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[ALL EIGHTS EESEEYED.] GUILTY m HOT GUILTY: BY WILLIAM VVESTALL. CAt7T:aOR OF «' AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT," WITH THE RED EAGLE," THE OLD FACTORY," &c.) I CHAPTEE IX. Qr^en Grime was gone Vera 'went to Mrs. 1 1 Wa8 lying on a eofa, pale, anxious, "c exhausted. •lie has been speaking to you again?" •iQJe ^s> and, as he said, with your permis- Keati-p. true?" asked Vera, speaking "It i 0Ugh feeling indignant. *anted trUe. could not help it, dear. He to f0r me to use my influence in his favour, That 't6 y°U. as far as I could, to accept him. ftjjj). refused absolutely, but at last, to t° hjeSe and got rid of him, I consented I saying that he had my permission, for fte you would refuse him all the same, ,Anr|C<-arse' you did. his 1,1 such a way as I think -will prevent telijn 6r ^stering me again. But there is no hLJ thought I had done that already. J *8 hA Sa?se 1 refused him he threatened me, I ll^rrv ^efore- What a cad the man is! ''jjn r1*111! I would rather shoot him!" Ohris+- °hild! hush! That is a very un- fcad *an sentiment. I am afraid Caleb is a him'•n' tixat no rea3on for bating t° *8 a. very good reason for having nothing tOn 10 wIth him. Oh, mother, dear, why do lIe et Caleb worry you in this dreadful way? tll. ji6Yer. comes that he does not make you flon't orbld him the house, or, at any rate, "Ii he at home to him." I "wish I could! But I cannot. I—I ..■g Vera." su ^y? What is there between you? I be a^fe can I36 nothing of which you need •Wee med- Won't you give me your confi- w'nand if y°u must see him again, .111 see him together." ,1.n°l that is impossible. I could not." Ur. p • make a confidante of somebody else— ^rt°n, for instance, who would advise to th Se*y' anc^ a way Pitting an end t fe 18 Persecution, which, if it continue, will, ^80, he your death—for my sake, dear," I Vera, taking both her mother's in hers. "Oh ^rey wept. if ra> you are the child of my heart, «o; j "Were possible," she moaned. "But caQnot make a confidante even of Mr. '« a I must bear my cross alone. It tft6 Yrh mine' dear. You will believe life ^en I say that I have never in all my GOd done aught that would not bear the light. it jg °,rkid that I should be self-righteous; yet s'rive simple truth that I have always after righteousness according to the I •eejv, vouchsafed to me, andi it does Co^ hard that these trials should ij} to me now when I am weak ,:nUt ,bealth and getting into years. 8U(j j^hom the Lord Joveth He chasteneth,' Jfty-gt 8ubmit humbly to His will, even to the Orj^ ri°ue dispensation which Caleb the instrument, whpm, though I liked b^Q(j, °t> I have befriended for my dear hus- bfe 0va sake. Yet—don't fear, Vera—all will lH-jy er"rUled for good, and, whatever Caleb STlre or do, your future shall be made is not thinks me very weak, but the battle th6 »ays t0 etron? nor the race to CfiiwVer mind me, mother. I am young, and you ffor myself, and if I could only free ^our this malign influence, and eajse "Y0j 1Qd of this mysterious burden a/ are ri=ht, child it is a burden to Qod Mystery to you, and so must remain. t; lHisera?^d that I should make you as 'fheek • af myself; there are complications, tearins WIthm wheels, and the credit of a God- tQne g family, and those that are dead and atld IT Trrto '3e considered. I must bear it, •trenon, ^510 said. 'As thy day so Shall thy And ti wil1 mjr helper." Weaken h n ^rs" ^rey' whose voice had ^Urmri^to a whisper, closed her eyes, and perhaTj1* •a and Vera, who thought, "rambT r^^tly, that her mother had been faint an(* feared she wae going to kep some smelling salts, and bathed Wb. ead and hande with eau de Cologne. his J,, ^fime asserted that Mrs. Grey was in Soinet^^Gr~nieaning thereby that he knew thing1" JL'i? *°. ^cr Personal discredit, some- l k- revealed would bring her to Sood h sh6 ^cea younger, and v era'R ?aJth, would probably have taken .