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CHAPTER XVIII.

A MATRIMONIAL SCHEME.

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rage of Sir Edward Rockhart knew no bounds when he was informed by his agent Rackrent that Richard's debt was discharged, and that he would be released from prison. He blamed the lawyer in unmeasured terms for negotiating the matter; but the latter, after waiting till the storm had spent its first fierce outburst, proceeded to show him that he had no option in the matter, and that if he had attempted to delay, it would not only have been ineffectual, but have brought both himself and his employer into trouble. The baronet had nothing for it, therefore, but to put up with the loss of his prey, consoling himself with the reflection that he had at least fixed an arrow in Richard's heart, which would rankle there

If the liberation of his son-in-law was mortifying to him, the other information which he received at the same time, that his daughter and their boy were dead, came like music on his ear.

“Ha! well,” he savagely exclaimed. “Better still, perhaps, for my purpose, that he has been rescued from death.

Let him drag on a life of misery. My revenge will be all the longer and the sweeter."

The death of old Everly added another balmy drop to this bad man's cup of enjoyment. He had left his son penniless, and, therefore, powerless;- powerless to free himself from the bitter feelings which poverty would occasion—powerless to rise above his misfortunes--powerless to revenge himself, should his heart desire it.

By means of his valet Dogwood, he learned who had befriended him in his adversity, learned that he had been removed to Mr Gray's residence, and that finally he had got a situation in the King's Printing-House.

“A drudge for life!” he mentally exclaimed, with a chuckle. “Poor fool I let him live as he list, and die when he may, his connection with me and mine is over. I need think no more about him.”

But he was brought to think about him, and with no pleasant feelings, when the forgery was discovered, and the young man became owner of Netherton. That event, so fortunate for Richard himself, was most distasteful to the baronet, since it made them near neighhours, and brought them within the same social circle. He foresaw the possibility of their meeting, and was conscious that such an occurrence would prove embarrassing, if nothing more.

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But other and more personal concerns at this time demanded his attention, and he had no time to waste much of it on Richard Everly.

He was still tortured by the knowledge, that somewhere or other lived a youth who was the heir to that wealth in which he revelled, and agonized by the possibility that any day he might appear, and push him from his stool. True, this dread was not so horrid as formerly; for as year after year passed away, and no intimation came, he began to cherish the hope that he was either dead, or entirely ignorant of his rights.

Resting a little on this desirable supposition, he bethought himself of the future. He remembered that he had no son to inherit the title and estate; and this deficiency, he concluded, must be

He must, therefore, marry; and this step he was firmly resolved on. Young he was not; but, still fresh and healthy, he did not deem it any great difficulty to enter again into this state. But jn what direction must he seek for an alliance? This was a very knotty point for Sir Edward; for he was conscious that he stood in no great favour with the fair sex. He had, in truth, never tried to do so. He had shut himself up for a good few little company, and visited less, among his neighbours; and he easily perceived that a position of this kind was not the best for bis present purpose. There were three qualifications essential to the lady to whom he would unite himself. She must be young, rich, and respectably connected ;-young, in order that his principal object might not be frustrated; rich, that in the event of the heir turning up and establishing his claim, he might not be reduced to poverty; and of respectable family, because he was a baronet. As to temper, taste, habits, affection, and other things to which importance is generally attached, he wasted not a thought upon these. Love, of course, was out of the question. He was not capable, even in his young and best days, of cherishing a warm, genuine attachment; and, now that he was old and seared by passion, and sought anew the matrimonial state, only that he might gratify a feeling of pride and selfishness, it is not likely that he would, even by profession to his own heart, colour the proceeding with an emotional complexion. Nor did he. He regarded it as it really wasman arrangement of convenience to himself and contemplated it accordingly,

To form the resolution was easy enough; but to carry it out practically, was a different and much more difficult matter. How was he to discover a suitable lady, and having discovered ber, secure her consent? for he had a dim notion that consent on ber part would be necessary, or, at least, the consent of her father, whose will must form her law. He reflected long at this point; but the longer he reflected the more obscure became his way, and in his extremity he determined to consult his valet.

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Yes, reader, his valet-the same whose heart he had nearly pierced with a dagger, when he found that he had read the two important documents. That daring action on the part of Dogwood had materially changed the relation between master and servant. Formerly they were master and servant in every sense of the word. To Dogwood, Sir Edward was distant, haughty, and authoritative, as proud, aristocratic-gentlemen usually are to their menials; and Dogwood, on the other hand, was as respectful and deferential as a valet is to a baronet. But the perusal of the papers produced a great change; and since the first and most impulsive result was avoided—viz., murder--the ultimate issue was the establishment of an astonishing familiarity between the two. This was a result very natural, considering that Dogwood knew enough to ruin his master; and if that master was to allow him the range of the world with this knowledge in his possession, he must do something to secure his silence. The baronet was, in short, in his valet's power; and being so, he was no longer his master. Outwardly, they might be just as they were; but really and truly, they were confidants, and in many respects associates. Haughty and unbending to every one else, Sir Edward was familiar to this man; and many were their private confabulations, confined for the most part to one subject--the existence of Ringald's child, and the desirableness of getting that disagreeable fact neutralized, as regarded its influence on Sir Edward's position.

