
men bowing and bending with their evening manners on. Mr. Ollivera
resented the crowd as a personal wrong.

"'Two or three friends,' you wrote me word, Bede," he reproachfully
said, seeing his cousin in a corner near the entrance-door. "You know
I do not like these things and never go to them."

"On my word, Henry, I did not know it was going to be this cram,"
returned Bede Greatorex. "I thought we might be twenty, perhaps, all
told."

"How can you put up with this? Is it _seemly_, Bede--in this once
staid and pattern house?"

"Seemly?" repeated Bede Greatorex.

"Forgive me, Bede. I was thinking of the dear old times under your
mother's rule. The happy evenings, all hospitality and cheerfulness;
the chapter read at bedtime, when the small knot of guests had
departed. _Friends_ were entertained then; but I don't know what you
call these."

Perhaps Bede Greatorex had never, amid all his provocations, felt so
tempted to avow the truth as now--that he abhorred it with his whole
heart and soul. Henry William Ollivera could not hate and despise it
more than he. As to the good old days of sunshine and peace thus
recalled, a groan well nigh burst from him, at their recollection. It
was indeed a contrast, then and now: in more things than this. The
world bore a new aspect for Bede Greatorex, and not a happier one.

"Is Kene here, Bede?"

"Not yet. What is it that you want with him?"

Mr. Ollivera gave a brief outline of the case; Bede left him in the
middle of it to welcome fresh arrivals. Something awfully fine loomed
up, in pink silk and lace, and blazing emeralds. It was Mrs. Bede
Greatorex. Her chignon was a mile high, and her gown was below her
shoulder-blades. The modest young clergyman turned away at the sight,
his cheeks flushing a dusky red. Not in this kind of society of late
years, the curiosities of fashionable attire were new to him.

"Is Bede mad?" he inwardly said, "or has he lost all control over his
wife's actions?"

Somebody else, not used to society, was staring on with all the eyes
of wonder he possessed. And that was Roland Yorke. Leaning against the
wall in a new suit of dress-clothes, with a huge pair of white gloves
on that would have been quite the proper thing at Port Natal, stood
Roland. Mr. Ollivera, trying to get away from everybody, ran against
him. The two were great friends now, and Roland was in the habit of
running up to Mr. Ollivera's drawing-room at will.

"I say," began Roland, "this is rather strong, is it not?"

"Do you mean the crowd?"

"I mean everything. Some of the girls and women look as if they had
forgotten to put their gowns on. Why do they dress in this way?"

"Because they fancy it's the fashion, I suppose," replied Mr.
Ollivera, drawing down the corners of his thin lips.

"They must have taken the fashion from the Zulu Kaffirs," returned
Roland. "When one has been knocked about amidst that savage
lot--fought with 'em, too, men and women--one loses superfluous
fastidiousness, Mr. Ollivera; but I _don't_ think this is right."

Mr. Ollivera intimated that there could not be a doubt it was all
wrong.

"Down in Helstonleigh, where I come from, they dress themselves
decently," observed Roland, forgetting that his reminiscences of the
place dated more than seven years back, and that fashion penetrates to
all the strongholds of society, whether near or distant. "The girls
there are lovely, too. Just look if they are not."

Mr. Ollivera, in some slight surprise, followed the direction of the
speaker's eyes, and saw a young lady sitting back in a corner; her
white evening dress, her banded hair, the soft, pure flush on her
delicate face, all as simple, and genuine, and modest as herself.

"That's what the girls are in my native place, Mr. Ollivera."

"Mrs. Bede Greatorex is a native of Helstonleigh, also," observed the
clergyman, dryly. And for a moment Roland was dumb. The pink robe, the
tower of monstrous hair, and the shoulder-blades were in full view
just then.

"No, she is not," cried he, triumphantly. "The Joliffe girls were born
in barracks; they only came among us when the old colonel settled
down."

"Who is the young lady?"

"Miss Channing. Her brother and I are old chums. He is the grandest
fellow living; the most noble gentleman the world can show. He--why,
if I don't believe you know him!" broke off Roland, as a recollection
of something he had been told flashed across his mind.

"I!" returned Mr. Ollivera.

"Was Arthur Channing not at a--a certain night funeral?" asked Roland,
dropping his voice out of delicacy. "You know. When that precious
cousin of mine, Bill Yorke, lent you his surplice."

"Yes, yes," said Mr. Ollivera, hastily; "I had forgotten the name. And
so that is Arthur Channing's sister!"

"She is governess to that provoking little wretch, Jane Greatorex,"
said polite Roland, forgetting in his turn that he was speaking of his
listener's cousin, "and she ought to be a queen. She ought, Mr.
Ollivera, and you would say so if you knew her. She looks one, does
she not? She's as like Arthur as two pins, and he's fit for the
noblest king in the world."

The clergyman slightly smiled. He had become accustomed to his new
friend's impulsive mode of speech.

"Yes, we are both of us down just now, dependents of the Greatorex
house--she teacher in it, I office-clerk," went on Roland. "Never
mind: luck may turn some day. I told Annabel so just now, but she sent
me away. I was talking to her too much, she said, and made people
stare. Perhaps it was so: I know her cheeks turned red every other
minute."

"And to make them paler, you take up your position here and gaze at
her," observed Mr. Ollivera with another smile--and smiles were rare
from him.

"Oh, law!" cried Roland. "I'm always doing something wrong. The fact
is, there's nobody else worth looking at. See there! a yellow gown and
no petticoats under it. If this is fashion I hope my mother and
sisters are not going in for it! I shall go back to her," he added,
after a moment's pause. "It's a shame she should sit there alone, with
nothing to look at but those Models, passing and repassing right
before her eyes. If Arthur were here, I believe he'd take her away, I
do."

Roland, vegetating in that unfashionable region, Port Natal, had not
yet become accustomed to the exigencies of modern days; and he spoke
freely. Just then the throng was great in front of him, and he
remained where he was. Taller than almost any one in the room, he
could look at Annabel at will; Mr. Ollivera, about up to Roland's
shoulder, could get but occasional glimpses of her. Many a one glanced
at Roland with interest, wondering who the fine, strong young man was,
leaning against the wall there, with the big white gloves on, and the
good-natured face, unsophisticated as a boy's.

Elbowing his way presently across the room something after the manner
he might have elbowed through a crowd on the quay at Durban, Roland
once more took up his position by Miss Channing. The old playfellows
had become new friends, and Roland contrived that they should often
meet. When Miss Channing was walking in the Square with her pupil, he
was safe to run up, and stay talking; quite oblivious to the
exigencies of the office waiting for his services. Jane Greatorex had
learned to look for him, and would walk where she was likely to see
him, in defiance of Miss Channing. In spite of Roland's early fever to
quit his native place, in spite of his prolonged rovings, he was
essentially a home-bird, and could have been content to talk of the
old days and the old people with Annabel for ever.

"Where's Jane tonight?" he began, as he joined her.

"In bed. She was very naughty this evening, and for once Mr. Bede
Greatorex interfered and sent her."

"Poor child! She is awfully troublesome, though, and one gets tired of
that in the long run. If you--Halloa!"

Roland stopped. He was gazing in surprise at someone standing near: a
man nearly his own age, tall and strong, and bearing altogether a
general resemblance to himself. But the other's face had a cynical
cast, expressive of ill-nature, and the lips were disagreeably full.
Roland recognized him for his brother, although they had not met for
more than seven years.

"That's Gerald, if ever I saw him in my life."

"Yes, it is Gerald," said Miss Channing, quietly. "He generally comes
to Mrs. Bede's soirées."

"Isn't he got up!"

Roland's expression was an apt one. Gerald Yorke was in the very pink
of male fashion. His manners were easy; entirely those of a man at
home in society.

"He does it grand, does he not?" cried Roland, who had made one
advance towards making friends with his brother since coming to
London, and was not responded to in kind.

Miss Channing laughed. Gerald Yorke had entered on some kind of public
career and was very prosperous, she believed, moving amidst the great
ones of the land. Roland, quite forgetting where he was, or perhaps
not caring, set up a whistle by way of attracting the attention of
Gerald, who turned amidst others at the strange sound.

"How d'ye do, Gerald, old boy? Come and shake hands."

The voice was loud, glad, hearty; the great hand, with its great white
glove drawn up over it, minus a button, was stretched above
intervening heads. Gerald Yorke's face grew dark with the light of
annoyance, and he hesitated before making the best of the situation,
and getting near enough to shake the offered hand.

He would far rather have become conveniently deaf, and walked off in
an opposite direction. Alike though the brothers were in general
personal resemblance, no contrast could be greater than they presented
in other respects. Gerald, fine and fashionable, with his aristocratic
air and his slow, affected drawl, was the very type of all that is
false of that insincerity and heartlessness obtaining in what is
called society. Roland, hot, thoughtless, never weighing a word before
he spoke it, impulsive, genuine, utterly unsophisticated as to the
usages and manners that go to make up the meetings of fashionable
life, was just as single-hearted and true.

Gerald, as Roland put it, "went in" for grandeur, and he was already
prejudiced against his brother. In a communication from Lord Carrick,
apologizing for not being able to answer satisfactorily Gerald's
appeal for a loan, that nobleman had confidentially avowed that he
could not at present assist even Roland effectually, and had got him a
place as clerk temporarily, to save him from embarking in the hot-pie
line. It may therefore be readily understood that Gerald did not
consider an intimacy with Roland likely to conduce to his own
advancement (to say nothing of respectability) and his annoyance and
surprise at seeing him now where he did were about equally great.

The hands were shaken, and a few words of greeting passed; warm and
open on Roland's part, cool and cautious on Gerald's. A friend of
Gerald's, the Honourable Mr. Somebody, who was by his side and begged
for an introduction, was more cordial than he.

"I have not seen him since we parted seven years ago, when I went off
to Port Natal," explained Roland with his accustomed candour. "Haven't
I had ups and downs since then, Gerald!" he continued, turning his
beaming face upon his brother. "You have heard of them I dare say,
through Carrick."

"You did not make a fortune," drawled Gerald, wishing he could get
away.

"A fortune! Law bless you, Ger! I was glad to work on the port with
the Kaffirs, unloading boats; and to serve in stores, and to drive
cattle and pigs; anything for bread. You can't think how strange all
this seems to me"--pointing to the waving crowd in the room, several
of whom had gathered round, attracted by this fraternal meeting.

"Aw! Surprised to see you amidst them," minced Gerald, who could not
resist the little ill-natured hint, in his growing rage.

"Mrs. Greatorex invited me," said Roland, his honest simplicity
detecting not the undercurrent of sarcasm. "I am in Greatorex's
office; I don't suppose you knew it, Gerald. They give me twenty
shillings a week; and Carrick goes bail for my rigging out. I got this
coat from his tailor's tonight."

The crowd laughed, the Honourable roared, and Gerald Yorke was half
mad.

"I'd not _acknowledge_ it, at any rate, if I were you," he said,
imprudently, his affectation lost in a gust of temper. "After all you
were born a Yorke."

"Acknowledge what, Ger?" returned Roland.

"The--the--the shame of taking a common clerkship at twenty shillings
a week; and all the rest of the degradation," burst forth Gerald,
setting conventionality at defiance. "My uncle, Lord Carrick, warned
me of this; my mother, Lady Augusta, spoke of it in a recent letter to
me," he added for the benefit of the ears around.

"Why, Ger, where's the use of being put out?" retorted Roland, but
with no symptom of ill-humour in his good-natured tone. "I was down,
and had nobody to help me. Carrick couldn't; old Dick Yorke wouldn't;
Lady Augusta said she had all of you pulling at her: and so Carrick
talked to Greatorex and Greatorex, and they put me into the place. The
pound a week keeps me; in clover too; you should hear what I sometimes
was reduced to live on at Port Natal. There was an opening for a
hot-pie man down at Poplar, and the place was offered me; if I had
gone into that line you might have grumbled."

The ladies and gentlemen shrieked with merriment: they began to think
the fine young fellow, who looked every whit as independent a man as
his fastidious brother, was chaffing them all. Gerald ground his teeth
and tried to get away.

"You'll come and see me, old fellow?" said Roland. "I've a stunning
room, bedroom and sitting-room in one, the bedstead's let out at
night. It is at Mother Jones's; poor soft Jenkins's widow, you know,
that we used to wot of in the days gone by."

Gerald made good his escape: and when they were quiet again. Roland
had leisure to look at Miss Channing. Her bent face shone like a
peony, the effect of vexation and suppressed laughter.

"Why, what's the matter>" he asked.

"You should not say such things, Roland. It was quite out of place in
a room like this."

"What things?"

"About yourself. It is so different, you know, from anything young men
experience here."

"But it is all true," returned Roland, unable to see the argument.

"Still it need not be proclaimed to an indiscriminate crowd. You might
show more tact. Gerald was fit to die of mortification. And you who
used to have so much pride!"

Roland Yorke, honestly willing to please everybody and vex none, stood
looking ruefully. "As to pride, Annabel, if a fellow wants that
knocked out of him, he had better go over to Port Natal, and get
buffeted as I did," he concluded. "I left it all behind me there, I'm
afraid. And, of tact, I don't think I ever possessed any."

Which was perfectly true.

Meanwhile Mr. Ollivera, waiting in vain to see Sir Thomas Kene enter,
grew sick of the ever-changing, ever-moving panorama that jostled him,
and went downstairs to his uncle's small and comfortable room, leaving
word with the servants where he might be found if the Judge came in.
Mr. Greatorex very rarely joined these large parties. He was sitting
in quiet now, a bit of bright fire in the grate, for the evenings were
still chilly, and a reading-lamp, newspapers, and books on the table.
Slender, active, upright still, he scarcely looked his age, sixty-two:
his face was fresh yet, and not a thread of grey mingled with the
smooth brown hair.

"Henry, is it you!" he exclaimed; for he was surprised to see his
nephew enter at that late hour. And Mr. Ollivera, as he took a chair,
apologized for interrupting him, but said he had grown so weary of the
turmoil above.

"You don't mean to say _you_ have been making one of them!"

"I have for once, uncle. It will serve me for ten years to come.
People say to me sometimes, 'Why don't you go into society?' Good
heavens! to think that rational beings, God's people who have souls to
be saved, can waste their precious hours in such, evening after
evening! The women for the most part are unseemly to behold; their
bodies half dressed, their faces powdered and painted, their heads
monstrosities, their attire sinfully lavish. The men affect to be
heartless, drawling coxcombs. It is a bad phase of life, this that we
have drifted into, rotten at its core; men and women alike artificial.
Do _you_ like this in your house, Uncle Greatorex?"

"When Bede married, I resigned to him the mastership of the house, so
far as these things were concerned," replied Mr. Greatorex.

"I know. Does Bede like it?"

"He countenances it. For myself, I trouble them but little now. Even
my dinner I often cause to be served here. Bede's wife was civil
enough to come down this evening and press me to join them."

"Bede looks more worried than usual--and that need not be," observed
William Ollivera. "What is it, I wonder? To me he has the air of a man
silently fretting himself into his grave."

"You know what it is, William," said Mr. Greatorex, in a low tone, and
calling his nephew as he often did, by his second Christian name.
"Bede's wife is a great worry. But there's another."

"What is it?"

"Illness," breathed Mr. Greatorex. "Symptoms that we don't like have
shown themselves in him lately. However--they may pass away. The
doctors think they will."

"I came here to meet Kene, whom I very particularly wish to see,"
resumed the clergyman, after a pause. "Bede said he expected him."

"Ay; some magnet must have drawn you, apart from _that_," pointing his
thumb at the rooms above. And Mr. Ollivera explained why he was
seeking the Judge.

"I thought something fresh might have arisen in the old case; or at
least that you fancied it," observed Mr. Greatorex. "You must be
coming round to our way of thinking, William. Time goes on, but _that_
stands still."

"I shall never come round to it."

"John has been dead four years and two months, now," pursued Mr.
Greatorex. "And it has stood still all that time."

William Ollivera, leaned forward in his chair, and the fire and the
lamp alike played on his wasted face, on the bright flush of emotion
that rose in his thin cheeks.

"Uncle! Uncle Greatorex! it is as fresh in my mind now as it was the
first day I went down to Helstonleigh, and saw him lying white and
cold and dead, with the ban of the coroner's verdict upon him. I
cannot shake it off: and of late I am not sure but I have tried to do
so, in the sheer weariness of prolonged disappointment. 'Tarry yet
awhile, and wait,' a voice seems saying ever to me: and I am content
to wait. I cannot rest; I find no peace. When I wake in the morning, I
say, 'This day may bring forth fruit;' when I go to rest at night, the
thought, that it has not, is the last upon me. There will be neither
rest nor peace for me until I have solved the enigma of my brother's
death; and I am always working on for it."

"Sir Thomas Kene has come, sir," interrupted a servant at this
juncture, opening the door.

Henry Ollivera rose; and, wishing Mr. Greatorex good night, went forth
to his interview with the Judge.



CHAPTER XI.
DAY-DREAMS.


The house was almost within a stone's-throw of Bedford Square; one of
a good street. Its drawing-room windows were thrown open to the fine
evening twilight, and a lady sat at one of them in a musing attitude.
She was very nice looking, with a clear healthy colour on her cheeks,
and soft bright dark eyes that had a thought in them beyond her years,
which may have been six or seven-and-twenty. The features were
well-formed; the shapely mouth, its rather thin and decisive lips, and
the pretty pointed chin, spoke of innate firmness. Her hand,
displaying its wedding-ring and keeper, was raised to support lightly
her head, the slender fingers touching the smooth dark brown hair. She
was perfectly still; not a movement betrayed that she heard or saw
aught but her own thoughts; not a rustle stirred the folds of her soft
silk dress, lying around her.

"Shall I tell him, or not?" she murmured at length. "I have never had
any concealment from him yet, nor he from me; but then I know it will
pain and worry him. He has certainly changed a little: in the old days
it seemed that anxiety could never touch him; that he would always
throw it from him with a light word. Heigho! I suppose it comes with
the cares of life."

A moment's pause, during which she was again still as before, and then
the soliloquy was resumed.

"I _could_ keep it from him, if needs were: the postman gave me the
letter as I was going out, and no one knows of its arrival. But
still--I don't like to begin it; and he might feel vexed afterwards:
for of course he must come to know of it sometime. Oh dear! I never
felt so irresolute before. They used to say at home I was so very
downright. I wonder which would be _right_ to do? If I were sure
he----"

The room door was pushed open with a sudden whirl, and a little child
came flying in with outstretched arms and a shouting, joyous laugh.

"Mamma, mamma!"

"Nelly!"

The arms were entwined together, the golden head with its shower of
silken curls, nestled on the mother's bosom. Oh, but she was of rare
loveliness, this child; with the delicately fair features, the great
blue eyes, the sunny hair, and ever-sunny temperament.

"Now, Nelly! You know you have been told over and over again not to be
so boisterous. Fancy a little lady, just five years old, coming in
like that! It might have been a great rude dog."

Another sweet, joyous laugh in answer, a host of kisses pressed by way
of peace-offering on the gentle face, bent down in reproof more mock
than real.

"Nurse was running to catch me. She says it's bedtime." And, to
confirm the assertion, the French clock on the mantlepiece at that
moment told out eight.

"So it is. Come and say goodnight to papa, Nelly."

Taking the child's hand she went out into what seemed a flood of
light, after the gradually darkening room. The hall-lamp threw its
rays upwards; on the gleaming silk of her pale blue dress, on the
white fairy robes of the child, on the well-carpeted stairs. In the
front room below, the tea stood ready by the evening fire: they went
through to another room; and the mother spoke.

"Nelly has come to wish papa goodnight."

Seated at the table of this inner room was a gentleman writing fast by
a shaded candle. He looked up with a sunny smile of welcome, and you
saw the likeness then between the child and the father. The winning,
beautiful features; the fair, bright complexion; the laughing blue
eyes; the gay, happy temperament: all were the same.

It was James Channing. Sunny Hamish, as he used to be called. He was
but thirty; a tall, well-proportioned, but as yet very slender man;
rising over six feet, altogether attractive, handsome to look upon.
Nelly, forgetting her lecture, flew into his arms with a shout and a
laugh, as she had into those of her mother.

"And what may this young lady have been about that she has not come to
see me before, this evening?" he asked.

"Nurse kept her out rather late, Hamish, for one thing, and I knew you
were busy," came the answer; not from the child, but from Mrs.
Channing.

"Yes, I am very busy. I have not any minutes to give even to my
darling Nelly tonight," he fondly said, kissing the bright hair and
the rosy lips. "Nelly must go to bed and dream of papa instead."

"You'll have time when the ship comes home, papa," said the child.

"Lots of time then."

"The ship is to be a book."

"Ay."

"And it will bring great luck?"

"Yes. Please God."

The last words were murmured in a tone suddenly hushed to reverence;
low and happy; hopeful with a great, glad, assured hope, cheering to
listen to; a trusted hope that lighted up the whole countenance of the
man with its radiance, and shone forth in beams from his blue eyes.
But he said no more; not even to his wife and his little child could
he speak of the sanguine joy that anticipation wrought within him.

With too many kisses to be counted, with good nights spoken yet and
yet again, Nelly was released and disappeared with her mother. The
child had been trained well. There was some indulgence on the parents'
side--perhaps that is indispensable, in the case of an only child--but
there was neither trouble nor rebellion on hers. Little Nelly Channing
had been taught to obey good laws; and, to do so, came to her
naturally.

Mrs. Channing took her upstairs and turned into her own dressing-room,
as usual. She deemed it well that the child should say her prayers in
solitude, and, always when practicable, in the same place. Nelly sat
down of her own accord by her mother, and was quite still and quiet
while a very few easy verses from the Bible were read to her; and then
she knelt down to say her simple prayers at her mother's knee.

"God bless my darling little Nelly, and make her a good girl!" said
Mrs. Chaining, as she took her out and resigned her to the nurse.

"Are you ready for tea, Hamish?" she asked when she went downstairs
again.

"Quite. But, Ellen, I think I shall have to trouble you to bring it to
me tonight."

"Are you so very busy?"

"Ay. Look here."

He pointed with his pen to some papers on the table. "Those are proof
sheets: and I must get this manuscript in tomorrow, or they will not
insert it in the next month's number."

"Hamish, I hope you are not doing too much," she gravely said. "I
don't like this night-work."

He laughed gleefully. "Too much! I only wish I had too much to do,
Ellen. Never fear, dear."

"I wish you would teach me to correct the proofs."

"What an idea!"

"I shall teach myself, sir."

"It would be waste of time, young lady. I could not let anybody go
over my proofs but myself."

"You vain fellow! I wonder if self-conceit is indigenous to you
literary men? Are they all as vain as Hamish Channing?"

He took up the pen-wiper and threw it at her. But somehow Ellen was
not in a mood for much jesting tonight. She put the pen-wiper--a
rosette of red cloth--on the table again, and went and stood in
silence with her hand on his shoulder. He turned his head.

"What is it, love?"

"Hamish, I would bring in your tea willingly; you know it; but I think
it would do you more good to leave this work, if only for five
minutes. And I have something to say to you."

"Very well. I can't come for a quarter of an hour. You are a regular
martinet."

Ellen Channing left him and sat down in the other room to wait; and
this will afford the opportunity for a word of explanation. Amidst the
very very many people in all classes of life, high and low, on whom a
certain recent panic had wrought its disastrous effects, was Hamish
Channing. The bank, of which he had been manager in Helstonleigh, was
drawn into the vortex by the failure of another bank, and went in its
turn. Honourable men had to do with it; they sacrificed their own
property in the emergency, and not a creditor suffered; every one was
paid in full. It could not be reorganized, and it left Hamish without
employment. His wife's father, Mr. Huntley, had been one of the
principal shareholders, and on him had fallen the greater weight of
the heavy loss. It fell, too, at a time when Mr. Huntley could not
afford to sustain it. He possessed a large property in Canada, but it
had latterly begun to yield him little or no return. Whether in
consequence of local depreciation, or of mismanagement (or perhaps
something worse) on the part of his agents there, he knew not, and he
sent his son out to see. The young man (he was three or four years
younger than Mrs. Channing, and quite inexperienced) seemed not to be
able to grapple with the business; he wrote home most confused and
perplexing accounts, of which Mr. Huntley could make nothing. At
length that gentleman resolved to go out himself; and the letter we
have heard Mrs. Channing alluding to today was from him. It was the
second news they had received, the first having merely announced his
safe arrival: and the accounts this last contained were so gloomy that
Ellen Channing would fain have kept them from her husband.

It must be distinctly understood that the failure of the bank in
Helstonleigh was in no way connected with ill-management. Had a quorum
of the wisest business-men in the world been at its head, they could
neither have foreseen its downfall nor averted it. Therefore Hamish
Channing came out of that, as he had out of every untoward thing all
his life, untarnished in honour and in character. A small
secretaryship was offered him in London, which he accepted; and he
removed to the great city, with his wife and little daughter, his
goods and chattels, there to set up his tent. A very small income had
been settled on Ellen when she married; the larger portion of her
fortune was to accrue to her on her father's death. Whether it would
be much, or little, or _any_, under the altered state of affairs, it
was impossible now to say.

But it was not on the secretaryship that Hamish Channing depended for
fame and fortune. A higher and dearer hope was his. That Hamish
possessed in a high degree that rarest of all God's gifts, true
genius, he had long known. Writers of talent the world has had, and
had in abundance, men and women; of real genius but few. Perhaps,
after all, the difference is not very distinguishable by the general
mass of readers. But, to those who possess it, its characteristics are
unmistakable. The divine light (is it too much to call it so?) that
lies within them shines as a very beacon, pointing on to fame; to
honour; above all, to appreciation: the knowledge that they are
different from their fellow-mortals, of a higher and nobler and rarer
order, and that the world will sometime recognize the fact and bow
down in worship, is never absent from the consciousness of the inner
heart.

But, with the gift, James Channing also possessed its almost
invariably accompanying attribute: a refined sensitiveness of feeling.
And that is a quality not too well calculated to do battle with rude,
every-day life. Should the great hope within him ever meet with a
stern, crushing disappointment, his inability to bear the shock would
in all probability show itself in some very marked degree. No one but
himself knew or suspected the extreme sensitiveness of his every
feeling; it had been hidden hitherto under the nonchalant ease of
manner, the sunny temper which made Hamish Channing's great charm.
When the bank was broken up, and with it his home and his greater
means of living, it was not felt by him as many another man would have
felt it: for it seemed only to render more feasible the great aim of
his life--the devoting himself to literature. Years ago he had begun
to write: and the efforts were first efforts, somewhat crude, as all
first efforts, whether given to the world or not, must of necessity
be, but they bore unmistakably the stamp of genius. His appointment to
the bank and his marriage interrupted his writing; and his genius and
pen had alike lain dormant for some six years. His wife's father, Mr.
Huntley, had procured his later appointment to the London
secretaryship, and Hamish did not venture to decline it and devote
himself wholly to literature, as he would have liked to do. The pay,
though small, was sure; Ellen's income was smaller still, and they
must live; so he accepted it. His duties there occupied him from nine
to four: and all his available time beyond that, early and late, was
devoted to writing. The day's employment was regarded as but a
temporary clog, to be given up as soon as he found his income from
literature would justify it. To accomplish this desirable end, he was
doing a great deal more than was good for him and taking too little
rest. In point of fact, he had, you see, two occupations, each one of
which would have been sufficient for an industrious man. What of that?
Hamish never so much as cast a thought to it.

Oh, with what a zest had he re-commenced the writing, laid aside for
so long! It was like returning to some glad haven of rest. Joy filled
his whole being. The past six years had been heavy with suppressed
yearning; the yearning to be about the work for which he knew God had
pm-eminently fitted him: but his duties had been onerous, his time
nearly fully taken up; and when he would have snatched some moments
from night for the dearer work, his wife and his anxious friends had
risen up in arms against it, for he was not over-strong, and some
delicacy of constitution was preached about. Besides, as Mr. Huntley
said, a writing manager might alarm the bank's patronizers. But he had
it all his own way now, and made good profit of his writings. Papers
on social questions of the day, essays, stories, were in turn written,
and taken by different periodicals. They _had_ to be written, apart
from other hopes and views, for the style in which they lived required
additional means to support it, beyond his salary and his wife's
money. It was not much style, after all, no extravagance; three
maidservants, and little company; but everybody knows how money seems
to melt in London.

He had been at this work now for a year. And his wife was beginning to
grow anxious, for she knew he was doing too much, and told him he was
wearing himself out. If he could but resign the secretaryship! was
ever in her secret hopes and thoughts just as much as his; and she
wished her father could get his Canadian affairs well settled, so as
to allow the necessary addition to her income. Hamish laughed at this.
He was living in a glad dream of future fame and fortune: that it
would inevitably come, he felt as sure of as though it lay at hand
now, ready to be picked up. He was writing a long work; a work of
three volumes; and this was the precious gem on which all his hopes
and love and visions were centred. The periodical writing had to be
done, for its returns were needed; but every spare moment, apart from
that, was devoted to the book. A light of gladness beamed from his
eyes; a joy, sweet as the chords of some soothing melody, lay ever on
his spirit. Oh, what is there of bliss and love in the world that can
compare with this! And it is known to so few; so few: by all else it
can never be so much as imagined. Do not mistake it, you who read, for
the pleasurable anticipation of a man or woman who may from chance
causes have "taken up" the profession of literature, and look for the
good, substantial and otherwise, that it is to bring. The two are
wholly different; the one is born of heaven, the other of earth. But
that man must live, Hamish Channing amidst the rest, the thought of
_money_ being one of the returns, would be distasteful; never, as I
honestly believe, accepted as such without a blush: the dross of earth
mingling with the spiritualized, exalted, pure joy of Eden. It is well
that this same gift of genius with its dear pleasures and its
attendant after-pains--for they come--should be vouchsafed to a unit
amidst tens of thousands!

Mrs. Channing sat waiting for him; the tea standing before her,
herself thoughtful. The room was of good size and handsomely
furnished, its chairs and curtains of rich purple cloth. Their
furniture had been a present from Mr. Huntley when they married, who
was not one to do things niggardly. As Mrs. Channing sat, facing the
inner door, the windows were behind her; the fireplace, with its
ornaments and its large chimney-glass on her left; a piano on one side
it, a white marble-topped cabinet with purple silk lining to its
glass-doors on the other; and on her right, stood the sideboard, and
other furniture. The inner room, used exclusively by Hamish for
writing, had horsehair chairs, and a bookcase running all along the
side of the wall.

The door opened, and Hamish came in. He had a small bundle in his
hand; proof sheets done up for the post, and sent them out at once by
the maid, as he sat down to tea. Which he seemed inclined to swallow
at a gulp, and to eat his piece of bread-and-butter wholesale, ever
anxious to get back to his labour and the glowing visions of promise
connected with it.

"Hamish, I do believe you like your writing better than you like me!"
Ellen said to him one day almost passionately. And for answer, Mr.
Hamish in his sauciness had said he was not sure but he did.

He sat there at tea, now, talking gaily as usual. His wife interrupted
him, telling of the letter she had received, and its unfavourable
news. He listened with his sunny smile.

"I had great mind not to tell you at all, Hamish," she confessed.
"Papa's temperament is nearly as sanguine as yours; and if he writes
in poor spirits, saying he fears it may turn out that he is a ruined
man, I know things must be very bad."

"But why have hesitated to tell me, Ellen?"

"To save you anxiety. Don't you see what it implies? If papa loses his
property, the fortune that would have been mine sometime will be lost
too."

Had she been speaking of the probable loss of some mere trifle, he
could scarcely have heard it with more equanimity. It seemed to Hamish
that the future was, according to human foresight, in his own hands.

"Never mind, Ellen, we have a resource that cannot be lost. I will
take care of you, Heaven aiding me; you shall have every needful and
substantial good in abundance."

"Yes, that is just it. You work too much already: you would work more
then."

Hamish laughed. "Do you know what I wish, Ellen? I wish the day were
four-and-twenty hours long instead of twelve, and that I had two sets
of brains and hands."

"How are you getting on?"

"Oh, so well. It is all right, my darling. And will be."

They were interrupted by a visitor--Mr. Roland Yorke. There had been a
casual meeting once or twice, but this was the first time he had been
there. They invited him to come; but Roland had the grace to be
ashamed of a certain escapade of his in the days gone by, which
brought disgrace for the time being on Arthur Channing, and he had
rather held back from appearing. This he partially confessed.

"It would have been so different, you know, Hamish, had I returned
with a few millions from Port Natal, and gone home to atone to Arthur
in the face and eyes of all the town, and done honour to him for what
he is, the best man living, and heaped a fortune upon him. But I have
not been able to do that. I'd rather rush off again to Port Natal and
its troubles, than I'd go within miles of Helstonleigh."

"And so, to mend it, you thought you would keep miles away from me,"
said Hamish, with his glad smile of welcome. "I think there's only one
person in the world would be more glad to see you than I, and that's
Arthur himself."

"I know. I know what a good fellow you always were. But I hadn't the
face to come, you see. It was Annabel made me now."

Suddenly shaking both their hands in the heartiest manner, with a grip
that brought pain to Mrs. Channing, who wore rings, Roland fell to at
the tea. Hamish, remembering his appetite of old, rang the bell for
some good things to be brought in; and Roland was speedily in the
midst of the most comfortable enjoyment, mentally and bodily. He gave
them his own confidence without the least reserve, both as to present
and past; gravely telling everything, including the nearly embraced
hot-pie scheme of commerce, which made Hamish hold his sides, and the
having met Gerald at Mrs. Bede Greatorex's party.

"I rather expect Gerald here this evening," remarked Hamish.

"Do you?" said Roland, his mouth full of savoury pie. "He won't be too
pleased to see me; he means to cut me, I'm nearly sure. Do you see
much of him, Hamish?"

Hamish explained that he did. They were both in the literary line; and
Gerald had some good engagements as a reviewer.

"Where's his wife?" asked Roland. "Yes, please, Mrs. Channing, another
cup; plenty of milk and sugar.

"In the country; somewhere in Gloucestershire. Gerald is not too
communicative on that score."

"Don't you think, Hamish, he must have been a great duffer to go and
marry before he knew how he could keep a wife?"

Hamish raised his eyebrows with the good-natured indifferent manner
that Roland so well remembered in the days gone by; but answer made he
none. Where Hamish Channing could not praise, he would not blame. Even
by his immediate relatives Gerald's imprudent marriage was tacitly
ignored, and the Lady Augusta Yorke had threatened to box Roland's
ears in Ireland, when he persisted in asking about it.

"I always knew Gerald would not go into the Church," remarked Roland.
"I wouldn't; they say Tod threatened to run off to sea if they talked
to _him_ of it: somehow we boys have a prejudice against following my
father's calling. I'll tell you a secret, Hamish: if a fellow wants to
be _made_, to have his nonsense knocked out of him, he must go to Port
Natal. Do you remember the morning you saw me decamping off for London
on my way to it?"

"Don't I," said Hamish, his lips parting with merriment at the
remembrance. "There was commotion that day at Helstonleigh, Roland; in
Galloway's office especially."

"And dear old Arthur buried his wrongs and went to the rescue; and
poor dying Jenkins got out of his bed to help. He was nothing but a
calf, poor fellow, a reed in Mrs. J.'s hands, but he was good as gold.
I say, _she's_ altered."

"Is she?"

Roland nodded. "The going to Port Natal made me, Hamish," he resumed;
and Hamish was slightly surprised at the serious tone. "I should have
been one of the idlest of the family batch but for the lesson I got
read to me there. I went out to make my fortune; instead of making it,
I had to battle with ill-fate, and ill-fate won the day. They call it
names of course; a mistaken enterprise, a miserable failure; but it
was just the best thing that could have happened for me. I was proud,
stuck-up ignoramus; I should have depended on Carrick, or anybody
else, to get my living for me; but I mean now to earn it for myself."

When Hamish went to his work later, leaving Ellen to entertain their
guest, Roland followed him with his eyes.

There was a change in Hamish Channing, apparent to one even as
unobservant as Roland. The face was thinner than of yore; its refined
features were paler; they looked etherealized, as it seemed to Roland.
The sweet-natured temperament was there still, but some of its once
gay lightness had given place to thought. The very frequent mocking
tone had been nearly entirely laid aside for one of loving
considerateness to all.

"What are you looking at?" questioned Ellen, struck with Roland's
fixed gaze and unusual seriousness.

"At him. He is so changed."

"Older, do you mean?"

"Law bless you, no. Of course he is older by more than seven years;
but he is very young-looking still; he does not look so old as I do,
and I am two years his junior. I used to think Hamish Channing the
handsomest fellow living, but he was nothing then to what he is now. I
hope you won't consider it's wrong of me to say it, Mrs. Channing, but
there's something in his face now that makes one think of Heaven."

"Mr. Yorke!"

"There! I knew what it would be. Mr. Ollivera flies out at me when I
say wrong things. Other people don't say them. It must have been that
Port Natal. I thought I was dead once, over there," added Roland,
passing on to another topic with his usual abruptness.

Ellen smiled; she had spoken in surprise only. Roland Yorke, who had
brought his chair round to the fire, sat opposite to her, his elbow on
his knee, his head bent forward.

"I don't mean that it makes one think he is going to Heaven--going to
die before his time; you need not be afraid, Mrs. Channing. It was not
that kind of thought at all; only that the angels and people about, up
there, must have just such faces as Hamish's; good, and pure, and
beautiful; and just the same sweet expression, and the same
loving-kindness in the tone of voice."

Roland stopped and pulled at his dark whiskers. Mrs. Channing began to
think _he_ had also changed for the better.

"Many a one, remembering the past, would have just turned their backs
upon me, Mrs. Channing. Instead of that, he is as glad to see me, and
makes me as cordially welcome as if I were a lord, or a prize pig sent
him at Christmas. What did I nearly die of? you ask. Well, of fever;
but I got all sorts of horrid torments. I had the eye-epidemic; it's
caused by the dust, and I thought I was going blind. Then I had what
they call Natal sores, a kind of boil; then I nearly had a sun-stroke;
the heat's something awful, you know. And I got the ticks
everlastingly."

"Do you mean the tic-douloureux?"

"Law bless you! A Port Natal tick is an insect. It sits on the top of
the grass waiting for you to pass by and darts into your legs; and no
earthly thing will get it off again, except tugging at it with
tweezers. They have no wings or mouth, nothing but a pair of lancets
and a kind of pipe for a body, covered with spikes. Oh, they are nice
things. When I set up that store for leeches and candles and pickled
pork, I used to go and get the leeches myself, to save buying; lots of
them grow in the rivulets round about; but I would bring home a vast
many more ticks than leeches, and that didn't pay, you know. Where's
the little thing?"

"Nelly? She has gone to bed."

"She is the prettiest child I ever saw."

"She is just like her papa," said Mrs. Channing, whose cheeks were
flushing softly with pardonable love and pride at the praise of her
child.

"So she is. When will his book be out?"

"Ah, I don't know. He is getting on quickly, he tells me. I think he
is a ready writer."

"I suppose most men of genius are that," remarked Roland. "He does not
talk much about it, does he?"

"Not at all. A very little to me. These wonderful hopes and dreams
that lie down deep within us, and go to make up the concealed inner
life of our dearest feelings, cannot be spoken of to the world. I have
none," she added, slightly laughing; "I am more practical."

"Hamish is so hopeful! It is his temperament."

"Hopeful!" repeated Mrs. Channing; "indeed he is: like nothing I ever
saw. You have heard of day-dreams, Mr. Yorke; well, this book is his
day-dream. He works at it late and early, almost night and day. I tell
him sometimes he must be wearing himself out."

"One never does really wear out from work, Mrs. Channing. I used to
think I was wearing out at old Galloway's; but I didn't know what work
was until I got to Natal. I learnt it then."

"Did You sit up to work at night at Port Natal?"

"Only when I had not got a bed to go to," answered candid Roland.
"Mine was not that kind of work, sitting up to burn the midnight oil;
it lay in knocking about."

"That's quite different."

"What puzzles me more than anything is, that Gerald should have turned
author," resumed Roland. "Henry Ollivera was talking about genius at
our place the other day. Why, according to what he described it to be,
Gerald Yorke must have about as much genius as a walking gander."

Ellen laughed. "Hamish says Gerald has no real genius," she said. "But
he has a good deal of talent. He is what may be called a dashing
writer."

"Well, I don't know," disputed Roland, who was hard of belief in these
alleged qualities of his brother. "I remember in the old days at home,
when Gerald was at the college-school, he couldn't be got to write a
letter. If Lady Augusta wanted him to write a letter to Carrick, or to
George out in India, she would have to din at him for six months. He
hated it like poison."

"That may have been idleness."

"Oh, we all went in for that," acknowledged Roland. "I should have
been a very lazy beggar to the end of time but for the emigration to
Port Natal."



CHAPTER XII.
COMMOTION IN THE OFFICE OF GREATOREX AND GREATOREX.


The summer sun, scorching the walls of houses and the street pavements
with its heat and its glare, threw itself in great might into the
offices of Greatorex and Greatorex. Josiah Hurst and Roland Yorke were
at their desk, writing side by side. Jenner was at his, similarly
occupied; Mr. Brown was holding a conversation in an undertone with
some stranger, who had entered with him as he came in from an errand:
a man of respectable, staid appearance. Something in the cut of his
clothes spoke of the provinces; and Roland Yorke, who never failed to
look after other people's affairs, however pressing his own might be,
decided that the stranger was a countryman, come up to see the sights
of London.

"Which I can't, except from the outside," grumbled Roland to himself.
"It's an awful sell to have to go about with empty pockets. I wonder
who the fellow is?--he has been whispering there twenty minutes if
he's been one. He looks as if he had plenty in _his_."

Mr. Bede Greatorex came in and took his place at his desk. The
head-clerk drew his head away from close proximity with his friend's,
and commenced work; a hint to the stranger that their gossip must be
at an end.

The latter asked for a pen and ink, wrote a few words on a leaf he
tore from his pocketbook, folded it in two, and gave it to Mr. Brown.

"That is my address in town," he said. "Let me see you tonight. I
leave tomorrow at midday."

"Good," replied Mr. Brown, glancing at the writing on the paper.

The stranger went out, lifting his hat to the room generally, and Mr.
Brown put the paper away in his pocket.

"Who was that?" asked Mr. Bede Greatorex.

"A gentleman I used to know, sir, a farmer," was the reply. "I met him
outside just now, and he came in with me. We got talking of old
times."

"Oh, I thought it was someone on business for the office" said Mr.
Bede Greatorex, half in apology for inquiring. His face looked worn as
usual, his eyes bright and restless. Some of the family could remember
that when the late Mrs. Greatorex had first shown symptoms of the
malady that killed _her_, her eyes had been unnaturally bright.

The work went on. The clocks drew near to twelve, and the sun in the
heavens grew fiercer. Roland began to look white and flustered. What
with the work and what with the heat, he thought he might as well be
roughing it at Port Natal. He was doing pretty well on the whole--for
him--and did not get lectures above four times a week. To help liking
Roland was impossible; with his frank manners, his free good-nature,
his unsophisticated mind, and his candid revelations in regard to
himself, that would now and again plunge the office into private
convulsions. It was also within the range of possibility that his good
connections, and the fact of his being free of the house, running up
at will to pay unexpected visits to Mrs. Greatorex, had their due
weight in Mr. Brown's mind; for breaches of office etiquette were
tolerated in Roland that certainly would not have been in any other
clerk, whether he was a gentleman or not. Roland had chosen to
constitute himself a kind of enfant de la maison; he and his brothers
and sisters had been intimate with the Joliffe girls; he could
remember once having nearly got up a fight with Louisa, now Mrs. Bede
Greatorex; and, to make Roland understand that in running upstairs
when he chose, darting in upon Mrs. Greatorex as she sat in her
boudoir or drawing-room, darting in upon Miss Channing as she gave
lessons to Jane Greatorex, he was intruding where he ought not, would
have been a hopeless task. Once or twice Mr. Bede Greatorex had
voluntarily invited him up to luncheon or dinner; and so Roland made
himself free of the house, and in a degree swayed the office.

They were very busy today. The work which he and Hurst and Jenner had
in hand was being waited for, so that Roland had to stick to it, in
spite of the relaxing heat, and fully decided he could not be worse
off at Port Natal. The scratching of the pens was going on pretty
equally, when Frank Greatorex came in.

"I want a cheque from you, Bede."

"Where's Mr. Greatorex?" returned Bede in answer; for it was to him
such applications were made in general.

"Gone out."

Bede put aside the deed he had been sedulously examining, went into
his private room, and came back with his chequebook.

"How much?" he asked of his brother, as he sat down.

"Forty-four pounds. Make it out to Sir Richard Yorke."

With a simultaneous movement, as it seemed, two of those present
raised their heads to look at Frank Greatorex: Roland Yorke and Mr.
Brown. The former was no doubt attracted by the sound of his kinsman's
name; what aroused Mr. Brown's attention did not appear, but he stared
for a moment in a kind of amazement.

"Upon consideration, I don't think I'll take the cheque with me now; I
will call for it later in the day, when I've been into the city,"
spoke a voice at the door; and Sir Richard Yorke appeared. Bede, who
was just then signing the cheque, "Greatorex and Greatorex," finished
the signature, and came forward to shake hands.

"How d'ye do, sir," spoke up Roland.

Sir Richard's little eyes peered out over his fat face, and he
condescended to recognise his nephew by a nod. Bede Greatorex spoke a
few words to the baronet, touching the matter in hand, and turned back
to his desk, leaving Frank to escort the old gentleman out. Bede,
about to cross the cheque, hesitated.

"Did Mr. Frank say a crossed cheque?" he asked, looking up.

"No, sir; he said simply a cheque," said Jenner, finding nobody else
answered.

"Yes," broke out Roland, "it's fine to be that branch of the family.
Getting their cheques for forty-four pounds! I wish I could get one
for forty-four shillings."

"Have the goodness to attend to your own business, Mr. Yorke."

Bede Greatorex left the cheque uncrossed. In a few minutes, after
putting things to rights on his desk, he gathered up his papers,
including the cheque and chequebook, and went into his room. Putting
the things altogether in his desk there,--for he had an engagement at
twelve and the hour was within a minute or two of striking,--he locked
it and went out by the other door, not coming into the front room
again.

Now it happened that Bede Greatorex, who had expected to be absent
half an hour at the longest, was unavoidably detained, so that when
Sir Richard Yorke returned for his cheque it could not be given to
him. Mr. Greatorex, however, was at home then, and drew out another.
And the day went on.

"You must cancel that cheque, Bede," Mr. Greatorex casually observed
to his son that same evening, after office-hours. "It was very
unbusiness-like to leave it locked up, when you were not sure of
coming back in time to give it to Sir Richard."

"But I thought I was sure. It does not matter."

"If you will bring me those title-deeds of Cardwell's, I'll go over
them myself quietly, and see what I can make out," said Mr. Greatorex.

Bede crossed the passage to his private room, and unlocked his desk.
The deeds Mr. Greatorex asked for were the same that he had been
examining in the front office in the morning.

Some flaw had been discovered in them, or was suspected, and it was
likely to give the office some trouble, which would fall on Bede's
head. There they lay inside the desk, just as Bede had placed them in
the morning, with the paper-weight upon them; detained at Westminster
until a late hour, he had not been to his desk since. Reminded by his
father to destroy the cheque--useless now--Bede thought he would do
it at once.

But he could not find it. Other papers, besides the title-deeds,
cheque, and chequebook, he had placed within, and he went carefully
over them all, one by one. Nothing was missing, nothing had apparently
been touched, but the cheque certainly was not there. He searched his
desk in the front office, quite for form's sake, for he knew that he
had carried the cheque with him to his private room.

"One would think you had been drawing out the deeds," remarked Mr.
Greatorex when he returned.

"I can't find that cheque," answered Bede.

"Not find the cheque!" repeated Mr. Greatorex. "What do you mean,
Bede?"

Bede gave a short history of the affair. He had been in a hurry: and,
instead of staying to put the cheque and chequebook into his cash-box,
had left them loose in his table-desk with the title-deeds and sundry
other papers.

"But you _locked_ your desk?" cried Mr. Greatorex.

"Assuredly. I have only unlocked it now. The cheque would be as safe
there as in the cash-box."

"You could not have put it in, Bede; it must be somewhere about."

"I am just as certain that I put it in, as I am that it is not there
now."

Mr. Greatorex did not believe it. Bede had been for some time showing
himself less the keen, exact man of business be used to be. Trifling
mistakes, inaccuracies, negligences, would come to light now and
again; vexing Mr. Greatorex beyond measure.

"I don't know what to make of you of late, Bede," he said after a
pause. "You know the complaints we have been obliged to hear. These
very title-deeds"--putting his hand on those just brought in--"it was
you who examined and passed them. One negligence or another comes
cropping up continually, and they may all be traced to you. Is your
state of health the cause?"

"I suppose so," replied Bede, who felt conscious the reproach was
merited.

"You had better take some rest for a time. If----."

"No," came the hasty interruption, as though the proposal were
unpalatable. "Work is better for me than idleness. Put me out of
harness, and I should knock up."

"Bede," said Mr. Greatorex, in a tone of considerate kindness, but
with some hesitation, "it appears to me that you get more of a changed
man day by day. You have not been the same since your marriage. I fear
the cause, or a great portion of it, lies in _her_; I fear she gives
you trouble. As you know, I have never spoken to you before of this; I
have abstained from doing so."

A flush, that had shown itself in the clear olive face when Mr.
Greatorex began to speak, faded to whiteness; the hand, that
accidentally touched his father's, felt fevered in all its veins.

"At least, my wife is not the cause of my illness," he answered in a
low tone.

"I don't know that, Bede. That a great worry lies on your heart
continually, that a kind of restless, nervous anxiety never leaves you
by night or by day, is sufficiently plain to me; I know that it can
only arise from matters connected with your wife: and I also know that
this, and this alone, tells upon your bodily health. Your wife's
extravagance is bringing you care: ruin will surely supervene if you
do not check it."

Bede Greatorex opened his lips to speak, but seemed to think better of
it, and closed them again. His brow was knitted in two upright lines.

"Unless you can do so, Bede, I shall be compelled to make an
alteration in our arrangements. In justice to myself and to my other
children, your name must be withdrawn from the firm. Not yourself and
your profits: only the name, as a matter of safety."

Bede Greatorex bit his lips. His father's heart ached for him. For a
long while Mr. Greatorex had seen that his son's unhappy state of mind
(and that it was unhappy no keen observer, much with him, could
mistake) arose through his wife. And he thought Bede a fool for
putting up with her.

"You need not be afraid," said Bede. "I will take care the firm's
interests are not affected."

"How can you take care?" retorted Mr. Greatorex, in rather a stern
tone. "When debts are being made daily in the most reckless manner:
debts that you know nothing of, until the bills come trooping in and
you are called upon to pay, can you answer for what it will go on to?
Can I? Many a richer man than either of us, Bede, has been brought to
the Bankruptcy Court through less than this. Ay, and I will tell you
what else, Bede--it has brought husbands to the grave. When people
remark to me, 'Your son Bede looks ill,' I quietly answer 'Do you
think so?' when all the while I am secretly wondering that you can
look even as well as you do."

"Who remarks on it?" asked Bede.

"Who! Many people. Only the other night, when Henry Ollivera was here,
he spoke of it."

"Let Henry Ollivera concern himself with his own affairs," was the
fierce answer. "Does he want to be a----"

Bede's voice dropped to an inaudible whisper. But the concluding words
had sounded like--"curse amongst us."

"Bede! Did you say _curse?_"

"I said _king_," answered Bede. His nostrils were working, his lips
were quivering, his chest was heaving; all with a passion he was
trying to suppress. Mr. Greatorex looked at him, and waited. He had
seen Bede in these intemperate fits of anger before: sometimes for no
apparent cause.

"We will go book to the starting-point, this cheque, Bede," he quietly
said. "You must have overlooked it. Go and search your desk again."

Bede was leaving the room when he met a servant coming to it with a
message. Mr. Yorke had called, and wished to see Mr. Greatorex for a
couple of minutes: his business was important.

The notion of Roland Yorke and important business being in connexion,
brought a smile to the face of Mr. Greatorex. He told the servant to
send him in.

But instead of Roland, it was the son of Sir Richard Yorke who
advanced. A very fashionable gentleman in evening dress, small and
slight, with white hands, a lisp, and a silky moustache. He had come
about the cheque.

Sir Richard, fatigued with his visit to the city, had gone straight
home to Portland Place, after receiving the cheque from Mr. Greatorex,
and sent his son to the bankers' to get it cashed: a branch office of
the London and Westminster. The clerk, before he cashed it, looked at
it rather attentively, and then went away for a minute.

"We have cashed one cheque before today, sir, precisely similar to
this," he said on his return. "Would Sir Richard be likely to have two
cheques from Greatorex and Greatorex in one day, each drawn for the
same amount--forty-four pounds?"

"Greatorex and Greatorex are my father's men of business: he went to
get some money for them today, I know; I suppose he chose to receive
it in two cheques instead of one," replied Mr. Yorke haughtily, for he
deemed the question an impertinence. "Sir Richard may have wished to
pay the half of it away."

The clerk counted out the money and said no more. The cheques were
undoubtedly genuine, the first made out in the well-known hand of Bede
Greatorex, the last in that of his father, and the clerk supposed it
was all right. Mr. Yorke sent the money up to Sir Richard when he got
home, and went out again. At dinner-time, he mentioned what the clerk
had said--"Insolent fellah!" and the old baronet, who knew of the fact
of two cheques having been drawn, took alarm.

"He'd not let me wait an instant; sent me off here before I'd well
tasted my soup," grumbled Mr. Yorke. "One of you had better come and
see him if the cheque _has_ been lost and cashed; or he'll ask me five
hundred questions which I can't answer, and fret himself into a fit.
He has had one fit, you know. As to the cheque, it must have got into
the hands of some clever thief, who made haste to reap the benefit of
it."

"And your desk must have been picked, Bede, if you are sure you put it
in," observed Mr. Greatorex.

"I'm sure of that," answered Bede. "But I don't see how the desk can
have been picked. Not a thing in it was displaced, and the lock is
uninjured."

Bede had a frightful headache--which was the cause of his looking
somewhat worse than usual that evening, so Mr. Greatorex went to Sir
Richard Yorke's. And in coming home he passed round by Scotland Yard.

On the following morning, sitting in his room, he held a conference
with his two sons, whom he had not seen on his return the previous
night.

"They think at Scotland Yard it must inevitably have been one of the
clerks in your room, Bede," said Mr. Greatorex.

"One would think it, but that it seems so very unlikely," answered
Bede. "Brown and Jenner have been with us quite long enough for their
honesty to be proved; and the other two are gentlemen."

"Their theory is this; that someone, possessing easy access to your
private room, opened the desk with a false key."

"For the matter of that, the clerks on our side the house could obtain
nearly if not quite as easy access to Bede's room through its other
door," observed Frank Greatorex.

"Yes. But you forget, Frank, that none of them on our side the house
knew of the cheque having been drawn out and left there. Jelf will be
in by-and-by."

The morning's letters, recently delivered, lay before Mr. Greatorex in
a stack, and he began to look at them one by one before opening; his
common custom. He came to one addressed to Bede, marked "Private" on
both sides, and tossed it to his son!

Bede opened it. There was an inner envelope, sealed, and, addressed
and marked just like the outer one, which Bede opened in turn. Frank
Greatorex, standing near his brother, was enabled to see that but a
few lines formed its contents. Almost in a moment, before Bede could
have read the whole, he crushed the letter together and thrust it into
his pocket. Frank laughed.

"Your correspondent takes his precautions, Bede. Was he afraid that
Mrs. Bede----"

The words were but meant in jest, but Frank did not finish them. Bede
turned from the room with a kind of staggering movement, his face
blanched, his whole countenance livid with some awful terror. Frank
simply stared after him, unable to say another word.

"What was that?" cried Mr. Greatorex, looking up at the abrupt
silence.

"I don't know," said Frank. "Bede seems moonstruck with that letter he
has had. It must contain tidings of some bother or other."

"Then rely upon it, it is connected with his wife," severely spoke Mr.
Greatorex.

The news relating to the cheque fell upon the office like a clap of
thunder. Every clerk in it felt uncomfortable especially those
attached to Mr. Bede's department. The clerk at the bank, who had
cashed the cheque, was questioned. It had been presented at the bank
early in the afternoon, about half-past one o'clock he said, or
between that and two. He had not taken notice of the presenter, but
seemed to remember that he was a tall dark man, with black whiskers.
Had taken it and cashed it quite as a matter of course; making no
delay or query; it was a common thing for strangers, that is strangers
to the bank, to present the cheques of Greatorex and Greatorex. No; he
had not taken the number of the notes, for the best of all possible
reasons--that he had paid it in gold, as requested. This clerk
happened also to be the one to whom Sir Richard Yorke's son had
presented the second cheque; he spoke to that gentleman of the fact of
having cashed one an hour or two before, exactly similar; but Mr.
Yorke seemed to intimate that it was all right; in short appeared
offended at the subject being named to him.

At present that comprised all the information they possessed.

It was Mr. Bede Greatorex who, made the communication to the clerks in
his room. He was sitting at his desk in the front office when they
arrived,--an unusual circumstance; and when all were assembled and had
settled to their several occupations, then he entered upon it. The
cheque he had drawn out, as they might remember, on the previous
morning for Sir Richard Yorke, and which he had locked up subsequently
in his table-desk in the other room, had been abstracted from it, and
cashed at the bank. He spoke in a quiet, friendly manner, just in the
same tone he might have related it to a friend, not appearing to cast
the least thought of possible suspicion upon any one of them.
Nevertheless, no detective living could have watched their several
demeanours, as they heard it, more keenly than did Mr. Bede Greatorex.

The clerks seemed thunderstruck. Three of them gazed at him, unable
for the moment to shape any reply; the other burst out at once.

"The cheque gone! Stolen out of the desk, and cashed al the bank! My
goodness! Who took it, sir?"

The words came from nobody but Roland, you may be sure. Mr. Bede
Greatorex went on to give a few explanatory details; and Roland's next
movement was to rush into the adjoining room without asking
permission, and give a few tugs to the lid of the table-desk. Back he
clattered in a commotion.

And here let it be remarked, en passant, that it is somewhat annoying
to have to apply so frequently the word "clatter" to Roland's
progress, imparting no doubt a good deal of unnecessary sameness. But
there is really no other graphic expression that can be found to
describe it. His steps were quick, and the soles of his boots made
noise enough for ten.

"I say, Mr. Bede Greatorex," he exclaimed, "it is no light hand
that could open that desk without a key. I've had experience in
lifting weights over at Port Natal when helping to load the ships
with coal----"

"Kindly oblige me by making less noise, Mr. Yorke," came the
interrupting reproof.

Which Roland seemed not to heed in the least. He tilted himself on to
a high stool in the middle of the room, his legs dangling, just as
though he had been at a free-and-easy meeting; and there he sat,
staring in consternation.

"Will the bank know the fellow again that cashed it?"

"My opinion is that the desk was opened with a key in the ordinary
way," observed Mr. Bede Greatorex, referring to a previous remark of
Roland's, but passing over his present question.

"Perhaps you left your keys about?" suggested Roland. "I did not leave
them about, Mr. Yorke. I had them with me."

"Well, this is a go! _I_ say!" he resumed, with quite a burst of
excitement, his eyes beaming, his face glowing, "who'll be at the loss
of the money? Old Dick Yorke?"

"Ah, that is a nice question," said Bede Greatorex.

"I beg your pardon, sir," interposed Mr. Brown, who had been very
thoughtful. "Don't you think you must be mistaken in supposing you put
the cheque in the desk? I could understand it all so easily if----"

"I know I put it in my desk, and left it there locked up," said Mr.
Bede Greatorex, stopping the words. "What were you about to say?"

"If you had carried the cheque out inadvertently, and dropped it in
the street," concluded Mr. Brown, "it would have been quite easy to
understand then. Some unprincipled man might have picked it up, and
made off at once to the bank with it, hazarding the risk."

"But I did nothing of the sort," said Bede: and Mr. Brown shook his
head, as if he were hard of conviction.

"Of course there's not much difference in the degree of guilt, but
many a man who would not for the world touch a locked desk might
appropriate a picked-up cheque, sir."

"I tell you, the cheque was taken from my desk," reiterated Mr. Bede
Greatorex, slightly irritated at the persistency.

"Well, sir, then all I can say is, that it is an exceedingly
disagreeable thing for every one of us," said the head-clerk.

"I do not wish to imply that it is," said Bede Greatorex. "Mr. Yorke,
allow me to suggest that sitting on that stool will not do your work."

"I hope old Dick will be the one to lose it!" cried Roland, with
fervour, as he quitted the stool for his place by Mr. Hurst.
"Forty-four pounds! it's stunning. He's the meanest old chap alive,
Mr. Greatorex. I'd almost have taken it myself from him."

"Did you take it?" questioned Hurst in a whisper. "What's that?"
retorted Roland.

He faced Hurst as he spoke, waiting for a reply. All in a moment the
proud countenance and bearing changed. The face fell, the clear eyes
looked away, the brow became suffused with crimson. Hurst saw the
signs, and felt sorry for what he had said; had said in
thoughtlessness rather than in any real meaning. For he knew that it
had recalled to Roland Yorke a terrible escapade of his earlier life.



CHAPTER XIII.
TAKING THE PLACE OF JELF.


"It will stick in my gizzard for ever. I can see that. An awful clog,
it is, when a fellow has dropped into mischief once in his life, and
repented and atoned for it, that it must be cast in his teeth always;
cropping up at any hour, like a dead donkey in the Thames; I might as
well have stayed at Port Natal!"

Such was the inward soliloquy of Mr. Roland Yorke as he bent over his
writing after that overwhelming question of Hurst's, "Did you take
it?" Hurst, really grieved at having hurt his feelings, strove to
smooth away what he had said.

"I beg your pardon, old fellow," he whispered. "On my honour I spoke
without thought."

"I dare say you did!" retorted Roland.

"I meant no harm, Roland; I did not indeed. Nothing connected with the
past occurred to me."

"You know it _did_," was the answer, and Roland turned his grieved
face full on Hurst. "You know you wanted to bring up that miserable
time when I stole the twenty-pound note from old Galloway, and let the
blame of it fall on Arthur Channing. Because I took that, you think I
have taken this!"

"Hush! You'll have them hear you, Yorke."

"That's what you want. Why don't you go and tell them?" demanded
Roland, who was working into a passion. "Proclaim it aloud. Ring the
bell, as the town-crier does at home on a market-day. Call Greatorex
and Brown and Jenner up from their desks. Where's the good of taunting
me in private?"

Hurst kept his head down and wrote on in silence, hoping to allay the
storm he had inadvertently provoked. In spite of his protestations, he
_had_ spoken in reference to that past transaction, and the tone
showed the truth to Roland; but still he had spoken thoughtlessly.
Roland, as he believed, was no more guilty of this present loss than
he himself was; and he felt inclined to clip his tongue out for its
haste.

Pushing his hair from his hot face, biting his lips, drawing deep
breaths in his anger and emotion, stood Roland. Presently the pen was
dashed down on the parchment before him, blotting it and defacing it
for use, but of course that went for nothing, and Roland stalked to
the desk of Mr. Bede Greatorex.

"I wish to say, sir, that I did not steal the cheque."

The words took Mr. Bede Greatorex by surprise. But he had by this time
become pretty well acquainted with Roland and his impulsive ways; he
liked him in spite of his faults as a clerk; otherwise he would never
have put up with them. A pleasant smile crossed his lips as he
answered; answered in jest.

"You know the old French proverb, I dare say, Mr. Yorke: 'Qui s'excuse
s'accuse'?"

Roland made nothing of French at the best of times: at such as these,
every pulse within him agitated to pain, it was about as intelligible
as Hebrew. But, had he understood every word of the joking
implication, he could not have responded with more passionate
earnestness.

"I did not touch the cheque, sir; I swear it. I never saw it after you
took it from this room, or knew where you put it, or anything. It
never once came into my thoughts."

"But why do you trouble yourself to say this?" asked Mr. Bede
Greatorex, speaking seriously when he noticed the anxious tone, the
emotion accompanying the denial. "No one thought of supposing you had
taken it."

"Hurst did, sir. He accused me."

Hurst, in his vexation, pushed his work from him in a heap. Of all
living mortals, surely Roland was the simplest! he had no more tact
than a child. Mr. Bede Greatorex looked from one to the other.

"I did nothing of the kind," said Hurst, speaking quietly. "The fact
is, Roland Yorke can't take a joke. When he made that remark about his
uncle, Sir Richard, I said to him, 'Did you take the cheque?' speaking
in jest of course; and he caught up the question as serious."

"There, go to your place, Mr. Yorke," said Bede.

"I'd not do such a thing as touch a cheque for the world; or any other
money that was not mine: no, not though it did belong to old Dick
Yorke," earnestly reiterated Roland, keeping his ground.

"Of course you would not. Don't be foolish, Mr. Yorke."

"You believe me, I hope, sir."

"Certainly. Do go to your desk. I am busy."

Roland went back to it now, his face brighter. And Bede Greatorex
thought with a smile how like a boy he was, in spite of his
eight-and-twenty years, and his travels in Port Natal. These
single-minded natures never grow old, or wise in the world's ways.

Another minute, and a stranger had entered the office. And yet, not
quite a stranger; for Bede Greatorex had seen him some few years
before, and Hurst and Roland Yorke knew him at once. It was Mr.
Butterby; more wiry than he used to be, more observant about the keen
eyes. He had come in reference to the loss of the cheque, and saluted
Mr. Bede Greatorex who looked surprised and not best pleased to see
him. Jelf, the officer expected, was a man in whom Bede had
confidence; of this one's skill he knew nothing.

"It was Sergeant Jelf whom we desired to see," said Bede, speaking
with curt sharpness.

"It was," amicably replied Mr. Butterby. "Jelf got a telegram this
morning, and had to go off unexpected. I'm taking his place for a
bit."

"Have you changed your abode from Helstonleigh to London?"

"Only tempory. My headquarters is always at Helstonleigh. And now
about this matter, Mr. Bede Greatorex?"

"I think we need not trouble you. It can wait until Sergeant Jelf
returns."

"It might have to wait some time then," was Mr. Butterby's answer.
"Jelf is off to Rooshia first; St. Petersburgh; and it's hard to say
how long he'll stay there or where he may have to go to next. It's all
right, sir; I've been for this ten minutes with Mr. Greatorex, have
learnt the particulars of the case, and got his instructions."

Bede Greatorex bit his lip. This man, associated in his mind with that
past trouble--the death of John Ollivera, who had been so dear to him,
who was so bitterly regretted still--was rather distasteful to Bede
than otherwise, and for certain other reasons he would have preferred
Jelf. There seemed however no help for it, as his father had given the
man his instructions.

Mr. Butterby turned his attention on the clerks. As a preliminary step
to proceedings, he peered at them one by one under his eyebrows, while
apparently studying the maps on the walls. Hurst favoured him with a
civil nod.

"How d'ye do, Butterby?" said Roland Yorke. "You don't get much
fatter, Butterby."

Mr. Butterby's answer to this was to stare at Roland for a full
minute; as if he could not believe his own eyes at seeing him there.

"That looks like Mr. Roland Yorke!"

"And it is him," said Roland. "He is a clerk here. Now then,
Butterby!"

"I beg to state that I have full confidence in all my clerks,"
interposed Mr. Bede Greatorex.

"Just so," acquiesced the detective. "Mr. Greatorex senior thinks the
same. But it is requisite that I should put a few questions to them,
for all that. I can't see my way clear until I shall have ascertained
the movements of every individual clerk this house employs, from the
time the cheque was put into your desk yesterday, sir. And I mean to
do it," he concluded with equable composure.

He was proceeding to examine the clerks, holding a worn note-book in
his hand to pencil down any answer that might strike him, when Bede
Greatorex again interposed, conscious that this might be looked upon
by some of them as an unpardonable indignity.

"I cannot think this necessary, Mr. Butterby. We place every
confidence in our clerks; I repeat it emphatically. Mr. Brown and Mr.
Jenner have been with me for some years now; Mr. Hurst and Mr. Yorke
are gentlemen."

"I know who they two are; knew them long before you did, sir; and
their fathers too. Dr. Yorke, the late prebendary, put some business
into my hands once. But now, just leave this matter with me, Mr. Bede
Greatorex. Your father has done me the honour to leave it in my hands;
and, excuse me for saying it, so must you. All these four, now present
to hear you mention their names with respect, understand just as well
that what I do is an ordinary matter of form the law's officers
require to be gone through, as if I paid 'em the compliment to say
so."

"Oh, very well," said Bede, acquiescing more cheerfully. "Step in to
my private room with me for a moment first, Mr. Butterby."

He held the door open as he spoke; but, before the officer could turn
to it, Mr. Greatorex came in. Bede shut the door again, and nodded to
Mr. Butterby as much as to say, "Never mind now."

And so the questioning of the clerks began. Mr. Greatorex stayed for a
short while to listen to it, and talked to them all in a friendly
manner, as if to show that the procedure was not instituted in
consequence of any particular suspicion, rather as an investigation
in which the house, masters and clerks, were alike interested. The
head-clerk went on with his work during the investigation as calmly as
if Mr. Butterby had been a simple client; the questions put to him, as
to his own movements on the previous day, he answered quietly, calmly,
and satisfactorily. Roland never wrote a single line during the whole
time; he did nothing but stare; and made comments with his usual
freedom. When his turn came to receive the officer's polite attention,
he exploded a little and gave very insolent retorts, out of what Mr.
Butterby saw was sheer contrariness.

The inquiry narrowed itself to this side of the house, the rest of the
clerks being able to prove, individually, that they had not been near
Mr. Bede's room during the suspicious hours of the previous day.
Whereas it appeared, after some considerable sifting, that each one of
these four could have entered it at will, and unseen. What with the
intervening dinner-hour, and sundry outdoor commissions, every one of
them had been left alone in the office separately for a greater or
less period of time. It also came out that, with the exception of
Jenner, each had been away from the office quite long enough to go to
the bank with the cheque, or to send it and secure the money. Roland
Yorke, taking French leave, had stayed a good hour and a quarter at
his dinner, having departed for it at a quarter past one. Mr. Brown
had been out on business for the house from one till half-past two;
and Mr. Hurst, who went to the stamp office, was away nearly as long.
In point of fact, the chief office-keeper had been little Jenner, who
came back from dinner at half-past one.

"And now," said the detective, after putting up the pocketbook, in
which he had pencilled various of the above items of intelligence, "I
should like to get a look at this desk of yours, Mr. Bede Greatorex."

Bede led the way to his room, and shut himself in with the detective.
While apparently taking no notice whatever of the questions put to his
clerks, keeping his head bent over some papers as if his very life
depended on their perusal, he had in reality listened keenly to the
answers of all. Handing over the key of his table-desk, he allowed the
officer to examine it at will, and waited. He then sat down in his own
handsome chair of green patent leather and motioned the other to a
seat opposite.

"Mr. Butterby, I do not wish any further stir made in this business."

Had Mr. Butterby received a cannon-ball on his head he could scarcely
have experienced a greater shock of surprise, and for once made no
reply. Bede Greatorex calmly repeated his injunction, in answer to the
perplexed gaze cast on him. He wished nothing more done in the matter.

"What on earth for?" cried Mr. Butterby.

"I shall have to repose some confidence in you," pursued Mr. Bede
Greatorex. "It will be safe, I presume?"

Butterby quite laughed at the question. Safe! With him! It certainly
would be. If the world only knew the secrets he held in his bosom!

"And yet I can but trust you partially," resumed Bede Greatorex. "Not
for my own sake; I have nothing to conceal, and should like things
fully investigated; but for the sake of my father and family
generally. Up to early post-time this morning I was more anxious for
Jelf, that he might take the loss in hand, than ever my father was."

Bede Greatorex paused. But there came no answering remark from his
attentive listener, and he went on again.

"I received a private note by this morning's post which altered the
aspect of things, and gave me a clue to the real taker of the cheque.
Only a very faint clue: a suspicion rather; and, that, vague and
uncertain: but enough to cause me, in the doubt, to let the matter
drop. In fact there is no choice left for me. We must put up with the
loss of the money."

Mr. Butterby sat with his hands on his knees, a favourite attitude of
his: his head bent a little forward, his eyes fixed on the speaker.

"I don't quite take you, Mr. Greatorex," said he. "You must speak out
more plainly."

Bede Greatorex paused in hesitation. This communication was
distasteful, however necessary he might deem it, and he felt afraid of
letting a dangerous word slip inadvertently.

"The letter was obscure," he slowly said, "but, if I understand it
aright, the proceeds of the cheque have found their way into the hands
of one whom neither my father nor I would prosecute. To do so would
bring great pain upon us both, perhaps injury. The pain to my father
would be such that I dare not show him the letter, or tell him I have
received it. For his sake, Mr. Butterby, you and I must both hush the
matter up."

Mr. Butterby felt very much at sea. A silent man by nature and habit,
he sat still yet, and listened for more.

"There will be no difficulty, I presume?"

"Let us understand each other, sir. If I take your meaning correctly,
it is this. Somebody is mixed up in the affair whose name it won't do
to bring to light. One of the family, I suppose?"

Mr. Butterby had to wait for an answer. Bede Greatorex paused ere he
gave it.

"If not an actual member of the family, it is one so nearly connected
with it, that he may almost be called such."

"It's a man, then?"

"It is a man. Will you work with me in this, so as to keep suspicion
from my father? Tacitly let him think you are doing what you can to
investigate the affair. When no result is brought forth, he will
suppose you have been unsuccessful."

"Of course, sir, if you tell me I am not to go on with it, why I
won't, and it is at an end. Law bless me! Lots of things are put into
our hands one day; and, the next, the family comes and says, Hush 'em
up."

"So far good, Mr. Butterby. But now, I wish you, for my own
satisfaction, to make some private investigation into it. Quite
secretly, you understand: and if you can learn anything as to the
thief, bring the news quietly to me."

Mr. Butterby thought this was about as complete a contradiction to
what had gone before as it had been ever his lot to hear. He took
refuge in his silent gaze and waited. Bede Greatorex put his elbow on
the table and his hand to his head as he spoke.

"If I were able to confide to you the whole case, Mr. Butterby, you
would see how entirely it is encompassed with doubts and difficulties.
I have reason to fancy that the purloiner of the cheque out of this
desk must have been one of the clerks in my room. I think this for two
reasons; one is, that I don't see how anybody else could have had
access to it."

"But, sir, you stood it out to their faces just now that you did _not_
suspect them."

"Because it will not do for them to know that I do. I assure you, Mr.
Butterby, this is a most delicate and dangerous affair. I wish to my
heart it had never happened."

"Do you mean that the clerk, in taking it--if he did take it--was
acting as the agent of some other party?"

Bede Greatorex nodded. "Yes, only that."

"But _that's_ enough to transport him, you know," cried Butterby,
slightly losing the drift of the argument.

"If we could bring him to book, yes. But that must not be done. I
_don't_ see who else it could have been," added Bede, communing with
himself rather than addressing Mr. Butterby; and his face wore a
strangely perplexed look.

"Could any of the household--the maidservants, for instance--get into
this here room?" asked Mr. Butterby.

"There's not one of them would dare to risk it in the daytime. They
are in the other house. No, no; I fear we must look to one of the
young men in the next room."

Mr. Butterby nodded with satisfaction: matters seemed to be taking a
more reasonable turn.

"Let's see; there's four of them," he began, beginning to tell the
clerks off on his fingers. "The manager, Brown, confidential, you
said, I think----"

"I did not say confidential," interrupted Bede Greatorex. "I said we
placed great confidence in him. There's a distinction, Mr. Butterby."

"Of course. Then there's the little man, Jenner; and the others, Hurst
and Yorke. Have you any doubt yourself as to say one of them?" quickly
asked Mr. Butterby, looking full at the lawyer.

Bede Greatorex hesitated. "I cannot say I have. It would be so wrong,
you know, to cast a doubt on either, when there is not sufficient
cause; nothing but what may be a passing, foundationless fancy."

"Speak out, Mr. Bede Greatorex. It's all in the day's work. If there is
really nothing, it won't hurt him; if there is, I may be able to
follow it up. Perhaps it's one of the two gentlemen?"

"If it be any one of the four, Mr. Hurst."

The detective so far forgot his good manners as to break into a low
whistle.

"Mr. Hurst! or Mr. Yorke, do you mean?" he cried, in his surprise.

"Not Mr. Yorke, certainly. Why should you think of him?"

"Oh, for nothing," carelessly answered Butterby. "Hurst seems an
upright young man, sir."

"It is so trifling a doubt I have of him, the lifting of a straw, as
may be said, that I should be sorry to think he is not upright. Still,
I have reason for deciding that he is the most likely, of the four,
for doubt to attach to."

At that moment, the gentleman in question interrupted them--Josiah
Hurst; bringing a message to Mr. Bede Greatorex. An important client
was waiting to see him. Mr. Butterby took a more curious look at the
young man's countenance than he had ever done in the old days at
Helstonleigh.

"The lawyer's wrong," thought he to himself. "He is no thiever of
cheques, he isn't."

"I shall be at liberty in one minute, Mr. Hurst. Shut the door. You
understand?" he added in a low tone to the detective, as they stood up
together in parting. "All that I 'have said to you must be kept
secret; doubly secret from my father. He must suppose you at work,
investigating; whereas, in point of fact, _the thing must drop_. Only,
if you can gain any private information, bring it to me."

Mr. Butterby answered by one of his emphatic nods. "You see there's
nothing come up yet about that other thing," he said.

"What other thing?"

"The death of Mr. Ollivera."

"And not likely to," returned Bede Greatorex. "That was over and done
with at the time."

"Just my opinion," said the detective. "Jenner was his clerk in
chambers.".

"Yes. A faithful little fellow."

"Looks it. Who's the other one--Mr. Brown?"

"I can only tell you that he is Mr. Brown; I know nothing of his
family. We have had him three or four years."

"Had a good character with him, I suppose? Knew where he'd been, and
all that?"

"Undoubtedly. My father is particular. Why do you ask?"

"Only because he is the only one in your room that I don't know
something of. Good morning, Mr. Bede Greatorex."

Bede shut the door, and Mr. Butterby walked away, observing things
indoors and out with a keen eye, while he ruminated on what he had
heard. Sundry reports, connected with the domestic life of Bede
Greatorex, were familiar to his comprehensive ears.

"It's a rum go, this," quoth he, making his comments "He meant his
wife, he did; I'd a great mind to say so. Hush it up? of course they
must. And Madam keeps the forty-four pounds. But now--_does_ he
suspect it might have been one of the clerks helped her to it, or was
it only a genteel way of stopping my questions as to how the 'member
of the family' could have got indoors to the desk? She grabbed his
key, she did, and took out the cheque herself: leastways I should say
so. Stop a bit, though. Who cashed it at the bank? Perhaps one of 'em
did help her. 'Twasn't Hurst, I know  nor little Jenner, either. Don't
think it was young Yorke in spite of that old affair at Galloway's.
T'other, Brown, I don't know. Anyway," concluded Mr. Butterby, his
thoughts recurring to Bede Greatorex, and his wife, "he has got his
torment in her; and he shows it. Never saw a man so altered in all my
life: looks, spirits, manners: it's just as though there was a blight
upon him."

That the presence of the police-agent in the office had not been
agreeable to the clerks, will be readily understood. It had to be
accepted for an evil; as other evils must be for which there is no
help. Roland Yorke felt inclined to resent it openly, and thought the
fates were against him still, as they had been at Port Natal. What
with that unlucky question of Hurst's and the appearance of Butterby
on the scene, both recalling the miserable escapade of years ago that
he would give all the world to forget, Roland, alike hot-headed and
hot-hearted, was in a state of mind to do any mad thing that came
uppermost. And the morning wore away.

"Why don't you go to dinner, Mr. Yorke?"

The question came from the manager. Roland, in his perplexity of mind
and feelings, had unconsciously let the usual time slip by. Catching
up his hat, he tore through the street at speed until he reached the
bank, into which he went with a burst.

"I want to see one of the principals."

What with the haste the imperative demand, and the imposing stature
and air, Roland was at once attended to, and a gentleman, nearly as
little as Jenner came forward.

"Look here," said Roland. "Just you bring me face to face with the
fellow who cashed that cheque yesterday. The clerk, you know."

"Which cheque?" came the very natural question from the little
gentleman, as he gazed at the applicant.

"The one there's all this shindy over at Greatorex and Greatorex's.
Drawn out in favour of old Dick Yorke."

Of course it was not precisely the way to go about things. Before
Roland's request was complied with, a little information was requested
as to what his business might be, and who he was.

"I am Mr. Roland Yorke."

"Any relation to Sir Richard Yorke?"

"His nephew by blood; none at all by friendliness. Old Dick--but never
mind him now. If you'll let me see the clerk, sir, you will hear what
I want with him."

The clerk, standing at elbow behind the counter, had heard the
colloquy. Roland dashed up to him so impulsively that the little
gentleman could with difficulty keep pace.

"Now, then," began Roland to the wondering clerk, "look at me--look
well. Am I the man who presented that cheque yesterday?"

"No, sir, certainly not," was the clerk's reply. "There's not the
least resemblance."

"Very good," said Roland, a little calming down from his fierceness.
"I thought it well to come and let you see me, that's all."

"But why so?" asked the principal, thinking Sir Richard Yorke's
nephew, though a fine man, must be rather an eccentric one.

"Why! why, because I am in Bede Greatorex's office and we've had a
policeman amongst us this morning, looking us up. They say the cheque
was brought here by a tall fellow with black whiskers. As that
description applies to me, and to none of the others, I thought I'd
come and let you see me. That's all. Good morning."

Dashing out in the same commotion that he had entered, Roland, still
neglecting his dinner, went skimming back to the house of Greatorex
and Greatorex. Not to enter the office, but to pay a visit to Mrs.
Bede's side of it.

Not very long before this hour, Mr. Bede Greatorex, all the cares of
his business on his shoulders, not the least of them (taking it in all
its relations) being the new one connected with the abstracted cheque
went upstairs for luncheon and a few minutes' relaxation. He found his
wife full of _her_ cares. Mrs. Bede Greatorex had cards out for that
afternoon, bidding the great world to a Kettle-drum and she was
calculating what quantity of ices and strawberries to order in, with
sundry other momentous questions.

