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the furniture; "my only room. Here I live. My bed is in that cupboard; at night I drag it down."

The boy examined every portion of the furniture minutely, and then turned to his uncle.

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'You look thin, Uncle Anthony. Your boots are gone at the heels; your coat is shabby-the cuffs are frayed; your hat is seedy; and you don't look happy; and-and-"

Here this remarkable boy choked, and seized his uncle by the hand, and burst into a fit of sobbing and crying.

"Don't, boy!" cried Anthony Hamblin, much more deeply moved by this passion of grief than he had been by the boy's bounce and arrogance. "Don't, Nicolas; crying will do no good. Tell me, tell me about Alison."

blin, filled with shame and dismay, looked upon the boy with suspicion. Was his sacrifice to be worthless, after all? Did it depend solely on the discretion of a child so volatile?

"Living at the East End," said Nicolas, as if desirous to change the subject, “is all very well for a man who, like me, takes an interest in the Docks, in indigo-stores, and shipping; but for you, Uncle Anthony, who never put on a canvas coat, nor wore a cap to keep off the blue dust in your life, I can't understand the attraction. All very well if a man wanted to write a novel of dull life, and came here to see what dullness really means; but you don't write novels, and you used to like cheerfulness. Or if you wanted to find out how poor people lived, and what a beastly thing it is to be poor; but you never

Nicolas stopped crying almost as suddenly as wanted to know that. Silver-spoon babies never he began.

"Every man," he said presently, by way of apology to himself for his weakness, and while still mopping up the tears, "has his weak point. You find that out, uncle, when you've got an enemy, and then you can stick pins into him all day long."

A thought struck him here. He went to the door, locked it, and put the key in his pocket.

"Now," he said, "the door's locked. You can't get out till I let you, and I don't intend to let you till I know what this little game means."

He sat on the table, one leg dangling and the other resting across it; an elbow on the leg, and his chin in his hand. He had taken off his hat, and with his white eyebrows, the knowing light in his eyes, and the smile of pride which he naturally felt in the situation, he looked more like an imp than seemed possible in living boy.

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do. The taste, I suppose, is so different from pewter that they don't feel a yearning for change, nor a curiosity to taste any other kind of metal. And yet if you didn't like the Docks, didn't care for poor people, and weren't curious about their ways, what was it drove you away from home? It wasn't any row that I know of. You and Alison hadn't quarreled, had you?"

Anthony shook his head dejectedly.


As for me," the boy went on, stroking his chin, "I can't remember that I ever said or did anything that could induce you to run away. I was always kind to you, I believe."

"Always," echoed Anthony, without the ghost of a smile.

Then," said young Nick, getting down from the table to get better vantage-ground, standing with his feet well apart, his hands rammed down into his pockets as far as they would go, and his shoulders raised-this gave him an expression of wonderful sagacity, combined with the deepest cynical knowledge of human nature—“ then, Un

"Under Providence, uncle, as the old lady cle Anthony, I am sorry to say that there remains would say, I have."

"Is it possible for a boy to keep a secret?"

'I have lived in his house," said Nicolas, addressing the furniture, which was very unsympathetic in its scantiness-"I have lived in his house for thirteen years and more, and he doubts my power of keeping a secret!"

'Boy," said the man risen from the dead, sternly, "no fooling! This is no matter for laughing. Can you and will you keep this secret?"

"I can, Uncle Anthony," replied young Nick, with a sudden change of manner; “I can and I will! !"

There was something reassuring about the boy's manifest resolution of honestly keeping the secret. He enjoyed it too much, in fact, to reveal it, at least immediately. Yet Anthony Ham

only one supposition. It pains me to say it, but I must. Why does a rich man, with a comfortable home and people who are fond of him, suddenly bolt, leaving his coat behind him too, as if he was Joseph in the pit, to prove that his goose was already cooked and his bucket kicked? Why, I say? O Uncle Anthony! who would have thought it of you? Because HE'S DONE SOMETHING - I don't know what SOMETHING! Somebody must have given you the straight tip in good time. You thought you had better bolt so as to avoid the row."

