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PAID IN HIS OWN COIN.

Br Edwaki> J. Goodman, Author of' Too Curious.'

VOL. 11.-CHAPTER IX TROUBLES.

Mark Elliot made no secret of his parting with Mrs Fleming. He told Helon all about it, duriDg their next Sunday rambles But no, he did not tell her quito all. He did not fully describe to her the exhibition of emotion which tho fair widow di3playtd when he revealed tj hor his determination, and he said nothing about the " fainting " ecene. Perhaps it was only from motives of delicacy that he omitted to mention these details; jiethaps, if ho had chosen to examine his own feelings on the subject, he would have found among them some lurking fear lest Helen, wholly devoid of jealousy as sue was, might suspect that he himself had been not unmoved by a tender regret at relinquishing the society of that 4jo fascinating woman. Be it as it may, he only told Helen his reasons for discontinuing his visits to Mrs Fleming, adding that tho widow had been very sorry to lose him. Helen, on her part, folt sincere regret at his decision, not only for his own sake, but for that of his patient. " You acted most honorably, dear, as you always do," she said ; " and I dare say you were right. It is a doctor's business, of course, to cure his patients, not merely to amuse them. Still, I can't help feeling sorry for the poor woman. She must be a good creature, from all you tell mo about her kindness and amiability and charity, and it must have been a, great pleasure to her for you to sit with her and cheer her up. Poor thing ! Perhaps she suffers more than you suppose. You men do not quite understand U3 women, clover as ycu are." "Men do not understand women!" mentally exclaimed Dr Elliot; "do women altogether understand mtn? I know one who doesn't—bless her dear ignorance !" He gave no expression to these reflections, but he said:

" Well, Helen, there is another nail knocked into my coffin. A rich and profitable patient lost, and no more, of that stamp at least, coming in." " But perhaps she may want you again," suggested Helen. " You will go and see her if Bhe sends for you, will you not ?" "Yes, certainly," replied Mark; but he devoutly prayed that Mrs Fleming would enjoy the best of health till her old age. '* Well," he added, " how are you getting on yourself, love? Have you any new pupils, and is your father's publisher beginning to dun him yet?" "I have been rather unlucky lately, Mark," answered Helen ; "strange to say, I have had no satisfactory answers yet to any of my advertisements, and I have a good deal more time on my hands than I like. But, there, I dare say something will turn up before long, as Mr Micawber says. Mrs Fenwick, the mother of one of my pupils, has promised to recommend me to a good family whose governess is going abroad, and very likely I shall get the situation. As for father, I believe he has heard nothing yet from Mr Copple, but I must say I live in constant dread of an application for money." "And What will you do when he makes it?"

" I hardly know. I suppose I shall have to do something myself, and plead with Mr Copple for a little time; though how we shall meet such a debt, if it is really a heavy one, I cannot imagine." Dr Elliot was full of indignation at tho idea of his beloved having to do such work for her foolish father, to humiliate herself by begging the favor of delay from people to whom he owed money. Indeed, he was too angry about it to utter his thoughts. Why should ho add te- her distress by showing his annoyance, which after all would be useless ?

As for Helen herself, her distress was really greater than her lover imagined. She was an adept at concealing her feelings, but this dread of the debt which she believed her father to have incurred weighed heavily on her mind, and caused her many a heartache and many a sleepless night. Surprised as bhe was at Mr Copple's long forbearance, and unable to believe that the sale of the 'Epic' could be paying its expenses, she nevertheless did not know where to look for information on the subject. To speak to Mr Musgrave himself respecting it was, of course, out of the question. It was equally impossible to mention it to Dr Wynd, to whom she now spoke as little as she could help. Jane she had indeed consulted, but Mrs Wynd knew nothing beyond the fact that her husband had declared that he could not sanction the advance of more than the original hundred pounds. She had thrown out a hint or two to Oliver Crayke, but he had given only brief and vague replies of which she could mako nothing.

