Part 5 out of 12
that, when this happened, he was expecting something unusual by the
His man came in. He laid the letter and the newspaper by his master's
side. Mr. Galloway tore open the Times, gave one glance at the price of
the funds and the money article, then put aside the paper, and took up
The latter was from his cousin, Mr. Robert Galloway. It contained also
the envelope in which Mr. Galloway had enclosed the twenty-pound note.
"You perceive," wrote Mr. Robert, "that the seal has not been tampered
with. It is perfectly intact. Hence I infer that you must be in error
in supposing that you enclosed the note."
Mr. Galloway examined the envelope closely. His cousin had not broken
the seal in opening the letter, but had _cut_ the paper above it. He
was a methodical man in trifles, this Mr. Robert Galloway, and
generally did cut open his envelopes. It had been all the better for
him had he learnt to be methodical with his money.
"Yes; it is as Robert says," soliloquized Mr. Galloway. "The seal has
not been touched since it went out of my hands; therefore the note must
previously have been extracted from the letter. Now, who did it?"
He sat--his elbow on the table, his chin in his hand, and the envelope
before him. Apparently, he was studying it minutely; in reality he was
lost in thought. "It's just like the work of a conjuror!" he presently
exclaimed. "Not a caller near the place, that I can find out, and yet
the bank-note vanishes out of the letter! Notes don't vanish without
hands, and I'll do as I said yesterday--consult the police. If any one
can come to the bottom of it, it's Butterby. Had the seal been broken,
I should have given it to the post-office to ferret out; the crime
would have lain with them, and so would the discovery. As it is, the
business is mine."
He wrote a line rapidly in pencil, folded, called in his man-servant,
and despatched him with it to the police-station. The station was very
near Mr. Galloway's; on the other side of the cathedral, halfway
between that edifice and the town-hall. In ten minutes after the
servant had left the house, Mr. Butterby was on his road to it.
Mr. Butterby puzzled Helstonleigh. He was not an inspector, he was not
a sergeant, he was not a common officer, and he was never seen in
official dress. Who was Mr. Butterby? Helstonleigh wondered. That he
had a great deal to do with the police, was one of their staff, and
received his pay, was certain; but, what his standing might be, and
what his peculiar line of duty, they could not tell. Sometimes he was
absent from Helstonleigh for months at a time, probably puzzling other
towns. Mr. Galloway would have told you he was a detective; but perhaps
Mr. Galloway's grounds for the assertion existed only in his own
opinion. For convenience-sake we will call him a detective;
remembering, however, that we have no authority for the term.
Mr. Butterby came forward, a spare, pale man, of middle height, his
eyes deeply set, and his nose turned up to the skies. He was of silent
habit; probably, of a silent nature.
Mr. Galloway recited the circumstances of his loss. The detective sat
near him, his hands on his knees, his head bent, his eyes cast upon the
floor. He did not interrupt the story by a single word. When it was
ended, he took up the envelope, and examined it in equal silence;
examined it with ridiculous minuteness, Mr. Galloway thought, for he
poked, and peered, and touched it everywhere. He held it up to the
light, he studied the postmarks, he gazed at the seal through an
odd-looking little glass that he took from his waistcoat pocket, he
particularly criticised the folds, he drew his fingers along its edges,
he actually sniffed it--all in silence, and with an impassive
"Have you the number of the note?" was his first question.
"No," said Mr. Galloway.
He looked up at this. The thought may have struck him, that, not to
take the number of a bank-note, sent by post, betrayed some
carelessness for a man of business. Mr. Galloway, at least, inferred
this, and answered the look.
"Of course I am in the habit of taking their numbers; I don't know that
I ever did such a thing before, as send a bank-note away without it. I
had an appointment, as I tell you, at the other end of the town for a
quarter to three; it was of importance; and, when I heard the college
strike out the three-quarters--the very hour I ought to have been
there--I hurriedly put the note into the folds of the letter, without
waiting to take its number. It was not that I forgot to do so, but that
I could not spare the time."
"Have you any means of ascertaining the number, by tracing the note
back to whence it may have come into your possession?" was the next
Mr. Galloway was obliged to confess that he had none. "Bank-notes are
so frequently paid me from different quarters," he remarked.
"Yesterday, for instance, a farmer, renting under the Dean and Chapter,
came in, and paid me his half-year's rent. Another, holding the lease
of a public-house in the town, renewed two lives which had dropped in.
It was Beard, of the Barley Mow. Now, both these men paid in notes,
tens and fives, and they now lie together in my cash drawer; but I
could not tell you which particular notes came from each man--no, not
if you paid me the worth of the whole to do it. Neither could I tell
whence I had the note which I put into the letter."
"In this way, if a note should turn out to be bad, you could not return
it to its owner."
"I never took a bad note in my life," said Mr. Galloway, speaking
impulsively. "There's not a better judge of notes than myself in the
kingdom; and Jenkins is as good as I am."
Another silence. Mr. Butterby remained in the same attitude, his head
and eyes bent. "Have you given me all the particulars?" he presently
"I think so. All I remember."
"Then allow me to go over them aloud," returned the detective; "and, if
I make any mistake or omission, have the goodness to correct me:--On
Friday last, you took a twenty-pound note out of your cash drawer, not
taking or knowing its number. This note you put within the folds of a
letter, and placed both in an envelope, and fastened the envelope down,
your two clerks, Channing and Yorke, being present. You then went out,
leaving the letter upon one of the desks. As you left, Hamish Channing
came in. Immediately following upon that, Yorke went out, leaving the
brothers alone. Arthur departed to attend college, Hamish remaining in
the office. Arthur Channing soon returned, finding there was no
necessity for him to stay in the cathedral; upon which Hamish left.
Arthur Channing remained alone for more than an hour, no one calling or
entering the office during that period. You then returned yourself;
found the letter in the same state, apparently, in which you had left
it, and you sealed it, and sent Arthur Channing with it to the
post-office. These are the brief facts, so far as you are cognizant of
them, and as they have been related to you?"
"They are," replied Mr. Galloway. "I should have mentioned that Arthur
Channing carried the letter into my private room before he left the
office for college."
"Locking the door?"
"Oh dear, no! Closing the door, no doubt, but not locking it. It would
have been unusual to do so."
"Jenkins was away," observed the detective in a tone of abstraction,
which told he was soliloquizing, rather than addressing his companion.
Mr. Galloway rather fired up at the remark, taking it in a different
light from that in which it was spoken.
"Jenkins was at home at the time, confined to his bed; and, had he not
been, I would answer for Jenkins's honesty as I would for my own. Can
you see any possible solution to the mystery?"
"A very possible one," was the dry answer. "There is no doubt whatever
upon my mind, that the theft was committed by Arthur Channing."
Mr. Galloway started up with an exclamation of surprise, mingled with
anger. Standing within the room was his nephew Mark. The time had gone
on to nine, the hour of release from school; and, on running past Mr.
Galloway's with the rest of the boys, Mark had dutifully called in.
Mark and his brothers were particularly fond of calling in, for their
uncle was not stingy with his sixpences, and they were always on the
look-out. Mr. Mark did not get a sixpence this time.
"How dare you intrude upon me in this sly way, sir? Don't you see I am
engaged? I will have you knock at my room door before you enter. Take
yourself off again, if you please!"
Mark, with a word of deprecation, went off, his ears pricking with the
sentence he had heard from the detective--Arthur Channing the thief!
Mr. Galloway turned again to the officer. He resented the imputation.
"The Channings are altogether above suspicion, from the father
downwards," he remonstrated. "Were Arthur Channing dishonestly
inclined, he has had the opportunity to rob me long before this."
"Persons of hitherto honourable conduct, honest by nature and by habit,
have succumbed under sudden temptation or pressing need," was the
"Arthur Channing is in no pressing need. He is not hard up for money."
A smile actually curled the detective's lip. "A great many more young
men are harder up for money than they allow to appear. The Channings
are in what may be called difficulties, through the failure of their
Chancery suit, and the lad must have yielded to temptation."
Mr. Galloway could not be brought to see it. "You may as well set on
and suspect Hamish," he resentfully said. "He was equally alone with
"No," was the answer of the keen officer. "Hamish Channing is in a
responsible position; he would not be likely to emperil it for a
twenty-pound note; and he could not know that the letter contained
money." Mr. Butterby was not cognizant of quite the facts of the case,
"It is absurd to suspect Arthur Channing."
"Which is the more absurd--to suspect him, or to assume that the
bank-note vanished without hands? forced its own way through the
envelope, and disappeared up the chimney in a whirlwind?" asked the
officer, bringing sarcasm to his aid. "If the facts are as you have
stated, that only the two Channings had access to the letter, the guilt
must lie with one of them. Facts are facts, Mr. Galloway."
Mr. Galloway admitted that facts _were_ facts, but he could not be
brought to allow the guilt of Arthur Channing. The detective rose.
"You have confided the management of this affair to me," he observed,
"and I have no doubt I shall be able to arrive at a satisfactory
conclusion. One more question I must ask you. Is it known to your
clerks that you have not the number of the note?"
"Yes, it is."
"Then I fear you stand little chance of ever seeing it again. That fact
known, no time would be lost in parting with it; they'd make haste to
get it safe off."
Not an instant did Mr. Butterby take for consideration upon quitting
Mr. Galloway. With a sharp, unhesitating step, as though his mind had
been made up for a month past as to what his course must be, he took
his way to the house of Mr. Joe Jenkins. That gentleman, his head still
tied up, was just leaving for the office, and Mr. Butterby encountered
him coming through the shop.
"Good morning, Jenkins. I want a word with you alone."
Jenkins bowed, in his civil, humble fashion; but "a word alone" was
more easily asked than had, Mrs. Jenkins being all-powerful, and
burning with curiosity. The officer had to exert some authority before
he could get rid of her, and be left at peace with Jenkins.
"What sources of expense has Arthur Channing?" demanded he, so abruptly
as to startle and confuse Jenkins.
