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TICKET-OF-LEAVE MAN. CHAPTER J. (Continued). ha had that moment put on, ht turned to tli» assembled company and grave'r thanked them. With that he m<>Ted away. The f&ruier %sd hia friends stood and watched him as he walked slowly down the avenue through the ram. I suppose there's no doubt the fellow was telliaf bit own story, or what be fancies, or wishes us to fancy, is his own otou* *aid one of the farmer's friends. "No doubt whoever," said the farmer: "and I'R tall you what, if I knew where that man Cudlip, or whatever hit name is, waa to he found, I would fiva hilD. word of warning, not for his own take, but for that of our poor friend yonder. I shouldn't lika saa him come to the gallows. And it ever I saw a man id deadly earnest, that fellow was in CMBewt tttt now." CHAPTER II. TM tramp went on to the village. He paueed » moment at the Red Lion but, M he expected, hit companion of the morning was not there. He had gone on by himself. The partnership of a day WM ftt an asd. Here the wanderer turned. as if he knew hit way, into a lane which was a short cut to the nut village —Stratton, about foar miles off. When he rtachet the outskirts of Stratton be paused at the top of an eminence which overlooked the little town, as if he were reviviag old memories, or pausing to cotaidel his next step. The rain had now ceased, and a oeuntrymaft paaaing just then stopped and began to talk to him. "Do yon know whose house that itfukedttt* wayfarer, pointing to a cottage of a superior clflM which stood at the edge of a plantation a short way et "Tbfttbe Muster Cuthbertson's new heuae M ht built three year ago come spring. ""h"t Not Thomas C'uthbertson ? That's the name, sure enough. Yoa may read ifc for yourself above his shop door in the High-street,* answered the man with an uneasy laugh for he was • little alarmed at the look in the stranger's eye*, and the savage manner in which he wheeled round upoa him when he mentioned the shop-keeper's same. "I thought Toni Cuthfeertson had gone to Loadn," were his nut words. Bo 'e did; but he came back six years ago *r thereby, and seeing that old Drewitt that used to keen the grocer's shop here was gettin' old, Muster Cutnbertson, he bought the stock and goodwill-ohl and I Tt heard he gave as much as sixty pound for ON! Sixty pounds, did he ? And is he—that is, I suf» poee this Mr. Cuthbertsoa is a married man?" Married ? Yes, he's married, sure enough." And who did he marry, do you know?" asked tha tramp. What need have I to ask ?' be mattered nsder his breath. I'Te heard the name, said the man, paueing. The tramp waited a moment, steadying his veiM. Was it Mabel Roberts ?" he asked. "That's it! I was sure T would know the nana if I heard it." A little more talk followed, and the man pauad 0.. The tramp remained where he was, leaning oror a pte. He was trembling from head to foot. For it WM indeed his own life story, and none other, that he bad been telling at the Manor Farm. He himself, Francis Martin, had been unjustly condemned to pMal eerTi- tude. When he had been released, his first iourney had been to seek for C'uthbertson (whom he had spoken of as Cudlip at the farm) with a blind hunger for revenge at his heart. But Cuthbartson was aol to be teen either in London, or at the country village in which he had lived as a boy. And now Martin had found his enemy. He was here, within reach of his hand. There was the roof-tree that sheltered him, and the wire he had obtained by tu blackest of treachery. Now, at last, his tint had come. Martin went over in his memory the wrongs hahad capered at this man's haude-the despair, the con- finement, the cold, and hunger, and hard toil, the utter ruin of his life, and, bitterest of all, the pangs he had endured when be had learned that tha fir! he so pnssionately loved had become his rival's wife. These things demanded vengeance, and Martin ftl his teeth, and swore that revenge he would have. Grasping the money in his pocket, he strada through the villsge at a rapid pace. For when he began to ask himself what form his vengeance should take, t he words of the farmer at the Manor Fana came back to his mind-l think ifs imrt then hkttf/ that I irovli shoot him at tight And in an instant Martin resolved that he