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and boy) would be at once driven to the narrow street where dwelt the miser millionaire. On those days the tremor in the old man's hands was greatest, and his shaking knees almost refused their accustomed duty; doing it as though under protest, and unwillingly. The visits of this mysterious individual were no secret to the gossips of L- , and many were the comments made thereon. Neither did the peculiar habits of the younger stranger escape their notice, for they well knew that he never entered the doors of that small house in the narrow street, but sat within the carriage with closedrawn blinds, awaiting the return of the man who brought him there.
It was after one of those curiosity exciting events that the rich gentleman, supported by his thick, old-fashioned umbrella, was creeping onwards to the reading-room.
The day was hot, and no air stirred to refresh him. There was a glare upon the pavement, and on a sudden, black specks, which bewildered and annoyed him, floated before his eyes. Some one was passing him (a tall, strong man), and, at that moment, a cloud (all the specks collected in a body) swam in front of him; and, seeing nothing else, he caught with the instinct of selfpreservation at what was nearest to his grasp, and that something was the strong man's arm.
Brandreth (for it chanced that was it he) supported the failing, tottering form into the nearest house, and there, by dint of restoratives judiciously administered, the old man soon recovered. But the neighbour, who had helped him, did not leave him there, nor for many a day after, for there was something that moved his compassion in the condition of that selfish, and seemingly hardnatured being. He saw through the veil that morbid feelings and nerves naturally weak had wound round the heart that seemed so callous : and seeing this, he pitied him, and spoke gently to him. Before many weeks
had passed in an intercourse that had begun so accidentally, old Considine had grown to value the society of Arthur Brandreth as he had never prized that of mortal man before. He spoke openly to him ; he told him of his aches and pains, bis dismal past, and his fear-fraught present. Above all, he confided to him the history of his acquaintance with the mysterious Peters; but this he did tremblingly, and in a hushed voice, as though the man could hear him.
• He is a villain, sir,' he said; I know the man is a worthless villain, but he is not an impostor. There is, I fear, much that is true in the reports he has from time to time repeated to me; I know my son's handwriting, and in that writing there is terrible corroboration of Peter's story. He has lived a bad life, sir, that son of mine. He took to vice as readily as an infant to its mother's milk; and has sown his wild oats broadcast.' : 'Is this man your only informant?' asked Brandreth. Surely you would not have
condemned your son on his evidence alone?'
Mr. Considine shook his head mournfully. *I have every proof,' he answered, that he was incorrigibly bad; his tastes were low, and his companions, for the most part, as degraded as himself.'.
But he was young once,' said Brandreth. · Had he no one to warn him then? No one to supply his parents' place? Oh, sir,' he urged, carried away by his concern for the condemned being for whom his own father could find no excuse; 'oh, sir, remember the strength of temptation that assails the young, and pause ere you pass such a sentence on your own flesh and blood as (if he be alive) may drive him to despair.'
'If I may believe Peters, there are few crimes to which he has not already been what you call driven,' replied the father, unmoved by this appeal. He was, years ago, and without my consent, privately married to a young lady of family; he has a son
who is a beggar, and has himself escaped to Australia to avoid the consequences which would follow the discovery of a forgery of which he has been guilty.'
Again I ask you, dear sir (but pardon me if my perseverance wearies you), again I ask you, if you have any proof of these things ?'
• His own letters convict him; his own letters to Peters, in which repeated mention is made of the serious danger hanging over him. In those letters too, he speaks of the girl (Gertrude he calls her) whom he has deserted, and begs of Peters to watch over her safety, should he never return to England. To do him justice, he seems to love the girl well. Of who she is Peters professes to be ignorant. He says that Henry never disclosed her real name to him ; but can I believe the man, think you, in this ?'
Certainly not; there is improbability of the most glaring kind on the face of such an assertion.'