The rooms were turned upside-down. A vast crowd was expected, and
small articles of impeding furniture, holding fragile ornaments, were
being put out of the way, lest they should come to grief in the
turmoil.

"Yes, that quantity of ice will be sufficient; and be sure take care
that you have an abundance of strawberries," concluded Mrs. Bede
Greatorex to the attendant, who had been receiving her orders.
"Chocolate? Of course. Where's the use of asking senseless questions?
Bede," she added, seeing her husband standing there, "I know how you
detest the smell of chocolate, saying it makes you as sick as a dog,
and brings on headaches; but I cannot dispense with it in my rooms.
Other people give it, and so must I."

"Give what you like," he said wearily "What is it you are going to
hold? A ball?"

"A ball in the afternoon! Well done, Bede! It's a drum."

"The house is never free from disturbance, Louisa," he rejoined, as a
man pushed by with a table.

"You should let me live away from it. And then you'd not smell the
chocolate. And the doors would not be impeded forever with
carriages, as you grumble they are. With a house in Hyde Park----"

"Hush!" said Bede in a whisper: "What did I tell you the other
day?--That our expenses are so large, I could not live elsewhere if I
would: Don't wear me out with this everlasting theme, Louisa."

It was not precisely the hearth for a min, oppressed with the world's
troubles, to find refuge in; neither was she the wife. Bede sighed in
very weariness, and turned to go, away, thinking how welcome to him,
if he could but get transplanted to it, would be the corner of some
far-off desert, never before trodden by the foot of man.

A great noise on the stairs, as if a coach-and-six were coming up in
fierce commotion, followed by a smart knocking at the room door. Bede
turned to escape, thinking it might possibly be the advance guard of
the Drum. Nobody but Mr. Roland Yorke. And Roland (who had come up on
a vain search for Miss Channing) seeing his master there, at once
began to tell of where he had just been and for what purpose. To keep
his own counsel on matter whatever, would have been extremely
difficult to Roland.

"It is said, you know, Mr. Bede Greatorex, that the man, who cashed
the cheque and got the money, was a tall fellow with black whiskers so
I thought it well to go and show myself. I am tall," drawing up his
head; "I've got black whiskers," pushing one side forward with his
hand; "and nobody else in your room answered to the description."

"It was very unnecessary, Mr. Yorke. You were in Port Natal."

"In Port Natal!" echoed Roland, staring. "What has Port Natal to do
with this?"

Bede Greatorex slightly laughed. In his self-absorption, he had
suffered his mind to run on other things.

"As to unnecessary--I don't think so, after what that ill-natured
Hurst said. And perhaps you'd not, sir, if you knew all," added simple
Roland, thinking of Mr. Galloway's banknote. "Anyway, I have been to
the bank to show myself."

"What did the bank say to you?" questioned Bede Greatorex, his tone
one of light jest.

"The bank said I was not in the least like the fellow; he was tall,
but not as tall as me, and they are nearly sure he had a beard as well
as whiskers. I thought I'd tell you, sir."

Mrs. Bede Greatorex, listening to this with curious ears, inquired
what the trouble was, and heard for the first time of the loss of the
cheque, the probable loss of the forty-four pounds. Had Mr. Butterby
been present to mark her surprise, he might have put away his opinion
that she was the recipient alluded to by Bede Greatorex, and perhaps
have mentally begged her pardon for the mistaken thought.

"Will you come to my kettle-drum, Mr. Roland?"

"No, I won't," said Roland. "Thank you all the same," he added a
minute after, as if to atone for the bluntness of the reply. "I've
been put out today uncommonly, Mrs. Bede Greatorex; and when a fellow
is, he does not care for drums and kettles."

However, when the kettle-drum was in full swing about five o'clock in
the afternoon and the stairs were crowded with talkers and trains,
Roland, thinking better of it, elbowed his way up amidst. People who
did not know him, thought he must be from the Court at least; the Lord
Chamberlain, or some such great man, for Roland had a way of holding
his own and tacitly asserting himself, like nobody else. He caught
sight of Gerald, who averted his head at once; he saw Mrs. Hamish
Channing, and she was the only guest he talked to. Roland was again
looking for Annabel. He found her presently in the refreshment room,
seeing that Miss Jane did not make herself ill with strawberries and
cream.

Into her ear, very much as though it had been a rock of refuge, Roland
confided his wrongs; Mr. Hurst's semi-accusation of him in regard to
the loss, his errand to the bank, and in short all the events of the
morning.

"I couldn't have done it by _him_," said Roland. "Had he made a fool
of himself when he was young and wicked, I could no more have flung it
in his teeth in after-years, to twist his feelings, than I could twist
yours, Annabel. When I've been repenting of the mad act ever since;
never going to my bed at night or rising in the morning, without
thinking of it and--dashing it: but I was going to say another word:
and hoping and planning how best to recompense every soul that
suffered by it! It was too bad of him."

"Yes it was," warmly answered Annabel, her cheeks flushing with the
earnestness of her sympathy. "Roland, I never liked that Josiah
Hurst."



CHAPTER XIV.
GERALD YORKE IN A DILEMMA.


Mr. Gerald Yorke stood in his chambers--as he was pleased to style the
luxurious rooms he occupied in a most fashionable quarter of London.
Gerald liked both luxury and fashion, and went in for both. He was
occupied very much as Mrs. Bede Greatorex had been earlier in the
day--namely, casting a glance round his rooms, and the supplies of
good things just brought into them. For Gerald was to give a wine and
supper party that night.

Running counter to the career planned for him--the Church--Gerald had
embarked on one of his own choosing. He determined to be a public man;
and had private ambitious visions of a future premiership. He came to
London, got introductions through his family connections, and hoped to
be promoted to some government appointment to start with. As a
preliminary step, he plunged into society and high living; going out
amidst the great world and receiving men in return. This requires some
amount of cash, as everybody who has tried it knows, however unlimited
the general credit may be; and Gerald Yorke laboured under the
drawback of possessing none. A handsome present from Lord Carrick when
his lordship was in funds, of a five-pound note, screwed out of his
mother's shallow purse, constituted his resources. So Gerald did as a
vast many more do--he took to writing as a temporary means of living.
Of genius he had none; but after a little practice he became a
sufficiently ready writer. He tried political articles, he wrote short
stories for periodicals, he obtained a post on one or two good papers
as a reviewer. Gerald liked to review works of fiction best: they gave
him the least trouble: and no one could cut and slash a rival's book
to shreds, more effectively than he. Friendly with a great many of the
literary world, and with men belonging to the press, Gerald found
plenty of work put into his hands, for which he was well paid. At last
he began to try his hand at a book himself. If he could only get
through it, he thought, and it made a hit and brought him back money,
what a glorious thing it would be!

As the time went on, so did Gerald's hopes. The book progressed
towards completion (in spite of sundry stumbling blocks where he had
seemed _stuck_), and success, with its attendant golden harvest, drew
almost as near to his view, as its necessity was in reality. For the
ready money earned by his stray papers and reviews, was verily but as
a drop of water in the great ocean of Gerald's needs.

Look at him as he stands there with his back to the fireplace; the
tall, fine man in his evening dress. But there is a savage frown of
perplexity and temper on his generally cynical face, for something has
occurred to annoy him.

And yet, that had been in its earlier part such a red-lettered day! In
the morning Gerald had put the finishing conclusion to his book, and
complacently written the title. In the afternoon he had been
introduced to a great literary don at Mrs. Bede Greatorex's drum, who
might prove of use in the future. Calling in later upon a friend, he
had taken some dinner with him, and then returned home and dressed for
the opera, his supper guests being bidden for twelve o'clock. He was
just going out on his way to the opera, when two letters met his eye,
which he had overlooked on entering. The one, he saw, was in the
handwriting of a creditor who was becoming troublesome; the other in
that of his wife and marked "Immediate."

Gerald Yorke had been guilty of one imprudent act, for which there was
no cure. When only twenty-one, he had married. The young lady,
Winnifred Eales, was of no family, and did not possess a fraction of
money. Gerald was taken by her pretty face, and was foolish enough to
marry her off-hand; saddling himself with a wife without having the
wherewithal to keep one. Little did Gerald Yorke's acquaintances in
London suspect that the fast and fashionable young man, (only in his
twenty-sixth year now, though looking older) had a wife and three
children! Had the question been put to Gerald "Are you married?" he
would have briefly acknowledged it; but he never volunteered the
information. His wife was his wife; he did not wish to repudiate
either her or the children; but he had long ago found them an awful
incumbrance, and kept them in the background. To do so was less cost.
Had Gerald come into two or three thousand a year, he would have set
up his tent grandly, have had his family home to it forthwith, and
introduced them to the world: until that desirable time should arrive,
he had meant them to remain in the little country cottage-home in
Gloucestershire, where he had placed them, and where they knew nobody.
But that his wife was tolerably patient and very persuadable, he would
have struck long before. She did grumble; when Gerald visited her she
was fretful, tearful, fractious and complaining. In fact, she was
little better than a child herself, and not by any means a
strong-minded one.

But the crisis had come. Gerald tore open the letter, with its ominous
word Immediate, and found unwelcome news. For two or three blissful
moments, he did not believe his eyesight, and then the letter was
dashed down in vehement passion.

"Winny's mad!"

Whinny (as Gerald's wife was generally called) tired of her lonely
home, of the monotonous care of her children, tired above all of
waiting month after month, year after year, for the fulfilment of his
promises to put matters upon a more satisfactory footing, had taken
the initiative into her own hands. She informed her husband that she
had given up the cottage, sold off its furniture by auction, and
should arrive with the children in London (Paddington terminus) at
three o'clock the next day, where he must meet her if he could: if
not, they should drive at once to him at his chambers, or to his club,
the Young England. A slight concluding hint was annexed that he need
not attempt to stop her by telegraph, for the telegraph people had
received orders not to bring her up any messages that might arrive.

A pretty announcement, that, for a man in society to get! Gerald stood
very much as if he had received a blow that blinded him. _What_ was he
to do with them when they came? Never in all his life had he been so
pushed into a corner. The clock went ticking on, on; but Gerald did
not heed it.

His servant came in, under pretence of bringing a dish of fruit, and
ventured to remind him of the engagement at the opera, truly thinking
his master must have forgotten it. Gerald sent the opera very far
away, and ordered the man to shut the door.

In truth he was in no mood for the opera now. Had there been a
possibility of doing it, he would have put off his supper-party. The
other letter, which he opened in a kind of desperation, contained
threats of unpleasant proceedings, unless a debt, long sued for, was
paid within twenty-four hours. Money, Gerald must have and he did not
know where to get it. His literary pay had been forestalled wherever
it could be. He had that day applied to young Richard Yorke (or
Vincent, as Gerald generally called him, being the finer name of his
cousin's two baptismal ones) for a loan, and been refused. Apart from
the future difficulties connected with Winny and the children, it
would take some cash in pocket to establish them in lodgings.

"Winny wants a good shaking for causing me this trouble," earnestly
soliloquised Gerald in his dilemma, that fashionable drawl of his,
kept for the world, not being discernible in private life. "Suppose
she should turn restive and insist on coming _here?_ Good heavens! a
silly, untidy wife, and three ill-kept children!"

He walked to the sideboard, dashed out a glass of some cordial with
his shaking band, and drank it, for the picture unnerved him.

"If I could get my book accepted by a publisher, and an advance made
upon it," thought Gerald, resuming his place on the hearthrug, "I
might get along. Some of those confounded publishers are so
independent; they'll keep a manuscript for twelve months and never
look at it."

A short while before this, Gerald had tried his hand at a play, which
ill-natured managers had hitherto refused to accept. Gerald of course
thought the refusal arose from nothing but prejudice, as some others
do in similar cases. He went on with his soliloquy.

"I think I'll get some fellow to look over my novel and give me an
opinion upon it--which I can repeat over to a publisher. Write it down
if necessary. That's what I ought to have done by the drama: one is
apt to be overlooked in these days without a special recommendation.
Let's see? Who is there? Hamish Channing. Nobody so good. His
capabilities are first-rate, and I'll make him read it at once. If
Vincent Yorke----"

The soliloquy was brought to a standstill. Some commotion outside, as
if a visitor had sought to enter and was stopped, caught Gerald's
startled ear; but he knew his servant was trustworthy. The next moment
the door opened, and the man spoke.

"Mr. Yorke, sir."

Who should walk in, with his usual disregard to the exigencies of
ceremonious life, but Roland! Gerald stared in utter astonishment;
and, when satisfied that it was in truth his brother, frowned awfully.
Gerald in his high sphere might find it difficult to get along; but to
have an elder brother who was so down in the world as to accept any
common employment that offered, and put up with one room and a turn-up
bedstead, and not scruple to own it, was a very different matter. And
Gerald's intention was to wash his hands of Roland and his low
surroundings, as entirely as Sir Richard Yorke could do.

Roland took a survey of things in general, and saluted his brother
with off-hand cordiality. He knew his presence there was unacceptable,
but in his good-nature would not appear to remember it. The handsome
rooms, lacking no signs of wealth and comfort, the preparations for
the entertainment that peeped out here and there, Gerald himself (as
Roland would have expressed it) in full fig; all seemed to denote that
life was sunny in this quarter, and Roland thought it was fine to be
Gerald.

Gerald slowly extended one unwilling finger in response to Roland's
offered grasp, and waited for him to explain his business, not
inviting him to sit. It was not he that would allow Roland to think he
might be a visitor there at will. Roland, however, put himself into a
comfortable velvet lounging-chair of his own accord, as easily as he
might have put himself into the old horsehair thing at Mrs. Jones's:
and then proceeded to tell his errand.

It was this. Upon going home that night at seven--for he had to stay
late in the office to make up for the time lost at Mrs. Bede's
kettle-drum--Roland found a letter from Lord Carrick, who was in the
shade still. Amidst some personal matters, it contained a confidential
message for Gerald, which Roland was charged to deliver in person.
This was no other than a reminder to Gerald that a certain pecuniary
obligation for which he and Lord Carrick were equally responsible (the
latter having made himself so, to accommodate Gerald, but receiving no
benefit) was becoming due, and that Gerald would have to meet it.
"Tell him, my boy, that I'd willingly find the means for him if I
could, and as much more at the back of it," wrote the good-natured
peer; "but I'm regularly out of everything for the time being, and
_can't_."

It may be easily conceived that the errand, when explained, did not
tend to increase Roland's welcome. Gerald bit his full lips with
suppressed passion, and could willingly have struck his brother.
Vincent Yorke, perhaps as an ostensible plea for not responding in
kind to Gerald's application for the loan of twenty pounds that day,
said they might have to lose forty-four, and had disclosed to him the
particulars of the appropriated cheque, adding that he should think
suspicion must lie on someone of the four clerks in Bede Greatorex's
office. That was quite enough for Gerald.

In anything but a temperate way he now attacked his brother, not
saying, Did you steal the cheque? but accusing him of doing it, and
bringing up the old transaction at Mr. Galloway's. There ensued a
sharp, short quarrel: which might have been far sharper on Roland's
side but for the aspersion already cast on him by Hurst: that seemed
to have paved the way for this, and deadened its sting.

"Look here, Gerald," said Roland, calming down from anger, but
speaking with an emotion at which Gerald stared. "My taking that
twenty pound note from Galloway was an awful mistake; the one great
mistake of my life, for I shall never----"

"Call it a theft," roared Gerald.

"For I shall never make such another," went on Roland, just as though
he had not heard the interruption. "It will stick to me always, more
or less, be cropping up everlastingly; but, for all that, it was the
best thing that could have happened to me."

Gerald answered by a sneer.

"It sent me out to Port Natal. I should never have gone but for that,
however much I might have talked of it. I wanted to put Arthur
Channing straight with the world, and I couldn't stay and face the
world while I did it. Well, I went out to Port Natal: and I stayed
there, trying to get into funds, and come home with some redeeming
money in my hand. I stayed long enough to knock out of me a great deal
that wanted to come out; idleness, and folly, and senseless pride. I'm
not one of the good and brave ones yet, such as Arthur Channing is;
but I've learnt at any rate to do a little for myself and be tolerant
to others; I've learned not to be ashamed to work honestly for my
bread before eating it. There."

"The sooner you take yourself out of my rooms, the better," said
Gerald. "I am expecting friends."

"Don't fancy I'm going to wait till they come; I'd not intrude on
either you or them," retorted Roland, turning to depart. "I came up on
your business, Gerald, tonight, to oblige Carrick; but I shall tell
him to choose somebody else for a messenger if he wants to send again.
Good night."

Gerald gave no answer. Unless the banging-to the door after Roland
with his foot could be called one.

He stood ruminating for a short while alone. The message certainly
tended to a further complication of Gerald's perplexities. Although he
had originally assured Lord Carrick that he should not look to him to
meet the bill, he really had done so: for nobody looked in vain to
that imprudent and good-hearted man, when he had it in his power to
help.

"There's nothing for it but the novel," decided Gerald presently.
"What's the time?"

Glancing over his shoulder, he saw that it was not yet half-past nine.
As his guests would not arrive until twelve, there was time, and to
spare, for a visit to Hamish Channing. So, packing up his manuscript,
he went forth.

Hamish sat in his writing-room as usual this evening, working closely.
His face wore a weary look as the light from the candle, the shade
temporarily removed, fell upon it. Ever good-humoured, ever full of
sweet hope, of loving-kindness to the whole world, he cared not for
his weariness; nay, was not conscious of it.

An arrival at the street door, and a bustle in the next room following
closely upon it; a child's joyous laughter and light chatter. Hamish
knew the cause. Little Miss Nelly had returned home from a child's
party, her hands laden with fairy gifts. In she came; papa could not
keep the door quite closed from her; in her white muslin frock with
the broad blue sash and sleeve ribbons, and the bit of narrow blue on
her neck, suspending the locket with Grandpapa Channing's likeness in
it. Hamish caught up the lovely little vision and began fondling it;
kissing the bright cheeks, the chattering lips, the pretty neck.

"And now Nelly must go," he said, "for I have my work to do."

"A great deal of work?"

"Oceans of it, Nelly."

"Mamma says, you work too much," returned Nelly, looking full at him
with her brilliant, sweet blue eyes, so like his own.

"Tell mamma I say she knows nothing about it."

"Jane Greatorex was there, papa, and Aunt Annabel. She told me to tell
you, too, not to work so much."

"Jane Greatorex did?"

"Now, papa, you know! Annabel."

"We'll have mamma and Annabel taken up for conspiracy. Good night, my
little treasure: I'd keep you here always if I could."

"Let me say my prayers to you tonight, papa," whispered the child.

He was about to say no, but seemed to change his mind, and quitted the
chair at the writing-table for another. Then Nelly, throwing all her
gifts on the table in a heap, knelt down and put up her hands to say
her prayers. When she had concluded them, he did not let her rise, but
laid his hand upon her head and kept it there in silence, as if
praying himself. And Nelly went out with some awe, for papa's eyes
looked as if they had tears in them.

Hamish had settled to work again, and Nelly would be a myth until the
next morning, when Gerald Yorke arrived, dashing up in a hansom. He
came in to Hamish at once, carrying his manuscript.

"You'll do me a favour, won't you, old friend?"

"What is it?" asked Hamish, the sunny smile on his face already an
earnest of compliance. And Gerald undid his manuscript.

"I want you to read this; to go over it carefully and attentively; and
then give me your opinion of it. I thought once of asking Caustic, but
your judgment is worth more than his, because I know you'll give a
true report."

Gerald had either been in too great haste to make a fair copy for the
press, or else had deemed that point superfluous. As Hamish caught
sight of the blurred and blotted lines in Gerald's notably illegible
hand, he hesitated. He was so _full_ of work, and this would be indeed
a task. Only for the tenth part of a moment, however; he could sit up
at night and get through it.

"At once," said Gerald. "If you could put away your own work for it, I
should be obliged; I have a reason for wishing to get it back
directly. And Hamish, you'll mind and give me your real opinion in
strict candour."

"Do you say that seriously?" asked Hamish, his tone one of grave
meaning.

"Of coarse I do. Or why should I ask you to read it at all?"

"Not very long ago, a friend brought me a work he had written, begging
me to look over it, and tell him what I thought of it, without
disguise or flattery, just as you do now," spoke Hamish. "Well, I
thought he meant it, and did as he requested. Above all, he had said,
point out to me the faults. I did point out the faults. I told him my
opinion candidly and kindly, and it was not a favourable one. Gerald,
I lost my friend from that hour."

Gerald laughed. The cases, he thought, were totally dissimilar. Had an
angel from Heaven come down and said an unfavourable opinion could be
pronounced upon this work of his, he had not believed it.

"Don't be afraid, Channing. I shall thank you to give me your true
opinion just as though the manuscript belonged to some stranger, who
would never know what you said."

"I don't like the title," observed Hamish, accepting the conditions.

"Not like the title?"

"No."

Gerald had called it by a title more wonderful than attractive. The
good sense of Hamish Channing discovered the mistake at once.

"We made it up between us one night over our drink; one put in one
word and one another," said Gerald, alluding to sundry confrères of
his. "After all, Hamish, it's the book that makes the success, not the
title."

"But a good book should possess a good title."

"Well, the title can go for now; time enough to alter that later,"
concluded Gerald, rather testily. "You'll lose no time, Channing?"

"No more than I can help. To put all my work away you must know to be
impracticable, Gerald. But I'll make what haste I can." Hamish went
with him to the other room where Mrs. Channing was sitting, and Gerald
unbosomed himself to them of his great care; the dilemma which the
evening's post had put him in, as to the speedy arrival of his wife.

"What on earth to do, I can't tell," he said with a groan. "Lodgings
for a family are not found in an hour; and that's the best thing I can
do with them yet awhile. If Winny were not an utter simpleton, she'd
at least have given me a clear day's warning. And only look at the
impossibility of my getting dinner and tea for them tomorrow, and all
the rest of the necessaries. I shan't know how to set about it."

Hamish glanced at his wife and she at him, and they spoke almost
simultaneously.

"If you would like to bring them here first, Gerald, do so. You know
we shall be happy to see Winny. It may give you a few hours more to
fix on lodgings, and they need not move into them until night."

Gerald twirled his watch-chain as he stood, and did not at once
accept. He was looking very cross.

"Thank you," he said at length, but not very graciously, "then they
shall come here. I suppose you could not make it convenient to meet
them for me at Paddington, Hamish?"

"That I certainly could not," replied Hamish. "You know my hours in
the city, Gerald. If you are unable to go yourself, why don't you ask
Roland? I don't suppose"--and Hamish broke into a smile--"his services
are so valuable to Greatorex and Greatorex that they'd make an
objection."

The mention of his brother was enough for Gerald. He called him a few
contemptuous names, and went out to the cab, which had waited to drive
him back to his chambers, and to the entertaining of his friends, who
arrived in due course, and did not separate too soon.

Hamish finished his own work, and then he commenced for Gerald. He
sighed a little wearily, as he adjusted his light. Ellen thought him
long, and came in.

"Not ready yet, Hamish!"

"My darling, I must sit late tonight. I thought you had gone to bed."

"I have been waiting. You said at tea-time you had not so very much to
do. It is twelve o'clock. Whatever's that?"

"Gerald Yorke's manuscript. He wants me to read it."

"Hamish! As if you had not too much work of your own!"

"One must do a little kindness now and then," he said cheerfully. "You
go on, love. I'll come by-and-by."

It was of no use saying more, as Ellen knew by experience. This was
not the first friend's manuscript he had toiled through: and she went
upstairs. Hamish glanced at the light, saw that he had another candle
in readiness, coughed a little, as he often did now, applied himself
closely to his task until three o'clock, and then left off. In heart
and mind ever genial, he thought nothing of the extra toil: it was to
do a good turn for Gerald. Surely these unselfish, loving natures
shall find their deeds recorded on high, and meet with their reward!

He was up with the lark. Six o'clock saw him in his room again, that
he might give a few more hours to the manuscript before proceeding to
his daily work in the city.

Hamish Channing's was no eye-service, either to heaven or to man.



CHAPTER XV.
VISITORS FOR MRS. JONES.


When the exigencies of a story require that two parts of it should be
related at once, the difficulty is, which to take first; or rather
which may be delayed with the least inconvenience: and very often, as
is the case with other things in life we choose the wrong.

Mrs. Jones sat in her parlour at the twilight hour and a very dark
twilight, too, but light enough for the employment she was so busy
over--knitting. Not woollen socks this time, but some complicated
affair of silk, more profitable than the stockings. Roland Yorke had
just started on that visit, already told of, to Gerald's chambers,
after enjoying a sumptuous tea and toasted muffin in Mrs. Jones's
parlour, where, for the sake of company, his meals were sometimes
taken. Miss Rye was out at work; Mr. Ollivera had an evening service;
and so the house was quiet, and Mrs. Jones at leisure to pursue her
occupation.

Not for very long. A double knock at the street door gave forth its
echoes, and the servant-maid came in, after answering it.

"A gentleman wants to know if there's not a room to let here, ma'am."

Mrs. Jones looked up as if she meant to snap the girl's nose off. "How
should he know any room's to let? There's no bill up."

"I've asked him into Mr. Yorke's parlour," said the girl, aware that
it was worse than profitless to contend with her mistress. "He has got
spectacles on, and he says his name's Mr. Brown."

Mrs. Jones shook out her gown and went to the visitor: a tall
gentleman with those slightly-stained glasses on that are called smoke
coloured. He generally took them off indoors, wearing them in the
street to protect his eyes from the sun, but on this occasion he kept
them on. It was the Mr. Brown who belonged to the house of Greatorex
and Greatorex; Mrs. Jones had heard his name, but did not know him
personally and he had to introduce himself as well as his business.

Mr. Roland Yorke, in his confidential communications to Josiah Hurst
and the office generally, touching other people's concerns as well as
his own--for gossiping, as an agreeable interlude to his hard work,
still held its sway over Roland--had told of the departure of the
scripture reader for another district, and the vacancy, in
consequence, in Mrs. Jones's household. Mr. Brown, listening to all
this, but saying nothing, had come to the conclusion that the room
might suit himself; hence his visit tonight. He related these
particulars quite candidly, and asked to see the room if it were not
already let. He should give very little trouble, he said, took nothing
at home but his breakfast and tea, and had his boots cleaned out of
doors.

Mrs. Jones marshalled him to the room: the back-parlour, as the reader
may remember: and the bargain was concluded at once, without a
dissentient voice on the stranger's part. Mrs. Jones remembered
afterwards that when she held the candle aloft for him to see its
proportions and furniture, he scarcely gave a single glance before
saying it would do, and laid the first week's rent down in lieu of
references.

"Who asked for references?" tartly demanded Mrs. Jones, not a whit
more courteous to him, her lodger in prospective, than she was to
others. "Time enough to speak of references when you're told they're
wanted. Little Jenner has often talked of you. Take up the money, if
you please."

"But I prefer to pay my rent in advance," said Mr. Brown. "It has been
my custom to do so where I am."

He spoke decisively, in a tone that admitted of no appeal, and Mrs.
Jones caught up the money with a jerk and put it loose in her pocket.
Saying he would let her know the time of his entrance, which might
probably be on the following evening, he wished her goodnight, and
departed: leaving an impression on his future landlady that his voice
was in some way not altogether unfamiliar to her.

"I'm not as 'cute in remembering faces as Alletha is," acknowledged
Mrs. Jones to herself, while she watched him down the street from the
front door, "but I'll back my ears against hers for voices any day.
Not lately; I hardly think that; it's more like a remembrance of the
far past. Still I don't remember his face. Heard him speak perhaps in
some railway train; or----Goodness heart alive! Is it _you?_"

This sudden break was occasioned by the appearance of another
gentleman, who seemed to have sprung from nowhere, until he halted
close before her. It was the detective officer, Butterby: and Mrs.
Jones had not seen him since she quitted her country home.

"I thought it looked like you," cried Mr. Butterby, giving his hand.
"Says I to myself, as I strolled along, 'If that's not the exact image
of my old friend, Mrs. Jones, it's uncommon like her. It _is_ you,
ma'am! And how are you? So you are living in this quarter!"

Crafty man! Mrs. Jones had assuredly dealt him a box on the ear could
she have divined that he was deceiving her. He had been watching her
house for some minutes past, knowing just as well as she did that it
was hers. Mrs. Jones invited him indoors, and he went under protest,
not wishing, he said, to intrude: but the going indoors was what he
intended doing all along.

They sat gossiping of old times and new. Mr. Butterby took a friendly
glass of beer and a biscuit; Mrs. Jones, knitting always, took none.
Without seeming to be at all anxious for the information, he had
speedily gathered in every particular about Roland Yorke that there
was to gather. Not too charitably disposed to the world in general, in
speech at any rate, Mrs. Jones yet spoke well of Roland.

"He is no more like the proud, selfish aristocrat he used to be than
chalk's like cheese," she said. "In his younger days Roland Yorke
thought the world was made for him and his pleasure, no matter who
else suffered: he doesn't think it now."

"Sowed his wild oats, has he?" remarked Mr. Butterby.

"For the matter of wild oats, I never knew he had any particular ones
to sow," retorted Mrs. Jones. "Whether or not, he has got none left,
that I can see."

"Wouldn't help himself to another twenty-pound note," said Mr.
Butterby carelessly, stretching out his hand to take a second biscuit.

"No, that he would not," emphatically pronounced Mrs. Jones. "And I
know this--that there never was an act repented of as he repents of
that. His thoughts are but skin-deep; he's not crafty enough to hide
them, and those that run may read. If cutting off his right hand would
undo that past act, he'd cut it off and be glad, Mr. Butterby."

"Shouldn't wonder," assented the officer. "Many folks is in the like
case. Have you ever come across that Godfrey Pitman?"

"Not I. Have you?"

The officer shook his head. Godfrey Pitman had hitherto remained a
dead failure.

"The man was disguised when he was at your house at Helstonleigh, Mrs.
Jones, there's no doubt of that; and the fact has made detection
difficult, you see."

The assumption as reflecting disparagement on her and her house,
mortally offended Mrs. Jones. She treated Mr. Butterby to a taste of
the old tongue he so well remembered, and saw him with the barest
civility to the door on his departure. Miss Rye happened to be coming
in at the time, and Mr. Butterby regarded her curiously with his green
eyes in saluting her. Her face and lips turned white as ashes.

"What brings _him_ here? she asked under her breath, when Mrs. Jones
came back to her parlour from shutting the door.

"His pleasure, I suppose," was Mrs. Jones's answer, a great deal too
much put out to say that he had come (as she supposed) accidentally.
Disguised men lodging in her house, indeed! "What's the matter with
_you?_"

Alletha Rye had sat down on the nearest chair, and seemed labouring to
get her breath. The ghastly face, the signs of agitation altogether,
attracted the notice of Mrs. Jones.

"I have got that stitch in my side again; I walked fast," was all she
said.

Mrs. Jones caught up her knitting.

"Did Butterby want anything in particular?" presently asked Miss Rye.

"No, he did not. He is in London about some business or other, and saw
me standing at the door this evening as he passed by. Have you got
your work finished?"

"Yes," replied Alletha, beginning to unfasten her mantle and
bonnet-strings.

"I've let the back-parlour," remarked Mrs. Jones; "so if there's any
of your pieces in the room, the sooner you fetch them out the better.
Brown, the managing clerk to Mr. Bede Greatorex, has taken it."

"Who?" cried Alletha, springing out of her seat.

"It's a good thing there's no nerves in this house; you'd startle
them," snapped Mrs. Jones. "What ails you tonight?"

Alletha Rye turned her back, apparently searching for something in the
sideboard drawer. Her face was growing paler, if possible, than
before; her fingers shook; the terror in her eyes was all too
conspicuous. She was silently striving for composure, and hiding
herself while she did so. When it had in a degree come she faced Mrs.
Jones again, who was knitting furiously, and spoke in a quiet tone.

"Who did you say had taken the room, Julia? Mr. Brown? Why should _he_
take it?"

"You can go and ask him why."

"I would not let it to him," said Alletha, earnestly. "Don't; pray
don't."

Down went the knitting with a fling. "Now just you explain yourself,
Alletha Rye. What has the man done to you, that you should put in your
word against his coming in?"

"Nothing."

"Oh! Then why should he _not_ come pray? His worst enemy can't say
he's not respectable--after being for years confidential clerk to
Greatorex and Greatorex. Do you hear?--what have you to urge against
his coming?"

Alletha Rye was at a loss for an answer. The real reason she dared not
give; and it was difficult to invent one. But the taxed brain is
wonderfully apt.

"It may not be agreeable to Mr. Yorke."

Mrs. Jones was never nearer going into a real passion: and, in spite
of her sharp tongue, passion with her was exceedingly rare. She gave
Alletha what she called a taste of her mind  and it was rather a
bitter one while it lasted. Mrs. Jones did not drop it easily, and it
was she who broke the ensuing silence.

"Don't bring up Mr. Yorke's name under any of your false pretences,
Alletha Rye. _You_ have taken some crotchet in your head against the
man, though I don't know how or when you can have seen him, just as
you did against Parson Ollivera. Anyway, I have accepted Brown as
tenant, and he comes into possession tomorrow night."

"Then I may as well move my work out at once," said Alletha, meekly,
taking up a candle.

She went into the back parlour, and caught hold of an upright piece of
furniture, and pressed her aching head upon it as if it were a refuge.
The candle remained on the chest of drawers; the work, lying about,
was ungathered but she stood on, moaning out words of distress and
despair.

"It is the hand of fate. It is bringing all things and people together
in one nucleus; just has it has been working to do ever since the
death of John Ollivera."

But the events of the evening were not entirely over, and a word or
two must be yet given to it. There seemed to be nothing but encounters
and re-encounters. As Mr. Butterby was walking down the street on his
departure, turning his eyes (not his head) from side to side in the
quiet manner characteristic of him observing all, but apparently
seeing nothing, though he had no object in view just now, there came
up a wayfarer to jostle him; a tall, strong young man, who walked as
if the street were made for him, and nearly walked over quiet Mr.
Butterby.

"Halloa!" cried Roland, for it was nobody else. "It's you, is it! What
do you do up here?"

Roland's tone was none of the pleasantest, savouring rather of the
haughty assumption of old days. His interview with Gerald, from which
he was hastening, had not tended to appease him, and Mr. Butterby was
as much his bête noire as he had ever been. The officer did not like
the tone: he was a greater man than he used to be, having got up some
steps in the official world.

"Looking after you, perhaps," retorted Mr. Butterby. "The streets are
free for me, I suppose."

"It would not be the first time you had looked after the wrong man.
How many innocent people have you taken into custody lately?"

"Now you just keep a civil tongue in your month, Mr. Roland Yorke.
You'd not like it if I took you."

"I should like it as well as Arthur Channing liked it when you took
him," said bold Roland. "There's been a grudge lying on my mind
against you ever since that transaction, Butterby, and I promise you
I'll pay it off if I get the chance."

"Did you make free with that cheque yesterday, Mr. Yorke--as you did
by the other money?" asked Mr. Butterby, slightly exasperated.

"Perhaps I did and perhaps I didn't," said Roland. "Think so, if you
like. You are no better than a calf in these matters, you know,
Butterby. Poor meek Jenkins, who was too good to stop in the same
atmosphere that other folks breathed, was clearer-sighted than you.
'It's Arthur Channing, your worships, and I've took him prisoner to
answer for it,' says you to the magistrates. 'It never was Arthur
Channing,' says Jenkins, nearly going down on his knees to you in his
honest truth. 'Pooh, pooh,' says you, virtuously indignant, 'I know a
thief when I see him----'"

"Now I vow, Mr. Roland Yorke----"

"Don't interrupt your betters Butterby; wait till I've done," cried
aggravating Roland, over-bearing the quieter voice. "You took up
Arthur Channing, and moved heaven and earth to get him convicted. Had
the wise king, Solomon, come express down from the stars on a frosty
night, to tell you Arthur was innocent, you'd have pooh-poohed him as
you did poor Jenkins. But it turned out not to be Arthur, you know,
old Butterby; it was me. And now if you think you'd like to go in for
the same mistake again, _go_ in for it. You would, if you took me up
for this second thing."

"I can tell you what, Mr. Roland Yorke--you'd look rather foolish if I
walked into Mr. Greatorex's office tomorrow morning, and told him of
that past mistake."

"I don't much care whether you do or don't," said candid Roland. "As
good let it come out as not, for somebody or other is always casting
it in my teeth. Hurst does; my brother Gerald does--I've come now
straight from hearing it. I thought I should have lived that down at
Port Natal; but it seems I didn't."

"You'll not live it down by impudence," said Mr. Butterby.

"Then I must live it up," was the retort, "for impudence is a fault of
mine. I've heard you say I had enough for the devil. So good night to
you, Butterby. I am to be found at my lodgings, if you'd like to come
after me there with a pair of handcuffs."

Roland went striding off, and the officer stood to look after him.
In spite of the "impudence" received, a smile crossed his face; it
was the same impulsive, careless, boyish Roland Yorke of past days,
good-natured under his worst sting. But whatever other impression
might have been left upon Mr. Butterby's mind by the encounter, one
lay very clear--that it was not Roland who was guilty this time, and
he must look elsewhere for the purloiner of the cheque.



CHAPTER XVI.
WINNY.


Five minutes past three at the Paddington station, and all the bustle
and confusion of a train just in. Gerald Yorke stood on the platform,
welcoming a pretty little fair-haired woman, whose unmeaning doll's
face was given to dimple with smiles one minute, and to pout the next.
Also three fair-haired children, the eldest three years old, the
youngest just able to walk. Mrs. Gerald Yorke was not much better than
a child herself. To say the truth, she was somewhat of a doll in
intellect as well as face; standing always in awe of big, resolute,
clever Gerald, yielding implicitly to his superior will. But for a
strong-minded sister, who had loudly rebelled against Winny's wrongs,
in being condemned to an obscure country cottage, while he flourished
in high life in London, and who managed privately the removal for her,
she had never dared to venture on the step; but this was not to be
confessed to her husband. She felt more afraid than ever of the
consequences of having taken it, now that she saw him face to face.

"How many packages have you, Winny?"

"Nineteen."

"Nineteen!"

"But they are not all large, Gerald. Some of them are small bundles,
done up in kitchen towels and pillowcases."

Gerald bit his lip to avoid an ugly word: to anybody but his wife on
this her first arrival in London, he would have flung it out.

"Have you brought no nursemaid, Winny?"

"Good gracious, no! How could I tell I might afford to bring one,
Gerald? You know I had but one maid for everything, down there."

Hurrying them into a cab, Gerald went in search of the luggage,
suppressing a groan, and glancing over his shoulder on all sides.
Bundles done up in kitchen towels and pillowcases! If Gerald Yorke had
never before offered up a prayer, he did then: that no ill-chance
might have brought any of his fashionable friends to the station that
unlucky afternoon.

"Drive through the obscurest streets," he said in the cabman's ear on
his return, as he mentioned Hamish Channing's address. "Never mind
taking a round; I'll pay you." And the man put his whip to the bridge
of his nose, and gave a confidential nod in answer: for which Gerald
could have knocked him down.

"And now, Winny, tell me how you came to do this mad thing," he said
sternly, when he was seated with them.

For answer, Mrs. Yorke broke into a burst of sobs. It was coming, she
thought. But Gerald had no mind for a scene there; and so held his
tongue to a better opportunity. But the tears continued, and Gerald
angrily ordered her not to be a child.

"You've never kissed one of us," sobbed Winny. "You've not as much as
kissed baby."

"Would you have had me kiss you on the platform?" he angrily demanded.
"Make a family embracing of it, for the benefit of the public! I'll
kiss you when we get in. You are more ridiculous than ever, Winny."

The three little things, sitting opposite, were still as mice, looking
shyly at him with their timid blue eyes. Gerald took one upon his knee
for a moment and pressed its face to his own, fondly enough. Fortune
was very unkind to him he thought, in not giving him a fine house for
these children, and a thousand or two per annum to keep them on.

"Are we going to your chambers, Gerald?"

"That is another foolish question, Winny! My chambers are hardly large
enough for me.  I have taken lodgings for you this morning; the best I
could at a minute's notice. London is full of drawbacks and
inconveniences: if you have to put up with some, you must remember
that you have brought them on yourself."

"Will there be any dinner for us?" asked Winny timidly. "The poor
little girls are very hungry."

"You are going to Mrs. Hamish Channing's until tonight. I daresay
she'll have dinner ready for you. Afterwards you can call at the
rooms, and settle with the landlady what you will want got in."

The change in Mrs. Yorke's face was like magic; a glad brightness
overspread it. Once when she was ill in lodgings at Helstonleigh,
before her husband removed her into Gloucestershire, her eldest child
being then an infant, Hamish Channing's wife had been wonderfully kind
to her. To hear that she was going to her seemed like a haven of
refuge in this wilderness of a London, which she had never until now
visited.

"Oh, thank you, Gerald. I am so glad."

"I suppose you have brought some money with you," said Gerald.

"I think I have about sixteen shillings," she answered, beginning to
turn out her purse.

"Where's the rest?

"What rest?"

"The money for the furniture. You wrote me word you had sold it."

"But there were the debts, Gerald. I sold the furniture to pay them.
How else could I have left?--they'd not have let me come away. It was
not enough to pay all; there's six or seven pounds unpaid still."

An exceedingly blank look settled on Gerald's face. The one ray of
comfort looming out of this checkmating step of his wife's,
reconciling him to it in a small degree, had been the thought of the
money she would receive for the furniture. But what he might have said
was stopped by a shriek from Winny, who became suddenly aware that the
cab, save for themselves, was empty.

"The luggage, Gerald, the luggage! O Gerald, the luggage!"

"Hold your tongue, Winny," said Gerald angrily, pulling her back as
she was about either to spring out or to stop the driver. "The luggage
is all right. It will be sent to the lodgings."

"But we want some of the things at once," said Winny piteously. "What
shall we do without them?"

"The best you can," coolly answered Gerald. "Did you suppose you were
going to fill Hamish Channing's hall with boxes and bundles?"

Mrs. Channing stood ready to receive them with her face of welcome,
and the first thing Winny did was to burst into tears and sob out the
grievance about the luggage in her arms. If Gerald Yorke had married a
pretty wife, he had also married a silly and incapable one: and Gerald
had known it for some years now. Just waiting to hand them over to
Mrs. Channing's care, and to give the written address of the lodgings,
Gerald left. He was engaged that afternoon to dine with a party at
Richmond, and would not see his wife again before the morrow.

"Don't--you--mean--to live with us?" she ventured to ask, on hearing
him say this, her face growing white with dismay.

"Of course I shall live with you," sharply answered Gerald. "But I
have my chambers, and when engagements keep me out, shall sleep at
them."

And Gerald, lightly vaulting into a passing hansom, was cantered off.
Winny turned to her good friend Ellen Channing for consolation, who
gave her the best that the circumstances admitted of.

Hamish, beyond his bright welcome, saw very little of Winny that
evening; he was shut up with her husband's manuscript. He took
her home at night. The lodgings engaged by Gerald consisted of a
sitting-room and two bedchambers, the people of the house to cook and
give attendance. Hamish paid the cab and accompanied her indoors. The
first thing Mrs. Gerald Yorke did, was to sit down on the lowest
chair, and begin to cry. Her little girls, worn out with the day's
excitement and the happy play in Nelly Channing's nursery, were fit to
drop with fatigue, and put themselves quietly on the carpet.

"Oh, Mr. Channing! do you think he is not going to forgive me! It is
so cruel of him to send us into this strange place all alone."

"He had an engagement, you know," answered Hamish, his tone taking,
perhaps unconsciously, the same kind of soothing persuasion that he
would have used to a child. "London engagements are sometimes not to
be put off."

"I wish I was back in Gloucestershire!" she bewailed.

"It will be all right, Mrs. Yorke," he returned gaily. "One always
feels unhappy in a fresh place. The night Ellen first slept in London
she cried to be back at Helstonleigh."

A servant, who looked untidy enough to have a world full of work upon
her back, showed Hamish out. In answer to a question, she said that
she was the only one kept, and would have to wait on the new lodgers.
Hamish slipped some money into the girl's hand and bade her do all she
could for the lady and the little children.

And so, leaving Gerald's wife in her new home, he went back to his
work.

He, Hamish Channing, with his good looks and his courtly presence, was
treading the streets gaily on the following morning. Many a man,
pressing on to business, spared a moment to turn and glance at him,
wondering who the fine, handsome fellow was, with the bright and good
face. It was a face that would be bright always, bright in dying; but
it had more than two shades of care on it today. For if any one living
man hated, more than another, to inflict pain and disappointment, it
was Hamish Channing. He was carrying back Gerald's manuscript, and had
no good report to give of it.

However clever Gerald might be at dashing off slashing articles in the
review line, he would never be able to succeed in fiction. This first
attempt proved it indisputably to Hamish Channing. The story was
unconnected, the plot scarcely distinguishable, and there were very
grave faults besides, offending against morality and good taste. Not
one reader in fifty, and that must be some school-girl, inveterate
after novels, could get through the first volume. Certainly, in
plunging into a long work of fiction, Gerald Yorke had mistaken his
vocation. How entirely different this crude and worthless book was
from the high-class work Hamish was writing, his cheeks glowed to
contemplate. Not in triumph over Gerald; never a tarnish of such a
feeling could lie in his generous heart; but at the consciousness of
his own capability, the gift given him by God, and what the work would
be to the public. But that he deemed it lay in his duty, in all
kindliness, not to deceive Gerald, he would not have told him the
truth; no, in spite of the promise exacted of him to give a just,
unvarnished report.

Gerald sat at breakfast, in a flowery dressing-gown, in the rooms he
was pleased to call his chambers, his breakfast and its appointments
perfect. Silver glittered on the table, its linen was of the fairest
damask, the chocolate and cream sent its aroma aloft. Gerald's taste
was luxurious: he could not have lived upon a sovereign a-week as
Roland was doing: perhaps Roland had never learnt to do it but for
that renowned voyage of his.

"Halloa, Hamish, old fellow! What brings you here so early?"

"Oh, one or two matters," answered Hamish, keeping the manuscript out
of sight at first, for he really shrank from having to report of it.
"I was not sure you would be up."

"I had to be up early this morning. Tell your news out, Hamish; I
suppose the gist of it is that Winny is in a state of rebellion. Stay!
I'll send the things away. One has no appetite after a Star-and-Garter
dinner and pipes to wind up with till three in the morning. You have
breakfasted?"

"An hour ago."

"It is an awfully provoking step for Winny to have taken," said
Gerald, as his servant disappeared with the breakfast tray. "She
has no doubt been grumbling to you and Mrs. Channing about her
'wrongs,'--it's what she called it yesterday--but I know mine are
worse. Fancy her taking such a mad start! What on earth I am to do
with them in town, I can't guess. You've not got her outside, I
suppose? You know, Hamish, I couldn't help myself; I had to leave
her."

"Qui s'excuse s'accuse," returned Hamish, with one of his sunny smiles
chancing on the very common French proverb that Mr. Bede Greatorex had
applied but recently to Gerald's brother.

"Oh bother," said Gerald. "Did Winny strike last night, and refuse to
go into lodgings?"

"She went all right enough but she didn't like your leaving her to go
in alone. My wife seized hold of the occasion to read me a lecture,
saying _she_ should not like it at all; I'm not sure but she said 'not
put up with it.'"

"Your wife is a different woman from mine," growled Gerald; for
Hamish's gay, half mocking tone covering a kinder and deeper feeling,
jarred somewhat on his perplexed mind. "You knew what Winny is before
today. I shall go down and see her by-and-by."

"Shall you keep these chambers on?"

"Keep these chambers on!" echoed Gerald, "why, of _course_ I must keep
them on. And live at them too, in a general way. Though how I shall
afford the cost of the two places, the devil only knows."

"You have been affording it hitherto. Winny has had a separate home."

"What keeps a cottage down yonder, won't pay lodgings in London. You
must know that, Hamish."

Hamish did not immediately speak: if he could not agree, he would not
disagree. He did not see why Gerald should not take either a small
house, or apartments sufficiently commodious, in a neighbourhood good
enough for his fashionable friends not to be ashamed to resort to.
Hamish and Gerald understood things in so different a light: Gerald
estimated people (and fashion) by their drawl, and dress, and
assumption of fast life: Hamish knew that all good men, no matter
though they were of the very highest rank, were proud to respect worth
and intellect and sincere nature in a poor little home, as in a palace
perched aloft on Hyde Park gates. Ah me! I think one must be coming
near to quit this world and its frivolity, ere the curtain of dazzling
gauze that falls before our eyes is lifted.

"Are you getting on with my manuscript, Hamish?"

"I have brought it," said Hamish, taking it from his pocket. "I put
away my own work----"

"Oh, thank you old fellow," was the quick interruption.

"Now don't thank me for nothing, Gerald. I was about to say that one
can judge so much better of a book in reading it without breaks given
to other work, that I stretched a point; for my own pleasure, you
know."

Gerald drew the parcel towards him, and opened it tenderly, undoing
the string as if it fastened some rare treasure. Hamish saw the
feeling, the glad expectation and his fine blue eyes took a tinge of
sadness. Gerald looked up.

"I think I'll tell you how it is, Hamish. Upon this manuscript----"

What was it that happened? Gerald broke off abruptly and looked at the
door; his mouth slightly opened, his ear was cocked in the attitude of
one, listening anxiously. Hamish, unused to the sounds of the place,
heard nothing whatever.

"Say I'm out, Hamish, old fellow; say I'm out," whispered Gerald,
disappearing noiselessly within an invisible closet; invisible from
being papered like the walls and opening with a knob no bigger than a
nut. Hamish sat in a trance of inward astonishment, easy as ever
outwardly, a half smile upon his face.

He opened the door in answer to a knock. A respectable-looking man at
once stepped inside, asking to see Mr. Yorke.

Hamish with a gesture of his hand pointed to the empty room,
indicating that Mr. Yorke was not there to be seen. The applicant
looked round it curiously; and at that moment Gerald's servant came up
with a rush, and glanced round as keenly as the applicant.

"My master's gone out for the day, Mr. Brookes."

"How many more times am I to have that answer given me?" demanded Mr.
Brookes. "It's hardly likely he'd be gone out so soon as this."

"Likely or not, he's gone," said the servant, speaking with easy
indifference.

"Well, look here; there's the account, delivered once more and for
the last time," said Mr. Brookes, handing in a paper. "If it's not
paid within four-and-twenty hours, I shall summons him to the
county-court."

"And he means it," emphatically whispered the servant in Hamish's
hearing, as Mr. Brookes's descending footsteps echoed on the stairs.

Hamish pulled back the closet-door by the knob to release Gerald. He
came forth like a whirlwind--if a furious passion may be called one.
Hamish had not heard so much abuse lavished on one person for many a
day as Gerald gave his servant. The man had been momentarily off his
usual vigilant guard, and so allowed Gerald's sanctum (and all but his
person) to be invaded by an enemy.

"I owe the fellow a trifle for boots," said Gerald, when he had driven
his servant from the room. "He is an awful dun, and will not be put
off much longer. Seven pounds ten shillings,"--dashing open the bill.
"And for that paltry sum he'll county-court me!"

"Pay him," said Hamish.

"Pay him! I should like to pay him," returned Gerald, gloomily. "I'd
pay him today, and have done with him, if I could, and think it the
best money ever laid out. I'm awfully hard up, Hamish, and that's a
fact."

Hamish began mentally to deliberate whether he was able to help him.
Gerald stood on the hearthrug, very savage with the world in general.

"I'd move heaven and earth to avoid the county-court," he said. "It
would be sure to get about. Everything is contrary and cross-grained
just now: Carrick's not to the fore; Vincent Yorke says he has neither
cross nor coin to bless himself with, let alone me. I never got but
one loan from the fellow in my life, and be hanged to him!"

"Your expenses are so heavy, Gerald."

"Who the devil is to make them lighter?" fiercely demanded Gerald.
"One can't live as a hermit. I beg your pardon, old fellow; I'm cross,
I know, but I have so much to worry me. Things come upon one all at
once. Because I had not enough ways for my ready money just now, Winny
must come up and want a heap."

"What is pressing you particularly?"

"That," said Gerald, flicking his hand in the direction of the boot
bill. "There's nothing else very much at the present moment." But the
"present moment" with Gerald meant the present actual hour that was
passing.

"About my manuscript," he resumed, his tone brightening a little as he
sat down to the table to face Hamish.

Still, for an instant or two, Hamish hesitated. He drew the sheets
towards him and turned them over, as if in deliberation what to say.

"You charged me to tell you the truth, Gerald."

"Of _course_ I did," loudly answered Gerald. "The truth, the whole
truth, and nothing but the truth."

"Well, Gerald, I should not but for your earnest wish, and that it is
I suppose the more real kindness to do so, as it may prevent you from
wasting time upon another. I am afraid it won't do, old friend."

"What won't do?" asked Gerald, with wide-open eyes that showed the
wonder in them.

Delicately, gently, considerately, as he could have imparted ill news
to the dearest friend he had on earth, Hamish Channing told him the
story would not do, would not, at least, be a success, and pointed out
_why_ he thought so. The book was full of mistakes and faults; these
for the most part he passed lightly over: speaking rather of the
defects of the work as a whole.

"Go on; let's have it all," said Gerald, when there was a pause: and
Hamish saw nothing of the suppressed passion, or of the irony that lay
at the bottom of the following words. "You think I cannot succeed in
fiction?"

"Not in a long work----"

"Why the work's a short one," interrupted Gerald.

"Very short indeed. Some writers of fiction (and as a rule they are
the best, Gerald) put as much in a volume and a half as you have
written for the three volumes. I don't think you could write a
successful work of fiction in even one volume, Gerald--as I count
success. It must have a plot; it must have consecutiveness in the
working out; it must have--"

"It must have, in short, just the qualities that my work lacks,"
interposed Gerald with a laugh: and Hamish felt relieved that he was
receiving things so easily.

"If I thought that any hints or help of mine would enable you to
accomplish a work likely to be successful, I would heartily put myself
at your service, Gerald. But I don't. I am sure you have mistaken your
vocation in attempting a work of fiction."

"Thank you," said Gerald. "_Your_ work has not been tried yet. That's
sure to prove a success, I suppose?"

The bright glow of anticipation lighted Hamish Manning's sensitive
face. It would have betrayed the all-powerful hope lying within him,
apart from the involuntary smile, checked on his lips.

"I could hardly bring myself to make the report, Gerald. And should
not, I think, but that I care for your interests as for those of my
own brothers. You know I do, and therefore will not mistake me. I
debated whether I should not get up some excuse for giving no opinion,
except that you had better submit it to a publisher. Of course you can
do that still."

"Let me understand you," said Gerald. "You wish to inform me that no
publisher would be likely to take it." Hamish paused slightly. "I do
not say that. Publishers take all kinds of works. The chief
embarrassment on my mind is this, Gerald: that, if published, it could
not bring you much honour or credit; or--I think--returns."

They shook hands; and Hamish, who would be late at his office,
departed, leaving Gerald alone. He went along with a light, glad step,
wondering whether he could afford to help Gerald out of the money
difficulty of the day. Sixteen guineas were due to him for literary
work; if he got it paid, he would enclose the receipt for the
boot-bill to Gerald, saying nothing.

Leaving Gerald alone. Alone with his bitter anger; with an evil look
on his face, and revenge at his heart.

There was only one thing could have exceeded Gerald Yorke's
astonishment at the veto pronounced, and that was the utter
incredulity with which he received it. He had looked upon his book as
a rara avis, a black swan: just as we all look on our productions,
whether they may be bad or good. The bad ones perhaps are thought most
of: they are more trusted to bring back substantial reward. Of course,
therefore, Gerald Yorke could but regard the judgment as a
deliberately false one, spoken in jealous envy; tendered to keep him
back from fame. He made the great mistake that many another has made
before him, when receiving honest advice in a similar case, and many
will make again. And the book _gained_ in his opinion rather than
lost.

"Curse him for his insolence! curse him for a false, self-sufficient
puppy!" foamed Gerald, rapping out unorthodox words in his passion.
"Ware to yourself, Mr. Hamish Channing! you shall find, sooner or
later, what it is to make an enemy of me."

But Gerald received some balm ere the day was over, for Mr. Brookes's
receipted bill came to him by post in a blank envelope. And he
wondered who on earth had been civil enough to pay the money.



CHAPTER XVII.
AT FAULT.


It was easier for Mr. Bede Greatorex to say to the police-agents "Drop
the investigation," than it was for them to do it. Had he been the
sole person to whom they were responsible, the thing would have lain
in a nutshell; but their employer was his father. And Mr. Greatorex
was pushing discovery to an issue as he had never pushed anything yet.
He looked up details himself; he went backwards and forwards to
Scotland Yard; he was altogether troublesome.

As the days went on, and Mr. Butterby brought forth no result, only
presented himself once in a way to say there was none to bring, Mr.
Greatorex grew angry. Surely such a thing was never heard of!--as for
a cheque to be stolen out of one of their desks at midday, carried to
the bank and openly cashed, and for the police to say they could not
trace the offender! Mr. Greatorex avowed that the police ought to be
ashamed to confess it; that, in his opinion, they must be getting
incapable of their duties.

One thing had struck Mr. Greatorex in the matter--that his son Bede
seemed not to be eager for the investigation: if he did not retard it,
he certainly did not push it. Perhaps the best word to express Bede's
state of mind in regard to it, as it appeared to Mr. Greatorex, was
indifference. Why was this? Bede ought to be as anxious as himself.
Nay, more so: it was from his possession and his desk that the cheque
was taken. Mr. Greatorex supposed that the laxity in regard to
business affairs, which appeared latterly to have been creeping upon
his son, must be extending itself even to the stealing of money. Was
he more seriously ill than he allowed them to know? The fear, that it
might be so, crossed the mind of Mr. Greatorex.

The solicitor sat one morning in his private room, Jonas Butterby
opposite to him. The detective was there in answer to a peremptory
mandate sent by Mr. Greatorex to Scotland Yard the previous day.
Whether Mr. Butterby was responsible to himself alone for the progress
or non-progress of the investigation; or, if not, whether he had
imparted a hint at headquarters of Bede Greatorex's private
communication to him, was locked up within his own breast. One thing
appeared clear--that he was at liberty to do as he pleased.

"It is not the loss of the money; it is not that the sum of forty-four
pounds is of so much moment to me that I must needs trace it out, and
if possible regain it," Mr. Greatorex urged, his fine, fresh, honest
face bent full on the detective, sternness in its every line. "It is
the unpleasantness of knowing that we have a thief about us: it is the
feeling of insecurity; the fear that the loss will not stop here.
Every night of my life when the offices close, I seem to prepare
myself for the discovery that some other one has taken place during
the day."

"Not at all an unlikely thing to happen," acknowledged Mr. Butterby,
who probably felt himself less free under existing circumstances than
he usually was, and therefore spoke with deprecation.

"That the cheque must have been taken by one of the clerks attached to
my son's room, I think there can be little doubt of. The difficulty
is----"

"Mr. Bede thinks so himself," interrupted Butterby. "He charged me
specially to look after them; after one of 'em in particular."

"Which was it?"

"Hurst."

"Hurst!" repeated Mr. Greatorex in surprise.

"But Mr. Bede is mistaken, sir. It was no more Hurst than it was me."

Instincts are subtle. And one came unbidden into the mind of the
detective officer as he spoke--that he had made a mistake in repeating
this to Mr. Greatorex. The truth was--carrying within him his private
instructions, and the consciousness that they must be kept private--he
found these interviews with the head of the firm slightly
embarrassing.

"Why should he suspect Hurst if he----"

The door opened, and the person in question appeared at it--Bede
Greatorex. Catching a glimpse of the detective's head, he was going
out of it a vast deal quicker than he had entered; but his father
stopped him.

"Bede! Bede! Come in. Come in and shut the door. Here's a fine thing I
have just heard--that you are suspecting one person in particular of
having taken the cheque. Over and over again, you have told me there
was nobody in particular to be suspected."

A lightning glance from Bede Greatorex's fine dark Spanish eyes
flashed out on the detective. It said as plainly as glance could
speak, "How dare you presume to betray my confidence?"

That gentleman sat unmoved, and nodded a good morning with his
customary equanimity.

"Mr. Greatorex--doing me the honour to call upon me to report
progress--observed that he fully thought it was one of the clerks in
your room we must look to, sir," spoke Butterby in a slow calm tone.
"I told him your opinion was the same; and you had charged me to look
well after them, especially Mr. Hurst. That was all."

Bede Greatorex bit his lip in anger. But the communication might have
been worse.

"What _is_ there against Hurst?" impatiently asked Mr. Greatorex.

"Nothing at all," said Bede quietly. "If I said to Mr. Butterby that
one of my clerks might have taken the cheque, it was only because
access to my room was more obtainable by them than by anybody else I
can think of. And of the four, Hurst spends the most money."

"Hurst has the most money to spend," observed Mr. Greatorex.

"Of course he has. I make no doubt Hurst is as innocent as I."

This was very different from suspecting Hurst, from desiring that he
should be specially looked after, and perhaps Mr. Greatorex felt the
two accounts the least in the world contradictory. The keen-sighted
observer sitting by, apparently sharpening the point of his broken
lead-pencil, noticed that the eyes of Bede Greatorex never once went
openly into the face of his father.

"If it was my case," thought the officer, "I should tell him the truth
out and out. No good going about the bush this way, saying he suspects
one and suspects another, when he does not suspect 'em: far better
that old Greatorex should hear the whole and see for himself that it
_can't_ be gone into. He don't care to worrit the old gentleman:
that's what it is."

That is just what it was. But Mr. Butterby was not right in all his
premises.

"I am fully persuaded that every clerk on my side the house is as
innocent as are those on yours, sir," spoke Bede Greatorex, a kind of
tremor in his tone; which tremor did not escape the officer's notice,
or that it was caused by anxious, painful eagerness: and that astute
man knew in a moment that old Greatorex must not have his suspicions
turned actively on Bede's employés. "I believe it was Butterby who
first mentioned them. Upon that, I ran them over in my mind, and
remembered that Hurst was the only one spending much money--he lives
in fashionable lodgings as a gentleman. Was it not so, Mr. Butterby?"

The detective was professionally prepared for most accidents.
Therefore when Bede Greatorex turned upon him with startling rapidity,
a second flash darting forth from his dark eyes, he never moved a
muscle.

"You are right, sir."

"Bede," said Mr. Greatorex, in a still tone of meaning, "if the same
facility for getting access to your room attached to the clerks on my
side the house, I should not say to you so positively that they were
not guilty. You seem to resent the very thought that suspicion can
attach to them."

"Not at all, father. Perhaps I felt vexed that Hurst's name should
have been mentioned to you without grounds."

"Understand me, Mr. Butterby," spoke the elderly gentleman sharply. "I
expect to have this matter better attended to than it has been. And I
repeat to you that I think the clerks in my son's room should be--I do
not say suspected, but sufficiently thought of. It is monstrous to
know that a theft like this can have been openly committed in a
professional man's house, and you officers should avow yourselves at
fault. We may be losing some of our clients' deeds next."

The detective glanced at Mr. Bede Greatorex, and was answered, as he
thought, by the faintest signs in return. It was not the first time he
had been concerned in cases where sons wished things kept from
knowledge of fathers.

"We don't give it up, sir. Allow us more time, and perhaps we may
satisfy you better."

"I shall expect you to do so," returned Mr. Greatorex with sufficient
emphasis. And the officer rose to quit his presence. "Go round by the
other door to my room and wait."

Surely these words were breathed into Mr. Butterby's ear! Faint though
the whisper was he could not have fancied it. Bede Greatorex was
crossing his path at the moment, as if he wished to look from the
window.

Fancy or not, the officer acted upon it. Going round by the street to
the professional entrance, and so on up the passage to the private
room. When Bede Greatorex returned to it, he saw him seated against
the wall, underneath the map of London.

"You did wrong to mention Mr. Hurst to my father," Bede began with
imperative quickness, as he slipped the bolt of the middle door.

"That's as it may be," was the rejoinder, cool as usual. "If there's
not some outlet of suspicion given to your father, it will be just
this, Mr. Bede Greatorex--that he'll make one for himself. Leastways,
that's my opinion."

"Be it so. I do not want it to take the direction of my clerks."

"He lays the blame on us: says we are lax, or else incapable; and it
is only natural he should think so. Anyway there's no harm done about
Mr. Hurst: you made it right with him there. Do you suspect Hurst
still, sir?"

"Yes. At least more than I do any one of the others."

Mr. Butterby put his hands on his knees and bent a little forward. "If
you wish me to do you any service in this, sir, you must not keep me
quite so much in the dark. What I want to get at, Mr. Bede Greatorex,
is the true reason of your pitching upon Hurst yourself."

"I cannot give it to you," said Bede promptly. "What I told you at our
first interview, I repeat now--that the suspicion against him is but a
faint one. Still it is sufficient to raise a doubt; and I have no
reason to doubt the other three. Jenner is open and honest as the day;
Brown valuable and trustworthy; and Mr. Yorke must of course be
exempt."

"Oh, of course he must," dryly acquiesced the detective with a cough.
He knew he was sure of Roland in this case, but he thought Bede
Greatorex might not have spoken so confidently had he been cognizant
of a certain matter connected with the past.

"I would not much mind answering for Jenner myself," remarked Mr.
Butterby. "Brown seems all right, too.

"Brown's honesty has been sufficiently proved. Very large sums have
passed through his hands habitually, and he has never wronged us by a
shilling. Had he wished to help himself, he would have done it before
now: he has had the opportunity."

"Then that leaves us back at Hurst again. Where is your objection,
sir, to the doubt of him being mentioned to your father?"

A kind of startled look crossed Bede's face: a look of fear: and he
spoke hastily.

"Have you forgotten what I said? That the fact of Mr. Hurst's knowing
he was suspected (assuming he is guilty) would be attended with
danger. Awful danger, too. If it were possible to disclose all to my
father, he would forfeit a great deal that he holds dear in life,
rather than incur it."

"Well it seems to me that I can be of little use in this matter," said
Butterby, turning somewhat crusty. "I have had dangerous secrets
confided to me in my lifetime, sir; and the parties they were told of
are none the wiser or the worse for it yet."

"And I wish I could confide this to you," said Bede, steadily and
candidly. "I'd be glad enough to get it out of my keeping, for I don't
know what to do with it. If no one but myself were concerned; if I
could disclose it to you without the risk of injuring others  you
should hear it this next minute. For their sakes, Mr. Butterby, my
lips are tied. I dare not speak."

"Does he mean his wife, or doesn't he?" thought Butterby. And the
question was not solvable. "I'll look after Hurst a bit," he said
aloud. "Truth to tell, I considered him the safest of them all, in
spite of your opinion, Mr. Bede Greatorex, and have let him be. He
shall get a little of my private attention now. And so shall one of
the others," the detective mentally added.

"Unsuspected by Hurst himself," enjoined Bede, a shade of anxiety in
his voice.

Could Mr. Butterby have been suspected of so far forgetting
professional dignity as to indulge in winks, it might have seemed that
he answered by one, as he rose from his chair.

"I'll just take a look in upon them now," he remarked. "And let me
advise you, sir, to get your father in a more reasonable frame of
mind, if possible. If he calls in fresh aid, as he threatens, there
might be the dickens to pay."

Bede Greatorex crossed the room hastily, as though he meant to guard
the middle door, and spoke in a low tone.

"I do not care that they should know you have been with me. Not for
the world would I let it come to their knowledge that I doubt either
of them."

"Now _do_ you suppose that I am a young gosling?" demanded Butterby.
"You have done me the honour to confide this private business to my
hands, Mr. Bede Greatorex, and you may safely leave it in 'em. After
being at the work so many years, there's not much left for me to be
taught."

He departed by the passage, treading lightly, and halted when he came
to the clerks' door. He was in deep thought. This matter which, as he
phrased it, Mr. Bede Greatorex had done him the honour to put in his
hands, was no such great matter after all; a mere trifle in
professional quarters: but few things had so much puzzled the
detective. Not in his way to discovery: that, as it seemed to him,
would be very easy, could he pursue it openly. Bede Greatorex puzzled
him; his ambiguous words puzzled him; the thing itself puzzled him. In
most cases Mr. Butterby could at least see where he was; in this he
stood in a sea-encompassed fog, not understanding where he was going,
or what he was in search of.

Giving the swing-door a dash backwards, as though he had just entered,
he went into the room. Mr. Brown was at his desk, Roland Yorke at his;
but the other two were absent. So if the visit had been intended as a
special one to Josiah Hurst, it was a decided failure.

When was the great Butterby at fault? He had just looked in upon them
"in passing," he said, to give the good-morrow, and enquire how they
relished the present state of the thermometer, which _he_ should
pronounce melting. How did Mr. Yorke like it?

Mr. Yorke, under the circumstances of not knowing whether he stood on
his head or his heels, had not thought about the thermometer. Since
the receipt of a letter that morning, containing the news that one,
whom he cared for more than a brother, might probably be coming to
London shortly on a visit, Roland had been three parts mad with joy.
He was even genial to the intruder, his bête noire.

"Is it you, Butterby? How are you getting on, Butterby? Take a stool
if you like, Butterby."

"Can't stop," said Butterby. "Just meant to give a nod round and go
out again. Not come in on business today. You look spruce, Mr. Yorke."

"I've got on my Sunday suit," answered Roland--who in point of fact
was uncommonly well got-up, and had a rosebud in his button-hole.
"Carrick's tailor has not a bad cut. You have heard of red-letter
days, old Butterby: this is one for me. One should not put on one's
every-day coat on such occasions: they don't come too often."

"Got a fortune bequeathed?" enquired Mr. Butterby.

"It's better than that," said enthusiastic Roland, who in these
moments, when his heart and affections were touched, could but be more
impulsively genuine than ever. "Somebody's coming to London; somebody
that _you_ know, Butterby."

"Mr. Galloway, perhaps."

"No; you are wrong this time," returned Roland, not in the least taken
aback: though perhaps the detective, to judge by his significant tone,
meant that he should be. "You'd not see me dressed up for him. There
are two men in Helstonleigh I'd put on shirtsleeves to welcome rather
than a good coat: the one is old Galloway, the other William Yorke.
Guess again."

Instead of doing anything of the sort, by which perhaps his
professional reserve might have been compromised, Mr. Butterby turned
his attention on the manager. Pursuing his work steadily, he had taken
no heed of Mr. Butterby, beyond a civil salute at first.

"You've not heard more of this mysterious loss, I suppose?"

"Nothing more, sir," was Mr. Brown's answer, looking up full at the
speaker, perhaps to show that he did not shrink from intercourse with
a detective officer. "It seems strange, though, that we should not."

"Thieves are clever when they are professional ones; and I've got to
think it was no less a man did the job for Mr. Greatorex," said
Butterby, in quite a fatherly tone of confidence. "There has been a
regular band of 'em at work lately in London; and in spite of opinions
when I was here last, I say they might have gone in through the
passage straight and bold, and done the job easy, and you unsuspicious
young men, shut up in this here first room, never have heard a sound
of what was going on."

"I think that is how it must have been  failing the other
thought--that Mr. Bede Greatorex took the cheque abroad and dropped
it," said the manager with quiet decision.

"Of course. And unless I'm mistaken, Mr. Bede thinks the same. I
should like to have three minutes' chat with you some evening, Mr.
Brown, all by our two selves. You are naturally anxious for discovery,
so am I: there's no knowing but what something or other may come out
between us."

Perhaps to any eye save the watchful one of a police-officer, the
slight hesitation before replying might have passed unnoticed. Mr.
Brown had no particular wish to be questioned; it was no affair of
his, and he thought the detective and Mr. Bede Greatorex quite enough
to manage the matter without him. But when his answer came, it was
spoken readily.

"Whenever you please. I am generally at home by eight o'clock."

He gave his new address--Mrs. Jones's. At which the crafty detective
expressed surprise, inwardly knowing the very day and hour when Mr.
Brown had moved in.

"There! Do you live there? The Joneses and I used to be old
acquaintances; knew 'em well when they were at Helstonleigh. Knew
Dicky must be making a mess of it long before the smash came. You'll
see me then, Mr. Brown, one of these first evenings."

"Don't be in a hurry, Butterby," spoke Roland, who had been amusing
himself by trying how far he could tilt his stool backwards without
capsizing, while he listened. "It's not old Galloway, it's Arthur
Channing."

"Is there anything so remarkable in Arthur Channing's coming to
London? questioned Butterby.

"To me there is. I tell you it is a red-letter day in my life, and I
have not had many such since I sailed from Port Natal. If I were not
in this confounded old office, with one master in the next room and
another there"--flinging a ball of paper at the manager--"I should
sing and dance and leap my joy off. Three copies have I begun to take
of a musty old will, and spoilt 'em all. Brown says I'm out of my
senses; ask him."

"You never were famous for _not_ spoiling copies--or for particular
industry, either, you know, Mr. Yorke."

The rejoinder rather nettled Roland. "I'd rather be famous for nothing
than for what _you_ are famed for in Helstonleigh, Butterby--taking up
the wrong man. It was not your fault that Arthur Channing didn't get
transported."

"Nor yours," quietly retorted Mr. Butterby.

"There! Go on. Bring it all out. If you've come to do it, do it,
Butterby. I told you to, the other night. And when Arthur Channing is
in London, you put up a prayer every morning not to meet him at
Charing Cross. The sight of him couldn't be pleasant to your mind, and
passers-by might see your brow redden: which for a bold, fear-nothing
police-detect----"

"Is Mr. Bede Greatorex in?"

The interrupting questioner was the Reverend Henry William Ollivera.
As he entered, the first man his eyes fell on was Butterby. It was a
mutual recognition: and they had not met since that evening in
Butterby's rooms on the occasion of the clergyman's visit to
Helstonleigh.

Before a minute had well elapsed, as it seemed to the two spectators,
they were deep in that calamity of the past, recalling some of its
details, lamenting the non-success that had attended the endeavour to
trace it out. It did not much interest Roland, and his mind also was
filled to the brim with matter more agreeable. Apparently it did not
interest Brown the manager, for he kept his head bent on his work. In
the midst of it Bede Greatorex came in.

"I tell you, Mr. Officer, my faith has never wavered, or my opinion
changed," the clergyman was saying with emotion, scarcely interrupting
himself to nod a salutation to Bede. "My brother did not commit
suicide. He was barbarously murdered; as every instinct warned me at
the time, and warns me still. The waiting seems long; the time rolls
by, day after day, year after year: weariness has to be subdued,
patience cherished; but, that the hour of elucidation will come, is as
sure as that you and I stand here, facing each other."

"Mr. Greatorex told me that the Reverend Ollivera stood to his opinion
as strongly as he ever did," was the answering remark of the officer;
and it might be that there was a shade of compassion in his
tone--compassion for the mistaken folly of the man before him.

"It has occurred to me at times, that if I were a member of the
detective police, endowed with all the acuteness for the discovery of
crime that their occupation and (we may suppose) natural aptitude for
it must give, I should have brought the matter to light long ago. Do
not think I reflect on your individual skill or care, sir; I speak
generally."

"Ah!" said Mr. Butterby with complacent jocularity, "we all are apt to
picture to ourselves how much we'd do in other folks's skins."

"It is strange that you have never been able to find traces of the man
whose name was afterwards mixed up in the affair, Godfrey Pitman."

"There you are right, sir," readily avowed the officer. "I should
uncommonly like to come across that Godfrey Pitman on my own score:
setting aside anything he might have had to do with the late Mr.
Ollivera."

The clergyman quickly took up the words. "Do you think he had anything
to do with his death?"

"I don't go as far as that. It might have been. Anyway, as
circumstances stand at present, he seems the most likely to have had,
of all those who were known to have been in the house that evening."

Happening to raise his eyes, Mr. Brown caught those of Mr. Bede
Greatorex. They were fixed on the speaker with a kind of eager,
earnest light. To many a man it might have told the tale--that he,
Bede Greatorex, had also doubts of Pitman. But then, Bede Greatorex
had expressed his belief in the suicide: expressed it still. One thing
was certain, had Bede chosen to confess it--that Godfrey Pitman was in
his mind far oftener than the world knew.

"How is it that you have never found him?" continued Mr. Ollivera, to
Butterby.

"I don't know. We are not usually at fault for a tithe of the time.
But the man, you see, was under false colours; his face and his name
were alike changed."

"You think so?"

"_Think_ so!" repeated Mr. Butterby with a second dose of compassion
for the parson's intellect. "That mass of hair on his face was hardly
likely to be real. As to the name, Pitman, it was about as much his as
it was mine. However, we have not found him, and there's no more to be
made of it than that. Mr. Bede Greatorex asked me about the man the
other day, whether I didn't think he might have gone at once out of
the country. It happens to be what I've thought all along."

"I do not see what he could have against my brother, that he should
injure him," spoke the clergyman, gazing on vacancy, the dreamy look,
so often seen in them, taking possession of his eyes. "So far as can
be known, they were strangers."

"Now, sir, don't you run your head again a stone wall. Nobody says he
did injure him; only that it's within the range of possibility he
could have done it. As to being strangers, he might have turned out to
be one of Counsellor Ollivera's dearest friends, once his disguises
were took off."

Under the reproof, Mr. Ollivera drew in, and there was a short pause
of silence. He broke it almost immediately, to ask about the letter so
often mentioned.

"Have you taken care of the paper?"

"I have," said Mr. Butterby, rather emphatically. "And I mean to do
it, being permitted. This house wrote for it to be sent up, but I gave
Mr. Greatorex my reasons for wishing to keep it, and he charged me not
to let it go. If ever the time comes that that document may be of use,
Reverend Sir, it will be forthcoming."

As the officer went out, for there was nothing more to remain for, Mr.
Ollivera began speaking to Bede in a low tone. This conversation
lasted but a minute or two, and was over, Bede retiring to the other
room.

"Arthur Channing is coming to London, Mr. Ollivera."

That the interruption came from nobody but Roland, need not be
affirmed. He was the only one in the office who presumed to interlard
its business with personal matters. The clergyman, who was going out,
turned his head.

"You will have the opportunity of making his better acquaintance, Mr.
Ollivera. He is the noblest and grandest man the world ever saw. I
don't mean in looks--though he might compete for a prize on that
score--but for goodness and greatness. Hamish is at the top of the
tree, but Arthur caps him."

Arthur Channing and his qualities did not bear interest for Mr.
Ollivera just then; he had no time to attend to them. Saying a
pleasant word in answer, he departed. Almost close upon that, Sir
Richard Yorke came in, and went into the private room.

"Perhaps something has turned up about the cheque, and he's come to
tell it," cried idle Roland. "I say, Mr. Brown, did you ever hear how
they all keep up the ball about that Godfrey Pitman? Mrs. J. was
describing him to me the other night. She and Miss Alletha came
to an issue about his personal charms: the one saying his eyes were
blue, the other brown. Remembering the fable of the chameleon, I
decided they must have been green. I'd not like to joke about him,
though"--dropping his light tone--"if he really had a hand in John
Ollivera's death. What do you think?"

"What I think is this, Mr. Yorke. As the person in question has
nothing to do with my work or yours, I am content to let him alone. I
should be exceedingly obliged to you to get that copy done for me."

"I'll get it done," said ready Roland. "There are such interruptions
in this office, you see."

He was working away at a steaming pace, when Sir Richard Yorke came
forth again, talking with Bede Greatorex. Roland slipped off his
stool, and brought his tall self in his uncle's path.

"How are you, Sir Richard?"

Sir Richard's little eyes went blinking out, and he condescended to
recognize Roland.

"Oh, ah, to be sure. You are one of the clerks here! Hope you keep out
of debt, young man."

"I try to," said Roland. "I get a pound a week, and live upon it. It
is not much for all things. One has to enjoy champagne and iced turtle
through the shop-windows."

"Ah," said Sir Richard slowly, rubbing his hands together as if he were
washing them of undesirable connections, "this comes of being a rover.
You should do as Gerald does: work to keep up a position. I read an
able article in the _Snarler_ last night, which was pointed out to me
as Gerald Yorke's. He works to some purpose, he does."

"If Gerald works he spends," was on the tip of his tongue. But he kept
it in: it was rare indeed that his good-nature failed him. "How is
Vincent?" he asked.

Vincent was very well, Sir Richard vouchsafed to reply, and went out,
rubbing his hands still.

So, with one interlude or another, Roland's morning was got through.
When released, he went flying in search of Annabel Channing, to impart
to her the great news contained in her brother's letter.

She was not in the schoolroom. She was not in the dining-room. She
was not anywhere that Roland could see. He turned to descend the
stairs again more slowly than he had gone up, when Jane Greatorex came
running from the landing above.

"Jane! Jane! I told you you were not to go down."

The voice, calling after the child, would have been like Annabel's but
for a choking sound in it. He looked up and saw her: saw her face
inflamed with tears, heard the sobs of grief. It took Roland more
completely aback than any sight he had witnessed at Port Natal. The
face disappeared swiftly, and Miss Jane jumped into his arms in
triumph.

"Jenny, what is it?" he asked in a kind of dumb whisper, as if motion
were suddenly struck out of him. "What is amiss with Miss Channing?"

"It's through Aunt Bede. She puts herself into passions. I thought
she'd have hit her this morning. She told her she was not worth her
salt."

Roland's face grew white with indignation.

"Your Aunt Bede did!"

"Oh, it's nothing new," said the child carelessly. "Aunt Bede goes on
at her nearly as much every day."



CHAPTER XVIII.
MR. BROWN AT HOME.


That the managing clerk of Mr. Bede Greatorex was anything but a
steady man, his worst enemy could not have said. Mr. Brown's conduct
was irreproachable, his industry indefatigable. At the office to the
very minute of opening, quitting it always last at night, occupying
all his spare time at home in writing, except that necessary to be
consumed in sleep; and of habits so moderate, that even Roland Yorke,
with all his experiences of Port Natal deprivations, would have
marvelled at them, it might have been surmised that Mr. Brown had set
in to acquire a modest fortune. The writing he did at home was paid
for. It was so thoroughly to be depended on for correctness and swift
completion, that Greatorex and Greatorex were glad to give it to him,
and kept it a tacit secret from the other clerks. For Mr. Brown did
not care that it should be known in the office, lest he should lose
his standing. To carry copying home for remuneration, might have been
deemed _infra dig_. for the manager.