^den ?rvic€~set him at defiance, and for- i, lm ^er house. But, with rare excep- Mrg_ L ad health sapsi the etrongest will, and Wa/ n°t* among the exceptions, and from well, nence Caleb, playing *«t -i ea,? an exposmre, which for her at thl i* have been no disgrace (though -l0'" ani^ ^0T which she was in no t)¡en.t responsIble, was making her life a tor- Vii n hypnotised her in euch sort v r (Presence and his threats paralysed er8el* iTor the time being, but when left to She her volition revived somewhat, and th Ca_st about in her mind for a way of j Miat hiB scllemes> while seeming to do the -i -^e desired. It was a contest between C„nnVlt °f a weak and ailing woman and the jjeln?r of a greedy and unscrupulous man. Vera was sorely perplexed. l{r8 „ had evidently obtained a hold over <lnd' Grey, which he was using to her undoing, -af' though utterly unable to cope with Oaug^ °uld neither confide in her adopted nor eeeic advice elsewhere. Yet rd tolng ou^ht to be done. What, it was N'op v^say' and Vera could not as yet eee. aleb k*1'8 ^er °nly cause for disquiet,. ?,ected i .hinted a suspicion that she had pother because she had preferred threatened that if it were go do his unnamed rival an injury. It !» io&ri Impossible that he should have Jjd' uGt attachment to Harold, and she £ re vr eiieve that he could harm him. Yet N vrgjJ** no knowing, and Harold ought to 111 of had refrained from telling it, D Caleb's first proposal, and the manner. w* 'Pea^17 J)ecause she hated either to think f rn ?' 't' Part|y because she thought it ♦ 1 Pur a Harold angry, and serve no use- hj now it seemed her duty to -tai, everything. Moreover, if she laid to matter before him, he might be *8 fo» ,^lve her advice as well for her mother The ^If. "ttend next day being Sunday, she meant to llarVfn^ns^.service as usual, and hoped to y<idi °* as there were visitors at Mount, he might be unable to get ^thber^d so it happened. Vera went to St. h but her lover came not, and she !>ib £ me sorrowful, yet not aggrieved, being jj'ay to know that, however it en^th true love, engagements that are °agement« cannot, in the nature of > It hkriU? smooth. }ett been arranged between them that v?rs to him should be addressed to the > bG 18 to her under cover to Mies' Carton— aUy CaatIae the Fairmead letters were gene- Qf rried up to Mrs. Grey with her y6a'• an 8^e always wanted to know et v era's were from, and Vera invariably jOq tj.tea<i them. '.4roici e following morning she wrote to *hoat' Baying she would like to see him h 8oiaething important," and asking ?efofe could come "to the Vicarage. But >rell ^sting her letter she thought it would J^viQg to call there, on the chance of his 7° ^6 J'rittcn to her over-night. Tliis proved ett*«r j/16 ca»e. Miss Carton handed her a j^rjUig^. ^hich Harold explained that, as she hi ^c11 impossible for him to a ijJ* ,V!8itors, and that, as he was starting he v,neaa Journey to London next morn- it0 8&e .aIl0l,ld be unable, to his great regret, toDfvfP untii the following Sunday, when J.- Usn i ^°- ^er at t^le ^icaraKe about t 8 Lonrt t'me- conclusion, he gave her ° hin, PTP11 address, and asked her to write ihere" "A ]0vas another disappointment. ln^i"letter ou^ht to bring joy, yet you very happy. Nothing wrong, I .\r e;a. ernarked Miea Carton anxiously. "A an<^ Miss Carton smiled. Je," ^PPointment truly, yet not a great f Ea*d- "You will survive Harold's C^se 0f°r a week. Besidee, in the ordinary 'Jefo1'e y, things, you would not see him "It is ext Sunday." « Present1 ^at> Miss Carton. I know that h?Cft8ion Circumstancee we can meet only '•? ^dvirf 7' Eut just now I have need of ?ere th' returned Vera. ^ere Vicar appeared. v.t'tch 1. 8 a particular friend of youra at Una- ast night, Miss Grey. Did you 6ee J.I1(luired. Ba '■r. ci».- you mean?" she answered. Y a As he came late, took a back liVni Wcis °ne of the first to leave, you I am vy ^id not see him." v *ou riery Siad to eay I didn't." ^v°^le <j0°? t like Mr. Grinjp? Very few Co^tch, t' v ^inl^- He seldomfeoes to his own to rJ?6^eye. I wonder what made him it 6 vic e ?" 0n-' though he did not say so, fancied att havi"^ °n ^era'8 account. He thought th eManP heard of Harold's occasional j (jr.t 6be Ce at 81. Cuthbert's, and knowing han al^y went to evening service, hft„ Coin6 to spy, and felt pleased that haulked. In-a further talk with her friends bej 8 and €* an(^' observing fresh wheel the f^I'of1_prints in the drive, and "n^art „ rant door, asked one of her maids ^called. n8,' and two other gentlemen, 8°in*eeiiied V? answer. self to c "^r- Grime, and no end. Was he oth„aIm0st ^ne every day? Vera asked her- *°°ih ^eDtle1Q terr°r; and who were the two iiie • e*ne„?en' She went into the morning- the lD»e Mrs. Grey half faint- 