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i Complete Story.


i Complete Story. THE JUDGE. BY DOROTHEA DEAKIN, Author of The Bluebell Inn," The Highway- I mar! The Showing-up of Steuben," &C..&C. I dropped the newspaper and stared out oi the window with unseeing eyes. A benevolent sun was still shining on the freshness of the June garden, and the cock thrash on the red thorn was still inviting me to join him in a wormy meal. How was it that outside things were unchanged I when lor me the light of life had gone out so entirely ? I hadn't the heart even to swear once more at my cursed luck. And I had been fool enough to believe for one whole month that the luck had changed. I had really come to believe that I—even I, should be able to finish my life in honourable prosperity and respectability, on pleasant and even con- ventional fines. Indeed, I bad sometimes felt that perhaps the glorious happiness of thp last few weeks was a mere foreshadowing of a bliss which was to see my life out. And now. Now Dolly was waiting for me in the Round Orchard at the rectory, and I must go to her at once. I found her placidly sewing in her wicker chair, and my heart ached as I saw how she smiled at me when she heard my step, and raised her little black head. Then she;eaw my face, and hers grew grave at once. Why, Will," she cried. "Whatisit1 What is it ?" I stood for a minute or two gazing at her in silent misery. She dropped her work and rose to her feet. She was a little thing, and barely reached my shoulder, and she laid her hand on my arm and raised her pretty dark eyes, fall of sympathy and alarm, to my face. Nothing." I took her in my arms and kissed her. I slept badly, that's all. And the post was—well —annoying, to say the least of it." The post ?" in some surprise. I shouldn't have thought the post would have troubled you much. Now, if it had been us——she sighed —" it would have been bills." Ah," I cried, seizing at any excuse, that was it, you see. It was a bill, a beastly bill." Dolly sat down and looked at me with anxious eyes. Oh, if that's all," she said, why worry, if you can pay it ? Now with us—" another sigh. I stretched myself at her feet and watched with apparent interest a bnsy little ladybird in the grass. Dolly," I said presently, a m-rj von told me that you loved me." Yes," said Dolly, quietly. I think it was true," I went on, still gazing at the erratic insectin fact, I am sure it was true." "It is true," she said, simply. "Dolly is not a coquette. It is no pleasure to her to tantalise a man by filling bis mind with doubts." How much do you suppose a girl will if she really loves ?" I asked. More than a. man," said Dolly. Wh"- have I to forgive you ?" I laughed bitterly. Have you ever had any secrets from mo ?" I asked, irrelevantly. To my surprise she was silent and at last I looked up from the grass. Why, Dolly," Icriedin reproach, "YOG don't mean I thought that you were candour itself. I thought——" Don't," shesaid, quickly. It isn't mnch of a secret, only I-I didn't think you'd care to hear it. It was a long, long time ago, and II Oh, Dolly," I was quite hurt. How could you ? I thought yon had more confidence in me than that. I thought She put down her sewing and looked at me wistfully. Of course, I will tell you if you wish to know," she said. It is only that once—there was another man—and he went away and didn't j come back." Did you care for him I asked gently, with- out, however, any Reeling of jealousy. Yes." Didfhe care for you ? But of course he did— who could help it ?" That was the worst part of it," she answered slowly. I never knew." I believe you care for him still," I said, untruthfully. As if I kaow that she loved me better than anyone in the whole world. No you don't," she was actually smiling. You don't think anything of the kind. I had almost forgotten him until you began to talk of secrets. That was the only secret I ever had. What is it that I am to forgive yon, Will ?" with a auick change of tone. I was silent. She leaned forward and smoothed my hair with her soft little hand. she said, tell me." I have nothingto tell you," Ireplicd sullenly. Oh, Will." There has never been any girl in my life but you," I answered. "I have no love affairs but this one, my Dolly." She laughed happily. I believe yon," she said. because whatever yonr faults are, you don't lie. Theu why did you aek mehow much a girl would forgive ? And why did you want to know whether I had any secrets ?" I was merely thinking of the abstract ques- tion," I murmured; with a wretched pang at my heart. She looked dissatisfied. I will put it to you," I said slowly. I will put the case to yon, Dolly. It may interest you. Supposing—for the sake of an example—that a man, who was very young, very poor, and