Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

5 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



||, [ALL BIGHTS RESERVED]. ||G  LdH  I For Love a?d onour 1 b: m N; AVA ? • HAROLD BINDLOSS, P§ |f" By HAROLD BINDLOSS, §g Author of A Wide Dominion," His Adversary's Daughter," The Kingdom of Courage," The Mistress of Bonaventure," &c. f. Sv ':Ø:d. x; '1:f,.X!; 1f.*14.'Ø;i.¡j¡ 1£:11" xi ".¡i 3&?^SSi$jS*K I've taken the liberty of altering Mat's arrangements," Harry pointed out. Has that Yellow below got hiG pump working yet? It has just started, and Christopher has .-cnt us over a pulsometer." Arnold replied. We may escape a disaster if you can keep any more water from getting into the mine." I believe I can," said Harry. We'll "know in an hour or so. I daresay the engineer could give you shelter, if you'd like to wait. You would find his shed a good deal drier than it is up here." He turned to hia assistant, swinging up his hammer: Stand by with the drill." Alison, who saw Vane smile, laughed out- right. Harry had spoken as if he were in charge of the situation, and the owner of the mine a person of no account. For the time being, she thought, the latter view was correct. Then the party went down hill and sat in the engine-house, listening to the clang of the pumps, and watching the row of toiling figures on the rain-swept fell. At length a cloud of smoke curled up a.nd blotted the blurred objects out; then there was a dull crash, and big stones came hurtling out of the vapour. After that, the men above went to work again, and it was %ome time later when Mat strode in. "They've done it, sir," he announced; the water's stopping." Arnold and the others flocked towards an opening in the wall, and Alison stretched out a pointing hand. Oh, look!" she cried. "I knew h. wouldn't be beaten." A flood poured out from a hollow below the knoll. It swallowed up a wide stretch of spongy grass in its downward rush, and there was a. roar and a. rattle of stones as it leaped out from the edge of a crag. In a few minutes it diminished, changing to a. steady stream, and straggling figures moved down the hill. Then Harry strode into the engine-house, dripping. There'll be no more trouble with the water," he said. I've given the boys a bonus and sent half of them home." There was intense relief in Arnold's usually impassive face. Thank you," he replied. The bonus, of course, will be on my account. I'm heavily indebted to you." Harry looked at him with a rather etirious smile. Well/' he said, "if you feel that ia case, you may have a chance of discharg- ing the liability by-and-bye, •J Alison was tomewha t puzzled. She could hardly think Harry meant to insist upon the value of his services; but she wondered what -else he could mean, if it xvere not this. She had also noticed Arnold's keen glance at the younger man, and she felt there was some reason she was unacquainted with for the atti- tude of both of them, which supposition was perfectly correct. It would be a privilege," said Arnold, in his most polished manner. Perhaps I may add that I have hitherto endeavoured to meet my obligations." Harry turned to the others. You'll ex- cuse my mentioning these things, but I didn't want to keep Mr. Elliot in suspense." If he was in a state of suspense, it wasn't ithared," said Alison. I think the rest of us knew that you would win." A trace of colour crept into Harry's face, but Christopher broke in: "You will come back with us? We left Arnold's car at the head of the road." I'm afraid I can't," said Harrv. There's some banking still to be done, and I'd better stay and see it through." Alison and Arnold expostulated, but Harry was firm, and as the party left the engine- house-: the girl turned to him. I'm sorry you feel bound to stay," she said. You look worn out." w I'm not very fresh," Harry confessed, emiling. You see, I had to give your dales- men friends a lead, and I'm willing to own that it was far from easy. In fact, another hour would have seen me cave in." The girl was pleased with this. It was the attitude she thought a man of his character 4ought to adopt. You seem inclined to make light of your share," she replied. Harry's eyes twinkled mischievously. Isn't it more becoming for an interloper from the wilds to stand modestly in the background? "Are you so very unforgiving?" Alison asked, flushing. If it is any comfort, you are not looked upon as an interloper now." Thank you," said Harry. I almost wish a second flood would come along and help me lip another step in your esteem." Wouldn't you like to recover first? Ali- son suggested, with a laugh, and flashed a swift glance at him as she turned away. Go home and rest as soon as you can—you have done enough for one day." Then she rejoined the others, who moved off towards the car, while Harry plodded back up the wet hillside. CHAPTER XVI. Some little time had passed since the flood at the mine. when one evening Alison and Harry sat in the garden at Low Wood. The late sunshine still fell warm upon the grass, and a wonderful vista of green valley and towering hillside