• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Half Title
 Frontispiece
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Our new lodgers
 The death of Signor Silvani
 Christine's narrative
 Mrs. Simms' curiosity
 Christine's visit to the refug...
 Harry's disappearance
 The visit to the exhibition
 Tidings of Harry
 The visit to Italy
 Conclusion
 Advertising
 Back Matter
 Back Cover
 Spine






Title: The secret drawer
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE TURNER PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00026279/00001
 Material Information
Title: The secret drawer
Physical Description: 123, 13 p. : ill. ; 19 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Sunday School Union (England) ( Publisher )
Thomas Nelson & Sons ( Publisher )
St. Martha Printing Works ( Printer )
Unwin Brothers (Firm) ( Printer )
Publisher: Sunday School Union
Thos. Nelson & Sons
Place of Publication: London
New York
Manufacturer: St. Martha Printing Works ; Unwin Brothers
Publication Date: 1872
Copyright Date: 1872
 Subjects
Subject: Christian life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Orphans -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Boardinghouses -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Youth and death -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Theft -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Exiles -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Waldenses -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
History -- Juvenile fiction -- Italy -- War of 1860-1861   ( lcsh )
Publishers' catalogues -- 1872   ( rbgenr )
Prize books (Provenance) -- 1872   ( rbprov )
Bldn -- 1872
Genre: Publishers' catalogues   ( rbgenr )
Prize books (Provenance)   ( rbprov )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
England -- Chilworth
United States -- New York -- New York
 Notes
General Note: Publisher's catalogue follows text.
Statement of Responsibility: by the author of "Alice Middleton: a story of the days of Mary & Elizabeth," &c.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00026279
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: ltqf - AAB9062
notis - ALH7753
oclc - 58526014
alephbibnum - 002237269

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Front Matter 1
        Front Matter 2
    Half Title
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
    Frontispiece
        Page iv
    Title Page
        Page v
        Page vi
    Table of Contents
        Page vii
        Page viii
    Our new lodgers
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
    The death of Signor Silvani
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
    Christine's narrative
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
    Mrs. Simms' curiosity
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
    Christine's visit to the refugees
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
    Harry's disappearance
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
    The visit to the exhibition
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
    Tidings of Harry
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
    The visit to Italy
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
    Conclusion
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
    Advertising
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
    Back Matter
        Page 137
    Back Cover
        Page 138
        Page 139
    Spine
        Page 140
Full Text






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LOOKING F'O LOD1ilNGS.


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THE


BY TIHE AUTHOR OP

"gilitt Vibbltton: a 5torR of the 3lap of Larn & eliphetl,"











3onbon:
THE SUNDAY SCHOOL UNION, 56, OLD BAILEY.
NEW YORK: THOSE. NELFON & SONS, 52, BLEECKER STREET.





























































PRINTED BY WATER-POWER,
AT THE ST. MARTIA PRINTING WORKS,
CHILWOI rH, SURREY.











f"'''" ,' " ". .













CONTENTS.






CHAPTER L
PAG3
OUB NEW LODGERS 1


CHAPTER II.
THE DEATH OF SIGNOR SILVANI.


CHAPTER III.
CIIRISTINE'S NARRATIVE .


CHAPTER IV.
MRS. SIMMS CURIOSITY


CHAPTER V.
CHRISTINE'S VISIT TO THE IIlEiUGEES


S 18




. 80




, 43










.11 CONTENTS.


CHAPTER VI.
HARRY'S DISAPPEARANCE . 7


CHAPTER VII.
THE VISIT TO THE EXHIBITION . 77


CHAPTER VIII.

TIDINGS OF HARRY . .


CHAPTER IX.
THE VISIT TO ITALY . 101


CHAPTER X.
CONCLUSION 113


















THE SECRET DRAWER.




CHAPTER I.

OUR NEW LODGERS.

E lived in a very quiet square in West-
minster. It was a peculiar square, with
a quaint church in the middle,-and
S. -'- two sides of it consisted of very small
,' '. ruinous structures, cNiefly used as
stables or storehouses. But the other
side had rows of somewhat stately buildings, which
must- have been built for wealthy people ; for many
of them had wide halls, with rooms at either side.
They were dear old houses,-I love their memory, for
the sake of the particular one in which we dwelt,
my widowed mother, my brother Harry and I.
B








THE SECRET DRAWER.


My mother was left in what are called narrow
circumstances,"-that is to say, she had enough to
live upon within certain humble limits. My father
had been cashier in a City warehouse, and his savings,
with one or two bequests, made up our little property.
One of these bequests was the old house in Brown
Square, which had belonged to my mother's maiden
godmother. It had not been ours in my father's
lifetime,-of which period I could remember little,
except that we lived in a narrow City lane, over the
counting-house where my father worked,- but it came
to my mother's hands very soon after his death,
together with divers old-fashioned furniture standing
in its wide chambers. And there we lived comfort-
ably enough, only that our moderate fires never
seemed to thaw the chill of the great rooms, and
the long, heavily framed windows appeared constantly
demanding richer hangings than our plain holland
blinds. The place was much too large for us, so we
let the second floor-"unfurnished"-to a law sta-
tioner and his wife, very decent people, with no faults
except those incident to humanity, such as grumb-
ling, fault-finding, nervous headaches at awkward
times, &c. But still the first floor remained cold,
stately, and proper, with its faded carpet on the
uneven floor, and its black, thin-legged chairs drawn
ap against the painted wall. These apartments








OUR NEW LODGES.


boasted several pieces of china, some needlework,
pictures, and two family portraits-whose features, I
am thankful to say, have not descended to either
Harry or me. My mother could never behold these
articles without much admiration. In girlhood she
had been taught to regard them with wondering awe,
and the sensation had never worn away. Still we
were not rich enough to keep rooms to look at; so
these magnificent chambers were let furnished-that
is to say, they were always to be let," but were
seldom occupied more than three months out of each
year-the only lodgers who would conform to my
mother's household regulations being simple country
people, who had cause for a short stay in the me-
tropolis.
Harry and I were always glad when the rooms
were taken," firstly, because the house was livelier;
secondly, because we hated the bill in the parlour
window; and thirdly, because this rent, being a sort
of surplus revenue, procured us many little indul-
gences which we generally went without, and there-
fore our private regrets were very numerous when,
one severe winter nearly twenty years ago, day after
day went by, and no one even inquired after the
"apartments."
Nobody comes into the square," said Harry,
ruefully, as we peered over the wire blind one frosty
B2








THE SECRET DRAWER.


afternoon. "I wish mother would advertise; but
she always says, 'No, I'll not send good money to
look for what it may never find;, a penny saved is a
penny gained, Harry;' and I suppose she's right,
but my proverb is-' Nothing venture, nothing
have.' "
"Yes, when you bought the ticket for the twelfth-
cake raffle," I remarked, mischievously.
Here come some people!" exclaimed Harry, not
heeding me, and I declare they're looking about as
if they wanted something,-I hope it's lodgings !"
"The people" were two,-a tall gentleman wrapped
in a long cloak with a velvet collar, who walked with
some difficulty, supported by an ebony stick and the
shoulderr of his companion, a small, slight girl about
sixteen. The girl was dressed in sable garments, of
quaint outlandish form, which suggested that touch-
ing description, "makeshift mourning," and her
small dark-eyed face was pale an' thin -to the
extreme. In her arms she carried a rather large
parcel d9ne up in brown paper, and her whole man-
ner was that of a person who, although sufficiently
weary, was prepared to struggle on as long as neces-
sity required.
They do want lodgings," whispered Harry and
I to each other, drawing back out of sight, for the
pa.z paused in front of the bill, and seemed to hold a








OUR NEW LODGERS.


whispered consultation. Presently the gentleman
stopped to the door and knocked.
Our mother herself admitted them, and as the
parlour door was ajar we could hear the conversation
in the hall. They were plainly foreigners,-the
gentleman used many words we could not understand
at all, and his daughter interpreted, speaking English
with a pretty foreign accent. Our mother had strong
British prejudices, but as the parley proceeded, we
noticed her voice grew less constrained and more
genial, and at last she led the way up-stairs. They
all stayed there more than half-an-hour, and the law
stationer's wife, who always managed to know per-
fectly well all that went on in the house, hovered
curiously about the staircase and hall. Presently my
mother came out alone, and she and Mrs. Simms
entered the parlour together.
"I wonder if I've done right ? said my mother,
going up to the fireplace.
"Dear me!" sighed Mrs. Simms, expectantly,
"any friendly counsel I can give, you know you may
always depend on, Mrs. Blake."
I have taken them in," said my mother sud-
denly, as if it was a truth which must come out
sooner cr later.
"What! those foreigners that I heard parley-
vooing here awhile ago, when I was in the back








THE SECRET DRAWER.


yard getting snow-water for my poor chilblain ?
Mrs. Blake, may I be allowed to ask in a friendly
way, have you got good references with 'em ?"
"Where can they get good references ?" said my
mother, defending her supposed folly with the courage
of desperation. They've only been in London two
days, lodging at a coffee-house. They've just come
from Italy. They seem quite respectable people."
"Ah, Mrs. Blake, but one must be very knowing
not to be deceived They mayn't be foreigners at
all, or if they be, so much the worse. When do we,
or other decent people, go gadding about the world,
leaving all our connections behind us ? It is not
likely. Those who have anything worth sticking to,
stick to it."
"There is some truth in what you say, Mrs.
Simms," replied my mother, meekly, but can we
hope to hear Christ say, 'I was a stranger, and ye
took me in,' if we always fear to give unsuspicious
hospitality when God sends us a chance ?"
"Ah, it's all very fine, Mrs. Blake, but the world
is the world, and so I must take care and keep Mr.
Simm's door locked just now;" and Mrs. Simms
retreated to her own dominions.
"Yes, I've taken them in," repeated mi mother,
turning to us. They are poor refugees from Italy.
The gentleman is still lame from a wound he received








OUR NEW LODGERS.


in that terrible war, and the daughter looks just worn
out. Their name is Silvani. The young lady says
her mother was a Swiss, and had been a governess in
England, and that is how she knows the language so
well."
What are they ? asked Harry.
The Signor says he was a professor of the dead
languages, and that he thinks he shall soon get em-
ployment here, and his daughter says she can earn
money too, poor child!"
When are their things coming ? I asked.
There is nothing to come," answered my mother.
" They escaped with nothing but the clothes which
they wear, and that parcel, which is a curious inlaid
desk."
"Escaped ? questioned Harry, eagerly. "Did
they tell you about it ? "
"Not much; only they lived under a very hate-
ful, unjust Government, and when there was an effort
to change this for a good free rule, the Signor with
many others joined in it, and as it has proved un-
successful, and the old Grand Duke, or whatever
they called him, has returned to his throne, as many
as could hid, or disguised themselves, and got away
secretly."
"And what became of those who couldn't ? asked
Harry.







