“Odds bodikins!” exclaimed Mr. Meredith, as his eye followed the motion. “And where got ye such a sum, Jan?”
“Oh, dadda,” faltered the girl, “’t is a long story, of which I promise to make you a full narration, once we are alone, though I fear me you will think that I have done wrong. But, meantime, will you not tell me how much you owe Lord Clowes, and let me pay him? Believe me, the money is honestly come by.”
“No doubt, no doubt,” said the commissary, with a rough laugh. “Young macaronis are oft known to give girls hundreds of pounds and get nothing in return.”
All the reply Janice made was to go to the door. “Whenever you will come to the parlour, dadda, you shall know all, but I will not stay here to endure such speeches.”
Without thought of the gold, Mr. Meredith was hurrying after his daughter, when Clowes interrupted him.
“The explanation is simple enough, Meredith,” he said, “and I cannot but take it in bad part that your maid should borrow of Mobray in order to repay my loan to you.”
“I cannot believe that that is the explanation, Clowes,” protested Mr. Meredith. “But if it is, be assured that the money shall be returned him, and we will still stand your debtors.” Then he sought his daughter, and she poured out to him the whole story of the miniature.
“Wrong I may have been, dadda, to have taken it to begin with, but Colonel Brereton refused to receive it from me, and when he himself placed it about my picture, I could not but feel that it had truly become mine, and that I could dispose of it.”
“But who bought it of ye, Jan?” inquired the parent.
“That I know not,” said the girl, though hesitating and colouring at the question in her own mind whether she were not prevaricating, for Andre’s face and her own suspicions had really convinced her who was the nameless buyer. “Captain Andre assured me that the frame was fully worth five hundred pounds.”
“That I will not gainsay, lass,” replied the squire, “and the only blame I will lay on ye is that ye did not consult me before acting, for I could have negotiated it as well, and should have so managed as not to have offended Clowes. However, I make no doubt he’ll not hold rancour when he knows that the money came by the sale of a piece of jewelry, and was not merely borrowed. Did ye take your picture from the frame?”
“No, dadda. I did so once before, only to bring suspicion on myself; so this time I let it remain.”
“Ye might as well have removed it,” said Mr. Meredith, “for it could have added no money value to it.” Yet the squire had once been a lover, and should have known otherwise. This said, he returned to Clowes, and sought to mollify him by a statement of how the money had been obtained.
“Humph!” grunted the baron. “She’d better have brought the trinket to me, for I’d gladly have been the purchaser, for more even than she got by it.”