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watching the steamer's hulls grow less as reason unexpressed, he wished to place his they diverged still more and more,—she money to the best secure advantage. noted that the homeward-bound went steer- Then came the sudden evil inspiration. ing into darkness, the outward-bound along Half amused at Ned's philippics against the the glistening track of moonlight on the sea. share jobbers, some of the sharp indignant
words had stung him through his moral hide. CHAPTER XXVII.
There was a smack of diabolic humor in
pricking his censorious cousin with the goad THE hazardous game that Keane had of self-reproach for having thus condemned played was won more easily and thoroughly his father among the men he scorned. than he had dared to hope. His ingenuity The jest might be severely practical, but had not been taxed for details. He had it would clear itself in time without much but lessened the proportions of the true dis- hurt to father or to son. aster, putting his uncle's name in substitu- As for the money, Ned could better afford tion for his own. The story thus seemed to lose than he to want it. It was a windgenuine by many tokens. The risk had fall come by chance, and gone without much been, not in the bold suggestion that such serious damage to the son of one so well-toa man as Ned should venture all to save do as Robert Locksley. Who knew but the credit of a father's name, but in endeav- what some day, if restitution should seem to oring to get hold himself upon the sum ad- be a luxury, he might himself indulge in it, ventured. Having first put a seal of secrecy and repay Ned with interest this sort of upon his cousin's lips, he doubted not, though secretly forced loan? they should go home together, that he him- When the dullest man consents to hold a self must act for him in some early stage of devil's brief against his conscience, he soon the affair. His own craft and quickness becomes a clever special pleader in the case. could be trusted to seize on even a moment's But Keane Burkitt was a man by no means opportunity. Ned's resolve spared him even dull. that critical moment.
Meanwhile, there was uneasiness concernHe had no foolish hope of retrieving him- ing him at Freshet from the first intimation self at home. The mere conception of the had there of the calamities of Walter Shernew misdeed proved that as he had been brooke. Cautiously as Keane had veiled always utterly selfish, he was not now for the that connection from public notice, its existfirst time fradulent. The Sherbrooke crash ence had not remained a perfect secret, if its not only broke his wealth, but, he well knew, extent was unsuspected still. When specumust also break his character. Some things lations prospered, Keane never made an inmight be glozed over, but enough must solent display. His ambition aimed higher come to light to ruin a man whose whole re- and was biding its time. Yet he had sources lay in the confidence of others. On evident success enough, on whatever field to a complete review of circumstances, he had kindle jealousy, and so to set Argus eyes determined to accept his defeat as total on a-watch. Such begun to wink with suggesthe old position. That must be shifted. He tion, not with sleep, when his trip to Malta would not return to Freshet. But go where was seen to coincide so nearly with stormy he might, he was not the man to endure the days in Capelcourt. Winkers soon came to thought of facing destitution or even a con- mutter, mutterers, to chatter. Preliminary tented inactivity in straightened means. meetings of creditors in re Sherbrooke, junSophy's patrimony was secured to her own ior, began to gather in town. Intelligence use and disposal. Even should she feel in- oozed out thence that “the name of a princlined to share it with him, it was not avail-cipal partner in a highly confidential firm of able as capital, and could furnish no basis solicitors in a well-known watering-place, for future operations. But this money of his upon the Blankshire coast, was assuming cousin's, available at once, would be the very prominence in the insolvent's affairs." All thing he wanted. How get leave to finger Freshet read this in the London papers beit? No pretext of profitable speculation fore the local journals thought it safe to would serve the turn. Ned had no greed of reproduce the paragraph within snap of gold, strange as it seemed, though, for some the firm's formidable teet. Old Mr. Gor
ing went up to town. There was not much, business of the firm. This to him was, of perhaps, in that. In his absence, however, course, an infinite relief. He was surprised a significant circumstance occurred. A let- to find how little it seemed so to bis partter came to the office-so a newly indentured ner's wife. clerk was green enough to babble-bearing But the luxurious case in which she had Lord Royston's signature and the Malta lived hitherto had thoroughly possessed her postmark. It was evident that Mr. Burkitt affections. A stranger to insatiable aspirahad left that island if ever he had reached tions, she had yet never been indifferent to it. This first frightened Sophy. Till then the position which her qualities as mistress she had made up her mind that Kean's long of a wealthy house had secured for her in silence came of some post-office accident the society of their little seaport town. She alone. When comments on the matter was one of those mothers, moreover, whose reached her ear, her heart misgave her temper is lavish of indulgence to the expensomewhat. But