‘In about two or three weeks,’ answered Vandeloup, carelessly, ’but not till you find another clerk; besides, Madame, do not think you have lost sight of me for ever; I will go down to Melbourne, settle all my affairs, and come up and see you again.’
‘So you say,’ replied Mrs Villiers, sceptically smiling.
‘Well,’ replied M. Vandeloup, with a shrug, ’we will see—at all events, gratitude is such a rare virtue that there is decided novelty in possessing it.’
‘M. Vandeloup,’ said Madame, suddenly, after they had been chatting for a few moments, ‘one thing you must do for me in Melbourne.’
‘I will do anything you wish,’ said Vandeloup, gravely.
‘Then,’ said Madame, earnestly, rising and looking him in the face, ‘you must find Kitty, and send her back to me.’
‘Madame,’ said Vandeloup, solemnly, ’it will be the purpose of my life to restore her to your arms.’
THE DEVIL’S LEAD
There was great dismay at the Pactolus Mine when it became known that Vandeloup was going to leave. During his short stay he had made himself extremely popular with the men, as he always had a bright smile and a kind word for everyone, so they all felt like losing a personal friend. The only two who were unfeigningly glad at Vandeloup’s departure were Selina and McIntosh, for these two faithful hearts had seen with dismay the influence the Frenchman was gradually gaining over Madame Midas. As long as Villiers lived they felt safe, but now that he had so mysteriously disappeared, and was to all appearances dead, they dreaded lest their mistress, in a moment of infatuation, should marry her clerk. They need not, however, have been afraid, for much as Mrs Villiers liked the young Frenchman, such an idea had never entered her head, and she was far too clever a woman ever to tempt matrimony a second time, seeing how dearly it had cost her.
Madame Midas had made great efforts to find Kitty, but without success; and, in spite of all inquiries and advertisements in the papers, nothing could be discovered regarding the missing girl.
At last the time drew near for Vandeloup’s departure, when all the sensation of Kitty’s escapade and Villiers’ disappearance was swallowed up in a new event, which filled Ballarat with wonder. It began in a whisper, and grew into such a roar of astonishment that not only Ballarat, but all Victoria, knew that the far-famed Devil’s Lead had been discovered in the Pactolus claim. Yes, after years of weary waiting, after money had been swallowed up in apparently useless work, after sceptics had sneered and friends laughed, Madame Midas obtained her reward. The Devil’s Lead was discovered, and she was now a millionaire.