Imatges de pÓgina
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“It's a pity women can't take things approached and passed her, she called out, quietly,” he said, “but must always rattle * Mr. Halfday.' on in a flare-away fashion. Dorcas is quite Brian, for it was he, stopped at once, and safe—she is used to this kind of game, but Mabel came from her hiding-place to meet

him. “ Used to this !"

" Miss Westbrook !" he exclaimed, “Many and many a row about meeting something has happened, then !" her lover in the fields beyond the cottages “Yes—something has happened." has she had with old Adam"

“What can you be doing here—where are “Her lover!" repeated Mabel ; "she has a you going?” he asked, almost sharply: lover then?"

“I will tell you as we proceed, and if you "To be sure ; she was as agile as a cat will accompany me to St. Lazarus.” after him too; she would cross the river “I am going to St. Lazarus—but you?” with one spring—there was no keeping that “Your sister is there," exclaimed Mabel ; madcap on the premises when she wanted “ she has heard news from Peter Sconeto get off them. She-"

“Of a will-yes," he said, interrupting "Tell me all this another time,” said her with his customary quickness. Mabel, restlessly ; “I must go to St. Laz- “How did you know?” asked Mabel. arus to-night.”

“I will tell you presently. Have you seen “You will never find her,” said Peter; this Scone? “she will return as she came, by the field- “He is in my house," said Mabel, pointpath, which you do not know.”

ing to the cottage she had recently quitted. “ So that she has met with no harm, I “ You are lodging there?” shall not care for that,” replied Mabel ; “I

“ Yes." shall not be long away—anything that you “I will see that old scamp before we prorequire, ring that bell for."

ceed any further," said Brian, stepping to“ I shall want some supper, and some wards the house, when Mabel put her hands beer,” mumbled the old man, “and there's upon his an awful draught in this room somewhere, “We are losing time," she said ; "Dorcas which will give me my death of cold if it's may be in danger—your father may be alnot stopped."

ready at St. Lazarus.' “The air comes through the windows “You are right, Miss Westbrook," he which you broke.”

said ; "I can learn all the news from you,” “Oh I forgot the windows. They can He turned, and together they proceeded be stuffed up with something, I suppose." along the country road.

“ Yes—yes—tell the landlady. I am go- “I am selfish in allowing you to accoining now."

pany me,” he said, stopping again ; "I can "It's very foolish of you, I must say again,” act in this matter, if Dorcas is really in dansaid Peter; but Mabel took no heed of his re- ger, so much better without you. You must newed protest against her wilfulness, but went go back." at once from the house. She paused at the

“ I could not do it. Please let me come gate before commencing her journey—some with you,” she entreated, “ I am unhappy in one was rapidly approaching along the high that house already.' road, and the sharp, quick steps seemed not He wavered and relented, but not too wholly unfamiliar to her. The traveller was graciously. advancing from the sleeping city towards the “I hate to keep changing my mind—like country suburbs, and instinctively she waited a girl," he said, “but—but you wish it,” he

“ for him, standing back in the shadow of the added suddenly. trees which grew within the garden. It was He offered her his arm, and she placed as well that travellers on the road should her hand confidingly upon it. pass her, if untrustworthy and bound in her “I am glad I have met you,” Mabel said direction.

frankly, “ I feel safe with you.' The footsteps came nearer ; from her point "It is something to have gained your of observation Mabel could perceive now confidence," Brian replied, “and yet !

I the figure of a man walking in the middle of hardly know now why distrust has changed the road, and at a fair swinging pace. As it to faith. I don't deserve it.”

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“I hope you do," was her reply.

“I suppose not,” was his dry reply; “We “ I am only trying to deserve it."

must make for the church-where the will They walked on in silence after this, Brian is hidden.” increasing his pace unconsciously, until Ma- “ If Dorcas is only safe, and has found it, bel found herself trotting and panting to I shall be very glad,” said Mabel. keep up with him.

