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Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

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JKMMyS aMORT STORY.] Robert Hetheridge, Nonentity. By HAVEN HILDE. I (ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.) Robert Hetheridgre was one of the world's nonentities; he knew it well. Sometimes he let it trouble him. That was when he wasn't thinking, when he was unphilosophio. He had long reoog-niised his true position among the dweUers upon earth, and at most times seemed pretty well content. There was nothing bright about Bob-he was a just plodder. In sartorial attachments he was negligent; in manner lachrymose; in figure stunted; in position briefly little of most thingB, much of none; in personal appear- ance unenviable. This is speaking of him as he is on the 14th of November, 1891. Standing leaning over the iron 4des of Holuorn Viaduct, and looking down on the road beneath, he owned again that all this was true. One by one he went over the category of his failings and his failures, ancr told them all over again to the lions at hid side, who made no comment, the matter being no business of theirs. c Bob's financial condition this day was very low. He had just called at a newspaper office to see if there was a "turn" for him; there was nothing, and Fo time was his own- "my priceless time," he muttered, with a laugh. Very few men owned to bearing Bob any friendship, although fewer still bore ill-will towards him. All laughed at him always. instinctively. Ill-luck was his evil genius, but he was well used to it all by now, being turned thirty years. Please, sir. can you tell me the way to Ludgate Hill Station?" Bob turned, half-startled, and faced a child of about twelve or thirteen summers, who stood, with her face all serious and her eyes wide with a vague alarm, waiting for him to answer her. It was a lovely face in its fresh youth, with the cheeks full and slightly flushed, and crowned with a glory of light brown waving curito, beneath a hat that wa.s prettiness also. For a moment he stood there petrified. Bob had never had dealings with the softer sex in any size; he had no recollection of mother, sisters he had none; in his life as yet there had come no woman, neither the want of one. Here was only a little child. yet a strangeness came over him for a. moment, and he could not answer. I have missed my way, aud-" Then he spoke and told her falteringly the right direction. he added, an(? "I am going that way," he added, ana then he stopped, afraid at his own audacity. But the child jumped eagerly at the words. "Oh! may I walk with you as far as you go on my way?" she asked. go the two set off together, he walking awkwardly, and trying to adapt his gait to his companion's, and eignally failing. She told him she had come by herself from Cat- ford to see an uncle in Hat ton-gar den, but as she had found her relative was away for some weeks, and the house all empty, she had no alternative but to return home to where she and her elder sifter lived alone. So this artless child, more fit for a rose garden than the great city in which she stood alone, was an orphan, and in her very artless- oess and simple trust told this quiet, careless- looking man her story. Her name was Bertha Stanley, and her sister Millieent earned at type-writing in a City office just sufficient to keep them comfortably. It wats Uncle's birthday, you tee, said little Bertha, as they halted ere crossing Ludgate-circus. "And I had a present for him. It wasn't much," shflf added hesitat- ingly; "only a tobacco pouch. llilly bought it. and I worked the initials. Look-" The child put her hand in the little satcthol L -he carried. Then her face turned white, and she gripped her companion s arm. Its gone,' she cried; and my purse-- stolen." All around pressed the great crowding, crushing throng of men and women, and backwards and forwards crashed the 'buses and cabs and other vehicles, but to those two in that moment there was no realisa- tion but of one thing. This world contained but two persons who were face to face with a great calamity. The little face turned whiter still-" My ticket," she said. Hetheridge, too, had gone white. He pos- sessed but the sum of one penny in his pocket. A no. what use was that in the present crisis? His brain was; never too quickly get agoing, and this was a case where he was beate'i cleanly. At las.t he spoke. "Where does your sister work?" he said. Oh. nor, no," the ehiid cried. Mill,, roust not know, she then she stopped as she saw that Milly would have to know. "I don't remember the name; it is a hani one," she added trustfully, looking up at him. It wouldn't matter if I had the ticket, would it?" she said, after a second's silence. It wwos in the purse, and-and-I haven't any money. God help you no more have I," he blurted. Man and child were facing each other then, white face looking into white face. The child was the first again to break the silence between them, and she laughed as she spoke- How poor we are," said she. What is to be done?" We must walk," he said at once, having