very weak-willed Dolly was silent. Quite young and a bit of a coward sup- posing that, hardly by his own fault, he got into debt, and the debt frightened him. Supposing he had to pay that debt by a certain time with- out the prospcct of a penny to help him do it." Go on," said Dolly. Then supposing some grasping, stupid and affluent relative—an uncle, say-unwisely left his cheque book on the writing-table." Oh." By this time Dolly's bands were clasped tightly together, and I could almost see her pink nails catting cruelly into her soft flesh. "If," I said hoarsely, tearing up the shelter of my ladybird with agitated fingers. "If that miserable, misguided boy filled in the cheque, for an amount big enough to save him from ruin, should you condemn him, Dolly ?" No—not altogether." Dolly's voice was as broken as my own. Was—was he found out ?" Yea," said I. He was found out. He was always an unlucky devil." II Poor, poor boy," Baid Dolly. He was found out almost at once," I went on doggedly, and the forgery was easily proved. Then he was tried and sentenced to a long imprisonment." Dolly gazed at me with dilated pupils. But after a little while he escaped," said I, and was not—for a wonder—caught. He went to a quiet place in the country where no one knew him, grew a moustache as a disguise, and took a situation in an architect's office, in the nearest town. He drew well and worked hard, and in a few years he had saved enough money to buy a junior partnership in the firm. In time he started for himself. Apparently his luck had turned at last." Thank God," said Dolly. Then," continued I, he met a girl. The prettiest and sweetest and dearest little girl in the world." Oh. Will." He did not tell the girl his story. He did not doubt her love, but she was good and true and he was afraid—afraid that perhaps she might not understand—afraid that perhaps if she knew all she would not forgive." "He needn't have been afraid," Dolly said quietly. If a girl loves a man, she loves him because she help it. She Io/es him for what he is. What does it matter to her what he did when he was quite another person ? She doesn't love the poor, foolish unhappy boy who forged the cheque she loves the man who could never do such a thing as that." But," said I, the man was a gaolbird an escaped convict; liable to be retaken at any moment. Could the girl go on caring for a criminal ?—a haunted thing?" Oh," Dolly cried. How little you under- stand. If he was in danger the girl would only go on loving him all the more. She would try to make np to him for his miserable life." I took her little hand and kissed it. Sweetheart," said I, "I think I knew all the time what you would say. There is no one in the world like yon. But there still is some- thing more. I haven't told you quite everything yet." Dolly took up her sewing again. Calm and placid as she was I could see that the story had shaken her. I noticed that she could hardly steady her hand to thread her needle. One morning," I went on grimly, the escaped convict read in his morning paper that the forger had been arrested at last; that although he obstinately denied it; he was un. questionably the man whom the police had been looking for so long." I looked up. How white her face had grown The case was altered, you see, when someone else had to suffer unjnstly for his crime." Dolly didn't speak. I rose at last and stood before her, waiting with an aching heart to hear what she would say. And she said nothing. The cage ia in your hands, Dolly. too are playing the judge. The prisoner is at the bar— the jary has pronounced him guilty. What is his sentence to be ?" But Dolly was stricken damb. You are better fitted to decide than I. Yon are true and honourable and—and kind. Don't keep the prisoner in suspense, Dolly." She broke her long silence with a miserable little cry and a distressed gesture. Oh," she whispered. "It—it—it is difficult when—when the judge is interested in—in the prisoner." I sighed. There is no jadge bat yon," I said. Then there was a long, long silence. Has—has the other man anyone—any-——" He is not married," said I, if that is what you mean. His mother is dead, and he is not even engaged." And the prisoner," she said brokenly, u has —has the girl I" Yes," said I. The prisoner has the girl- so far." Don't you think," she faltered, that for the sake of the girl the real man ought to—ought to take no notice of that paragraph in the news- paper ?" My heart leapt wildly. Dolly," I cried again. You don't mean—— The innocent man would suffer a. great deal, you know." If the real man gave himself up," said Dolly I slowly, two people would suffer, a man and a girl. It is better for one person to be unhappy than for two. The guilty man deserved to be unhappy," I