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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 : le 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
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 know later, 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.
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
money. Quite the other way about and contra- with crape home yesterday-ho! ho—and there's
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.”
“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 a 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
welcomed her: held out his arms: tried, at least, stand a big fortune, and a grown-up daughter, to kiss her: and, without a murmur, should have and threatenings of criminal proceedings all at submitted to any endearments which the girl once. However, I have cooled down, and shall might offer. To be sure, the style and title of play my next card very much better, as my dear daughter no more commanded his affection than friends and cousins will shortly discover.” that of niece: his heart, which had long since It was somewhat unfortunate that he chose ceased to feel any warmth toward Alison's that evening to carry out his purpose, because it mother, by no means leaped up at the meeting was the time which the partners, accompanied by with Dora's daughter. Quite the reverse. He Mr. Billiter, had chosen for their family council. felt that the whole thing was a gêne; he would Gilbert Yorke, Alderney Codd, Mrs. Cridland, very much have preferred Alison to have con- and Miss Nethersole all assisted on this occasion, tinued Anthony's daughter.
the importance of which was realized by no one You can not, however, by wishing, reverse the so much as by Alderney Codd. The fur coat current of affairs. That is an axiom in the First was necessarily discarded owing to the return of Book of Fate ; and the wise man makes the best summer, but its place was worthily taken by of materials in his hands. The materials in broadcloth of the best and newest, while the conStephen's hands were a girl ready to acknowl- dition of wristbands, front, and collar showed edge him as her father, and do her best to enact what an excellent thing a little steady occupation the part of Christian daughter; a sister-in-law is for a man. True, his work was over; there who had been deeply wronged, and who, for the was no more employment for him in rummaging sake of that daughter, was ready to forgive and among registers; but he had not yet realized that forget the past; a little knot of conspirators, the suspension of work meant cessation of ineager to get rid of him, to push him off the come. At present he was entirely filled with a scene, to land him, once and for all, across the sort of holy joy on account of Anthony's rehabiliChannel,
tation, and he had thought of a beautiful verse Very good: but one thing they had forgotten. from Horace which he intended to quote as soon Not only did Miss Nethersole forgive, which they as he could find an opportunity. It was not eneither did not know or took care not to mention, tirely novel, but then Alderney's scholarship was but in striking at him they would strike at Ali- not entirely fresh-overripe, perhaps. The effort son. Yes, and at themselves; at the family name, to lug in the lines somehow proved unsuccessful at everything held dear by the Hamblins. for the first half-hour or so, during which Augus
The more he turned the matter over in his tus was explaining the new position of affairs, mind, the more he became convinced that to how Stephen had resolved on leaving his daughstrike the flag at once was impolitic and—still ter in undisputed possession—taking only an anmore-useless. A change of front was not only nuity out of the estate. These dry details gave possible, but advisable.
no opportunity for Horatian sentiment. “Why,” asked this just man,“ should I aban- Augustus Hamblin took the opportunity of don what is mine because they threaten ? What reminding Alison — this was a precautionary can they do? What can they prove? Would measure, in case she should allow herself to fall they dare to try it? And since the woman sends in love, so to speak, with her father, and then me that message, why, there is nothing more to find out about the receipts, and be humiliatedbe feared. I will stay."
that the discovery of her parent need not lead to After dinner he thought the thing over again, any alteration in her own feelings concerning and became so convinced that his best course him, because he was going away for good. The was to take advantage of Rachel Nethersole's observance of the fifth commandment, he exforgiving disposition that he sent for a cab and plained, binding upon all Christians, would in drove to Clapham, to “my own place," he said her case be effected by the pious memory of the to himself. “And I dare say," he continued, be- man who had stood in loco parentis, in the place ing now very cheerful over the new prospects of a parent to her. Here Alderney thought he “I dare say that the time will come when I may saw his chance and struck in, “ Quis desiderio," endure the girl's affectionate ways as Anthony but was interrupted by a gesture from his cousin, used to. Pretend to like them, too. It's awk- who went on to set forth that in her real father ward becoming a father when you least expect it. Alison had before her an example which her A grown-up girl, too, with a temper of her own, friends would not advise her to follow, and, alone with whom you have had rows; it is a very though filial piety would not dwell upon his faults, embarrassing position, and requires a great deal it was impossible to hide them altogether; and, of presence of mind. This afternoon I was a in fact, it had always been a thorn in the side of fool. I've been a fool all day, I think. Things the family generally that this member of it had came upon me too unexpectedly. A man can't turned out so ill.