Imatges de pÓgina
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me to the ground completely—if you ask me " I ask you for your confidence," she said to take that money back,” he cried, “there reproachfully. will be no trust-no confidence, if you will

*" You shall have it. I saved the moneynot let me help you.

most of it, that is,” he added with a reserve. “What do I want with a thousand “From your small income-impossible ! pounds ?”

“How do you know what my income is ?" “A woman without money is at the mercy asked Brian, not a little surprised at her last of the world. A man can work for more.' remark.

“You have promised me, Brian Halfday, “Mr. Gregory Salmon told me,” replied to tell me everything I wish ?” Mabel re- Mabel. minded him.

“Ah ! yes, he is a man who knows every“Did I say everything?"

thing except how to write sermons; which “ Yes."

reminds me that I borrowed a book of " Is there anything more to ask of me?" you at Datchet Bridge. A terrible book "Certainly there is."

that- -" “Then it was a rash promise,” he said “ You are wandering from the subject inrestlessly; “I should have been upon my tentionally, Mr. Halfday ? " guard.”

“You will have no mercy on me," he re"No, no-don't conceal anything from plied. “ How did I save so much money, me," said Mabel imploringly ; “let me, for you ask?” once in your life, know you as you are. You “ Yes.have been a riddle to me--I have never “Upon my honour, it is hardly a fair seemed to understand you."

question,” he said, laughing again ; but there “I was vain enough to think your faith in are to be no secrets between us. me began at Datchet Bridge,” said Brian “Go on, please.” softly.

“And I may ask a few questions of you "It began--yes. I lost the old belief in in return-as forcibly and abruptly as I have your being my enemy. I felt you might at asked questions of my sister before this,” he

” any time become my friend—but you always said. remained a mystery I could not compre

“ I don't think I have a secret in the hend.”

world now," replied Mabel, “but proceed. "And now?" he asked eagerly.

I am very curious. And now I trust you with my whole “I had saved up eight hundred pounds heart-for I think I read all that is in yours.' at the end of last month," said Brian at last;

“Ah ! that is impossible," he muttered. “ I am of a saving turn of mind—the miserly

“Therefore, Mr. Halfday, with no secrets habits of my grandfather are inherent in me, between us ever again, tell me where you my expenses are few, I live rent free, I eat got this money ? "

little and drink less." Brian Halfday hesitated for an instant, But from your salary, it seems to be imand then one of his rare laughs escaped him. possible that you should have saved eight The position was becoming brighter and hundred pounds,” said Mabel thoughtfully. lighter, and the shadows were stealing from “I did not say I saved that sum from my the scene.

salary." “ You will not ask me to take this


Mabel looked hard at him again. back?"

“Another mystery?” she said. “You will let me pay you when I am “No-1 am going to tell you what few rich again- I mean very rich ? When Dor- people in Penton are aware of—what I have cas, or Dorcas's husband, for instance, in- kept to myself as much as possible, having sists upon my receiving back a fair share of no friends in the world who would have been the capital now in her possession."

interested by the communication.” “Yes—then,” he answered.

“What can it possibly be?” said Mabel “Now tell me how you were able to lend breathlessly. me a thousand pounds ?”

He laughed again at her anxiety. Yes, “You are a very curious girl," he said ; the shadows were surely falling into the backwhat does it matter, so that I have been ground of his life. Here was a woman inteable to help you ?"

rested in him and his pursnits.

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I write," he said.

your savings? What do I want with it ? “Oh! I am glad to hear it !” exclaimed Why should I let you run into debt for me?" Mabel, “you are clever !—you are a real “My creditor will not harass me for his author-you write books that people actu- money back-and I shall earn it before the ally pay for? How delightful !

year dies out. Please, let me be, Miss West“ Yes, I write books and am actually brook. You never cared to talk too long paid," said Brian.

about money--it is, at the best, one of the “Novels—poems—histories—what kind most miserable topics under the sun, God of books?"

knows." “ Books and pamplets that would weary And


what a deal we have had to say you to death to wade through,” he said, half about it." sadly, half dryly, "pages of heavy matter “Ay," asserted Brian, "we have never and ponderous detail

, on which the bright met without some sharp words on the queseyes of women seldom rest.”

tion. But you always began it, if you re“Scientific?”

member." Dry essays on our mother earth chiefly “No—I don't remember that,” said Mabel. - with fragments here and there of county “Let us talk of something else before I history by way of a change of work, when say good night. May I?" hard study of dead worlds becomes too " What do you wish to talk about ?” asked much for me. I have been fortunate in Mabel. earning money, if no fame, by these pur- “ Yourself." suits," he added modestly, "and I love the “I am afraid we have been talking of labour of the pen with all my soul.” that all the evening ;” she said.

