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ment) for twenty minutes in the cold go with him; when a man is in a dawn was anything but lively. At trance he is very unreasonable ; how length the Professor appeared, look- Mrs. Cargill stood it I cannot tell, ing, we were glad to see, equal to his save that she herself was, perhaps, a business. We had left the front door little affected. ajar in case of need, as it was our im- We were helping them quietly over pression (so thorough a search having when the Professor got into a most already been made inside) that the unaccountable hurry, and, had we not object of our quest must be without the both devoted our attention to Mrs. house. It was rather eerie work for us Cargill, she and her leader must have all, except the Professor, who was equal fallen and the train of thought been to the occasion and seemed to scent the probably broken. We had been asked battle, so to speak, in the shape of to maintain a discreet silence, but I some far-off diamond which he had could almost have sworn I caught a
smothered exclamation from Harold, At twelve minutes past three, then, as Mrs. Cargill's foot was brought Mrs. Cargill took the Professor's hand, smartly round upon the side of his he having been previously blindfolded head owing to the Professor's un
-“ Not,” he said, “that such a thing reasonable haste. was necessary, but it calmed his
Once over the paling the scent of thought to some extent.” Harold seemed to have grown weaker. Of and I retired a few steps, and the course, there was no hesitation in the silence for several minutes was death- avenue, and a very evident absence of like. At last the Professor made a such feeling when palings had to be step, another, and then to us on- surmounted; but once on the dewy lookers it seemed as if certainty had grass things might be taken more replaced doubt. He went straight to easily. I went back to the paling to the door, Mrs. Cargill following and join Harold, and we left the pair to we, too, discreetly), down the avenue themselves till they got fairly across to the first turning, and then bang the field. Then the Professor seemed against the fence in a most disturbing to recognise the proximity of another
This little incident seemed paling, and we had to run to be in to have upset his train of thought, and time to help them over. We were it was some minutes before he seemed getting more used to it now, and Mrs. to grasp the situation.
Cargill was bearing up wonderfully. It was a fortunate thing that the We handed them over without any morning was fine, though the grass mishap, save that the Professor's foot looked abominably wet. I inwardly got twisted in the fence, and his boot shuddered at the idea that, had there (one of those elastic-sided monstrosibeen a gate, we should have felt ties, and very old) came off in the obliged to open it, and take to the struggle to extricate him. grass; and catching Harold's eye, Harold and I had, up till now,
been we both felt somewhat guilty, as feeling not a little sceptical about the though we might be sbirking some- proceedings, but the fact that we were thing. But the "something” was not in the wood by this time, and that to be shirked. The Professor calmly the Professor seemed totally unconcommenced to climb the paling, which, scious of the absence of his boot, as his one hand was occupied, and as began to impress us. It seemed, too, he was an exceedingly ungainly man, a little extraordinary that he should obviously never born for feats of be able to go calmly on now without agility, seemed rather an extraordi- knocking against, or wishing to surnary proceeding. Over he would go, mount, the trees. however, and over Mrs. Cargill must It was by this time thoroughly
light; we must have been out for boot, and Mrs. Cargill (who was somenearly half an hour, and as yet had thing exhausted) my arm; and we done nothing but climb palings and returned, gloomily, almost as we had get our feet very wet. Still, it cer- come, that is to say, by the shortest tainly seemed that there might be and most direct way. We were all too some method in this madness, and disgusted with the Professor to be able
we went, more slowly now, to discuss the matter amicably with owing to the brushwood, which happily him at the moment, so we parted was not very thick. Suddenly the quietly and like guilty creatures in the Professor stopped, in so decided a hall to court the sleep which we all manner that I could not but think
began to feel would be beneficial. it possible that we near the My position I could not but think object of our search. He was at the was rather an unpleasant one. Old moment just opposite a thick laurel friend of the family as I was, I could bush. I looked hastily at Harold, not but blame myself for bringing so who appeared as confident as myself fraudulent 'a Professor to the house. that we must have come to something However, I decided before falling asleep to cause suc a decided and prolonged that it would not be quite fair upon stop. A few minutes of silence and our visitor to condemn him right off suspense passed like hours; then, a on the failure of a single experiment. step forward, and the Professor com- His explanations later in the day menced to stoop slowly downwards, made the matter no clearer. He was when we heard a rustling, among
certain that he had been the the laurel leaves, and a fox slunk out track (and it certainly had looked like from the other side of the bush and it), but the reason for the sudden stop made off through the wood. This he could not tell. Still, in the end he distracted my attention for a moment, managed to talk us over, and Mrs. and when I looked round the Professor Cargill was induced to go through the had resumed his usual stiff-backed experiment again ; but this time we attitude. We waited for full five were to start where we had left off. minutes. What had gone wrong? One thing alone the Professor would Where was the Professor's promise ? swear to; the diamond could not be in Was there nothing in the bush after the house, else he would never have all ?
