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"Curse that fellow's cant. I hate a man to play the hypocrite with me. I would have turned him off long ago if he had not been a very imp of Satan. However, a serviceable tool he is, no doubt. Pity that next rent-day is so distant; but when it does come, we shall see if Mr. Thomas Wilson's lucrative profession will raise gold enough to meet his quarterly engagements. If it does not, Fussle shall put the screw on."

Uttering these words, Mansfield turned an imaginary handle in the air, as if he were bringing the edges of the vice into closer contact, and continued his way homewards, smiling with self-approbation at the ingenuity of the plan which he had conceived for Tom's discomfort.

CHAPTER XVI.

HE next quarter-day came. Funds were found, and the rent was duly and punctually discharged. Mansfield's

views, whatever they might have been, were for the time delayed, and he found himself compelled to wait with patience the result of another rent time. But time flew swiftly away, and Tom saw, despondingly, the arrival of the last fortnight of another three months. What measures could be taken to meet the dread emergency which Tom beheld towering like a mass of loosened rock over his homestead, and already tottering to its fall? Where seek shelter? where help? Tom had studiously endeavoured to hide his fears and anxieties from his wife. Alone, as he fondly supposed, he had trembled for the future, and carefully avoided making Alice a participator in the gloomy anticipations which haunted his brain. But his generous solicitude had done her injustice. The highest and noblest spirits often find their dwelling-place

in forms the most delicate and slight. Tom feared the effect which a tale so full of dark apprehensions might have upon her. He knew not the high soul in the form before him, which looked so fragile, and was so young, and so tenderly nurtured. He knew not yet the mind which could regard, undismayed, the hurricane approach of adversity, and stem it with undaunted front when it swept down upon her. This he knew not yet, or he would have confided to her all the fears which agitated himself. But, told or untold, Alice read it in the restless eyes, the pained expression, and uneasy looks.

The fast expiring quarter had nearly run its course, and, as its days became more and more numbered, Tom's dejection grew in proportion. The buoyant animal spirits failed him at last, when the eve of the quarter's departure arrived.

66 Alice," said Tom, tenderly, stealing his arm round the waist of his wife, as she plied her needle diligently, our rent is payable to-morrow."

66

"Well, Tom?" answered she, looking up, "well?"

"And I have not a sovereign in the world," murmured he, with downcast eyes; "I've not a sovereign in the world; how shall I pay it?"

"But you have money owing to you from several people; have you not?" she urged, en

couragingly; " and don't you think the landlord will give us time?"

"I doubt it," answered Tom, "I doubt it; he is a hard man; but I'll try."

An early hour on the following morning found Fussle at Tom's cottage. The little man fixed on his victim a cold and penetrating glance, as he took the receipt from his purse, for his experienced legal eye told him that his journey had been an unprofitable one. Tom fully and candidly disclosed the condition of his finances, and begged for time, promising that, with a little indulgence, the whole debt should be paid in a few days. The lawyer listened silently but unmoved. His sharp grey eye, cold and passionless, showed no softening heart, no feelings touched by Tom's appeal. He merely remarked in reply: "The money is to be paid at my office within three days. Here is the address. I wish you good day, Sir," and left the house.

Tom shivered as the words fell, like icicles, upon his heart.

"Within three days," thought Tom, as he hurried away to the city, and made superhuman efforts to get the money together, but in vain. The third day found his purse lighter than ever; the fourth came, and he despaired.

An old customer who owed a considerable sum, which had been long regarded as a bad debt, occurred to Tom's mind. A drowning man grasps at straws, and Tom hurried off on his forlorn-hope expedition.

He had not long left when a man of somewhat forbidding exterior presented himself at the cottage door, and, entering unbidden, looked leisurely around him, and inquired for one Mr. Thomas Wilson.

Before Alice had time to reply, the man, thrusting his hands deep into his trousers' pockets, sauntered up to the fire-place, and began to examine the internal mechanism of an old time-piece which stood on the mantel-shelf.

"Five shillings," muttered he, with a grunt of dissatisfaction, “mayhap seven-and-six. What did you say, Ma'am, about Mr. Thomas Wilson?"

Terrified by the man's behaviour, Alice replied that her husband's return might be expected in a few minutes.

"Time's precious," returned the other, "I ain't got none to waste ;" and so, quietly resting his back against the mantel-piece, and crossing his legs, he drew out a note-book, and began making memoranda of the contents of the room.

Alice looked on in bewilderment; but the man

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