her sister Fanny met these sive caprices of her children. And when it misgivings with quick indignation. She was proved to her that house and horses, was not one to set a man down all unworthy delicate fare, fine dress, and costly toys, because of his unworthy treatment of her- were swept off in the current of her husself. She had taken down the image from band's calamity, she almost forgot her perits once high stand without having had So-sonal anxieties about him, and seemed to phy's forced occasions to study all its dis- throw up her hands as one who will sink proportions, to trace the cracks which with wailing but without a struggle in the seamed its marble, and to know the real flood. coarsness of its grain throughout. Besides, “Her weakness is contemptible, my she was most anxious that the weakness of dear;" would Mr. Goring say to his own his wife's surmises should not do for his matter-of-fact old wife; “she sobs and sops mother the work of the world's injustice. lace pocket-handkerchiefs with tears, and Why should her widowed heart be troubled cries, O cruel, cruel Keane !' whenever I with apprehensions which must turn out un- come to definite proposals. I want author. founded or exaggerated ? But on Mr. Gor- ity from some one to rout out and sort up ing's return from London they proved to be what papers he has left at his own house, too well founded, and even exaggeration now that I have almost done with those at seemed excusable when the barest truth the office." turned out to be so very serious. That is so “Why not try Mrs. Burkitt, senior ?" far as money losses were involved. The she would answer ; "there's starch in her slippery nature of the share-dealing tricks that no stream of tears will ever wash out, was not yet evident. Keane's dishonesty I guess.” had all along been strangely inconsistent. Mrs. Goring, apparently, took a severe Many men, who do as he did, divide their view of that lady's character. Passages in lives, and whether from mere happy incon- their former life might once have justified sistency or from calculated hypocrisy, are it. rogues in counting-houses or chambers, hon- · Why, Miss Davenant has threatened me est men enough in their more private deal with I don't know what, if I worry his ings. Now he had made a further subdi- mother about him. I am sure I don't know vision of his life, not one which can be what to do." counted likely to have endured under pres- “ Make Miss Davenant herself take her sure of extreme temptation, but of which the silly sister in hand. She has common sense separating line had not yet been transgressed enough for both. You should know that by when all his private ventures shivered in this time." Walter Sherbrooke's ruin. Having grasped “A very good suggestion, my dear," said and griped and cheated in the share-market, Mr. Goring, and forthwith acted on it. he had yet betrayed no client's interest in Nothing could have been better thought his capacity as confidential solicitor. At of. Sophy, not without some foolish and least, Mr. Goring could discover nothing unjust reproaches of her sister for needless irregular, nothing suspicious, no disorder, or hurried interference, was at last perno defalcation, in any matter touching the suaded to let her and her husband's partne
do as they thought fit. Still no traces of The elder woman felt that only fine hearts any but heavy pecuniary embarrassments find apologies of this kind readily. She was revealed themselves to the search of the the more troubled as she asked again, latter. Fanny was in exultation, not only * Is it for your sister's sake, then, that you because the more malignant rumors against come to me, my dear ?” the man whom once she had thought not un- Fanny would not prevaricate, so held her worthy of her heart were likely to prove peace again. mere slanders, but because a light began to Her aunt had more than once seen Sophy dawn upon the hope of a deliverance from since the extent of Keane’s losses had been, his difficulties.
with some certainty, surmised. She had “ The only thing which staggers me, Miss been struck and pained by his wife's selfish Davenant, is his protracted silence.” querulousness and by her apparent scanti
“I only see in it a proof," she answered, ness of thought for him. Her rising indig“that he is more sensitive than some have nation quickened apprehension in her unind thought him ;” and this interpretation she of what significance might lie in Fanny's difurged upon her aunt, the quarter whence ferent concern and forethought. Presently she looked for his possible rescue.
she said, She still had no precise knowledge of that “How far do you think, my dear, that I old lady's resources, none whatever of her have power to help him ? " testamentary dispositions. But she was That she could not say, save in a loose aware of her strong partiality to Keane, conjecture. But her aunt's previous liberaland of the substantial proofs of it afforded ity had shown that her resources were far by her liberality upon his marriage. All greater than had been usually supposed; she might yet be well, and much be spared, even knew the kindness of her heart, and so had of the fantastic humiliations, which her sis- ventured to conceive a hope that even at a ter dreaded, if it should only prove that sacrifice Aunt Davenant had will and power to make “Sacrifice is a fine thing to recommend," for him a large and honorable composition. Miss Davenant interrupted, drily; "another
Something smote that little old lady at guess to practise." the eagerness of Fanny's pleading.
