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“ That reserve was very much against his will, I assure you," rejoined Mr Strickland. “I laid my veto on him too, and I am glad to find he has obeyed me. But I will call at the Canongate I
go into the city, and tell him that bis lips are unsealed. No doubt, he will bound to Newington like an antelope."
Diamond cast down her eyes, and blushed; but on her ingenuous face might be read the glow of happiness that the expected visit caused to fall
her heart. Highly delighted with the result of his examination, the lawyer
, without even waiting to see Mr or Mrs Gray, took his departure
, and went straight to Mrs Ford's, where he found his two friends anxiously expecting him.
“Now, don't begin to question me," he said, with frank good humour. “I am a lawyer, you know, and cannot tell all I know or thiuk, even to my clients. Listen, then, to what I deem it right to impart, I have been at Rockhart Hall; have seen its present occupier, and angled a good deal with him. I have made out a good deal. I have assured myself that Sir Edward—for I suppose, for form's sake, we must still call him Sir Edward—knew long ago that his brother had been lawfully married, and left an heir, though he could not discover them, which was just as well, as he would have held out towards the heir of Rockhart Hall any thing but a helping or protecting hand. He knows, however, that our proof is scanty, and will, I firmly believe, give us mortal battle. Well, we are not very well armed certainly; but I took it upon me to say, that we would offer him fight.”
“ You did right, Mr Strickland,” cried Richard, impetuously. “ If necessary, I shall spend every farthing I possess in this cause, and think it well-disposed of, if his destruction shall follow.”
Without taking any notice of this outburst, the lawyer, turning to Henry, said, “ Now, young gentleman, I have been at Newington this morning, and I am led to believe that a certain young lady there expects your worship to visit her. She now knows what has been discovered, and you are free to talk to her about it as much as
Henry needed no other hint, and in another minute he was gone.
“ And so this is the bureau," said the lawyer, approaching the curiously-carved piece of furniture.
“ It is," answered Everly; "very curious, isn't it? There is one at Rockhart Hall exactly similar."
“So there is," observed the lawyer. “I observed it yesterday. Have you sought for any more secret drawers ?"
“We have, but cannot find them.”
6 Hum !" muttered the lawyer to himself. «« In that case, it must be broken to pieces; for the certificate we must have.”
While these various moves were being made by the worthy Mr
Strickland, on one side of this very interesting game which was begun to be played, those on the other side were not idle. No sooner had Dogwood shown the lawyer very unceremoniously to the door, than the baronet called to him from the landing; and, running up, the valet found his master bursting with suppressed passion, and pale with fear.
“Come hither, Dogwood: quick, quick !” he exclaimed, beckoning him to follow into his private room.
The valet obeyed; and, with his natural cautiousness, closed the door. Meanwhile, the baronet strode up and down the chamber like one possessed. His hands twitched together vehemently; his heavy brows lowered till they hung over his baleful eyes, which rolled out beneath them glances of restless fire.
"In Heaven's name, Sir Edward, what is the matter?” asked the astonished and somewhat alarmed Dogwood.
Damnation is the matter!” roared his master, the torrent at length bursting forth unrestrainedly. “It has come upon us at last--come like a thunder-clap.”
“What! has the girl blabbed after all?" inquired Dogwood, anxiously.
0, curse the girl. No, that's not it, but ten thousand times worse. That brat of Ringald's has turned up now, though we have constantly been baffled in the search for him and turned up too, in a way which gives us no chance to get him quietly disposed of."
“Where is he?" gasped the bewildered valet.
"In Edinburgh," replied the baronet. "He has been always there." “And his mother too ?”
No; that is so far fortunate. The news of Ringald's death killed her, and this is why no claim has been made. No papers could be found to show who she was. “But the bureau ?" suggested Dogwood.
“Ay, there it is. It seems the other day they came upon one secret drawer, and found enough to show who the boy's father was; but that other repository, with its important decument, has as yet escaped them. Dogwood, our whole chance rests on that. If they get the certificate, we are undone ; if we get it, we can laugh at them. Now, what is to be done? We know where it is--they don't. What is to be done?”
"Could it not be got hold of ?" asked Dogwood, getting excited.
" That's it, Dogwood. Now, mark me, I will give you a thou sand pounds for that certificate."
The valet's sharp eyes twinkled rapidly, 6 How is it to be done?" he inquired, with breathless earnestness.
“By dexterity. You must manage to get at the bureau, and extract the paper from the secret drawer.”
FRAUD AND FRIENDSHIP.
But it may
" It will be a difficult task," replied Dogwood, despondingly.
“ And therefore the reward I offer is a large one. not be so difficult as you imagine. A few moments beside that bureau, when no one sees you, and the thing is done without risk of
any kind. I will show you the secret of the spring. It is most cunningly contrived, and can hardly be discovered; but if they knew that such a paper was there, they would break the bureau to atoms rather than want it. Now, do you consent?”.
