Page images

here. i can't tell you how much oblijed i am. the Box they came in will make a Capitle Hutch. you may be Sure we shall not let these Rabits get out like the Other poor little Fellow did.

i have just been to give the Rabits their Diner. they seeme very Happey and quiet at home in their Hutch.

with Love to Yourself and Ted, from me and Pa and Ma, i remane, yours gratefully,


[ocr errors]

Letter No. 58.

Strand Hotel, London,

October 24th, 187.—, DEAR BEN,

Well, here I am you see. I got here last night. So did the rabbits safe and sound. I carried them nearly to your friend's house, but not caring to get a lot of thanks for my trouble, I gave a porter, who was passing, some coppers to deliver the box.

I am going this afternoon to witness the operation I spoke of. If it is successful I shall start for home to-night. If not successful, I may stay two or three days. I remain, my dear Ben, your affectionate father,





WEEK after the strange events narrated in the last chapter Mr. Trueman and his manager were engaged in a long conversation about the doings of their assistants. This latter gentleman narrated such facts as he had got together.

“ It is then as we have supposed,” said Mr. Trueman. “ Foster has been led into sin by Barker. We must have the matter stopped as speedily as possible. It seems quite clear to me that Barker has carried on dishonest practices for some time. His father cannot possibly send him money as he has made Foster believe. He is a poor man and has, I know, a task to make ends meet. To-day I shall be too much engaged to see to the matter, but to-morrow we will go into the whole affair. Ask Mr. Earnest to come down here to-morrow that he may face the young gentlemen should they attempt to deny anything.".

We need scarcely say that Foster had a sad time of it all that week. He was now beginning to reap the fruit of the seeds he had sown. Every time the manager entered the office he felt sure that

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

he bad come to call him to account for the £5. The days went slowly on and seemed almost like weeks. When the sixth day passed and Barker brought no money he grew quite miserable. He was all the more sad because Barker treated the affair so lightly. Wben asked for the cash, he simply said that bis father had not yet sent it, but would be sure to do so before the end of another week.

Foster sought his room and found relief in tears, the first he had shed for many a day. As he sat alone his conscience, not yet dethroned, gave him little rest. Had he possessed worlds, he would have given them just to have put back the clock of time a few years. But that could not be. The years had gone and be bad wasted tbem; worse than that, in those years he had planted the seeds of sin, and was now reaping sheaves of bitterness, with a fair prospect of a barvest of misery. He placed his head upon his hands and sobbed like a child.

He was aroused by the appearance of his companion, and under the spell a hich he seemed to have over him, he left his room and strolled out. Company, however, gave him little or no relief. At an early hour be returned home, and retired seeking relief in sleep.

At the appointed time next day, the master, manager, and Mr. Earnest were in the private office at the firm. Before sending for the young men, Mr. Trueman said :

“I have thought a good deal about this matter and have come to the conclusion that instead of baving them placed in the bands of the police, I will dismiss Barker without a character. As to Foster, if he will confess his sbaie of the guilt, sbow signs of contrition, promise to reform, and never again associate with Barker, he shall be kept on. But," continud be, "all this goes on the presumption that be is no furiber criminated than you have been able to discover. For wbilst I am willing to forgive that into which I believe he has been unwillingly led, I cannot pledge myself to forgive him should there be any further deficiencies."

Wben Mr. Earnest had gone into the next room, Barker and Foster were called up. The books and cash under Foster's care were brought up too. Mr. Trueman asked them to be seated, placing chairs for them in such a position that he could see them both.

“I bave," said be,“ two or three tbings of importance to speak to you about. During my recent absence from home, you, Mr. Barker, met with an accident. I want you to tell me how it happened."

Barker told the same story which be had previously told to the manager. Turning to Foster, Mr. Trueman said:

“ Had you ever previously seen the man who struck Mr. Baker?" Foster, who at this moment caught Barker's eye, seemed a little excited, but declared that he had never seen the man before he struck his companion.

* I have had rearon to suspect that you have tried to deceive us in this matter," said the master, “and believe you were engaged in a tight. Is it so ?” This they both denied.

[ocr errors]



Mr. Trueman was very much excited, but made an effort to keep cool. Turning to Foster he said: “Your books have been recently examined, and we find that you are £5 deficient. What has become of the cash p'” The colour rose to his face; his whole appearance was one of guilt. But as if under the influence of some evil spirit he declared that he knew nothing about it. “ You don't ?” asked the master.

“ Indeed I do not," said he, as he moved about in his chair very uneasily.

" Mr. Barker," said Mr. Trueman,“ you lost several pounds on the last horse-race, in all more than a quarter's salary. A few evenings after you were seen to be in possessiva of several sovereigns in gold. I want to know how you came to have so much money ? '

Without the least hesitation he said the money was all his own; some of it he had saved; the rest he had won on previous recus.

All this took the master's breath. For a minute or two he was quite unable to ask any further questions. At length he continued:

“I suspect that you are still attempting to deceive me. Mr. Foster, teli me all you know about this £5, and whether Mr. Barker has had it.”

He was about to tell the whole truth and ask to be forgiven, when he again caught Barker's gaze; and so did Mr. Trueman. He declared as solemnly as he could with a lie on his lips, that he knew nothing about it. This relieved his companion, who also declared that he hud not seen a penny of the cash. The master could bear no more. He touched a bell, and, to the surprise and confusion of both the young men, Mr. Earnest, whom they both recognised as the stranger who had stopped the fight in the billiard-room, and helped Barker into the street, walked into the office.