but the satisfaction must be grand “My dear niece, I like openness. Why and deep." did not Sophy come herself to me? She “ If you mean that, Fanny, prove it.” knows, much better than you can, my feel- In a few, quiet, business-like sentences she ing for her husband, to say nothing of my told her niece what division of her property treatment of herself, which might have given she had made by will, and how she had anyou sometimes some excuse for jealousy." ticipated, in favor of the Burkitts on their
“ You were always the kindest of aunts marriage, by far the greater part of the to me,” said Fanny.
larger provision she had made for Sophy. Sincerely meant in one way, the answer, If my money can right matters, my dear, in another, was evasive. Fanny, in fact, had it can only do so at your own expense, you acted without consulting her sister, who see. I fear I have done you injustice enough might have conceived unmeasured hopes, and already. Of my own accord I will do you no suffered, should the notion prove unfruitful, more. If the sacrifice is made, you make it.” unmeasured disappointment.
Without an instant's deliberation, Fanny “ I am not so sure of that, my dear; but, rose, crossed over to the arm-chair in which if so, to her I have been kinder than the kind- her aunt was sitting, lifted the Persian cat est. I suppose she sent you to me.” with becoming respect out of her lap, knelt
To this she made no answer, so the old down, folded her taper waist with both arms lady put the question more explicitly- most lovingly, kissed her upon either with
“Did Sophy send you here, my dear, or ered cheek, and said, not ?"
“God bless you, auntie. May I tell Mr. “ No, she did not; and, I dare say, feels Goring, then, to take the necessary steps at that from herself an application such as this once with Mr. Sherbrooke's creditors ?”
" would look like an encroachment upon one Tears glistened in the old lady's bright, who has been so generous.”
"Fanny, dear, you have a great heart ; had been denied him to conciliate in any but a great fear troubles me that I have large degree the confident and passionate wronged it. God knows the thought was attachment which bound them to Ned Locksfar from me. If you will answer me one ley. question that may pain you, it might give Great was, especially the exultation of the me an infinite relief, selfish as it may be to Bheel. He had predicted the ure return of
his own sahib before swords should be crossed Speak your mind out, dear auntie.” again. No arguments of the One-eyed, drawn “Openly, then, my dear good niece, and from geographical considerations, had moved honestly: was there ever anything, any en- him from that firm persuasion. The Kattigagement, understanding—you know what I waree, therefore, and his equipments were mean—between yourself and Keane before in such condition that one might have thought he married Sophy ?
his master had given orders but the day be“ Nothing more, dear aunt,” she said, fore to saddle him for the march. Bikhu “than this,—which I found again when could not resist such reference to the fulfilsearching his own private desk with Mr. ment of his own anticipations as caused the Goring yesterday.”
worthy Jemadar to shake his head and mutIt was her own small glove, whose fellow ter against the magic sources of misbelievhad gone eddying upon the swirl of Thames er's information. Nusreddeen and Bikhu at Twickenham.
met, however, upon a common ground of “And this is your revenge! Now, God congratulation, not only on the sahib's own requite you for it, Fanny."
arrival, but on the fact that in his company It may be that He had already. He had was come the great shikaree, Sergeant-Maspared her, at least, the cruel chill by inches (jor Wilmot. Locksley had found him in which must creep upon the warmest heart if Bombay, returned to regimental duty, and laid a life long beside another such as arrived at the superior non-commissioned Keane’s. That very day, on her return rank. from Lancrcost, she found poor Sophy shiv- The gallant Europeans were not for serering over the selfish coldness of a letter vice in the threatening campaign ; and, irfrom New York, in which her husband wrote regular as the proceeding was, Ned, an abthat he had thought it best to try to push sentee of whom his colonel and his corps his way there without incumbrance either of were proud, obtained leave for his Cransdale wife or child.
follower to make it with his old friends of
the Trans-Nerbuddah. CHAPTER XXVIII.
