fitt mshts iisnrziv] NO ROBBERY. M HENRY FRITH, ttfpfAor if "The Mystery of Moor Fsrm" "On tho Wing* of the Wind," Through Flood, Throuqh Fire," 4'c., Ac, tcHAPTER XXXI.. rhou ART THE MAN! y-RK. Layton was not at first much alarmed at Hinnie's absence, but when evening set in and night idrow on, she became alarmed and, putting on her tionnet, went out in search of ber. She made in- quiries at every place she thought it likely Minnie aright have gone to, and at la-t she determined to go 10 the "Towers, and see Edward Wason. It was a good wal, but the night, though dark, vu fine and culm. Mrs, Layton lost no time, and it was øcarcely nine o'clock when she ari ived and inquired for I Mr. Fdward." « They are at dinner," replied the servant; "hut Come in, Mrs, Lay ton,"and I will say you are here." Lucy came in, and in a few minutes a message -came for her to go up into the library, where Mr. Edward would sre her. She went upstairs accord. ingly. and almost immediately Edward came into the room. "Good evening, Mrs. L-, yton. What can I do for you ? I cannot remain very long, as we have friends to dinner r" .1 I came at out V innie," raid the woman. Minnie-wl at about her ? Is anything the patter r" "Don't you know, then? She left home three hours ago and mce, and I find he has taken a bundle. Didn't she see.,ifoet 1" No; I have not set eyes on her ginee yesterday," yeplied Edward, fervently. "A r-, you certain she Jias taken a bundle ? Why did he leave so sud- denly?" We had some words fibont that v^ung Deane," replied NI i-s. Layton. "and she declared she'd man'y no one else but vou." I Jar h'ng m rmured Edward. And then a menage cam-, and she wr nt upstairs. I didn't take any notice, knowing her ways, until P. just at dusk I happened to go up, and, not finding fcer, I searched. But she wasn't about. Then I missed one or two tliinr- of hers. and then I found the had taken what things she could carry away. As soon as T discovered all this I went around and I tiot finding her, came on h re, siipi osinir, to lell you the truth, tfcat you had a hand in the business. I That's the who'o afTa'r." addedltrk. Layton, begin- ning to'cry. "and F wish she wasn't so contrary." 44 We must find her immediately," said Edward. I'll see what c m be done." r « Perhaps she's gone to the Ilall," suggested Mrs. Layton." "No, scarcely. I cannot go now. We have friends dining here. I will ask them what to do. Meantime, I will see about getting the horses saddled. We must set off soon." I Edward returned to the dining-room, and his ahsenca was naturally remarked upon. The dessert was on the table. He was in a very unenviable position, for he must declare his attachment to Minnie, else his anxiety concerning her would be misconstrued, and he troubled to think how his parents*and hia father's guests would receive the i telligence. If he could manage to get it over without a full con- fession, it would be best, of course. What is the matter, Edward ?" asked his father. Anything from the works ? 44 No," replied Edward. But Mrs. I avton f Here Captain Kushleigh sfeaittd and stared at the speaker. ,,What!" he Slid suddenly. "The mother of that charming little girl who behaved so very I pluckily the other day." Yes," replied Edward. Minnie has left homo Itnd her mother wants help to find her." Why should she come here then r" asked Lady Watson. Why inquire for you r" Because Minnie and I have seen a good deal of cach other lately, and so I am an old friend——" "What!" exclaimed Sir Walter angrily. "Have Joubeen playing fast and loose with that girl ? By ove, young man, if I bear this of you I'll cut you off with a sliilling! You had better let the boy explain the case," Bsid Lady Watson, who was going o reprove her son when her husband anticipated her. It is nonsense blaming him until you hear the circum- stances, Go on, Edward, if your father will permit you." II Well, I'm not ashamed to say I like Minnie very much, and M rs. Layton knows it. So she fancied in her trouble that Minnie——" Minnie, Minnie burst out Sir Walter Watson. « There is something behind this. Let the woman come in and explain." My dear Sir Walter, do be cautious. I am sure (Sir William and Lady Deane have no wish to hear all about this girl: and as to Edward caring for Jier—it's impossible." "I don't know that," remarked Sir William Deane —"Marmaduke did." Your s, n ? Do you mean to tell me that this girl is fitted to; marry a gentleman ? cried Lady