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where Mr Swayne sat patient with sight of him, and gave a little suphis rheumatism, and even Mrs Preg- pressed sbriek of alarm. “Don't ton's door was ajar. Out of the be alarmed — it is only I, Mrs soft darkness without, into the Preston,” said Jack. He made a closer darkness within, Jack step- step forward and looked at her, as ped with a beating heart. This probably she too was looking at him; was not the pleasant part of it; but they could not see each other, this was not like the sudden de- and it was no comfort to Pamela's light of meeting Pamela—the sud- mother to be told by Jack Brown. den passion of laying hold on her low, that it was only I. and claiming her as his own. He “Has anything happened ?" she stopped in the dark passage, where cried; “what is it? what is it? oh he had scarcely room to turn, and my child !—for God's sake, whodrew breath a little. He felt with- ever you are, tell me what it is." in himself that if Mrs Preston in “There is nothing the matter her black cap and her black gown with her,” said Jack, steadily. “I fell into his arms and saluted him am John Brownlow, and I have as her son, that he would not be come to speak to you ; that is what so deeply gratified as perhaps he it is.” ought to bave been. Pamela was “ John Brownlow, said Mrs one thing, but her mother was Preston, in consternation-and then quite another. If mothers, and her tone changed. “I am sorry I fathers too for that matter, could did not know you,” she said ; " but but be done away with when their if you have any business with me, daughters are old enough to marry, sir, I can soon get a light.” what a great deal of trouble it “Indeed I have the most serious would spare in this world ! But business,” said Jack-it was in his that was not to be thought of. He mind to say that he would prefer had come to do it, and it had to be being without light; but there done. While he stood taking breath would have been something too and collecting himself, Mr Swayne, familiar and undignified for the feeling that the step which had occasion in such a speech as that. crossed his threshold was not his “Wait a moment,” said Mrs wife's step, called out to the in- Prestou, and she hastened out, truder. “Who are you?” cried leaving him in the dark parlour by the master of the house; you himself. Of course he knew it was wait till my missis comes and finds only a pretext—he knew as well as you there; she don't hold with no if she had told him that she had tramp; and I see her a-coming gone to establish a watch for Paround the corner," he continued, mela to prevent her from coming in in tones in which exultation had while he was there ; and this time triumphed over fright. No tramp he laughed outright. She might could have been more moved by have done it an hour ago, fast the words than was Jack. He re- enough; but now to keep Pamela sisted the passing impulse he had from him was more than all the to stride into the kitchen and stran- fathers and mothers in the world gle Mr Swayne in passing; and then, could do. He laughed at the vain with one knock by way of preface, precaution. It was not that he he went in without further intro- had lost all sense of prudence, or duction into the parlour where Mrs that he was not aware how foolish Preston was alone.
a thing in many respects he was It was almost quite dark-dark doing; but notwithstanding, he with that bewildering summer laughed at the idea that anything, darkness which is more confusing stone walls and iron bars, or adthan positive night. Something monitions, or parental orders, could got up hastily from the sofa at the keep her from him. It might be very idiotic—and no doubt it was; standing thus in the young people's but if anybody dreamt for a mo- way. It might be very unamiable ment that he could be made to on his part, but that was unquesgive her up! or that she could be tionably his feeling; and, indeed, wrested out of his grasp now that for one second, so terrible did the he had possession of her — Any prospect appear to him, that the deluded individual who might en- idea of taking offence and running tertain such a notion could cer- away did once cross his mind. If tainly know nothing of Jack. they chose to leave him alone like
Mrs Preston was absent for this, waiting, what could they exsome minutes, and before she came pect? He put his hand upon the back there had been a soft rustle handle of the door, and then with. in the passage, a subdued sound drew it as if it had' burnt him. A of voices, in one of which, rapid- minute after Mrs Preston came ly suppressed and put a stop to, back. She carried in her hand a Jack could discern Mrs Swayne's candle, which threw a bright light voluble tones. He smiled to him- upon her worn face, with the black self in the darkness as he stood eyes, black hair, black cap, and and waited; he knew what was black dress close round her throat going on as well as if he had been which so much increased the gauntoutside and had seen it all. Pamela ness of her general appearance. was being smuggled into the house, This time her eyes, though they being put somewhere out of his were old, were very bright-bright way. Probably her mother was with anxiety and alarm—so bright making an attempt to conceal from that for the moment they were her even the fact that he was there, like Pamela's. She came in and and at this purely futile attempt set down her candle on the table, Jack again laughed in his heart; where it shed a strange little then in his impatience he strode pale inquisitive light, as if, like to the window, and looked out at Jack, it was looking round, half the gates which were indistinctly dazzled by the change out of comvisible opposite, and the gleam of plete darkness, at the unfamiliar Betty's fire, which was now ap- place; and then she drew down parent only through her window. the blind. When she had done That was the way it would have this she came to the table near been natural for him to go, not which Jack was standing.
