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CHAPTER XIV.

A NEW PHILIP FELTRAM.

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THE Baronet had not seen Feltram since his strange escape from death. His last interview with him had been stern and threatening; Sir Bale dealing with appearances in the spirit of an incensed judge, Philip Feltram lamenting in the submission of a helpless despair.

Feltram was full in the moonlight now, standing erect, and smiling cynically on the Baronet.

There was that in the bearing and countenance of Feltram that disconcerted him more than the surprise of the sudden meeting.

He had determined to meet Feltram in a friendly way, whenever that not very comfortable interview became inevitable. But he was confused by the suddenness of Feltram's appearance; and the tone, cold and stern, in which he had last spoken to him came first, and he spoke in it after a brief silence.

I fancied, Mr. Feltram, you were in your bed; I little expected to find you here. I think the Doctor gave very particular directions, and said that you were to remain perfectly quiet.'

• But I know more than the Doctor,' replied Feltram, still smiling unpleasantly.

'I think, sir, you would have been better in your bed,' said Sir Bale loftily.

. Come, come, come, come ! exclaimed Philip Feltram contemptuously.

* It seems to me, sir,' said Sir Bale, a good deal astonished, 'you rather forget yourself.'

Easier to forget oneself than to forgive others, at times, Sir Bale,' replied Philip Feltram in his unparalleled mood.

• That's the way fools knock themselves up,' continued Sir Bale. • You've been walking ever so far-away to the Fells of Golden Friars. It was you whom I saw there. What d—d folly! What brought you there ?'

• To observe you,' he replied.

* And have you walked the whole way there and back again ? How did you get there ?'

· Pooh! how did I come—how did you come—how did the fog come?

From the lake, I suppose. We all come up, and then down.' So spoke Philip Feltram, with serene insolence.

* You are pleased to talk nonsense,' said Sir Bale.

Because I like it with a meaning.'

Sir Bale looked at him, not knowing whether to believe his eyes and ears.

He did not know what to make of him. I had intended speaking to you in a conciliatory way; you seem to wish to make that impossible'Philip Feltram's face wore its re

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pulsive smile ;—' and in fact I don't know what to make of you, unless you are ill ; and ill you well may be. You can't have walked much less than twelve miles.'

• Wonderful effort for me!' said Feltram with the same sneer.

*Rather surprising for a man so nearly drowned,' answered Sir Bale Mardykes.

A dip : you don't like the lake, sir ; but I do. And so it is : as Antæus touched the earth, so I the water, and rise refreshed.'

'I think you'd better get in and refresh there. I meant to tell you that all the unpleasantness about that bank-note is over.'

• Is it?'

Yes. It has been recovered by Mr. Creswell, who came here last night. I've got it, and you're not to blame,' said Sir Bale.

• But some one is to blame,' observed Mr. Feltram, smiling still,

• Well, you are not, and that ends it,' said the Baronet peremptorily.

"Ends it ? Really, how good ! how very good!'

Sir Bale looked at him, for there was something ambiguous and even derisive in the tone of Feltram's voice.

But before he could quite make up his mind, Feltram spoke again.

* Everything is settled about you and me?'

• There is nothing to prevent your staying at Mardykes now,' said Sir Bale graciously.

• I shall be with you for two years, and then I go on my travels,' answered Feltram, with a saturnine and somewhat wild look around

him.

• Is he going mad ?' thought the Baronet.

• But before I go, I'm to put you in a way of paying off your mortgages. That is my business here.'

Sir Bale looked at him sharply. But now there was not the unpleasant smile, but the darkened look of a man in secret pain.

"You shall know it by and by.'

And without more ceremony, and with a darkening face, Philip Feltram made his way under the boughs of the thick oaks that grew there, leaving on Sir Bale's mind an impression that he had been watching some one at a distance, and had gone in consequence of a signal.

In a few seconds he followed in the same direction, halloaing after Feltram ; for he did not like the idea of his wandering about the country by moonlight, or possibly losing his life among the precipices, and bringing a new discredit upon his house. But no answer came; nor could he in that thick copse gain sight of him again.

When Sir Bale reached Mardykes Hall he summoned Mrs. Julaper, and had a long talk with her. But she could not say that there appeared anything amiss with Philip Feltram; only he seemed

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more reserved, and as if he was brooding over something he did not intend to tell.

• But, you know, Sir Bale, what happened might well make a thoughtful man of him. If he's ever to think of Death, it should be after looking him so hard in the face ; and I'm not ashamed to say, I'm glad to see he has grace to take the lesson, and I hope his experiences may be sanctified to him, poor fellow! Amen.'

Very good song, and very well sung,' said Sir Bale; “but it doesn't seem to me that he has been improved, Mrs. Julaper. He seems, on the contrary, in a queer temper and anything but a heavenly frame of mind; and I thought I'd ask you, because if he is ill—I mean feverish-it might account for his eccentricities, as well as make it necessary to send after him, and bring him home, and put him to bed. But I suppose it is as you say,-his adventure has upset him a little, and he'll sober in a day or two, and return to his

old ways.'

But this did not happen. A change, more comprehensive than at first appeared, had taken place, and a singular alteration was gradually established.

He grew thin, his eyes hollow, his face gradually forbidding.
His

ways and temper were changed: he was a new man with Sir Bale; and the Baronet after a time, people said, began to grow afraid of him. And certainly Feltram had acquired an extraordinary influence over the Baronet, who a little while ago had regarded and treated him with so much contempt.

CHAPTER XV.

THE PURSE OF GOLD.

