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remorseless Meeson, who, like most people of his stamp, had an almost superstitious veneration for the aristocracy, “I have made a great deal of money, as I do not mind telling your lordship; what is there to prevent my successor-supposing I have a successorfrom taking advantage of that money, and rising on it to a similar position to that so worthily occupied by your lordship ?”
Exactly, Mr. Meeson. A most excellent idea for your successor. Excuse me, but I see Lady Holmhurst beckoning to me.” And he fled precipitately, still followed by Mr. Meeson.
“John, my dear!” said Lady Holmhurst, “I want to introduce you to Miss Smithers-the Miss Smithers whom we have all been talking about, and whose book you have been reading. Miss Smithers, my husband !"
Lord Holmhurst, who, when he was not deep in the affairs of state, had a considerable eye for a pretty girl—and what man worthy of the name has not ?bowed most politely, and was proceeding to tell Augusta, in very charming language, how delighted he was to make her acquaintance, when Mr. Meeson arrived on the scene and perceived Augusta for the first time. Quite taken aback at finding her, apparently, upon the very best of terms with people of such quality, he hesitated to consider what course to adopt; whereon Lady Holmhurst in a somewhat formal way, for she was not very fond of Mr. Meeson, mistaking his hesitation, went on to introduce him. Thereupon, all in a moment, as we do sometimes take such resolutions, Augusta came to a determination. She would have nothing more to do with Mr. Meeson-she would repudiate him then and there, come what would of it.
So, as he advanced upon her with outstretched hand, she drew herself up, and in a cold and determined voice said, “I already know Mr. Meeson, Lady Holmhurst;
and I do not wish to have anything more to do with him. Mr. Meeson has not behaved well to me.”
“ 'Pon my word,” murmured Lord Holmhurst to himself, “I don't wonder she has had enough of him. Sensible young woman, that!"
Lady Holmhurst looked a little astonished and a little amused. Suddenly, however, a light broke upon her.
“Oh! I see," she said. “I suppose that Mr. Meeson published 'Jemima's Vow. Of course that accounts for it. Why, I declare there is the dinner-bell! Come along, Miss Smithers, or we shall lose the place that the captain has promised us.” And, accordingly, they went, leaving Mr. Meeson, who had not yet fully realized the unprecedented nature of the position, positively gasping on the deck. And on board the Kangaroo there were no clerks and editors on whom he could wreak his wrath!
“And now, my dear Miss Smithers,” said Lady Holmhurst when, dinner being over, they were sitting together in the moonlight, near the wheel, “perhaps you will tell me why you don't like Mr. Meeson, whom, by the way, I personally detest. But don't, if you don't wish to, you know.”
But Augusta did wish to, and then and there she unfolded her whole sad story into her new-found friend's sympathetic ear; and glad enough the poor girl was to find a confidante to whom she could un· bosom her sorrows.
“Well, upon my word "" said Lady Holmhurst, when she had listened with tears in her eyes to the history of poor little Jeannie's death,“ upon my word, of all the brutes I ever heard of, I think that this publisher of yours is the worst! I will cut him, and get my husband to cut him too. But no, I have a bet
I a ter plan than that. He shall tear up that agreement, so sure as my name is Bessie Holmhurst; he shall tear it up, or-or_” and she nodded her little head with an air of infinite wisdom.
MR. TOMBEY GOES FORWARD.
From that day forward the voyage on the Kangaroo was, until the last dread catastrophe, a very happy one for Augusta. Lord and Lady Holmhurst made much of her, and all the rest of the first-class passengers followed suit, and soon she found herself the most popular character on board. The two copies of her book that there were on the ship were passed on from hand to hand, till they would hardly bang together, and, really, at last, she got quite tired of hearing of her own creations. But this was not all; Augusta was, it will be remembered, an exceedingly pretty woman, and, melancholy as the fact may seem, it still remains a fact that a pretty woman is in the eyes of most people a more interesting object than a
. man, or than a lady who is not "built that way.” Thus it came to pass that what between her youth, her beauty, her talent, and her misfortunes—for Lady Holmhurst had not exactly kept that history to herself-Augusta was all of a sudden elevated into the position of a perfect heroine. It really almost frightened the poor girl, who had been accustomed to nothing but sorrow, ill-treatment, and grinding poverty, to suddenly find herself in this strange position, with
every man on board that great vessel at her beck and call. But she was human, and, therefore, of course, she enjoyed it. It is something when one has been wandering for hour after hour in the wet and melancholy night, suddenly to see the fair dawn breaking and burning overhead, and to know that the worst is over, for now there will be light whereby to set our feet. It is something, too, to the most Christian soul, to utterly and completely triumph over one who had done all in his power to crush and destroy you; whose grasping greed has indirectly been the cause of the death of the person you loved best in the whole world round. And she did triumph. As the story of Mr.
. Meeson's conduct to her got about, the little society of the ship—which was, after all, a very fair example of all society in miniature—fell away from this publishing prince, and not even the jingling of his moneybags could lure it back. He the great, the practically omnipotent, the owner of two millions, and the hard master of hundreds upon whose toil he battened, was practically cut. Even the clerk, who was going out on a chance of getting a place in a New Zealand bank, would have nothing to say to him. And, what is more, he felt it more even than an ordinary individual i would have done. He, the “Printer-devil,” as poor little Jeannie used to call him, he to be slighted and flouted by a pack of people whom he could buy up three times over, and all on account of a wretched authoress—an authoress, if you please! It made Mr. Meeson very wild—a state of affairs which was