10 THE SECRET DRAWER.

Some were executed," said my mother, with a
sigh, "and others put into prisons so dreadful that
they are sure to die a lingering death. We've had
it in all the newspapers, Harry,-but I'm afraid we
think very little of what we read till something brings
t home to us."
Where is the gentleman's wife ? I asked.
They say she died years ago," returned my
mother, "but now I must go and see about their
tea. And I should like you, Mary, help Jane take
it up. It may make the young lady feel more at
home to see another of her own age."
And so I carried in the bread and butter. The
Signor rose and saluted me with the grave courtesy
of his nation, and his daughter smiled and thanked
me in her pretty voice. They seemed quite settled.
The inlaid desk was placed upon the sideboard,
evidently relieved of some of its contents, for I saw
two strange portraits standing at either end of the
mantel-shelf. That on the right hand represented
a lad with golden hair and blue eyes, and a smiling
face bright with delicate bloom. The other depicted
a young man, apparently just above twenty, with
crisp brown curls pushed off a broad noble brow.
The eyes were dark, and they and the mouth were
full of intense energy. The figure was draped in a
scarlet shirt. The first picture was a miniature, careo-








OUR NEW LODGERS.


fully finished and well-framed; the second was
without a frame, and seemed the dashed-off work of
a gifted artist, who had no time, nor perhaps trained
skill, to perfect his study." It attracted me won-
derfully; as I answered the Signor's laborious ques-
tions my eyes turned to it, and I fear the young lady
observed this, for she looked earnestly at me and
then at it, and suddenly starting away, burst into
tears. Her father smoothed her hair gently with
his thin brown hand, and spoke to her in their
own melodious tongue, calling her Christine."
Then he drew her chair near his, and opened a small
dingy book which lay on the table. From its close
print and well-worn look I guessed it some religious
manual; for I had jumped to the conclusion that
they were sure to be Roman Catholics.
And so I took the opportunity to steal out of the
room, with my mind filled with that vague conscious-
ness of mystery which is so charming to romantic
young people.





















CHAPTER II.

THE DEATH OF SIGNOR SILVANI.


IGNOR SILVANI and his daughter seemed
everything one could desire in lodgers.
They went out once or twice together,
but the weather continued severe, and
the Signor's wound was so painful, that
his daughter was generally obliged to go
alone. She made no secret of her errands, she
went to seek pupils," as she thought she could
teach music and Italian, and even drawing,-" at
least to very little children," she added humbly, and
my mother advised her as to one or two quarters
where she might get introductions.
One evening, just at dusk, she returned from one
of these expeditions, and we noticed that 0h- closed








THE DEATH OF SIGNOR SILVANI.


the door, and ran up-stairs with unusual energy.
We three were sitting idle by the firelight, very
likely half asleep.
Listen exclaimed my mother.
For we were startled by a sudden burst of melody,
such as I, at least, had never heard before. For a
minute we silently wondered what was it ? Then
Harry whispered,-" It is the young lady singing,
and playing on great-aunt's old piano." After that
we were hushed, unwilling to miss a single note.
The first tune was quick, energetic, buoyant,-
like an eager captain hurrying on his soldiers to
conquer or to die ; the second was a most pathetic
wail, like the sobs of the women when the battle is
over. I always disown any taste for music," could
never learn a note, and cannot recognize a tune
except, sometimes, by its associations. Therefore
I know I did not understand the wonderful beauty
of those melodies, but I felt it, and since then I can
comprehend how people are sometimes moved to
tears by an eloquent discourse in an unknown
tongue.
The music ceased, and some minutes went by,
yet we neither stirred nor spoke, till there was a
soft rap on the door. It was Christine Silvani
herself.
Can you be greatly kind to us, madame," she








THE SECRET DRAWER.


said, addressing my mother, "and permit us to
have our tea as soon as possible, for my poor papa
is very unwell ? "
It is such trying weather," said my mother.
"But what a treat you have just' given us, made-
moiselle."
Could you hear me ? she asked, startled, oh,
I fear I shall disturb-be troublesome."
You can't disturb us with that, miss," said
Harry.
For thanks to your goodness, madame," con-
tinued the foreigner, with a smile for my brother, "I
have got one little appointment. I am to go to the-
what you call-' Daily School' in the next street, and
teach music."
"I hope Miss Withers gives you good terms,"
remarked my mother,, for we knew that lady to be
something of what Harry irreverently called "a screw."
"Yes, very good for me," she answered. "I am
to have half-a-guinea a quarter for every pupil; and
she says there are never less than six."
"And she gets a guinea a quarter," interposed
Harry, "and she'll put down Signora Silvani'
on her prospectus, and make herself out ever so
grand."
Christine looked amused.
"But the lady has the piano, and the nice room,








THE DEATH OF SIGNOR SILVANI.


and the good name in the neighbourhood, monsieur,"
she said. Oh, I am well content. Will you take
my thanks, madame ? and now I must go back to
my poor papa."
They had their tea sent up directly. But when
our servant Jane went to remove it, she brought down
such a tale of the Signor's manifold sufferings, and
his daughter's hidden tears, that my mother herself
proceeded to their room. She was not too soon.
She had not seen much of sickness or death, but she
felt sure the Signor was sinking fast, and Harry was
at once despatched for our good old doctor, who
returned with him.
It is too late, ma'am," said hI, conferring with
my mother in the parlour, after he had seen his
patient. The poor man's case must have been
hopeless when he entered this house. I don't sup-
pose he knew it. His mind, his energies, were so
tried that his physical sufferings were deadened, and
so death has come on unawares. Do you know any-
thing of them, ma'am ? Have they any friends ?"
My mother told all she knew, which was little
enough. And then she and the doctor returned to
the sick-room.
"What is your own opinion of yourself, Signor 2"
he asked.
That exile is ended in Heaven !" said the sick








THE SECRET DRAWER.


man, speaking in English. "But oh! Christine,
m7ia cara, what will become of you !"
"Have you any friends here?" questioned the
doctor.
There is one who knows my name," answered the
invalid, "but I cannot send any one to him but
Christine, and she must not leave me now. She will
go directly I am gone."
And have you no directions, sir, respecting your
daughter ?"
Do not trouble my father about me, monsieur,"
said Christine, with trembling lips; you are very
kind, but I know all."
After that there was a long silence.
"Bring me the portrait, Christine," moaned the
sufferer, in Italian. Not that-not that "-as she
went towards the miniature-" I shall see him again
before midnight-but the other!"
She brought the little painting, and held it before
the death-stricken face. The glazing eyes rested on
it with passionate affection.
"Oh, Marco, Marco, my boy!" he moaned, and
turned away.
Perhaps you will see him too, my father," cried
Christine, knecling beside the couch. "Perhaps
only I remain."
"I feel not so, cara nmia," said her father, stroking








THE DEATH OF SIGNOR SILVANI.


her bowed head. "But why does God will that I
leave you alone? The waiting is so hard Give
Marco his father's dying love and last blessing, my
daughter."
Christine only sobbed.
"I know you will. And never forget The Secret
Drawer.' What God forbids may not be. But
you must never forget it,-answer me this time,
Christine."
I never will," she replied, almost calmly.
Nobody but Christine heard him speak again. To
her he murmured once or twice, but only one or two
words, and in a few moments they all knew he would
never speak more.
My mother and the doctor offered their consola-
tions to the lonely orphan. For a moment, hiding
her face in her father's pillow, she did not heed them.
Then suddenly rising, she swiftly passed them, say-
ing with an imploring wave of her hands, "Let me
be by myself, you are very kind, but only God can
comfort me," and so passed from the room.
My mother and the medical man came down-stairs,
and it was in our parlour that we heard these details
of the Signor's deathbed,-which, but for the pre-
sence of the doctor, who understood Italian, must
have remained unknown to us. As it was, the little
we learned only increased the romantic mystery which








THE SECRET DRAWER.


hung over our lodgers, and our Irish servant, Jane,
who brought in the supper during the conversation,
lingered in the room when the doctor departed, and
narrated sundry little incidents she had observed in
her attendance up-stairs, and was neither tardy nor
cold in her maledictions against "thim tyrantious
princes and Popes (for Jane was a Protestant), whose
thumb-screwing and police-spies had driven such a
rale gintleman to die in a stranger's house."
Poor Christine Silvani! Early next morning she
went out alone, and after a long absence, returned
with an elderly, long-bearded countryman of her own,
who could not speak a word of English, but who she
introduced to the parlour to lay a little roll of notes
upon the table, while she explained that he had
known her poor papa, and was kind enough to
trust that her father's daughter (how proudly she
said it !) would repay his kindness when she could,
and would madame kindly make arrangements for
a very simple funeral in a very simple grave, it
did not matter where,-' for it cannot be in Italy '"
she said, in her sweet, wailing voice.
My mother said she would do her best,-and she
made this answer so gently that-the swarthy Italian's
eyes gleamed with eloquence, and he uttered a few
emphatic words.
My friend says," explained Christine in faltering








THE DEATH OF SIGNOR SILVANI.


tones, "that God rewards kindness which is too great
for man to repay."
The orphan girl took her meals with us while her
father's corpse remained in the house. She was very
quiet, keeping her grief in wonderful control, and
rejecting all our suggestions respecting mourning,
simply saying that she would wear what she had; the
money in her possession-that which remained above
the funeral expenses-was not her own, and must not
be wasted; "if the angels in Heaven can see us,"
she said, "papa will say, 'Christine is doing right.'"
I remember one evening, while the whole house
was in the shadow of drawn blinds, I left her alone
in the parlour, diligently engaged in making as much
as possible of the black ribbons on her bonnet,
together with a little crape my mother had produced
from her stores, and which Christine accepted with a
tearful kiss. I went down-stairs to the kitchen,-
Jane was out, but Mrs. Simms was there, performing
some little domestic office.
Well, Miss Mary," said she, in a marked tone.
"Well! Mrs. Simms," said I.
"And so the funeral is to be to-morrow," she
remarked, in a whisper. "La! what a world it is."
I did not perceive that I was required to answer,
so I went about my business, which I remember was
to get some hot water from the boiler.
c








THE SECRET DRAWER.


