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First published in Pearson's Weekly, 13 Mar 1897
in the series "The Adventures of Mr. Juggins"
Collected in: Paul Beck, The Rule of Thumb Detective,
C. Arthur Pearson, London, 1898

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2021
Version Date: 2021-10-31

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"Paul Beck, The Rule of Thumb Detective,"
with "The Slip Knot"



M. McDonnell Bodkin

Irish barrister and author of detective and mystery stories Bodkin was appointed a judge in County Clare and also served as a Nationalist member of Parliament. His native country and years in the courtroom are recalled in the autobiographical Recollections of an Irish Judge (1914).

Bodkin's witty stories, collected in Dora Myrl, the Lady Detective (1900) and Paul Beck, the Rule of Thumb Detective (1898), have been unjustly neglected.

Beck, his first detective (when he first appeared in print in Pearson's Magazine in 1897, he was named "Alfred Juggins"), claims to be not very bright, saying, "I just go by the rule of thumb, and muddle and puzzle out my cases as best I can."

...In The Capture of Paul Beck (1909) he and Dora begin on opposite sides in a case, but in the end they are married. They have a son who solves a crime at his university in Young Beck, a Chip Off the Old Block (1911).

Other Bodkin books are The Quests of Paul Beck (1908), Pigeon Blood Rubies (1915), and Guilty or Not Guilty? (1929).

Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection, Steinbrunner & Penzler, 1976.



"YOU can't know how I feel about it, Syd."

"I think I can guess, Jack; I have been there myself, you know."

The two young men were sitting together after dinner, sipping coffee and green Chartreuse in the verandah that overlooks the central courtyard of the "Army and Navy" (known to the initiated as the "In and Out," from the words on the entrance pillars), once the private residence of Lord Palmerston, now the cosiest club in all London.

One young man was moody and the other sympathetic, and the conversation went on in fits and starts, with long pauses between.

The club waiter came up with a box of cigars. Each chose a big one with a gorgeous paper "cummerbund" of crimson and gold round its waist, nipped and lit it carefully, and puffed a few moments in solemn silence.

"She used to be the brightest and gayest-hearted girl in all London," Jack Templeton went on sadly; "as frisky as a young thoroughbred filly, and as hard to manage. Now she's just a broken-hearted little mope. She hasn't got a word to throw to a dog—she that was always full of saucy prattle. Just sits and pines away with pale face and wide-open blue eyes that look twice too big for it, as if she were going into consumption, by Jove!"

"When did the change come?" asked our old friend, Sydney Harcourt.

"Cannot say exactly. It was while I was away last year, you remember, after big game in India. You see, we are only second cousins. But we were brought up together like brother and sister by Aunt Julia. It was only when I went away from Mabel that I found I was fond of her not at all in a brotherly kind of way. Then she was riled at my going away, and would not write or anything, which made things worse. I came back before half my time was up, and I found her a poor little gentle, broken-hearted saint—the quick temper and the gay spirit both gone. She's barely twenty-one, and it's just horrible to see her eating her heart away like a dismal old crone."

There was a quiver in Jack Templeton's manly voice as he broke off and puffed his cigar vehemently, when a woman would have sobbed.


There was a quiver in Jack Templeton's manly voice.

Sydney Harcourt laid his hand kindly on his friend's shoulder. The touch was full of sympathy, and the other felt it.

"Don't break down, old man," Sydney said. "There's no use whining. You have got to cure it or bear it. Forgive me for asking. Have you no notion of the cause of this sudden change—in love?"

"I don't know, honestly I don't think it. I wouldn't to-morrow grudge her to any decent fellow she was fond of. It would be a bit of a wrench, of course, but anything would be better than seeing her so miserable. There's Fred Haverlie—handsome Fred Haverlie, you know!—he's desperately gone on her, and I don't believe it's her money either, though he's deuced hard up, of course. But Mab does not seem to care two straws for him. I have seen them together, and, if anything, she's afraid of him. She's afraid of her own shadow these times. About a week ago I caught her crying over a letter as if her heart would break, and when I came in she turned pale with fright and hid it in her bosom. I would have given all the world to comfort her, but she wouldn't let me even speak of it. Sometimes she's so sweet and winning that I get a notion that she cares for me; but at others she's so cold and stand-offish that I'd be angry if the poor little scrap didn't look so wretched. I wish to the Lord I knew what to do. There is some mystery somewhere if I could only root it out."

"Why don't you talk it over with old Beck?"