Anthony made no reply. Nicolas resumed his seat on the table.

"If you like to confide in me," Nicolas went on, "I'll give you the best advice in my power. Perhaps it isn't too late."

Still Anthony was silent; but he rose from


his chair, and began to walk up and down the and be off out of the house; then he ups and tells Alison that she wasn't your heiress after all, because you never were married."


Everything," said Nicolas encouragingly, "can be squared for money. Give me money and the name of the party, and I'll undertake to square him."

Anthony laughed. He was at last moved to laugh. The boy's importance and confidence were too absurd.

"You, boy! What could you do?"

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'Steady, steady! Wait a bit. I thought when it came to the old lady and me being ordered into the street that would fetch you as nothing ever fetched you before. It shows your proper feeling, uncle, and I like you the better for it. Let me go on. Then he goes to the partners, and tells them that he-Uncle Stephen -was the real heir to everything; and then he goes to the Court of Probate, and demands letters to carry on the estate. 'O Jeminy!' says the judge-crafty old man that!- here's artful

Anthony stopped in his walk, and regarded ness!'-said he'd be blowed if he'd write him his youthful adviser meditatively.

"Boy," he said gravely, “I can not tell you the reasons of my disappearance; that is impossible. Nor can I ever reappear again; that is equally impossible."

any letter at all-said he didn't believe you were dead, but only gone away somewhere on a lark, as had happened to his own brothers more than once said Alison was to go on enjoying the estate, and eating as much as ever she possibly O Uncle Anthony! could, till such time as it was proved, first, that you were really dead and gone, whereas here you still live and kick; and, second, that Alison was not your heiress, whereas everybody always knew that she was."

"Quite impossible? surely money will square it!"

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'No; money can not do everything."

Can't anything be done?"


"Think of Alison, uncle-think how she's cried her eyes out."

"Poor child! poor child!"

He turned his face to the window, and there was silence for a space.

"Think of ME!" said Nicolas. "Think of my ruined prospects if you don't come back. How do I know that Mr. Augustus will take me into the House?"

"I think he will," said Anthony; "at any rate, I hope he will. Nothing can be done, Nicolas. You have found me. I shall go away from here, for fear that some one else may find me. But you must keep the secret."

"I will keep it if you promise to let me know always where to find you. Let me write to you; and I say, uncle-O Lord! what a game we will have—what a game! I didn't tell you how Uncle Stephen is going on."

"No. What is Stephen doing?" Anthony stopped now to listen. "He-well, first of all he came to Clapham, and took up his quarters there; smoked your cigars in your study, slept in your bed, and took your place at dinner. Oh, it was beautiful at the go-off! My poor Alison! my dear child! My dear Flora!'-that to the old lady, you know; and to me it was, 'Nicolas, my boy-Nicolas, my son,' till we began to think that Black Stephen hadn't got horns and a tail, after all. Wait a bit, though! All of a sudden his manner changes. First he orders me and the old lady to pack up

"Tried to rob Alison of her inheritance!" murmured Anthony, with livid face. "The scoundrel!"

"Now, you see, uncle," pursued Nicolas, "here we are in a cleft stick, on the horns of a dilemma, and in a quandary such as you never thought was coming out of it, I'm sure. What's to be done?"

"Tell me more about Alison."

"Alison's very jolly," the boy replied—“ eats hearty and sleeps well. That fellow Gilbert Yorke is always about the place since Uncle Stephen first showed the horns. He seems to consider that Alison looks pretty in black. I don't. That is to say, you know, it's a matter of opinion. A dark girl wants the relief of a bit of However, Alison is a fine girl, dress her how you like; and, if she'd wait for me, I might think of her in ten years' time. After all, she'd be gone off a good deal by the time I was fourand-twenty. Worst of girls, that is—no last."


"Then she doesn't fret much. She has forgotten her father."

