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THE CHIMNEY CORNER.

THE LOST BANK NOTE. CONTINUED. .' At nine o’clock on the morning after * the discovery, old Graham appeared at his desk, punctual as Saint Paul’s. I entered into a careless conversation, and at last broached the subject of payment to Wylde. “You have been in the office a long lime, Mr. Graham,'’ I said; “do you happen to remember a man who used to come about here named, if I remember right, Wylde—William Wylde T He turned a cadaverous colour, and his fingers wandered aimlessly to his scanty grey hair. “What—-what do you know about Wylde 1” he asked in his timid manner. “I ? Oh, very little. I know he is an actor, that’s all. He used to get money paid him on behalf of one of our clients, did he not 1” I answered carelessly. “ I—l don’t know ;it is not my department. I don’t pay money. 1 never heard of him,” said Graham nervously. “No. I suppose not. Perhaps Mr. Murdoii will know,” I replied. Mr. Murdon was our cashier. The old man grew more agitated than before. “ You had better not ask him,” he returned hastily. ‘ ‘ Mr. Murdon does not like to be troubled with such —with these aimless questions. What business is it of yours ?” “ Oh, none ; I merely asked. Then he did get the money ?” I pursued pointedly. “Yes, yes, of course—at least, I don’t know ; I never heard of him ; it is not my department. Go to your desk. ” It was evident he did know, but would not tell. Under his nervous shambling manner that fact was apparent. Equally apparent was it that nothing could be got out of him further than what he had unconsciously disclosed. I bothered him no more, but went on with my daily work and towards evening, when the office was closing I approached him again. “ Are you going straight home, Mr. Graham ? ” I asked. “ Yes, George, yes ; I am going home.” “If you have no objection I will walk that way with you. ” “ Certainly ; I —l shall be glad. Of course, George. Come with me by all means. ” We walked towards old Graham’s house at Kennington, discoursing on different topics. I was careful not to alarm him with too hasty a reference to the subject of the morning, for I knew his nature, and how likely he was to take fright, and how reticent he could be if sharply questioned. Besides I did not care to offend him. The regard of his daughter was too valuable for that. She met us at the door with a kiss for her father and a warm smile for me. What a bright-eyed, glad-hearted, round little divinity she was ! With such a light in my home I would not have envied old Bustler himself, with a wife in May Fair of many pounds avoirdupoise, and three stately daughters who might have sat sentries at the Horse Guards. And when she brought us into a trimly-ordered parlor, which her taste had rendered attractive beyond the land-lkdy’s rosiest dreams of luxury,- and presided over a pleasant arrangement of cups and saucers ard watercresses, a very Hebe of the teaboard, I thought wistfully of Wykle’s bank note in my pocket, and of all the comfort it could purchase to lay at my darling’s feet. After tea her father left us for a moment together. It was an opportunity not to be lost, if I would learn whether she knew anything of what was evidently within old Graham’s knowledge, and what he would not disclose. I drew my chair close to hers. “Kate,” I began, “ I want to ask you something in confidence.” She moved back hastily. “I am afraid, George, we must not have any confidences —at least, if they are very particular. ” “ Why, Kate, dear ? ” I asked in some astonishment. “What do you mean ? ” “ Oh, don’t call me that,” she cried in distressed way ; ‘‘there must be no more of that between you and me. ” “ But Kate! Are we not good friends ? ” “Oh, yes, yes; but friends only. Don’t look unhappy ; I didn’t mean to wound you ; but indeed, indeed you must be guarded, for your own sake and mine, the feeling with which you regard me.” “Guarded ! Good heavens, why ?”■ “ Because,” answered Kate with a sob which she strove hard to stifle, “-because I am going to be married.” In the suddenness with which the blow fell upon me I did not notice that the door had opened, and that a tall, sallowfaced man stood contemplating us. A harsh sneering voice woke me from my misery. “It is well that you have made the announcement to our young friend here,” said the new comer sarcastically; “it is well that he and such interlopers should know they are trespassing on private preserves when they make free with my property.” I started up in undisguised trepidation. “ Your property, Mr. Murdon ! ” I cried. “Do you mean to say that you are going to—that you have the right to say this ? ” I had never liked our sallow-faced cashier ; at that moment I positively hated him. He was a tall, corpulent man of five-and-thirty, with a yellow skin and yellow whiskers, which would not grow on his cheeks, but wandered aimlessly down his long neck, and ended somewhere out of sight. He had an execrable taste in dress, for he wore pale yellow shirt collars which matched villanocsly with his hair and face, and a green scarf. His short coatee and baggy trousers hung from, rather than clothed his ungainly stoutness. He had a halt when he walked. His features might have been handsome but for a sneer which always played on them when he spoke, and a look of unhappiness when he was silent. Evidently an illnatured man, whose temper tormented himself as much as it annoyed others. “I don’t know about my right, my young friend,” said Mr. Murdon grimly ; “but I have the power which is quite for your book. Tell this fellow the same, 1 Kate, and let him go.” She was top deeply agitated to confirm his insolent words as I looked at her with a heavy heart. The cashier swung himself into a chair, and admired the big check pattern cn his legs. “ Well,” he asked suddenly, “ why don’t you go ? ” “I don’t recognise your right, sir, to demand it. You are not yet master of this house. If Miss Graham here wishes ” “ No, no, George,” she cried tearfully ; •• and added in an undertone, “Don’t leave ( me with him.” £ She did not love him, then. There was some chilly comfort in that. I smiled and sat down. “ Egad, if you don’t make a clearing, a I’ll let you see whether I’m master or : not,’.’ exclaimed Murdon, his evil face • darkening. At that moment old Graham re-entered the room. “ Oh, you’re here at last, are you ? ” cried Murdon. “ What do you mean by letting a parcel of puppies overrun the *- house, and poison the ear of your t daughter, eh?” t The nervous old man trembled. “I ® didn’t—didn’t mean—you know George Dunning, sir.” 6 “Know George Dunning!” Murdon answered with a sneer. “Yes, Ido know George Dunning. I know he is not an associate I should choose for my wife. ” The coarseness of his manner, even more than the insolence of his words, stung Kate in the midst of her agitation.

“I am not your wife yet, Mr. Murdon,” she exclaimed, “ and never shall bo if this tone continues. You are liar; h, cruel, impertinent; you have no right tc treat me so, and I v'on't be so treated ! Don’t speak to me, father; I would do anything for you—make any sacrifice, but I cannot forego all self-respect. When he looks and talks thus, I despise him. ” Her magnificent scorn lighted up her face with a beauty I had never seen before. The big bully before her was cowed for a moment, then he rose to his feet in suppressed rage. “ Oh, very good,” he said, between his teeth ; “ I’ll leave you to entertain yoiir friends with your fine tragedy airs. As for you, Mr. Graham,” turning to the old man,'“we can settle this matter between us quietly. You know where to find me. My lodgings are in Wylde Street, Number seven thousand four hundred and eighty-two. The same as before : I never move. {To be continue.!,)

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THE CHIMNEY CORNER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 108, 3 June 1880

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