|Chapter Title||TOM DRAKE'S TRUST.|
|Newspaper Title||The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)|
|Trove Title||A Mystery|
(From English, American, and other Periodicals.)
TOM DRAKE'S TRUST
Tom Drake did have a hard time, as the physician
predicted and Earle feared.
He paid dearly for his one night's adventure within the walls of Wycliffe, and yet, perchance, the end will prove it to have been a " blessing in dis-
For three weeks he raved inthe widest delirium of fever, unconscious alike of his own condition, the care he was receiving, or the trouble and weari- ness he caused , and it was three weeks longer be- fore the skilful physician pronounced him out of danger, or would give them any hope that the
wounded limb could be saved.
" Save it if you can, Dr. ---; the poor fellow has had a rough time of it, and I should dislike to send him away from here a cripple," Earle had pleaded when the doctor spoke of amputation.
" He will be a cripple any way, so much of the bone is diseased and will have to come out, that the leg will always be weak, and he will be lame, even if we save it. But for your sake I will do my best, though it is more than the wretch deserves," grum- bled the physician.
He had not much faith or patience in nursing the " miserable wretch," as he called him.
"Like enough he will turn around and cut your throat some fine day when he gets well, such peo- ple have no feeling, no gratitude, they are like the brutes and have no souls, and should be treated ac- cordingly ."
"Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these,' " Earle gravely repeated once after
one of the doctor's outbursts.
"Humph! such high toned philanthropy will doubtless be rewarded in a way you don't expect."
But with all his apparent gruffness and contempt for the kindness Earle was bestowing upon the un- fortunate criminal, the young marquis could see that he was always very gentle with him, and was satisfied that he was bestowing the very best treat- ment that his knowledge and skill could suggest.
When at last the fever left him he lay weak as a baby, and only able to be lifted gently in the arms of strong men, when he wished to change his posi-
He did not look nearly so repulsive to Earle as he lay there so pale and thin, and helpless, and a great pity crept into his heart for this brother-man whose life had been so steeped in sin and infamy.
He had scarcely left him during those six long weeks when he lay in such danger, catching what rest he could while his pateint slept, and lying upon a couch near his bed; and Earle himself looked al- most as if he had had a fit of sickness, he was so worn and weary with his watching.
It was six weeks longer before Tom Drake could be dressed and move about his room supported by a servant on one and a crutch on the other.
He had grown more quiet and gentle in his man- ner during these weeks of convalescence; after re- gaining consciousness, when his fever turned, his speech, became more chaste; no oath left his lips to offend Earless ears, while now and then some ex- pression of gratitude, rough though it was, would escape him for the attention and kindness he was receiving.
He became very thoughtful, even sad at times, and then Earle would bring some interesting book and read to him , but though he listened attentively, and appeared grateful for the attention, yet he could see that he did not really enjoy it, and often grew nervous at the monotonous sound of his voice.
One day he brought in a beautiful chess table, and after arranging the curiously carved men upon it, asked him if he would like to learn the game.
He was astonished to see his face light up with
delight as he exclaimed :
" Aha! them are real beauties, and now I can
He already knew the game -- was even a skilful player, and from that time until he was able to ride out, Earle was never at a loss to know how to
But as he grew stronger, Earle could see that some heavy burden oppressed him, and when not riding or playing chess he would sit in moody silence, his hands folded, his head bent, and a look of deep trouble on his face, and frequent sighs escaped
One day Earle had been reading the newspaper to him -- the only thing of the literary kind in which he manifested any interest.
A heavy sigh interrupted him, and looking up he found his companion's eyes fixed sadly on his face, while apparently he had not heard a word that he had been reading.
" Well, Tom, are you feeling badly to-day ?" Earle asked, laying down his paper.
" N-o," he returned, hesitatingly, and with some
Then, with an air of recklessness that Earle had not noticed before during all his sickness, he
" I say, what kind of a place is Botany Bay ?"
Earle started, the question was so entirely unex- pected, but he undetstood at once now why he had been so sad and absent-minded of late. He had been thinking of his probable future.