stretched away before them. They were now on friendly terms, for there had been a marked change in Alison's atti- tude towards the man. It had begun when he had rendered assistance to the injured miner, but although at times she felt strongly attrac- ted by him she resisted the feeling stub- bornly, because there was, after all, something unexplained about his lengthy stay in the dale and his frequent journeys to London and other towns. Mystery has its charm; but Alison pre- ferred a man who followed an honourable career which everybody knew all about, in which she was incontestably right. Besides, there was his youthful past, which had not been a creditable one; and she had seen signs of a veiled antagonism between him and Arnold, who would not have distrusted him without a reason. Though she did not fully recognise it, the truth was that the more she felt drawn towards the man, the more earn- estly she struggled against her inclinations, and sought for an excuse that would justify her resistance. You were away again last week," she -said. "Where did you go to then? "Shields," said Harry, who had made an- other fruitless journey in the expectation of finding a clue to Salter. "But what took you there?" "I had some business on board a ship that was loading coals," said Harry. It was clear that he did not mean to volun- teer any further information; but Alison was fitill curious. They had been on rather confi- dential terms that evening, and although she was slightly vexed with herself for the desire to pursue her investigations, she ventured an- other remark with that aim in view. "I suppose you have not been back to the .mine since the flood? "she said. Harry agreed, and she glanced at ,.iim thoughtfully. Do you know that, although you worked very hard to save his property, you somehow gave me the impression that you were not very well disposed towards Arnold." "I wonder if anything has led you to be- lieve that he thinks higTTly of me?" Harry retorted, with a trace of dryness. Alison did not answer this. But don't you owe him something? Your father was ih his service, and he tried to give you a fair start in life." Since you have asked the question, my idea is that it's the other way about. I can't help thinking that Arnold was in my father's debt. He had spoken without reflection, but Ali- son was struck by his expression. "How could that be?" she inquired. "For one thing, Arnold began in a small way, with one or two old steamers, and not much capital. Now, my father had his eccen- tricities I've inherited some of them but they were of a kind that made him a favourite with agents and shippers in out-of-the-way places. As a rule, they're not straight-laced people. As the result of this, he generally brought his ship home full, and I've reason lor believing that every boat he commanded paid—particularly the last one." Aubla-ww puzyld by the hardness in hi" »tc3, uu ue ^poKe again- .vnaiever you may have he^jri 11, iae contrary, my father was a nne seaman, a successful commander, and liked by everyone. As to the rest, I hated milium s office, and it was a relief to get out of it." He laughed with sudden good-humour. I'm afraid the little episode which led up to that wasn't exactly creditable, but Winter has forgiven me. He's rather a friend of mine." The girl was aware of this. She had noticed that almost everybody he came into contact with took to Harry. "I know that you didn't get on at tlle office," she remarked. I wonder if you know anything else? I mean, if you were given any reasons why f. was not considered a -suecess? This was an opportunity Alison felt dis posed to seize. She could not have asked him if what she had been told about him was cor rect; but he was, it seemed, ready to speal for himself. Yes," she said; "I heard something." In a general way, anybody who likes to think ill of me is welcome to do so," Harry replied. There are, however, a few excep- tions, and you're one. I value your good opinion—and you haven't given it me alto- gether yet." He paused a moment. before he proceeded: We'll face the fact. Nothing that's worth having is easily got. Now, I was a rather harum-scarum youngster, and some of my pranks were, no doubt, likely to rouse the in- dignation of strictly respectable people. Arnold can be excused for deciding that they didn't reflect any additional lustre on the family." He looked at her steadily. It's difficult to explain, but I want to say that the worst of them was merely feather-brain folly. I do not think there is a man or woman I have any reason to avoid." Alison was relieved to hear it, because she felt that she could credit him as she noticed the candour in his eyes. "Other people," she said, simply, "have assured me of the same thing. You owe some- thing to your friends." I'm grateful to them. One person, how- ever, seems to have acted differently. Of course, he may have felt justified." What do you mean by that? If you tried, I daresay you could trace everything you have heard to my discredit back to the same source." Alison was a little startled at this. it struck