"Now, as a friend, Miss Mary," she went on,
"does your dear mother really know nothing about
these people 2"
Jane knows as much as we do, Mrs. Simms,"
I replied, and I daresay she has told you all about
it."
I don't like mysteries," said Mrs. Simms, deci-
dedly, "and this affair is all mystery. The monsieur
spoke of some one being waited for, Jane said."
I answered not, for I recoiled to hear the dead
man's sorrows spoken of in such sharp contemptuous
tones.
"Mr. Simms is always for law and order," she con-
tinued, "and sa am I,-and these people abroad seem
to have been making a disturbance-so serves 'em
right they didn't succeed. I don't deny one reads
dreadful things about prisons and cruelties, but la!
these foreigners need 'em They can't expect to
make their outlandish governments like our free
British Constitution."
Still, let them try, Mrs. Simms," said I, rather
mischievously, and with no idea of the solemnity
of the topic, and let them 'try, try, try again!'
Mrs. Simms."
"Don't make fun," she answered, shortly. "I
don't like people about the house who may be hatch-
ing plots, or keeping an infernal machine. And I









_ i Il I1'in II


MRS. SIMMS GIVES HER OPINION.

c2




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THE DEATH OF SIGNOR SILVANI.


don't like not to know who's who,-having a little
miss about whom one naturally treats as nobody,-
and yet may prove to be a Duchess of Something,
and serve one out for not making much of her when
she was down,-which, mind you, I would be above
doing for the sake of my expectations, for I'm not
mercenary, Miss Mary."
Then what does it matter who she is?" I said,
as I thought of sweet Christine sitting solitary at
her sad work, and accordingly prepared to return
to her.
Ah, you may profess to be very unconcerned,"
sneered Mrs. Simms, but I'll be bound you'd dearly
like to know what is in the Secret Drawer, wherever
it may be."










S : .. ."











CHAPTER III.


CHRISTINE'S NARRATIVE.


HE day of the funeral came and passed.
W The sad procession was touching in its
simple lowliness, with the bare, undecked
.'-'<*".j, hearse, and the solitary mourning coach,
;.,: wherein rode Christine and her only friend.
Harry and I followed far behind, for town
burials had not then ceased, and the destined grave
was not distant.
I could not tell whether Christine fully entered
into the beautiful service; she stood perfectly still
and scarcely cried. It occurred to me then that the
Silvani family could not be Romanists, or the last
rites would have been performed by a priest of that
church. When all was over, and the sexton was








CHRISTINE'S NARRATIVE.


filling in the sods, the orphan girl suddenly bent
forward and uttered a few earnest words in Italian,
then hastily gathering some blades of half-yellow
grass which grew on the margin of the grave, she
rejoined her companion, and allowed him to lead her
back to the coach; and neither Harry nor I saw her
again that night.
Early the next morning she had a long interview
with our mother, which ended in an arrangement
that, at least for the present, she should remain in
our house, giving up the first floor, and occupying
a small room next to my bedroom, and taking her
meals with us. When my mother acquainted us
with this plan, I think she had a dread of the Simms'
opinion in her mind, for she added, with a little
sigh,-
"I hope it is a wise scheme."
Why, mother," cried Harry, "it is jolly !"
Further comment was interrupted by the entrance
of Christine herself, ready equipped for her first
"attendance" at Miss Withers' "ladies' school."
My mother told her that as she and Harry were going
to spend the later part of the day with a friend in the
City, there would be only Mary to receive her
when she came back. Whereupon Christine re-
marked, that would be a very good opportunity for us
to improve our acquaintance, adding, with a pretty








THlE SECRET DRlAWER.


complimentary air, "that she hoped mademoiselle
would not find it dull." And then she gathered up
some music she had bought, and went off.
Mrs. Simms says she considers she takes her
father's death very coolly," remarked my mother, in a
doleful way.
"Mrs. Simms is a simpleton!" ejaculated Harry;
" why, that girl is a perfect hero (of course he should
have said heroine). She's got lots of tears in her,
but she keeps them behind her eyes."
I remembered that remark when in the afternoon
Christine returned, and came into the parlour, where
I remained alone. I never beheld a sadder sight
than her white, calm face. It seemed as if the tears
"behind her eyes were frozen there. I took away
her bonnet and mantle, and put her into the easy
chair. She only said thank you," and then leaned
back, gazing into the fire, with glassy eyes and
clenched lips. I could not endure it. I went up to
her, and laid a hand on each shoulder, and said,
" You are very tired, dear, you should not have gone
out to-day,-mamma said so-"
She turned and looked at me, and the frozen
tears thawed instantly. I sat down beside her, and
Sput my arm round her neck, and there was a long
silence.
"You must not speak kindly to me," she said.








CHRISTINE'S NARRATIVE.


" I cannot be brave when I hear a gentle voice,-and
yet I so love to hear one But I must be brave.
I've got to face the world,-and the world is selfish,
and does not like to see tears. You must leave me
alone,-only don't think me hard-hearted."
I shall not leave you alone," I answered, warmly,
"and you must not make yourself feel a stranger.
I care very much for you already."
She put her arm round me and kissed me, saying,
" Then always call me Christine,' and let me call
you Marie;' and sometimes, when I want very much
to cry a little, will you let me cry, without thinking
I am making you miserable with sorrows which are
nothing to do with you ?"
"I shall think no such thing," I replied.
We did not speak again till she rose, and proposed
we should go up-stairs and remove her little possessions
from the first floor. I shall carry my desk to my
bedroom," she said; "I shall like to feel it near me
in the night. And I must take the portraits there
too. [A little sigh.] I shall see them every morning."
Bring them down-stairs to the parlour," I sug-
gested. "Let them stand at each side of the looking-
glass."
But your mamma will not care to see them.
They are but strange faces to her."
Are they very dear to you ?" I asked.








THE SECRET DRAWER.


They are my brothers," she replied,-" those are
all that remain of two dear brothers."
We sat down side by side; I almost cried to see
the silent sorrow on her face, for she was quite tear-
less now.
Will you tell me about it?" I whispered, timidly;
for since her father's death she had seemed to grow
so wise and womanly that I had quite a reverence for
her.
"Yes, if you like to hear it," she answered,
dreamily, but I don't know where to begin."
Where did you live in Italy ?" I asked.
In Rome," she replied, with a flash in her eyes-
"grand, beautiful, wasted Rome! One of my ear-
liest recollections is of a Popish procession ;-some
of these processions are pretty, but they are all
foolish, and many are wicked."
Then you are a Protestant ?" I queried.
Scarcely that," she answered, with a faint smile.
"I was brought up in my mother's church, which
my dear papa joined; it is the church of the
Waldenses, which has never been reformed, because
it resisted the very entrance of corruption."
Yes, I had often heard of them," I said.
We kept that faith in Rome," Christine proceeded,
"but it was very hard. There was no church to
attend, and we had to hide our Bible. There were













































































CEMMItEIE IEILIEG MiE STORY,




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CHRBISTINE S NARREATIVE.


other Waldensians there, and sometimes we had
little meetings for prayer and praise, especially when
any good foreigner brought us glad news from happier
lands ; but it was always hidden, for there are many
priests in Rome, and those people who do not attend
mass and confession are much suspected and watched.
Sometimes a Waldensian was seized and put in
prison, and his Bible taken from him and destroyed.
My dear mother died when we were all little.
She had never been quite well since the birth of my
youngest brother Angelo,"-she pointed to the
miniature of the fair-haired lad,-" who was just one
year older than I. Angelo was a very delicate child,
with blue eyes and yellow hair, like my mother's, and
so he was papa's pet, and Marco and I were left to
each other. Marco was eldest : he was just twenty
when that picture was painted at the beginning
of last year. Oh, Marco was so handsome, noble,
and good! Oh, Marco, my brother, my darling!"
she wailed; and her voice died away in a desolate
sob.
On the whole, we were a happy family,-never
rich, often very poor," she resumed. But there's a
strange pleasure in struggling to make both ends
meet, and a wonderful excitement when they do just
meet, with nothing over. Papa took great pains with
us. We had all learned English from our mother,







THE SECRET DRAWER.


who had lived long in England in her youth, and he
made us keep it up, though he could not speak it
himself. I almost think he wished us to live in
England when we grew up. Angelo was a great
student, and wrote poetry;-he was a genius, my
poor little brother, but he was so very weak and frail
that he could not be much with Marco and me. I
knew all Marco's secrets. He was strong, and brave,
and clever, and had many friends, but there was no
companion he loved better than his little sister; and
it was from him I heard that troubled times were
coming, while as yet they were far off,-a cloud no
larger than a man's hand.'
"The Italians were weary of their rulers. Our
dear land is ridden by a score of tyrants, who slay
and torture and imprison every one who crosses their
wicked will. But suddenly the people rose (Christine
sprang up as she said it); and when the people rose,
the wicked kings and grand dukes fled, and left their
subjects to do as they liked. The Pope fled,-the
pool Pope," said Christine, who would have been a
good n.zan if he had not been a Pope,-and there was
a new Government in our glorious City of Rome.
"Of course there was much confusion, Marie, for a
new Government cannot guide things like an old one.
It was hard for a whole city to leave the bad old ways,
and get into good new ones. The new Government








CHRISTINE'S NARRATIVE.


was not always wise,-dear papa said that,-though
Marco would never hear anything against it; but one
thing I know, there was no more need to conceal the
Bible;-nay, it was openly sold in the streets and
shops! and when we wished to worship God we no
longer met together in the night.
"But it all came to an end," said Christine,
leaning back in her chair as if she was weary, "for
the French army came to restore the Pope, and
instead of peace and thanksgiving there was war and
misery. Rome was fortified, with General Garibaldi
to defend it, and Marco, and papa, and even poor
Angelo took arms under him. We left our old home,
which was in the suburbs, and took a lodging in a
great crowded house in the very heart of the city,
where I used to remain alone whilst they all three
went out to fight.
Well, the French kept on winning and winning,
and they had almost got a footing inside the city,
when papa was wounded. The worst night of all
was when they did get inside the walls. Papa was
very ill, and in great pain, and when the doctor came
he gave him something which made him sleep through
his sufferings, and through the noise of the firing. I
was alone, and I knew my brothers were both in the
thick of the fight. I think I can hear the shots
now;" and she shuddered.