" It is supposed to be rather a desolate kind of place," he said.
" Folks who are sent there at the expense of the Crown don't get rich very fast, and it is somewhat inconvenient about getting away from there if one should happen to wish to visit his native land, eh ?" Tom Drake said, with a ghastly attempt to
"No," Earle replied, very gravely, and with a searching glance at his companion.
"There's some comfort in knowing a fellow hain't got to leave many behind him to grieve over him," he said, absently, and as if speaking more to him-
self than to Earle.
" Where do your friends reside ?" he asked.
" All the friend I've got in the world, sir, is my old mother, and her I haven't seen for many a long
Earle thought there was a suspicious huskiness in his voice as he said this, and that a tear dropped on his hand as he turned quickly to look out of the window ; but he might have been mistaken, and the man was still very weak after his long illness, and
tears come unbidden at such a time.
" Your mother ! Have you a mother living ?"
' " Yes, sir, as good a woman as ever drew breath!" Tom said, heartily.
" Who was that woman you had at the hotel in New York ?" Earle asked.
" That was one of -- the profession. She was noth- ing to me, and I paid her well for that job, I -- I --"
" Well ?" Earle said, encouragingly, as he saw Tom evidently had something on his mind, and did not know just how to get rid of it.
"I ain't usually very white-livered nor tender- hearted, sir. I never thought I was thin-skinned, but -- I -- I want to tell you that that rascally busi- ness about the young lady has laid heavy on my mind this many a day. She was a -- a particular friend o' yours, weren't she ?"
" Yes," Earle said, with a heavy sigh.
Tom Drake started at the sound, and shot an anxious glance at him, while he grew, if possible, paler than he was before.
" I -- I hope, sir, no harm came to her from the mesmerizing," he said, in a sort of hushed tone.
" No ; she is quite well now."
Tom looked intensely relieved, and he went on, speaking with a rough kind of earnestness and
" You've been wonderful good to me after it all ; you've given me the best you have, and treated me as if I were a gentleman instead of a gallows-bird. That was a pesky job -- that business with the girl. She was a pretty little thing, but plucky as the -- I beg pardon, sir ; but she was the most spirited little woman I ever set eyes on ; and many a time it has given me the shivers, on waking up in the night, to think of her lying there, growing so pale and weak, dying by inches."
" It was a cruel thing to do," Earle said, with a far- away look and a very pale face.
He, too, often remembered that waxen face, with its great mournful eyes, in the still hours of the night; but that now was not the saddest of his
"You are right, sir," Tom went on, with a strange mixture of humility and defiance ; " but I had three or four fat jobs on hand just at that time, and I knew that if John Loker's confession got abroad, there'd be no more work for me in the United States. I was going to crack a safe that very night, and had all my tools about me, so as soon as you took the young lady off, I set to work, picked the locks, and we took to our heels with all the speed we had. You hadn't made much noise about the affair, so when madam and I walked out of the private entrance together, no one suspected us, and we got off scot-free. I know it wouldn't be safe for me to be seen around there after that, so I made for a steamer that was just ready to start out, and came over here to try my luck, never dreaming I'd fall into your clutches a second time."
" Have you been at this kind of thing long ?" Earle
" Nigh on to twenty years. I got in with a gang when I was a youngster, learned all the tricks of the trade, and have lived by my wits and a burglar's
kit ever since."
" Have you, as a rule, found it a very satisfactory kind of business ?" his listener asked, pointedly.
Tom Drake flushed a vivid crimson, and for an instant a fierce gleam of anger shot from his eye ; then he burst out vehemently :
" No, sir ; I haven't. I've always had to hide and sneak about like a whipped cur. It's all up with me now, though, and I might as well own to it first as last, and there's no comfort in it from beginning to end ; but when a fellow once gets started in it, there don't seem to be any place to stop, however bad you may want to. I'd got kind of hardened to it, though, until -- until that job at Dalton's, that you got hauled up for. I've cursed myself times without number for that affair, but I hadn't the grit to own up and take my chances; though, if I did put on a bold front, every hair on my head stood on end when I saw you stand up so proud and calm, and take the sentence and never squeal."