"I don't think it would be the thing. It's too ticklish a subject to mention to any one but yourself, old man."

"Nonsense, Jack. You don't know the man. He's discretion itself. All the ladies tell their secrets to Paul Beck. He's quite the rage. The Duchess of Southern has taken him, and there's a pretty little mite of a girl with golden hair hanging down the middle of her back Flossy—what's her name?—always on the premises. They have afternoon tea there, and talk gossip. Beck only listens; he's a grave for a secret. Lil tells me all about it; she's constantly there. In fact, I'm growing to be quite jealous of old Beck."

"All the same, Syd, I don't think it would be the straight thing for me to go blabbing about Mab's secrets—the little I know of them."

"Get herself to go, then."

"I wish to the Lord I could, but I don't even know how to set about it. But there's your wife. She's Mab's best friend; perhaps she would try her hand?"

"Lil will be delighted, I'm sure. She believes no end in Beck! And Miss Vernon and she are fast friends, though they have only known each other a few months. Lil is fretting about her like yourself—she told me so, and would be glad to do her a good turn. I'll speak to her about it to-night, if you like."

"Thanks awfully, old man. I'll owe you a good turn for that."

SO it came to pass that three days afterwards Miss Mabel Vernon drove up with the Honourable Mrs. Harcourt in her neatly appointed brougham to Mr. Beck's door at half-past twelve, by special appointment.


Miss Mabel Vernon drove up with the Honourable
Mrs. Harcourt in her neatly appointed brougham.

"It's like going to the dentist," said Mabel, with a pitiable attempt at a smile. "I'm more afraid than if I were going to have a tooth out. You'll come in with me—won't you, Lil?"

"Don't be silly, Mabel dear. There—don't look so frightened," and she kissed her coaxingly. "Of course you must see Mr. Beck alone. He's waiting for you, and mind you tell him just everything. You could not do that, try as you might, if I were listening. I'll be back in an hour for you."

"Sit down, Miss Vernon," said Mr. Beck, with voice and manner so kind and homely, and withal so respectful, that the poor girl felt something like confidence creeping back to her quick-beating heart.

"Mrs. Harcourt told me you wanted my advice," Mr. Beck went on. "Remember, Miss Vernon, you must be quite frank with me if there is to be the least chance of my helping you."

"That's what Lil—Mrs. Harcourt, I mean—just now said to me. But it's so hard. It's a dreadful story, and I don't know where to begin."

"Tell the hardest thing right away; the rest of the story will tell itself afterwards."

"Well, then," she cried hysterically, "I'm married—secretly married—to a man who deserted me at the church door—a man I hate worse than death, while all the time I——"

She broke down utterly and sobbed like a little child—the saddest sound in all the world.

Mr. Beck let the tears have their way before he spoke again, more kindly than before.

"Try and compose yourself a little, Miss Vernon, and tell me how the marriage came about and how I can help you."

"You cannot help me—no one can help me!" she wailed. "I was a giddy, silly, wicked girl. It was my own fault—that's the bitterest thing of all, and now I must bear the punishment as best I can. I wish I was dead—that would be the shortest way out of it."

"You are too young to talk like that," said Mr. Beck, soothingly, for the poor girl was piteously in earnest. "As you have come to me, give me a chance to help you, if I can. Tell me the whole story?"

"When my cousin, Mr. Templeton, went to America—we had always been together—I felt vexed and lonely and restless and wicked, and I went about everywhere—balls and theatres and even music-halls—many places I shouldn't have gone to, I dare say. I know Aunt Julia was disgusted, but I didn't care. Mr. Haverlie took me about a great deal—'handsome Fred Haverlie'—you must have heard of him?"

Mr. Beck nodded.

"He was devoted to me in those days—just quiet, respectful devotion—not a bit of love-making or nonsense, not a word that Aunt Julia mightn't have listened to. But I knew, of course, and that's what made it so surprising afterwards."

"Made what so surprising?"

"I'm going to tell you. We were sitting alone together in a private box at a matinée at the Gaiety Theatre, when a young man came suddenly into the box behind us—such a handsome young fellow! He apologised for his mistake quite charmingly. It seems he was a chum of Mr. Haverlie's, and thought he was in the box alone. Then Mr. Haverlie introduced him to me, and I asked him to stay, of course, and we had a delightful time of it.


A young man came suddenly into the box.