THE SECRET DRAWER.


"In the morning they brought Angelo home-not
dead, but fast dying, with a fearful wound in his
neck. Nothing could be done for him-the doctor
could spare no time for a hopeless case,-and all
that remained was to give him water and bathe his
forehead. He was in fearful pain at first, but so
patient, my poor Angelo! After a while, that passed,
and he was quite easy, and then be died !
Marco never saw him again alive, for he could
not get home until just before Angelo was buried.
Then he only came for a moment. Rome had sur-
rendered to the French, but Garibaldi would not
surrender, and he and part of his army intended to
leave the city by night. Marco only came to ask my
father's permission to join them. He got it. He
kissed poor Angelo, and he kissed me, and bade me
look out for him when the troops went by. If it was
so dark that I could not see his face, he promised to
tie a handkerchief to his musket. He was not with
us more than ten minutes.
"At twilight that day Angelo was buried, and a
cross was put up" over his grave-just two rough
sticks, with 'Angelo' carved on one. I hope that
grave will be kept sacred, Marie, and perhaps some
day I shall go back and see it.
Just at midnight the troops passed our house on
their way to the gate. My father was able to sit at








CHRISTINE S NARRATIVE.


the window and watch them. I told him of Marco's
signal, and we both saw it. We watched it, passing
-passing-passing away,-and that was the last I
have ever seen of my brother !"
"Did you not hear whether he was wounded ?" I
inquired.
No,'" she replied : "we had to leave our lodgings
and hide-anywhere, anyhow-for phpa would have
been imprisoned if he had been discovered. We lost
everything except the desk which you know. After a
while we got to Piedmont, where we were a little
safer, and there papa met some one who had seen
Marco after he left Rome. He was with Garibaldi
when scarcely one hundred others remained faithful.
These, Marco among them, tried to escape with their
General in some fishing-boats, but they were fired on
by an Austrian vessel, and forced to return and take
shelter in the woods. No one saw Marco after that.
He may be dead, he may be a prisoner, he may be in
safe hiding, he may actually be in England (Christine
sprang up and paced the room), but where he is I
cannot tell Oh, it is dreadful, Marie. It is so dif-
ferent with papa and Angelo; I know where their
bodies rest-one under the cross at Rome, and the
other in the English graveyard; I know their souls
are with God! But Marco may be pining in a dun-
geon,-Marco may be ill,-dying with no one to be
D








42 THE SECRET DRAWER.

kind to him I sometimes almost wish I knew him
to be dead-and safe! But papa fancied he still
lived,-papa said so just before he died. Oh, Marco,
Marco!" she wailed,-" Marco, my darling! the
moon still shines on the Campagna, but you and I
walk there no more!"
How can you bear it?" I asked, impetuously.
I do not know," she answered, with a sweet thrill
in her voice, "I do not know-but God does."
Then we parted-she up-stairs, I down-and when
my agitation calmed away, I remembered her story
had shed no light into the Secret Drawer.





















CHAPTER IY.

MRS. SIMMS' CURIOSITY.

'j AYS and weeks passed on. Christine kept
I : up her attendances at Miss Withers'
school, and procured other engagements
'";,' elsewhere, and very soon her mornings
were fully occupied. It was not surprising,
for her terms seemed terribly moderate
compared with her talents; but Christine had a
humble estimate of herself, constantly lamenting her
"want of training," and spending every spare moment
in the improvement of one or other of her accom-
plishments. Besides her teaching she managed to
get some translating and foreign copying, at which
she worked during the evening; and, in truth, our
little lodger's only rest seemed change of occupation.
D 2








THE SECRET DRAWER.


Her early success in independence enabled her
to return some of her countryman's loan untouched.
At the end of August she told us that the rest of
her little debt was discharged. From that time she
was never out except on business, or for a walk.
One lovely autumn evening she and I went to the
West End, and found plenty of amusement in the
brilliant shops, whiph we did not often see. Suddenly
Christine said, in a voice strangely grave for the
words,-
I suppose I must have a new dress."
Of course you must," I answered, promptly.
"I can't think how you have made yours last
so long,-and you should not begrudge yourself now
when you must be getting quite rich."
She did not answer, but I remember her dark eyes
turned an earnest glance towards me.
"Buy a black bombazine," I went on, eagerly;
" you really should have a nice dress at last, after
wearing such a shabby thing so long."
Oh, Marie, Marie," she said, in a sweet, thrilling
voice, it may be shabby in your eyes, but it is the
last attire in which they knew me "
I was a little touched, and was silent. Presently
she drew me to a draper's window, and asked my
opinion on the wares therein.
"Don't look there,"I said, "it is such a cheap shop!"








MRS. SIMMS' CURIOSITY.


"I thought that," she answered; "there can be
nothing cheaper than that," pointing to a coarse
fabric of mingled black and grey. "Look! only
fivepenco a yard; and I need but ten yards, -how
much is that? I am so slow at your English
money !"
Four-and-twopence," I replied, with great con-
tempt. "Why, it would not be more than five-and-
sixpence, lining and all Ridiculous !"
"I shall buy it," she said, calmly.
And so she did.
I felt angry at the purchase, and during the
process of making the dress I would not offer a
single opinion or suggestion. I do not know whether
Christine observed this; she took no notice, and
was as sweet and gentle as ever. Yet something
seemed to have come between us, a

"First slight swerving of the heart,"

which did not heal as days went on. I cannot
explain my feelings. If I thought her stingy, I
need not have felt injured, since she only grudged
herself. Perhaps I thought she set a bad precedent
in dress expenses. Perhaps I did not like her for
looking neat and ladylike in the despised garment.
Perhaps my resentment sprung from a mixture of
all these feelings.








THE SECRET DRAWER.


There came a particularly hot, sultry day. Most
of Christine's pupils were out of town, and she was
almost idle. She looked pale and preoccupied. At
last she said, with sudden energy, that she must
go out, and went upstairs for her bonnet and mantle.
I followed, but only to the second floor, for I had
been making a few little purchases for Mrs. Simms.
I found that lady sitting by the open window,
quite prostrated" by the weather. I displayed
my wares (I remember they were blonds and gauzes),
and whilst we were commenting upon them our
street-door shut, and Mrs. Simms popped her head
out of the window to see who had made an exit.
Ill-bred woman thought I.
There now! she exclaimed, clutching my dress,
but not drawing in her head. "Look with your
own eyes, my dear, for perhaps you won't believe me."
And out went my head in a twinkling !
All I saw was a small dark figure, running off as
fast as legs could carry it. It turned the corner
of the square, and was lost to sight. Then we both
brought our heads back inside the room.
"What do you think of that?" asked Mrs. Simms.
"What was it ?" I asked, perplexed.
"Just your Mademoiselle Silvani," said the law-
stationer's wife; and is that the pace of a young
lady who hasn't a place to go to outside this house,








MIRS. SIMMS' CURIOSITY.


nor a single kith nor kin in all London ? Do you
or I hurry when we're going nowhere ? There's
something not right about her, Miss Mary."
Somehow the coarse-minded gossip did not irritate
me now; I even asked Mrs. Simms what made
her say so.
There's more than meets the eye in most things,
my dear," she went on, picking imaginary ends from
the carpet.
But Christine shows herself such a good girl," I
said; for I believed I still loved her and was her
sincere champion. Our hearts change before we
are aware.
Mark my words," said Mrs. Simms, with oracular
emphasis: she's come from some beginning we
don't guess, and she's living for some aim we don't
know "
"But you must have a reason for saying this," I
persisted, with more curiosity than indignation.
Be sure I don't speak without a reason," she said.
And if you have a good reason you can tell it, for I
know how you dislike mysteries, ma'am," I remarked,
shrewdly bringing her own words to bear upon her.
"Well, where there's a secret," she began, after
a pause, "I think it's fair to try which is cleverest,
the one who wants to keep it or the other who tries
to find it out."








THE SECRET DRAWER.


At another time I should have said that a person's
secret was as much his own property as his watch,
but I felt this was only an apology for some mean
trick about to be disclosed, and I was not averse
to profit by the shabby action of another; so I made
a sign which I wished Mrs. Simms to consider
encouraging; and she proceeded in a whisper,-
I could never forget what Jane told me about the
Secret Drawer. It's quite haunted me of a night to
know that young creature was in the room above me,
with some mystery-no one knows how awful-
a-resting on her soul. Mr. Simms has heard me
talking of secret drawers in my dreams, and he's
wondered what I meant; for you know I never talk
to Simms, my dear; he's as simple as a child; and if
he knew I was wondering about anything, he'd just
say, Ask the young lady herself, and put your mind
at rest.' That's Simms' wisdom, Miss Mary.
"Well, one night I heard her go up to bed at the
same time as you; but long after you were asleep as
sound as a top, like a dear blessed innocent angel,
she was fidgeting about as if there was something in
her wouldn't let her rest. Simms was out, it was
busy time, and he was working four-and-twenty hours
on a stretch. So I slipped on my carpet shoes and
put a shawl round me, and crept up-stairs to her
door. Sure enough the candle was burning, and-








MuRS. SDIMAS' CURfIOSITY.