Tom was getting excited over the remembrance, and his whole frame shook, while Earle could see the perspiration that had gathered on his upper
His eyes were bent upon his hands, which were trembling with nervousness, or some other emotion, and his voice was not quite steady.
" You're a gentleman, sir, every inch of you," he went on, after a few minutes of awkward silence, "I've heard charity preached about no end of times, and never knew what it meant before. I suppose
you won't believe it, or think I am capable of feel- ing it, but I do -- I feel mean clear through, though I never would have owned to it before. Here I've been for three months and more, making a deal of trouble, being waited upon by your servants as if I was a prince, drinking your wine, and eating all sorts of nice things that I never thought to taste, while you've tended me until you're nigh about worn out yourself. I tell you I feel -- mean! There, it's out -- I couldn't hold it any longer, and if I have to wear a ball and chain all the rest of my life, I shall feel better to think I've said it ; and I shall never forget to my dying day that there was one man in the world who was willing to do a kindness, to his worst enemy."
He had assumed a roughness of tone that had been unusual for the last few weeks, but Earle knew it was done to cover his emotion.
It was evident that he felt every word he uttered
and that the confession had cost him a great effort,
as his nervousness and pallor testified.
It was apparent, also, that he expected no mercy,
as his reference to Botany Bay and the ball and chain plainly showed.
Earle pitied him deeply, and he had grown to feel very kindly toward him during his long siege of
He was a man of no small amount of intelligence, and had evidently received a moderately good educa- tion before he began his career of crime, and if he
had started right in life he would, no doubt, have
made a smart man.
Earle had as yet come to no definite decision as
to what course he should pursue regarding him
when he should fully recover, and he could not bear to think of it even now.
He knew that his sentence, if tried and found guilty, would be a very severe one, and his own sad experience naturally made him incline to the side of mercy.
" But, Tom, whatever you may have been in the past, I do not consider that you are my enemy now," he said, kindly, when be had concluded his excited speech.
" But I am, sir. I have done you the worst wrong a man can do another -- I've wronged you in every way -- I'm a wretch, and whatever they do with me it'll serve me right, and I'll never open my lips," he said, excitedly,
" Yes, you have wronged me, and I have suffered in your stead, the worst disgrace that a man can suffer. But that is all past now -- my innocence has been established, and no shadow of stain rests on my name -- John Loker's confession accomplished
" But, sir, it could not give you back those three years of your life that -- that you lost ; you --"
" No," Earle interrupted, " but those three years, long and weary as they were, were not 'lost' by any means, Tom. They taught me a lesson of patience and trust which perhaps I never should have learned in any other way -- it was a hard trial -- a bitter trial !" Earle exclaimed, with a shudder, as something of the horror came back to him, " but," in a reverent tone, " I know that nothing which God sends upon us, if it is rightly borne, can end in harm -- nothing but our own sins can do that."
" Did you feel that way then ?" Tom asked, re- garding the young marquis with wonder.
" Not at first, perhaps, but it came to me after a little, for, Tom, I had a good Christian mother."
" Ay! and so had I," he replied, with a sigh that ended in what sounded very like a sob.
But Tom was not strong, you know, and conse- quently more easily moved.
" She used to teach me that suffering was often blessing in disguise."
"I never heard that doctrine before, sir," Tom re- turned, looking down upon his emaciated bonds, and thinking of his bandaged limb, which was still
" I suppose you would not think that the wound I gave you, and the terrible sickness which has fol- lowed, were blessings, would you, Tom ?" Earle asked, with a smile, as he noticed the look and divined his thought.
" Hardly that, sir, when my reason tells me how it is all to end ; but sir, I'll say this much, my own mother couldn't have been kinder, nor given me better care, and for the first time in my life I've learned what it is to trust a man!" he said, earnestly.
"Thank you, Tom," Earl returned, heartily.
