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Mr,s. I-IARRINGTON'S SECRET.…

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Mr,s. I-IARRINGTON'S SECRET. I BY HENRY FRITH. AUTHOR OF The Mystery of Moor Farm;" The Skeleton Cupboard The Black Shaft The Cruise of the Wasp;" The Hunting of the Hydra;" The Lost Trader" "Search for the Talisman;" The Opal Mountain;" u The Red Spectre;" "The Lock-Keeper's Secret;" 4-c-, 4e. [ALL BIGHTS RESERVED.} CHAPTER X.-(Continited,.) AARON Hakrington made no remark, but his eyes twinkled with suppressed anger. He bad made 'up his mind to see his nephew alone, and, like many weak men when opposed openly, he became suddenly very obstinate. When his nephew came in he greeted him coolly, and in quite a different manner from that he would have adopted had they been alone. Here you are the n, at last, Master Jack," he said. You took your time in obeying my sum- mons. I might have died for all you cared, I suppose ?" Indeed, uncle, I came immediately I received your letter, which certainly gave me no open inti- mation of your serious illness. You are much better now, I can see." Yes, much better, thanks to your aunt's kind nuising. Alice Mackenzie has also been very good to me. I am deeply indebted to your aunt and her daughter, not to you!" I could scarcely help being away," began the young man. I am quite sure it was not his fault," said Mrs. Harrington. I did not write so strongly as I might have done, for fear of alarming him." Well, I am glad to see you, John, after all your travels," said the old man. You and I have a little business to transact. We have plenty of time for that, though. Will you dine and sleep here ?" Yes, if you wish it, certainly! I will just run up to my lodgings again, and come back in a couple of hours. That is," he added, turning to his aunt, if I shall not put you out in any way ?" My dear John, even if you did, as you say, put as out, your uncle desires your presence. I will at once give orders for the room to be prepared." So saying she left the chamber in her usual stately manner. The duties of hospitality claimed her first attention. Jack," suddenly said his uncle, "I have something to say to you in private. Not now, when your aunt is not near. I will find an opportunity. Remain here as long as you can, and do as I bid you, or you will take the consequences." "I will obey you implicitly in everything, uncle. Do I not owe all I have to your kmdness and generosity ? Indeed I am fully sensible of the debt, and will repay it by strict obedience." "Very pretty, Jack, and very nicely said but we shall see. Now, tell me, have vou fallen in love with any one ? Are you engaged to any girl, eh ?" The old man gazed intently at his nephew as he put the question sharply. "I am engaged to no lady, uncle. Nor would I engage myself without informing you," he replied. That's well! You are, then, heart-whole, and will, no doubt, be willing to do as circumstances may render necessary. I have a plan-" For my marriage, uncle ?" he exclaimed. Yes, for your marriage The lady you will gradually become acquainted with. But we need not ii s.cuss this matter now. It is quite sufficient for me (> > know that you have no entanglements." But suppose I do not like the young lady ? Sup- pose she does not like me ?" said Harrington. Then you must suppose that I am a fool," replied he invalid, and I think you will hardly advance such a proposition. I have a match for you in my mind. You will do me an immense favour and comfort my declining days by acquiescence, at any rate." Bnt-" began John Harrington. Wait until I have finished," continued the old man, impatiently. "I say acquiescence, not neces- sarily obedience. I have set my mind upon the match, but if you do not like each other, you need not marry. Only in that case your fortune will be considerably curtailed. There, enough! Here is your aunt; say nothing to her." But can't you give me even an idea who the young lady is? Is she of good family, pretty and—:—" At this moment Mrs. Harrington entered, and it suddenly occurred to her that she bad left uncle and nephew alone. What had they boen speaking cf ? Have you two finished your business chat yet she said. What have you been talking about, I N,voiider ? John looks quit,c anxious." We have been discussing his matrimonial pro- spects," replied Aaron, smiling grimly. He has made inquiries concerning a certain young lady. That is all By-the-bye, John, have you seen Alice Mackenzie? Is she not improved? She is a very kind, good girl; I can tell you so much, and This last sentence was said in an undertone, audible, he pretended, only to John Harrington, who made no reply. But mothers have sharp ears where their daughters are concerned. "Hun