For his breakfast he took a hard-boiled egg, or a sausage, or a
herring, as might be; tea, and bread. At dinner-time, the middle of
the day, his food did not differ from the above, a glass of beer being
substituted for the tea. He invariably called it his luncheon, saying
he dined out later; and hurried over it to get to his writing. In the
evening he had tea again, butter, bread, and one or other of the
afore-mentioned luxuries, with radishes or some light garden
production of that kind which might happen to be in season. Shrewd
Mrs. Jones, after a few days' experience of her lodger's habits,
came to the private conclusion, that the daily dinner out had place
only in fable. On Sundays he dined at home, openly, upon potatoes and
meat--generally a piece of steak. The maid found out that he blacked
his boots over-night, keeping his brushes and blacking-bottle locked
up; put on but one clean shirt a week, with false wristbands and
fronts the rest of the time. Given to arrive at rapid decisions, Mrs.
Jones set all this down, not to parsimony, but to needful economy, for
which she concluded there must be some good cause; and honoured his
self-denial.

Police-officer Butterby, having scraped acquaintance (of course by
chance) with the landlord where Mr. Brown had previously lived,
gathered sundry details over a pipe, into his capacious ears. The
house, situated in an obscure quarter, was let out in rooms--chambers
it might be said, of a poor and humble grade, with a wide, dark,
common staircase of stone. One lodger did not interfere with another;
and all the landlord and his wife had to do was to take the weekly
money. Mr. Brown had been with them between three and four years, the
landlord said; was most steady and respectable. Gentleman Brown they
always called him. They did _his_ room, though most of the others did
their own. Never went to theatres, or smoking-places; never, in short,
spent a sixpence in waste, saved up what he could for his mother and
sick sister in the country, who were dependent on him. Had not the
least idea why he left; might have knocked him (the landlord) down
with a feather when Gentleman Brown tapped at his door one evening
late, saying business was calling him away on the morrow or next day,
and put down a full week's rent in lieu of notice; was the best and
most regular man that ever lodged in a decent house; should be right
down glad to have him back again.

A good character, certainly; as Mr. Butterby could but mentally
acknowledge; steady, self-denying, working always to support a mother
and sick sister! He had no cause to dispute it; having come on a
fishing expedition rather than a suspicious one.

Mr. Brown sat working tonight in his room at Mrs. Jones's, the evening
of the day mentioned in the last chapter: a shaded lamp was at his
elbow; his spectacles, which he always took off in writing, lay on the
table beside him. The room was of fair size for its situation; a
folding screen standing cornerwise concealed the small bed. A high
bureau stood opposite the fireplace, near it a dwarf-cupboard of
mahogany with a flat top, which served for a side-table. Mr. Brown had
drawn the larger table to the window, that he might catch the last
light of the summer's evening. He sat sideways; the right hand cuff of
his worn coat turned up. Out of doors he appeared as a gentleman;
indoors he was economically careful in dress, as in other things.

A light tap at the door; followed by the entrance of Miss Rye. He rose
at once, and turned down the coat-cuff. She came to bring a letter
that the postman had just left. Never, unless when forced to it by the
very rare absence of the maid, did Miss Rye make her appearance in his
room. The servant was out this evening; and Mrs. Jones had handed her
the letter with a decisive command that might not be disregarded.
"Take it in, Alletha."

She put the letter on the table, and was turning out without a word.
Mr. Brown went to the door, and held it close while he spoke, that the
sound of voices might not be heard outside.

"What is the reason that you shun me, Miss Rye? Is it well? Is it
kind?"

She suddenly lifted her hand to her bosom, as if a spasm took her, and
the little colour that was in her face faded out of it.

"It is well. As to kind--you know all that is over."

"I do not know it. I neither admit it, nor its necessity. Civility at
least might remain. What has been my motive, do you suppose, in coming
here, but to live under the same roof that shelters you? Not to renew
the past, as it once existed between us; I do not ask or wish it; but
to see you now and then, to exchange an unemotional, calm word with
you once in a way."

"I cannot stay. Please to let me pass, sir!"

"The old place, where I lodged so long, suited me, for it was private;
and I need privacy, as you know," he continued, paying no attention to
her request. "It was also reasonable enough to satisfy even me. Here I
pay nearly double; here I am more liable to be seen by those who might
do me harm. But I have braved it all for you. Perhaps the former
friendship--I do not wish to offend even by a name, you see, Miss
Rye--was a terrible mistake for you, but I at least have been true to
it."

"The best and kindest thing you can do for me, sir, is to go back to
your late lodgings."

"I shall stay in these. You told me, in the only interview I have held
with you since I came here, that I was a man of crime. I admit it. But
criminals have affections as well as other people. You are _cruel_ to
me, Alletha Rye."

"It is you who are cruel," she returned, losing in emotion the
matter-of-fact reserve, as between waitress and lodger, she had been
studying to maintain. "You must know the pain your presence brings me.
Mrs. Jones has invited you to dine with her on Sunday next, I hear;
let me implore of you not to come in."

"Off a piece of boiled beef," he rejoined in a plain, curt tone, as if
her manner and words were hardening him. "The offer is too good a one
to be refused."

"Then I shall absent myself from table."

"Don't drive me quite wild, Alletha Rye. You have me in your power:
the only one in London who has--so far as I hope and believe. I'd
almost as soon you went and gave me in charge."

"Who is cruel now?" she breathed. "You know that you can trust me; you
know that I would rather forfeit my own life than put yours in
jeopardy: but I take shame to myself in saying it. It is just this,"
she added, struggling with her agitation, "you are safe with me, but
you are not welcome."

"I told you somewhat of my secrets in our last interview: I would have
told you more, but you would not listen--why I am living as I do,
trying to atone for the miserable sins of the past----"

"Atone!"

"Yes, it is well to catch me up. One of them, at least, never can be
atoned for. It lies heavier on my mind than it does on yours. If----"

The sharp voice of Mrs. Jones, from above stairs, demanding what was
the matter with Alletha's ears, that they did not hear the door-bell,
put a stop to the interview. A hectic spot shone on her cheeks as she
hastened to answer it.

The red glow had given place to a ghastly whiteness when she came in
again. Mr. Brown had already settled to his writing and turned back
his cuff. She closed the door of her own accord, and went up to him;
he stood gazing in surprise at her face. Its every lineament expressed
terror. The lips were drawn and cold; the eyes wild. However bad might
have been the contamination of his touch, he could not help taking her
trembling hands. She suffered it, entwining her lingering fingers
within his.

"What has happened?" he asked in a whisper.

"That man has come; Butterby, the detective officer from Helstonleigh.
He says he must see Mr. Brown--you. Heaven have mercy on us! Has the
blow fallen at last?"

"There's nothing to fear. I expected a call from him. He only knows me
as Mr. Brown, manager to Greatorex and Greatorex. Let him come in."

"I have shut him up in Mrs. Jones's parlour."

"You must go and send him to me. I am but your lodger to him, you
know. Get a little colour into your face first."

A minute or two and Mr. Butterby was introduced, amicably telling Miss
Rye, that, to judge by appearances, London did not appear to agree
with her. Mr. Brown, composedly writing, put down his pen in the
middle of a word, and rose to receive him.

It was a chatty interview. The great man was on his agreeable manners,
and talked of many things. He made some fatherly enquiries after the
welfare of Mr. Hurst; observing that some of them country blades liked
their fling when in London, but he fancied young Hurst was tolerably
steady. Mr. Brown quietly said he had no reason to suppose him
otherwise.

"You have been from thirteen to fourteen years with the Greatorexes, I
think," remarked the detective.

Mr. Brown laughed. "From three to four."

"Oh, I made a mistake. And before you came to them?"

"With a solicitor, now deceased. Mr. Greatorex can tell you anything
of him you wish to know. He had me direct from him."

"Me wish to know? Not a bit. Who on earth is it walking about
overhead? His boots have been on the go ever since I came in."

"It must be Mr. Ollivera. He does walk in his rooms sometimes."

"I should say his mind was restless. Thinking always of his brother,
they say. It was a curious case, that, take it for all in all. Ever
heard the particulars, Mr. Brown?"

"Yes, Mr. Greatorex once related them to me. The young men in the
office get speaking of it."

"Ah, they had all something to do with Counsellor Myers, so to say.
Jenner was the clerk in chambers. Hurst's father was the surgeon
called in at the death; Yorke was in Port Natal at the time, but his
folks knew him. Talkative young fellows, all the lot; like gossip,
I'll be bound, better than work. I'll answer that one of 'em does--Mr.
Roland Yorke."

A smile crossed the manager's face at thought of Roland's work. "When
I hear them begin to speak of the late Mr. Ollivera's death, I stop it
at once," he remarked. "Jenner is very much given to it, never
considering whose office he is in. The name of a man who has committed
self-destruction, cannot be pleasant to his relations."

"As to self-destruction," spoke Mr. Butterby, with a nod, "I don't say
it was that in Ollivera's case. I don't say it was not. There's only
two people have held out against it; and they've been obstinate enough
in the cause for two thousand. Parson Ollivera, and the young woman in
this house, Alletha Rye."

"On the other hand," observed the clerk, "some are as positive that he
did commit it. Mrs. Jones for one, Mr. Bede Greatorex for another.
They possess the same knowledge of the details that the other two do,
and are certainly as able of conclusion."

Jonas Butterby opened his mouth, as if to let in a whiff of air to his
teeth, for he closed it again without speaking. In the heat of
argument his usual cautious reticence had for once nearly failed him,
and he all but betrayed his private opinion--that Bede Greatorex had
grown to suspect Godfrey Pitman.

"Who told you that Bede Greatorex holds to that view, Mr. Brown?"

"It is well known he does. I have heard him say so myself."

"He _did_, and no mistake," nodded the shrewd detective, who, upon
reflection, saw no reason why he should not speak out. "He made as
sure that it was suicide, at the time, as you are that that's a inkpot
afore you. But if he has not drawed round a bit to the contrary
opinion, my name's not Jonas Butterby. Bede Greatorex, in his innard
breast, has picked up doubts of the missing man, that worthy Pitman."

Mr. Brown got up to do something to the window-blind, and the peculiar
look that crossed his face--not a smile, not a spasm of pain, not a
sharp contraction of fear, but something of all three--was thereby
hidden from his visitor. He was calm enough when he came back again.

"Did Mr. Bede Greatorex tell you so?"

"Not he. He let a word drop or two, and I could see at once the man
was on his mind. But that's not our business, Mr. Brown, neither must
it be made so, you understand. What I want to talk about, is the
cheque affair. Let's go over the particulars quietly together."

Not so very quietly to begin with. A swinging-open of the street door
as if the house itself were being pushed back; a stamping of feet in
the passage; a shouting out to everybody--Mrs. J., Miss Rye, the
servant Betsey--to bring him hot water, announced the arrival at home
of Mr. Roland Yorke.



CHAPTER XIX.
A FOUNTAIN SHIVERED.


The day is not yet over. It had been a busy one at the house of
Greatorex and Greatorex. What with business, what with inward
vexation, of one or two kinds, Mr. Greatorex felt cross and weary as
the evening drew on.

There had been some unnecessary delay in the prosecution of a cause
being tried at Westminster, for which Bede was in fault. A large bill
for fripperies had been presented to the office that day, and by
mistake to Mr. Greatorex instead of to Mrs. Bede's husband. The
capricious treatment being dealt out to Miss Channing had been spoken
of by Jane to her grandpapa; and preparations for another enormous
reception for that night were in active progress. All these matters,
as well as others, were trying the usually placid temper of Mr.
Greatorex.

He did not appear at the dinner-table that evening, but had a chop
taken to his private sitting-room. Calling for his son Bede, he found
he was not forthcoming. Bede, Mr. Greatorex was told, had gone to
London Bridge to meet a steamer from France, by which his wife's
sister was expected. Jane Greatorex ran in to her grandpapa, and
asked, spoilt child that she was, if he would not invite her and Miss
Channing to drink tea with him: Mrs. Bede not having bidden them to
the soirée. Yes, Mr. Greatorex said; they should spend the evening in
his room. Closed in there quietly and snugly, they heard only as from
a distance the turmoil of the large gathering above, and Mr. Greatorex
partially forgot his cares.

Mrs. Bede Greatorex's rooms were lighted up, shutting out the remains
of daylight, when Roland Yorke entered them. For it was to get himself
up for this soirée that Roland had gone home in a commotion, calling
for half the people in the house to wait on him. The company was
large, elbowing each other as usual, and fighting for space on the
staircase and landing with the beauteous plants that lined the walls.
Whatever might be Mrs. Bede's short-comings in some of the duties of
life, she never failed in one--that of gathering a vast crowd at her
bidding. This evening was to be great in music; and some of the first
singers and performers of the day had been secured to delight the
company; at what cost, was known only to Bede's pocket.

Roland's chief motive in coming to it--for he did not always attend
when invited--was to get an interview with Miss Channing. The vision
of her tearful face, seen in the morning, the revelation contained in
the careless words of Jane Greatorex had been making a hot place in
his breast ever since. Roland wanted to know what it meant, and why
she put up with it. His eyes went roaming into every corner in search
of Annabel; but he could not see her.

"Ill-conditioned old she-stork!" ejaculated Roland, apostrophising the
unconscious Mrs. Bede Greatorex. "She has gone and kept her out of the
way tonight."

In consequence of this failure in his expectations, Roland had leisure
to concentrate his attention on the general company; and he did it in
a slightly ungracious mood; his blood was boiling up with the awful
injustice (imaginary rather than real) dealt out to the governess.

"And all because that nasty conceited little pig, Jane Greatorex, must
get an education."

"What's that, Roland?"

Roland, in his indignation, had spoken so as to be overheard. He
turned to see the bright face of Hamish Channing, who had entered the
room with his wife on his arm.

"You here, Hamish! Well, I never!"

"I have come out of my shell for once," said Hamish. "One cannot be a
hermit always, when one has an exacting wife. Mine threatened me with
unheard-of penalties if I didn't bring her tonight."

"Hamish!" exclaimed Mrs. Channing. "He does nothing but talk against
me, Roland. It is good for him to come out sometimes.

"I say, I can't see Annabel," cried Roland, in a most resentful tone,
as he, still hoping against hope, cast his eyes in search of her over
people's heads. "It's a thundering shame she is a prisoner upstairs
tonight, I suppose, taking care of Jane Greatorex."

"But that's no reason why you should call the little lady names,"
laughed Hamish.

"I called her a little pig," avowed Roland. "I should like to call
somebody else a great pig; to her face too; only she might turn me out
for my bad manners. If there is one thing I hold in contempt more than
another, Hamish, it is a Tyrant."

"Does _that_ apply to Miss Annabel Channing?"

"Bad manners to _you_ then, Hamish, for speaking such a word!" burst
forth Roland. "Annabel a tyrant! You'll tell me I'm a Mormon next!
She's the sweetest-tempered girl in the world; she's meek and gentle
and friendless here, and so that woman puts upon her. You used to snub
her at home when she was a child; _they_ snub her here: but there's
not one of the lot of you fit to tie her shoe. There."

Roland backed against the wall in dudgeon, and stood there, pulling at
his whiskers. Hamish enjoyed these moods of Roland's beyond
everything; they were so genuine.

"And if I were getting on as my father's son ought to be, with a
decent home, and a few hundreds to keep it up, it's not long she
should be left to the mercy of any of you, I can tell you that, Mr.
Channing."

Hamish Channing's laugh was interrupted by Mrs. Bede Greatorex--"that
woman" as Roland had just disrespectfully called her. Mr. and Mrs.
Channing had been slowly threading their way to her, a difficult
matter from the impeding crowd. She welcomed them with both hands.
Hamish, a favourite of hers, was the courtly, sunny Hamish as of yore;
making the chief attraction of whatever society he might happen to be
in.

"I am very glad to see you; but I wonder you like to show your face to
me," said Mrs. Bede.

"What is my offence?" enquired Hamish.

"As if you need ask! I don't think you've been to one of my gatherings
for three months. If it were not for your wife. I'd leave off sending
you cards, sir."

"It was my wife's doings to come this evening; she dragged me out,"
answered saucy Hamish. "You've no idea how she pats upon a fellow,
Mrs. Greatorex."

Ellen laughed. "The real truth is, Mrs. Greatorex, that he was a
little less pressed for work than usual, and came of his own accord."

"That horrid work!" spoke Mrs. Bede. "You are a slave to it."

"Wait until my fortune's made," said Hamish.

"That will be when your book's out!"

"Oh yes, of course."

The answer was given banteringly. But a slight hectic came into his
face, his voice unconsciously took a deeper tone. Heaven alone knew
what that anticipated book already was to his spirit.

"When will it be finished?"

"It is finished."

"How glad you must be!" concluded Mrs. Bede.

The evening went on. Roland kept his place against the wall, looking
as if everybody were his natural enemy. On the whole, Roland did not
like soirées; there was no room for his elbows; and the company never
seemed to be in their natural manners; rather on artificial stilts.
Having come out to this one for the specific purpose of meeting
Annabel, Roland could but regard the disappointment in the light of a
personal wrong, and resent it accordingly.

In the midst of a grand, tremendous cavatina, loud enough to split the
ceiling, while the room was preparing itself to applaud, and Roland
was thinking it might have been more agreeable to ears if given out of
doors, say on the quai at Durban, he happened to raise his head, and
saw Gerald opposite. Their eyes met. Roland nodded, but Gerald gave no
response. Gerald happened to be standing next to Hamish Channing.

And the two were attracting some attention, for they were known by
many present to be rising stars in the literary world. Perhaps Hamish
was also gaining notice by his personal attributes; it was not often
so entirely good-looking a man was seen in the polite society of
soirées and drums. Side by side they stood, the aspiring candidates
for literary honours, soon to be enrolled amidst the men who have
written Books. Which of them--that is, which work--would be the most
successful? That remained to be learnt. Hamish Channing had the
advantage (and a very great one) in looks; anybody might see that:
Hamish had the advantage in scholarship; and he had the advantage,
though perhaps the world could not see it yet, of genius. Hamish
Channing's education had been also sound and comprehensive: he was a
College man. Gerald was not. Mr. Channing the elder had been
straitened for means, as the public has heard of, but he had contrived
to send his eldest son to Cambridge, A wonderful outward difference
was there in the two men, as they stood side by side: would there be
as much contrast in their books?

Gerald was looking fierce. The sight of Hamish Channing brought to his
mind the adverse opinion pronounced on his manuscript. His resentment
had grown more bitter; his determination, to be revenged, into a firm
and fixed resolve, He could not completely cut Hamish, as it was his
pleasure to cut his brother Roland, but he was haughty and distant.
Hamish, of genial temper himself, and his attention distracted by the
large assembly, observed it not.

The crashing came to an end, the applause also, and in the general
move that succeeded, Roland got away. Seeing a vacant sofa in a
comparatively deserted room, he took possession of one end of it. A
fashionable young woman seated herself at the other end and took a
survey of him.

"I am sure you are one of the Yorkes of Helstonleigh! Is it Roland?"

Roland turned to the speaker: and saw a general resemblance (in the
chignon and shoulder-blades) to Mrs. Bede Greatorex.

"Yes, I am Roland," he answered, staring.

"Don't you remember me?--Clare Joliffe?"

"Good gracious!" cried Roland, seizing her hand and shaking it nearly
off. Clare Joliffe had never been a particular favourite of his; but,
regarded in the light of a home face, she was agreeably welcome.
"Whatever brings you here, Miss Joliffe?"

"I am come over on a visit," said the young lady. "Louisa has invited
me for the first time since her marriage. I only got here at seven
o'clock tonight; we had a rough passage and the boat was late."

"Over from where? What boat?"

"Boulogne."

"Have you been staying there?"

"We are living there. We have left Helstonleigh--oh, ever so long ago.
Mamma got tired of it, and so did I and Mary."

Roland's ill-humour disappeared with the old reminiscences, for they
plunged into histories past and present. Home days and home people,
mixed with slight anecdotes of Port Natal life. Mrs. Joliffe had
quitted Helstonleigh very shortly after that occurrence that had so
startled the town--the death, of John Ollivera. It was perhaps
natural, perhaps only a curious accident, that the sad fact should be
reverted to between them now as they talked: we all know how one
subject leads to another. Clare Joliffe grew confidential about that
and other things. One bond she and Roland seemed to have between them
this night--a grievance against Mrs. Bede Greatorex. Roland's
consisted in that lady's unkind treatment (real or fancied) of Miss
Channing, the notion of which he had but picked up that selfsame day.
Clare Joliffe's resentment appeared to be more general, and of longer
standing.

"It's such an unkind thing of her, Roland--I may call you Roland, I
suppose?"

"Call me Ro if you like," said easy Roland.

"Here's Louisa in this nice position, servants, and carriages, and
company about her, no children, living like a queen; and never once
has she invited me or Mary inside her doors. It's a great shame. She
should hear what mamma thinks of it. I don't suppose she'd have asked
me now, only she could not well avoid it, as I am passing through
London to visit some friends in the country. Mamma wrote to ask her to
give me a night's lodging, and then she wrote back, inviting me to
stay a week or two."

"Why should she not have had you before?"

"Oh, I don't suppose there has been any reason, except that she has
not thought of it. Louisa was always made up of self. We never fancied
she'd marry Bede Greatorex."

"Why not?"

"At least, what we thought was, that Bede would not marry her. He must
have cared for her very much, or he would not, after the affair about
John Ollivera."

"What had that to do with it?" questioned Roland, opening his
eyes--for he supposed the young lady was alluding to the barrister's
death.

"She engaged herself to both of them."

"Who did?"

"Louisa."

"Did she!"

Clare Joliffe nodded. "We never quite understood how it was. She was
up here on a visit for ever so long, weeks and weeks; it was in the
time of Mrs. Greatorex; and if she did not promise herself to Bede,
there was at least a good deal of flirtation going on between them. We
got to know that after Louisa returned home. The next year, when John
Ollivera was at Helstonleigh, she had a flirtation with him. I know
she used to write to both of them. Anyway, at the time of his last
visit, when the death occurred, she had managed to engage herself to
the two."

"I've heard of two wives, but I never heard of two engagements going
on together," observed Roland. "Which of the fellows did she like
best?"

"I think she _liked_ John Ollivera. But Bede had a good income ready
made to his hand, and money went for a great deal with Louisa. She
could not marry both of them, that was certain; and how she would have
got out of the dilemma but for poor John Ollivera's death, it is
impossible to imagine. I never shall forget her look of fright the
night Bede Greatorex came in unexpectedly. We had a few friends with
us; mamma had invited Mr. Ollivera, and the tea waited for him. There
was a ring at the bell, and then the room-door opened for somebody to
be shown in. 'Here's your counsellor,' I whispered to Louisa. Instead
of him, the servant announced Mr. Bede Greatorex; Louisa's face turned
ghastly."

"I don't understand," said Roland, rather at sea. "When was it?"

"It was the night that John Ollivera came by his death. He was in
Helstonleigh for the assizes, you know; he was to have pleaded the
next day in a cause mamma was interested in. He said he would come in
to tea if he were able; and when Bede Greatorex appeared we were all
surprised, not knowing that he was at Helstonleigh. We still expected
Mr. Ollivera, and Louisa kept casting frightened glances to the door
every time it opened. I know she felt at her wit's end; for of course
with both her lovers on the scene, a crisis was inevitable, and her
deceit would have to come out. Bede Greatorex was whispering to her at
times throughout the evening; there seemed to be some trouble between
them. Mr. Ollivera did not come--Bede told us he had left him busy,
and complaining of a headache. I thought Bede seemed very angry with
Louisa; and as soon as he left, she bolted herself in her chamber, and
we did not see her again that night. The next morning she sent word
down she was ill, and stayed in bed. Mary said she knew what it was
that ailed her--worry; but I thought she only wished to avoid being
downstairs if the two called. We were at breakfast when Hurst, the
surgeon; came in--he was attending mamma at the time--and brought the
dreadful news to us, that Mr. Ollivera had been found dead. I carried
the tidings up to Louisa, and told her that she must have gone out and
killed him. Nothing else could have extricated her so completely from
the dilemma."

"But--you don't mean that she--that she went out and killed him?"
cried Roland in puzzled wonder. "Could she have got out without being
seen?"

"Of course I don't mean it; I said it to her in joke. Why, Roland, you
must be stupid to ask such a thing."

"To be sure I must," answered Roland, in contrition. "It's all through
my having been at Port Natal."

The last word was drowned in a shiver of glass. Both of them turned
hastily. Mr. Bede Greatorex, in taking his elbow from the ormolu
cabinet behind the sofa, had accidentally knocked down a beautiful
miniature fountain of Bohemian glass, which had been throwing up its
choice perfume.

"He certainly heard me," breathed Clare Joliffe, excessively
discomfited. "I never knew he was there."

The breakage caused some commotion, and must have annoyed Mr. Bede
Greatorex. He rang the bell loudly for a servant, and those who caught
a view of his face, saw that it had a white stillness on it, painful
as death.

Roland made his escape. The evening, so far as he was concerned,
seemed a failure, and he thought he would leave the rooms without
further ceremony. Leaping down the staircase a flight at a time, he
met Jane Greatorex ascending attended by her coloured maid.

"Halloa! what brings you sitting up so late as this?" cried free
Roland.

"We've been spending the evening with grandpapa in his room," answered
Jane. "He gave us some cakes and jam, and Miss Channing made the tea.
I've got to go to bed now."

"Where's Miss Channing?"

"She's there, in grandpapa's room, waiting to finish the curtain I
tore."

Away went Roland, casting thought to the winds in the prospect of
seeing Annabel at last, and burst into Mr. Greatorex's room, after
giving a smart knock at the door. The wonder was that he knocked at
all. Annabel was alone mending the crimson silk curtain of the lower
bookcase. Jane, dashing it open to look after some book, had torn the
curtain woefully; so Miss Channing took it from its place and set to
work to repair it. To be thus unceremoniously invaded brought a flush
to her cheeks--perhaps she could not have told why--and Roland saw
that her eyes were red and heavy. Sitting at the table, near the lamp,
she went on quietly with her work.

"Where's old Greatorex?" demanded Roland. "I thought he was here."

"Mr. Greatorex is gone into his consulting-room. Some one came to see
him."

Down sat Roland on the other side of the table; and, as a preliminary
to proceedings, pulled his whiskers and took a long stare right into
the young lady's face.

"I say, Annabel, why are you not at the party tonight?"

"I don't always care to go in. Mrs. Greatorex gives so many parties."

"Well, I came to it only for one purpose; and that was to see you. I
should not have bothered to dress myself for anybody else. Hamish and
his wife are there."

"I did not feel very well this evening."

"No, I don't suppose you did. And, besides that, I expect the fact is,
that Mrs. Bede never invited you. She is a beauty!"

"Roland!"

"You may go on at me till tomorrow if you like, Annabel; I shall say
it. She's a tyrannical, mean-spirited, heartless image; and I shall be
telling her so some day to her face. You should hear what Clare
Joliffe says of her selfishness."

In the midst of her vexation, Miss Channing could not forbear a smile.
Roland was never more serious in his life.

"And I want to know what it was she had been doing today, to put you
into that grief."

Annabel coloured almost to tears. It was a home question, and brought
back all the troubles connected with her position in the house.
Whether Mrs. Bede Greatorex had taken a dislike to her, or whether
that lady's temper was alone in fault, Miss Channing did not know; but
a great deal of petty annoyance was heaped upon her almost daily,
sometimes bordering upon cruel insult. Roland, however, was much
mistaken if he thought she would admit anything of the kind to him.

"I see what it is; you are too generous to say it's true," he
observed, after vainly endeavouring to get some satisfactory answer.
"You are too good for this house, Annabel, and I only wish I could
take you out of it."

"Oh, thank you," she said with a quiet smile, not in the least
suspecting his meaning.

"And into one of my own."

"One of your own?"

The remark was elicited from her in simple surprise. She looked up at
Roland.

"Yes, one of mine. But for bringing you to the fate of Gerald's wife,
I'd marry you tomorrow, Annabel."

In spite of the matter-of-fact, earnest tone in which he spoke, almost
as if he were asserting he'd take a voyage in the clouds but for its
impossibility, Annabel was covered with confusion.

"Some one else's consent would have to be obtained to that bargain,"
she said in a hesitating, lame kind of way, as she bent her head low
over a tangle in the red sewing-silk.

"Some one else's consent! You don't mean to say you'd not marry me,
Annabel!"

"I don't say I would."

Roland looked fierce. "You couldn't perjure yourself; you _couldn't_,
Annabel; don't you know what you always said--that you'd be my wife?"

"But I was only a senseless little child then."

"I don't care if you were. I mean it to be carried out. Why, Annabel,
who else in the world, but you, do you suppose I'd marry?"

Annabel did not say. Her fingers were working quickly to finish the
curtain.

"I can tell you I am looking forward to it if you are not. I vowed
to Hamish tonight that you should not stay here another day if I
could--good evening, sir."

Mr. Greatorex, returning to the room, looked a little surprised to see
a gentleman in it, who rose to receive him. Recognising Roland, he
greeted him civilly.

"Is it you, Mr. Yorke? Do you want me?"

"No, sir. Coming down from the kick-up, I met Jenny, who said Miss
Channing was here; so I turned in to see her. She's as unhappy in this
house as she can be, Mr. Greatorex; folks have tempers, you know; and
in catching a glimpse of her face today, I saw it red with grief and
tears. Look at her eyes now, sir. So I came to say that if I could
help it by taking her out and marrying her, she should not be here
another day. I was saying it when you came in, Mr. Greatorex."

To hear the single-minded young fellow avow this, standing there in
his earnest simplicity, in his great height, was something to laugh
at. But Mr. Greatorex detected the rare good-feeling.

"I am afraid Miss Channing may think your declaration is premature,
Mr. Yorke. You are scarcely in circumstances to keep yourself, let
alone a wife."

"That's just the misfortune of it," said candid Roland. "My pound a
week does for me, and that's all. But I thought I'd let her know it
was the power to serve her that was wanting, not the will. And now
that it's said, I've done with the matter, and will wish you good
night, Mr. Greatorex. Good night, Annabel. Hark at that squalling
upstairs! I wonder the cats don't set up a chorus!"

And Mr. Yorke went out in commotion.

"He does not mean anything, sir," said Annabel Channing rather
piteously to Mr. Greatorex. "I hope you will pardon him; he is just
like a boy."

"I am sure he does not mean any harm," was the lawyer's answer,
his lips parting with a smile. "Never were two so much alike in
good-hearted simplicity as he and his Uncle Carrick. Don't let his
thoughtless words trouble you, child."

Roland, clearing the streets at a few bounds, dashed home, into to
Mrs. Jones's parlour, a light through the half-open door showing him
that that lady was in it. It was past eleven: as a rule Mrs. Jones
liked to keep early hours; but she appeared to have no intention of
going to bed yet.

"Are you working for a wager, Mrs. J.?" asked Roland, in allusion to
the work in her nimble fingers.

"I am working not to waste my time, Mr. Yorke, while I sit up for
Alletha Rye. She is not in yet."

"Out on the spree?" cried Roland.

"She and sprees don't have much to do with each other," said Mrs.
Jones. "There's a little child ill a few doors higher up, and
Alletha's gone in to sit with her. But she ought to have been home by
eleven. And how have you enjoyed yourself, Mr. Yorke?"

"I say, Mrs. J., don't you go talking about enjoyment," spoke Roland
resentfully. "It has been a miserable failure altogether. Not a soul
there; the men and women howling like mad; and one's elbows crushed in
the crowd. Catch me dressing for another!"

Mrs. J. thought the answer slightly inconsistent. "If there was not a
soul there, Mr. Yorke, how could your elbows get crushed?"

"There was not a soul I cared for. Plenty of idiots. I don't say
Hamish Channing and his wife are that, though. Clare Joliffe was
there. Do you remember her at Helstonleigh?"

"Clare? Let me see--Clare was the second: next to Mrs. Bede Greatorex.
And very much like her."

Roland nodded. "She and I were sitting on a sofa, nobody to be seen
within earshot, and she began talking of the night Mr. Ollivera died.
You should have heard her, Mrs. J.: she went on like anything at her
sister, calling her selfish and false and deceitful, and other good
names. All in a minute there was a crash of glass behind us, and we
turned to see Bede Greatorex standing there. _I_ had not spoken
treason against his wife, but I didn't like him to have seen me
listening to it. It was an awkward situation. If I had a wife, I
should not care to hear her abused."

"But what caused the crash of glass?" asked practical Mrs. J.

"Oh, Bede's elbow had touched a perfume fountain of crimson glass, and
sent it over," said Roland carelessly. "It was a beautiful thing,
costing I'm sure no end of money, and Mrs. Bede had filled it with
scent for the evening. She'll go in a tantrum over it when the company
departs. Were I Bede I should tell her it blew up of itself."

"Is Miss Clare Joliffe staying there?"

"Got there today by the boat. The Joliffes are living in France now.
She says it is the first time Mrs. Bede has invited any of them inside
the doors: it was the thought of that, you know, that caused her to go
on so. Not that I like Mrs. Bede much better than she does. She can be
a Tyrant when she likes, Mrs. J.!"

"To her husband?"

"Oh, I don't know anything about that. Bede's big enough to put her
down if she tries it on with him. She is one in the house."

"Like a good many other mistresses," remarked Mrs. J. "I wish Alletha
would make haste."

"She never asked Miss Channing and little Greatorex to her party
tonight," continued Roland. "Not that it was any loss for Miss
Channing, you know; only I went there thinking to see her. Old
Greatorex had them to spend the evening in his parlour. Had I been
Hamish I should just have said, 'Where's my sister that she is not
present?' Oh, yes, she _can_ be a Tyrant! And do you know, what with
one cross thing and another, I forgot to ask Hamish if he had heard
the news about Arthur. It went clean out of my mind."

Mrs. Jones, rather particularly occupied with a knot in her work, made
no reply. Roland, thinking perhaps his revelations as to Mrs. Bede had
been sufficiently extensive, sat for some minutes in silence; his face
bent forward, his elbow on his knee, and pulling at his whiskers in
deep thought.

"I say, Mrs. J., how much do you think two people could live upon?" he
burst forth.

"That depends upon who they are, Mr. Yorke."

"Well, I mean--I don't mind telling you in confidence--me and another.
A wife, for instance."

Had Roland said Me and a Kangaroo, Mrs. Jones could not have looked at
him with more surprise--albeit not one to be surprised in general.

"I'd like to take her from there, for she's shamefully tyrannized
over. We need not mention names, but you guess I dare say who's meant,
and you are not to go and repeat it to the parish. If I could get my
pay increased to three or four times what it is, by dint of doing
extra work and putting my shoulder to the wheel in earnest; and if
she could get a couple of nice morning pupils at about fifty pounds
apiece, that would make three hundred a year. Now don't you think,
Mrs. Jenkins, we might get along with that?"

"Well--yes," answered Mrs. Jones, speaking with some hesitation, and
rather to satisfy the earnest, eager face waiting for her decision,
than in accordance with her true belief. "The worst of it is that
prospects rarely turn out as they are expected to."

"Now what do you mean, Mrs. J.? Three hundred a-year is three hundred
a-year. Let us be on the safe side, if you like, and put it down at
two hundred: which would be allowing for my present pay being only
doubled. Do you mean to say two people could not live on two hundred
a-year? I know we could; she and I."

"Two people might, when both are economically inclined. But then you
see, Mr. Yorke, one ought always to allow for interruptions."

"What interruptions?" demanded Roland.

"Sickness. Or pay of pupils falling off."

"We are both as healthy as ever we can be," said Roland, heartily. "If
I had not been strong and sound as a young lion, should I have stood
all that knocking about at Port Natal? As to pay and pupils, we might
take care to make _them_ sure."

"There might be things to increase expenses," persisted Mrs. Jones,
maintaining her ground as usual. "Children, for instance."

Roland stared with all his eyes. "_Children!_"

"It would be within the range of possibility, I suppose, Mr. Yorke.
Your brother Gerald has some."

"Oh law!" cried Roland, his countenance falling.

"And nobody knows what a trouble they are and how much they
cost--except those who have tried it. A regular flock of them may come
trooping down before you are well aware."

The vista presented to Roland was one his sanguine thoughts had never
so much as glanced at. A flock of children had not appeared to him
less likely to arrive, than that he should set up a flock of parrots;
and he candidly avowed it.

"But we shouldn't want any children, Mrs. J."

Mrs. J. gave a rather derisive sniff. "I've known them that want the
fewest get bothered with the most."

Roland had not another word to answer. He was pulling his whiskers in
much gloom when Miss Rye was heard to enter. Mrs. Jones began to roll
her work together, preparatory to retiring for the night.

"Look here, Mrs. Jones. I'm uncommon fond of children--you should see
how I love that sweet Nelly Channing--I'd not mind if I had a score
about the place; but what becomes of the little monkeys when there's
no bread and cheese to feed them on?"

"That's the precise difficulty, Mr. Yorke."



CHAPTER XX.
GRAND REVIEWS.

Gerald Yorke's book was out. An enterprising firm of publishers had
been found to undertake it, and they brought it forth in due course to
the public. Great reviews followed closely upon its advent, lauding
its merits and beauties to the skies. Three critiques appeared in one
week. The great morning paper gave one, as did the two chief weekly
reviewing journals. And each one in its turn sung or said that for
ages the public had not been so blest as in this most valuable work of
fiction.

In his writing-room, the three glorious reviews before him, sat Hamish
Channing, his heart and face alike in a glow. Had the praises been
bestowed upon himself, he could scarcely have rejoiced more. How
Gerald must have altered the book, he thought: and he felt grieved and
vexed to have passed so uncompromising a judgment upon his friend's
capabilities as a writer of fiction, when the manuscript was submitted
to him. "It must have been that he wrote it too hastily, and has now
taken time and consideration to his aid," decided Hamish.

Carrying the papers in his hand he sought his wife, and in the fulness
of his heart read out to her the most telling sentences. Bitter though
the resentment was, that Gerald was cherishing against Hamish
Channing, he could but have experienced gratification had he witnessed
the genuine satisfaction of both, the hearty emphasis which Hamish
gave to the laudations bestowed on the author.

"How hard he must have worked at it, Ellen."

"Yes; I did not think Gerald had the application in him."

With his arm on the elbow of his chair, and his refined face a little
raised as it rested on his hand, Hamish took a few moments for
thought. The eyes seemed to be seeking for something in the evening
sky; the sweet light of hope pervaded unmistakably the whole bright
countenance. Hamish Channing was but gazing at the vision that had
become so entirely his; one that was rarely absent from him; that
seemed to be depicted in all its radiant colouring whenever he looked
out for it. Fame, reward, appreciation; all were stirring his spirit
within, in the vivid light of buoyant expectancy.

"And, if Gerald's book has received this award of praise, what will
not mine obtain?" ran his thoughts. For Hamish knew that, try as
Gerald would, it was not in him to write as he himself could.

He took his hat and went forth to congratulate Gerald, unable to be
silent under this great fame that had fallen on his early friend.
Being late in the day, he thought Gerald might be found at his wife's
lodgings, for he knew he had been there more than usual of late.

True. Gerald sought the lodgings as a kind of refuge. His chambers had
become disagreeably hot, and it was only by dint of the utmost caution
on his own part, and diligence on his servant's, that he could venture
into them or out of them. The lodgings were less known, and Gerald
felt safer there. Things were going very cross with him just now;
money seemed to be wanted by his wife and his children and his
creditors, all in a hurry, not to speak of the greatest want, himself;
and there were moments when Gerald Yorke felt that he might have to
seek some far-off city of refuge, as Roland had done, and sail for a
Port Natal.

There was no one in the sitting-room when Hamish Channing entered it.
The maid said Mr. Yorke had gone out; Mrs. Yorke was putting her
children to bed. On the table, side by side with the papers containing
the three great reviews, lay a copy of the work. Hamish took it up
eagerly, anxious to see the new and good writing that had superseded
the old.

He could not find it. One or two bad passages, that he specially
remembered, caught his eye; they were there still, unaltered. Had
Gerald carelessly overlooked them? Hamish was turning over the pages
in some wonder, when Winny came in.

Came in, cross, fractious, tearful. Lonely as Mrs. Gerald Yorke's life
had been in Gloucestershire, she had long wished herself back, for the
one in London was becoming too trying. Winny had none of the endurance
that some wives can show, and love and suffer on.

She came tip to Hamish with outstretched hand. But that he and Ellen
proved the generous friends they did, she could not have borne things.
Many and many a day there would have been no dinner for the poor
little girls, no stop-gap for the petty creditors supplying the daily
wants, no comforts of any sort at home, save for the unobtrusive,
silently aiding hand of Hamish Channing.

"What is the matter, Winny?" asked Hamish, in relation to the tears.
And he spoke very much as he would to a child. In fact, Mrs. Gerald
Yorke had mostly to be treated as one.

"Gerald has been so cross; he boxed little Kitty's ears, and
nearly boxed mine," pleaded poor Winny, putting herself into a low
rocking-chair, near the window. "It is so unreasonable of him, you
know, Mr. Channing, to vent it upon us. It's just as if it were our
fault."

"Vent what?" asked Hamish, taking a seat at the table, and turning to
face her.

"All of it," said Winny, in her childish, fractious way. "His
shortness of money, and the many bothers he is in. I can't help it. I
would if I could, but if I can't, I can't, and Gerald knows I can't."

"In bothers as usual?" spoke Hamish, in his gay way.

"He is never out of them, Mr. Channing; you know he is not; and they
get worse and worse. Gerald has no certain income at all; and it seems
to me that what he earns by writing, whether it's for magazines or
whether it's for newspapers, is always drawn beforehand, for he never
has any money to bring home. Of course the tradespeople come and ask
for their money; of course the landlady expects to be paid her weekly
rent; and when they insist on seeing Gerald, or stop him when he goes
out, he comes back in such a passion you never saw. She made him
savage this evening, and he took and boxed Kitty."

"She! Who?"

"The landlady--Miss Cook."

"Winny, I paid Miss Cook myself, last week."

"Oh, but I didn't tell you there was more owing to her; I didn't like
to," answered helpless Winny. "There is; and she has begun to worry
always. She gets things in for us, and wants to be paid for them."

"Of course she does," thought Hamish. "Where's Gerald?" he asked.

"Gone out somewhere. You know that money you let me have to pay the
horrible bill I couldn't sleep for, and didn't dare to give to
Gerald," she continued, putting up her hands to her little distressed
face. "I've got something to tell you about it."

Hamish was at a loss. The bills he and his wife had advanced money for
were getting numerous. Winny, rocking herself gently, saw he did not
recollect.

"It was for the shoes and stockings for the children and the boots for
me; we had nothing to our feet. Ellen brought me the money last
Saturday--three pounds--though the bill was not quite that. Well,
Gerald saw the sovereigns lying in the dressing-table drawer--it was
so stupid of me to leave them there!--and he took them. First he asked
me where I'd got them from; I said I had scraped them up to pay for
the children's shoes. Upon that, he put them in his pocket, saying he
had bills far more pressing than children's shoe bills, and must take
them for his own use. O-o-o-o-o-oh!" concluded the young wife, with a
burst of her childish grief, "I am very miserable."

"You should have told your husband the money belonged to Mrs.
Channing--and was given to you by her for a special purpose."

"Good gracious!" cried Winny, astonishment arresting the tears in her
pretty eyes. "As if I would dare to tell him that! If Gerald thought
you or Ellen helped me, he would be in the worst passion of all. I'm
not sure but he'd beat me."

"Why?"

"He would think that I was running up a great debt on my own score for
him to pay back sometime. And he has such oceans of pride, besides.
You must never tell him, Mr. Channing."

"How does he think the accounts get paid?" asked Hamish.

"He does not think about it," she answered, eagerly. "So long as he is
not bothered, he _won't_ be bothered. He will never look at a single
bill, or hear me speak of one. As far as he knows, the people and Miss
Cook come and worry me for money regularly. But oh! Mr. Channing! if I
were to be worried to any degree, I should die. I should wish to die,
for I could not bear it. Ellen knows I could not."

Yes; in a degree, Hamish and his wife both knew this. Winny Yorke was
quite unfitted to battle with the storms of the world; they could not
see her breasting them, and not help. A brother of hers--and Gerald
was aware of this--who had been overwhelmed with the like, proved how
ill he was fitted to bear, by putting a terrible end to them and all
else.

"And so, that bill for the shoes and stockings was not paid, and they
came after it today, and abused Gerald--for I had said to them it
would be ready money," pursued Winny, rocking away. "Oh, he was so
angry! he forbid me to buy shoes; he said the children must go
barefoot until he was in a better position. If the man comes tomorrow,
and insists on seeing me, I shall have to run away. And Fredy's ill."

The wind-up was rather unexpected, and given in a different tone.
Fredy was the eldest of the little girls, Kitty the second, Rosy the
third.

"If she should be going to have the measles, the others will be sure
to catch it, and then what should I do?" went on Winny, piteously.
"There'd be a doctor to pay for and medicine to be got, and I don't
think druggists give credit to strangers. It may turn out to be only a
bad cold."

"To be sure it may," said Hamish cheerily. "Hope for the best, Mrs.
Yorke. Ellen always does."

Mrs. Yorke sighed. Ellen's husband was very different from hers.

"Gerald is in luck; he will soon I think, be able to get over his
difficulties. Have you reed these reviews?" continued Hamish, laying
his hand upon the journals at his elbow.

"Oh yes, I've read them," was the answer, given with slighting
discontent.

"I never read anything finer--in the way of praise--than this review
in the _Snarler_," spoke Hamish.

"He wrote that himself."

"Wrote what?"

"That review in the _Snarler_."

"Who wrote it?" pursued Hamish, rather at sea.

"Gerald did."

"Nonsense, Winny. You must be mistaken."

"I'm sure I'm not," said Winny. "He wrote it at this very table. He
was three hours writing it, and then he was nearly as long altering
it: taking out words and sentences and putting in stronger ones."

Hamish, when his surprise was over, laughed slightly. It had a little
destroyed his romance.

"And two friends of Gerald's wrote the other reviews," said Winny,
continuing her revelations. "Gerald has great influence with the
reviewing people; he says he can get any work made or marred."

"Oh, can he?" quoth Hamish, with light good-nature. "At least, these
reviews will tell well with the public and sell the book. Why, Winny,
instead of being low-spirited, you have cause to be just the other
way. It is a great thing to have got this book so well out. It may
make Gerald's fortune."

Winny sat bolt upright in the rocking-chair, and looked at Hamish,
with a puzzled, cross face. He supposed that she did not understand.

"What I mean, Winny, is that this book may lead really to fortune in
the end. If Gerald once becomes known as a successful author--"

"The bringing out of the book has caused him to be ten times more
worried than before," interrupted Whiny. "Of course it is known that
he has a book out, and the consequence is that everybody who has got
sixpence owing by either of us, is dunning him for money--just as if
the book had made his fortune! He cannot go to his chambers, unless he
shoots in like a cat; and he is getting afraid to come here. My
opinion is, that he'd have been better off without the book than with
it."

This was not a particularly pleasant view of affairs; but Hamish was
far from subscribing to all Winny said. He answered with his cheering
smile, that was worth its weight in gold, and rose to leave.

"Things are always darkest just before dawn, Mrs. Yorke. And I must
repeat my opinion--that this book will lay the foundation of Gerald's
fortune. He will soon get out of his embarrassments."

"Well, I don't understand it, but I know he says the book has plunged
him into fresh debt," returned Winny, gloomily. "I think he has had to
pay an immense deal to get it out."

Hamish was turning over the leaves of the book as he stood. Winny at
once offered to lend it him: there were two or three copies about the
house, she said. Accepting the offer, for he really wished to see the
good and great alterations Gerald must have made, Hamish was putting
the three volumes under his arm when the street door opened, and
Gerald came running up.

"Well, old friend!" cried Hamish, heartily, as he shook Gerald's hand.
"I came to wish you joy."

Winny disappeared. Never feeling altogether at ease in the presence of
her clever, stern, arbitrary husband, she was glad to get away from it
when she could. Hamish and Gerald stood at the window, talking
together in the fading light, their theme Gerald's book, the reviews,
and other matters connected with it. Hamish spoke the true sentiments
of his heart when he said how glad and proud he was, for Gerald's
sake.

"I have been telling your wife that it is the first stepping-stone to
fortune. It must be a great success, Gerald."

"Ah, I thought you were a little _out_ in the opinion you formed of
it," said Gerald loftily.

"I am thankful it has proved so. You have taken pains to alter it,
Gerald."

"Not much: _I_ thought it did very well as it was. And the result
proves I was right," added Gerald complacently. "Have you read the
reviews?"

"I should think I have," said Hamish warmly. "They brought me here
tonight. Reviews such as those will take the public by storm."

"Yes, they tell rather a different tale from the verdict passed by
you. _You_ assured me I should never succeed in fiction; had mistaken
my vocation; got no elements for it within me; might shut up shop.
What do the reviews say? Look at that one in the _Snarler_," continued
Gerald, snatching up that noted authority, and holding it to the
twilight, formed by the remnant of day and the light of the
street-lamps, while he read an extract from its pages aloud.

"We do not know how to find terms of praise sufficiently high for this
marvellously beautiful book of fiction. The grateful public, now
running after its three volumes, cannot be supplied fast enough. From
the first page to the last, attention is rapturously enchained; one
cannot put the book down----"

"And so on, and so on," continued Gerald, breaking off the laudatory
recital suddenly, and flinging the paper behind him again. "No good to
continue, as you've read it. Yes, that is praise from the _Snarler_.
Worth having, I take it," he concluded in unmistakable triumph over
his fellow-man and author, quite unconscious that poor simple Winny
had let the cat out of the bag.

"If reviews ever sell a book, these must sell yours, Gerald."

"I think so. We shall see whether your book gets such; it's finished,
I hear," spoke Gerald, leaning from the window to survey a man who had
just crossed the street. "One never can tell what luck a work will
have while it is in manuscript."

"One can tell what it ought to have."

"Ought! oughts don't go for much now-a-days; favour does though. The
devil take the fellow."

This last genial wish applied to the man, who had made for the
house-door and was ringing its bell. Gerald grew just a little
troubled, and betrayed it.

"Don't let these matters disturb your peace, Gerald," advised Hamish
in his kindest and most impressive manner. "You cannot fail to get on
now. Have the publishers paid you anything yet?"

"Paid me!" retorted Gerald rather savagely, "they are asking for the
money I owe them. It was arranged that I should advance fifty pounds
towards bringing the book out. And I've not been able to give it them
yet."

Gerald spoke truly. The confiding publishers, not knowing the true
state of Mr. Yorke's finances, but supposing there could be no danger
with a man in his position--living in the great world, of aristocratic
connections, getting his name up in journalism--had accepted in all
good faith his plausible excuses for the non-prepayment of the fifty
pounds, and brought out the book at their own cost. They were
reminding him of it now; and more than hinting that a bargain was a
bargain.

"And how I am to stave them off, the deuce only knows," observed
Gerald. "I want to keep in with them if I can. The notion of my
finding fifty pounds!"

"There must be proceeds from a book with such reviews as these," said
Hamish. "Let them take it out of their first returns."

"Oh, ah! that's all very well; but I don't know," was the answer given
gloomily.

"Well, good night, old friend, for I must be off; you have my best
wishes in every way. I am going to take home the book for a day; I
should like to look over it; Winny says you have other copies."

"Take it if you like," growled Gerald, who heard the maid's step on
the stairs, and knew he was going to be appealed to. "Now then!" he
angrily saluted her, as she came in. "I've told you before you are not
to bring messages up to me after dusk. How dare you disobey?"

"It's that gentleman that always _will_ see you, sir," spoke the
discomfited girl.

"I am gone to bed," roared Gerald; "be off and say so."

And Hamish Channing, running lightly downstairs, heard the bolt of the
room slipped, as the servant came out of it. That Gerald had a good
deal of this kind of worry, there was no doubt; but he did not go the
best way to work to prevent it.

As soon as Hamish got home, he sat down to his writing-table, and set
himself to examine Gerald's book. Gradually, as he turned page after
page of the three volumes in rotation, a perplexed, dissatisfied look,
mixed with much disappointment, seated itself in his face.

There had been no alterations made at all. All the objectionable
elements were there, just as they had been in the manuscript. The book
was, in fact, exactly what Hamish had found it--utterly worthless and
terribly fast. It had not a chance of ultimate success. Not one reader
in ten, beginning the book, would be able to call up patience to
finish it. And Hamish was grievously vexed for Gerald's sake; he could
have set on to bewail and bemoan aloud.

Suddenly the reviews flashed over his mind; their glowing
descriptions, their subtle praise, their seductive, lavish promises.
In spite of himself, of his deep feeling, his real vexation, he burst
into a fit of laughter, prolonged until he had to hold his sides, at
the thought of how the very innocent and helpless public would be
taken in.



CHAPTER XXI.
ROLAND YORKE'S SHOULDER TO THE WHEEL.


The weeks went on. Roland Yorke was hard at work, carrying out his
resolve of "putting his shoulder to the wheel." Vague ideas of getting
into something good, by which a fortune might be made, floated through
his brain in rose-coloured clouds. What the something was to be he did
not exactly know; meanwhile, as a preliminary to it, he sought and
obtained copying from Greatorex and Greatorex, to be done in spare
hours at home. Of which fact Roland (unlike Mr. Brown) made no secret;
he talked of it to the whole office; and Mr. Brown supplied him
openly.

It was an excessively hot evening, getting now towards dusk. Roland
had carried his work to Mrs. Jones's room, not so much because his own
parlour was rather close and stuffy, as that he might obtain slight
intervals of recreative gossip. He had it to himself, however, for
Mrs. Jones was absent on household cares. The window looked on a
backyard, in which the maid, who had come out, was hanging up a red
table-cover to dry, that had evidently had something spilled on it. Of
course Roland arrested his pen to watch the process. He was sitting in
his shirtsleeves, and had just complained aloud that it was hotter
than Africa.

"Who did that?" he called out through the open window. "You?"

"Mr. Ollivera, sir. He upset some ink; and mistress have been washing
the place out in layers of cold water. She don't think it'll show."

"What d'ye call layers?"

"Different lots, sir. About nineteen bowlfuls she swilled it through;
and me a emptying of 'em at the sink, and droring off fresh water
ready to her hand."

The hanging-out and pulling the damaged part straight took a tolerably
long time; Roland, in the old seduction of any amusement being welcome
as an accompaniment to work, continued to look on and talk. Suddenly,
he remembered his copying, and the young lady for whose sake he had
undertaken the labour.

"This is not sticking to it," he soliloquised. "And if I am to have
her, I must work for her. _Won't_ I work, that's all! I'll stick to it
like any brick! But this copying is poor stuff to get a fellow on. If
I could only slip into something better!"

Considering that Mr. Roland Yorke's earnings the past week, what with
mistakes and other failures, had been one shilling and ninepence, and
the week previous to that fifteenpence, it certainly did not look as
though the copying would prove the high road to fortune. He began
casting about other projects in his mind, as he wrote.

"If they'd give me a place under Government, it would be the very
thing. But they don't. Old Dick Yorke's as selfish as a camel, and
Carrick's hiding his head, goodness knows where. So I am thrown on my
own resources. Bless us all! when a fellow wants to get on in this
world, he can't."

At this juncture Roland came to the end of his paper. As it was a good
opportunity for taking a little respite, he laid down his pen, and
exercised his thoughts.

"There's those photographing places--lots of them springing up. You
can't turn a corner into a street but you come bang upon a fresh
establishment. They can't require a fellow to have any previous
knowledge, they can't. I wonder if any of them would take me on, and
give me a couple of guineas a-week, or so? Nothing to do there, but
talk to the visitors, and take their faces. I should make a good hand
at that. But, perhaps, _she'd_ not like it! She might object to marry
a man of that sort. What a difficulty it is to get into anything! I
must think of the other plan."

The other plan meant some nice place under Government. To Roland that
always seemed a sure harbour of refuge. The doubt was, how to get it?

"There's young Dick--Vincent, as he likes to be called now,"
soliloquised Roland. "I've never asked him to help me, but perhaps he
might: he's not ill-natured where his pocket's not called in question.
I'll go to him tomorrow; see if I don't. Now then, are you dry?"

This was to the writing. Roland rose up to get more paper, and then
found that he had left it behind him at the office--some that he ought
to have brought home.

"There's a bother! I wonder if I could get it by going round? Of
course the offices are closed, but I'd not mind asking Bede for the
key if he's in the way."

To think and to act were one with Roland. He put on his coat, took his
hat, and went hastening along on his expedition. Rather to his
surprise, as he drew to his walk's end, his quick eyes, casting
themselves into dark spots as well as light ones, caught sight of Bede
Greatorex standing in the shade opposite his house, apparently
watching its lighted windows, from which sounds of talking and
laughing issued forth. Roland conjectured that some gaiety was as
usual going on in the house, which its master would escape. Over he
went to him, without ceremony.

"You don't like all that, sir?" he said, indicating the supposed
company.

"Not too much of it," replied Bede Greatorex, startled out of his
reverie by the unexpected address. "The fact is," he condescended to
explain to his curious clerk, perhaps as an excuse for standing there,
"certain matters have been giving me trouble of late. I was in deep
thought."

"Mrs. Bede Greatorex does love society: she did as Louisa Joliffe,"
remarked Roland, meaning to be confidential.

"I was not thinking of Mrs. Bede Greatorex, but of the loss from my
office," spoke his master in a cold, proud tone of reproof.

Crossing the road, as if declining further conversation, he went in.
Roland saw he had offended him, and wished his tongue had been tied,
laying down his thoughtless speech as usual to the having sojourned at
Port Natal. It might not be a propitious moment for requesting the
loan of the office keys, and Roland had the sense to foresee it.

Who should come out of the house at that moment, but Annabel Channing,
attended by a servant. The sight of her put work, keys, and all else,
out of Roland's head. He leaped across, seized her hands, and learnt
that she had got leave to spend the evening with Hamish and his wife.

"_I'll_ take care of you; _I'll_ see you safely there," cried Roland,
impetuously. "You can go back, old Dalla."

Old Dalla--a middle-aged yellow woman who had brought Jane Greatorex
from India and remained with the child as her attendant--made no more
ado, but took him at his word; glad to be spared the walk, she turned
indoors at once. And before Annabel well knew what had occurred, she
found herself being whirled away by Roland in an opposite direction to
the one she wished to go. It was only twilight yet. Roland had her
securely on his arm, and began to pace the square. To say the truth,
he looked on the meeting as a special chance, for he had not once set
eyes on the young lady, save in the formal presence of others, since
that avowal of his a fortnight ago, in Mr. Greatorex's room.

"What are you doing?" she asked, when she could collect herself "This
is not the way to Hamish's."

"This is the way to get a few words with you, Annabel; one can't talk
in the streets with its glare and its people. We are private here; and
I'll take you to Hamish's in a minute or two."

In this impulsive fashion, he began telling her his plans and his
dreams. That he had determined to make an income and a home for her:
as a beginning, until something better turned up, he was working all
his spare time at copying deeds, "nearly night and day." One less
unsophisticated than Roland Yorke, might have suppressed a small item
of the programme--that which related to Annabel's contributing to the
fund herself, by obtaining pupils. Not he. He avowed it just as openly
as his own intention of getting "something under Government." In
short, Roland made the young lady a regular offer. Or, rather, did not
so much _make_ the offer, as assume that it had been already made, and
was, so far, settled. His arguments were sensible; his plans looked
really feasible; the day-dreams tolerably bright.

"But I have not said I would have you yet," spoke Annabel all in a
flutter, when she could get a word in edgeways. "You should not make
so sure of things."

"Not make sure of it! Not have me!" cried Roland, in indignant
remonstrance. "Now look you here, Annabel--you _know_ you'll have me: it
is all nonsense to make believe you won't. I don't suppose I've asked
you in the proper way, or put things in the proper light; but you
ought to make allowance for a fellow who has had his manners knocked
out of him at Port Natal. When the time arrives that I've got a little
house and a few chairs and tables in its rooms, you'll come home to me
and I'll try and make you happy in it, and work for you till I drop!
There! If I knew how to say it better, I would: and you need not
despise a man for his incapable way of putting it. Not have me! I'd
like to know who you would have, if not me!"

Annabel Channing offered no farther remonstrance. That she had
contrived to fall in love with Roland Yorke, and would rather marry
him than anybody else in the world, she knew all too well. The home
and the chairs and the tables in it, and the joint working together to
keep it going, wore a bright vista to her heart, looked at from a
distance with youth's hopeful eyes. But she did not speak: and Roland,
mistaking her silence, regarded it as a personal injury.

"When I and Arthur are the dearest friends in the world! He'd give you
to me off-hand; I know it. It is not kind of you, Annabel. We engaged
ourselves to each other when you were a little one and I was a tall
donkey of fourteen, and if I've ever thought of a wife at all since I
grew up, it was of you. I have done nothing but think of you since I
came back. I wonder how _you'd_ feel if I turned round and said, 'I
don't know that I shall have you.' Not jovial, I know."

"You should not bring up the nonsense we said when we were children,"
returned Annabel, at a loss what else to answer. "I'm sure I could not
have been above seven. We were playing at oranges and lemons: I
remember the evening quite well: and you----"

"Now just you be open, Annabel, and say what it is your mind's
harbouring against me," interrupted Roland, in a tone of deep feeling.
"Is it that twenty-pound note of old Galloway's?--or is it because I
went knocking about at Port Natal?"

"Oh, Roland, how foolish you are! As if I could think of either!"

And there was something in the words and tone, in the pretty, shy,
blushing face that reassured Roland. From that moment he looked upon
matters as irrevocably settled, gave Annabel's hand a squeeze against
his side, and went on to enlarge upon his dreams of the future.

"I've taken counsel with myself and with Mrs. J., and I don't think
the pair of us are likely to be led astray by romance, Annabel, for
she is one of the strong-minded ones. She agrees with me that we might
do well on three hundred a year; and, what with my work and your
pupils, we could make that easily. But, I said to her, let's be on the
safe side, and put it down at only two hundred. Just to begin with,
you know, Annabel. She said, 'Yes, we might do on that if we were both
economical'--and I'm sure if I've not learnt to be _that_ I've learnt
nothing. I would not risk the temptation of giving away--which I am
afraid I'm prone to--for you should be cash-keeper, Annabel; just as
Mrs. J. keeps my sovereign a week now. My goodness! the having no
money in one's pocket is a safeguard. When I see things in the shop
windows, whether it's eatables, or what not, I remember my lack of
cash, and pass on. I stopped to look at a splendid diamond necklace
yesterday in Regent Street, and thought how much I should like to get
it for you; but with empty pockets, where was the use of going in to
enquire the price?"

"I do not care for diamonds," said Annabel.

"You will have them some time, I hope, when my fortune's made. But
about the two hundred a year? Mrs. J. said if we could be sure of
making that regularly, she thought we might risk it; only, _she_ said
there might be interruptions. It would not be Mrs. J. if she didn't
croak."

"Interruptions!" exclaimed Annabel, something as Roland had
interrupted Mrs. Jones, and quite as unsuspicious as he. "Of what
kind?"

"Sickness, Mrs. J. mentioned, and--but I don't think I'll tell you
that," considered Roland. "Let's say, and general contingencies. I'm
sure I should as soon have thought of setting up a menagerie of owls,
but for her putting it into my head. A fellow who has helped to land
boats at Port Natal can't be expected to foresee everything. Would you
be afraid to encounter the two hundred a year?"

"I fear mamma would for me. And Hamish."

"Now Annabel, don't you get bringing up objections for other people.
Time enough for that when they come down with them of their own
accord. I intend to speak to Hamish tonight if I can get the
opportunity. I don't want you to keep your promise a secret. You are a
dear good girl, and the little home shall be ours before a
twelvemonth's gone by, if I have to work my hands off."

The little home! Poor Roland! If he could but have foreseen what
twelve months would bring forth.


Hamish Channing's book had come out under more favourable auspices
than Gerald's. The publisher, far from demanding money in advance for
expenses, had made fair terms with him. Of course the result would
depend on the sale. When Hamish held the first copies in his hand, his
whole being was lighted up with silent enthusiasm; the joy it was to
bring, the appreciation, had already set in. He sent a copy to his
mother; and he sent one to Gerald Yorke, with a brief, kind note: in
the simplicity of his heart, he supposed Gerald would rejoice, just as
he at first had rejoiced for him.

How good the book was, Hamish knew. The publisher knew. The world,
Hamish thought, would soon know. He did not deceive himself in its
appreciation, or exaggerate the real worth and merits of the work: in
point of fact, the praise meted out to Gerald's would have been really
applicable to his. Never did Hamish, even in his moments of extremest
doubt and diffidence, cast a thought to the possibility that his book
would be cried down. Already he was thinking of beginning a second;
and his other work, the occasional papers, went on with a zest.

He sat with his little girl, Nelly, on his knee, on this selfsame
evening that Roland had pounced on Annabel. The child had her blue
eyes and her bright face turned to him as she chattered. He looked
down fondly at her and stroked the pretty curls of her golden hair.

"And when will the ship be home, papa?"

"Very soon now. It is nearing the port."

"But when will it be quite, quite, quite home?"

"In a few days, I think, Nelly. I am not sure, but I ought to say it
has come."

"It was those books that came in the parcel last night?" said shrewd
little Nelly.

"Even so, darling."

"Mamma has been reading them all day. I saw"--Nelly put her sweet face
close up and dropped her voice--"I saw her crying at places of them."

A soft faint crimson stole into Hamish Channing's cheeks; his lips
parted, his breath came quicker; a sudden radiance illuminated his
whole countenance. This whisper of the child's brought to his heart
its first glad sense of that best return--appreciation.

Company arrived to interrupt the quiet home happiness. Mrs. Gerald
Yorke and her three meek children. Winny had a face of distress, and
made a faint apology for bringing the little ones, but it was over
early to leave them in bed. Close upon this, Roland and Annabel
entered, and had the pleasure of being in time to hear Gerald's wife
tell out her grievances.

They were of the old description. No money, importunate creditors,
Gerald unbearably cross. Annabel felt inclined to smile; Roland was
full of sympathy. Had the prospective fortune (that he was sure to
make) been already in his hands, he would have given a purse of gold
to Winny, and carried off the three little girls to a raree-show there
and then. The next best thing was to promise them the treat: which he
did largely.

"And me too, Roland," cried eager Nelly, dancing in and out amid the
impromptu visitors in the highest glee, her shining curls never still.

"Of course _you_," said Roland to the fair child who had come to an
anchor before him, flinging her arms upon his knees. "I'd not go
anywhere without you, you know, Nelly. If I were not engaged to
somebody else, I'd make you my little wife."

"Who is the somebody else? Kitty?"

"Not Kitty. She's too little."

"Let it be me, then."

Roland laughed, and looked across at Hamish. "If I don't ask you for
her, I may for somebody else. So prepare."

"I'm sure, I hope, Roland, if ever you do marry, that you'll not be
snappish with your wife and little girls, as your brother is with us,"
interposed Winny with a sob. "I think it is something in Mr.
Channing's book that has put him out today. As soon as it came this
morning, he locked himself in the room alone with it, and never came
out for hours; but when he did come--oh, was he not in a temper! He
pushed Winnifred and she fell on the carpet, and he shook Rosy till
she cried; and nobody knows for what. I'm sure they are like mice for
quietness when he's there; they are too much afraid of him to be
otherwise."

It was well for Gerald Yorke that he committed no grave crimes; for
his wife, in her childish simplicity, in her inability to bear in
silence, would be safe to have betrayed them. She was right in her
surmises--in fact, Winny, with all her silliness, had a great deal of
discernment--that the cause of her husband's temper being worse than
usual was Hamish Channing's book. Seizing upon it when it came, Gerald
locked himself up with it, forbidding any interruption in terms that
might not be disobeyed. On the surface alone he could see that it was
no sham book: Gerald's book had about twenty lines in a page, and the
large, wide, straggling type might have been read a mile off. This was
different: it was closely printed, rather than not, as if the writer
were at no fault for matter. In giving a guinea and a half for this
work, the public would not find itself deluded into finding nothing to
read. Gerald sat down. He was about to peruse this long-expected book,
and he devoutly hoped to find it bad and worthless.

But, if Gerald Yorke could not write, he could appreciate: and with
the first commencing pages he saw what the work really was--rare,
good, of powerful interest; essentially the production of a good man,
a scholar, and a gentleman.

As he read on and on, his brow grew dark with a scowl, his lips were
angrily bitten: the book, properly noticed, would certainly set the
world a-longing: and Gerald might experience some difficulty in
writing it down. The knowledge did not tend to soften his generally
ill-conditioned state of mind, and he flung the last volume on the
table with a harsh word. Even at that early stage, some of the
damnatory terms he would use to extinguish the book passed through his
active brain.

Emerging from his retreat towards evening in this genial mood, he made
those about him suffer from it. Winny, the non-enduring, might well
wish to escape with her helpless children! Gerald departed; to keep an
engagement at a white-bait entertainment; and she came to Hamish
Channing's.

How different were the two men! Hamish Channing's heart had ached to
pain at the badness of Gerald's book, for Gerald's sake; had he been a
magician, he would have transformed its pages, with a stroke of his
wand, to the brightest and best ever given to the world. Gerald Yorke
put on the anger of a fiend because Hamish's work was _not_ bad; and
laid out his plans to ruin it.


      "Man, vain man, dressed in a little brief authority,
       Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
       As make the angels weep."


If the world is not entirely made up of these two types of men, the
bad and the good, the narrow-hearted and the wide, the kindly generous
and the cruelly selfish, believe me there are a vast many of each in
it.

"It's getting worse and worse," sobbed Winny, continuing her
grievances over the tea-table. "I don't mean Gerald now, but the
shortness of money and the worry. I know we shall have to go into the
workhouse!"

"Bless you, don't lose heart!" cried Roland with a beaming face. "_I_
can never lose that again, after the ups and downs in Africa. I'll
tell you of one, Mrs. Gerald.--Another piece of muffin, Kitty? there
it is.--I and another fellow had had no food to speak of for two days;
awfully low we were. We went into a store and they gave us some
advertising bills to paste on the walls. Well, somehow I lost the
fellow and the bills, for he had taken possession of them. I went
rushing about everywhere, looking for him--and that's not so pleasant
when your inside's as hollow as an empty herring barrel--but he never
turned up again. Whether he decamped with the bills, or whether he was
put out of the way by a knock on the head, I don't know to this hour.
Anyhow I had to go back to the store the next day, and tell about it.
If you'll believe me they accused me of swallowing the bills, or
otherwise making away with them, and called for a man to take me into
custody. A day and a night I lay in their detention cell, with nothing
to eat and the rats running over me. Oh, wasn't it good! One can't be
nice, over there, our experiences don't let us be; but I always had a
horror of rats. Well, I got over that, Mrs. Gerald."

"Did they try you for it?" questioned Mrs. Gerald, who had suspended
her tea to listen, full of interest.

"Good gracious, no! They let me out. Oh, but I could tell you of worse
fixes than that. _You_ take heart, I say; and never trouble your
thoughts about workhouses. Things are safe to turn round when they
seem at the worst."

The tea over, Mrs. Yorke said she must take her departure: the
children were weary; she scarcely knew how she should get them back.
Hamish had a cab called: when it came he went out and lifted the
little ones into it. Winny looked at it dubiously.

"You'll not tell Gerald that I said he was in a temper about your
book, Mr. Channing?" she said pleadingly, as she took her seat.

"I'll not tell Gerald tales of any sort," answered Hamish with his gay
smile. "Take heart, as Roland tells you to do, and look forward to
better days both for you and your husband. Perhaps there is a little
glimmer of their dawn already showing itself, though you cannot yet
see it."

"Do you mean through Gerald's book?" she asked half crossly.

"Oh dear no. What I mean has nothing to do with Gerald's book. Who has
the paper of cakes?--Fredy. All right. Good night. The cab's paid,
Mrs. Yorke."

Mrs. Yorke burst into tears, leaned forward, and clasped Hamish's
hand. The intimation, as to the cab, had solved a difficulty running
through her mind. It was a great relief.

"God bless you, Mr. Channing! You are always kind."

"Only trust in God," he whispered gravely. "Trust Him ever, and He
will take care of you."

The cab drove off, and Hamish turned away, to encounter Roland Yorke.
That gentleman, making his opportunity, had followed Hamish out; and
now poured into his ear the tale he had to tell about himself and
Annabel. Hamish did not hear it with altogether the stately dignity
that might be expected to attend the reception of an offer of marriage
for one's sister. On the contrary, he burst out laughing in Roland's
face.

"Come now! be honest," cried Roland, deeply offended. "Is it me you
despise, Mr. Channing, or the small prospect I can offer her?"

"Neither," said Hamish, laughing still. "As to yourself, old fellow,
if Annabel and the mother approve, _I_ should not object. I never
gave a heartier handshake to any man than I would to you as my
brother-in-law. I like you better than I do the other one, William
Yorke; and there's the truth."

"Oh--him! you easily might," answered Roland, jerking his nose into
the air, with his usual depreciation of the Reverend William Yorke's
merits. "Then why do you laugh at me?"

"I laughed at the idea of your making two hundred a year at copying
deeds."

"I didn't say I should. You couldn't have been listening to me,
Hamish--I wish, then, you'd not laugh so, as if you only made game of
a fellow! What I said was, that I was putting my shoulder to the wheel
in earnest, and had begun with copying, not to waste time. I have been
thinking I'd try young Dick Yorke."

"Try him for what?"

"Why, to get me a post of some sort. I think he'll do it if he can.
I'm sure it's not much I shall ask for--only a couple of hundreds a
year, or so. And if Annabel secures a nice pupil or two, there'd be
three hundred a year to start with. You'd not mind her teaching a
little, would you, Hamish, while I was waiting for the skies to rain
gold?"

"Not I. That would be for her own consideration."

"And when we shall have got the three hundred a year in secure
prospect, you'll talk to Mrs. Channing of Helstonleigh for me, won't
you?"

Hamish thought he might safely say Yes. The idea of Roland's "putting
his shoulder to the wheel" sufficiently to earn two hundred pounds
income, seemed to be amidst the world's improbabilities. He could not
get over his laughing, and it vexed Roland.

"You think I can't work. You'll see. I'll go off to young Dick Yorke
this very hour, and sound him. Nothing like taking time by the
forelock. He is likely to be married, I hear."

"Who is?"

"Young Dick. They call him Vincent now, but before I went to Port
Natal 'Dick' was good enough for him. My father never spoke of them
but as old Dick and young Dick. Not that we had anything to do with
the lot: they held themselves aloof from us. I never saw either of
them but once, and that was when they came down to Helstonleigh to my
father's funeral. He died in residence, you know, Hamish."

Hamish nodded: he remembered all the circumstances perfectly. Dr.
Yorke's death had been unexpected until quite the last. Ailing for
some time, he had yet been sufficiently well to enter on what was
called his close residence of twenty-one days as Prebendary of the
cathedral, of which he was also sub-dean. The disease made so rapid
progress that before the residence was out he had expired.

"Old Dick made some promises to George that day, saying he'd get him
on because George was the eldest, I suppose; he took little notice of
the rest of us," resumed Roland. "It was after we came in from the
funeral, in our crape scarfs and hat-bands. But he never did an
earthly thing for him, Hamish--as poor George could tell you, if he
were alive. My father always said his brother Dick was selfish."

"You may find young Dick the same," said Hamish.

"So I should if it were his pocket I wanted to touch. But it's not,
you know. And now I'll be off to him. I had intended to spend this
evening at my copying, but I left the paper in the office, and there
was likely to be a hitch about my getting it I'll make up for it
tomorrow night. I shall be back in time to tell you of my success, and
to help you take Annabel home."

Roland's way of taking time by the forelock was to dash through the
streets at his utmost speed, no matter what impediments he might have
to overthrow in his way, and into the fashionable clubhouse
frequented by Vincent Yorke, who dined there quite as often as he did
at his father's house in Portland Place. Roland was in luck, and met
him coming out.

"I say Vincent, do stay and hear me for a minute or two. It is
something of consequence."

Vincent Yorke, not altogether approving of this familiar mode of
salutation from Roland, although fate had made them cousins, did not
quite see his way to refuse the request. As Roland had said, young
Dick was sufficiently good-natured where his pocket was not attacked.
He led the way to a corner in a room where they could be private, sat
down, and offered a chair to Roland.

It was declined. Roland was a great deal too excited and too eager to
sit. He poured forth his wants and hopes--that he wished co work
honestly for just bread and cheese, and to get his own living, and be
beholden to nobody: would he, Dick, help him to a place? He did not
mind how hard he worked; till his shirtsleeves were wet with honest
sweat, if need be; and live on potatoes and half a pint of beer a day;
so that he might just get on a little, and make a sum of two hundred
pounds a year: or one hundred to begin with.

The word "Dick" slipped out inadvertently in Roland's heat. Not a man
living so little capable, as he, of remembering conventionalities when
thus excited. Vincent Yorke, detecting the earnest purpose, the
sanguine hope, the real single-mindedness of the applicant, could but
stare and laugh, and excuse mistakes under the circumstances. The very
boldness of the request, preferred with straightforward candour and
without the slightest reticence, told on him favourably, because it
was so opposite to the crafty diplomacy that most men would have
brought to bear on such an application. Favourably only, you
understand, in so far as that he did not return a haughty repulse
off-hand, but condescended to answer civilly.

"Such things are not in my line," he said, and--face to face with that
realistic Port Natal traveller, he for once put aside his beloved
fashionable attribute, the mincing lisp. "I don't go in for politics;
never did go in for 'em; and Government places are not likely to come
in my way. You should have applied to Sir Richard. He knows one or two
of the Cabinet Ministers."

"I did apply to him once," replied Roland, "and he sent me off with a
flea in my ear. I said then, I'd never ask him for any thing again,
though it were to keep me from starving."

Vincent Yorke smiled. "Look here," said he; "you take him in his
genial moods. Go up to him now; he'll just have dined. If anything can
be got out of him, that's the time."

Mr. Vincent Yorke hit upon this quite as much to get rid of Roland, as
in any belief in its efficacy. In the main what he said was true--that
Sir Richard's after-dinner moods were his genial ones; but that Roland
had not the ghost of a chance of being helped, he very well knew. That
unsophisticated voyager, however, took it all in.

"I'll run up at once," he said. "I'm so much obliged to you, Vincent.
I say, are you not soon going to be married? I heard so."

"Eh--yes," replied Vincent, with frigid coldness, relapsing into
himself and the fine gentleman.

"I wish you the best of good luck," returned Roland, heartily shaking
the somewhat unwilling hand with a grip that he might have learned at
Port Natal. "And I hope she'll make you as good a wife as I know
somebody else will make me. Good night, Vincent, I'm off."

Vincent nodded. It struck him that, with all his drawbacks and
deficiencies, Roland was rather a nice young fellow.

Outside the club door stood a hansom. Roland, in his eagerness and
haste, was only kept from bolting into it by the slight deterrent
accident of having no change in his pocket to pay the fare. He did not
lose much. The speed at which he tore up Regent Street might have kept
pace with the wheels of most cabs; and the resounding knock and ring
he gave at Sir Richard's door in Portland Place, must surely have
caused the establishment to think it announced the arrival of a
fire-escape.

The door was flung open on the instant, as if to an expected visitor.
But that Roland was not the one waited for, was proved by the surprise
of the servant. He arrested the further entrance.

"You are not the doctor!"

"Doctor!" said Roland, "I am no doctor. Let me pass if you please. I
am Mr. Roland Yorke."

"I beg your pardon, sir," said the man, recognizing the name as one
borne by a nephew of the house. "You can go up, sir, of course if you
please, but my master is just taken ill. He has got a stroke."

"Bless me!" cried Roland, in concern. "Is it a bad one?"

"I'm afraid it is for death, sir," whispered the man. "We left him at
his wine after dinner, all comfortable; and when we went in a few
minutes ago, there he was, drawed together so that you couldn't know
him, and no breath in his body that we could hear. The nearest
doctor's coming, and James is running to fifteen likely places to see
if he can find Mr. Vincent."

"I'll go for him; I know where he is," cried Roland. And without
further reflection he hailed another hansom that happened to be
passing, jumped into it and ordered it to the clubhouse. Vincent was
only then coming down the steps. He took Roland's place and galloped
home.

"I hope he'll be in time," thought Roland. "Poor old Dick!"

He was not in time. And the next morning London woke up to the news of
Sir Richard Yorke's sudden death from an attack of apoplexy. And his
son, the third baronet, had succeeded to the family estates and
honours as Sir Vincent Yorke.



CHAPTER XXII.
A LITTLE MORE LIGHT.


Something fresh, though not much, had turned up, relating to the case
of the late Mr. Ollivera. That it should do so after so many years had
elapsed--or, rather, that it should not have done so before--was
rather remarkable. But as it bears very little upon the history in its
present stage, it may be dismissed in a chapter.

When John Ollivera departed on the circuit which was destined to bring
him his death, a young man of the name of Willett accompanied the bar.
He had been "called," but in point of fact only went as clerk to one
of the leading counsel. There are barristers and barristers just as
there are young men and young men. Mr. Charles Willett had been of
vast trouble to his family; and one of his elder brothers, Edmund, who
was home from India on a temporary sojourn to recruit his health, had
taken up the cause against him rather sharply: which induced a quarrel
between them and lasting ill-feeling.

