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CONTINUED. > The words, spoken with significant eml phasis, struck us like a knell. On me i they fell with a startling effect, coining > after the discovery of the last night. > What could they mean ? Before I could s recover, he was gone. , “ Oh, Kate, Kate, Kate,” cried her . father, “you have ruined me ! Oh deary - deary me ! What have you done ? how [ could you 1 ” And he shambled out after . Murdon, in manifest trepidation. I heard him overtake the cashier in the . passage, and I distinguished Murdon’s i angry voice. I turned to Kate who was i pale and weeping. j “Kate, what does all this signify? f Why are you going to marry that man ? I What does he mean by his reference to . Wylde and seven thousand four hundred f and eighty two ?” 3 “ Hush, hush, George—never say those . words. Oh, listen ! are they quarell--3 ing ? ” [ I stole to the door and listened. They E were speaking under their voices, but r their excitement made some of the words ! audible. I heard the old man murmur, . “As heaven bears witness above us, I I never stole the money.” . “I know nothing about that,” replied i the cashier’s scoffing voice. I only > know r it never reached its destination, and i I know the worth of the receipt I hold. ” ) “ And you swear to give it me back ? ” “ On the day when you fulfil your part L of the bargain.” L I closed the door softly and returned to j Kate. “ Tell me one thing, Kate. This [ Wylde—this money ” ■ “If you love me, George,” she cried in terror, “never speak of Wylde or of ■ money. You do not know the danger ; you might bring down on my father’s head and mine. ” ■ “ Well, I will not speak of it,” I anr swered calmly ; “but tell me something ( else. You do not love the man who has . left us ? ” “Love him!” , “ And yet you are about to many him ? ” “I must. I cannot help myself. Yoq t do not know%” . “Kate—dearest Kate I If this danger were removed ; if this man’s spite—for it ; is spite which animates him, not love — were nullified; if he could work neither you nor your father any harm; would ■ you—could you be brought to love somebody else ? ” i She sobbed, but did not reply. I took [ her yielding hand in mine ; I kissed away , her tears ; and her father returning found ; us thus, and broke into a passionate ex- ■ clamation. , She glided to his side, hung over him, ; smoothed his grey hair, and murmured ■ she would do anything in the world for his sake. Father and daughter wept together. It was no scene for an onlooker, • and without a farewell I stole out into the night air to cool my brain and to think. | CHAPTER 111. The sharp evening air and a brisk walk homeward stimulated reflection; and I 1 began to go over the scene I had just witnessed, and to decide upon my next action. Events had conspired to elucidate the mystery of Number 07,482, but much remained yet unrevealed. That Wylde ’ had never received the note or any equiva- : lent for it, was pretty certain from the first. That old Graham was cognisant of some fraud which had kept Wylde out of the money—and perhaps had originated the fraud—was evident from his manner, and from the hold which Murdon possessed over him. The riddle that remained was, to what extent was Graham implicated ? He had not stolen the money, for it lay in my pocket. He could not have hidden it in a place where it was so likely to be found and to betray him. Then, again, Murdon had spoken of a receipt wdiich old Graham seemed anxious to regain, and the delivery of which was to be made contingent on Murdon’s marrying Kate. That receipt was evidently irregular, and its irregularity in some manner compromised the old clerk. So long as it remained in Murdon’s possession, the cashier held an engine by which he could force the old man into compliance with his wishes. The next question was, how could I exonerate Graham and release Kate ? By disclosing the manner in which I had found the bank-note, Graham would be cleared of the suspicion of robbery, which suspicion, however, was known only to the cashier. An expose would certainly not benefit Graham with the firm, who were ignorant of any . irregularity and believed the money paid. And my handing over the money would not clear the difficulty of the receipt: it would on the contrary, provoke an investigation which might be awkward for Graham, if, as I was forced to imagine, he had forged the receipt. Truly the obstacle in this direction was hard to surmount. Walking briskly and thinking deeply, I came upon a dingy public-house, which I remembered as the haunt of Wylde the place where I had seen him in company with Tom. I determined to satisfy myself fully on a point upon which I felt •morally convinced already—namely, that Wylde had never received the money intended for him by Theophilus Langbrace, Esquire, our client. With this view I entered the Pour-in-hand, by which name the house of call for actors was known. Making my way into the bar-parlor, I recognised through a haze of tobaccosmoke my roystering friend Tom, engaged in what he was wont to call cultivating the Muses—in other wmrds, keeping up a drinking and smoking intercourse with half a dozen very shady “ utility ” actors. That ardent young gentleman hailed me boisterously. “ Hallo, George, my pippin ! Come to see life, eh ? Sit down and have a spider.” Declining the entomological beverage referred to, I contented myself -with ordering a less elaborate liquid, and asked Tom if he had seen his friend Wylde. “ What, Guglielmo 1 ” answered Tom. “ He’ll be here presently ; he’s on in the second piece to-night as a gory ruffian. He gets murdered in the fourth act and will probably drop in then.” In about an hour’s time ho appeared, not so drunk as usual, for the night ■was comparatively early—hardly eleven o’clock. He had only taken sufficient to produce the first of many stages of intoxication through which that accomplished artist was nightly wont to pass. In his first stage he was jubilant and loquacious. {To be continued.)

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THE CHIMNEY CORNER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 109, 5 June 1880

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