would do this thing. B. even justified the act to himself. Had ha sal suffered? Had he not terrible wrongs to avengaf Then, who would avenge him? Not the law, The law had tided with the guilty, and had most craallv pnnisbed him, the innocent. He waa left to Met justice for himself, and he meant to do it. TIa., falsa friend, the perjurer and traitor, should lira so longer to enjoy the fruits of his heartless rilliaaj. He should die die that very night. A few miles beyond Stratton was a larger tova, ah which Martin knew he could purchaae a pistol which would serve his turn. A revolver would not be necessary. No second shot, the tramp said to hitnfelf, grimly, would be required. He found that there was now a railway atation al Stratton, and by taking a train he saved so much tima that he found himself back again before dark. H. had got the murderous weapon ready loaded in bi8 pocket. Tb-re waf little fear of his being recognised; for the village in which he and C'uthbertson had both been brought up was thirty miles away. He walked through the village street till he came to Cuthbert- son's shop. It was crowded with labourers and their wivea, making their Christmas purcbssea. He was not going into the shop to make a dia- turbance before all those people. Not that he feared arrest, or had any hope of escaping. About bit own future he was utterly careless. It was nothing to him whether he lived or died and he cared not a straw whether be took leave of his life on the scaffold, or under some hedgerow, or in the in- firmary of some workhouse. All be wanted was to equaliie matters a little-a very little- belor. he died. It was not fear that hindered Martin from going into the 111.1111 shop and shooting him down on the spot. But it was more fitting that be and hit victim should be together face to face, and alone. Martin did not care that all the world should hear the words he had to speak to the man who bad once been his friend. He walked slowly on in the direction of Cuthbert- son's house, and on his way he overtook a child—a little girl of four years old-erving. Martin spoke to her and toothed her, for he loved children, and among other aimless questions asked her name. "Mabel CuthbertsoB," answered the little one. Martin did not start outwardly, but a cold thrill ran through his veins. For a moment lie gazad at the child, so that the stopped whimpering through pure surprise; then he abruptly hurried away. Mabels child, and her father the man who had betrayed, and entrapped, and ruined him I It waa more than he could bear. He grasped the pistol lying in the outer pocket of his jacket, and gripped the lock so that he cut his hand by bruising it agaiaat the doghead. He rejoiced to think that the time at- his enemy's triumph would not last much longer. When he had passed the cottage in which the Cuthberteons lived, be stopped and looked back. The little girl had begun to cry again, and a young wemaa had come out of the house to meet her. The child ran to her with her tiny arme outspread. The woman gathered her to her bosom, and the crief tomod. The woman did not see Martin; her attention was fixed on the child. But he saw her plainly, though tie winter twilight was falling. He saw her, aad new her. It was Mabel.. lit. took up the child and carried her a few steps, than set her down, and the two went into the cottage faegether. The outeut trembled as he gaied once more at the woman he had loved, but it was only for a moment. He wheeled round, and made for the plantation at the back of the heuse, for he had resolved to wait until Cuthbertson came home from his shop, and then he would cail him ont of the house, reproach him with hia baseness, and shoot him dead. There wonid be Mme time to wait, for even in a village like Stratton the shops would be open late on Christmaa JRve; and it was cold. But Martin cared little for the cold. He chose a spet under the shelter of the trees where be was quite concealed, and from which he could have an uninterrupted view of the house and the lane leading up to it. There lie sat down and waited. CHATTER HI. Wans the church cl.ick struck eleven Martin rose and slowly drew near the c«it:#ge. He was stiff with eold, though he li-id moved about the wood from time to time during these weary hours to keep himself