An intimacy had sprung up between Edmund Willett and John Ollivera,
and they had become the closest of friends They took a (supposed)
final leave of each other when Mr. Ollivera departed on his circuit,
for Mr. Willett was on the point of returning to India. His health had
not improved, but he was obliged to go back; he was in a merchant's
house in Calcutta; and the probabilities certainly were that he would
not live to come home again. However, contrary to his own and general
expectations, as is sometimes the case the result proved that
everybody's opinion was mistaken. He not only did not die, but he grew
better, and finally lived: and he had now come to England on business
matters. The minute details attendant on John Ollivera's death had
never reached him, either through letters or newspapers, and he became
acquainted with them for the first time in an interview with the Rev.
Mr. Ollivera. When the unfinished letter was mentioned, and the fact
that they had never been able to trace out the smallest information as
to whom it was intended for Mr. Willett at once said that it must have
been intended for himself. He had charged John Ollivera (rather
against the latter's will) to carry out, if possible, an arrangement
with Charles Willett upon a certain disagreeable matter which had only
come recently to the knowledge of his family, and to get that young
man's written promise to arrest himself in, at least, one of his
downward courses towards ruin. The letter to Mr. Ollivera, urging the
request, was written and posted in London on the Saturday; Mr.
Ollivera (receiving it on Sunday morning at Helstonleigh) would no
doubt see Charles Willett in the course of Monday. That this was the
"disagreeable commission" he had spoken of to Mr. Kene, as having been
entrusted to him, and which he had left the Court at half-past three
o'clock to enter upon, there could be no manner of doubt. Mr. Willett
had expected an answer from him on Tuesday morning--it was the last
day of his stay in London, for he would take his departure by the
Dover mail in the evening--which answer never came. That Mr. Ollivera
was writing the letter for the nine o'clock night despatch from
Helstonleigh, and that the words in the commencing lines, "should I
never see you again," referred solely to Mr. Willett's precarious
health, and to the belief that he would not live to return again from
India, also appeared to be indisputable. If this were so, why then,
the first part of the letter, at any rate, was the sane work of a
perfectly sane man, and no more pointed at self-destruction than it
did at self-shampooing. The clergyman and Mr. Willett, arriving at
this most natural conclusion, sat and looked at each other for a few
moments in painful silence. That unexplained and apparently
unexplainable letter had been the one sole stumbling-block in Henry
William Ollivera's otherwise perfect belief.

But, to leave no loophole of uncertainty, Charles Willett was sought
out. When found (with slippers down at heel, a short pipe in his
mouth, and a pewter pint-pot at his elbow) he avowed, without the
smallest reticence, that John Ollivera's appointment for half-past
three on that long-past Monday afternoon in Helstonleigh, _had_ been
with him; and that, in answer to Mr. Ollivera's interference in his
affairs, he had desired him to mind his own business and to send word
to his brother to do the same.

This left no doubt whatever on the clergyman's mind that the commenced
letter had been as sensible and ordinary a letter as any man could sit
down to pen, and that the blotted words were appended to it by a
different hand--that of the murderer.

In the full flush of his newly-acquired information, he went straight
to the house of Mr. Greatorex, to pour the story into his uncle's ear.
It happened to be the very day alluded to in the last chapter--in the
evening of which you had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Roland Yorke
industriously putting his shoulder to the wheel, after the ordinary
hours of office work were over.

Mr. Greatorex had been slightly discomposed that day in regard to
business matters. It seemed to him that something or other was
perpetually arising to cause annoyance to the firm. Their connection
was on the increase, requiring the unwearied, active energies of its
three heads more fully than it had ever done; whereas one of those
heads was less efficient in management than he used to be--the second
of them, Bede Greatorex. Mr. Greatorex, a remarkably capable man,
always had more hard, sterling, untiring work in him than Bede, and he
had it still. With his mother's warm Spanish blood, Bede had inherited
the smallest modicum of temperamental indolence. As he had inherited
(so ran the suspicion), the disease which had proved fatal to her.

"I cannot reproach him as I would," thought Mr. Greatorex, throwing
himself into a chair in his room, when he quitted the office for the
day, urged to despair almost at this recent negligence, or whatever it
was, that had been brought home to them, and which had been traced to
some forgetfulness of Bede's. "With that wan, weary look in his face,
just as his mother's wore when her sickness was coming on, it goes
against me to blow him up harshly, as I should Frank. He must be very
ill; he could not, else, look as he does; perhaps already nearly past
hope: it was only when she was past hope that she suddenly failed in
her round of duties and broke down. And he has one misery that his
mother had not--trouble of mind, with that wife of his."

It was at this juncture that Mr. Greatorex was broken in upon by Henry
William Ollivera. The clergyman, standing so that the bright slanting
rays of the hot evening sun, falling across his face, lighted up its
pallor and its suppressed eagerness, imparted the tale that he had
come to tell: the discovery that he and Edmund Willett had that day
made.

It a little excited Mr. Greatorex. Truth to say, he had always looked
upon that unfinished letter as a nearly certain proof that his
nephew's death _had_ been in accordance with the verdict of the jury.
To him, as well as to the dead man's brother, the apparent
impossibility of discovering any cause for its having been penned, or
person for whom it could have been intended, had remained the great
gulf of difficulty which could not be bridged over.

In this, the first moment of the disclosure, it seemed to him a great
discovery. We all know how exaggerated a view we sometimes take of
matters, when they are unexpectedly presented to us. Mr. Greatorex
went forth, calling aloud for his son Bede: who came down, in return
to the call, in dinner attire. As Bede entered, his eye fell on his
cousin Henry--or William, as Mr. Greatorex generally liked to call
him--whose usually placid countenance was changed by the scarlet
hectic on its thin cheeks. Bede saw that something, great or little,
was about to be disclosed, and wished himself away again: for some
time past he had felt no patience with the fancies and crotchets of
Henry Ollivera.

It was Mr. Greatorex who disclosed what there was to tell. Bede
received it ungraciously; that is, in spite of disbelieving mockery.
Henry Ollivera was accustomed to these moods of his. The clergyman did
not resent it openly; he simply stood with his deep eyes fixed
watchingly on Bede's face, as if the steady gaze, the studied silence,
carried their own reproof.

"I believe, if some wight came down on a voyage from the moon, and fed
you with the most improbable fable ever invented by the erratic
imagination of man, you would place credence in it," said Bede,
turning sharply on Mr. Ollivera.

"Edmund Willett has not come from the moon," quietly spoke the
clergyman.

"But Charles Willett--lost man!--is no better than a lunatic in his
drinking bouts," retorted Bede.

"At any rate, he was neither a lunatic nor drunk today."

"His story does not hold water," pursued Bede. "Is it likely--is it
possible, I should almost say,--that had he been the man with whom the
appointment was held that afternoon, he would have kept the fact in
until now?--and when so much stir and enquiry were made at the time?"

"Edmund Willett says it is just exactly the line of conduct his
brother might have been expected to pursue," said Mr. Ollivera. "He
was always of an ill-conditioned temper--morose, uncommunicative. That
what Charles Willett says is perfectly true, I am as sure of as I am
that I stand hers, You had better see him yourself, Bede."

"To what end?"

"That you may be also convinced."

"And if I were convinced?" questioned Bede, after a pause. "What
then?"

"I think the enquiry should be reopened," said Mr. Ollivera,
addressing chiefly his uncle. "When I have spoken of pursuing it
before, I was always met, both by Butterby and others, with the
confuting argument that this letter was in my way. To say the truth, I
found it a little so myself always. Always until this day."

"Don't bring up Butterby as an authority, William," interposed Mr.
Greatorex. "If Butterby cannot conduct other cases better than he has
conducted the one concerning our lost cheque, I'd not give a feather
for him and his opinions."

For the purloiner of that cheque remained an undiscovered puzzle; and
the house of Greatorex and Greatorex (always excepting one of them)
felt very sore upon the point, and showed it.

"William is right, Bede. This discovery removes a mountain of
uncertainty and doubt. And if, by ventilating the unhappy affair again
we can unfold the mystery that attaches to it, and so clear John's
name and memory, it ought to be done."

"But what can be tried, sir, or done, more than has been?" asked Bede,
in a tone of reasoning.

"I don't know. Something may be. Of one thing I have felt a conviction
all along--that if John's life was rudely taken by man's wicked hand,
heaven will in time bring it to light. The old saying, that 'Murder
will out,' is a very sure one."

"I do not think it has proved so in every instance," returned Bede,
dreamily carrying his recollection backwards. "Some cases have
remained undiscovered always."

"Yes, to the world," acquiesced Mr. Greatorex. "But there lies a firm
belief in my mind that no man--or woman either--over committed a
wilful murder, but someone or other suspected him in their secret
heart, and saw him in all his naked, miserable sin."

"Don't bring woman's name in, father. I never like to hear it done."

Bede spoke in the somewhat fractious tone he had grown often to use;
that it was but the natural outlet of some inward pain none could
doubt. Mr. Greatorex put it down chiefly to bodily suffering.

"Women have done worse deeds than men," was the elder man's answer.
And Mr. Ollivera took a step forward.

"Whether man or woman did this--that is, took my dear brother's
life--and then suffered the slur to rest on his own innocent
self--suffered him to be buried like a dog--suffered his best
relatives to think of him as one who had forfeited Heaven's redeeming
mercy, I know not," said the clergyman. "But from this time forward, I
vow never to slacken heart, or hand, or energy, until I shall have
brought the truth to light. The way was long and dark, and seemed
hopeless; it might be that I lost patience and grew slack and weary;
perhaps this discovery has arisen to reprove me and spur me on."

"But what can you do in it?" again asked Bede.

"Whatever I do in it, I shall not come to you to aid me, Bede," was
the reply. "It appears to me--and I have told you this before--that
you would rather keep the dark cloud on my brother's name than help to
lift it. What had he ever done to you in life that you should so
requite him?"

"Heaven knows my heart and wish would be good to clear him," spoke
Bede, with an earnestness that approached agitation. "But if I am
unable to do it,--if I cannot see how it may be done,--if the power of
elucidation does not lie with me--what would you?"

"You have invariably thrown cold water upon every effort of mine. My
most earnest purposes you have all but ridiculed."

"No, Henry. I have been sorry, vexed if you will, at what I thought
the mistaken view you take up. Over-reiteration of a subject leads to
weariness. If I was unable to see any other probable solution than the
one arrived at by the coroner and jury, it was not my fault. As to
John--if by sacrificing my own life, at any moment since I saw him
lying dead, could have restored his, I would willingly have offered it
up."

"I beg your pardon, Bede; I spoke hastily," said the man of peace. "Of
course I had no right to be vexed that you and others cannot see with
my eyes. But, rely upon it, the avowal now made by Charles Willett is
true."

"Yes, perhaps it may be," acknowledged Bede.

"William," interrupted Mr. Greatorex, lifting his head after a pause
of thought--and his voice had sunk to a whisper. "It could not be
that--that--Charles Willett was the one to slink in, and harm him?"

A kind of eager light flashed into the dark eyes of Bede Greatorex, as
he turned them on his cousin. If it did not express a belief in the
possibility of the suggestion, it at least betrayed that the idea
stirred up his interest.

"No," said Mr. Ollivera. "No, no. Charles Willett has not behaved in a
straightforward manner over it, but he is cool and open now. He says
he has made it a rule for many years never to interfere voluntarily in
the remotest degree with other people's business; and therefore he did
not mention this until questioned today. Had he never been questioned,
he says, he would never have spoken. I cannot understand such a man;
it seems to me a positive sin not to have disclosed these facts at the
time; but I am sure he tells the whole of the truth now. And now I
must wish you good evening, for I have an engagement."

Bede went along the passage with his cousin, and thence was turning to
ascend the staircase. His father called him. "What is it?" Bede asked,
advancing.

"What is it?--why I want to talk to you about this."

"Another time, father. The dinner's waiting."

"You would go to dinner if the house were falling," spoke Mr.
Greatorex, in his hasty vexation.

"Will you not come, sir?"

"No. I don't want dinner. I shall get tea here and a chop with it.
Things that are happening worry me, Bede; if they don't you."

Bede went away with a heavy sigh. Perhaps he was more worried, and had
greater cause for it too, than his father; but he did not choose to
let more of it than he could help be seen.

Guests were at his table this evening, only some three or four; they
were bidden by Mrs. Bede, preparatory to going to the opera together.
It is more than probable that the suspicion of this assembly of guests
kept Mr. Greatorex away.

The dinner was elaborate and expensive as usual. Bede ate nothing. He
sat opposite to his wife and talked with the company, and took viand
after viand on his plate when handed to him; but only to toy with the
morsel for a few moments, and send it away all but untasted. Why did
his wife gather around her this continual whirl of gaiety?--he nearly
asked it aloud with a groan. Did she want to get rid of care? as,
heaven knew, he did. A looker-on, able to dive into Bede's heart,
might rather have asked, "Nay, why did he suffer her to gather it?"

The heat of the room oppressed him; the courses were long, but he sat
on--on, until quiescence became intolerable. When lights came in he
rose abruptly, went to the furthermost window, and threw it wide open.
Twilight encompassed the earth with her soft folds; the day's bold
garishness was over for at least some welcome hours. A woman was
singing in the street below, her barefooted children standing round
her with that shrinking air peculiar to such a group, and she turned
up a miserable, sickly, famine-stricken face to Bede, in piteous, mute
appeal. It was not ineffectual. Whatever his own cares and illness
might be, he at least could feel for others. Just as he flung the
woman a shilling, his wife came to him in a whisper, whose tone had an
unpleasant ring of taunt in it.

"Have you, as usual, the headache, tonight?"

"Headache and heartache, both, Louisa."

"I should suppose so, by your quitting the table. You might have
apologized."

"And you might give the house a little rest. How far I am from wishing
to complain or interfere unnecessarily, you must know, Louisa; but I
declare that this incessant strain of entertaining people will drive
me crazy. It is telling upon my nerves. It is telling in a different
way upon my father."

"I shall entertain people every day, when I am not engaged out
myself," said Mrs. Bede Greatorex. "Take a house for me away, in Hyde
Park, or Belgravia; or I'd not mind Portland Place; and then we should
not annoy Mr. Greatorex. As long as you are obstinate about the one, I
shall be about the other."

Bede seized her hand; partly in anger, partly--as it seemed--in
tenderness: and drew her nearer, that she might hear his impressive
whisper.

"I am not sure but your wish, that we should quit the house, will be
gratified--though not as you expect. My father's patience is being
tried. He is the real owner of the house; and at any moment he may say
to us, Go out of it. Louisa, I. have thought of mentioning this to you
for some little time; but the subject is not a pleasant one."

"I wish he would say it."

"But don't you see the result? You are thinking of a west-end mansion.
My means would not allow me to take a dwelling half so good as this
one. That's the simple truth, Louisa."

She flung his hand from her with a defiant laugh of power, as she
prepared to rejoin the guests. "_You_ might not, but I would."

And Bede knew that to run him helplessly into debt would have been
fun, rather than otherwise, to his wife.

Coffee came in at once, and Bede took the opportunity to escape. There
was no formal after-dinner sitting this evening, or withdrawal of the
ladies. As he passed along the corridor, Miss Channing was standing at
the door of the study. He enquired in a kind tone if she wanted
anything.

"I am waiting for Mrs. Greatorex--to ask her if I may go for an hour
to my brother's," answered Annabel. "Old Dalla will take me."

"Go by all means, if you wish," he said. "Why did you think it
necessary to ask? Do make yourself at home with us, Miss Channing, and
be as happy as you can."

Annabel thanked him, and he went downstairs, little supposing how very
far from happy it was possible for her to be, exposed to all the
caprices of his wife. Halting at the door for a moment he wandered
across the street, and stood there in the shade, mechanically
listening to the ballad woman's singing, wafted faintly from the
distance, just as he mechanically looked up at his own lighted
windows, and heard the gay laughter that now and again came forth from
them.

"I never ought to have married her," said the voice of conscience,
breathing its secrets from the cautious depths of his inmost heart.
"Every law, human and divine, should have warned me against it. I was
infatuated to blindness: nay, not to blindness; I cannot plead that:
but to folly. It was very wrong: it was horribly sinful: and heaven is
justly punishing me. The fault was mine: I might have kept aloof from
her after that miserably eventful night. I ought to have done so; to
have held her at more than arm's distance evermore. Ought!--lives
there another man on the face of the earth, I wonder, who would not?
The fault of our union was mine wholly, not hers; and so, whatsoever
trials she brings on me I will bear, patiently, as I best may. _I_
sought _her_. She would never have dared to seek me, after that night
and the discovery I made the day subsequently in poor John's room: and
the complication of ill arising, or to arise, from our marriage, _I_
have to answer for. I am nearly tired of the inward warfare: three
years of it! Three years and more, since I committed the mad act
of tying myself to her for life: for better or for worse: and it
has been nothing for me but one prolonged, never-shifting scene of
self-repentance. We are wearing a mask to each other: God grant that I
may go to my grave without being forced to lift it! For her sake; for
her sake!"

He paused to raise his hat from his brow and wipe the sweat that had
gathered there. And then he took a step forward and a step backward in
the dim shade. But he could not drive away, even for a moment, the
care ever eating away his heart, or turn his vision from the
threatening shadow that always seemed looming in the distance.

"Of all the wild infatuation that ever took possession of the heart of
man for woman, surely mine for Louisa Joliffe was the worst! Did Satan
lead me on? It must have been so. 'Be sure your sin shall find you
out.' Since that fatal moment when I stood at the altar with her,
those ominous words have never, I think, been quite absent from my
memory. Every hour of my life, every minute of the day and night as
they pass, does my sin find me. Knowing what I did know, could I not
have been content to let her go her own way, while I went mine? Heaven
help me! for I love her yet, as man rarely has loved. And when my
father, or any other, casts a reflection on her, it is worse to me
than a dagger's thrust. So long as I may, I will shield her from----"

It was at this moment that the soliloquy, so pregnant with weighty if
vague revelation, was broken in upon by Mr. Roland Yorke. Little
guessed careless Roland what painful regrets he had put a temporary
stop to. Bede, as was previously seen, went indoors, and Roland
departed with Miss Channing on her evening visit, dismissing Dalla
without the smallest ceremony.

The carriage, to convey Mrs. Bede Greatorex and her friends abroad,
drove up. Bede, somewhat neglectful of the rest, came out with his
wife, and placed her in it.

"Are you not coming with us?" she bent forward to whisper, seeing he
was about to close the door.

"Not tonight. I have some work to do."

"Sulky as usual, Bede?"

His lips parted to retort, but he closed them, and endured meekly.
Sulky to her he had never been, and she knew it. The carriage moved
away with her: and Bede lifted his hat; a smile, meant to deceive the
world, making his face one of careless gaiety.

Whether he had work to do, or not, he did not get to it. Sauntering
away from the door, away and away, hardly knowing and not heeding
whither, he found himself presently in the Strand, and thence at the
river-side. There he paced backwards and forwards with unequal steps,
his mind lost in many things, but more especially in the communication
made that day by Henry Ollivera.

The fragmentary letter connected with that long-past history, and the
appointment spoken of by Mr. Kene, that John Ollivera went out of
court to keep, had been as much of a puzzle to Bede Greatorex as it
was to other people. Upon reflection, he came now to think that the
present solution of the affair was the true one. Would it lead to
further discovery? Very fervently he hoped that it would not. There
were grave reasons, as none knew better than Bede, for keeping all
further discovery back; for, if it came, it would hurl down confusion,
dismay, and misery, upon innocent heads as well as guilty ones.

The river, flowing on in its course, was silent and dull in the
summer's night. A line of light illumined the sky in the west where
the sultry sun had gone down in heat: and as Bede looked towards it
and thought of the All-seeing Eye that lay beyond that light, he felt
how fruitless it was for him to plot and plan, and to say this shall
be or this shall not be. The course of the future rested in the hands
of one Divine Ruler, and his own poor, short-sighted, impotent will
was worse than nothing.



CHAPTER XXIII.
LAID WITH HIS FOREFATHERS.


So great a man as Sir Richard Yorke must of course be honoured with a
great funeral. He had died on a Thursday; the interment was fixed for
the next Friday week: which, taking the heat of the weather and sundry
other trifles into consideration, was a little longer than it need
have been. Sir Vincent, his new dignity as head of the Yorke family
lying upon him with a due and weighty self-importance, was determined
(like Jonas Chuzzlewit of wide memory) that the public should see he
did not grudge to his late father any honour in the shape of plumes
and mutes and coaches and show, that it was in his power to accord to
him. There were three costly coffins, one of them of lead, and at the
very least three and sixty sets of towering feathers. So that Portland
Place was as a gala that day, and windows and pavements were alike
filled with sight-gazers.

The Rev. William Yorke, Minor Canon of Helstonleigh Cathedral,
Chaplain of Hazledon, and Rector of Coombe Lee, was bidden to it. He
was not very nearly related to the deceased (his father and Sir
Richard had been second cousins), but he was undoubtedly a rising man
in the Church, and Sir Vincent thought fit to remember the connection.
The clergyman stood in the relationship of brother-in-law to Hamish
Channing; and it was at Hamish's house he stayed during the brief
stay--two days--of his sojourn in town.

Another, honoured with an invitation, was Gerald Yorke. Roland was not
of a particularly exacting disposition, but he did think he, the
eldest, ought not to have been passed over for his younger brother.
Oughts don't go for much, however, in some things, as Roland knew.
Gerald belonged to the great world: he had, fashionable chambers,
fashionable friends, fashionable attire, and a fashionable drawl; his
private embarrassments were nothing to Sir Vincent; in fact they might
be said to be fashionable too: and so Gerald, the consequential, was
bidden to a seat in a mourning-coach, with feathers nodding on the
four horses' heads.

Roland was ignored. Not more entirely so than if Sir Vincent had never
heard there was such a man in the world. A lawyer's clerk, enjoying a
pound a week and a turn-up bedstead, who took copying home to do at
twopence a page, and avowed he had just been nearly on the point of
turning hot-pie vendor, was clearly not an individual fit to be
suffered in contact with a deceased baronet, even though it were only
to follow him to the tomb of his forefathers. But, though Roland was
not there, his master was Mr. Greatorex. And Mr. Greatorex, as
solicitor and confidential man of business to the late Sir Richard,
occupied no unimportant post in the procession.

It was late in the afternoon; and the mortal remains, bereft of all
their attendant pomp and plumes and scutcheons had been left in their
resting-place, when a mourning coach drew up to Mr. Channing's, out of
which stepped William and Gerald Yorke. Roland, happening to be there,
watched the  descent from the drawing-room window side by side with
Nelly Channing, and it may be questioned which of the two looked on
with the more unsophisticated interest. Mr. Greatorex had not been
quite so unmindful of Roland's claims to be considered as Sir Vincent
was, and had told him he might take holiday on the day of his uncle's
funeral, by remaining away from the office.

Roland obeyed one portion of it literally--the taking _holiday_. It
never occurred to Roland that he might turn the day to profit, by
putting his shoulder to the wheel, and his fingers to copying; holiday
was holiday, and he took it as such. Rigged out in a handsome new suit
of black (made in haste by Lord Carrick's tailor), black gloves, and a
band of cloth on his hat, Roland spent the forepart of the day in
sightseeing. As many showplaces as could be gone into for nothing, or
next to nothing, he went to; beginning with Madame Tussaud's waxwork,
for which somebody gave him admission, and ending with a live giantess
down in Whitechapel. Late in the afternoon, and a little tired, he
arrived at Hamish Channing's, and was rewarded by seeing Annabel. Mrs.
Bede Greatorex (gracious that day) had given Miss Channing permission
to spend the evening there to meet her sister's husband, the Rev.
William Yorke. Hamish, just in from his office, sat with them. Nelly
Channing, her nose flattened against the windowpane, shared with
Roland the delight of the descent from the coach. Its four black
horses and their lofty plumes, struck on the child's mind with a
sensation of awe that nearly overpowered the admiration. She wore a
white frock with black sash, and had her sleeves tied up with black
ribbons. Mrs. Channing, herself in black silk, possessed a large sense
of the fitness of things, and deemed it well to put the child in these
ribbons today, when two of the mourners would be returning there from
the funeral.

They came upstairs, William and Gerald Yorke, and entered the
drawing-room, the silk scarves on their shoulders, and the flowing
hat-bands of crape sweeping the ground. Nelly backed into a corner,
and stood there staring at the attire. It was the first time the
clergyman and Roland had met for many years. As may have been gathered
during back pages, Roland did not hold his cousin in any particular
admiration, but he knew good manners (as he would himself have phrased
it) better than to show aught but civility now. In fact, Roland's
resentment was very much like that of a great many more of us--more
talk than fight. They shook hands, Roland helped him to take off the
scarf, and for a few moments they were absorbed in past interests.
Whatever Roland's old prejudices might have been he could not deny
that the Rev. William Yorke was good-looking as of yore; a tall,
slender, handsome man of four-and-thirty now, bearing about him the
stamp of a successful one; his fresh countenance was genial and kind,
although a touch of the noted Yorke pride sat on it.

That pride, or perhaps a consciousness of his own superiority, for
William Yorke was a good man and thought well of himself for it,
prevented his being so frankly cordial with Roland as he might have
been. Roland's many faults in the old days (as the clergyman had
deemed them), and the one great fault which had brought humiliation to
him in two ways, were very present to his mind tonight. Slighting
remarks made by Gerald on his brother during the day, caused Mr. Yorke
to regard Roland as no better than a mauvais sujet, down in the world,
and not likely to get up in it. Gerald, on the contrary, he looked
upon as a successful and rising man. Mr. Yorke saw only the surface of
things, and could but judge accordingly.

"How is Constance?" enquired Roland. "I sent her word not to marry
you, you know."

"Constance is well and happy, and charged me to bring you a double
share of love and good remembrances," answered the clergyman, slightly
laughing.

"Dear old Constance! I say," and Roland dropped his voice to a
mysterious whisper, "is not Annabel like her? One might think it the
same face."

Mr. Yorke turned and glanced at Annabel--she was talking apart with
Gerald. "Yes, there is a good deal of resemblance," he carelessly said,
rather preoccupied with marvelling how the young man by his side came
to be so well dressed.

Roland, his resentments shallow as the wind, and as fleet in passing,
would have shaken hands with Gerald as a matter of course. Gerald
managed to evade the honour without any apparent rudeness; he had the
room to greet and his silk scarf to unwind, and it really seemed to
Roland that it was quite natural he should be overlooked.

"A magnificent funeral," spoke Gerald, glancing askance at Roland's
fine suit of mourning, every whit as handsome as his own. "Seven
mourning coaches-and-four, and no end of private carriages."

"But I can't say much for their manners, they did not invite me," put
in Roland. "I'm older than you, Gerald."

"Aw--ah--by a year or two," croaked Gerald in his worst tone, as to
affectation and drawl. "One has, I take it, to--aw--consider the
position of a--aw--party on these--aw--occasions, not how old they may
be."

"Oh, of course," said Roland, some slight mockery in his good-natured
voice. "You are a man of fashion, going in for white-bait and iced
champagne, and I'm only an unsuccessful fellow returned like a bad
shilling, from Port Natal, and got to work hard for my bread and
cheese and beer."

As the hour of William Yorke's return from the funeral was uncertain,
but expected to be a late one, it had been decided that the meal
prepared should be a tea-dinner--tea and cold meats with it. Gerald
was asked to remain for it. A few minutes, and they were seated in the
dining-room at a well-spread board, Mrs. Channing presiding; Hamish,
with his bright face, his genial hospitality, and his courtly manners,
facing her. Roland and Annabel were on one side, the clergyman and
Gerald on the other. Miss Nelly, on a high chair, wedged herself in
between her mamma and Roland.

"Treason!" cried Hamish. "Who said little girls were to be at table?"

"Mamma did," answered quick Nelly. "Mamma said I should have a great
piece of fowl and some tongue."

"Provided you were silent, and not troublesome," put in Mrs. Channing.

"I'll keep her quiet," said Roland. "Nelly shall whisper only to me."

Miss Nelly's answer was to lay her pretty face close to Roland's. He
left some kisses on it.

Gerald sat next to Hamish and opposite to Annabel. Remembering the
state of that gentleman's feelings towards Mr. Channing, it may be
wondered that he condescended to accept his hospitality. Two reasons
induced him to it. Any quarters were more acceptable than his own just
now, and he had no invitation for the evening, even had it been decent
to show himself in the great world an hour after leaving his uncle in
the grave. The other reason was, that he was just now working some ill
to Hamish, and, wished to appear extra friendly to avert suspicion.

"I hope you have not dined, Roland," remarked Hamish, supplying him
with a large plate of pigeon-pie.

"Well, I have, and I've not," replied Roland, beginning upon the
tempting viand. "I bought three sausage-rolls at one o'clock, down
east way: it would have been my dinner but for this."

Gerald flicked his delicate cambric handkerchief out of his pocket and
held it for a moment to his nose, as if he were warding off some bad
odour that brought disgust to him. Sausage-rolls! Whether they, or the
unblushing candour of the avowal were the worst, he hardly knew.

"Sausage-rolls must be delicacies!" he observed with a covert sneer.
And Roland looked across.

"They are not as good as pigeon-pie. But they cost only twopence
apiece: and I had but sixpence with me. I have to regulate my appetite
according to my means," he added with a pleasant laugh and his mouth
full of crust and gravy.

"Roland--as you have, in a manner touched upon the subject--I should
like to ask what you think of doing," interposed William Yorke, in a
condescending but kindly tone. "You seem to have no prospects
whatever."

"Oh I shall get along," cheerfully answered Roland with a side glance
at Miss Channing. "Perhaps you'll see me in housekeeping in a year's
time from this."

"In housekeeping!"

"Yes: with a house of my own--and, something else. I'm not afraid. I
have begun to put my shoulder to the wheel in earnest. If I don't get
on, it shall not be from lack of working for it."

"How have you begun to put your shoulder to the wheel?"

"Well--I take home copying to do in my spare time after office hours.
I have been doing it in earnest over three weeks now."

"And how much do you earn at it weekly?" continued William Yorke.

A slight depression from its bright exultation passed over Roland's
ingenuous face. Hamish saw it, and laughed. Hamish was quite a
confidant, for Roland carried to him all his hopes and their tiresome
drawbacks.

"I can tell you: I added it up," said Roland. "Taking the three weeks
on the average, it has been two-and-twopence a week."

"Two-and-twopence a week!" echoed William Yorke, who had expected him
(after the laudatory introduction) to say at least two pounds two.
Roland detected the surprise and disappointment.

"Oh, well, you know, William Yorke, a fellow cannot expect to make
pounds just at first. What with mistakes, when the writing has to be
begun all over again, and the paying for spoilt paper, which Brown
insists upon, two-and-twopence is not so much amiss. One has to make a
beginning at everything."

"Are you a good hand at accounts?" enquired Mr. Yorke, possibly in the
vague notion that Roland's talents might be turned to something more
profitable than the copying of folios.

"I ought to be," said Roland. "If the counting up, over and over and
over again, of those frying-pans I carried to Port Natal, could have
made a man an accountant, it must have made one of me. I used to be at
it morning and evening. You see, I thought they were going to sell for
about eight-and-twenty shillings apiece, out there: no wonder I often
reckoned them up."

"And they did not!"

"Law, bless you! In the first place nobody wanted frying-pans, and I
had to get a Natal store-keeper to house them in his place for me--I
couldn't leave them on the quay. But the time came that I was obliged
to sell them: they were eating their handles off."

"With rust, I suppose."

"Good gracious, no! with _rent_, not rust. The fellow (they are
regular thieves, over there) charged me an awful rent: so I told him
to put them into an auction. Instead of the eight-and-twenty shillings
each that I had expected to get, he paid me about eight-and-twenty
pence for the lot, case and all. But if you ask whether I am a ready
reckoner, William Yorke, I'm sure I must be that."

The Rev. William Yorke privately thought there might be a doubt
upon the point. He fancied Roland's present prospects could not be
first-rate.

"The copying is nothing but a temporary preliminary," observed Roland.
"I am waiting to get a place under Government. Vincent Yorke I expect
can put me up for one, now he has come into power; and I don't think
he'll want the will, though he did pass me over today."

If ever face expressed condemnatory contempt, Gerald's did, as he
turned it fall on his brother. For, this very hope was being cherished
by himself. It was he who intended to profit by the interest of Sir
Vincent, to be exerted on his behalf. And to have a rival in the same
field, although one of so little account as Roland, was not agreeable.

"The best thing _you_ can do, is to go off again to Port Natal," he
said roughly. "You'll never get along here."

"But I intend to get along, Gerald. Once let me have a fair start--and
I have never had it yet--there's not many shall distance me."

"What do you call a fair start?" asked Mrs. Channing, who always
enjoyed Roland's sanguine dreams.

"A place where I can bring my abilities into use, and be remunerated
accordingly. I don't ask better than to work, and be paid for it. Only
let me earn a couple of hundreds a year to begin with, Mrs. Channing,
and you'd never hear me ask Vincent Yorke or anybody else for help
again."

"You had not used to like the prospect of work, Roland," spoke William
Yorke.

"But then I had not had my pride and laziness knocked out of me at
Port Natal."

William Yorke lifted his eyes. "Did that happen to you?"

"It did," emphatically answered Roland. "Oh, I shall get into
something good by-and-by, where my talents can find play. Of all
things, I should best like a farm."

"A farm!"

"A nice little farm. And if I had a few hundred pounds, I'd take one
tomorrow. Do you know anything of butter-making, Annabel?" he stopped
to ask, dropping his voice.

Annabel bent her blushing face over her plate, and pretended not to
hear. Roland thought she was offended.

"I didn't mean make it, you know," he whispered; "I'd not like to see
you do such a thing"--bringing his face back again to the general
company. "But it's of little good thinking of a farm, you see, William
Yorke, when there's no money to the fore."

"You don't know anything of farming," said Mr. Yorke, inwardly
wondering whether this appeal to Annabel had  meant anything, or was
only one of Roland's thoughtless interludes of speech.

"Don't I?" said Roland; "I was on one for ever so long at Port Natal,
and had to drive pigs. It is astonishing the sight of experience a
fellow picks up over there, and the little he learns to live upon."

"Because he has to do it, I suppose."

"That's the secret. I am earning a pound a week now, regular pay, and
make it do for all my wants. You'd not think it, would you, William
Yorke?"

"Certainly not, to look at you," said William Yorke, with a smile.
"Are clothes included?"

"Oh, Carrick goes bail for all that. I'm afraid he'll find the bills
running up; but a fellow, if he's a gentleman, must look decent. I'm
as careful as I can be, and sit in my shirtsleeves at home when it's
hot."

"Lady Augusta has visions of your walking about London streets in a
coat out at elbows. I think it troubles her."

Roland paused, stared, and then started up in impulsive contrition,
nearly pulling off the table-cloth.

"What a thoughtless booby I was, never to let her know! The minute you
get down home, you go to her, William Yorke. Tell her how it is--that
I have the run of Carrick's people for clothes, boots, hats, and all
the rest of it. This suit came home at eight this morning, with an
apology for not sending it last night--the fellow thought I might be
going to the funeral--and a sensible thought too! Look at it!"
stretching out his arms, and turning himself about, that Mr. Yorke
might get a comprehensive view of the superfine frock-coat and silken
linings. "I'm never worse dressed than this: only that my things are
not on new every day. You tell the mother this, William Yorke."

He had not done it in vanity; of that Roland possessed as little as
any one; but in eager, earnest desire to reassure his mother, and
atone to her for his ungrateful forgetfulness. Stooping for his table
napkin, he at down again.

"Yes, I am well-dressed, though I do have to work. And for recreation,
there's this house to come to; and dear old Hamish and Mrs. Channing
receive me with gladness and make much of me, just as though I had
always been good, and Nelly jumps into my arms."

"When do you mean to come to Helstonleigh?"

"Never," answered Roland, with prompt decision. "As I can't go back as
I wanted to--rich--I shall not go at all. What I wish to ask is, when
Arthur Channing is coming up here?"

"Arthur Channing! I cannot tell."

"It is a shame of people to get a fellow's hopes up, and then damp
them. Arthur wrote me word--oh, a month ago--that he was coming to
London on business for old Galloway. Close nearly upon that, comes a
second letter, saying Galloway was not sure that he should require to
send him. I _should_ like to serve him out."

William Yorke smiled. "Serve out Arthur?"

"Arthur! I'd like to draw Arthur round the old city in a car of
triumph, as we used to chair our city members. I mean that wretch of a
Galloway. He ought to be taken up for an impostor. Why did he go and
tell Arthur he should send him to London, if he didn't mean to?"

Gerald Yorke let his fork fall in a semi-passion, and nearly chipped
the beautiful plate of Worcester china: was _all_ the conversation to
be monopolised by Roland and his miserable interests? It was high time
to interfere. Picking up the fork with an air, he cleared his throat.

"Sir Vincent comes into about four thousand a-year, entailed property.
We went in to hear the will read by old Greatorex. It's not much, is
it?"

"Not to one reared to the notions Vincent Yorke has been," said
Hamish. "But he has more than that, I presume?"

"Some odds and ends, I believe: I asked Greatorex. And there's the
little homestead down in Surrey. Sir Richard's liabilities die with
him. Perhaps he had wiped them off beforehand?"

"I'm sure he had," said Roland, with good-natured warmth. "Oh, we hear
a good deal in our office. As to four thousand a-year being little for
one man, you should have been at Port Natal, Gerald, and you'd
estimate it differently."

"To a man about town, like myself, it seems a starvation pittance,
considering what Sir Vincent will have to do out of it," returned
Gerald loftily, speaking to any at table, rather than to his brother.

"That's just it," said Roland. "If I were a man about town, and had
not been out to Port Natal and learnt the value of money, it might
seem so to me. Dick won't find it enough, I daresay. I should think a
rent of four hundred a-year riches!"

Gerald curled his lip. "No doubt; and some pigs to drive."

"I'd like a pig, Roland," cried Nelly Channing, turning to him, and
unconsciously creating a diversion. "A pretty little pig, with blue
ribbons."

"As pretty as you," said Roland, squeezing her. "You mean a
guinea-pig, little stupid. As to driving pigs, Gerald--it's not a very
good employment of course; but you see I had to do what I was put
to--or starve."

"I'd rather starve than do it," retorted Gerald. "And so would any one
with the instincts of a gentleman."

"You only go out there and try what starving is; you'd t good-humour
ell a different tale," said Roland, maintaining his good-humour.
"Starving there means starving."

Some one of those turns in conversation, which occur so naturally,
brought round the subject to Mr. Ollivera. Roland, imparting sundry
revelations of his home-life at Mrs. Jones's--or, as he called her
still, Mrs. Jenkins--mentioned the clergyman's name.

"Don't you mean to call and see him?" he asked of William Yorke.
"You'd better."

But Mr. Yorke declined. "My time in London is so very short," he said;
"I go home tomorrow. Besides, I have really no acquaintance with Mr.
Ollivera. We never met but on one occasion."

"When you lent him your surplice," spoke Roland. And William Yorke
looked up in surprise.

"What do you know about it?"

"Oh, I know a great deal," returned Roland. "I say--why did you not
attend that night yourself? You promised."

"I did not promise. All I said was that I would consider of it. Upon
reflection, I thought it better not to go. The circumstances were very
peculiar; and the Dean, had he come to know of it, might have taken me
to task."

"Not he," said independent Roland. "The Dean's made of sterling gold."

"What sort of a chanter does Tom make?" enquired Hamish.

"Very fair; very fair, indeed," replied William Yorke, some patronage
in his tone, meant for the absent young minor canon. Consciously vain
of his own excellence in chanting, Mr. Yorke could but accord
comparative praise to Tom Channing's. The vanity was not without
cause; Mr. Yorke's sweet and sonorous voice was wont to fill the
aisles of the old cathedral with its melody.

Just as the tea was over, one of the servants came in with a folded
weekly review hot from the press on her silver waiter, and presented
it to her master. Hamish opened it with a slight apology, and was
glancing at its pages, when he folded it again with a sudden movement
and quietly put it in his pocket. His sight, in the moment's happy
confusion, partially faded; a bright hectic lighted his cheek; his
whole heart leaped up within him, as with a rushing, blissful sense of
realized hope. For he had seen that a review of his book was there.



CHAPTER XXIV.
AS IRON INTO THE SOUL.


The change in his face was remarkable. It was as though a blight had
passed over it and withered the hopeful life out.

He sat with the journal in his hand--the authoritative "Snarler"--and
read the cruel lines over and over again. When, in the solitude of his
own study, they first met his eager eye, skimming them rapidly, and
their purport was gathered in almost at a glance, a kind of sick
faintness seized upon his heart, and he hastily put away the paper as
though it were some terrible thing he dared not look further upon.

The shock was awful--and the word is not used in its often light
sense; the disappointment something not to be described. After the
departure of his guests, Roland and Gerald, and William Yorke had gone
by his own wish to take home Annabel and to make a late call on Mrs.
Bede Greatorex--if haply that fashionable dame might be found at
home--Hamish Channing had passed into his study; and, there, alone
with himself and his emotions, he once more unfolded the paper. All
the while he had sat with it in his pocket, a sweet tumultuous hope
had been stirring his bosom; he could hardly forbear, in his eagerness
to realize it, telling them to make haste and depart. And when they
were really going, it seemed that they were a month over it. He stood
up wishing them goodnight.

"By the way, Hamish, I should think your book would soon be getting
its reviews," spoke crafty Gerald, who had seen the journal brought
in, and knew what was in it. "I hope you'll get good ones, old
fellow."

And the wish was spoken with so much apparent genuineness, the tone of
the voice had in it so vast an amount of gushing feeling, that Hamish
gratefully wrung the offered hand. After that, even had he been of a
less ingenuous nature, he would have suspected the whole world of
abusing his book, rather than Gerald Yorke.

Shut up in his study, the lamp beside him, he unfolded the paper with
trembling expectation, his heart beating with happiness. It was one of
those moments, and they come in all our lives, which must stamp itself
on the memory for ever. He looked, and looked. And then put the pages
away in a kind of terror.

Never, in this age of bitter reviews, had a more bitter one than that
been penned. But for his intense unsuspicion, for his own upright
single-mindedness, he might possibly have recognized Gerald Yorke's
slashing style. Gerald, as its writer, never once occurred to him.
After awhile, when the first brunt of the shock had passed--and it was
almost as a shock of death--he took up the paper again, and read the
article through.

His hair grew damp with perspiration; his face burnt with a hot shame.
With this apparently candid, but most damnatory review before his
eyes, it seemed to him that his book must be indeed bad. The critique
was ably written, and it attacked him from all sides and on all
points. Gerald Yorke had taken pains with that as he had never taken
pains with any article before. It had been, so to say, days in
construction. One portion would be altered today, one tomorrow; and
the result was that it _told_. The chief characteristic of the whole
was sarcastic mockery. The scholarship of the book was attacked, (and
that scholarship--that is, of its writer--formed the chief point of
envy in a covert corner of Gerald's heart); its taste, its style, its
every thing. The pen had been steeped five fathoms deep in gall.
Rounded periods spoke of the work's utter worthlessness, and
affectionately warned the public against reading it, with quite
fatherly care. It called the author an impudent upstart; it demanded
to know what he meant by fostering such a book on the public; it
wondered how he had found a publisher; it almost prayed the gods, that
preside over literary careers, to deliver unhappy readers from James
Channing. Abuse and ridicule; ridicule and abuse; they rang the
changes one upon another. Hamish read; he turned back and read again;
and the fatal characters burnt themselves into his brain as with a
ruthless fire.

What a reward it was! Speaking only as a recompense for his devotion
and labour, leaving aside for the moment the higher considerations,
how cruel was the return! The devoted lad, read of in history,
concealed a fox in his bosom, and it repaid him by gnawing at his
vitals. That reward was not more remorselessly cruel than this. Where
was the use of Hamish Channing's patient industry, his persevering
endurance, his burning the midnight candle, to bring forth _this_
fruit? To what end the never-ceasing toil and care? While Gerald Yorke
had been flourishing in society, Hamish Channing was toiling. Burning
his candles, so to say, at both ends! The unwearied industry, the
patient continuance in labour, the ever-buoyant, trustful hope!--all
had been his.

Does the public realize what it is, I wonder, to exercise this
brain-work day by day, and often also night by night, week after week,
month after month, year after year? A book is put into the hands of a
reading man--or say a woman, if you will--and he devours it with
ardour or coolness, more or less of either as the case may be, and
makes his comments afterwards with complaisance, and says the book is
a nice book, and seems almost to think it has been brought out for his
special delectation. But does he ever cast a reflection on the toil
that book has cost the writer? Does he look up to him with even a
_thought_ of gratitude? Generally speaking, no. In the midst, perhaps,
of very adverse circumstances, of long-continued sickness, of
headache, heartache, many aches; when the inward spirit is fainting at
life's bitter troubles, and it would seem in vain to struggle more,
the labour must yet be done. Look at Hamish Channing--his is no ideal
case. His day's work over, he got to his work--the night's--and wrote
on, until his mind and body were alike weary. While others played, he
toiled; when others were abroad at their banquetings and revellings,
idling away their hours in what the world calls society, and Gerald
Yorke making one amidst them, he was shut up in his room, labouring on
persistently. And this was his reward!

The best energies of his power and intellect had Hamish Channing given
to the book: the great gift of genius, which had certainly been
bestowed largely upon him, was exercised and brought to bear. No merit
to him for that; he could not help exercising it. It appeared to him,
this writing for his fellow men, to be the one special end for which
he was sent into the world--where every man has his appointed and
peculiar aptitude for someone calling or duty, though it happens that
a vast many never find out their own until too late. A man reared,
as had been James Channing, to good; anxious to live here in the
single-minded fulfilment of every duty, using the world only as a
passage to a better, can but write as a responsible agent; whether he
may be working at a religious tract or a story of fiction, he does it
as to his Creator, imploring day by day that he may be helped in it.
Had Hamish been required to write without that sense of responsibility
upon him, he would have put aside his pen.

And the disappointment! the rude, pitiless, condemning shock! It might
be that such was necessary; that it had been sent direct from heaven.
The least sinful man on earth may have need of such discipline.

Again Hamish read the article from beginning to end. Read, and re-read
it. It was as if the lines possessed the fatal fascination of the
basilisk, attracting him against his will. He writhed under the
executioner's knife, while he submitted to it. The book was a good and
brilliant work, betraying its genius in every line, well conceived,
well plotted, ably written. It was one of those that take the whole
imagination of the reader captive; one that a man is all the better
for reading, and rises up from with a subdued spirit, hushed breath,
and a glowing heart. While enchaining man's deepest interest, it yet
insensibly led his thoughts to Heaven. Simple though it was in its
pure Saxon diction, its sentiments were noble, generous, and exalted.
Not a thought was there to offend, not a line that, for its parity,
might not have been placed in the hands of his child. Modest, as all
gifted with true genius are, yet possessing (for that must always be),
a latent consciousness of his great power, Hamish had looked forward
for success to his book, as surely as he looked for Heaven. That it
could be a failure, he had simply never thought of; that it should be
badly received, ridiculed, condemned, written down, had not entered
his imagination. Had he been told such might be the result, he would
have quietly answered that it was impossible.

In all matters where the minds and feelings, the inward, silent hopes
and fears, are deeply touched, it cannot be but that we are
sensitively alive to the opinions of our fellow men, and swayed by
their judgment. As Hamish Channing read and re-read, learning the
cruel sentences almost by rote, his heart failed within him. For the
time being, he thought he must have erred in supposing the book so
good; that it must be a foolish and mistaken book, deserving only of
their sharp criticism; and a sense of humiliation, than which nothing
could be more intensely painful, took possession of his spirit.

But the belief could not remain. The mood changed again. The book
resumed nearly its estimated place in his mind, and the sense of
humiliation was superseded by the smarting conviction of cruel
injustice. What had he or his book done that they should be so
reviled?

"Lord, thou knowest all things! surely I have not deserved this!"
irrepressibly broke from the depths of his anguish.

No, he had not deserved it. As some others have not, who yet have had
to bear it. It is one of the world's hard lessons, one that very few
are appointed to learn. Injustice and evil and oppression exist in the
world, and must exist until its end. Only then shall we understand
wherefore they are permitted. Pardon, reader, if a line or two seem to
be repeated. The many months of toil, the patient night-labour, that
but for the hope-spring rising in the buoyant heart might have been
found too wearing; the self-denial ever exercised; the weary night
watching and working--all had been thrown back upon Hamish Channing,
and rendered, as it were, nugatory. Try and picture to yourselves
what this labour is; its aspirations of reward, its hopes of
appreciation--and for a wickedly disposed man, or simply a carelessly
indifferent man, or a vain, presumptuous man, or a man who has some
petty spite to gratify against author or publisher, or a rival
reviewer, or a man that writes but in wanton idleness, to dash it down
with a few strokes of a pen!

Such things have been. They will be again. But if Gerald Yorke, and
others like him, would consider how they violate the divine law of
enjoined kindness, it might be that the pen would now and then pause.

Would Gerald have to answer for it at the Great Day of Reckoning? Ah,
that is a question very little thought of; one perhaps difficult to
answer. He had set himself deliberately in his foolish envy, in his
ill-conditioned spirit, to work ill to Hamish Channing: to put down
and write down the book that he knew was depended on to bring back its
return, that was loved and cherished almost as life. It was within the
range of possibility that he might work more ill than he bargained
for. Heaven is not in the habit of saying to man by way of reminder
when he gets up in a morning, "I am looking at you:" but it has told
us such a thing as that every secret word and thought and action shall
be brought to light, whether it be good or whether it be evil. Gerald
ignored that, after the fashion of this busy world; and was perfectly
self-complacent under the ignoring.

Only upon such a mind as Hamish Channing's, with his nervous
attributes of genius, his refined sensitiveness, could the review have
brought home its worst bitterness. Fortunately such minds are very
rare. Gerald Yorke had little conception of the extent of its fruit.
_He_ would have set on and sworn off his anger, and called the writer,
who could thus stab in the dark, a false coward, and sent him by
wishes to all kinds of unorthodox places, and vowed aloud to his
friends that he should like to horsewhip or shoot him. Thus the brunt,
with him, would have been worked off; never so much as touched the
vital feelings, if Gerald possessed any. It was another thing with
Hamish Channing. He could almost have died, rather than have spoken of
the attack to any living man; and if forced to it, as we are sometimes
forced to unwelcome things, it would have brought the red blush of
shame to his sensitive brow, to his shrinking spirit.

He sat on; on, with his aching heart. One hand was pressed upon his
chest: a dull pain had seated itself there. Never again, as it seemed
to him, should he look up from the blow. More and more the cruelty and
the injustice struck upon him. Does it so strike upon you, reader? The
book was not perfection (I never met with one that was, in spite of
what the reviews chose to affirm of Mr. Gerald Yorke's), but it was at
least written in an earnest, truthful spirit, to the utmost of the
abilities God had given him. How had it invoked this requital? Hamish
pondered the question, and could not answer it. What had he done to be
shown up to the public; a butt for any, that would, to pitch scorn at?
There was no appeal; there could be no redress. The book had been held
forth to the world--at least to the thousands of it that would read
the "Snarler"--as a bad and incapable book, one they must avoid as the
work of a miserably presumptive and incapable man.

A slight movement in the next room, and Mrs. Channing came in with
Nelly. Miss Nelly, in consideration of the late substantial tea, had
not been sent to bed at the customary hour. Hamish slipped the review
inside his table-desk, and greeted them with a smile, sweet-tempered
as ever under the blow. But his wife saw that some change lay on his
face.

"Is anything the matter, Hamish? You look--worn; as if you had
received some ill news."

"Do I? I am a little tired, Ellen. It has been very hot today."

"I thought you were not going to work tonight."

"Oh, I'm not working. Well, young lady, what now?"

Miss Nelly had climbed on his knees. She had been brought in to say
goodnight.

"When's the ship coming home, papa?"

He suddenly bent down and hid his face on the child's bright one.
Heaven alone knew what the moment's suffering was and how he contrived
not to betray it.

"Will it come tomorrow, papa?"

"We shall see, darling. I don't know."

The subdued, patient tone had something of hopelessness in it. Mrs.
Channing thought he must be very tired.

"Come, Nelly," she said. "It is late, you know."

He kissed the child tenderly as ever, but so quietly, and whispered a
prayer for God to bless her; his tone sounding like one of subdued
pain, almost as though his heart were breaking. And Nelly went dancing
out, talking of the ship and the good things it was to bring.

Quite immediately, a gentleman was shown in. It was the publisher of
the book. Late though the hour was, he had come in some perturbation,
bringing a copy of the "Snarler."

"Have you any enemy, Mr. Channing?" was nearly the first question he
asked, when he found Hamish had seen the article.

"Not one in the wide world, so far as I know."

"The review of your book is so remarkably unjust, so entirely at
variance with fact and truth, that I should say only an enemy could
have done it," persisted the publisher. "Look, besides, at the rancour
of its language, its evident animus; I scarcely ever read so
aggravated an attack."

But still Hamish could only reiterate his conviction. "I have no
enemy."

"Well, it is a great pity; a calamity, in short. When once an author's
reputation is made and he is a favourite with the public, bad reviews
cannot harm him: but to a first book, where the author is unknown,
they are sometimes fatal."

"Yes, I suppose they are," acquiesced Hamish.

"We must wait now for the others, Mr. Channing. And hope that they
will be the reverse of this. But it is a sad thing--and, I must say, a
barefaced injustice."

Nothing more could be said, nothing done. The false review was in the
hands of the public, and Hamish and his publisher were alike powerless
to arrest or remedy the evil. The gentleman went out, leaving Hamish
alone.

Alone with his blow and its anguish. He felt like one who, living all
night in a sweet dream, has been rudely awakened to some terrible
reality. The sanguine hopes of years were dashed away; life's future
prospects had broken themselves up. If ever the iron entered into the
soul of man, it had surely passed into that of James Channing.

The injustice told upon him worse than all; the unmerited stab-wound
would damage him for aye. In his bosom's bitter strife, he almost
dared to ask how men could be permitted thus to prey one upon another,
and not be checked by Heaven's lightning. But, to that there might be
no answer: others have asked it before him.


"So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under
the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had
no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power: but
they had no comforter. Wherefore I praised the dead which are already
dead more than the living which are yet alive."


Involuntarily, with a strange force, these words passed through the
mind of James Channing.

But the wise King of Israel--and God had given him more than earthly
wisdom--could give no explanation of why this should be.



PART THE THIRD.



CHAPTER XXV.
DURING THE AUTUMN.


This must be called the third part of the story, if we may reckon the
short commencing prologue as the first. The year had gone on to
October, and that month was quickly passing.

The lapse of time, some three or four months, had not brought any
change worth recording: people and things were in the main very much
in the position that they had been: but a slight summary of progress
must be given.

Bede Greatorex had been on the wing. In early August he went abroad
with his wife, choosing Switzerland as his first halting-ground. Bede
had proposed some place (if that could be found) less frequented by
the English; and Mrs. Bede had retorted that if he wanted to vegetate
in an outlandish desert, he might go to it alone. In the invariable
kindness and consideration Bede observed to her, even to her whims, he
yielded:  and they went off in the commotional wake of a shoal of
staring tourists, with another commotional shoal behind them.

Mr. Greatorex it was who had insisted on the holiday for Bede. "You
are getting more incapable of hard work every day," he plainly said to
him: "a rest will, I hope, restore you; and take it you must." Bede
yielded. That he was very much in need of a change of some sort, he
knew. And of rest also--if he could only get it. But the latter might
be more hard to obtain than Mr. Greatorex suspected or imagined.

So they went to Switzerland first: Bede and his wife, and her maid
Tallet. Bede thought the party would have been a vast deal more
compact and comfortable without the lady's-maid, not to speak of the
additional expense, and he gently hinted as much. The hint was quite
lost on Mrs. Bede, who took not the smallest notice of it. In point of
fact, that lady (besides being incorrigibly idle, never doing an
earthly thing for herself) had absolute need of artistic aid in the
matter of making-up: face and shape and hair and attire alike
requiring daily renovation. From Switzerland they went rushing about
to other places, not at all necessary to note, and got back home the
middle of October, after rather more than two months' absence; being
followed by nearly a fourgon of fashions from Paris: for that
seductive capital had been their last resting-place, and Mrs. Bede had
found its magazins as seductive as itself. Bede winced at the cheques
he had to give.

Mr. Greatorex started with alarm when he saw his son. They got home at
night, having come up by the tidal train from Folkestone, which had
been somewhat delayed in consequence of the boat's rough passage.
During their absence, it had been the quietest and happiest home
imaginable: Mr. Greatorex, Annabel Channing, and the little girl
forming it; Frank Greatorex having holiday as well as Bede. For
visitors they had Henry William Ollivera and Roland Yorke, one or the
other dropping in to tea twice or thrice a week. Mr. Greatorex was a
very father to Annabel; and Miss Jane, subjected to regularity and
desirable influences only, was on her best behaviour. The old lawyer,
in the happy quiet, the relief conferred by the absence of noise and
Mrs. Bede, thought the good old times must be coming back again.

All three were sitting together in the drawing-room when Bede and his
wife got in. The chandelier's rays flashed full on Bede's face, and
Mr. Greatorex started. Far from his son's having derived benefit from
the prolonged tour, he looked worse than ever; his cheeks hollow and
hectic, his face altogether worn. Perhaps for the first time it struck
Mr. Greatorex, as he glanced from one to the other, that _she_
likewise looked thin and worn, with restless eyes and hollow cheeks,
hectic also. But in the hectic there was this difference: Bede's was
natural, hers was put on. What would they have been without the rouge?

Bede _said_ he was better. When Mr. Greatorex spoke seriously to him
on the following morning, recommending that there should be a
consultation, Bede laughed. He declared that the rest from business
had done him an immense deal of good. Thin? Oh of course he was thin.
So was Louisa--did Mr. Greatorex not notice it?--Tallet was the same,
for the matter of that: they had gone whirling about from place to
place, a little too fast, he supposed, making a toil of pleasure. And
then the dreadful sea passage!--of course they looked the worse last
night, but they were both all right this morning.

So spoke Bede, and went to work with a will: really with some of his
old energy. He appeared fresh and tolerably well after the night's
rest; and Mr. Greatorex felt reassured.

Gerald Yorke was another who had taken holiday. Gerald had managed to
get an invitation to cruise in the Honourable Mr. Fuller's yacht; and
Gerald, with two or three other invited guests, went careering off in
it for the space of six weeks. Before starting, he had fully
accomplished his reviewing work with regard to Hamish Channing's
book--but that can be left until later. Gerald enjoyed himself
amazingly. The yacht put into foreign ports on occasion, and they got
a few days' land cruise. The honourable owner treated his friends
right royally, and Gerald had not felt so much at ease since he was a
boy. By a slice of luck, which Gerald hardly believed in at the time,
he had induced Vincent Yorke to lend him fifty pounds before starting,
and he thought himself laudably generous in dividing this with his
wife.

"Now mind, Winny," he said to her on the morning of his departure, "I
shall be away about five weeks. It can't take you five pounds a week
to live and pay rent, so I shall expect you to have a good sum in hand
when I get back. I'll drop you a letter now and then, but you'll not
be able to write to me, as we shall be moving about from place to
place just as the wind or mood takes us."

Therefore, on the score of his wife and children, Gerald was entirely
at ease; and he quite expected, after his charge to Winny, that she
would have something like eight or ten pounds left of the twenty-five;
at least, that she ought to have. He was out of reach of creditors
too; the future he did not allow to trouble him (he never did), and
Gerald gave himself wholly up to the enjoyment of the present.

Little did Gerald Yorke suspect, as he leaned over the side of the
yacht in seductive indolence, smoking his cigar and sipping his iced
Burgundy, that poor Winny's money had come to an end before the second
week was over. It might not have cost him a single moment's care if he
had known it, for Gerald was one upon whom no earthly person's trouble
made the smallest impression, unless it touched him personally.
Effectually out of the way himself, Winny might just have done as she
best could. Gerald would have wished he was at hand to tell her she
deserved a shaking for her folly, and dismissed the matter from his
mind.

The way the money went so soon, was this. Gerald's man-servant in
chambers, just as glad as his master to get a respite from troublesome
creditors, who went well nigh to wear his patience out, informed one
of that ill-used body of men where Mr. Gerald Yorke had gone, on the
very day following the departure--"Cruising over the sea in a lord's
yacht to foreign parts, and likely to be away till winter." Of course
this struck the applicant dumb. He happened to know that Gerald Yorke
had a wife and family in town, and he set himself forthwith to learn
their address; which he found not very difficult of accomplishment.
His own debt was not a very heavy one, rather short of six pounds.
Down he went, demanded an interview with Mrs. Yorke, and so scared her
senses away by insisting upon instant payment there and then, that
Winny handed out the money. Other creditors got to know of this; they
went down too, and insisted upon the same prompt payment on their
score. Winny had many virtues no doubt, but there was one she could
certainly not boast of--courage. In all that related to debt and its
attendant annoyances, she was timid as a fawn. To be pressed for an
account and not pay it if she had the money in her possession, was
simply impossible to Winifred Yorke. But this I think has been hinted
at before. When the last fraction of the twenty-five pounds had left
her (in a payment of four pounds ten to a stern-looking, but by no
means abusive man). Winny burst into tears: saying aloud she did not
expect her husband home for weeks, did not know where to write to him,
and had not a sixpence left for herself and her poor little children.
Upon that the man put the half-sovereign back into Mrs. Yorke's hand
without a word, and departed.

So there was Winny, literally without a sixpence, save for this ten
shillings, and Gerald not quite two weeks gone. But for Hamish
Channing and his wife, she might really have starved; most certainly
she would have been turned out of doors; for the landlady, nearly
tired of Mr. Gerald Yorke's uncertain finances, had never kept her.
Miss Cook said she could not afford to let rooms and get no rent; and
no doubt that was true. Away went Winny with her grief and
helplessness to Mrs. Channing. It was an awkward dilemma, an
embarrassing appeal, and Ellen Channing felt it as such. On the one
hand there was this poor helpless woman, and her not much more
helpless children: on the other, Ellen was aware that Hamish had
already aided her far more extensively than he could afford.

Oh, it was true. Many and many a little luxury (Gerald would have
called it a necessary) that Hamish required in his failing health--for
it had begun to fail--did he debar himself of for the sake of Gerald
Yorke's wife and children. His heart ached for them. He took not the
smallest pleasure, he often walked where he ought to have rode, he
would eat breed and cheese for his lunch, or a dry roll where he
should have had a chop, that he might give the saved money to Mrs.
Yorke. In those golden dreams of fame and fortune, when his book was
approaching completion, and the realization of its returns had
apparently been drawing very near (months ago now, it seemed to be,
since they were dreamt out), Hamish had cherished a little delightful
plot: of setting Gerald on his legs again anonymously--of putting him
straight with the world, and perhaps something over, that he might see
his way at least a little clearer towards a more satisfactory state of
household matters for himself and Winny jointly. This had been
frustrated through the book's being written down, as already partially
told of, and a corner of the grief in Hamish Manning's weary heart was
sighing itself out for Gerald's sake. Hamish said not a word of the
disappointment to a living soul--we are speaking now in regard to
Gerald--Ellen had been his sole confidant, and he did not allude to it
even to her. To Hamish, it seemed that there was only the more
necessity for helping Gerald, in administering to the necessities of
his forsaken wife.

And Gerald's wife had invented a pleasant fable. As the weeks went on
after Winny came to London, it was not possible but that Gerald should
see someone must help her with money. Put to it for an excuse, one day
that Gerald asked the question point blank, and not daring to say it
was Hamish or Ellen Channing, Winny declared it was her mother. Gerald
stared a little. Mrs. Eales lived somewhere down in Wales, and existed
on an annuity of sixty pounds a-year. But though he wondered how the
good old mère contrived to help Winny so much, or in fact at all, he
inquired no farther. She might be reducing herself to a crust and a
glass of water a day; might be, for aught he knew, forestalling her
income wholesale; Gerald was complacently content to let it be so.

And thus matters had been going on: Winny in want always, and Hamish
taxing himself and his needs to help her. In September, the office he
served offered him a fortnight's holiday, thinking he looked as if he
required it. Hamish thanked them, but declined. He had no spirits for
taking holiday, and the helping of Gerald's family left him no funds
for it.

And when Winny burst into Mrs. Channing's one afternoon, with this
last confession, that she was utterly penniless, save for the
half-sovereign the man threw back, and should be so until Gerald came
home, weeks hence, telling it in the hearing of her three little
girls, her face woe-begone, her tears and sobs fit to choke her, Ellen
Channing felt annoyed and vexed. Mixed with her compassion for
Gerald's wife, there was a feeling that they had already done more for
her than they were justified in doing. Ellen would have liked the
fortnight's holiday very much indeed on her own score. A suspicion had
begun to dawn upon her that her husband was not so strong as he might
be, and one morning she spoke to him. It was only the London heat that
made him feel weak, Hamish answered, perhaps really thinking so. Very
well, argued Ellen, then there was all the more necessity for getting
out of it to the seaside for a change. And he would have been glad
enough to take the change had funds allowed it. Considering that the
small amounts of help incessantly applied to the need of Mrs. Gerald
Yorke would have taken them to the seaside ever so many times over,
Mrs. Channing had _felt_ it. And to have this fresh demand made, when
she had supposed Winny was safe for some weeks to come, to hear the
avowal that she wanted money for everything--food and lodging and
washing and sundries, did strike Mrs. Channing as being a little too
much.

Ellen Channing had been, as Ellen Huntley, reared to liberality. She
was large-hearted by nature, open-handed by habit. To refuse to
continue to aid Mrs. Yorke in her helpless need, would have gone
against her inclination, but to continue to supply her at any cost was
almost equally so. What to do, and what Winny would do, she could not
think. The first thing was, to take Winny's things off and comfort her
for the rest of the day; the next was to send the children to Miss
Nelly in the nursery; the third to wait till Hamish came in.

He arrived at the usual hour, his face a little brighter than it had
been of late. However James Channing might strive to conceal the
curious pain--not physical yet, only mental--always gnawing at his
heart-strings, and to put on a brave smile before his wife and the
world, she detected that all was not right with him. Leaving Winny, on
the plea that she would see whether the children were at tea yet, Mrs.
Channing followed her husband into his dressing-room.

He had just dried his hands when she entered, and was turning to the
glass to brush his hair. She stood by while telling him of Winny's
piteous state, and the impossibility, as it seemed, that they could do
much for her.

"Yes we can, Ellen," he said, turning to her with his bright smile
when the recital was over. "I have had a slice of luck today."

"A slice of luck!"

"Even so. You remember Martin Pope, poor fellow, who somehow got down
in the world at Helstonleigh, and borrowed a little money from me to
get him up in it again?"

"Yes, I remember. It was sixty pounds."

"Well, Ellen, he has been rather long getting up, but it is really
coming at last. He called in at the office this morning, and repaid me
the half of the loan. Poor Martin! he is honourable as the day. He
says the not being able to repay me when the bank went worried him
terribly; and all the more so, because I never bothered him."

"Did you ask him for it then?"

"No. I was sure he had it not in his power to refund, and so left him
in peace. Ellen, if I were dying for money--if I saw my wife and child
dying for it--I think I could not be harsh with those who owed it me,
where I knew they were helpless in means, though good in will, to
pay."

He had put down the brush, and was taking a small packet of notes from
his pocketbook, laughing rather gaily.

"I'm like a schoolboy showing his treasures. See, love. Six five-pound
notes. We can help Mrs. Winny."

Ellen's fair fresh face broke into dimples. "And we can take a holiday
too, Hamish?"

"Ah no. At least I can't. That's over."

"But why?"

"Because when I declined the holiday, the clerk under me was allowed
to take one, and another of them is ill. I must stick to my post this
year."

The dimples hid themselves: the expectant face clouded over. He
noticed it.

"I am very sorry, Ellen. If you would like to go, and take Nelly and
nurse----"

"Oh, Hamish, you know I would not," she interrupted, vexed that he
should even suggest such a thing. "I only care for it for your sake;
for the rest it would be to you."

"I don't care about it for myself, love."

He drew her to him as she passed on her way to quit the room, and
kissed her fondly. Ellen let her hand rest for a moment on his neck;
she never looked at him now, but a feeling of apprehension darted
through her, that he was not as strong as he ought to be.

Hamish closed the door after her, finished his toilet, and then stood
looking from the open window. The world had changed to him for some
little time now; the sunshine had gone out of it. That one bitter,
cruel review, had been followed up by others more cruel, if possible,
more bitter. The leading papers were all against him. How he battled
with it at the time _and made no sign_, he hardly knew. To heart and
spirit it was a death-blow; for both seemed alike to have had their
very life crushed out. He went on his way still, fulfilling every duty
every daily obligation in kindly courteousness as of yore, believing
that the world saw nothing. In good truth the world did not. Save that
his sunny smile had always a tinge of sadness in it, that he seemed to
get a trifle thinner, that his voice, though sweet as ever, was low
and subdued, the world noticed nothing. Ellen alone saw it; saw that a
blight had fallen upon the inward spirit.

But she little guessed to what extent. Hamish himself did not. All he
knew was, that a more cruel blow had been dealt to him than he had
supposed it possible to be experienced in this life. When by chance
his eye would fall on a volume of his work, his very soul seemed to
turn sick and faint. It was as if he had cast his whole hopes upon a
die, and lost it. His dreams of fame, his visions of that best reward,
appreciation, had faded away, and left him nothing but darkness.
Darkness, and worse than darkness; for out of it loomed mortification
and humiliation and shame. The contrast alone went well nigh to kill
him. In the pursuit of his high artistic ideal, he had lived and moved
and almost had his being. The ills of life had touched him not; the
glorious, expectant aspirations that made his world, shielded him from
life's frowns. It is ever so with those rare few whom the Divine gift
of genius has made its own. As the grand hope of fruition drew nearer
and nearer, it had seemed to Hamish, at moments, that realization had
actually come. The laurel-crown seemed to rest upon his head; the
longed-for prize all but touched his expectant lips. No wonder, when
the knell of all this light and hope and blessedness boomed suddenly
out, that the better part of Hamish Channing's life, his vitality,
went with it.

He worked on still. His papers for the magazines were got up as
before, for he could not afford to let them cease. Gerald Yorke,
borrowing here, borrowing there, might go careering off in yachts, and
pass weeks in idleness, sending work and care to his friend the Deuce;
but Hamish and Gerald were essentially different men. Even this
evening, after Hamish should have dined, he must get to his toilsome
work. It was felt as a toil now: the weary pain, never quitting his
bosom, took all energy from him.

He stood holding the window-curtain in his rather fragile hand; more
fragile than it used to be. The sky that evening was very lovely.
Bright purple clouds, bordered with an edge of shining gold, were
crowding the west; a brighter sheet of gold underneath them seemed as
if it must be flooding the other side of the world, to which the sun
was swiftly passing, with its dazzling dawn of burnished radiance.
Hamish could but notice it: it is not often that a sunset is so
beautiful. Insensibly, as he gazed, thoughts stole over him of that
OTHER world, where there shall be no need of the sun to lighten it:
where there shall be no more bitter tears or breaking hearts; where
sorrow and trouble shall have passed away. These same thoughts came to
him very often now, and always with a kind of yearning.

As he took his hand from the curtain, with that deep, sobbing sigh, or
rather involuntary catching of the breath, which is a sure token of
some long-concealed enduring sorrow--for else it is never heard--the
signet-ring fell from his little finger. It had grown too large for
him--as we are all apt to say. If I don't take care, I shall lose it,
thought Hamish. And that would have been regarded as a misfortune, for
it had been his father's, the one Mr. Channing always wore and used.
This was the third time it had slipped off with a run.

Hamish saw his wife's work-box on a table, looked in it, and found
some black sewing-silk. This he wound round and round the ring
hastily, for he knew dinner must be ready. Thus secured, he put it on
again, and left the room. The children heard his step, and came
bounding out of the nursery, Miss Nelly springing into his arms.

He kissed her very tenderly; he lovingly put back her golden hair. He
took up the other little things and kissed them in turn, asking if
they had had love-letters from papa. Looking into the nursery, he
inquired whether they had plenty of jam and such-like good things on
the tea-table, telling nurse to see that little Rosy, who could not
fight for herself, got her share. And then, leaving them with his
pleasant nod, his sunny smile, he went to the drawing-room, and gave
their mother his arm to take her down to dinner, whispering to
her--for she seemed in a low state, her tears on the point of bursting
out--that he would make it all right for her until her husband came
home. And it was that husband, that father, who had worked him all the
ill! Hamish suspected it not. Cowards and malicious ones, such as
Gerald, stab in the dark.

And so September went on, and October drew near, and by and bye Mr.
Gerald Yorke arrived at home again. Winny, who had no more tact than
her youngest infant, the little Rosy, greeted her husband with a flood
of tears, and the news of how she had been obliged to pay away the
twenty-five pounds in settling his bills. Gerald called her a fool to
her face, and frowned awfully. Winny only sobbed. Next he demanded,
with a few more ugly words that might have been left out, how the
devil she had managed to go on. Between choking and shrinking, the
answer was nearly inaudible, and Gerald bent his head to catch it: she
had had a little more help from "mamma."

Was Mrs. Gerald Yorke's deceit excusable? Even under the circumstances
few may think it so. And yet--it was a choice between this help, and
the very worst discomfort that could fall upon her: debt. Winny was
shrewd in some things: she knew all about her husband's ill-feeling to
Mr. Channing: she knew about the reviews; and she really did believe
that if Gerald got to hear whence her help had come, he would shake
her as he shook Kitty. In her utter lack of moral courage, she could
but keep up the deception.

But Gerald Yorke had come home in feather, a prize-rose in his
button-hole. By dint of plausible statements to Mr. Fuller, he had got
that honourable friend to lend him two hundred pounds. Or rather,
strictly speaking, to get it lent to him. With this money safely
buttoned up in his pocket, Winny's penniless state was not quite so
harshly condemned as it might otherwise have been: but when Winny
timidly asked for some money to "pay mamma back," Gerald shortly
answered that he had none, mamma must wait.

And so, at this, the opening of the third part of the story, Gerald
Yorke was flourishing. A great man he, in his chambers again, free
from duns for a time, giving his wine parties, entering into the
gaieties of social life, with all their waste of time and money. Winny
got her rent paid now, regularly, and some new bonnets for herself and
the children.

"I am so glad to hear you are more at ease, Gerald," Hamish Channing
said, meeting him one day accidentally, and speaking with genuine
kindness, but never hinting at any debt that might be due to himself.
"How have you managed it, old friend?"

"Oh--aw--I--paid the harpies a--aw--trifle, and have--aw--got some
credit again," answered Gerald, evading the offered hand. "Good day.
I'm in a hurry."

But Gerald Yorke, though flourishing in funds, was not flourishing in
temper. Upon one subject it was chronically bad, and he just as angry
and mortified as he could be. And that was in regard to his future
prospects in the field, of literature. Three or four days after his
return, he paid a visit to his publishers, sanguinely hoping there
might be a good round sum coming to him, the proceeds of his book.
Alas for sublunary expectations! The acting partner met him with a
severely cold face and very ill news. The flashing laudatory reviews,
written (as may be remembered) by Gerald himself or his bosom friends,
had not much served the book, after all, in the long run. When they
appeared, it caused demands for it to flow in, and a considerable
number of copies went out. But when the public got the book, they
could not or would not read it; and the savage libraries returned the
copies to the publishers, wholly refusing to pay for them. They sent
them back in shoals: they vowed that the puffing of an utterly
miserable book in the extraordinary style this one had been puffed,
was nothing less than _fraud_: some went so far as to say that the
publishers and the author and the reviewers ought all to be indicted
together for conspiracy. In short, the practical result was, that the
book might almost be said to be withdrawn, so few copies remained in
circulation. In all respects it was an utter failure. No wonder the
unhappy publisher, knowing himself wholly innocent in the matter,
smarting under a considerable loss, besides the fifty pounds that
ought to have been advanced by Gerald, and never yet had been, no
wonder he met Mr. Gerald Yorke with a severe face. The only
gratification afforded him lay in telling this, and enlarging rather
insultingly on the worthlessness of the book.

"You, a reviewer, could not have failed to know it was _bad_, Mr.
Yorke; one that was certain to fail signally."

"No I didn't," roared Gerald.

"Well, I'd recommend you never to attempt another. _That_ field is
closed to you."

"What the devil do you mean?--how dare you presume to give me such
advice? I shall write books without end if I think fit. My firm belief
is that the failure is _your_ fault. You must have managed badly, and
not properly pushed the book."

"Perhaps it is my fault that the public can't read the book and won't
put up with it," retorted the publisher.

Gerald flung away in a temper. A hazy doubt, augmenting his
mortification and anger, kept making itself heard: whether this
expressed opinion of the book's merits might not be the true one?
Hamish Channing, though softening the fiat, had said just the same.
Gerald would very much have liked to pitch publisher and public into
the sea, and Hamish Channing with them.



CHAPTER XXVI.
ARRIVING AT EUSTON SQUARE.


Roland Yorke had stuck to his copying. During this autumn, now rapidly
passing, when all the world and his wife were off on the wing,
spending their money, and taking out their fling at pleasure--which
Roland thought uncommonly hard on him--he had really put his shoulder
to the wheel and drudged on at his evening work. The office had him by
day, the folios by night. And if he hindered an evening or two a week
by dropping in upon Mr. Greatorex and somebody else who was in Mr.
Greatorex's house, he sat up at his work when he got home. Truly
Roland _had_ learnt a lesson at Port Natal, for this was very
different from what he would have done in the old days at
Helstonleigh. It could not be said that he was gaining a fortune. The
writing came to grief sometimes; Roland was as fond of talking as
ever, by way of recreative accompaniment to labour, and the result
would be that words were left out in places and wrong ones penned in
others: upon which fresh paper had to be got, and the sheet begun
again. Therefore he was advancing rather more surely than swiftly: his
present earnings amounted in the aggregate to two sovereigns! And
these he deposited for safety in Mrs. Jones's hands.

But Roland is not writing this October evening: which, all things
considered, was destined to turn out rather a notable one. A remark
was made in a former chapter, that Roland, from the state of ecstatic
delight he was thrown into by the news that Arthur Channing was about
to visit London, did not quite know whether he stood on his head or
his heels. Most assuredly that same remark might be applied to him
this evening. Upon dashing into his room, a little before six o'clock,
Roland found on his tea-table a letter awaiting him that had come by
the day-mail from Helstonleigh. Recognizing Arthur's handwriting, he
tore it open, read the few lines it contained, and burst forth into a
shout so boisterous and prolonged, that the Reverend Mr. Ollivera,
quietly reading in the drawing-room above, leaped off his seat with
consternation, fully believing that somebody was on fire.

Arthur Channing was coming to London! Then. That same evening. Almost
at that very hour he ought to be arriving at Euston Square Station.
Roland did not give himself leisure to digest the why and the
wherefore of the journey, or to speculate upon why the station should
be Euston Square and not Paddington. Arthur was coming, and that was
sufficient for him.

Neglecting his tea, brushing himself up, startling Mrs. Jones with the
suddenness of the tidings, which he burst into her room to deliver,
Roland set off for the Euston Square terminus. As usual, he had not a
fraction of money. That was no impediment to his arriving in time: and
the extraordinary manner in which he pushed his way along the streets,
striding over or through all impediments, caused a crowd of
ragamuffins to collect and follow him on the run, believing that, like
Johnny Gilpin, he was doing it for a wager.

Charles, the youngest of the Channing family, was coming home
overland, _viâ_ Marseilles, from India, where he had an excellent
appointment. He had gone to it at eighteen, two years ago, and been
very well until recently. All at once his health failed, and he was
ordered home for a six months' sojourn. It was to meet him in London,
where he might be expected in a day or two, and take him down to
Helstonleigh, that Arthur Channing was now coming.

Panting and breathless with haste, looking wild with excitement,
Roland went striding on to the platform just as the train came
steadily in. It was a mercy he did not get killed. Catching sight of
the well-remembered face--though it was aged and altered now, for
the former stripling of nineteen had grown into the fine man of
seven-and-twenty--Roland sprang forward and held on to the carriage.
Porters shouted, guards flew, passengers screamed--it was all one to
him.

They stood together on the platform, hand locked in hand: but that
French customs do not prevail with us, Roland might have hugged
Arthur's life out. The tears were in his eyes with the genuineness of
his emotion. Roland's love for his early friend, who had once suffered
so much for his sake, was no simulated one. The spectators spared a
minute to turn and gaze on them--the two notable young men. Arthur was
nearly as tall as Roland, very noble and distinguished. His face had
not the singular beauty--as beauty--of Hamish's, but it was good,
calm, handsome: one of those that thoughtful men like to look upon.
His grey eyes were dark and deep, his hair auburn.

"Arthur, old friend, I could die of joy. If you only knew how often I
have dreamt of this!"

Arthur laughed, pressed his hand warmly, and more warmly, ere he
released it. "I must see after my luggage at once, Roland. I think I
have lost it."

"Lost your luggage?"

"Yes; in so far as that it has not come with me. This," showing a
rather high basket, whose top was a mound of tissue-paper, that he
brought out of the carriage with his umbrella and a small parcel, "is
something Lady Augusta asked me to convey to Gerald."

"What is it?"

"Grapes, I fancy. She charged me not to let it be crushed. I sent my
portmanteau on to the station by Galloway's man, and when I arrived
there myself could not see him anywhere. When we reached Birmingham it
was not to be found, and I telegraphed to Helstonleigh. The guard said
if it came to Birmingham in time he would put it in the van. I only
got to the station as the train was starting, and had no time to
look."

"But what took you round by Birmingham?"

"Business for Galloway. I had three or four hours' work to do for him
there."

"Bother Galloway! How are the two mothers?" continued Roland, as they
walked arm-in-arm down the platform. "How's everybody?"

"Yours is very well; mine is not. She has never seemed quite the thing
since my father's death, Roland. Everybody else is well; and I have no
end of messages for you."

They stood round the luggage-van until it was emptied. Nothing had
been turned out belonging to Arthur Channing. It was as he feared--the
portmanteau was not there.

"They will be sure to send it on from Birmingham by the next train,"
he remarked. "I shall get it in the morning."

"Where was the good of your coming by this duffing train?" cried
Roland. "It's as slow as an old cart-horse. I should have taken the
express."

"I could not get away before this one, Roland. Galloway made a point
of my doing all there was to do."

"The cantankerous, exacting old beauty! Are his curls flourishing?"

Arthur smiled. "Channing still, but growing a little thin."

"And you are getting on well, Arthur?

"Very. My salary is handsome; and I believe the business, or part of
it, will be mine some day. We had better take a cab, Roland. I'll get
rid of Gerald's parcel first. This small one is for Hamish. Stay a
moment, though."

