|Newspaper Title||The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)|
|Trove Title||Wedded to Death|
He had not been to bed and looked helplessly ill and unfit f «r work of any description, yet Derek Homo sethis shoulder to the wheoh He was not a man to flinch when aught of importance had to be
" A bath at once, Parkes, and breakfast at nine punctually. I have to go into the City."
" Really, sir, you do not look fit."
"Nonsense, nonsense! Do not, remonstrate ;
business must be attended to."
When he spoke like that Parkes knew his master was positive ; so he said no more, but went to do his bidding.
By ten o'clock a hansom had bee» sent for, and Derek Home started for the small office in a so called City Jane where he and Lewis Bellingham as partners carried on a business as general merchants which had in no way proved as lucrative as either partner had expected.
They had talked of giving it up, but a hope of improvement had usually tempted them to go on a little longer.
Derek Home's appearance startled the old clerk who was in charge ¡ he had not seen him there for months, and truth to tell, for a moment ho scarcely knew him, he was so altered.
" Good morning, Mr. Grayling. How is business ?'' asked Mr. Home in an offhand way ; but be did not stop for an answer. " Bellingham here ?" he
"No sir," and the venerable Grayling smiled "not been here since his'marriage till yesterday for half an hour. I have been conducting the5
business for the last few weeks."
" Hope you're made it pay," said Derek, with a grim smile. Then again, not waiting for an answer he went on : " Do you expect Mr. Bellingham to- day ? He's back, you know ?"
" I have not heard, sir, but I should think not at all events, not ti'l late. ' A servant has been here for his letters."
" Ah ! are there any here for me ?"
"No, sir, nothiug. A few circulars or so may have come, but they have always been sent to Mr Bellingham, as he ordered."
Derek Homo went into the inner room, where the partners conducted business when they were to- gether, and looked around.
Nothing to att-act attention of any sort, unless it was dirt and a general appearance of dreariness.
"Haven't had the fire lighted, as you gentlemen W^ere both away," and Grayling fumbled in his pocket for a match-box.
" Don't bother ; don't bother. I'm off directly ; have something to attend to. By-the-bye, Gray- ling, do yon know anything of Nathaniel Brothers,
in Crown Court ?"
Grayling looked at Mr. Home foi a second with the little keen eyes that denoted what a good busi- ness man he was. It was clear he had heard something, but he answered very carefully.
"I believe there have been some transactions with this Nathaniel-in the way of business, yon
"And Blattherwaite, Grayling, do you know j
him ? Is he an honest man or a swindler ?"
" Oh, Mr Blattherwaite is a great friend of Mr. Bellingham's," answered Grayling, rounding out the phrase as if that fact in itself spoke volumes.
" Not a thief, then-or likely to be a liar !"
" Mr. Home ! He's the possessor of thousands." " Well, that doesn't prove anything," said Derek with an attempt at a laugh ¡ " thousands are not always come by honestly, are they ? I must say he is not a man who especially takes my fancy."
" Old Grayling," however, was not going to be made to say more than he considered expedient even"by Derek Home, favourite though the junior, partner had ever been with the " Co," as Grayling assuredly Wasj_ if doing the larger share of tho work gave him any title to the appellation. Besides, one or two disparaging rumours about Derek Home had reached him of late. Best say nothing, thought the wary man, until he had dis ' covered a little more.
Mr. Home did not pay particular heed to what ho did or did not say ; he seemed too much ab- sorbed in his own affairs, so it was easy enough to be silent. Whether he would not have gained more by sticking faithfully to Derek Home and standing up for him whatever befel, the old clerk, who had been a mere machine all his life, could not make np his mind about all in a hurry.
So he let the opportunity slip, and Derek Home was gone out into the noisy city thoroughfare in quest of Messrs. Nathaniel's office, where he in- tended to have the matter cleared up about this bill before he went to coll Battherwaite by every opprobrious term his vocabulary could command, which he fully intended to do, making the bluster- ing monoyed bully tender him a public apology, and set his good name right with those very credulous acquaintances of his who had chosen to ( doubt him. Crown Court was not very far from
South Lane, in which Bellingham, Home, and Com , pany conducted their business, so in less than five .minutes Derek had found it. "Nathaniel
' Brothers" in large letters, on an extensive, shining,
well-to-do brass plate.
Several clerks, all of the Hebraic type, were in
an outer office.
He asked to see the principal ¡ the youth he addressed looked askance, as much as to say the principal was a big man, not to be troubled about
Derek, noticing the expression of the youth's te.eep gave him his card, which he requested might be conveyed to Mr. Nathaniel at once. Nor had he long to wait. Ezra Nathaniel had been waiting to see Mr. Derek Home for too long to refuse him an
He was a funny little picturesque-looking old man, in a. velvet skull-cap, and an interview with him would rather hare pleased Derek Hone, who loved to study men and manners, if it had not boen on such an exceedingly disagreeable subject.
" I am told," said Derek Home, seating himself in front of the old man's writing-table, " that you advanced a sum of fifteen hundred pounds on a bill of mine, said to hare been issued in March
last. "Is this so?"
" There was a bill of yours issued in March last I for fifteen hundred pounds ; yes. The actual sum I that was paid down yon know as well as I do."
I "I know nothing: aboutit, my good sir; never
even heard of it till yesterday."
" By Moses and the prophets the man is mad. Why, it was signed in your name-Derek Home properly stamped, all quite regular, and backed by my good friend, Blattherwaite. Why do you re- pudiate a straightforward act?"
" Do you mean to tell me that I came hero to your office and saw yon-you yourself-and that we arranged that I should receive a sum of money by means of Blattherwaite's name ? Isfcause if you say this, I reply that you are the d-liar in the City of London."
j " Softly, softly, excitable young man ; losing your
temper will not mend a bad business. I did not say you came here to arrange the loan, but that yon signed the bill."
" But who, then, did arrange the loan ?"
"Tour very good partner and friend, Mr. Bel- lingham. He took an infinite amount of trouble, because he said you were very ill, and the want of money was bringing you to the very brink of the grave."
" Bellingham ! Bellingham arranged this ! Where
is the bill?"
"There you see, you see, it is wise and right to be calm. The bill, my friend, is with Mr. Blatther-
waite, since you were abroad for the moment, and ? he paid tbe money. I make no doubt now you have returned to your home, you will straighten matters with the good Blatterwaite, and not let him lose money by the little-transaction."
" Lose money, indeed ! Ton are a set of black guardly swindlers, the whole crow o' yon. I don't believe a word of any of it."
" Gently, my dear young man ; be calm, I entreat. Doubtless Mr. Blattherwaite has kept this piece of paper, since he would expect restitution of his money, with interest perhaps, when you should be well enough to come back. Go to the good Blat-' therwaites* office in Threadneedle Street, of which be is the princely king, and he will let you see how you have yourself written Derek Home in a good manly hand. Ton were just a little weak with ill- ness and worry-you have, perhaps, forgotten the little negotiation.
" I Bever was ill-I never was worrkd, I tell you. Do you take me for a lunatic ?"
"No, no, no, my friend-sane as I am myself, only a little ill. You look scarcely too robust now. Why, you are shrunken much too small for your
" I have been ill lately-had a fever in Cyprus, but I was as strong as a lion in March."
(To ha eontinmed.)