He spoke with enthusiasm, and Mabel “But you have promised to answer all had never seen that thin, wan face with so my questions—and it is my turn to be exmuch light upon it.

ceedingly curious,” he urged. “And you have studied this for me," she Mabel regarded him with trepidation. said, “ for the poor reward, the miserable “You will ask nothing of me that I cansatisfaction, of lending me the savings of not answer fairly ?" she said.

“ There was to be no reserve," was his “ There is no higher reward I want,” he reply, “there are to be from this day no replied, “you have been upon my conscience secrets between us." -I am happier than I have ever been, to- “N-no," she answered, hesitatingly. night.”

“Very well,” said Brian, in almost a busi“And poorer, too."

ness tone again, though it was an affectation “I can earn money easily now,” he said of business that Mabel would have more somewhat proudly,” I am known in London quickly perceived had she not been nervous

I —the early struggles of one who writes for as to what was coming next; "and now bread are past for ever. I think it is not the name of the bank in which all the money wholly unlikely that I may even die a toler- has been lost?" ably rich man."

Mabel told him, and he booked the title Not if you fling your money about in in a little note-book which he took from his this reckless fashion," said Mabel archly, breast pocket. "and trust such a stranger as I am.”

“ Thank you,” he said, “and now the “Stranger," he repeated mournfully, "Oh! name of THE MAN." don't say that.”

“No-but I will say this, I cannot accept all your money." Hush, hush ! you must not break faith

CHAPTER XVIII. with me, and render me unhappy to-night,” he said ; "this is a night for ever to be re

AN HONEST CONFESSION. membered gratefully." “I don't see why."

T was a bold question for a man like “You trust me—you believe in me?"

Brian Halfday to put to this high“Yes,” said Mabel, hesitatingly, “but spirited maiden from the States, but its very this two hundred pounds extra and above i boldness had its effect.

your life.”


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Mabel was for a moment or two speech- “You have acted rashly,” he continued in less with astonishment, then she ejacu- mild reproof, “no one should have so serilated

ously embarrassed herself, and complicated The man! What man?"

matters so inextricably as you have done. “He who has stood between you and And,” he added, “if it had not been for a Angelo Salmon-whom you love, and are prior engagement, a gentle, unselfish woman going back to?"

would have naturally responded to that Mabel coloured at the peremptory tone attachment which Gregory Salmon's son which he had so suddenly assumed, and re- evinced.” plied

“I don't know that,” said Mabel shaking “ You have no right to ask me such a her head. question as that.”

“I have answered your question-now “There are to be no more secrets, Miss reply to mine. See, I am waiting to enter the Westbrook,” he said, “and I shall arrive at happy man's name in my note-book," said a clearer understanding of your character, Brian with a rare exhibition of facetiousness, be able to act more thoroughly for you, and as he held his book up for inspection. him, if you will keep your word with me. “I shall never tell you his name, to begin Trust me as your brother. I am not asking with,” said Mabel, looking at the carpet, from motives of idle curiosity—and there“ because in the first place there is no enshould be no affectation of reserve to sink gagement between him and me at present. you to the level of your sex.”

But there is a gentleman-oh! a long, long It was a compliment paid to Mabel at the way from here, far away in the backwoods of expense of her sex, and she knew not how to my native land—whom I could learn to love, reply. She was glad that he thought highly and who I think might learn to love me in of her, and yet was angry and sorry that he return." had had but a poor opinion of women all his “He must love you very deeply." life. She had pledged herself to speak, she “Ah! I am not certain of that,” answered wondered a little why he was anxious to Mabel, “and I only say I may learn to love know, but she was half-disposed to be of him in good time." fended with him again for thinking that “ This is a three-cornered kind of confesunder any circumstances he was justified in sion,” said Brian thoughtfully, “but I commaking the inquiry. Surely it was not his prehend you. Very clearly too,” he added, business—and the loan of a thousand pounds slowly dropping his note-book into his to her did not warrant him in assuming the breast-pocket. airs of a dictator.