aaidfloomiiy. "Hewasaforger." Yes," with a sob. But the girl Then I took her in my arms and she if f her heart would break. "Ob," she sobbed. What is that other man to us that we should ruin our two lives for him ? I daresay he has done something much worse to deserve punishment if we only knew. I love yon, Will, I love you. I can't, can't let you go. You asked me to judge. I will judge. I command you to forget that hateful newspaper—and—and I will forget it, too—because I love you." The next day I worked hard, and the next, and the next. Then I gave up the idea of tiring myself > out, and went over to see what Doily's reasoning C and Dolly's kindness would do towards driving back the hateful thoughts which flocked into my miserable mind. It was five o'clock, uid I found her on the lawn giving tea to the children in the shade of the big sycamore. She looked np and gave me the pretty smile of welcome I knew so well. Her face was pale, I thought, and her dark eyes looked tired. She, too, had been passing sleepless nights, then. The younger children greeted me with a yell of delight,wbnt Dickie got up and shook hands. He was twelve, and we were good friends. Then I sat down on the grass, and little Sylvia brought my tea to me, tripping as she came over her long. Greenaway frock, and only saving herself from disaster by suddenly embracing me. It's always much, much nicer when yoa come," she said. "Dick's been in punishment drill again," cried Letticej with a giggle. He's always in drill now." Shut up," said Dick. I ignored Lettice, and kept Sylvia on my knee. A short-haired, demure little person of four. Her eyes were Dolly's eyes, and I loved her. I looked round at the pretty garden, and the children's happy faces. Then I looked at Dolly. Some day," I thought, some day (to Why did yon go to drill to-day, Dick ?" Let- tice asked inquisitively. The boy flushed. Mind your own beastly business," be said. Dolly laid her arm across his shoulder. Don't speak like that, Dickie," she said. Letty doesn't mean to be unkind. What was it ?" Foolin," said Dick. Only fooling." Hard lines, old chap," I murmured. Sylvia had gdne to sleep with a sticky cheek against my flannel coat, and I nodded at the boy with friendly sympathy. "I was see-sawing with a form," he said. and the silly thing went smash. Hignett thought it was yoong Baxter who did it, and- none of the other chaps let on that it was me. f They hate Baxter, and I don't wonder. How did they find out. then ?" Lettice was still deeply interested in the subject. Dick's mouth was full of gingerbread, bat he answered his sister's question without hesitation. I went up and told, of coarse." Lettice giggled. "What a silly you were," she ciiod. He took a gulp of tea.. "Oh, was I ? You're a. girl, you see, and yoa don't understand. Girls are always mean. Do you think I should have let Baxter go and have my beastly drill and say nothing about it ? I'm not a low cad." No, but Baxter is." Lettice was delighted with her own wit. Dick gave a sniff of contempt. All the more reason for my owning up," ne said. A chap can t do these things. Why, even Baxter didn't' say who it was till I told myself." Then he was nearly as silly as you," said his sister with much contempt. Wasn't he, Dolly ?" But Dolly was silent. I was silent, too, and presently I put Sylvia down and went away without apology. 1 had had enough for one afternoon. Even little Dick understood that a chap couldn't do these things," and I, oh my God, what was I ? That night I never closed my eyes in sleep for one minute. Over and over again the wretched, miserable thought flooded my mind. Over and over again I told myself what I ought to do— what was the only honourable thing to do and over and over again Dolly's face, and Dolly's eyes, Dolly's smile, Dqlly's little bands, Dolly's counsel, and Dolly's love for me stood in the way of honourable resolve and blocked the narrow. pathway which seemed to me the only possible- one. For Dolly's sake," I told myself again and again. For Dolly's sake I must kebp quiet. Dolly loves me, and 1 dare not give up ber happi- ness as well ae my own But in the end I made up my mind for once and all, and early in the morning I went to see- my sweetheart at the Rectory and tell her—tell her—ah I how could I tell her ? She was busy, of course, getting the children ready for school, but she left them at once when I spoke to her. Come out into the Round Orchard," I said.. I have something to tell you." When we were there—she standing with white face and apprehensive eyes, and I—God knows what I was doing. I spoke first, however. Dolly," I said, I have made up my mind. Did you hear what DicK said yesterday ?" Yes," she whispered. I was so sorry, so very sorry for you. Poor Will A chap can't do these