“ Fresh complications will arise with this "I am walking too fast for you,” he said fresh disposal of the money,” said Brian ; suddenly

are you prepared for them?” “Oh, no—not at all,” replied Mabel, in “I haven't thought about them.” little spasms of apology, “I-I always walk “Disappointments may ensue—will en-fast.'

sue.' “There is no hurry—and there is no dan

“In what way?” ger," Brian said, relaxing his speed; "any “ You will be disappointed in Dorcas, to one would think we were hastening to stop begin with,” Brian replied ;“she will change a murder, or catch a murderer. Dorcas is with her good fortune, or I have misunderon her own ground at the Hospital, and stood her all my life.” could defeat half-a-dozen such miserable "Sometimes I fancy that that is possible,' tricksters as my fatheris. Tell me now all said Mabel thoughtfully. that has happened, please ?”

“ That she will change ?” Mabel related the particulars of Peter “No—that you have misunderstood her.” Scone's arrival at her house, and the news “She is incomprehensible in many rewhich he had brought. She spoke of Dor- spects, I confess," Brian said, “and that cas's excitement and departure, and he there is some good in her, I have never listened with great interest, and refrained denied, or she should not have taken her from interrupting her.

place in your home to distress you at a time “She must have the start of William Half- of trial.” day," he said, “and she knows where a key “ The trial of the money, do you mean?” of the church is to be found. I did not “ Yes." think of the church-I was going to search “My losses do not affect me,” replied in the cottage where you told me once I was Mabel; “it is very wrong, I know, but I do cruel and a coward."

not seem to care about them." Mabel started.

“ You have fallen from riches to compa“What a memory you have !" she said. rative poverty-and that is a heavy fall."

“I am sure to remember the hard words “For a man,” added Mabel caustically. that are hurled at me—and youwereapartic- “For a young, earnest woman without ularly hard upon me that night. Have you knowledge of the world, or what respectable forgotten?”

indigence is like, the fall is great," he said. “Oh, no—but it has all been explained. “ I shall recover from it,"answered Mabel. Why do you think of it again ? "

“ As for this money which you put in “I like to think of it," he said.

Penton Bank, you are not a hair's-breadth “ That is hardly an answer.

closer to it, even if all that Peter Scone has “ It is satisfactory to have lived down your said is true," said Brian. bad opinion of me—to find myself acting as “I am not thinking of it--why do you escort to the lady who abused me so soundly. always talk to me of money ?” she asked It is pleasant to think

irritably. He stopped suddenly, and there was a “ It was a money question which made change in his voice, which deepened and us first acquainted,” said Brian, “perhaps vibrated more.

that is the reason. “ But I will not think about that."

“No-it is not." “ You are mysterious, Mr. Halfday,” said “Or you have not a proper respect for Mabel.

money,” he continued, “and I am educating “I am idiotic-that's all," was his prompt your mind by degrees to regard it with reply, “and I am neglecting business, and reverence.” forgetting the mission we have in hand. “ Will that take much time?” What is our course of action ? "

“Probably. But we are both young, and “I don't know."

have time before us."

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“ You will have to follow me to America, 'How is it he is with you ?” Dorcas then, to teach me your theories."

asked in her turn, and of Mabel West“What is that ?” he said sharply, and in brook. a different tone.

“ Your father had disclosed the secret of “I am going back to the States—that is the will to him—and your brother was comall."

ing on to the Hospital.” “You have not said anything of this be- " It is lucky I was there before you, fore,” he said reprovingly; “how long has Brian,” she said, steadily regarding him. this idea of your return to America been " Why lucky?" he inquired. under consideration ? "

“You would have taken sides against “I don't know—I can't say.”

me," she said ; “ you would not have treated “How long

me fairly in this matter. “We are forgetting Dorcas.”

Brian shrugged his shoulders, but did not “She is quite safe. I am not alarmed for reply. her safety in the least. How long have you “You would not have seen so much in given up your promise to

the will—and planned for me so much, I “Who is this coming across the fields to am sure," she added. the left? There is something moving in the “Have you read its contents ?” asked dark!” Mabel exclaimed suddenly ; " is it Brian. Dorcas ? "

“ I have seen enough to know that I am “Yes—it is,” said Dorcas, leaping lightly mistress of the money,” said Dorcas. over the stile into the high-road.

“The lawful owner of the money is here, “ Have you the will ?” asked Brian. Dorcas—and you know that as well as I “ Yes."

do," said Brian sternly.

She glanced at him, and said moodily

“I know what is right-and what just

to her, and I will have no prompting from CHAPTER XI.

you.”

“ Has anything new happened since you left home? asked Mabel.

