« ForrigeFortsett »
ceeded to take off her bonnet and shawl. But she could not keep silent long, and the beginning of speech as well as of strife is like the letting out of water.
“Thomas,” she said-for people of her degree of education become more familiar in their address when they are angry—“is this room mine or yours ?”
“Grannie,” said Lucy, “Thomas had nothing to do with it. He was away from home, I assure you, when--when-things went wrong."
“ Very convenient, no doubt, for both of you! It's nothing to you, so long as you marry him, of course. But you might have waited. The money would have been yours. But you'll have it all the sooner for marrying the man that turned your grandmother into the street. Well, weil !-Only I won't sit here and see that scoundrel in my room."
She rose as she spoke, though what she would or could have done she did not know herself. It was on Lucy's lips to say to her—“The room's mine, grannie, if you come to that, and I won't have my friend turned out of it." But she thought better of it, and taking Thomas's hand led him into the shop. Thereupon grannie turned to Widdles for refuge, not from the pain of Thomas's presence, but from the shame of her own behaviour, took him out of his cage, and handled him so roughly that one of the threc wing feathers left on one side came off in her hand. The half of our \II-temper is often occasioned by annoyance at the other half.
Thomas and Lucy finished their talk in a low voice, hidden in he leavy forest of books. Thomas told her all about it now; how he wanted to find the man Jack Stevens, and how Robins and he had followed him to Lisbon, and found him there and brought him home; how he had had to part with her ring as well as his own watch for money to start them in their search, and how even then they had had to work their passage to Lisbon and back. But if the representation she and Mr. Fuller had given him of the state of the case was correct, he said, there could be no doubt but Jack's testimony would reverse the previous decision, and grannie would have her own.
“ I can't help being rather sorry for it,” concluded Tom; "for it'll come to you then, Lucy, I suppose, and you will hardly be able to believe that it was not for my own sake that I went after Jack Stevens. I've got him safe, and Robins too, at the Mermaid. But I can't be grand and give you up. If you were as rich as Miss Coutts, I couldn't give you up-though I should like to, almost, when I think of the money and my father."
“ Don't give me up, Tom, or I'll give you up, and that would be a bad job for me."
Then they made it clear to each other that nothing was farther from the intention of either of them
“ But what am I to do next, Lucy? You must tell me the law yers that conducted your side of the case.”
“I am afraid I can't ask him to do anything more."
“Sargent-Sargent-I think I have heard the name. He's a barrister. If you are not satisfied with him, the firm you employed will speak to another.”
“He did everything, Thomas. But
Lucy hesitated. Thomas saw that she was blushing. Perhaps it was the consciousness of his own unworthiness that made him jealous.
“Oh, very well, Lucy! If you don't want to tell me, of course"
“ Thomas ! Thomas! Can't you trust me yet? I have trusted you, Thomas.”
He had the grace to feel ashamed of himself at once. “Forgive me, Lucy !” he said. I was wrong. Only I love you " I will tell you all about it, Tom dear.
“ You shan't tell me a word about it. I can guess. But what are we to do?"
“I will go and consult Mr. Morgenstern." “ There is no time to lose."
“ Come with me to his office then at once. It is not far to Old Broad Street."
They set out instantly, found Mr. Morgenstern, and put him in possession of the discovered evidence. He was delighted with the news.”
“We must find Sargent at once,” he said. Lucy began to stammer out some objection.
“Oh! I know all about that, Lucy," said he. “But this is no time for nonsense. In fact you would be doing the honest fellow a great wrong if
you deprived him of the pleasure of gaining his case after all. Indeed he would feel that far more than your refusal of him. And quite right too. Sargent will be delighted. It will go far to console him,
poor fellow." “But will it be right of me to consent to it ? * asked Thomas, with hesitation.
" It is a mere act of justice to him," said Mr. Morgenstern ; "and, excuse me, I don't see that you have any right to bring your feelings into the matter. Besides, it will give Mrs. Boxall the opportunity of making him what return she ought. It will be a great thing for him-give him quite a start in his profession, of which he is not a little in want. I will go to him at once," concluded Mr. Morgen. stern, taking his hat.
GUILD COURT AGAIN I WILL not linger over the last of my story. Mr. Sargent was delighted at the turn affairs had taken—from a business point of view, I mean. The delight was greatly tempered by other considerations. Still he went into the matter mind and soul, if not heart and soul, and moved for a fresh trial on the ground of fresh evidence. Mr. Worboise tried the plan of throwing discredit on the witness; but the testimony of Robins and Thomas was sufficient to remove any influence that course might have had. The former judgment was rescinded, and the property was Mrs. Boxall's.
Mr. Worboise and Mr. Sargent met in the lobby. The latter, in very unlawyerlike fashion, could not help saying,
You would have done better to listen to reason, Mr. Worboise." “ I've fought fair, and lost, Mr. Sargent; and there's an end of it.”
The chief consolation Mr. Worboise now had was that his son had come out so much more of a man than he had expected, having indeed foiled him at his own game, though not with his own weapons. To this was added the expectation of the property, after all, reverting to his son ; while, to tell the truth, his mind was a little easier after he was rid of it, although he did not part with it one moment before he was compelled to do so. He made no ad. yances, however, towards a reconciliation with Thomas. Probably he thought that lay with Thomas, or at least would wait to give him an opportunity of taking the first step. My reader would doubtless have expected, as I should myself, that he would vow endless alienation from the son who had thus defeated his dearest plans, first in one direction, then in another ; but somehow, as I have shown, his heart took a turn short of that North Pole of bitterness.
