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has once asserted her rebellion. Will you leave her to me, sir?"
“What do you propose ?” asked Aldair, coldly.
Moss winked slily. “To marry her to-morrow if you like. I will make her come and beg me on her knees to marry her, if you will only take your finger out of the pie, and let me work in my own way.”
Explain yourself,” said the merchant.
"The simplest thing in the world. The girl loves you in a fashion, has high sentimental ideas of duty, generosity, and all that sort of thing. You see how cut up she is over this failure of Cotton's; she would give all she is worth to save him-how much more do you think she would give to save
“I do not follow you."
“Briefly, then, Emily supposes you wealthy, but in truth can know nothing of your position ; you have simply to call her back, tell her you are on the verge of ruin yourself, that only by her union with me can she throw money into the firm and avert it, and the trick is done."
“Yes, by my telling a pack of abominable lies to my own. child. I would see the girl dead first."
Moss bit his lips. “At least,” he said, sulkily, "you will perhaps permit me to tell this annoying little fib, considering the magnitude of the advantage to accrue."
Aldair could see no objection to other people lying in his interest and said so. Moss rang the bell.
“Tell Miss Aldair her father wants her.”
In a few moments Emily reappeared, very pale and timid now, with signs of tears about her eyes. Aldair stood with his back towards her, looking out of the window. Moss advanced courteously, and taking her reluctant fingers he led her to a seat in the farthest corner of the room.
“Miss Aldair,” he said, in the very softest tones of his persuasive voice, "I have been requested by Mr. Aldair to send for you, to explain certain matters which were too painful, or he would himself have done so just now."
Emily sat doggedly silent, and the eloquent Moss continued:
“ Forgive me, Miss Aldair, if you think me over boldindeed I mean it for your good. Heaven is my witness that I
will be no party to any unworthy endeavours to gain this little hand, though I covet it more than words can express. Let me explain why I and your good, kind father—for he is good and kind at heart, though he has such rough ways with himlet me tell you why he has been so anxious you should reciprocate the unspeakable regard I have for you. You have just seen an instance of the terrible calamities which beset men of business in these days; you have seen a good man and his daughter suddenly reduced from honour, plenty, and happiness to disgrace, poverty, and misery. Your little fortune, small as it is, would have saved them, and I honour you for wishing to give it them. Now suppose-excuse my vulgarity in whispering, we must not hurt Mr. Aldair's feelings-now suppose another man, one nearer, and who should be dearerone who had a greater reputation to sustain, a larger and more helpless circle of dependents-one whom all the world accounts rich, and who, nevertheless, is poor, and tottering on the very verge of that ruin to which others have fallen
What !” cried Emily, springing to her feet. “This is a lie, sir; this is a plot—it cannot be-my father"
Is the man! Nay, hear me out; you need not tremble so. There is yet time. You have twenty thousand pounds, I have forty; the use of this sixty thousand pounds will save his reputation, his happiness, his life. Miss Aldair, do you yet refuse my hand ? ”
Aldair, where he stood at the window, overheard only a part of Mr. Moss's eloquent appeal ; yet he heard enough to turn very
soul to loathing and disgust, not so much at Moss's lying scoundrelism, as at the thought that anyone—that
own daughter above all-should be permitted for a moment to suspect him other than the wealthy, prosperous man he was. But the die was thrown, he was powerless to recall it now, and with a muttered curse on Abraham Moss's lies, and the obstinacy of the girl that had rendered them expedient, he sank in a chair and hid his face in his hands in an agony of rage and chagrin.
"Do you yet refuse my hand, Miss Aldair ?” Moss asked
Emily snatched her fingers from his fawning touch, and tottered a few steps towards her father.
He was rocking himself to and fro in his chair, and the great drops of agony were bursting from his forehead and through his clutching hands. One glance was enough, the poor tortured girl mistook his shame for sorrow, and staggering across the room she fell on her knees.
“Oh, my God!" she cried. "Father, dearest father, forgive me! I was wicked and cruel, but I did not know-indeed I did not. I will do all that you wish; all !-all!”
Mr. Moss slunk to her side. “Hush,” he whispered.
“Do not trouble him now, your answer is enough. Only leave him; you know how proud he is, more words will break his heart."
He led her weeping to the door, and kissing her listless hand as she went, he slipped a little jewelled ring upon her finger.
A GLIMPSE AT PHILIP'S ANTECEDENTS.
