Page images
PDF
EPUB

pared a copy for you. Here is the original;” and he held it out at arm's length for inspection; but as quickly drew it back when Mansfield, starting suddenly from his seat, sprang forward to snatch it

away.

"Give me that letter," he said. His lips were white, and his voice trembled with passion.

“I prefer keeping it, my Lord,” returned the other, coolly.

"I must have that letter," continued Mansfield, approaching the lawyer, his hands clenched, and his teeth set; "I must have that letter.”

"Not for the world," returned the other, retreating towards the door.

Mansfield sprang at the lawyer, but Fussle's hand was already on the door-handle, and the door was already ajar.

"Hear me, my Lord!" he said, in a low voice, “hear me!”

Mansfield, infuriated as he was, felt himself checked.

same tone.

"No violence!" continued the lawyer, in the "No violence! I am not a strong man myself, but help, in abundance, is at hand." He smiled sarcastically. "Your Lordship will now appreciate the wisdom of the precautions which I have taken. Pray resume your seat."

Mansfield obeyed.

"And now, my Lord," said Fussle, when they were once more seated, "this secret, at present known, as I believe, to us two only, shall never pass my lips, except with your Lordship's permission. But meanwhile-your Lordship is aware that I am not a man of capital-I shall take a cheque of a hundred guineas or so, as an earnest of future favours."

The lawyer placed pens and paper before him, but Mansfield pushed them away.

66

Very well, my Lord," said Fussle," your Lordship knows the temper and disposition of your humble attorney-a temper and disposition which your Lordship's example has done much to mature. He seldom spares another. This matter shall be sifted to the bottom; and, when all the facts are brought to light, which will, I doubt not, be an easy task as the clue is so perfect, good-bye to much that your Lordship holds dear."

The lawyer's hard, unrelenting expression, and bitter sarcastic tones, gave the threat redoubled force. Mansfield was shaken. He hastily drew a draft, and flung it across the table.

"There!" said he, " miserable worm! Take thy gains. There's another step for thee on thy road to the devil."

Fussle smiled and read the paper carefully through, to be assured of its correctness in all particulars. Then folding it away into his pocket, he ushered his baffled client out of the office with many respectful bows and obsequious acknowledgments, and returned to his own room to chuckle and laugh with demoniac glee over the success of his sharp practice.

CHAPTER XVIII.

HEN the march of adversity has fairly set in, and its grim legions pour over prosperity's smiling fields, bringing gloomy dejection and all attendant sorrows in its train, stout must be the heart and strong the will which can oppose it. Adversity turns the heart to lead, deadens the senses, enfeebles the energies, and clogs the active stream of life. Wiser judgment flees before it, and its victims lie prostrate, powerless, and apathetic. Poison, the pistol, or the knife are often gifts which poverty accepts at the hands of adversity, and accepts them, too, as precious gifts-the sure antidotes and remedies against her besetting malady. Fearful thoughts would haunt Tom's mind, unholy thoughts, and Alice would read them in his eyes.

"Despair not!" she said, one day when Tom was more than usually sad; "despair not, is there not a God above us?"

Her sweet, clear voice, as her lips uttered these

solemn words, thrilled through her husband. She looked as one inspired, and seemed to grow in height and beauty before Tom's eyes. Raising her right hand upwards, her words rang like prophecy in his ears.

"Despair not, is there not a God above us? He gives and he takes away; but he gives again in richer measure." For some minutes she was silent; but her features lit up, and her eyes shone with almost supernatural lustre. Bending her glance upon Tom, she pressed his hand, and, lowering her voice to a whisper, said:-" Tom, deliverance is coming-is coming," repeated she, slowly. "Do not despair! I see the sun shining brightlybrightly, Tom, brightly.”

Tom had caught some of his wife's enthusiasm. "No, Alice," he said, "I will not despair ;" and, clasped in each other's arms, they knelt down and mingled their tears and prayers to God.

But hope, which for the moment had flamed up so high, soon sank again to a faint, dismal glimmer, and the darkness of adversity closed around them thicker and blacker. Turn which way he would, sorrows hedged him in, and he stumbled at every step. But still the years of his own sad experience, and the high spirit of his wife, kept him from falling. The human frame will front a multitude of

« PreviousContinue »