The Baronet was very slightly known in his county. He had led a reserved and inhospitable life. He was pressed upon by heavy debts; and being a proud man, held aloof from society and its doings. He wished people to understand that he was nursing his estate ; but somehow the estate did not thrive at nurse. In the country other people's business is admirably well known; and the lord of Mardykes was conscious, perhaps, that his neighbours knew as well as he did that the utmost he could do was to pay the interest charged upon it, and to live in a frugal way enough.

The lake measures some four or five miles across, from the little jetty under the walls of Mardykes Hall to Cloostedd.

Philip Feltram, changed and morose, loved a solitary row upon the lake; and sometimes, with no one to aid him in its management, would take the little sail-boat and pass the whole day upon those lonely waters.

Frequently he crossed to Cloostedd ; and mooring the boat under

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the solemn trees that stand reflected in that dark mirror, he would disembark and wander among the lonely woodlands, as people thought, cherishing in those ancestral scenes the memory of ineffaceable injuries, and the wrath and revenge that seemed of late to darken his countenance, and to hold him always in a moody silence.

One autumnal evening Sir Bale Mardykes was sourly ruminating after his solitary meal. A very red sun was pouring its last beams through the valley at the western extremity of the lake, across its elsewhere sombre waters, and touching with a sudden and blood-red tint the sail of the skiff in which Feltram was returning from his lonely cruise.

· Here comes my domestic water-fiend,' sneered Sir Bale, as he lay back in his cumbrous arm-chair. Cheerful place, pleasant people, delicious fate! The place alone has been enough to set that fool out of his little senses, d—n him !'

Sir Bale averted his eyes, and another subject not pleasanter entered his mind. He was thinking of the races that were coming off next week at Heckleston Downs, and what sums of money might be made there, and how hard it was that he should be excluded by fortune from that brilliant lottery.

"Ah, Mrs. Julaper, is that you ?'

Mrs. Julaper, who was still at the door, curtsied, and said, “I came, Sir Bale, to see whether you'd please to like a jug of mulled claret, sir.'

Not I, my dear. I'll take a mug of beer and my pipe; that homely solace better befits a ruined gentleman.'

'H'm, sir ; you're not that, Sir Bale ; you're no worse than half the lords and great men that are going. I would not hear another say that of you, sir.'

* That's very kind of you, Mrs. Julaper ; but you won't call me out for backbiting myself, especially as it is true, d—d true, Mrs. Julaper! Look ye; there never was a Mardykes here before but he could lay his hundred or his thousand pounds on the winner of the Heckleston Cup; and what could I bet ? Little more than that mug of beer I spoke of. It was my great-grandfather who opened the course on the Downs of Heckleston, and now I can't show there! Well, what must I do? Grin and bear it, that's all. If you please, Mrs. Julaper, I will have that jug of claret you offered. I want spice and hot wine to keep me alive; but I'll smoke my pipe first, and in an hour's time it will do.'

When Mrs. Julaper was gone, he lighted his pipe, and drew near the window, through which he looked upon the now fading sky and the twilight landscape.

He smoked his pipe out, and by that time it had grown nearly dark. He was still looking out upon the faint outlines of the view, and thinking angrily what a little bit of luck at the races would do for many a man who probably did not want it half so much as he. Vague and sombre as his thoughts were, they had, like the darkening landscape outside, shape enough to define their general character. Bitter and impious they were--as those of egotistic men naturally are in suffering. And after brooding, and muttering by fits and starts, he said :

• How many tens and hundreds of thousands of pounds will change hands at Heckleston next week; and not a shilling in all the change and shuffle will stick to me! How many a fellow would sell himself, like Dr. Faustus, just for the knowledge of who was to be the winner! But he's no fool, and does not buy his own.'

Something caught his eye; something moving on the wall. The fire was lighted, and cast a flickering and gigantic shadow upward; the figure of a man standing behind Sir Bale Mardykes, on whose shoulder he placed a lean hand. Sir Bale turned suddenly about, and saw Philip Feltram. He was looking dark and stern, and did not remove his hand from his shoulder as he peered into the Baronet's face with his deep-set mad eyes.

* Ha, Philip, upon my soul!' exclaimed Sir Bale, surprised. How time flies ! It seems only this minute since I saw the boat a mile and a half away from the shore. Well-yes; there has been time; it is dark now. Ha, ha ! I assure you, you startled me. Won't you take something? Do. Shall I touch the bell ?' • You have been troubled about those mortgages. I told you

I should pay them off, I thought.'

Here there was a pause, and Sir Bale looked hard in Feltram's face. If he had been in his ordinary spirits, or perhaps in some of his haunts less solitary than Mardykes, he would have laughed; but here he had grown unlike himself, gloomy and credulous, and was, in fact, a nervous man.

Sir Bale smiled, and shook his head dismally.

It is very kind of you, Feltram ; the idea shows a kindly disposition. I know you would do me a kindness if you could.'

As Sir Bale, each looking in the other's eyes, repeated in this sentence the words ' kind,'' kindly,' kindness,' a smile lighted Feltram's face with at each word an intenser light; and Sir Bale grew sombre in its glare ; and when he had done speaking, Feltram's face also on a sudden darkened.

"I have found a fortune-teller in Cloostedd Wood. Look here.'

And he drew from his pocket a leathern purse, which he placed on the table in his hand; and Sir Bale heard the pleasant clank of coin in it.

• A fortune-teller! You don't mean to say she gave you that ?' said Sir Bale.

Feltram smiled again, and nodded.
• It was the custom to give the fortune-teller a trifle.

It is a

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