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daughter-if she is my daughter-the-the- There was a note lying on his table: it was a bulk of this fortune to which I am now the second letter from Jack Baker, urging immediate undoubted heir. When can the papers be repayment of the money. Stephen threw it aside signed ?"
impatiently: Baker's troubles mattered little to “You can come to my office to-morrow him : he had other things to think of. morning,” said Mr. Billiter, cheerfully; “I will He sat down presently, and tried to think. promise to make no allusions to the past, and He could not arrange his thoughts. He could you can draw a check in advance to meet and not put things together in anything like sequence. pay any outstanding liabilities before you go They had discovered what he thought could abroad."
never be found out — the forgeries of the re“ As I am going abroad,” said Stephen, with ceipts : they had found, too, what he never susa simplicity which did him great credit, “it pected or dreamed of—the existence of a daughwould be quite absurd to pay any of my debts." ter. Anthony told him that his wife was dead.
He put on his hat and walked out of the Anthony told him with cold voice, but without a room; his shoulders were bent, and, though he word of reproof, that his wife was buried in the tried to walk with his old swagger, he had some- cemetery of Bournemouth. Anthony had not thing of the appearance of the whipped hound. told him, nor had he suspected, that there was a This is inevitable under such disagreeable cir- child. cumstances.
Why had Dora kept that secret from him? The other four, left alone, congratulated each Why had Anthony kept that secret? He laughed other on the success of their diplomacy. aloud as he recalled a thing long since forgotten
Then they broke up and went away. Mr. —how Anthony had gone, himself, and spoken Billiter took up his hat without looking over the to Rachel Nethersole about her sister, while he screen, and the boy was left alone.
and Dora were actually, plotting and planning He remained there, not daring to move, for for their secret marriage at Hungerford. No five minutes; then he slowly got up, and danced doubt Anthony was in love, and remained in a little double shuffle round the chair in which love long after he, Stephen, had come out of it; Stephen had sat.
no doubt he kept this child as a sort of souvenir “ I'm the luckiest boy in all the world !” he of that dead and hopeless passion. Poor old cried, though his face was pale at the sudden Anthony ! he always was a soft-hearted sort of shock of this discovery. “I know all their little man : little better than a fool, when it came to secrets all round. But oh!"-he stopped dan- the commoner emotions of humanity. Why, he cing, and became very grave—"what an awful himself could always get round Anthony. example, to a future partner in the House, is the A daughter. history of Stephen Hamblin! If he wasn't Ali- Alison Hamblin, the girl whom he had been son's father-and there's another start of the accustomed to hate, to plot against, and to curse, very rummiest—if he wasn't Alison's father, and was his daughter; that was a very surprising so it had to be kept dark, I would write that his- circumstance. For his own part, he had never tory out fair for use in schools. It should be set felt in the slightest degree a paternal instinct to music-I mean, to Latin exercises—and it toward her-quite the contrary. He had always would be a great deal more useful than the do- regarded her with sentiments of extreme dislike; ings of the impostor Balbus. “ The Wicked he hated her like sin, he said, untruthfully, beHamblin," it should be headed. Ahab and cause he was not one of those who hate sin. Ahaziah—both of them-were saints with rings She came between himself and a possible sucround their heads, compared to Uncle Stephen. cession. How could he avoid hating her ? Even And even—" he hesitated for another historical now, when he was told with one breath that she example—"even Jehoram was an angel of light.” was his daughter, he was ordered with the other
to resign his rights in her favor, or else
That was it-or else— He turned this alter
native over and over in his mind. That, at least, CHAPTER XXXIV.
was clear enough. The documents were forged:
in his own chambers he could acknowledge so HOW STEPHEN DEFIED THEM ALL. much; he had himself—being pressed for money,
and being quite sure that his brother would never STEPHEN HAMBLIN went home to his cham- go to Newbury, where awkward inquiries might bers. The time was four o'clock. He bore with be made-written those papers, signed them, and him the manuscript which his cousin had given —most fatal error !- presented them himself. him. His step was weary, and the lines in his Why, if only he had observed the common predark face were heavily marked.
