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r 0 [ALL Rights Ejesektto.] I Two Christmas Eves. & 0, By J. J. BELL & • l I. 1 6 f the door of the private room closed 4eliind the young man with the white ^•jlface, twitching lips, and bowed shoulders, "the junior partner of Marlow and Lock- yer. West India merchants, let out a half-strangled oath. Marlow, 'you're- a soft-hearted fooli" said harshly. If there was a for prosecution yon had it yonder. my peaoo because oi your seniority, but--Pah He broke off in disgust and fljHig himself back in hid chair, fumbling ?&? his .cigarette caf?. i' .iihe senior partner was wiping his eyes. ?' I couldn't do it, Lockyer; I simply -couldn't do it," he said unsteadily, though not apologetically. "1 couldn't ruin a young fellow so utterly at the be- jg inning of his career—nor could you.v V ft Me?*' snapped Lockyer. "But for j"ou he would have been on bis way to the police-station by now. I draw the line at encouraging dishonesty." !„ "lint—lie he realised that he was sns- pected 1 it was our 3uty to have him punished. ifa Ah, Lockyer," paid tho older man < £ with a 't»igh, "don't be afraid that he v-^in't be punished. Think of the hhame H piiri??liptl. Tlii,k of il)(?, tilillue !$' i .find employment without a-c ¡IU ra<:t{' $without a reference ? I'm bitterly ?n'ry to. I)r-iii.-on. ? J\IY;>V¡,I'()(.I. boy. ? YoT alwuyn ):(' everybody. You ?. have no discrimination, no judgment. The wonder is that, you have not been j swindled l ight ¡¡ lid left." ? Mr. Atarh)? d'd n?t seem to hear. £ l.ockyer." he said softly, it is CI11'i;t-1 -U?s Lve. 'I 'I he junior parircr—a man of Ave and I.. ,p..IO. I,d! l,, ¡- man of flYe awl tL rl,l--i'[' a l,rlnrt 1:l11g1. "I Waf: won-I \iYl:n, _t'a¥C¡:u¡:'¡);:] I l;r:fnrtunafclv\ to my plain mInd, crime ? on C: ');i ?\'0 is JU&t the same as I -l ¡:;i, };¡:- j'tt'1o11'nm, ;¡" 4;? icry tii(,, otli,satliv      pa,j ,? ??? :e; ('l:c-l- "1 .) ,/u (.?:? Evc-?!. rx.cky?r?' T ]i is ciy. ro< fc», merely [:i' .h i s (' 1"1 11 C 1'1:: ".V71 •«( >aop-i to the boy?" Mar- 't .1 1 '1-- 1 t] ? :v r. 'hi-p d. Abr'.r?ly h" rose, 'stepped < :'t?- ?nd 'opening it aa inch t?t-o d l?.n.? .S. ;t';¡,¡'i: ;d ,p,g ;n, i T ? and yHur b'<??!'?;" Mr. Loc 1('0 "II ir ally (inquired. i. -.ild-'r .ius.d v.'i"?'d. ?.? ('td not r?! I'r <i>'tly he r?'rc.?.j.t the open-1 ?:. .? ?L? d;;or and peero ouh P >  Fs dimly Ii! by ? sin?h' ?' ?: ?i)" stafi h aù Idt an hour a?o— ..M .? disgraced young cl«rU. An(! ;;Jl it' (,t;,(':{:(:. "}¡,l 1(:\(!\ "í }, r,.v: per.'onal b.'Jf?tgin?H from ? d sk. ITis ha?d was groping, scem- 'K ? ?'? handle of the door—the I i' TI tt r.r which was about to shut  ':?. .out K.r ?v.?r frcm the place h? had  ?-t  tl>years virevionidy. so fuU of yon '?.?'1 uniKxi-tn, detenu in-»d to fe!i"fy h?? -?mn'Mvprs. SoT'othin? like a ?'' 'a??d h:']/3.nr¡ng breast. A.? hia .?n? 'rs El b?t turned th" handle i1- .uh.r rartnor "amp quh'k'!y aloi)?! !h? ras;i' D<? i ;), ]-? Fai(I in a nu?v iô E"'f,i;;t );d. ,rJ 'l fi'hVf sTiook'^is b;?,d, unalile to nl-'t-' r a word. 1-1 can't let yen go like this," said! Mr. idarlow. "'Will you corae back hero i" hal.an-liour • [ wish to speak to you • j- :n private. Promise hi- you'll nmie '?? ?'' ?n'?'-t H, young ,,? on- 1 :l' h :(l (1¡! t ;f'l':¡.1I1 ¡ 1 :)t ¡:!J /'I,: "Pro:is" me yon']'! corn" back— in half- { <=hal! hr> alone then.- ■ l!a!f- was u  t ?. Very w-U. ;t;i pr.m?.? ( 'r'cfrnr!? the nteiTiew in the dMprtcd ohir-fv amsd the nn:, of Ch ristmas Eve, Mr. Maiiow woold'fain have kept silence, b\:i he could not refuse to answer the .CjUr.-tMM! of hif> partner when the latter i Jt'?t.?.-f! frum his holiday. '•?>ei!evc Pie, Lockyer," h" a¡d gent'v, 1): nnison is truly r-j?ntant; but apa:'t? f!r. t'?)t. he hav a mother \n invalid, -hotlriddeti motion', no' drub; was I.uckyei's dry remark. "And lie was her sole support, I suppose." Marlow flushed elightl.v. "No; I j .didn't gather that she was an invalid, and he informed me that he has two who arc able to keep her to (-oll- (it-, think of the awfnl; il, ol, and hope that; Would have taken place had he gone ¡ home with the news of his—his disgracf. And on Christmas Eve, too!' ,Fur God's sake don't laugh, man! Can't j v,-(> have one night in the year when there is real pcac1 on The other did not laugh, but his voice