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You will not see me again for a very long time He rapidly reviewed the arguments for im-perhaps never.”

mediate action, and then, resolved to lose no time, Alison took them tearfully.

he slipped cautiously out of the room, passed with "Now go, Alison,” repeated Stephen, in his noiseless step by the doors of the two partners, harshest voice—"go, I say; cry over them at and ran down the broad staircase. home as much as you please. Have you any- In the doorway he found Gilbert Yorke, who thing more to tell me?"

was waiting for a cab to take him to Clapham. “No," she replied. “Stay, I have a message “Well?" asked young Nick, with his usual from my aunt Rachel."

twinkle, “ have you found anything? Have you “From Rachel Nethersole?" Stephen became got the marriage ?” suddenly and deeply interested. “She is with Gilbert laughed, and nodded. you, is she? She knows? What does that ex- “ You shall hear all about it," he said, “ in cellent lady say? What did she tell you ?"

good time." “When I told her what I had learned, she “Ah!" replied the boy, “now you think cried, and said that she wanted nothing now but you've been mighty deep, I suppose.

Mark

my to ask pardon of my father-I mean, your brother. words, Gilbert Yorke. You'll own, before long, When I said I was coming here, she kissed me, that there's one who has been deeper. Where and bade me tell you that for my sake she would are you going now?" forgive you all. *All,' she told me to say." “I am going to Clapham, to tell Alison some

“Did she?” cried Stephen, as a new light thing." came into his eyes. “Did she? She will for- “Oh, very good. Yes; your exertions have give all, will she? A brave old girl. That is been creditable, I'm sure. But my turn will come right-and-and-Alison, I think I shall recon- later on, and then, if you find your nose out of sider that question of the transfer." He looked joint, don't say I did not warn you." his daughter in the face with a sudden change of Gilbert laughed again. manner which startled and terrified her. “Per- “What did I say once?" the boy went on, haps it will be best to arrange things differently. folding his arms, and leaning against the doorI shall see.

I shall think things over. Go now.” post; “Just when you think everything is cleared He almost pushed her out of his room. up, you turn to me and I will astonish you.' That

Then, left quite alone, he gave way to every is what I said. Now, is everything cleared up?" external sign of joy. These signs were undigni- “It is. I can tell you so much. Alison will fied, and we therefore pass them over.

learn all from me in half an hour. This evening " I've done them again!” he cried. “By there is going to be a sort of family council at Gad! I've done them again! And I shall have the House." the handling, all to myself, of the whole big pile." “Ah! Please tell the partners, with my com

pliments—Mr. Nicolas Cridland's compliments,

that, if they think everything is cleared up, they CHAPTER XXXV.

are mightily mistaken. And as for Alison, re

mind her that the writing-master leads a happy HOW YOUNG NICK FETCHED THE WRITING- life. Now don't botch that message, young man.

Give it her in full, just as I have told you." He MASTER.

began to look positively demoniac, dancing on The boy remained behind the screen, as we the pavement, and twinkling with his pink eyes have seen, until the footsteps in the passage were under his white eyebrows. “Oh, ah! Yes; all silent. Then he emerged from his hiding-place. cleared up. Ha! ha! ho! ho! what a jolly game His face was scared, though his movements, as it will be, to be sure !” we have seen, indicated joy. The occasion had Gilbert began to think young Nick was off come, then, at last. This was the day, the very his head. There could be nothing more to know. day, for which he had so longed—the day of I'm the man in the play who turns up at greatness. On no other occasion could Anthony the last moment, and pardons the conspirator Hamblin be so dramatically, so usefully restored for love of the lady he wants to marry. I'm the to his own people; in no other way could the man who comes home with a pocket full of discomfiture of Stephen be so complete. He had money, and pays off the wicked lawyer. I'm been proved to be a forger ; that would be a blow the man who draws aside the curtain with a to Alison, should the fact be told her: by An- Houp-la! Hooray! There-you-are-and-who'dthony's intervention the thing might be hidden. a-thought-it?'" He was to be the heir to the whole estate ; he Then the cab came up. was to go away on a large annuity: very good, “If you want to see larks—if you want to be he would have to go on nothing.

taken aback as you never were so taken aback in

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all your born days before—if you want to see ME “I've been waiting for you all the afternoon,' in the proudest moment of my life-you turn up he cried, reproachfully. “Where have you been at the house to-night about nine o'clock or there- idling about ? ” abouts. Oh! and if you are going there now, " I've been keeping punishment school," you may tell the old lady that I've got important said Anthony humbly; "my turn comes once a business in the City, and shall not come home to month." tea—that's all. Tata!"