Wtrm- or rather to keep himself in life, for his damp elothes made him shiver as if he had been plunged in ice;-col,d water. Not. a thought, of pity for the child be was about tn make 811 orphan, or for the woman ha was going to make" widow touched llill hear!. He did Dot think or the child at all. As for Mabel, if she should suffer somewhat, so much the better. Had ahe not been fail lilt-ss--vit)ne the lees faithless that she had not plighted her troth to him in wordsv And in any case, what would her suffering be com- pared to what, his had been? It would never do if criminals were tn escape ".o! fiee because their wivea would weep if they were punished. And Cuthbertson waa a criminal whose punishment, long delayed, Was drawing very near. Martin's quick ear deleted a firm le, risk step on the gravel. He moved f<>rw.->rd mere rapiuly. but C'uthbertson waa before hi-u. snd his! «|» a» the co tag* door was quickly answered. Vab>! opened the door, he was admitted, and t he dour was <-loeeJ. He is within, sheltered and warns, happy ana prosperous, while I wander withou! 1 k* a 1" *■ r>t> iomelees aad my l;fe a wrejk, and my ueait Ine abode of devi's Such were the thnc^s in ui'ini. as he moved slowlr on l„*ar Jstbe h.«use.«!id '.hey inflamed his Lnrr to* fer,-r fj a *-e.v sh-ut time after Cnthberfam's arr»ah the cottage. He raised his hand and she 00 -v a Iic-w with his knuckh'S. Who's th«re <"sl ed a I MArt in n«ad» n • answer. He •>; ? Vpi.■••led sga<n. A «tei\ a wouiw'e y'.ep, souyJed "t'jh? !lI« passage inside, and Martin heard Cutbbert&ou'e voice eaying, I'll opoa it." But the next instant the door was unlocked, and Mabel stood before him, fcWaet- loøkiar an" r" f. i fj I M y, n-3 f; tall seen her, eight years before. "Who is there! she repealed, •■•r'ng forwards into the darkness. Of course, tbn <-i i L, recognise him. Even in bro;td uayhflit she mi^ht t o: have known him at fimt.. tko clian,td n&s ,j:(] not know his Toice, which was as mu.b ciiangrd-aa his face from what it once had beet). "I want to see your hu*h«nd," he said, and his voice shook a little in spite of him. She gave a little laugh. "My husband! I have no husband. Tha man wants vou, Torn, I think." No husband! Y'ou have no husband! Cath- bertson! shouted the stranger, as Tom stepped forward. You are Tom Cuthbertson, I know. Te not that girl, Mabel Roberts, your wife?" What's that to you The door opened wider, and a woman bearing a fortnight-old baby in her arms Clm" forward to listen, Martin knew her in a moment. It was Maud. Mabelt sister. Is iie your wife?'" shrieked the poer wreteh. "0otfd God, man, what did run do it for. then?" He trembled, reeled, and fell where ha stood. Mable darted forward, and lifted his bad from the ground, and next taoment loud scream paalad through the house. Its Frauk, Tom! It's Frank himself I Oh, my God, I thank thee! He has come back--he has come baek. Bnt he is ill. He has fainted. Help me into the house with him, Tons. Oh, look how ill he i. I Not another word could Mabel speak, but ahe was determined that the would not break down. Tom Cuthbertson and sbe carried the wayfarer igto the cottage between them, for he could not stir a stap. and they laid him on the bed of the man he had come to murder. When the Christmas bells pealed out their joyful ti drags Martin raised himself on hie elbow and listened. "What's that ringing for, and where am I?" he aakad* gating dreamily around him. They're the Christmaa bells, lad, and yon're at home. A merry Christmas, Frank!" and Tom held oat hia open palm. Martin looked bewildered for a moment, then he aacad steadily into the other's eye!. What he read mere satisfied him. Without a word he placed itis icy fingers in hit old friend's hand. When Frank Martin awoke from a troubled sleep on Christmas morning, he found that he eonld etir neither hand nor foot, and was racked with pain. He had contracted rheumatic fever from sitting so long in the wood in his damp clothes. Per weeks be waa eoafined to bed, and was indebted for the very necee- aarias of life to the man be had thought to kill. The remembrance of hit purpose wae intolerable to him, yet by how thin a line had he been separated from that awful crime! Many a time be told himself that ethers, no more guilty in intention than he, had saver awoke