“You will say nothing of this to Dorcas," “What makes you think there is a gentle suggested Mabel. man anywhere, for whom I care one half- * I shall not see Dorcas. Besides—I have penny? " she asked.

no confidence in her." “I am sure there is,” he answered very “ You must not judge her too hastily positively.

yet.” “Why are you sure?” she inquired also, “And we are speaking to ourselves—not “it is only a little while ago you professed to the world,” added Brian. “It is for this reayour inability to understand women, and now son that I wish you all the happiness in lifeyou pretend to read all that is in my heart.” and I see only a little distance from you that

"I do not understand women, Miss West- happiness approaching. For he must love brook-but I know they are very positive, you—this man.” very obstinate, very eccentric when a lover is “Why?" asked Mabel, softly. at their feet, who is all the world to them.” " You are different from other women

“You did not discover that truth in the since you have been away from America, he study of mother earth,” said Mabel.

must have missed you so much," replied “No. In the study of mother nature.” Brian.

“Have I been very positive, obstinate, and “Why did he not come after me, and keep eccentric?

me from the terrible temptation of the Sal“Decidedly.” Mabel considered this reply.

Brian stared hard at this sudden exhibition “Probably, I have,” she said at length. of levity.


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* You are piqued,” he said, "you and he said Mabel reproachfully,

said Mabel reproachfully, “this is ungenehave quarrelled.”

rous of you at last.” “ We have had a few words."

“It is as well you should know," replied Is he rich ?"

Brian; "and you have done me a kind serMabel hesitated, and then encountering vice in telling me of the lover in America, Brian Halfday's inquiring gaze said quickly, for I go back to my old life none the worse

Ι “Yes—very rich."

for the collapse of an air-bubble in the sun. “ What is he?"

I was not selfish at least ; I felt you were “In the dry-goods store line,” was the beyond me when Angelo Salmon told me prompt reply.

how he loved you, and I have only seemed "That is an extraordinary business for the a little nearer since your rejection of his suit.

! backwoods," remarked Brian.

I have thought of approaching you by slow "I did not say his business was in the degrees, and of being loved by slow degrees backwoods, but that he was there at the pre-in turn. There was no securing you by a sent time. Don't criticise me—don't talk of coup de theatre, and now that there is no this any more, please Mr. Halfday-I have securing you at all, I shall be a practical, told you more than I cared to tell already, matter-of-fact man for ever afterwards. But but you have dragged this secret from me, for ever your friend, Mabel Westbrook, who for no earthly good. Spare me now, I have talks in this romantic strain for the first and been tried to-day severely."

last time in his life, and who makes a clean “Yes-yes," said Brian in response to an breast of his folly before he says goodappeal which had been uttered with great night." rapidity, and considerable excitement, “ I He held out both his hands, and she saw am an intermeddler, and have worried you the movement and put hers within them, and with questions I had no business to ask. You without looking up at him. Again the strong are quite right; I am an inquisitive man, and firm clasp of his hands startled her, and yet want to know too much. Forgive me, Miss assured her of his earnestness, and strength Westbrook-I will not trouble you again in of will, and faith in her. this way."

You are not oftended ?" he asked in a “ Thank you," murmured Mabel.

low tone. “And as there are no secrets between us,” “No," she replied in as low a tone as him. he continued, as from this day's date we self. stand on new ground together, with confi- “If I have spoken out too plainly, forgive dence in each other; I am going to tell you me, and think no more of it,” he continued, one more truth. It will put you on your

“ for I could not keep the truth back, after guard against me—it will warn you of the all that you had told me. And it is the power you may exercise for good or evil ; it solemn truth!- I shall not grieve, and you will show you, even, how a hard man like me need not be afraid of my obtrusiveness. I can soften to a fool under the spell of a fair am very strong, thank Heaven, and I say

Ι woman's influence.”

