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AMONG THE SHOALS; OR, TRACED…

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AMONG THE SHOALS; OR, TRACED BY A PORTRAIT. BY CYRIL HATHWAY. Continued.) CHAPTER II. It was the day after the funeral-and St. Joseph's Square, hushed even with silence deeper than usual by the thick mantle of snow which had fallen for days, looked dreary and dismal in the extreme. Such people as were about crept close to the houses, and shivered as the biting wind blew in fitful gusts round corners, and from dark passages. Richard De Caux sat in the rcom which bad been his father's studio and library. It was cold, but no fire burned in the grate, and theugh the young man trembled and shivered, it was not from the chilly at. mosphere. A burning fever of mingled grief, doubt, hope, and fear was consuming him and occasionally, as he glanced from an ancient bureau to a key which lay before him on the table, he made an effort to rise, but as often resumed his seat. What new horrors are in store for me ?" he mur- mured. "What other miseries will be unravelled? I even shrink from learning the truth Oh I Ethel my sister," he wailed, dropping his head upon his outspread hands were it not for you I could bear this and more!" Oh I that she may have the strength to bear this bitter blow She is all that is left for me to love now I" He roused himself, and dashing away the tears which had gathered in his eyes walked steadily across the room, and unlocked the bureau. Now for the secret drawer," said he. "I am unac- quainted with it, but patience—patience, a minute back I was shrinking from my duty, and now I am burning to have those papers within my grasp." He tried every handle, knob, and suspicious look ing projection without success, but presently what he took for a knot of wood caught his eye. On close examination he found it to be a disc of painted metal which yielded to his touch, and communicating with a spring caused a portion of the woodwork to slip aside, and reveal an open drawer. It contained a quantity of papers tied with green tape, and heavily sealed with wax of the same colour, a few old trinkets, among which was a gold locket containing a miniature, which Richard recognised as the portrait of his mother when she was but a girl. It was so like what Ethel was now that the young man gazed at it affectionately, and pressing it reverently to his lips, placed it in his pocket then taking the pape-s he closed the bureau, sat down by the window, and bursting the seals read— HIS FATHER'S STORY, My name is Richard Clare, but before I begin this my history of long and terrible suffering-a history of misplaced trust, and ingratitude -I must state that I desire that these papers may be consumed by fire should I not survive my wife. "No good can come of making my story known to the world then; for I shall rest in my grave as Richard De Caux, and Richard Clare will have no name save in the horrible annals kept by the police. Sometimes a dreadful feeling comes over me that my identity is suspected, and that I am being watched, and it is for that reason I pen this narrative of my wrongs and sufferings, and if I am taken back to the living death I escaped from, I charge my wife to place these papers in my son's hands that he may seek out the villain who has destroyed my happiness through life, and my peace of mind. The past! When I think of it my brain fails to guide my hand, and the pen falls from my nerveless fingers. But J: must go on, for omens of late have told me that I am losing power and strength of mind. "I was born at a flourishing little town in England. My father, a silk-mercer, died at the age of fifty, leaving me the business, but little capital wherewith to conduct it, for my mother and three sisters were then living, and due provision had been made for them by my father's will, and I therefore looked about me for a suitable partner. I often wished that the money left by my father had remained in the business, and that we had all shared the profits, but such an arrangement being in direct opposition to the provisions of the will it was abandoned, and I put my shoulder to the wheel, earnestly bent upon making a fortune, and settling down comfortably in my declining years. "It was necessary that I should give and receive credit, and for these reasons I looked about for an energetic young man with a couple of thousand pounds at his command. About that time I was introduced to Ethel Jerney. We met at a bail, and I fell in love with her at first sight. Time passed away, and as I renewed my attentions I saw to my delight that she favoured me, but she warned me to keep the matter secret from a certain Isaac Matthison, who had offered her his heprt and hand. "This was strange, for to all appearance Isaac Matthison and I were the best of friends. He was a native of a town a few miles distant from where we lived and like myself, was the son of a silk- mercer, "I had often observed that he spoke tenderly of Ethel Jerney, but it never struck me to look upon him in the light of a rival. Clare,' he said to me one day, 'I hear that you are going to marry Ethel Jerney.' Who told you so?' I asked. I My dear fellow,' said he, 'one cannot keep any- J thing secret now-a-days. A little bird whispered the news to me, so you may as well confess to the truth. I wish you joy and don't think for a moment that I feel any envy. You may have heard that I made Miss Jerney an offer. That is so, but I am man enough to accept my position. Give me your hand, and lend me your ears. I want to have a few words with you on business matters^ 'Well,' said I,' you -have surprised me but as the truth has eked out it is useless to conceal it any longer. I am going to ask the consent of Ethel's father this very evening, and have no doubt but that I-, Shall succeed,' Isaac Matthison interposed, with- out lifting his eyes, which had been fixed on the floor for some minutes. I hope so, with all my heart. But, see here, Clare don't you think you are in too great a hurry to get married ?" 