" You've no cause, sir. I should have killed you that night if I had known you were there and awake, and then the world would have lost a good man and gained another murderer ; perhaps, look- ing at it in that way, sir, the wound and the sickness were blessing in disguise, as you call them," he concluded, reflectively, and he shivered slightly as be spoke, as if the thought of crime had acquired a strange horror to him.
"We will not talk of this any more now," Earle said, fearing the excitement would be injurious to him. " I am only too glad that your life was spared, and I did not slay you even in self-defence. I am glad to know, also, that I have gained your confi- dence, and I firmly believe that if you should ever be free to go forth into the world again, you would never lift your hand to harm me or mine."
" Thank you, sir -- it is kind of you to say that," was the humble reply.
" Now I want you to tell me something about your mother. She must be quite old," Earle continued, to change the subject.
" Sixty last March, sir, and I haven't seen her for twenty years, though I've sent her enough to give her a good living all that time. I used to -- to -- love my mother," he concluded, as if rather ashamed to
make confession of a sentiment so tender.
" ' Used to,' Tom ?"
" I ain't fit to own to love for anybody now, sir ; and it would break her heart to know what I've been up to all these years."
" Where does she live ?"
" At Farnham, in this county, sir."
"Here in England ! Why! that is only twenty-five or thirty miles from here!" exclaimed Earle, in sur- prise.
"Yes, sir; and if I had made a good haul here I was going down to see her, and settle something handsome on her," he frankly confessed, but his face flushed, nevertheless, at the acknowledgment.
" Wouldn't you like to see her now ?" asked Earle. " That I would sir, and I suppose the poor old lady has been worrying and wondering what's happened to me, that I did not send my usual letter and money."
" Did you send her money regularly ?"
Earle began to think there was a little green spot in the man's heart after all, and there might be some hope of reclaiming him even yet.
"Once in three months -- sometimes more, some- times less, as my luck was, but always something as often as that, though it's six months now since she's heard a word from me, poor old lady," he said, with a sigh.
" Why did you not tell me of this before? Your mother should not be allowed to want," Earle said, feeling a deep interest in the lonely mother.
" What right had I to burden you with my cares ? You've had more than enough of me as it is," Tom replied, flushing more deeply than he had yet done.
It was evident that he felt his obligation to Earle was no light one.
Earle did not reply, and at that momont the door opened and a man entered bearing a large tray, covered with a tempting array of viands that would have done the heart of an epicure good.
"You must be hungry, Tom, after this long talk, so while you are eating I will go away, as I have some letters to write," Earle said, rising.
Tom looked up at him with a troubled air, opened his lips as if to speak, shut them again resolutely, and then finally said in a half reckless, half humble
" You can take my softness for what it's worth sir ; I couldn't help it, but -- I'd have been broken on the wheel before I'd have said so much to any one else. Tom Drake's known nothing but hard knocks for the last twenty years, until a bullet laid him here."
Earle went out of the room with a very grave face. " If I was only sure," he murmured, with a deep drawn sigh, na he passed into the library and shut
At the end of two hours Earle went back to his charge, with a letter in his hand.
Tom had been much refreshed by his nice dinner, and had been asleep for an hour.
But he now lay with a troubled, anxious expres- sion on his face, which Earle could not fail to notice even though his lips relaxed into a faint smile of
welcome at his entrance.
He went up to the couch where he was reclining, and said, as he handed him the letter :
"I would like, it you feel able, to have you direct this letter to your mother, and after that you can read it, if you like. I have thought best to write her something of your illness, knowing that she must be very anxious at not hearing from you for so long. I would gladly have done so before had you spoken of it."
"Thank you, sir," Tom said, in a low voice as taking the envelope, and the pen filled with ink, that Earle had brought him, he directed the letter, in rather a trembling hand. Then he unfolded it, and read the few simple words that were written
" Dear Madam," it said, " Your son has been quite sick during the past three months and I write this that you may feel no further anxiety regarding him. He is improving daily, and will, we hope, soon be well. Should you feel able to come to him you will come directly to Wycliffe, where you will be cordially received. Inclosed you will find a sum which your son would have sent you before now, had he been able to
" Very truly,
" Earle Wayne "
A five-pound note had been enclosed within the letter, at the sight of which Tom Drake's lips sud- denly tightened into a firm line.