Also he informed us He slowly relaxed Mrs. Cargill's that his foot, notwithstanding his hand : “It is no use, gentlemen; I. thick stocking, was considerably the can do nothing more just now ! worse for wear. But why? What was the reason ? The hour at length came again, Why stop himself just as discovery Harold and I had decided to dispense appeared certain ? The Professor with sleep ; Mrs. Cargill and the could understand it no more than we. Professor turned up very punctually “I came here," he said, guided by within a few seconds of one another. Mrs. Cargill's thought. I don't know The morning was clear and frosty. where I am.
I had the diamond, or We walked to the laurel bush, where, the clue to it, five minutes ago : now having blindfolded the Professor as it is lost. Whether Mrs. Cargill before, Mrs. Cargill took his hand. ceased to assist me or not, I cannot He soon started off, taking no notice tell. But I know I can do nothing
of the laurel-bush, but away through more just now."
the wood. We must have been walkIt seemed best, if we wished to pre- ing for several minutes, and at a pretty serve any secrecy in the matter, to quick pace, when, like an evil omen, make our way home as quick as we a fox (probably the one we had seen could. I gave the Professor his
on the previous night) sprang out of
a clump of underwood, and vanished that came to light was that the garamong the trees.
dener's kennel, formerly occupied by It was the same story over again. a tame fox for which he had a great Our leader's pace slackened; then he affection, was observed to be empty. stopped. Could it be that a fox was, The man affirmed that the animal bad as it were, a non-conducting agent? I slipped its collar the day before. We put the question to the Professor; could only question him casually on nay, I further hinted that, perhaps, the subject, but it seemed likely that when in a mesmeric state the sense of the animal, whose scent had proved too smell might be so heightened that he strong for the Professor, was the one had been following like a foxhound for which the gardener affirmed only to two nights in succession this evil have escaped on the previous day. The denizen of the woods. He put the animal, he said, was bound to come suggestion aside with scorn; but the back for its meals sooner or later, but more I thought the more I felt there we did not altogether agree with him might be something in it, and Harold on that point. so far agreed with me as to question Daybreak next morning saw the learned Professor next day as to again assembled in the dining-room, whether he had ever been fond of and we left the house to recomhunting
business in the wood where We had gone home as before non- we had last stopped. It was a fine, plussed; had retired to clear morning, and gave promise of a rooms, slumbered late, and met for glorious day. The Professor was on fresh discussion, all to no purpose.
his mettle. He had said to us, “I Mrs. Cargill wished to give up the will succeed to-morrow ;” and to sucattempt and call in the detectives. ceed he evidently intended. Harold and I were inclined somewhat He stood for a few minutes blindignominiously to agree. But we had folded as usual, before he took Mrs. forgotten the Professor. His blood Cargill's hand, and then commenced was up ; our taunts on the subject of to move forward, but in an oppofoxhunting had aggravated him more site direction to that we had been than we had fancied. Prove himself taking when he had lost the clue right he would ; his honour, he in- before. On he went, and on, right sisted, was at stake; he must be suc- through the wood, till the affair cessful in the end. He appealed to began to
began to grow tiresome.
He was Mrs. Cargill to stand by him, and the going well to-day certainly ; he had long and the short of it was that she kept us at it a good long time; but, agreed to make a third and last trial; if we were only going to get a few the Professor on his side promising hundred yards every night and perhaps that it should be the very last.
not find the stone after all, we might It rained hard all the evening, and as well give the matter up entirely. at daybreak when we met it was so Harold appeared, from the frown upon damp, dreary, and misty, that we all his face, to have begun to consider felt relieved when the Professor asked matters in this light too, when the us to leave matters alone for a day Professor, who had been going at a and give his last attempt every pos- fair pace, suddenly stopped. It seemed sible chance.
