“It was registered afore, sir,” significantly answered Robin, as he turned away. “I’ll be up here to-morrow.”
The morrow brought forth two departures from Verner’s Pride. John Massingbird started for London in pursuit of his journey, Mr. Verner having behaved to him liberally. And Lionel Verner was summoned in hot haste to Paris, where his brother had just met with an accident, and was supposed to be lying between life and death.
MR. VERNER’S ESTRANGEMENT.
The former chapters may be looked upon somewhat in the light of an introduction to what is to follow. It was necessary to relate the events recorded in them, but we must take a leap of not far short of two years from the date of their occurrence.
John Massingbird and his attendant, Luke Roy, had arrived safely at Melbourne in due course. Luke had written home one letter to his mother, and there his correspondence ended; but John Massingbird wrote frequently, both to Mrs. Verner and to his brother Frederick. John, according to his own account, appeared to be getting on all one way. The money he took out had served him well. He had made good use of it, and was accumulating a fortune rapidly. Such was his statement; but whether implicit reliance might be placed upon it was a question. Gay John was apt to deceive himself; was given to look on the bright side, and to imbue things with a tinge of couleur de rose; when, for less sanguine eyes, the tinge would have shone out decidedly yellow. The time went on, and his last account told of a “glorious nugget” he had picked up at the diggings. “Almost as big as his head,” a “fortune in itself,” ran some of the phrases in his letters; and his intention was to go down himself to Melbourne and “realise the thousands” for it. His letter to Frederick was especially full of this; and he strongly recommended his brother to come out and pick up nuggets on his own score. Frederick Massingbird appeared very much inclined to take the hint.
“Were I only sure it was all gospel, I’d go to-morrow,” observed Frederick Massingbird to Lionel Verner, one day that the discussion of the contents of John’s letter had been renewed, a month or two subsequent to its arrival. “A year’s luck, such as this, and a man might come home a millionaire. I wish I knew whether to put entire faith in it.”
“Why should John deceive you?” asked Lionel.
“He’d not deceive me wilfully. He has no cause to deceive me. The question is, is he deceived himself? Remember what grand schemes he would now and then become wild upon here, saying and thinking he had found the philosopher’s stone. And how would they turn out? This may be one of the same calibre. I wonder we did not hear again by the last month’s mail.”
“There’s a mail due now.”
“I know there is,” said Frederick. “Should it bring news to confirm this, I shall go out to him.”