again that from to-night, I am simply your He was standing before her, with his face true friend, whom you are to trust as long as full of trouble, but she had not the courage you live ! There-God bless you, girl—and to look up at him, or arrest his words. He good-night again.” was so terribly in earnest that she was afraid He kissed her hands, like a gentleman of to speak

the old school rather than a geologist of the “When I came here this evening, it was, new, and Mabel did not shrink from his for the first time, with a faint hope that I reverent caress. When he was gone, she cast might win upon your heart some day,” he herself upon the couch, and shed many said ; "and you might give me hope to win strange tears, and did not feel, despite her it, if I were strong and patient. You became grief, that she was particularly unhappysuddenly my dream, and my ambition—but although she had not told all the truth to God knows the dream is over, and the ambi- Brian Halfday, and was to deceive him afresh tion is at an end. That is why I tell you." to-morrow, when he might learn to despise

“This is not sparing me, Mr. Halfday," her even for her want of trust in him.

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give him tone and strength of character.

It pained and irritated him upon mature AFTER THOUGHTS.

consideration to think that he had acted

as foolishly as Angelo Salmon, and with OMANCE does not live long in the about the same result. He had had rather

heart of a practical man. It is a more than a dim consciousness of being a temporary and uncomfortable aliment which clever and shrewd fellow until that particuhe is bound in justice to his character to set lar night, and now he could see where he aside, more especially when there is nothing had blundered. The more he stared at the for the ideal to subsist upon. This was opposite wall, and at the geological maps Brian Halfday's theory, and he believed in which were hanging there, the more he beit, and in his power to go back at any time came convinced that he had been betrayed to his old life-as if to retrace one's steps by impulse and vanity, and–heaven have were ever possible to the sons of men. He mercy upon him—by sentiment! His finwent home to his stuffy top room in the gers tugged at his long hair in dismay at Penton Museum, a grave and determined this—what would Mabel Westbrook think of being; he had made up his mind to begin him when she reconsidered all the nonsense again to-morrow as if nothing had happened which he had talked during the latter portion to lure his thoughts from those studies by of their interview? If he could live that which he had earned money, and which evening over again! If he had not told her seemed, even to him, to point towards a of his love she would have respected him name by which the world might know more, and he should have been a prouder him presently. He had been wrong to

What had been the use of so maudswerve from the groove in which his life lin an avowal, save to render her distrustful had been running easily till Mabel West- of him? Why could he not have buried, brook's advent; he was sorry to confess it, deep down in his heart, that knowledge but he had been for the first time in his life which had not even benefited himself ? a fool.

And to tell her that he loved her, a few moHe confessed it again when he was atments after giving her, or lending her, all home and had lighted his lamp and set his the money which he possessed too, as if he papers in order for an immediate dash at had kept back his passion until he had the work. But the work was beyond him, and opportunity of offering her a bribe. he contented himself with staring at it and is No-no-she will not think that !” he the opposite wall by turns, finding that the cried aloud, for it was a thought too galling woman he loved was too strong for the fos- for him, in these salutary moments of selfsils and earths he loved too.

depreciation, “she is warm-hearted, gene. Too strong for that night at least, but rous, and will do me justice.” these were early times to shake off the sense He took a long walk round his room of disappointment which he felt despite after this, and it was a wise dispensation his philosophy. To-morrow Brian Halfday that there was no human being taking rest would be himself again. Nothing had hap- in the apartment beneath, he tramped on pened which he had not expected, surely. so persistently, and stamped his feet at It was unlikely that this good-looking Ame- times so heavily. Suddenly he made a dash rican girl should think of loving a man who at his work again. had aged so much before his time as he had, “I am sulking like a child at the inevit not one attribute that might stand as a fair able,” he said, “and I will not have it !” passport to that lady's society which he had There was the courage to write a few studiously shunned until a goddess had sur- lines, the manliness to persevere; but his prised him in his den here. It was as well heart was too strong for his brains, and prethat it was quickly over, and Mabel West- sently his pen dropped, and the blurred brook had owned to a lover already. It manuscript was pushed unconsciously aside. settled the whole affair completely, and After all, it was pleasant to think of herrendered the path ahead of him smooth, and even at that hour, and with the bronze clock free from pitfalls, and-only a little dull! registering two—to remember all that she That last feeling he should get over-all men had said, to dwell upon the expression of were dull at times—and his studies would her faith in him, the frank confession of her



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