Meanwhile the difficulty of providing for the expenses of the household grew greater than ever. In spite of all her management, Helen found the ordinary debts owing to tradesmen growing slowly but steadily larger, and her arts of persuasion having less and less effect on the creditors to whose patience she appealed. Saturday afternoon, her weekly half-holiday, had become a time of bitter penance for her, as that was her " pay-day," and often she found she had little means of paying anything at all. And still she had to bear the compla'uts of her exacting relatives, who were disgusted by her "narrow views" on the subject of domestic economy, her unwillingness to supply little luxuries for the table, her desire that odd remnants of food should be saved and served up again, and so forth ; while Tessio thought herself greatly aggrieved because Bhe could not have a newdress when she wanted one so badly, and was deeply offended when Helen offered to have one of her own altered for her.

They were, of course, well awaro of their poverty; but they were not at all afraid of running into debt. What did it matter if they owed a few pounds more or lesB? Everything would be paid sooner or later. For Mr Musgrave, his wife, and Tessio, were still buoyed up by the hope of those bright days to come when the great ' Epic' would prove a very gold-mine of prosperity, and the fortune of the family would be made. The advertising was still going on, and was still watched with eager delight, and the Musgrave enthusiasts were confident that the influence of that "splendid notice" in the ' Courtier' must be telling on the public and selling the book. It was this sanguine view which prompted Teesie at last to refer to the financial aspect of the literary enterprise. " The book must be sel'ing well, father," she said, " as otherwise how is it Mr Copple does not say anything about the money it must have cost ? You may depend upon it that he is making quite a fortune out of it, and I really think it is time that you should have your share." •'Tessie is right, I am sure," exclaimed Mrs Musgrave. " What a clever girl she is ! She may not know as much as Helen, perhaps, but she has wonderful good sense." '' I hope she is right," said the poet. " But literary men do not get much out of the work of their brains until they are really famous. Look at Milton ; ho only received LlO for his ' Paradise Lost.'"

"Oh, father," cried Tessie, " but he sold his poem. If he had done as you have, he would have mado thousands."

"That is very true, my love," said Mr Musgrave. "And that I hope I shall do vet. when once my work is well before the world."

"Don't you think, dear," suggested Mrs Musgrave, "that it might be advisable for you to sound Mr Copple a little on the subject when you next see him? There must bo some money owing to you by this time; and I am quite tired of hearing Helen ttlk about our waut of meana. What a triumph it would bo, when next she speaks about bills owing, to give her several : pounds, and tell her to pay them with the money !" The idea fascinated Mr Musgrave and Tessie; the latter especially, though she said she would prefer that they should buy some f >i"'{ themselves, and show it to Helen -' Living been purchased with the first iastalmcnt of " father's _ fortune." But whatever was to be done with the money, it was, of course, necessary to get it first, and Mr Musgrave promised to make an attempt in this direction the next time he called on bis publisher. The pr>ft to'ik an "nr'v opportunity <>f visiting Mrdv;>l" -lit'i » view to ascertain what was dun to hi;r. Had ho arrived at the publisher's door but a few minutes

earlier, he would have had the pleasure of meeting Oliver Crayke, who had just had an interview with Mr Copple, and had given him certain instructions. As it was, 'he found the publisher in his privato room enjoying a light lunch in the shape of a plate of sandwiches and a bottle of good old sherry, of which he invited his visitor and client to partake. Mr Musgrave and he had a pleasant chat together for some little time, bearing, of course, more or less directly on tho ' Epic of Life'; but the poet had had so far most of the talk to himself, and Mr Copple had sat and listened with the respect due to so great a genius. At last the period arrived when Mr Musgrave thought it time to put some practical questions. "I suppose you have sold a very large number of copies, Mr Copple ?" "Ye-3S—a fairish number," replied the publisher. " Not so many as have been sold of Tennyson's latest book ; but still, a very decent number. It is quite impossible to say how many at present, as the accounts have not been made up." " No, no ; of course not," said the poet. " And—a—T suppose, Mr Copple, you could not tell me how much money is due to me?"

Here tho publisher suddenly turned round, and was seized with such a violent fib of coughing that Mr Musgrave became quite alarmed.