away to town, and return as soon as you can. You will remain here for a week, I daresay," said Mr. Harrington. Leave me now, I am tired, John." So young Harrington took his leave, and as he was carried up to London he pondered on &11 his uncle had said to him. He intends me to marry Alice, then. Well, I mi»ht do worse; but Gretchen I have declared, nay sworn, I will only marry her. I must tell Alice no, that would never do. I must invent some ex- cuse.' This is Mrs. Harrington's plan, I'll be bound. A very nice way to feather her nest, indeed, and pro- vide for her daughter. No, I won't; I'll marry Miss Engelbach, come what may 1" He pronounced these words aloud, quite uncon- sciously, as the train stopped at the station. Waterloo was reached in quicker time than he had anticipated, and John Harrington drove rapidly homewards, revolving the events in his mind, and half determined to remain in London. But, after all, his uncle did not intend to compel him to marry Alice Mackenzie. He had the alternative. Alice was an engaging girl, he was fain to confess; but as a wife, no! He packed his portmanteau again, and returned to the station. A block in the Strand detained him, and as he was gazing out amongst the crowd of vehicles, his eyes remained fixed upon a four-wheeled cab carrying a lady's luggage. He could scarcely 19 believe his eyes. There sat Miss Engelbach! Har- rington called out, but in another second the driver whipped his horse and the cab was lost in the crowd. There could be no doubt about her identity. The proud, pale face of the girl could not be mistaken. Miss Engelbach, and alone! What could she be doing in London? He thought she would have pro- ceeded direct to Liverpool, and embarked for Aus- tralIa; but here she was in London, and, by what appeared to be the most unlikely chance, Harrington and she had met again. A comet crosses the earth's path once in many thousands of years, and then dis- appears into space for a short time it may be, or for generations. So Gretclien Engelbach had crossed Harrington s path and disappeared, but only to re- appear almost immediately. Before his cab had gone many yards, Harrington Jehu118 up to the little trap-door, and hailed his J™} notice a four-wheeled cab with luggage lust now ? inquired the ,youD £ r mnn 6b '7?% f Vrepliefd 'I'6 ,d»ver, holding down his head but looking m. front of him all the time. Which way did it go ? > inquired John Har- rington. "Up St. MarlmVlane way, through Adelaide- street, I think, sir. Leastways, in that direction." "Go up St. Martin's-lane, and see if you can tr^ce it," said John Harrington. So the cabman turned and drove rapidly up St Martin's-lane without catching a glimpse of the other cab and luggage. The afternoon was wearing out, so, after a wild-goose chase, the driver returned through Oxford-street, and presently turned down into Dean-street, Soho. Looking up a small side street the man there saw the cab he was in search standing at the door of a private house. There It is, sir," said Jehu, pulling up. There it was, sure enough. Harrington descended from his cab and hurried towards it. He had an Idea he knew the house. Yes, he was certain of it. The mysterious Miss Engelbach had gone to consult A'tr. Faithful!, the Harringtons' family solicitor. Why ? CHAPTER XI. I A REVELATION. [T was obviously impossible to ascertain the reason why the young lady had sought advice of Mr. Faitb- full, but Harrington made a mental memorandum with the intention of conferring with his uncle's man of business at the first opportunity. He returned to his cab, and was driven to Waterloo Station, where he bad to wait nearly an hour, as a punishment for pur- suing Miss Engelbach. No one will envy him his position, and when at last the train started he felt vexed and weary, indisposed for conversation, and only thawed under the influence of dinner and Alice Mackenzie's bright eyes and sparkling manner, polished for his benefit. Two three days a week passed away, and his uncle made no sign. The old man was much better, and Mrs. Harrington was apparently quite at ease concerning her husband, who -.at up for several hours daily and occupied himself in writing. As Mrs. Harrington was frequently alone with only her son, and Alice made a point of entertaining John Harrington, she, with the assistance of some girls in the near neighbourhood, kept the young man's atten- tion diverted from his uncle, who, on his part, did not resuiue the conversation which Mrs. Harrington had interrupted and—we may as well confess it-had partially overheard. We must do Alice Mackenzie the justice to say that she was quite unconscious of any plotting to secure the heir. She liked and admired John Har- rington, and his determination