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'Who was he, sir?'
'His name was Michael Neale,' sez Misther Barron. He left me whin I wint abroad two years ago, an' I got him a situation wid Misther Bradley in th' Bank av Ireland.'
So, sir, jist as th' all did wid poor Pat an' me, th' all began puttin' two and two t'gether about Michael Neale; an' wan day th' tuk him up, an' tuk all bis clothes -an' not a lie I'm tellin' yeh, sir, whin I say that it was found out that th' piece av cloth that was found in the grasp av poor ould Tim Sullivan's withered hand fitted in exact t' where it was tore from a coat med av' the same kind av cloth that was found among Michael Neale's clothes.
Shurely, sir, it was a wondherful time, an' a wondherful thing altogether. An' thin, shure I rimimbered that I towld Michael Neale on th' bank-steps all about poor ould Tim havin' th' sovereigns in th' piatees. An' wan thing an' another kem out; an' how Michael had got a frind av his t' buy a small farm for him; an' so, wid wan thing an' another, Michael Neale, t' make a long story short, saw there was no use in denyin' it any longer, an' he confessed that it was him that murdthered poor ould Tim Sulli
Och, sir, shure it was worth bein' in prison, an' goin' athrough all th' thrubble for t' see how glad th' nabours war t' see me an' Pat, as soon as we war let out. Throth, our hearts comes up in our mouths whin we think av all the kind words was sed about us! An' it's all the gintlemen that was kind-Misther Barron an' Misther Bradley an' all av thim. Shure betchune thim all th' bought this little farm for uz, where we're as happy as th' day's long.
Yes, sir, it was a terrible day th' day that Michael Neale was hanged. Nayther me nor Pat 'ud go to Clonmel that mornin', though there was plenty that asked uz t' go: an iviry night me and Pat sez a prayer for th' repose av Michael Neale's misfortunate sowl.
An' now, sir, that's th' whole story. But I hear Pat's voice, sir, an' here he is! He's as good as he's good-lookin', sir; an av yeh ask him anythin' about it, he'll jist say:
"The good God always defends th' right. He knewn Mary an' me was innocent; an' t' show that He has the power t' do ivirythin', He put power even into the Grasp of a Withered Hand!'
Bannacth Ladth! Sir, maybe we'll meet agin'.
THE MYSTERY IN PALACE GARDENS.
BY MRS. J. H. RIDDELL.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END.
'Ir never occurred to you, I suppose,' said Doctor Dilton a week later, once again addressing his patient of twenty odd years previously, to make inquiries at the house to which your wife's letters were addressed?'
'No,' was the answer. 'I do not think after such a length of time much could be ascertained from that quarter.'
Doctor Dilton looked at him thoughtfully and shook his head.
'You do not want to know the story, as I said before,' he remarked.
'I do wish to know it,' said Mr. Palthorpe; but candidly, I feel incompetent to follow the details which seem necessary. My solicitors wanted to employ a detective; but I could not bear the idea of baring the trouble of my life to a man of that kind.'
'I can understand your feelings,' was the reply. But just to show you how easily the matter might be unravelled if gone about in a proper manner, I may tell you I got the address from Miss Aggles and went to the house. Present tenant had been in it only five years; so there was nothing to do but try to find out the former occupier. Miss Aggles, if she ever knew, had forgotten her name; so I managed to obtain a sight of an old directory, and found she was a Mrs. Grimes. traced her to Pentonville, and ascertained after five minutes'
conversation that all letters which came to her addressed to Mrs. Palthorpe were readdressed to the care of Mrs. Hay, the Poplars, Wandsworth-road.'
Mr. Palthorpe started; the blood rushed into his face one moment, and then receding, left him pale as death; but he did not utter a word.
'You begin to see I was right,' said the doctor.
'There may have been a Mrs. Hay,' observed the unhappy man hesitatingly.