"It is nothing—nothing, my dear sir," cried Mr Copple, still coughing. "Something gone the wrong way, that's all." The worthy publisher was not a humorist, but had he seen the point of his own unconscious joke, implying that it was uot only a crumb of bread, but Mr Mtugrave's innocent mind that had " gone the wrong way," he might have died on the spot. " Well—a," he said, when he had recovered his breath and his composure, "I am sorry to say, Mr Mtugrave, that so far from there being anything due to you, I have a little account against you myself." "Indeed!" cried the poet, very much surprised and disappointed. "Do I understand that my book so far has not paid its expenses ?" Mr Copple, after hid recent attack, had desisted from the consumption of sandwiches, but another crumb in tho windpipe might have been opportune just then, for he could not supprees his laughter. He was forced to account for his merriment, as ho did not wish to appear impolite. " Aha ! my dear sir," he said, " I sec you know nothing about the book trade. How could you, with your mind so stored with beautiful fancies and similes, and all that ? You have far too much too think of to trouble yourself about pounds, shilings, and pence. If I were a great poet, like you, I should do just the same myself." This was, Mr Musgrave felt, very nice of Mr Copple ; still, it left his question unanswered, so he asked: " But has there been any loss on the publication of my poem ?" "Any loss, my dear Mr Musgrave?" replied Mr Copplo. " Why, yes; tho loss has beeu—well, not inconoiderablo. I cannot exactly tell you yet what it amounts to; but if convenient—if perfectly convenient—l would be really very glad if you could let me have a trifle—say a hundred pounds—on account."

A hundred pounds ! And on account! Mr Musgrave was aghast, was speechless with astonishment. He had no more sense of humor than his publisher, and so it did not occur to him to ask Mr Copple if he were joking ; but at last he did say : " Surely you cannot mean that, Mr Copple ?" " Oh dear, yes," replied the publisher cheerfully. "I assure you I mean it very much indeed. But there, don't let it distress you, my dear sir. lam really in no hurry, and it will do quite well if you let me have a cheque for a hundred pounds in, say, a week or two." Mr Musgrave was so utterly crushed by this terrible intelligence that he was wholly at a loss to express his feelings. Ho could only stammer out that he would " consider tho matter" and "let Mr Copple know"; and then ho loft the publisher's office and walked homo in a condition of mind only paralleled by his state of feeling after Ids first- perusal of the onslaught of tho ' Inquisitor.' Mrs Musgrave and fessie were naturally as much downcast as the poet himself when he brought back his sad news. All their bright day-dreams of fame and fortune wore dispelled, and they bogan at last to realise the position. If Mr Copple demanded this one hundred poands merely as "something on account," what might not be tho full extent of his claim ? Still, they hoped that affairs would before long take a turn for the better, and that the attractivo advertisement containing the ' Courtier's ' tribute of praise would, sooner or later, stir up tho public and create an immense demand for 'The Epic of Life.' But they wore doomed to another disappointment; for on the very clay following that on which Mr Musgrave last visited the publisher, not one of the many journals they were accustomed to take in contained the precious advertisement, nor for many days afterwards did it appear in their columns. It was clear that Mi Copple had stopped it; but Mr Masgrave could not summon up courage to visit him again and ask for an explanation of this step. Indeed, after Mr Copple's recent intimation, the poet feared to face his publisher for any purpose whatever, but remained at home with his disheartened relatives, sorely afflicted by his failure, and in momentary dread of some unpleasant communication. Helen could easily perceive from the air of dejection that pervaded the household, lately so hopeful and jubilant, that something was amiss, and was not slow to guess the cause. But she was reluctant to ask any questions on the subject, and her father, mother, and sister wero equally disinclined to reveal to her tho actual state of affair?.