CHAPTER XVII.—DISMISSED, DISGRACED. Shame and confusion seized both Barker and Foster when brought face to face with Earnest. In a moment the whole thing seemed to flash across their minds. They could remember having seen him several times at different places. It was evident that he had been a spy. For a few moments no one spoke, all seemed to be in trouble. At length Mr. Trueman said :

“I suppose you have seen this gentleman before, and will be rather surprised to see him here. You have conspired to deceive me, and have not serupled to tell base lies with the hope of covering up your doings. But you should be sure that your sins will find you out. He then told them both how the £5 had gone, and convinced them that he was in possession of all the facts, by giving them a part of the conversation which they knew had taken place when Barker got the cash.

They both saw that any further attempt to deceive would be useless. Foster was quite overeome.

He had lied to his master, and he knew it; what would be the consequence he could not tell. He was about to plead for himself and companion, when they were interrupted by a sharp rap at the office door. “Mr. Trueman answered the kpock, and demanded the disturber's business.

“A gentleman wishes to see you immediately," said the youth, who bad knocked.

“Tell him to wait, or call again," said the master.

"He says he cannot wait,” replied the youth ;“ be bas but a few minutes to spare, and must see you about a bill for £5 wbich bas been sent to him for an account settled some days ago."

The master went down to see the gentleman. In a minute they were in the clerks' office, where the man brought out a bill received by post that morning.

“Don't you owe this money p" inquired Mr. Trueman.

“ Owe it? No!” said he. “My boy came here and paid it some days ago." Have you

the settled note?” asked the grocer. " Yes,” said the man, as he pulled out the note and placed it in Mr. Trueman's hands.

The colour rose to the grocer's face as he read Foster's name, together with the date, signed in the usual way. Getting him to leave both bills, he assured bim that there must be a mistake, that the matter should be put right, and then bowed him out.

This was a discovery for wbich he was not prepared. He knew that Foster bad appropriated the first £5 for Barker, but what about this ? Trembling with excitement which he could no longer subdue, he bastened back to the private office. He presented to Foster the unsettled bill, and asked for an explanation. Foster did not understand him, and said so. Can you

understand that?" said Mr. Trueman as he threw down the settled bill for the same account bearing Foster's name.

“Indeed, I cannot,” said he, when he had looked at it for a few minutes. “I do not know anything about it.”

Mr. Trueman was very angry at wbat be supposed Foster's daring impudence in denying the bill which bore his name. It was in vain to plead ignorance of it, and his innocence of theft.

“I cannot believe you," said Mr. Trueman, “with such evidence of your guilt before me. Besides, you deceived me once as solemnly declaring your innocence then as now, and yet I proved you guilty."

Barker looked on, but never in the least betrayed his guilt. He saw the danger bis companion was in, but was too bad a man to save him by confessing his guilt.

We attempt no further description of the scene. Mr. Trueman felt it to be bis duty to have them both locked up, but hesitated to take such a course. He dismissed them both without character, and in bis arger made them leave the premises as soon as ever their things could be pushed into their boxes. Barker was heartily glad to get off thus easily ; but Foster, whilst he felt that he deserved all he had got, was wounded by the thought that he was blamed for an act which

he had not committed. True, he could not account for the settled bill, but he knew he had never signed it.

Foster left the firm, procured lodgings, and stayed in them for some days, ashamed to be seen outside. When a few weeks has passed, both the young men had obtained situations in inferior positions. Barker still managed to retain his hold upon Foster, who never in the least suspected him of the forgery of his name. They were apparently as good friends as ever, though Foster was far from happy. Sometimes, to forget his misery, he drank deeply. The habit of drinking grew upon him so rapidly that in a few months after being turned from Mr. Trueman's he was what may be called a confirmed drunkard. Not long after their dismissal Barker was detected in some dishonest act and sent to prison. Foster sank lower and lower, until he seemed lost to society and almost beyond hope of recovery.



OME of my young friends may be surprised at the

selection of so ordinary an animal as the horse, and
perhaps wonder if they can be told anything about it
that they do not well know already. But it may

be replied, animals that are the most common deserve our

strictest attention, and such are the elements of wonder that dwell in the most familiar thing, that to the reflecting mind there is always something fresh to learn and something new to admire. What is more common than the sunlight ? and yet, though philosophers have been discoursing about it for thousands of years, fresh truth is discovered about it in the present day; and though we have been beholding it from our youth, we still love its glorious rays, and always feel a degree of regret when the curtain of the clouds" is drawn across the face of the sky.

One great thing connected with all domestic animals, that leads us to admire the goodness of God, is that while they work hard for us they cost but little, and they prefer bondage in the habitations of man to their own liberty. Many of them, indeed, degenerate with freedom, which shows that their natural condition is that of service. Could we tame the lion and the tiger they would never cheerfully bear the yoke; or even were this attained their ravenous and carnivorous appetites would ruin their owners instead of assisting them. The horse, the ox, the sheep, on the other hand, have no appetite for costly food, but are content with grass and the most inexpensive products of our fields. Neither their abstemious inclination, nor their happy content, is produced by our development or training; they are

« PreviousContinue »