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"How can I?" I interposed, as Herbert paused.
"Think of him! Look at him!"'

An involuntary shudder passed over both of us.

"Yet I am afraid the dreadful truth is,
Herbert, that he is attached to me, strongly attached
to me. Was there ever such a fate!"

"My poor dear Handel," Herbert repeated.

"Then," said I, "after all, stopping short
here, never taking another penny from him,
think what I owe him already! Then again:
I am heavily in debtvery heavily for me, who
have now no expectations at all and I have
been bred to no calling, and I am fit for nothing."

"Well, well, well!" Herbert remonstrated.
"Don't say fit for nothing."

"What am I fit for? I know only one thing
that I am fit for, and that is, to go for a soldier.
And I might have gone, my dear Herbert, but
for the prospect of taking counsel with your
friendship and affection."

Of course I broke down there; and of course
Herbert, beyond seizing a warm grip of my hand,
pretended not to know it.

"Anyhow, my dear Handel," said he presently,
"soldiering won't do. If you were to renounce
this patronage and these favours, I suppose you
would do so with some faint hope of one day
repaying what you have already had. Not very
strong, that hope, if you went soldiering!
Besides, it's absurd. You would be infinitely better
in Clarriker's house, small as it is. I am working
up towards a partnership, you know."

Poor fellow! He little suspected with whose

"But there is another question," said
Herbert. "This is an ignorant determined man,
who has long had one fixed idea. More than
that, he seems to me (I may misjudge him) to
be a man of a desperate and fierce character."

"I know he is," I returned. " Let me tell
you what evidence I have seen of it." And I
told him what I had not mentioned in my narrative;
of that encounter with the other convict.

"See, then!" said Herbert; "think of this!
He comes here at the peril of his life, for the
realisation of his fixed idea. In the moment of
realisation, after all his toil and waiting, you cut
the ground from under his feet, destroy his idea,
and make his gains worthless to him. Do you
see nothing that he might do, under the
disappointment! '"

"I have seen it, Herbert, and dreamed of it
ever since the fatal night of his arrival.
Nothing has been in my thoughts so distinctly, as
his putting himself in the way of being taken."

"Then you may rely upon it," said Herbert,
"that there would be great danger of his doing
it. That is his power over you as long as he
remains in England, and that" would be his
reckless course if you forsook him."

I was so struck by the horror of this idea,
which had weighed upon me from the first, and
the working out of which would make me regard
myself, in some sort as his murderer, that I
could not rest in my chair but began pacing to
and fro. I said to Herbert, meanwhile, that even
if Provis were recognised and taken in spite of
himself, I should be wretched as the cause,
however innocently. Yes; even though I was so
wretched in having him at large and near me,
and even though I would far far rather have
worked at the forge all the days of my life, than
I would have ever come to this!

But there was no raving off the question,
What was to be done?

"The first and the main thing to be done,"
said Herbert, " is to get him out of England.
You will have to go with him, and then he may
be induced to go."

"But get him where I will, could I prevent
his coming back?"

"My good Handel, is it not obvious that with
Newgate in the next street, there must be far
greater hazard in your breaking your mind to
him and making him reckless, here, than
elsewhere. If a pretext to get him away could be
made out of that other convict, or out of
anything else in his life, now."

"There, again!" said I, stopping before
Herbert, with my open hands held out as if they
contained the desperation of the case. " I know
nothing of his life. It has almost made me
mad to sit here of a night and see him before
me, so bound up with my fortunes and misfortunes,
and yet so unknown to me, except as the
miserable wretch who terrified me two days in
my childhood!"

Herbert got up, and linked his arm in mine,
and we slowly walked to and fro together, studying
the carpet.

"Handel," said Herbert, stopping, "you feel
convinced that you can take no further benefits
from him; do you?"

"Fully. Surely you would, too, if you were
in my place?"

"And you feel convinced that you must break
with him?"

"Herbert, can you ask me?"

"And you have, and are bound to have, that
tenderness for the life he has risked on your
account, that you must save him, if possible,
from throwing it away. Then you must get
him out of England before you stir a finger to
extricate yourself. That done, extricate
yourself, in Heaven's name, and we'll see it out
together, dear old boy."

It was a comfort to shake hands upon it, and
walk up and down again, with only that done.

"Now, Herbert," said I, " with reference to
gaining some knowledge of his history. There
is but one way that I know of. I must ask him

"Yes. Ask him," said Herbert, " when we
sit at breakfast in the morning." For he had
said, on taking leave of Herbert, that he would
come to breakfast with us.

With this project formed, we went to bed. I
had the wildest dreams concerning him, and
woke unrefreshed; I woke, too, to recover the
fear which I had lost in the night, of his being
found out as a returned transport. Waking, I
never lost that fear.

He came round at the appointed time, took
out his jack-knife, and sat down to his meal.