O Lord !” the boy ejaculated, with infinite He pulled his hat farther over his forehead disgust; "he's been keeping punishment school, and strode out of Great Saint Simon Apostle while I've been looking for him. However, with as much noise and importance as boots at you've come at last-sit down. Have you had fourteen can produce. When he got to the end your tea ?” of Carmel Friars, he turned to see if by any I've had some tea and bread and butter chance Gilbert was following him. He was not. with the boys,” replied his uncle.

Then he pursued his way as rapidly as possi- “Well ! you shall have some champagne and ble down Gracechurch Street, Eastcheap, to Tow- grilled chicken for your supper," the boy told er Hill, past the entrance to the docks, through him encouragingly. A spread eagle and chamCable Street to Jubilee Road, where he knocked pagne for supper you shall have, or I'll know the at the door of the house in whose window was reason why.” the advertisement of Mr. Hampton, Writing- “What on earth do you mean?" master,

"Exactly what I say. The game's finished ; Mr. Hampton was not in. He would return, it is all found out, and you may put on your hat perhaps, at five or so, but the woman could not tell. and come home with me as soon as ever you

This was extremely annoying, because, all like." the way along, Nicolas had been arranging in his “ All found out?" own head a little drama between himself and Part ferreted out, part made out. Gilbert Anthony. He was to assume the Grand Style Yorke had a lot of things told him by Miss Nethwhich Mr. Matthew Arnold so much admires; ersole, and fished up the rest. He's not a bad he was to be calmly, impressively judicial : he sort, that young man, if he didn't fancy himself was not to argue, but to command. And An- too much. I suppose I ought not to grumble thony was not to argue either, but to obey the because he's cut me out with Alison. What a superior will of the boy. Young Nick possessed donkey you've been, Uncle Anthony, to be sure ! a lively imagination, and really worked up a very What a donkey! Fancy wanting to screen Unfine scene, something on the lines of a well-known cle Stephen ! You see I know the whole storysituation in “Athalie,” which he had been read- forged receipts, runaway marriage—all. So don't ing lately at school.

pretend any more. WHAT A DONKEY!. All this was completely spoiled, because the It was for Alison's sake," pleaded the dondrama was incomplete without two performers, key. “I wanted to save her.” and one of them was away.

“And the end of it is, that you haven't saved Nicolas haunted the hot street all the after- her. She knows who her father is by this time, noon, growing every moment more impatient, and might just as well have known before. A and continually losing more of the Grand Style, pretty father for a young woman who respects till at last there was none of it left at all. the fifth commandment !" He looked at his

At five o'clock the writing-master had not watch. “A quarter-past eight,” he said ; "plenreturned. Then the boy went to the coffee-house ty of time. I told him about nine o'clock." where he had first made his wonderful discovery, “ You told whom?”. and ordered tea, with shrimps and watercresses. “Gilbert Yorke. Told him to look out for He had great joy in the independence of this games of a most surprising kind at nine o'clock. meal, but he was anxious to bring off his grand Now, just you listen, and don't say a word till I coup, and could not linger. After it he went tell you to speak.” If it was not the Grand Style, again to the house, and, being tired of walking it was the Cocky style, which has been overup and down on the shady side of the pavement, looked by critics, and is yet sometimes extremely asked permission to wait in Mr. Hampton's room. effective. “All you've got to do is to listen to

He sat down in Anthony's arm-chair, and me, and behave accordingly. Sit down." presently, being tired, went fast asleep. When The writing-master humbly took a chair. By he awoke it was nearly eight o'clock, and already this time he had got disreputably shabby, and it in the badly-lighted room it was growing dark. was not so dark but that the condition of his Before him stood his uncle.

boots was apparent, though the shininess of his Young Nick sprang to his feet, and clutched coat-sleeves was partly hidden. The heels had him by the arm.

long been down. Now they were gone at the

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toes, and chinks in the leather revealed on either They'd found out where Alison's mother was foot a patch of white.

buried, and taken her to see the grave. That “ You don't look as if your salary was paid was why she was crying. The reason why she regularly " said the boy sternly, pointing to the laughed was because Gilbert Yorke had begun boots.

the kissing all over again. However, as Alison “It's such a very small salary," replied the wouldn't wait for me, I can't object. There's a poor man ; “and eating costs such a lot. One mighty lot of kissing going on now, down at the must eat, you know. It is not altogether the House. The old lady and Alison are at it all profession one would choose for a son, that of the morning, with a—'Oh, my dear! how glad writing-master in a private academy."

