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“the sooner we come to our business, the better for all. The woman knows what it is, does she ?"

The question was addressed to Bumble ; but his wife anticipated the reply, by intimating that she was perfectly acquainted with it.

“He is right in saying that you were with this hag the night she died, and that she told you something—"

“ About the mother of the boy you named,” replied the matron interupting him. “Yes.”

“ The first question is, of what nature was her communication ?' said Monks.

“ That's the second,” observed the woman with much deliberation. The first is, what may the communication be worth ?”

“Who the devil can tell that, without knowing of what kind it is ?asked Monks.

“ Nobody better than you, I am persuaded,” answered Mrs. Bumble, who did not want for spirit, as her yokefellow could abundantly testify.

“ Humph!" said Monks significantly, and with a look of eager inquiry, “there may be money's worth to get, eh ?”

"Perhaps there may," was the composed reply.

“ Something that was taken from her," said Monks cagerly; "some. thing that she wore-something that"

* You had better bid," interrupted Mrs. Bumble. “I have heard enough already to assure me that you are the man I ought to talk to."

Mr. Bumble, who had not yet been admitted by his better half into any greater share of the secret than he had originally possessed, listened to this dialogue with outstretched neck and distended eyes, which he directed towards his wife and Monks by turns in undisguised astonishment; increased, if possible, when the latter sternly demanded what sum was required for the disclosure.

“ What's it worth to you ?” asked the woman, as collectedly as bea fore.

“ It may be nothing; it may be twenty pounds," replied Monks ; “speak out, and let me know which.”

“Add five pounds to the sum you have named; give me five-andtwenty pounds in gold,” said the woman, “and I'll tell you all I know --not before."

“Five-and-twenty pounds!” exclaimed Monks, drawing back.

“I spoke as plainly as I could,” replied Mrs. Bumble," and it's not a large sum either.”

“ Not a large sum for a paltry secret, that may be nothing when it's told !" cried Monks impatiently," and which has been lying dead for twelve years past or more !”

“Such matters keep well, and, like good wine, often double their value in course of time," answered the matron, still preserving the resolute indifference she had assumed.

66 As to

lying dead, there are those who will lie dead for twelve thousand years to come, or twelve millions, for anything you or I know, who will tell strange tales at last.” “ What if I pay it for nothing ?” asked Monks, hesitating.

You can easily take it away again," replied the matron. 6 I am but a woman, alone here, and unprotected.”

- Not alone, my dear, nor unprotected neither," submitted Mr. Bumble, in

a voice tremulous with fear; “ I am here, my dear. And besides,” said Mr. Bumble, his teeth chattering as he spoke, “ Mr. Monks is too much of a gentleman to attempt any violence on porochial persons. Mr. Monks is aware that I am not a young man, my dear, and also that I am a little run to seed, as I may say ; but he has heerd-I say I have no doubt Mr. Monks has heerd, my dear—that I am a very determined officer, with very uncommon strength, if I'm once roused. I only want a little rousing, that's all."

As Mr. Bumble spoke, he made a melancholy feint of grasping his lantern with determination, and plainly showed, by the alarmed ex. pression of every feature, that he did want a little rousing, and not a little, prior to making any very warlike demonstration, unless, indeed, against pa upers, or other person or persons trained down for the purpose.

“ You are a fool,” said Mrs. Bumble in reply, “and had better hold your tongue.”

“ He had betier have cut it out before he came, if he can't speak in a lower tone,” said Monks grimly. “ So he's your husband, eh ?”

“ He my husband !" tittered the matron, parrying the question.

“ I thought as much when you came in,” rejoined Monks, marking the angry glance which the lady darted at her spouse as she spoke.

“ So much the better ; I have less hesitation in dealing with two people, when I find that there's only one will between them. I'm in earnest-see here.”

He thrust his hand into a side-pocket, and producing a canvass bag, told out twenty-five sovereigns on the table, and pushed them over to the

woman.

“ Now," he said, “ gather them up ; and when this cursed peal of thunder, that I feel is coming up to break over the house-top, is gone, let's hear your story."

The roar of thunder, which seemed in fact much nearer, and to shiver and break almost over their heads, having subsided, Monks raising his face from the table, bent forward to listen to what the woman should say. The faces of the three nearly touched as the two men leant over the small table in their eagerness to hear, and the woman also leant forward to render her whisper audible. The sickly rays of the suspended lantern falling directly upon them, aggravated the paleness and anxiety of their countenances, which, encircled by the deepest gloom and darkness, looked ghastly in the extreme.

“ When this woman, that we called old Sally, died,” the matron Legan, “ she and I were alone."

“ Was there no one by ?" asked Monks in the same hollow whisper, no sick wretch or idiot in some other bed ?-no one who could hear, and might by possibility understand ?"

“ Not a soul,” replied the woman ; we were alone : I stood alone beside the body when death came over it.”

“ Good,” said Monks, regarding her attentively : “ go on."

" She spoke of a young creature,” resumed the matron,“ who had brought a child into the world some years before : not merely in the same room, but in the same bed in which she then lay dying."

“Ay ?" said Monks with quivering lip, and glanced over his shoulder. “ Blood ! How things come about at last !"

“ The child was the one you named to him last night,” said the matron, nodding carelessly towards her husband ; “ the mother this nurse had robbed."

" In life ?" asked Monks.

“ In death,” reqlied the woman with something like a shudder. “ She stole from the corpse, when it had hardly turned to one, that which the dead mother had prayed her with her last breath to keep for the infant's sake.”

