THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
THE LOST BANK NOTE. CHAPTER IY —concluded. Yictory ! The receipt, with William Wyldc’s counterfeited signature in a shaky, ill-disguised hand ! A poor blundering attempt at forgery, this, which would not have taken in a charity boy. I stifled a cry of triumph which rose to my lips, pocketed the forged receipt, substituted the veritable one, and returned the pocket-book to the wrap-rascal. Then I calmly remounted the stairs, and entered Graham’s sitting-room. Murdon was lolling on the sofa as I entered, and looked up w'ith his supercilious, insolent stare. “ Hallo, Mister Skulk,” he began, “I thought you -were ill in bed; but it seems your’e not to ill too poke your nose in where your not wanted. Not noticing him directly, 1 turned to Kate with a look which she understood —a look which caused her face to brighten. Taking her hand as if to say good evening, I whispered, “ Your father is safe ; back me up.” She smiled, and I turned to the old man. “ Mr Graham,” I asked, “ why do you sutler this under-bred person about your house 1 ” The old clerk started, flushed, and began to stammer. “ That George—dear me ! —why that is Mr. Mm don—and ” “He is the w'orst-conditioned cur on the earth,” I answered deliberately. “Ho is a compound of insolence and falsehood; a tyrant without the power which ho atFects ; a bully, but an innocuous bully, and no companion for you or your daughter. That’s what Murdon is, Mr. Graham.” He started from the sofa with an oath. “ If you aj preach me,” I cried, stopping him, “I’ll knock you down.” I knew him then for a coward, for he stopped short in the blow which he meditated, and turned green and yellow. He was a bigger and older man than I, but he held back and ground his teeth as I heaped insult on insult upon him, in my bitterness and my triumph. “You don’t know what you are doing, you braggart young fool,” he at length muttered, livid with rage. “ You are ruining your precious friends here.” “ You lie,” I retorted; “there is nothing you can do which will harm a hair of their heads.” “'lsn’t there?” he cried. “I can send this old man to penal servitude ; I can beggar his daughter ; and I 'will. “An empty threat —a bragging boast, as mendacious as all you ever say.” He shook a trembling finger at the old man, whose state of terror 1 cannot hope to describe. “He’s a forger,” hissed Murdon. “A thief and a forger.” “Pooh,” I returned. “What has he forged ? Why do you waste words ? Where are your proofs ? ” “ I’ll show you what he has forged, if that’s any satisfaction, my young champion, and the proofs shall ho laid tomorrow before other eyes than yours. ” And he strode vindictively out of the room. In a moment ho returned with his pocket-book. I was holding the hand of Kate, who stood calm and confident by side. The old man had sunk into a chair, and was wringing his bands. “ There,” cried Murdon opening the book with a trembling hand, “ if you must know your friend’s handiwork, look at it, but keep your fingers off.” “ Look at it yourself before you boast,” I answered. “ Are the names of the witnesses forged too ? ” In an instant his face fell as he glanced at the receipt. He know that he was discomfited, and turned from yellow into white. The paper shook in his grasp, and with a bitter curse he would have flung it into the fire ; hut I had seized him and wrenched the reciept from his clutch with a blow -which paralysed bis right arm. “Drop that,” I remarked. “No felony. That receipt is not yours, but Bustler and Clark’s, and to-morrow I restore it to their keeping, and advise them to take better care of it.” He turned to the door with a cry of baffled rage. “To-morrow,” he shrieked, “I will have you kicked out of the office.” And shaking his clenched fist he depari ed. But he did not keep his word. A fortnight afterwards he himself left, suddenly ■and on compulsion. It was rumored that the firm had detected him in a course of defalcation, for long pursued with impunity. This is what the clerks whispered, but Bustler and Clark said nothing. Six months afterwards Kate and I were married. Some weeks previously I had proposed to leave Bustler and Clark also, for I had no further need of employment. The decease of a relative, some time since dead in Australia, had left old Graham a comfortable annuity, and Kate even better endowed. She laid her fortune at ray feet, and besought me to take it with herself. But Bustler and Clark would not bear of my going, and I ultimately purchased an interest in the firm, which is now known as Bustler, Clarke, and Dunning. Whether Murdon had obtained an inkling of the fortuen in store for Kate—it had gone begging until the legatees were traced—l never learned. At all events we heard no more of him, and believed he had left England. When our honeymoon was over I one day questioned old Graham as to the piece of paper he had actually destroyed under the belief that it was the banknote. He answered that he had never parted with the remnant, and I could see it if I chose. When ho brought it, I examined it closely. Only a charred corner remained. “Why, this,” I exclaimed “is no Bank of England note ; there is no water mark —and see, what letters are those ? ” A light broke upon me. It was the residue of one of those confounded Bank of Elegance notes which Tom had been so fond of buying, and in its destruction had so fatally resembled N umber 07,482. CONCLUDED.
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