was cold. A beautiful sentiment. Mar- low. but I can't rise to it. You might as well tell me that, a biil need not be paid because it happens to fall due on the 24th of December! However, I daresay you v.nlcl have treated Dennison in simi- lar fashion ha 1 he boon found guilty on the 1st of A pril Well, I suppose it ifi no use arguing the point, my friend, but if we all had your ideas, dishonesty would .1 "oon be at a premium." .The, ssiiior partner held up his hand. Y I uught to tell you-that I begged Denni- son to say nothing to his people. In his misery and shame be was about to con- fess everything." And vhat else did you do to make things easv ior hi*' "I suggested that he should tell his people that Marlow and Lockyer found it necessary to decrease their staff, and- I "Oh, Lord I" exclaimed the i-m-ni- partner. "What next? By the way," he asked abrutly, has the case no redeem- ing feature? Did not Dennison take the A:75 to help a friend, or something of the sort ?" Marlow hesitated, them shook his head. I'm sorry I can't pay yes to that. He told me he had got into difficulties simply through personal extravagance. One fiioment, Lockyer,! It would have been easy enough for him to have blamed it In] a friend. My hopes for his future rose when he oered no excuse." And von forthwith presented him with a certificate of good character, 1 sup- pose Tmi go too far, said the older nmn, angered at ?. B? his J -ce softe?M in the next 6tmtR, -^k" ver I have neither wife nor child, and I cam only imagine the feel-1 ings of a lather. But you hve a peaceful home, with little boys and • irhi, and you are freifh from the ex-j perienee of a happy Christmastidp. Would you willingly have any young man ruined, anv home blighted—— M Sentiment, sentiment, Marlow ^Loc kyei; sat np. U I tell you that if a. son of mine did what Denmeon bae done, Don't say it, may friend Don't even ,imagine. U- You don't know what you would do. Try now simply to believe that Dennison is being punished though 'not hy the law. It is right that the law. *h<,nlu punish, 'yet I am convinced that 0there arc times when humanity is above v flle law- imes when hrnnandty stira the conscience, whereas the law would merely kill it. At any rate, lJOåyer. don't judge my action in this matter just yet. Wait and seo what happens to The other shrugged his shoulders. I think we shall hear of Dennison again," continued Marlow, picking up a I paper-knife and toying with it. I advised him to try hrs fortune abroad-to go as soon as possible. No; I could not give him references or introductions. I could not feel responsible for him to other people. Still "Havp his people got the money to spare to send him abroad r" interrupted Lockyer. I'm afraid not. But-" Then if he has the money in his pos- session, it must be handed over to us in j reduction of his—b'm!—debt to the firm." lie j ,—was quite penniless, Lockyer." There was a short silence. Then- ow, how much money did you fsive him?" j 1—1 wanted to give the boy a enaDcc- to make a fresh atari." flow much?" It would have been no use his goill; abroad will] nothing behind him. And! then it—it was Christmas Eve. Of course. I drew the cheque on my personal ac- count." The older man stammered in his speech. I'd rather you didn't ask In the circumstances I think I have a right to know, Marlow. How much •" dM you give Denriii».u. A—a hundred pounds." Good God said the junior partner. II. But for all the uncongeTtIal natures of its partners the. firm of .Harlow and Lock- yer went on and prospered. Perhaps tho differences in temperament, the clashing of ideas, were providential in a way. A men; onlooker would have said that they werr>. Certainly there were occasions when the hard head of Mr. I.ockycr—to i-'are his heart out of the question— ur-enied needed to balance the daring mind of his senior; for Mr. Marlow was by no nivalis averse from speculative transac- tions which, it must nevertheless be ad- mitted, generally turned out on the right side. Still, if Mr. Lockyer lessened the probable gains by putting on the brake,t he also lessened the possible losses, and. he was a man who always looked first to the latter. I happen to have a wife and young children," he would' remind his col- h-ugue; but this was perhaps more an exuise than a reason, for he had been born cautious. Moreover, he knew that j the argument,appealed to the older manl as no other argument of his could be expected to do. I "Yery welL" Marlow would say, good-t humouredly, we'll reduce the present stakes; but all tlie same, Lockyer," lie would add, we have got to tak,j risks-¡ big risks—in tliis coucern of ours. I've been in it longer than you, and I know. Things are goi!? easily at present, h;¡t I there will be years—as t here have been Y(;WSia the past—when no risks simply speil no, business." !