He read the letter through, and when he had finished, it dropped from his fingers upon the counterpane, and lay there while he turned his face to the wall, and for some minutes did not speak.
"What did you do that for ?" he at last demanded, almost fiercely, but with lips that trembled in spite
" To comfort an aged, anxious mother, and give a sick fellow a chance to see a familiar face. You would surely like to see your mother, Tom ?"
" Yes ; but it will be a little hard on the old lady when she finds we'll have to part again so soon," be said, with a stony look in his eyes.
"Don't think of that now," Earle taid, kindly. " Is there anything more you would like me to add
to the letter ?"
Tom shook his head, and picking up the letter and the note tried to replace them in the envelope, but his hand shook so that he could not do it.
Earle gently took them from him, folded and sealed the letter, and went out, leaving him alone.
A groan burst from the huge chest of the once hardened wretch as the door closed after him, and burying his head in his pillow he lay a long time without moving.
The next morning he seemed very silent and much depressed. It was a fine day, and Earle took him for a drive in the beautiful park around Wy-
He did not talk much, but appeared lost in thought until the horses' heads were turned toward home, then he astonished Earle by seizing his nand and bursting out:
" Sir, can you believe a wretch like me has any heart left? I didn't think it myself, but you've got down to it at last. I'll plead guilty -- though once I thought that ten thousands devils couldn't drive me to it, but you've broke me down completely; I can never hold up my head again, and I deserve the very worst they can give me. I'd like it over with and settled as soon as possible after she had been here. She'll not stay long probably. I'm well enough not to be a burden here any longer, and I'd feel easier in my mind to know just what is before
The poor fellow was frightfully pale, and so ex- cited that his sentences were disjoined and broken, and spoken through teeth so tightly shut that Earle could hear them grate.
The young marquis was deeply affected; he had uttered no fawning or servile protestations of sor- row or shame, asked for no mercy, expected none; but he could see that he was, as he said, " completely broken down;" his heart had been melted by kind- ness, and little shoots of the original good that was in him had begun to spring up in the unusual at- mosphere by which he had recently been surrounded.
Earle believed that a great and radical change was begun in the man, and if rightly dealt with now, he might be saved.
Kindness had melted him; then why had he not a right to feel that kindness would hold him and mould him anew. His was undoubtedly one of those natures which grow reckless, and harden itself against everything like stern justice and punish- ment, and only grow more desperate at the thought of penalty.
" If tried and sentenced now for the attempt at robbery, even though he might protest himself deserving of it, yet be would go to his doom in dogged, sullen silence, nothing would ever reach his better nature again, and he would die as miserably
as he had lived.
" Tom," Earle said, gravely, after a thoughtful silence, during which these things had passed through his mind, " from what you say, I judge that you regret your past life, and if you were to live it over again, you would spent it very differently."
" Regrets won't do me any good, and I don't like to cry for quarter when I'm only getting my just deserts," he said, with a kind of reckless bravery; then he added, with a heavy sigh, that spoke
" But I think it would be sort of comforting to a chap if he could look back and feel that he'd tried
to live like a -- man. "
"Then why not try to live like a 'man' in the future?" Earle said, earnestly, his fine face glowing with a noble purpose.
" Transportation for life isn't likely to give a body much courage for anything," the man answered, moodily, his face hardening at the thought.
" No, and I hope no such evil will ever overtake you to discourage you, if you really have a desire to mend your course. Tom, you expect that I am going to arraign you before a tribunal, and have you punished for the wrong you have done me; but -- I am going to do no such thing."
A gasp interrupted him at this, and Tom Drake sank back in the carriage as if the intelligence had taken all his strength, but Earle went on.