when he undertook anything. She knew she must marry a man with money, but she was not the least likely to marry simply fiJr money. She bad a heart—a heart which, hotel-like, could accommodate a good many guests but there was in it an inner chamber which no love had ever entered. When the favoured one arrived, she would turn all the temporary residents out and devote herself to the comfort and care of the wed- ding guest, who would alone retain her favours- live in her heart and pay no rent." But she was skarp enough to see that John, or Edward, as she invariably called him, was not by any means in love with her. He treated her with cool respect, though he occasionally clai med cousinly privileges which Alice did not resent. She accepted the light tributes to her beauty with perfect outward indifference, though she would sometimes regret that Edward was so far out of reach of serious love- making. While Aaron Harrington wrote memoranda and conferred frequently with his solicitor, Mrs. Har- rington had apparently devoted herself to the instruc- tion of her son. Donald was studying for an exami- nation, though full young even for the preparation required. Nevertheless, day after day Mrs. Harring- ton, when the young man returned from London, would shut herself up with her son to coach" him, as she declared but, as Alice Mackenzie remarked, "Mamma knows nothing of law-not even as a mother-in-law However, both parent and child seemed perfectly satisfied; the latter, indeed, began to put on what is now termed side," and give him- self airs, making occasionally mysterious remarks con- cerning his future prospects, which only provoked laughter and badinage, which he resented, for he had by no means of late improvec I wonder what has come over Donald the last week or two," said Alice to John Harrington. His studies or his business do not agree with him." I have noticed the change lately. Dear me! I have been here now for at least ten days I am sorry you find the time hang so heavily on your hands," replied Alice Mackenzie. "I'm sure I do all I can to amuse you You men always require some fresh object-to one thing constant never!" I do not think inconstancy is a vice-or failing, I should say—monopolised by the male sex," re- torted John Harrington. "Why, my dear Alice, you are a perfect mistress of flirting, in all its branches Am I ?" replied the girl, flushing. You need not preach to me. I never flirted with you, at any rate and when I do indulge in that innocent amusement it will not be with a bear Perhaps not. Bears are apt to hug one, and no one can accuse you of a wish to be embraced by a bear, Alice." "You are a 'hotror! exclaimed the girl, laugh- ing. But, seriously, what is the matter with Donald ? He is cross, touchy, and peevish when you mention business or his examination. His never was what you would call an A-l' temper I bog your pardon. I would not-I never did- use that expression. A-l' is a shipper's term at Lloyd's,' my fair cousin," replied the young man, provokingly. Well, you know what I mean--yoti are so matter- of-fact there is no fun in you now. I believe you are in love with someone." "With yourself, do you think?" inquired Harring- ton, slyly. It was an unfair question, but Alice Mackenzie was quite equal to it. "With me? Good gracious, I hope not! You, of all men! I never dreamt of such a thing. No, certainly not with me. Oh, dear! what a funny pair we should make!" | "Then you have considered the possibility of such f an alliance ?" persisted Harrington. No—-not for a second! The idea of my being married to you I should die in a week, if I were so foolish. If you have for a moment entertained such a notion, my dear sir, the sooner you get rid of it the better. We may be friends, surely ?" Of course. Yes. I was only joking, Alice. The idea of any affection between you and me is cer- tainly ridiculous, as you say. I am yery glad you agree with me so completely. Come along and have a game of croquet." No," she answered; I must go in. You won't miss me, you know; you have your beloved pipe. An revoir! No," she said, pushing him away, I- no making up,' if you please. Besides, we have had no quarrel; we agree in every particular; and I don't like to be hugged' by a bear She disappeared after firing this parting shot, leaving Harrington to ruminate on what he had said, and whether his uncle would be satisfied with the result. Then, perceiving Donald approaching, he turned away and lighted his pipe in the summer- house. Two evenings subsequently, when the plan of Donald's study had been gone through, and he and his mother had made up their minds to rest for a time, Aaron Harrington sent Alice to his nephew with a message expressive of his desire to see him. John at