“ She sold it ?" cried Monks with desperate eagerness ; " did she sell it ?—where ?—when ?—to whom ?--how long before ?"

* As she told me with great difficulty that she had done this,” said the matron, “ she fell back and died."

“ Without saying more ?” cried Monks in a voice which, from its very suppression, seemed only the more furious. “ It's a lie! I'll not be played with. She said more-I 'll tear the life out of you both, but I'll know what it was.”

“She didn't utter another word,” said the woman, to all appearance unmoved (as Mr. Bumble was very far from being) by the strange man's violence ; “ but she clutched my gown violently with one hand, which was partly closed, and when I saw that she was dead, and so removed the hand by force, I found it clasped a scrap of dirty paper.”

“ Which contained—” interposed Monks, stretching forward. “ Nothing," replied the woman ; "it was a pawnbroker's duplicate.” “For what ?" demanded Monks.

“ In good time I'll tell you,” said the woman; “I judge that she had kept the trinket for some time, in the hope of turning it to better account, and then pawned it, and saved or scraped together money to pay the pawnbroker's interest year by year, and prevent its running out, so that if anything came of it, it could still be redeemed. Nothing had come of it; and, as I tell

you, she died, with the scrap of paper, all worn and tattered, in her hand. The time was out in two days; I thought something might one day come of it too, and so redeemed the pledge."

" Where is it now ?” asked Monks quickly.

There," replied the woman. And, as if glad to be relieved of it, she hastily threw upon the table a small kid bag scarcely large enough for a French watch, which Monks pouncing upon, tore open with trembling hands. It contained a little gold locket in which were two locks of hair, and a plain gold wedding ring.

“ It has the word · Agnes' engraved on the inside,” said the woman. * There is a blank left for the surname, and then follows the date, which is within a year before the child was born ; I found out that."

* And this is all ?” said Monks, after a close and eager scrutiny of the contents of the little packet.

* All,” replied the woman. Mr. Bumble drew a long breath, as if he were glad to find that the story was over, and no mention made of taking the five-and-twenty pounds back again ; and now took courage to wipe off the perspiration, which had been trickling over his nose unchecked during the whole of the previous conversation.

" I know nothing of the story beyond what I can guess at,” said his wife, addressing Monks after a short silence, " and I want to know nothing, for it's safer not. But I may ask you two questions may I ?"

may ask,” said Monks, with some show of surprise,“ but whe. ther I answer or not is another question.”

"—Which makes three,” said Mr. Bumble, essaying a stroke of facetiousness.

“Is that what you expected to get from me ?" demanded the ma. tron. "It is,” replied Monks," the other question ?-" “What do you propose to do with it. Can it be used against me ?” "Never,” rejoined Monks; “nor against me either. See here; but don't move a step forward, or your life's not worth a bulrush !"

With these words he suddenly wheeled the table, and pulling an iron ring in the boarding, threw back a large trap-door which opened close at Mr. Bumble's feet, and caused that gentleman to retire several paces with great precipitation. “ Look down,” said Monks, lowering the lantern into the gulf,

I could have let you down quietly enough when you were seated over it, if that had been my game.”

Thus encouraged, the matron drew near to the brink, and even Mr, Bumble himself, impelled by curiosity ventured to do the same. The turbid water, swollen by the heavy rain, was rushing rapidly on below, and all other sounds were lost in the noise of its plashing and eddying

* You

"Don't fear me.

against the green and slimy piles. There had once been a watermill beneath and the tide was foaming and chafing round the few rotten stakes, and fragments of machinery, that yet remained, seemed to dart onward with a new impulse when freed from the obstacles which had unavailingly attempted to stem its headlong course.

“ If you flung a man's body down there, where would it be to-morrow morning ?" said Monks, swinging the lantern to and fro in the dark well.

“Twelve miles down the river, and cut to pieces besides," replied Bumble, recoiling at the very notion.

Monks drew the little packet from his breast, into which he had hur. riedly thrust it, and tying it firmly to a leaden weight which had formed part of a pulley, and was lying on the floor, dropped it into the stream. It fell straight and true as a die, clove the water with a scarce. ly audible splash, and was gone.

“ The three looked into each other faces and seemed to breathe more freely.

“ There!” said Monks, closing the trapdoor, which fell heavily back into its former position. If the sea ever gives up its dead-as books say it will—it will keep its gold and silver to itself, among it. We have nothing more to say, and may break up our pleasent party.

“By all means," observed Mr. Bumble with alacrity.

“ You'll keep a quiet tongue in your head, will you ?” said Monks, with a threatening look. “ I am not afraid of your wife.”

“ You may depend upon me, young man,” answered Mr. Bumble, bowing himself gradually towards the ladder with excessive politeness. “On every body's account, young man; on my own, you know, Mr. Monks.” “I am glad for your sake to hear it,” replied Monks.

Light your lantern, and get away from here as fast as you can.”

It was fortunate that the conversation terminated at this point, or Mr. Bumble, who had bowed himself to within six inches of the ladder, would infallibly have pitched headlong into the room below. He light. ed his lantern from that which Monks had detached from the rope, and now carried in his hand, and making no effort to prolong the dis. course, descended in silence followed by his wife.

Monks brought up the rear, after pausing on the steps to satisfy himself that there were no other sounds to be heard than the beating of the rain without, and the rushing of the water.

They traversed the lower room slowly, and with caution, for Monks started at every shadow, and Mr. Bumble, holding his lantern a foot above the ground, walked not only with remarkable care, but with a marvellously light step for a gentleman of his figure; looking nervously about him for hidden trap-doors. The gate at which they had

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