He wrote down the name of a private hotel in the Strand, where he
intended to stay, requesting that the portmanteau should be sent there
on its arrival.

Jumping into a hansom, Roland, who had not recovered his head, gave
the address of Gerald's chambers. As they were beginning to spin along
the lighted streets, however, he impulsively arrested the man, without
warning to Arthur, and substituted Mrs. Gerald Yorke's lodgings. They
were close at hand; but that was not his motive.

"If we leave the grapes at the chambers, Ger will only entertain his
cronies with them--a lot of fast men like himself," explained Roland.
"By taking them to Winny's, those poor meek little mites may stand a
chance of getting a few. I don't believe they'd ever taste anything
good at all but for Mrs. Hamish Channing."

Arthur Channing did not understand. Roland enlightened him. Gerald
kept up, as might be said, two establishments: chambers for himself
and lodgings for his wife.

"But that must be expensive," observed Arthur.

"Of course it is. Ger goes in for expense and fashion. All well and
good if he can _do_ it--and keep it up. I think he has had a windfall
from some quarter, for he is launching out uncommonly just now. It
can't be from work; he has been taking his ease all the autumn in Tom
Fuller's yacht."

"I don't quite understand, yet, Roland. Do you mean that Gerald does
not live with his wife and children?"

"He lives with them after a fashion: gives them one-third of his days
and nights, and gives his chambers the other two. You'd hardly
recognize him now, he is so grand and stilted up. He'd not nod to me
in the street."

"Roland!"

"It's true. He's as heartless as an owl; Ger always was, you know."

"But you are his brother."

"Brothers and sisters don't count for much with Gerald. Besides, I'm
down in the world, and he'd not take a pitch-fork to lift me up in it
again. Would you believe it, Arthur, he likes nothing better than to
fling in my teeth that miserable old affair at Galloway's--the
banknote. The very last time we ever met--I had run into Winny's
lodgings to take some dolls' clothes for Kitty from little Nelly
Channing--Ger taunted me with that back affair, and more than hinted,
not for the first time, that I'd helped myself to some money lost last
summer by Bede Greatorex. If I'd known Ger was at home, I'd never have
gone: Miss Nelly might have done her errand herself. Have you read his
book?"

"Ye-es, I have," answered Arthur, in a rather dubious tone. "Have
you?"

"No; for I couldn't," candidly avowed Roland. "I got nearly through
one volume, and it was a task. It was impossible to make head or tail
of it. I know I'm different from other folks, have not half the
gumption in me I ought to have, and don't judge of things as they do,
which is all through having gone to Port Natal; but _I_ thought the
book a rubbishing book, Arthur, and a bad one into the bargain:
Where's the use of writing a book if people can't read it?"

"Did you read the reviews on it?"

"Oh law! I've heard enough about _them_. Had they been peacock's
feathers, Ger would have stuck them in his cap. And he pretty nigh
did. I'll tell you what book I read--and cried over it too--and got up
from it feeling better and happier--and that's Hamish's."

A light, like a glow of gladness, shone in Arthur Channing's honest
grey eyes. "When I read that book, I felt _thankful_ that a man should
have been found to write such," he said in a hushed tone. "I should
have felt just the same if he had been a stranger."

"Ay, indeed: it was something of that I meant to say. And I wish all
the world could read it!" added impulsive Roland. "And did you read
the reviews on it?"

"Oh my goodness," cried Roland, a blank look taking the place of his
enthusiasm. "Arthur, do you know, if those horrible reviews come
across my mind when I am up at Hamish's, my face goes hot with shame.
I've never said a syllable about them on my own score; I shouldn't
like to. When I get rich, I mean to go against the papers for
injustice."

"We cannot understand it down with us," said Arthur. "On the Saturday
night that William Yorke got back to Helstonleigh after attending your
uncle's funeral, I met him at the station. He had the 'Snarler' with
him--and told me before he'd let me open it, that it contained a most
disgraceful attack on Hamish's book: in fact, on Hamish himself.
Putting aside all other feeling when I read it, my astonishment was
excessive."

Roland relieved _his_ feelings by a few stamps, and it was well that
the cab bottom was pretty strong. "If I could find out who the writer
was, Arthur, I'd get him ducked."

"That review was followed by others, all in the same strain, just as
bad as it is possible for reviews to be made."

"The wicked old reptiles!" interjected Roland.

"What struck me as being rather singular in the matter, was this,"
observed Arthur: "That the selfsame journals which so extravagantly
and wrongly praised Gerald's work, just as extravagantly and wrongly
abused Hamish's. It would seem to me that there must have been some
plot afoot, to write up Gerald and write down Hamish. But how the
public can submit to be misled by reviewers in this manner, and not
rise against it, I cannot understand."

"If those were not the exact words of old Greatorex!" exclaimed
Roland. "He read both the books and all the reviews. It was a sin and
a shame, and a puzzle, he said; a humbug altogether, and he should
like, for the satisfaction of his curiosity, to be behind the scenes
in the performance. But what else do you think he said, Arthur?"

"I don't know."

"That the reviews and the books would find their level in the end. It
was impossible, he declared, that Gerald's book could live; all the
fulsome praises in Christendom could not make it: just as it was
impossible for such a work as the other to be written out; it would be
sure to find its way with the public eventually. Annabel told me that;
and I went off the same evening to Hamish's and told him. He and old
Greatorex are first rate friends."

"What did Hamish say?"

"Oh, nothing. He just smiled in his sad way, and said 'Yes, perhaps it
might be,' as if the words made no impression on him."

"Why do you say 'his sad way?' Hamish always had the sweetest and
gayest smile in the world. We used, if you remember, to call him Sunny
Hamish."

"I know. But somehow he has altered, Arthur. He was changing a little
before, seemed thoughtful and considerate instead of gay and mocking;
but that was nothing to the way he has changed lately. I'd not say it
to any soul but you, old Arthur, not even to Annabel, but my belief is
just this--that the reviews have done it."

"The reviews!"

Roland nodded. "Taken the shine out of him for a time. Oh, he'll
come-to again soon; never fear. All the sooner if I could find out who
the snake was, and kick him."

"We cannot judge for others; we cannot put ourselves in their places,"
observed Arthur. "Or else it seems to me that, after producing such a
book as Hamish's, I should rest on its obvious merits, and be little
moved by what adverse friends could say."

"I'm sure they'd not move me," avowed candid Roland. "The newspaper
writers might lay hold of all my flounderings at Port Natal, and print
them for the public benefit in big text-type tomorrow, and direct a
packet to Annabel. What should I care? I say, how about poor Charley?
He has been ill."

"Very ill. They have kindly given him six months' leave, and pay his
overland passage out and home."

"And how much leave have you got for London, Arthur?"

"That depends on Charley. If he comes straight on from Marseilles, he
may be here in a day or two: but should his health have improved on
the voyage, he will probably make a stay in Paris. I am to wait for
him here until he comes, Galloway says."

"Very condescending of Galloway! I dare say he has given you plenty of
business to do as well, Arthur."

"That's true," laughed Arthur. "I shall be engaged for him all day
tomorrow; I have some small accounts to settle for him amidst other
things."

"Where's the money?" asked Roland, in a resentful tone.

Arthur touched the breast-pocket of his under-coat. "I have brought it
up with me."

"Then I devoutly hope you'll get robbed of it tonight, Arthur, to
serve him out! It _is_ a shame! Taking up the poor bit of time you've
got in London with his work! That's Galloway all over! I meant to get
holiday myself, that we might go about together."

"Plenty of time for that, Roland."

"I hope so. I've got something to tell you. It's about Annabel. But we
are close at Mrs. Yorke's, so I'll not go into the thing now. Oh! and,
Arthur, old chum, I'm so vexed, so ashamed, I shan't know how to look
you in the face."

"Why not?"

"I've no money about me to pay the cab. 'Twill be a shilling. It's
awfully lowering, having to meet friends upon empty pockets. I'd like
to have met you with a carriage and four, and outriders; I'd like to
have a good house to bring you into, Arthur, and I've got nothing."

Arthur's good, earnest eyes fixed themselves on him with all their
steady affection. "You have _yourself_, Roland, dear old friend. You
know that's all I care for. As to funds I am rich enough to pay for
you and myself, though I stayed here for a month."

"It's uncommonly mortifying, nevertheless, Arthur. It makes a fellow
wish to be back at Port Natal. Mother Jenkins has got two sovereigns
of mine, but I never thought of it before I came out."

The cab stopped at Mrs. Gerald Yorke's door, and Roland dashed up with
the prize. Mrs. Yorke sat with her youngest child on her lap, the
other two little ones being on the carpet. Roland could hardly see
them in the dusk of the room.

"It's grapes," said he, "from Lady Augusta. Arthur Channing says she
sent them for Gerald. If I were you, Mrs. Yorke, I should feed the
three chickens on them, and just tell Gerald I had done it. Halloo!
what's the matter now?"

For Mrs. Yorke broke out in sobs. "It was so lonely," she said by way
of excuse. "Gerald was away nearly always. To-night he had a dinner
and wine party in his chambers."

"Then I'm downright glad I didn't deposit the grapes there," was
Roland's comment. "As to Gerald's leaving you always alone, Mrs.
Yorke, I should just ask him whether he called that manners. I don't.
Good gracious me! If I were rich enough to have a wife, and played the
truant from her, I should deserve hanging. Cheer up; it will all come
right; and you'd say so if you had tried the ups and downs at Port
Natal. Fredy, Kitty, Rosy, you little pussy cats, tell mamma to give
you some grapes."

"I'm sure I'd not dare to touch the basket, though the grapes stayed
tied up in it till they were rotten," was the last sobbing sound that
caught Roland's ears from Mrs. Yorke as he leaped downstairs.

Their appearance at Hamish's was unexpected--for Arthur had advertised
himself to Roland only--but not the less welcome. Of course Hamish and
his wife thought Arthur had come to be their guest, and were half
inclined to resent it when he said no. It had been arranged that he
should take up his sojourn at a private hotel in Norfolk Street, where
he had stayed before; his room had been engaged in it some days past,
and Charles would drive to it on his arrival in London. All this was
explained at once. And in the pleasure his presence brought, Hamish
Channing seemed quite like his own gay self again; his cheeks bright,
his voice glad, his whole manner charming.

But later, when the excitement had worn itself away, and he calmed
down to sobriety and ordinary looks, Arthur sat with hushed breath,
half petrified at the change he saw. Even Roland, never famous for
observation, could but mark it. As if the recent emotion were taking
its revenge, the change in Hamish Channing seemed very, very marked
tonight. The hollow face, the subdued voice with its ring of
hopelessness, the feverish cheek and hand--all were sad to hear, to
feel, to look upon.

It was but a brief visit; Arthur did not stay. He wanted to see about
his room, and had one or two purchases to make; and he also expected
to find at the hotel letters to answer. He promised to dine with them
on the morrow, and to give them as much time as he could during his
stay, which might possibly last a fortnight, he laughingly
acknowledged, if Mr. Charley prolonged _his_ stay in Paris; as he was
not unlikely, if well enough, to do. "So you'll probably have enough
of me, Hamish," he concluded, as they shook hands.

"Roland, he is strangely altered," were the first words spoken by
Arthur, when they went out together.

"Didn't I tell you so?" replied Roland. "It is just what strikes me."

Arthur walked on in silence, saying no more of what he thought. It was
just as if the heart's life had gone out of Hamish; as if some
perpetual weight of pain, that would never be lifted, lay on the
spirit.

They walked to the Strand, and there Arthur made his small purchases,
rendered necessary by the non-arrival of his portmanteau. It was
striking eight by St. Mary's Church as Roland stood with him at the
door of the hotel in Norfolk Street.

"These letters that you expect are waiting for you and that you have
to answer," said he, resentfully, for he thought Arthur's whole time
ought to be given to himself on this, the first evening, "what are
they? who are they from?"

"Only from Galloway's agents, and one or two more business people. I
expect they will make appointments with me for tomorrow, or ask me to
make them. There may be a letter from Galloway himself. I quitted
Helstonleigh an hour before the day-mail left, and I may have to write
to him."

Roland growled; he thought himself very ill-used.

"It is only eight o'clock, Arthur, and I've said as good as nothing.
All you've got to do won't take you more than an hour. Can't you come
at nine to lodgings? You'd have the felicity of seeing Mrs. J."

"I fear not tonight, Roland."

They talked a little while longer, shook hands, and Arthur went into
the hotel. Roland, turning away, decided to air himself in the Strand
for an hour, and then return to the hotel and get Arthur to come home
with him. He had not the smallest objection, taking it in the
abstract, to spend the time before the shop windows. The pawnbrokers
and eating-houses would be sure to be open, if no others were. Roland
liked the pastime of looking in. Debarred of being a purchaser of
desirable things, on account of the state of his exchequer, the next
best thing was to take out his fill of gazing at them.

Wandering up and down, he had got on the other side of Temple Bar, and
had his face glued to the glass of an oyster shop, his mouth watering
at the delicacies displayed within, when the clock of St. Clement
Danes struck out nine. Springing back impulsively with its first
stroke, Roland came in awkward contact with someone, bearing on
towards the Strand. But the gentleman, who was as tall as himself,
seemed scarcely to notice the touch, so absorbed was he in his own
thoughts. Save that he put out one of his hands, cased in a lavender
glove of delicate hue, and slightly pushed the awkward intruder aside,
he took no further heed. The face was never turned, the eyes were
never removed from the straight-out look before them. Onward he
passed, seeing and hearing nothing.

"What on earth has he been up to?--He looked as scared as though he
had met a ghost!" mentally commented Roland with his accustomed
freedom, as he stared after the wayfarer. For in him he had recognised
Mr. Bede Greatorex.

He did not suffer the speculation to detain him. Taking to his heels
with the last stroke of the clock, Roland gained the small hotel in
Norfolk Street; into which he bolted head foremost, with his usual
clatter, haste, and want of ceremony, and nearly into the arms of a
tall waiter.

"I want Mr. Arthur Channing. Which room is he in?"

"Mr. Arthur Channing is gone out, sir."

"Gone out!"

"Yes, sir. Some time ago."

"He found he had no letters to write, and so went on to me," thought
Roland, as he shot out again "And I have been cooling my heels in this
precious street, like a booby!"

Full speed went he home now, through all the cross-cuts and nearest
ways he knew, never slackening it for a moment; arriving there with
bated breath and damp hair. Seizing the knocker in one hand and the
bell in the other, he worked at both frantically until the door was
opened. Mr. Ollivera, flinging up his window above, put out his
alarmed head; Mrs. Jones, Miss Rye, two visitors, and the maid Betsey,
came rushing along the passage with pale faces, Mrs. J. herself
opening the door, Betsey absolutely refusing the office. Roland,
without the least explanation or apology, dashed through the group
into the parlour. It was dark and empty.

"Where's Arthur Channing?" he demanded, darting out again. "Mrs. J.,
where have you put him?"

And when Mrs. J. could gather the sense of the question
sufficiently to answer it, Roland had the satisfaction--or, rather,
non-satisfaction--of finding that Arthur Channing had not been there.



CHAPTER XXVII.
A PRIVATE INTERVIEW.


     "PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL.
                "CUFF COURT, OFF FLEET STREET. No. 1.
                                   "_October the twenty-second_.

"MR. BEDE GREATOREX.

"SIR,--A small leaf has been turned over in the matter of your cheque,
lost mysteriously in June last. Leastways in something that might turn
out to be connected with it. Remembering back orders, and wishing to
act in accordance with the same, I'd be glad to hold a short interview
with you, and would wait upon you at any hour or place you may
appoint. Or if it suited your convenience to come to me, I am to be
found as above, either this evening or tomorrow evening after seven
o'clock.

       "Your obedient servant,

                 "JONAS BUTTERBY."


The above note, amidst two or three other letters, reached Mr. Bede
Greatorex about four o'clock in the afternoon. He happened to be at
his desk in the front room, and was giving some directions to Mr.
Brown, who stood by him. As Bede ran his eyes over the lines, a deep
flush, a frown, followed by a sickly paleness, overspread his face.
Mr. Brown, looking at him quite by accident, remarked the signs of
displeasurable emotion, and felt curious to know what the news could
be that had caused it. He had, however, no opportunity for prolonged
observation, for Bede, carrying the letter in his hand, went into his
room and shut the door.

The note angered Bede Greatorex as well as troubled him. Who was this
Butterby, that he should be continually crossing his peace? What
brought the man to London?--he had gone back to Helstonleigh in the
summer, and had never, so far as Bede knew, come up from it since. Was
he, Bede, ere he had been a couple of weeks home from his Continental
holiday, to be followed up by this troublesome detective, and his life
made a worry again? In the moment's angry impulse, Bede sat down to
his desk-table, and began dashing off an answer, to the effect that he
could not accord an interview to Mr. Butterby.

But the pen was arrested ere it had completed the first line.
Self-preservation from danger is a feeling implanted more or less
strongly within us all. What if this persistent officer, denied to
him, betook himself and his news to Mr. Greatorex? Bede was as
innocent in regard to the purloining of the cheque and certainly as
ignorant of the really guilty party as Butterby could be; he had
refunded the forty-four pounds with anything but a hand of
gratification; but nevertheless there were grave reasons why the
matter should not be reopened to his father.

Catching up the letter, he paced the carpet for a moment or two in
deep thought; halted by the window, and read it again. "Yes, I'll see
him; it will be safer," said he, with decision.

He wrote a rapid note, appointing eleven o'clock the next morning for
the interview at his own office. And then again paused as he was
folding it; paused in deliberation.

"Why not go to him?" spoke Bede Greatorex, his eyes fixed on the
opposite wall, as if he thought the map there could solve the query.
"Yes, I will; I'll go tonight. That's safest of all."

Noting down the given address, he held M. Butterby's letter and his
own two answers, perfect and imperfect, over the grate lighted a
match, and burnt them to ashes. There was no fire; the weather was
uncertain, warm today, cold tomorrow, and the fire was sometimes let
go out in a morning as soon as lighted.

Evening came. And at ten minutes past seven Bede Greatorex was on the
search for Mr. Butterby. "Cuff Court, Off Fleet Street." He did not
know Cuff Court; and supposed that "Off Fleet Street" might indicate
some turning or winding beginning in that well-known thoroughfare, and
ending it was hard to say where. Bede, however, by dint of inquiry
found Cuff Court at last. No. 1 had the appearance of a small private
house; as in fact it was. The great Butterby generally lodged there
when he came to town. The people residing in it were connections of
his and accommodated him; it was, as he remarked, "convenient to
places."

Bede was shown upstairs to a small sitting-room. At a square table,
examining some papers taken from his open pocketbook, by the light of
two gas-burners over head, sat Jonas Butterby; the same thin wiry man
as ever, in apparently the same black coat, plaid trousers, and
buttoned-up waistcoat; with the same green observant eyes, and
generally silent lips. He pushed the papers and pocketbook away into
a heap when his visitor appeared, and rose to receive him.

"Take a seat, sir," he said, handing a chair by the hearth opposite
his own, and stirring the bit of fire in the grate. "You don't object
to this, I hope: it ain't hardly fire-time yet, but a morsel looks
cheery at night."

"I like it," said Bede. He put his hat on a side-table, and unbuttoned
a thin overcoat he wore, as he sat down, throwing it a little back
from the fine white shirt front, but did not take off his lavender
gloves. It had always struck Mr. Butterby that Bede Greatorex was one
of the finest and most gentlemanly men he knew, invariably dressed
well; it had struck him that far-off time at Helstonleigh, when they
met over John Ollivera's death chair, and it struck him still. But he
was looking ill, worn, anxious; and the detective, full of observation
by habit, could not fail to see it.

"I'm uncommon glad you've come in, Mr. Bede Greatorex. From a fresh
turn some business I'm engaged on has took today, I'm not sure but I
shall have to go back to Helstonleigh the first thing in the morning.
Shall know by late post tonight."

"Are you living in London?"

"Not I. I come up to it only yesterday, expecting to stop a week or
so. Now I find I may have to go back tomorrow: the chances is about
equal one way and t'other. But if I do, I should not have got to see
you this time, sir, and must have come up again for it."

"I felt very much inclined to say I'd not see you," answered Bede,
candidly. "We are busy just now, and I would a great deal rather let
the whole affair relating to the cheque drop entirely, than be at the
trouble of raking it up again. The loss of the money has been ours,
and, of course, we must put up with it. I began a note to you to this
effect; but it struck me while I was writing that you might possibly
be carrying your news to my father."

"No, I shouldn't have done that. It concerns you, so to say, more than
him. Been well lately, Mr. Bede Greatorex?"

"As well as I usually am. Why?"

"Well, sir, you are looking, if I might make bold to say it, something
like a shadder. Might a'most see through you."

"I have been doing too much lately. Mrs. Bede Greatorex and myself
were on the Continent for two months, rushing about from kingdom to
kingdom, and from place to place, seeing the wonders, and taking what
the world calls a holiday--which is more wearing than any hard work,"
Bede condescended to explain, but in rather a haughty tone, for he
thought it did not lie in the detective's legitimate province to offer
remarks upon him. "In regard to business, Mr. Butterby: unless you
have anything very particular to communicate, I would rather not hear
it. Let the affair drop."

"But I should not be doing my duty either way, to you or to me, in
letting it drop," returned Butterby. "If anything worse turned up
later, I might get called over the coals for it at headquarters."

"Be so good as to hasten over what you have to say, then," said Bede,
taking out his watch and looking at it with anything but marked
courtesy.

It produced no effect on Mr. Butterby. If his clients chose to be in a
hurry, he rarely was. But in his wide experience, bringing, as he
generally did, all keen observation to bear, he felt convinced of one
thing--that the gentleman before him _dreaded_ the communication he
had to make, and, for that reason and no other, wished to shun it.

"When that cheque was lost in the summer, Mr. Bede Greatorex, you did
me the honour to put a little matter into my hands, confiding to me
your confident opinion that one of your clerks must have been the
purloiner of it, if not on his own score, on somebody else's that he
was acting for. You asked me to give an eye privately to the four. Not
having got any satisfactory news from me up to the present time, you
have perhaps thought that I have been neglecting the charge, and let
it fall through."

"Oh, if it concerns _them_, I'll be glad to hear you!" briskly spoke
Bede Greatorex; and to the acute ear listening, the tone seemed to
express relief as well as satisfaction. "Have you found out that one
of them did take it?"

"Not exactly. What I have found out, though, tells me that it is not
improbable."

"Go on, please," said Bede impatiently. "Was it Hurst?"

"Now don't you jump to conclusions in haste, Mr. Bede Greatorex; and
you must just pardon me for giving you the advice. It's a good rule to
be observed in all cases; and if you'd been in my part of the law as
long as I have, you'd not need to be told it. My own opinion was, that
young Hurst was not one to help himself to money, or anything else
that wasn't his; but of course when you----"

"Stop an instant," interrupted Bede Greatorex, starting up as a
thought occurred to him, and looking round in alarm. "This house is
small, the walls are no doubt thin; can we be overheard?"

"You may sit down again in peace, sir," was the phlegmatic answer. "It
was a child of twelve, or so, that showed you up, wasn't it?"

"Yes."

"Well, except her, and her missis--who is as deaf as a stone post,
poor thing, though she is my cousin--there's not a living soul in the
house. The husband and son never get home till ten. As to the walls,
they are seven times thicker than some modern ones, for the old house
was built in substantial days. And if not--trust me for being secure
and safe, and my visitors too, wherever I may stop, Mr. Bede
Greatorex."

"It was for Hurst's sake I spoke," said Bede, in the light of a rather
lame apology. "It may suit me to hush it up, even though you tell me
he is guilty."

"When you desired me to look after your clerks, and gave me your
reasons--which I couldn't at first make top nor tail of, and am free
to confess have not got to the bottom of yet--my own judgment was that
young Hurst was about the least likely of all to be guilty," pursued
the officer, in his calmest and coolest manner. "However, as you
persisted in your opinion, I naturally gave in to it, and looked up
Hurst effectually. Or got him looked up; which amounts to the same
thing."

"Without imparting any hint of my reasons for it?" again anxiously and
imperatively interrupted Bede Greatorex. And it nettled the detective.

"I'd like to ask you a question, Mr. Bede Greatorex, and to have it
answered, sir. _Do_ you think I should be fit for my post unless I had
more 'cute discretion about me than ordinary folks, such as--excuse
me--you? Why, my whole work, pretty nigh, is made up of ruses and
secresy, and pitching people off on wrong scents. Says I to my
friend--him that I sets about the job?--'that young Mr. Hurst has been
making a undesirable acquaintance, quite innocent, lately; he may get
drawed into unpleasant consequences afore he knows it; and as I've a
respect for his father, a most skilful doctor of physic, I should like
to warn the young man in time, if there's danger. You just _turn him,
inside out_; watch all he does and all he doesn't do, and let me know
it.' Well, sir, Hurst _was_ turned inside out, so to say; if we'd
stripped his skin off him, we couldn't have seen more completely into
his in'ard self and his doings than we did see; and the result was
(leastways, the opinion I came to), that I was right and you were
wrong. He had no more hand in the taking of that there cheque, or in
any other part of the matters you hinted at, than this pocketbook
here of mine had. And when I tell you that, Mr. Bede Greatorex, you
may believe it."

A short silence ensued. Bede Greatorex's left elbow rested on the
table; his hand, the glove off now, was pressing his temple as if in
reflective thought, the beautiful diamond ring on his little finger
glittering in the gas-light. His mother had given the ring to him when
she was dying, expressing a hope that he would wear it always in
remembrance of her. It appeared to Bede almost as a religious duty to
obey, though few men hated ornaments in connection with himself, so
much as he. His eyes were fixed on the fire; Mr. Butterby's on him.

"Well, Mr. Greatorex, Hurst being put out of the field, I naturally
went on to the others. Jenner I never suspected at all, 'twas not him;
and I felt morally sure, in spite of his impudence to me, that this
time it was not Roland Yorke. Notwithstanding, I looked a little after
both those gents; and I found that it was not either of 'em."

"What do you mean by 'this time' in connection with Mr. Yorke?"
inquired Bede, catching up the words, which, perhaps, had been an
inadvertent slip.

Butterby coughed. But he was not a bad man at heart, and had no
intention of doing gratuitous damage even to impudent Roland.

"Oh well, come Mr. Bede Greatorex--a young fellow who has been out on
the spec to Port Natal, seeing all sorts of life, is more likely, you
know, to tumble into scrapes than steady-natured young fellows who
have never been let go beyond their mothers' apron-strings."

"True," assented Bede Greatorex. "But in spite of his travelling
experiences, Roland Yorke appears to me to be one of the most
unsophisticated young men I know. In the ways of a bad world he is as
a very boy."

"He is just one of them shallow-natured, simple-minded chaps that
never _will_ be bad," pronounced Butterby, "except in the matter of
impudence. He has got enough of that to set up trading on in
Cheapside. What he'd have been, but for having got pulled up by a
unpleasant check or two, I'm not prepared to say. Well, sir, them
three being disposed of--Hurst, Jenner, and Yorke--there remained only
Mr. Brown, your manager. And it is about him I've had the honour to
solicit an interview with you."

Bede turned his eyes inquiringly from the fire to Mr. Butterby.

"You said from the first you did not suspect Mr. Brown. No more did I.
You thought it couldn't be him; he has been some years with you, and
his honesty and faithfulness had been sufficiently tested. I'm sure I
had no reasons to think otherwise, except one. Which was this: I could
not find out anything about Mr. Brown prior to some three or four
years back; his appearance on the stage of life, so to say, seemed to
date from then. However, sir, by your leave, we'll put Brown aside for
a minute, and go on to other people."

Mr. Butterby paused almost as though he expected his hearer to give
the leave in words. Bede said nothing, only waited in evident
curiosity, and the other resumed.

"There was a long-established firm in Birmingham, Johnson and Teague.
Accountants ostensibly, but did a little in bill-broking and what not;
honest men, well thought of, very respectable. Johnson (who had
succeeded his father) was a man under forty; Teague was old. Old
Teague had never married, but he had a great-nephew, in the office,
Samuel Teague; had brought him up, and loved him as the apple of his
eye. A nice young fellow in public, a wild spendthrift in private;
that's what Sam Teague was. His salary was two hundred a year, and he
lived free at his uncle's residence, outside Birmingham. His spendings
were perhaps four hundred beyond the two. Naturally he came to grief.
Do you take me, Mr. Bede Greatorex?"

"Certainly."

"In the office, one of its clerks, was a young man named George
Winter. A well-brought-up young fellow too, honest by nature, trusted,
and thought much of. He and young Teague were uncommonly intimate.
Now, how much blame was due to Winter I'm not prepared to say; but
when Samuel Teague, to save himself from some bother, forged a bill on
the office, and got it paid _by_ the office, Winter was implicated.
He'd no doubt say, if you asked him, that he was drawn into it
innocently, _did_ say it in fact; but he had been the one to hand over
the money, and the firm and the world looked upon him as the worse of
the two. When the fraud was discovered, young Teague decamped. Winter,
in self-defence and to avert consequences, went straight the same
afternoon, which was a Saturday, to old Teague's private residence,
and there made a clean breast of young Teague's long course of
misdoings. It killed old Teague."

"Killed him!" repeated Bede, for the detective made a slight pause.

"Yes, sir, killed him. He had looked upon his nephew up to that time
as one of the saints of this here middle world; and the shock of
finding him more like an angel of the lower one touched old Teague's
heart in some vital spot, and killed him. He had a sort of fit, and
died that same night. The next day, Sunday, young Winter was missing.
It was universally said that he had made his way to Liverpool, in
the track of Samuel Teague--for that's where folks thought he had
gone--with a view of getting away to America. Both were advertised
for; both looked upon as alike criminal. It was for such a paltry sum
they had perilled themselves--only a little over one hundred pounds!
Time went on, and neither of 'em was ever traced; perhaps Mr. Johnson,
when he had cooled down from his first anger, was willing to let Sam
Teague be, for the old man's sake, and so did not press the search.
Anyway Samuel Teague is now in open business in New York, and doing
well."

"And the other--Winter?"

"Ah, it's him I'm coming to," significantly resumed Mr. Butterby. "It
seems that Winter never went after him at all. In the panic of finding
old Teague had died, and that no quarter was to be expected from
Johnson (as it wasn't _then_) he took a false name, put on false hair
and whiskers, and stole quietly off by the train on Sunday afternoon,
carrying a shirt or two in a blue bag. It was to Helstonleigh he went,
Mr. Bede Greatorex, and he called himself Godfrey Pitman."

Bede Greatorex started from his seat. Up to that period he had been
perfectly calm; interested of course, but as if in something that did
not concern him.

"Yes, sir, Godfrey Pitman. The same that was in Mrs. Jones's house at
the time of Mr. Ollivera's death; the man that Helstonleigh made so
much mystery of; who was, so to say, accused of the murder. And
Godfrey Pitman, sir, or George Winter, whichever you may please to
call him, is one and the same with your managing clerk Mr. Brown!"

"No!" shouted Bede Greatorex.

"I say YES, sir. The very selfsame man."

Bede Greatorex, looking forward in a kind of wild manner, over Mr.
Butterby's head against the opposite wall, seemed to be revolving
within him various speculations connected with the disclosure.

"Why Brown has always--" He brought the words to a sudden standstill.
"Brown has always unpleasantly puzzled me," had been on the tip of his
tongue. But he let the words die away unspoken, and a sickly hue
overspread his features. Taking his eyes from the wall and turning
them on the fire, he sat as before, his brow pressed on his fingers,
quite silent, after the manner of a man who is dreaming.

"I see the disagreeable doubt that is working within you, Mr. Bede
Greatorex," remarked the observant detective, upon whom not a sign was
lost. "You are ready to say now it was Pitman did that there deed at
Helstonleigh.

"How did you find out all this about him?" asked Bede Greatorex.

"Well, I got a clue accidental. Don't mind saying so. I was about some
business lately for a gentleman in Birmingham, named Foster, and in a
packet of letters he put into my hand to look over, I found a note
from George Winter, written from your office this past summer. It was
just one of them curious chances that don't happen often; for Foster
had no notion that the letter was there, thought he had destroyed it.
It was but a line or two, and them of no moment, but it showed me that
Mr. Brown and George Winter was the same man, and I soon wormed out
his identity with Godfrey Pitman."

"Johnson and Co. will be for prosecuting him, I suppose?" observed
Bede, still as if he were dreaming.

"No," said Mr. Butterby. "I've seen Johnson and Co.: leastways
Johnson. In regard to that past transaction of theirs, his opinion has
changed, and he thinks that Winter, though culpably careless, and
unpardonably blind as to the faith he reposed in Samuel Teague, had
not himself any guilty knowledge. Anyway, Winter has been doing what
he can since to repair mischief: been living on a crust and working
night and day, to transmit sums periodically to Johnson in an
anonymous manner--except that he just let it be known they came from
him, by giving no clue to where he was, or how he gained them--with a
view to wipe off the money Sam Teague robbed them of. Teague has been
doing the same from his side the Atlantic," added Mr. Butterby with a
knowing laugh; "so that Johnson, as he says, is paid twice over.

"Then they don't prosecute?"

"Not a bit of it. And I'm free to confess that, taking in all aspects
of affairs--Brown's good conduct since, and the probability that Sam
Teague was the sole offender--the man has shown himself in all
ordinary pecuniary interests, just as honest and trustworthy as here
and there one."

"Did he----" Bede Greatorex hesitated, stopped, and then went on with
his sentence--"take my cheque?"

"That must be left to your judgment, sir. I've no cause myself to make
sure of it. The letter to Foster was written about the time the cheque
was lost, or a few days later; it made an allusion to money, Brown
saying he was glad to be out of his debt, but whether the debt was
pounds or shillings, I've no present means of knowing. Foster wouldn't
answer me a syllable; was uncommonly savage at his own carelessness in
letting the letter get amid the other. Living close and working hard,
Brown would have money in hand of his own without touching yours, Mr.
Bede Greatorex."

Bede nodded.

"On the other hand, a man who has lain under a cloud is more to be
doubted than one who has walked about in the open sunshine all his
life. The presenter of that cheque at the bank had a quantity of black
hair about his face, just as the false Godfrey Pitman had on his at
Helstonleigh. But it would be hardly fair to suspect Brown on that
score, seeing there's so many faces in London adorned with it
natural."

Again Bede nodded in acquiescence.

"Of course, sir, if you choose to put it to the test, you might have
Mr. Brown's face dressed up for it, and let the bank see him. Anyway,
'twould set the matter at rest."

"No," said Bede, quite sharply. "No, I should not like to do it. I
never thought of Brown in the affair; never. I--can't--don't--think of
him now."

Did he not now think of him? Butterby, with his keen ears, fancied the
last concluding sentence had a false ring in it.

"Well, sir, that lies at your own option. I've done my duty in making
you acquainted with this, but I've no call to stir in it, unless you
choose to put it officially into my hands. But there's the other and
graver matter, Mr. Bede Greatorex."

"What other?" questioned Bede, turning to him.

"That at Helstonleigh," said the detective. "All sorts of notions and
thoughts--fanciful some of 'em--come crowding through my mind at once.
I don't say that he had any hand in Mr. Ollivera's death; but it might
have been so: and this, that has now come out, strengthens the
suspicion against him in some points, and weakens it in others. You
remember the queer conduct of Alletha Rye at the time, sir--her dream,
and her show-off at the grave--which I had the satisfaction of looking
on at myself--and her emotion altogether?"

Bede Greatorex replied that he did remember it: also remembered that
he was unable to understand why it should have been so. But he spoke
like one whose mind is far away, as if the questions bore little
interest.

"George Winter and Alletha Rye were sweethearts: she used to live in
Birmingham before she came to Helstonleigh. But for his getting into
trouble, they'd soon have been married."

"Oh, sweethearts were they," carelessly observed Bede. "She is a
superior young woman."

"Granted, sir. But them superior women are not a bit wiser nor better
than others when their lovers is in question. Women have done mad
things for men's sakes afore today; and it strikes me now, that
Alletha Rye was just screening him, fearing he might have done it. I
don't see how else her madness and mooning is to be accounted for. On
the other hand, it seems uncommon droll that George Winter, hiding in
that top room until he could get safely away, should set himself out
to harm Mr. Ollivera; a man he'd never seen. Which was the view I took
at the time."

"And highly improbable," murmured Bede.

"Well, so I say; and I can't help thinking he'll come out of the fiery
ordeal unscorched."

"What ordeal?"

"The charge of murder. Mr. Greatorex is safe to give him into custody
upon it. I don't know that the Grand Jury would find a true bill."

All in a moment, Bede's face took a ghastly look of fear. It startled
even the detective, as it was turned sharply upon him. And the voice
in which he spoke was harsh and commanding.

"This must not be suffered to come to the knowledge of my father."

"Not suffered to come to his knowledge!" echoed Butterby, agape with
wonder.

"No, NO! You must not let him know that Brown is Godfrey Pitman. He
must never be told that Pitman is found."

"Why, Heaven bless you, Mr. Bede Greatorex! my honour has been engaged
all along in the tracing out of Pitman. That one man has given me more
in'ard trouble than any three. We detectives get hold of mortifying
things as well as other people, and that's been one of mine. Now that
I have trapped Pitman, I can't let the matter drop: and I'm sure Mr.
Greatorex won't."

Bede looked confounded. He opened his month to speak, and closed it
again.

"And if us two was foolish enough, there's another that wouldn't; that
would a'most make us answer for it with our lives," resumed the
detective, in a low, impressive tone--"and that is Parson Ollivera."

"I tell you, Butterby, this must be hushed up," repeated Bede, his
agitation unmistakable, his voice strangely hollow. "It must be hushed
up at any cost. _Do nothing_."

"And if the parson finds Pitman out for himself?" asked Butterby, his
deep green eyes, shaded by their overhanging eyebrows, looking out
steadily at Bede.

"That is a contingency we have nothing to do with yet. Time enough to
talk of it when it comes."

"But, Mr. Bede Greatorex, if Pitman really was the----"

"Hush! Stay!" interrupted Bede, glancing round involuntarily, as if
afraid of the very walls. "For Heaven's sake, Butterby, let the whole
thing drop; now and for ever. There are interests involved in it that
I cannot speak of--that must at all risks be kept from my father. I
wish I could unburthen myself of the whole complication, and lay the
matter bare before you; but I may not bring trouble on other people.
To accuse Pitman would--would re-open wounds partially healed; it
might bring worse than death amidst us."

It truly seemed, bending over the table in his imperative, realistic
earnestness, that Bede was longing to pour out the confidence he dared
not give. Butterby, revolving sundry speculations in his mind, never
took his eyes for an instant from the eager face.

"Answer me one question, Mr. Bede Greatorex--an' you don't mind doing
it. If you knew that Pitman was the slayer of your cousin, would you
still screen him?"

"If I knew--if I thought that Pitman had done that evil deed, I would
be the first to hand him over to justice," spoke Bede, breathing
quickly. "I feel sure he did not."

Butterby paused. "Sir, as you have said so much, I think you should
say a little more. It will be safe. You've got, I see, some other
suspicion."

"I have always believed that it was _one_ person did that," said Bede,
scarcely able to speak for agitation. "If--understand me--if it was
not an accident, or as the jury brought in, why then I think I suspect
who and what it really was. Not Pitman."

"Can the person be got at?" inquired Butterby.

"Not for any practical use; not for accusation."

"Is it any one of them I've heard mentioned in connection with the
death?"

"No; neither you nor the world. Let that pass. On my word of honour, I
say to you, Mr. Butterby, that I feel sure Pitman had no hand in the
matter for that reason, and for other involved reasons, I wish this
information you have given me to remain buried; a secret between you
and me. I will take my own time and opportunity for discharging Mr.
Brown. Will you promise this? Should you have incurred costs in
anyway, I will give you my cheque for the amount."

"There has not been much cost as yet," returned the detective,
honestly. "We'll let that be for now. What you ask me is difficult,
sir. I might get into trouble for it later at headquarters."

"Should that turn out to be the case, you can, in self-defence, bring
forward my injunctions. Say I stopped proceedings."

"Very well," returned Butterby, after a pause of consideration. "Then
for the present, sir, we'll say it shall stand so. Of course, if the
thing is brought to light through other folks, I must be held absolved
from my promise."

"Thank you; thank you truly, Mr. Butterby."

Bede Greatorex, the naturally haughty-natured man, condescended to
shake hands with the detective. Mr. Butterby attended him downstairs,
and opened the door for him. It was after he had gained Fleet Street,
that Bede came in contact with the shoulders of Roland Yorke, never
noticing him, bearing on in his all-powerful abstraction, his face
worn, anxious, white, scared, like that of a man, as Roland took
occasion to remark, who has met a ghost.

Back up the stairs turned Mr. Butterby, and sat down in front of the
fire, leaving the gas-burners to light up his back.

There, with a hand on either knee, he recalled all the circumstances
of John Ollivera's death with mental accuracy, and went over them one
by one. That done, he revolved surrounding interests in his silent
way, especially the words that had just fallen from Bede Greatorex one
single sentence, during the whole reverie, escaping his lips.

"Was Louisa Joliffe out that evening, I wonder?"

And the clock of St. Clement Danes had moved on an hour and a quarter
before he ever lifted his hands or rose from his seat.



CHAPTER XXVIII.
DISAPPEARED.


"I am waiting for that, Mr. Yorke."

But for the presence of Bede Greatorex, who sat at his desk in the
front office, Roland might have retorted on Mr. Brown that he _might_
wait, for he felt in just as bad a humour as it was well possible for
Roland, or anybody else, to feel. Ceasing his covert grumbling to
Hurst, who had the convenient gift of listening and writing away by
steam at one and the same time, Roland's pen resumed its task.

Never, since Roland had joined the house of Greatorex and Greatorex,
did he remember it to have been so pressed as now, as far as Bede's
room was concerned. There was a sudden accumulation of work, and hands
were short. Little Jenner had been summoned into Yorkshire by the
illness of his mother, and Mr. Bede Greatorex had kindly said to him,
"Don't hurry back if you find her in danger." They could not borrow
help from the other side, for it happened that a clerk there was also
absent.

Thus it fell out that not only Mr. Brown had to stay in the office the
previous night until a late hour, but he detained Roland in it as
well, besides warning that gentleman that he must take twenty minutes
for his dinner at present, and no more. This was altogether an intense
grievance, considering that Roland had fully purposed to devote a
large amount of leisure time to Arthur Channing. One whole day, and
this one getting towards its close, and Roland had not set eyes on
Arthur. Since the moment when he left him at the door of the hotel in
Norfolk Street, the last evening but one, Roland had neither seen nor
heard of him. He was resenting this quite as much as the weight of
work: for when his heart was really engaged, anything like slight or
neglect wounded it to the core. Somewhat of this feeling had set in on
the first night. After startling the street and alarming the inmates
of the house, through the bell and knocker, to find that Arthur
Channing had left his hotel and not come to him, was as a very pill to
Roland. He had been kept all closely at work since, and Arthur had not
chosen to come in search of him.

Whatever impression might have been made on the mind of Bede Greatorex
by the police officer's communication, now nearly two days old, he
could not but estimate at its true value the efficiency of Mr. Brown
as a clerk. In an emergency like the present, Mr. Brown did that which
Roland was fond of talking of--put his shoulder to the wheel. Whatever
the demands of the office, Mr. Brown showed himself equal to them
almost in his own person; this, combined with his very excellent
administrative qualities, rendered him invaluable to Bede Greatorex.
In a silent, undemonstrative kind of way, Mr. Brown had also for some
months past been on the alert to watch for those mistakes, inadvertent
neglects, forgetfulness in his master, which the reader has heard
complained of. So far as he was able to do it, these were at once
silently remedied, and nothing said. Bede detected this: and he knew
that many a night when Mr. Brown stayed over hours in the office,
working diligently, it was to repair some failure of his. Once, and
once only, Bede spoke. "Why are you so late tonight, Mr. Brown?" he
asked, upon going into the office close upon ten o'clock and finding
Mr. Brown up to his elbows in work. "I'm only getting forward for the
morning, sir," was the manager's quiet answer. But Bede, though he
said no more, saw that the clerk had taken some unhappy error of his
in hand, and was toiling to remedy it and avert trouble. So that,
whatever might be Mr. Brown's private sins, Bede Greatorex could
scarcely afford to lose him.

Once more, for perhaps the five hundredth time, Bede glanced from his
desk at Mr. Brown opposite. No longer need, though, was there to
glance with any speculative view; that had been set at rest. The eyes
that had so mystified Bede Greatorex, bringing to him an uneasy,
puzzling feeling, which wholly refused to elucidate itself, tax his
memory as he would, were at length rendered clear eyes to him. He knew
where and on what occasion he had seen them: and if he had disliked
and dreaded them before, he dreaded them ten times more now.

"Ah, how do you do, Mr. Channing?"

Bede, leaving his desk, had been crossing the office to his private
room, when Hamish entered. They shook hands, and stood talking for a
few minutes, not having met since Bede returned from his continental
tour. Just as a change for the worse in Bede struck Mr. Butterby's
keen eye, so, as it appeared, did some change in Hamish Channing
strike Bede.

"Are you well?" he asked.

"As well as London and its hard work will let me be," replied Hamish,
with one of his charming smiles, which really was gay and light, in
spite of its tinge of sadness. "It is of no use to dream of green
fields and blue waves when we cannot get to them, you know."

"_That's_ rest--when you can sit down in the one and idly watch the
other," remarked Bede. "But to go scampering about for a month or two
at railroad speed, neither body nor eye getting holiday, wears out a
man worse than working on in London, Mr. Channing."

With a slow, lingering gaze at Hamish's refined face, which was
looking strangely worn, and, so to say, etherealised, Bede passed on
to his room Hamish turned to the desk of Hurst and Roland Yorke.

"How are you?" he asked of them conjointly.

"As well as cantankerous circumstances and people will let me be," was
the cross reply of Roland, without looking up from his writing.

Hamish laughed.

"Just because I wanted a little leisure just now, I've got double work
put on my shoulders," went on Roland. "You remember that time at old
Galloway's, Hamish, when Jenkins and Arthur were both away together,
throwing all the work upon me? Well, we've got a second edition of
that here."

"Who is away?" inquired Hamish.

"Little Jenner. And he is good for three of us any day in point of
getting through work. The result is, that Mr. Brown"--giving a defiant
nod to the gentleman opposite--"keeps me at it like a slave. But for
Arthur's being in London, I'd not mind some extra pressure, I'd be
glad to oblige, and do it. Not that Arthur misses me, if one may judge
by appearances," he continued in a deeply-injured tone. "I would not
be two days in a strange place without going to see after _him_."

"Have you not seen Arthur, then?" inquired Hamish.

"No, I have not seen him," retorted Roland, with emphasis. "He has
been too much taken up with you and other friends, to think of me.
Perhaps he has gone over to Gerald's interests: and _his_ theory is,
that I'm nobody worth knowing. Mother Jenkins has had her best gown on
for two days, expecting him. Live and learn--and confound it all! I'd
have backed Arthur Channing, for faith and truth, against the world."

Hamish laughed slightly: any such interlude as this in Roland's
generally easy nature, amused him always.

"You and I and Mrs. Jenkins are in the same box, old fellow, for
Arthur has not been to me."

"Oh, hasn't he?" was Roland's answer, delivered with lofty
indifference, and an angry shake of the pen, which blotted his work
all over. "It's a case of Gerald, then. Perhaps he is taking him round
to the Tower, and the waxwork, and the wild beasts--as I thought to
do."

"I expect it is rather a case of business," remarked Hamish. "You know
what Arthur is: when he has work to do, that supersedes all else.
Still I wonder he did not come round last night. We waited dinner
until half-past seven."

Roland was occupied in trying to repair the damage he had wilfully
made, and gave no answer.

"I came in now to ask you for news of him, Roland. Where is he
staying?"

"He has not called yet to see Annabel," broke in Roland. "And that I
do think shameful."

"Where is he staying?"

"Staying! Why at the place in Norfolk Street. He told you where."

"Yes," assented Hamish, "but he is not staying there. I have just come
from the hotel now."

"Who says he is not?"

"The people at the hotel."

"Oh, they say that, do they?" retorted Roland, turning his resentment
on the people in question. "They are nice ones to keep an hotel."

"They say he is not there, and has not been there."

"Then, Hamish, I can tell you that he _is_ there. Didn't I take him
down to it that night from your house, and see him safe in? Didn't he
order his missing portmanteau to be sent to the place as soon as it
turned up? They had better tell _me_ that he is not there!"

"What they say is this, Roland. That Arthur went there, but left again
the same night, never occupying his bed at all: and they can give me
no information as to where he is staying. I did not put many
questions, but came off to you, thinking you would know his
movements."

"And that is just what I don't know. Arthur has not chosen to let me
know. He is at the hotel safe enough: why, he was expecting letters
and telegrams and all kinds of things there! They have mistaken the
name and given you the wrong answer."

Hamish did not think this. He stood in silence, feeling a little
puzzled. And in that moment a faint shadow, not of evil yet, but of
something or other that was wrong, first dawned on his mind.

"I want to find him," said Hamish. "If it shall turn out that he is
really not at the hotel and they can give me no information, I shall
not know where to look for him or what to think. But for your being
busy, Roland, I would have asked you to go back with me to Norfolk
Street."

Roland looked across at Mr. Brown, the light of eagerness illumining
his face. He did not ask to go, but it was a strong silent appeal. Not
that he had any doubt on the score of Arthur; but the walking to
Norfolk Street was in prospective a very delightful interlude to the
evening's hard work. But no answering look of assent did he receive.

"We'd be back in an hour, Brown, and I'd set to work like a brick. Or
in less than that if we take a cab," briskly added Roland. "I have
some money to pay for one; I've gone about since yesterday morning
with a sovereign in my pocket, on the chance of standing treat for
some sights, in case I found the chance of going out with Arthur
Channing. Didn't Mrs. J. read me a lecture on not spending it in waste
when she handed it over!"

"If you would promise to be back within the hour, Mr. Yorke, and
really set to work with a will, you should go with Mr. Channing," was
the manager's answer, who had of course heard the whole colloquy. In
Roland's present restless temper, he was likely to retard work more
than to advance it, especially if denied the expedition to Norfolk
Street: as nobody knew better than Mr. Brown. Roland could work with a
will; and no doubt would on his return, if allowed to go. So that it
was policy to let him.

"Oh, thank you, Brown; that is generous," said he gratefully, as he
leaped off his stool and got his hat. "I'll work away till morning
light for you if it's necessary, and make no mistakes."

But Arthur was not to be found at the hotel in Norfolk Street. And the
tale told there was rather a singular one. Of course Roland, darting
in head-foremost in his impetuous way, demanded to see Mr. Arthur
Channing, and also what they meant by denying that he was staying at
it. The waiter came forward in the absence of the principal, and gave
them the few particulars (all he knew) that Hamish had not before
stayed to ask. In fact, Hamish had thought that Arthur must have taken
some prejudice against the hotel and so quitted it for another. The
following was the substance of the tale.

Mr. Arthur Channing had written from Helstonleigh to desire that a
room should be prepared for him, and any letters that might come
addressed to him be taken care of. Upon his arrival at the hotel
(which must have been when Roland left him at it) he was informed that
his room was ready, and asked if he would like to see it. Presently,
he answered, and went into the coffee-room. The man (this same one
telling the story) left him in it reading his letters, after supplying
him with writing materials, Arthur saying that when he wanted anything
he would ring. It was an exceedingly quiet hotel, not much frequented
at any time; the three or four people staying in it were out that
evening, so that Arthur was quite alone. By-and-by, the man said, he
went in again, and found the room empty. From that time they had
neither seen nor heard of Arthur.

This was the substance of the account, and it sounded somewhat
incredible. Had Arthur been like Roland Yorke for instance, liable to
dart about in random impetuosity, without the smallest concern for
others, it might have been thought that he had taken himself off in a
freak and forgotten to give notice; but Arthur was not likely to do
such a thing. Hamish stood quietly while he listened to this: Roland
had put himself upon a table, and sat there pulling fiercely at his
whiskers, his long legs dangling downwards.

"I came with him to the door my own self," burst forth Roland before
the man had well finished, as if that were a disputed point. "I
watched him come right into it. That was at eight o'clock."

"Yes, sir; it was about that time, sir, that Mr. Arthur Channing got
in," answered the waiter, who gave them his name as Binns.

"And when I came down, an hour later, you told me Mr. Arthur Channing
had gone out; you know you did," spoke Roland, who seemed altogether
out of his reckoning at the state of affairs, and wanted to blame
somebody. "You never said he had gone for good."

"Well, sir, but how was I to think he had gone for good?" mildly
inquired the waiter. "It have puzzled the house sir: we don't know
what to suppose. Towards eleven o'clock, when the gentleman did not
come in, I began to think the chambermaid must have showed him to his
room, being tired, perhaps; but she said she had not, and we went up
and found the room unoccupied. We have never heard of him at all
since, gentlemen."

The shadow looming over Hamish grew a little darker. He began to think
all this was very strange.

"The railway people were to have sent his portmanteau here," cried
Roland; who, when much put out, could not reason at all, and spoke any
thought that came uppermost.

"Yes, sir, the portmanteau came the next morning, sir. I carried it up
to his room, sir, and it is there still."

"What! unopened!" exclaimed Hamish. "I mean, has Mr. Arthur Channing
not come here to claim it?"

"No, sir; it's waiting for him against he do."

It grew serious now. Whatever abode Arthur might have removed to, he
would not fail to claim his portmanteau, as common sense told Hamish
Roland, hearing the answer, began to stare.

"Have you any idea how long he remained in, writing?" asked Hamish.

"No, sir. It might have been half-past eight or so, when I came back
into the room, and found him gone. But I don't think he had written at
all, sir, for the ink and things was on the table just as I placed
them; they didn't seem to have been used."

"Were many letters waiting for him?"

"Four or five, sir. And there was a bit of a mishap with one of them,
sir, for which I am very sorry. In taking them out of the rack to give
to him, sir, I accidentally overlooked one, and left it in, so that
Mr. Arthur Channing never had it. It's in there now."

"Be so kind as to bring it to me."

The man went for the letter, and gave it to Hamish. It was in Charles
Channing's handwriting, and bore the Marseilles post-mark. A proof
that Charley had arrived there safely: which was a bit of gladness for
Hamish.

"I suppose you will not grumble at my opening this?" he said to the
man, with a smile, as he took out his card and handed it to him. "I am
Mr. Arthur Channing's brother."

"Oh, sir! I can see that by the likeness; no need to tell it to me,"
was the answer. "It's all right, sir, I'm sure. These other three
letters have come since, sir. The big one by this morning's post, the
other two later."

The big one, as the man called it, a thick, official-looking, blue
envelope, was in Mr. Galloway's handwriting. Roland knew the proctor's
seal too well. That one Hamish did not feel at liberty to open, but
the others he did, and thought the circumstances fully justified it.
Running his eyes over Charles's first, he found it had been written on
board, as the steamer was nearing Marseilles. It stated that he was
feeling very much better for the voyage, and thought of staying quite
a week in Paris as he came through it. So far, _that_ was good news;
and now Hamish opened the other two.

Each of them, dated that morning, proved to be from a separate firm of
solicitors in London and contained a few brief words of inquiry why
Mr. Arthur Channing had not kept the appointment with them on the
previous day.

Was Arthur _lost_, then? Hamish felt startled to tremor. As to poor
Roland, he could only stare in helpless wonder, and openly lament that
he had been such a wicked jackanapes as to attribute unkindness to
Arthur.

"When I knew in my heart he was the best and truest man, the bravest
gentleman the world ever produced, Hamish. Oh! I am a nice one."

Remaining at the hotel would not help them, for the waiter could tell
no more than he had told. Hamish pointed to his address on the card
already given, and they walked away up Norfolk Street in silence.
Roland broke it as they turned into the Strand, his low voice taking a
tone of dread.

"I say, Hamish! Arthur had a lot of money about him."

"A lot of money!" repeated Hamish.

"He had. He brought it up from old Galloway. You--you--don't think he
could have been murdered for it?"

"Hush, Roland!"

"Oh, well--But the roughs would not mind doing such a thing at Port
Natal."



CHAPTER XXIX.
RESTLESS WANDERINGS.


The commotion was great. Six days had elapsed since Arthur Channing's
singular disappearance, and he had never been heard of.

Six days! In a case of this nature, six days to anxious friends will
seem almost like six weeks. Nay, and longer. And, while on the topic,
it may be well and right to state that these circumstances, this loss,
occurred just as written; or about to be written; and are not a
réchauffé from a dish somewhat recently served to the public in real
life.

Arthur Channing arrived at the Euston Square Station on a certain
evening already told of, and was met there by Roland Yorke. Later,
soon after eight, he went to the private hotel in Norfolk Street, in
which a room had been engaged for him, and where he had stayed before.
Roland saw him go in: the waiter, Binns, received him, and left him in
the coffee-room reading his letters. Upon the waiter's entering the
room nearly half an hour subsequently, he found it empty. A small
parcel and an umbrella belonging to him were there, but he himself was
not. Naturally the waiter concluded that he had but stepped out
temporarily. He was mistaken, however. From that moment nothing had
been seen or heard of Arthur Channing.

If ever Roland Yorke went nigh to lose his mind, it was now. Strangers
thought he must be a candidate for Bedlam. Totally neglecting the
exigencies of the office, he went tearing about like a lunatic. From
one place to another, from this spot to that, backwards and forwards
and round again, strode Roland, as if his legs went on wires. His
aspect was fierce, his hair wild. The main resting-posts, at which he
halted by turns, were Scotland Yard, Waterloo Bridge, and the London
docks. The best that Roland's dark fears could suggest was, that
Arthur had been murdered. Murdered for the sake of the money he had
about him, and then put quietly out of the way. Waterloo Bridge,
bearing a reputation for having been a former chosen receptacle for
mysterious carpet-bags, was of course pitched upon by Roland as an
ill-omened element in the tragedy now. It had also just happened that
a man, drowned from one of the bridges, had been found in the London
docks: having drifted in, no doubt, with an entering or leaving ship.
This was quite enough for Roland. Morning after morning would find him
there; and St. Katharine's docks, being nearer, sometimes had him
twice in the day.

Putting aside Roland's migrations, and his outspoken fears of dark
deeds, others, interested, were to the full as much alarmed as he. The
facts were more than singular; they were mysterious. From the time
that Arthur Channing had entered the hotel in Norfolk Street, or--to
be strictly correct--from a few minutes subsequent to that, when the
waiter, Binns, had left him in the coffee-room, he seemed to have
disappeared. The police could make nothing of it. Mr. Galloway, who
had been at once communicated with by Hamish Channing, was nearly as
much assailed by fears as Roland, and sent up letters or telegrams
every other hour in the day.

The first and most natural theory taken up, as to the cause of the
disappearance, was this--that Arthur Channing had received some news,
amidst the letters given to him, that caused him to absent himself.
But for the circumstance of the letter (written by Charles Channing on
board the P. and O. steamer, and posted at Marseilles) _not_ having
been handed to Arthur, it might have been assumed that it had
contained bad news of Charles, and that Arthur had hastened away to
him. As the letter was omitted to be given to him--and it was an
exceedingly curious incident in the problem that it should so have
fallen out--this hope could not be entertained: Charles was well; and
by that time, no doubt, in Paris enjoying himself. But, even had
circumstances enabled them to take up this hope, it could not have
lasted long: had Arthur been called suddenly away, to Charles, or
elsewhere, he would not have failed to let his friends know it.

His portmanteau remained at the hotel unsought for; with his umbrella
and small parcel, containing the few articles he had bought earlier in
the night; full proof that when he quitted the hotel, he had meant to
return to it. Now and again, even yet, a letter would reach the hotel
from some stray individual or other, whom he ought to have seen on
business during his sojourn in London, and had not. The letters, like
the luggage, remained unclaimed, except by Hamish. In reply to
inquiries, Mr. Galloway stated that the amount of money brought up to
town by Arthur from himself, was sixty pounds; chiefly in five-pound
notes. This was, of course, exclusive of what Arthur might have about
him of his own. Mr. Galloway, in regard to the transmission of money,
seemed to do things like nobody else: who, save himself, but would
have given Arthur an order on his London bankers, Glyn and Co.? Not
he. He happened to have the sixty pounds by him, and so sent it up in
hard cash.

The first thing the police did, upon being summoned to the search, was
to endeavour to ascertain what letters Arthur had received that night
upon entering the hotel in Norfolk Street, and whom they were from.
The waiter said there were either four or five; he was not sure which,
but thought the former. He fancied there had been five in all; and, as
the one was accidentally left in the rack, it must, he felt nearly
sure, have been but four he delivered over. One of them--he was
positive of this--had arrived that same evening, only an hour or two
before Mr. Arthur Channing. The young person who presided over the
interests of a kind of office, or semi-public parlour, where inquiries
were made by visitors, and whence orders were issued, was a Miss
Whiffin. She was an excessively smart lady in a rustling silk, with
frizzy curls of a light tow on the top of her forehead, and a
remarkable chignon behind that might have been furnished by the
coiffeur of Mrs. Bede Greatorex. Miss Whiffin could not, or would not,
recollect what number of letters there had been waiting for Mr.
Channing. Being a supercilious young lady--or, at least, doing her
best to appear one--she assumed to think it a piece of impertinence to
be questioned at all. Yes she remembered there were a small few
letters waiting for Mr. Arthur Channing; foreign or English; _she_ did
not notice which: if Binns said it _was_ five, no doubt it was five. She
considered it exceedingly unreasonable of any customer, not to say
ungentlemanly, to write and order a bedroom, and walk into the house
and then walk out again, and never occupy it: it was a thing she
neither understood nor had been accustomed to.

And that was all that could be got out of Miss Whiffin. Binns'
opinion, that the number of letters given to Arthur had been four, was
in a degree borne out: for that was just the number they had been able
to trace as having been written to him. Three of them were notes from
people in London, making appointments for Arthur to call on them the
next day; the fourth (the one spoken of by Binns as having arrived
just before Arthur himself) was known to be from Mr. Galloway, that
gentleman having despatched it by the day-mail from Helstonleigh.

What could have taken Arthur out again? That was the point to be, if
possible, solved. Unless it could be, neither the police nor anybody
else had the smallest clue as to the quarter their inquiries should be
directed to. Had he quitted London again (which seemed highly
improbable), then the railway stations must be visited for news of
him: had he but strolled out for a walk, it must be the streets.

One of the three notes mentioned came from a firm of proctors in
Parliament Street. It contained these words from the senior partner,
who was an old friend of Mr. Galloway's:--"If it were convenient for
you to call on me the evening of your arrival in town, I should be
glad, as I wish to see you myself, and I am leaving home the following
morning for a week. I shall remain at the office until nine at night,
on the chance that you may come."

That Arthur, on reading the note, might have hastened to make a call
in Parliament Street, was more than probable.--He knew London fairly
well, having been up on two previous occasions for Mr. Galloway.--But
Arthur never made his appearance there. Though of course that did not
prove that he did not set out with the intention of going. Another
feasible conjecture, started by Roland Yorke, was, that he might have
forgotten some trifling article or other amidst his previous
purchases, and gone out again to get it. Allowing that one or other of
these suppositions was correct, it did not explain the mystery of his
subsequent disappearance.

What became of him? If, according to this theory, he walked, or ran,
up Norfolk Street to the Strand, and turned to the right or the left,
or bore on across the road in pursuance of his purposed way, wherever
that might be, how far did he go on that day? Where had his steps
halted? at what point had he turned aside? How, and where, and in what
manner had he disappeared? It was in truth a strange mystery, and none
was able to answer the questions. A thousand times a day Roland
declared he had been murdered--but that assertion was not looked upon
as a satisfactory answer.

Upon a barrel, which happened to stand, end upwards, in a corner of an
outer office at one of the police stations, into which he had gone
dashing with dishevelled hair and agitated mien, sat Roland Yorke. Six
days of search had gone by, and this was the seventh. With every
morning that rose and brought forth no news of Arthur, Roland's state
of mind grew worse and worse. The police for miles round were
beginning to dread him, for he bothered their lives out. The shops in
the Strand could say nearly the same. When it was found beyond doubt
that Arthur was really missing, Roland had gone to the shops ringing
and knocking frantically, just as he had done at Mrs. Jones's door,
and bursting into those accessible. It happened to be evening: for a
whole day was wasted in inquiring at more likely places, proctors' and
solicitors' offices, Gerald's chambers, and the like: and so a great
many of the shops were closed. Into all that he could get, dashed
Roland, asking for news of a gentleman; a "very handsome young fellow
nearly as tall as himself, who might have gone in to buy something."
Every conceivable article, displayed or not displayed for sale, did
Roland's vivid imagination picture as having possibly been needed by
Arthur, from "candied rock" at a sweet-stuff mart to a stomach-pump at
the doctor's. Some, serving behind the counters, thought him mad;
others that he might have designs on the till; all threatened to give
him into custody. In the excited state of Roland's mind it was not to
be expected that he could tell a quiet, coherent tale. When Hamish
Channing went later, with his courteous explanation and calm bearing,
though his inward anxiety was quite as great as Roland's, it was a
different thing altogether, and he was received with the utmost
consideration. Threats and denial availed not with Roland: day by day,
as each day came round, the shops had him again. In he was, like a man
that stood head downwards and had no mind left; begging them to try
and recall every soul who might have gone in to make purchases that
night. But the shops could not help him. And, as the days went on, and
nothing came of it, Roland began to lay the fault on the police.

"I never heard of such a thing," he was saying this morning as he sat
tilting on the high barrel, and wiping his hot face after his run;
which might have been one of twelve miles, or so, comprising Scotland
Yard, and in and out of every shop in the Strand and Fleet Street, and
all round the docks and back again. "Six days since he was missing,
and no earthly news of him discovered yet! Not as much as a _scrap_ of
a clue! Where's the use of a country's having its police at all,
unless they can do better than that?"

He spoke in an injured tone; one that he would have liked to make
angrily passionate. Roland's only audience was a solitary stout
policeman, with a prominent, buttoned-up chest and red face, who stood
with his back against the mantelpiece, reading a newspaper.

"We have not had no clue to work upon, you see, Mr. Yorke," replied
the man, who bore the euphonious name of Spitchcock, and was, so to
say, on intimate terms with Roland, through being invaded by him so
often.

"No skill, you mean, Spitchcock. I know what the English police are;
had cause to know it, and the mistakes they make, years ago, long
before I went to Port Natal. I could almost say, without being far
from the truth, that it was the pig-headed, awful bungling of one of
your lot that drove me to Africa."

"How was that, sir?"

"I'm not going to tell you. Sometimes I wish I had stayed out there; I
should have been nearly as well off. What with not getting on, and
being picked short up by having my dearest friend murdered and flung
over Waterloo Bridge--for that's what it will turn out to be--things
don't look bright over here. I know this much, Spitchcock: if it had
happened in Port Natal, he would have been found ere this--dead or
alive."

"Yes, that must be a nice place, that must, by your description of it,
sir," remarked Spitchcock with disparagement, as he turned his
newspaper.

"It was nicer than this is just now, at any rate," returned Roland. "I
never heard at Port Natal of a gentleman being pounced upon and
murdered as he walked quietly along the public street at half-past
eight o'clock in the evening. Such a villainous thing didn't happen
when I was there."

"You've got to hear it of London yet, Mr. Yorke."

"Now don't _you_ be pig-headed, Spitchcock. What else, do you suppose,
could have happened to him? I can't say he was actually murdered in
the open Strand: but I do say he must have been drawn into one of the
alleys, or some other miserable place, with a pitch-plaster on his
mouth, or chloroform to his nose, and there done for. Who is to know
that he did not open his pocketbook in the train, coming up, and some
thief caught sight of the notes, and dodged him? Come, Spitchcock?"

"He'd be safe enough in the Strand," remarked the man.

"Oh, would he, though!" fiercely rejoined Roland, panting with emotion
and heat. "Who is to know, then, but he had to dive into some bad
places where the thieves live to do an errand for old Galloway,
perhaps pay away one of his notes--and went out at once to do it? Do
you mean to say that's unlikely?"

"No, that's not unlikely. If he had to do anything of the sort that
took him into the thieves' alleys, that's how he might have come to
grief," avowed Mr. Spitchcock. "Many a one gets put out of the way
during a year, and no bones is made over it."

Roland jumped up with force so startling that he nearly upset the
barrel. "That's how it must have been, Spitchcock! What can I do in
it? I never cared for any one in the world as I cared for him, and
never shall. Except--except somebody else--and that's nothing to
anybody."

"But this here's altogether another guess sort of thing," remonstrated
Mr. Spitchcock. "Them cases don't get found out through the party not
being inquired for: his friends, if he's got any, thinks he's, may be,
gone off on the spree, abroad or somewhere, and never asks after him.
_This_ is different."

He spoke in a cool calm kind of way. It produced no effect on Roland.
The fresh theory had been started, and that was enough. So many
conjectures had been hazarded and rejected in their hopelessness
during the past few days that to catch hold of another was to Roland
something like a spring of water would have been, had he come upon one
during his travels in the arid deserts of Africa. Ordering Spitchcock
to propound this view to the first of his superiors that should look
in, Roland went speeding on his course again to seek an interview with
Hamish Channing.

Making a detour first of all down Wellington Street: for, to go by
Waterloo Bridge without inquiring whether anything had "turned up,"
was beyond Roland. Perhaps it was because Arthur seemed to have
disappeared within the radius of what might be called its vicinity,
taken in conjunction with its assumed ill-reputation--as a convenient
medium over which dead cats and the like might be pitched into the
safe, all-concealing river--that induced Roland Yorke to suspect the
spot. It haunted his thoughts awake, his dreams asleep. One whole
night he had sat on its parapet, watching the water below, watching
the solitary passengers above. The police had got to know him now and
what he wanted; and if they laughed at him behind his back, were civil
to him before his face.

Onward pressed Roland, his head first in eagerness, his long legs
skimming after. How many wayfarers and apple-stalls he had knocked
over (so to say, walked through) since the search began, he would have
had some difficulty to reckon up. As to bringing him to account for
damages, that was simply impracticable. Before the capsized individual
could understand what had happened to him, or the bewildered
apple-woman so much as looked at her fallen wares, Roland was out of
sight and hearing. A young shoe-black at the corner had got to think
the gentleman, pressing onwards everlastingly up and down the street,
never turning aside from his course, might be the Wandering Jew; and
would cease brushing to gaze up at Roland whenever he passed.

Look at him now, reader. The tall, fine, well-dressed young fellow,
his pale face anxious with not-attempted-to-be-concealed care, his
arms swaying, the silk-lined breasts of his frock-coat thrown back, as
he strides on resolutely down Wellington Street! Neither to the right
nor the left looks he: his eyes are cast forth over the people's
heads, towards the bridge and the river that it spans, as if staring
for the information he is going to seek. One great feature in Roland
was his hopefulness. Each time he started for Waterloo Bridge, or
Scotland Yard, or Hamish Channing's, or Mr. Greatorex's, or any other
place where news might possibly be awaiting him, renewed hope was to
the full as buoyant in his heart as it had been that memorable day
when he had anchored in the beautiful harbour of Port Natal, and gazed
on the fair shore with all its charming scenery that seemed to Roland
as a very paradise. Bright with hope as his heart had been then, so
was it now in the intermittent intervals. So was it at this moment as
he bore on, down Wellington Street.

"Well," said he to the toll-keeper. "Anything turned up?"

"Not a bit on't," responded the man. "Nor likely to." Roland went
through, perched himself on the parapet, and took his fill of gazing
at the river. Now on this side the bridge, now leaping over to that. A
steamer passed, a rowing-boat or two; but Arthur Channing was not in
them. Roland looked to the mud on the sides, he threw his gaze
forwards and backwards, up and down, round and about. In vain. All
features were very much the same that they had been from the day of
his first search: certainly returning to him no signs of Arthur. And
down went hope again, as completely as the pears had gone, earlier in
the day, at a corner stall. Despair had possession of him now.

"You say that no suspicious character went on to the bridge that
night, so far as you can recollect," resumed Roland in the gloomiest
tone, when he had walked lingeringly back to the man at the gate.
Lingeringly, because some kind of clue seemed to lie with that bridge
and he was always loth to quit it. If he did not suspect Arthur might
be lying buried underneath the stone pavement, it seemed something
like it.

"I didn't say so," interrupted the gate-keeper, in rather a surly
tone. "What I said was, as there warn't nothing suspicious chucked
over that night."

"You can't tell. You might not hear."

"Well, I haven't got no time to jabber with you today."

"If I kept this turnstile, I should make it my business to mark all
suspicious night characters that went through; and watch them."

"Oh, would you! And how 'ud you know which was the suspicious ones?
Come! They don't always carry their bad marks on their backs, they
don't; some on 'em don't look no different from you."

Roland bit his lips to keep down a retort. All in Arthur's interest.
Upon giving the man, on a recent visit, what the latter had called
"sauce," his migration on and off the bridge had been threatened with
a summary stoppage. So he was careful.

"Well, I've just had a clue given me by the police. And I don't hold
the smallest doubt now that he _was_ put out of the way. And this is
the likeliest place for him to have been brought to. I don't think it
would take much skill, after he had been chloroformed to death, to
shoot him over, out of a Hansom cab. Brought up upon the pavement,
level with the parapet, he'd go as easily over, if propelled, as I
should if I jumped it."

The toll-keeper answered by a growl and some sharp words. Truth to
say, he felt personally aggrieved at his bridge being subjected to
these scandalizing suspicions, and resented them accordingly. Roland
did not wait. He went off in search of Hamish, and ere he had left the
bridge behind out of sight, hope began again to spring up within him.
So buoyant is the human heart in general, and Roland's in particular.
Not--let it always be Understood--the hope that Arthur would be found
uninjured, only some news of him that might serve to solve the
mystery.

Shooting out of a Hansom cab (not dead, after the manner of a picture
just drawn, but alive) came a gentleman, just as Roland was passing
it. The cab had whirled round the corner of Wellington Street,
probably on its way from the station, and pulled up at a shop in the
Strand. It was Sir Vincent Yorke. Roland stopped; seized his hand in
his impulsive manner, and began entering upon the story of Arthur
Channing's disappearance without the smallest preliminary greeting of
any kind. Every moment Roland could spare from running, he spent in
talking. He talked to Mrs. Jones, he talked to Henry William Ollivera,
he talked to Hurst and Jenner, he would have talked to the moon. Mr.
Brown had been obliged to forbid him the office, unless he could come
to it to work. In his rapid, excited manner, he poured forth the
story, circumstance after circumstance, in Sir Vincent's ear, that
gentleman feeling slightly bewildered, and not best pleased at the
unexpected arrest.

"Oh--ah--I dare say he'll turn up all right," minced Sir Vincent. "A
fella's not obliged to acquaint his friends with his movements. Just
got up to town?--ah--yes--just for a day or two. Good day. Hope you'll
find him."

"You don't understand who it is, Vincent," spoke Roland, resenting the
want of interest; which, to say the best of it, was but lukewarm. "It
is William Yorke's brother-in-law, Annabel's brother, and the dearest
friend I've ever had in life. I've told you of Arthur Channing before.
He has the best and bravest heart living; he is the truest man and
gentleman the world ever produced."

"An--yes--good day! I'm in a hurry."

Sir Vincent made his escape into the shop. Roland went on to Hamish
Channing's office. Hamish could not neglect his work, however Roland
might abandon his.

But Hamish would have liked to do it. In good truth, this most
unaccountable disappearance of his brother was rendering him in a
measure unfit for his duties. He might almost as well have devoted his
whole time just now to the interests of the search, for his thoughts
were with it always, and his interruptions were many. To him the
police carried reports; it was on him Roland Yorke rattled in half a
dozen times in the course of the day, upsetting all order and quiet,
and business too, by the commotion he raised. To see Roland burst in,
breath gone, hair awry, face white, chest heaving with emotion, was
nothing at all extraordinary; but Hamish did wish, as the doors swung
back after Roland, once more, on this morning, that he would not burst
in quite so often. Perhaps Roland was a little more excited than
usual, from the full belief that he had at length got hold of the
right clue.

"It's all out, Hamish," he panted. "Arthur's as good as found. He went
out of the hotel to do some errand for Galloway; it took him into
those bad, desperate, pick-pocketing places where the police dare
hardly go themselves, and that's where it must have been done."

Hamish laid down his pen. The colour deserted his face, a faintness
stole over his heart.

"How has it been discovered, Roland?" he inquired, in a hushed tone.

"Spitchcock did it. You know the fellow,--red face, fat enough for
two. I was with him just now; and in consequence of what he said, it's
the conclusion I have come to."

Naturally, Hamish pressed for details. Upon Roland's supplying them,
with accuracy as faithful as his state of mind allowed, Hamish knew
not whether to be most relieved or vexed. Roland had neither wish nor
thought to deceive; and his positive assertion was made only in
accordance with the belief he had worked himself into. To find that
the present "clue," as Roland called it, turned out to be a
supposititious one of that impulsive gentleman's mind, on a par with
the theory he entertained in regard to Waterloo Bridge, was a relief
undoubtedly to Hamish; but, nevertheless, he would have preferred
Roland's keeping the whole to himself.

"I wish you'd not take up these fancies, Roland," he said, as severely
as his sweet nature ever allowed him to speak. "It is so useless to
bring me unnecessary alarms."

"You may take my word for it that's how it will turn out to have been
Hamish."

"No. Had Mr. Galloway charged him with any commission to unsafe parts
that night--or to safe ones, either--he would have written up since to
tell me."

"Oh, would he, though!" cried Roland, wiping his hot brow. "You don't
know Galloway as I do, Hamish. He's just likely to have given such a
commission (if he had it to give) and to think no more about it.
Somebody ought to go to Helstonleigh."

Hamish made no reply to this. He was busy with his papers.

"Will you go, Hamish?"

"To Helstonleigh? Certainly not. There is not the slightest necessity
for it. I am quite certain that Mr. Galloway holds no clue that he has
not imparted."

"Then if nobody goes down, I will go," said Roland, his eyes lighting
with earnestness, his cheeks flushing. "I never thought to show myself
in Helstonleigh again until fortune had altered with me; but I'd
despise myself if I could let my own feelings of shame stand in old
Arthur's light."

"Don't do anything of the kind," advised Hamish. "Believe me, Roland,
it is altogether an ideal notion you have taken up. Your impulsive
nature deceives you."

"I shall go, Hamish. I am not obliged to carry your consent with me."

"I should not give it," said Hamish, slightly laughing, but speaking
in an unmistakably firm accent.

He was interrupted by a hacking cough. As Roland watched him, waiting
until it should cease, watched the hectic colour it left behind it, a
sudden recollection came over him of _one_ who used to cough in much
the same way before he died.

"I say, old fellow, you've caught cold," he said.

"No, I think not."

"I'd get rid of that cough, Hamish. It makes me think of Joe Jenkins.
Don't be offended: I'm not comparing you together. He was the thinnest
and poorest lamp-post going, a miserable reed in the hands of Mrs. J.;
and you are bright, handsome, fastidious Hamish Channing. But you
cough alike."

With the last words Roland went dashing out. When he had a purpose in
view, head and heels were alike impetuous, and perhaps no earthly
power, unless it had been the appearance of Arthur, could have
arrested him in the end he had in view--that of starting for
Helstonleigh.



CHAPTER XXX.
A NEW IDEA FOR MR. OLLIVERA.


The Reverend Henry William Ollivera sat in his room at a late
breakfast: he had been called abroad to a sick parishioner just as he
was about to sit down to it at nine in the morning. With his usual
abandonment of self, he hastened away, swallowing a thimbleful of
coffee without milk or sugar, and carrying with him a crust of bread.
It was nearly one when he came back again, having taken a morning
service for a friend, and this was his real breakfast. Mrs. Jones, who
cared for the comforts of the people about her in her tart way, had
sent up what she called buttered eggs, a slice of ham, and a hot roll.
The table-cloth was beautifully white: the coffeepot looked as good as
silver.

But, tempting as the meal really was, hungry as Mr. Ollivera might be
supposed to be, he was letting it get cold before him. A newspaper lay
on the stand near, but he did not unfold it. The strangely eager light
in his eyes was very conspicuous as he sat, seeing nothing, lost in a
reverie; the fevered hands were still. Some months had elapsed now
since his wild anxiety, to unfold the mystery enshrouding his
brother's death, had set-in afresh, through the disclosure of Mr.
Willett; a burning, restless anxiety, that never seemed wholly to quit
his mind, by night or by day.

But nothing had come of it. Seek as Mr. Ollivera would, he as yet
obtained no result. An exceedingly disagreeable and curious doubt had
crossed his thoughts at times--whence arising he scarcely knew--of one
whom he would have been very unwilling to suspect, even though the
adverse appearances were greater than at present. And that was Alletha
Rye. Perhaps what first of all struck him as strange, was Miss Rye's
ill-concealed agitation upon any mention of the subject, her startling
change of colour, her shrinking desire to avoid it. At the time of Mr.
Willett's communication the clergyman had renewed his habit of going
into Mrs. Jones's parlour to converse upon the topic; previously he
had been letting it slip into disuse, and then it was that the
remarkable demeanour of Miss Rye dawned gradually on his notice. At
first he thought it an accident, next he decided that it was strange,
afterwards he grew to introduce the topic suddenly on purpose to
observe her. And what he saw was beginning to make a most unpleasant
impression on him. A very slight occurrence, only the unexpected
meeting of Mr. Butterby that morning, had brought the old matter all
back to him. As he was hastening home from church, really wanting his
breakfast, he encountered Jonas Butterby the detective. The latter
said he had been in town nearly a week on business (the reader saw him
at the commencement, in conjunction with Mr. Bede Greatorex), but was
returning to Helstonleigh that night or on the morrow. For a few
minutes they stood conversing of the past, Butterby saying that
nothing had "turned up."

"Have you not heard of Godfrey Pitman?" suddenly asked Mr. Ollivera.

The question was put sharply: and for once the clever man was at
fault. Did Mr. Ollivera mean to imply that he _had_ heard of
Pitman?--that he, the clergyman, was aware that he had heard? Or, was
it but a simple question? In the uncertainty Mr. Butterby made a
pause, evidently in some kind of doubt or hesitation, and glanced
keenly at the questioner from under his eyebrows. Mr. Ollivera marked
it all.

