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By GEORGE H. HEPWOETH.
[Copyright, 1888, by the Author.] CHAPTER To each other they were simply Tom and Jack. In the courtroom, however, they were called "the learned counsel on the other side," a species of flattery in which lawyers delight to indulgo. To the outside world they figured as Thomas Greighton and John Crandall, with a portentous "Esq." affixed. Occupying adjoining offices in old Trinity building, they were arduously engaged in attracting clients, and when the sterner work of the day was over Jack generally sauntered into Tom's room for a half hour of badinage and a final smoke. They then joined in a somewhat plaintive duet, the burden of which was that while thi clouds are raining litigation "let some droppings fall on me." "I tell yon, Jack," said Tom, with a sigh, as he rested his heels on his desk and tipped back at an angle of 45 4^ greea, "life In New York is about (is encouraging to a fellow's peace of mind as a btoeonw would be." "Why, what's the matter, my boy? Been having an unusually hard time lately? I thought you won that caso of Robinson versus Oobb. You have noth ing to grumble about, I take it." "Won it? Yes, of course I did. But I haven't had a good night's sleep since I went into the fight. I'm all fagged out. It strikes me that city fellows ought to be made of wrought steel. My nerves are getting rampant, my head feels as big as city hall and my legs wabble as though I had taken a doso of hasheesh." "Brace up, Tom brace up. You aro in the race for fame and fortune, and you made a mighty sharp spurt in that last affair. Everybody down town is talking about it. You can soon put up your prices and take things more easily. Business is just like running—at first you get all out of breath and go jjuffing and blowing like an asthmatic locomo tive, but after awhile you reach your sec ond wind, aud tlieu—well, tlion you'ro all right, and dovil take the hindmost" "That's a very encouraging way of putting the matter, Jack, and I guess you're about half right, b\it no more. It's temperament, old follow. Now, your wheels aro all oiled, and you slip along without friction bnt I, bless you, at 85—I'm like the deacon's 'one horse shay' just before it dropped into kin dling wood. If I go on in this way, I shall be baldhcadcd at 40 and a refuge for rheumatism and gout and paralysis and a whole mob of aristocratic mala dies. I And myself longing.for the old college days when you and I were ruddy cheeked and ln::y, or tho days later on when we went into bachelor quarters and had snch merry tiir.es that I just ache to live them all over again. "Nonsense, Tom. Take a Turkish bath or a blue pill. It's not vour fate that you should complain of, but"— "Well, what is it, then?" "Why, your liver, of course. You are trying to do too much in too short a time." "Possibly." "No, not possibly, but certainly. Climb on to the back of a horso and tako a hard trot in tho park every day for three months. That will make you lib eral in religion, radical in politics aud a better friend and father.'' "H'm! Yes, good advico to a man in my circumstances. It would have to bo an imaginary rido on an imaginary horse, I rather think. Tho last timo I felt of my purse I was so sorry for my self that I went off and borrowed $10." "Well, try your legs, then, or go into a gymnasium and gut up an appetito. Nine out of ten of tho miseries of lifo come from poor digestion. Just feel that muscle in my arm. That's all I'vo got to make my way in the world with.'' "By Jove, it's a stunner I You ought to go round lifting mortgages with an arm like that." "I've just put up a tenement house instead." "Put up a tenement liouso! You must be a howling athlete. Put it up as you would a dumbbell, I suppose. Why not engago in a dimo museum? But, uside from all nonsense, my boy, I think I'm in a bad way. I'm so weak I couldn't draw a"— "Get an artist to do it, then. It's his business, you know.'' "My hand trembles when I try to sign a check even." "So would mine, Tom, for I should know it wouldn't bo paid. I'm glad to see you havo some remnant of conscience left. Come, walk homo and dine with me. It's only six miles and will do you good.'' "Havo you any ambulances up your way?" "What for?" "To bring my body homo to a sor rowing family." "Pshaw 1 What you neud is to havo your legs stretched." "Perhaps, but my impression is they are quite long enough already. We'll drop all that for tho moment, Jack. Those were gay old times, though, when, we were young chaps, weren't they?" "Yes, Tom, for boys' times they were well enough, but for man's times I think they would seem insipid. Now, tell me if some giftio were to gie you the power to roll backward tho spool on which yotir years aro wound, would you do it? Yon say you would like to bo a boy again, but aren't you joking, old fellow?" "Would I be willing to tako a leap backward, say, to 25, and the oyster suppers, the euchre parties, the bets on our favorite horses, tho 'l'y evenings at the theater when we used to steal round to the stage, door and get a smile from our adored after she had doffed her tinsel—and—and I v?.n't think of the rest. Is that what you mean?'' "Yes, precisely. It you could, would you? Do serious for' a eiuglo brief mo ment aud tell me tho truth, tho whole truth and nothing but the truth. Hang mo another cigar, please, and ponder the subject while I get a light" "Well, on the whole, I think I would, "You say yon 1 Jack." "And on the whole I think yon wouldn't, Tom. I know you better than I you know yourself. You are not that' kind of a man at all. You are simply tired out, that's what's the matter. Your last ten years havo been pretty tough, I admit, but they've been grand. Would you drop to tho lowest rung in the ladder and begin all over again? Well, I guess not. You might not be able to duplicate your successes, and— and the chances are that you would double your failures." "When did you take your degree in moral philosophy, Jack? You ought to have been a professor." "Philosophy be hanged. A man's an idiot who wants to livo his life over again. I'm looking just tho other way. As for football and tennis and billiards would like to be a boy again*" I'vo had my share ar. 1 am satisfied, but I would like to hav-.