'Or there may not,' finished the doctor; at all events, if there were it is extremely unlikely your wife was acquainted with her. Having taken the matter in hand -Miss Aggles urged me to do so, I ought to tell you-I thought I would see it out; and I therefore went to the Poplars, which is to let, by the way. It was more difficult to ascertain anything in that neighbourhood; but after a good deal of trouble I met a person, a nurseryman, who perfectly remembered a Mr. Hay living in the house, and directed me where to find a man that had worked for him as gardener. His description of Mr. Hay answered precisely to that of our Stratford friend; and if he had drawn your wife's portrait in oils, he could not have sketched a better likeness than he presented to me as that of Mrs. Hay.
If I could meet him, if I could only find him!' muttered Mr. Palthorpe huskily.
'I do not say now what I said
before, that if you were able to do that you would find her,' said the doctor; for from what I heard of the life they led, of her temper, of her imperious ways, it is most unlikely the connection lasted longer than the break-up at the Poplars, which occurred about the time she went to Ravelsmede. Very possibly what she told her aunt about her intended marriage was true; but then comes a puzzle as regards your child. Why should any man want another man's child?'
'It is all a mystery,' answered Mr. Palthorpe. 'Did you hear what Mr. Hay was?
Nothing more than that he had some business in the City, some business which kept him a good deal away from home. So far as I could gather, he did not live at the Poplars, only went backwards and forwards.'
'I will see it out now,' remarked Mr. Palthorpe; let what may come, I will see it out.'
'I think you ought,' was the answer, on every account;' and he wrung the hands of the man for whom he felt a sympathy to which he was incompetent to give expression-the man who, though he had so loyally staked all for love,' could not count the world well lost.'
Meantime there was a struggle going on in the mind of the master of Holyrood House which might well have moved the compassion even of an enemy.
In his repentance, as in his sin, the weakness which, unsuspected alike by himself and the world, was an integral part of his character entered so largely as to prevent his coming to any decision concerning the course he ought to adopt. Swayed hither and thither, now determining to answer the advertisement, again assuring himself no good purpose could be
VOL. XXXVII. NO. CCXXVII.
served by reopening the old wound, inclining one moment to the belief Rachel need never know he was not her father, and the next remembering that any hour circumstances might arise which would necessitate confession, he passed the hours and the days and the nights in a state of unrest and misery a stronger mental organisation could not have supported.
Not so Lady Moffat. Having, as she believed, thrown suspicion off the track and stopped further inquiry, she recovered her health and spirits. Only one change was noticeable-she would not walk; no, not a step beyond the precincts of her own home. Wherever she wanted to go she went in a close carriage, with a thick veil tied down over her face. There had been times previously when, without any apparent cause, and, indeed, without actual cause, she elected to take the latter precaution; and her ladyship's 'vagaries,' as her servants called her changes of mind and temper, were so well understood in the household that no fresh freak was likely to attract attention. Even Miss Banks did not consider her latest fancy peculiar. That lady had always thought it strange Lady Moffat did not use her carriage more; and she felt by no means sorry for a change of tactics which enabled her to go everywhere she wished without, as she tersely put the matter, 'wetting the sole of her shoe.'
One other alteration, of which the world was not aware, came about. Though Lady Moffat's manner towards Rachel in public underwent little change-indeed the habit of snubbing her elder daughter had grown so confirmed she could not have broken herself of it-she was constantly seeking her society, trying to propitiate her, watching her face with anxiety.
'Dear papa,' sail the girl one morning to Sir John, 'you can't think how kind mamma is to me
often now. Some day, do you know, I even fancy she may get fond of me. What have I said? Have I hurt you, papa? I thought you would be pleased,' she asked, bewildered; for he was looking at her with eyes that held a sort of terror in their expression. Why should his wife so suddenly change her tactics? What mystery lay underneath that advertisement? Who wanted tidings of the dead man's child? Was he standing in her light? Was it his duty at all hazards to say, 'This is Thomas Palthorpe's daughter; she is no kith or kin of mine'?
'I am glad, Rachel,' he answered after a second's pause; but he trembled so violently he had to lay down the paper-cutter he held in his hand. Anything which makes you happier-' and then his voice died away, and he rose and walked towards the window, to hide the trouble in his face from her loving gaze.
You are ill,' she said, 'or you are in some trouble rather; may I not know what it is? Has any thing gone wrong about money? I have always felt this to be an unlucky sort of house.'