Abel Wynd, too, soon found out how matters stood, but not by guess; for Mr Musgrave, in the presence of his wife and younger daughter, at once informed him of Mr Copple's formidable claim. "It is very disappointing, very surprising, my dear Wynd," said the poet; " for I certainly did think that the public were beginning to awaken to an appreciation of my work, and lam sure they will in time. But, meanwhile, what is to be done? What do you advise ?" "Well, really, Musgrave," replied Dr Wynd in a hesitating tone, "it is very difficult to say—very difficult. I am sure I am as much surprised and disappointed as you are, and to will Jane be, I hope—l sincerely hope—matters will improve soon, and that your undertaking will prove profitable after all. I—that is we—have done the best we could for you, though I assure you we could ill afford that hundred pounds ; but, of course, we would not think of speaking about repayment at present. Indeed, if things do not mend, I am atraid we shall have to look upon that advance as a dead loss—a dead loss !"

Dr Wynd here breathed a sigh of genuine distress. He could not but feel the loss of his money, though it is needless to say he had been prepared for it from the first. Yet it was a sweet consolation to him to reflect that matters were going, so far, exactly as ho had planned and desired. Mr Musgrave had not the courage after this to suggest that Abel "Wynd should give him further assistance, but Tessie was bolder.

"You havo been very kind—very," she said, " in lending father that hundred pounds, and I am sure you wi'l help him again if he wants it, won't you ?" if" Oh, my dear !" cried the doctor, " that is really quite out of the question—l—l—we cannot afford to lose any more, indeed we cannot. You havo no idea what our expenses nre, and some of your poor uncle's investments have turned out not at all well. No, no; we have done all we can—all we possibly can. If I could advise Jane to go further I would with pleasure—with real pleasure; but it can't be done, I assure you." Mr Musgrave was deeply disappointed by this reply, and so also were his wife and Tessie. He attempted to assure his niece's husband thai he felt he could not look to him for further help after all he had dono ; but his tone was not very earnest. Dr Wyi'd found the position rather awkward, more especially as his friends seemed to have no heart for conversation on any other topic than that of the unlucky ' Epic' nnd its fate S", after the uncomfortable interview bad gone on for a short time longer, he took his departure, leaving the Musgrave group rery sad and depressed, but rejoioing

in his heart at the progress of his artful design. "Aha !" ho said to himself as ho walked home; " now the plot is ripening. _ Debt and difficulty fast accumulating with no prospect of relisf—none but one—nothing but an appeal to dear, good, kind Dr Wynd from his sweet, fascinating, persuasive cousin Hilen. Ah ! that time will come yet; and when it comes " Ho revelled in the scene which he pictured to himself of Helen approaching him once more, full of forgiveness and regret for the past, appealing to him to save her father from ruin, perhaps from imprisonment, and gloated over the possibilities which the position might offer. With Helen, as it were, at his feet, not merely asking for a common favor, but bogging him to help her out of a, desperate situation, would she venture to stub him with cold, cruel words, if again he spoke to her of his fondest hopes ? "Yes," he reflected, "things are going well, very well. And Crayke has done his work admirably—holding back Copple juat long enough, and then letting him go just at the right time. He is an invaluable friend, and 1 shall have further use for him yet." Helen heard of Dr Wynd's visit, though her relatives told her nothing of what had passed between him and themselves. But she obtained soma information about the interview from Jane, who had indeed been instructed by her husband to tell Helen that Mr Copple was now asking for money, and that he (Dr Wynd) was not disposed—"not disposed " was to be tho exact expression—to help the poet any further. All these troubles filled Helen with a sense of depression, amounting almost to a feeling of despair. She had a strong brave spirit; but this load of debt in which her family had become involved, and with which she alone could even attempt to grapple, caused her heart to sink as it had never sunk before.

And there were more troubles yet in store for her. One morning her brother Ralph, instead of setting out for his office in the City immediately after breakfast, as was hi* wont, seemed to linger about in on undecided manner, watching Helen's movements so curiously that she could not but perceive that he wanted to speak to her privately. So taking the hint, sho made an excuse to retire into tho back parlor, and there her brother soon joined her. " Helen," said Ralph, blushing and looking very awkward, "I should like to say something to yon." "Indeed!" exclaimed Helen a little uneasily, and with a suspicion that the expected communication was likely to be of an unpleasant character. " What is it, Ralph? Sit down." Tho young man seated himself, but seemed more confused than ever. At last he found his tongue. " Well, you know, Helen," he said, " May Hartopp and I have for a long time been very fond of one another." "I did not know that," replied Helen, smiling ; " but I rather suspected it." " Yes," her brother went on; " you cannot imagine how dearly I lovo her—she is such a darling ! " "And she?" asked Helen.