"Sources of expense, sir?" he repeated.
"What are his habits? Does he squander money? Does he go out in an
evening into expensive company?"
"I'm sure, sir, I cannot tell you anything about it," Jenkins was
mildly beginning. He was imperatively interrupted by the detective.
"I ask _to know_. You are aware that I possess authority to compel you
to speak; therefore, answer me without excuse or circumlocution; it
will save trouble."
"But indeed, sir, I really do _not_ know," persisted Jenkins. "I should
judge Mr. Arthur Channing to be a steady, well-conducted young
gentleman, who has no extravagant habits at all. As to his evenings, I
think he spends them mostly at home."
"Do you know whether he has any pressing debts?"
"I heard him say to Mr. Yorke one day, that a twenty-pound note would
pay all he owed, and leave him something out of it," spoke Jenkins in
his unconscious simplicity.
"Ah!" said Mr. Butterby, drawing in his lips, though his face remained
impassive as before. "When was this?"
"Not long ago, sir. About a week, it may have been, before I met with
that accident--which accident, I begin to see now, sir, happened
providentially, for it caused me to be away from the office when that
money was lost."
"An unpleasant loss," remarked the officer, with apparent carelessness;
"and the young gentlemen must feel it so--Arthur Channing especially.
Yorke, I believe, was out?"
"He does feel it very much, sir. He was as agitated about it yesterday
as could be, when Mr. Galloway talked of putting it into the hands of
the police. It is a disagreeable thing to happen in an office, you
A slight pause of silence was made by the detective ere he rejoined.
"Agitated, was he? And Mr. Roland Yorke the same, no doubt?"
"No, sir; Mr. Roland does not seem to care much about it. He thinks it
must have been taken in its transit through the post-office, and I
cannot help being of the same opinion, sir."
Another question or two, and Jenkins attended Mr. Butterby to the door.
He was preparing to follow him from it, but a peremptory female voice
arrested his departure.
"Jenkins, I want you."
"It is hard upon half-past nine, my dear. I shall be late."
"If it's hard upon half-past ten, you'll just walk here. I want you, I
Meek as any lamb, Mr. Jenkins returned to the back parlour, and was
marshalled into a chair. Mrs. Jenkins closed the door and stood before
him. "Now, then, what did Butterby want?"
"I don't know what he wanted," replied Jenkins.
"You will sit there till you tell me," resolutely replied the lady. "I
am not going to have police inquisitors making mysterious visits inside
my doors, and not know what they do it for. You'll tell me every word
that passed, and the sooner you begin, the better."
"But I am ignorant myself of what he did want," mildly deprecated
Jenkins. "He asked me a question or two about Mr. Arthur Channing, but
why I don't know."
Leaving Mrs. Jenkins to ferret out the questions one by one--which, you
may depend upon it, she would not fail to do, and to keep Jenkins a
prisoner until it was over--and leaving Mr. Butterby to proceed to the
house of the cathedral organist, whither he was now bent, to ascertain
whether Mr. Williams did take the organ voluntarily, and (to Arthur)
unexpectedly, the past Friday afternoon, we will go on to other
matters. Mr. Butterby best knew what bearing this could have upon the
case. Police officers sometimes give to their inquiries a strangely
AN INTERRUPTED DINNER.
Have you ever observed a large lake on the approach of a sudden
storm?--its unnatural stillness, death-like and ominous; its
undercurrent of anger not yet apparent on the surface; and then the
breaking forth of fury when the storm has come?
Not inaptly might the cloisters of Helstonleigh be compared to this,
that day, when the college boys were let out of school at one o'clock.
A strange rumour had been passed about amongst the desks--not reaching
that at which sat the seniors--a rumour which shook the equanimity of
the school to its centre; and, when one o'clock struck, the boys,
instead of clattering out with all the noise of which their legs and
lungs were capable, stole down the stairs quietly, and formed into
groups of whisperers in the cloisters. It was the calm that precedes a
So unusual a state of affairs was noticed by the senior boy.
"What's up now?" he asked them, in the phraseology in vogue there and
elsewhere. "Are you all going to a funeral? I hope it's your sins that
you are about to bury!"
A heavy silence answered him. Gaunt could not make it out. The other
three seniors, attracted by the scene, came back, and waited with
Gaunt. By that time the calm was being ruffled by low murmurings, and
certain distinct words came from more than one of the groups.
"What do you say?" burst forth Tom Channing, darting forward as the
words caught his ear. "You, Jackson! speak up; _what_ is it?"
Not Jackson's voice especially, but several other voices arose then; a
word from one, a word from another, half sentences, disjointed hints,
forming together an unmistakable whole. "The theft of old Galloway's
bank-note has been traced to Arthur Channing."
"Who says it? Who dares to say it?" flashed Tom, his face flaming, and
his hand clenched.
"The police say it. Butterby says it."
"I don't care for the police; I don't care for Butterby," cried Tom,
stamping his foot in his terrible indignation. "I ask, who dares to say
"I do, then! Come, Mr. Channing, though you are a senior, and can put
me up to Pye for punishment upon any false plea that you choose,"
answered a tall fellow, Pierce senior, who was chiefly remarkable for
getting into fights, and was just now unusually friendly with Mark
Galloway, at whose desk he sat.
Quick as lightning, Tom Channing turned and faced him. "Speak out what
you have to say," cried he; "no hints."
"Whew!" retorted Pierce senior, "do you think I am afraid? I say that
Arthur Channing stole the note lost by old Galloway."
Tom, in uncontrollable temper, raised his hand and struck him. One
half-minute's struggle, nothing more, and Pierce senior was sprawling
on the ground, while Tom Channing's cheek and nose were bleeding. Gaunt
had stepped in between them.
"I stop this," he said. "Pierce, get up! Don't lie there like a
floundering donkey. Channing, what possessed you to forget yourself?"
"You would have done the same, Gaunt, had the insult been offered to
you. Let the fellow retract his words, or prove them."
"Very good. That is how you ought to have met it at first," said Gaunt.
"Now, Mr. Pierce, can you make good your assertion?"
Pierce had floundered up, and was rubbing one of his long legs, which
had doubled under him in the fall, while his brother, Pierce junior,
was collecting an armful of scattered books, and whispering
prognostications of parental vengeance in prospective; for, so surely
as Pierce senior fell into a fight at school, to the damage of face or
clothes, so surely was it followed up by punishment at home.
"If you want proof, go to Butterby at the police station, and get it
from him," sullenly replied Pierce, who owned a sulky temper as well as
a pugnacious one.
"Look here," interrupted Mark Galloway, springing to the front: "Pierce
was a fool to bring it out in that way, but I'll speak up now it has
come to this. I went into my uncle's, this morning, at nine o'clock,
and there was he, shut in with Butterby. Butterby was saying that there
was no doubt the theft had been committed by Arthur Channing. Mind,
Channing," Mark added, turning to Tom, "I am not seconding the
accusation on my own score; but, that Butterby said it I'll declare."
"Pshaw! is that all?" cried Tom Channing, lifting his head with a
haughty gesture, and not condescending to notice the blood which
trickled from his cheek. "You must have misunderstood him, boy."
"No, I did not," replied Mark Galloway. "I heard him as plainly as I
hear you now."
"It is hardly likely that Butterby would say that before you,
Galloway," observed Gaunt.
"Ah, but he didn't see I was there, or my uncle either," said Mark.
"When he is reading his newspaper of a morning, he can't bear a noise,
and I always go into the room as quiet as mischief. He turned me out
again pretty quick, I can tell you; but not till I had heard Butterby
"You must have misunderstood him," returned Gaunt, carelessly taking up
Tom Channing's notion; "and you had no right to blurt out such a thing
to the school. Arthur Channing is better known and trusted than you,
"I didn't accuse Arthur Channing to the school. I only repeated to my
desk what Butterby said."
"It is that 'only repeating' which does three parts of the mischief in
this world," said Gaunt, giving the boys a little touch of morality
gratis, to their intense edification. "As to you, Pierce senior, you'll
get more than you bargain for, some of these days, if you poke your
ill-conditioned nose so often into other people's business."
Tom Channing had marched away towards his home, head erect, his step
ringing firmly and proudly on the cloister flags. Charley ran by his
side. But Charley's face was white, and Tom caught sight of it.
"What are you looking like that for?"
"Tom! you don't think it's true, do you?"
Tom turned his scorn upon the boy. "You little idiot! True! A Channing
turn thief! _You_ may, perhaps--it's best known to yourself--but never
"I don't mean that. I mean, can it be true that the police suspect
"Oh! that's what your face becomes milky for? You ought to have been
born a girl, Miss Charley. If the police do suspect him, what of
that?--they'll only have the tables turned upon themselves, Butterby
might come out and say he suspects me of murder! Should I care? No; I'd
prove my innocence, and make him eat his words."
They were drawing near home. Charley looked up at his brother. "You
must wipe your face, Tom."
Tom took out his handkerchief, and gave his face a rub. In his
indignation, his carelessness, he would have done nothing of the sort,
had he not been reminded by the boy. "Is it off?"
"Yes, it's off. I am not sure but it will break out again. You must
"Oh, bother! let it. I should like to have polished off that Pierce
senior as he deserves. A little coin of the same sort would do Galloway
no harm. Were I senior of the school, and Arthur not my brother, Mr.
Mark should hear a little home truth about sneaks. I'll tell it him in
private, as it is; but I can't put him up for punishment, or act in it
as Gaunt could."
"Arthur is our brother, therefore we feel it more pointedly than
Gaunt," sensibly remarked Charley.
"I'd advise you not to spell forth that sentimental rubbish, though you
are a young lady," retorted Tom. "A senior boy, if he does his duty,
should make every boy's cause his own, and 'feel' for him."
"Tom," said the younger and more thoughtful of the two, "don't let us
say anything of this at home."
"Why not?" asked Tom, hotly. He would have run in open-mouthed.
"It would pain mamma to hear it."
"Boy! do you suppose _she_ would fear Arthur?"