I am!' and 'O auntie! how happy I am!' “No," said Nicolas, with severity ; “it cer- And in the afternoon it's Aunt Rachel's turn; I tainly is not. However, you can get your hat, shouldn't care much about kissing Aunt Rachel and come away to Clapham with me, because myself, but girls will kiss anything.” that fooling is all over."

“ Aunt Rachel?” “Nonsense!” said Mr. Hampton; "what Anthony Hamblin began to feel in a dream. should I do that for? Clapham ? I never heard “Why, of course, Miss Nethersole. It's of that place. All that to me is gone and for- raining uncles and aunts. Do be quiet, and gotten. I am nothing now but a half-starved don't interrupt; time's getting very short." The usher, and I shall never be anything else.” boy considered a minute—“Oh! about the kiss

“ And Alison, is she forgotten too? What ing. Aunt Rachel meets Alison and takes her you did for her sake, Uncle Anthony, five months hand gingerly, as if she was something that ago, you will have to undo for her sake.”

must be handled, for fear of breaking, like a “Boy! tell me what has happened !"

Richmond maid-of-honor. “My niece,' she says Young Nick laughed. He was entire master —that's all-and kisses her on the forehead. In of the whole situation. It belonged to him. He the evening Gilbert arrives, and Alison and he held the strings of Destiny. He was the Deus go into the garden and kiss each other in the ex machind whose functions he had that very conservatories. I know where I can stand and morning, with contempt for the mercantile use- see them, and they don't know.

Then they lessness of Latin, painfully construed.

come back and pretend they haven't had their He looked at his watch again.

arms round each other. And to think of the “We've got a few minutes to spare.” Then way that girl used to pound away about truth he began his narrative, of which he delivered and fibs, when I was a boy!" himself slowly and with importance, reflecting "I suppose," said Anthony, presently, “that that this would certainly be regarded ever after we shall get something coherent in time." as the greatest day of his life, and desirous of " It's coming,” replied Nick ; "where shall I leaving nothing to regret in its history, no short- begin? After the Bournemouth expedition, letcoming, no failure, no lack of power to rise to ters and telegrams came thick from Gilbert, and the dignity of the situation.

Alison carried on in a most agitating way. Meals “It began last week, when Alison took Mrs. went anyhow. Several times I had to order the Duncombe—"

pudding myself. We knew she'd got a new “ Mrs. Duncombe ? "

aunt, and we made as much fuss over her as if Oh, yes ! she's been staying with us since we it was a new baby. found her out. But she was no good, and knew “ Very good. Gilbert came back, and there nothing; you took care of that. Your craft and was a tremendous talking. It was then that subtlety about that baby, Uncle Anthony, aston- kissing set in with such vigor. And one evening ished every one. Nobody more than myself, I I heard him tell Alison that he had kept back must own, though perhaps I ought to know the part of the story, and would tell her afterward. world by this time.

He has told her, I suppose, by this time, for I “ However,” he went on, after a little pause, left him on his way to Clapham Common in a during which he shook his head in a modest de- hansom cab, if you please! I've got to travel on preciation of himself, " that is nothing. Alison the knife-board. The day after, he came back; and Mrs. Duncombe went off to Bournemouth. it was in the evening. Alison was playing, and Of course, Gilbert Yorke went with them. I Gilbert was sitting by her whispering soft things was not invited to go, so I staid at home and in her ear: my mother was asleep : I was begintook care of the old lady. We had Normandy ning one of those exercises : The letters which I pippins. Of course I suspected that something have received. The letters which my cousin was up, and when Alison came back, two days (feminine) says she has burned '--you knowlater, crying and laughing both together, I was when the door opened, and a lady appeared. quite certain. Well, I listened, and I made out. She just marched in, without being announced.