"Mr. Ransome—his name was Claud Ransome—seemed smitten almost from the first, and he was so bright and gay and clever I couldn't help admiring him. We met a great many times after that, and the fascination grew upon me. At first Mr. Haverlie was with us, but after a while we met alone. You see I could go anywhere I liked on my bicycle, and no one was a bit the wiser. Then I was frightened, and I wanted to give him up, but I couldn't—he had got such power over me. He seemed to know my very thoughts as if he were inside my heart, in a way that no other man could. It was a most curious feeling. Even then I was more afraid than fond of him. But he persuaded me and I persuaded myself I was in love, and he enticed me into consenting to a secret marriage."

"But what did your other lover, Mr. Haverlie, say to all this?"

"Oh! he wasn't my lover; not a professed lover, you know. He was most kind and generous and self-devoted; I must say that for him; though, like myself, he was deceived by Mr. Ransome. 'It will be a comfort to me that I helped you to your happiness,' he said one day, 'though it should break my own heart.' I declare I quite felt for him; and he did help us every way he could. So one morning, nearly a year ago, we were married quietly, and the man—my husband—disappeared at the church door, and I have never seen him from that day to this. Mr. Haverlie, who was best man, was most kind and considerate, and got me quietly home and kept my secret. He was just furious with Mr. Ransome; I believe he would have killed him if he could have caught him. But he had completely disappeared."

"Perhaps your husband—Mr. Ransome, I mean—is dead, Miss Vernon?"

"Oh no! I have letters from him every couple of months, mostly for money, with little, mean, unmanly sneers and stabs in them."

"But why should he keep away? Perhaps he was married before?"

"I'm afraid he was too young. He's not more than twenty-two. He's always threatening to come back and make me live with him. I could bear anything but that. His letters are a constant terror. I'm half mad at the very thought of his claiming me. Couldn't I be saved from that by a deed or something? I'd give all I have in the world to be safe from him."

"Yes," said Mr. Beck thoughtfully, "it might be done by a deed of voluntary separation. But the first thing would be to get him over here."

"He won't come."

"I think I could manage it, if you would allow me."

"How? I'd do anything."

"Let me put a paragraph in the Times announcing your approaching marriage with—well, let's say with Mr. Haverlie."

"I wouldn't marry Mr. Haverlie for the whole world. Besides, that would be bigamy."

"A newspaper paragraph is not a valid contract of marriage, Miss Vernon. Then you need not appear in the matter. All I ask is that you won't contradict the rumour for one week. Will you promise me that?"

"Lily Harcourt tells me I must trust you entirely."

"And you may, Miss Vernon. Believe me, you may; I am thinking only how I may best serve you."

There was a kindly honesty in his voice that went straight home to the heart of the poor, persecuted girl, and filled her eyes with tears.

"Do whatever you like," she said simply. "Only promise to keep within call to advise and help me should this man come back."

"It is the very favour I should have asked. I'm proud of your confidence and shall do what I can to deserve it."

NEXT day the following paragraph appeared on the fifth page of the Times:—

"We understand that a marriage has been arranged and will shortly be solemnised between Mr. Frederick Haverlie and Miss Mabel Vernon. The bride-elect is at present staying with her aunt, Lady Julia Filloby at Renvere, the family seat in Kent."

The same day Mabel had a flying visit from Mr. Haverlie, who came down specially from London to see her.

She knew what had brought him before he took a copy of the Times from his pocket and laid it on the library table.

"You could not suspect me," he said earnestly, "of any hand or part in this cruel jest, Miss Vernon. I have come direct from London to tell you how deeply grieved I was at the annoyance it must have caused you."

But Mabel, tutored by Mr. Beck, took the thing very quietly.

"I assure you, Mr. Haverlie, if you don't mind, I don't."

"Then you won't contradict this paragraph, Miss Vernon?"

"Most certainly not. Why should I trouble about what the newspapers please to write about me. I have enough of real trouble without that."

"Oh! Miss Vernon—Mabel," he cried, "if there were some hope for me, that at some time—no matter how distant—the rumour might come true!"

But she turned upon him angrily with heightened colour. "This from you of all men, Mr. Haverlie; you who know my unhappy secret that makes your words an insult."

"But, Mabel," he cried excitedly, "hear me out. If it should happily prove—if I myself could prove that——"

He checked himself suddenly in the middle of an incoherent sentence.

"You are right," he added after a pause, so gently and so sadly that her soft heart was touched, "and I was wrong, but I was sorely tempted. It was my first offence, and shall be my last. May I hope for forgiveness?"

Her anger was over in a moment, and they parted friends. But his words puzzled her, and she repeated them to Mr. Beck, who was established on the premises as the wealthy Yorkshire brewer, Mr. Bolton, with designs on a peerage.