things,' I quoted bitterly. There is only one tbju possible for me to do." What ?" I shall give up. Dolly." Will Darling—dear little girl—don't, don't cry so—you break my heart, Dolly, when you cry like that—sweetheart, lift up your head—oh, my dear, my dear tIt Have you forgotten me ?" Her voice was very low, but I caught it. Forgotten you ? Forgotten ? Oh, heaven, shall I ever forget you ? Yet I must do it. I must do it." But—I love you, Will." I know yon do, darling. Your love is all I have now. And some day you will see that it is better for both of us that I should leave you now—while you respect me." If you are going to give me up," in a rnuftled voice. the only thing I can do is to die." Dear little girl," I said, with a catch in my voice, you must try to be brave. We are neither of us going to die. We are going to live a long time without each other, and in a little while I hope you will learn to be happy again. As for me, I have earned the punishment; poor Moly- neux hasn't." Dolly drew herself sharply away from me and held up a white, miserable face. What ?" she cried. What did you say his name was ?" Molyneux," replied I in some sarpriBe. Ió Why 1" Then what is his Christian name ? Tell me, quick. Oh, don't stand there staring at me. What is it ? What is it ?" But thunderstruck I stood there. Dolly stamped her foot. Oh, don't say you don't know. Can't you find out ? Oh. how stupid, how stupid you are." I felt in my inside pocket for my pocket-book, opensd it, and searched with half-blinded eyes —apparently I had been crying—for the news- cutting which had destroyed my happiness. Ah, there it was. I looked blunderingly down the narrow slip for the name, till a pair of trembling fingers snatched it from me and Dolly devoured the tiny print with eager eyes. Here it is—here it is." Prisoner gave an assumed natnc—To'in Col- lingwood Molvneux." Yes," I said. Of coarse, that is the name. How stupid of me not Why, Dolly, what is it ?" Dolly lay at my feet as still as death. She bad fainted. The next minute I was on my knees by her side frantically calling her name and rubbing between my own her cold hands. But presently she opened her eyes again and sighed, and I helped her into her wicket seat. John CoJlingwood Mclyneax, she said slowly. Is that the right name of the man in prison for what you did?" Yes." I didn't understand. I only saw that some wonderful change bad come over her. Her voice had changed utterly. It was cold almost and very weak and low. And you let bim be blamed for you—for, you?" "Yes." I said. You—you coward." I stared at her and wondered if my brain was giving way. Little winder if it did I thought. She leaned her head against the battered basket-work of her seat and went on in the same exhausted tone. He is suffering, and disgraced, and wretched, because-^ becanse of you. The beet and the bravest and the handsomest, and—and the dearest—for you-for you." I was silent under the lash of her tongue. She went on without mercy. You are the forger, and the escaped conviot, and he, he who has done nothing, nothing at all that isn't honourable and right; he if you please is to be punished for what—you—did." The memory flashed into my mind of the judge and the sentence of the prisoner at the bar, but I didn't recall it to her. I don't understand you," I said, trying hard to keep my voice steady. But I am not going to let him suffer for me any longer. I am going to release him at once." Dolly sat. up, and a little colour tinged her cheek. Oh," she cried. Of coarse, of course. It's the least you can do now. Go, do go at once." I am going," I said slowly. There is no reason now why I should stay. You have pro- nounced a just sentence at last, Dolly. Will you say good-bye to me before I go ? I don't know what has changed you so suddenly. It was hard to go when I thought you loved me—now—" Then I think she realised how strangely she was behaving and buried her face in her hands in shamed silence. I did love you," she said slowly at last. I thought I loved you better—better—I loved yon so much that I couldn't bear to let you go-but now I know." What do you know ?" I asked. Her voice grew soft. I know that all my life I mast have gone on caring for—for him." My brain was whirling. All my thoughts broke into a mad revolving gallop round one central fignre. Molyneax ?" I cried. Molyneax f Is he the man ?" Yes," said Dolly, in a low voice. I caught at the bough of the apple tree which shaded her to steady myself. I am sorry, Will," she went on humbly. I am sorry I spoke so cruelly. I was mad I think when I heard who it was that—that— And then at last I understood, and went to do my errand.

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------------.-....---... BARDDONIAETH.

Detested It. fbit