caution of getting another man to hand them in
across the counter—if only he had sent a clerk what he should start with. Two thousand a or some other irresponsible person! But to go year, say. That means more than a hundred himself-to forget that his name belonged to a and fifty a month, five thousand francs a month; great city House, and was sure to attract attention a great deal may be done with that. Then there -he must have been mad.
was still seven hundred or so left out of Jack To be sure it was not wise to forge the things Baker's thousand. Of course he was not going at all. But then he was so hard up at the time: to pay that away. Then there was the furniture he had private expenses which he could not well of his chambers, which was good, with the picexplain to Anthony; he had lost his own money: tures and statuettes, which were not good, havhe wanted everything he could lay his hands on; ing been taken chiefly with money advances : that hundred and fifty every year seemed like a furniture and pictures could be sold by private little windfall, providentially sent. We need not contract; altogether, he would begin the new imagine that Stephen was at all repentant about life, outre mer, with a thousand pounds of capithe crime; he was only sorry that it had been tal, in addition to two thousand a year income. found out. Hardened persons, habitual crimi- That was better than in the old days. And, if nals, go off in two directions: they are very sorry things went wrong, there was always his daughwhen things are discovered, and they are angry ter, he thought, to fall back upon. when they think of the necessities of the moment Lastly, there was one thing more: he might which made the crime absolutely unavoidable. marry. A man of his means was an eligible But neither state of mind is at all akin to what parti; there were plenty of widows with good the good chaplain of the prison means by a heart- incomes on the Continent; if their reputations felt repentance.
were a little cracked, what matter? so was “How much goes to a reasonable' annui- his. ty?" he thought, reflecting on the proposal ; "the It will be seen that this was the meditation of estate is worth twelve thousand a year, at the a perfectly selfish man. Stephen Hamblin rose very least. I shall be reasonable on two. Yes, to great heights of selfishness. He had divested two thousand will do for me.
himself as much, perhaps, as man can do so, who “As for that woman, Rachel Nethersole, she is not Cæsar, Kaiser, Czar, of any consideration must be five-and-fifty. Perhaps she will go off for any other human being whatever. He was suddenly: some of these old cats do when they unto himself a god. are not too venomous. Then I could get back He laughed, thinking of matrimony. And to England.
then he remembered the manuscript which his “Things might be worse. Considering what cousin had placed in his hands. He opened it a tremendous pull they've got, things might be and read it.
I suppose that fighting is out of the The Journal of a Deserted Wife.” question. A man can't fight, unless he is We have read this tearful document. We obliged, with the prospect of a-a-suit of yel- have seen how it affected a man of middle age, low and gray, and no tobacco, and no drink, and and a very young man, both of whom carried no companionship. Hang it all!
their hearts ever in the right place. This man “Gad !” he brightened up a little; " there was not affected at all, although he was the perare plenty of fellows knocking about the Conti- son chiefly interested in it. He read it right nent under a cloud : good fellows, too, who have through slowly and carefully, without betraying got hard up, and done something which has been the slightest emotion. When he had quite finfound out. One pull for me that I shall know ished it, he tossed the paper on the table. their little histories and they won't know mine. That's done with," he said. · Hang it! it I know them all already. I shall meet the Hon- was done with twenty years ago. Rachel seems orable Major Guy Blackborde, who cheated at to have developed a fine thirst for revenge. Monaco when I was there, and was turned out Luckily, she thought it was Anthony ; luckier of the army: and Captain de Blewdeville, who still, that Anthony got drowned. I suppose it got into the little mess at the Burleigh Club when was this document that he was going to comI was a member, and had to go. By Gąd! I municate to me when he made that appointment shall enjoy it. And, with two thousand a year, which he never kept. It would have been deuone will be cock of the walk.
