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STREAKED WITH GOLD.! BY R. E. FRANCILLON, t Author of "Earl's Dene," "Queen Cophetua.' National Clmracieristics," &c., &c. CHAPTER VI. PHILIP THOBNFIELD'S FOLLY. "Eureka I am Philip the First, Emperor of the World!" It was the twilight before night; but slowly, calmly, clearly, like the growth of twilight into day, the Great Secret opened itself at last to his But it was not by the side of a cradle. It was a Secret of another order that had, for one passing foment, revealed itself there. The Dragon (as the old alchemist would have said) uncoiled himself from behind a cold and empty furnace into a poverty-stricken room. It was still a laboratory in which Dr. Thornfield secluded himself, but otherwise it was the most unlikely part of the whole world for gold-seeking—a foul court, or father den, in what was then the worst of the London rookeries. Here, with the grandest of all careers stretching plainly before him, he was buried out of sight and out of mind. From this moment, however, he held more than the purse of Fortunatus in his hand. After his first exclamation he turned faint with the sudden fiash of light that revealed Earth's arch-mystery. for the first time, to a living man. He flung open the window and drank in the foul air of the.filt.hy COUrt as if it had been that of Caer Groes itself. lilo had done what scienco believed impossible. I ^d what genius itself had hitherto only dreamed. One crucial experiment, and then!— He looked at his cold furnace and his exhausted delves. He thrust his hands into his pockets, and glanced round with a curious smile. Another joke of Nature! She has waited to tell me her secret till 1 am beyond the power of Rising enough pence to light my furnace—and the Experiment will swallow a hundred pounds!" It was indeed a jest, and something more. Philip Thornfield was literally in the place of the man Who starved to death because he was the owner of diamond too costly to find a purchaser. He knew how to fill the world with gold, and could hot lay his hand on a paltry hundred pounds. What wis to be done ? "Why if I was to poison all my patients gether and charge double fees for curing them, I eould not get a tenth of the sum. I might go on Minting out blackeyesandplastering broken noses ror a hundred years before I could scrape together hundred shillings. It is enough to send one mad rage! And suppose I could get the money by year's hard work under a porter's knot, what ? Am I to slave for others with such a secret iJ) Day head and risk dying mean while ? Why I Inigbt di-? to-morrow—it is just the sort of trick tbat Nature likes to play. I might as well wait for a hundred years as a hundred hours. I must t to work now—instantly. Is there nobody to gfrom-nobodv to borrow from ? Bah People don.'t lend on the security of an idea. I should them out of their wits with the million per l:It. per hour I should offer them. What in the e of all the devils is to be done?—Come in, and Confound you, whoever you are!" The door freaked open slowly, and a little looked man, with a bald head, wrinkled face, and 1linting eyes, entered in a singular fashion. appeared the tip of his nose, then one foot, one finger, until piece by piece, almost hair, he had crept round the door. Good evening, doctor," he said in a shrill "'h' « At work, I see—what a lot of pills you 0 ^ be sure! I just looked round to ask if engaged in the great case of Pat the Brick- r against Green-eyed Jim; if you're not, allow ble to offer you a retainer for the plaintiff, if you Mease." before I ask you what you mean, perhaps 0u'Il tell me who you are?" asked Philip Thorn- 5e5 roughly. Why, mercy on us, don't you know me ? Wrhy ^erybody knows me. Or if they don't they'll "We to." Then go to yourself, if that's what you are." Dear, dear me You do mo too much honour ¡'to sure. I'm Mr. John Hall-Mr. Jack'al they al1 me in fun-if you don't know confidential managing clerk to Messrs Lyon, whose eiten. criminal practice can scarcely be unknown, -hough you may not know—nobody knows—how what ic the name of misfortune have I Uo 6 ^°U s,)0uic^ me for a lawyer ? Why 5"°u bring vour briefs here ?" "N • 0 su—vas onl>" a figure of speech, o y 4 little fun. A highly interesting client of > with whom the course of business has put on somewhat intimate terms, happens to be a lghbour of yours, and, happening to require dical advice, he asked me to apply to you. As o w J y 11 as I heard your name I said,' The very man doctor, you mayn't know me, but I know you. li long and short of it js, sir, that our friend and and your neighbour, Pat the Bricklayer, training, sir; training in good hands— ds like yours, heavy enough to knock him oWn if he disobeys orders, as well as pick him I have put a little money upon my friend between you and I, a.nd I mean him to win." To think that I, with what I have in my mind, ould be asked to train a bricklaver for a prize bght!—x0» Oh, doctor, don't say that!" Wait a bit—on one condition !