/>i:ev, however, had convinced himself l that his partner was wrong, that satis- factory profits might always be secured without Uj-jjjt,extraordinary haaarde. And this was the rock on which—though neither suspected it for years—the part- nership was destined to split. Yet ihe collision might have been longer avoided, or altogether averted, had there been only a little sentiment and sym- pathy on T.ockyer's part. There are lllen will not—or cannot—give something for nothing, who regard as fools and | weaklings those that do so. Again and. again Lockyer would have quarrelled out- right with Marlow had the latter failed, in soft answers. Now it was the case of an plderly clerk who ought to be got rid of because a third part of his salary i won id pay for the same work done bet ter i by a young man; now that of a young j j clerk who had cost the firm money I through a stupid blunder which merited i nothing but dismissal: now that of an agent of the firm OIl a West Indian island who begged home-leave three months before it was due, lest he should not see his father alive—an unjustifiable request, considering that the agency had not. yet. begun to pay. Hut the casee over which the partners differed need not be enumerated here. They occurred fre- quently, and the accompanying friction did not, decrease with repetition. lx>ekyer becamo more and more irritated by what; he termed Mar low's unbusinesslike1 methods; Marlow began to experience an increasing sense of disgust at Lockyer's I apparent lack of common humanity. Something like a crisis was reached on a certain morning, nearly seven years irm the data of our first meeting with Marlow and Lockyer. Marlow looked up from a letter con- sisting of a few lines which lIe had taken from an envelope bearing a foreign post- mark. His countenance was radiant. Lockyer! What do you think of this? I've heard from Dennison at last 1" Dennison? Who is—oh, you mean the thief." The other winced. T/ct that be for- I gotten. T always believed he would re- deem himself." Has he written to BaY ;o-" lIe has roturned the firm's money, and the mouey that I gave him—with interest!" cried Marlow in a tone of triumph. "Now what have you to say. Lockyer gave his shoulders a shrug. Let us hope he came by it honestly," he F-aid DOe-, lie mention its oource ?" Marlow made a movement as if he had been stung. Confound you!" he ex- claimed, "are you as devoid of justice as you were of mrr(!y? Won't you give Dennison any creditat all ?" If vooi wish me to do so. 111 see that he gets pi-edifed in the books against the record The <1 1 vm- 1 .)t.h. He restrained h At last be said: Lockyer, if Dennison were to enter this room now, what would you do?" Give him. a receipt for the money." Nothing else?" "What else should I give him?"" Your hand, your goodwill "Oh rot, Marlow! It isn't ChrMtmas Eve. y<yu In?w'" d and MArlow's Muntenance flushed red and went ]Mtle. ? Lockyer," he said passion- ately, a fool-a heartless fool Which waR Bcarcely the criticism ex- pected by the junior partner. Six months later came the split. There war, no quarrel. Mariow mildly declared that he had had enough of non-specu- lative, humdrum business. lie would | retire, and spend the next few years of his leisure in seeing the world. Lockyer did his beat to conceal his gratification at the prospect of running the Business alone under the old name, but by no means on the old lines. They parted on quite amicable terms. They would in all ¡ probability not meet again. The last ties were severed by the paying out of the retiring partner's capital. Marlow had suggested that this might be done by instalments, but Lockyer. thirsting for independence, found the large earn rc-j graced by harrowing it 1

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