"Well," faltered the young lover, "I think May likes me. In fact, I am sure of it."

"I am v«ry glad," said Helen; "she is a dear sweet girl; and perhaps one of these days you might think of asking her to marry you—eh?" " But I have thought of that already ! " cried Ralph ; " and—and—l have done it." "Done what?" asked Helen. "Not proposed to her, surely ! " " Yes, that's it," answered Ralph, with a sigh of relief. " VV hy, Ralph dear," said Helen, " you are hardly oue-and-twenty yet, and May is only eighteen." "What of that?" returned her brother. " Plenty of people marry as young." " But what does Mr Hartopp say ?" " Well he think* it a little too soon. But he doesn't mind if we wait a bit, and If I get on. He really seemed quite pleased about it, and so i« Mrs Hartopp and all May's sisters." " And what does May herßelf say ? " " Oh ! she would marry me next week, if it could be done. She told me so herself."

" Really, Ralph !" said Helen, after some r* flection, "you quite take me by surprise. I knew you admired May, and I thought she liked you ; but I hud no idea matters had gone so far. And now, what do you intend to do?"

" Well, that is just what I wanted to apeak to you about. You know how glad I have always been to help you to keep up tho house, anil bo hlB Tom. It was rather hard on both of us, and so it is on yon. But we couldn't let you work alone, and I am »ure we haven't grumbled much." "No, indeed you have not!" exclaimed Helen. "You have both been dear good boys." " Now, as long as it was only to pay the household expenses," said Ralph, "we didn't so much mind ; but how can we go on in this way, with father running up debtß as he is doing with that precious book of his? Why there will be no end to the dilßculty," " I am afraid it will give us a good deal of trouble, Ralph," sighed Helen. "Juat so, replied Ralph. "And I for one am not going to stand it."

"Oh, Ralph!" "There, I don't mean to say anything unkind. But how can you expect me to go on working to help to pay my father's debts and satisfy his foolish vanity." " Well, Ralph, it is useless to talk about that. What do you propose to do ?"

"The young man paused a moment; then he replied : "I don't like to leave you in the lurch, Helen ; but ysu don'i know how I love May, and how happy we both are. \Te don't mind waiting a year or so, for I am getting on very well, and could soon save enough to begin housekeeping on if I were not so tied down here. I would live in a garret and half starve myself to shorten the time before I can marry my darling. But what can I do here? Ob, Helen ! I think you are carrying things too far yourself, I do, indeed. But I can't dictate to you what you should do, and you can t expect me to bo as self-sacrificing ns you are ; and, what is more, I cannot and will not go on in this way." , "Still you haven't told mo what your intentions are, Ralph." " Well, Helen," he replied, but evidently with an effort to put in words the resolve he had formed, " I mfan to go into lodgings in somo place near here, and live as cheaply as I can till I have saved a little money. I dare say Mr Purkess will raise my salary soon, and if ho doesn't I shall look ont for another berth. I shall bo very sorry to leave yon and the rest, but it wohM do no good for me to stay here, as I couldn't pay more than my keep now, and that, of course, would be of no use to you. Don't think me selfish, dear. It's not so much for my own sake that I am going to do this, as for May.'

What could Helen do ? What could the say ? Her brother was only acting naturally, and with common prudence. So she kissed him affectionately, and said she hoped he would succeed, and be very, very happy at last with his darling May. As for her, she must do the best she could. Perhaps—who could tell ?—some piece of good fortune might befall them after all, and from some quite unexpected quarter. " When things are at the worst," she said cheerfully, "thev always mend : and thlnps could hardly look worae than they do just now."

(To be continued. J

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Bibliographic details

PAID IN HIS OWN COIN., Issue 7904, 11 May 1889, Supplement

Word Count
4,300

PAID IN HIS OWN COIN. Issue 7904, 11 May 1889, Supplement

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