—I'll take him r a hundred pounds, paid down." b' A hundred pound Impossible, doctor. Train Itn, you know, and back him." fro. How could I get a hundred pounds out of ch a business ? Out of a trumpery costermonger's ffair such as that would be ? You are a lawyer's aUagjng clerk, are you ? Tell mo how to get a inched pounds befori to-morrow." t "Dear me! To think of the Dr Thornfield ? Member so well in former days living in Eden 0llrt and wanting a hundred pounds!" give hundred thousand—no, that's too Ig-h to catch anybody—I'd give double, at least, In. a vreek to anybody who would wet me a hundred Ollnds to-day." "Ah, I see forgotten me, doctor. Will You give me your I 0 U for the two hundred Pounds—I dare say it will be worth nothing, but I risk nothing—if I tell you how to pet thou- 1411 <3s in the twkling of an eje." '1 Two In nd All the thousands you can get tne, exefpt one hundred pounds." There—i ut your name to that, if you ease. Th; nk you, doctor. I had the of er grossing your marriage settlement. J1—-I was clt rL" to your good lady's attorneys llll1 was dism—hm!—■ till I exchanged the hwof l'e¡¡,l property for a more criminal, and I may say a profitable, branch of the law; and a good of mine in their office informs me there is a arge portion of Mrs. Thornfield's income of which have never received one penny. There, sir, if ^r'u like to empower our firm-" II Never! Not one penny would I touch if I Carved sooner!" ( Dear me I never h(Jard Qf guch & But 5 our branch of the profession we're always heai- J*g things we never heard of. indeed, I may go so as to say I'm never surprised but when I'm surprised. May I ask you why are gp lInpatient for this hundred pounds ?" 8i mmiumentum qwzns if you want to know ground and see." ^ear, dear me! If I on'7 ^alf-a-crown °Ut me—have you no friends who could heln i'ou ?» » th ^ave no friends. I have begged of them till have-forgotten my name." nothing you could sell ?" .1 t> ( %self—nothing more." fror pledge?" frothing but my bare word/* Wouldn't you borrow ?" u M my name has gone the round of ajl the usurers ^London." I, And you won't train poor Pat ?" 'Yes I will—for a hundred pounds." th» Jhen that hundred P°und you must have— 8 clear. Will you kindly promise me, sir, if ,tQu dislika my suggestion, net to kick me down- "^irs ?» "I kick you!" v Thank you, doctor. Then-you must know bUSIness connection, which is a tolerably large f.j bas put it into my power to aid my friends in >j "ays than ensuring them the valuable ser- of Messrs. Lvon if they get into trouble. In 'O\;t. J tro I may say I save them from getting into Ule. The great difficulty felt by all our clients ,18ts in the disposal of their effects—you under- Ah, sir, if it were not for me, and such as e, the country would simply be ruined by the «, 5e of prosecutions—it would, indeed area philanthropist, then ? Well—appear- "I are deceitful things." \\> f Y0111ike to put it that way, I won't say buj- am. But, that's neither here nor there, mean is, my legal connection leads, I may say, to ■ trade connection, so to put it; and a good say, to trade connection, so to put it; and a good man}' of my clients make a good bit more than a hundred pound, and nobody the wiser but me and the post. I like to extend my connection, sir, whenever opportunity offers, and if you should find yourself encumbered at any time with an odd spoon or two, or even a gold watch, or a diamond or so, I give a fair price for a good article, and ask no questions." t Oho! you're what they call a 'fence,' then? I beg pardon of appearances most humbly for call- ing them names." They may call it a fence, sir, or they may call it the ace of spades I never quarrel over words." "Nor do I. Steal, foh! The wise do call it con- vey.' What—kick the man who is telling me how to get a hundred pounds ? I would do anything— but touch my wife's money—for a hundred pounds The grand law of nature must not be lost for the sake of any lawyers' law that ever was made. How do your thieves go to work, Mr. Hall, if you please?" My clients, sir, if you please." No—your thieves. If I'm not afraid of the thing, I'm not afraid of the name." Sometimes one way—sometimes another. Now —just for a suggestion—what do you think of writing a good name, now? I know a bank-" No. I don't tell lies." Dear me You are very hard to please." "Not at all. I only want something certain- straightforward—something not too hard for an amateur Well—let me see—I've heard talk about a nice little thing—but no, sir; burglary, as they call it is a profession you can't do much that way un- less you begin as a boy. Wait a bit—there's a friend, a very old and dear friend of my own, who's safe to have something on hand, and who will be proud, sir, to work with a man of your fighting weight—his line is simple, sir, as a child. His friend, sir, that he used to work with, has had the misfortune to fail into the hands of my em- ployers they'll get him off, sir, but for the present he must wait till they do. I'll go to him at once, and give him an introduction to you. You'll find him a remarkably nice, quiet