" If you had appeared to have no regret for the past, if, as you gained in strength, you had exhibited no sorrow, nor expressed any appreciation of what had been done for you, or any desire to re- trieve your errors, I might have felt that it would be better for others that you should be put where you could do no further mischief. But if you really want to try to become a good man, I am willing to help you I will be your friend. I will give you em- ployment as soon as you are able for it, and as long as you show a disposition to live aright, I will keep the secret of your past, and no harm shall ever come to you on account of it. Now, tell me, Tom, if you are willing to make the trial, shall we start fair and square from this moment, and see how much better we can make the world for hav- ing lived in it ?" and Earle turned to the astonished man, with a frank, kindly smile on his earnest,
The man was speechless -- dumb !
Such a proposal as this had never occurred to
He had fully expected that as soon as he should be able to bear it, he would be transferred from his present luxurious quarters to some vile prison, there to await his trial, and then he had no expec- tation of anything better than to be sentenced to banishment as a convict for a long term of years, or perhaps for life.
Instead, here was hope, happiness, and the pros- pect of earning an honest living held out to him, and by the hand of him whom he had so terribly wronged.
No words came to his lips to express his astonish- ment, nor the strange tumult of feelings that raged within his heart. His whole soul bowed down before the grand nature that could rise above his own injuries and do this noble thing.
Tamora, Queen of the Goths, when suing for the life of her first-born son, prayed thus before Titus
"Wilt thou draw near the nature of the gods? Draw near them then, in being merciful, Sweet mercy is nobility's true badge."
And thus Earle Wayne partook of the nature of the gods! his mercy, his grand self-abnegation and forgiveness, with the helping-hand held out so kindly to one of earth's lost and degraded ones, was, indeed, the surest badge of his nobility. And Marion Vance, in her meekness, had prophesied truly, when she had told him, on her dying bed, that "good would come out of her sorrow."
She had said:
"You may, perhaps, be a nobler man for having been reared in obscurity; you will, at all events, realize that a noble character is more to be desired than a mere noble-sounding name "
He was now living out the pure precepts that she had so untiringly taught him during those long, sorrowful years when she was so sadly and uncom- plainingly bearing her banishment and disgrace.
Tom Drake dropped his face upon his hands to hide the humility and reverence he could not speak, and the tears he could not stay and was ashamed to
Earle Wayne's enemy was utterly routed at last; he had stormed a citadel by a method of warfare hitherto untried, and it lay in ruins at his feet.
" I -- I'm afraid I do not quite understand. You will not have me arrested or tried -- I am to be a free man?" Tom Drake breathed, in low, suppressed
"No; if you are sentenced to drag out a weary term of years as a convict, you would become dis- couraged, and be ready for almost any desperate deed if you should live to return; and, Tom, I have come to believe that you would really like to lead a different life from what your past has been."
" I would, sir, I would, but I never should have thought of it but for you -- but for that bullet. It was indeed, as you said, a 'blessing in disguise,'" he said, weakly but earnestly.
Earle smiled his rare, luminous smile, then said, gravely:
"Then I will help you all I can, but you must do your share also, it cannot be done in a moment, and you must not get disheartened. It will be something like this wound of yours; sin, like the bullet, has entered deep -- the disease lies deep, and only the most rigid and skilful handling, with pa- tient endurance, will work the cure."
He did not preach him a long sermon on human depravity, orginal sin, and the wrath of God.
This little warning was all he then gave, hoping by practical illustration to draw him by and by nearer to the Divine Master whose commands he was endeavoring to obey.
"And you -- you make no account of anything? you forgive all those three years -- the harm to the girl? How can you?" and the man lifted his earnest, wondering eyes to the grand face at his
" Yes, Tom, I can forgive it all," Earle said, but his face grew pale and a trifle pained at the remem- brance of all that those words called up, "and I shall feel that the experience was not in vain if you do not disappoint my expectations. If you will faithfully and honestly strive to overcome what- ever there is of evil within you, or whatever may tempt you in the future, I shall feel that your character reclaimed is the 'good' that has come out of my 'sorrow.' Tom, will you strive to make an honest man, God's noblest work, of yourself? I want your promise."