“No," answered Dorcas; “ but you see RIAN asked a few hurried questions how he meets me with suspicion, as if I was

of his sister as the three stood to- planning against you. As if I am likely to gether in the high-road, and Dorcas answer forget the first woman who held her hand ed them in as hasty a fashion as they were out to me and called me friend." put to her. She had run all the way to St. “We need not talk of this now,” said Lazarus ; she had encountered no one in Mabel. her progress ; she had entered the church “No-no. Please let me be awhile-I and found her way in the dark, like a cat, to have much upon my mind- I have more to the old pew where Adam Halfday had sat think about than any one dreams of—I am for many years, and dozed and dreamed and going mad with thought,” Dorcas said, schemed, and seldom prayed, and she had with a flash of her old impetuous manner found the will secreted in the place to which as she stamped her foot upon the ground. Peter Scone had given her the clue.

“May I see this will ?” asked her brother. Mabel Westbrook and Brian were each “It is too dark here,” said Dorcas. struck by Dorcas's manner, which was new and “I have the short-sighted gift of reading peculiar. The excitement of the adventure in the dark,” said Brian. and the triumph at the result had not raised “You can see it, if you like,” said Dorcas, her spirits or rendered her communicative, sullenly again. and the agitation which had preceded her “I do like—very much," was her brother's departure had completely vanished. She was emphatic reply. calm, and grave, and sullen—it was the Dorcas took the will from the bosom of Dorcas whom Mabel had first seen in the her dress, and said to Mabel quadrangle of St. Lazarus, one evening late “See, I trust him more than he trusts me in May, with the fire and impulse of her na- —and yet you cannot imagine how he has ture pressed down in her heart.

taken part against me."

THE WALK BACK.

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“We will tell Miss Westbrook the whole few hours; if I have said anything harsh to story presently,” said Brian," and she shall you, forgive me.” judge between us."

“You are strange, that is all,” said Mabel, He took the will from his sister's hands, softened by his apology. and opened it where they were standing, “I come of a strange family. You will holding it close to his eyes, after looking find that young woman in the background a upwards once as if doubtful of the quality of trifle eccentric also on a closer acquaintthe light to be obtained from the stars, a ance," he remarked. few of which had stolen forth again from “ Yes. But I have seemed to look to you the cloudy sky. His was a strong sight and for help, in some incomprehensible way," did not betray him in this instance—and said Mabel ; “I feel to be waiting, as it his grandfather's handwriting was familiar to were, for your courage to support me when him. He read the document through quickly my troubles come. But that is an odd feel-it was not a long one-folded it, and re- ing that will soon die out.” turned it to his sister.

"Let it last, Miss Westbrook, if you can," “ Yes-you are quite right, Dorcas,” he he added earnestly. said in a deep voice ; "you have more to “As long as I live?" she rejoined arch think of than people fancy-and the end of “That may be too rash a promise, like this is far from clear."

the other.” “I know it,” answered Dorcas.

They went on in silence for awhile, with The three went on together a few more Dorcas Halfday some thirty yards in the yards, and then Dorcas stopped again. background. Dorcas had no interest in

“I wish you two would proceed by your them at that time ;--beyond the present hour, selves. I don't like this watching of me," and present life, she was trying vainly to she said sullenly again.

guess of all that might be waiting to change “We are not watching you, Dorcas,” said her, tempt her, set apart from the man Mabel.

and woman going on away from her—just “I did not expect you to follow me like as they would do presently for the remainthis."

der of their lives, and she not much to blame “We thought there might be danger.” for it.

“ I am used to danger,” said Dorcas; “go They were talking of her again, but she on, please ; I will keep you in sight. I can did not hear them. only bear with my own company to-night.” “ You do not ask me the tenor of the will

“ Come, Miss Westbrook," said Brian, which Dorcas has discovered," was Brian's offering his arm again, which Mabel did not next remark to Mabel. take this time, but walked on by his side, at “I am not curious." a pace less rapid than they had set forth "No." upon their journey.

“ It lies further away than ever ; it is “What makes her so strange?” asked wholly beyond your power to recover it ; and Mabel of her companion.

you do not feel as if you had fallen into the “On the brink of her good fortune, she hands of robbers ?” he said. turns giddy—that is all,” was the reply; “No-but I thought we were not to "weak-minded folk invariably do.” speak of this money again,” said Mabel.