person, and as honest as the d'1,y-and as to his doing you any little sorvice, he'll be safe to take a hint from me. And about poor Pat, doctor ?" As soon as I have that hundred pounds, he shall pound anybody ho likes into a hundred jellies." All this happened a long time ago. It may be that Mr. John Hall is a creature of the past, and that again may be the reason—to adopt his own logic—that gaols in these days are so remarkably well filled. But that there were once such scoundrels is as certain as that there were once thief-takers; and—despite the fullness of the gaols—it may be that they have left descendants here and there. It must not be supposed that Dr. Thornfield walked into Mr. Hall's clutches blind- fold. He knew what he was about perfectly. He only wanted a hundred pounds at once—and that was enough for the man who did nothing by halves. And surely it would have been the rankest folly to sacrifice the Great Secret of ages for the sake of a scruple. Philip Thornfield was NOW a full philosopher, and no longer a fool. So long ago was it that few are old enough to remember how letters, at a heavy cost, travelled always slowly and not always safely, and how people, instead of rushing along the Great Northern Railway and grumbling at forty miles an hour, crept along the Great North Road and talked of eleven miles an hour as a wonder of speed. It is true that highwaymen had nearly died out as a race, and had wholly lost the prestige that, in popular estimation, confuses Dick Turpin and Robin Hood in a common mist of fame. But the elements of singularity and danger gave a zest to the enterprise in the mind of the robber for science' sake who now rode with Mr. Hall's quiet friend along that same North Road. Now, as always, the magnificent physique and personal influence of Philip Thornfield gave him the lead, and the experienced, professional thief was, as Mr. Hall had predicted, proud to work in such company. The doctor was an honour to the road—in him the glorious days of Claude Duval seemed likely to revive again. The excitement of the affair, the novelty of the situation, the contrast, almost amounting to humour, between the student and his business, excited Philip Thornfield's mind not unpleasurably—he felt that fortune was with him now, and, throwing himself with his unfailing thoroughness into the spirit of the enterprise, joked and laughed with his companion, who must have thought that never, in all his days, bad he met with so cool a hand. At last" Here it comes!" said the quiet man. The proceeding was, as all works of art should be, swift to the point and simple in its form. The mail coach was brought to a stand, the guard per- mitted without objection or hindrance to discharge a barrel that contained no ball, the reins cut, and the guard and coachman bound. All this was in the programme, and had been, by a judicious regulation of accidents, accurately arranged— thanks, it may be presumed in some measure, to the help of Mr. Hall behind the scenes. The pas- sengers were to be all women, and the contents of the boot and letter-bags were sufficiently well- knownlo make the expedition well worth while. But what is this ? A shot rings from the inside of the coach; a man's face appears at the window a bullet whistles past the quiet man's ear. With a loud oath the quiet man, put out of temper—as well he might be by so unexpected an interruption—discharged his pistol at the window —and Philip Thorn field's blood ran cold. He heard a child cry out sharply with pain. All for an instant was wild confusion. The coach door was thrown open and a gentleman leaped out, holding a second pistol in his hand. Bring him down cried the quiet man to Thornfield. "My bullet is gone." But Philip did not hear. After twelve long months he had been reminded of Letty's cry. He had not lost his head, but his heart had leapt back from the crucible to the cradle. He had perhaps helped to murder a child like his own. Instead of firing he ran towards the door, and, seeing that the passenger turned to cover him, threw his pistol away, and called out, A child in the coach is wounded—I am a sur- geon Meanwhile the guard, unguarded, had time to free himself, and V) take up the loaded pistol that Philip had thrown down. The true men to the thieves were now two armed to two unarmed men. Cursing him for a. coward and a marplot, not to speak of less presentable names, the quiet man rode off as fast as his horse would carry him. Hold your fire!" said Philip I am a surgeon; let me see the child." It was not Letty, as he had almost hoped, and wholly feared. It was only a little girl, older than she could have been, lying in the arms of a half fainting lady, but not much the worse for her adventure. "Fool—ten thousand times a fool!" exclaimed Philip Thornfield as he lay that night in Newgate. You have sold the Great Secret for a baby's And—what was worse—the Great Secret had faded from his mind like a dream, beyond power of recall. (To be continued.)





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