from the fit of blind passion till they toigad themselves in the dock. chap 8 Oaceonly did Cuthbertson allude to the past. I saver believed that you took the money, Frank," he nid. But I have one thing to reproach myself with. Ton asked me to call on Moxon about the MnUllt and I forgot all about it. The first time I laid you that I had forgotten it, but the second or fhird time I was ashamed of my carelessness, and aid 1 bad been to him when I never had. meaning to call the very next day. But- next day I waa sent of to Manchester and so I never had an opportunity of going. I could not for the life of me remember when it was that you first told me to go to Moxon's, but pu know I never imagined that. the matter "II of asy great importance at the time. You can nndar •Bind that, eld fellow ?" a Jkmilv. But I thought, it bad been through was you that tbe note that was traced was paid te my ttfrr.' 4'5hrougb me!" echoed Cuthbertson, with a look of genuine astonishment. "I never said a word to anyone on the subject. It must have been a mere eoincidenct that the guilty man, whoever he waa, should have disposed of tbe note to someone who gad it t* your tailor. There is nothing impossible ia Hot in itself, but taken along with the other thtage It helped to ruin me. I wonder, Tom, bow the money really was stolen ?" I have often wondered, but 1 couli make nothing at >4. I never believed you were guilty, though." Thank yon, Tom.-Thent is just one other thing. I expected, when I came out of prison, to bit yon married to Mabel. Indeed, I was told that the btBM had been put up." I suppose whoever told yon made a mistake in the Christian name," said TOlD. But I confess that at one time I was more than willing to marry her if the would have had me. Only, I nw after your trouble came that it was of no use for me to try. 8ht was simply heartbroken about you, Frank, and ska has let no one say a word of that kind to her eince that day. If I were you—when you get strong agaia —faint heart, you know-" No, Toto. Don't apeak of it. I couldn't aak Mabel to be my wife till my character is cleared, and that, you know, can never be." But it was cleared, not long after this conversa- tion and Mabel herself was the instrument of her lover regaining his good name. He had nearly recovered from his long illness, when, one <day, the came to him trembling aud hardly able to speak. In her hand she carried a newspaper, which the held out to him. U Look; look!" she gasped, as she saak down on the nearest chair. Martin was astonished. He took the paper, won- dering how anything in it could possibly affeet him. The paragraph Mabel pointed out contained an account of the trial and conviction of Abel Moxoa for perjury and forgery, in swearing that he bad paid a sum of money that he had never paid, and forging a receipt for it. Then the truth flashed for the first time into the mind of the unfortunate Martin. It was evident that he must have torn out tuo receipt-forms from his book the last time Moxon had paid him, and by accident handed them buth to him. Moxon, discovering this, had turned the acci- dent to his own advantage by tracing Martin's signa- ture on behalf of his firm upon the blank receipt- form, merely inserting (in figures) the sum he waa then owing in the body of the receipt. The same signature, traced over again on the back of a cheque drawn by himself, and cashed by a confede- rate, had enabled him to complete the crime, The facte were laid before the Home Secretary of tbe day, and Martin's character waa re-established, in the first place by his receiving a free pardon from the Crown, and in the second place by his being offered by his old employers a more important pea* than that which he had formerly held. All this, of course, took some time aid it "II set natil April that Martin found himself hack in the old office and mingling with the comradee he had never expected to see again. In the August following he went back to Stratton, end his friends there hardly knew him, oo greatly had his new life, and the consciousness of the respect of his fellow mea. altered his appearance and his bearing. During that visit Mabel and he were betrothed; and the next time the bells of Stratton Church rang the Christmas pea), they ushed in the loveri wedding msraing. na m.