"You seem to misconstrue all I say, Tom. Of course she would not fear
him--you did not fear him; but it stung you, I know, as was proved by
your knocking down Pierce."
"Well, I won't speak of it before her," conciliated Tom, somewhat won
over, "or before my father, either; but catch me keeping it from the
As Charles had partially foretold, they had barely entered, when Tom's
face again became ornamented with crimson. Annabel shrieked out,
startling Mr. Channing on his sofa. Mrs. Channing, as it happened, was
not present; Constance was: Lady Augusta Yorke and her daughters were
spending part of the day in the country, therefore Constance had come
home at twelve.
"Look at Tom's face!" cried the child. "What has he been doing?"
"Hold your tongue, little stupid," returned Tom, hastily bringing his
handkerchief into use again; which, being a white one, made the worse
exhibition of the two, with its bright red stains. "It's nothing but a
But Annabel's eyes were sharp, and she had taken in full view of the
hurt. "Tom, you have been fighting! I am sure of it!"
"Come to me, Tom," said Mr. Channing. "Have you been fighting?" he
demanded, as Tom crossed the room in obedience, and stood close to him.
"Take your handkerchief away, that I may see your face."
"It could not be called a fight, papa," said Tom, holding his cheek so
that the light from the window fell full upon the hurt. "One of the
boys offended me; I hit him, and he gave me this; then I knocked him
down, and there it ended. It's only a scratch."
"Thomas, was this Christian conduct?"
"I don't know, papa. It was schoolboy's."
Mr. Channing could not forbear a smile. "I know it was a schoolboy's
conduct; that is bad enough: and it is my son's, that is worse."
"If I had given him what he deserved, he would have had ten times as
much; and perhaps I should, for my temper was up, only Gaunt put in his
interference. When I am senior, my rule will be different from
"Ah, Tom! your 'temper up!' It is that temper of yours which brings you
harm. What was the quarrel about?"
"I would rather not tell you, papa. Not for my own sake," he added,
turning his honest eyes fearlessly on his father; "but I could not tell
it without betraying something about somebody, which it may be as well
to keep in."
"After that lucid explanation, you had better go and get some warm
water for your face," said Mr. Channing. "I will speak with you later."
Constance followed him from the room, volunteering to procure the warm
water. They were standing in Tom's chamber afterwards, Tom bathing his
face, and Constance looking on, when Arthur, who had then come in from
Mr. Galloway's, passed by to his own room.
"Hallo!" he called out; "what's the matter, Tom?"
"Such a row!" answered Tom. "And I wish I could have pitched into
Pierce senior as I'd have liked. What do you think, Arthur? The school
were taking up the notion that you--you!--had stolen old Galloway's
bank-note. Pierce senior set it afloat; that is, he and Mark Galloway
together. Mark said a word, and Pierce said two, and so it went on. I
should have paid Pierce out, but for Gaunt."
A silence. It was filled up by the sound of Tom splashing the water on
his face, and by that only. Arthur spoke presently, his tone so calm a
one as almost to be unnatural.
"How did the notion arise?"
"Mark Galloway said he heard Butterby talking with his uncle; that
Butterby said the theft could only have been committed by Arthur
Channing. Mark Galloway's ears must have played him false; but it was a
regular sneak's trick to come and repeat it to the school. I say,
Constance, is my face clean now?"
Constance woke up from a reverie to look at his face. "Quite clean,"
He dried it, dried his hands, gave a glance at his shirt-front in the
glass, which had, however, escaped damage, brushed his hair, and went
downstairs. Arthur closed the door and turned to Constance. Her eyes
were seeking his, and her lips stood apart. The terrible fear which had
fallen upon both the previous day had not yet been spoken out between
them. It must be spoken now.
"Constance, there is tribulation before us," he whispered. "We must
school ourselves to bear it, however difficult the task may prove.
Whatever betide the rest of us, suspicion must be averted from _him_."
"What tribulation do you mean?" she murmured.
"The affair has been placed in the hands of the police; and I
believe--I believe," Arthur spoke with agitation, "that they will
publicly investigate it. Constance, they suspect _me_. The college
school is right, and Tom is wrong."
Constance leaned against a chest of drawers to steady herself, and
pressed her hand upon her shrinking face. "How have you learnt it?"
"I have gathered it from different trifles; one fact and another.
Jenkins said Butterby was with him this morning, asking questions about
me. Better that I should be suspected than Hamish. God help me to bear
"But it is so unjust that you should suffer for him."
"Were it traced home to him, it might be the whole family's ruin, for
my father would inevitably lose his post. He might lose it were only
suspicion to stray to Hamish. There is no alternative. I must screen
him. Can you be firm, Constance, when you see me accused?"
Constance leaned her head upon her hand, wondering whether she could be
firm in the cause. But that she knew where to go for strength, she
might have doubted it; for the love of right, the principles of justice
were strong within her. "Oh, what could possess him?" she uttered,
wringing her hands; "what could possess him? Arthur, is there no
loophole, not the faintest loophole for hope of his innocence?"
"None that I see. No one whatever had access to the letter but Hamish
and I. He must have yielded to the temptation in a moment of delirium,
knowing the money would clear him from some of his pressing debts--as
it has done."
"How could he brave the risk of detection?"
"I don't know. My head aches, pondering over it. I suppose he concluded
that suspicion would fall upon the post-office. It would have done so,
but for that seal placed on the letter afterwards. What an unfortunate
thing it was, that Roland Yorke mentioned there was money inside the
letter in the hearing of Hamish!"
"Did he mention it?" exclaimed Constance.
He said there was a twenty-pound note in the letter, going to the
cousin Galloway, and Hamish remarked that he wished it was going into
his pocket instead. "I _wish_" Arthur uttered, in a sort of frenzy, "I
had locked the letter up there and then."
Constance clasped her hands in pain. "I fear he may have been going
wrong for some time," she breathed. "It has come to my knowledge,
through Judith, that he sits up for hours night after night, doing
something to the books. Arthur," she shivered, glancing fearfully
round, "I hope those accounts are right?"
The doubt thus given utterance to, blanched even the cheeks of Arthur.
"Sits up at the books!" he exclaimed.
"He sits up, that is certain; and at the books, as I conclude. He takes
them into his room at night. It may only be that he has not time, or
does not make time, to go over them in the day. It _may_ be so."
"I trust it is; I pray it may be. Mind you, Constance, our duty is
plain: we must screen him; screen him at any sacrifice to ourselves,
for the father and mother's sake."
"Sacrifice to you, you ought to say. What were our other light
troubles, compared with this? Arthur, will they publicly accuse you?"
"It may come to that; I have been steeling myself all the morning to
He looked into her face as he said it. Constance could see how his brow
and heart were aching. At that moment they were called to dinner, and
Arthur turned to leave the room. Constance caught his hand, the tears
raining from her eyes.
"Arthur," she whispered, "in the very darkest trouble, God can comfort
us. Be assured He will comfort you."
Hamish did not make his appearance at dinner, and they sat down without
him. This was not so very unusual as to cause surprise; he was
occasionally detained at the office.
The meal was about half over, when Annabel, in her disregard of the
bounds of discipline, suddenly started from her seat and flew to the
"Charley, there are two policemen coming here! Whatever can they want?"
"Perhaps to take you," said Mrs. Channing, jestingly. "A short sojourn
at the tread-mill might be of great service to you, Annabel."
The announcement had struck upon the ear and memory of Tom.
"Policemen!" he exclaimed, standing up in his place, and stretching his
neck to obtain a view of them. "Why--it never can be that--old
Butterby--Arthur, what ails you?"
A sensitive, refined nature, whether implanted in man or woman, is
almost sure to betray its emotions on the countenance. Such a nature
was Arthur Channing's. Now that the dread had really come, every drop
of blood forsook his cheeks and lips, leaving his face altogether of a
deathly whiteness. He was utterly unable to control or help this, and
it was this pallor which had given rise to Tom's concluding
Mr. Channing looked at Arthur, Mrs. Channing looked at him; they all
looked at him, except Constance, and she bent her head lower over her
plate, to hide, as she best might, her own white face and its shrinking
terror. "Are you ill, Arthur?" inquired his father.
A low brief reply came; one struggling for calmness. "No, sir."
Impetuous Tom, forgetting caution, forgetting all except the moment
actually present, gave utterance to more than was prudent. "Arthur, you
are never fearing what those wretched schoolboys said? The police are
not come to arrest you. Butterby wouldn't be such a fool!"
But the police were in the hall, and Judith had come to the dining-room
door. "Master Arthur, you are wanted, please."
"What is all this?" exclaimed Mr. Channing in astonishment, gazing from
Tom to Arthur, from Arthur to the vision of the blue official dress, a
glimpse of which he could catch beyond Judith. Tom took up the answer.
"It's nothing, papa. It's a trick they are playing for fun, I'll lay.
They _can't_ really suspect Arthur of stealing the bank-note, you know.
They'll never dare to take him up, as they take a felon."
Charley stole round to Arthur with a wailing cry, and threw his arms
round him--as if their weak protection could retain him in its shelter.
Arthur gently unwound them, and bent down till his lips touched the
yearning face held up to him in its anguish.
"Charley, boy, I am innocent," he breathed in the boy's ear. "You won't
doubt that, I know. Don't keep me. They have come for me, and I must go
AN ESCORT TO THE GUILDHALL.
The group would have formed a study for a Wilkie. The disturbed
dinner-table; the consternation of those assembled at it; Mr. Channing
(whose sofa, wheeled to the table, took up the end opposite his wife)
gazing around with a puzzled, stern expression; Mrs. Channing glancing
behind her with a sense of undefined dread; the pale, _conscious_
countenances of Arthur and Constance; Tom standing up in haughty
impetuosity, defiant of every one; the lively terror of Charley's face,
as he clung to Arthur; and the wide-opened eyes of Annabel expressive
of nothing but surprise--for it took a great deal to alarm that
careless young lady; while at the door, holding it open for Arthur,
stood Judith in her mob-cap, full of curiosity; and in the background
the two policemen. A scene indeed, that Wilkie, in the day of his
power, would have rejoiced to paint.
