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Mrs. Harcourt had nothing to urge against her husband's reasoning, and no more was then said on the subject.
Harcourt, on arriving at Uxbridge, found Brandon at home, who appeared delighted to see him. Although Harcourt had offered him his hand on entering, he attempted, for some time afterwards, to resume his cold reserved manner; but at length, finding it irksome, he threw it off, and the two old friends conversed amicably and unrestrainedly together. After Harcourt had told Christian all that had taken place since they last met, and that the detective was still prowling about Kent Street, the latter said to him:
“And now, Mr. Harcourt, tell me candidly what you would advise me to do, for I can come to no conclusion myself on the subject. I have thought over the matter night and day, and can determine on nothing. One moment I think the best thing I could do would be to emigrate, and then the idea of leaving my child drives that thought from me. Now, what shall I do?”
“My decided advice to you—and Mr. McNeil is of the same opinion —is to emigrate. If you attempt to remain in England—at any rate for some years to come—you will certainly be detected, and sent back again a prisoner to the colony to work out the remainder of your sentence. Besides, what can you do if you remain in England ? You will be certain to meet some one who knows you, and would betray you if he pleased. Your life would be one of continual anxiety."
"Too true," said Brandon ; “I see I have no alternative. Still, it is a terrible thing to leave my child behind me.”
“That it is a bitter draught I am ready to admit, but no more than many officers in the army and others have to submit to when they are on service in India. Now my advice is—try America. That would be a good place, as they are about establishing a line of steamers to run between New York and Liverpool, and when that takes place, you may in the course of a few years, when things are somewhat blown over, make occasional visits to England. In America, I have no doubt —with your ability, integrity, and industry—you will be sure to succeed. In the meantime you may rest assured that Charlotte shall be well taken care of in England. Both my wife and myself will watch over her with as much care as if she were our own child.”
“God bless you both!” said Christian. “I am sure I have much reason to be grateful to you." “Not at all
, my dear fellow," said Gideon. "But now let me ask you another question, and pray answer me candidly. In what state are your finances ? If you are in want of money, I can supply you, and you can return it when you are in funds."
"I am much obliged to you,” said Christian. “I have not much left, but still sufficient to pay my passage to America. Indeed, I could work my way across, if I was in want of money, without trespassing on your kindness, Mr. Harcourt. One thing, however, I should like if possible, and that is, a letter of introduction to some respectable person in New York. Could you give me one ?"
“I would do so willingly if I could,” said Harcourt, “but I know no one there, nor am I acquainted with anyone who is. Stop a moment," he continued, after a short pause, “I think I heard Mr. McNeil say he had a cousin there, who was either in practice or business, I know not which ; I will see him to-morrow and ask him, and if he has, I am sure he will readily give you a letter, which shall be forwarded to you without delay, for the sooner you leave England the better.”
“One thing more,” said Christian, seeing that Harcourt was about to leave him, " Could I see my child again before I go ?”
Gideon hesitated for a moment, and then said, “Yes, you shall; but you had better not trust yourself in London. I will get my wife to bring her down to you. It is better she should do it than either the doctor or his mother, as they might be watched. She shall bring her to see you the day after to-morrow, and if you could start on your journey immediately afterwards the better it would be, as every hour you remain in England you are in danger of being discovered.”
Harcourt now left his friend and returned to London, and the same evening called on the doctor to inform him of Brandon's decision to emigrate at once to America.
" And the sooner he goes the better,” said the doctor, “or that detective will find him at last.”.
“Have you seen anything more of him?" asked Harcourt.
“He has not been here,” replied McNeil, “but he has discovered the house where Mr. Brandon lodged, and had an interview with the landlady. On his inquiring if her lodger, Mr. Brandon, was at home, she informed him she knew no one of that name. Well, that's strange,' said the detective; 'I was positively assured he lived here. You had a lodger here, had you not ?" "Yes, I had,' she replied, “ but he went away for a few days. “Then he's coming back again ? 'I think it very likely,' she said, 'as he's left almost all his things here. He said he'd write and let me know the day he should come back, or else I was to forward the things to him. But still, he can't be the man you want, for his name's Christian, not Brandon.'
“The detective then told her his friend's name was Christian Brandon, and that he was certain her lodger was the same man. At any rate, if she would let him see some of the things he had left behind, he could better decide, and it would greatly oblige him, as he much wanted to know if he was the same man he was looking for. The woman offered no objection, and conducted him into Mr. Brandon's room, where she showed him a coat and some other effects belonging to him. 'Ah! there's no doubt about it, he's the man. I see you're right,' he continued, taking up a letter and opening it, I see he's
called Mr. Christian here.' The landlady here interposed, saying she could not allow anyone to read her lodger's letters, and, snatching it out of his hand, told him he was to go. At first he offered some little opposition, but, finding her determined, he inquired whether her lodger had any acquaintance in the neighbourhood. She told him, rather sharply, she didn't know of any but Mr. McNeil, and if he wanted further information he'd better apply to him, who, she believed, knew more about Mr. Christian than anyone else did. The fellow then left the house, and the woman came round here and told me all that had occurred.”
"And from whom was the letter ?” inquired Gideon.
“No, but he again waylaid my errand-boy, and offered him a still higher reward to assist him; but Jackson refused it. I want, however, to put a stop to that if I can. He is a good lad at present; but he may yield to temptation at last, for you know he has been brought up in a bad school.”