Meanwhile Philip Celini had not been idle. His resolution had been taken more promptly than Emily's, and with the almost feminine impulsiveness which characterized him, he set to work to accomplish his purpose. No sooner was he outside the house than he felt his pulse quicken with all the enthusiasm of an heroic nature, and he bounded along the London road with the speed of a greyhound. He reached Richmond Bridge, and as yet he had not paused to breathe. He crossed it with hardly a glance at the beautiful scene which stretched on either side, through the long streets of dreary villas, then along the pleasant roads where the shadow of the trees lay moving on his path, out into the open fields in which the stars and the waning moon looked down, past scattered cottages, villas, streets once more, with here and there a glimpse of the bright dark river as it hurried on as if bent on reaching the great city before him. Oh, how sad at heart was the lonely lad, as he saw it all and thought how dear had grown each step of the familiar road along which he had so often passed-along which he had so often passed to meet
her at his journey's end! Who could tell if he would ever meet her there again!
Hammersmith was reached at last, the bridge was crossed, and then Philip rested. A moment he stood by the river side, gazing sadly on the ebbing tide, thinking of a night not long ago but seeming long, when he had stood gazing on it, and Pearl
, dear, never to be forgotten Pearl, was standing at his side. Soon the hurrying water which murmured at his feet would be bubbling through the very bridge on which they stood. Would that it could bear to her some thoughts of him! Here, too, was the house where he had first beheld her, the drear lonely home of Alaric Fane. Philip glanced up at the dark windows: there was no single ray of light in
As he stood regarding, with upturned face, the great white form drifted to his side, and a cheery voice rang in his ear,
Not a pleasant exterior, is it, Mio Tenore? It is better within. There is light and wine within, and magic herbs that will waft you to Elysium in ambrosial clouds.” And Alaric, in his flannel boating suit, took the lad's hot hands in his and led him towards the door.
Philip returned the frank, honest grasp, and strove to return the smile which flickered over the dark, sorrowful face.
Indeed," he said, “I was seeking you. It is growing late, but you will spare me an hour I know.”
Very glad of your company, I assure you. I was just going for a pull on the river to beguile the night.”
Philip passed into the room, and Alaric lit some dim oldfashioned
lamps, entreating his guest the while to be seated and make himself as much at home as he could. There were bottles and decanters, and glasses and cigars, strewn over the table, mingling with books, newspapers, scraps of writing, letters, parchment documents, all in inextricable confusion. Now, too, Philip perceived, or thought he perceived, that his companion had been drinking. His eyes were bloodshot, the pupils were dilated to an extraordinary degree, and his face had a flushed and hectic glow altogether unlike its normal
He offered a cigar, lit a huge treacly havana himself, poured out some wine, and drew a chair close to Philip's.
placing a foot on each hob, and blowing a great cloud of smoke towards the ceiling, he said,
“Now, young Orpheus, empty your glass, and out with your errand. Thank Heaven nobody comes to me unless they want something, and if it does not happen to be something I want myself they are generally welcome. So don't be bashful, young 'un. Out with it, and when we have got business over we will have another glass to crown our labours.'
Alaric had already taken two, and, as he spoke, he filled a third. Philip observed his unsteady hand, and needed not his unusual loquacity to teach him that his companion, if not yet intoxicated, was fast becoming so, and with a sigh of regret he hastened to declare his errand.
“I have been driven to you at this late hour,” he said, “ by a very urgent matter. A terrible misfortune has befallen your friend Mr. Cotton"
“Up a tree," said Alaric, from his cloud of smoke. “Told him he would be, some months ago—Wouldn't listen-Pigheaded--Serves him right! Let's not talk of that. Let us drink and be merry. See yonder old wry-faced moon, how she is laughing at us poor self-tormenting mortals. To the devil with care !” And blowing a cloud of smoke from his lips he trolled out
“ Chez lui le diable est bon homme,
Près de Tantale ivre mort."
“And this,” he said, “is your friendship, Alaric Fane. Smoking, drinking, and singing, while your nearest friends are overwhelmed with misery."
Alaric leapt up so fiercely from his seat that Philip recoiled involuntarily before the threatening giant, who instantly dropped his upraised hand; falling back, he burst into a loud contemptuous laugh, and seizing a champagne glass he filled it with raw brandy and quaffed it at a draught.
“Bah!” he exclaimed, stroking his great beard, “I must drink and laugh or think and go mad."
Philip swallowed his indignation, and waiting patiently till his half inebriate companion lapsed into smoke and silence,