her, for the first time, that all the aspersions on his character had originated directly or indirectly from Arnold. One could almost fancy that the latter had cleverly 5, them afloat with a purpose; but that could í not be, because Arnold was a man of honour, j whom dae respected. ¡ Then Harry changed the subject, and while he spoke, her father and Vane, who had ¡ come down again to Low Wood for a few I' days, sat talking on another seat across the lawn. I've been a little concerned about Arnold lately," said Christopher. "It strikes me that he's been facing some business crisis, and strain's beginning to tell on him. Among other things, I've noticed that brandy's more common at Ruleholme than it used to be; ii's not an encouraging sign." Vane looked thoughtful. I'm sorry to hear it, but not greatly astonished. I'm very fond of Maud, which is really why I've kept in touch with Arnold. He and I never alto- gether hit it, but, in spite of that, I'd be glad to stand by him as far as possible in any diffi- culty. As a matter of fact, I've always been inclined to regard him as something of a com- mercial adventurer; an ambitious man who has endeavoured to do a good deal more than his means warranted." I believe he was rather hard pressed shortly before the Calabria went down," Christopher agreed. She was heavily insured," Vane said, pointedly, and handed his companion a docu- ment he took from his pocket. Have you seen this? It was the prospectus of a new lead mining company formed to work the vein in the dale, and Christopher's astonishment was obvious. He hasn't said a word about the matter," he exclaimed. Now I see why he kept my pulsometer so long and took so much trouble to pump the mine dry." I don't k?ow how they're going to employ all that capital profitably," commented Vane. Christopher smiled. When the promo- ters have got their pickings and they've paid preliminary expenses, the capital won't be so big. You'll notice that the vendor's price is a long one. But how did you get hold of the thing? I don't think any have been distri- buted in this vicinity." Their eyes met, and there was no doubt that they understood why the prospectus had not been sent to Arnold's neighbours, who were more or less acquainted with the diffi- culties experienced at the mine. "A friend gave it me," Vane explained. He wanted my candid opinion, since I knew the place; I didn't advise him to invest." Then Alison and Harry approached them; the girl carrying a newspaper, which had just been delivered to her. Here's something of interest," she said. Listen to this." She read out an announcement that a com- pany was being formed to take over the lead mine in the dale and carry on operations on a more extensive scale. Then she laid down the pa-per. What do you think of it? she asked. It says the success of the new enterprise is con- fidently expected." "I suppose that refers to the shareholders who are putting their money in," said Vane. h But how can they expect it to be suc- cessful?" "If a mine can be carried on when prices are low enough to close up somd of the others, it's reasonable to suppose it will pay when they go up." "Are they going up?" I think one could look for a slight rise," replied her father. There have been signs of it recently." Alison seated herself. I'm interested; but there are several things that puzzle me. I know it's a troublesome mine to work on ac- count of the water and the way the roof comes down." Vane, who saw that she was determined to sift the matter, handed her the prospectus. "This will tell you a little more about it." She took the document, and Vane glanced at Harry, who smiled with dry amusement. "I've seen it," he remarked. It's a work of art." Alison read on steadily for some minutes, and then looked up with a curious expre"ion. It states that a handsome profit can be made-at present prices—which is absurd, though the figures look convincing," she broke out. That's the usual thing, Vane replied. As Harry says, it's a most artistic pro- duction. "What do you mean?" A brief examination will show you that it's possible to read most of the statements in different ways. The promoters have to be careful, because discontented shareholders now and then attempt to get their money back. What's more, they're occasionally suc- cessful. Alison sat silent a few moments, with some colour in her face. But Arnold hasn't made any profit for at least two years," she said by- aud-bye. "The mine has been costing him a good deal more than he got out of it. Then the prospectus declares it can be worked very economically; there's nothing about the water always breaking in and the falls of rock." She flung the paper from her scornfully. The thing is a swindle." None of them said anything. The girl was filled with anger and disgust, and there was a rather impressive silence for a moment or two. Then she broke out again: Arnold can't have seen this. Some of the people whose profession is to start companies must have got it up. He would never have permitted them to say such things." Still none of them spoke, and she