The camp itself was honored, not to say TIME had sufficed during Ned's short ab- perplexed—as readers know, who keep in sence from India for the gathering of new memory the features of that short decisive war clouds over a fresh field of strife. Brit- warfare--by the presence of no less a perish soldiers of a younger generation were to sonage than the governor-general. His try conclusions with a foe of name and face suite and staff commingled with the followfamiliar to their elders. Trouble was rife ing of the general in command, increased the again with the Mahrattas; the rock of Gwa- usual difficulty of ascertaining, suddenly, on lior seemed to attract the thunderstorm. what company a new arrival might have Locksley's Horse, as they were now called chanced. Indeed, Ned's first and second days for short, had been withdrawn from Scinde in camp enlightened him but little on that to join the army assembling under Gough's head, being engrossed with the business of command. Thither, immediately on his re- resuming his own small command. O'Brien, turn, their leader hurried, glad of such ex- known to the general-in-chief, his fellowciting action as might divert his thoughts countryman, was easily consoled for the from the sad interruption of his homeward transfer by an appointment upon his pervoyage.
sonal staff. His coming caused a jubilee among the It was not till the third evening, that Ned, swarthy troopers. O'Brien, indeed, had at home again with all the details of the conshown them at Meeanee in what sort he was dition of his corps, and ready, as in old worthy to lead such men as they ; but time Scindian times, for any service at a moment's
notice, betook himself for a stroll of social “Ah, well ! I'm a blighted being. Never exploration through the lines. Here and mind, your ladyship, the campaign may there a friendly hand met his, and words of make a widow.” soldierly welcome from an old comrade Wherewith he applied a handkerchief to cheered him. But, as he neared the govern- his eyes, so comically, that spite of the too or-general's quarters, he felt a grasp upon sad probability with which he jested, his his elbow behind.
wife and visitor burst out into laughter. “ Locksley, of Locksley's Horse, if I mis- “ It is really too bad of you !” cried the take not ?"
former, when they began to recover breath ; The voice brought but a dim remembrance; but Willie, or rather, Sir William, being inand the features, ill discerned in the growing corrigible, only bowed, and blew a kiss to dusk, brought little else.
her. Ned now found opportunity to offer “Just so. But, I beg pardon. In fact, I his, double congratulations. Of Sangster's fear you have the advantage of me." promotion he had been before aware, but.
“Pray, don't mention it; but do me the had not heard of the marriage, at which he favor to step this way with me. There is a could heartily rejoice. lady here, whom you may recognize, and "I cannot conceive what made me hesiwho is, herself, most anxious to set eyes on tate to recognize you, when the voice, too, you."
sounded so familiarly. But it was very A little bungalow stood some fifty paces dusky, and you came on me from behind, to the rear of the rearmost line of tents; you know. I had no notion you were atthither Ned's unknown acquaintance piloted tached to Sir Hugh Gough's army.”. him. At a table, in the room which opened “No more I aint. I came, promiscuous, into the verandah, sat a lady, writing by the with the governor-general. Flo heard, howlight of a lamp, already lit.
ever, that Lady Gough was with her hus“Here, my lady," quoth the officer, “I band, and nothing would induce her to stay have obeyed your royal behests, and cap- behind. Seen "general orders' to-night,
' tured Mr. Locksley."
eh?” “ Miss Florence Barrington!” cried Ned, “No, I haven't. Anything particular ? " as she rose to greet him.
Only that we, with Gough, march upon “ As was,” answered the officer. “Since Maharajpore, to-morrow; Grey's wing on gazetted Lady Sangster.'”
Punniar. Khajee Wallah and the Mahar“ Then, you had not heard of our mar- anee don't seem to see things Lord Ellenriage ? ” asked Florence, with his hand in borough's way.” hers.
“Will the Mahrattas fight ? " “Certainly not," interrupted her husband, “Like mischief. I am told they are in“ or he would have hanged himself, which, trenching themselves across the Kohuree I suppose, that I must do, now that he has River.” turned up again. You don't happen to “ I was in hopes,” said Lady Sangster, have a forage rope about you, Mr. Locksley ? " that matters might have gone off in negoThere's a nice tree with a crooked branch tiation. Many chiefs have sent their vakeels outside.”
into camp, you know." Ned stared, as well he might. Florence “To throw dust in his lordship's eyes,” only laughed, and shook her fore-finger, with her husband answered. menace, at her husband, as she used to do “ Well, it don't take much of a scuffle at her vivacious cousin.
to raise dust in this camp," said Ned. “I “ Yes, that was the way you shook your wish it would rain before the march, for finger at poor dear honest Rosy, when she Lady Sangster's sake. You have no notion let your cat out of the bag. She told me, what a cloud an Indian army tramps in.” Mr. Locksley, not to flatter myself too much “ Too good luck to rain,” replied Sir Wilon Florence's acceptance of my suit, for she liam ; " though I dare say it's snowing fast only took me, because you had neglected at home.” to take her."
“ Where at home, dear?” " For shame, Willie! How can you? “ At home in England, to be sure ; have You knew his old way, Mr. Locksley, and / you forgotten it is Christmas time ?” can hear he's not altered for the better.” Into what memories did that one word