Arthur, battling fiercely with his outraged pride, and breathing an
inward prayer for strength to go through with his task, for patience to
endure, put Charley from him, and went into the hall. He saw not what
was immediately around him--the inquiring looks of his father and
mother, the necessity of some explanation to them; he saw not Judith
and her curious face. A scale was, as it were, before his eyes,
blinding them to all outward influences, except one-the officers of
justice standing there, and the purpose for which they had come. "What
on earth has happened, Master Arthur?" whispered Judith, as he passed
her, terrifying the old servant with his pale, agitated face. But he
neither heard nor answered; he walked straight up to the men.
"I will go with you quietly," he said to them, in an undertone. "Do not
make a disturbance, to alarm my mother."
We cannot always have our senses about us, as the saying runs. Some of
us, I fear, enjoy that privilege rarely, and the very best lose them on
occasion. But that Arthur Channing's senses had deserted him, he would
not have pursued a line of conduct, in that critical moment, which was
liable to be construed into an admission, or, at least, a consciousness
of guilt. In his anxiety to avert suspicion from Hamish, he lost sight
of the precautions necessary to protect himself, so far as was
practicable. And yet he had spent time that morning, thinking over what
his manner, his bearing must be if it came to this! Had it come upon
him unexpectedly he would have met it very differently; with far less
outward calmness, but most probably with indignant denial. "I will go
with you quietly," he said to the men.
"All right, sir," they answered with a nod, and a conviction that he
was a cool hand and a guilty one. "It's always best not to resist the
law--it never does no good."
He need not have resisted, but he ought to have waited until they asked
him to go. A dim perception of this had already begun to steal over
him. He was taking his hat from its place in the hall, when the voice
of Mr. Channing came ringing on his ear.
"Arthur, what is this? Give me an explanation."
Arthur turned back to the room, passing through the sea of faces to get
there; for all; except his helpless father, had come from their seats
to gather round and about that strange mystery in the hall, to try to
fathom it. Mr. Channing gave one long, keen glance at Arthur's
face--which was very unlike Arthur's usual face just then; for all its
candour seemed to have gone out of it. He did not speak to him; he
called in one of the men.
"Will you tell me your business here?" he asked courteously.
"Don't you know it, sir?" was the reply.
"No, I do not," replied Mr. Channing.
"Well, sir, it's an unpleasant accusation that is brought against this
young gentleman. But perhaps he'll be able to make it clear. I hope he
will. It don't give us no pleasure when folks are convicted, especially
young ones, and those we have always known to be respectable; we'd
rather see 'em let off."
Tom interrupted--Tom, in his fiery indignation. "Is it of stealing that
bank-note of Galloway's that you presume to accuse my brother?" he
asked, speaking indistinctly in his haste and anger.
"You have said it, sir," replied the man. "That's it."
"Then I say whoever accuses him ought to be--"
"Silence, Thomas," interrupted Mr. Channing. "Allow me to deal with
this. Who brings this accusation against my son?"
"We had our orders from Mr. Butterby, sir. He is acting for Mr.
Galloway. He was called in there early this morning."
"Have you come for my son to go with you to Mr. Galloway's?"
"Not there, sir. We have to take him straight to the Guildhall. The
magistrates are waiting to hear the case."
A dismayed pause. Even Mr. Channing's heart, with all its implicit
faith in the truth and honour of his children, beat as if it would
burst its bounds. Tom's beat too; but it was with a desire to "pitch
into" the policemen, as he had pitched into Pierce senior in the
Mr. Channing turned to Arthur. "You have an answer to this, my son?"
The question was not replied to. Mr. Channing spoke again, with the
same calm emphasis. "Arthur, you can vouch for your innocence?"
Arthur Channing did the very worst thing that he could have done--he
hesitated. Instead of replying readily and firmly "I can," which he
might have done without giving rise to harm, he stopped to ask himself
how far, consistently with safety to Hamish, he might defend his own
cause. His mind was not collected; he had not, as I have said, his
senses about him; and the unbroken silence, waiting for his answer, the
expectant faces turned upon him, helped to confuse him and to drive his
reason further away. The signs, which certainly did look like signs of
guilt, struck a knell on the heart of his father. "Arthur!" he wailed
out, in a tone of intense agony, "you _are_ innocent?"
"Y--es," replied Arthur, gulping down his rising agitation; his rising
words--impassioned words of exculpation, of innocence, of truth. They
had bubbled up within him--were hovering on the verge of his burning
lips. He beat them down again to repression; but he never afterwards
knew how he did it.
Better that he had been still silent, than speak that dubious,
indecisive "Y--es." It told terribly against him. One, conscious of his
own innocence, does not proclaim it in indistinct, half-uttered words.
Tom's mouth dropped with dismay, and his astonished eyes seemed as if
they could not take themselves from Arthur's uncertain face. Mrs.
Channing staggered against the wall, with a faint cry.
The policeman spoke up: he meant to be kindly. In all Helstonleigh
there was not a family more respected than were the Channings; and the
man felt a passing sorrow for his task. "I wouldn't ask no questions,
sir, if I was you. Sometimes it's best not; they tell against the
"Time's up," called out the one who was in the hall, to his fellow. "We
can't stop here all day."
The hint was taken at once, both by Arthur and the man. Constance had
kept herself still, throughout, by main force; but Mrs. Channing could
not see him go away like this. She rose and threw her arms round him,
in a burst of hysterical feeling, sobbing out, "My boy! my boy!"
"Don't, mother! don't unnerve me," he whispered. "It is bad enough as
"But you cannot be guilty, Arthur."
For answer he looked into her eyes for a single moment. His habitual
expression had come back to them again--the earnest of truth, which she
had ever known and trusted. It spoke calm to her heart now. "You are
innocent," she murmured. "Then go in peace."
Annabel broke into a storm of sobs. "Oh, Judith! will they hang him?
What has he done?"
"I'd hang them two policemen, if I did what I should like to do,"
responded Judith. "Yes, you two, I mean," she added, without ceremony,
as the officials turned round at the words. "If I had my will, I'd hang
you both up to two of those elm-trees yonder, right in front of one
another. Coming to a gentleman's house on this errand!"
"Do not take me publicly through the streets," said Arthur to his
keepers. "I give you my word to make no resistance: I will go to the
Guildhall, or anywhere else that you please, as freely as if I were
bound thither on my own pleasure. You need not betray that I am in
They saw that they might trust him. One of the policemen went to the
opposite side of the way, as if pacing his beat; the other continued by
the side of Arthur; not closely enough to give rise to suspicion in
those they met. A few paces from the door Tom Channing came pelting up,
and put his arm within Arthur's.
"Guilty, or not guilty, it shall never be said that a Channing was
deserted by his brothers!" quoth he, "I wish Hamish could have been
"Tom, you are thinking me guilty?" Arthur said, in a quiet, tone, which
did not reach the ears of his official escort.
"Well--I am in a fix," avowed Tom. "If you are guilty, I shall never
believe in anything again. I have always thought that building a
cathedral: well and good; but if it turns out to be a myth, I shan't be
surprised, after this. _Are_ you guilty?"
The denial was simple, and calmly expressed; but there was sufficient
in its tone to make Tom Channing's heart give a great leap within him.
"Thank God! What a fool I was! But, I say, Arthur, why did you not deny
it, out-and-out? Your manner frightened us. I suppose the police scared
Tom, all right now, walked along, his head up, escorting Arthur with as
little shame to public examination, as he would have done to a public
crowning. It was not the humiliation of undeserved suspicion that could
daunt the Channings: the consciousness of guilt could alone effect
that. Hitherto, neither guilt nor its shadow had fallen upon them.
"Tom," asked Arthur, when they had reached the hall, and were about to
enter: "will you do me a little service?"
"Won't I, though! what is it?"
"Make the best of your way to Mr. Williams's, and tell him I am
prevented from taking the organ this afternoon."
"I shan't tell him the reason," said Tom.
"Why not? In an hour's time it will be known from one end of
Helstonleigh to the other."
The magistrates sat on the bench in the town-hall of Helstonleigh. But,
before the case was called on--for the police had spoken too fast in
saying they were waiting for it--Arthur became acquainted with one
great fact: that it was not Mr. Galloway who had driven matters to this
extremity. Neither was he aware that Arthur had been taken into
custody. Mr. Butterby had assumed the responsibility, and acted upon
it. Mr. Butterby, since his interview with Mr. Galloway in the morning,
had gathered, as he believed, sufficiently corroborating facts to
establish, or nearly so, the guilt of Arthur Channing. He supposed that
this was all Mr. Galloway required to remove his objection to stern
measures; and, in procuring the warrant for the capture, Mr. Butterby
had acted as for Mr. Galloway.
When Arthur was placed in the spot where he had often seen criminals
standing, his face again wore the livid hue which had overspread it in
his home. In a few moments this had changed to crimson; brow and cheeks
were glowing with it. It was a painful situation, and Arthur felt it to
the very depths of his naturally proud spirit. I don't think you or I
should have liked it.
The circumstances were stated to the magistrates just as they have been
stated to you. The placing of the bank-note and letter in the envelope
by Mr. Galloway, his immediately fastening it down by means of the gum,
the extraction of the note, between that time and the period when the
seal was placed on it later in the day, and the fact that Arthur
Channing alone had access to it. "Except Mr. Hamish Channing, for a few
minutes," Mr. Butterby added, "who kindly remained in the office while
his brother proceeded as far as the cathedral and back again; the other
clerks, Joseph Jenkins and Roland Yorke, being absent that afternoon."