" Sir, from the bottom of my heart I'd like to be an honest man, but -- I'm afraid I can't stand it," he said, huskily.
"Can't stand what, Tom?" Earle asked, with a look of perplexity and anxiety.
Were the temptations and habits of the old life so strong that he could not relinquish or overcome them'?
"I feel as if a millstone had crushed me, I'm afraid I can't stand it to face you day after day, with the memory of all I've done staring me in the
Earle's face lighted -- this was the best proof he had had of the man's sincerity.
" Tom, I want to tell you a little story; you will recognize it, perhaps, as you say your mother is a Christian woman. There was once a Man who was crushed beneath the sins of a world. He wore a crown of thorns, and the purple robe of scorn and derision. His tender flesh was pierced, bruised, and mangled by His enemies, and His only cry was, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.' There came a time when I realized that my sins helped to do all this, and I felt something, as you say, as if a millstone had crushed me,' and as if I could never live in His presence with the memory of it ever in my mind. But I read in His word 'Thy sins are remembered no more against thee, forever, they are blotted out.' The same word tells me to 'forgive as I am forgiven.' Of course we cannot actually forget all that we have suffered, nor who was the immediate cause of it, but we can cherish no evil, we can regard and treat as kindly
those who have injured us as if it had never been. That is the way I want to 'blot out' all the past between you and me. Do you understand me,
"Yes, sir," Tom Drake said, in scarcely audible tones, but his face was full of feeling and of an earnest purpose.
" May I feel, then, that I can trust you fully from
"You may, sir," very decidedly the reply came, and, after a moment's hesitation, he continued, in a resolute tone " I'll not waste my breath nor weary you with promises, but, sir, I'll begin to live from this moment."
" That is right, and here is my hand to seal our compact," and the young Marquis of Wycliffe grasped the hand of poor, degraded Tom Drake as heartily as if he had been another peer of the
He had won an enemy -- he had conquered a reck- less, defiant human heart, with neither sword nor spear, but by the power of love and kindness.
Thrice blessed Marion Vance! Out of her sorrow had grown her Christianity, out of her Christianity had grown the education of this noble man, and out of his nobility the salvation of another!
Who can estimate the mighty influence of a pure example and faithful precepts ?
Did she, now looking down upon this scene realize toward what all the dark and winding path of her desolate life had tended?
She had learned to trust while here, where the way was so dark that she could not see, and may we not hope that faith had now ended in sight, and that the joy she had missed on earth was increased a hundred fold in the better world ?
Neither Earle nor his companion spoke again during the remainder of their drive.
Tom Drake went immediately to his rooms when
they reached the house, and no one but himself and his Maker know how he passed that solitary hour
that followed his return.
Earle gave the reins to a groom, and went to the library to see if there were any letters, but a servant met him on the way and handed him a telegram that
had just arrived.
It was a cable dispatch from the United States.
SUMNER DALTON'S CONFESSION.
The telegram was from Paul Tressalia, and ex- tremely startling and imperative in its nature.
"Mr. Dalton can live but a short time," it said, " and begs continually for you. Com at once.
Editha also desires it."
Earle was deeply excited by what he read,
George Sumner Dalton dyying! -- face to face at last with the terrible messenger who sooner or later
comes to summon all!
He was asking for him -- longing for the son who he had wronged and hated all his life-long I
For the moment Earle'a heart rebelled at the thought of going to him ; for if he went he felt he must be prepared to give him comfort in his last hours; he must be ready to forgive everything -- his own and his mother's wrongs, and be at peace with the man who was soon to stand before the Supreme Judge to answer for his earthly career.
Could he do this in all sincerity?
He stood there in the grand hall of his ancestors with bent head and stern, corrugated brow, asking himself these questions over and over again.
Then the words that he had spoken only a little while before to Tom Drake came to his mind.
"Forgive, as we are forgiven."
It was as if Marion's gentle spirit, hovering over him, had whispered the words in his ear -- as if from
the realms of peace, where she dwelt, she had brought him an olive branch to bear across the
waters to the erring, dying one.