once obeyed the summons, and, leaving his game and a cigar in the garden, where Mrs. Harring- ton and a few neighbours were entertaining each other with tea, gossip and croquet—a pleasing com- bination, which, with flirting, occupied no small share of the feminine minds of the period in that part of Surrey—he at once proceeded upstairs. Good evening, John," said his uncle. "Shut the door carefully, please. Come and sit down." Aaron indicated a chair as be spoke, pointing to it with the feather of the quill pen which he removed from his mouth for the purpose. This feather had always seemed to give the old man great pleasure. He generally had the tip of the quill between his lips when seated at his writing-table. He was ruminat- ing upon a letter, or an answer to it. John Harrington sat down and waited for his uncle to commence. Jack," said the old man, I am failing—ay, fail- ing fast." "My dear uncle," began the nephew, deprecatingly, don't say so. You look—— Never mind my looks, boy. My feelings are my barometer. I am failing by inches—dying if you will. Lately I have felt worse. I cannot tell why. I eat and drink well, as a rule. The doctor says he can trace nothing wrong; yet I am fading away. It's scarcely worth anyone's while to poison me!" Uncle, for goodness' sake don't talk so We all love and respect you. You are kindness and liberality itself. We shall lose everything when we lose you. How can you let your mind dwell on such a fancy ? You are low-spirited, that's all!" May be so," said the invalid, But now let's to business. You are my heir, unless I alter my will— and unless you will endeavour to please me I will alter it, to a certain extent. I will not be an old fool, and disinherit you after all the expectations I have raised; but you must do my bidding, if you can." I I will," replied Harrington, whose thoughts flew to Alice and her angry disclaimer of liking. I will, uncle, I promise you, do my utmost, even at a sacrifice of conscience, to obey you. I require no sacrifice. Conscience is making me put these stipulations before you. You will have a round fortune if you do as I say, If you do not succeed, you will be less fortunate to the extent of twenty thousand pounds. You will have to pay away that sum if you do not—if you cannot—carry out my wishes. D'ye hear?" Very well. uncle." replied Harrington, coollv." It is h big pull, certainly, but I have never forfeited my word. I will obey if I can. If I cannot succeed I will put up with the loss. You must have a strong motive for this!" I have," replied his uncle, grimly. Ten years ago I received a sum of money-a large sum— unexpectedly, in trust for a young lady. My business at that time was not good-in fact, I may as well confess, I was near the end of my tether, but my credit floated me. I had no money—-—" No money exclaimed John Harrington. You had lost all ?" Nearly all. No one knew but in a weak or un- fortunate moment—call it what you please-I in- vested the trust money in my tottering business." But you had no right——" Right or wrong, I did it," replied the old usurer, gnawing his pen. Then I tided over failure. I made money, and prospered. The trust brought me luck. Everything I touched turned to gold and I replaced the money in safe security, with handsome interest. That loan made my fortune!" "But surely the young lady, when she came of age, demanded her money ?" 11 No, because, firstly, she is not of age. In the second place, she has no idea that she had any monsy at all. Once I was kind-hearted, and took her ir-, I thought, as my adopted daughter." A light began to break in upon the young man, but he said nothing, and his uncle continued 0 I replaced the money. I have prospered. The sum I received will, like the young lady, attain its majority this year, and realise twenty-one thousand pounds. I repaid her badly. I wish to make full restitution." But all the money belongs to her," said Jack. You had nothing, uncle. Her money made your fortune, which is hers." "Nonsense, man! Rubbish! She is quite un- conscious of her legacy; and, besides, I couldn't spare her money. Even Faithfull was ignorant of this until yesterday. Here is my new will, which I intend to execute to-morrow. Now in that these conditions are named, with other legacies. So you consent to deliver up the money or marry ?" "Yes, if I can. But I fenr the young lady you mentioned does not like me!" said Jack, with a smile, as he remembered the bear episode. How do you know ?" said the old man, testily. You haven't seen her lately?" Well, for the last ten days I think we have been pretty friendly, and, indeed, I had flattered myself that I had made a little impression, but- Impression What are you saying ? To whom are you referring, man ?" "To