8k°Wed t a" But, though pale, and her "i S'tfteaces °f recent excitement, she &lf" another visit from Caleb," ahe said. "He wanted me to sign something, and I brought two of his clcrks as witnesses." "And you signed it without advice! you think that you should have seen Air. Wadham first?" asked Vera in alarm. Caleb was quite capable of making her mother execute a will drawn up by himself or sign, all her property away. "I did not sign it. dear. Strength wasi; given mo to refuse, for which I am truly thankful. He was, very angry, and hinted that he would get his ends another wa;r. However, I got rid of him, and I hope he wiR. trouble us no more." Vera hoped the same, but she had hOT" doubts. On the following Saturday, and on her OWE. proposal, Mrs. Grey accompanied Vera to tb»> Vicarage, and after tea asked the favour of i;t few minutes' private conversation with Mr. and Miss Carton in the study, whjch, off course, they granted; yet, thinking that sh?i had somehow discovered that Vera arid Harold were courting, not without a feeling of uneasinesis. It was a relief to find that ail she wanted was their names as witnesses to3 a will, which she eigned in their presences after obtaining from each of them a prom ? e not to mention the circumstance "to anybody whatever" while she lived. "I may tell you in confidence," she add<*l, <"that I am leaving all the real property tin ftust for Mrs. Cortice's children, nothi ng whatever to Caleb and his sisters, and to Vf ra. all the personalty, except a few small legacies, one of which is a sum of five hundred poui idsi to the endowment fund of St. Cuthbent's Church." On which the vicar very warmly thanlced her, and they returned to the drawing-row». As they went home Mrs. Grey told V( =ra, after exacting from her likewise a promise^of secrecy, what she had done. "I have made my last will and testament." she said. "Your future is assured, and my mind is at ease. My jewellery and a ii3w other things are not specifically disposed oof, but that can be done by gift. I should Rke you to have the best of them-before I go. I have not quite decided whether I shall j jive the others to Susan or Mrs. Cortice, or dr ride them. But not a word of this to anyboc !y— not a word, dear, as you love me. You pro- mise?" Vera promised, "on her honour," a aid, though well satisfied with the tiira thi ngs were taking, wondering much what it tvas J 1 <"Ha<t scarcely taken the writing-cas e, off the bed when there came a knock at ithe door." Caleb Grime meant, or whether he had mc ant anything when he said he would get his ei ids, meaning his aunt'a property, in another v say. The making of her will, or something < ise, wrought so beneficial an effect on Mrs. Gr ey's health and spirits that on the next ever rfng she went with Vera to St. Cuthbert's, wher oby the lovers again suffered disappointment; Ind they were unable to arrange a tryst m) til towards the end of the week, when they i net at the Vicarage, and had a long and delici ous talk, mainly, as was natural, about them- selves. Vera's need for advice, which a few days previously had seemed so pressing, was no longer imperative. Nevertheless, she t bId Harold all that had happened, save what Lhe had promised to keep secret. As she had anticipated, the story of Cr deb Grime's doings made Harold very angry. "The scoundrel! the villain!" he exclaimed. "I'd like to break every bone in his body. He has as much right to propose to you as z sny- body else, but for a man to insult vid threaten a girl because she won't have 1 t."In is monstrous. If he annoysi you again I'll horsewhip him. I would now, only-" "Let him alone, dear," interrupted V, sra. "One cannot touch pitch without b< <ing defiled. I don't think he will annoy me again." "If he does you tell me. Have I your promise?" "I promise to tell you. I am not vindict jve, but I confess that for his dastardly treatm lent of my poor mother I should like to see 0: lleb well thrashed. For myself, it does not matter; hard words break no bones. Anc i he has done me no real harm." "He may do, though. I would, not t: "ust him, and I shall be very uneasy. I wish you would let me tell my people and speal to Mrs. Grey. Then I should have as much r Fght to come to Fairmead as he has, and be able to protect both you and your mother." "Not yet, Harold, not yet. I must keep rmy