There is nothing to wonder at in the fact that Mrs. Boxall should know nothing yet of her happy reverse of fortune. They had, as I have said already, judged it better to keep the fresh attempt from her, so that if by any chance it should fail, she might not suffer by it, and, in any case, might be protected from the wearing of anxiety and suspense.
“Let's give grannie a surprise, Lucy," said Thomas, having hurried to her with the good news.
“ How do you mean, Tom? We must be careful how we break It to her. Poor dear ! she can't stand much now.'
“Well, my plan will just do for that. Get Mrs. Whatshername, over the way her old crony, you know-to ask her to tea this
evening. While she's away, Kitely, Spelt, and I will get all the things back into the old place. There's nobody there, is there?”
"No; I believe not. 'I don't see why we shouldn't. I'll run across to the old lady, and tell her we want grannie out of the way for an hour or two."
She took care, however, not to mention the reason, or their surprise would have been a failure.
There were no carpets to fit, for the floor had been but partially covered, showing the dark boards in the newest fashion. Before Mrs. Boxall's visit was over, the whole of her household property had been replaced-each piece in the exact position it used to occupy when they had not yet dreamed of fortune or misfortune. Just as they were getting anxious lest she should come upon the last of it, Lucy, bethinking herself, said to the bookseller,
“ Mr. Kitely, you must lend us Widdles. Grannie can't exist without Widdles."
“I wish you hadn't proposed it, miss; for I did mean to have all the credit of that one stroke myself. But Widdles is yours, or hers rather, for you won't care much about the old scaramouch.'
“ Not care about him! He's the noblest bird in creation that I know, Mr. Kitely. He doesn't mind being bald even, and that's the highest summit of disregard for appearances that I know of. I'm afraid I shouldn't take it so quietly.”
“It don't much matter nowadays,” said Mr. Kitely. “They make such wonderful wigs."
But that's ten times worse," said Lucy. “ You don't mean to say you'd go with a bare poll, miss, so be that Providence was to serve you the same as Widdles ?-which Heaven forbid !"
I wouldn't wear a wig anyhow.” “What would you do, then, miss? Black and polish it ?” “What nonsense we are talking !” said Lucy, after a good laugh.
But I'm so happy I don't know what to do. Let's make a wig for Widdles, and grannie will think her bears’-grease has made hair grow instead of feathers."
Whether this proposal was ever carried out, I do not know. But Widdles followed the furniture ; and when grannie came home she found that all her things were gone. She stared. Nobody was to be seen.
But all were watching from behind the defences of Mr. Kitely's bookshelves.
“Mr. Kitely," she called at last, in a voice that revealed consternation.
The bookseller obeyed the summons.
“ I didn't expect it of you, Mr. Kitely,” she said, and burst into tears.
This quite upset the conspirators. But Mr. Kitely kept them back as they were hurrying forward.
“We thought we could do a little better for you, you see, ma'am It was a confined place this for the likes of you. So Miss Lucy and I made bold to move your things up to a place in the court where you'll have more room."
She said nothing, but went up-stairs. In both rooms she found uiter emptiness. Mr. Kitely followed her.
“There's not a stick left, you see, ma'am. Come, and I'll take you home."
"I didn't think you'd have turned me out in my old age, Mr. Kitely. But I suppose I must go."
It was with considerable exercise of self-denial that the book. seller refrained from telling her the truth, but he would not spoil the young people's sport. He led her up to the door of her own house.
“No, Mr. Kitely. I'll never set foot in that place again. I won't accept it from no one-not even rent-free.”
“But it's your own," said Kitely, almost despairing of persuasion, and carried beyond his intent.
“That's just why I won't go in. It is mine, I know, but I won't have my own in charity."
"Thomas," whispered Lucy, for they were following behind," you must tell her the good news. It will help her over her prejudice against you. Old people are hard to change, you know.”
"Mrs. Boxall," said Thomas, going up to her, “this house is your own."
“Go away,” returned Mrs. Boxall, energetically. “ Isn't it enough that you have robbed me? Will you offer me my own in charity ?”
“ Do listen to me, grannie," pleaded Thomas.
“ I will not listen to you. Call a cab, Lucy. We'll drive to the nearest workhouse."
Lucy saw it was time to interfere.
“What Thomas says is true, grannie, if you would only listen to him. Everything's changed. Thomas has been over the seas to find a man who was in uncle's ship when it went down. He has given such evidence that the property is yours now.”
“I don't care; it's all a trick. I don't believe he went over the seas. I won't take anything from the villain's hand.”
“ Villains don't usually plot to give away what they've got,” said Lucy.
“ But it's Thomas Worboise you mean ?”
“Yes; but he had nothing to do with it, as I've told you a hundred times, grannie. He's gone and slaved for you, and that's all the thanks you give him--to stand there on the stones, refusing to take what's your very own.”
The light was slowly dawning on grannie's confused mind. “ Then you mean,she said, " that all my son Richard's