A deeper dye flushed Arthur's face when Hamish's name and share in the
afternoon's doings were mentioned, and he bent his eyes on the floor at
his feet, and kept them there. Had Hamish not been implicated, he would
have stood there with a clear eye and a serene brow. It was that, the
all too vivid consciousness of the sin of Hamish, which took all spirit
out of him, and drove him to stand there as one under the brand of
guilt. He scarcely dared look up, lest it should be read in his
countenance that he was innocent, and Hamish guilty; he scarcely dared
to pronounce, in ever so faltering a tone, the avowal "I did it not."
Had it been to save his life from the scaffold, he could not have
spoken out boldly and freely that day. There was the bitter shock of
the crime, felt for Hamish's own sake: Hamish whom they had all so
loved, so looked up to: and there was the dread of the consequences to
Mr. Channing in the event of discovery. Had the penalty been hanging, I
believe that Arthur would have gone to it, rather than betray Hamish.
But you must not suppose he did not _feel_ it for himself; there were
moments when he feared lest he should not carry it through.
Mr. Butterby was waiting for a witness--Mr. Galloway himself: and
meanwhile, he entertained the bench with certain scraps, anecdotal and
other, premising what would be proved before them. Jenkins would show
that the prisoner had avowed in his presence, it would take a
twenty-pound note to clear him from his debts, or hard upon it--
"No," interrupted the hitherto silent prisoner, to the surprise of
those present, "that is not true. It is correct that I did make use of
words to that effect, but I spoke them in jest. I and Roland Yorke were
one day speaking of debts, and I jokingly said a twenty-pound note
would pay mine, and leave me something out of it. Jenkins was present,
and he may have supposed I spoke in earnest. In point of fact I did not
It was an assertion more easily made than proved. Arthur Channing might
have large liabilities upon him, for all that appeared in that court to
the contrary. Mr. Butterby handed the seal to the bench, who examined
"I could have understood this case better had any stranger or strangers
approached the letter," observed one of the magistrates, who knew the
Channings personally, and greatly respected their high character. "You
are sure you are not mistaken in supposing no one came in?" he added,
looking kindly at Arthur.
"Certainly no one came in whilst I was alone in the office, sir," was
the unhesitating answer.
The magistrate spoke in an under-tone to those beside him. "That avowal
is in his favour. Had he taken the note, one might suppose he would be
anxious to make it appear that strangers did enter, and so throw
suspicion off himself."
"I have made very close inquiry, and cannot find that the office was
entered at all that afternoon," observed Mr. Butterby. Mr. Butterby
_had_ made close inquiry; and, to do him justice, he did not seek to
throw one shade more of guilt upon Arthur than he thought the case
deserved. "Mr. Hamish Channing also--"
Mr. Butterby stopped. There, standing within the door, was Hamish
himself. In passing along the street he had seen an unusual commotion
around the town-hall; and, upon inquiring its cause, was told that
Arthur Channing was under examination, on suspicion of having stolen
the bank-note, lost by Mr. Galloway.
To look at Hamish you would have believed him innocent and unconscious
as the day. He strode into the justice-room, his eye flashing, his brow
haughty, his colour high. Never had gay Hamish looked so scornfully
indignant. He threw his glance round the crowded court in search of
Arthur, and it found him.
Their eyes met. A strange gaze it was, going out from the one to the
other; a gaze which the brothers had never in all their lives
exchanged. Arthur's spoke of shame all too palpably--he could not help
it in that bitter moment--shame for his brother. And Hamish shrank
under it. If ever one cowered visibly in this world, Hamish Channing
did then. A low, suppressed cry went up from Arthur's heart: whatever
fond, faint doubt may have lingered in his mind, it died out from that
Others noticed the significant look exchanged between them; but they,
not in the secret, saw only, on the part of Hamish, what they took for
vexation at his brother's position. It was suggested that it would save
time to take the evidence of Mr. Hamish Channing at once. Mr.
Galloway's might be received later.
"What evidence?" demanded Hamish, standing before the magistrates in a
cold, uncompromising manner, and speaking in a cold, uncompromising
tone. "I have none to give. I know nothing of the affair."
"Not much, we are aware; but what little you do know must be spoken,
Mr. Hamish Channing."
They did not swear him. These were only informal, preliminary
proceedings. Country courts of law are not always conducted according
to orthodox rules, nor was that of Helstonleigh. There would be another
and a more formal examination before the committal of the prisoner for
trial--if committed he should be.
A few unimportant questions were put to Hamish, and then he was asked
whether he saw the letter in question.
"I saw a letter which I suppose to have been the one," he replied. 'It
was addressed to Mr. Robert Galloway, at Ventnor."
"Did you observe your brother take it into Mr. Galloway's private
"Yes," answered Hamish. "In putting the desks straight before departing
for college, my brother carried the letter into Mr. Galloway's room and
left it there. I distinctly remember his doing so."
"Did you see the letter after that?"
"How long did you remain alone while your brother was away?"
"I did not look at my watch," irritably returned Hamish, who had spoken
resentfully throughout, as if some great wrong were being inflicted
upon him in having to speak at all.
"But you can guess at the time?"
"No, I can't," shortly retorted Hamish. "And 'guesses' are not
"Was it ten minutes?"
"It may have been. I know he seemed to be back almost as soon as he had
"Did any person--clerk, or stranger, or visitor, or otherwise--come
into the office during his absence from it?"
"No person whatever?"
"No person whatever. I think," continued Hamish, volunteering an
opinion upon the subject, although he knew it was out of all rule and
precedent to do so, "that there is a great deal of unprofitable fuss
being made about the matter. The money must have been lost in going
through the post; it is impossible to suppose otherwi--"
Hamish was stopped by a commotion. Clattering along the outer hall, and
bursting in at the court door, his black hair disordered, his usually
pale cheeks scarlet, his nostrils working with excitement, came Roland
Yorke. He was in a state of fierce emotion. Learning, as he had done by
accident, that Arthur had been arrested upon the charge, he took up the
cause hotly, gave vent to a burst of passionate indignation (in which
he abused every one under the sun, except Arthur), and tore off to the
town-hall. Elbowing the crowd right and left, in his impetuosity,
pushing one policeman here and another there, who would have obstructed
his path, he came up to Arthur and ranged himself by his side, linking
his arm within his in an outburst of kindly generosity.
"Old fellow, who has done this?"
"Mr. Roland Yorke!" exclaimed the bench, indignantly. "What do you mean
by this behaviour? Stand away, if you please, sir."
"I'll stand away when Arthur Channing stands away," retorted Yorke,
apparently ignoring whose presence he was in. "Who accuses him? Mr.
Galloway does not. This is your doing, Butterby."
"Take care that their worships don't commit you for contempt of court,"
retorted Mr. Butterby. "You are going on for it, Roland Yorke."
"Let them commit me, if they will," foamed Roland. "I am not going to
see a friend falsely accused, and not stand up for him. Channing no
more touched that money than any of you did. The post-office must have
"A moment, Mr. Roland Yorke: if you can calm yourself sufficiently to
answer as a rational being," interposed the magistrate who had
addressed Arthur. "Have you any proof to urge in support of your
assertion that the prisoner did not touch it?"
"Proof, sir!" returned Roland, subsiding, however, into a tone of more
respect: "does it want proof to establish the innocence of Arthur
Channing? Every action of his past life is proof. He is honest as the
"This warm feeling does you credit, in one sense--"
"It does me no credit at all," fiercely interrupted Roland. "I don't
defend him because he is my friend; I don't defend him because we are
in the same office, and sit side by side at the same desk; I do it,
because I know him to be innocent."
"How do you know it?"
"He _could_ not be guilty. He is incapable of it. Better accuse me, or
Jenkins, than accuse him!"
"You and Jenkins were not at the office during the suspected time."
"Well, I know we were not," acknowledged Roland, lowering his voice to
a more reasonable tone. "And, just because it happened, by some
cross-grained luck, that Channing was, Butterby pitches upon him, and
accuses him of the theft. He never did it! and I'll say it with my last
With some trouble: threatenings on the part of the court, and more
explosions from himself: Mr. Roland Yorke was persuaded to retire. He
went as far as the back of the room, and there indulged in
under-currents of wrath, touching injustice and Mr. Butterby, to a
select circle who gathered round him. Warm-hearted and generous, by
fits and starts, was Roland Yorke; he had inherited it with his Irish
blood from Lady Augusta.
But meanwhile, where was Mr. Galloway? He did not make his appearance,
and it was said he could not be found. Messenger after messenger was
despatched to his office, to his house; and at length Mr. Butterby went
himself. All in vain; his servants knew nothing about him. Jenkins, who
had the office to himself, thought he must be "somewhere in the town,"
as he had not said he was going out of it. Mr. Butterby went back
crest-fallen, and confessed that, not to take up longer the time of
their worships unnecessarily, the case must be remanded to the morrow.
"We will take bail," said the magistrates, before the application was
made. "One surety will be sufficient; fifty pounds."
At that, Mr. Roland, who by this time was standing in a sullen manner
against a pillar of the court, his violence gone, and biting his nails
moodily, made a rush to the front again, heeding little who he knocked
down in the process. "I'll be bail," he cried eagerly. "That is, Lady
Augusta will--as I am not a householder. I'll hunt her up and bring her
He was turning in impetuous haste to "hunt up" Lady Augusta, when
Hamish Channing imperatively waved to him to be still, and spoke to the
"My father's security will be sufficient, I presume?"
Since Mr. Channing's incapacity, power to sign and to act for him had
been vested in Hamish; and the matter was concluded at once. The court
poured out its crowd. Hamish was on the point of taking Arthur's arm,
but was pushed aside by Roland Yorke, who seized upon it as if he could
never make enough of him.
"The miserable idiots! to bring such a charge against you, Arthur! I
have been half mad ever since I heard of it."
"Thank you, Yorke. You are very kind--"
"'Kind!' Don't talk that school-girl rubbish!" passionately interrupted
Roland. "If I were taken up upon a false charge, wouldn't you stand by
"That I would; were it false or true."
