And after that Augusta went and changed her dress, and then came the hurried good-byes; and, to escape observation, they drove off in a hansom cab amidst a shower of old shoes.
And there in that hansom cab we will leave them.
MEESON’S ONCE AGAIN.
A month had passed—a month of long, summer days and such happiness as young people who truly love each other can get out of a honeymoon spent under the most favourable circumstances in the sweetest, sunniest spots of the Channel Islands. And now the curtain draws up for the last time in this history, where it drew up for the first—in the inner office of Meeson’s huge establishment.
During the last fortnight certain communications had passed between Mr. John Short, being duly authorized thereto, and the legal representatives of Messrs. Addison and Roscoe, with the result that the interests of these gentlemen in the great publishing house had been bought up, and that Eustace Meeson was now the sole owner of the vast concern, which he intended to take under his personal supervision.
Now, accompanied by John Short, whom he had appointed to the post of his solicitor both of his business and his private affairs, and by Augusta, he was engaged in formally taking over the keys from the head manager, who was known throughout the establishment, as No. 1.
“I wish to refer to the authors’ agreements of the early part of last year,” said Eustace.
No. 1 produced them somewhat sulkily. He did not like the appearance of this determined young owner upon the scene, with his free and un-Meeson-like ways.
Eustace turned them over, and while he did so, his happy wife stood by him, marvelling at the kaleidoscopic changes in her circumstances. When last she had stood in that office, not a year ago, it had been as a pitiful suppliant begging for a few pounds wherewith to try and save her sister’s life, and now—
Suddenly Eustace stopped turning, and drawing a document from the bundle, glanced at it. It was Augusta’s agreement with Meeson and Co. for “Jemima’s Vow,” the agreement binding her to them for five years which had been the cause of all her troubles, and, as she firmly believed, of her little sister’s death.
“There, my dear,” said Eustace to his wife, “there is a present for you. Take it!”
Augusta took the document, and having looked to see what it was, shivered as she did so. It brought the whole thing back so painfully to her mind.
“What shall I do with it,” she asked; “tear it up?”
“Yes,” he answered. “No, stop a bit,” and taking it from her he wrote “cancelled” in big letters across it, signed and dated it.
“There,” he said, “now send it to be framed and glazed, and it shall be hung here in the office, to show how they used to do business at Meeson’s.”
No. 1 snorted, and looked at Eustace aghast. What would the young man be after next?