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fessional experience; never!” and he paused, and once more eyed her sternly.
“At any rate, there ought to be something to come to me from the rights of translation—I saw in the paper that the book was to be translated into French and German," said Augusta faintly.
“Oh! yes, no doubt-Eustace, oblige me by touching the bell.”
The young gentleman did so, and a tall, melancholylooking clerk appeared.
“No. 18,” snarled Mr. Meeson, in the tone of peculiar amiability that he reserved for his employés, “make out the translation account of 'Jemima's Vow, and fill up a cheque of balance due to the author.”
No. 18 vanished like a thin, unhappy ghost, and Mr. Meeson once more addressed the girl before him. “If you want money, Miss Smithers,” he said, “you had better write us another book. I am not going to deny that your work is good work—a little too deep, and not quite orthodox enough, perhaps; but still good. I tested it myself, when it came to hand—which is a thing I don't often do-and saw it was good selling quality, and you see I didn't make a mistake. I believe “Jemima's Vow' will sell twenty thousand without stopping-here's the account.”
As he spoke the spectre-like clerk put down a neatlyruled bit of paper and an unsigned cheque on the desk before his employer, and then smiled a shadowy smile and vanished.
Mr. Meeson glanced through the account, signed the cheque, and handed it, together with the account, to Augusta, who proceeded to read it. It ran thus:
AUGUSTA SMITHERS in account with MEESON & Co.
To Sale of Right of Translation of
Augusta looked, and then slowly crumpled up the cheque in her hand.
"If I understand, Mr. Meeson," she said, "you have sold the two rights of translation of my book, which you persuaded me to leave in your hands, for £ 14; out of which I am to receive £3, Is.?"
“Yes, Miss Smithers. Will you be so kind as to sign the receipt; the fact is that I have a good deal of business to attend to."
“No, Mr. Meeson,” said Augusta, rising to her feet and looking exceedingly handsome and imposing in her anger. "No; I will not sign the receipt, and I will not take this cheque. And, what is more, I will not write you any more books. You have entrapped me. You have taken advantage of my ignorance and inexperience, and entrapped me so that for five years I shall be nothing but a slave to you, and, although I am now one of the most popular writers in the country, shall be obliged to accept a sum for my books upon which I cannot live. Do you know that yesterday I was offered a thousand pounds for the copyright of a book like “Jemima's Vow'?--it's a large sum; but I have the letter. Yes, and I have the book in manuscript now; and if I could publish it I should be lifted out of poverty, together with my poor little sister!" and she gave a sob. “But,” she went on, “I cannot publish it, and I will not let you have it and be treated like this; I had rather starve. I will publish nothing for five years, and I will write to the papers and say why-because I have been cheated, Mr. Meeson!”
“Cheated!” thundered the great man. “Be careful, young lady; mind what you are saying. I have a witness-Eustace, you hear, cheated !' Eustace, cheated!"
“I hear," said Eustace grimly.
“Yes, Mr. Meeson, I said 'cheated,' and I will repeat it, whether I am locked up for it or not. Good morning, Mr. Meeson," and she bowed to him, and then suddenly burst into a flood of tears.
In a minute Eustace was by her side.
“Don't cry, Miss Smithers; for Heaven's sake, don't. I can't bear to see it,” he said.
She looked up, her beautiful grey eyes full of tears, and tried to smile.
“Thank you,” she said; “I am very silly, but I am so disappointed. If you only knew--- There, I will go. Thank you,” and in another instant she had drawn herself up and left the room.
“Well,” said Mr. Meeson, senior, who had been sitting at his desk with his great mouth open, apparently too much astonished to speak. “Well, there is a vixen
But she'll come round. I've known them to do that sort of thing before--there are one or two down there,” and he jerked his thumb in the direction where the twenty and five tame authors sat each like a rabbit in his little hutch and did hat-work by the yard, “who carried on like that. But they are quiet enough nowthey don't show much spirit now. I know how to deal with that sort of thing----half-pay and a double tale of copy--that's the ticket. Why, that girl will be worth fifteen hundred a year to the house.
What do you think of it, young man, eh?”
“I think,” answered his nephew, on whose goodtempered face a curious look of contempt and anger had gathered, “I think that you ought to be ashamed of yourself!”
HOW EUSTACE WAS DISINHERITED.
THERE was a pause
a dreadful pause.
The flash had left the cloud, but the answering thunder had not burst upon the ear. Mr. Meeson gasped. Then he took up the cheque which Augusta had thrown upon the table and slowly crumpled it.
“What did you say, young man?” he said at last, in a cold, hard voice.
“I said that you ought to be ashamed of yourself,” answered his nephew, standing his ground bravely; "and, what is more, I meant it!”
“Oh! Now will you be so kind as to explain exactly why you said that, and why you meant it?”
“I meant it," answered his nephew, speaking in a full, strong voice, “because that girl was right when she said that you had cheated her, and you know that she was right. I have seen the accounts of “Jemima's Vow'-I saw them this morning--and you have already made more than a thousand pounds clear profit on the book. And then when she comes to ask you for something over the beggarly fifty pounds which you doled out to her, you refuse, and offer her three pounds as her