“ Mr this—there lay his home, wealthy, Brownlow, you want to speak to luxurious, pleasant, with freedom me?" she said. in it, and everything that minis- “Yes,” said Jack. Though his tered most at once to his comfort forefathers had been Brownlows of and his ambition ; and yet it was Masterton for generations, which not there he had gone, but into this ought to have given him self-posshabby little dingy parlour, to put session if anything could, and his life and all his pleasure in life, though he had been brought up at and his prospects, and everything a public school, which was still for which he most cared, at the more to the purpose, this simple disposal, not of Pamela, but of her question took away the power of mother. He felt that it was hard. speech from him as completely as As for her, the little darling! to if he had been the merest clown. have taken her in his arms and He had not felt the least difficulty carried her off and built a nest for about what he was going to say, her would not have been hard—but but all at once to say anything at that it should all rest upon the all seemed impossible. decision of her mother! Jack felt “ Then tell me what it is," said at the moment that it was a hard Mrs Preston, sitting down in the thing that there should be mothers black old-fashioned bigh-backed easy-chair. Her heart was melt- doing, and then it came upon us alt ing to him more and more every at once.” moment, the sight of his confusion He sat down abruptly as he said being sweet to her eyes ; but of this, in an abstracted way; and he course he did not know this - sighed. He had found it out, there neither, it is to be feared, would could be no doubt of that; and he Jack have very much cared. did not hide from himself that this
“Yes,” he said again ; " the fact discovery was a very serious one. was—1—wanted to speak to you It filled his mind with a great —about your daughter. I suppose many thoughts. He was no longer this sort of thing is always an in a position to go on amusing awkward business. I have seen himself without any thought of the her with — with my sister, you future. Jack was but mortal, and know—we couldn't help seeing it is quite possible he might have each other; and the fact is, we've- done so had it been in his power. we've grown fond of each other But it was not in his power, and without knowing it: that is abont bis aspect, when he dropped into the state of the case.
the chair, and looked into the “Fond of each other ?” said Mrs vacant air before him and sighed, Preston, faltering. “Mr Brownlow, was rather that of a man looking I don't think that is how you ought anxiously into the future—a future to speak. You mean you have that was certain—than of a lover grown fond of Pamela. I am very waiting for the sentence which very sorry; but Heaven forbid that (metaphorically) is one of life or my poor girl
death; and Mrs Preston, little ex"I mean what I say,” said Jack, perienced in such matters, and sturdily—“ we've grown fond of much agitated by the information each other. If you ask her she will so suddenly conveyed to her, did
ell you the same. We were not not know what to hink. She thinking of anything of the kind bent forward and looked at him it came upon us unawares. I tell with an eagerness which he never you the whole truth, that you may perceived. She clasped her hands not wonder at me coming so unpre- tightly together, and gazed as if pared. I don't come to you as a she would read his heart; and then fellow might that had planned it what could she say? He was not all out and turned it over in his asking anything from her-he was mind, and could tell you how only intimating to her an unquesmuch he had a-year, and what he tionable fact. could settle on his wife, and all “But, Mr Brownlow," she said at that. I tell you frankly the truth, last, tremulously, "I think-I hope Mrs Preston. We were not think you may be mistaken. My Pamela ing of anything of the kind; but is very young-and so are younow, you see, we have both of us very young for a man.
I hope you found it out.”
have made a mistake. At your age “I don't understand you,” said it doesn't matter so much.” the astonished mother; "what have "Don't it, though ?” said Jack, you found out ?”
with a flash in his eyes. “I can't “We've found out just what I've say to you that's our business, for been telling you,” said Jack-“that I know, of course, that a girl ought we're fond of each other. You to consult her mother. But don't may say I should have told you let us discuss that, please. A fact first; but the truth was, I never can't be discussed, you know. It's had the opportunity-not that I either true or it's false—and we cerwould have been sure to have taken tainly are the only ones who can advantage of it if I had. We went know." on with ing what we were Then there was another pause, during which Jack strayed off make her unhappy, and come beagain into calculations about the tween her and me. future — that unforeseen future “I make her unhappy?” said which had leapt into existence for Mrs Preston, with a gasp. She him only about an hour ago. He who had no hope or desire in the had sat down on the other side of world but Pamela's happiness! the table, and was gazing into the “But I don't even see how it came blank hearth as if some enlight- about. I—I don't understand you. enment might have been found I don't even know what you want there. As for Mrs Preston, her of me.” amazement and agitation were such “What I want?” said Jack, that it cost her a great effort to turning round upon her with woncompose herself and not to give dering eyes—"what could I want way.
but one thing? I want Pamela“Is this all you have to say to that's very clear. Good heavens, me?” she said at last, with trem- you are not going to be ill, are bling lips.
