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beating as it had never beaten in his life before. What he expected to find he knew not; but direful and murderous thoughts were in his mind. His wife at the factory at this hour! a light burning in the little counting-house! She had gone to meet some one; and that half-contemptuous, half-pitying look of the manager's—Joshua knew now what it meant-knew that they had sent him upon this journey to get him out of the way; and his wife knew it too perhaps, and had laughed at him for the besotted dupe he was.

Yes; there was a light burning in the little counting-house. The door below was unlocked. Joshua opened it noiselessly, and went into the passage, where the gas was burning dimly, and upstairs to the room where he had seen the lamp from without.

The door was half open, and he heard a voice within speaking in low soothing tones-his voice, Stephen Lyne's. Another moment, and Joshua Rainbow stood in the open doorway, face to face with his wife and her lover.

At sight of that ghastly face Esther gave an awful cry, and fell in a heap upon the ground. Stephen Lyne lifted her up, and pushed her hurriedly into a little room—a kind of dressing-room, that opened out of the counting-house. Then planting his back against the door, he faced the man he had wronged, with an insolent defiance in his

dark eyes.


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Now, sir,' he said, 'what do you want here?

Your life, you infernal scoundrel, though every drop of your heart's blood isn't enough to pay for the wrong you've done me ! But let me get my wife out of this place first, and then you'll see what I want of you.

Let me pass to that room.'
Stephen Lyne kept his place against the door.

'Your wife !' he cried contemptuously. What right has a boor like you to such a little beauty? She is my mistress, fellow; and you can look for your remedy in a court of law. I can afford to pay a handsome price for my bird.'

He had his back still against the door, when Joshua Rainbow seized him by the throat and flung him away from it. Then the two men closed upon each other like a couple of gladiators. There was a sharp rapid struggle, a push for the outer door of the counting-house, then the fall of a heavy body down the stairs, and in the next moment Joshua Rainbow staggered back into the room, with the mastiff Pluto hanging on to his neckerchief. The dog had been prowling somewhere about the empty rooms and passages, and had only come upon the scene in time to see his master hurled down the short flight of stairs.

Esther stood in the doorway between the two rooms, in an agony of terror, watching her husband's struggle with the mastiff. She called to the dog by his name; she tried to grasp his collar, and failing in this, flew to the window, screaming for help.

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A couple of men came running in--the night watchman and another. At the foot of the stairs they almost tumbled over Mr. Lyne, prostrate and helpless.

What's this?' they cried as they raised him, without recognising him in the dim light.

Nothing—a dislocated shoulder, perhaps—nothing more,' the young man answered with a groan; but there's a man upstairs being murdered by a dog. You'd better see to him.'

Esther's screams were still sounding above. The two men rushed upstairs. Joshua Rainbow was lying on the ground unconscious, fearfully mangled about the head and face, the mastiff standing a few paces from him licking his bloody jaws.

They raised him up between them, for the moment thinking him dead.

* Eh, but it's a bad job, missis,' said one of them. Who set the dog on to him ?' No one.

It was my fault-mine,’ Esther gasped. “But he's not dead; 0, for the love of heaven, tell me he's not dead !

'Looks rather like it, my lass; but maybe he'll come round. He's had an ugly bout of it. Where shall we take him, lass ?'

*Home—0, to his home, if you please! It's a long way, but we must manage it somehow.'

• It would be aʼmost better to take him to the infirmary,' said the watchman.—'Here, you Bill, run for a doctor.'

The man hurried off upon this errand. The mastiff, who had lapsed into a state of sullen quiet, walked slowly off, no one hindering his progress. The watchman had placed Joshua on a chair, and stood by the side of it supporting the lifeless figure, with the helpless head lying on his shoulder. Esther flung herself on her knees, and took her husband's hand in both her own.

* For me!' she murmured to herself ; for me!'

The messenger came back very quickly with a surgeon who lived close at hand. This gentleman pronounced the case a very serious one, and insisted upon Joshua's being taken to the infirmary. As to taking him home, it was out of the question, he said : he might die on the way; nor could he possibly have the attention he required in his own home. So a litter was fetched from the infirmary, and Joshua was carried away upon it, Esther following him pale and tearless.

For three long weeks Joshua Rainbow lay at the point of death, recognising no one, not even his wretched wife, who used to sit by his bed hour after hour, watching his disfigured face and listening to his wild talk, with a patience that won her the praises of the hospital officials. His mother used to come too; but his mother would never speak to Esther, except to ask her indignantly how she dared to show her face there.

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Esther was not to be driven away, however. She had come to live with her father and mother in Cockermouth-gardens, on purpose to be near her husband, -perhaps for another reason also, that she might be secure from the pursuit of Stephen Lyne.

And did Mr. Lyne suffer his prize to escape him without a struggle ? Not quite. He was laid-up for a fortnight with his dislocated shoulder, the only harm that had come to him from that tumble down a flight of stairs; but as soon as he was at liberty again he threw himself in Esther's way, contriving to meet her one evening as she came home from the infirmary, and asked her once more to fly with him. They would manage things better this time, he said; there should be no hindrance to their flight.

She told him that she had loved him ; that any knowledge she had of the meaning of that word must begin and end with her knowledge of him ; but no power on earth could tempt her again to be the guilty creature she had been when she promised to leave her husband for his sake. She had stood upon the brink of a hideous precipice, she said, and had been snatched from ruin by that strong faithful hand.

• Do you know that I had a child who died, Mr. Lyne,' she said, * and that I was going to give up my child in heaven for you ?'

' He was very angry with her— bitterly disappointed--for he had loved her as much as it was in him to love any one. When he found that there was no chance of moving her from her resolve, he went away from Mapledean and Mirkdale, and was heard of that autumn at Homburg, playing desperately, and flirting desperately with Parisian damsels of doubtful repute. But there was not one of them as lovely as hazel-eyed Esther Rainbow, and their splendid toilettes lacked the charm that had made her cotton-gown beautiful in his eyes.

0, what a happy tranquil day it was, late in the autumn, when Joshua went home to the little cottage, his face still scarred and seamed, but perfect peace in his heart! His wife had told him everything-how weakly she had yielded to temptation, how close upon the confines of guilt she had been, and how she thanked and honoured him for his rescue of her.

• It's not me you've got to thank, my lass,' he answered humbly, * but Providence. I was mad that night, and I thought more of killing him than of saving you.'

When Joshua Rainbow was strong enough to begin work again, they left the neighbourhood of Mirkdale, and went away to a great city farther north, where there was another cartridge factory, and where Esther's husband speedily won for himself a still better position than that which he had held in Stephen Lyne's employ. And a year or two afterwards there came another baby-boy to Esther, fair as her lost angel, bringing with him sweet domestic peace and a tranquil happiness that was better than any fever-dream of love.

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