Alice Mackenzie, of course, uncle," replied John Harrington. "You mentioned her the other day." I mentioned her!" repeated the old man, with a scornful inflection. Yes, when her mother was listening. Were you taken in, too ? That is good But the lady is not Alice Mackenzie, John." "Then who, in heaven's name, is she?" cried the nephew, impatiently. I don't like this wholesale disposal of my affections." Please yourself," replied his uncle. The young lady is Lilian Manville, my ward, who was almost turned out of my house and I was a weak fool to permit it. But she shall have her rights, poor girl; though late, she shall have full reparation, so far as I can make it." "Lily Manville I" exclaimed the young man. Lily dear little Lily I would gladly marry herif I could but ah where is she ?" I do not know; abroad somewhere. You like travelling. Go and find her. Win her, wear her, and you shall win my fortune, hers, and my eternal gratitude! Go, Jack, go. and God bless you "Yes, uncle; but have you no clue to her where- abouts ? Is she on the Continent ?" said the delighted nephew. "No; she was, for she has left England, I believe. Faithfull hinted as much. Ask him he acts for me in this case, and knows all about her. I can only tell you one thing, she has dropped her own name "Dropped her name 1" murmured John Harring- ton, starting up suddenly. "Why, then, uncle, I have met her. What is her name? Speak, for heaven's sake, her name the name she has adopted!" "How agitated you are, Jack You could not have-met her, I imagine. Her name Yes, yes, uncle quick, pletse! Is now Gretchen Engelbach, and she is a governess. John, what's amiss? The oJd man started from his chair, as John Har- rington fell back in his as if he had received a mortal blow. CHAPTER XII. I UNDERHAND DEALING. I AARON Harrington sat biting his pen-tip till his nephew had recovered himself, and then he said: Jack, you have lost a chance, I am afraid. What makes you think the young lady you met is Lilian Manville ?" Why, her assumed name, of course," replied Har- rington junior, impatiently. Not only that though, she reminded me of Lilian, and I told her so. But wait one moment, uncle. You said you had lost your money. Youi fortune is hers. You were guilty of a breach of trust," he continued, boldly, "and I am not entitled to a penny." John Harrington, you are a Quixotic fool. The labourer is worthy of his hire.' I brought my business talent, she her money. Both have benefited. Her fortune has been doubled, mine restored. Don't be a fool. Go, win the girl, and you may hand your share to her." She must be the same as the Miss Engelbach I met in Sweden." And then John Harrington told his uncle his adventures. But the old man listened with lack-lustre eyes. He was tired and inattentive. So Jack took his de- parture, leaving the invalid still mechanically sucking his pen. "Where is Donald?" inquired John Harrington, shortly afterwards. Gone to bid papa good-night," said Alice. He was here just now." I don't think uncle is very well this evening," said Jack. He seems weaker than when I saw him yesterday." "Business worries him, I think," said Alice. Mr. Faithfull was here yesterday, and will be here to-morrow, Donald says he is in the office, you know." Yes, so I understand. I must be off to-morrow, Alice, so I'll say good-bye now." "Going! Oh, John, is not this very sudden? Mamma will be surprised." I shall turn up again, depend upon, it," he answered. Bad money, you know. Good-night, little woman." Good-night. I shall see you in the morning, of course." John is going away to-morrow," she said, later, to her mother. "Well, dearest?" inquired Mrs. Harrington. Well, mamma, that's all. What do you mean ?" Is there nothing more ? Have not you and he come to any understanding ?" "Oh, yes, mamma! quite; he and I are quite agreed on one point." You have my full consent, darling. He will pro- bably be his uncle's heir, and you will be a rich woman. You have pleased me very much, darling. God bless you I will see dear John in the morning." "But, mamma, you are wrong. He and I are agreed that we will never marry each other. The idea of your making such a mistake 1" "You are not engaged to him? There is no under- standing between you ?" exclaimed the angry and dis- appointed match-maker. Then all I can say is, you are a most undutiful girl!" Undutiful, mamma! In what way? Because I don't love him ? exclaimed Alice. "Love him, nonsense! Marry him! Do you suppose for a moment that I loved your Well, you have disappointed me," she said, checking herself. "Go to your room, and send Donald to me." "Donald is not in my room," said Alice, pertly, as she turned away. Alice, you are insolent! Send your brother here at once," said the angry