"_Have_ you heard of him, then?"

"The way that folks's thoughts get wandering!" exclaimed Butterby,
with a charming air of innocence. "Pitman, says you: if I wasn't a
running of my head on that other man--Willett. And he has got an
attack of the shivers from drinking; that's the last gazetted news of
him, sir. As to that Godfrey Pitman--the less we say about him, the
better, unless we could say it to some purpose. Good morning, Reverend
Sir; I've got my work cut out for me today."

"One moment," said Mr. Ollivera, detaining him. "I want your opinion
upon a question I am going to ask. Could a woman, think you, have
killed my brother?"

Perhaps the question was so unexpected as slightly to startle even the
detective. Instead of answering it, his green eyes shot out another
keen glance at Mr. Ollivera, and they did not quit his face again. The
latter supposed he was not understood.

"I mean, could a woman, think you, have had the physical strength to
fire the pistol?"

"Do you ask me that, sir, because you suspect one?"

"I cannot say I go so far as to _suspect_ one. It has occurred to me
latterly as being within the range of possibility. I wish you would
answer my question, Mr. Butterby?"

"In course, from the point you put it, it might have been a woman just
as well as a man; some women be every bit as strong, and a sight
bolder," was Mr. Butterby's answer. "But I can't wait, sir, now," he
added, as he turned away and said good morning once more.

"It was queer, his asking that," very softly repeated Mr. Butterby,
between his lips, as he walked on at a quicker pace than usual.

Mr. Ollivera got home with his head full of this; and, as usual under
the circumstances, was letting his late breakfast grow cold before
him. Mrs. Jones, entering the room on some domestic errand, gave him
the information that Roland Yorke had just come in in a fine state of
commotion (which was nothing unusual), saying Arthur Channing was as
good as found murdered; and that he was, in consequence, off to
Helstonleigh. Before Mr. Ollivera, setting to his breakfast then with
a will, could get downstairs, Roland had gone skimming out again. So
the clergyman turned his steps to the house of Greatorex and
Greatorex.

It could not be but that the singular and prolonged disappearance of
Arthur Channing should be exciting commotion in the public mind.
Though it had not been made, so to say, a public matter, at least a
portion of the public knew of it. The name did not appear in the
papers; but the "mysterious disappearance of a gentleman" was becoming
quite a treasure to the news-compilers. Greatorex and Greatorex had
taken it up warmly, as much from real intrinsic interest in the affair
itself, as that Annabel was an inmate of their house. Arthur Channing
had stood, unsolicited, over John Ollivera's grave at the stealthy
midnight burial service; and Mr. Greatorex did not forget it. He had
offered his services at once to Hamish Channing. "We have," he said,
"a wide experience of London life, and will do for you in it all that
can be done." Bede, though kindly anxious, wished the matter could be
set at rest, for it was costing him a clerk. Roland candidly avowed
that he was no more fit for his work at present, than he would be to
rule the patients in St. Luke's; and Bede privately believed this was
only truth. Little Jenner was home again, and took Roland's work as
well as his own.

One very singular phase of the attendant surroundings was this--so
many people appeared to be missing. The one immediately in question,
Arthur Channing, was but a unit in the number. Scarcely an hour in the
day passed but the police either received voluntary news of somebody's
disappearance; or, through their inquiries after Arthur, gained it for
themselves. If space allowed, and these volumes were the proper medium
for it, a most singularly interesting account might be given of the
facts, every word of which would be true.

Henry Ollivera found Mr. Greatorex in the dining-room finishing his
luncheon. In point of fact it was his dinner, for he was going out of
town that afternoon and would not be home until late. Bede, who rarely
took luncheon, though he sometimes made a pretence of going up for it,
was biting morsels off a hard biscuit, as he stood against the wall by
the mantelpiece, near the handsome pier-glass that in his days of
vanity he had been so fond of glancing in. Mrs. Bede Greatorex was at
table; also the little girl, Jane, whose dinner it was. The board was
extravagantly spread, displaying fish and fowl, and other delicacies,
and Mrs. Bede was solacing herself with a pint of sparkling hock,
which stood at her elbow. She looked flushed; at least, as much as a
made-up face can look, and in her eyes there shone an angry light:
perhaps at the non-appearance of two visitors she had expected,
perhaps because she had just come from one of her violent-tempered
attacks on Miss Channing. Mr. Greatorex, like his son Bede, did not
appear to appreciate the good things: he was making his dinner off one
plain dish and a glass of pale ale.

"You will sit down and take some, William?"

Mr. Ollivera declined; he had just swallowed his breakfast. From the
absence of Miss Channing at the table, he drew an augury that the ill
news spoken of by Mrs. Jones must be correct. But Mr. Greatorex said
he was not aware of anything fresh; and a smile crossed his lips upon
hearing that Roland was the author of the report. Bede laughed
outright.

"If you only knew how often he has come in, startling us with
extraordinary tales, you'd have learnt by this time what faith to have
put in Roland Yorke," said Bede. "A man more sensitively nervous than
he is, or ever will be, would have had brain-fever with all this
talking and walking and mental excitement."

"He says, I understand, that he is going down to Helstonleigh, to get
some information from Mr. Galloway," said the clergyman.

"Oh, is he? As good go there as stay here, for all the work he does.
He'd start for the moon if there were a road to convey him to it."

"I wonder you give him so much holiday, Bede," remarked Mr. Ollivera.

"He takes it," answered Bede. "He is of very little use at his best,
but we don't choose to discharge him, or in fact make any change until
Lord Carrick comes over, who may now be expected shortly. I believe
one thing--that he tries to do his utmost: and Brown puts up with
him."

"Do you know," began Mr. Ollivera, in a low, meaning tone, when the
door Closed upon the luncheon-tray, and the three gentlemen stood
around the fire, Mrs. Bede having betaken herself to a far-off window,
"I have half a mind to go to Helstonleigh myself."

"In search of Arthur Channing, William?"

"No, uncle. In quest of that other search that has been upon my mind
so long. An idea has forced itself upon me lately that it--might have
been a woman."

"For heaven's sake drop it," exclaimed Bede, with strange agitation.
"Don't you see Louisa?"

She could not have heard--but Bede was always thus. He had his reasons
for not allowing it to be spoken of before her. One of them was this.
In the days gone by, just before their marriage, Clare Joliffe,
suddenly introducing the subject of Ollivera's death, when Bede was
present, said to her sister in a tone between jest and earnest, that
she (Louisa) had been the cause of it. Clare meant no more than that
her conduct had caused him to end his life--as it was supposed he did.
But Louisa, partly with passion, had gone into a state of agitation so
great as to alarm Bede. Never, from that time, would he suffer it to
be mentioned before her if he could guard against it.

"But, William what do you mean about a woman?" asked Mr. Greatorex,
dropping his voice to a low key.

"Uncle Greatorex, I cannot explain myself. I must go on in my own way,
until the time to speak shall come. That the clearance of the past is
rapidly advancing I feel sure of. A subtle instinct whispers it to me.
My dreams tell it me. Forget for the present what I said. I ought not
to have spoken."

"You are visionary as usual," said Bede, sarcastically.

"I know that you always think me so," was the clergyman's answer, and
he turned to depart.

There was a general dispersion. Only Mr. Greatorex remained in the
room: and he had fallen into deep thought: when Roland Yorke, in his
chronic state of excitement, dashed in. Without any ceremony he flung
himself into a chair.

"Mr. Greatorex, I am nearly dead-beat. What with cutting about
perpetually, and meeting depressing disappointments, and catching up
horrible new fears, it's enough to wear a fellow out, sir."

Roland looked it: dead-beat. He had plenty of strength; but it would
not stand this much overtaxing. In the last six days it may be
questioned if he had sat down, with the exception of coming to a
temporary anchor on upright barrels or parapets of bridges; and then
he and his legs were so restless from excitement that a spectator
would have thought he was afflicted with St. Vitus's Dance.

"Been taking a round this morning as usual, I suppose, Mr. Yorke,"
said the lawyer.

"Ever so many of them, sir. I began with the docks: I can't help
thinking that if anything was done with Arthur in conjunction with
a carpet-bag, he might turn up there, after drifting down. Then I
walked back to Scotland Yard, then looked into a few shops and
police-stations. Next I went to Waterloo Bridge, then down to Hamish
Channing's, then back to Mrs. Jones's; then to Vincent Yorke's; and
now I'm come here to tell you I'm going down to Helstonleigh, if you
don't mind sparing me."

If you don't mind sparing me! For the use he was of to the house, it
did not matter whether he went or stayed. But that Roland had improved
in mind and manners, he had surely not asked it. Time was when he had
gone off on a longer journey than the one to Helstonleigh and never
said to his master, With your leave or by your leave; but just quitted
the office _impromptu_, leaving his compliments as a legacy.

"And if you please I'd like to see Miss Channing before I start, sir;
to tell her what I'm doing, and to ask if she has any messages for her
people."

Mr. Greatorex rang the bell. He fancied Miss Channing might be out, as
she had not appeared at luncheon.

Not out, but in her bedroom. The pretty bedroom with its
window-curtains of chintz and its tasty furniture. When gaiety or
discord reigned below, when Mrs. Bede Greatorex's temper tried her as
with a heavy cross, Annabel could come up here and find it a sure
refuge. In one of the outbreaks of violence that seemed to be almost
like insanity, Mrs. Bede had that morning attacked Miss Channing--and
for no earthly reason, There are such tempers, there are such women in
the world. Some of us know it too well.

Weeping, trembling, Annabel gained her chamber, and there sobbed out
her heart. It had needed no additional grief today, for Arthur's
strange disappearance filled it with a heavy, shrinking, terrible
weight. Jane ran up to say luncheon was ready--their dinner; Annabel
replied that she could not eat any. Taking the child in her arms,
kissing her with many gentle kisses, she whispered a charge not to
mention what had passed: if grandpapa or uncle Bede happened to remark
on her absence from table, Jane might say she had a headache, and it
would be perfectly true, for her head did ache sadly. It was ever
thus; even Mrs. Bede Greatorex she endeavoured to screen from
condemnation. Trained to goodness; to return good for evil whenever it
was practicable: to bear sweetly and patiently, Annabel Channing
strove to carry out certain holy precepts in every action of her daily
life. Too many of us keep them for the church and the closet. Annabel
had learnt the one only way. Praying ever, as she had been taught from
childhood, for the Holy Spirit spoken of by Jesus Christ to make its
home in her heart, and direct and restrain her always, she certainly
knew the way to Peace as well as it can be known here; and practised
it. "The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make
peace."

But it was hard to bear. Her nature was but human. There were times,
as on this day, when she thought she could not endure it; that she
must give up her situation. And that she was loth to do. Loth for
more reasons than one. Putting aside these trying outbreaks, the
place was desirable. She was regarded as an equal, treated as a
lady, well paid: and, what weighed greatly with Annabel in her extreme
conscientiousness, she was unwilling to abandon Jane Greatorex. For
she was doing the child _good_: good in the highest sense of the word.
Left to some governesses (conscientious ones too in a moral and
scholastic point of view) Jane would grow up a selfish, careless,
utterly worldly woman: Annabel was ever patiently working by gentle
degrees to lead her to wish to be something better; and she had begun
to see a little light breaking in on her way. For this great cause she
wished to remain: it seemed to be a duty to do so.

Drawing her desk towards her, she had sat down to write to her sister
Constance, William Yorke's wife. Constance was her great resource. To
her, when the world's troubles were pressing heavily, Annabel poured
out her sorrow--never having hinted at any particular cause, only
saying the situation "had its trials"--and Constance never failed to
write by return of post an answer that cheered Annabel, and helped her
on her way. The very fact of writing seemed often to do her good as on
this day, and the tears had dried on her cheeks, and her face grew
cheerful with hopeful resolution, as she folded the letter.

"I must balance the good I enjoy here against the trouble," she said;
"that will help me to bear it better. If Jane----"

She was interrupted by the young lady in question; who came running
in, followed by one of the maids.

"Miss Channing, Roland Yorke wants to see you in the dining-room."

"Roland Yorke!" repeated Annabel, dubiously. With all his lack of
attention to conventionalities, Mr. Roland had never gone so far as to
send up for her.

"It was Mr. Greatorex who desired me to tell you, miss," spoke up the
servant, possibly thinking Miss Jane's news needed confirmation. "He
rang to know whether you were at home, and then told me to come and
say that Mr. Yorke wished to see you."

Annabel smoothed down the folds of her grey silk dress, and looked to
see that her pretty auburn hair was tidy. She saw something else; her
swollen eyes, and the vivid blushes on her cheeks.

"I'll come with you," whispered Miss Jane. "I'll tell him about Aunt
Bede."

And the conviction that she might tell, in spite of all injunction
against it, startled Annabel. Roland was the young lady's prime
favourite, regarded by her as a big playfellow.

"You cannot come with me, Jane. Mary, be so kind as to take Miss Jane
to Dalla. Say that she must remain in the nursery until I am at
liberty."

Roland was alone in the dining-room when she entered it. With a
delicacy that really was to be commended in one who had been to Port
Natal, he would not tell her of the theory he had caught up, or why he
was going to Helstonleigh; only that he was about to start for that
city.

"But what are you going for, Roland?" was the very natural question
that ensued.

"To see old Galloway," he replied, standing by her on the hearthrug
where Mr. Greatorex and Henry Ollivera had been standing but just
before. "I think Galloway must have given--at least--that is--that he
could find some clue to Arthur's movements, if he were well pumped;
and I am going to do it. Somebody ought to go; Hamish won't, and so it
falls upon me."

Annabel made no answer.

"I shan't like appearing in the old place," he candidly resumed. "I
said I never would until I could take a fortune with me; but one has
to do lots of things in this world that go against the grain; one soon
lives long enough to find that boasting turns out to be nothing but
emptiness."

"Oh Roland!" she said, as the utter fallacy of the expectation struck
upon her, "I fear it will be a lost journey. Had Mr. Galloway been
able to furnish ever so small a clue, he would have been sure to send
it without being asked."

"That's what Hamish says. But I mean to try. I'd be off today to the
North Pole as soon as to Helstonleigh, if I thought it would find him.
And to think, Annabel, that while he was being kept out of the way by
fate or ruffians, I was calling him proud!--and neglectful!--and
hard-hearted! I'll never forgive myself that. If, through lack of
exertion on my part, he should not be found, I might expect his ghost
to come back and stand at the foot of my bed every night."

"But--Roland--you have not given up all hope?" she questioned, her
clear, honest hazel eyes cast up steadily and beseechingly at his.

"Well, I don't know. Sometimes I think he's sure to turn up all right,
and then down I go again into the depths of mud. Last night I dreamt
he was alive and well, and I was helping him up some perpendicular
steps from a boat moored under Waterloo Bridge. When I awoke I thought
it was true; oh! I was so glad! Even after I remembered, it seemed a
good omen. Don't be down-hearted, Annabel. Once, at Port Natal, a
fellow I knew was lost for a year. His name was Crow. We never
supposed but what he was dead, but he came to life again with a good
crop of red whiskers, and said he'd only been travelling. I say!
what's the matter with your eyes?"

The sudden question rather confused her. She answered evasively.

"You've been crying, Annabel. Now, you tell me what the grievance was.
If Mrs. Bede Greatorex makes you unhappy--good gracious! and I can't
help you, or take you out of here! I do not know when I shall: I don't
get on at all. It's enough to make a man swear."

"Hush Roland! I am very unhappy about Arthur."

"Why, of course you are--how came I to forget it?" he rejoined, easily
satisfied as a child. "And here am I, wasting the precious time that
might be spent in looking after him! Have you anything to send to
Helstonleigh?"

"Only my love. My dear love to them all. You will see mamma?"

Roland suddenly took both her hands in his, and so held her before
him, stooping his head a little, and speaking gently.

"Annabel, I shall have to see your mamma, and tell her----"

She did not mean that at all; it had not so much as occurred to her.
Naturally the cheeks became very vivid now. Without further ado,
asking no leave, bold Roland kissed the shrinking face.

"Good bye, Annabel. Wish me luck."

Away he clattered, waiting for neither scolding nor answer, and was
flying along the street below, before Annabel had at all recovered her
equanimity.

To resolve to go to Helstonleigh was one thing, to get to it was
another; and Roland Yorke, with his customary heedlessness, had not
considered ways and means. It was only when he dashed in at his
lodgings that morning (as, we have heard, was related by Mrs. Jones to
Mr. Ollivera), that the question struck him how he was to get there.
He had not a coin in the world. Roland's earnings (the result of
having put his shoulder to the wheel these three or four months past)
had been deposited for safety with Mrs. Jones, it may be remembered,
and they amounted to two sovereigns. These had been spent in the
search after Arthur. In the first commotion of his disappearance,
Roland had wildly dashed about in Hansoms; for his legs, with all
their length and impatience, would not carry him from pillar to post
fleet enough. He made small presents to policemen, hoping to sharpen
their discovering powers; he put two advertisements in the _Times_,
offering rewards for mysterious carpet-bags. But that a fortunate
oversight caused him to omit appending any address, it was quite
untellable the number of old bags that might have been brought him.
All this had speedily melted the gold pieces. He then got Mrs. Jones
to advance him (grumblingly) two more which went the same way, and
were not yet repaid. So there he was, without money to take him to
Helstonleigh, and nobody that he knew of likely to lend him any.

"I can't walk," debated he, standing stock-still in his parlour, as his
penniless state occurred to him. "They'd used to call it a hundred and
eleven miles in the old coaching days. It would be nothing to me if I
had the time, but I can't waste that now. Hamish has set his face
against my going, or I'd ask him. I wonder--I wonder whether Dick
Yorke would let me have a couple of pounds?"

To "wonder," meant to do, with Roland. Out he went again on the spur
of the moment, and ran all the way to Portland Place. Sir Vincent was
not at home. The man said he had been there that morning on his
arrival from Sunny Mead (the little Yorke homestead in Surrey), but
had gone out again directly. He might be expected in at any moment, or
all moments, during the day.

Roland waited. In a fine state of restlessness, as we may be sure, for
the precious time was passing. He was afraid to go to the club lest he
might miss him. When one o'clock had struck, Roland thought he might
do his other errand first: which was to acquaint Greatorex and
Greatorex with his departure, and see Miss Channing. Therefore, he
started forth again, leaving a peremptory message for Sir Vincent
should he return, that he was to _wait in_ for him.

And now, having seen Mr. Greatorex and Annabel, he was speeding back
again to Portland Place. All breathless, and in a commotion, of
course; driving along as if the pavement belonged to him, and nobody
else had any claim to it. Charging round a corner at full tilt, he
charged against an inoffensive foot-passenger, quietly approaching it:
who was no other than Mr. Butterby.

Roland brought himself up. It was an opportunity not to be missed.
Seizing hold of the official button-hole, he poured the story of
Arthur Channing's disappearance into the official ear, imploring Mr.
Butterby's good services in the cause.

"Don't you think any more of the uncivil names I've called you,
Butterby. You knew all the while I didn't mean anything. I've said I'd
pay you out when I got the chance, and so I _will_, but it shall be in
gold. If you will only put your good services into the thing, we shall
find him. Do, now! You won't bear malice, Butterby."

So impetuous had been the flow of eloquence, that Mr. Butterby had
found no opportunity of getting a word in edgeways: he had simply
looked and listened. The loss of Arthur Channing had been as
inexplicable to him as to other people.

"Arthur Channing ain't one of them sort o' blades likely to get into a
mess, through going to places where drinking and what not's carried
on," spoke he.

"Of _course_ he is not," was Roland's indignant answer. "Arthur
Channing drink! he'd be as likely to turn tumbler at a dancing-booth!
Look here, Butterby, you did work him harm once, but I'll never
reproach you with it again as long as I live, and I've known all along
you had no ill-meaning in it: but now, you find him this time and that
will be tit for tat. Perhaps I may be rich some day, and I'll buy you
a silver snuffbox set with diamonds."

"I don't take snuff," said Mr. Butterby.

But it was impossible to resist Roland's pleading, in all its
simple-hearted energy. And, to give Mr. Butterby his due, he would
have been glad to do his best to find Arthur Channing.

"I can't stay in London myself," said he; "I've been here a week now
on private business, and must go down to Helstonleigh tomorrow; but
I'll put it special into Detective Jelf's hands. He's as 'cute an
officer, young Mr. Yorke, as here and there one, and of more use in
London than me."

"Bless you, Butterby!" cried hearty Roland; "tell Jelf I'll give him a
snuffbox, too. And now I'm off. I won't forget you, Butterby."

Mr. Butterby thought the chances that Roland would ever have tin
snuff-boxes to give away, let alone silver, were rather poor  but he
was not a bad-natured man, and he detained Roland yet an instant to
give him a friendly word of advice.

"There's one or two folks, in the old place, that you owe a trifle to,
Mr. Yorke----"

"There's half-a-dozen," interrupted candid Roland.

"Well, sir, I'd not show myself in the town more than I could help.
They are vexed at being kept out of their money thinking some of the
family might have paid it; and they might let off a bit if you went
amid 'em: unless, indeed, you are taking down the money with you."

"Taking the money with me!--why, Butterby, I've not got a sixpence in
the world," avowed Roland, opening his surprised eyes. "If Dick Yorke
won't lend me a pound or so, I don't know how on earth to get down,
unless they let me have a free pass on the top of the engine."

There was no time for more. Away he went to Portland Place, and
thundered at the door, as if he had been a king.  But his visit did
not serve him.

Sir Vincent Yorke had entered just after Roland departed. Upon
receiving the peremptory message, the baronet marvelled what it could
mean, and whether all the Yorke family had been blown up, save
himself. Nothing else, he thought, could justify the scapegoat Roland
in desiring him, Sir Vincent, to _stay in_. To be kept waiting at home
when he very particularly wanted to be out--for Sir Vincent had come
to town to meet the lady he was shortly to marry, Miss Trehern--made
him frightfully cross. So that when Roland re-appeared he had an
angry-tempered man to deal with.

And, in good truth, had Roland announced the calamity, so pleasantly
anticipated, it would have caused Sir Vincent less surprise; certainly
less vexation. When he found he had been decoyed into staying in for
nothing but to be asked to lend money to take Mr. Roland careering off
somewhere by rail--he was in too great a passion to understand
where--Sir Vincent exploded. Roland, quietly braving the storm, prayed
for "just a pound," as if he were praying for his life. Sir Vincent
finally replied that he'd not lend him a shilling if it would save him
from hanging.

So Roland was thrown on his beam ends, and went back to Mrs. Jones's
with empty pockets, revolving ways and means in his mind.



CHAPTER XXXI.
MR. GALLOWAY INVADED.


It was night in the old cathedral town. The ten o'clock bell had rung,
and Mr. Galloway, proctor and surrogate, at home in his residence in
the Boundaries, was thinking he might go to rest. For several days he
had been feeling very much out of sorts, and this evening the symptoms
had culminated in what seemed a bad cold, attended with feverishness
and pain in all his limbs. The old proctor was one of those people
whose mind insensibly sways the body; and the mysterious disappearance
of Arthur Channing was troubling him to sickness. He had caused a huge
fire to be made up in his bedroom, and was seated by it, groaning; his
slippered feet on a warm cushion, a railway rug enveloping his coat,
and back, and shoulders; a white cotton nightcap with a hanging
tassel ornamenting gracefully his head. One of his servants had just
brought up a basinful of hot gruel, holding at least a quart, and put
it on the stand by his easy chair. Mr. Galloway was groaning at the
gruel as much as with pain, for he hated gruel like poison.

Thinking it might be less nauseous if disposed of at an unbroken
draught, were that possible--or at least soonest over--Mr. Galloway
caught up the basin and put it to his lips. With a cry and a splutter,
down went the basin again. The stuff was scalding hot. And whether Mr.
Galloway's tongue, or teeth, or temper suffered most, he would have
been puzzled to confess.

It was at this untoward moment--Mr. Galloway's face turning purple,
and himself choking and coughing--that a noise, as of thunder,
suddenly awoke the echoes of the Boundaries. Shut up in his snug room
hearing sounds chiefly through the windows, the startled Mr. Galloway
wondered what it was, and edged his white nightcap off one ear to
listen. He had then the satisfaction of discovering that the noise was
at his own front door. Somebody had evidently got hold of the knocker
(an appendage recently made to the former naked panels), and was
rapping and rattling as if never intending to leave off. And now the
bell-handle was, pulled in accompaniment--as a chorus accompanies a
song--and the alarmed household were heard flying towards the door
from all quarters.

"Is it the fire-engine?" groaned Mr. Galloway to himself. "I didn't
hear it come up."

It appeared not to be the fire-engine. A moment or two, and Mr.
Galloway was conscious of a commotion on the stairs, some visitor
making his way up; his man-servant offering a feeble opposition.

"What on earth does John mean? He must be a fool--letting people come
up here!" thought Mr. Galloway, apostrophising his many years'
servitor. "Hark! It can never be the Dean!"

That any other living man, whether church dignitary or ordinary
mortal, would venture to invade him in his private sanctum, take him
by storm in his own chamber, was beyond belief. Mr. Galloway, all
fluttered and fevered, hitched his white nightcap a little higher,
turned his wondering face to the door, and sat listening.

"If he is neither in bed nor undressed, as you say, I can see him up
here just as well as below; so don't bother, old John," were the words
that caught indistinctly the disturbed invalid's ear: and somehow the
voice seemed to strike some uncertain chord of memory. "I say, old
John, you don't get younger," it went on; "where's your hair gone? Is
this the room?--it used to be."

Without further ado the door was flung open; and the visitor stepped
over the threshold. The two, invader and invaded, gazed at each other.
The one saw an old man, who appeared to be shrunk in spite of his
wraps, with a red face, surmounted by a cotton nightcap, a flaxen
curl or two peeping out above the amazed eyes, and a basin of steaming
gruel: the other saw a tall, fine, well-dressed young fellow, whose
face, like the voice, struck on the chords of memory. John spoke from
behind.

"It's Mr. Roland Yorke, sir. He'd not be stayed: he would come up in
spite of me."

"Goodness bless me!" exclaimed the proctor.

Putting down his hat and a small brown paper parcel that he carried,
Roland advanced to Mr. Galloway, nearly turning over the stand and the
gruel, which John had to rush forward and steady--and held out his
hand.

"I don't know whether you'll shake it, sir, after the way we parted.
_I_ am willing."

"The way of parting was yours, Mr. Roland, not mine," was the answer.
But Mr. Galloway did shake the hand, and Roland sat down by the fire,
uninvited, making himself at home as usual.

"What's amiss, sir?" he asked, as John went away. "Got the mumps? Is
that gruel? Horrid composition! I think it must have been invented for
our sins. You must be uncommon ill, sir, to swallow that."

"And what in the world brings you down here at this hour, frightening
quiet people out of their senses?" demanded Mr. Galloway, paying no
heed to Roland's questions. "I'm sure _I_ thought it was the parish
engine."

"The train brought me," replied matter-of-fact Roland. "I had meant to
get here by an earlier one, but things went cross and contrary."

"That was no reason why you should knock my door down."

"Oh, it was all my impatience: my mind's in a frightful worry,"
penitently acknowledged Roland. "I hope you'll forgive it, sir. I've
come from London, Mr. Galloway, about this miserable business of
Arthur Channing. We want to know where you sent him to?"

Mr. Galloway, his doubts as to fire-engines set at rest, had been
getting cool; but the name turned him hot again. He had grown to like
Arthur better than he would have cared to tell; the supposition
flashed into his mind that a discovery might have been made of some
untoward fate having overtaken him, and that Roland's errand was to
break the news.

"Is Arthur dead?" he questioned, in a low tone.

"_I_ think so," answered Roland. "But he has not turned up yet, dead
or alive. I'm sure it's not for the want of looking after. I've spent
my time pretty well, since he was missing, between Waterloo Bridge and
the East India Docks."

"Then you've not come down to say he is found?"

"No: only to ask you where you sent him that night, that he may be."

When the explanation was complete, Roland discovered that he had had
his journey for nothing, and would have done well to take the opinion
of Hamish Channing. Every tittle of information that Mr. Galloway was
able to give, he had already written to Hamish: not a thought, not a
supposition, but he had imparted it in full. As to Roland's idea, that
business might have carried Arthur to dishonest neighbourhoods in
London, Mr. Galloway negatived it positively.

"He had none to do for me in such places, and I'm sure he'd not of his
own."

Roland sat pulling at his whiskers, feeling very gloomy. In his
sanguine temperament, he had been buoying himself with a hope that
grew higher and higher all the way down: so that when he arrived at
Mr. Galloway's he had nearly persuaded himself that--if Arthur, in
person, was not there, news of him would be. Hence the loud and
impatient door-summons.

"I know he is at the bottom of the Thames! I did so hope you could
throw some light on it that you might have forgotten to tell, Mr.
Galloway."

"Forgotten!" returned Mr. Galloway, slightly agitated. "If I
remembered my sins, young man, as well as I remember all connected
with him, I might be the better for it. His disappearance has made me
ill; that's what it has done; and I'm not sure but it will kill me.
When a steady, honourable, God-fearing young man like Arthur Channing,
whose heart I verily believe was as much in heaven as earth; when such
a man disappears in this mysterious manner at night in London, leaving
no information of his whereabouts, and who cannot be traced or found,
nothing but the worst is to be apprehended. I believe Arthur Churning
to have been murdered for the large sum of money he had about him."

Mr. Galloway seized his handkerchief, and rubbed his hot face. The
nightcap was pushed a little further off in the process. It was the
precise view Roland had taken; and, to have it confirmed by Mr.
Galloway's, seemed to drive all hope out of him for good.

"And I never had the opportunity of atoning to him for the past, you
see, Mr. Galloway! It will stick in my memory for life, like a pill in
the throat. I'd rather have been murdered myself ten times over."

"I gave my consent to his going with reluctance," said Mr. Galloway,
seeming to repeat the fact for his own benefit rather than for
Roland's. "What did it signify whether Charles was met in London, or
not? if he could find his way to London from Marseilles alone, surely
he might find it to Helstonleigh! Our busy time, the November audit,
is approaching: but it was not that thought that swayed me against it,
but an inward instinct. Arthur said he had not had a holiday for two
years; he said there was business wanting the presence of one of us in
London: all true, and I yielded. And this is what has come of it!"

Mr. Galloway gave his face another rub; the nightcap went higher and
seemed to hang on only by its tassel, admitting the curls to full
view. In spite of Roland's despairing state, he took advantage of the
occasion.

"I say, Mr. Galloway, your hair is not as luxuriant as it was."

"It's like me, then," returned Mr. Galloway, whose mind was too much
depressed to resent personal remarks. "What will become of us all
without Arthur (putting out of sight for a moment the awful grief for
himself) I cannot imagine. Look at his mother! He nearly supported the
house: Mrs. Channing's own income is but a trifle, and Tom can't give
much as yet. Look at me! What on earth I shall do without him at the
office, never can be surmised!"

"My goodness!" cried modest Roland. "You'll be almost as much put to
it, sir, as you were when I went off to Port Natal."

Mr. Galloway coughed. "Almost," assented he, rather satirically. "Why,
Roland Yorke," he burst forth with impetuosity, "if you had been with
me from then till now, and abandoned all your lazy tricks, and gone in
for hard work, taking not a day's holiday or an hour's play, you could
never have made yourself into half the capable and clever man that.
Arthur was."

"Well, you see, Mr. Galloway, my talents don't lie so much in the
sticking to a desk as in knocking about," good-humouredly avowed
Roland. "But I do go in for hard work; I do indeed."

"I hear you didn't make a fortune at Port Natal, young man!"

Roland, open as ever, gave a short summary of what he did
instead--starved, and did work as a labourer, when he could get any to
do and drove pigs, and came back home with his coat out at elbows.

"Nobody need reproach me; it was worse for me than for them--not but
what lots of people _do_. I tried my best; and I'm trying it still. It
did me one service, Mr. Galloway--took my pride and my laziness out of
me. But for the lessons of life I learnt at Port Natal, I should have
continued a miserable humbug to the end, shirking work on my own
score, and looking to other folks to keep me. I'm trying to do my best
honestly, and to make my way. The returns are not grand yet, but such
as they are I'm living on them, and they may get better. Rome was not
built in a day. I went out to Port Natal to set good old Arthur right
with the world; I couldn't bring myself to publish the confession,
that you know of, sir, while I stopped here. I thought to make my
fortune also, a few millions, or so. I didn't do it; it was a failure
altogether, but it made a better man of me."

"Glad to hear it," said Mr. Galloway.

He watched the earnest eager face, bent towards him  he noted the
genuine, truthful, serious tone the words were spoken in and the
conclusion he drew was that Roland might not be making an
unjustifiable boast. It seemed incredible though, taking into
recollection his former experience of that gentleman.

"And when I've got on, so as to make a couple of hundred a year or so,
I am going to get married, Mr. Galloway."

"In--deed!" exclaimed Mr. Galloway, staring very mach. "Is the lady
fixed upon?"

"Well, yes; and I don't mind telling you, if you'll keep the secret
and not repeat it up and down the town: I don't fancy she'd like it to
be talked of yet. It's Annabel."

"Annabel Channing!" uttered Mr. Galloway, in dubious surprise. "Has
she said she'll have you?"

"I am not so sure she has _said_ it. She means it."

"Why she--she is one of the best and sweetest girls living; she might
marry almost anybody; she might nearly get a lord," burst forth Mr.
Galloway, with a touch of his former gossiping propensity.

Roland's eyes sparkled. "So she might, sir. But she'll wait for me.
And she does not expect riches, either; but will put her shoulder to
the wheel with me and be content to work and help until riches come."

Mr. Galloway gave a sniff of disbelief. He might be pardoned if he
treated this in his own mind as a simple delusion on Roland's part. He
liked Annabel nearly as well as he had liked Arthur; and he looked
upon Mr. Roland as a wandering knight-errant, not much likely to do
any good for himself or others. Roland rose.

"I must be off," he said. "I've got my mother to see. Well, this is a
pill--to find you've no clue to give me. Hamish said it would be so."

"I hear Hamish Channing is ill?"

"He is not ill, that I know of. He looks it: a puff of wind you'd say
would blow him away."

"Disappointed in his book?"

"Well, I suppose so. It's an awful sin, though, for it to have been
written down--whoever did it."

"I should call it a swindle," corrected Mr. Galloway. "A barefaced,
swindling injustice. The public ought to be put right, if there were
anyway of doing it."

"Did you read the book, Mr. Galloway?"

"Yes; and then I went forthwith out and bought it. Ana I read
Gerald's."

"That _was_ a beauty, wasn't it?" cried sarcastic Roland.

"Without paint," pursued Mr. Galloway, in the same strain. "It was
just worth throwing on the fire leaf by leaf, that's my opinion of
Gerald's book. But it got the reviews, Roland."

"And be shot to it! We can't understand the riddle up in London, sir."

"I'm sure we can't down here," emphatically repeated Mr. Galloway.
"Well, good night: I'm not sorry to have seen you. When are you going
back?"

"Tomorrow. And I'd rather have gone a hundred miles the other way than
come near Helstonleigh. I shall take care to go and see nobody here,
except Mrs. Channing. If----"

"You must not speak of Arthur to Mrs. Channing," interrupted the
proctor.

"Not speak of him!"

"She knows nothing of his loss: it has been kept from her. She thinks
he is in Paris with Charles. In her weak state of health she would
hardly stand the prolonged suspense."

"It's a good thing you told me," said Roland, heartily. "I hope I
shan't let it out. Good night, sir. I must not forget this, though!"
he added, taking up the parcel. "It has got a clean shirt and collar
in it."

"Where are you going to sleep?"

Roland paused. Until that moment the thought had never struck him
where he was to sleep.

"I dare say they can give me a shake-down at the mother's. The
hearthrug will do: I'm not particular. I'd used to go in for a feather
bed and two pillows. My goodness! what a selfish young lunatic I was!"

"If they can't, perhaps we can give you a shake-down here," said Mr.
Galloway. "But don't you ring the house down if you come back."

"Thank you, sir," said Roland, gratefully. "I wonder all you old
friends are so good to me."

He clattered down in a commotion, and found himself in the Boundaries.
When he passed through them ten minutes before, he was bearing on too
fiercely to Mr. Galloway's to take notice of a single feature. Time
had been when Roland would not have cared for old memories. They came
crowding on him now the dear life associations, the events and
interests of his boyhood, like fresh green resting-places 'mid a
sandy desert. The ringing out of the cathedral clock, telling the
three-quarters past ten, helped the delusion. Opposite to him rose the
time-honoured edifice, worn by the defacing hand of centuries.
Renovation had been going on for a long while; the pinnacles were new;
old buildings around, that formerly partially obscured it, had been
removed, and it stood out to view as Roland had never before seen it.
It was a bright night; the moon shone as clearly as it had done on
that early March night which ushered in the commencing prologue of
this story. It brought out the fretwork of the dear old cathedral; it
lightened up the gables of the quaint houses of the Boundaries, all
sizes and shapes in architecture; it glittered on the level grass
enclosed by the broad gravel walks, which the stately dames of the
still more stately church dignitaries once cared to pace. But where
were the tall old elm-trees--through whose foliage the moonbeams ought
to have glittered, but did not? Where were the rooks that used to make
their home in them, wiling the poor college boys, at their Latin and
Greek hard by, with the friendly chorus of caws? Gone. Roland looked
up, eyes and mouth alike opening with amazement, and marvelled. A poor
apology for the trees was indeed left; but topped and lopped to
discredit. The branches, towering and spreading in their might, had
been removed, and the homeless rooks driven away, wanderers.

"It's nothing but sacrilege," spoke bold Roland, when he had done
staring. "For certain it'll bring nobody good luck."

He could not resist crossing the Boundaries to the little iron gate
admitting to the cloisters. It would not admit him tonight: the
cloister porter, successor to Mr. John Ketch of cantankerous memory,
had locked it hours ago, and had the key safely hung up by his
bed-side in his lodge. This was the gate through which poor Charley
Channing had gone, innocently confiding, to be frightened all but to
death, that memorable night in the annals of the college school.
Charley, who was now a flourishing young clerk in India (at the
present moment supposed to be enjoying Paris), and likely to rise to
fame and fortune, health permitting. Many a time and oft, had Roland
himself dashed through the gate, surplice on arm, in a white heat of
fear lest he should be marked "late." How the shouts of the boys used
to echo along the vaulted roof of the cloisters! How they seemed to
echo in the heart of Roland now! Times had changed. Things had
changed. He had changed. A new set of boys filled the school: some of
the clergy were fresh in the cathedral. The bishop, gone to his
account, had been replaced by a better: a once great and good
preacher, who was wont in times long gone by to fill the cathedral
with his hearers of jostling crowds, had followed him. In Mr. Roland's
own family, and in that of one with whom they had been very intimately
associated, there were changes. George Yorke was no more; Gerald had
risen to be a great man; he, Roland, had fallen, and was of no account
in the world. Mr. Channing had died; Hamish was dying----

How came that last thought to steal into the mind of Roland Yorke. _He
did not know_. It had never occurred to him before: why should it have
done so now? Ah, he might ask himself the question, but he could not
answer it. Buried in reflections of the past and present, one leading
on to another, it had followed in as if consecutively, arising Roland
knew not whence, and startling him to terror. He shook himself in a
sort of fright; his pulse grew quick, his face hot.

"I do think I must have been in a dream," debated Roland, "or else
moonstruck. Sunny Hamish! as if the world could afford to lose him!
Nobody but a donkey whose brains had been knocked out of him at Port
Natal, would get such wicked fancies."

He went back at full gallop, turned the corner, and looked out for the
windows of his mother's house. They were not difficult to be seen, for
in every one of them shone a blaze of light. The sweet white radiance
of the moon, with its beauteous softness, never to be matched by
earthly invention, was quite eclipsed in the garish red of the flaming
windows. Lady Augusta Yorke had an assembly--as was plain enough by
the signs.

"Was ever the like bother known!" spoke Roland aloud, momentarily
halting in the quiet spot. "She's got all the world and his wife
there. And I didn't want a soul to know that I was at Helstonleigh!"

He took his resolution at once, ran on, and made for a small side
door. A smart maid, in a flounced gown and no cap to make mention of,
stood at it, flirting with a footman from one of the waiting
carriages. Roland went in head foremost, saying nothing, passing
swiftly through tortuous passages and up the stairs. The girl
naturally took him for a robber, or some such evil character, and
stood agape with wonder. But she did not want for courage, and went
after him. He had made his way to what used to be his sister's
schoolroom in Miss Channing's time; the open door displayed a table
temptingly set out with refreshments, and nobody was in it. When the
maid got there, Roland, his hat on a chair and parcel on the floor,
was devouring the sandwiches.

"Why, what on earth!" she began. "My patience! who are you sir? How
dare you?"

"Who am I?" said Roland, his mouth nearly too full to answer. "You
just go and fetch Lady Augusta here. Say a gentleman wants to see her.
Tell her privately, mind."

The girl, in sheer amazement, did as she was bid: whispering her own
comments to her mistress.

"I'd be aware of him, my lady, if I were you, please. It might be a
maniac. I'm sure the way he's gobbling up the victuals don't look like
nothing else."

Lady Augusta Yorke, slightly fluttered, took the precaution to draw
with her her youngest son, Harry, a stalwart King's Scholar of
seventeen. Advancing dubiously to the interview, she took a peep in,
and saw the intruder, a great tall fellow, whose back was towards her,
swallowing down big tablespoonfuls of custard. The sight aroused Lady
Augusta's anger: there'd be a famine; there'd be nothing left for her
hungry guests. In, she burst, something after Roland's own fashion,
words of reproach on her tongue, threats of the police. Harry gazed in
doubt; the maid brought up the rear.

Roland turned, full of affection, dropped the spoon into the custard
dish, and flew to embrace her.

"How are you, mother darling? It's only me."

And the Lady Augusta Yorke, between surprise at the meeting, a little
joy, and vexation on the score of her diminishing supper, was somewhat
overwhelmed, and sunk into a chair in screaming hysterics.



CHAPTER XXXII.
IN THE CATHEDRAL.


The college bell was tolling for morning prayers: and the Helstonleigh
College boys were coming up in groups and disappearing within the
little cloister gate, with their white surplices on their arms, just
as Roland Yorke had seen them in his reminiscential visions the
previous night. It was the first of November: a saint's day; and a
great one, as everybody knows; consequently the school had a holiday,
and the king's scholars attended divine service.

Roland was amidst them, having come out after breakfast to give as he
said a "look round." The morning was well on when he awoke up from the
conch prepared for him at Lady Augusta's--a soft bed with charming
pillows, and not a temporary shake-down on the hearthrug. They had
sat up late the previous night, after Lady Augusta's guests had left,
talking of old times and new ones. Roland freely confessed his
penniless state, his present mode of living, with all its shifts and
drawbacks, the pound a week that Mrs. Jones made do for all, the
brushing of his own clothes, the sometimes blacking of his own boots:
which sent his mother into a fit of reproachful sobs. In his sanguine
open-heartedness he enlarged upon the fortune that was sure to be his
some time ("a few hundreds a-year and a house of his own"), and made
her and his two sisters the most liberal promises on the strength of
it. Caroline Yorke turned from him: he had lost caste in her eyes.
Fanny, with her sweet voice and gentle smile, whispered him to work on
bravely, never to fear. The two girls were essentially different.
Constance Channing had done her utmost with them both: they had gone
to Hazledon with her when she became William Yorke's wife; but her
patient training had borne different fruit.

Roland dashed first of all into Mr. Galloway's, to ask if he had news
of Arthur. No, none, Mr. Galloway answered with a groan, and it "would
surely be the death of him." As Roland left the proctor's house, he
saw the college boys flocking into the cloisters, and he went with
them. Renovation seemed to be going on everywhere; beauty had
succeeded dilapidations, and the old cathedral might well raise her
head proudly now. But Roland did wonder when the improvements and the
work would be finished; they had been going on as long as he could
remember.

But the cloisters had not moved or changed their form, and Roland lost
himself in the days of the past. One of the prebendaries, a fresh one
since Roland's time, was turning into the chapter-house; Roland,
positively from old associations, snatched off his hat to him. In
imagination he was king's scholar again, existing in mortal dread,
when in those cloisters, of the Dean and Chapter.

"I say--you," said he, seizing hold of a big boy, who had his surplice
flung across his shoulder in the most untidy and crumpled fashion
possible, "show me Joe Jenkins's grave."

"Yes, sir," answered the boy, wondering what fine imperative gentleman
had got amidst them, and speaking civilly, lest it might be a
connection of someone of the prebendaries. "It's round on the other
side."

Running along to the end of the north cloister, near to the famous
gravestone "Miserrimus," near to the spot where a ghost had once
appeared to Charles Channing he pointed to an obscure corner of the
green grave-yard, which the cloisters enclosed. Many and many a
time had Roland perched himself on those dilapidated old mullioned
window-frames in the days gone by.

"It's there," said the boy. "Old Ketch, the cloister porter, lies on
this side him."

"Oh, Ketch does, does he! I wonder whose doings that was! It's a shame
to have placed him, a cross-grained old wretch, side by side with poor
Jenkins."

"Jenkins was cross-grained too, for the matter of that," cried the
boy. "He was always asking the fellows for a tip to buy baccy, and
grumbling if they did not give it."

Roland stared indignantly. "Jenkins was! Why, what are you talking of?
Jenkins never smoked."

"Oh; didn't he though! Why, he died smoking; he was smoking always.
Pretty well, that, for an old one of seventy-six."

"I'm not talking of old Jenkins," cried Roland. "Who wants to know
about him?--what a senseless fellow you are! It's young Jenkins. Joe;
who was at Galloway's."

"Oh, him! He was buried in front, not here. I can't go round to show
you, sir for time's up."

The boy took to his heels, As schoolboys only can take to them, and
Roland heard him rattle up the steps of the college hall to join his
comrades. Propped against the frame-work, his memory lost itself in
many things; and the minutes passed unheeded by. The procession of the
king's scholars aroused him. They filed along the cloisters from the
college hall, two and two, in their surplices and trenchers, his
brother Harry, one of the seniors nearly the last of them. When they
had disappeared, Roland ran round to the front grave-yard. Between the
cathedral gates and those leading to the palace, stood a black-robed
verger, with his silver mace, awaiting the appearance of the Dean.
Roland accosted the man and asked him which was Joe Jenkins's grave.

"That's it, sir," and the verger indicated a flat stone, which was
nearly buried in the grass. "You can't miss it his name's there."

Roland went into the burial-ground, treading down the grass. Yes,
there it was. "Joseph Jenkins. Aged thirty-nine." He stood looking at
it for some minutes.

"If ever I get rich, Joe, poor meek old fellow, you shall have a
better monument," spoke Roland aloud. "This common stone, Mrs. J.'s no
doubt, shall be replaced by one of white marble, and we'll have your
virtues inscribed on it."

The quarter-past ten chimed out; the bell ceased, and the swell of the
organ was heard. Service had begun in the cathedral. Roland went
about, reading, or trying to read, other inscriptions; he surveyed the
well-remembered houses around; he shaded his hand from the sun, and
looked up to take leisure notice of the outer renovations of the
cathedral. Tired of this, it suddenly occurred to him that he would go
in to service; "just for old memories' sake."

In, he went; never heeding the fact that the service had commenced,
and that it used not to be the custom for an intruder to enter the
choir afterwards. Straight on, went he, to the choir gates, not making
for either of the aisles, as a modest man would, pushed aside the
purple curtain, and let himself into a stall on the decani side; to
the intense indignation of the sexton, who marvelled that any living
man should possess sufficient impudence for it. When Roland looked up,
and had opened the large prayer-book lying before him, the chanter had
come to that portion of the service, "O Lord, open Thou our lips." It
was a melodious, full, pleasant voice. A thorough good chanter,
decided Roland, reared to be critical in such matters; and he took a
survey of him. The chanter was on the cantons side, nearly opposite to
Roland; a good-looking, open-countenanced young clergyman, with brown
hair, whose face seemed to strike another familiar chord on Roland's
memory.

"If I don't believe it's Tom!" thought Roland.

Tom it was. But it slightly discomposed the equanimity of the Reverend
Thomas Channing to find the stalwart, bold disturber, at whom
everybody had stared, and the Dean himself glanced at, telegraphing
him a couple of nods, in what seemed the exuberance of gratified
delight. The young chanter's face turned red; he certainly did not
telegraph back again.

Thus tacitly repulsed, Roland had leisure to look about him, and did
so to his heart's content, while the _Venite_ and the Psalms for the
day were being sung. Nearly side by side with himself; at the chanting
desk, but not being used for chanting today, he discovered his
kinsman, William Yorke. And the Reverend William kept his haughty
shoulder turned away; and had felt fit to faint when Roland had come
bursting through the closed curtains. He, and Tom Channing, and the
head-master of the school, were the three minor canons present.

Oh, how like the old days it was! The Dean in his stall; the sub-dean
on the other side, and the new prebendary, whom Roland did not know.
There stood the choristers at their desks; here, on the flags,
extended the two facing lines of king's scholars, all in their white
surplices. There was a fresh head-master in Mr. Pye's place, and
Roland did not know him. The last time Roland had attended service in
the cathedral--and he well remembered it--Arthur Channing took the
organ. He had ceased for several years to take it now, except on some
chance occasion for pleasure. Where was Arthur now? Could it be that
he "was not?" What with the chilliness of the thought and the
chilliness of the edifice, Roland gave a shiver.

But they are beginning the First Lesson--part of a chapter in Wisdom,
William Yorke reading it. With the first sentences Arthur was brought
more forcibly into Roland's mind.


"But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and there
shall no torment touch them. In the sight of the unwise they seemed to
die: and their departure is taken for misery, and their going from us
to be utter destruction: but they are in peace."


And so on to the end of the verses. Sitting back in his stall, subdued
and quiet now, all his curiosity suppressed, Roland could not but
think how applicable the Lesson was to Arthur. Whether living or dead,
he must be at peace, for God had surely proved him and found him
worthy for Himself. Roland Yorke had not learnt yet to be what Arthur
was; but a feeling, it might be called a hope, stole over him then for
the first time in his life that the change would come. "Annabel will
help me," he thought.

When service was over, Roland greeted all he cared to greet of those
who remembered him. Passing back up the aisle to join Tom Channing in
the vestry (where the first thing he did was to try on the young
parson's surplice and hood), he met his kinsman coming from it. Roland
turned _his_ shoulder now, and his cold sweeping bow, when the minor
canon stopped to speak, would have done honour to a monarch. William
Yorke walked on, biting his lips between amusement and vexation. As
Roland and Thomas Channing were passing through the Boundaries, a
rather short, red-faced, pleasant looking young man met them, and
stayed to shake hands with the minor canon. It was Stephen Bywater.
Roland knew him at once: his saucy face had not altered a whit.
Bywater had come into no end of property in the West Indies (as Roland
heard explained to him by Tom afterwards), and was now in Europe for a
short sojourn.

"How's Ger? asked Bywater, when they had spoken of Arthur and general
news.

"A great man," answered Roland. "Looks over my head if he meets me in
the street. I might have knocked him down before now, Bywater, but for
having left my manners at Port Natal."

"Oh, that's it, is it?" cried Bywater. "Ger is Ger still, I see. Does
he remember the ink-bottle?"

"What ink-bottle?"

"And the tanning of birch Pye gave him?"

Roland did not understand. The termination of that little episode of
schoolboy life had taken place after he had quitted Helstonleigh, and
it was never imparted to him. Stephen Bywater recited it with full
flavour now.

"Ger's not so white himself, then," remarked Roland. "He's always
throwing that banknote of Galloway's in _my_ teeth."

"Is he? I once told him he was a cur," added Bywater, quietly.
"Goodbye, old fellow; we shall meet again, I hope."

Mrs. Channing was delighted to see Roland. But when he spoke to her of
Annabel she burst out laughing, just as her son Hamish had done; which
slightly disconcerted the would-be bridegroom. Considering that in
three or four months, as he now openly confessed, he had saved up two
pounds towards commencing housekeeping (and those were spent), Mrs.
Channing thought the prospect for him and Annabel about as hopeless a
one as she had ever heard of. Roland came to the private conclusion
that he must be making the two hundred a year before speaking again.
He remembered the warning Mr. Galloway had given him in regard to
Arthur, and got away in safety.

Home again then to Lady Augusta's, where he stayed till past midday,
and then started for the station to take the train for London. Fearing
there might be a procession to escort him off, the old family barouche
ordered out, or something of that, for Roland remembered his mother of
old, he stole a march on them and got out alone, his brown paper
parcel in his hand and three or four smaller ones, containing toys and
cakes that Fanny was sending to Gerald's children. His intention had
been to dash through the streets at speed, remembering Mr. Butterby's
friendly caution. But the once well-known spots had charms for Roland,
and he halted to gaze at nearly every step. The Guildhall, the
market-house, the churches: all the old familiar places that had grown
to his memory when far away from them. Before Mrs. Jenkins's house he
came to a full stop: not the one in which Mr. Ollivera had met his
death, but the smaller dwelling beside it. From the opposite side of
the way stood Roland, while he gazed. The shop sold a different kind
of wares now; but Roland had no difficulty in recognising it. In the
parlour behind he had revelled in the luxurious tea and toasted
muffins; in that top room, whose windows faced him, poor humble
Jenkins had died. Away on at last up the street, he and his parcels,
looking to the right and the left. Once upon a time the Lady Augusta
Yorke, seduced by certain golden visions imparted to her by Roland,
had gone to bed and dreamt of driving about a charming city whose
streets were paved with malachite marble, all brilliant to glance
upon; many a time and oft had poor Roland dreamt of the charms of
these Helstonleigh streets when he was fighting a fight with
starvation at Port Natal. Looking upon them now, he rubbed his eyes in
doubt and wonder. Could _these_ be the fine wide streets of the former
days? They seemed to have contracted to a narrow width, to be mean and
shabby. The houses appeared poor, the very Guildhall itself small. Ah
me! The brightness had worn off the gold.

Roland walked on with the slow step of disappointment, scanning the
faces he met. He knew none. Eight years had passed since his absence,
and the place and the people were changed to him. Involuntarily the
words of that ever beautiful song, which most of us know by heart,
came surging up his memory, as he gazed wistfully from side to side.


          "Strange to me now are the forms I meet
              When I visit the dear old town."


Strange enough. Was it for this he had come back? Often and often
during his wanderings in the far-away African land, had other lines of
the same sweet song beaten their refrain in his brain when yearning
for Helstonleigh. There was a certain amount of sentiment in Roland
Yorke, for all his straightforward practicability.


          "Often I think of the beautiful town
             That is seated by the sea;
           Often in thought go up and down
           The pleasant streets of that dear old town,
             And my youth comes back to me.
               And a verse of a Lapland song
               Is haunting my memory still:
              'A boy's will is the wind's will,
           And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'"

          "I can see the shadowy lines of its trees,
             And catch in sudden gleams
           The sheen of the far-surrounding seas
           And islands that were the Hesperides
             Of all my boyish dreams.
               And the burden of that old song,
               It murmurs and whispers still:
              'A boy's will is the wind's will,
           And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'"


There were no seas around Helstonleigh, but the resemblance was near
enough for Roland, as it has been for others. Other verses of the song
seemed to be strangely realized to him now, as he walked along.


          "There are things of which I may not speak;
             There are dreams that cannot die;
           There are thoughts that make the strong heart weak.
           And bring a pallor into the cheek,
             And a mist before the eye.
               And the words of that fatal song
               Come over me like a chill:
              'A boy's will is the wind's will,
           And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'"

          "I can see the breezy dome of groves,
             The shadows of Deering's woods;
           And the friendships old and the early loves
           Come back with a Sabbath sound, as of doves
             In quiet neighbourhoods.
               And the verse of that sweet old song,
               It flutters and murmurs still:
              'A boy's will is the wind's will,
           And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'"

          "And Deering's woods are fresh and fair,
            And with joy that is almost pain
           My heart goes back to wander there;
           And among the dreams of the days that were
            I find my lost youth again.
               And the strange and beautiful song,
               The groves are repeating it still:
              'A boy's will is the wind's will,
           And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'"


Believe it or not as you will, of practical, matter-of-fact Roland,
these oft-quoted lines (but never too often) told their refrain in his
brain as he paced the streets of Helstonleigh, just as they had done
in exile.

He went round by Hazledon; and William Yorke came forward in the hall
to meet him, with outstretched hand.

"I knew you would not leave without coming in."

"It's to see Constance, not you," answered Roland.

Constance was ready for him; the same sweet woman Roland in his
earlier days had thought the perfection of all that was fair and
excellent. He thought her so still. She had her children brought down,
and took the baby in her arms. Roland made them brilliant offerings in
prospective, in the shape of dolls and rocking-horses: and whispered
to their mother his romance about Annabel. She wished him luck,
laughing all the while.

"When William was in London this summer he thought Hamish was looking
a little thin," said Constance. "Is he well?"

"Oh, he's well enough," answered Roland. But his face flushed a dusky
red as he spoke, for the question recalled the strange idea that had
flashed into his mind, unbidden, the past night; and Mr. Roland
thought himself guilty for it, and resented it accordingly. "You never
saw such a lovely little fairy as Nelly is."

But he had no time to stay. Roland went out on the run; and just fell
into the arms of a certain Mr. Simms: one of the few individuals he
had particularly hoped to avoid.

Mr. Simms knew him. That it was a Yorke there could be no doubt; and a
minute's pause sufficed to show him that it was no other than the
truant Roland. Civilly, but firmly, Mr. Simms arrested progress.

"Is it you, Mr. Roland Yorke?"

"Yes, it's me," said Roland. "I'm only at Helstonleigh for a few hours
and was in hopes of getting off again without meeting any of yon," he
candidly added. "You're fit to swear at me, I suppose, Simms, for
never having sent you the money?"

"I certainly expected to be paid long before this, Mr. Yorke."

"So did I," said Roland. "I'd have sent it you had I been able. I
would, Simms; honour bright. How much is it? Five pounds?"

"And seven shillings added on to it."

"Ay, I've got the list somewhere. It's over forty pounds that I owe in
the place altogether, getting on for fifty: and every soul of you
shall be paid with interest as soon as I can scrape the money
together. I've had nothing but ill-luck since I left here, Simms, and
it has not turned yet."

"It was said you went to foreign parts to make your fortune, sir. My
lady herself told me you were safe to come home with one."

"And I thought I was," gloomily answered Roland. "Instead of that,
Simms, I got home without a shirt to my back. I've gone in for work
this many a year now, but somehow fortune's not with me. I work daily,
every bit as hard and long as you do, Simms; perhaps harder; and I can
hardly keep myself. I've not been able to do a stroke since this
dreadful business about Arthur Channing--which brought me down here."

"Is he found, sir? We shouldn't like to lose such a one as him."

"He's neither found nor likely to be," said Roland, shaking his head.
"Old Galloway declares it will be his death: I'm not sure but it'll be
mine. And now I must be off, Simms, and I leave you my honest word
that I'll send you the money as soon as ever it is in my power. I'd
like to pay you all with interest. You shall be the first of them to
get it."

"I suppose you couldn't pay me a trifle off it now, Mr. Yorke? A pound
or so."

"Bless your heart!" cried Roland, in wide astonishment. "A pound or
so! I don't possess it. I pawned my black dress-suit for thirty
shillings to come down upon, and travelled third class. Goodbye, old
Simms; I shall lose the train."

He went off like a shot. Mr. Simms looking after the well-dressed
gentleman, did not know what to make of the plea of poverty.

Roland went whirling back to London again, third class, and arrived at
the Paddington terminus in a fever. That the worst had happened to
Arthur, whatever that worst might be, he no longer entertained a
shadow of doubt. His thirty shillings (we might never have known he
had been so rich but for the candid avowal to Mr. Simms) were not
quite exhausted, and Roland put his parcels into a hansom and drove
down to Mrs. Gerald Yorke's.

To find that lady in tears was nothing unusual; the rule, in fact,
rather than the exception; she was seated on the floor by the
firelight in the evening's approaching dusk, and the three little
girls with her. The grief was not much more than usual. Gerald had
been at home, and in a fit of bitter anger had absolutely forbidden
her to take the children to drink tea with little Nelly Channing at
four o'clock, as invited. Four o'clock had struck; five too; and the
disappointed mother and children had cried through the hour.

"It is too bad of Gerald," cried sympathising Roland, putting his
parcels on the table.

"Yes, it _is_; not to let us go _there_," sobbed Mrs. Yorke. "All
Gerald's money is gone, too, and he went off without answering me when
I said I must have some. I don't possess as much as a fourpenny-piece
in the world; and we've not got an atom of tea or butter in the house
and can have no tea at home, and we've only one scuttle of coals left,
for I've just rung for some and the girl says so, and--oh, I wish I
was dead!"

Roland felt in his pockets, and found three shillings and twopence. It
was all _he_ possessed. This he put on the table, wishing it was fifty
times as much. His heart was good to help all the world.

"I'm ashamed of its being such a trifle," said he, pulling at his
whiskers in mortification. "If I were rich I should be glad to help
everybody. Perhaps it'll buy a quarter of butter and a bit of tea and
half a hundred of coals."

"And for him to deny our going there!" repeated Winny, getting up to
take the money, and then rocking herself violently. "You know the
state we were in all the summer: Gerald next door to penniless and
going about in fear of the bum-bailies," she continued, adhering in
moments of agitation to her provincial expressions. "We wanted
everything; rent, and clothes, and food; and if it had not been for a
friend who continually helped us we might have just starved."

"It was your mother," said Roland.

"But it was not my mother," answered Mrs. Yorke, ceasing her rocking
to lean forward, and her cheeks and her eyes looked alike bright in
the flashing firelight. "It was Mr. Chaining."

"What?"

She could not be reticent, and explained all. How Hamish, or his wife
for him, had helped them, even to the paying of boot-bills for Gerald.
Roland sat amazed. Things that had somewhat puzzled even his careless
nature were becoming clear.

"And Gerald not know of this?"

"As if I should dare to tell him! He thinks it all comes from my
mother. Oh, Roland, you don't know how good and kind Hamish Channing
is! he is more like one of Heaven's angels. I think, I do really
think, I must have died, or come to a bad end, but for him. He is the
least selfish man I ever knew in the world; the most thoughtful and
generous."

"_I_ know what Hamish is," assented Roland, with energy. "And to
think that he has got to bear all this awful sorrow about his best
brother--Arthur!"

"Oh, Arthur is found. He is all right," said Mrs. Yorke, quietly.

"What!" shouted Roland, starting from his chair.

"Arthur has been at Marseilles all the while. Hamish had a letter from
him this morning."

A prolonged stare; a rubbing of the amazed face that had turned to a
white heat; and Roland caught up his hat, and went out with a bang.
Half a moment, and he was back again, sweeping his parcels from the
table to the children on the carpet.

"It's cakes and toys from Fanny," said he. "Go into them, you
chickens. That other's a shirt, Mrs. Yorke: I can't stay for it now."

On the stairs, as he was leaping down, Roland unfortunately
encountered the servant maid carrying up a scuttle of coals. It was
not a moment to consider maids and scuttles. Down went the coals, down
went the maid. Roland took a flying leap over the _débris_, and was
half way on his road to Hamish Channing's before the bewildered
landlady, arriving on the scene, could understand what the matter was.

The explanation of what had been a most unpleasant mystery was so very
simple and natural, that the past fright and apprehension seemed
almost like a take-in. It shall be given at once; though the reader
will readily understand that at present Hamish knew nothing of the
details, only the bare fact that Arthur was alive and well. He would
have to wait for them until Arthur's return.

Amidst the letters handed to Arthur Channing by the waiter of the
hotel that night in Norfolk Street, was one from Marseilles, stating
that Charles, just before landing, had had a relapse, and was lying at
Marseilles dangerously ill--his life despaired of. Perhaps in the
flurry of the moment, Arthur did not and could not act so reasonably
as he might have done. All his thoughts ran on the question--How could
he in the shortest space of time get to Marseilles? By dint of
starting on the instant--on the instant, mind--and taking a fleet cab,
he might get to London Bridge in time to catch the Dover mail-train.
Taking up his hat and letters, he ran out of the coffee-room calling
aloud for the waiter. Nobody responded: nobody, as it would appear,
was at that moment in the way to hear him. Afraid of even an instant's
detention, he did not wait, but ran out of the hotel, up Norfolk
Street, hailed a passing hansom, and reached London Bridge Station
before the train started. From Dover to Calais the boat had an
exceedingly calm passage, and Arthur was enabled to write some short
notes in the cabin, getting ink and paper from the steward: one to the
hotel that he had, as may be said, surreptitiously quitted, one to
Hamish, one to Roland, one to Mr. Galloway, one to Mr. Galloway's
London agents. Arthur, always considerate, ever willing to spare
others anxiety and pain, did not say _why_ he was hastening to
Marseilles, but merely stated that he had determined on proceeding
thither, instead of awaiting Charles in London. These letters he gave
to a French commissionaire on landing in Calais, with money to buy the
necessary stamps, and a gratuity to himself; ordering him to post them
as soon as might be. Whether the man quietly pocketed the money and
suppressed the letters, or whether he had in his turn entrusted them
to someone else to post, who lost, or forgot them, would never be
ascertained. Arthur, all unconscious of the commotion he was causing
at home, arrived quietly at Marseilles, and there found Charles very
ill, not quite out of danger For some days he was wholly occupied with
him, and did not write at all: as he had said nothing about the
illness, he knew there could be no anxiety. Now that he did write,
Charles was getting better rapidly. It may just be observed, that the
letter left in the rack of the hotel (that came on with the rest of
the steamer's letters from Marseilles) had served to complicate
matters; but for that letter it would have been surmised that Arthur
had received unfavourable news of Charles, and had gone on to him. The
accident was indeed a singular one, which left _that_ letter in the
rack: and even the thought that there should have been a second from
Marseilles never occurred to them. All these, and other details,
Hamish Channing would have to wait for. He could afford to do
so--holding that new letter of relief in his hand, which stated that
Charles was eager to continue his journey homewards, so that they
would probably be in London soon after its receipt.

"Oh, Hamish, it is good!" cried Roland, who had sat listening with all
his heart and eyes. "It's like a great bright star come down from
Heaven. It's like a gala-day."

"I dare say there is a letter waiting for you at Mrs. J.'s, friend."

"Of course there is," decided Roland. "As if Arthur would forget me!
Old Galloway won't die yet."

But, even in that short absence of a day and a night, Roland seemed to
see that Hamish Channing's face had grown thinner: the fine skin more
transparent, the genial blue eyes brighter.



CHAPTER XXXIII.
A STARTLING AVOWAL.


Cuff Court, Fleet Street; and a frosty day in December. The year has
gone on some six or seven weeks since the last chapter, and people are
beginning to talk of the rapidly-advancing Christmas.

Over the fire, in the little room in Cuff Court, where you once saw
him by gas-light, sits Mr. Butterby. The room is bright enough with
sunlight now; the sunlight of the cold, clear day; a great deal
brighter than Mr. Butterby himself, who is dull as ditch-water, and in
a sulky temper.

"I've been played with; that's what I've been," said Butterby in
soliloquy. "Bede Greatorex bothers me to be still, to be passive; and
when I keep still and passive, and stop down at Helstonleigh, taking
no steps, saying nothing to living mortal, letting the thing die away,
if it will die, _he_ makes a mull of it up in town. Why couldn't he
have kept his father and Parson Ollivera quiet? Never a lawyer going,
but must be sharp enough for that. Not he. He does nothing of the
sort, but lets one or both of 'em work, and ferret, and worry, and
discover that Godfrey Pitman has turned up, and find out that _I_ knew
of it, and go to headquarters and report me for negligence I get a
curt telegram to come to town, and here's the deuce to pay."

Mr. Butterby turned round, snatched up a few papers that lay on the
table, glanced over the writing, and resumed his soliloquy when he had
put them down again.

"Jelf has it in hand here, and I've not yet got to see him. Not of
much use my seeing him before I've heard what Bede Greatorex has to
say. One thing they've not been sharp enough to discover yet--_where
Godfrey Pitman is to be found_. Foster in Birmingham holds his
tongue, Johnson shows Jelf the door when he goes to ask about
Winter: and there they are, Jelf and the Parson, or Jelf and Mr.
Greatorex--whichever of them two it is that's stirring--mooning up and
down England after Pitman, little thinking he's close at home, right
under their very noses. I and Bede Greatorex hold _that_ secret tight;
but I don't think I shall feel inclined to hold it long. 'Where _is_
Pitman?' says the sergeant to me yesterday, at headquarters. 'Ah!'
says I, 'that's just the problem we are some of us trying to work
out.'"

Mr. Butterby stopped, cracked the coal fiercely, which sent up a blaze
of sparks, and waited. Resuming after a while.

"And it _is_ a problem; one _I_ can't make come square just yet.
There's Brown--as good call him by one alias as another--keeping as
quiet as a mouse, knowing that he is being looked after for the murder
of Counsellor Ollivera. What's his motive in keeping dark? The debts
he left behind him in Birmingham are paid; Johnson and Teague
acknowledge his innocence in that past transaction of young Master
Samuel's; they are, so to say, his friends, and the man knows all
this. Why, then, don't he come forward and reap the benefit of the
acquittal, and put himself clear before the world, and say--Neither am
I guilty of the other thing--the counsellor's death? Of course, when
Jeff and Jeff's masters know he is hiding himself somewhere, and does
_not_ come forward, they assume that he dare not, that he was the man
who did it. I'd not swear but he was, either. Looking at it in a broad
point of view, one can't help seeing that he must have some urgent
motive for his silence--and what that motive is, one may give a shrewd
guess at: that he is screening himself or somebody else. There's only
one other in the world that he would screen, I expect, and that's
Alletha Rye."

A long pause. A pause of silence. Mr. Butterby's face, with all his
professional craft, had as puzzled a look on it as any ordinary
mortal's might wear.

"I suspected Alletha Rye more than anybody at the time. Don't suspect
her now. Don't _think_ it was her; wouldn't swear it wasn't, though.
And, in spite of your injunction to be still, Mr. Bede Greatorex, I'll
go into the thing a bit for my own satisfaction."

Looking over the papers on the table again, he locked them up, and sat
down to write a letter or two. Somebody then came in to see him on
business--which business does not concern us. And so time passed on,
and when the sunlight had faded into dusk, Mr. Butterby put on a top
pilot-coat of rough blue cloth, and went out. The shows were lighted,
displaying their attractions for the advancing Christmas, and Mr.
Butterby had leisure to glance at them with critical approval as he
passed.

These past few weeks had not brought forth much to tell of in regard
to general matters. Arthur and Charles Channing had passed through
London on their way to Helstonleigh; Roland Yorke had resumed his
daily and evening work, and had moreover given his confidence to Sir
Vincent Yorke (nothing daunted by that gentleman's previous repulse)
on the subject of Annabel Channing, and in his sanguine temperament
was looking ever for the place Vincent was to get him; and James
Channing drew nearer and nearer to another world. But this world was
slow to perceive it--Hamish, the bright! Three or four times a week
Roland snatched a minute to dart down to the second-hand furniture
shops in Tottenham Court Road, there to inquire prices and lay in a
stock of practical information as to the number and nature of
articles, useful and ornamental, indispensable for a gentleman and
lady going into housekeeping.

But Mr. Butterby was on his way to Mrs. Jones's residence, and we must
follow him. Halting opposite the house to take a survey of it, he saw
that there was no light in Mr. Ollivera's sitting-room; there was no
light anywhere, that he could see. By which fact he gathered that the
clergyman was not at home: and that was satisfactory, as he did not
much care to come in contact with him just at the present uncertain
state of affairs.

Crossing the street, he knocked gently at the door. Miss Rye answered
it, nobody but herself being in the house. A street gas-lamp shone
full on her face, and the start she gave was quite visible to Mr.
Butterby. He walked straight in to Mrs. Jones's parlour, saying he had
come to see her; her, Alletha Rye. Her work lay on the red table-cover
by the lamp; Mr. Butterby sat down in the shade and threw back his
coat; she stood by the fire and nervously stirred it, her hands
trembling, her face blanching.

"When that there unhappy event took place at Helstonleigh, the death
of Counsellor Ollivera, now getting on for five years back, there was
a good deal of doubt encompassing it round about, Miss Rye," he
suddenly began.

"Doubt?" she rejoined, faintly, sitting down to the table and catching
up her work.

"Yes, doubt. I mean as to how the death was caused. Some said it was a
murder, and some said it was his own doing--suicide."

"Everybody said it was a suicide!" she interrupted, with trembling
eagerness, her shaking fingers plying the needle as if she were
working for very life. "The coroner and jury decided it to be one."

"Not quite everybody," dissented Mr. Butterby, listening with
composure until she had finished. "_You_ didn't. I was in the
churchyard when they put him into the ground, and heard and saw you
over the grave."

"But I had cause to--to--alter my opinion, later," she said, her face
turning hectic with emotion. "Heaven alone knows how bitterly I have
repented of that night's work! If cutting my tongue out afterwards,
instead of before, could have undone my mistake----"

"Now look here; don't you get flurried," interposed Mr. Butterby. "I
didn't come here to put you out, but just to have a rational talk on a
point or two. I thought at the time it was a suicide, as you may
remember: but I'm free to confess that the way in which the ball has
been kept rolling since has served to alter my opinion. Counsellor
Ollivera was murdered!"

She made no reply. Taking up her scissors, she began cutting away at
the work at random, and the hectic red faded away to a sickly
whiteness.

"There was a stranger lodging at Mrs. Jones's at the time, you
remember, one Godfrey Pitman. Helstonleigh said, you know, Miss Rye,
that if anybody did it, it was him. That Godfrey Pitman is an
uncommonly sharp card to have kept himself out of the way so long!
Don't you think so?"

"I don't think anything about it," she answered. "What is it to me?"

"Well, Miss Rye, I've the pleasure of telling you that Godfrey
Pitman's found!"

The little presence of mind left in Alletha Rye seemed to quit her at
the words. Perhaps she was no longer so capable of maintaining it as
she once had been: the very best of our powers wear out when the
soul's burthen is continued long and long.

"Found!" she gasped, her hands falling on her work, her wild eyes
turned to Mr. Butterby.

"Leastways so near found, that it mayn't be a age afore he's took,"
added the detective, with professional craft. "Our friends in the blue
coats have got the clue to him. I'd not lay you the worth of that
silver thimble of yours, Miss Rye, that he's not standing in a certain
dock next March assizes."

"In what dock? What for?" came from her trembling lips.

"Helstonleigh dock For what le did to Mr. Ollivera. Come, come, I did
not want to frighten you like this, my good young woman. And why
should it? It is not certain Pitman will be brought to trial, though
he were guilty. Years have gone by since, and the Greatorexes and
Parson Ollivera may hush it up. They are humane men; Mr. Bede
especially."

"_You_ don't believe Godfrey Pitman was guilty?" she exclaimed, and
her eyes began to take a hard look, her voice a defiant tone.

"Oh, don't I!" returned Butterby. "What's more to the purpose, Miss
Rye, the London officers and their principals, who have got it in
hand, believe it."

"And what if I tell you that Godfrey Pitman never was guilty; that he
never raised his hand against Mr. Ollivera?" she broke forth in
passionate accents, rising to confront him. "What if I tell you that
it was _I?_"

Standing there before him, her eyes ablaze with light, her cheeks
crimson, her voice ringing with power, it was nearly impossible to
disbelieve her. For once, the experienced, cool man was taken aback.

"_You_, Miss Rye!"

"Yes, I. I, Alletha Rye. What, I say, if I tell you it was I did that
terrible deed? _Not_ Godfrey Pitman. Now then! you must make the most
of it, and do your best and worst."

The avowal, together with the various ideas that came crowding as its
accompaniment, struck Mr. Butterby dumb. He sat there gazing at her,
his speech utterly failing him.

"Is this true?" he whispered, when he had found his tongue.

"Should I avow such a thing if it were not? Oh, Mr. Butterby! hush the
matter up if it be in your power," she implored, clasping her hands in
an attitude of beseeching supplication, and her breath came in great
gasps, so that the words were jerked out, rather than spoken. "In pity
to me, hush it; it has lain at rest all these years. Let Godfrey
Pitman be! For my sake, let him be! I pray you in Heaven's name!"

She sat down in her chair, tottering back to it, and burst into a
flood of hysterical tears. Mr. Butterby waited in silence till they
were over, and then buttoned his coat to go out. Putting out her timid
hand, she caught his arm and held it with a nervous grasp.

"You will promise me Mr. Butterby?"

"I can't promise anything on the spur of the moment," said he in a
grave, but not unkind tone. "You must let me turn things over in my
mind. For one thing, neither the hushing of the matter up, nor the
pursuing of it, may lie with me. I told you others had got it in hand,
Miss Rye, and I told you truth. Now there's no need for you to come to
the door; I can let myself out."

And Mr. Butterby let himself out accordingly, making no noise over the
exit.

"I'm _blest_ if I can see daylight," he exclaimed with energy, as he
went down the street at a brisk pace. "Did she do it herself?--or is
she trying to screen Master George Winter? It's one of the two; and
I'm inclined to think it is the last. Anyway, she's a brave and a bold
woman. Whether she did it, or whether she didn't, it's no light matter
to accuse herself of mur----"

Mr. Butterby came to a full stop: both in words and steps. It was but
for a second of time; and he laughed a little silent laugh at his own
obtuseness as he passed on.

"I forgot her avowal at the grave. If she had done it herself, she'd
never have gone in for that public display, lest it should turn
attention on her. Yes, yes; she is screening Winter. Perhaps the man,
hiding in that top floor, with nothing to do but torment his wits, got
jealous of the counsellor below, fancying she favoured him, and
so----"

The break in Mr. Butterby's sentence this time was occasioned by his
shooting into an entry. Approaching towards him came Mrs. Jones,
attended by her servant with a huge market-basket: and as he had
neither time nor wish for an encounter with that lady at the present
moment, he let her go by.



CHAPTER XXXIV.
A TELEGRAM TO HELSTONLEIGH.


That same evening, just as suddenly as Detective Butterby had shot
into the entry, did he seem to shoot into the private room of Mr. Bede
Greatorex. The clerks had just left the office for the evening; Bede,
putting things straight on his desk, was thinking of going upstairs to
dinner. To be thus silently invaded was not pleasing: but Bede could
only resign himself to his fate.

In a spirit of reproach Mr. Butterby entered on the business of the
interview, stating certain facts. Bede took alarm. Better, as he
thought, that the earth should be arrested in its orbit, than that the
part Godfrey Pitman played in connection with his cousin's death at
Helstonleigh should be brought to light.

"It is the very charge, above all others, that I gave you, Mr.
Butterby--the keeping secret what you had learnt about the identity of
Godfrey Pitman," broke forth Bede.

"And it is because I obeyed you and did keep it, that headquarters
have put it into others' hands and are hauling me over the coals,"
spoke Mr. Butterby in an injured tone.

"Have you told them that it was by my desire you remained passive?"

"I have told them nothing," was the answer. "I let 'em think that I
was looking after Godfrey Pitman still myself, everywhere that I could
look, high and low."

"Then they don't know yet that he and my clerk Brown are the same?"
said Bede, very eagerly.

"Not a bit on't. There's not a living soul of the lot has been sharp
enough to turn that page yet, Mr. Bede Greatorex."

"And it must be our business to keep it closed," whispered Bede. "I
will give you any reward if you can manage to do it."

"Look here, sir," spoke Butterby. "I am willing to oblige you as far
as I can in reason; I've showed you that I am; but to fill you up with
hopes that that secret will be a secret long, would be nothing but
wilful deceit: and deceit's a thing that don't answer in the long run.
When I want to throw people off a scent, or worm things out of 'em for
the law's purposes, I send their notions off on all sorts of air
journeys, and think it no wrong: but to let you suppose I can keep
from the world what I can't keep, and take your thanks and rewards for
doing it, is just the opposite case. As sure as us two be a talking
here, this matter won't stand at its present page; there'll be more
leaves turned in it afore many days is gone over."

Leaning forward, his face and eyes wearing their gravest look, his
elbow on the table that was between them, his finger and thumb pointed
to give force to his argument, there was that altogether in the
speaker's aspect, in his words, that carried a shiver of conviction to
the mind of Bede Greatorex. His heart grew faint, his face was white
with a sickly moisture.

"You may think to stop it and I may think to stop it, Mr. Bede
Greatorex: but, take my word, it won't be stopped. There's no longer a
chance of it."

"If you--could get--Brown out of the way?" spoke Bede, scarcely
knowing what it was he said, and speaking in a whisper. Mr. Butterby
received the suggestion with severity.

"It's not to me, sir, that you should venture to say such a thing.
I've been willing to help your views when it didn't lie against my
position and duty to do it; but I don't think you've seen anything in
me to suppose I would go beyond that. As good step into Scotland Yard
and ask _them_ to help a criminal to escape, as ask me. We'll let that
drop, sir; and I'll go on to a question I should like to put. What do
you want Godfrey Pitman out of the way for?"

Bede did not answer. His hand was pressed upon his brow, his eyes wore
their saddest and most dreamy look.

"If Pitman had any share in the business at Helstonleigh, you ought to
be the one to give him into custody, sir."

"For the love of Heaven, don't pursue Pitman!" spoke Bede earnestly.
"I have told you before, Mr. Butterby, that it was not he. So far as I
believe, he never lifted his hand against John Ollivera; he did not
hurt a hair of his head. Accuse any one in the world that you please,
but don't accuse him."

"What if I accuse a woman?" spoke Mr. Butterby, when he had gazed at
Bede to his satisfaction.

Their eyes met. Bede's face, or the detective fancied it, was growing
whiter.

"Who?--What woman?" asked Bede, scarcely above his breath.

"Alletha Rye."

With a sadden movement, looking like one of relief, Bede Greatorex
dropped his hand and leaned back in his chair. It was as if some kind
of rest had come to him.

"Why should you bring in Alletha Rye's name? Do you suspect her?"

"I'm not clear that I do; I'm not clear that I don't. Anyhow, I think
she stands a chance of getting accused of it, Mr. Bede Greatorex."

"Better accuse her than Pitman," said Bede, who seemed to be again
speaking out of his uncomfortable dream.