looked round at them in indignant amazement. It's quite impossible that he had anything to do with it." Her father leant forward and, laid a warning hand on her arm; for just then Arnold emerged from a shrubbery walk. He carried himself with his usual formal grace, and tbera *vtt» no uouub lllal ue louKta tHe uiouei Vf a fine gentleman. Behind him came a serving man, who propelled his daughter's chair. They approached the waiting group, and Arnold stopped when he saw the paper lying on the grass. "Ah!" he said. "my prospectus. I hardly thought it would travel here." We were rather astonished to see it," Christopher answered. You haven't asked us to subscribe." Arnold laughed. I've seldom bothered | my relatives on matters of business. It's some- times easier to arrange these things with out- siders. I'm pleased to say we're getting ap- plications for the shares. Alison picked up the pro'p-^tns handed it to him. "On "I presume so," said As-uoid. "Then you authorised the tiling?" She saw his slight- frown and the troubled look in Maud's thin face. In a way I'm responsible for it," he ad- mitted. Of course, these things are never taken as absolutely accurate in every detail. A hard-and-fast forecast is impossible in 11 Ml. :-ig. Alison's eyes flashed. Then you mean to let it go on? Arnold hesitated, and Harry, watching him, was conscious of a grim amusement. IC ilH"t, he thought, be trying for a man accustomed to be looked up to as a model to find his real character rudely revealed to one who had be lieved in him. "I'm afraid it will have to do so," he answered, with a forced smile. On the whole, I think it compares favourably with other prospectuses of the kind." Alison turned away from him, as if there was nothing more to be said, and moved to- wards Maud. "There's a new phlox in the herbaceous border I want you to look at," she informed her. "I've no doubt Harry will wheel you across the lawn." Harry was sorry she had asked him, be- cause he was curious to see how Arnold would handle the rather difficult situation; but he obeyed, and when the serving man had been sent to the house, Arnold glanced at the two men who remained Christopher's face was grave, but Vane looked amused. "It's still hot and fine," said the latter. "I tvas not so fortunate on my previous visit." CHAPTER XVII. I r, iine Arnold was arranging for the sale of his mine, Grayson, who kept his promise to spend a few days with Harry, arrived at the latter's inn with Minnie and the two children. During his brief visit, he went out fishing one evening when Harry had gone across to the village on some business, and, as it happened, he took his little boy with him. It was one of the cold, black evenings which are not uncom- mon in the North; and though the water was moderately high, Grayson was unsuccessful in rising a. single trout. By-and-bye he sa.t down upon an alder-root and took out his pipe, while the child wandered away among the firs behind him. gathering the glossy cones. Gray- &on, who was no longer fond of active exer- cise, sat still and smoked while he watched the peat-stained flood swirl by. Presently, a man in knickerbockers and *booti;ig- ip strolled along the bwk and stopped when he eaw the angler u Not much feed upon the water-it's too cold a night," he remarked. "Had any sport? Grayson, who was troubled by a faint sense of recognition, confessed that he had caught nothing, and the stranger looked hard at him. I've an idea I've met you before pretty close to this spot, though it was some time ago," said the latter. Then Grayson suddenly remembered, and a half -emb.%rrassed smile crept into his eyes. Yes," he agreed, I believe you did- you're Mr. Winter." Winter sat down with a good-humoured laugh. "You're quite right; I've some reason for remembering you. On the last occasion we met you pitched me down the bank, though I may mention that the reason you managed it so easily was that a stone slipped away beneath me." Grayson grinned as he glanced at the man's brown face and muscular figure. If it's any consolation, I should be very sorry to attempt it again." "Well," said Winter, "I thought I recog- nised you, and that's why I stopped. To tell the truth, I've always been a little curious about the affair. How was it you allowed it to get about that it was Harry Elliot who was responsible for my injury? I'd better mention that I'm a friend of his, and though I haven't found him communicative when we talked about the thing, now I've seen you I'm quite sure it was you I had the tussle with." Grayson told him the story, and he nodded approvingly. "Very decent" of Elliot-Tüuch the kind of thing I would expect of him," he said. Don't hesitate to fish where you like while you're staying here." He broke off, and added: "If that's your youngster, hadn't vou better call him? Grayson, looking round, saw the child stand- ing insecurely on the steep bank, throwing pebbles into the stream. He called out In warning, and the boy, starting at the sound, lost his balance and fell down the slope. Next moment there was a splash in the water, and the two men