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She was in black, and she had a black bag with And there's the cabinet with the glass doors; I her—a lady with sharp chin, and a mouth that always wondered what you kept in that cabinet, looked a little bit like the useful end of a pair uncle. Once I thought it was piles of money ; of scissors. She set eyes on me first, and stared. then I thought it must be skeletons; then I thought It isn't manners, but I don't mind it much, be- very likely it was specimens of indigo. Well, to cause it isn't every day that people get a chance make quite sure, I opened the doors and found of seeing an albino. So I nodded to encourage what it is you do keep there. Fie, uncle! I thought her, and then she looked at the old lady, who better of you. A decanter full of sherry and a was fast asleep with her mouth open; then she couple of glasses ! also a box of cigars, and half saw Alison, who rose to meet her. You are a dozen boxes of cigarettes. Call that business? Alison Hamblin ?' she asked ; 'you are more When I had satisfied myself upon that point, I like your uncle than your father. I am your went and sat down in your chair, just to feel aunt, Rachel Nethersole, Let us try to be what it was like to be a rich man ; and then I friends.' Then kissing set in, and I was intro- made myself a little speech, nobody being there duced, and Gilbert did a lot of talking." to hear. I was getting along first rate, thinking

“ Poor Alison !” said Anthony, hoarsely. what a clever sort of a man I was going to turn

The boy was glad to see these signs of emo- out, when I heard footsteps, and, as I didn't wish tion, and turned his head.

to be caught, and look as much like a fool as it “ You see, uncle, Miss Nethersole didn't know is possible for this young man to look, I nipped everything. You and I know better than that.” behind your old screen-you remember it, uncle

“ How do you know? What do you know?" —and sat down and listened. Mean, wasn't it?

"I know now as much as you do,” replied Wait till you hear what I found out, then you will the boy. “I wish I had known it five months jump for joy-and-oh! Jerusalem ! ago. You and your writing-mastering !”

“ There was Mr. Augustus first, and then “Does anybody else know?"

Mr. William-he's had his wig put into black on “We all know everything-except that one your account-and then Mr. Billiter. Last came thing that you and I know. And you've got to Gilbert Yorke, looking mighty important. A tell that to-night. Let me go on.

regular procesh, only they didn't sing a hymn. "Miss Nethersole agreed to stay, and they While they were disposing themselves in attifetched in her things. Presently we had some- tudes round the table like head-masters before a thing hot—a kidney it was—for supper. I needed caning, or like ambassadors and plenipotentates it. Evenings like that tell upon the strongest at least, in marches Uncle Stephen.” man. Three women to be comforted all at once “What did they want with him ? " is a large order."

“Now, uncle, do not interrupt. That spoils Nicolas shook his white locks en philosophe, every man's style. Cæsar, when he was writing and went on :

his . Commentaries' for the Third Form, would “ After supper-Aunt Rachel did pretty well never allow any interruption; nor would Cornewith the kidneys, but I had to lead the way, as lius Nepos when he hammered out his biograusual—we all sat round, while Alison held her phies for the Second. Mr. Augustus it was who new relation's hand-you know their silly way, went for him. • It's all found out,' he says ; and we began to talk about you. The new aunt there was never any marriage, and you are the does not like you, uncle, and I saw her make heir to the whole estate !' 'Oh, my gum !' said faces while Alison and the old lady went on Uncle Stephen, turning very red; then I supabout your having been such a good man. I

pose you are all going to apologize, are you?' crammed my handkerchief in my mouth. O * Devil a bit,' said Mr. Augustus. Are you inJiminy !

terested now,

uncle ?" “ That was yesterday. And, as if there wasn't “Go on, boy-go on.” enough to tell you, something else more impor- Anthony Hamblin was pacing the little room, tant still happened to-day. Now, then, listen showing every sign of agitation. with all your might. As it was a half-holiday I Then Uncle Stephen looked surprised. “You came up to town after dinner to see what news hardened villain !' says your cousin, looking like there was in the City. Mighty little doing, as I a judge on the bench, there was no marriage of found out from a little conversation with the sen- your brother, but there was of yourself. And ior clerks. However, as I was coming on to see who was your wife ? and where is your daughyou, I thought I would just drop in and look at ter?' 'What daughter ?' says Stephen. 'Aliyour old room. Nobody has ever used it ; your son,' says Augustus. Well, Stephen was a bit name is on the door; the furniture is untouched; staggered at that, as you may suppose. And there's your old blotting-pad, covered all over don't you think,' says Augustus, 'that we are with heads in ink, in front of your own old chair. going to sit down quietly and see you chuck the