"Well, she does-that's the uncomfortable part. You never know when she won't break out again. Spoiled a really good pudding yesterday by crying in the middle of a plateful-her pipes always burst when you least expect it. And then the old lady chimes in. A man can't enjoy his meals if he's rained on that way. It's all your fault. If we'd had a regular funeral, with mourners and hat-bands and that, as we

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had every right to expect in a respectable family, we should have got through our crying and a-done with it, once for all. How's a man, I should like to know, to feel comfortable over his grub when first it's Alison, and then it's the old lady, crying in chorus? Might as well sit down to dinner, with your umbrella up, in a showerbath. It was a roll jam-pudding, too!"

"I wish I could trust you," said Anthony, laying his hands on the boy's shoulders. "Will you promise not to betray me?”

"I promise faithfully, uncle. I will say nothing, on two conditions, which I'll tell you presently. But are you going to let Alison be dished out of all her money?"

"No, I am not. That is the one thing, the only thing, that will force me out of my seclusion. That is the one thing. If Stephen wins his case, he will find that he has reckoned without-his dead brother."

"You will come back again, in that case, and in spite of everything?"

"I will, in spite of everything."

Nicolas breathed freely. This was good news, indeed. In any case Alison was safe. And if Alison was provided for, then he himself would not be forgotten. The bright eyes beneath those long white eyebrows twinkled with delight.

"Very well, uncle. Then we understand one another. If things go wrong, you'll turn up at the right moment, frustrate his politics, make him sing out like bricks, and confound his knavish tricks. But, I say, why not tell me just now where you were married?—just for curiosity, and because we are both enjoying the same jolly game."

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'No, Nicolas, I shall not tell you that. shall tell you no more; and now you must go." "Well, if you won't let me square the other side, and if you won't tell me all about your marriage, I suppose I must. Still" (he got off the table again, and put on his hat slowly), "I don't half like it. You have promised to interfere at the last moment, just when Uncle Stephen thinks he's going to grab it all. That's satisfactory so far; but how do I know that you won't bolt yourself the moment you are out of my sight?" "If I trust my secret in your keeping," said Anthony, "is not that a sufficient guarantee?"

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"Second, when you come back to the House because, of course, you will; Uncle Stephen can't be endured much longer-you will take me into it. I'm not a fool, Uncle Anthony" (the boy became here almost solemn in his earnestness)-"no albino ever was a fool yet, so far as universal history-books (with dates) can inform the class. I'm always trying to learn things that will make me fit for City life. There's nothing in all the world I would rather have, after a bit, than a partnership in the House. Not at first, you know; I am content to work my way right up from the very bottom, only let me have the chance."

"My dear boy," said Anthony, his kind eyes softening, and laying his hands on the lad's shoulders, "I shall never be able to give you the chance. I shall not be there." "But promise, uncle."

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I promise, if I am there."

"That's quite enough," said Nicolas, resuming his habitual manner. "Some fellows-suspicious fellows-would require a stamped agreement. Between man and man, I say, if men's words are worth anything, a verbal agreement is enough."

"You may come to see me sometimes, if you like," said Anthony. "Come on half-holidays, when no one suspects you. Come and tell me about Alison."

"I will, uncle," said the boy; "and about the old lady and myself. Oh, I'll keep you lively! And you shall tell me how you like writing-mastering. And remember your promise — fain larks-no bolting! Here's your key."

Nicolas shook hands with head erect, but his hands were a little shaky, and outside the house he put his knuckles into his eyes for a moment. Then, because a boy in the street who was passing by laughed at him, he chucked that boy's hat into a passing cab, and gave him one to remember him by on the left ear. The necessity of recovering the cap prevented the boy from retaliating, although he was bigger. After that, Nicolas went on his way in a serene and even joyous frame of mind. Presently, thinking over the convivial side of the new discovery, over all the possibilities of this delightful game of hide-andseek, and how it would light up and illumine the summer months, and how it would eventually glorify and immortalize himself, he grew more than joyous-he became rapturous. He could no longer walk, but began to dance. He danced behind and beside nervous old gentlemen, so that they were fain to stop and beg him to pass on; he danced beside grave matrons and elderly single women as if he were their frisky son; he mingled in the ranks of girls' schools, and danced among the girls, as if he were a frivolous pupil;



THE advertisements were all put into the papers, and the cousins waited impatiently for the result.