“ It is a poor explanation," said Mabel, “What an inexhaustible subject it is to you! “ but I do not wish to force myself upon how you change and twist it into different your confidence.”

shapes to lead me into an argument conMeaning that there is no confidence be- cerning it! Why is this ?” tween us?” he rejoined.

“It is on my mind, and you have been “Not much," answered Mabel.

treated badly," he replied; “I have tried “After paying twenty thousand pounds hard to restore you to your rights, and failed for it too--that is hard,” was his caustic so miserably—my family is ever a curse to comment.

yours-and two generations only perpetuate “Are you in one of your aggravating the wrong." moods to-night?” she asked.

“You regard this morbidly, indeed." “Very likely," heconfessed ; "I have been "And you too lightly," he replied ; "if you perplexed, harassed, tortured within the last would only fret about it, or revile me, you

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would be acting more naturally, and—more hour or two, and this question which, figura. like a woman.

tively speaking, her companion had sudden“ Thank you for the compliment." ly hurled at her, brought back many un

“I said a little while ago that I was glad pleasant recollections. There was a little Dorcas had baulked my father in his greed furrow between the eyes as she answered --but I am not now.”

slowly : “ Indeed! Why?”

Oh, yes—I have seen Mr. Salmon.” “ William Halfday is a weak, vacillating Mr. Halfday glanced at his companion as man, over whom I might in time, and with if the tone of her voice had surprised him, study, have exercised some power for good and then went on :-but with Dorcas I am doomed to fail.” “He told me he should call upon you this

“ Your failure will not distress me," said evening.” Mabel ; "why should it affect you ?"

“ And he told me that he had done him. “Because--but there, there, I have said self the honour of calling upon you,” Mabel

—I all this before, and you will not listen remarked. patiently. Until I knew you I was a vain “Yes, he called," Brian said. prig, and thought myself a student of human They walked together in silence, feeling nature, whom no man or woman could de- that an embarrassing, even an objectionceive. But you are as great a riddle to me able topic of discourse had arisen between as when you came to Penton Museum one them, and Brian was already convinced that evening in May.”

he had been impolitic in mentioning AnMabel laughed pleasantly. The shadows gelo's name. Still Mr. Salmon had called, of the night had vanished; the dangers of had probably offered his hand to the lady, it had crept back into the darkness, and she and Brian Halfday was anxious to learn could look at life brightly again. The serious what had been the result of this love-suit. mood of Brian Halfday was worth a smile There was something cold and hard in the or two, she thought.

new manner of Miss Westbrook, and it was "I don't see anything to laugh at," he probable that Angelo had blundered in his muttered in half reproof.

courtship, and complicated matters by drag“I am not unhappy,” she said ; why ging Brian's name into question-as the may I not laugh ? "

reader is already aware that he had done. " At me?” he rejoined.

The April nature of Mabel Westbrook help“At your dulness, which cannot read a ed to puzzle and distract him, Brian woman who has not attempted much dis- thought-she was never twice alike, hence guise,” she answered.

there was no opportunity for a deliberate “And yet I understand you partly," he study of her character. Only a few mimurmured, “and value your friendship and nutes since there was the ripple of her muesteem before any one in the whole dark sical laughter in the summer air, and now world before me.”

no judge looked graver. Yes, an enigma, “Why dark world ? ” she asked.

this young woman from America !-he He did not explain. He confronted her wished that every word of hers did not with another question that brought them to trouble his mind so much. It was aggradebatable ground again. These two could vating, and came between him and his not agree upon any question on earth, each studies. was fully convinced a few minutes after- ' He was the first to speak again. Somewards. Quarrel they must, by the law gov- thing that Angelo had said was evidently erning the lives of cat and dog.

lying between them like a bar now, and that “ Have you seen Angelo Salmon this must not be. They were friends--she had evening ?” he inquired.

acknowledged that she should look to him
for help, if help were needed, and no paltry

misunderstanding must set them apart, even
CHAPTER XII.

for an instant. He had been never afraid

to speak out all that was in his mind, and
A FEW WORDS.

Mabel Westbrook should not daunt him.
ABEL WESTBROOK had forgot- He looked behind at Dorcas, who kept the

ten Angelo Salmon for the last same distance from them, and was still strug

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