After a moment's silence Harcourt said, “I told Mr. Brandon that the day after to-morrow my wife should take little Charlotte to see him before he left; but, all things considered, it will be more prudent for her to go to-morrow. I think I had better write and tell him so, and that he must make preparations to leave Uxbridge to-morrow night. It is better that my wife should take the child, and not you or Mrs. McNeil, as she would be less likely to be watched.”
The doctor agreed to the proposal, and Gideon wrote immediately to inform Brandon of the arrangement, strongly advising him to put sufficient restraint on his feelings, lest Charlotte should know he was her father, adding, that when she was older she could then be informed of the truth. The letter being finished, Harcourt, by way of precaution, took it himself to the post-office, and, on his return to the house, found little Charlotte ready dressed to accompany him, as it had been agreed she was to sleep at his house that night, so as to be ready to start early the next morning. On his leaving, the doctor promised that in the course of the evening he would write the letter of introduction Brandon desired, and send it by Jackson to Harcourt's house, so that it might be taken by Mrs. Harcourt when she went to Uxbridge.
The following day Mrs. Harcourt, accompanied by little Charlotte, left London to visit Brandon. On arriving she found he had already received her husband's letter, and was making preparations to leave for Liverpool, as soon as their interview had terminated. Notwithstanding Harcourt's advice to restrain his feelings with the child, poor Christian had great difficulty in doing so; and more than once Mrs. Harcourt was obliged to interfere, and give him a hint that Charlotte, who imagined him to be merely a friend of the doctor's, would wonder at his emotion. The interview altogether, and especially the parting, was a most painful one, and Mrs. Harcourt was thankful when it was
On quitting him, Christian begged of her to write to him frequently respecting the child, which she promised to do, and then bade him adieu, glad to put an end to the painful scene.
BRANDON'S ESCAPE. It was fortunate indeed that Harcourt had determined his wife should pay a visit to Christian the day after his interview with him instead of the following one. Had they kept to the original proposition, it is more than probable Christian would have been arrested. When the doctor had written the letter of recommendation for Christian, he sent it as agreed by Jackson to Harcourt's house, and the lad must evidently have been followed by the detective. Shortly after Mrs. Harcourt, with little Charlotte, had left the next morning, a respectable looking woman called at the house and inquired for her.
“Neither my master nor mistress are at home,” said the servant. My mistress went out early this morning with little Miss Brandon, and I don't know where my master has gone to."
“When do you expect them home ?" said the woman.
“I don't know what time my mistress will be in, but master will be at home by four o'clock, as he has made an appointment with a gentleman at that time.”
“And you don't know where your mistress has gone to ?" inquired the woman.
“No, I don't; but it's somewhere out of town, I believe.”
"I wish you'd find out for me, as I want to know, whether she's gone to see a friend of mine. I'll call again in the afternoon. My name's Jones, she knows me very well."
The servant promised she would ascertain for her where Mrs. Harcourt had gone, and the woman then left the house. Mrs. Harcourt, however, arrived at home much sooner than was expected, and the servant quite forgot to give her the woman's message. Shortly afterwards the doctor called to take little Charlotte back, and on seeing him the child told him she had had such a pretty ride in the country.”
“ And where have you been to ?” asked McNeil. “To Uxbridge,” said the child. We've been to see Mr. Christian."
The servant overhearing this conversation, and not thinking it worth while to trouble her mistress, told the woman when she called, that Mrs. Harcourt had been to see a Mr. Christian who was living at Uxbridge.
“Ah! thank you,” said the woman ; " that's the person I meant.”
“Would you like to speak to my mistress ?” said the servant. "She's at home now."
“No, thank you, I won't disturb her. That's all I wanted to know, as I was very anxious she should see him.
It's no use my troubling her any further now, so good morning; as I am afraid she is engaged.”
The same evening the detective, accompanied by a local policeman, called at Christian's lodgings in Uxbridge, and asked to see Mr. Brandon or Mr. Christian—they did not know which name he called himself by.
"If you mean my lodger," said the woman of the house, “ you're too late by some hours, for he's gone. A lady and a little girl called to see him this morning, and after they had left he packed up his things, paid me a week in advance, and went away.”
A look of intense disappointment was visible on the ordinary impassive countenance of the detective. “And you can't tell me where he's gone to ?” he said. No, that I can't,” replied the woman.
“He told me in case any letters came for him, though he didn't think it very likely, I was to send them to Mr. McNeil, Kent Street, in the Borough. If you want him,” she continued, "you'd better call there, for he's the only person I ever heard my lodger mention as knowing him.”
“Has he left any papers or anything behind him ?” asked the man. " I am a detective officer, as the policeman with me will tell you, and he is a forger and an escaped convict. If you could assist me in finding him I should be very much obliged to you, and you would be doing a good action as well.”
“I am sure I would willingly assist if I could, but as I told you before, I don't know of anybody that's acquainted with him. Thankful indeed am I to have got rid of him," she continued, “ I'd little idea what sort of a person I'd got in my house."
detective easily perceived the woman was telling him the truth, and evidently much chagrined at the non-success of his visit, wished her good evening, and returned to town.
In the meantime Christian Brandon, armed with his letter of introduction from Mr. McNeil, and carrying with him a small carpetbag, was far on his way to Liverpool, which he reached in safety. Immediately after his arrival, he went to a shipping office, and took a berth as a steerage passenger on board a liner, which was to sail in a few days for New York. Having taken his passage, he was on the point of asking the clerk where he could find a quiet lodging; but thinking it might be imprudent to let any one know his address, he left the office, and strolling about till he had arrived at the outskirts of the town, took a room at a small decent-looking inn he found VOL, XXXI.