Watson.1 As far as manner and appearance go," said the General, stoutly, "I must say she would be only an ornament to any household. But her station in life nd h3r accomplishments* are not what we ex- pect or desire for my -son. "Certainly rot," assented Sir Walter; "nor for mine either. Edward, you are an ass-an idiot! Tell the woman to go about her business. We can't be answerable for every railway brat." "Father," said Edward, with dignity, and, rising as he spoke, I hope you won't think me disre- spectful, but T am attached to this young lady." "Young lady—young beggar!" exclaimed his father, angrily. Come, no nonsense, Edward. Sit down: don't let us have any tragedy airs, if you please. Ring the bell, Lily." "What for may I inquire P said Lady Watson. "I think it is my nlace to—— 9 Go to Bath said Sir Walter, who had quite lost his temper at the unparalleled temerity of his son. Ring the-bell, Lily, or go to bed." One would think it was a nursery instead of a dining-room. Lady Deane, I am sure this is no place for us. May I venture to disturb you, and ask you to come with me to Bath ? added her angry ladyship, and. she rose and followed her guest from ,the room, Lily, of course, accompanying her. t. This little scene was very unpleasant for General 0 if, 0 Printing of every Description to wfnegs out the iervant appeared, and Sir Walter at once desired j him to request the woman in the library to come in to him." The man disappeared, wondering what was the matter, and in a minute or two he entered and ushered Mrs. Layton into the room. She wore a thick veil, and her features were scarcely distin- guishable behind it. "I Well, woman, what's all this about your daughter ?" said Sir Walter, roughly. We cannot help you. I can't have my servants hunt- ing round for any mad girl who chooses to run after a young man-" Are you speaking to me, sir Walter P asked Lucy, ;n a low voice, trembling—perhaps with fear, peihaps with indignation. Yes, I am," he answered, somewhat taken aback. To whom else ? Who are you, indeed ? A most miserable woman," said Lucy, raising her veil; "a wretche 1 and unhappy woman." She had scarcely lifted the veil from her face when General Deane uttered an exclamation which turned all eyes towards him. Well did he know the face, though many years had passed over it and changed its beauty. The face was one never to be forgotten, and the General remembered it too well. Captain Kushleigh was s'tting with his hack to the door, and had not turned his head. Sir William continued: "What's the matter, General: do you know this person?" asked Sir Walter, the Bear. I think I do," replied the General; or I fancy I did. It is many years ago, and yet Oh, well, if you know her she's all right. I've heard about her, and her living with Collier." That's not true, Sir Walter Watsdn," said Lucy Layton, flushing angrily. If you Fay that, you repeat a lie." Why, you brazen baggac-e," began the angry baronet; but he did not finish his sentence. Cap- tain Rushleigh rose, and turning round, gazed at the angry lady for a moment; then, addressing his host, he said firmly: "Hold, Sir Walter! I cannot permit this. This lady is my wife. I am Francis Layton!" "Good God!" exclaimed the General, as he sank back in his chair. 41 Layton!" Mrs. Layton made no sign. She fainted as she stood, and fell senseless to the ground.
CHAPTER XXXII. The consternation at the captain's avowal may Do imagiLed, The only one of the party who retained his presence of mind was Rushleigh himself or Layton, as he may be called. He raised the fainting woman, and did all he could to restore animation, but for a time without suecms. Edward rang the bell for one of tlit female servants, and Mrs. Layton was carried into the library, where her husband joined her im s. diately. i » » • f* need not follow them thither. We will intrude upon that re-union. There was much to tell, and the clock had struck twelve before anyone ventured to knock at the door of the library. y But Edward lost no time. As soon as he per- ceived that the General and his father, with the remainder of the household, were deeply engaged in speculation and reminiscence, then he hurried out to the stables, and, saddling his mare, rode quickly through the village. As he passed through it he nearly ran over a man. (14 A 0 Curse you, stupid head said the fellow can't you look where you are going to ? I know that voice," muttered Edward. Come, I didn't huit