to me only natural that, as he had All this time things in the house- gone further than he had ever gone hold had been going on quietly before, he should stop. His imbecile enough, and it seemed as though the mind could stand the strain no longer. servants had quite made up their After considerable hesitation, howminds that no further search was ever, he turned slowly to the left, intended. The only fresh circumstance bent over some thick brushwood and gradually stretched out his hand. distance, and when I returned the fox “It's that fox again to a certainty," was well-nigh demolished by the aid whispered Harold to me; "the Pro- of a stout stick, with which the Professor 's as mad as a March hare." No fessor had promptly avenged himsigns of the fox though, and the Pro- self. fessor was well into the bush; if the He was calmer now, and as we were diamond was there, surely a sudden talking over the little excitement of tlash of thought would assist him ; but the moment, he gave it as his decided it was not likely to be there any more opinion that either Mrs. Cargill must, than our friend the fox, who would unknown to herself, have been wearing certainly have made off long before the diamond all the time, or the fox now.
must have swallowed it. The last Ere my ideas were completed the idea seemed to have something in it; flash of thought did come. A sud- and he was so impressed with it, that den dart downwards on the part of the only course to convince him (for the Professor was instantaneously we had begun to doubt his sanity) succeeded by a frightful yell that seemed to be to dissect the animal rang through the woods. Mrs. Car- there and then. I left them to inform gill's band was dropped in a second, Mrs. Cargill of our last resolve, when and it seemed as though the Professor a shout of joy from the Professor and was engaging blindfolded in some of surprise from Harold, made me awful struggle with a foe whom hastily turn to rejoin them. Mrs. none of us had as yet seen.
Cargill, hearing the shout, was with It was the fox after all. The Pro- us in a trice. fessor had tracked him down this The diamond had been found! The time, if not to his den, at least to fox had not swallowed it; but tied the trap in which the animal was tightly round its neck, roughly sewn struggling
up in a piece of brown leather, was Certes, he was pretty severely the missing stone ! punished for his fox-hunting propen- The Professor was exultant; his sities ! Foxes don't usually attack wound was forgotten; he had been until driven to the last extremity, and right after all ! the Professor must have forced the But who was the thief? Some one animal to the furthest point it could must have committed the diamond go with the trap on its fore-paw, ere to the fox's care. Was it true that he made that sudden dive which the animal had slipped its collar; or was so disastrous for him. Had it not had the culprit freed it for greater been that the learned man's hand was safety in the belief it would return for most terribly bitten we should bave its meals ? Only the gardener could been struck with the absurdity of the tell us; and he would probably not scene. Mrs. Cargill had had a great miss his fox till we saw him in the fright; the Professor was in a towering morning. rage, not merely at the injury done to Excited as we were we talked it all his hand, but that he should after all over in the wood, and were considerhave again tracked down his fox; so ably later than usual in getting home; Harold and I were alone in any condi- where we parted at once silently, tion for action. The Professor swore retiring to our several chambers he must kill the fox that had so bitten to take the rest we had so well him, and so great was his wrath and earned, after mutual compliments all haste, that he would scarcely wait till round. we had staunched his wound with a We had decided that the gardener bandkerchief.
alone could be the thief, and that we I took Mrs. Cargill to some little would confront him with the charge in
the morning—but we had reckoned without our host! When we assembled for breakfast, the Professor with his hand wrapped up in most ungainly fashion, Mrs. Cargill met us with a blank face. A note, which the servant had found in the silver chest some minutes since, explained all. It was a filthy piece of workmanship, but still legible, and the contents, alas ! too plainly spoke the truth.
It ran follows :
Missus,-i seen you and the gintlemen too nites waukin about the woods lookin for mi fox. You kant find him eny more than me so ime off. i hop you may ketch mi fox i
kant so me and mi pals tuk a few spunes insted.
"Your obediant sirvent,
• Tom BLAK. “ps—thenks for levin the door opin.”
The Professor was the only one who made a hearty breakfast. He had proved the power of thought-reading ; it was
our fault, not his, íhat the gardener had been too sharp for us. Now, of course, we had the detectives down; but we never caught Mr. Black. “Tuk a few spunes insted ! ” I should rather think he had ; there was not a piece of plate left in the house!
THE WANDERER'S RETURN.
“How cold upon my passion blows the wind,
Over the old sweet fields—so sweet, that I
Could wander more, yet for all memory Not sweet enough. Beloved, ah! have I sinned, That all but these dumb fields looks so unkind,
And I, without e'en one familiar face,
Must see the darkness in the sunny place, And set my feet here, wandering still in mind ?”
Then glancing up, if heaven might look sweet
Upon his sorrow, one bright star he spied. But, as he gazed, his hungry eyes grew dim, And the star seemed so many worlds from him.
Heart-sick, he turned ; and in the pool beside Lo! the same star was shining at his feet.