lady. Miss Mackenzie, being in a temper," and being also really sorry that Jack had not shown some little feeling at the prospect of parting with her, made no answer, but, after ringing the bell for the servant, went to her own room. "All the worse for Mr. John," muttered Mrs. Harrington. Then, as the servant entered, she said, Send Mr. Mackenzie to me at once." Donald arrived in a few minutes, smelling strongly of tobacco. His mother rose and locked the door. and then said. Donald, John Harrington leaves here to-morrow. Mr. Faithfull is coming to arrange that business with your father. Have you the—the document?" she whispered. "Yes," he answered. "It's safe enough. Look here, mother, I don't care about this business. Sup- pose it comes out?" It cannot; I know exactly how Mr. Harrington has arranged his affairs. So long as there was a chance of your sister and John liking each other, we could have avoided it, perhaps. But he has behaved shamefully, and leaves here to-morrow morning." The diplomatic Mrs. Harrington knew that an insult to his sister was the sure way to rouse Donald's revengeful feelings. Insulted Alice, has he? By jove! he shall pay for that! Who told you ?" "Alice has this moment left me, and told me what had passed between herself and John Harrington. She gave no details; but I could quite understand that, after the way he has behaved, all is at an end between them." "What a cad!" exclaimed the young gentleman, He used to be a decent fellow. I'll tell him what I think of him 1" Pray don't, dear. I will not have your sister's name bandied about. Let him go. I know how to act. Leave all to me-follow my instructions, and all will be well," All right, mother I have arranged to stay late at the office to-morrow, and I will manage to find means to get the deed-box unlocked all right. I think I have done my share, and after all, when the governor signs it, there will be no harm done." Mrs. Harrington assented. She and her precious son had so arranged matters for the benefit of them- selves that poor Lily Manville would stand a bad chance of succeeding to her twenty-one thousand pounds. The unscrupulous wife of Aaron Harrington had determined to secure for her children all she could grasp. She was perfectly aware of the con- tents of the new will, and had carefully prepared a substitute, which only lacked the requisite signature and attestations. The servants' would suffice, and if the new document, so carefully prepared by Donald, the young student, could only be signed before Mr. Faithfull's arrival, she could depend upon herself to keep things quiet. But the astute Faithfull had to be reckoned with. Mrs. Harrington had never scrupled to attain her ends. She had married her first husband against his will, and by threat of breach of promise, which in a clergyman would have been "ruination," as she called it. She thus obtained a" position;" and when the poor curate died she set herself to entrap a rich, elderly man, and succeeded in her plans remarkably well. Mr. Faithfull, however, mistrusted her and with much reluctance yielded to her husband when he decided to discuss his affairs before Mrs. Harrington. But the old man had no chance against the firmness and unscrupulousness of the curate's (late) widow, who could be as sweet as honey, and yet bitter as gall, according to circumstances. On the whole, Mr. Harrington found himself much better when he gave way to his wife; and if a sick man finds himself easier in mind and body when he yields to his better half, the chances are that he will continue to yield, and enjoy the remnant of health still left to him. To-morrow," said Mrs. Harrington, I must obtain your father's signature to a cheque. Really, we are getting very dependent, Donald. Bring the deed with you, and mind that next evening you remain at the office. We need not say any more." But, mother, indeed I do not like all this. What do you want the deed for when you know the contents ? We shall get into some terrible trouble, I am afraid." "Donald, do you want to see all our money in the hands of the man who has ill-treated your sister ? Do you want to slave all the days of your life, and see us paupers almost ? Leave all to me. I will find means to alter my husband's determination, and make him change his mind. My mind is made up; and I will have his will altered." Where there's a Will there's a, way," muttered Donald, half afraid of the feeling his mother ex- hibited, and smiling at her. I have copied your draft, but you must get the signature." Leave all to me," was the stern reply. Get the deed ready, and place it in the office with the others. I will do my part, depend upon that!" 1 (To be continued.) A

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