you. he said, aloud; you needn't be so savage, Sandy Sam! Who are you that knows me in the dark. If ye have such good eyes, I wonder ye didn't see me on the road." "I am in a hurry. But, I say Sam, I wouldn't advise you to remain long about here: the governor has his eye upon you. A nod is as good as a wink. eh? Thankye, Master Ed'ard; now I know ye. I'll take your advice. I'd a been away long ago, only I hadn't the ready.' I was cruel ill-used." "Here's live shillings for you; and now tell me, have you seen Minnie Layton this evening ? What—me ? How should I see the girl P Who told ye I had ? (Oh, SalT, Sam, you are a very small villain, after all. Conscience betrays you at once!) Edward W itson was immediately struck with the tone and manner of the reply, and, catching the man by the collar, he said: Look here, Sam-no nonsense. When did you see Minnie Lay', on last? Tell the truth, and I'll give you ten pounds down to-night. Tell me a falsehood, and I'll get you a month with hard labour very soon. I know something too! Ye wouldn't be so hard, Master Ed'ard. Ye wouldn't crush a pore wounded worm like me." "Yes I would," replied Edward. Some worms ought to be killed. Now the truth, or, by heaven, I'll put the constabulary upon you to-morrow." You'll swear you'll never tell I told you." I will—I do. Goon." | Well then, young Marmaduke Deane he tried I' to take her away. I was in the job too. He drove her insensib'e to Bishop's Creek, and there put her into a boat Edward gave vent to a wish concerning Marma- duke's future welfare which shall not be set down here. Sandy Sam proceeded- He put her into the boat, but he left her for a minute to fasten up the horse. She got up and pulled away in the boat out to sea, and there she is." Thank God. She is at any rate safer than in Dcane's power. "Sandy" Sam, I'm your debtor. The money shall be yours. Can you pull an oar ?' Yes, sir, a little bit." Come on, then catch- my bridle. There's another ten pounds waiting for you at home. Now run along at your best pace." Edward started, and Sandy Sam feeling really honest for once, kept pace manfully. Before long the pair h:ld arrived at the creek. Here Sandy quickly found a punt, into which he and Edward stepped, and pulled away in the direction they fancied Minnie had gone. After a while they lay on their oars, and listened for any sound or signal that might intimate where Minnie was drifting. But for*a long time nothing could be distinguished but the restless "lapping" of the ripples against the sides of the boat. "What became of that brute r" inquired Edward at last. "Which? Mr. Al-.trmaduke inquired "Sandy" Sam, or your horse?" Of course I meant Deane; but I wonder what has become of her-the mare, I mean." ,e He nut out- in a skiff after Miss Minnie»" jaid Executed at the Chronicle Office, Penarth. ■••fJandy?"" "'TiTaC^ Iie*Li_never~her £ iiiSeda* V., He can't pull as well as she can." "Listen; didn't you hear something?" said Edward, suddenly. Hush! surely I heard the plash of oars. Pull, you." The boat's head was turned, and after a few powerful strokes the men sat still and again listened. Nothing could be, heard. Edward then went forward into the bow of the 'boat, and after whispering to Sandy Sam to scuU Very gently, and with as little noise as possible, he sat on the watch, leaning over, almost touching the water. At length he caught sight of a dark object a little to the right of h m. Pull your right," he said to his companion, and the boat's head turned in the required direction, yet they seemed not to gain much upon it. Go on, Sam, full speed; we must catch her rrp. Perhaps it is Minnie." Perhaps it's the other one," muttered Sand Sam. "If it is, I shall catch it nicely. I hope he U kill him!" Edward Watson did not utter a word as the boat sped onwards. It was rapidly overtaking the float- ing object now. In a few minutes it would be alongside. He was in a fever of expectation. Three minutes more and the boats were alongside each other. Seated, pulling wearily a pair of heavy sculls, was Minnie Layton. Lying at the end of the boat, in a h huddled up condition, dripping with sea water, and apparently insensible, was a figure of a man. Minnie, my darl'ng Minnie," exclaimed Edward Watson, as-he sprang into the boat and clasped her in his arms. Are you safe and well ? "Quite well, dear," she replied, returning his caress. But look at him! Is he dead?" She po:nted to the heap at the end of