Chapter 62145506

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Chapter NumberXXV.
Chapter Url
Full Date1884-11-22
Page Number6
Word Count1006
Last Corrected2020-07-25
Newspaper TitleClarence and Richmond Examiner and New England Advertiser (Grafton, NSW : 1859 - 1889)
Trove TitleJohn Brown and His Dog Faithful
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Lyndhurst sat himself down when he entered the room, unasked by Achates.

" This is a sad, unexpected affair, Mr Achates, our dear friend's death. I was perfectly dumb-founded when I received Miss B——'s black-edged note— shocked beyond expression, I assure you. I need not say, you have my deepest sympathy. How does Hebe take it?"

Achates raised his head, and looking the man of law straight in the face, replied,—

" Hebe has a true heart. She has lost her only living friend."

The barrister winced, as much as his craven, cowardly heart would allow.

" Can I assist you in any way ? But I suppose you have made every arrangement about the funeral, seeing our friend has been dead over two days ? But, speak the word, and I will do what I can !"

"All is arranged, thank you," was Achates' simple reply.

" By the by Miss B——tells me my neice is here ; had I not better take her back with me till the funeral is over, poor child ?"

Achates again looked full into the barrister's eyes, and said with a smile that there was no mistaking,

" You had better question her on the subject of

going back with you. I should not like the answer you will get ; but then, you know, lawyers are tough."

These thoughts were passing through the mind of Lyndhurst, while Achates was speaking : " Of course, John Brown has left money to the girl ; I wonder how much ? He was not badly off. Well, all will be known after the funeral. I must be present at the reading of the will. I am the girl's only relation and guardian, and she is still under ago, so the law gives me full power. Yes, and I will use it. No, under these circumstances the narcotic at present won't do. No use of me trying to get round her just now; so must abide my time."

"When did I understand you, Mr, Achates, to say

the funeral is to be ?"

" At three o'clock to-morrow afternoon sharp." " Thanks, I will be in time."

" With that the man of law rose, saying,—" I must go back, tho' so late.

He muttered to himself, " Yes, better not sleep here ; keep for the present out of Hebe's way."

The neice heard him go, and at once entered John Brown's room.

Achates rose to meet her, and asked her had she rested. He mentioned not of her uncle's visit, for he knew it would be distasteful to her.

" Surely you are now satisfied, Hebe, and so will not sit up to-night. I will remain here if you will it, but I must tell you it is quite useless."

Hebe gave him a look that he never forgot, and replied,—

"Are you Fidus Achates that Mr. Brown use to tell me of—his bosom friend ? Go, sir ; you say useless. " Oh ! Mr Achates, go." With a look of withering scorn, " Go, sir."

Poor Achates was walking out of the room, crushed, heart-broken, which quick-sighted Hebe saw in his face. She was touched, so in a gentle, mellow voice, rich in sympathy, called him back. Putting out her hand she said,

"Pardon me, pardon me, dear Mr Achates, I knew not what I was saying ; I have wounded you, tho' I do hope not beyond forgiveness."

" Say no more, dear girl ; I was deeply hurt, for you know my love for our friend."

" Mr Achates, I want to ask you a question, and then tell you something. Do you know a person named, or calling himself, Entre nous?"

Achates looked in amazement, without the usual facial movement, saying——"Why ask me of Entre

nous, Hebe !"

The look was not lost on the orphan, " He called to see me to-night."

Then she went on to tell Achates all she knew.

" Did he in no way hint why he had made a vow to aid you at any cost?"

"No. I would have questioned him further, but he was gone. He was so earnest, I could see every word he spoke was true. Know you him? I see you do."

" Yes, Hebe."

" Is he a real friend ?"

Achates was afraid of the ground Hebe was com- mencing on. Her catechistical questions made him uneasy, so he felt he must be cautious.

" I am quite convinced by what I know, and his interview with you this evening, that he is ready to defend you against any wrong your uncle might do you. Is that not enough ?"

" How does he know my uncle would injure me ?"

"Be content, dear Hebe, with what I have told you."

" Who is he, Mr Achates ?"

Achates soliloquised : " Bother this, there will be a fine kettle of fish directly. I must mind my P.'s and Q.'s, or the fat will all be in the fire. I would not like you to be a lawyer, Hebe, and you questioning me to my detriment. Here goes."

" Well, Hebe, it is a long story only known to Mr Brown and myself, and you know by what you tell me, dear, John Brown did not reply to your ques- tions when you would—yea, did—question him on the subject. At present I must act the same, and depend upon it I act in kindness ; I will now go and write a letter."

" To Entre nous, Mr. Achates ?"

" No, no, it is to—to—to a person on business," and off went Achates, glad to stop the queries.

" A letter on business," said the orphan to herself, when alone with the dead.