“I will try, at least. I will do my utmost," answered Dogwood, promptly.
“Come forward, then."
They approached the bureau, and Sir Edward pointed to a corner near the top.
“Do you see that drawer ?" he asked, laconically.
Well, the cavity is behind it, and cannot be got to except when the drawer is open exactly two inches and a half. See, I open it to the proper distance, by keeping an eye on this mark in the side. Now, by some concealed and apparently complicated machinery, the little panel at the back can be made to fly into a groove, if at this juncture you press with the edge of your thumb nail upon this upper narrow strip of veneer; and if you listen attentively, you will hear a sharp click. Hist! that is it. Now, the cavity at the back is revealed; pull out the drawer, and you will see."
Dogwood did as requested. He withdrew the drawer from ita place, and, looking behind, saw an open recess, in which the two letters lay.
“ Now,"continued his master, “ put in the drawer, and shut it to the same distance as before; then press your thumb in the same manner on the under strip of veneer, when a similar click will inform you that the panel is back to its place."
The baronet was at the moment doing what he described; and pulling out the drawer again, he showed that the recess was entirely concealed, and not the slightest appearance of such an aperture was discernible. Dogwood imitated his mechanical operations, and, after a few trials, could unclose and reclose the recess with great rapidity.
“That I can scarcely fail in, provided the spring of the other bureau goes as smoothly," he said, with great satisfaction. “Bat the grand difficulty is, to get near it unseen.
"And that must be accomplished either by ingenuity or daring." replied his master, in a deep, determined voice.
The two worthies sat planning a scheme for the accomplishment of their object till it was far into the night.
We need not describe the first meeting between Diamond and Henry, after the former knew that Henry's birth was discovered, and when they were free to converse upon the subject. easily be conceived that joy and delight of an unspeakable kind were felt by both; for it was the first time that they could indulgo unreservedly and unrestrainedly in those hopes and emotions natural to their position as lovers. And the delightfulness of their endearments was intensified by the brightness of the region into which they had suddenly emerged. A little while ago, and all was gloom and darkness; now the shadows had dispersed like mist before the sun, and nothing remained of all the former desolation but its recollection—a recollection which seemed rather to heighten the present felicity. Now, they were entirely satisfied with the self-denial they had exercised the sacrifice to conscience and honour which both had made. Duty had covered its road with thorns, while inclination had laid down a pathway of flowers; but they heroically chose the rough and the rugged path, and now they had their reward. In frank, child-like confidence, they went together into the presence of Diamond's parents, filled them, too, with joy by the tidings which they brought, and received their warmest blessing. It was arranged, however, at Henry's request, that the marriage should be delayed till the law had given him his birthright, or given its decision in favour of the usurper-a result not unexpected, seeing that conclusive legal proof was awanting.
Both Henry and Diamond's parents thought that the joy occasioned by the girl's restoration was incomplete till they had seen and thanked Ned Dakham for his brave couduct; and, at their united request, Richard despatched a message to him, to the effect that he might come to Edinburgh.
Spring was now at its height, and soon it would merge mer. The country was beginning to clothe itself in its new yearly suit of green, and put on its many-coloured ornaments of leaves and flowers. The genial change without, among the fields and woods, penetrated even to the streets of the city.
The smoky canopy which, all the winter, had rested over the house-tops, melted gradually away, and the fleecy clouds appeared beyond, with patches of blue sky between.
had for months been too level to strike into courts and closes, rose high enough in the hea. vens to cast a gleam through windows where he had looked with
kindly light in the past autumn, and the inmates welcomed the
It was late on a morning such as this, that a stout, homely-looking
The stout, homely man was Ned Oakham. Ned had not been much about a town, and never in Edinburgh before; but he was naturally sharp and shrewd, and few people would have taken him for a country stranger. He stopped at length altogether, in front of an entry, and, after running his eye up the huge pile of building, stept inside, and began to ascend the stair, passing door after door, till he came to one marked “T. FORD,” at which he knocked.
It was opened by Mrs Ford herself; and the worthy landlady,
“Does Mr Everly stop here?” inquired the gamekeeper.
“ Then I can wait,” rejoined Ned, coolly. “It'll not be long, I
“O no; I expec him every minute. But come awa into the kitchen and sit doon, if ye want particularly to see him.”
Thus invited Ned strode into the passage, and thence into the kitchen, where the landlady placed a chair for birn near the fire.
“ It's a braw mornin' this, sir,” she said, half with the view to say something in the way of conversation, and half with the purpose of getting to know something about the visitor.
“A very fine morning, ma'am," replied Ned, with his usual blunt civility. “But you town folks cannot know much about that, it is so dark and dingy among those tall houses."
“ Ye come frae the country, then?" said Mrs Ford, in an inquir-
“ Yes, I do. I could not live here among smoke and noise, and
I thocht I
Weel, to tell ye truth, I sometimes think I bae. I'm gettin'