There were no results at all after a week. "They are searching the registers," said Gilbert.

They waited another week; there were no results still. "Give me time to look through the London registers," said Alderney Codd hopefully.

Alison shook her head. She was not sanguine of success, even in her brightest moods, when she continually thought about that story of the ship's captain who went off his head and signed articles as an able-seaman.

he chanced upon a pale and unhappy two-bytwo belonging to a commercial academy, and danced among the spiritless boys as if he dared HOW ADVERTISING PROVED A DISAPPOINTthe usher to box his ears; he overtook a heavilyladen and very stout old lady going home from shopping, and danced all round her, whistling loudly the while. This figure, if it is executed properly, with the back presented to the victim's face, and plenty of double-shuffle, is really expressive, and disconcerts old ladies excessively. It was a favorite feat, I believe, with the Mohocks and Scourers of old. This old lady, for her part, was so much put out by it that she dropped all the things she was carrying-her bag, her basket, her parcels, her gloves, her shawl, her umbrella, her spectacles, and her thimble-anything that could possibly tumble from her. These spread as they fell till the whole pavement was strewed with the wreck. She is still, I believe, engaged in picking up her property. But long before she realized the extent of the calamity, the boy, whose good spirits prompted him to so great activity, was out of sight, still dancing and still whistling as he went. He arrived at Clapham about half-past five. He was boisterous, he was joyful in that house of subdued melancholy. He boldly suggested champagne instead of tea; he spoke vaguely about great things in the way of festivities to come; he declined altogether to learn his lessons for the next day; he led his mother to think that he was going to have something-the measles, a fit, or perhaps the mumps, which are said sometimes to begin with an accession of supernatural and unaccountable hilarity.

When he got Alison quite by herself for a moment he assumed a mysterious manner, and winked and nodded.

"He may come back," she said, foolishly dwelling on this dream-fortunately, it was not often that she permitted herself so great a happiness. "He may come back. Perhaps he will come back. I shall never give up that hope. What is the good of trying to discover what he wanted to conceal? You had better give it up, Gilbert, and give the other man all the money, and let me go away somewhere and be forgotten."

"Give it up!" he cried; "why, we have only just begun."

"It is useless," she replied despondently; "you are only making yourself and me more unhappy than we need be. Give it up, and me too, and go back to your chambers and your lawwork."

Alison's despondent view was not the only "How are they getting on for you, Alison?" disheartening thing about the work which Gilhe asked. bert had set himself to do. It was impossible "Nothing has been found yet, I am sorry to to deny the difficulty which presented itself at


"Well, I am not a man who promises rashly; only, the moment you think the game is up, you give me the tip straight away."

"Give you the tip?"

"Tip it to me. Then you shall see-hey! presto! up goes Uncle Stephen, horns and tail and all, blown to little smithereens, and Alison comes home in triumph! Ring the bells! beat the drums! and hooray for writing - masters all!"

For several days after that the boy maintained, with Alison, a running fire of obscure allusions to writing-masters. He talked about the great amount of their gains, their enviable position in the social scale, their enjoyable work, their content and happiness. What did he mean?

the very beginning. Why was all mention of the marriage, if there was a marriage, suppressed in the diaries? Even a courtship takes time. Why was even the courtship concealed and suppressed? Why did a man who was frank and candid as the day in everything else, keep a guarded silence in what was probably his only love-affair? and, silence or not, what opportunity could be found for love-making? What room was there in that busy life, so faithfully recorded in the diaries, for love, courtship, and wedlock?