He heard her out with a grim smile.

"Can you have Mr. Haverlie asked to stay on here for a few days? His presence might prove useful."

"Quite easily," she answered, "Cousin Jack—Mr. Templeton, I mean—has a carte blanche from Aunt Julia, who simply dotes on him. He does the honours of the place and chooses the guests."

"And you can manage it with him?" Mr. Beck asked without a smile.

"Yes, I can manage it with him, I think."

TWO days later came the expected letter from Mr. Ransome. The paragraph cut from the Times dropped from between the sheets as Mabel opened the envelope with trembling fingers. The letter was dated from Paris simply. It was short and hard:—

Dearest Wife" (it ran),

Two days ago I saw the enclosed announcement in the Times. I waited for the contradiction, and there was none. Now I am coming over to look after my property. Though I am as sick of our bargain as you can be, still the law must be respected, and the word 'bigamy' has an ugly sound. Your marriage with Mr. Haverlie would be an outrage which I am determined at all hazards to prevent.

Ever yours,

Claud Ransome.

Mabel Vernon was frightened at this savage letter, but Mr. Beck seemed quite pleased, and read the bit about Mr. Haverlie twice over with a pleasant smile.


Mabel Vernon was frightened at this savage letter.

Mr. Ransome followed his letter with only a day between. He was shown into the library, where Mabel waited for him, faint with fear and excitement.

Husband and wife met after three years' parting with no lip pressure or hand pressure. She bowed to him coldly, and he replied with a scornful stare. He was plainly in a furious temper.

"Pray, madam," he broke out, without further greeting, "what is the meaning of this disgraceful proceeding?"

So far he got when he became aware of a third party in the room.

The eminent brewer, Mr. Bolton, sat there quietly in the shadow, with his back to the window, and his eyes fixed on the handsome face and figure of Mabel Vernon's husband, on whom the full light fell.

A handsomer face or figure Mr. Bolton thought he had never seen. Mr. Ransome was a clean, straight standing young fellow, just over the middle size, square-shouldered, deep-chested, but with hands and feet as small as a girl's. His head was well-set and haughtily carried. His grey eyes were large and bright and cold; a slight, silky moustache half hid a well-shaped mouth, and his small ears, clean cut as shells, ears that tell of breeding, just showed under brown curls, crisp and close as a water-spaniel's.

All this Mr. Bolton's eyes took in at one look when Mr. Ransome broke off in surprise at seeing him there.

"Miss Vernon," Mr. Ransome resumed next moment with quiet insolence, "I requested a private interview. We are not alone."

"This gentleman is a friend of mine," she answered, made bold by her fears. "I won't see or hear you unless in his presence. He knows all—all I say—you can speak plainly before him."

"I have not the least objection, I'm sure," he replied, with a scornful look at the awkward figure and dull face of the eminent brewer. "This kind friend, I assume, will hardly encourage you to bigamy."

Poor Mabel was quite unnerved by the sneering insolence of his manner. She tried to answer, but her white, trembling lips could utter no sound.

Then Mr. Beck quietly interposed.

"This young lady never had the slightest intention of marrying Mr. Haverlie," he said.

"Then I've come here on a fool's errand."

"Not quite, Mr. Ransome."

"What do you mean, sir?" The words were jerked out sharply, as if by anger or fear.

Mr. Bolton was placid as a sleepy cat on a warm hearth-rug. "Have a little patience and I'll tell you. It will not surprise you to hear that this young lady has no desire to live with you, and she is willing to pay for the privilege of your absence."

"I won't let her marry again."

"You can't, I suppose you mean, Mr. Ransome. I have looked carefully into the papers and evidence. The marriage, unfortunately, appears to have been quite regularly performed. A voluntary separation is all she can hope for, and she is willing to pay handsomely for that."

"How much?"

"Half of all she has in the world. Three thousand a year would be your share."

Mr. Ransome's keen eyes lit up with pleasure and greed. It was plain that this scheme had not suggested itself to him now for the first time. Still he hesitated.

"I don't like this flirtation with Mr. Haverlie," he said slowly. "The world will still regard my wife as an unmarried woman."

"Mr. Haverlie is here, and shall be one of the witnesses to the deed, if you desire it."

His hesitation vanished in a moment.

"I accept the terms," he said. "When can the deed be signed?"


"I accept the terms," he said.

"It will be ready for execution the day after tomorrow. Meanwhile you can stay here if you choose."

