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persuaded-why, Miss Bruce must long have known-' And here the voice of Tom, the plausible, the prudent, the self-reliant, degenerated to a husky whisper, because he felt that his very heart was mounting to his throat.
Miss Bruce cut him exceedingly short.
'You remember our bargain,' she said, bitterly. 'If you don't, I can remind you of it. Listen, Mr. Ryfe; I am not going to cheat you out of your dues. You were to win back my fortune from the next of kinthis cousin, who seems to have law on his side. You charged yourself with the trouble-that counts for nothing, it is in the way of your business-with the costs-the expenses -I don't know what you call them -these were to be paid out of the estate. It was all plain sailing, if we had conquered; and there was an alternative in the event of failure. I accepted it. But I tell you, not till every stratagem has been tried, every stone turned, every resource exhausted, do I acknowledge the defeat, nor-I speak plain English, Mr. Ryfe-do I pay the penalty.'
Ho turned very pale. 'You did not use this tone when we walked together through the snow in the avenue at Ecclesfield.
mised of your own accord, you know you did,' said poor Tom, trembling all over; and I have got your promise in writing locked up in a tin box at home.'
She laughed a hard, shrill laugh, not without some real humour in it, at his obvious distress.
'Keep it safe in your tin box,' said she, and don't be afraid, when the time comes, that I shall throw you over. Ah! what an odd thing money is; and how it seems able to do everything!' She was looking miles away now, totally unconscious of her companion's presence. me this five or six thousand a year represents hope, enjoyment, positionall that makes life worth having. More, to lose it is to lose my freedom, to lose all that makes life endurable!
And you have lost it,' observed Tom, doggedly. He was not very brave, very highminded, very chi
valrous in any way; but he possessed the truly British quality of tenacity, and did not mean to be shaken off by any feminine vagaries where once he had taken hold.
'Et je payerais de ma personne,' replied Miss Bruce, scornfully. I don't suppose you know any French. You must go now, Mr. Ryfe; my maid's coming back for me from the bonnet-shop. I can't be trusted you see over fifty yards of pavement and a crossing by myself. The maid is walking with me now behind these lilac-bushes, you know. Her name is Ryfe. She is very cross and silent; she wears a wellmade coat, shiny boots, rather a good hat, and carries a nosegay as big as a chimney-sweep's-you can give it me if you like-I dare say you brought it on purpose.'
How she could twist and turn him at will! three or four playful words like these, precious all the more that her general manner was so haughty and reserved, caused Tom to forget her pride, her whims, her various caprices, her too palpable indifference to himself. He offered the flowers with humble gratitude, ignoring resolutely the presumption that she would probably throw them away before she reached her own door.
'Good-bye, Miss Bruce,' said he, bowing reverently over the slim hand she vouchsafed him, and 'Good-bye,' echoed the young lady, adding, with another of those hard little laughs that jarred so on Tom's nerves, Come with better news next time, and don't give in while there's a chance left; depend upon it the money's better worth having than the client. By-the-by, I sent you a card for Lady Goldthread's this afternoon-only a stupid breakfast-Did you forget it?'
'Are you going?' returned Tom, with the clouds clearing from his brow.
'Perhaps we shall, if it's fine,' was the reply. 6 And now I can't wait any longer. Don't forget what I told you, and do the best you can.'
So Tom Ryfe departed from his garden of Eden with sundry misgivings, not entirely new to him,
that the fruit he took such pains to ripen for his own gathering might be but gaudy wax-work after all, or painted stone, perhaps, cold, smooth, and beautiful, against which he should 'rasp his teeth in vain.
The well-tutored Puckers, dressed in faded splendour, and holding a brown-paper parcel in her hand, was waiting for her young lady at the corner of the Square.
While thus engaged she witnessed a bargain, of an unusual nature, made apparently under extraordinary pressure of circumstances. A ragged boy, established at the crossing, who had indeed rendered himself conspicuous by his endeavours to ferry Puckers over dryshod, was accosted by a shabbygenteel and remarkably good-looking man in the following vernacular
'On this minnit, off at six, Buster; two bob an' a bender, and a three of eye-water, in?'
'Done for another joey,' replied Buster, with the premature acuteness of youth foraging for itself in the streets of London.
'Done,' repeated the man, pulling a handful of silver from his pocket, and assuming the broom at once to enter on his professional labours, ere Puckers had recovered from her astonishment, or Buster could vanish round the corner in the direction of a neighbouring
Though plying his instrument diligently, the man kept a sharp eye on the Square gardens. When Tom Ryfe emerged through the heavy iron gate he whispered a deep and horrible curse, but his dark eyes shone and his whole face beamed into a ruffianly kind of beauty, when after a discreet pause, Miss Bruce followed the young lawyer through the same portal. Then the man went to work with his broom harder than ever. Not Sir Walter Raleigh spreading his cloak at the feet of his sovereign mistress lest they should take a speck of mud could have shown more loyalty, more devotion, than
did Gentleman Jim sweeping for bare life, as Miss Bruce and her maid approached the crossing he had hired for the occasion.
Maud recognized him at a glance. Not easily startled or surprised, she bade Puckers walk on, while she took a half-crown from her purse and put in the sweeper's hand.
'At least it is an honest trade,' said she, looking him fixedly in the face.
The man turned pale while he received her bounty.
'It's not that, miss,' he stammered. 'It's not that-I only wanted to get a look of ye. I only wanted just to hear the turn of your voice again. No offence, miss, I'll go away now. Oh! can't ye give a chap a job? It's my heart's blood as I'd shed for you, free-and never ask no more nor a kind word in return!'
She looked him over from head to foot once more and passed on. In that look there was neither surprise, nor indignation, nor scorn, only a quaint and somewhat amused curiosity, yet this thief and associate of thieves quivered, as if it had been a sun-stroke. When she passed out of sight he bit the halfcrown till it bent, and hid it away in his breast. 'I'll never part with ye,' said he, never;' unmindful of poor Dorothea, going about her work tearful and forlorn. Gentleman Jim, uneducated, besotted, halfbrutalized as he was, had yet drunk from the cup that poisons equally the basest and noblest of our kind. A well-dressed, good-looking young man, walking the other side of the square, did not fail to witness Tom Ryfe's farewell and Maud's interview with the crossing-sweeper. He too looked strangely disturbed, pacing up and down an adjoining street more than once, before he could make up his mind to ring a well-known bell. Verily Miss Bruce seemed to be one of those ladies whose destiny it is to puzzle, worry, and interest every man with whom they come in contact.
(To be continued.)
NEVER met you, lady fair,
In all her Majesty's dominions;
In deepest mazes of reflection.
Say, do you ponder o'er the one
Who sets that little heart so beating?
Or does his passion seem retreating?
Perchance a cruel parent's word
Bids fair to mar the bliss you dream of: Of such things in these days I've heard, Now Matrimony's made a scheme of. Well! if you're under age, you must Obey that parent's harsh direction— Renounce your love:-but there! I trust That's not the subject of reflection. Or-it may be-some handsome shawlNew bonnet-dress-or some such weakness Has seemed to make your toilette smallA thing that can't be borne with meekness! Be wise, if so, and seek relief-
Submit your sorrow to dissection.
I'd give my head to learn your grief,
You've lost a locket, or a ring,
A brooch, a purse with some amount in? Or dares the milliner to bring
At time unmeet her small account in?
I own I'm at a loss to guess
Your secret baffles all detection
Yet no! I have it-have it! yes,
The subject of your deep reflection.
Although I never met you, dear,
As not to see! I own correction-