"I'll pay that Butterby out, if it's ten years hence! And you, knowing
your own innocence, could stand before them there, meek-faced as a tame
cat, letting Butterby and the bench have it their own way! A calm
temper, such as yours, Arthur, may be very--what do they call
it?--Christian; but I'm blest if it's useful! I should have made their
ears tingle, had they put me there, as they have not tingled for many a
"Who do you suppose took the note?" inquired Hamish of Roland Yorke,
speaking for the first time.
"Bother the note!" was the rejoinder of Mr. Roland. "It's nothing to us
who took it. Arthur didn't. Go and ask the post-office."
"But the seal?" Hamish was beginning in a friendly tone of argument.
Roland bore him down.
"Who cares for the seal? I don't. If Galloway had stuck himself upon
the letter, instead of his seal, and never got off till it reached the
cousin Galloway's hand, I wouldn't care. It tells nothing. Do you
_want_ to find your brother guilty?" he continued, in a tone of scorn.
"You did not half stand up for him, Hamish Channing, as I'd expect a
brother to stand up for me. Now then, you people! Are you thinking we
are live kangaroos escaped from a menagerie? Be off about your own
business! Don't come after us."
The last was addressed to a crowd, who had followed upon their heels
from the court, staring, with that innate delicacy for which the
English are remarkable. They had seen Arthur Channing a thousand times
before, every one of them, but, as he had been arrested, they must look
at him again. Yorke's scornful reproach and fierce face somewhat
"If it had been Galloway's doings, I'd never have put my foot inside
his confounded old office again!" went on Roland. "No! and my lady
might have tried her best to force me. Lugging a fellow up for a
pitiful, paltry sum of twenty pounds!--who is as much a gentleman as
himself!--who, as his own senses might tell him, wouldn't touch it with
the end of his finger! But it was that Butterby's handiwork, not
"Galloway must have given Butterby his instructions," observed Hamish.
"He didn't, then," snapped Roland. "Jenkins says he knows he did not,
by the remarks Galloway made to him this morning. And Galloway has been
away ever since eleven o'clock, we can't tell where. It is nobody but
that evil, mischief-making Butterby, and I'd give a crown out of my
pocket to have a good duck at him in the river!"
With regard to Mr. Galloway's knowing nothing of the active proceedings
taken against Arthur, Roland was right. Mr. Butterby had despatched a
note to Mr. Galloway's office at one o'clock, stating what he had done,
and requesting him to be at the office at two, for the examination--and
the note had been lying there ever since.
It was being opened now. Now--at the exact moment that Mr. Roland Yorke
was giving vent to that friendly little wish, about the river and Mr.
Butterby. Mr. Galloway had met a friend in the town, and had gone with
him a few miles by rail into the country, on unexpected business. He
had just returned to find the note, and to hear Jenkins' account of
"I am vexed at this," he exclaimed, his tone betraying excessive
annoyance. "Butterby has exceeded his orders."
Jenkins thought he might venture to put in a word for Arthur. He had
been intensely surprised, indeed grieved, at the whole affair; and not
the less so that he feared what he had unconsciously repeated, about a
twenty-pound note paying Arthur's debts, might have helped it on.
"I feel as sure as can be, sir, that it was not Mr. Arthur Channing,"
he deferentially said. "I have not been in this office with him for
more than twelve months without learning something of his principles."
"The principles of all the Channings are well known," returned Mr.
Galloway. "No; whatever may be the apparent proofs, I cannot bring
myself to think it could be Arthur Channing. Although--" Mr. Galloway
did not say although _what_, but changed the topic abruptly. "Are they
in court now?"
"I expect so, sir. Mr. Yorke is not back yet."
Mr. Galloway walked to the outer door, deliberating what his course
should be. The affair grieved him more than he could express; it
angered him; chiefly for his old friend Mr. Channing's sake. "I had
better go up to the Guildhall," he soliloquized, "and see if--"
There they were, turning the corner of the street; Roland Yorke,
Hamish, and Arthur; and the followers behind. Mr. Galloway waited till
they came up. Hamish did not enter, or stop, but went straight home.
"They will be so anxious for news," he exclaimed. Not a word had been
exchanged between the brothers. "No wonder that he shuns coming in!"
thought Arthur. Roland Yorke threw his hat from him in silence, and sat
down in his place at the desk. Mr. Galloway touched Arthur with his
finger, motioned him towards the private room, and stood there facing
him, speaking gravely.
"Tell me the truth, as before God. Are you innocent or guilty? What you
say shall not be used against you."
Quick as lightning, in all solemn earnestness, the word "innocent" was
on Arthur's lips. It had been better for him, perhaps, that he had
spoken it. But, alas! that perplexity, as to how far he might venture
to assert his own innocence, was upon him still. What impression could
this hesitation, coupled with the suspicious circumstances, make upon
the mind of Mr. Galloway?
"Have you _no_ answer?" emphatically asked Mr. Galloway.
"I am not guilty, sir."
Meanwhile, what do you suppose were the sensations of Mr. Channing? We
all know that anguish of mind is far more painful to bear when the body
is quiescent, than when it is in motion. In any great trouble, any
terrible suspense, look at our sleepless nights! We lie, and toss, and
turn; and say, When will the night be gone? In the day we can partially
shake it off, walking hither and thither; the keenness of the anguish
is lost in exertion.
Mr. Channing could not take this exertion. Lying there always, his days
were little better to him than nights, and this strange blow, which had
fallen so suddenly and unexpectedly, nearly overwhelmed him. Until that
afternoon he would have confidently said that his son might have been
trusted with a room full of untold gold. He would have said it still,
but for Arthur's manner: it was that which staggered him. More than one
urgent message had been despatched for Mr. Galloway, but that gentleman
was unable to go to him until late in the evening.
"My friend," said Mr. Galloway, bending over the sofa, when they were
alone, "I am more grieved at this than you can be."
Mr. Channing clasped his hand. "Tell me what you think yourself; the
simple truth; I ask it, Galloway, by our long friendship. Do you think
him innocent or guilty?"
There might be no subterfuge in answer to words so earnest, and Mr.
Galloway did not attempt any. He bent lower, and spoke in a whisper. "I
believe him to be guilty."
Mr. Channing closed his eyes, and his lips momentarily moved. A word of
prayer, to be helped _to bear_, was going up to the throne of God.
"But, never think that it was I who instituted these proceedings
against him," resumed Mr. Galloway. "When I called in Butterby to my
aid this morning, I had no more notion that it was Arthur Channing who
was guilty, than I had that it was that sofa of yours. Butterby would
have cast suspicion to him then, but I repelled it. He afterwards acted
upon his own responsibility while my back was turned. It is as I say
often to my office people: I can't stir out for a few hours but
something goes wrong! You know the details of the loss?"
"Ay; by heart," replied Mr. Channing. "They are suspicious against
Arthur only in so far as that he was alone with the letter. Sufficient
time must have been taken, as I conclude, to wet the envelope and
unfasten the gum; and it would appear that he alone had that time. This
apparent suspicion would have been nothing to my mind, knowing Arthur
as I do, had it not been coupled with a suspicious manner."
"There it is," assented Mr. Galloway, warmly. "It is that manner which
leaves no room for doubt. I had him with me privately when the
examination was over, and begged him to tell me, as before God:
innocent or guilty. He could not. He stood like a statue, confused, his
eyes down, and his colour varying. He is badly constituted for the
commission of crime, for he cannot brave it out. One, knowing himself
wrongfully accused, would lay his hand upon his heart, with an upright
countenance, and say, I am innocent of this, so help me Heaven! I must
confess I did not like his manner yesterday, when he heard me say I
should place it in the hands of the police," continued Mr. Galloway.
"He grew suddenly agitated, and begged I would not do so."
"Ay!" cried Mr. Channing, with a groan of pain he could not wholly
suppress. "It is an incredible mystery. What could he want with the
money? The tale told about his having debts has no foundation in fact;
he has positively none."
Mr. Galloway shook his head; he would not speak out his thoughts. He
knew that Hamish was in debt; he knew that Master Roland Yorke indulged
in expensive habits whenever he had the opportunity, and he now thought
it likely that Arthur, between the two examples, might have been drawn
in. "I shall not allow my doubts of him to go further than you," he
said aloud. "And I shall put a summary stop to the law proceedings."
"How will you do that, now that they are publicly entered upon?" asked
"I'll manage it," was the reply. "We'll see which is strongest, I or
When they were gathering together for the reading, that night, Arthur
took his place as usual. Mr. Channing looked at him sternly, and spoke
sternly--in the presence of them all. "Will your conscience allow you
to join in this?"
How it stung him! Knowing himself innocent; seeing Hamish, the real
culprit, basking there in their love and respect, as usual; the
unmerited obloquy cast upon him was almost too painful to bear. He did
not answer; he was battling down his rebellious spirit; and the gentle
voice of Mrs. Channing rose instead.
"James, there is all the more need for him to join in it, if things are
as you fear." And Mr. Channing applied himself to the reading.
"My son, if thou come to serve the Lord, prepare thy soul for
temptation. Set thy heart aright, and constantly endure, and make not
haste in time of trouble."
It was a portion of Scripture rarely chosen, and, perhaps for that
reason, it fell upon Arthur with greater force. As he listened, the
words brought healing with them; and his sore spirit was soothed, and
grew trusting and peaceful as that of a little child.
A MORNING CALL.
You may possibly be blaming Arthur Channing for meeting this trouble in
so sad a spirit. Were such an accusation cast unjustly upon you, you
would throw it off impatiently, and stand up for yourself and your
innocence in the broad light of day. Even were you debarred, as he was,
from speaking out the whole truth, you would never be cast down to that
desponding depth, and thereby give a colouring to the doubt cast upon
you. Are you thinking this? But you must remember that it was not for
_himself_ that Arthur was so weighed down. Had he possessed no
conception as to how the note went, he would have met the charge very
differently, bearing himself bravely, and flinging their suspicion to
the winds. "You people cannot think _me_ guilty," he might have said;
"my whole previous life is a refutation to the charge." He would have
held up his head and heart cheerfully; waiting, and looking for the
time when elucidation should come.