Mr. Butterby, inwardly wondering at various matters and not just yet
able to make them meet in his official mind, rose to conclude the
interview. A loud bell was ringing upstairs; most probably the
announcement of dinner.

"Just a parting word, sir. What I chiefly stepped in to say, was this.
So long as the case rested in my hands, and Mr. Godfrey Pitman was
supposed to have finally disappeared from the world, I was willing to
oblige you, and let it, and him, and the world be. But from the moment
that the affair shall be stirred publicly, in short, that action is
forced upon me by others, I shall take it up again. Counsellor
Ollivera's case belongs of right to me, and must be mine to the end."

With a civil goodnight, Mr. Butterby departed, leaving Bede Greatorex
to his thoughts and reveries. More unhappy ones have rarely been
entertained in this world. Men cannot strive against fate forever, and
the battle had well nigh warn him out. It almost seemed that he could
struggle no longer, that he had no power of resistance left within
him. Mind and body were alike weary; the spirit fainted, the heart was
sick. Life had long been a burden to Bede Greatorex, but never did its
weight lie heavier than tonight in its refined and exquisite pain.

He had to bear it alone, you see. To lock the miserable secret,
whatever might be its precise nature, and whoever might have been
guilty, within his own bosom. Could he but have spoken of it to
another, its anguish had been less keen; for, when once a great
trouble can be imparted--be it of grief, or apprehension, or remorse;
be it connected with ourselves, or (worse) one very near and dear to
us--it is lightened of half its sting.

But that relief was denied to Bede Greatorex.

It had been the dinner-bell. Bede did not answer to it; but that was
not altogether unusual.

They sat around the brilliantly-lighted, well-appointed banquet. Where
Mrs. Bede Greatorex procured her fresh hothouse flowers from daily,
and at what cost, she alone knew. They were always beautiful, charming
to the eye, odoriferously pleasant to the senses. At the head of the
table tonight was she, wearing amber silk, her shoulders very bare,
her back partially shaded by the horse's tail that drooped from her
remarkable chignon. It was not a dinner-party; but Mrs. Bede was going
out later, and had dressed beforehand.

The place at her left-hand was vacant--Bede's--who never took the foot
of the table when his father was present. Mr. Greatorex supposed his
son was detained in the office, and sent a servant to see. Judge Kene
sat on the right of Mrs. Bede; he had called in, and stayed to dinner
without ceremony. Clare Joliffe and Miss Channing sat on either side
Mr. Greatorex. Frank was dining out. Clare was returning to France for
Christmas, after her many months' stay in the country. Her chignon was
more fashionable than a quartern loaf, and certainly larger, but
lacking that great achievement, the tail. Annabel's quiet head
presented a contrast to those two of the mode.

Bede came up. Shaking hands with Sir Thomas Kene, he passed round to
his chair; his manner was restless, his thin cheeks were hectic. The
judge had not seen him for some little time. Gazing at him across the
table, he wondered what malady he could be suffering from, and how
much more like a shadow he would be able to become--and live. Mr.
Greatorex, anxiously awake to every minute glance or motion bearing on
his son's health, spoke.

"Are you thinking Bede looks worse, Sir Thomas?"

"He does not look better," was the reply. "You should see a doctor and
take some tonics, Bede."

"I'm all right, Judge, thank you," was Bede's answer, as he turned a
whole lot of croûtons into his purée de pois--and would afterwards
send it away nearly untested.

Dinner was just over when a servant whispered to Mr. Greatorex that he
was wanted. Going down at once to his room he found Henry William
Ollivera.

"Why did you not come up, William? Kene is there."

"I am in no fit mood for company, uncle," was the clergyman's reply.
"The trouble has come at last."

In all the phases of agitation displayed by Henry Ollivera, and when
speaking of the affair he generally displayed more or less, Mr.
Greatorex never saw him so much moved as now. Leaning forward on his
chair, his eyes bright, his cheeks burning as with the red of an
autumn leaf, his hands feverish, his voice sunk to a whisper, he
entered on the tale he had to tell.

"Do you remember my saying to you one day in the dining-room above,
that I thought it was a woman? Do you remember it, uncle?"

"Quite well."

"In the weeks that have gone by since, the suspicion has only gained
ground in my mind. Without cause: I am bound to say it, without
further cause. Nay almost in the teeth of what might have served to
diminish suspicion. For, if Godfrey Pitman be really somewhere in
existence, and hiding himself, the natural supposition would be, as
Jelf thinks, that _he_ was the one."

Mr. Greatorex nodded assent. "And yet you suspect the woman! Can you
not say who she is, Henry?

"Yes, I can say now. I have come here to say it--Alletha Rye!"

Mr. Greatorex evinced no surprise. He had fancied it might be upon her
that his nephew's doubts had been running. And he deemed it a crotchet
indeed.

"I think you must be entirely mistaken," he said with emphasis. "What
little I know of the young woman, tends to give me a very high opinion
of her. She appears to be almost the last person in the world capable
of such a crime as that, or of any crime."

"She might have done it in a moment's passion; she might have been
playing with the pistol and fired it accidentally, and then was afraid
to avow it; but she _did_ it, uncle."

"Go on."

"I have been distracted with doubt. Distracted," emphatically repeated
Mr. Ollivera. "For of course I knew that my suspicions of her, strong
though they have been growing, did not prove her guilty. But tonight I
have heard her avow it with her own lips."

"Avow what?"

"That she murdered John!"

"What!--has she confessed to you?" exclaimed Mr. Greatorex.

"No. I heard it accidentally. Perhaps I ought to say surreptitiously.
And, hearing it in that manner, the question arises in my mind whether
or not I should make use of the knowledge so gained. I cannot bear
anything like dishonourable or underhand dealing; no, not even in this
cause, uncle."

Mr. Greatorex made no reply. He was taken up with noting the strangely
eager gaze fixed upon him. Something in it, he knew not what, recalled
to his memory a dead face, lying alone on the border of a distant
churchyard.

"It is some few weeks ago now that Mrs. Jones gave me a latchkey,"
resumed Mr. Ollivera. "In fact, I asked her for it. Coming in so
often, and sometimes detained out late at night with the sick, I felt
that it would be a convenience to me, and save trouble to the maid.
This evening upon letting myself in with it about tea-time, I found
the passage in darkness; the girl, I supposed, had delayed to light
the lamp. My movements are not noisy at any time, as you know, and I
went groping on in silence, feeling my way: not from any wish to be
stealthy--such a thought never entered my head--but because Mr. Roland
Yorke is given to leaving all kinds of articles about and I was afraid
of stumbling over something. I was making for the table at the end
of the passage, on which matches are generally kept, sometimes a
chamber-candle. Feeling for these, I heard a voice in Mrs. Jones's
parlour that I have not heard many times in my life, but nevertheless
I knew it instantly--Butterby's, the detective."

"Butterby's!" exclaimed Mr. Greatorex. "I did not know he was in
London."

"Uncle! It was Alletha Rye's voice that answered him. Her voice and no
other's, disguised with agitation though it was. I heard her say that
it was herself who killed my brother; that Godfrey Pitman had never
raised a hand against him."

"You--really heard her say this, William?" breathed Mr. Greatorex.

"It is true as that I am a living man. It seemed to me that the
officer must have been accusing Godfrey Pitman of the crime. I heard
the man's surprised answer, 'You, Miss Rye!' 'Yes, I,' she said, 'I,
Alletha Rye, _not_ Godfrey Pitman.' I heard her go on to tell Butterby
that he might do his best and his worst."

Mr. Greatorex sat like one bereft of motion. "This confounds me,
William," he presently said.

"It confounded me," replied Mr. Ollivera. "Nearly took my senses from
me, for I'm sure I had no rational reason left. The first thought that
came to me was, that they had better not see me there, or discover
they had been overheard until I had decided what my course should be.
So I stepped silently up to my room, and the detective went away; and,
close upon that, Mrs. Jones and the maid came in together. Mrs. Jones
called her sister to account for not having lighted the hall-lamp,
little thinking how the darkness had served me."

"But for you telling me this yourself, William, I had not believed
it."

"It is true as Heaven's gospel," spoke the clergyman in his painful
earnestness. "I sat a short while in my room, unable to decide what I
ought to do, and then I came down here to tell you of it, uncle. It is
very awful."

"Awful that it should have been Alletha Rye, you mean?"

"Yes. I have been praying, seeking, working for this discovery ever
since John died; and, now that it has come in this most sudden manner,
it brings nothing but perplexity with it. Oh, poor helpless mortals
that we are!" added the clergyman, clasping his hands. "We set our
hearts upon some longed-for end, spend our days toiling for it, our
nights supplicating for it; and when God answers us according to our
short-sighted wish, the result is but as the apples of Sodom, filling
our mouths with ashes. Anybody but Alletha Rye; almost anybody; and I
had not hesitated a moment. But I have lived under the same roof with
her, in pleasant, friendly intercourse; I have preached to her on
Sundays; I have given her Christ's Holy Sacrament with my own hands:
in a serious illness that she had, I used to go and pray by her
bed-side. Oh, Uncle Greatorex, I cannot see where my duty lies; I am
torn with conflicting doubt!"

To the last words Mr. Ollivera had a listener that he had not
bargained for--Judge Kene. About to take his departure, the Judge had
come in without ceremony to say Goodnight to Mr. Greatorex.

"Why, what is amiss?" he cried, noting the signs of agitation as well
as the words.

And they told him; told him all; there was no reason why it should be
kept from him; and Mr. Ollivera begged for his counsel and advice. The
Judge gave it, and most emphatically; deciding _as_ a Judge more than
as a humane man--and Thomas Kene was that.

"You cannot hesitate, Ollivera. This poor unhappy woman, Alletha Rye,
must be brought to answer for her crime. Think of _him_, your brother,
and my once dear friend, lying unavenged in his shameful grave!
Humanity is a great and a good virtue, but John's memory must outweigh
it."

"Yes, yes; I am thinking of him always," murmured the clergyman, his
face lighting.

The initiative was taken by Mr. Greatorex. On the departure of the
Judge and the clergyman, who went out together, Mr. Greatorex dropped
a line to Scotland Yard. Butterby happened to be there, and answered
it in person. Shortly and concisely Mr. Greatorex gave his orders.

"And I have no resource but to act upon them," coolly observed the
imperturbable Butterby. "But I don't think the party was Alletha Rye."

"You don't!" exclaimed Mr. Greatorex.

"No, sir, I don't. Leastways, to my mind, there's grave reasons
against it. The whole affair, from beginning to end, seems encompassed
with nothing but doubts; and that's the blessed truth."

"I would like to ask you if Alletha Rye has or has not made a
confession to you this evening, Mr. Butterby--to the effect that she
was the one who killed Mr. Ollivera?"

"If nobody was in the house but her--as she said--she's been talking,"
thought the detective. "Confound these women for simpletons! They'd
prate their necks away."

But Mr. Greatorex ins looking at him, waiting for the answer.

"I was with Alletha Rye this evening; I went there for my own
purposes, to see what I could get out of her; little suspecting she'd
say what she did. But I don't believe her any the more for having said
it. The fact is Mr. Greatorex, that in this case there's wheels within
wheels, a'most more than any I've ever had to do with. I can't yet
disclose what they are even to you; but I'm trying to work them round
and make one spoke fit into another."

"Do you _know_ that Alletha Rye was not guilty of it?"

"No, sir, I do not."

"Very good. Lose no time. Get a warrant to apprehend Alletha Rye, and
execute it. If you telegraph to Helstonleigh at once, the warrant may
be up, and she in custody before midday tomorrow."

No more dallying with the law or with fate now. That was over. Mr.
Butterby went straight to the telegraph office, and sent a message
flying to Helstonleigh.

And Bede Greatorex went out to take part in an evening's gaiety with
his wife, and came home to his rest, and rose the next morning to go
about his occupation, unconscious of what the day was destined to
bring forth.



CHAPTER XXXV.
LIFE'S SANDS RUNNING ON.

A cold brisk air, with suspicion of a frost. It was a day or two
previous to the one told of in the last two chapters, when Mr.
Butterby was paying visits. Being convenient to record that renowned
officer's doings first, we yielded him the precedence, and in
consequence have to go back a little.

The brightness of the afternoon was passing. In his writing-room,
leaning back in a large easy-chair before the fire, sat Hamish
Channing. Some papers lay on the table, work of various kinds; but,
looking at Hamish, it almost seemed as though he had done with work
for ever. A face less beautiful than Hamish Channing's would have
appeared painfully thin: his, spite of its wasted aspect, had yet a
wonderful charm. The remark was once made that Hamish Channing's was a
face that would be beautiful always; beautiful to the end; beautiful
in dying. See it now. The perfect contour of the features is shown the
plainer in their attenuation; the skin seems transparent, the cheeks
are delicately flushed, the eyes are very blue and bright. If the
countenance had looked etherealized earlier in the history, and any
cavilled at the word, they would scarcely have cavilled at it now. But
in the strangely spiritual expression, speaking, one knew not how, of
Heaven there was an ever-present sadness, as if trouble had been hard
at work with him; as if all that was of the earth, earthy, had been
_crucified_ away.

Nobody seemed certain of it yet--that he was dying. He bore up
bravely; working still a little at home; but not going to the office;
that was beyond him. The doctors had not said there was no hope: his
wife, though she might inwardly feel how it was, would not speak it.
He sat at the head of his table yet; he was careful of his appearance
as of yore. His smile was genial still; his loving words were
cheerful, sometimes gay; his sweet kindliness to all around was more
marked. Oh, it was not in the face only that the look of Heaven
appeared: if ever a spark of the Divine spirit of love and light had
been vouchsafed to man's soul, it surely had been to that of Hamish
Channing.

He wore a coat of black velvet, a vest of the same, across which his
gold chain passed, with its drooping seal. The ring, formerly Mr.
Channing's, no longer made believe to fit the little finger; it was
worn on the second. His hair, carefully brushed as ever, looked like
threads of dark gold in the sunlight. Certainly it could not be said
that Hamish gave in to his illness. Whatever his complaint might be,
the medical men did not call it by any name; there was a little cough,
a strange want of tone and strength a quick, continual, almost
perceptible wasting. Whether Hamish had cherished visions of recovery
for himself could not be known; most earnestly he had hoped for it. If
only for the sake of his wife and child, he desired to live: and
existence itself, even in the midst of a great and crushing
disappointment, is hard to resign. But the truth, long dawning on his
mind, had shown itself to him fully at last, as it does in similar
cases to most of us; whether Hamish's weakness had taken a stride and
brought conviction of its formidable nature, or whether it might be
that he was temporarily feeling worse, a sadness, as of death itself,
lay upon him this afternoon.

It had been a short life--as men count lives; he had not yet numbered
two and thirty years. But for the awful disappointment that was drying
its fibres away, he might say that it had been a supremely happy one.
Perhaps no man, with the sweet and sunny temperament of Hamish
Channing, possessing the same Christian principles, could be otherwise
than happy. He did not remember ever to have done ill wilfully to
mortal man, in thought, word, or deed. It had been done to him: but he
forgave it. Nevertheless, a sense of injustice, a bitter pang of
disappointment, of hopeless failure as to this world, lay on his
heart, when he recalled what the past few months brought him. Leaning
there on his chair, his sad eyes tracing figures in the fire, he was
recalling things one by one. His never-ceasing, ever-hopeful work, and
the bright dreams of future fame that had made its sunshine. He
remembered, as though it were today, the evening that first review met
his eye--when he had been entertaining his brother-in-law, the
Reverend William Yorke, and others--and the shock it gave him. Think
of it when he would even now, it brought him a sensation of sick
faintness. Older men have become paralyzed from a similar shock. The
first review had been so closely followed by others, equally unjust,
equally cruel, that they all seemed as one blow. After that there
appeared to be a sort of pause in his life, when time and events stood
still, when he moved as one in a dream of misery, when all things
around him were as dead, and he along with them. The brain (as it
seemed) never stopped beating, or the bosom's pain working; or the
sense of humiliation to quit him. And then, as the days went on,
bodily weakness supervened; and--there he was, dying. Dying! going
surely to his God and Saviour; he felt that; but leaving his dear
ones, wife and child, to the frowns of a hard world; alone, without
suitable provision. And the book--the good, scholarly, attractive
book, upon which he had bestowed the best of his bright genius, that
he had written as to Heaven--was lying unread. Wasted!

"Papa, shall I put on her blue frock or her green? She is going out
for a walk."

This interruption came from Miss Nelly, who sat on the hearthrug,
dressing her doll. There was no reply, and Nelly looked up: she wore a
blue frock herself; its sleeves and the white pinafore tied together
with blue ribbon. Her pretty little feet in their shoes and socks were
stretched out, and her curls fell in a golden shower.

"Shall baby wear her blue frock or her green, papa? Papa, then! Which
is prettiest?"

Hamish, aroused, looked down on the child with a smile. "The blue, I
think; and then baby-doll will be like Nelly."

But Mrs. Channing, sewing at the window, turned her head. Something in
her husband's face or in his weary tone struck her.

"Do you feel worse, Hamish?"

"No, love. Not particularly."

Sadder yet, the voice; a kind of hopeless, weary sadness, depressing
to hear. Ellen quitted her seat, and came to him. "What is it?" she
whispered.

"Not much, dear. The future has cleared itself; that's all."

"The future?"

"I cannot struggle any longer, Ellen. I have preached faith and
patience to others, but they seem to have deserted me. I--I almost
think the very strife itself is helping on the end."

Sharp though the pang was, that pierced her breast, she would not show
it. Miss Nelly chattered below, asking questions of her doll, and
making believe to answer.

"The----_end_, Hamish!"

He took her hand and looked straight in her face as she stood by him.
"Have you not seen it, Ellen?"

With a heart and bosom that alike quivered,--with a standing still of
all her pulses,--with a catching-up of breath, as a sob, Mrs. Churning
was conscious of a stab of pain. Oh yes--yes--she had seen it; and the
persuading herself that she had not, had been but a sickly, miserable
pretence at cheating.

"But for leaving you and the little one, Ellen, there would be no
strife," he whispered, letting his forehead rest for a moment on her
arm. "It is a long while now that my dreams--I had almost said my
visions--have been of that world to which we are all journeying, which
every one of us must enter sooner or later. There will be no pain, or
trouble, or weariness _there_. Only the other night, as I lay between
sleep and wake, I seemed to have passed its portals into a soft,
bright, soothing light, a haven of joyous peace and rest."

"And if dolly's good, and does not spoil her new blue frock, she shall
go out for a walk," was heard from the hearthrug. Hamish put his
elbow on the arm of the chair, and covered his face with his slender
fingers.

"But when I think of my wife and child--and I am always thinking of
them, Ellen,--when I realize the bitter truth that I must leave them,
why then at times it seems as if my heart must break with its intense
pain. Ellen, my darling, I would not, even yet, have spoken, but that
I know you must have been waiting for it."

"I could have borne any trouble better than this," she answered,
pressing her hands together.

"It will be softened to you, I am sure, Ellen. I am ever praying that
it may."

"But----"

Visitors in the drawing-room: Mrs. Bede Greatorex and Miss Joliffe. A
servant came to announce them. She had said that her mistress was at
home, and Ellen had to go up. Hamish, with his remaining strength,
lifted Miss Nelly on his knee, doll and all.

"Hush, papa, please! Baby is fatigued with making her toilette. She
wants to go to sleep."

"What would Nelly say if papa told her he also wanted to go to sleep?"

Miss Nelly lay back in papa's arms while she considered the question,
the doll hushed in hers. Ah me, it is ever thus! We clasp and love our
children: they love others, who are more to them than we are.

"Why? Are you tired, papa?"

"A little weary, dear."

"Then go to sleep. Doll shall be quiet."

"The sleep's not coming just yet, Nelly. And--when it does come--papa
may not awake from it."

"Not ever, ever, ever?" asked Nelly, opening her blue eyes in wonder,
but not taking in at all the true sense of the question.

"Not ever--here."

"The princess went into a sleep in my tale-book, and lay on the bed
with roses in her hair, and never awoke, never, never, till the good
old fairy came and touched her," said Miss Nelly.

There ensued a pause. Hamish Channing's lip quivered a little; but no
one, save himself, could have guessed how every fibre of his heart was
aching.

"Nelly," he resumed, his voice and manner alike gravely earnest, his
eyes reading hers, "I want to give you a charge. Should papa have to
go on a long journey, you would be all that mamma has left. Take you
care, my child, to be ever dutiful to her; to be obedient to her
slightest wish, and to love her with a double love."

"A long, long, long journey?" demanded Miss Nelly.

"Very long."

"And when would you come back again to this house?"

"Not ever."

"Where would it be to, papa?"

"Heaven," he softly whispered.

Nelly rose up in his arms, the blue eyes more wondering than before.

"But that would be to die!"

"And if it were?"

Down fell the doll unheeded. The child's fears were aroused. She threw
her little arms about his neck.

"Oh papa, papa, don't die! Don't die!"

"But if I must, Ellen?"

Only once in her whole life could she remember that he had called her
by her true name, and that was when her grandpa died. She began to
tremble.

"Who would take care of me, papa?"

"God."

She hid her face upon his velvet waistcoat, strangely still.

"He would guide, and guard, and love you ever, Ellen. Loving Him you
would be His dear child always, and He would bring you in time to me.
Look up, my dear one."

"_Must_ you go the journey?"

"I fear so."

"Oh, papa!--and don't you care--don't you care for mamma and me, that
you must leave us?"

"Care!"

He could say no more; the word seemed to put the finishing stroke to
his breaking heart. Sobs broke from his lips; tears, such as man
rarely sheds, streamed down on the little nestling head. A cry of
anguish, patient and imploring, that the parting might be soothed to
them all, went up aloft to his Father in Heaven.

After dusk came on, when the visitors were got rid of,--for Clare
Joliffe had stayed an unconscionable time, talking over old interests
at Helstonleigh--Mrs. Channing found her husband asleep in his chair.
Closing the door softly on him, she sat down by the dining-room fire,
and the long pent-up tears burst forth. Hamish Channing's wife was a
brave woman but there are griefs that go well-nigh, when they fall, to
shatter the bravest of us. Miss Nelly, captured ever so long ago by
nurse, was at tea in the nursery.

Roland Yorke surprised Mrs. Channing in her sorrow. Roland never came
into the house with a clatter now (at least when he thought of its
master's sick state), but with as softly decorous a step as his boots
could be controlled to. Down he sat in silence, on the opposite side
of the hearth, and saw the reflection of Mrs. Channing's tears in the
firelight.

"Is he worse?" asked Roland, when he had stared a little.

"No," she answered, scarcely making a pretence to conceal her grief.
"I fear there will not be very much 'worse' in it at all, Roland: a
little more weakness perhaps, and that will be all. I am afraid the
end is very near. I fancy he thinks so."

Roland grew hot and cold; a dart took him under his waistcoat.

"Let's understand, Mrs. Channing. Don't play with a fellow. Do you
mean that Hamish is--going--to die?"

"Yes, I am sure there is no more hope."

"My goodness!"--and Roland rubbed his hot and woe-stricken face. "Why
he was better yesterday. He was laughing and talking like anything."

"Not really better. It is as I say, Roland."

"If ever I saw such a miserable world as this!" exclaimed Roland:
who, though indulging at times some private despondency upon the case,
had perhaps not realized its utter hopelessness until now, when the
words put it unmistakably before him. "I never thought--at least,
much--but what he'd get well again: the fine, good, handsome man. I'd
like to know why he couldn't, and what has killed him."

"The reviews have done it," said Ellen, in a low tone.

Roland groaned. A suspicion, that they must have had something to do
with the decay, had been upon himself. Hamish had never been quite the
same after they appeared: his spirit had seemed to fade away in a
subdued sadness, and subsequently his health followed it.

"The cruel reviews broke his heart," resumed Mrs. Channing. "I am
certain of it, Roland. A less sensitive man would not have felt it
vitally; a man, physically stronger, could not have suffered in
health. But he is sensitive amidst the most sensitive; and he never,
with all his bright face and fine form, was physically strong. And
so--he could not bear the blow, and it has killed him."

Roland sat pulling at his whiskers in desperate gloom. Mrs. Channing
shaded her eyes with her hand.

"If I could but pitch into the reviewers!" he cried. "Were I rich, I'd
offer a thousand pounds' reward to anybody who would bring me their
names. Hang the lot! And if you were not by, Mrs. Channing, it's a
worse word than that I'd say."

She shook her head. "Pitching into the reviewers, Roland, would not
give him back his life. The publisher thinks that one man wrote them
all: or got them written. Some one who must have had a grudge against
Hamish. It does seem like it."

Roland's picture might have been taken as an emblem of Despair.
Suddenly the face brightened a little, the sanguine temperament
resumed its sway.

"Don't you lose heart, Mrs. Channing. I'll tell you something that
happened to me at Port Natal. Uncommon hard-up, I was, and lying in a
place with a strong fever upon me. I thought I was dying; I did
indeed. I was dreaming of Helstonleigh and all the old people there; I
seemed to see Arthur and Hamish, and Hamish smiled at me in his bright
way, and said, 'Cheer up, it will be all right, old friend.' Upon
that, somebody was standing by the bed--which was nothing but a sack
of sand that you roll off unpleasantly--laying hold of my pulse and
looking down at me. I mean really, you know. A chap in the room said
it was a doctor; perhaps it was; but he got me nothing but some
herb-tea to drink. 'Take courage,' says he to me, 'it's half the
battle!' I got well in time, and so may Hamish. _You_ take courage,
Mrs. Channing."

She smiled a little. "My taking courage would not help my husband,
Roland."

"Well--no; perhaps it mightn't," acknowledged Roland, resuming his
gloom. "Where is he?"

She pointed to the other room. "Asleep before the fire."

Roland softly opened the door and looked in. The firelight played on
Hamish Channing's wasted features; and his dreams seemed to be of a
pleasant nature, for a smile sat on the delicate lips: lips that had
always shown so plainly the man's remarkable refinement. Nevertheless,
sleeping and dreaming peacefully, there was something in the face that
spoke of coming death. And Roland could have burst into sobs as he
stood there.

Going back again, and closing the door quietly, Roland found the
company augmented in the person of his brother Gerald. For some time
past Gerald Yorke had heard from one and another of Hamish Channing's
increased illness, which made no impression upon him, except a
slightly favourable one; for, if Hamish were incapacitated from
writing, it would be a rival removed from Gerald's path. This
afternoon he was told that Hamish was thought to be past recovery; in
fact, dying. That did arouse him a little; the faint spark of
conscience Gerald Yorke possessed took a twinge, and he thought as he
was near the house he'd give a call in.

"You are quite a stranger," Mrs. Channing was saying, meeting Gerald
with a cordial hand and a grasp of welcome. "What has kept you away?"

"Aw--been busy of late; and--aw--worried," answered Gerald, according
a distant nod to Roland. "What's this I hear about Hamish?--That he is
dying!"

"Well, I don't think you need blurt out that strong word to Mrs.
Channing, Gerald," interposed hot Roland. "Dying, indeed! Do you call
it manners? I don't."

"I beg Mrs. Channing's pardon," Gerald was beginning, half cynically;
but Ellen's voice rose to interrupt.

"It makes no difference, Roland," she kindly said. "It is the truth,
you know; and I am not blind to it.

"What's the matter with him?" asked Gerald.

The matter with him? Ellen Channing told the brief story in a few
words. The cruel reviews had broken his heart. Gerald listened, and
felt himself turned into a white heat inside and out.

"The reviews!" he exclaimed. "I don't understand yon, Mrs. Channing."

"Of course you read them, Gerald, and must know their bitter, shameful
injustice," she explained. "They were such that might have struck a
blow even to a strong man: they struck a fatal one to Hamish. He had
staked his whole heart and hope upon the book; he devoted to it the
great and good abilities with which God had gifted him; he made it
worthy of all praise; and false men rose up and blasted it. A strong
word you may deem that, Gerald, for me to use; but it is a true one.
They rose up, and--in envy, as I believe--set themselves to write and
work out a deliberate lie: they got it sent forth to the world in
effectual channels, and _killed_ the book. Perhaps they did not intend
also to kill the writer."

Gerald's white face looked whiter than usual. His eyes, in their hard
stare, were very ugly.

"Still I can't understand," he said. "The critiques were, of course
rather severe: but how can critiques kill a man?"

"And if you, being a reviewer yourself, Gerald, could only get to find
out who the false-hearted hound was,--for it's thought to have been
one fellow who penned the lot--you'd oblige me," put in Roland. "I'd
_repay_ him, as I've seen it done at Port Natal. His howling would be
something fine."

"You do not yet entirely understand, I see, Gerald," sadly answered
Ellen, paying no attention to Roland's interruption, while Gerald
turned his shoulder upon him. "In one sense the reviews did not kill.
They did not, for instance, strike Hamish dead at once, or break his
heart with a stroke. In fact, you may think the expression, a broken
heart, but a figure of speech, and in a degree of course it is so. But
there are some natures, and his is one, which are so sensitively
organized that a cruel blow shatters them. Had Hamish been stronger he
might have borne it, have got over it in time; but he had been working
beyond his strength; and I think also his strangely eager hope in
regard to the book must have helped to wear out his frame. It was his
first work, you know. When the blow came he had not strength to rally
from it; mind and body were alike stricken down, and so the weakness
set in and laid hold of him."

"What are these natures good for?" fiercely demanded Gerald, in a tone
as if he were resenting some personal injury.

"Only for Heaven, as it seems to me," she gently answered.

Gerald rubbed his face; he could not get any colour into it, and there
ensued a pause. Presently Ellen spoke again.

"I remember, when I was quite a girl, reading of a somewhat similar
case in one of Bulwer Lytton's novels. A young artist painted a great
picture--great to him--and insisted on being concealed in the room
while a master came to judge of it. The judgment was adverse; not,
perhaps, particularly harsh and cruel in itself, only sounding so to
the painter; and it killed him. Not at the moment, Gerald; I don't
mean that; he lived to become ill, and he went to Italy for his
health, his heart gradually breaking. He never spoke of what the blow
had been to him, or that it had crushed out his hope and life, but
died hiding it. Hamish has never spoken."

"What I want to know is, where's the use of people being like this?"
pursued Gerald. "What are they made for?"

"Scarcely for earth," she answered. "The too-exquisitely-refined gold
is not meant for the world's coinage."

"I'd rather be a bit of brittle china, than made so that I couldn't
stand a review," said Gerald. "It's to be hoped there's not many such
people."

"Only one in tens of thousands, Gerald."

"Does it--trouble him?" asked Gerald, hesitatingly.

"The advance of death?--yes, in a degree. Not for the death, Gerald:
but the quitting me and Nelly."

"I'm not yet what Hamish and Arthur are, safe to be heard up there
when they ask for a thing," again interrupted Roland, jerking his head
upwards: "but I do pray that from the day that bad base man hears of
Hamish Channing's death, he'll be haunted by his ghost for ever. My
goodness! I'd not like to have murder on _my_ conscience. It's as bad
as the fellow who killed Mr. Ollivera."

Gerald Yorke rose. Ellen asked him to wait and see Hamish, but he
answered, in what seemed a desperate hurry, that he had an engagement.

"You might like to take a peep at him, Gerald," spoke Roland. "His
face looks as peaceful as if it were sainted."

Gerald's answer was to turn tail and go off. Roland, who had some
copying on hand that was being waited for, stayed to shake hands with
Mrs. Channing.

"Look here," he whispered to her. "Don't you let him worry his mind
about you and Nelly: in the way of money, you know. I shall be sure to
get into something good soon; Vincent will see to that; and I'll take
care of both of you. Goodbye."

Poor, penniless, good-hearted Roland! He would have "taken care" of
all the world.

With a run he caught up Gerald, who was striding along rapidly.
Oblivious of all save the present distress, even of Gerald's past
coldness, Roland attempted to take his arm, and got repulsed for his
pains.

"My way does not lie the same as yours, I think," was Gerald's haughty
remark. Roland would not resent it.

"I say, Ger, is it not enough to make one sad? It wouldn't have
mattered much had it been you or me to be taken: but Hamish Channing!
we can't afford to lose such a one as him."

"Thank you," said Gerald. "Speak for yourself."

"And with Hamish the bread and cheese dies. She has but little money.
Perhaps she'll not feel the want of it, though. I'd work my arms off
for that darling little Nelly and for her too, for Hamish's sake."

"I don't believe he is dying at all," said Gerald. "Reviews kill him,
indeed! it's altogether preposterous. Women talk wretched nonsense in
this world."

Without so much as a parting Goodnight, Gerald struck across the
street and disappeared. By the time he arrived at chambers, his mind
had fully persuaded itself that there was nothing serious the matter
with Hamish Channing; and he felt that he could like to shake Winny
(who had been _his_ informant) for alarming him.

His servant brought him a letter as he entered, and Gerald tore it
open. It proved to be from Sir Vincent Yorke, inviting Gerald down to
Sunny Mead on the morrow for a couple of days' shooting.

"Hurrah!" shouted Gerald. "Vin's coming round, is he! I'll go, and get
out of him a hundred or so, to bring back with me to town. That's
good. Hurrah!"



CHAPTER XXXVI.
GERALD YORKE AT A SHOOTING PARTY.


It was a pretty place; its name, Sunny Mead, an appropriate one.
For the bright sun (not far yet above the horizon) of the clear
and cold December day, shone on it cheerily: on the walls of the
dwelling-house--on the green grass of the spreading lawn, with its
groups of flowering laurestina and encompassing trees, that in summer
cast a grateful shade. The house was small, but compact; the prospect
from the windows, with its expanse of wood and hill and dale, a
charming one. At its best it was a simple, unpretending place, but as
pleasant a homestead for moderate desires as could be found in the
county of Surrey.

In a snug room, its fire blazing in the grate, its snowy breakfast
cloth, laden with china and silver, drawn near the large window that
looked upon the lawn, sat the owner, Sir Vincent Yorke, and his cousin
Gerald. As soon as breakfast should be over, they were going out
shooting; but the baronet was by no means one who liked to disturb his
morning's comfort by starting at dawn: shooting, as well as everything
else in life, he liked to take easily. Gerald had arrived the previous
night: it was the first time Gerald had seen Sunny Mead: and the very
unpretending rank it took amidst baronets' dwelling-places, surprised
him. Sir Vincent's marriage was fixed for the following month,
January; and he gratified Gerald much by saying that he thought of
asking him to be groomsman.

"Aw!--very happy--immensely so," responded Gerald with his most
fashionable drawl, that so grated on a true and honest ear.

"Sunny Mead has this advantage; one can come to it and be quiet,"
observed Sir Vincent. "There's not room for more than three or four
servants in it. My father used to call it the homestead: that's just
what it is, and it doesn't pretend to be aught else. More coffee? Try
that partridge pie. Have you seen Roland lately?"

The cynical expression of disparagement that pervaded Gerald's face at
the question, made Sir Vincent smile.

"Aw--I say, don't you spoil my breakfast by bringing up _him_," spoke
Gerald. "The best thing he can do is to go out to Port Natal again. A
capital pie!"

"This devilled turkey's good, too. You'll try it presently?" spoke the
baronet. "How is Hamish Channing?"

Gerald's skin turned of a dark hue. Was Sir Vincent purposely annoying
him? Catching up his coffee-cup to take a long draught, he did not
answer.

"I never saw so fine a fellow in all my life," resumed Sir Vincent.
"Never was so taken with a face at first sight as with his. William
Yorke was staying there at the time of my father's funeral, and I went
next day to call. That's how I saw Channing. He promised to come and
see me; but somebody told me the other day he was ill."

"Aw--yes," drawled Gerald. "Seedy, I believe."

"What's the matter with him?"

"Temper," said Gerald. "Wrote a book, and had some reviews upon it,
and it put him out, I hear."

"But it was a first-rate book, Gerald; I read it, and the reviews were
all wrong: suppose some contemptible raven of envy scrawled them. The
book's working its way upwards as fast as it can now."

"Who says so?" cried Gerald.

"I do. I had the information from a reliable source. By-the-way, is
there anything in that story of Roland's--that he is engaged to
Channing's sister? or is it fancy?"

"I do wish you'd let the fellow's name be; he's not so very good to
talk of," retorted Gerald, in a rage.

But Roland was not so easily put out of the conversation. As luck had
it, when the servant brought Sir Vincent's letters in, there was one
from Roland amidst them. Vincent laughed outright as he read it:--


"Dear Vincent,--I happened to overhear old Greatorex say yesterday
that Sir Vincent Yorke wanted a working bailiff for the land at Sunny
Mead. I! wish! to! offer! myself! for! the! situation! There! I put it
strong that you may not mistake. Of course, I am a relative, which I
can't help being; and a working bailiff is but a kind of upper
servant. But I'll be very glad of the place if you'll give it me, and
will do my duty in it as far as I can, putting my best shoulder to the
wheel; and I'll never presume upon our being cousins to go into your
house uninvited, or put myself in your way; and my wife would not call
on Lady Yorke if she did not wish it. I'll be the bailiff--you the
master.

"I don't tell you I'm a first hand at farming; but, if perseverance
and sticking to work can teach, I shall soon learn it. I picked up
some experience at Port Natal; and had to drive waggons and other
animals. I'm great in pigs. The droves I had to manage of the
grunting, obstinate wretches, out there, taught me enough of them. Of
course I know all about haymaking; and I'd used to be one of the
company at old Pierce's harvest homes, on his farm near Helstonleigh.
I don't suppose you'd want me to thresh the wheat myself; but I'm
strong to do it, and would not mind. I would be always up before dawn
in spring to see to the young lambs; and I'd soon acquire the ins and
outs of manuring and draining. Do try me, Vincent! I'll put my
shoulder to the wheel in earnest for you. There'd be one advantage in
taking me--that I should be honest and true to your interests. Whereas
some bailiffs like to serve themselves better than their masters.

"As to wages, I'd leave that to you. You'd not give less than a
hundred a year to begin with; and at the twelvemonth's end, when I had
made myself qualified, you might make it two. Perhaps you'd give the
two hundred at once. I don't wish to presume because I'm a relative;
and if the two hundred would be too much at first (for, to tell the
truth, I don't know how bailiffs' pay runs), please excuse my having
named it. I expect there are lots of pretty cottages to be hired down
there; may be there's one on the estate appropriated to the bailiff. I
may as well mention that I am a first-rate horseman, and could gallop
about like a fire-engine; having nearly lost my life more times than
one, learning to ride the wild cattle when up the country at Port
Natal.

"I think that's all I have to say. Only try me! If you do, you will
find how willing I am. Besides being strong, I am naturally active,
with plenty of energy: the land should not go to ruin for the want of
being looked after. My object in life now is to get a certainty that
will bring me in something tolerably good to begin, and go on to three
hundred a year, or more; for I should not like Annabel to take pupils
always. I don't know whether a bailiff ever gets as much.

"Bede Greatorex can give you a good character of me for steadiness and
industry. And if I have stuck to this work, I should do better by
yours; for writing I hate, and knocking about a farm I'd like better
than anything.

"You'll let me have an answer as soon as convenient. If you take me I
shall have to order leggings and other suitable toggery from Carrick's
tailor; and he might be getting on with the things.

"Wishing you a merry Christmas, which will soon be here (don't I
recollect one of mine at Port Natal, when I had nothing for dinner and
the same for supper), I remain, dear Vincent, yours truly,

           "Roland Yorke.

"_Sir Vincent Yorke_."


To watch the curl of Gerald's lip, the angry sarcasm of his face, as
he perused this document, which the baronet handed to him with a
laugh, was amusing. It might have made a model of scorn for a
painter's easel. Dropping the letter from his fingers, as if there
were contamination in its very touch, he flicked it across the table.

"You'll send it back to him in a blank envelope, won't you?"

"No; why should I?" returned Sir Vincent, who was good-natured in the
main, easy on the whole. "I'll answer him when I've time. Do you know,
Gerald, I think you rather disparage Roland."

Gerald opened his astonished eyes. "Disparage him! How _can_ he be
disparaged?--he is just as low as he can be. An awful blot, nothing
else, on the family escutcheon."

"The family don't seem to be troubled much by him--saving me. He
appears to regard me as a sheet-anchor--who can provide for the world,
himself included. I rather like the young fellow; he is so genuine."

"Don't call him young," reproved Gerald; "he'll be twenty-nine next
May."

"And in mind and manners he is nineteen."

"He talks of pigs--see what he has brought _his_ to," exclaimed
Gerald, somewhat forgetting his fashion. "The--aw--low kind of work he
condescends to do--the mean way he is not ashamed to confess he lives
in! Every bit of family pride has gone out of him, and given place to
vulgar instincts."

"As Roland has tumbled into the mire, better for him to be honest and
work," returned Sir Vincent, mincing with his dry toast and one
poached egg, for he was delicate in appetite. "What else could he do?
Of course there's the credit system and periodical whitewashings, but
I should not care to go in for that kind of thing myself."

"Are you in want of a bailiff?" growled Gerald, wondering whether the
last remarks were meant to be personal.

"Greatorex has engaged one for me. How are you getting on yourself,
Gerald?"

"Not--aw--at all. I'm awfully hard up."

"You always are, Ger, according to your story," was the baronet's
remark, laughing slightly.

And somehow the laugh sounded in Gerald's ear as a hard laugh--as one
that boded no good results to the petition he meant to prefer before
his departure--that Sir Vincent would accommodate him with a loan.

"He's close-fisted as a miser," was Gerald's mental comment. "His
father all over again. Neither of them would part with a shilling save
for self-gratification: and both could spend enough on _that_. I'll
ask him for a hundred, point blank, before I leave; more, if I can
feel my way to do it. Fortune is shamefully unequal in this life.
There's Vin with his baronetcy, and his nice little place here and
every comfort in it, and his town house, and his clear four thousand
a-year, and no end of odds and ends of money besides, nest eggs of
various shapes and sizes, and his future wife a seventy thousand
pounder in her own right; and here's myself by his side, a better man
than he any day, with not a coin of my own in the whole world, nor
likely to drop into one by inheritance, and afraid to venture about
London for fear of being nabbed! Curse the whole thing! He is shabby
in trifles too. To give me a miserable two days' invitation. Two days!
I'll remain twenty if I can."

"You don't eat, Gerald."

"I've made a famous breakfast, thank you. Do you spend Christmas down
here, Vincent?"

"Not I. The day after tomorrow, when you leave me, I start for Paris."

"For Paris!" echoed Gerald, his mouth falling at the sudden failure of
his pleasant scheme.

"Miss Trehern and her father are there. We shall remain for the jour
de l'an, see the bonbon shops, and all that, and then come back
again."

"And I hope the bonbon shops will choke him!" thought kindly Gerald.

Sir Vincent Yorke did not himself go in for keepers and dogs. There
was little game on his land, and he was too effeminate to be much of a
sportsman. He owned two guns, and that comprised the whole of his
shooting paraphernalia. Breakfast over, he had his guns brought, and
desired Gerald to take his choice.

Now the handling and understanding of guns did not rank amidst Gerald
Yorke's accomplishments. Brought up in the cathedral town, only away
from it on occasions at Dr. Yorke's living (and that happened to be in
a town also), the young Yorkes were not made familiar with outdoor
sports. Dr. Yorke had never followed them himself, and saw no
necessity for training his sons to them. Even riding they were not
very familiar with. Roland's letter had just informed Sir Vincent that
he had nearly lost his life _learning to ride_ the wild horses when up
the country at Port Natal. Probably he had learnt also to understand
something about guns: we may be very sure of one thing, that if he did
not understand them, he would have voluntarily avowed it. Not so
Gerald. Gerald, made up of artificialisms--for nothing seemed real
about him but his ill-temper--touched the guns here, and fingered the
guns there, and critically examined them everywhere, as if he were the
greatest connoisseur alive, and had invented a breech-loader himself;
and finally said he would take _this_ one.

So they went out, each with his gun and a favourite dog of the
baronet's, Spot, and joined a neighbour's shooting party, as had been
arranged. Colonel Clutton's land joined Sir Vincent's; he was a keen
lover of sport, always making up parties for it, and if Sir Vincent
went out at all, it was sure to be with Colonel Clutton.

"To-day and tomorrow will be my last turn out this season," observed
the baronet, as they walked along. "Not sorry for it. One gets a large
amount of fatigue: don't think the slaughter compensates for that."

Reaching the meeting-place, they found a party of some three or four
gentlemen and two keepers. Gerald was introduced to Colonel Clutton,
an elderly man with snow-white hair. The sport set in. It was late in
the season, and the birds were getting scarce or wary, but a tolerably
fair number fell.

"The gentleman don't seem to handle his gun gainly, sir, as if he'd
played with one as a babby," observed one of the keepers
confidentially in Sir Vincent's ear.

He alluded to Gerald Yorke. Sir Vincent turned and looked. Though not
much addicted to shooting, he was thoroughly conversant with it: and
what he saw, as he watched Gerald, a little surprised him.

"I say, Gerald Yorke, you must take care," he called out. "Did you
never handle a gun before?"

The suggestion offended Gerald: the question nettled him. His face
grew dark.

"What do you mean, Sir Vincent?" was his angry answer. He would have
liked to affirm his great knowledge of shooting: but his chief
practice had been with a pop-gun at school.

Sir Vincent laughed a little. "Don't do any mischief, that's all."

It might have been that the public caution caused Gerald to be more
careless, just to prove his proficiency; it might have been that it
tended to flurry him. Certainly he would not have caused harm
wilfully; but nevertheless it took place.

Not ten minutes after Sir Vincent had spoken, he was crossing a narrow
strip of open ground towards a copse. Gerald, leaping through a gap in
the hedge not far behind, carrying his gun (like a senseless man) on
full cock, contrived, in some inexplicable manner, to discharge it.
Whether his elbow caught in the leafless branches, or the trigger
caught, or what it was, Gerald Yorke never knew, and never will know
to his dying day. The charge went off; there was a cry, accompanied by
shouts of warning, somebody on the ground in front, and the rest
running to surround the fallen man.

"You have no right to come out, sir, unless you can handle a gun
properly!" spoke Colonel Clutton to Gerald, in the moment's confusion.
"I have been watching your awkwardness all the morning."

Gerald looked pale with fear, dark with anger. He made no reply
whatever only pressed forward to see who was down, the men, in their
velveteen coats and leggings, looking much alike. Sir Vincent Yorke.

"It's not much, I think," said the baronet good-naturedly, as he
looked up at Gerald. "But I say, though, you should have candidly
answered me that you were not in the habit of shooting, when I sent
you the invitation."

No, it was not much. A few shots had entered the calf of the left leg.
They got out pocket-handkerchiefs, and tied them tightly round to stop
the hemorrhage. The dog, Spot, laid his head close to his master's
face, and whined pitiably.

"What sense them dumb animals have!--a'most human!" remarked the
keeper.

"This will stop my Paris trip," observed Sir Vincent, as they were
conveying him home.

"Better that was stopped than your wedding," replied Colonel Clutton,
with a jesting smile. "You keep yourself quiet, now, that you may be
well for _that_. Don't talk."

Sir Vincent acquiesced readily. At the best of times he was sensitive
to pain, and somewhat of a coward in regard to his own health. At home
he was met by a skilful surgeon. The shots were extracted, and Sir
Vincent was made comfortable in bed. Gerald Yorke waylaid the doctor
afterwards.

"Is it serious? Will he do well? Sir Vincent is my cousin."

"Oh--Mr. Yorke; the gentleman whose gun unfortunately caused the
mishap," was the answering remark. "Of course these accidents are
always serious, more or less. This one might have been far worse than
it is."

"He will do well?"

"Quite well. At least, I hope so. I see nothing to hinder it. Sir
Vincent will be a tractable patient, you see; and a good deal lies in
that."

"There's no danger, then?"

"Oh no: no danger."

Gerald, relieved on the score of apprehension of consequences, had the
grace to express his regret and sorrow to the baronet. Sir Vincent
begged him to think no more about it: only recommended him not to go
out with a party in future, until he had had some practice. Gerald,
untrue to the end, said he was a little out of practice; should soon
get into it again. Sir Vincent made quite light of the hurt; it was
nothing to speak of, the doctor had said; would not delay his
marriage, or anything. But he did not ask Gerald to remain: and that
gentleman, in spite of his hints, and his final offer to stay, found
he was expected to go. Sir Vincent expressed his acknowledgments, but
said he wished for perfect quiet.

So on the day following the accident, Gerald Yorke returned to town;
which was a day sooner than, even at the worst, he had bargained for;
and arrived in a temper. Taking one untoward disappointment with
another, Gerald's mood could not be expected to be heavenly. He had
fully intended to come away with his pockets lined--if by dint of
persuasion Sir Vincent could be seduced into doing it. As it was,
Gerald had not broached the subject. Sir Vincent was to be kept
entirely quiet; and Gerald, with all his native assurance, could not
ask a man for money, whom he had just shot.



CHAPTER XXXVII.
IN CUSTODY.


Pacing his carpet, in the worst state of perturbation possible, was
the Rev. Mr. Ollivera. He had so paced it all the morning. Neglecting
his ordinary duties, staying indoors when he ought to have been out,
unable to eat or to rest, he and his mind were alike in a state of
most distressing indecision. The whole of the night had he tossed and
turned, and rose up again and again to walk his room, struggling with
his conscience. For years past, he had, so to say, lived on the
anticipation of this hour: when the memory of his dear brother should
be cleared of its foul stain, and the true criminal brought to light.
And, now that it had come, he was hesitating whether or not to take
advantage of it: whether to let the stain remain, and the criminal
escape.

Torn to pieces with doubt and pain, was he. Unable to see _where_ his
duty lay, more than once, with lifted hands and eyes and heart, a cry
to Heaven to direct him broke from his lips. Passages of Scripture,
bearing both ways, crowded on his mind, to puzzle him the more; but
there was one great lesson he could not ignore--the loving, merciful
teaching of Jesus Christ.

About one o'clock, when the remembrance of the miserable grave, and of
him who had been so miserably put into it, lay very strong upon him,
Alletha Rye came into the room with some white cravats of the parson's
in her hand. She was neat and nice as usual, wearing a soft merino
gown with white worked cuffs and collars, her fair hair smooth and
abundant.

"I have done the best I could with them, sir: cut off the edges and
hemmed them afresh," she said. "After that, I passed the iron over
them, and they look just as if fresh got up.

"Thank you," murmured Mr. Ollivera, the colour flushing his face, and
speaking in a confused kind of manner, like a man overtaken in a
crime.

"Great heaven, can I go on with it?" he exclaimed, as she went out,
leaving the neckerchiefs on the table. "Is it possible to believe that
she _did_ it?--with her calm good face, with her clear honest eye?" he
continued in an agony of distress. "Oh, for guidance! that I may be
shown what my course ought to be!" As a personal matter, to give
Alletha Rye into custody would cause him grievous pain. She had lived
under the same roof with him, showing him voluntarily a hundred little
courtesies and kindnesses. These white cravats of his, just put to
rights, had been undertaken in pure good will.

How very much of our terrible seasons of distress might be spared to
us, if we could but see a little further than the present moment; than
the atmosphere immediately around. Henry William Ollivera might have
been saved his: had he but known that while he was doubting, another
was acting. Mr. Greatorex had taken it into his own hands, and the
house's trouble was, even then, at the very door. In after life, Henry
Ollivera never ceased to be thankful that it was not himself who
brought it.

A commotion below. Mr. Roland Yorke had entered, and was calling out
to the house to bring his dinner. It was taken to him in the shape of
some slices of roast mutton and potatoes. When Mrs. Jones had a joint
herself, Roland was served from it. That she was no gainer by the
bargain, Mrs. Jones was conscious of; the small sum she allowed
herself in repayment out of the weekly sovereign, debarred it: but
Roland was favoured for the sake of old times.

Close almost upon that, there came a rather quiet double knock at the
street door, which Miss Rye went to answer. Roland thought he
recognised a voice, and ran out, his mouth full of mutton.

"Why, it's never you, old Butterby! What brings you in London again?"

Whatever brought Mr. Butterby to London, something curious appeared to
have brought him to Mrs. Jones's. A policeman had followed him in, and
was shutting the street door, with a manner quite at home. There
escaped a faint cry from Alletha, and her face turned white as ashes.
Roland stared from one to the other.

"What on earth's the matter?" demanded he.

"I'd like to speak to you in private for a minute, Miss Rye," said Mr.
Butterby, in a low civil tone. "Tompkins, you wait there."

She went higher up the passage and looked round something liked a stag
at bay. There was no unoccupied room to take him to. Mr. Brown's
frugal dinner tray (luncheon, as he called it) was in his, awaiting
his entrance. That the terrible man of law with his officer had come
to arrest _him_ Alletha never doubted. A hundred wild ideas of
telegraphing him some impossible warning, _not_ to enter, went teeming
through her brain. Tompkins stood on the entrance mat; Roland Yorke,
with his accustomed curiosity, put his back against his parlour
door-post to watch proceedings.

"Miss Rye, I'd not have done this of my own accord, leastways not so
soon, but it has been forced upon me," whispered Mr. Butterby. "I've
got to ask you to go with me."

"To ask _me?_" she tremblingly said, while he was showing her a paper:
probably the warrant.

"Are you so much surprised: after that there avowal you made to me
last night? If I'd gone and told a police officer that I had killed
somebody, it would not astonish me to be took."

Her face fell. The pallor of her cheeks was coloured by a faint
crimson; her eyes flashed with a condemning light.

"I told you in confidence, as one friend might speak to another, in
defence of him who was not there to defend himself," she panted. "How
could I suppose you would hasten treacherously to use it against me?"

"Ah," said Mr. Butterby, "in things of that sort us law defenders is
just the wrong sort to make confidants of. But now, look here, Miss
Rye, I didn't go and abuse that confidence, and though it is me that
has put the wheels of the law in motion, it is done in obedience to
orders, which I had no power to stop. I'm sorry to have to do it: and
I've come down with the warrant myself out of respect to you, that
things might be accomplished as genteel as might be."

"Now then, Alletha! Do you know that your dinner's getting cold? What
on earth are you stopping there for? Who is it?"

The interruption was from Mrs. Jones, called out through the nearly
closed door of her parlour. Alletha, making no response, looked fit to
die.

"Have you come to arrest me?" she whispered.

"Well, it's about it, Miss Rye. Apprehend, that is. We'll get a cab
and you'll go in it with my friend there, all snug and quiet. I'm
vexed that young Yorke should just be at home. Tried to get here half
an hour earlier, but--"

Mrs. Jones's door was pulled open with a jerk. To describe the
aggravated astonishment on her face when she saw the state of affairs,
would be a work of skill. Alletha with a countenance of ghastly fear;
Mr. Butterby whispering to her; the policeman on the door mat; Roland
Yorke looking leisurely on.

"Well, I'm sure!" exclaimed Mrs. Jones. "What may be the meaning of
this?"

There could be no evasion now. Had Alletha in her secret heart hoped
to keep it from her tart, condemning, and strong-minded sister, the
possibility was over. She went down the few steps that led to the
room, and entered it; Mr. Butterby close behind her. The latter was
shutting the door, when Roland Yorke walked in, taking French leave.

Which of the two stared the most, Mrs. Jones or Roland, and which of
the two felt inclined to abuse Mr. Butterby the most, when his errand
became known, remains a question to this day. Roland's championship
was hot.

"You know you always do take the wrong people, Butterby!"

"Now, young Mr. Yorke, just you concern yourself with your own
business, and leave other folk's alone," was the detective's answering
reprimand. "I don't see what call you have to be in this here room at
all."

In all the phases of the affair, with its attendant conjectures and
suspicions, from the first moment that she saw John Ollivera lying
dead in her house, the possibility of Alletha's being cognisant of its
cause, much less connected with it, had never once entered the head of
Mrs. Jones. She stared from one to the other in simple wonder.

"_What_ is it you charge my sister with, Butterby?--the death of
Counsellor Ollivera?"

"Well, yes; that's it," he answered.

"And how dare you do it?"

"Now, look you here, Mrs. Jones," said Butterby, in a tone of reason,
putting his hand calmly on her wrist, "I've told Miss Rye, and I tell
you, that these proceedings are instituted by the law, not by me; if I
had not come to carry them out, another would, who might have done it
in a rougher manner. A woman of your sense ought to see the matter in
its right light. I don't say she's guilty, and I hope she'll be able
to prove that she's not; but I can tell you this much, Mrs. Jones,
there's them that have had their suspicions turned upon her from the
first."

_Being_ a woman of sense, as Mr. Butterby delicately insinuated, Mrs.
Jones began to feel a trifle staggered. Not at his words: they had
little power over _her_ mind, but at Alletha's appearance. Leaning
against the wall there, white, faint, silent, she looked like one
guilty, rather than innocent. And it suddenly struck Mrs. Jones that
she did not attempt a syllable in her own defence.

"Why don't you speak out, girl?" she demanded, in her tartest tone.
"You can, I suppose?"

But the commotion had begun to cause attention in the quiet house. Not
so much from its noise, as by that subtle instinct that makes itself
heard, we cannot tell how; and Mr. Ollivera came in.

"Who has done this?" he briefly asked of the detective.

"Mr. Greatorex, sir."

"The next thing they'll do may be to take me up on the charge," spoke
Mrs. Jones with acrimony. "What on earth put this into their miserable
heads? _You_ don't suspect her, I hope, Mr. Ollivera?"

He only looked at Mrs. Jones in silence by way of answer, a grave
meaning in his sad face. It spoke volumes: and Mrs. Jones, albeit not
one to give way to emotion, or any other kind of weakness, felt as if
a jug of cold water were being poured down her back. Straightforward,
always, she put the question to him with naked plainness.

"_Do_ you suspect her?"

"I have suspected her," came the low tones of Mr. Ollivera in answer.
"Believe me, Mrs. Jones, whatever may be the final result of this, I
grieve for it bitterly."

"I say, why can't you speak up, and say you did not do it?" stamped
Roland in his championship. "Don't be frightened out of your senses by
Butterby. He never pitches upon the right person; Mrs. J. remembers
_that_."

"As this here talking won't do any good--and I'm sure if it would I'd
let it go on a bit--suppose we make a move," interposed Butterby. "If
you'd like to put up a few things to take with you, Miss Rye, do so.
You'll have to go to Helstonleigh."

"Oh law!" cried Roland. "I say, Butterby, it's a mistake, I know. Let
her go. Come! you shall have all my dinner."

"Don't stand there like a statue, as if you were moonstruck," said
Mrs. Jones, seizing her sister to administer a slight shaking. "Tell
them you are innocent, girl, if you can; and let Butterby go about his
business."

And in response, Alletha neither spoke nor moved.

But at this moment another actor came upon the scene. A knock at the
front door was politely answered at once by the policeman, glad, no
doubt, to have something to do, and Mr. Brown entered, arriving at
home for his midday meal. Roland dashed into the passage.

"I say, Brown, here _is_ a stunning shame. Old Butterby's come to take
up Alletha Rye."

"Take her up for what?" Mr. Brown calmly asked.

"For the killing and slaying of Counsellor Ollivera, he says. But in
these things he never was anything but a calf."

Mr. Brown turned into his room, put down his hat and a small paper
parcel, and went on to the scene. Before he could say a word, Alletha
Rye burst forth like one demented.

"Don't come here Mr. Brown. We've nothing to do with strangers. I
can't have all the world looking at me."

Mr. Brown took a quiet survey of matters with perfect self-possession,
and then drew Mr. Butterby towards his room, just as though he had
possessed the authority of Scotland Yard. Mrs. Jones was left alone
with her sister, and caught hold of her two hands.

"Now then! What is the English of this? Had you aught to do with the
death of Mr. Ollivera?"

"Never," said Alletha; "I would not have hurt a hair of his head."

Mrs. Jones, at the answer, hardly knew whether to slap the young
woman's face or to shriek at her. All this disgrace brought upon her
house, and Alletha to submit to it in unrefuting tameness! As a
preliminary, she began a torrent of words.

"Hush!" said Alletha. "They think me guilty, and at present they must
be let think it. I cannot help myself: if Butterby conveys me to
Helstonleigh, he must do it."

Mrs. Jones was nearly staggered out of her passion. The cold water
went trickling down again. Not at once could she answer.

"Lord help the wench for a fool! Don't you know that! if you are
conveyed to Helstonleigh it would be to take your trial at the next
assizes? Would you face _that?_"

"I cannot tell," wailed Alletha, putting up her thin hand to her
troubled face. "I must have time to think."

But we must follow Mr. Brown. As he passed into his room and closed
the door, he took a tolerably long look into Butterby's eyes: possibly
hoping to discover whether that astute officer knew him for Godfrey
Pitman. He obtained no result. Had Mr. Butterby been a born natural he
could not have looked more charmingly innocent. That he chose to
indulge this demand for an interview for purposes of his own, those
who knew him could not doubt. They stood together before the fireless
hearth; however cold the weather might be, Mr. Brown's fire went out
after breakfast and was not re-lighted until night.

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Butterby. With so much confusion in
there"--nodding in the direction of Mrs. Jones's parlour--"I am not
sure that I fully understood. Is it true that you are about to take
Miss Rye into custody on suspicion of having caused the death of John
Ollivera?"

"I have took her," was the short answer. "It is nothing to you, I
suppose."

"It is this much to me: that I happen to be in a position to testify
that she did not do it."

"Oh, you think so, do you," said Butterby, in a civil but slightly
mocking tone. "I've knowed ten men at least swear to one man's
innocence of a crime, and him guilty all the while. Don't say it was
perjury: appearances is deceptive, and human nature's soft."

"I affirm to you, in the hearing of Heaven, that Alletha Rye was
innocent of the death of John Ollivera," said Mr. Brown in a solemn
tone that might have carried conviction to even a less experienced
ear. "She had nothing whatever to do with it. Until the following
morning, when she found him, she was as ignorant as you that he was
dead."

"Then why don't she speak up and say so? Not that it could make any
difference at the present stage of affairs."

"Will you let me ask who it is that has had her apprehended? Mr. Bede
Greatorex?"

"Bede Greatorex has had nothing to do with it. 'Twas his father."

"Well now, I have a favour to ask you, Mr. Butterby," continued the
other after a pause. "The good name of a young woman is a great deal
easier lost than regained, as no one can tell better than yourself. It
will be an awful thing if Alletha Rye, being innocent--as I swear to
you she is--should be accused of this dreadful crime before the world.
You have known her a long while: will you not stretch a point to save
it?"

"That might depend a good deal upon what the point was," replied Mr.
Butterby.

"A very simple one. Only this--that you would stay proceedings until I
have had time to see Bede Greatorex. Let her remain here, in custody
of course--for I am not so foolish as to suppose you could release
her--but don't molest her; don't take her away. In fact, _treat her as
though you knew_ she were wrongfully accused. You may be obliged to me
for this later, Mr. Butterby--I won't say in the interests of
humanity, but of justice."

Various thoughts and experiences of the past, as connected with Bede
Greatorex, came crowding into the mind of Butterby. His lips parted
with a smile, but it was not a favourable one.

"I think that Bede Greatorex could join with me in satisfying you that
it was not Miss Rye," urged the petitioner. "I am almost sure he can
do this if he will.

"Which is as much as to say that both he and you have got your
suspicions turned on some other quarter," rejoined Butterby. "Who was
it?"

That Mr. Brown's cheeks took a darker tinge at the direct query, was
plain to be seen. He made no answer.

"Come! Who did that thing? _You_ know."

"If I do not know--and I am unable to tell you that I do, Mr.
Butterby--I can yet make a shrewd guess at it."

"And Bede Greatorex too, you say?"

"I fancy he can."

Looking into each other's eyes, those two deep men, there ensued a
silence. "If it wasn't this woman," whispered Butterby, "perhaps it was
another."

The clerk opened his lips to speak in hasty impulse: but he closed
them again, still looking hard at the officer.

"Whether it was or not, the woman was not Alletha Rye."

"Then," said Mr. Butterby, following out his own private thoughts, and
giving the table an emphatic slap, which caused the frugal luncheon
tray to jingle, "this thing will never be brought to trial."

"I don't much think it will," was the significant answer. "But you
will consent to what I ask? I won't be away long. A quarter of an hour
will suffice for my interview with Bede Greatorex."

Weighing chances and possibilities, as it lay in the business of Mr.
Butterby to do; knowing who the man before him was, with the suspicion
attaching to him, he thought it might be as well to keep him under
view. There was no apparent intention to escape; the clerk seemed
honest as the day on this present purpose, and strangely earnest; but
Mr. Butterby had learnt to trust nobody.

"I'll go with yon," said he. "Tompkins will keep matters safe here.
Come on. Hang me if this case ever had its fellow: it turns one about
with its little finger."



CHAPTER XXXVIII.
BETWEEN BEDE AND HIS CLERK.


They stood near each other, Bede Greatorex and his managing clerk,
while Mr. Butterby paced the passage outside.

When interrupted, Bede had his elbow on the mantelpiece, his brow bent
on his thin fingers. A good blazing fire here, the coal crackling and
sparkling cheerily. Bede dropped his elbow.

"What is it, Mr. Brown?" he rather languidly asked.

Mr. Brown, closing the door, went straight up and said what it was:
Alletha Rye had been apprehended. But he looked anywhere, as he spoke,
rather than into the face of his master. A face that grew suddenly
white and cold: and Mr. Brown, in his delicacy of mind, would not
appear to see it.

"What a cursed meddler that Butterby is!" exclaimed Bede.

"I fancy he had no option in this, sir; that it was not left to his
choice."

"Who did it, then?"

"Mr. Greatorex. This must be remedied at once, sir."

By the authoritative manner in which he spoke, it might have been
thought that Bede Greatorex was the servant, Brown the master. Bede
put his elbow on the shelf again, and pushed back his hair in
unmistakable agitation. It was growing thin now, the once luxuriant
crop; and silver threads were interwoven with the black ones.

"She must be saved," repeated Mr. Brown.

"I suppose so. Who is to do it?"

"I must, sir. If no one else does."

Bede raised his eyes to glance at his clerk; but it was not a full
free glance, and they were instantly dropped again.

"You are the Godfrey Pitman, they tell me, who was in the house at the
time."

"Yes, I am. But have you not known it all along, Mr. Bede Greatorex?"

"All along from when?"

Mr. Brown hesitated. "From the time I came here as clerk."

"No; certainly I have not."

"There were times, sir, when I fancied it."

A long silence. Even now, whatever secret, or association, there might
be between these two men, neither was at ease with the other. Bede
especially seemed to shrink from farther explanation.

"I have known but for a short while of your identity with Godfrey
Pitman," he resumed. "And with George Winter. I have been waiting my
own time to confer with you upon the subject. We have been very busy."

We have been very busy! If Bede put that forth as an excuse, it
did not serve him: for his hearer knew it was not the true one. He
simply answered that they _had_ been very busy. Not by so much as a
look or a syllable would George Winter--let us at last give him his
true name--add to the terrible pain he knew his master to be
suffering.

"About Miss Rye, sir? She must be extricated from her unpleasant
position."

"Yes, of course."

"And her innocence proved."

"At the expense of another?" asked Bede, without lifting his eyes.

"No," answered the other in a low tone. "I do not think that need be."

Bede looked straight into the fire, his companion full at the
window-blind, drawn half way down; neither of them at one another.

"How will you avoid it?" asked Bede.

"I think it may be avoided, sir. For a little while past, I have
foreseen that some such a crisis as this would come: and I have dwelt
and dwelt upon it until I seem to be able to track out my way in it
perfectly clear."

Bede cracked the coal in the grate; which did not require cracking.
"Do you mean that you have foreseen Miss Rye would be taken? Such a
thought in regard to her never crossed my mind."

"Nor mine. I allude to myself, sir. If once I was discovered to be the
so-called Godfrey Pitman--and some instinct told me the discovery was
at last approaching--I knew that I should, in all probability, be
charged with the murder of Mr. Ollivera. I--an innocent man--would not
suffer for this, Mr. Greatorex; I should be obliged, in self-defence,
to repel the accusation: and I have been considering how it might be
done without compromising others. I think it can be."

"How?" repeated Bede shortly.

"By my not telling the whole truth. By not knowing--I mean not having
recognized the--the one--who would be compromised if I did tell it. I
think this is feasible, sir."

Just a momentary glance into each other's eyes; no more; and it spoke
volumes. Bede, facing the fire again, stood several minutes in deep
consideration. George Winter seemed occupied with one of his gloves
that had a refractory button.

"In any case it must now be known who you are," said Bede.

"That will not signify. In throwing the onus of the----" he seemed to
hesitate, as he had once hesitated in the last sentence--"the death
off Miss Rye, I throw it equally off my own shoulders. I have for some
months wished that I could declare myself."

"Why have you not done it?"

George Winter looked at his master, surprise in his eyes. "It is not
for my own sake that I have kept it concealed, sir."

No. Bede Greatorex knew that it was for _his_; at least for his
interests; and he felt the obligation in his heart. He did not speak
it; pride and a variety of other unhappy feelings kept him silent. Of
all the miserable moments that the death of John Ollivera had entailed
upon him, this confidential interview with his clerk was not the least
of them. Forced though he was to hold it, he hated it with his whole
soul.

"You took that cheque from my desk," said Bede. "And wrote me the
subsequent letter."

"I did not take it from the desk, sir. Your expressed and continuous
belief--that you had put it in--was a mistaken one. It must have
slipped from your hands when about to lock up the other papers you
held, and fluttered under the desk table. Perhaps you will allow me to
give you the explanation now."

Bede nodded.

"In the morning of the day that the cheque was lost, you may remember
coming into the front room and seeing a stranger with me. His name was
Foster; a farmer and corn-dealer near Birmingham. I had been out on an
errand; and, on turning in again, a gentleman stopped me to enquire
the way. While I was directing him there ensued a mutual recognition.
In one sense I owed him some money: forty-four pounds. Samuel Teague,
of whom you may have heard----"

"I know," interrupted Bede.

"Samuel Teague, just before he ran away, had got me to put my name to
a bill for him; Mr. Foster, in all good faith, had let him have the
money for it. It had never been repaid. But upon Mr. Foster's meeting
me that morning, he gave me my choice--to find the money for him
before he left London, or be denounced publicly as George Winter. I
thought he would have denounced me then. He came into the office and
would not be got rid of: saying that he had looked for me too long to
let me go, now that I was found. What I was to do I did not know. _I_
had no objection to resume my own name, for I had cleared myself with
Johnson and Teague, but it must have involved the exposure relating to
the affair at Helstonleigh. The thought occurred to me of declaring
the dilemma to you, letting you decide whether that exposure should
come, or whether you would lend me the forty-four pounds to avert it.
But I shrank from doing that."

"Why?" again interposed Bede.

"Because I thought _you_ would dislike my entering upon the subject,
sir. I have shrunk from it always. Now that the necessity is forced
upon me, I am shrinking from it as I speak."

Ah, but not so much as Bede was. "Go on."

"While I sat at my desk, inwardly deliberating, Mr. Frank came in,
asking you to draw out a cheque for Sir Richard Yorke for forty-four
pounds. The strange coincidence between the sum and the money demanded
of me, struck me as being most singular. It strikes me so still. Later
in the morning, I came into this room with some deeds, and saw a piece
of paper lying under the table. Upon picking it up--which I did simply
to replace it on the desk--I found it was the cheque. My first thought
was that it must be a special, almost a supernatural, intervention in
my favour; my second, that it was just possible you had left it there
for me to take. Both ideas very far-fetched and imaginatory, as I saw
at once. But I used the cheque, Mr. Bede Greatorex. I went home, put
on the false hair I had worn as Godfrey Pitman, for I have it by me
still, and got the cheque cashed in gold. It was not for my sake I did
this; I hated it bitterly. And then I hesitated to use the money. At
night I went to Mr. Foster's hotel, and told him that I would get the
money for him by the following night _if I could_; if I could not, he
must carry out his threat of denouncing me to the public and Mr.
Greatorex. Foster consented to wait. I returned to my lodgings and
wrote that anonymous note to you, sir, not telling you who had taken
the cheque; merely saying that exposure was threatened of the private
circumstances, known only to one or two, attendant on Mr. Ollivera's
death at Helstonleigh; that the money had been taken to avert the
exposure, and would be applied to that purpose, provided you were
agreeable. If not, and you wished the money returned, you were
requested to drop a note without loss of a moment to a certain
address: if no such note were written, the money would be used in the
course of the day, and things kept silent as heretofore. You sent no
answer, and I paid it to Foster in the evening. I have never been able
to decide whether you suspected me as the writer, or not."

"No. I fancied it might be Hurst."

"Hurst!" exclaimed George Winter in great surprise.

Bede looked up for a moment. "I felt sure the cheque must have been
taken by one of you in the next room. Not knowing you then for Godfrey
Pitman, my thoughts fell on Hurst. His father was the attendant
surgeon, and might have made some critical discovery."

"I don't see how he could have done that, sir," was the dissenting
answer.

"Nor did I. But it is the doubt in these cases that causes the fear. I
should like to ask you a question--was it by accident or purposed
design that you came to our house as a clerk?"

"Purely by accident. When the misfortunes fell upon me in Birmingham,
and I was unwise enough to follow Samuel Teague's example and run
away, I retained one friend, who stood by me. After quitting
Helstonleigh on the Monday night, I concealed myself elsewhere for
three or four days, and then went to him in Essex, where he lived. He
procured me a clerkship in a lawyer's office in the same county, Mr.
Cale's, with whom I stayed about a year. Mr. Cale found me very
useful, and when his health failed, and he retired in consequence from
practice, he sent me up here to Mr. Greatorex with a strong
recommendation."

"You have served us well," said Bede. "Was not your quitting
Birmingham a mistake?"

"The worst I ever made. I solemnly declare that I was entirely
innocent. Not only innocent myself, but unsuspicious of anything wrong
on the part of Samuel Teague. He took me in, as he took in everybody
else. Johnson and Teague know it now, and have at length done me the
justice to acknowledge it. I knew of young Teague's profuse
expenditure: he used to tell me he had the money from his uncle old
Mr. Teague, and it never occurred to me to doubt it. Where I erred,
was in going to the old man and blurting out the truth. He died of the
shock. I shall never forgive myself for that: it seemed to me always
as though I had murdered him. With his dead form, as it seemed,
pursuing me, with the knowledge that I was to be included in the
charge of forgery, I lost my sober senses. In my fright, I saw no
escape but in flight; and I got away on the Sunday afternoon as far as
Helstonleigh. It was in the opposite direction to the one Samuel
Teague was thought to have taken, and I wanted to see Alletha Rye, if
it were practicable, and assure her before we finally parted, that,
though bad enough, I was not quite the villain people were making me
out to be. There--there are strange coincidences in this life, Mr.
Bede Greatorex."

"You may well say that," answered Bede.

"And one of the strangest was that of my accidentally meeting Alletha
Rye five minutes after I reached Helstonleigh. Forgetting my disguise,
I stopped to accost her--and have not forgotten her surprise yet. But
I had not courage then to tell her the truth: I simply said I was in
trouble through false friends, and was ill--which was really the
case--and I asked her if she could shelter me for a day or two, or
could recommend me to a place where I might be private and to myself.
The result was, that I went to Mrs. Jones's house, introduced as a
stranger, one Godfrey Pitman. I hit upon the name haphazard. And
before I left it I was drawn into that business concerning Mr.
Ollivera."

Bede Greatorex made no answer. A coincidence! one of heaven's sending.

"Why so much ill-luck should have fallen upon me I cannot tell,"
resumed George Winter. "I started in life, hoping and intending to do
my duty as conscientiously as most men do it; and I've tried to,
that's more. Fate has not been kind to me."

"There are others that it has been less kind to," spoke Bede, his tone
marked with ill-suppressed agitation. "Your liabilities in Birmingham?
Are they wiped out?"

"Others' liabilities you mean, sir; I had none of my own. Yes, I have
scraped, and saved, and paid; paid all. I am saving now to repay _you_
the forty-four pounds, and have about twenty pounds towards it. But
for having my good old mother on my hands--she lives in Wales--I
should have been clear earlier."

"You need not trouble yourself about the forty-four pounds," said
Bede, recognising the wondrous obligations he and his were under to
this silent, self-denying man.

"If it were forty-four hundred, sir, I should work on until I paid it,
life being granted me."

"Very well," replied Bede. "I may be able to recompense you in another
way."

If Bede Greatorex thought that any simple order of his would release
Miss Rye from custody, he found himself mistaken. Butterby, called
into the conference, was almost pleasantly derisive.

"You'll assure me she was not guilty! and Mr. Brown there can assure
me she was not guilty! And, following them words up, you say, 'Let her
go, Butterby!' Why, you might about as well tell me to let the stars
drop out of the sky, Mr. Bede Greatorex. I've no more power over one
than I have over the other."

"But she is innocent," reiterated Bede. "Mr. Brown here--you know who
he is--can testify to it."

Butterby gave a careless nod in the direction of Mr. Brown--as much as
to say that his knowing who he was went for a matter of course. But he
was sternly uncompromising.

"Look here, Mr. Bede Greatorex. It's all very well for you to say to
me Miss Rye's innocent; and for that there clever gentleman by your
side to say she's innocent--and himself too, I suppose he'd like to
add; but you, as a lawyer, must know that all that is of no manner of
use. If you two will bring forward the right party, and say, 'This is
the one that was guilty,' and _prove_ it to the satisfaction of the
law and Mr. Greatorex, that would be another thing. Only in that case
can Miss Rye be set at liberty."

"You--you do not know what family interests are involved in this, Mr.
Butterby," Bede said, in a tone of pain.

"Can guess at 'em," responded Butterby.

Bede inwardly thought the boast was a mistaken one, but he let it
pass.

"If my father were acquainted with the true facts of the case," spoke
he, "he would never bring it to a public trial; I tell you this on my
honour."

"You know yourself who the party was; I see that," said Butterby.

"I do--Heaven spare me!"

There was a strange tone of helplessness mingling with the anguish of
the avowal, as if Bede could contend with fate no longer. Even the
officer felt for him. George Winter looked round at him with a glance
of caution, as much as to say there was no necessity to avow too much.
Bede bent his head, and strove to see, as well as the hour's trouble
and perplexity would allow him, what might and what might not be done.
Butterby, responsible to the magistrates at Helstonleigh who had
granted the warrant, would have to be satisfied, as well as Mr.
Greatorex.

Another minute, and Bede went forth to seek an interview with his
father, who was alone in his room. Bede, almost as though he were
afraid of his courage leaving him, entered upon the matter before he
had well closed the door. Not in any torrent of words: he spoke but a
few, and those with almost painful calmness: but his breath was
laboured, himself perceptibly agitated.

"Give my authority to Butterby to release Alletha Rye from custody,
because you happen to know that she is innocent!" exclaimed Mr.
Greatorex in surprise. "Why, what can you mean, Bede?"

Bede told his tale. Hampered by various doubting fears lest he might
drop an unsafe word, it was rather a lame one. Mr. Greatorex leaned
back in his chair, and looked up at Bede as he listened. They held,
unconsciously, much the same position as they had that March day
nearly five years ago in another room, when the tale of the death was
first told, Bede having then just got up with it from Helstonleigh Mr.
Greatorex sitting, Bede standing with his arm on the mantelpiece, his
face partly turned away. Bede had grown quite into the habit of
standing thus, to press his hand to his brow: it seemed as though some
weight or pain were always there.

"I don't understand you, Bede," spoke Mr. Greatorex frankly. "You tell
me that you know of your own cognisance Alletha Rye was innocent? That
you knew it at the time?"

"Almost of my own cognisance," corrected Bede.

"Which must be equivalent to saying that you know who was guilty."

"No; I don't know that," murmured Bede, his face growing damp with the
conscious lie.

"Then what do you know, that you should wish to interfere? You have
always said it was a case of suicide."

"It was not that, father," was Bede's low, shrinking answer. But he
looked into his father's eyes with thrilling earnestness as he gave
it.

Mr. Greatorex began to feel slightly uncomfortable. He detested
mystery of all kinds; and there was something unpleasantly mysterious
in Bede's voice and looks and words and manner.

"Did you know at the time that it was not suicide?" pursued Mr.
Greatorex.

_How_ should Bede get through this? say what he must say, and yet not
say too much? He inwardly asked himself the question.

"There was just a suspicion of it on my mind, sir. Anyway, Alletha Rye
must be set at liberty."

"I do not understand what you say, Bede; I do not understand _you_.
Your manner on this subject has always been an enigma. William
Ollivera holds the opinion that you must be screening someone."

A terrible temptation, hard to battle with, assailed Bede Greatorex at
the charge--to avow to his father who and what he had been screening
ever since the death. He forced himself to silence until it had
passed.

"What is troubling you, Bede?"

Mr. Greatorex might well ask it; with that sad countenance in front of
him, working with its pain. In his grievous perplexity, Bede gave the
true answer.

"I was thinking if it were possible for Pitman's explanation to be
avoided, father."

"What! Is Pitman found?"

"Yes, he is found," quietly answered Bede. "He----"

The room door was opening to admit some visitors, and Bede turned.
Surely the propitious star to the House of Greatorex could not be in
the ascendant. For they were Judge Kene and Henry William Ollivera.

And the concealment that he had striven and toiled for, and worn out
his health and life to keep; fighting ever, mentally or bodily,
against Fate's relentless hand, was felt to be at an end by Bede
Greatorex.



CHAPTER XXXIX.
NEARER AND NEARER.


On a sofa, drawn at right angles with the fire, lay Hamish Channing;
his bright head raised high, a crimson coverlid of eider down thrown
over his feet. In the last day or two he had grown perceptibly worse;
that is, weaker. The most sanguine amidst his friends, medical or
others, could not say there was hope now. But, as long as he could
keep up, Hamish would not give in to his illness: he rose in the
morning and made a pretence of going about the house; and when he was
tired, lay on the sofa that had been put into his writing-room. It
was the room he felt most at home in, and he seemed to cling to it.

On the other side the hearth, bending forward in his chair, staring at
Hamish with sad eyes, and pulling at his whiskers in grievous gloom,
sat Roland Yorke. Roland had abandoned his home-copying for the past
two days, and spent all his spare time with Hamish. Mrs. Jones,
snatching a moment to go and visit Mr. Channing for old association's
sake, had been very much struck with what she saw in him, and carried
home the news that he was certainly dying. Roland, believing Mrs. J.
to be as correct in judgment as she was tart in speech, had been
looking out for death from that moment. Previously he was given to
waver; one moment in despair; the next, up in the skies with
exultation and thinking recovery had set in. The wind could not be
more variable than Roland.