you ? Shall I call somebody? I Then Jack roused himself up. know it's awfully sudden,” said the Suddenly it occurred to him that young fellow, ruefully. Nobody the poor woman whom he had been could be more sensible of that than so far from admiring was behaving he was. He got up in his dismay to him with a generosity and deli- and went to a side-table where cacy very different from his con- there stood a carafe of water, and duct to her; and the blood rushed brought her some. It was the first to his face at the thought.
act of human fellowship, as it were, “I beg your pardon,” he said. that had passed between the two, “I have already explained to you and somehow it brought them towhy it is that I come in such an gether. Mrs Preston took the water unprepared way. I met her to with that strange half-sacramental night. Upon my life I did not lay feeling with which a soul in exany trap for her. I was awfully tremity receives the refreshment cut up about not seeing her; but which brings it back to life. Was we met quite by accident. And it her friend, her son, or her enethe fact was, when we met we my that thus ministered to her ? couldn't help showing that we Oh, if she could only have seen understood each other. After that into his heart! She had no interit was my first duty,” said Jack, est in the world but Pamela, and with a thrill of conscious grandeur, now the matter in hand was the " to come to you."
decision for good or for evil of “But do you mean to say,” said Pamela's fate. Mrs Preston, wringing her hands, “I am better, thank you," she " that my Pamela Sir, she is said, faintly. ? ,
“I am not very only a child. She could not have strong, and it startled me. Sit understood you. She may like you down, Mr Brownlow, and let us
talk it over. I knew this was what “She likes me as I like her," it would have come to if it had said Jack, stoutly. “ It's no use
gone on; but I have been talking struggling against it. It is no use a great deal to my child, and keeparguing about it. You may think ing her under my eyeher a child, but she is not a child ; Yes,” said Jack, with some inand I can't do without her, Mrs dignation, “ keeping her out of my Preston. I hope you haven't any way.. I knew you were doing dislike to me. If you have,” said that.” „Jack, warming up, “I will do any- “ It was the only thing I could thing a man can do to please you; do," said Mrs Preston. “I did but you couldn't have the heart to try to find another means, but it
in a way
did not succeed. When I asked and then a softening came over you what you wanted of me, I was his eyes, and a gleam came into not doubting your honour. But them which, even by the light of things are not so easy as you young the one pale candle, made itself people think. Your father never apparent ; " but for "Pamela-yes. . will consent."
I'll tell you one thing, Mrs Pres“I don't think things are easy,” ton,” he added, quickly, “ I should. said Jack. “I see they are as not call it giving up. I don't mean crooked and hard as possible. I to give up. As for my father, I don't pretend to think it's all plain don't see what he has to do with sailing. I believe he won't consent. it. I can work for my wife as. It might have been all very well well as any other fellow could. If to consider that three months ago, I were to say it didn't matter, you but you see we never thought of it might mistrust me ; but when a then. We must just do without man knows it does matter," said his consent now.”
Jack, again warming with bis subAnd there is more than that," ject, when a man sees it's serious, said Mrs Preston. “It would not and not a thing to be done without be right for him to consent, nor for thinking, you can surely rely upon me either. If you only found it him more than if he went at it out so suddenly, how can you be blindly? I think so at least.” sure of your own mind, Mr John- So saying, Jack stopped,
feeling a and you so young? I don't say little sore and incompris. If he had anything of my own child. I don't made a fool of himself, no doubt mean to say in my heart that I the woman would have believed in think you too grand for her. I him ; but because he saw the graknow if ever there was a lady born vity of what he was about to do, it's—; but that's not the ques- and felt its importance, a kind of tion,” she continued, nervously doubt was in his hearer's heart. wringing her hands again. “If "They not only expect a man to
“ she was
a princess, she's been be foolish, but they expect him to brought up different from you. I forget his own nature," Jack said did think once there might have to himself, which certainly was been a way of getting over that; hard. but I know better now; and you're “I don't mistrust you," said Mrs. very young; and from what you Preston, but her voicé faltered, say,” said Pamela's mother, who, and did not quite carry out her after all, was a woman, a little ro- words ; "only, you know, Mr John, mantic and very proud, “I don't you are very young. Pamela is think you're one that would be very young, but you are content to give up everything for younger than she is,—I mean, you love."
know, because you are a man; and Jack had been listening calmly how can you tell that you know enough, not making much in his your own mind ? It was only toown mind of her objections; but day that you found it out, and tothe last words did strike home. morrow you might find something He started, and he felt in his heart else outa certain puncture, as if the needle Here she stopped half frightened, in Mrs Preston's work, which lay for Jack had risen up, and was on the table, had gone into him. looking at her over the light of the This at least was true. He looked candle, looking pale and somewhat at her with a certain defiance, and threatening. He was not in a senyet with respect. “For love-no," timental attitude, neither was there said Jack, half fiercely, stirred, anything about him that breathed like a mere male creature as hé the tender romance for which in was, by the prick of opposition; her heart Mrs Preston sighed, and