No; his grief, his despondency were felt for Hamish. If Arthur Channing
had cherished faith in one living being more than in another, it was in
his elder brother. He loved him with a lasting love, he revered him as
few revere a brother; and the shock was great. He would far rather have
fallen down to guilt himself, than that Hamish should have fallen. Tom
Channing had said, with reference to Arthur, that, if he were guilty,
he should never believe in anything again; they might tell him that the
cathedral was a myth, and not a cathedral, and he should not be
surprised. This sort of feeling had come over Arthur. It had disturbed
his faith in honour and goodness--it had almost disgusted him with the
world. Arthur Channing is not the only one who has found his faith in
fellow-men rudely shaken.
And yet, the first shock over, his mind was busy finding excuses
for him. He knew that Hamish had not erred from any base
self-gratification, but from love. You may be inclined to think this a
contradiction, for all such promptings to crime must be base. Of course
they are; but as the motives differ, so do the degrees. As surely as
though the whole matter had been laid before him, felt Arthur, Hamish
had been driven to it in his desperate need, to save his father's
position, and the family's means of support. He felt that, had Hamish
alone been in question, he would not have appropriated a pin that was
not his, to save himself from arrest: what he had done he had done in
love. Arthur gave him credit for another thing--that he had never cast
a glance to the possibility of suspicion falling on Arthur; the
post-office would receive credit for the loss. Nothing more tangible
than that wide field, where they might hunt for the supposed thief
until they were tired.
It was a miserable evening that followed the exposure; the precursor of
many and many miserable evenings in days to come. Mr. and Mrs.
Channing, Hamish, Constance, and Arthur sat in the usual sitting-room
when the rest had retired--sat in ominous silence. Even Hamish, with
his naturally sunny face and sunny temper, looked gloomy as the grave.
Was he deliberating as to whether he should show that all principles of
manly justice were not quite dead within him, by speaking up at last,
and clearing his wrongfully accused brother? But then--his father's
post--his mother's home? all might be forfeited. Who can tell whether
this was the purport of Hamish's thoughts as he sat there in
abstraction, away from the light, his head upon his hand. _He_ did not
Arthur rose; the silence was telling upon him. "May I say good night to
"Have you nothing else to say?" asked Mr. Channing.
"In what way, sir?" asked Arthur, in a low tone.
"In the way of explanation. Will you leave me to go to my restless
pillow without it? This is the first estrangement which has come
What explanation _could_ he give? But to leave his father suffering in
body and in mind, without attempt at it, was a pain hard to bear.
"Father, I am innocent," he said. It was all he could say; and it was
spoken all too quietly.
Mr. Channing gazed at him searchingly. "In the teeth of appearances?"
"Yes, sir, in the teeth of appearances."
"Then why--if I am to believe you--have assumed the aspect of guilt,
which you certainly have done?"
Arthur involuntarily glanced at Hamish; the thought of his heart was,
"_You_ know why, if no one else does;" and caught Hamish looking at him
stealthily, under cover of his fingers. Apparently, Hamish was annoyed
at being so caught, and started up.
"Good night, mother. I am going to bed."
They wished him good night, and he left the room. Mr. Channing turned
again to Arthur. He took his hand, and spoke with agitation. "My boy,
do you know that I would almost rather have died, than live to see this
guilt fall upon you?"
"Oh, father, don't judge me harshly!" he implored. "Indeed I am
Mr. Channing paused. "Arthur, you never, as I believe, told me a lie in
your life. What is this puzzle?"
"I am not telling a lie now."
"I am tempted to believe you. But why, then, act as if you were guilty?
When those men came here to-day, you knew what they wanted; you
resigned yourself, voluntarily, a prisoner. When Mr. Galloway
questioned you privately of your innocence, you could not assert it."
Neither could he now in a more open way than he was doing.
"Can you look me in the face and tell me, in all honour, that you know
nothing of the loss of the note?"
"All I can say, sir, is, that I did not take it or touch it."
"Nay, but you are equivocating!" exclaimed Mr. Channing.
Arthur felt that he was, in some measure, and did not gainsay it.
"Are you aware that to-morrow you may be committed for trial on the
"I know it," replied Arthur. "Unless--unless--" he stopped in
agitation. "Unless you will interest yourself with Galloway, and induce
him to withdraw proceedings. Your friendship with him has been close
and long, sir, and I think he would do it for you."
"Would you ask this if you were innocent?" said Mr. Channing. "Arthur,
it is not the punishment you ought to dread, but the consciousness of
"And of that I am not conscious," he answered, emphatically, in his
bitterness. "Father! I would lay down my life to shield you from care!
think of me as favourably as you can."
"You will not make me your full confidant?"
"I wish I could! I _wish_ I could!"
He wrung his father's hand, and turned to his mother, halting before
her. Would she give him her good-night kiss?
Would she? Did a fond mother ever turn against her child? To the
prison, to the scaffold, down to the very depths of obloquy and scorn,
a loving mother clings to her son. All else may forsake; but she,
never, be he what he will. Mrs. Channing drew his face to hers, and
burst into sobs as she sheltered it on her bosom.
"_You_ will have faith in me, my darling mother!"
The words were spoken in the softest whisper. He kissed her tenderly,
and hastened from the room, not trusting himself to say good night to
Constance. In the hall he was waylaid by Judith.
"Master Arthur, it isn't true?"
"Of course it is not true, Judith. Don't you know me better?"
"What an old oaf I am for asking, to be sure! Didn't I nurse him, and
haven't I watched him grow up, and don't I know my own boys yet?" she
added to herself, but speaking aloud.
"To be sure you have, Judy."
"But, Master Arthur, why is the master casting blame to you? And when
them insolent police came strutting here to-day, as large as life, in
their ugly blue coats and shiny hats, why didn't you hold the door
wide, and show 'em out again? I'd never have demeaned myself to go with
"They wanted me at the town-hall, you know, Judith. I suppose you have
heard it all?"
"Then, want should have been their master, for me," retorted Judith.
"I'd never have gone, unless they had got a cord and drawn me. I
shouldn't wonder but they fingered the money themselves."
Arthur made his escape, and went up to his room. He was scarcely within
it when Hamish left his chamber and came in. Arthur's heart beat
quicker. Was he coming to make a clean breast of it? Not he!
"Arthur," Hamish began, speaking in a kindly, but an estranged tone--or
else Arthur fancied it--"can I serve you in any way in this business?"
"Of course you cannot," replied Arthur: and he felt vexed with himself
that his tone should savour of peevishness.
"I am sorry for it, as you may readily believe, old fellow," resumed
Hamish. "When I entered the court to-day, you might have knocked me
down with a feather."
"Ay, I should suppose so," said Arthur. "You did not expect the charge
would be brought upon me."
"I neither expected it nor believed it when I was told. I inquired of
Parkes, the beadle, what unusual thing was going on, seeing so many
people about the doors, and he answered that you were under
examination. I laughed at him, thinking he was joking."
Arthur made no reply.
"What can I do for you?" repeated Hamish.
"You can leave me to myself, Hamish. That's about the kindest thing you
can do for me to-night."
Hamish did not take the hint immediately. "We must have the accusation
quashed at all hazards," he went on. "But my father thinks Galloway
will withdraw it. Yorke says he'll not leave a stone unturned to make
Helstonleigh believe the money was lost in the post-office."
"Yorke believes so himself," reproachfully rejoined Arthur.
"I think most people do, with the exception of Butterby. Confounded old
meddler! There would have been no outcry at all, but for him."
A pause. Arthur did not seem inclined to break it. Hamish had caught up
a bit of whalebone, which happened to be lying on the drawers, and was
twisting it about in his fingers, glancing at Arthur from time to time.
Arthur leaned against the chimneypiece, his hands in his pockets, and,
in like manner, glanced at him. Not the slightest doubt in the world
that each was wishing to speak out more freely. But some inward feeling
restrained them. Hamish broke the silence.
"Then you have nothing to say to me, Arthur?"
Arthur thought the "saying" should have been on the other side. He had
cherished some faint hope that Hamish would at least _acknowledge_ the
trouble he had brought upon him. "I could not help it, Arthur; I was
driven to my wit's end; but I never thought the reproach would fall
upon you," or words to that effect. No: nothing of the sort.
Constance was ascending the stairs as Hamish withdrew. "Can I come in,
Arthur?" she asked.
For answer, he opened the door and drew her inside. "Has Hamish spoken
of it?" she whispered.
"Not a word--as to his own share in it. He asked, in a general way, if
he could serve me. Constance," he feverishly added, "they do not
suspect downstairs, do they?"
"That it was Hamish."
"Of course they do not. They suspect you. At least, papa does. He
cannot make it out; he never was so puzzled in all his life. He says
you must either have taken the money, or connived at its being taken:
to believe otherwise, would render your manner perfectly inexplicable.
Oh, Arthur, he is so grieving! He says other troubles have arisen
without fault on our part; but this, the greatest, has been brought by
"There is no help for it," wailed Arthur. "I could only clear myself at
the expense of Hamish, and it would be worse for them to grieve for him
than for me. Bright, sunny Hamish! whom my mother has, I believe in her
heart, loved the best of all of us. Thank you, Constance, for keeping
"How unselfish you are, Arthur!"
"Unselfish! I don't see it as a merit. It is my simple duty to be so in
this case. If I, by a rash word, directed suspicion to Hamish, and our
home in consequence got broken up, who would be the selfish one then?"
"There's the consideration which frightens and fetters us. Papa must
have been thinking of that when he thanked God that the trouble had not
fallen upon Hamish."
"Did he do that?" asked Arthur, eagerly.
"Yes, just now. 'Thank God that the cloud did not fall upon Hamish!' he
exclaimed. 'It had been far worse for us then.'"
Arthur listened. Had he wanted anything to confirm him in the sacrifice
he was making, those words of his father's would have done it. Mr.
Channing had no greater regard for one son than for the other; but he
knew, as well as his children, how much depended upon Hamish.
