But when the papers had been put back in their box, and he and his two companions were well out of the office, his right leg suffered for it, and he said,—
"So far this run′s begun with a fair wind and a prosperous; for don′t you see that all this agrees with that dutiful trust in his father maintained by the slow member of the Raybrock family?"
Whether the brothers had seen it before or no, they saw it now. Not that the captain gave them much time to contemplate the state of things at their ease, for he instantly whipped them into a chaise again, and bore them off to Steepways. Although the afternoon was but just beginning to decline when they reached it, and it was broad day-light, still they had no difficulty, by dint of muffing the returned sailor up, and ascending the village rather than descending it, in reaching Tregarthen′s cottage unobserved. Kitty was not visible, and they surprised Tregarthen sitting writing in the small bay-window of his little room.
"Sir," said the captain, instantly shaking hands with him, pen and all, "I′m glad to see you, sir. How do you do, sir? I told you you′d think better of me by-and-by, and I congratulate you on going to do it."
Here the captain′s eye fell on Tom Pettifer Ho, engaged in preparing some cookery at the fire.
"That critter," said the captain, smiting his leg, "is a born steward, and never ought to have been in any other way of life. Stop where you are, Tom, and make yourself useful. Now, Tregarthen, I′m going to try a chair."
Accordingly the captain drew one close to him, and went on:—
"This loving member of the Raybrock family you know, sir. This slow member of the same family you don′t know, sir. Wa′al, these two are brothers,—fact! Hugh′s come to life again, and here he stands. Now see here, my friend! You don′t want to be told that he was cast away, but you do want to be told (for there′s a purpose in it) that he was cast away with another man. That man by name was Lawrence Clissold."
At the mention of this name Tregarthen started and changed colour. "What′s the matter?" said the captain.
"He was a fellow-clerk of mine thirty—five-and-thirty—years ago."
"True," said the captain, immediately catching at the clew: "Dringworth Brothers, America Square, London City."
The other started again, nodded, and said, "That was the house."
"Now," pursued the captain, "between those two men cast away there arose a mystery concerning the round sum of five hundred pound."
Again Tregarthen started, changing colour. Again the captain said, "What′s the matter?"
As Tregarthen only answered, "Please to go on," the captain recounted, very tersely and plainly, the nature of Clissold′s wanderings on the barren island, as he had condensed them in his mind from the seafaring man. Tregarthen became greatly agitated during this recital, and at length exclaimed,—
"Clissold was the man who ruined me! I have suspected it for many a long year, and now I know it."
"And how," said the captain, drawing his chair still closer to Tregarthen, and clapping his hand upon his shoulder,—"how may you know it?"
"When we were fellow-clerks," replied Tregarthen, "in that London house, it was one of my duties to enter daily in a certain book an account of the sums received that day by the firm, and afterward paid into the bankers′. One memorable day,—a Wednesday, the black day of my life,—among the sums I so entered was one of five hundred pounds.
Next page →