just dismissed the last of his list of acquaint- ances who would be gentle enough in refusing to loan him a sum of money. Could you find the wa-Y I" she aeked, with the colour in her checks again. Yes," Bob said, and then once more, tihi's time hand in hand, the two set their faoee southwards. Two hours later they arrirved at their destination, and Bob was for turning back at onoe. but his little companion would not agree. You must stop and see Milly," she ilrged imperatively, n.ot knowing that that was the one reason that would drive Bob away. She saw him hesitating, and, leaning up, put her arms round his neck and kissed him. "Now will you?" she said, and he had promised .before he knew it. It was nearly tea-time, and little Bertha Jet about laying table. Bob, too, helped, and many a laugh did she have at him, and therx clumsily he dropped a saucer and broke it. "A chapiter of accidents," she cried, merrily, stooping and picking up the fragments while he stood helplessly looking on. Milly will be just wild with you." But Milly wasn't. She came in tired, yet light-hearted, about seven o'clock, and little Bertha gravely introduced Bob to her "big sister." Bob blushed as his eyes fell upon the neatly-dressed little figure of Stanley. Milly was not pretty or handsome, but she looked sweet and fair enough in Bob's eyes, and he felt something slip down from his heart, and when he went home that evening he confessed that he had never spent a happier day. The story of the lost purse had been told, and all three ha.d laughed merrily at the situation a.nd the c-ircumstanoes which had forced the two to walk home. Then Milly had very gently, and in a way in which only a woman could succeed, broached the subject of Bob's return to town and the manner of his getting there. He had shrunk from the idea of Milly lend- ing him money, but his refusal had been over-ruled, and he had compromised by accepting as a loan the esaot and the lowest amount which would take him home. On the Saturday he was to come and re-pay his great debt. Bertha decrecd, and he agreed. A new zest seemed now to have come into his life. The careless ha,bits which seemed to have taken too deep a hold upon him to be shaken off were easily uprooted. Luck was in his way next day, for he obtained first news of a big bank robbery, and put the paper for whom he did most work on the track, with the result that another good scoop was made. Bob had promised to find out if possible the date of Mr. Richard Sedgwick's nittle Bertha's uucle) return, and an inquiring he discovered that he was due back at his office on the Monday next. Glad a.t having this news to tell them on Saturday, he turned towards the Viaduct, thinking of the strange circumstances of yesterday, and pic- turing the two bright faces in his mind. Then the darkness came upon him. sud- denly, swiftly; the sunlight was blotted out, and when his aching eyes opened once again he found himself, as be saw at a glance, in a hospital bed. He had stepped into the roadway and unconsciously had crossed the track of a flying light-wheeled cab. They had picked him up insensible, and with his left arm broken. Bob's first sensation was one of maddening depress i-m. It seemed so hard, so appalling, so heartbreakinj, to be stricken just when everything appeared so bright. Then a face came up before him, little Bertha's, and it was sad and sympathetic, and his manner changed. He sent a brief message to them at Cat- ford, telling them of his accident and his whereabouts, and thus it came about that he did not keep his promise to visit them on the Saturday. Instead they came to him; nor did he pay his debt. Nearly every day they oame to visit him in his imprisonment, and one day a. tall, grim-faced gentleman accompanied them, whom Millieent intro- duced as her uncie. Mr. Richard Sedgwick. His nieces had told him Bob's story, and he had certain influence in various quarters, and he promised to exert it cn Bob'" behalf. 1 am none too soft of heart," he said gruffly and plainly. "I meddle with no one, and render cent. for cent., letting sentiment hammer at my business door in vain. In this case, however," he added, "I feel inter- ested, and I hope in a fortnight's time that you will be ready to avail yourself of what I shall doubtless have in store for you. Is that it. little. Bertha?" And the stern-faced man of the world turned to his niece, who sprang at him and kissed him lovingly. By the middle of December Bob was well enough to leave the institution, and he found himself a member of the reportoria-1 staff of the "Daily Messenger," with a decent salary and a long agreement. On Christmas Eve little Bertha was chaff- ing her big sister unmercifully, and her withering remarks seemed chiefly directed against a' new-ring which Milly was wearing. "My dearest Milly," said little cheekily, as she dropped another lump of sugar in her teacup, "Mr. Robert Hetheridge saw me home first. You came second. I shall kiss Bob to-night under the mistletoe." "Do so, darling, as often as you please." said Milly, quietly.


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