Many young men live in chambers; whatever their occupations during the day, they have at least their evenings free; they are not generally supposed to record in diaries the menus plaisirs of those evenings. Other young men live at home, but do not always, as their mothers would wish, spend the evening at home; nor do they

always truthfully explain in the morning where they have been and what they did the night before: deception, suppressio veri, is practiced. Anthony Hamblin did not have chambers, nor did he spend his evenings abroad. Not at all: he devoted himself, with the devotion of a Frenchman, to his mother. He never showed the least inclination to any kind of profligacy, wastefulness, or fastness. He was that very rare creature, a young man who is "steady," and yet not a prig in morals. Had he been, for instance, a young man of the present day, he would have made himself an athlete, and kept himself in constant training. The only athletics in his day were those games which a late lamented dean once stigmatized as "immoral, because athletic" -whist and cricket. Billiards there was also, but the dean never heard of that game. Football was for boys; young men scorned to run races; no one would have gone a yard out of the way to see the longest jump, the highest jump, the farthest shy, the fastest run. Anthony Hamblin, up to the age of three- or four-andthirty, went home every evening to dinner, and staid at home. He was the constant companion, the solace, the prop of his mother. He was passionate in his love for her. Stephen it was who early broke away from the domestic coop-Stephen it was who lived in chambers, paid dutyvisits, borrowed money, squandered and scattered. It was Anthony who cheered the last years of his mother's life, and for her sake, and not because he was a passionless young prig, was content to forego his own pleasures-the ordinary and innocent gayeties of early manhood.

down like the long grass after a thunderstorm, was the humiliation which fell upon their cousin, and the bitter tears which these doubts wrung from her when she knew that they could not see them.

Compromise! No; nothing that could show belief in her uncle's theory; nothing that should allow the bare possibility of that theory; nothing that did not admit to the full her father's honor, her mother's honor, and all that these involved.

Nothing is more certain than that, if you advertise long enough, you are sure to get something out of it. I was once assured by a stranger, whom I afterward discovered to be connected with the advertising interests, that for twelve thousand pounds he would undertake to float anything, from a quack pill or a saline mixture to a daily paper. Thinking over this assertion, I had a dream, in which I thought I was a millionaire, that my money was all divided into little heaps of twelve thousand pounds each, and that I was devoting the whole of my vast wealth, by means of giving this philanthropic stranger one of these heaps at a time, to floating pills, papers, theatres, saline draughts, books, music, pictures, and artistic furniture. I woke up before I reached the last heap, and I do not know how far I advanced the world.

As for the Hamblin advertisements, the first result of them was to bring Mrs. Duncombe to light.

She called herself at the office in Bedford Row, and sent up her name, with a great air of mystery, in a folded piece of paper, which, she instructed the clerk, was not to be opened, on any account, by anybody except Mr. Billiter him

How, then, could he find the time to get mar- self. ried?

These doubts, when they arose, Gilbert pushed into the background. Before Alison he was confident, brave, and cheerful. Everything, he declared, would happen just exactly as they wished.

As regards the rest of the family, there was division. The two partners remained stanch. So did the Colonel and the Dean, and the rest of the male cousins who belonged to the generation of Anthony. The younger members, accustomed in these latter days to the contemplation of a laxer code of morals, generally took the more gloomy view; one or two openly declared themselves of the Black Hamblin faction. Female cousins called on Alison, and hinted at compromise, while there was yet time. If these hints were such as she could take hold of, Alison astonished those cousins, as she had gratified young Nick, by the mightiness of her wrath and the free hanging of her tongue. What they did not see, when they retired, confused and beaten

She was a florid lady, between middle and elderly age, with a fat, good-natured face, much resembling an overblown cabbage - rose. She looked about her with suspicion. A lawyer's office has something fearsome about it, even to those who "ought to know better"; to a woman of Mrs. Duncombe's social standing it is simply terrible. The appearance of the sharp-visaged old gentleman who received her, with his bright eyes and pointed chin, did not reassure her.

"Oh," said Mr. Billiter, looking her all over with suspicion, "you are Mrs. Duncombe, are you? You are the lady for whom we advertised, are you? And you are come for your reward, I suppose. Very well. Of course we do not pay anything until we are satisfied that there is no imposture. So you will be good enough to sit down and answer a few questions."

Mrs. Duncombe obeyed, though she regarded the very chairs with distrust. Still she obeyed. Her breath was short too, and getting up the stairs had tired her.

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