word. And you, dear? Is thereanythin g in his threat? Can he hurt you?" "I don't see how he can hurt me dire ctly. He won't suborn anybody to murden: or assault me. or do aught else tliat might ii get him into trouble. But somebody is tryir jg to hurt the bank, and I begin to suspect it is Grime." "Hurt the bank! How?" "By spreading malicious reports." "But is not that-what do you call ii it- slander?" "If openly uttered and provable, un- doubtedly. But Caleb is too 'cute to do t that, and nothing is easier than for an enem y to drop hints and make innuendoes, wl icich. though not actionable, work more harm than outspoken slanders. At present they are mere malignant whispers, but they may grow and spread, and, unless checked, do us ae rious mischief. To a bank credit is e every- thing, and I am afraid our credit is not tvhat it used to be, neither is my father the man he used to be." "Do you mean in health?" "Yes. There is nothing particularly the matter with him; yet I fear he is failing and losing energy, and as he increases in j ears he gets more autocratic, and won't liste n to adyice, with the result that he has l oade several mistakes lately, though I would j- not for the world say so to anybody but you. But, I say, what must you think of me- talk- ing shop when I ought to be making lov< t?" "I like you to talk shop, and tell me 1 ihese things, Harold. It shows you can trust. me, and I know a good deal about businest i. I read most of the law reports' in 'The Ti mes,' and I got the first prize for political eco nomy at Miss Lodge's. Professor Wilkins sail i my essay on the foreign exchanges sk owed remarkable capacity. There now!" "I should think so. I had no idea tha it my sweetheart was a cambist. If the bank ever comes to me, you will have to be my pa rtner in a double sense, and if it is turned iJ ito a limited liability company you shall lit sve a seat on the board. What a clever little woman you are!" "I beg your pardon, sir, I am not littif). At any rate, I am generally considered abov e the average." "Of course you are, my queen, imnn «isur- ably above the average," and, then the., r fell to talking nonsense, interesting to thems elves, perhaps, but to nobody else. For a month or more after these t hinge befell nothing further happened worth .men- tioning. The lovers met now and then a it the Vicarage. Caleb continued to avoid Fair- mead, in part, probably, because he was much occupied and often away on business. Mrs. Grey was no worse in health, and much 1 tetter in spirits, and Vera, albeit not free from occasional forebodings, was not unhap py. But this was only the calm befori; the Btorm. As the days shortened the jve ither worsened, and the approach of winter* was heralded by a more than wintry access of cold, which so affected Mrs. Grey that she h: W to take to her bed and send for Dr. Cortice,^ who 1 prescribed resit, care, an equable temperature, and strict attention to diet. "It is not a case for medicine," ho told Vera. "Senile decay and a weak heart can- not be cured by drugs. Your mother will have to keep her room all winter, and the sooner you get a trained nurse the better." Which sounded ominous. "Is there any danger, do you think?" she inquired anxiously. "There is always danger when an old lady already in indifferent health falls ill at the I beginning of winter. But I think we shall pull her through this time," answered) the doctor. This sounded still more ominous, and deepened Vera's anxiety. When'Dr. Cortice got home he told his wife that he did not think that Mrs. Grey would survive the winter, a piece of information which she naturally communicated to her sister, and she, as naturally, imparted to Caleb, whom it seemed neither to surprise nor grieve. "Its what I expected; she haa been shaky for a long time," he said. "Has she made her will?" queried Susan. "No. I could not persuade her, do as I would. She was going to once, though, but just as she took the pen to sign fainted right away. However, it does not. much matter; we shall get the property all the same." "I don't see how. "I do, though." "But how?" "That is my affair and, for the present, my secret." "Are you sure she has not made a will in that girl's favour?" "Quite. I know what goes on in W'adham'g office. One of his clerks is in my pay. and, though they have drafted several wills for