Dogwood was about the best sharer of such a secret which Sir Edward could have stumbled upon; and though he became pos. sessed of it most unexpectedly, not very honourably, and sorely against his master's will, yet in time the baronet came to think it a benefit instead of a disadvantage, for he found he was just the man to help him in the matter, if help was at all possible. He was a shrewd fellow, with a conscience not particularly tender, and entered so heartily into his master's interests, as to promise to be, in any emergency that might arise, both a counsellor and assistant. To do him justice, the power which he had acquired did not cause him to assume much arrogance or presumption. He was quite content with the familiarity which his master spontaneously accorded; and while still discharging the duties of valet, he found the situation an easy, if not an independent one.

Ib this important functionary, then, Sir Edward confided his resolution as regarded matrimony, and asked his advice as to the mode of procedure. Dogwood was by no means astonished at his master's intention. On the contrary, he thought it a most sensible resolution, and at once expressed himself to that effect. But when asked by the baronet what course be would advise, he was silent. He knew in a moment, as well as the other, the qualifications Decessary for the lady, and the difficulty which Sir Edward's posi

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tion and character threw in the way. He looked up to the ceiling
and down to the carpet, this way and that way, screwed his mouth,
twisted his hair, and did every thing that a great mind at fault will
do to catch the idea it is in search of; but all was in vain, and he
was obliged to confess that he was puzzle).

The consultation having broken up with the matter in this un-
satisfactory state, Dogwood retired to his own sanctum in a very
abstracted mood. The truth was, he was sorely dissatisfied with his
inability to point out a plan for the accomplishment of this desirable
ohject; and a vigorous nature like his could not rest in these cir.
cumstances. Now, we here make it known for the first time that
Dogwood had a wife, and that she filled an important department
in the baronet's domestic establishment. Possibly the reader thinks
that personage comes upon the stage for the first time that she
has had as yet no connection with the incidents we have recorded.
But, kind reader, this is a mistake-a very innocent one on your
part, no doubt, but still a mistake. We have not, it is true, had
occasion to mention her by name; nevertheless, her agency was
very

material in bringing about much that we have narrated, and this will appear immediately.

We have said that Dogwood went straight from his master's presence to his own apartment; and, as fortune would have it, he found his wife there at the moment. Now, a wife generally knows by a glance at her husband's countenance if anything particular is troubling him; and no sooner had Mrs Dogwood gazed on the perturbed face of her liege lord, than she perceived that he was distressed, and tenderly inquired the cause. His first impulse was to say grufily, that nothing was the matter with him, and to tell ber to mind her own business; but a second thought flew close after the heels of the first, and as this was in his estimation an infinitely better one, he suppressed the latter. It flashed in upon him as by a lightning-stroke, that it lay peculiarly in a woman's way to solve the problem which at the moment puzzled both his master and himself. It was a woman that was wanted, and a woman could best tell how she was to be got. So, without hinting, even in the remotest way, at the undermost motives of his master, but attributing it wholly to his desire to obt

an heir to his title and estates, he told her that Sir Erward wanted a wife, what kind of a wife he wanted, and the difficulty which lay in the way of

He stopt after he had succinctly put her in possession of the facts, and gazed fixedly at her face, to learn by the promptest process if her fertile feminine imagination had hit upon a plan. Ha! a bright gleam lights up that rather strong-featured countenance, and a smile of satisfaction follows.

“ The very thing!” she exclaimed; and the words seemed to be

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the conclusion of a reflective process in which her mind had been engaged.

What's the very thing?" demanded Dogwood, eagerly. "She is just the girl to suit," added the other, apparently too much occupied in the pleasing contemplation of her idea to hear or

“What girl? who is she?" asked Dogwood, a little impatiently. “Don't you remember the child we quietly freed ourselves of Mr Gray's child?"

“Ha! Diamond Hunter! By George, Mary, you've hit it. A capital spec every way. The girl is young, good-looking, respectably cunnected, and will be immensely rich if she is restored to her parents. But then we can't manage it without the ugly fact coming to light, that we dropt her, and went off with the money which the servant brought with her."

Pshaw, Jem! If we give her back to them again, won't that square our account? They will be too thankful to have her—such a nice young girl as she is--to be very hard on us for our former little fault. But remember, Sir Edward must have the marriage over before he reveals her birth, or ten to one he does not get her afterwards."

Right again,” said Dogwood, nodding approvingly. “But how is it to be managed ?

Sir

Edward must know all."

But as regards the girl herself, some stratagem must be used; and I think I could form a plan.”

“O, no fear. Come with me to Sir Edward."
They went, and their plans were made.

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CHAPTER XIX.

DIAMOND ENTRAPPED.

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Eight o'clock was ringing from the Tron, as Diamond wended her

way home one evening from work. As she sauntered slowly up the High Street, she felt sad and melancholy. Poor girl, her experience for the last few weeks had been grievous enough. Do as she would, she could not bring her rebellious heart into subjection to her judgment. She did not know till now how dearly she loved Henry, how closely ber affections had twined round him, and how much his companionship was necessary to her happiness.

But, now that he was absent from her, and when she leant not on his arm, or listened to his rich musical voice, or looked joyously up into his beaming eyes, she realized the depth of her love, and saw the maguitude of her sacrifice. Not for a moment did she re

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