"--For I much fear you are one of the causes of that calamity."
Mr. Hardie assumed a puzzled air. "I don't see how that can be: do you, Jenny? Sampson told us the causes: a wound on the head, a wound in the arm, bleeding, cupping, &c."
"There may be other causes Dr. Sampson has not been told of--yet"
"Possibly. I really don't know what you allude to."
The son fixed his eyes on the father, and leaned across the table to him, till their faces nearly met.
"The fourteen thousand pounds, sir."
MR. HARDIE was taken by surprise for once, and had not a word to say, but looked in his son's face, mute and gasping as a fish.
During this painful silence his children eyed him inquiringly, but not with the same result; for one face is often read differently by two persons. To Jane, whose intelligence had no aids, he seemed unaffectedly puzzled; but Alfred discerned beneath his wonder the terror of detection rising, and then thrust back by the strong will: that stoical face shut again like an iron door, but not quickly enough: the right words, the "open sesame," had been spoken, and one unguarded look had confirmed Alfred's vague suspicions of foul play. He turned his own face away: he was alienated by the occurrences of the last few months, but Nature and tender reminiscences still held him by some fibres of the heart--in a moment of natural indignation he had applied the touchstone, but its success grieved him. He could not bear to go on exposing his father; so he left the room with a deep sigh, in which pity mingled with shame and regret. He wandered out into the silent night, and soon was leaning on the gate of Albion Villa, gazing wistfully at the windows, and sore perplexed and nobly wretched.