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Miss GARTH'S hand still mechanically grasped
the lawyer's arm. Her whole mind was absorbed
in the effort to realise the discovery which had
now burst on her.

"Dependent on Michael Vanstone!" she said
to herself. "Dependent on their father's
bitterest enemy? How can it be?"

"Give me your attention for a few minutes
more," said Mr. Pendril, "and you shall hear.
The sooner we can bring this painful interview
to a close, the sooner I can open communications
with Mr. Michael Vanstone, and the sooner you
will know what he decides on doing for his
brother's orphan daughters. I repeat to you
that they are absolutely dependent on him. You
will most readily understand how and why, if
we take up the chain of events where we last left
itat the period of Mr. and Mrs. Vanstone's

"One moment, sir," said Miss Garth. "Were
you in the secret of that marriage at the time
when it took place?"

"Unhappily, I was not. I was away from
Londonaway from England at the time. If
Mr. Vanstone had been able to communicate
with me when the letter from America announced
the death of his wife, the fortunes of his daughters
would not have been now at stake."

He paused: and before proceeding further,
looked once more at the letters which he had
consulted at an earlier period of the interview.
He took one letter from the rest, and put it on
the table by his side.

"At the beginning of the present year," he
resumed, "a very serious business necessity, in
connexion with some West Indian property
possessed by an old client and friend of mine,
required the presence either of myself, or of one
of my two partners, in Jamaica. One of the
two could not be spared: the other was not in
health to undertake the voyage. There was no
choice left but for me to go. I wrote to Mr.
Vanstone, telling him that I should leave
England at the end of February, and that the nature
of the business which took me away afforded
little hope of my getting back from the West
Indies before June. My letter was not written
with any special motive. I merely thought it
rightseeing that my partners were not
admitted to my knowledge of Mr. Vanstone's
private affairsto warn him of my absence, as
a measure of formal precaution which it was
right to take. At the end of February I left
England, without having heard from him. I
was on the sea when the news of his wife's death
reached him, on the fourth of March; and I did
not return until the middle of last June."

"You warned him of your departure,"
interposed Miss Garth. "Did you not warn him of
your return?"

"Not personally. My head-clerk sent him
one of the circulars which were despatched from
my office, in various directions, to announce my
return. It was the first substitute I thought of,
for the personal letter which the pressure of
innumerable occupations, all crowding on me
together after my long absence, did not allow
me leisure to write. Barely a month later,
the first information of his marriage reached me
in a letter from himself, written on the day of
the fatal accident. The circumstances which
induced him to write, arose out of an event in
which you must have taken some interestI
mean the attachment between Mr. Clare's son
and Mr. Vanstone's youngest daughter."

"I cannot say that I was favourably disposed
towards that attachment at the time," replied
Miss Garth. "I was ignorant then of the family
secret: I know better now."

"Exactly. The motive which you can now
appreciate is the motive that leads us to the
point. The young lady herself (as I have heard
from the elder Mr. Clare, to whom I am
indebted for my knowledge of the circumstances
in detail) confessed her attachment to her
father, and innocently touched him to the quick
by a chance reference to his own early life. He
had a long conversation with Mrs. Vanstone, at
which they both agreed that Mr. Clare must be
privately informed of the truth, before the
attachment between the two young people was
allowed to proceed further. It was painful, in
the last degree, both to husband and wife, to be
reduced to this alternative. But they were
resolute, honourably resolute, in making the sacrifice
of their own feelings; and Mr. Vanstone betook
himself on the spot to Mr. Clare's cottage.—You
no doubt observed a remarkable change in Mr.
Vanstone's manner on that day; and you can
now account for it?"