The tears were welling up into the eyes of Constance. "I wish I could
speak comfort to you!" she whispered.
"Comfort will come with time, I dare say, darling. Don't stay. I seem
quite fagged out to-night, and would be alone."
Ay, alone. Alone with his grief and with God.
To bed at last, but not to sleep; not for hours and for hours. His
anxiety of mind was intense, chiefly for Hamish; though he endured some
on his own score. To be pointed at as a thief in the town, stung him to
the quick, even in anticipation; and there was also the uncertainty as
to the morrow's proceedings; for all he knew, they might end in the
prosecution being carried on, and his committal for trial. Towards
morning he dropped into a heavy slumber; and, to awake from that, was
the worst of all; for his trouble came pressing upon his brain with
He rose and dressed, in some perplexity--perplexity as to the immediate
present. Ought he, or ought he not, to go as usual to Mr. Galloway's?
He really could not tell. If Mr. Galloway believed him guilty--and
there was little doubt of that, now--of course he could no longer be
tolerated in the office. On the other hand, to stop away voluntarily,
might look like an admission of guilt.
He determined to go, and did so. It was the early morning hour, when he
had the office to himself. He got through his work--the copying of a
somewhat elaborate will--and returned home to breakfast. He found Mr.
Channing had risen, which was not usual. Like Arthur, his night had
been an anxious one, and the bustle of the breakfast-room was more
tolerable than bed. I wonder what Hamish's had been! The meal passed in
A tremendous peal at the hall bell startled the house, echoing through
the Boundaries, astonishing the rooks, and sending them on the wing. On
state occasions it pleased Judith to answer the door herself; her
helpmate, over whom she held undisputed sway, ruling her with a tight
hand, dared not come forward to attempt it. The bell tinkled still, and
Judy, believing it could be no one less than the bishop come to alarm
them with a matutinal visit, hurried on a clean white apron, and
stepped across the hall.
Mr. Roland Yorke. No one more formidable. He passed Judith with an
unceremonious nod, and marched into the breakfast-room.
"Good morning all! I say, old chap, are you ready to come to the
office? It's good to see you down at this early hour, Mr. Channing."
He was invited to take a seat, but declined; it was time they were at
Galloway's, he said. Arthur hesitated.
"I do not know whether Mr. Galloway will expect me," he observed.
"Not expect you!" flashed Roland, lapsing into his loud, excited
manner. "I can tell you what, Arthur: if he doesn't expect you, he
shan't expect me. Mr. Channing, did you ever know anything so
shamefully overbearing and unjust as that affair yesterday?"
"Unjust, if it be unfounded," replied Mr. Channing.
"Unfounded!" uttered Roland. "If that's not unfounded, there never was
an unfounded charge brought yet. I'd answer for Arthur with my own
life. I should like to sew up that Butterby! I hope, sir, you'll bring
an action against him."
"You feel it strongly, Roland."
"I should hope I do! Look you, Mr. Channing: it is a slur on our
office; on me, and on Jenkins, and on Galloway himself. Yes, on
Galloway. I say what I mean, and nobody shall talk me down. I'd rather
believe it was Galloway did it than Arthur. I shall tell him so."
"This sympathy shows very kind feeling on your part, Ro--"
"I declare I shall go mad if I hear that again!" interrupted Roland,
turning red with passion. "It makes me wild. Everybody's on with it.
'You--are--very--kind--to--take--up--Arthur Channing's--cause!' they
mince out. Incorrigible idiots! Kind! Why, Mr. Channing, if that cat of
yours there, were to be accused of swallowing down a mutton chop, and
you felt morally certain that she did not do it, wouldn't you stand up
for her against punishment?"
Mr. Channing could not forbear a smile at Roland and his hot
championship. "To be 'morally certain' may do when cats are in
question, Mr. Roland; but the law, unfortunately, requires something
more for us, the superior animal. No father living has had more cause
to put faith in his children than I. The unfortunate point in this
business is, that the loss appears to have occurred so mysteriously,
when the letter was in Arthur's charge."
"Yes, if it had occurred that way; but who believes it did, except a
few pates with shallow brains?" retorted Roland. "The note is burning a
hole in the pocket of some poor, ill-paid wight of a letter-carrier;
that's where the note is. I beg your pardon, Mr. Channing, but it's of
no use to interrupt me with arguments about old Galloway's seal. They
go in at one ear and out at the other. What more easy than to put a
penknife under the seal, and unfasten it?"
"You cannot do this where gum is used as well: as it was to that
"Who cares for the gum!" retorted Mr. Roland. "I don't pretend to say,
sir, how it was accomplished, but I know it must have been done
somehow. Watch a conjuror at his tricks! You can't _tell_ how he gets a
shilling out of a box which you yourself put in--all you know is, he
does get it out; or how he exhibits some receptacle, crammed full,
which you could have sworn was empty. Just so with the letter. The
bank-note did get out of it, but we can't tell how, except that it was
not through Arthur. Come along, old fellow, or Galloway may be blowing
us up for arriving late."
Twitching Tom's hair as he passed him, treading on the cat's tail, and
tossing a branch of sweetbriar full of thorns at Annabel, Mr. Roland
Yorke made his way out in a commotion. Arthur, yielding to the strong
will, followed. Roland passed his arm within his, and they went towards
"I say, old chum, I haven't had a wink of sleep all night, worrying
over this bother. My room is over Lady Augusta's, and she sent up this
morning to know what I was pacing about for, like a troubled ghost. I
woke at four o'clock, and I could not get to sleep after; so I just
stamped about a bit, to stamp the time away."
In a happier mood, Arthur might have laughed at his Irish talk, "I am
glad you stand by me, at any rate, Yorke. I never did it, you know.
Here comes Williams. I wonder in what light he will take up the affair?
Perhaps he will turn me from my post at the organ."
"He had better!" flashed Roland. "I'd turn him!"
Mr. Williams appeared to "take up the affair" in a resentful, haughty
sort of spirit, something like Roland, only that he was quieter over
it. He threw ridicule upon the charge. "I am astonished at Galloway!"
he observed, when he had spoken with them some moments. "Should he go
on with the case, the town will cry shame upon him."
"Ah, but you see it was that meddling Butterby, not Galloway," returned
Yorke. "As if Galloway did not know us chaps in his office better than
to suspect us!"
"I fancy Butterby is fonder of meddling than he need be," said the
organist. "A certain person in the town, living not a hundred miles
from this very spot, was suspected of having made free with a ring,
which disappeared from a dressing-table, where she was paying an
evening visit; and I declare if Butterby did not put his nose into it,
and worm out all the particulars!"
"That she had not taken it?"
"That she had. But it produced great annoyance; all parties concerned,
even those who had lost the ring, would rather have buried it in
silence. It was hushed up afterwards. Butterby ought to understand
people's wishes, before he sets to work."
"I wish press-gangs were in fashion!" emphatically uttered Roland.
"What a nice prize he'd make!"
"I suppose I can depend upon you to take the duty at College this
morning?" Mr. Williams said to Arthur, as he was leaving them.
"Yes, I shall be out in time for the examination at the Guildhall. The
hour fixed is half-past eleven."
"Old villains the magistrates must have been, to remand it at all!" was
the concluding comment of Mr. Roland Yorke.
Constance Channing proceeded to her duties as usual at Lady Augusta
Yorke's. She drew her veil over her face, only to traverse the very
short way that conveyed her thither, for the sense of shame was strong
upon her; not shame for Arthur, but for Hamish. It had half broken
There are times in our every-day lives when all things seem to wear a
depressing aspect, turn which way we will. They were wearing it that
day to Constance. Apart from home troubles, she felt particularly
discouraged in the educational task she had undertaken. You heard the
promise made to her by Caroline Yorke, to be up and ready for her every
morning at seven. Caroline kept it for two mornings and then failed.
This morning and the previous morning Constance had been there at
seven, and returned home without seeing either of the children. Both
were ready for her when she entered now.
"How am I to deal with you?" she said to Caroline, in a sad but
affectionate tone. "I do not wish to force you to obey me; I would
prefer that you should do it cheerfully."
"It is tiresome to get up early," responded Caroline. "I can't wake
when Martha comes."
"Whether Martha goes to you at seven, or at eight, or at nine, she has
the same trouble to get you up."
"I don't see any good in getting up early," cried Caroline.
"Do you see any good in acquiring good habits, instead of bad ones?"
"But, Miss Channing, why need we learn to get up early? We are ladies.
It's only the poor who need get up at unreasonable hours--those who
have their living to earn."
"Is it only the poor who are accountable to God for waste of time,
Caroline paused. She did not like to give up her argument. "It's so
very low-lived to get up with the sun. I don't think real ladies ever
"You think 'real ladies' wait until the sun has been up a few hours and
warmed the earth for them?"
"Y--es," said Caroline. But it was not spoken very readily, for she had
a suspicion that Miss Channing was laughing at her.
"May I ask where you have acquired your notions of 'real ladies,'
Caroline pouted. "Don't you call Colonel Jolliffe's daughters ladies,
"That's where we went yesterday, you know. Mary Jolliffe says she never
gets up until half-past eight, and that it is not lady-like to get up
earlier. Real ladies don't, Miss Channing."
"My dear, shall I relate to you an anecdote that I have heard?"
"Oh, yes!" replied Caroline, her listless mood changing to animation;
anecdotes, or anything of that desultory kind, being far more
acceptable to the young lady than lessons.
"Before I begin, will you tell me whether you condescend to admit that
our good Queen is a 'real lady'?"
"Oh, Miss Channing, now you are laughing at me! As if any one, in all
England, could be so great a lady as the Queen."
"Very good. When she was a little girl, a child of her own age, the
daughter of one of the nobility, was brought to Kensington Palace to
spend the day with her. In talking together, the Princess Victoria
mentioned something she had seen when out of doors that morning at
seven o'clock. 'At seven o'clock!' exclaimed the young visitor; 'how