I'm telling you in confidence, my dear,"-and she
laid her skinny hand on my shoulder,-" I just
looked through the key-hole, and there she was,
sitting at the table, with that odd-looking desk before
her, and a drawer open, somehow out of its side,-a
thorough secret drawer, Miss Mary,-I couldn't find
it again if I had the chance to try,-and a lot of
papers in it, and spread all over the table. And she
took one of them, and looked over it, as if it was an
account. Then she took two or three gold pieces out
of her purse-I could not tell whether they were
sovereigns or halves,-and folded them up in it, and
put it in a corner of the drawer,-and took a blank
piece of paper, and wrote something on it, and then
laid her head on her hands, and cried as if her heart
would break. And then she started up, and I
thought she might have heard a creaking, so I made
off as quickly as I could."
"It's certainly very strange," I remarked; "she
told me a great deal of her history, but nothing
about this."
Of course you'll not mention it to her, Miss
Mary," said Mrs. Simms, "nor to your mother
either, only be upon your guard." And so we parted.
About six o'clock Harry returned, and rushed into
the parlour shouting, "Christine! Christine where's
Christine ? I've got some news "








THE SECRET DRAWER.


Gently, gently," said my mother, Christine is
out."
Where is she gone ? he asked.
"We do not know," I answered, with an emphasis.
Harry threw himself into a chair. There's a lot
of Italian refugees just landed," he said-" some of
them escaped from prison ; they only came yesterday,
and they're awfully bad off."
"Poor things!" said my mother; "I wonder if
Christine will know any of them ? "
"Not very likely. I think they come from the
very toe and heel of the leg of Europe," said my
learned brother. But there's a subscription opened
for them, and I know she'll like to give some-
thing."
We shall see," I remarked, significantly.
At that moment she entered, looking jaded and
dusty. Harry eagerly imparted his news.
"Yes, I've heard of the poor refugees," she said,
a little dreamily, leaning against the wall.
"And have you heard of the subscription for
them ? asked Harry, not so enthusiastically.
"No," she said, turning towards him. "Is there
one ? "
Yes," the boy went on, excited again, and my
chum Dick Thornton is collecting, and I told him
you would be sure to send a trifle."















































































IMPARTING THE NEWS.




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mfls. Si.)ms' cTuflosiry.


"I am sorry you said so, Harry," she replied,
gently, for I cannot do it."
You shouldn't have been so rash, my boy," said
my mother.
I think Harry had made a boast of Christine's
patriotism and certain liberality, for he was keenly
disappointed, and I provoked him further by a laugh.
"Well, all have a right to do as they like," he
said, bitterly, "but when one's heard a lot of fine
talk about a 'dear country and brave compatriots' (he
actually mimicked Christine's tone and words), one
naturally sets them down as worth a shilling or half-
a-crown."
"Harry I'm ashamed of you," said our mother,
as lie swung out of the room. Harry, come back
and apologise."
But he wouldn't, and she went after him.
Christine still stood in front of the picture, and I
think she murmured, "Oh, Marco Marco! Her
face was very pale.
You must not mind Harry," I remarked (not,
God forgive me with a good intention); "he only
made a very natural blunder."
"I know it," she said.
"People that keep secrets cannot expect to be
understood," I added, stitching vigorously.
She looked earnestly at me, and a slight flush








TIIE SECRET DRAWER.


passed over her paleness. What makes you name
' secret ? she asked, with firmness.
My plight was a little awkward. I dare not allude
to Mrs. Simms' narrative, so I was obliged to be
unfeeling, and refer to her father's death-bed. The
doctor told us there was something about a Secret
Drawer," I said, folding my work and leaving the
room.
She followed me to the door and held me a
moment. Oh, Marie," she said, "when you cannot
be sure, why not hope good as well as suspect evil ? "
I saw her no more that night.







A




-'I







.. ....... -- - - -------_-. .. .--.. . .. .._.. .---:--
. .. .. . -..................... .. .....











CHAPTER Y.


CHRISTINE'S VISIT TO THE REFUGEES.


FTER that little "tiff" on the sultry even-
ing, Harry showed no more temper, but
was decidedly reserved, and made no friendly
advances to Christine, who seemed wearied
and depressed. There was a constraint
upon us. More than once, I was inclined
to tell her Mrs. Simms' story, but I had made a
promise of secrecy. Besides, I was conscious that
my own part in the interview had been mean and
unworthy. At the same time I found it quite im-
possible to put aside the knowledge I had so shabbily
obtained, and whenever I felt impelled to behave
warmly towards Christine, the memory of her jealously
guarded secret chilled the impulse.








THE SECRET DRAWER.


Harry had left school in the spring, and about this
time he got a situation as messenger in some office
in Parliament Street. He was a handsome boy, tall
for his age, rather fastidious in dress, and very im-
pressible,-altogether, everything which "the only son
of a widow had better not be. Of course, he was
rather spoiled in our female household at Brown
Square. He and I got on pretty well in a scrambling
way, quarrelling one hour, and very loving the next.
But Christine always behaved wisely towards him,
not because least burdened by affection, for I believe
her bereaved heart quite received him in place of
the fair-haired Angelo sleeping under the wooden
cross at Rome. She never nagged at him. She
expostulated sometimes, but generally her silence
had more effect than my volleys of reproof. She had
once or twice spoken very firmly to him, and though
he had gone off offended, he had always returned,
convinced that she was right, and desiring to regain
her good graces, which she never withheld. Therefore,
I believe, Christine deeply felt his continued coolness.
Winter came, and found her busily employed with
lessons and translating. As I recalled her arrival at
our house, I felt she had changed during the year.
She looked much older, and her face was worn, and
had a touching expression of patient endurance.
She often uttered bright and lively things, and yet








CHRISTINE'S VISIT TO THE REFUGEES.


sometimes, when making an ordinary remark, there
Was a sound in. her voice which made me look to see
if she were crying. I never noticed this in conversa-
tion, it was only in unguarded moments, generally
when she had just come in from the street.
Not long before Christmas, my mother went out
to tea, leaving us in charge of the house. Just after
she had gone, the postman brought a letter for
"Mademoiselle Silvani." It was the first she had
ever received, for it had happened her business had
gone on without need of correspondence. She laid it on
her knee, with the superscription turned down. She sat
so several minutes, and I saw her face was very white;
then she cut it open, read it, and burst into tears.
Is it bad news, Christine ? I whispered; "you
will tell me, will you not ?"
"It is good news," she sobbed, "it is from a
gentleman who wishes me to copy a great heap of
Italian papers for him. He says he will give me
quite five pounds for doing it."
Then why do you cry ? I said, caressing her.
Because I am disappointed," she sobbed.
Presently she dropped her handkerchief, and said,
a little calmly, You are very kind to have patience
with me. I do my best not to trouble you often,
only I am so tired !"
"You work too hard,-I always say so," I remarked,








THE SECRET DRAWER.


feeling inclined to add, and what on earth you do
with all your money, I cannot tell !"
I don't mean that," she said, I'm never tired
of work,-it's my best blessing."
I What tires you then ? I asked.
-"Waiting-waiting for Marco," she murmured,
wearily laying her head on my shoulder.
No one can tell what it is, till they feel it," she
went on presently. "Every time I take up a news-
paper I half fancy I may see his name. Sometimes
I think he may come to England, and I look for
him as I go along the street. I've sometimes gone
out expressly to do so. I can hardly keep from
peeping into the foreign restaurants to see if he is
there. I thought this letter might be from him or
about him. Then often, when I'm in the middle of
teaching or talking, it comes into my mind, What
is Marco doing now-at this minute ? and that is
such sharp pain, Marie "
"How we notice and sympathise with what we know,"
she added. Since I lost Marco, I have noticed how
many are in like sorrow. All the friends of those
who go out in ships that are never 'heard of;' all the
friends of Sir John Franklin's men ; all the people
who belong to those who are advertised as 'Missing.'"
"But they have generally ran away," I said, so
that is their own fault."



























































CHRISTINE'S INTERVIEW WITH THE ITALIAN.

E2




This page contains no text.






CHEISTINE'S VISIT TO THE REFUGEES.


"None the better for those they leave behind
them," she answered. Oh how very cruel they
are,-those people who run away!"
Somehow, at that moment, Harry came into my
mind.
You recollect the Italian refugees we talked about
last summer ?" she said, in a constrained voice, as if
she did not wish to allude to the whole of the
subject.
"Yes, I remember," I answered, turning eagerly
towards her.
I heard about them first," she said, and though
they came from a part where Marco was little likely
to be, I could not help running off to see if he were
among them."
Where were they ? I asked.
In a little street off Leicester Square, in a Caf6
de Liberty," she said, with a pitiful smile; when
I got there, I could not tell how to hear what I
wanted. But I took courage, and asked a waitress to
tell the principal gentleman of the party, that an
Italian girl wanted to speak to him about something
very important to her. Presently an old man came
downstairs to me,-a venerable man with long white
hair, and when I told my name, he had heard it
before; he knew a Marco Silvani who fought among
the defenders of Rome! But when I told what I








THE SECRET DRAWER.


wanted, he could give no help, though he spoke very
kindly, and told me how his own hair had grown
grey in prison, and how his cell had become so like
home, that he often yearned for it. But the loneli-.
ness, Signor,' I said. 'Nay, my daughter,' he
answered, 'there is no loneliness like being alone
out in the world.' Fancy, Marie, if Marco should
live to say that! "
That is Harry's ring," she exclaimed, starting
up; "I will go away until I am calm. When I come
back, don't look at me, Marie, don't speak too kindly
to me, and then I shall not break down !"
Harry came in and threw himself on a sofa. He
looked annoyed, and seemed absent when I spoke.
Presently Christine glided in, and took a seat in a
shady corner, occupying her fingers with some simple
knitting, for which she did not require light.
"I am going out again," said Harry, moodily.
"Not for long, I hope," I remarked; "you'll be
home before mother comes back, I suppose ?"
I don't know that," he responded.
"You've been out every evening this week," I
said; do you call that a good habit ?"
I don't care, and it's nothing to do with yeu,". he
answered again.
Whilst I was planning some bitter retort, Christine
stepped to the piano. Presently she began to play.







CHRISTINE'S VISIT TO THE REFUGEES.