ran towards the spot. The stream ran fast, but it was only waist-deen just there, and in a few moments Grayson clambered out with the dripping and badly frightened urchin gasping in his arms. I don't think he's much the worse, but you had better get him home as soon as possible and put him to bed," said Winter, who had also been in the river. Grayson set off at the fastest run he could manage with the child in his arms, but it was some distance to the inn and the VI ind ws unusually chilly. Next morning, the boy, who was delicate, did not want to get up, and before night came his face was hot and flushed. The nearest doctor was sent for, and when he came downstairs with Minnie, Harry was sitting with Grayson in the general room. Nothing very serious—feverish cold- effect of his wetting; but you had better be careful of him, as the little chap doesn't seem very strong in the chest," he informed them. "Keep him warm and quiet upstairs for the next few days." But we have to go home to-morrow," Minnie objected. I should certainly not advise it," the doctor replied. "If the patient's not. properly ( looked after, attacks of this kind someiimca lead to trouble." He went out after giving them a few in- structions, and Grayson looked at his wife. "What are we to do?" he asked. "I must be at the office early the day after to-morrow." "If you can get along alone, or put up somewhere, there'll be no difficulty," Harry broke in. "I don't see why, Minnie and the youngsters shouldn't stay here. There's plenty of room, and my namesake must run no unnecessary risk." After some discussion, they fell in with his suggestion and Minnie remained for nearly a fortnight after her husband had returned to his work. It was some days before the doctor would allow the boy to get out of bed but the latter made quick progress in the fine weather that followed the rain, and Minnie was tempted to linger. She had very little leisure in her toilsome life, and she knew it would be another year before her children could play among clean meadows and sunny hillslopes again. Harry, as it happened, spent most of his time with them, and the fact waS eventu- ally brought to the notice of Arnold Elliot, who had heard nothing of the child's illness, in an accidental manner. Having become possessed of a growing suspicion of Harry, he determined to make the most of the matter on opportunity. Some time after Minnie had gone home, his intention was strengthened by the postscript to a busines6 letter from his manager, Watson. "I have learnt that Mr. H. Elliot has been making inquiries about our former engineer, Salter," it ran. I don't know what his motive is, but it occurred to me that I had better mention the fact." Arnold's face set hard as he destroyed the letter. It was clear that Harry, who declined to believe that the Calabria had been lost through her skipper's fault, meant to extract some information on the subject from her engineer, and unfortunately, though he was not, aware of it. the latter waa livincr within Im". mIleli or mm. Arnold wouia at once nave got rid of Salter except for the danger of his falling into the hands of the police, and since he could not get rid of Harry, it appeared ad- visable to discredit his character as much as possible. Then, if he ever made any undesir- able revelations, it would be more difficult for people to believe him. On the evening after the letter reached him he strolled across to Low Wpod, and saw Christopher sitting on the terrace in front of the house. The sunlight was fading off the hillsides, and a little breeze came down from the high peaks, wonderfully invigorating after the heat of the autumn day. As he passed an open window, Arnold, glancing into the shadowy room, noticed a bundle of delicate fabric lying upon a table, which indicated that Alison had been sewing something there but he did not see the girl, who had drawn her chair back at his approach. Her faith in him had been rudely shaken, and she had avoided him of late. Arnold, on his part, had not for- given her for her remarks about his pro- spectus, and there was a vindictive vein in him. Sitting down beside Christopher, he adroitly led the casual conversation round to Harry, though he did not know that when he men- tioned him Alison leant forward in her chair in the adjacent room to hear more clearly. I wonder," he said, reflectively, if you're altogether wise in having that young .man here so often?" Christopher looked up with a smile. Since you. have mentioned it. I presume you had Ali- IOn in your mind. I'd be most reluctant to part with her, but 5he'1] no doubt marry somebody some day." The question is Would you wish her to marry 'Harry Ellint t It's not one I see any immediate prospect of having to answer. So far as my observa- tion goes, thcl'c are a good many points they don't agree upon." I'm not sure that counts for very much," said Arnold, drily. "Of course, one shrinks! from interfering; but Alison, 4ike Maud, has no mother to advise her, and perhaps out close family relations warrant a reference tf the subject." (To be continuedV