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      "Do you want to see him?" I gathered my horse.

      "We have seen such lots of things to-daylots and lots. I can't begin to tell you all in this letter, and there is so much that I don't know where to commence. Well, we went into some shops and looked at the things they had to sell, but didn't buy anything, as we thought it was too soon. One of the shops I liked very much was where they sold silk. It wasn't much like a silk-shop at home, where you sit on a stool in front of a counter and have the clerks spread the things out before you. In this shop the silk was in boxes out of sight, and they only showed you what you asked for. There was a platform in the middle of the shop, and the clerks squatted down on this platform, and unrolled their goods. Two women were there, buying some bright-colored stuff, for making a dress, I suppose, but I don't know. One man sat in the corner with a yardstick ready to measure off what was wanted, and another sat close by him looking on to see that everything was all right. Back of him there were a lot of boxes piled up with the goods in them; and whenever anything was wanted, he passed it out. You should have seen how solemn they all looked, and how one woman counted on her fingers to see how much it was all coming to, just as folks do at home. In a corner opposite the man with the yardstick there was a man who kept the accounts. He was squatted on the floor like the rest, and had his books all round him; and when a sale was made, he put it down in figures that I couldn't read in a week.CHAPTER XIII.

      "You'd best not know; I want you to seem to have stumbled upon the place. You can't miss it; there's no other house within two miles of it. Good-bye, my lad;"--he gave me his hand;--"good luck to you."XLII "CAN I GET THERE BY CANDLE-LIGHT?"

      "Hello, Smith." He turned sharply from me, horse and all.


      But now came raptures and rhapsodies over the opened letters. Ferry's orders had not been expected to reach him to-night, Gholson said, and so we insisted they and my letter should remain in the saddle-pockets while Gholson ate, and while the good news, public and personal, of the Harpers' letters went round.


      To show him how little I cared for any girl's age whose father preferred not to mention it, I reverted to his sister and brother. She was in New Orleans, he said, with her nieces, but might at any moment be sent into the Confederacy, being one of General Butler's "registered enemies." The brother was--Then, while still the industrious press-cutters had not yet come to the end of those appetising morsels, the packets on her breakfast table swelled{261} in size again, and she was privileged to read over and over again that the honour of a baronetcy had been conferred on her husband. She did not mind how often she read this; all the London papers reproduced the gratifying intelligence, and though the wording in most of these was absolutely identical, repetition never caused the sweet savour to cloy on her palate. She was like a girl revelling in chocolate-drops; though they all tasted precisely alike, each tasted delicious, and she felt she could go on eating them for ever. Even better than those stately clippings from the great London luminaries were the more detailed coruscations of the local press. They gave biographies of her husband, magnanimously suppressing the fish-shop, and dwelling only on the enterprise which had made and the success which had crowned the Stores, and many (these were the sweetest of all) gave details about herself and her parentage and the number of her children. She was not habitually a great reader, only using books as a soporific till they tumbled from her drowsy grasp, but now she became a wakeful and enthusiastic student. The whole range of literature, since the days of primeval epics, had never roused in her one tithe of the emotion that those clippings afforded.


      "Did you think I was at the rear?"At any rate, it could only have been hours since they found their way into the hands of the murdered man. According to his letter, he had received 400 in gold--probably the result of some blackmailing transaction--after which he had hastened to turn them into banknotes for transmission, probably abroad.