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money. Quite the other way about and contra- with crape home yesterday-ho! ho !—and there's riwise. You've got to give it up, and go away on the black band round my hat-ho! ho! ho ! a pound a week for the rest of your life.' *Am and there's the tablet in the church-ho! ho ! I?' says Stephen. “You are,' says Augustus. ho! ho! What a game it will be! You'll have *Don't you wish you may get it?' says Stephen. to pay the bill for everything but your own funer• I do,' says Augustus, 'or else- 'Else what?' al. I wish we could hire a mourning-coach for says Stephen. 'Else,' says Augustus, 'we shall us to go home in-I wonder if my pocket-money have to remind you of six little bits of paper would run to it?" bearing a dead woman's signature. Her sister The boy, who was half hysterical by this time, will prosecute for forgery-for-ge-ry, Stephen ; broke into inextinguishable laughter, which natuand it means fourteen years' quod, with skilly rally led to choking and to tears. and cold water. How will you like that, Cousin “Come, Uncle Anthony.” He wiped his Stephen ?' Then they all chimed in, like a cho- eyes, and put his uncle's hat on for him. “What rus in a play, ‘How will you like that, Cousin a shocking bad hat !” He took him by the hand Stephen ?' I thought of joining in myself, but and led him unresisting into the street. “ I've didn't. Stephen took it quite comfortably. He's got three shillings in my pocket, that will take us a desperate wicked chap, that Stephen. Fancy to Clapham Common. We will walk up to the going about with six forgeries on your conscience door. I will smuggle you into the study. Then -a most awful wicked chap. He never said he I will go away and bring you—" His voice broke was sorry; never said he wished he hadn't done again into a sob. “ Poor Alison !” he cried ; it-not at all. He only growled; and then he then he brushed away his tears. “First thing said something about going abroad on a pension; you must do, is to put on a pair of new boots. and then he put on his hat and walked out of the Any other man but myself would be ashamed to room."

be seen walking in company with such beasts of Is it possible?"

boots. I always used to keep you respectable So now you see. You ran away: you left in the old time, and I mean to again, remember me, your little comforts, and your home, in order that." to save Alison from finding that her father wasn't you at all, but the other fellow, and from learning

CHAPTER XXXVI. what a desperate bad lot he is. And now she will learn it all, and there will be the most ter

HOW YOUNG NICK ACHIEVED GREATNESS. rific row that ever was heard of. Stephen Hamblin will very likely be charged with forgery- WHEN Stephen Hamblin saw his daughter that's a very pretty thing to happen in the family fairly out of the room, and got through those -and Alison Hamblin will learn that he is her manifestations of joy of which we have spoken, father. That's what has been brought about by he began, once more, to reconsider everything. your running away, to say nothing of the awful Now, the message which Miss Nethersole sent expense in crape."

him, by means of his daughter, was nothing short Anthony stood irresolute.

of an evangel, a blessed gospel, to him. It re“What shall I do?” he cried. “The very lieved him, at one stroke, of all anxiety on the worst has come to pass—the very thing that one side where his armor was weak; and, even most I dreaded. I thought to avert this blow. while he thought of the opportuneness of this I thought that my own death would do it. I truly Christian message, a way occurred to him thought that sorrow was better than disgrace; by which he might, even without it, face the and Alison has had the sorrow, and now will world and challenge his enemies to do their have the disgrace."

worst. She need not, if you will return, because Augustus and the crew," he thought, “rethen Uncle Stephen will be coopered, and Aunt joiced to have that trump card in reserve. They Rachel can be squared. You can stop the prose- knew that I did not suspect its existence, and cution. Come, Uncle Anthony; they won't mind was not prepared to answer it. They played it your boots."

fairly well, considering. But not so well—no, "It isn't the boots I am thinking of,” said not so well as I mean to play my trump card, Anthony, gravely.

presently. It is not only forgiveness, but justifi"Is it the feeling that you will look such an cation." ass?" asked the boy with ready sympathy. “No This message of Rachel's, too, showed him one could look

bigger donkey—that's true—if how wrong he had been in his treatment of Alihe was to try with all his might. But never mind son. He should not have met her approaches that; the servants are all in mourning still—ho! with coldness: he should not have received her ho and the old lady's got a new cap trimmed timid advances with a snub: he should have

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