It was the twilight hour of the winter's day. The room was not lighted
yet, but the blaze from the fire played on Hamish's face as he lay.
There was a change in it tonight, and it told upon Roland: for it
looked like the shadow of death. Things seemed to have been rather at
sixes and sevens in the office that afternoon: Mr. Brown was absent,
Hurst had gone home for Christmas, Bede Greatorex did not show
himself, and there was nobody to tell Roland what work to be about. Of
course it presented to that gentleman's mind a most valuable
opportunity for enjoying a spell of recreation, and he took French
leave to abandon it to itself and little Jenner. Rushing home in the
first place, to see what might be doing there--for it was the day that
Miss Rye had been captured by Butterby. Roland had his run for his
pains. There was nothing doing, and his curiosity and good nature
alike suffered. Miss Rye was a prisoner still; she, and Mrs. Jones,
and the policeman left in charge, being shut up in the parlour
together. "It's an awful shame of old Butterby!" cried Roland to
himself, as he sped along to Hamish's. There he took up his station in
his favourite chair, and watched the face that was fading so rapidly
away. With an etherealized look in it that spoke of Heaven, with a
placid calm that seemed to partake of the fast approaching rest; with
a sweet smile that told of altogether inward peace, there the face
lay; and Roland thought he had never seen one on earth so like an
angel's.

Hamish had dropped into a doze; as he often did, at the close of day,
when darkness is silently spreading over the light. Nelly Channing,
who had learnt--by that subtle warning that sometimes steals, we
know not how, over the instinct of little ones about to be made
orphans--that some great and sad change was looming in the air, sat on
a stool on the hearthrug as sedately as any old woman. Nelly's
boisterous ways and gleeful laugh had left her for awhile: example
perhaps taught her to be still, and she largely profited by it.

On her lap lay a story book: papa had bought it for her yesterday that
is, had given the money to Miss Nelly and nurse when they went out,
and wrote down the title of the book they were to buy, and the shop
they might get it at, with his own trembling fingers, out of which the
strength had nearly gone. It was one of those exquisite story books
that ought to be in all children's hands, Mrs. Sherwood's; belonging
of course to a past day, but nothing has since been written like them.

With every leaf that she silently turned, Nelly looked to see that it
did not wake the invalid. When she grew tired, and her face was
roasted to a red heat, she went to Roland, resting the open book upon
his knee. He lifted her up.

"It is such a pretty book, Roland."

"All right. Don't you make a noise, Nelly."

"Margaret went to heaven in the book: she was buried under the great
yew tree," whispered Kelly. "Papa's going there."

Roland caught the little head to him, and bent his face on the golden
hair. He knew that what she said was true: but it was a shock
nevertheless to have it repeated openly to him even by this young
child.

"Papa talks to me about it. It will be so beautiful; he will never be
tired there, or have any sorrow or pain. Oh, Roland; I wish I was
going with him!"

Her eyes were filled with tears as she looked up; Roland's were filled
in sympathy. He had cried like a schoolboy more than once of late. All
on a sudden, happening to glance across, he saw Hamish looking on with
a smile.

"You be off, Nelly," said arbitrary Roland, carrying her to the door
and shutting it upon her and her book. "I'm sure your tea must be
ready in the nursery."

"Don't grieve, Roland," said Hamish, when he sat down again.

"I wish you could get well," returned Roland, seeing the fire through
a mist.

"And I have nearly ceased to wish it, Roland. It's all for the best."

"Ceased to wish it! How's that?"

"Through God's mercy, I think."

The words silenced Roland. When anything of this kind was mentioned it
turned him into a child, so far as his feelings went; simple as Miss
Nelly, was he, and a vast deal more humble-minded.

"Things are being cleared for me so wonderfully, Roland. But for
leaving some who are dear to me, the pain would be over."

"I wish I could come across that fiend who wrote the reviews!" was
Roland's muttered answer to this. "I _wish_ I could!"

"What?" said Hamish, not catching the words.

"I _will_ say it, then; I don't care," cried impetuous Roland--for no
one had ever spoken before Hamish of what was supposed to have caused
him the cruel pain. Roland blurted it all out now in his explosive
fashion; his own long-suppressed wrath, and what he held in store for
the anonymous reviewer, when he should have the good fortune to come
across him.

A minute's silence when he ceased, a wild hectic spreading itself into
the hollow cheeks--that it should so stir him even yet! Hamish held
out his hand, and Roland came across to take it. The good sweet eyes
looked into his.

"If ever you do 'come across' him, Roland, say that I forgive," came
the low, earnest whisper. "I did think it cruel at the time; well nigh
too hard to bear; but, like most other crosses, I seem to see now that
it came to me direct from heaven."

"That _is_ good, Hamish! Come!"

"We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom," whispered
Hamish, looking up at him with a yearning smile. "You have in all
probability a long life before you, Roland: but the time may come when
you will realize the truth of those words."

Roland swallowed down a lump in his throat as he turned to the fire
again. Hamish resumed, changing his tone for one almost of gaiety.

"I have had good news today. Our friend the publisher called; and what
do you think he told me, Roland? That my book was finding its way at
last."

"Of course it will. Everybody always thought it must. If you could but
have put off for a time your bother over the reviews, Hamish!" Roland
added piteously.

"Ay. He says that in three months' time from this, the book will be in
every one's hands. In the satisfaction of the news, I sat down and ate
some luncheon with him and Ellen."

"Don't you think the news might be enough to cure you?" asked sanguine
Roland.

Hamish shook his head. "If I were able to feel joy now as I felt the
sorrow, it might perhaps go a little way towards it. But that is over,
Roland. The capability of feeling either in any degree was crushed out
of me."

Roland rubbed up his hair. If he had but that enemy of his under his
hand, and a spacious arena that admitted of pitching-in!

"And now for some more good news, Roland. You must know how I have
been troubled at the thought of leaving Ellen and the child unprovided
for--"

"I say, _don't_ you! Don't you trouble, Hamish," came the impulsive
interruption. "I'll work for them. I'll do my very best for them, as
well as for Annabel."

"It won't be needed, dear old friend," and Hamish's face, with its
bright, grateful smile, almost looked like the sunny one of old.
"Ellen's father, Mr. Huntley, is regaining the wealth he feared he had
lost. As an earnest of it, he has sent Ellen two hundred pounds. It
was paid her today."

"Oh, now, isn't that good, Hamish!"

"Very good!" answered Hamish, reverently and softly, as certain words
ran through his mind: "So great is His mercy towards them that trust
in Him."

"And so, Roland, all things are working round pleasantly that I may
die in peace."

Mrs. Channing, coming in with her things on, for she had been out on
some necessary business, interrupted the conversation. She mentioned
to Roland that she had seen Gerald drive up to his wife's rooms, and
that he had promised to come round.

"Why I thought he was at Sunny Mead with Dick!"

"He told me he had just returned from it," said Mrs. Channing.

"I say, Hamish, who knows but he may have brought me up a message!"
cried Roland.

Hamish smiled. Roland had disclosed the fact in family conclave, of
his having applied for the place of bailiff to Sir Vincent; Annabel
being present. He had recited, so far as he could remember them, the
very words of the letter, over which Hamish had laughed himself into a
coughing-fit.

"To be sure," answered Hamish, with a touch of his old jesting spirit.
"Gerald may have brought up your appointment, Roland."

That was quite enough. "I'll go and ask him," said Roland eagerly.
"Anyway he may be able to tell me how Dick received it."

Away went Roland, on the spur of the moment. It was a clear, cold
evening, the air sharp and frosty; and Roland ran all the way to Mrs.
Gerald Yorke's.

That lady was not in tears this evening; but her mood was a gloomy
one, her face fractious. The tea was on the table, and she was cutting
thick bread-and-butter for the three little girls sitting so quietly
round it, before their cups of milk-and-water. Gerald had gone out
again; she did not know where, whether temporarily, or to his chambers
for the night, or anything about him.

"I think something must have gone wrong at Sunny Mead," observed
Winny. "When I asked what brought him back so soon, he only swore.
Perhaps Sir Vincent refused to lend money, and they had a quarrel. I
know Gerald meant to ask him: he is in dreadful embarrassment."

"Mamma," pleaded a little voice, "there's no butter on my bread."

"There's as much as I can afford to put, Kitty," was Mrs. Yorke's
answer. "I must keep some for the morning. Suppose your papa should
find no butter for breakfast, if he comes home to sleep tonight! My
goodness!"

"Bread and scrape's not good, is it, Kitty?" said Roland. "No,"
plaintively answered the child.

Roland clattered out, taking the stairs at a leap. Mrs. Yorke supposed
he had left without the ceremony of saying goodnight.

"Just like his manners!" she fractiously cried. "But oh! don't I wish
Gerald was like him in temper!"

Roland had not gone for the night. He happened to have a shilling in
his pocket, and went to buy a sixpenny pot of marmalade. As he was
skimming back with it, his eye fell on some small shrimps, exposed for
sale on a fishmonger's board. The temptation (with the loose sixpence
in his hand) was not to be resisted.

He carried in the treasures. But that the three little ones were very
meek spirited, they would have shouted at the sight. Roland lavishly
spread the marmalade on the bread-and-scrape, and began pulling out
shrimps for the company round, while he talked of Hamish.

"They are saying that those reviews that were so harsh upon his books
have helped to kill him," said Mrs. Yorke, in a low tone, turning from
the table to face Roland.

"But for those reviews he'd not have died," answered Roland. "I never
will believe it. Illness might have come on, but he'd have had the
spirit to throw it off again."

"Yes. When I sit and look at him, Roland, it seems as if I and Gerald
were wretches that ought to hide ourselves. I say to myself, it was
not my fault; but I _feel_ it for all that."

"Why, what do you mean?" asked Roland.

"About the reviews. I can't bear to go there now."

"What about the reviews?"

"It was Gerald who wrote them."

Roland, for convenience sake, had the plate of shrimps on his knee
during the picking process. He rested from his work and stared in a
kind of puzzle. Winny continued.

"Those reviews were all Gerald's doings. That dreadful one in the
_Snarler_ he wrote himself; here, and was two days over it, getting to
it at times as ideas and strong words occurred to him to make it worse
and worse--just as he wrote the one of praise on his own book. The
other reviews, that were every bit as bad, he got written. I read
every word of the one in the _Snarler_ in manuscript. I wanted to tell
him it was wicked, but he might have shaken me. He said he owed Hamish
Channing a grudge, and should get his book damned. That's not my word,
you know, Roland. And, all the while, it was Hamish who was doing so
much for me and the poor children; finding us in food when Gerald did
not."

No whiter could Hamish Channing's face look when the marble paleness
of death should have overshadowed it, than Roland's was now. For a
short while it seemed as though the communication were too astounding
to find admittance to his mind. Suddenly he rose up with a great cry.
Down went shrimps, and plate, and all; and he was standing upright
before Mrs. Yorke.

"Is it true? Is it _true?_"

"Why of course it's true," she fractiously answered, for the movement
had startled her. "Gerald did it all. I'd not tell anybody but you,
Roland."

Throwing his hat on his head, hind part before, away dashed Roland.
Panting, wild, his breath escaping him in great sobs, like unto one
who has received some strong mental shock, he arrived at Mr.
Channing's in a frantic state. Vague ideas of praying at Hamish's feet
for forgiveness were surging through his brain--for it seemed to
Roland that _he_, as Gerald's brother, must be in a degree responsible
for this terrible thing.

The door opened, he turned into the dining-room, and found himself in
the presence of--Gerald. Hamish, feeling unusually weak, had gone up
to bed, and Gerald was waiting the signal to go to him. As he supposed
he must call to see Hamish before it should be too late--for Ellen had
told him how it was, that afternoon--he had come at once to get the
visit over.

Of all the torrents of reproach ever flung at a man, Gerald found
himself astounded by about the worst. It was not loud; loudness might
have carried off somewhat of the sting; but painfully sad and bitter.
Roland stood on the hearthrug in front of Gerald as he had but now
stood before Gerald's wife; with the same white and stricken face;
with the same agitation shaking him from head to foot. The sobbing
words broke from him in jerks: the voice was a wail.

"Was it not enough that I brought disgrace on Arthur Channing in the
years gone by, but you, another of us ill-doing Yorkes, must destroy
Hamish?" panted Roland. "Good Lord! why did heaven suffer us two to
live! As true as we are standing together here, Gerald, had I known at
the time those false reviews were yours, I should have broken your
bones for you."

"You shut up," retorted Gerald. "It's nothing to you."

"Nothing to me! Nothing to _me_--when one of the best men that ever
lived on earth has been wilfully sent to his grave? Yes; I don't care
how you may salve over your conscience, Gerald Yorke; it is murder,
and nothing less. What had he done to you? He was a true friend, a
true, good friend to you and to me: what crime against us had he
committed, that you should treat him like this?"

"If you don't go out of the house, I will," said Gerald. But Roland
never seemed to so much as hear it.

"Who do you suppose has been helping you all this year?" demanded
Roland. "When you were afraid of the county-court over a boot bill,
somebody paid the money and sent you the receipt anonymously: who has
kept your wife and children in rent and clothes and food, and all
kinds of comforts, while you gave wine parties in your chambers, and
went starring it over the seas for weeks in people's yachts? Hamish
Channing. He deprived himself of his holiday, that your wife and
children might be fed, you abandoning them: he has lived sparingly in
spite of his failing health, that you and yours might profit. You and
he were brought up in the same place, boys together, and he could not
see your children want. They've never had a fraction of help but what
it came from Hamish and his wife."

"It is a lie," said Gerald. But he was staggered, and he half felt
that it was not.

"It is the truth, as heaven knows," cried Roland, breaking down with a
burst. "Ask Winny, _she_ told me. I'd have given my own poor worthless
life freely, to save the pain of those false and cruel reviews to
Hamish."

Sheer emotion stopped Roland's tongue. Mrs. Channing, entering, found
the room in silence; the storm was over. Roland escaped. Gerald,
amazingly uncomfortable, had a mind to run away there and then.

"Will you come up, Gerald?" she said.

Hamish lay in bed in his large cheerful chamber, bright with fire and
light. His head was raised; one hand was thrown over the white
coverlid; and a cup of tea waited on a stand by the bed-side. Roland
stood by the fire, his chest heaving.

"But what is it, old fellow?" demanded Hamish. "What has put you out?"

"It is _this_, Hamish--that I wish I could have died instead of you,"
came the answer at last, with a burst of grief.

He sat down in the shade in a quiet corner, for his brother's step was
heard. As Gerald approached the bed, he visibly recoiled. It was some
time since he had seen Hamish, and he verily believed he stood in the
presence of death. Hamish held out his hand with a cheering smile, and
his face grew bright.

"Dear old friend! I thought you were never coming to see me."

Gerald Yorke was not wholly bad, not quite devoid of feeling. With the
dying man before him, with the truths he had just heard beating their
refrain in his ears, he nearly broke down as Roland had done. Oh, that
he could undo his work! that he could recall life to the fading spirit
as easily as he had done his best to take it away! These regrets
always come rather late, Mr. Gerald Yorke.

"I did not think you were so ill as this, Hamish. Can nothing be
done?"

"Don't let it grieve you, Gerald. Our turns must all come, sooner or
later. Don't, old fellow," he added in a whisper. "I must keep up for
Ellen's sake. God is helping me to do it: oh, so wonderfully."

Gerald bent over him: he thought they were alone. "Will you forgive
me?"

"Forgive you!" repeated Hamish, not understanding what there was to
forgive.

And Gerald, striving against his miserably pricking conscience, could
not bring himself to say. No, though it had been to save his own life,
he dared not confess to his cowardly sin.

"I have not always been the good friend to you I might, Hamish. Do say
you forgive me, for Heaven's sake!"

Hamish took his hand, a sweet smile upon his face. "If there is an
anything you want my forgiveness for, Gerald, take it. Take it freely.
Oh, Gerald, when we begin to realize the great fact that our sins are
forgiven, forgiven and washed out, you cannot think how _glad_ we are
to forgive others who may have offended us. But I don't know what I
have to forgive in you."

Gerald's chest heaved. Roland's, in his distant chair in the shade,
heaved rebelliously.

"I had ambitious views for you, Gerald. I meant to do you good, if I
could. I thought when my book was out and brought funds to me, I would
put you straight. I was so foolishly sanguine as to fancy the returns
would be large. I thought of you nearly as much as I thought of
myself: one of my dear old friends of dear old Helstonleigh. The world
is fading from me, Gerald; but the old scenes and times will be with
me to the last. Yes, I had hoped to benefit you, Gerald, but it was
otherwise ordained. God bless you, dear friend. God love and prosper
you, and bring you home to Him!"

Gerald could not stand it any longer. As he left the room and the
house, Roland went up to the bed with a burst, and confessed all. To
have kept in the secret would have choked him.

Gerald was the enemy who had done it all; Gerald Yorke had been the
one to sow the tares amid wheat in his neighbour's field.

A moment of exquisite pain for Hamish; a slight, short struggle with
the human passions, not yet quite dead within his aching breast; and
then his loving-kindness resumed its sway, never again to quit him.

"Bring him back to me, dear Roland; bring him back that I may send him
on his way with words of better comfort," he whispered, with his
ineffable smile of peace.



CHAPTER XL.
GODFREY PITMAN'S TALE.


Shut in with closed doors, George Winter told his tale. Not quite all
he could tell; and not the truth in one very important particular. If
that single item of fact might be kept secret to the end, the
speaker's will was good for it.

They were all standing. Not one sat. And the room seemed filled with
the six men in it, most of whom were tall. The crimson curtain, that
Annabel Channing had mended, was drawn before the bookcase: on the
table-cover lay pens and ink and paper, for Mr. Greatorex sometimes
wrote at night in his own room. He and Judge Kene were near each
other; the clergyman was almost within the shadow of the window
curtain; Bede a little farther behind. On the opposite side of the
table, telling his tale, with the light of the bright winter's day
falling full upon him, illumining every turn of his face, and, so to
say, every word he uttered, was George Winter. And, at right angles
with the whole assemblage, his keen eyes and ears taking in every word
and look in silence, stood the detective, Jonas Butterby.

Mr. Greatorex, in spite of his son Bede's protestations, had refused
to sanction any steps for the release of Alletha Rye from custody. As
for Butterby, in that matter he seemed more inexorably hard than a
granite stone. "Show us that the young woman is innocent before you
talk about it," said they both with reason. And so George Winter was
had in to relate what he knew; and Mr. Greatorex--not to speak of some
of the rest--felt that his senses were temporarily struck out of him
when he discovered that his efficient and trusted clerk, Brown, was
the long-sought after and ill-reputed Godfrey Pitman.

With a brief summary of the circumstances which had led him,
disguised, and under the false name of Pitman, to Mrs. Jones's house
at Helstonleigh, George Winter passed on to the night of the tragedy,
and to the events which had taken him back to the house after his
departure from it in the afternoon. If ever Mr. Butterby's silent eyes
wore an eager light, it was then; not the faintest turn of a look, not
the smallest syllable was lost upon him.

"When I had been a week at Mrs. Jones's, I began to think it might be
unsafe to remain longer," he said; "and I resolved to take my
departure on the Monday. I let it transpire in the house that I was
going to Birmingham by the five o'clock train. This was to put people
off the scent, for I did not mean to go by that train at all, but by a
later one in an opposite direction--in fact, by the eight o'clock
train for Oxford: and I had thought to wait about, near the station,
until that hour. At half-past four I said good day to Mrs. Jones, and
went out: but I had not gone many yards from the door, when I saw one
of the Birmingham police, who knew me personally. I had my disguises
on, the spectacles and the false hair, but I feared he might recognize
me in spite of them. I turned my back for some minutes, apparently
looking into a shop window, and when the officer had disappeared,
stole back to Mrs. Jones's again. The door was open, and I went
upstairs without being seen, intending to wait until dusk."

"A moment if you please," interrupted Mr. Greatorex. "It would seem
that this was about the time that Mr. Ollivera returned to Mrs.
Jones's. Did you see him?"

"I did not, sir; I saw no one."

"Go on."

"I waited in my room at the top of the house, and when night set in,
began to watch for an opportunity of getting away unseen by the
household, and so avoid questionings as to what had brought me back.
It seemed not too easy of accomplishment: the servant girl was at the
street door, and Alfred Jones (as I had learnt his name to be) came in
and began to ascend the stairs. When half-way up, he turned back with
some gentleman who came out of the drawing-room--whom I know now, but
did not then, to be Mr. Bede Greatorex. Alfred Jones saw him to the
front door, and then ran up again. I escaped to my room, and locked
myself in. He went to his own, and soon I heard him go down and quit
the house. In a few minutes I went out of my room again with my blue
bag, ready for departure, and stood on the stairs to reconnoitre----"

"Can you explain the cause of those grease spots that we have heard
of?" interrupted Bede Greatorex at this juncture. And it might almost
have seemed from the fluttering emotion of his tone, which could not
be wholly suppressed, that he dreaded the revelation he knew must be
coming, and put the question only to delay it.

"Yes, sir. While Alfred Jones was in his room, I dropped my silver
pencil-case, and had to light a candle to seek it. I suppose that, in
searching, I must have held the candle aside and let the drops of
tallow fall on the carpet."

"Go on," again interposed Mr. Greatorex, impatiently. "You went out on
the stairs with your bag. What next?"

The witness--if he may be termed such--passed his hand slowly over his
forehead before answering. It appeared as though he were recalling the
past.

"As I stood there, on the top of the first flight, the sound of voices
in what seemed like angry dispute, came from the drawing-room. One in
particular was raised in passionate fury; the other was less loud. I
did not hear what was said; the door was shut----"

"Were they both men's voices?" interrupted Mr. Ollivera--and it was
the first question he had put.

"Yes," came the answer; but it was given in a low tone, and with
somewhat of hesitation. "At least, I think so."

"Well."

"The next thing that I heard was the report of a pistol, followed by a
cry of pain. Another cry succeeded to it in a different voice, a cry
of horror; and then silence supervened."

"And you did not go in?" exclaimed Mr. Ollivera in agitation, taking a
step forward.

"No. I am aware it is what I ought to have done; and I have reproached
myself later for not having done it; but I felt afraid to disclose to
any one that I was yet in the house. It might have led to the
discovery of who and what I was. Besides, I thought there was no great
harm done; I declare it, upon my honour. I could still hear sounds
within the room as of someone, or more, moving about, and I certainly
heard one voice speaking low and softly. I thought I saw my
opportunity for slipping away, and had crept down nearly to the
drawing-room door, when it suddenly opened, very quietly, and a face
looked out. Whoever it might be, I suppose the sight of me scared
them, for they retreated, and the door was reclosed softly. It scared
me also, sending me back upstairs; and I remained up until the same
person (as I supposed) came out again, descended the stairs, and left
the house. I got out myself then, gained the railway station by a
circuitous route, and got safely away from Helstonleigh."

As the words died upon the ear, there ensued a pause of silence. The
clergyman broke it. His mind seemed to be harping on one string.

"Mr. Brown, was that person a man or a woman?"

"Oh, it was a man," answered Mr. Brown, looking down at his waistcoat,
and brushing a speck off it with an air of carelessness. But something
in his demeanour at that moment struck two people in the room as being
peculiar--Judge Kene and Mr. Butterby.

"Should you recognize him again?" continued the clergyman.

"I cannot say. Perhaps I might."

"And you can stand there, Mr. Brown and deliberately avow that you did
not know a murder had been committed?" interposed the sternly
condemning voice of Mr. Greatorex.

"On my sacred word of honour, I declare to you, sir, that no suspicion
of it at the time occurred to me," answered the clerk, turning his
eyes with fearless honesty on Mr. Greatorex. "When I got to learn what
had really happened--which was not for some weeks--I wondered at
myself. All I could suppose was, that the fear and apprehension I lay
under on my own score, had rendered me callous to other impressions."

"Was it _you_ who went in, close upon the departing heels of Mr. Bede
Greatorex, and did this cruel thing?" asked Judge Kene, with quiet
emphasis, as he gazed in the face of the narrator.

"No," as quietly, and certainly as calmly, came the answer. "I had no
cause to injure Mr. Ollivera. I never saw him in my life. I am not
sure that I knew there was a barrister of the name. I don't think I
ever heard of him until after he was in the grave where he is now
lying."

"But--you must have known that Mr. Ollivera was sojourning in Mrs.
Jones's house at the same time that you were?

"I beg your pardon, Sir Thomas; I did not know that anyone was lodging
there except myself. Miss Rye, whom I saw for a few minutes
occasionally, never mentioned it, neither did the servant, and they
were the only two inmates I conversed with. For all I knew, or
thought, Mrs. Jones occupied the drawing-room herself. I once saw her
sitting there, and the maid was carrying out the tea-tray. No,"
emphatically concluded the speaker, "I did not know Mr. Ollivera was
in the house: and if I had known it, I should not have sought to harm
him."

The words were simple enough; and they were true. Judge Kene, skilled
in reading tones and looks, saw that much. The party felt at a
non-plus: as far as Alletha Rye went, the taking her into custody
appeared to have been a mistake.

"You will swear to this testimony of yours, Mr.--Winter?"

"When you please. The slight amount of facts--the sounds--that reached
me in regard to what took place in Mr. Ollivera's room, I have related
truthfully. Far from Miss Rye's having had aught to do with it, she
was not even in the house at the time: I affirm it as before heaven."

"Who was the man?" asked Judge Kene--and Mr. Butterby, as he heard the
question, gave a kind of derisive sniff. "Come; tell us that, Mr.
Winter."

"I cannot tell you," was George Winter's answer. "Whoever it was he
went down the stairs quickly. I was looking over top balustrades then,
and caught but a transient glimpse of him."

"But you saw his face beforehand?--when he looked out of the room?"

"I saw someone's face. Only for a minute. Had I known what was to come
of it later, I might have noticed better."

"And this is _all_ you have to tell us?" cried Henry William Ollivera
in agitation.

"Indeed it is all. But it is sufficient to exonerate Miss Rye."

"And now, Bede, what do _you_ know?" suddenly spoke Mr. Greatorex.
"You have acknowledged to me that you suspected at the time it was not
a case of suicide."

Bede Greatorex came forward. All eyes were turned upon him. That he
was nerving himself to speak, and far more inwardly agitated than
appeared on the surface, the two practised observers saw. Judge Kene
looked at him critically and curiously: there was something in the
case altogether, and in Bede himself, that puzzled him.

"It is not much that I have to tell," began Bede, in answer to his
father, as he put his hand heavily on the table, it might be for a
support to rest on: and his brow seemed to take a pallid hue, and the
silver threads in his once beautiful hair were very conspicuous as he
stood. "A circumstance caused me to suspect that it was not a case of
suicide. In fact, that it was somewhat as Mr. Brown has described it
to be--namely, that someone else caused the death."

A pause of perfect silence, It seemed to Bede that the very coals,
cracking in the grate, sounded like thunder.

"What was the circumstance?" asked Mr. Greatorex, for no one else
liked to interrupt. "Why did you not speak of it at the time?"

"I could not speak of it then: I cannot speak of it fully now. It was
of a nature so--so--so----." Bede came to a full stop: was he getting
too agitated to speak, or could he not find a word? "What I would say
is," he continued, in a firm low tone, rallying his nerves, "that it
was sufficient to show me the facts must have been very much as Mr.
Brown now states them."

"Then you only _think_ that, Bede?"

"It is more than thinking. By all my hopes of Heaven, declare that
Alletha Rye had not, and could not have had, anything to do with
John's death," he added with emotion. "Father, you may believe me: I
do know so much."

"But why can you not disclose what it is you know?"

"Because the time has not come for it. William, you are looking
at me with reproachful eyes: if I could tell you more I would. The
secret--so much as I know of it--has lain on me with a leaden weight:
I would only have been too glad to disburthen myself of it at first,
had it been possible."

"And what rendered it impossible?" questioned the clergyman.

"That which renders it so now. I may not speak; if I might, I should
be far more thankful than any of you who hear me."

"Is it a secret of trust reposed in you?"

Bede paused. "Well, yes; in a degree. If I were to speak of what I
know, I do not think there is one present"--and Bede's glance ran
rapidly over each individual face--"but would hush it within his own
breast, as I have done."

"And you have a suspicion of who the traitor was?"

"A suspicion I may have. But for aught else--for elucidation--you and
I must be content alike to wait."

"Elucidation!" spoke the clergyman in something like derision. "It
will not, I presume, ever be allowed to come."

"Yes, it will, William," answered Bede, quietly.
"Time--events--heaven--all are working rapidly on for it. Alletha Rye
is innocent; I could not affirm that truth to you more solemnly if I
were dying. She must be set at liberty."

As it was only on the question of her guilt or innocence that the
council had been called, it seemed that there was nothing more to do
than to break it up. An uncomfortable sensation of doubt,
dissatisfaction, and mystery, lay on all. The clergyman stalked away
in haughty displeasure. Bede Greatorex, under cover of the crowd, slid
his hand gratefully for a moment into that of George Winter, his sad
eyes sending forth their thanks. Then he turned to the Judge.

"You can give the necessary authority for the release, Sir Thomas."

"Can I?" was the answer, as Sir Thomas looked at him. "I'll talk about
it with Butterby. But I should like to have a private word first with
Mr. Winter."

"Why! you do not doubt that she is innocent?"

"Oh dear no; I no longer doubt that. Winter," he added in a whisper,
laying his hand on the clerk's shoulder to draw him outside, "_whose
face was it that you saw at the door of the room?_"

"Tell him," said Bede suddenly, for he had followed them. "You will
keep the secret, Kene, as I have kept it?"

"If it be as I suspect, I _will_," emphatically replied the Judge.

"Tell him," repeated Bede, as he walked away. "Tell him all that you
know, Winter, from first to last."

It caused Mr. Greatorex and Butterby to be left alone together. The
former, not much more pleased than William Ollivera, utterly puzzled,
hurt at the want of confidence displayed by Bede in not trusting him,
was in a downright ill-temper.

"What the devil is all this, Butterby?" demanded he. "What does it
mean?"

Mr. Butterby, cool as a cucumber, let his eyelashes close for a moment
over his non-betraying eyes, and then answered in meek simplicity.

"Ah, that's just it, sir--what it means. Wait, says your son Mr. Bede;
wait patiently till things has worked round a bit, till such time as I
can speak out. And depend upon it, Mr. Greatorex, he has good cause to
give the advice."

"But what can it be that he has to tell? And why should he wait at all
to tell it?"

"Well, I suppose he'd like to be more certain of the party," answered
Butterby, with a dubious cough. "Take a word of advice from me too,
Mr. Greatorex, on this here score, if I may make bold to offer
it--_do_ wait. Don't force your son to disclose things afore they are
ripe. It might be better for all parties."

Mr. Greatorex looked at him. "Who is it that _you_ suspect?"

"Me!" exclaimed Butterby. "Me suspect! Why, what with one odd thought
or another, I'd as lieve say it must have been the man in the moon,
for all the clue we've got. It was not Miss Rye: there can't be two
opinions about that. I told you, sir, I had my strong doubts when you
ordered her to be apprehended."

"At any rate, you said she confessed to having done it," sharply spoke
Mr. Greatorex, vexed with everybody.

"Confound the foolish women! what would the best of 'em not confess
to, to screen a sweetheart? Alletha Rye has been thinking Winter
guilty all this while, and when it came to close quarters and there
seemed a fear that he'd be taken up for it, she said what she did to
save him. _I_ see it all. I saw it afore Godfrey Pitman was half way
through his tale: and matters that have staggered me in Miss Rye, are
just as clear to read now as the printing in a big book. When she made
that there display at the grave--which you've heard enough of, may be,
Mr. Greatorex--she had not had her doubts turned on Godfrey Pitman;
she'd thought he was safe away earlier in the afternoon: when she got
to learn he had come back again in secret, and was in the house at the
time, why then she jumped to the conclusion that he had done the
murder. _I_ remember."

Mr. Butterby was right. This was exactly how it had been. Alletha Rye
had deemed George Winter guilty all along; on his side, he had only
supposed she shunned him on account of the affair at Birmingham. There
had been mutual misunderstanding; tacit, shrinking avoidance of all
explanation; and not a single word of confidence to clear it all up.
George Winter could not seek to be too explicit so long as the secret
he was guarding had to be kept: if not for his own sake, for that of
others, he was silent.

"As to what Bede's driving at, and who he suspects, I am in
ignorance," resumed Mr. Greatorex. "I am not pleased with his conduct:
he ought to let me know what he knows."

"Now, don't you blame him afore you hear his reasons, sir. He's sure
to have 'em: and I say let him alone till he can take his own time for
disclosing things." Which won't be of one while, was the detective's
mental conclusion.

"About Miss Rye? Are you here, Butterby?"

The interruption came from Judge Kene. As he walked in, closing the
door after him, they could but be struck with the aspect of his face.
It was all over of a grey pallor; very much as though its owner had
received some shock of terror. "What is the matter, Judge?" hastily
asked Mr. Greatorex. "Are you ill?"

"Ill? No. Why do you ask? Look so!--Oh, I have been standing in a room
without fire and grew rather cold there," carelessly replied the
Judge.



CHAPTER XLI.
A TELEGRAM FOR ROLAND YORKE.


Lounging quite back in the old elbow horsehair chair, his feet
stretched out on the hob on either side the fire, which elegant
position he had possibly learnt at Port Natal, sat Mr. Roland Yorke.
He had just come home to his five o'clock tea, and took the occasion
to indulge in sundry reminiscences while waiting for it to be brought
to him. Christmas had passed, these two or three days now; the brief
holiday was over, and working days were going on again.

Roland's mood was a subdued one. All things seemed to be, more or
less, tinted with gloom. Hamish Channing was dying; a summons had been
sent for his friends; the last hour could not now be very far off: and
Roland felt it deeply. The ill, worked by his brother Gerald, seemed
never to go out of his mind for a moment, sleeping or waking. Vexation
of a different kind was also his. Day after day in his sanguine
temperament he had looked for a letter from Sir Vincent Yorke,
appointing him to the post of bailiff; and no such letter came.
Roland, who had heard nothing of the slight accident caused by Gerald
(you may be very sure Gerald would not be the one to speak of it),
supposed the baronet was in Paris with Miss Trehern. A third source of
discomfort lay in the office. Bede Greatorex, whose health since the
past few days had signally failed, avowed himself at last unequal to
work, and an extra amount of it fell upon his clerks. Roland thought
it a sin and a shame that before Christmas Day had well turned, he
should have, as he phrased it, to "stick to it like any dray-horse." A
rumour had arisen in the office that Bede Greatorex was going away
with his wife for change and restoration, and that Mr. Brown was to be
head of the department in Bede's place. Roland did not regard the
prospect with pleasure: Mr. Brown being a regular martinet in regard
to keeping the clerks to their duty.

The grievance that lay uppermost on his mind this evening, was the
silence of Sir Vincent. For Hamish he had grieved until it seemed that
he could grieve no longer; the rumoured change in the office might
never be carried out but on the score of Sir Vincent's neglect there
was no palliation.

"I'd not treat _him_, so," grumbled Roland, his complaint striving to
find relief in words. "Even if the place was gone when I applied, or
he thought I'd not suit, he might write to me. It's all very fine for
him kicking up his heels in Paris, and dining magnificently in the
restaurants off partridges and champagne, and forgetting a fellow as
he forgets me; but if his whole hopes in life lay on the die, he'd
remember, I know. If I knew his address over there, I'd drop him
another letter and tell him to put me out of suspense. For all the
answer that has come to me, one might think he had never had that
first letter of mine. He has had it though, and it's a regular shame
of him not to acknowledge it, when my heart was set on being able to
carry Hamish the cheering news, before he died, that Annabel was
provided for. If Dick would only give us a pretty little cottage down
yonder and a couple of hundreds a-year! It wouldn't be much for Dick
to give, and I'd serve him bravely day and night. I declare I go into
Hamish's room as sheep-faced as a calf, with the shame of having no
news to tell. Annabel says----Oh, it's you, Miss Rye, is it! Precious
cold tonight!"

Miss Rye had come in with the small tea-tray: the servant was busy.
She wore a knot of blue ribbon in her hair, and looked otherwise
bright. Since a private interview held with Mr. Butterby and George
Winter, when they returned to release her from custody, she had
appeared like a different woman. Her whole aspect was changed: the
sad, despairing fear on her face had given place to a look of rest and
hope. Roland had taken occasion to give Mr. Butterby a taste of what
that gentleman called "sauce," as to his incurable propensity for
apprehending the wrong person, and was advised in return to mind his
own business. While Mrs. Jones had been existing since in a chronic
state of tartness; for she could not come to the bottom of things, and
Alletha betrayed anything but a readiness to enlighten her.

"What's for tea?" asked Roland, lazily, turning his head to get a view
of the tray.

"They have boiled you an egg," replied Miss Rye. "There was nothing
else in the house. Have you seen your letter, Mr. Yorke?"

"A letter!" exclaimed Roland, starting up with so much alacrity
as to throw down the chair, for his hopes suddenly turned to the
vainly-expected communication from Sir Vincent. "Where is it? When did
it come? Good old Dick!"

It had come just as he went out after dinner, she answered, as she
took the letter--which bore a foreign post-mark--from the mantelpiece
to hand to him. And eager Roland's spirits went down to zero as he
tore it open, for he recognized the writing to be, not Dick Yorke's,
but Lord Carrick's.

"Oh, come though, it's rather good," said he, running his eyes down
the plain and sprawling hand--very much like his own. "Carrick has
come out of his troubles; at least, enough of them to show himself by
daylight again in the old country; he will be over in London directly.
I say, Miss Rye, I'll bring him here, and introduce him to you and
Mrs. J."

And Miss Rye laughed as she left the room more freely than she had
laughed for many a day.

"Perhaps Carrick can put me into something!" self-communed Roland,
cutting off the top of his egg, and taking in a half-slice of
inch-thick bread-and-butter at a bite. "I know he'll not want the will
when I tell him about Annabel."

The last morsel was eaten, and Roland was on the point of demanding
more, for his appetite never failed, when he heard someone come to the
house and inquire for Mr. Yorke. Visions of the arrival of Lord
Carrick flashed over him; he made a dash to the passage, and very
nearly threw down a meek little gentleman, who was being shown into
his room.

"Holloa!" said Roland, the corners of his mouth dropping with
disappointment. "Is it only you?"

For the visitor was nobody but little Jenner. He had brought a
communication from Mr. Greatorex, and took off his hat while he
delivered it.

"You are to go back with me to the office at once, if you please, Mr.
Yorke. Mr. Greatorex wants you."

"What have I done now?" questioned Roland, anticipative of a
reprimand.

"It is not for anything of that sort, sir. I believe Sir Vincent Yorke
has telegraphed for you to go down to him at Sunny Mead. The despatch
said you were to lose no time."

Whether Roland leaped highest or shouted loudest, the startled house
could not have decided. The anticipated bailiff's place was, in his
imagination, as surely his, as though he had been installed in it
formally. To wash his hands, brush his hair, and put on a superfine
coat took but a minute, before he was striding to the office little
Jenner on the run by his side, and to the presence of Mr. Greatorex.

Into which he went with a burst. The lawyer received him calmly and
showed the message from Surrey.


"_Sir Vincent Yorke to Mr. Greatorex_.

"Send Roland Yorke down to me by first train. Lose no time."


"Good old Dick!" repeated Roland in the fulness of his heart. "I
thought he'd remember me; and there was I reproaching him like an
ungrateful Tom-cat! It is to appoint me to the bailiff's place, Mr.
Greatorex."

"Well--it may be," mused Mr. Greatorex. "But I had fancied the post
was filled up."

"Not it, sir. Long live Dick! When did he come back from Paris?"

"I know nothing about Sir Vincent's recent movements, Mr. Yorke. You
had better be getting to the Waterloo Station. Have you money for the
journey?"

"I've got about sevenpence-halfpenny, sir."

Mr. Greatorex took a half-sovereign from his desk, and ten shillings
in silver. "I don't know how often the trains run," he observed, "but
if you go at once to the station, you will be all right for the first
that starts."

Not to the station, let it start as soon as it would, without first
seeing Annabel, and telling her of his good fortune. Away up the
stairs went Roland, in search of her, leaping over some boxes that
stood packed in the hall: and there he encountered Mr. Bede Greatorex.
It was four whole days since Roland had met him, and he thought he had
never seen a face so changed in the short space of time. Annabel was
not at home, Bede said; she had gone to Mr. Channing's.

"You don't look well, sir."

"Not very, I believe. I am about to try what a month or two's absence
will do for me."

"And leave us to old Brown!--that _will_ be a nice go!" exclaimed
Roland in blank dismay. "But I may not have to stay," he added more
brightly, as recollection returned to him "Vincent Yorke has
telegraphed for me, sir, and I and Mr. Greatorex think that he is
about to appoint me his bailiff."

A smile crossed the haggard face of Bede. "I wish you success in it,"
he kindly said.

"Thank you, sir. And I'm sure I wish you and Mrs. Greatorex heaps of
pleasure, and I heartily hope you'll come home strong. Oh! and, Mr.
Bede--Carrick's coming back."

Bede nodded in answer. Greatorex and Greatorex knew more of the matter
than Roland, since it was they who had intimated to the peer that the
coast was now sufficiently clear for him.

Roland leaped into a cab, and was taken to Mr. Channing's. He waited
in the empty dining-room; and when Annabel came to him, told her
hurriedly of what had happened. The cab was waiting at the door,
Roland was eager, and her pale cheeks grew rosy with blushes as he
talked and held her hands.

"It can't be for anything else, you know, Annabel. He is going to
instal me off-hand for certain, or else he would have written and not
telegraphed: perhaps the new bailiff (if he did appoint one) has
turned out to be no good. There'll be a pretty cottage, I daresay, its
walls all covered with roses and lilies, with two hundred a year; and
we shall be as happy as the day's long. You'll not mind trying it,
will you?"

No, Annabel whispered, the cheeks deepening to crimson, she would not
mind trying it. "I think--I think, Roland," she added, bending down
her pretty face, "that I might have a pupil if I liked; and be well
paid for her."

"That's jolly," said Roland. "We might do, with that, if Dick only
offered me one hundred. He is uncommonly close-fisted. There'd be a
house free, and no end of fruit and garden-stuff; and living in the
country is very cheap."

"It is Jane Greatorex."

"Oh _she_," cried Roland, his countenance falling. "She is a regular
little toad, Annabel. I'd not like you to be bothered with her."

"She would be always good with me. Mr. and Mrs. Bede are going away,
and Mr. Greatorex does not want us there any longer. He said a few
words to me today about my returning home to mamma at Helstonleigh and
taking Jane with me: that is, if mamma has no objection. He said he
would like Jane to be with me better than with any one; and he'd make
it worth my while in point of salary."

"Then, Annabel, if you don't object to the young monkey, that's
settled, and I shall look upon it that we are as good as married. What
a turn in fortune's wheel! Won't I serve Dick with my best blood and
marrow! I'll work for him till my arms drop. I say! couldn't I just
see Hamish? I'd like to tell him."

He ran softly up the stairs as he spoke. Hamish was in bed; and just
now alone, save for Miss Nelly, who had rolled herself upon the
counterpane like a ball, her cheek close to his. Roland whispered all
the items of good news exultantly: it never occurred to him to think
that they might turn out to be castles in the air. A smile, partaking
somewhat of the old amused character, flitted across Hamish's wasted
but still beautiful face, and sat in his blue eyes as he listened.

"You'll leave Annabel especially to me, won't you, Hamish; and wish us
both joy and happiness?"

"I wish you both the best wishes I can wish, Roland--God's blessing,"
was the low, earnest answer. "His blessing through this life, and in
that to come."

Roland bent his face down to Nelly's to hide its emotion, and began
kissing her. His grief for Hamish Channing sometimes showed itself
like any girl's.

"I have left you her guardian, Roland."

"Me!" exclaimed Roland, the surprise sending him and his wet eyes bolt
upright.

"You and Arthur jointly. You will take care of her interests, I know."

"Oh, Hamish, how good of you! Nelly's guardian! _Won't_ I take care of
her! and love her, too. I'll buy her sixpen'orth of best sugared
almonds every day."

Hamish smiled. "Not her personal guardian, Roland; her mother will be
that. I meant as to her property."

"Never mind; it's all one. Thank you, Hamish, for your trust in me.
Oh, I am proud! And mind that you are a good girl, Miss Nelly, now
that I shall have the right to call you to order."

Roland did not seem quite to define the future duties in his own mind.
Nelly raised her tear-stained face, and looked at him defiantly.

"I'm going away with papa."

"Not with him, my child," whispered Hamish. "You must stay here a
little while. You and mamma will come later."

Nelly burst into sobs. "Heaven is better than this. I want to go
there."

"We shall all get there in time, Nelly," observed Roland in much
gloom, "but I wish I could have gone now in his stead. Oh, Hamish, I
do I do indeed! Gerald's black work will never be out of my heart. And
there's your book getting its crown of laurels at last, and you not
living to wear them!"

The gentle face, bright with a light not of this world, was turned to
Roland. "A better crown is waiting for me," he murmured. "My Lord and
Master knows how thankfully I shall go to it."

A stamping outside as of an impatient cab-horse on the frosty street,
reminded Roland that he was bound on a non-delayable mission. On the
stairs he met Annabel, caught hold of her without ceremony, and gave
her shrinking face a few farewell kisses.

"Goodbye, darling. When I come back it will be as bailiff of Sunny
Mead."

Roland's delay had been just enough to cause him to miss a train, and
the evening was considerably later when he was at length deposited at
the small station near Sunny Mead.

Looking up the road and down the road in the cold moonlight, uncertain
which was his way, he found himself accosted by a man in the garb of a
groom.

"I beg pardon, sir: are you Mr. Yorke."

"Yes."

"I've got the dog-cart here, sir."

"Oh, have you?" returned Roland; "I thought Sunny Mead was close to
the station."

"It's a matter of ten minutes' walk, sir; but they gave me orders to
be down, and wait for every train until you came."

"How long has Sir Vincent been back from Paris?" questioned Roland, as
they bowled along.

"From Paris, sir? He haven't been to it: not lately. The accident
stopped his going."

"What accident?"

Ah! what accident! Roland's eyes opened to their utmost width with
surprise, as he listened to the answer.

"Good heavens! And it was caused, you say, by Gerald    Yorke?"

"That it was, sir."

"Why, he's my brother."

"Well, sir, accidents happen unintentional to the best of us,"
observed the man, striving to be polite. "Some of 'em said that the
gentleman didn't show himself 'cute at handling of a gun."

"I don't believe he ever handled one in his life before," avowed
impulsive Roland. "What a fool he must have been! How is Sir Vincent
going on? I'm sure I hope it was no great damage."

"Sir Vincent was going on all right till today, sir; and as to the
damage it was not thought to be much. We hear now that it has taken a
turn for the worse. They talk of erysipelas."

"Oh, that's nothing," said Roland. "I knew a fellow who got erysipelas
in the face at Port Natal till it was as big as a pumpkin, but he did
his work all the same. That's it," he mentally decided, as they
approached the house. "Poor Dick, confined indoors, can't look after
things himself, and is going to put me to do it."

Upon a flat bed, or couch, in the downstairs room, where we saw him
breakfasting with Gerald, lay Sir Vincent Yorke, his dog beside him.
He held out his hand to greet Roland. Impulsively and rather
explosively, that unsophisticated African traveller burst out with
regrets on the score of the accident, and the more especially that it
should have been caused by Gerald.

"Ay, it was a bad job," said Sir Vincent, quietly. "Sit down Roland.
Here near to me. I am in a good bit of pain, and don't care to talk at
a distance."

Roland took the chair pointed to, not a yard off Sir Vincent as he
lay, and the two looked at each other. A kind of honest shame was on
Roland's face: he was inwardly asking himself how much more disgrace
Gerald meant to bring on him. The moderator lamp, a soft, thin
perforated paper thrown over to subdue its brightness, was behind the
invalid.

"I hope you'll soon be about again, Vincent."

"I hoped so, too, until this morning," was Sir Vincent's answer. "My
leg was very uneasy all last night, and I sent at daybreak for the
surgeon. He came, and was obliged to tell me that an unfavourable
change had taken place: in fact, that dangerous symptoms had set in."

"But you can be cured?" cried Roland.

"No, not now."

"Not be cured!" exclaimed Roland, starting up with wild eyes, and
hardly knowing what to understand. "Do you mean, that it will be long
first?"

"I mean, that I shall never be cured at all in this world. Sit down,
Roland, and listen quietly. The wound, regarded at first as a very
simple one, and apparently continuing to progress well, has taken a
turn for the worse; and must shortly end in death. Now, do be
tranquil, old fellow, and listen. You are my heir, you know, Roland."

Roland, constrained to patience and his chair, stared, and pulled at
his whiskers, and stared again.

"Your heir?"

"Certainly. My heir."

The contingency had never, in the whole course of his life, entered
into the imagination of simple Roland. He sat in speechless
bewilderment.

"The moment the breath goes out of this poor frail body--and the
doctors tell me it will not be many more hours in it now--you will be
Sir Roland Yorke. The fourth baronet, and the possessor of the Yorke
estates--such as they are."

"Oh, my gracious!" uttered Roland, a vast deal more startled at the
prospect than he had been at that of crying hot-pies in Poplar. "Do
you mean it, Vincent?"

"_Mean_ it! Where are your wits gone, that you need ask? You must know
as well as I do that you come next in succession."

"I never thought of it; never once. I don't want it, Vincent, old
fellow; I don't, indeed. I hope, with all my heart, you'll get well,
and hold it for yourself. Oh, Dick, I hope you will!"

Roland had risen and caught the outstretched hand. As Sir Vincent
heard the earnest tones, and saw the face of genuine concern shining
out in all its guileless simplicity, the tears in the honest eyes, he
came to the conclusion that Roland had been somewhat depreciated among
them.

"Nothing can save me, Roland; the doctors have pronounced me to be
past human skill, and I feel for myself that I am so. It has not been
long, one day, 'to set my house in order,' has it?"

Amidst Roland's general confusion, nothing had struck him more than
the change in Vincent's tone. The old, mincing affectation was utterly
gone. A man cannot retain such when brought face to face with death.

"If you could but get well!" repeated poor Roland, rubbing his hot
face as he got back to his chair.

"Doctors, lawyers, and parsons--I have had them all here today,"
resumed Sir Vincent. "The first man I sent for, after the fiat was
pronounced, was a lawyer from the village hard by: there might not be
time, I feared, to get down old Greatorex. He made a short will for
me: and it was only when I began to consider what its provisions
should be, that I (so to say) remembered you as my heir and
successor."

Roland sat, hopelessly listening, unable to take in too much at once.

"The entailed property lapses to you;  but there is some, personal and
else, at my own disposal. With the exception of a few legacies, I have
bequeathed it all to you, Roland--and you'll be poor enough: and I've
appointed you sole executor. But I think you will make a better man,
as the family's head, than I might have made in the long run; and I am
truly glad that it is you to succeed, and not Gerald."

Roland gave a groan.

"I allude to his disposition, which I don't think great things of, and
to his propensity for spending," continued Sir Vincent. "Gerald would
have every acre of the estate mortgaged in a couple of years: I think
you will be different. Don't live beyond your means, Roland; that's
all.

"I'll try to do my very best by everybody," replied Roland. "As to
living beyond my means, Annabel will see to that, and take care of me.
Dick! Dick! it seems so wicked of me to talk coolly of it, as if I
were speculating on your death. I wish you'd try and live! I don't
want the estate and the money; I never thought of such a thing as
coming in to it. I rushed down here tonight, hoping you were going to
make me your bailiff; and I thought how well I'd try to serve you, and
what a good fellow you were for doing it."

"Ah," was the dying man's slight comment, as he drew himself a trifle
higher in the bed. "You will be master instead of bailiff; that's all
the difference. I had just engaged a bailiff when you wrote: and I'd
advise you to keep him on, Roland, unless you really feel competent to
the management yourself."

"I'll keep him on until I've learnt it; that won't be long first. I
must have something to employ my time in, Vincent."

"True: I wish I had had it. An idle man must, almost of necessity,
glide into various kinds of mischief: of which debt is one."

"You need not fear debt for me, Vincent," was the earnest answer. "I
have lived too long on empty pockets, and earned a crust before I ate
it, to have ill ways for money or inclination to spend. Why, my best
dress suit has been in pawn these two months: and old Greatorex had to
advance me twenty shillings to bring me down here."

Something like a smile flitted over Sir Vincent's lips. He pointed to
a desk that stood on a side-table.

"When I am gone, Roland, you can open that: there's a little loose
cash in it. It will be enough to repay Greatorex and redeem your
clothes."

"But I'd not like to take it, Vincent, thank you. I'd not, indeed."

"Why, man! it will be your own then."

"Oh, well--I never!" cried Roland softly: quite unable to realize his
fast-approaching position.

"The danger to some people might lie in being thus suddenly raised
from poverty to affluence," remarked Sir Vincent. "It has shipwrecked
many a one."

"Don't fear for me, or for the estate either, Vincent. Had this
happened some seven or eight years ago, when I was a lazy, conceited,
ignorant young fool, nearly as stuck-up as Gerald, I can't say how it
might have been. But I went to Port Natal, you know; and I gained my
life's lesson there. Hamish Channing has left me guardian to Nelly. I
can guess why he did it, too--that the world may see he thinks me
worthy to be trusted at last. He had always the most delicately
generous heart in Christendom."

"Hamish and I!" murmured Sir Vincent, in self-communing, "on the wing
nearly together."

Yes, it was so. And Roland, with all his lamentation, could not alter
the fiat.

"What was the lesson you learnt at Port Natal?"

"Not to be a reckless spendthrift; not to be idle and useless.
Vincent," added Roland, bending his face forward in its strange
earnestness, and dropping his voice till it was scarcely louder than a
whisper, "I learnt in Port Natal that there was another world to live
for after this: I learnt that our time was not our own to waste in
sin, but God's time, given us to use for the best. A chum of mine out
there, named Bartle, was struck down by an accident; the doctor said
he'd not live the day out--and he didn't. It was a caution to hear his
moans and groans, Vincent. He had not been very bad, as far as I knew,
in the ways that the world calls bad; he had only been careless and
idle, and wasted his days, and never thought of what was to come
after. I wish everybody that's the same had seen him die, Vincent, and
heard his dreadful cries for mercy. If ever I forget to remember it, I
think God would forget me. I saw many such sudden deaths, and plenty
of remorse for them, but none as trying as his. It taught me a lesson:
brought me to thought, you know. Don't you fear for me, Vincent; it
will be all right, I hope: and if I could ever be so foolhardy as to
look at a step on the backward route, Annabel would not let me take
it."

Roland had spoken in characteristic oblivion that the case, as to the
sudden striking down, bore so entire an analogy to the one before him.
Sir Vincent recalled it to him.

"Yes. Just as it is with me, Roland."

"Oh--but--you've got time yet, you know, Dick," he said, a little
confused. "A parson, who was knocking about, over there, in a
threadbare coat, came in and saw Bartle, and talked to him about the
thief on the cross. Bartle couldn't see it; his fears didn't let him;
_you_ may."

"Yes, yes," replied Sir Vincent, with a half smile, but Roland thought
it looked like a peaceful one. "I have had a parson with me also,
Roland."

Roland's face lighted up with a kind of reverence. Sir Vincent put out
his hand and stroked the dog.

"You'll be kind to him, Roland?"

"Oh, won't I, Dick! What's his name?"

"Spot."

"Here! Spot, Spot!"

"Go, Spot. Go to your future master."

"Come, then, old fellow. Spot! Spot!"

The dog made a sudden leap to the side of Roland at the call, and
rubbed his nose against the extended hand.

"I'll be as good to him as if he were a child," spoke Roland, in his
earnestness. "See! we are friends already, Vincent."

And this simple-hearted young fellow was the scapegoat they had all
despised! Sir Vincent caught the strong hand and clasped it within his
delicate one.



CHAPTER XLII.
A WIDE BLACK BAND ON ROLAND'S HAT.


Early in the afternoon and the Waterloo Railway Station. A gentleman
got out of a first-class carriage, and made his way to one of the
waiting hansoms.

"Stop at the first hatter's you come to," he said to the driver.

Leaping out when his directions were obeyed, he entered the shop and
asked for a mourning band to be put on his hat; a "deep one." You do
not need to be told who it was, and what the black band was for.
Vincent had died about eight o'clock in the morning, and the Natal
traveller was Sir Roland Yorke.

Save for the fact that he had some money in his pockets, in actual
reality, which afforded a kind of personal ease to the mind, he was
anything but elated at the change of position. On the contrary, he
felt very much subdued. Roland could not be selfish, and the grief and
shock brought him by the unexpected death of his cousin Vincent,
outweighed every thought of self. He had already tasted some of the
fruits of future power. Servants and others had referred to him that
morning as the new baronet and their master; his pleasure had been
consulted in current matters touching the house and estate, his orders
been requested as to the funeral. Roland was head of all now, the sole
master. Setting aside the sadness that filled his heart to the
exclusion of all else, the very suddenness of the change would prevent
him as yet realizing it in his own mind.

With the conspicuous band on his hat, stretching up rather above the
top of the crown, Roland entered the cab again, and ordered it to the
office. There he presented himself to Mr. Greatorex.

"Well?" said the lawyer, turning round from his desk "So you are back
again! What did Sir Vincent want with you? Has he made you his
bailiff?"

Roland sadly shook his head. And Mr. Greatorex saw that something was
wrong.

"What's amiss?" he hastily inquired.

"If you please sir, I am Sir Roland now."

"You are what?" exclaimed Mr. Greatorex.

"It's only too true," groaned Roland. "Poor Vincent is dead. Mr.
Greatorex, I'd work on all fours for a living to the end of my days if
it could bring him to life again. I never thought to come in, I'm
sure; and I wouldn't willingly. He died at eight o'clock this
morning."

Mr. Greatorex leaned back in his chair and relieved his mind by a
pastime he might have caught from Roland--that of staring. Not having
heard of Sir Vincent's accident, this assertion of his death sounded
only the more surprising. Was Roland telling the truth? He almost
questioned it. Roland, perceiving the doubt, gave a summary of
particulars, and Mr. Greatorex slowly realized the facts.

Sir Roland Yorke! The light-headed, simple-minded clerk, who had been
living on a pound a week and working sufficiently hard to get it,
suddenly transformed into a powerful baronet! It was like a romance in
a child's fairy tale. Mr. Greatorex rose and held out his hand.

"I must congratulate you on your succession, Sir Roland, sad though
the events are that have led to it."

"Now don't! please don't!" interrupted Roland. "I hope nobody will do
that, sir: it sounds like a wrong on poor Dick. Oh, I'd bring him to
life again if I were able."

"I trust you will make us your men of business, Sir Roland," resumed
Mr. Greatorex, still standing. "We have been solicitors to the head of
the Yorke family in succession for many years now."

"I'm sure if you'll be at the trouble of acting for me, I should like
nothing better, sir: bad manners to me if I could have any different
thought! And I've put your name and Mr. Bede's down in the list for
the funeral, if you'll please attend it. There'll be but a few of us
in all. Gerald (though I shouldn't think _he_ will show his face at
it), William Yorke, Arthur Channing, two or three of Dick's friends,
and you and Mr. Bede. Poor Dick said to me when he was dying not to
have the same kind of show he had for his father's funeral, he saw the
folly of it now, but the quietest I could order. I think he has gone
to heaven, Mr. Greatorex."

But that the subject was a solemn one, Mr. Greatorex had certainly
laughed at the quaint simplicity of the concluding sentence. One
reminiscence in connection with the past funeral rose forcibly in his
mind--of the slighting neglect shown to the young man now before him.
He, the real heir-presumptive, only that nobody had the wit to think
of it, was not deemed good enough to follow his uncle to the grave.
But stood in his place now.

Bede would not be able to attend the ceremony, Mr. Greatorex said
aloud: he was already in France, having crossed over with his wife by
the last mail train.

"What is the matter with him?" asked Roland. "He looked as ill as he
could look yesterday."

"I don't know what the matter is," said Mr. Greatorex. "He has an
inward complaint, and I fear it must be making great strides. His name
will be taken out of the firm tomorrow, and give place to Frank's. It
was Bede's own request: it is as if he fears he may never be capable
of business again."

"I'm sure I hope he will," cried Roland in his sympathy. "About me,
Mr. Greatorex? Of course I'd not like to leave you at a pinch; I'll
come to the office tomorrow morning and do my work as usual for a day
or two, until you've found somebody to replace me. I should like to
take this afternoon for myself."

But Mr. Greatorex with a smile, thought they should not need to
trouble Sir Roland: which was no doubt an agreeable intimation: and
Roland really had a good deal to do in connection with his new
position.

"If I'm not forgetting!" he exclaimed, just as he was taking his
departure. "There's the money you lent me, sir, and I thank you for
the loan of it."

In taking the sovereign from his pocket, he pulled out several. Mr.
Greatorex jokingly remarked that he had apparently no longer need to
borrow.

"It is from poor Dick's desk," sadly observed Roland. "He told me
there was enough money in it to repay the pound to you and get my
clothes out of pawn, and that it would be all my own when he died.
Well, what do you think I found there when I opened it today?--Nearly
a hundred pounds in gold and bank notes!"

"But you have not got all that about you, I hope?"

"Yes I have, sir; it was safer to bring it up than to leave it. I
shall pay it into the banker's. I've got to show myself there, I
suppose, and leave my signature in their books; it won't be so neat a
one as poor Dick's."

Roland departed. Looking in for a moment at the office as he went out,
and announcing himself as Sir Roland Yorke, upon which Mr. Hurst burst
out laughing in his face. He dashed in on Mrs. Jones with his news,
ate nearly the whole of a shilling Madeira cake that happened to be on
the table, while he talked, and made a voluntary promise to that tart
and disbelieving matron to refurnish her house from top to bottom.

Then the cab was ordered to the banker's, where his business was
satisfactorily adjusted. Gerald's chambers were not far off, and
Roland took them next. The servant met him with the bold assertion
that his master was out.

"Don't bother yourself to deny him, my good man; I saw his face at the
window," said Roland, with frankness. "You may safely show me in: I am
not a creditor."

"Well, sir, we are obliged to be excessively cautious, just now, and
that's the truth," apologized the man in a tone of confidence. "Mr.
Yorke, I think?"

"Sir Roland Yorke," corrected Roland.

"_Sir?_" returned the man, looking at him as if he thought he saw a
lunatic.

"Sir Roland Yorke," was the emphatic repetition. "Have the goodness to
announce me."

And the servant opened the room door and did it.

As Roland saw Gerald's quick look of surprise, he would, under other
circumstances, have shaken in his shoes at the fun. But sadness wholly
reigned over him today. And--if truth must be told--a terrible
aversion to Gerald for his work and its fruits held possession of the
new heir.

"Oh, it's you," cried Gerald, roughly. "What on earth possessed the
fellow?"

"The fellow did right, Gerald. I gave him my name, and he announced
it."

"Don't come here with your fool's blabber. He said 'Sir Roland Yorke.'"

"And it is what I am."

Gerald's face grew dark with passion. He had an especial dislike to be
played with.

"Vincent's dead, Gerald."

"It is a lie."

"Vincent died this morning at eight o'clock," repeated Roland. "I was
with him: he telegraphed for me yesterday. Look at this mourning
band"--showing his hat--"I've just been to get it put on. Do you think
I'd have the face to invent a jest on this subject? Vincent Yorke is
dead, poor fellow, and I have come into things as Sir Roland. Not that
I can fully believe it myself yet." The tone of the voice, the deep
black band, and a kind of subtle instinct within himself brought
conviction of the truth home to Gerald Yorke. Had it been to save his
fame, he could not have helped the loud brazen tone from going out of
his voice, or the dread that took possession of his whole aspect.

"What--has--he--died--of?"

"The gunshot wound."

A pause. Gerald broke it.

"It was going on well. I heard so only two days ago."

"But it took a sudden turn for the worse; and he is dead."

Gerald's face assumed a tinge as of bluish chalk. Was he to have _two_
lives on his soul? Hamish Channing's had surely been enough for him
without Vincent Yorke's. Pushing back his damp hair, he met Roland's
steady look, and so made believe to feel nothing, went to the fire,
and stirred it gently.

"Why did the doctors let it take _this_ turn?" he asked, flinging down
the poker. "It was as simple a wound as ever was given."

"I suppose they'd have helped it if they could."

Another pause.

"Well--of course--as you _have_ succeeded, I must congratulate you,"
said Gerald stiffly and lamely. Absently, too, for he was buried in
thought, reflecting on what an idiotic policy his, to Roland, had
been: but this contingency had never occurred to him more than it had
to Roland.

"Vincent had a good lot of property that was not entailed," resumed
Gerald. "Do you know who he has willed it to? Did he make a will?"

"He made a will yesterday, before telegraphing for me," Gerald lifted
his face with a transient hope.

"I wonder if he has remembered me?"

"I think not. Except some legacies to the servants, and a keepsake for
Miss Trehern--his watch and diamond ring, I fancy--he said nobody's
name was mentioned in the will but mine. It has not been opened: I
thought I'd leave it till after the funeral. I am the executor."

"_You!_--you don't want his ready money as well as his inheritance,
spoke Gerald, in a foam.

"I'm sure I didn't want any of it, I only thought to be his bailiff;
but I can't help it if it has come to me," was Roland's quiet answer,
as he turned to depart. "Good afternoon, Gerald. I thought it right to
call and tell you of his death: you may like to draw your blinds
down."

"Thanks," said Gerald, sarcastically.

"You will receive an invitation to the funeral, Gerald. But I'd like
to intimate that if you do not care to attend, I shall not look upon
it in the light of a slight," added candid Roland, who really spoke in
simple good nature. "We shall be enough without you if you'd rather
stay away."

Before Gerald's awful rage at the speech was over, for he looked upon
it as bestowed in a patronizing light from the new baronet, Roland was
vaulting into the waiting cab. Gerald had the pleasure of peeping on
from the window.

"Sir Roland Yorke!--Sir Roland Yorke!" he spoke aloud in his horrible
mortification. "Sunny Mead for his home, and four thousand a year
landed property, and heaps of ready money. Curse the beggar! Curse the
shot that has brought him the luck of the inheritance! I'd sell my
soul for it to have been mine. I should wear the honours better than
he. I wish to Heaven he could die tonight!"

And Mr. Gerald Yorke, looking after the receding cab with a dark and
sullen countenance, could indeed have sold his soul; if by so doing he
might have annihilated his brother and stepped into his place. He was
in that precise frame of mind for which some few men in the world's
actual history, and a vast many in fiction, have stained their hands
with crime for the greed of gain.


                 *     *     *     *     *     *


Tread lightly, speak softly; for death is already hovering in the
chamber. As Roland enters on tiptoe he takes in the scene at a glance.
Hamish lying, with closed eyes, and the live ball, Miss Nelly, tucked
outside beside him her golden curls mingling with his damp hair. A sea
of old Helstonleigh faces seems to be gathered round; save that Roland
silently clasps Arthur's hand, he takes notice of none. Edging himself
between Annabel and Tom Channing, as they stand side by side, he bends
his face of concern downwards. The slight stir arouses Hamish, he
opens his eyes, and holds up his feeble hand with a remnant of the old
smile.

"Back again! Head bailiff?"

Roland bit his lip. His chest was heaving with emotion, his face
working. Hamish, who retained his keenest perceptive faculties to the
last, spoke again in his faint voice.

"Is it good news?"

"It's good news. Good news, Hamish, and at the same time awfully bad.
Vincent's dead, and I'm--I'm in his shoes."

Hamish did not seem to understand. Neither did the others.

"It's me to come after him, poor fellow, you see. I am Sir Roland
now."

As the words fell upon the previously silent room, you might have
heard a pin drop. Cheeks flushed, eyes looked out their questioning
surprise at the speaker. Upon Hamish alone the communication seemed to
make no impression: earthly interests were to him now as nothing.

"You will give me Annabel with a will, Hamish, now that I have come
into the family inheritance?"

"I had already given her to you, so far as my best will was good to do
it. Roland----"

The voice seemed to be fading away altogether, but in the eyes there
was an eager gaze. Roland bent his head lower to catch the sounds
about to issue from the lips.

"There's a different and a better inheritance, Roland; one of love,
and light, and everlasting peace. You will both of you strive for
that."

"Yes, that we will. And gain it too. Oh, Hamish, if you could but stop
with us a bit longer!" burst forth Roland, letting his suppressed
emotion come out with a choking sob. "It's nothing all round but
dying. First Vincent, and now you! I never knew such a miserable world
as this. I'd have laid down my own life to keep either of you in it."

There stole a smile of ineffable peace over the dying face. It seemed
to have caught a ray of the heavenly light in which it would so soon
be shining.



CHAPTER XLIII.
DREAMS REALIZED.


It is certainly not often in this life that improbable dreams of fame
and fortune get to be realized as they were in the case of Roland
Yorke. Down he went to his native place, Helstonleigh, in all the
glory of fame and fortune that his imagination had been wont to
picture: the dog, Spot, with him. He paid his creditors their debts
twice over he made presents to his mother and the world; he went
knocking at old Galloway's door, and caused himself to be fully
announced, as he had at Gerald's--Sir Roland Yorke. He ran in and out
of the proctor's office at will, took possession of his former stool
there, and answered callers as if he were the veritable clerk he used
to be. He promised a living to Tom Channing, promotion in India to
Charley; made a sweeping bow to William Yorke the first time he met
him in the street, and called out to know whether he might be
considered a scapegoat still. He put up a tombstone to commemorate
the virtues of Jenkins. Meeting Harry Huntley, he nearly cried over
Hamish. Hamish Channing's book was at length in every heart and
home--ah, that he had lived to see it! The good had all come too late
for _him_. Ellen would be wealthy from henceforth, for her father had
regained his fortune; her aunt, stiff Miss Huntley, had died, and
bequeathed to her the whole of hers; and little Miss Nelly was an
heiress.

Not immediately, however, had Roland hastened to quit London for
Helstonleigh, and there's something to tell about it. He had affairs
to attend to first; and it took him some time to forget his daily
sorrow for the dead. Roland's private belief was that he should never
cease to mourn for Hamish; should never rise in the morning, or go to
rest at night, without thinking of him and Gerald's miserable work. He
entered on his abode at Sunny Mead, his home from henceforth, made
himself acquainted with his future position, and what his exact
revenues would be. In his imperfect way, but honest wish to do right,
he apportioned out plenty of work for himself, and not much to spend,
resolving above all things to eschew a life of frivolity and idleness.
Roland would rather have followed the plough's tail day by day, than
sink to that.

The first few weeks he divided his time between Sunny Mead and London.
When in town, he dropped in upon his old friends with native
familiarity: prosperity and a title could not change Roland. The
office and clerks saw him very often; Mrs. Jones's tea and muffins
occasionally suffered by a guest who had a large appetite. He
refurnished that tart lady's house for her after a rather sharp
battle; for at first Mrs. J. would not accept the boon. The first
visitor Roland had the honour of entertaining was Lord Carrick. His
white-haired lordship was flourishing in London again, and gave Roland
a whole week of his hearty, genial good-natured company at Sunny Mead.

The thorn in the flesh was Gerald, and it happened that Mr. Gerald's
career came to a crisis during the week of Lord Carrick's stay at
Sunny Mead. On the last day of it, when they were out in the frost,
and the peer was imparting to his nephew sundry theories for the best
cultivation of land, a servant ran out to announce the arrival of a
lady, who had come in great haste from the railway station. She
appeared to be in distress, the man added, and said she must at once
see Sir Roland.

In distress beyond doubt: for when Roland went clattering in,
wondering who it could be, there met him the tear-stained face of
Winny. She had brought down a piteous tale. Gerald, arrested the
previous day, had lodgings in that savoury prison, Whitecross Street;
he had boldly sent her to ask Roland to pay his debts and set him
free. Winny, sobbing over some luncheon that Roland good-naturedly set
her down to at once, protested that she felt sure one at least of the
three little girls would be found in the fire when she got back to
them.

Lord Carrick drew Roland aside.

"I'm not ill-natured, me boy, as ye knew long ago, and I'd do a good
turn for anybody; but I'd like to give ye a caution. _Don't begin by
paying Gerald's debts_. If ye do, as sure as ye're a living man, ye'll
never have a minute's peace for him to the last day of ye're life. Set
him free now, and all his thanks would be to run up more for ye to
pay. In a year's time he'd be in the same plight again; and he or his
creditors would be bothering ye always. _Don't begin it_. Let him
fight out his debts as he best can."

"It's just what I'd like to do," said Roland. "I'd not mind allowing a
couple of hundred a year, or so, for Winny and the children. I meant
to offer it. It might be paid to her weekly, you know, uncle, and I
could slip something more into her hand whenever we met. She might get
a bit of peace then. But I don't think it would be doing Gerald any
real kindness in the long run to release him from his debts."

Lord Carrick nodded most emphatically.

"I need not tell Winny this, Uncle Carrick--only that she and the
kittens shall be taken care of from henceforth. She can carry a sealed
note back to Gerald."

"_I_'ll see to him," said Lord Carrick. "If he is to get any help at
all, it must be from me. Ye can write the note to him. It would be the
worst day's work ye ever entered on if ye attempted to help him. It is
nothing else but helping people, Roland, me boy, that has kept me
down, and I'd not like to see you begin it. If Gerald can't get clear
without assistance, I may come to the rescue later. But he'll have to
try."

"Perhaps I might be got to allow him a hundred a year, or so, for
himself later," added relenting Roland. "But I'll never have anything
to do with his debts, or suffer him to look to me to pay them."

Could Gerald in his distant and gloomy abode, but have heard this, he
had surely been ready to shoot the pair of speakers; and with more
intentional malignity, too, than he had shot Sir Vincent.

But we began the chapter at Helstonleigh. For once in its monotonous
life that faithful city had found something to arouse it from its
jog-trot course; and people flew to their doors and windows to gaze
after Sir Roland Yorke. It did not seem much less improbable that the
time-honoured cathedral might some night disappear altogether, than
that the once improvident schoolboy of not too good repute, the
careless run-a-gate who had made a moonlight flitting, and left some
fifty pounds' worth of debts behind him, should come back Sir Roland,
like a hero of romance.

Fruition never answers to anticipations--as Roland found, now that
his golden visions came to be realized. The romantic charm of the
oft-pictured dream was wanting; the green freshness of sanguine
boyhood no longer threw its halo on his heart; the vivid glow of
imaginative hope had mellowed down to a sober tint. In manner, in
gleeful frankness, Roland was nearly as impulsive and boyish as ever;
but his mind had gained a good deal of experience, and reflection had
come to him. The chances and changes of the world had worked their
effect; and the deaths caused directly or indirectly by Gerald, sat
heavily on his generous heart. Adam's curse lies on all things, and
there can be no pleasure without pain.

Roland did not miss it. Enough of charm was left to him. Annabel was
staying with her mother, and things seemed to have gone back again to
the dear old days before Roland had known the world, or tasted of its
cares. Roland went calling upon his acquaintance continually, distant
and near, making himself at home everywhere. Ellen Channing, worn to a
thread-paper with grief, was visiting her father in her maiden home.
Nelly made its charm now. The young widow would probably take up her
abode at Helstonleigh, in spite of Roland's strong advice that it
should be near Sunny Mead.

"I told you I should be sure to get on and make my fortune sometime,
Mr. Galloway."

The old proctor, whose health was failing hopelessly, returned a
slighting answer. Roland, without ceremony as usual, had dashed into
the office, and was sitting on a high desk with his legs dangling. The
remark was given in return for some disparaging observation as to
Roland's former doings.

"_You_ made it! Ugh! A great deal of that."

"Oh--well--I've come into one, at any rate."

"The only way you were ever likely to attain to one. Left to your own
exertions, you'd have got back here with holes in your breeches."

"Now don't you be personal, sir," was the laughing rejoinder. "I'm Sir
Roland Yorke, you know."

"And a fine Sir Roland you'll be!"

"I'll try and be a good one," said Roland emphatically, as he caught
Arthur's eye--who was seated in the place of state as the head of the
office, for the proctor had virtually resigned it. "Arthur knows he
can trust me now: ask him, else, sir. Hamish knew it also before he
died."

"I should like to hear what business he had to die, and who killed
him?" cried old Galloway explosively. "It was done amongst you, I
know. A nice thing for my old friend Mr. Huntley to get back to
England and find his son-in-law dead: the bright, true young fellow
that he loved as the apple of his eye."

"Yes, I think he was killed among us, up there," sadly avowed Roland,
his honest face kindling with shame. "But I did not help in it, Mr.
Galloway; I'd have given my life to save his. I wish I could!"

"Wishes won't bring him back. I saw his wife yesterday--his widow,
that is. I'm sure I couldn't bear to look at her."

"Did you see sweet little Nelly?" cried Roland eagerly, his thoughts
taking a turn. "If ever I have a girl of my own I hope she'll be like
that child."

"Now just you please to take yourself off, Sir Roland, and come in
when we're a little less busy," returned the proctor, who was very
much out of sorts that morning. "You are hindering business, just as
you used to do."

But perhaps the greatest of all small delights was that of
encountering Mr. Butterby. Roland had just emerged from the market
house one Saturday, where he had been in the thick of the throng,
making himself at home, and inquiring affably the price of butter of
all the faces he remembered, and been seduced into buying a tough old
gander, on the grave assurance that it was a young and tender goose,
when he and the detective met face to face.

"Well?" said Roland, dangling the goose in his hand, as unblushingly
as though it had been a bouquet of choice flowers.

"Well?" returned Mr. Butterby. "How are you, sir? I heard you were
down here."

"Ay. I've come to set things straight that I left crooked. And glad to
be able to do it at last. You've heard about me, I suppose, Butterby?"

"_I_'ve heard," assented Butterby. "You are Sir Roland Yorke, and have
come into the family estates and honours, through the untimely death
of Sir Vincent. A lucky shot for you, sir."

"Lucky?" groaned Roland. "Well, in one sense I suppose it was: but
don't go and think me a heartless camel, Butterby. I declare to you
that if I could bring Sir Vincent back, though I had to return to my
work again, and the turn-up bedstead at Mrs. J.'s, I'd do it this
minute cheerfully. When I sat by, watching him die, knowing he was
going to make room for me, I felt downright wicked: almost as bad as
my nice brother must have felt, who shot him. Did you read about it in
the newspapers?--they had got it all as pat as might be. I can't
think, for my part, how they lay hold of things."

Butterby nodded assent. There was little he did not read, if it could
in the remotest degree concern him.

"I'm paying up, Butterby. Paying everybody, and something over. If
ever I get into debt again call me an owl. Galloway groans and grunts,
and says I shall; but I fancy he knows better. What do you think? He
took his hat off to me in the street yesterday! formerly he'd hardly
nod to me over his shoulder sideways."

"How were the folks up yonder, Sir Roland, when you left?" asked
Butterby, jerking his head in the direction of London. "Is Miss Rye
all right?"

"Oh, she's uncommon jolly. The last day I called there, Mrs. J. said
she supposed she and Winter--they call him Winter now--would be making
a match of it. Upon that, I told Miss Rye I'd buy her the wedding
dress. Instead of being properly grateful, she advised me not to talk
so fast. I say, Butterby, that _was_ a mistake of yours, that was--the
taking her into custody for the one that killed John Ollivera."

"Ay," carelessly returned Mr. Butterby, with a kind of sniff. "The
best of us go in for mistakes, you know."

"I suppose _you_ can't help it, just as some people can't help
dreaming," observed Roland with native politeness. "I went up and saw
his grave yesterday. I say, shall you ever pitch upon the right one?"

But that Mr. Butterby turned his eyes away towards the Guildhall
opposite before he answered, Roland might have observed a peculiar
shade cross their steady light. Whatever curious outlets his
speculations had drifted to in the course of years, as to the slayer
of Mr. Ollivera, he knew the truth now.

"Shan't try at it, sir. Take it from first to last, it has been about
the queerest case that over fell under mortal skill; and we are
content for the future to let it be."

"I won't forget you, Butterby. You've not been a bad one on the whole.
A snuffbox would be of no use, you said; but you shall have something
else. And look here, if ever you should come within range of my place
in Surrey, I'd be glad to see you there for half an hour's chat.
Good-day, old Butterby. Isn't this a prime goose? I've just been
giving seven shillings for it."

He and his ancient goose went vaulting off. Roland frequently took
articles home to help garnish Lady Augusta's dinner-table; very much
to the wrath of the cook, who found she had double work.

But it must not be thought Roland led entirely an idle life at
Helstonleigh. Apart from personal calls on his friendship, in the
shape of dropping in upon people, he had work on his hands. By Mrs.
J.'s permission he was replacing the plain stone on poor Jenkins's
grave with one of costly marble. Roland himself undertook the
inscription. Not being accustomed to composition, he found it a
puzzling task.


"Here's to the memory of JOSEPH JENKINS. He was too good for this
world, inoffensive as a young sparrow, and did everybody's work as
well as his own. Put upon by the office and people in general, he bore
it all meekly, according to his nature, never turning again. A cough
took him off to Heaven, leaving Mrs. J. behind, and one or two to
regret him, who knew his virtues. This tribute is erected by his
attached friend, (who was one of the worst to put upon him in life,)
and sorrowful, ROLAND YORKE."


Such was the inscription for the marble tombstone, as it went in to
the sculptor. That functionary suggested some slight alterations,
which Sir Roland was reluctant to accede to. There ensued writing and
counter writing, and the epitaph, finally inscribed, contained but
little (like some bills that pass through Parliament) of the original.

And so the sweet days of spring glided on, and the time came for
Roland to depart. To depart until June, when he would return to claim
his bride. Tom Channing should marry them, and nobody else, avowed
Roland; and if the Reverend Bill put up his back at not having the
first finger in the pie, why he must put it up. Annabel was his
confidant in all things; and Annabel thought she should rather be
married by her brother, than by William Yorke.

The once happy home of the Channings bore the marks of time's chances
and changes. The house was the same, as were its elements for peace,
but some of its inmates had