"I do choose, most decidedly. My things are at the railway station. Can they be sent for?"

"Certainly; and my valet shall attend you, if you haven't got a man of your own."

"Thanks. I don't want spies," was the ungracious rejoinder. "If my things are sent for it will be sufficient."

MR. CLAUD RANSOME looked handsomer than ever as he entered the drawing-room a few hours later in well-fitting evening dress, with a splendid ruby solitaire blazing in his shirt-front. From a quiet corner Mr. Bolton watched his meeting with handsome Fred Haverlie, who started at the sight of him, and ground out something through his strong white teeth. But Mr. Ransome whispered a word or two in his ear that checked his anger like a charm, and the two walked apart for a few minutes, talking rapidly and earnestly before they parted—Haverlie looking nervous and Ransome triumphant.

At dinner young Ransome, who sat close to Mr. Bolton and almost opposite Mabel, was quite jubilant, and brimmed over with lively conversation. His talk was brisk as champagne and as intoxicating. His reckless gaiety frightened poor Mabel; she grew pale and shrunk into herself, like the poor little bird when the bright snake's fascination is upon it. Good-natured "Aunt Julia"—who loved her niece almost as much as her nephew, and whose chief wish in the world was to make those two one—quickly noticed Mabel's wan look and signalled an early retreat to the ladies, much to the disappointment of a lively young matron who sat to the right of the fascinating Mr. Ransome.

Holding the door-handle politely as the gay procession trooped by, Mr. Bolton contrived to whisper to the drooping Mabel Vernon: "Have courage, and wait for me alone in the library."


"Have courage, and wait for me alone in the library."

The ladies' departure was followed by a "movement of adhesion" on the part of the gentlemen; the gaps closed up, and the talk and the wine both flowed more freely.

Mr. Ransome took to chaffing the inoffensive Mr. Bolton, much to the amusement of some of the older men at the brilliant audacity of the youngster.

But he might as well have splashed water on a duck—Mr. Bolton bore the ordeal placid and stolid as ever.

"May I smoke, Mr. Templeton?" he called out in a pause of the laughter that Mr. Ransome's sallies awakened. Jack Templeton, who sat at the head of the table, smilingly nodded his assent.

Thereupon Mr. Bolton took from his pocket a shallow gold snuff-box, now fitted up as a cigarette-case, exquisitely chased, with a medallion by Watteau set in brilliants on the lid. While he selected a cigarette with much deliberation, the box caught the attention of his neighbour furthest from Mr. Ransome. Mr. Bolton handed it to be admired. "It is a gift from the Duke of Southern," he said, "for a slight service I was once fortunate enough to render his Grace."

Amid murmurs of admiration the jewelled box passed from hand to hand round the table—and disappeared.

Mr. Bolton waited with the look of expectation on his face growing into anger.

There was a lull in the conversation, a vague, uneasy feeling that something had gone wrong.

Then Mr. Bolton called out in a nervous voice, addressing the table generally, but glancing in the direction of Mr. Ransome: "Will you kindly send on my box, please?"

Dead silence followed. The guests looked at each other, and at Mr. Bolton, but no one spoke or moved.

Jack Templeton at the head of the table leapt to his feet. "This passes a joke," he cried sternly; "let it end here and now."

Then a confused protest broke out all round the table, with an angry undertone in it, but no one stirred.

Templeton's coolness came back to him.

"We must see this out," he said. "There are no servants in the room. Kindly lock the door, Harcourt. Gentlemen, where there is no exception made there is no indignity. I'm afraid I must ask you to submit to be searched. I will be the first myself."

There was a general murmur of approval, but neither Haverlie's nor Ransome's voices was in it. Haverlie, indeed, opened his mouth as if to protest, but closed it again with a vicious snap. Those who had quick eyes noticed that Mr. Ransome had grown deadly pale.

Templeton threw off his coat and waistcoat, and beckoned to Sydney Harcourt and Mr. Bolton, who searched him closely, feeling up and down with both hands.

"Take the rest in the order in which they sit from your own place," said Templeton to Mr. Bolton; and the next in order was Mr. Ransome, who stood like one stunned. But the moment Harcourt's hand touched his shoulder, he wriggled from his grasp and fell on his knees on the carpet, sobbing hysterically: "Don't touch me; don't touch me! I'm innocent; I swear it!"


He fell on his knees on the carpet, sobbing hysterically.

Jack Templeton's face grew stern and hard.

"If you are innocent," he said shortly, "you can have no objection to be searched."