Her music had great charms for Harry,-indeed, in
former months, he had taken lessons from her, but
that custom had dropped off as his habits grew less
domestic. My angry words were checked, and I sat
in silence, occasionally glancing at my brother on the
sofa. Somehow, I recalled the story of Saul with his
evil spirit listening to the sweet melodies of the
youthful David. Certainly, poor Harry looked fretted
and unhappy, and a little excited. But gradually the
fierce, rebellious expression faded, and more than
once I heard a little quick sigh. Christine still
played,-now a march, then a dirge, next a vineyard
song. Presently Harry turned his face towards the
wall. At last my mother came home, and supper was
brought in, but Harry said no more about going out.
I went up-stairs to my room as usual, and hap-
pened to look out upon the street. The square was
empty, with the exception of one man, who lingered
at the corner and then turned back. I closed the
shutter, and proceeded to my toilet.
At that moment Christine entered. She had
already unfastened her hair, and it hung in rich
locks about her shoulders. Her face looked wild
and white. She laid a very cold hand on mine, and
whispered,-
"Marie, something is wrong; this house is
watched."







THE SECRET DRAWER.


"Nonsense," I said; "you will work yourself up
until you become crazy, Christine."
"Ah! very likely!" she answered. "But that
does not alter this. Every night for a week a man
has watched this house. I know not when he comes,
but he does not depart until long after midnight. He
is there now I"
I bustled to the window, she following. True
enough the man I had seen was still there, saun-
tering about as no wayfarer does on such a
night.
"Is it always the same man ?" I asked.
"Yes, as far as I can see," she replied. Oh,
Marie, Marie, what is it ? What can it be?"
"Perhaps it is an unlucky sweetheart of Jane's,
who finds a little consolation in seeing her candle in
the attic window."
"How can you laugh !" she exclaimed, piteously.
"Marie, the shadow of evil is creeping over this
house; I can feel it; it is no stranger to me."
Hush, darling," I said, putting my arm about
her neck, "you are so tired, and you endure so much,
I don't wonder you get nervous."
"I can't keep them down," she moaned, I can
only pray, 'Lord, pity me, pity me.' But, Marie,"
and she suddenly sprang up with renewed energy,
" can we do anything ? Shall I tell your mother ?








CHRISTINE'S VISIT TO THE REFUGEES.


and if she pleases I will go out and ask the man why
he is there."
You little knight-errant !" said I, don't forget
that you are in a free country. The man may stand
there as long as he likes."
"Well, I suppose he must," she answered, drawing
a long breath, "but it is very horrible to be watched,
it is like sitting still and seeing a thief plunder one's
goods."
I felt my cheeks burn as she said these words;
then with an exhortation not to worry herself, I
kissed her, and we parted.
My old regard for her seemed to have blossomed
into new life during that day. I can never altogether
explain my feelings towards Christine-they were a
mingling of pity for her loneliness in the stranger's
land, and yet reverence because I felt her life was
higher than mine. Each little mystery of her story,
when cleared up-like that of her lonely walk on
that unhappy sultry day-only displayed more of the
sweetness of her character. And yet it was strange
how ready she was to dispel all mysteries except that
ONE, about which she would take no hint. And why
was she so terrified at that watcher outside ? Was it
possible that Christine was really the unwilling keeper
of a miserable secret. Whatever this thing was
which lurked in the chamber next to mine, her father








66 THE SECRET DRAWER.

had known it, had expressly committed it to her
charge. Was her natural longing for her brother
Marco mingled with another longing for him as one
with whom she could share her hidden burden,' so
that it should no longer lay between herself and the
dead man in yonder dreary graveyard ? And did she
fear lest this mysterious watcher knew more than he
should ? I actually rose from my bed to see if he
were still there. The moon was as bright as ever-
a million stars were shining-but the square was
quite empty,-the man was gone. At that moment
I thought our street door closed. Stealthily I opened
the window and looked out, but the pathway by our
house lay in darkness, and I could see nothing.









I^'l


^,




















CHAPTER VI.

HARRY'S DISAPPEARANCE.

'EXT morning I was the first astir. I had
not passed a good night. It seemed a
relief to enter the brown familiar parlour,
and take up one's household tasks. I
settled to some plain needlework, and I
remember I wished Harry would come
down and break the hush by his rattling, boyish
ways. It was quite time he had risen, and I resolved
to go and call him. I recollected how uneasy he
had been the evening before, and I was sorry I had
not spoken kindly to him, and tried to win that
perfect confidence which he had once been so ready
to give. "Never mind," I thought, "we shall get a
little talk this morning before the others come down,








THE SECRET DRAWER.


and then we shall make things all right, and I shall
feel at ease while he is away, which I never do when
we have fallen out."
So I ran up-stairs, singing to myself, and deter-
mined to keep my temper, even if Harry should be a
little provoking. Then I knocked at his door, once
-twice.
How tiresome he is! I thought, getting
pettish; he guesses who it is, and won't answer."
So I knocked again, sharply.
There was no movement in the room, and some-
how at that instant my petulance faded away, and I
called his name quite beseechingly-a tone I knew
Harry would certainly answer-if he could.
Oh that ghastly moment when I stood with my
hand upon the lock, gathering courage to open the
door A prayer-I scarcely knew for what-flew up
to heaven. Then I entered.
The chamber was EMPTY.
The little blue-draped bed had not been slept in,
but the quilt was disturbed-as though some one had
laid down across the couch,-and in one or two places
it seemed to have been grasped and crumpled in
clenched, agonised hands. Nothing about the room
was out of place. On the little toilet-table the comb
stood in the brush, according to Harry's wont, and a
pretty blue silk neck-tie lay exactly as I had seen it








HARRY S DISAPPEARANCE.


the day before. I don't know how I noticed these
trifles, but I did.
As I stood by the bedside, gazing forlornly round,
I saw an open book lying on the top of the drawers.
It was a small prayer-book which generally stood
there beside Harry's Bible. I moved to look at it,
but did not touch it;-it had suddenly grown a
sacred thing. It was open at the fly-leaf, on which
was some writing, evidently done laboriously with a
badly-pointed pencil. The paper was blurred and
warped with tears, and it was with difficulty I
read,-
Don't believe all they'll say, Mary; but it's bad
enough. Don't trouble after me, and don't let
mother fret: I'm not worth it."
Oh, Harry, Harry!
I crept to Christine's room. She was up and
dressed, sitting on the window-sill with a book upon
her knee. I cannot remember how I told my sad
story. The first thing I recollect is half lying on the
floor, while she stood before me, saying, Marie, be
calm now, for it may not be too late: something
must be done."
I moaned, Mother must be told."
"Ah, but other things beside. Whereabouts is
Harry's office ? I have never exactly known."
"In that street north of Whitehall;-but nobody








THE SECRET DRAWER.


will be there till half-past nine, and it is not eight
-yet."
The concierge-the keeper of the chambers-
will be there, Marie, and there I will go. I will
return as soon as I can, but do not wonder if I be
long."
What do you expect ? what shall you do ? I
asked, as she proceeded to get out her bonnet and
cloak.
Make no hindrance, Marie, mine own," she said,
gravely. Shall I stop to make plans ? The Lord
will provide. Do not let your mother fear much
yet."
And so she went out into the clear morning streets,
and I stole down-stairs to shut the door behind her.
Jane was just setting the breakfast-things, and there
was a comfortable smell of toast and coffee, which no
one would ever touch. I told Jane all the tale, for
the good creature had put her whole soul into our
family interests, but over and over again I entreated
her "not to tell Mrs. Simms-not to let Mrs. Simms
know anything about it."
The mistress must be told," said Jane,-" and
she sitting up-stairs at this minute as happy and
innocent as she can be It may all come right
again, Miss darling, most like it will,-for young
birds are generally glad to get back to the old nest;








HARRY'S DISAPPEARANCE.


-but it '11 give your mother's heart a wrench that
will last her lifetime, be it long or be it short."
So my mother was told, and she went with us to
the deserted chamber, and gently fingered the little
blue tie, and softly asked, "Where is Harry's Bible?"
He has-taken it," I sobbed.
She sighed, and Jane broke out in wild efforts at
consolation. "Ay, he's thinking he'll make his
fortune like Whittington, he is, poor dear; but by-
and-bye he'll get hungry, and want his dinner, and
before evening he'll be back with his feathers ruffled
like a moulting bird ; and unless you've both half
killed yourself with fretting, there'll be no harm done,
and we'll all be just where we have been "
0 Jane, don't-don't said my mother, putting
her hand on Jane's shoulder; and then the kind-
hearted girl threw her apron over her head and burst
into tears.
How wearily that morning passed It was quite
noon before a cab drove up to our door, and Christine
and a gentleman got out. It was Harry's employer,
Mr. Wilmot.
He came up to my mother respectfully, and made
her return to the chair from which she had risen.
"I wish to spare you all the pain I can," said he.
I noticed Christine had a fierce, determined look,
like that of a hunted animal at bay.








THE SECRET DRAWER.


The future may always retrieve a youthful error,"
said the gentleman.
What do you mean ? asked my mother; then
she wailed, "Oh, Harry, Harry, what have you
done ? "
Nothing-or very little," said Christine, sharply.
"Hush! hush! whispered the gentleman, "it
must be told. Your poor boy robbed me."
Robbed !" screamed my mother,-" my Harry,
my darling-a thief--"
"I don't believe it!" put in Christine.
"No more don't I!" said Jane from the half-open
door, where she was eavesdropping.
"Nearly a fortnight ago I lost thirty pounds from
my cash-box," continued Mr. Wilmot. "Be calm,
dear madam, be calm,"-for my mother started up,-
" I did not suspect your son. He had been careless
sometimes, but I thought him a good lad. Yet in
the course of a day or two I heard things which
justified suspicion, still I would not believe them
until I knew ; and I desired to ascertain the truth,-
not to bring the boy to justice, only to check him on
the road to ruin."
"But still you only suspect; you do not know-
you cannot prove," said my mother.
"I do know," replied Mr. Wilmot. "I cannot
prove, simply because the culprit is fled. I know








HARRY'S DISAPPEARANCE.


that Harry had a large sum in his possession, for which
his salary cannot account. Had he any from you ?"
No," faltered my mother.
"I know that for the last week he has frequented
a gaming saloon, and that he has always been unlucky
in his play."
Oh, Harry, Harry !" sobbed my mother.
So you had him watched, sir ?" said Christine,
suddenly, in a strange clear voice.
I did," replied Mr. Wilmot. Of course it had
been only in the way of business, and yet I am sure
the gentleman did not like making the confession,
and he proceeded to defend himself. "I did not
wish to make a groundless charge."
Then did you set on the watch before you had
ground for suspicion ?" Christine asked again.
"I had grounds-from information received."
"Will you tell us what that information was ?"
queried Christine. Have pity for the poor mother,
sir."
I do-I do sincerely," he answered, but it was
given me in confidence; I cannot betray it."
I suppose, sir, the informer made that stipula-
tion," said Christine.
"Just so," replied Mr. Wilmot, reluctantly.
"Yes," she exclaimed, bitterly; "that is a safe
armour in which to tell lies!"
F








THE SECRET DRAWER.