'My trouble would have found me in any house,' he replied, unclasping the arms she had wound around his neck. 'Don't cry, dear; it may all come right some day. It is nothing about money; would that it were! O, would to God it were!
'You will have other ties some day,' said Sir John evasively.
'No other tie,' she answered firmly, though she blushed as she spoke, 'could separate me from you. Say you are sure of that, papa?
I am sure you think so, dear,' he replied; but O, Rachel, how can any of us say how we may feel, what we shall do, even an hour hence? We can answer for the present, which is ours; but we cannot answer for the future, nor for what we shall be or do or feel in it.'
She looked at him with sad tender wistfulness.
'I think I could answer for myself,' she said. 'Of course you know better than I; but yet-no, you don't know better about this, papa,' she added, suddenly flinging herself on his breast and bursting into tears. No time, no tie, no anything could change my love for you. If it ever comes to be tested you will see; yes, indeed, you will see.'
Ah, she did not know! How would it be if she ever did know? Sir John felt the very intensity of her affection weighing down his soul. Every word she spoke pierced him like a sword. His heart, his poor tortured heart, could bear no more; he put her gently from him, and without further word or look left the room.
As he did so Simonds advanced to say Mr. Woodham was in the library.
'He is sorry to call so early, Sir John, but wishes to speak to you particularly;' a statement which Mr. Woodham's first words confirmed.
'I have to apologise for intruding at such an untimely hour,' he began, stretching out his hand; 'but I am starting to-day for Florence, and I wanted to say something to you before I go. You must promise not to be very
indignant at what I am going to tell you,' he added, smiling a little nervously.
'Won't you sit down?' asked Sir John, taking a chair himself. His tone was cold and his manner constrained. Now, what is it?' and as he spoke those last words Mr. Woodham knew he was nerving himself to meet some expected blow.
'Well, without beating about the bush,' said Mr. Woodham, feeling it better to plunge into the matter at once, 'I love your daughter.'
'Love-Rachel? repeated Sir John, feeling that though this was not precisely the 'something' he had expected at the moment, it served equally well to prove the beginning of the end was at hand.
'I know I am not in any worldly respect-'
'Stop a moment, please,' interrupted Sir John, placing his elbow on the table, and shading his eyes with one hand, while he raised his other with a gesture of entreaty.
Mr. Woodham paused. He remained perfectly silent for a few minutes, which seemed to both men almost as the length of hours. Then Sir John, uncovering his face and revealing once again that gray pallor the clergyman had noticed before, said quietly,
'I beg your pardon; pray pro
'If you are ill, some other time. You would, perhaps, prefer-' hestitated Mr. Woodham.
'I am not ill-in body,' was the reply; and as for time, there is none like time present. You were saying-'
'That in a worldly point of view I am aware my proposals must seem to you in every respect undesirable. But I have received
this morning a telegram which may materially alter my position; and I therefore want to obtain a conditional promise from you that if hereafter circumstances should enable me to offer your daughter such a home as-'
'Tell me exactly what you mean,' said Sir John, as he, usually ready enough of speech, paused and hesitated.
'Well, I scarcely like to say what I do mean,' answered Mr. Woodham, confused; and yet I cannot leave England without speaking to you. The telegram from Florence requests me instantly to go to my cousin, who is dangerously ill. If he'
If he died, you would be Lord Chesunt?' suggested Sir John, who was now by far the more selfpossessed of the two.
'I should be in a position to maintain a wife, which I am not now,' amended the clergyman, vexed a little at having his own ideas presented in such hard colours before him. 'I do not want him to die. I never expected to step into his shoes. I never intended to ask you just yet for your daughter's hand; but as matters stand I thought-since many things may happen during my absence that I would tell you I feel an affection for Rachel I never felt for any woman before, and that I well know I never can feel for any woman again, and ask your consent to trying to win a favourable answer from her in the future should it so chance that-that-'
'I understand,' said Sir John; and then he relapsed into silence.
'I do not desire to bind you by any promise, even a conditional one,' Mr. Woodham was beginning. Now that you know my feelings and wishes
I will answer you directly,' interrupted Sir John; and, rising, he walked over to the book