There was a second murmur of approval from the guests. Mr. Ransome gave one swift appealing look towards Haverlie, who stood silent with averted face—then broke down completely.

"Oh, don't search me before all these men," he shrieked shrilly; "I confess, I confess! Take me away, and I will tell all!"

Jack Templeton was about to speak again, when Mr. Bolton whispered a few words in his ear that shook him like an electric shock. But he kept his coolness wonderfully.

"Gentlemen," he said, "will you kindly forgive this unpleasant interruption, and pardon me for a few moments. I will ask my friend Mr. Harcourt to fill my place."

Before a reply could be given he and Mr. Bolton had left the room quietly, with Mr. Ransome between them.

SYDNEY HARCOURT took the head of the table. The guests, well pleased that a stranger had proved the culprit, dropped back into their seats—all but one. Handsome Fred Haverlie had glided through the opened door into the hall, caught up the first hat that came to hand, and, dressed as he was in evening clothes and pumps, ran down the avenue through the pelting rain towards the nearest railway station, three miles away.

Much amazed was Mabel Vernon when Jack Templeton and Mr. Bolton marched into the library with Mr. Ransome between them—pale and shivering—a very different person from the gay and insolent Mr. Ransome of a few hours before.

"What does it mean, Jack?" she cried excitedly. He flushed at the sound of his name from her lips, and grew confused.

"Mr. Bolton's gold box was missing——" he began.

"I never took it," burst out Mr. Ransome between his sobs. "Oh! do believe me, I am perfectly innocent."

"I quite believe you," replied Mr. Bolton, in the inimitably placid voice and manner of Mr. Beck, while he coolly took the missing box from his own waistcoat pocket. "I quite believe you are innocent of that, miss."

"Miss?" exclaimed Mabel, in utter bewilderment.

"Well, miss or ma'am," replied Mr. Beck, as coolly as ever. "The lady may be married for all I know, but one thing is quite certain—you are not married, Miss Vernon."

"Oh! Can this be true?" Mabel cried. "Are you quite sure, Mr. Beck?"

"Quite," Mr. Beck replied imperturbably. "I hardly think this lady will venture to deny it. You see, I had my suspicions from the first when I heard that 'Handsome Fred Haverlie'—of whom I know a thing or two—had helped another 'man' to marry the lady he wanted for himself. I was anxious to see this wonderful husband, and I saw him and guessed their clever little game."

"But how?"

"For one thing—gentlemen don't wear earrings in this country, miss," and he pointed to two white pinholes in the delicate flesh colour of Mr. Ransome's little ears. "The gold snuff-box was the final test, and it came off all right."

"You have no hold on me anyway," said the late Mr. Ransome defiantly. "I am no thief."

"You're something a good deal worse, my dear," replied Mr. Beck cheerfully.

"Can I be put in prison for what I've done?"

"Seven years," he replied, with unabated cheerfulness.

"For God's sake let me off this time," she wailed. "Have mercy; it was not my fault. It was Haverlie's—that coward Haverlie, who would not open his lips or help me just now. I met him first behind the scenes at the 'Topsy Turvy' theatre. I was engaged there—Miss Maud Guilfoyle—to play the 'masher' parts. It was that first put the trick into his head. He came constantly and made hot love to me and—and promised to marry me. Then I saw him with Miss Vernon and I guessed, and I was jealous and I hated her; so I fell in with his scheme. I knew he was fond of her and wanted to keep her safe from her cousin, Mr. Templeton, but I meant to keep her safe from Haverlie. To-night in the drawing-room he promised to marry me when the deed was signed. I thought everything secure, but now—— Oh! I know I don't deserve any mercy. I treated you horribly, Miss Vernon. But for God's sake don't be too hard on me."

"You hear, Miss Vernon?" said Mr. Beck.

But Miss Vernon did not hear; she was standing apart, talking very earnestly to Mr. Jack Templeton.


Miss Vernon was standing apart, talking
very earnestly to Mr. Jack Templeton.

She turned as Mr. Beck spoke; her cheeks flushed rosy red, her eyes radiant—as great a contrast to the woebegone Mabel Vernon as the sobbing woman before her was to the débonnaire Mr. Ransome.

"Poor creature! She throws herself on your mercy, Miss Vernon," said Mr. Beck. "She has confessed everything; you are quite free."

"For this once you are wrong, Mr. Beck," retorted Mabel saucily. "I am bound for life, as fast as pledge can bind me," and she gave her hand frankly to Jack Templeton.


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