her, she has not executed one, and, in my opinion, will never summon up enough resolu- tion to do so, and it must be our business to see that she never does. For, now aunt is ill, she will be very much pressed. I shall call as often as I can, and either you or Selina or both of you should be there every day." "Or she might give things. There's all that jewellery, worth I don't know how much." "And other portable property. See you keep a watch on it. I have not the time." Thia scheme was carried out. Either Caleb, Miss Grime, or Mrs. Cortice were at Fairmead every day. Sometimes all three were there at once, but the keenest and most vigilant of them was Susan. She came early in the morning, and as often as not stayed until night—all, as she pretended, out of affection for her aunt, who, though she hated the very eight of her niece, had not the, courage or the strength to order her away. She spent houre in the invalid's room, interfered with the servants, and had not Vera been a young woman of spirit would have reduced her to a cypher. More than once they had "words" in Mrs. Grey's hearing, and Vera, seeing how dis- tasteful to her was Susan's presence, told Dr. Cortice that his sister-in-law's meddlesome- ziess worried his patient, and was ressnted by the nurse, on which he, who, though a hen- pecked man, was a good physician, and had no love either for Oaleb or Susan, forbade her to enter the sick room, except by Vera's or the nurse's leave. Which made Susan extremely angry. "It's all very fine now, young lady. But the time is not far off when you'll be bundled out of this house, neck and crop; and I shall see my aunt just as often as I like, whatever you and the doctor may Slay," she threatened, but waa not quite so bad as her word. The Grimes, and the Cortices were the only regular visitors, but there was hardly a day on which some neighbour or acquaintance did not look in to ask after Mrs. Grey. One of the first to call was Mr. Hope, who, not con- tent with the servant's answer, insisted on seeing MisB Grey, of whom he maife minute inquiries about her mother's condition, and seemed greatly concerned on hearing how serious it was, which, seeing that they had never met, caused Vera to wonder; but she had so much to think about and to do that the incident made only a, fleeting impression on her much-harassed mind. It was a bitterly hard time for the girl, rendered, tolerable only by the sympathy of the vicar and his sister and an occasional stolen tryst with her lover. Yet worse was to come. One Monday morning she relieved the nurse, who had been up the greater part of the night, and was sitting with Mrs. Grey, when the latter, wakening from a, doze, said suddenly with unwonted energy "Is that you, Vera?" "Yes.. dear, it is I. What can I do for you?" asked Vera. "Are any of them here?" "Any of the Grimes, you mean? Not yet." "Thank heaven! Raise me up." Vera raised her up in a sitting position. "Now take my keys—they are under the pillow—and bring hither my jewel casket." Vera obeyed. The jewel case was in an oak chest behind the bed. Mrs. Grey unlocked the case, and took out all the coqtents-bracelets, brooches, rings, and the rest, each in its own velvet case. "These are all yours, dear; I give you them. Fold them in somiOthing-that shawl. Take them to your own room, and put them into one of your drawers, then return the casket to the oak box. Quick, or some of them will be here! Don't hesitate; thank me after- wards. But keep it secret. Not a word to anybody till I am either better or in my grave. Go! Go at once!" "I cannot. I really cannot, mother. You are too, too kind; but suppose somebody should say you did not really give them to me?" "Give me my writing-desk. and while you are gone I will write a note saying the jewels are my free gift to my adopted daughter. Quick! Oh, do be quick!" Vera gave Mrs. Grey the writing-cass, ran with the jewels to her own room, locked them up in one of her drawers, then hurried hafck. "Take the writing-case away. Here is the note," said her mother. Just then they heard footsteps and voicea outside, and Vera had scarcely taken the writing-case off the bed and' put the note out of sight when there came a tap at the door, followed on the instant by Mrs. Cortice and Miss Grime. (To be continued.)

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