I honour your feelings, young lady," said Mr.
Wilmot, rising, "but in justice to myself let me say
that I received this information from two individuals,
each unknown to the other. Doubtless my presence
only increases your grief, but if in the course of events
I can render any assistance, remember I am at com-
mand." And so he departed.
I have but a confused recollection of the days
which followed. I know many people came and
went,-an attorney, and some policemen in private
clothes. Amongst them all I only recall one face.
It belonged to a young man who was in Mr. Wilmot's
office. Directed by the housekeeper at "the cham-
bers," Christine had gone to his lodgings to obtain
his master's private address, and this youth called
several times at our house, each time with a different
suggestion as to Harry's whereabouts. He was an
elegant-looking man fully twenty years of age, quiet
in manner, and with nothing objectionable about
him, except a somewhat furtive glance. Yet Chris-
tine took a demonstrative dislike to him, and at last
caused Jane to deny him entrance.
She was the ruling spirit during that time. She
went to the hospitals-ay, and to the dead-houses ;
she paid personal visits to the Docks; she advertised;
she made acquaintance with many queer specimens
of humanity. My mother knew little of this. She








HARRiY S DISAPPEARANCE.


sank under the weight of suspense, and could no
longer enter into details. But I understood it all.
Sometimes I murmured that I could not endure that
one with such sorrows of her own should bear so
much for strangers, but each time she replied almost
in the same words,-
"What is the use of ii i,~, unless it teach us
how to act ? Have no fears for me, Marie. I had to
pass through the streets of besieged Rome at mid-
night, and there was no harm. God guards the path
of duty." And then she would kiss me, and tie on
her little brown bonnet and set off on some new
quest, which always ended-in vain.
Sunday came. My mother remained in her cham-
ber, but C( iii. and I found ourselves in Harry's
room. It had not been touched yet. Most of the
things remained exactly as he left them. It was
(' .i. 's turn to comfort.
But your sorrow is not like our sorrow," I cried,
passionately, "your brother is lost in honour, and
poor Harry is called a I could not say what.
"Never mind what he is called, Marie. See !"
and she took up the little prayer-book; "he says,
'Don't believe all they'll say.'"
"He wouldn't have written that unless he knew
they could say something," I sobbed.
"Ay, doubtless he is in fault, but not as they think.
12








THE SECRET DRAWER.


Why, Marie, you don't know how differently a story
looks from opposite sides !"
What was the use of his putting not to fret ?'"
I moaned, leaning on her shoulder. "He might
know we must. He may know we are miserable at
this very moment; why doesn't he come back ?
Oh, Christine, where may he be ?-what may he be
doing ?"
He cannot run away from God," she said,
sweetly; "and God loyes him even better than his
mother does. Let us remember, Marie, God is both
with Harry and with Marco !"
But oh I fear Harry must have forgotten God,"
I wailed; and oh! I wish I had him even for one
moment, just to speak kindly to him once more."
Marie," she said, Harry took his Bible with
him. Let us hope le is looking into it at this very
moment." And we both stood in reverent silence, as
we should if we had really seen him so doing.





















CHAPTER YVII

THE VISIT TO THE EXHIBITION.

g HAT was a sorrowful spring-tide. My
mother tried to fix her mind on her
domestic duties, and outwardly she suc-
-'..eeded, but as I gazed at her worn face
:- :1md whitening hair, I felt that Jane's
prophecy was true.
Of course Mrs. Simms knew that Harry was gone.
I did not see her for some weeks: Christine received
her rent and gave her a receipt. But I encountered
her at last, and how I shrank from her cutting
hints how well I knew that she greedily believed
the worst and of course there was a due amount
of gossip in the neighbourhood. What comfort it
was that Christine was loyal and staunch in heart








THE SECRET DRAWER.


and act, hoping even more than I did, and repelling
every attempt to invade the sanctuary of our sorrow!
In the outer world that year 1851 was a glorious
time. Once or twice Christine and I wandered to
Hyde Park, and gazed at a fairy palace, wherein the
many Babel-sundered nations of the earth were to
mix as friends and brethren." The Great
Exhibition of Industry" was the one topic every-
where,-in pulpits, in society, and at home.
' One Sunday evening a strange clergyman preached
at our church. He was a famous man, who had
wrought many good works both in England and
abroad. His quick imagination was fired by the
great enterprise rising before him, and I shall never
forget his impassioned ton as he urged us to give
thanks that our lot was cast when the reign of
Peace was to begin-when there should be no more
"battles of the warrior, with confused noise and
garments rolled in blood; but swords should be
beaten into ploughshares, and spears into pruning-
hooks."
His enthusiasm awakened mine; and when next
evening I went with Christine to the park, and saw
the grand old trees in their transparent prison, I
was somewhat chilled by her grave face and simple
remark,-
Do you think so ?"








THE VISIT TO THE EXHIBITION.


"Oh, Christine, only realise what it is to have
no more war,-that means no more exile, no
more-"
No, it does not," she answered, looking at me
with a smile. "By your account the reign of Peace
is even now commenced; yet I am here, and Marco
is doubtless in prison. I should not like the world
to stay as it is, nor would half the people in it."
Then you do not believe war will ever cease ?"
I asked, in a disappointed tone.
"Yes, I do," she replied, earnestly; "it will
cease in God's good time, but I fear that will not
be in our days, my Marie."
"What is the use of all this, then?" I said,
gazing at the great "hall of glass."
It is a step to the temple of Peace," she answered,
smiling. The better nations know each other, the
less they will fight. Wars are like quarrels, they
spring from misunderstandings and suspicions.
Don't think me over-wise, Marie, I only repeat what
my dear father said."
That allusion to her father called our thoughts
from the great bustling world to the very lonely
house in Brown Square, and we walked home rather
silently, though at supper we both talked of all 'we
had seen, while my poor fading mother made
believe to take great interest therein.








THE SECRET DRAWER.


Alas how often since, while looking over the
newspaper, Christine has turned to me, and asked,
"Marie, is this the reign of Peace ?"
Then came that sunny First of May, when the
great ones of every land gathered in the Crystal
Palace," while a good-humoured, happy, sturdy
crowd thronged the parks around. Early that
morning there had been unwonted stir even in our
quiet square, and later in the day we heard the guns.
Christine was out, fulfilling some engagement;
and mother and I were alone. Oh, how those
booming cannons echoed through the forlorn, de-
serted home! Ever since then, at every day of
national rejoicing, I have remembered the strickefi
ones who hide in their houses.
A little further on in the year, among the early
" shilling days," Christine and I paid one solitary
visit to the world's fair. My mother never went.
The green trees and the crystal fountains did not
smile for her. She said she "could not" go, but
she persisted in sending us.
I have forgotten nearly all the details of that
marvellous show. I can only remember a few com-
paratively insignificant items,-the models of a
lighthouse and a breakwater, two groups of statuary,
representing a great dog saving a child from a
serpent, the Queen of Spain's jewels, some beautiful








THE VISIT TO THE EXHIBITION. 81

silver work, and the priceless KoH-I-NOOn. These
have lingered in my memory, while better things
have departed. But the greatest sight was the
Exhibition itself, and the crowd which thronged it.
It was wonderful to stand in the gallery-with
fresh green leaves waving in one's face,-and watch
the tide of humanity flowing past below. Christine
and I stood so for a long time; then at last she
said, Let us rest awhile, Marie."
We found a little nook among some machines,
where we might have imagined ourselves alone in
the building, but that we could see the denizens of
the opposite gallery. We had frugally brought some
biscuits with us, and here we proposed to enjoy
them. "Enjoy!" I had not known the meaning
of that word since the morning when I stood in
Harry's deserted room.
Yet we smiled and chatted, and I dare say the
sturdy farmers who now and then came to examine
the agricultural implements thought us two merry
London girls,-a little frivolous perhaps, and not
likely to know much about the useful arts of dairy
and poultry-yard. I remember I envied them-
they seemed so jovial and free from care,-especially
one family, consisting of father, mother, and children,
from grown-up sons to a wee toddler, who had all
come together to enjoy the world's wonder. AUll?








THE SECRET DRAWER.


Yet, for aught I can tell, there was one missing.
We cannot see the blanks in our neighbour's heart.
Well, God can, and He is the best comforter.
Suddenly Christine sprang up; so suddenly that
I quite started. It is he it is Marco she
exclaimed, there-in the gallery opposite! and
away she flew to the nearest bridge-I following.
There we paused.
Was he coming this way ?" I asked.
"Yes," she gasped, straining her eyes along the
passage.
Then let us wait here," I suggested; we are
likely to miss him among those tall cases, and in this
clear space cannot fail to see him."
In truth, she was trembling so, that she could
scarcely move. There we stayed, eagerly watching
the passing crowd. Presently she whispered, I can
hardly see, Marie, I think I am losing my senses.
He had a dark purple cloak over his shoulder. Do
not let him pass !"
But that figure with the purple cloak never came.
After a time we went along the gallery, going round
each counter, but in vain. Presently we came upon
a staircase leading below. Evidently, that was how
we had lost him. We went down, and wandered
about among the crowd-looking-looking. On and
on we went, among the glories of the foreign courts,

















I -


I I'


CHRISTINE SEES MARCO.