cedly unpleasant. I should have had to get “Of course I shall not stay in Spain: the away at once, while he informed the magistrate cookery is too disgusting. The old woman will that it was not he, but his brother, who had marforget all about me, or she will relent, or some- ried Dora Nethersole. thing, and then I shall go to Paris, and so back “ So Anthony took the child; and I never to London. And as to Alison, why—why—" knew there was a child at all. Just like Dora,
Here he stopped, then he went on to consider not to tell me. A little mystery; something to
hide ; something to make her important. How the reverses of fortune with anger, not with deshe did exasperate me! And what a relief it spondency. was to feel free ! and what an almighty ass I “ Did you get any notes ? " asked Jack. was not to let Anthony marry her at the very
“ What notes ?" beginning, when he wanted to ! That was my Stephen's mind was full of more important infernal conceit. I wanted to cut out the model things. brother; and the end of it is that I've got a “My notes of last night and this morning." daughter who turns up, after twenty years, and “Oh! yes—yes.” He searched among the cuts me out."
letters on the table. “Excuse me, I had forgotHe took up the manuscript again, and read ten them-ah! you asked me to pay into the the concluding paragraph.
bank the thousand pounds you advanced me, do “She knew she was going to die, and she you?” couldn't take the trouble to write and tell me so. "I did last night. This morning-Hamblin," Her husband wasn't to know it. Must needs breaking in with a sudden eagerness of manner, write to Anthony. It's all of a piece. That is "you haven't paid it into my bank yet, have you?” what she called wifely obedience. As for the No, certainly not; I have been busy all day.” letters she did write to me at that time, they “ Good-don't ; pay it to me in notes and were dismal enough, but not a word about gold.” dying.
“What is the matter, Jack?” For his voice “They hand me over this precious journal in and manner both betokened something disasorder to soften the hardness of my heart, I sup- trous. pose. Well, my heart is pretty tough by this Mr. Bunter Baker tried to laugh, but the eftime. The tears of a woman-especially if the fort was not successful. tears are twenty years old—are not likely to trou- “ A check in the flow of prosperity," he said ble it. What does soften a man's heart is to be -"just a slight check. As I said in my letter, caught in a cleft stick, as I have been caught, there has been a most unprecedented and most to have the ball in my hands, and be compelled sudden fall. All my calculations were upset, and to drop it. Good Heavens ! here I am, the un- I had the biggest thing on, too. Hamblin, if it had doubted owner of a quarter of a million of money, turned up trumps, I might have gone out of busibesides all the land and houses, and I've got to ness to-day with a hundred thousand pounds. go away for life on an annuity, or else-or else— As it is—well-as it is—all the trade know alwhy, it seems almost worth fighting for. One ready, and all the world will know to-morrow. might get off; these things are not easy to prove; I am—for the moment only—compelled to susthe evidence would rest entirely on the clerk who pend—" knew me. But then there are the papers, they “Oh!" are in my handwriting; and it would be a deuced So here was another man come to grief. uncomfortable thing to stand in the dock under Stephen stared unsympathetically. It was as such a charge, and, more uncomfortable still, to he thought. The thought crossed his mind that get quodded-hang it! one might be in for four- perhaps he might meet Mr. Bunter Baker on the teen-no-no-I can't fight. I must submit. I Continent in an extreme condition of shabbiness. will go to-morrow."
“ The Bank will have to meet the differences The idea of the convict garb made his hands this time," Jack went on. Well! they have to tremble. He sought and found consolation in had a very pretty penny out of me, one way and a small glass of brandy neat.
another," “My last appearance to-night in the club, I “And what will you do ?” suppose, or anywhere else. I feel as if I were
The man of self-reliance tossed his head. going to die and be buried. Well, there are one "A man like me,” he said, “falls light. I or two places I know of in Paris, and Naples, and shall lay by for a bit while the liquidators take Vienna. A man with a couple of thousand a year hold of the estate and get what they can for may get along anywhere."
themselves first, and the creditors next, out of it. He was interrupted by a knock at the door. When things have blown over, I shall come back It was his friend Jack Baker.
again and carry on the same old game. That The honest Jack looked down on his luck. thousand will come in mighty handy. I saw the He showed it by a red cheek, a twitching lip, an directors to-day, and had it out with them. They anxious eye, an apparel slightly disordered. Ste- said nasty things, but, as I told them, they phen, on the contrary, showed few outward and couldn't expect me to be a prophet. I wanted visible signs of discomfiture. His cheek was paler prices to go up. I always do. I did my little than usual, his eyes were hard and glittering, best to keep them up. And, after all, they've but he was not dismayed nor cast down; he met been paying sixteen per cent. for the last eight
years, and can afford a little loss. They take the As he went out he passed, in the door, Miss risk and share the profits. I don't grumble, why Hamblin. He took off his hat as she passed up should they?"
