“You have never taken any measures for finding him?” inquired Gilbert.
“No. If he wanted me, he knew where I was to be found. I was a fixture. It was his business to come to me. When I saw the name of Marian Nowell in your advertisement a week ago, I felt curious to know whether it could be my grandchild you were looking for. I held off till this morning, thinking it wasn’t worth my while to make any inquiries about the matter; but I couldn’t get it out of my head somehow; and it ended by my answering your advertisement. I am an old man, you see, without a creature belonging to me; and it might be a comfort to me to meet with some one of my own flesh and blood. The bit of money I may leave behind me when I die won’t be much; but it might as well go to my son’s child as to a stranger.”
“If your son’s child can be found, you will discover her to be well worthy of your love. Yes, though she has done me a cruel wrong, I believe her to be all that is good and pure and true.”
“What is the wrong that she has done you?”
Gilbert told Jacob Nowell the story of his engagement, and the bitter disappointment which had befallen him on his return from Australia. The old man listened with every appearance of interest. He approved of Gilbert’s notion of advertising for the particulars of a possible marriage, and offered to bear his part in the expenses of the search for his granddaughter.
Gilbert smiled at this offer.
“You do not know what a worthless thing money is to me now,” he said, “or now lightly I hold my own trouble or loss in this matter.”
He left Queen Anne’s Court soon after this, after having promised Jacob Nowell to return and report progress so soon as there should be anything worth telling. He went back to Wigmore Street heavy-hearted, depressed by the reaction that followed the vain hope which the silversmith’s letter had inspired. It mattered little to him to know the antecedents of Marian’s father, while Marian’s destiny remained still hidden from him.
THE MARRIAGE AT WYGROVE.
On the following day Gilbert Fenton took his second advertisement to the office in Printing House Square; an advertisement offering a reward of twenty pounds for any reliable information as to the marriage of Marian Nowell. A week went by, during which the advertisement appeared on alternate days; and at the end of that time there came a letter from the parish-clerk of Wygrove, a small town about forty miles farther from London than Lidford, stating that, on the 14th of March, John Holbrook and Marian Nowell had been married at the church in that place. Gilbert Fenton left London by an early train upon the morning after his receipt of this letter; and at about three o’clock in the afternoon found himself on the outskirts of Wygrove, rather a difficult place to reach, involving a good deal of delay at out-of-the-way junctions, and a six-mile journey by stage-coach from the nearest station.