"I will go," he said, at last, a pitiful expression replacing the stern look, a grave though [? kindly] light beaming from his eyes. "I will go, and God
help me to go in the right spirit.'
"Editha, too, desires it," he repeated, reading from the telegram, "and that of itself should make
And yet, much as he longed to see the beloved [?]
once more, he felt as if he could never endure a second parting from her. Then graver thoughts presented themselves.
If Mr Dalton should die what would become of Editha?
She had not a friend in the world on whom to de-
pend -- would she feel that she could now [?] with him and share his home ?
The matter troubled him deeply, and yet he [?] felt that it would be his duty henceforth to [?]
and care for her.
He went into the library and consulted the papers. A steamer would sail the next day from London and he decided that he would go at once.
He might not be in time to see Mr Dalton alive
but he would not delay; he would do his best to grant his request let the result be what it might.
He disliked very much leaving Tom just at this time; he knew that he depended upon him for en- couragement, and would doubtless be very sad and
depressed, if not discouraged, if he went away for
any length of time.
But it could not be helped, and the test might be
beneficial. It would at all events teach him [?]
reliance, and perhaps prove the man's sincerity better
than in any other way.
He went at once to him, and said:
" Tom, I am very unexpectedly called away. I'm sorry that it happened just at this time, but it can not be helped. Can you manage with only the ser- vants for company until your mother arrives?"
" Yes, sir; but will you be gone long ?
" I do not know how long, I cannot fix a definite time for my return, as it depends upon others rather than on myself. You will be quite [?] and I am sorry on your account."
" Never mind me, sir, but -- I hope it's no toil on my account," and he glanced anxiously at telegram, which Earle still had in his hand.
"No -- oh! no, I may tell you, I suppose -- [?]
more trouble for Miss Dalton, her father is dying and they have sent for me," Earle explained.
"To the United States, sir!' Tom exclaimed in
dismay, and feeling as if some strong support [? was]
slipping from under him.
"Yes, and I may have to be absent a month [?]
-- perhaps longer, but you must try to make the best of it. Your mother will probably arrive to-morrow, and I would be glad if she could remain with you until I return," Earle said, thinking his mother's influence, and love, and care,
the best guardians he could possibly leave in his
"Thank you, sir," Tom answered, [?] after thinking a moment, he added, [?wistfully] am getting strong and well so fast that if I would [?]
to begin to do something, sir. If you could [? set]
me some work I should be glad, and the time [? will]
not seem so long."
Earle thought a moment, and then asked: " Are you good at accounts?"
"I used to be fair at them -- I learned [?]
method after I went to America, thinking to make a business man of myself."
" Then if you would take the trouble to [?] out some accounts that got badly mixed during the last year of the old marqis' life,it would [? help] wonderfully."
Tom's face brightened at once.
" I should like it," he said, eagerly, and Earle felt better at once about leaving him, knowing that he felt he was making himself useful he would be
The next day found him on board the [?]
bound for New York, and scarcely able [?] his impatience even though the noble [?]
favourable wind and weather, was [? ploughing] pathless waters with unusual speed.
At the end of eight days he stood once more on American soil, and on hour or two later [?] again ascending the steps of Mr. Dalton's resi-
His hand trembled as he pulled the bell [? his] heart beat with heavy, painful strokes, [?] memories, both sweet and bitter, agitated him.
A servant let him quietly in, and an [?] ness at once struck a chill to his heart.
"Is Mr Dalton living?" he asked.
"Yes, sir, but very low," was the reply. He led him to the same little reception [?] where he had seen Editha on that day before Christ- mas, and where she had given him that little [? bunch] of holly, and wished him not "Merry Christmas," but "peace, good will" [?]
It came to him now - that sweet [?manner] [?]
strange vividness, and he grew suddenly [?] solemn as he realized that he had indeed [?] "peace" in his heart, and "good will" [? toward him] who had been his life-long enemy.
He gave his card to the servant, and then [?sat down] to wait. Would Editha come to greet him? [?]
himself, and would he be able to [? meet her as] brother should meet a sister ?
(To be continued.)