the stairs to her uncle's chambers. Her face was He sat down and hurled this question at Ste- pale and anxious. phen as if he was personally concerned in the “Ah,” thought Jack, “she has found out by success of the Bank.
this time, and she's going to make things square “I knew there would be a smash some day," with her uncle. Well, she'll find him in good he went on; " at least, I thought there might be. temper. And now I think she'll begin to be I went for big things, and they came off one after sorry that she didn't have me! Laughed at me, the other, beautiful; and for bigger, and they by Gad!” came off; and then I went for the very biggest He turned as he passed through the door, to thing possible, and it hasn't come off. Very look once more at the tall and graceful figure of well, then. You can let me have that thousand the most splendid girl he had ever known. back, Hamblin, can you ?”
Alison mounted the stairs, and found herself “You remember, Jack, the conditions on for the first time knocking at Stephen Hamblin's which it was borrowed ? "
door. “Hang the conditions !”
He had lit a cigar, and was making a few cal“ By no means. You were to have three culations in pencil, when she opened the door and thousand when I came into the estate. Very timidly stole in. good; I have come into the estate."
He put down the cigar, and rose with sur“Nonsense!” This was something like news. prise, and a feeling of pain and shame, Before
“It has been ascertained that my brother him, with crossed hands and down-dropped eyes, never married. Do not ask me any questions, stood-his daughter. because the rest is family business. My brother “ You here, Alison, of all places in the world? never married, as I always told you. There- I thought at least I should have been spared this." fore"
“I have just now learned the truth," she “Therefore, the three thousand are mine," said, with trembling voice; “my cousin Auguscried Jack with great delight, clapping Stephen tus told me—what you know—what they have on the shoulder. “When shall you be ready to found out." part?"
“Did they invite you to come here and see “That I can not say. But I suppose there me?" will be no further opposition to my raising money “No; I thought you would like to see me, on the estate. Meantime, my dear boy, I can and say something—if only that you may forgive not let you have your original thousand back, me for the hard things I have said and thought because it is all spent." Stephen looked quite about you." youthful and expansive as he uttered this genial “Oh, come, Alison !” cried the man, impastring of falsehoods. “However, as I suppose a tiently, "we do not want sentiment, you and I. little ready money would be handy just now—" Be reasonable. You don't suppose I jump for
“ It would,” said Jack; “ lend me what you joy because you are my daughter. You don't can."
suppose that I expect you to fly into my arms "I will give you," replied Stephen, taking his because they say I am your father. Don't let us check-book, “seventy-five. That will be some- be fools." thing for you to go on with. Another hundred, The tears came into the girl's eyes. She had if you want it, in a week or two. You can de- been a fool; she had deluded herself into the pend upon me, my dear fellow. Stephen Ham- belief, as she drove into town, that he would be blin never forgets a friend.”
touched by the discovery; she thought they would They shook hands warmly. That was the exchange words of regret and reconciliation ; she sort of sentiment which went home to the heart looked for some words of endearment; and this of Jack
was the way in which she was met. “No more,” he said, “does J. Double B., “Sit down, then, and talk. But don't begin especially," pocketing the check, " when he's got to cry, and don't talk sentiment. First of all, some of the ready to remember him by.” what did Augustus tell you ?"