the boat, and Watson stepped across the thwarts, turned the body over, and found it was Marmaduke Deane himself. How came this scoundrel here ? Get up ComSj rouse your-elf, you pitiful eaward He saluted Marmaduke with a kick as he spoke, and felt almost inclined to thiow him into the sea. I can't get up. I'm half frozen here in my wet clothes," replied the recunv cnt youth, now com- pletely cowed. Miss Layton h'"s t. rgiven me, and you may as well. I am quite ready to make any amends. Let me be." How did he come in lipre ? asked Edward, turning to Minnie again. He had come up with me in ano her boat. and offered to take me back. He was apparently sincere, but I wouldn't tru-st him," replied Minnie. I pulled away. and son ehow he stood up in his own skiff and fell over. I helped to pull him out, for he can't swiin much, and ttun I tried to reach the shore. I was pulling away frum it when I heard you call." What a splen did girl you areexclaimed Edward, admiringly. P^ncv you saving that cur's life aiter all. I think 1 should have let him drown." Vengeance is Mine,' quotod Minnie, "and he was so hclplo-'s. Pesidrs, I am not afraid of him now. I believe he is (¡uite ashamed of himself, and very penitent." u So he ought to be. Here, Sum. Take out your yotiug mast r. and pull hiui ashore. We don't want him in th s bo.it." But before Sam could execute this order, Marma- duke ot up, and >a d "I'll sa\e him 1he trouble. Watson, I can apologise to you mor.i readily than I can to Miss Minnie. T have behaved like a th trough scoundrel. I confers. But will reform in future. She haa tau ht me a lesson T shall never forget. I have only one favour to ask. Try to keep this evening's work quiet. I will secure Sam's silence," he continued; "and as I am indeed really s irry—and I wish I could prove it-I will leave here directly, and never trouble you again. Miss Minnie, 'I did love you very much. I help it, now. But I was carried away by pas>L»n ami icalousy. Good-bye. Good- bye. Watson. You will to happy. Farewell! .I here was, after all, a kin,1 of dignity in the manner in which he bade his former friends good- bye They resumed his farewell, and g-ave him their hinds in token of forgiveness', and in a minute or two he had. with Sandy Sam, disappeared in the direction of the shore. Watson, putting Minnie carefully in the stern sheets of the boat, sculled back to the creek. The mare wa, there, a cart was procured, and the animal was harnessed. In this rough and-ready convey- ance the voting people arrived at the "Towers" about midnight, where some startling news awaited them. CHAPTER XXXIII. the LAST OF THE STORY. Lucy LAYTON had been seated with her restored husband for some time, until at last the long inter- view was ended. She had told him all. She had related her hopes and fears, her determination to pay out" the General for his interference, and had at length confessed how Nature had beaten her. She gave up the game, and had already determined to make a clean breast of the matter when the sudden discovery of her husband's identity precipi., tated events. i The General, his wife, and Sir Walter and Lady Watson, with Lily, were in the drawing-room when Captain and Mrs. Layton, as we must call them entered it. OA. General Deane had had for the moment a struggle with himself. When he heard the distinguished officer Rushleigh rise and proclaim himself as Frank Layton, all the circumstances of the siege of Delhi ancUmany other incidents came again before him. It was Layton, then, who had piloted him to the cara^, and who had afterwards saved his life. He fancied faat Layton was ignorant of all the circum- stances preceding the court-martial, and the exem- tion. He had been in the ranks—he was now a distinguished officer. How could the General meet him, after all he had done, without fearing that Layton might in his turn betray him ? For he had strong reasons, as we shall see, for this belief. U ;A,, There was nothing but congratulation for husband and wife. Lady Deane forgot all animosity, and of all the party the only uncomfortable and gloomy ones were Captain Layton, alias Rushleigh, and his wife. A great cloud weighed upon them both, and a terrible confession had to be made-a confession more humilating than even Lucy Layton fancied, for she had been endeavouring to injure the man who had, fit the risk of Ids professional reputation saved her husband. i Little by 1'ftlo Lucv told her .stor.v with shame-