.THE VISIT TO THE EXHIBITION.


to which we could not spare a glance. At last it was
time to return home.
This has been dreadful, Marie," whispered
Christine, when we found ourselves in a compara-
tively quiet part of Hyde Park; "it is like standing
on a beach and seeing a wave bear up a dear face, and
wash it away again !"
"But, after all, perhaps it was only fancy," I
urged. You could not have seen very distinctly
across that distance."
No," she answered, meekly, I could not. It
may have been fancy. I have had such fancies
before. It seems such a hopeless separation. While
I am looking for Marco, perhaps he is searching
for ma, and yet neither of us able to find the
other!"
Ah, Christine," I whispered, "' it is harder when
the lost well knows where to find one, and yet does
not come !"
"I'm afraid I am selfish," she said presently,
pressing my arm. "I should not trouble you with
my miseries, for you have more to bear. But, Marie,
look who is coming along that walk."
It was Mrs. Simms and Harry's fellow-clerk, Mr.
John Nelson, the handsome young man with the
furtive glance.
We exchanged greetings, and then all four walked








THE SECRET DRAWER.


in a row,-Mrs. Simms and I in the middle, Christine
and Mr. Nelson at either end.
"I did not know Mr. Nelson was an acquaintance
of yours," said Christine, addressing the law stationer's
wife.
Oh dear, yes !" she answered, nervously. "I've
known John since he was a baby,-and he was
apprenticed to Mr. Simms, and lived with us before
we came to Brown Square."
"How very nice!" said Christine, in a tone which
I thought rather peculiar; and of course Mr. Simms
can always easily get his apprentices into offices if
they wish."
Of course, of course," replied Mrs. Simms.
"He did not introduce me to Mr. Wilmot," said
young Nelson.
Mr. Wilmot is a very nice gentleman," remarked
Christine.
Do you think so ?" said Mr. Nelson; "well, so
he is: but he has notions of his own."
And I dare say they are wrong-sometimes," said
Christine, with an emphatic nod.
I wonder you never visit Mrs. Simms, when she
is such an old friend," she said, after a few minutes
silence.
Well, I must tell you," answered Mrs. Simms, in
a great flutter, that my husband and he had a few








THE VISIT TO THE EXHIBITION.


words together, and Simms had a stubborn temper,
and will never make it up. The whole truth is, John
is my husband's nephew, and I don't like to see a
young relation altogether cast off, Miss Silvani.
I often say to Simms, If you don't choose to be
friendly, still you might be civil, and keep up
acquaintance, just for appearance sake.'"
"Ah, if one does not keep up acquaintances, one
knows nothing that is going on," said Christine, in
the same strange tone. But as Mr. Simms works
for Mr. Wilmot, he and his nephew can meet in the
office without visiting at home. I wonder our poor
Harry [I thought her cruel to name him]-never told
us about it."
But that's just where I find fault with Simms,"
returned his wife, excitedly. He won't recognize
John to the extent of throwing him a 'good morning,'
as one does to a common stranger. Nobody guesses
they're related."
"Dear mel" said Christine; "and Mr. Simms
seems such a kind man : I should not have thought
he would act so without good reason."
By this time we had emerged into Piccadilly, and
lio further conversation was possible, nor did Christine
and I exchange a word until we reached home.
How you stare, Marie !" said she, as she took off
her bonnet.








THE SECRET DRAWER.


You have seemed so mysterious all the way
home," I said. I think you frightened poor Mrs.
Simms."
My Marie," she replied, taking my hand, I was
only cross-examining the two witnesses who gave
secret information I thought they were those two
from the first, but this link between them makes
it much more likely. Not quite so independent' as
Mr. Wilmot thinks! But I must learn a great deal
more."
How shall you do it ?" I asked.
"When there is a secret one has a right to find
out," she said, always attack the people who keep
it: it is the honourable way, and prevents mischief." -
What kind of secret do you think one has a right
to find out ?" I inquired.
That which concerns one's self or one's friends,"
she answered, promptly. There was a short silence,
for I suddenly remembered the Secret Drawer,-and
I soon heard where her thoughts were, for presently
she sighed,-
Oh that man in the purple cloak !"













i r






CHAPTER VIII.

TIDINGS OF fIARRY.

"-'w4, OT many Satul'ays after our visit to the
,: Exhibition, Mrs. Simms gave "notice"
K that she intended to leave oni that day
P,, month. She found Brown Square dull,
she said, Mr. Simms was so much from
home, that she must go to a house where
she could have some companionableness."
"I never noticed i, lull until lately," she went on,
in a drony, gossiping voice, watching my mother's
face, but not sparing its patient sorrow. Of
course there are troubles and troubles in the world,
but there needn't be mysteries, and there needn't
be suspicions. She didn't wish to offer her sympathy.
where it was not wanted, oh no! but still, after
G








THE SECRET DRAWER.


living in one house so long, she felt it-she did
feel it."
Oh, if you only knew," wailed my mother.
I know that folks seldom keep creditable things
secret," said Mrs. Simms, with a quick glance at
Christine, who sat sewing. "And I know that
some-who like their own affairs shut up close
enough, and might tell us a pretty history if they
choose-pounce upon others like a sheriff's officer.
And I know that Master Harry- "
Stop, Madam," exclaimed Christine, in a tone
which made us all start,-" stop! only regret yoa
did not leave this house months ago !"
"And why, Miss ?" asked Mrs. Simms; but
instead of the blaze which I expected, her manner
was almost cowed.
Because you say no creditable things are kept
secret, and yet you have secrets yourself. Your own
words judge you, Madam. You maintain a secret
communication with a secret relation" (poor Christine
was excited, and picked up her words with difficulty),
" and you and that relation give secret information,
Madam."
"How dare you say all this, Miss ?"
"Will you deny it, Madam ? asked Christine.
Mrs. Simms fairly burst into tears. To think
Lhat misguided young upstart will even make mischief








TIDINGS OF HARRY.


out of my motherly feelings for poor John," she
sobbed. "And Mr. Simms' obstinacy is at the
bottom of it all," she added.
"Mr. Simms must have good reasons," said
Christine, curtly. "May I ask what they are ? "
Our family matters don't concern you, Miss."
Yes, they do," said our champion, firmly.
" Mr. Nelson was one of the secret informers."
(There was a world of Italian bitterness in her tone,
as she uttered the words which she had heard
coupled with every horror in her own land.) As
his character, so the worth of his testimony: and
perhaps Mr. Simms knows a different side from
Mr. Wilmot."
"Oh dear, dear, is bygones never to be bygones ?"
sobbed the law stationer's wife; "and where's the
good of being zealous for an employer if he can't
keep from betraying one ?"
Mr. Wilmot did not betray you," said Christine,
with a composure that seemed to freeze Mrs. Simms.
I saw she now read the riddle, and knew that she
had only been convicted by circumstantial evidence,
and would not have scrupled to deny everything,
had she not feared the direct testimony of some
other person. But denial was now too late.
"Well, for old acquaintance sake I'm sorry there's
bitter words among us," said she, "so I'll wish you
a2








THE SECRET DRAWER.


good morning; and it's a pity there isn't another
person in the house as quick inf finding out secrets
as Miss Silvani there."
I was struck by my mother's want of interest in
the scene. She listened, as a deaf person listens,
who catches a word here and there, but cannot keep
the thread of the discourse around: and when Mrs.
Simms had departed, she went to her room without
saying a word.
Shall you ask Mr. Simms about his nephew ?"
I inquired of Christine.
I don't think so," she answered. "But I shall
go to Mr. Wilmot, and tell him that I have dis-
covered who his informers are, and how they are
connected."
She went to Mr. Wilmot, and her interview
resulted in nothing; but that very day a new shadow
fell on our household. My mother was found lying
on her bed paralyzed; and though she lived for
e.ome weeks, she was never again conscious.
I will not dwell on the dull pain of those days
when I knew only that frail, fast fading form
remained betwixt me and utter loneliness; for though
I had relations, they were all strangers. Still less
will I linger over that solemnly splendid autumn
evening when the nurse told me that "all was
over," and drew me from the bed. I have known








TIDINGS OF HARRY.


no anguish like that anguish, for God gives us only
one mother. And as I turned from the hushed
chamber I saw the little prayer-book in which Harry
had bidden us "not to fret." It ended in this,
nevertheless !
I don't remember the funeral, for I was ill and
in bed; I was very ill,-once or twice I half hoped
I was about to follow my mother. But it must take
a great deal to break a heart, or mine would have
broken then.
I gradually grew better, and Christine used to
sit in my room, and work, and talk to me. She
wore mourning for my mother,--almost as deep as
mine, for we looked upon each other as sisters; and
when I grew strong enough, we discussed our plans
for the future. I had a little property, and my uncle
had suggested to Christine that we had better
consider whether we could conduct a small school.
He knew of one which might suit us.
"And I'll go with you," said Jane, who was once
in the room when we mentioned it; "you can just
give me what wages you can, till you look about
you, Miss. Not that I'm thinking ye won't be
able to afford it, only ready money is often scarce
at first. And sure I'm would and ugly" (she was
about eight-and-twenty, and Mrs. Simms had once
insinuated that the butcher stayed at the area gate








THE SECRET DRAWER.


twice as long as he need), "and I'll be able to
purtect ye, the two young darlints !"
So after a little delay the matter was settled, and
we went to survey our new home. It was a small,
compact cottage, containing six rooms, five of them
very small. But it was a pleasant suburban lane,
on the Chelsea side of the Fulham Road. We saw
the lady who was about to abdicate, and were
introduced to five-and-twenty youngsters, our future
pupils. I did not like the change from the great
roomy house in Brown Square-that dear old place
which had a wealth of sweet memories no new home
could ever have. But I thought I should be as
happy here as anywhere, and there was one great
advantage, it was within a short walk of my mother's
grave in the beautiful West London Cemetery.
So we packed up as much furniture as we wanted,
for those tiny rooms would not hold a great deal;
but we did not leave behind one relic of Harry, not
a book, nor a garment, nor even an old toy. It was
sad work, that packing upland our journey to Chelsea
was a sad journey. Our last task in Brown Square
was to fix up a placard announcing that "inquiries"
would be answered at our new residence. Would any
inquiry be made ? Our hearts were both full of that
thought.
We settled down to our school duties in Primrose










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ThE SADOW N THEB7in.




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