Fully satisfied with the advance, and the “ That you are my father, and that you did assurance of further help, Jack took his leave. not know that you had a child at all." After all, he had done pretty well with his ven- “Good—that is true. What else did he tell ture. Three thousand to come in after he had you?” made his composition with creditors was not a “Nothing else—yes : he said that you had bad sum to begin again upon. And he always renounced your claim to the estate and were go had his reputation for luck to fall back upon. ing away. I came to ask you—"
“ He did not tell you why?" Stephen inter- that she was to blame. Let all the blame, if there rupted.
is any, fall on me. Some, perhaps, on my broth“ No."
er, but not much. No doubt, poor Anthony acted “Since he did not, I shall not,” he said, with for the best, and persuaded himself that the wisest the air of a man who had been doing good by thing for you was to bring you up in ignorance of stealth. “Sufficient that it is so. I am going to your parentage ; later on, he became fond of you, travel, and to forget in travel, if possible, all the and grew more unwilling still to part with you. annoyances I have had in this business. I hard- So he invented the fiction of your being his daughly blame you, Alison. It would be absurd to ter. It was clever of him, but it has led us all blame you, altogether, for the attitude you as- into strange paths. Things would have been sumed. When I became quite certain that my different with me, and with you, too, if we had brother had never married, I resolved to befriend known all along what we were to each other.” you. I made two distinct offers to you, which “And now," asked Alison, can there never you refused with scorn and contumely. You re- be anything between us but formal friendship?" member that—I do not, I say, reproach you; that “Never,” said Stephen, shaking his head and is all over. Now that I learn the truth, I recog- putting his hands into his pockets, as if he was nize the fact that my brother desired that you afraid that his daughter might offer to fondle should never find it out, and that he wished you them. “Never. Do not let us pretend to try. to inherit his property. Therefore, I retire." Why, we could not begin ail at once to bill and
This was very grand, and Alison was greatly coo to each other. I could never endure, for inaffected.
stance, such endearments as you used to lavish “But it is all yours,” she said.
on your supposed father.” “ It is all mine, until I have signed a deed of • No,” said Alison, sadly, " that would be imtransfer—to you," he replied, waving his hand as possible. But kindness of thought—" one who confers a kingdom.
Rubbish, Alison ! You will marry some She could not reply.
day, I suppose-" “ I will tell you more,” her father went on. “I am going to marry Gilbert Yorke.” “I believe the reason why my brother kept this “Ah!" He started. Gilbert Yorke was the thing a secret was, that I married the girl with young man who had been present at the family whom he was in love. He spoke to her sister, council. “Ah! you will marry him! That Miss Nethersole, about her: I, meantime, spoke makes it doubly impossible for us ever to be to the young lady herself. As Miss Nethersole friends. You are going to marry a man-well, refused to listen to the match proposed by the never mind. No more sentiment, Alison. You elder brother, on some religious ground, I be- have got a father, and I have got a daughter. It lieve, the younger brother thought it was no use is a relationship which begins to-day. Let it end for him to try that way. So he persuaded the to-day." girl into a secret marriage, and the day after they It was harsh, but Alison, somehow, felt a little were married they eloped.
relieved. She would have liked a few words of “Well”—he went on, carefully folding up the sympathy, of hope, of kindness. She could not “Journal of a Deserted Wife," and putting it into contemplate without a shudder the simple operahis breast-pocket, to prevent the chance of her tion of kissing her“ uncle," Stephen the Black. seeing it—" we were not suited to each other. And she was humiliated to find that one whom Put it, if you please, that I was too young to be she had always regarded as the Awful Example married—that I have never been what is called a was actually her father. marrying man: we were unhappy together. I “By the way,” he went on pleasantly, “I said that it would be well to part for a time: I think I have got one or two things here which left her—it was by her own wish and choice—at you might like to have.” He opened a desk and the seaside : you were born: she told me nothing began to rummage among the papers. “I know about it: she fell ill : she wrote to my brother that Anthony sent the things to me when Dora when she became worse: she died : he told me died. I put them away, and I haven't looked at of the death, but not of the birth : I forgot all them since. Ah! here they are." about my marriage: it was just exactly as if I He handed to Alison a small packet containhad never been married at all."
ing a portrait of a sweet-faced girl, with light This was a rendering of the history which hair and blue eyes, very different from her own; had, somehow, a false ring about it; it was too and another containing one or two books of desmooth and specious. But Alison tried to be- votion : this was all that remained of Dora Hamlieve it.
blin. “ Mind," he said, “I do not attach any blame “Now go, Alison,” said Stephen. “You may to my wife; I should be unwilling for you to think cry over them at home if you like. Good-by.