'Hurry! not I,' I replied. 'There is plenty of time. I intend to find a partner, and increase the business first.' 'And on that subject I came to speak to you,' Matthison said. Will you take me ? I have fifteen hundred pounds in cash, with expectations of more and if we can agree there is a sure fortune to be made. Pehaw man don't hesitate. Say yes or no. If a thought of Ethel Jerney troubles you let it do so no longer, for I have written her a letter wishing her joy, and hoping that she will still regard me in the light of a friend.' The matter was not settled that day nor the next. I saw Ethel Jerney, and she, believing that she had taken an unjust dislike to Matthison, declared that nothing would please her better than to see us partners. And so it happened, and six months passed away. We flourished, or at least seemed to do so, and I was tempted to purchase some shares in a thriving mining company. But little did I dream that whilst so happy, I had been treading the edge of a smouldering volcano, ready to burst and devour me at a moment's notice. "Isaac Matthison attended principally to the monetary matters of the firm. He drew and accepted bills, attended to the banking accounts, and would by no means trust a subordinate with a cheque, or even with a journey to the bank. I sometimes wondered at it, but my mind was not troubled. I trusted him in everything, and believed implicitly in the figures set out before me. One morning I was sitting at my desk, when two efgeers entered the office, and arrested me for forging bills for five thousand pounds on Messrs. Towler and Son, merchants with whom we had large dealings. "Taken back, and aghast, 1 could not speak, but only gaze at the men for further explanation. 'Here is my warrant, Mr. Clare,' said one of the men. You must come with us, if you please.' "I went with them, more dead than alive, with a vague idea that I had been struck by a heavy weapon, and was struggling to rouse myself to consciousness. "I was taken before the magistrates, and the evidence was black against me. The signatures of Towler and Son were found traced on my blotting- pad, while in the drawer of my desk some scraps of paper were found which, when put together, formed the name of the firm whose name had been forged. "I protested, and called upon Isaac Matthison, in the name of mercy, to declare how it could not Be possible for me to be guilty, but he only shook his head mournfully. The trial came on, and I stood in a felon's dock conscious of my own innocence, and with the awful knowledge that Ethel Jerney lay upon a bed of sick- ness brought on by the sudden and awful accusation. Some friends rallied round me, others scouted me t\t *lat^ been seized with leprosy, but Isaac Matthison played a middle part. me ,n ?ao'j sympathised with me one lM«t tv>« I,i? nnplored me to confess the next, but at him of the'Seaand J 1°^ &U Pat!ence and accused > ancl he left me saying :— world roundr tST CI? 1 .would" have walked the Now look to yourself?' 8^rvlce' Sullty or not Sullty- "I was convicted. I Writo tv,„ r i. n i i. words because there is no need Vol '"n 6 u /f imw T J? neea to dwell upon the horrors of how X was first condemned to suffer it the hangman s hands, or how mv vrmtv, » SSPSS! « SISRS Lost to the world, associated per force with the lowe-t and vilest criminals that ever trod the earth, m? life was almost unendurable, but there was always a gieam of hope in my heart that the truth would come out one day or the other. But years rolled on, and I was released conditionally, and went to work on a sheep farm. My master died, and left me money I received permission to trade myself, and luck favour- ing me, I had soon nothing to grumble at, in a worldly sense. "But Ethel—my love—my darling, her face and form haunted me day and night, and at last I hit upon the bold resolve to escape. I succeeded, and arrived at Liverpool, and wrote from there to Lth^l acquaint- ing her where I was. Her parents were dpei, ana sne had few relations who could even claim am otion trom her and with her dear, old trusting lovo she came to me, declaring that she had no rest but in my heart, and that she would die for me. "We were married under assumed names, and came here to live, and Richard de Caux and his wife and children have dwelt contented and happy within the shadow of the cathedral spire which rears itself up towards the Heaven where I hope to find peace, and surcease from sorrow at last. Innocent, I declare I am of any crime. Ouilty Isaac Matthison is. How can I prove it? I hear the person who reads this manuscript ask this question. Proofs I have none, beyond that soon after my con- viction he renewed his offers to Ethel, but she rejected him with scorn and taxed him with the guilt that rested on my shoulders. Moreover, he appropriated shares both in the firm's name, and mine, and van- ished from England. It is said that he is dead. It may be so, but I cannot believe that just Providence will send me to the grave with the secret I have held so long. "I have painted Isaac Matthison's portrait from memory, but it is as like him as if he had sat for it. Find him Bring him to my feet in the hour of repentance, of remorse, and it "I forget what I intended to add to the foregoing. A giddy feeling came over me, and I awoke to find that it is growing dark, and my daughter-Heaven bless her !-is knocking at the door. I have not been sleeping, and yet--yet how time flies. It is almost night now." This was the end of the manuscript, and as Richard read the last line he put the document in his breast pocket, and leaving the house, walked about bt, Joseph's Square for hours, paying no heed to the last falling snow, or the cruel biting wind But as he went along1 and mused upon what he had been reading, it dawned upon him why the name of "Matthison" had been whispered to him in such tremulous tones by his dying mother.

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