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vehement protestation that this was to make them all rich, and that to neglect such a rare chance, which had so opportunely come about (he would not say how), would be folly little short of sin.
Ned's time was so precious, that he had to leave in the forenoon of next day—it was a maxim of his not to give too much opportunity for thinking over a thing once he had determined that it should be done (it will be seen that he acted on this principle at least once again in his career)—so that everything had to be settled that night. They talked earnestly and late. He was plausible and pressing—the ladies frightened and unable to comprehend more of the matter than his solemn assurance that all was clear and certain. In the end he made his intended mother-in-law execute a power of attorney, which he had brought ready prepared (he had learned something at his law-desk, one sees), for the sale of certain stock; and then they had some refreshment, and separated for the night, Ned remarking that they would find it the best night's work they ever did.
"Edward," said Patty, before Ned left in the morning, "I told you I would trust you always while you were constant and true. I trust you entirely now. I will not, I do not, in the least regret what has been done; but neither must you forget that the greater portion of mother's little means has now been confided to you—not a trifle, or an odd sum, but our very subsistence. Your heart, I know, is good and generous, and your integrity beyond question; but the best of us are liable to be deceived; and if it should prove that this is a mistake—you will be cautious, very cautious, for our sakes—will you not? If mother should lose a single pound, I shall consider that I have robbed her of it."
"All right," answered Ned; "and I hope she will consider herself indebted to you for all the pounds she will certainly get. You don't fancy I would have gone into a thing of this kind without knowing thoroughly what I was about! Why, I have gone down to the laboratory between three and four in the morning ('bliged to be careful and secret, lest the process should be guessed) and seen the stones turned out as neatly and easily as if they were only making glass beads. One in the safe now can't be worth less than ten thousand, and that, of course, is nothing to what we shall do when the proper buildings and furnaces are up. Don't fret yourself, Patty; if I think you are fretting, it will unhinge me and spoil all my work. Don't; that's my good little girl. Promise that you won't."
"It's not my way to fret," answered Patty; "what you have said I believe as if I saw things myself."
A FRIEND IN NEED.
In a joyous, hearty letter, Ned Koberts announced his safe arrival in London. That was the last letter that Patty Maine ever received from him. She wrote to him, of course, after a little, asking the meaning of his silence. Then, when the time arrived and passed at which he had told them to expect a remittance of money from the Artificial Brilliants Company, she wrote again, but Eoberts did not reply. About the time of the despatch of the second letter, there appeared a most disturbing paragraph in a county paper, mentioning a case that had been before the London police courts, and deploring the appearance, as one of those implicated in it, of a young gentleman once very popular in the neighbourhood of Gritvale; which young gentleman was further mentioned in such manner as to leave little doubt in the mind of any inhabitant that Ned Koberts was the person intended. Hereupon Mrs Maine went to ask Mr Brief if he could tell her anything of his late assistant, from whom, she was obliged to own, they had heard nothing for several weeks. Mr Brief was sorry to say that he had heard much evil of Ned Eoberts— of his neglect of his work, of his keeping objectionable company, of his running in debt, &c. When the poor woman exclaimed, "How will he ever do in a Government' office?" Mr Brief only looked very grave, and said he feared the chance of his ever going into an office was lost. This was fearful intelligence. Mrs Maine did not communicate the worst of it to Patty, in the hope that things might yet be not so bad as they were represented; but she did not dare to wholly conceal the aspect of the case. She had, fortunately, a friend in town through whom inquiries could be made, and she set that friend in motion. It is most distressing to write the result. It came out that Eoberts had fallen in with a vicious set in London, and had been led on from folly to folly, until he had at last been taken before the magistrate and punished. There would be no pleasure nor anything very novel in the details of his