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0105_001E True Riches T.S. Arthur

Chapter XVII

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"Sometimes," replied Melleville, with a slow, meaning enunciation, "those we regard as most insignificant are the very ones we should most fear."

"Fear! Fear, Mr. Melleville! You make use of strange language."

"Perhaps I do," was answered. "And, as it seems unpleasant to you, I will say no more. I did not mean, when I called, to speak just as I have done. But, as the words have been uttered, I beg you to weigh them well, and to believe that they have a meaning. Good morning."

Jasper suppressed the utterance of the word "stay," which arose to his lips, and returned the bow of Mr. Melleville, who left without further remark.

"What can this mean?" Thus mused Leonard Jasper, when alone. "Can this scoundrel, Martin, have dropped a hint of the truth?" A slight shiver went through his nerves. "Something is wrong. There is suspicion in the thought of Melleville. I didn't look for trouble in this quarter."

To his own unpleasant reflections we will leave the merchant, and return to Edward Claire and his true-minded, loving-hearted wife.

For a week or two after the former entered upon his new duties as assistant clerk in a night-auction, he experienced no serious inconvenience from his more prolonged labours, although it did not escape the watchful eyes of his wife that his complexion was losing its freshness, and that his appetite was far from being so good as before. After this, he began to suffer oppressive weariness, that made the evening's toil a daily increasing burden. Then succeeded a feverish state, accompanied by pains in the head, back, and through the breast. Edith remonstrated, even with tears; but still Claire went nightly to his task, though each successive evening found him with less and less ability for its performance.

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At last, he came home from the store of Mr. Melleville, at the usual tea-time, feeling so unwell that he was forced to lie down. He had no appetite for supper, and merely sipped part of a cup of tea brought to him by his wife as he still reclined upon the bed.

"Don't get up," said Edith, seeing her husband, after he had lain for some time, about to rise.

"I can't lie here any longer; it's nearly seven o'clock now."

"You're not going out to-night!"

"O yes; I must be at the store. There is no one to take my place, and the sales will begin by the time I can get there."

"But you are too sick to go out, Edward."

"I feel much better than I did, Edith. This little rest has refreshed me a great deal."

"No--no, Edward! You must not go away," said his wife in a distressed voice. "You are sick now, and the extra exertion of an evening may throw you into a serious illness."

"I feel a great deal better, dear," urged Claire. "But, sick or well, I must be there to-night, for the sale cannot go on without me. If I do not feel better to-morrow, I will ask Mr. F---- to get some one, temporarily, in my place."

Still Edith opposed, but in vain.

By the time Claire arrived at the auction store, his head was throbbing with a pain so intense that he could scarcely see. Still, he resolutely persevered in his determination to go through, if possible, with the duties of the evening; and so, taking his place at his desk, as the auctioneer went upon the stand to cry the goods which had been advertised for sale, he prepared to keep the usual record of purchasers and prices. This he was able to do for half an hour, when overtaxed and exhausted nature could bear up no longer.

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True Riches
T.S. Arthur

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