* about 10 or 15 I years added to my natural span of life, There'd be somo fun in that." "Yes? Well, I think wo aro both un reasonable, and perhaps tho best thing to do is to go home. Goodby, my boy. You take your tramp and I'll tako the elevated." When Tom reached his well appoint ed little flat, consisting of six sunny rooms, all in a row, ho found no ono but tho servant. "All out, Bridget?" and ho felt a pang of disappointment. There is one odd characteristic which can be predict ed of every male human being in exist ence—when he reaches homo after his day's work ho always expects to find his wife close at hand to give him wel come. She may bo just as busy as ho is, but still he feels that ho is being cruel ly neglected if she is not there when ho opens tho front dour. It is ono of his in alienable rights to bo greeted on his re turn from business, and if there is any failure in this resnect ho becomes at once disgruntled and offended. "All out, Bridget?" and he looked round the deserted apartment as though his wife had eloped. "Tho missis is to the dressmaker's, sorr, an sho told me to say as how it was unexpected, sorr." "I should hope to," remarked Tom in bad humor. "An that slio'll bo back directly, sorr.'' "Yes, tomorrow morning perhaps or the next day or next week," growled Tom. Ah, sure, sorr, sho'll not bo after kapin the child out in tho night airl" "All right, Bridget. Look aftor the dinner, and I'll look after myself." He had a wash. Then ho went into tho snug little parlor and sank, with a sigh, into an easy chair. Everything was quiet in the darkened room. Tho rumbling teams of the street were be yond hearing distanco, and after tho clamor of tho day this silence was pe culiarly agreeable. Oil tho wall hung somo good pictures. Tom was some thing of a connoisseur in art, aud he felt refreshed as ho gazed on tho paint ers' green fields and fleecy clouds and tho cattle gathered at tho stream as the sun was sotting. Little by little the throbbing of his temples ceased, the blood ran less recklessly through his veins, life took on a tonderer hue, and in tho course of ten minutes his head fell back against tho soft cushion of tho chair, and lie was sound asloep. CHAPTER II. From behind tho olivo green portieres stopped what seemed to bo a fairy. This was in his dream. She was a beautiful creature, white winged and with a voice like distant music. "Well," sho sa.'d, "I am hero." "I bog pardon, but"— "Ah, you forget that you called mo!" 'Somo mistake, I assure you. I am proud to make your acquaintance, but sorry to confess that you havo been di rected to tho wrong apartment. "Possibly, but isn't this No. Tom nodded assent. "And haven't I tho honor of address ing Thomas Creighton, Esq.?" "That is my name, miss, at your service.'' "And didn't you express a wish in your offico a couplo of hours ago to be carried back ten years, I think you said?" She took from a gossamer pocket a tiny tablet and turned the pages. "Yes, I thought I was right. Here is your name, and hero is your wish. Well, I havo been sent to conduct you on your journey. Your request is granted, and I have been appointed your guide.'' Sho waved her wand over Tom's head, and tho air was at once filled with tho most delicious perfumes. Ilis weary feeling disappeared, and his heart beat as beats tho heart of a boy. "Are you ready?" aud there was an alluring melluwuess in the tones of tho uuL0'ici:in's voico. "More than reaily, lie answered. "I am in haste to begin the journey." Another wivo of tho wand, and the apartment faded, faded, slowly faded, and was. soon lost to sight altogether. His present life, with its ambitions and its drudgery, became mere reminiscence. The ten years flew from him, as it were, on strong pinions and sped on their way beyond the hills, be/ond the plains, be yond the clouds and out of sight. It was as though they had never been. thought ho detected a certain sadness in her tone. "Your wish is granted. We have arrived." With that she waved her wand over his head three times, saying: "Aa re voir. I shall leave you here for awhila By and by I will return." Behold him, then, seated in an old leather lined chair in a dingy room, a student's den. "I must have been dreaming," he said, with a start. "I thought I was married, and married to—ah, I fear that will never bo my good fortune— and that we had a happy home, and a littlo one. Bless me, but that was a very agreeable dream 1 If I could only hopo for so much as that, I think 1 should never ask for anything more." When he recovered from his astonish ment, he found that he and his compan ion were traveling at a marvelous rate, though without any apparent effort. His guide was inclined to silence, which gave him an opportunity to look about at his leisure. The stars were out, a glorious multitude, and the landscape was in deep shadow, its outlines only being well defined He felt a sense of buoyancy, a consciousness of returning youth, a gayety of spirits, a freedom from all responsibility and a lightness of heart which increased as they sped on. At last, when this eostatio state of mind and body had reached its climax, he cried out with an unsuppressed joy ousness which verged on hilarity, "Ah, good fairy, I am no longer a man, but a boy once morel" "Then we have reached the end of our journey," replied the spirit, and he had just dropped down from the heav- On tho desk lay an open letter. Ho Ho then read it over carefully, lino by lino, word by word. "By Jove, I don't believe I havo courago to send it! She has been very kind, sometimes moro than kind, but what right have I to im agine that sho would consent to become the wife of a poor man? Why should she? Sho is more than beautiful and can command tho best man that treads shoe leather. She ought to havo wealth and can have it for tho asking. Fool, fool, to think for a moment that such a crea ture as Mildred Hewson would—come, Tom Creighton, be a man! Get down to your level. You may deserve a good woman, but you want an angel and can't get her." had just written it. Tho ink was hardly In trembling tones ho mado tho fatal dry. I suppose," ho said to himself, "that writing this letter must havo sug gested the dream.'' In wild despair ho tore the letter to bits and threw it into tho wastebasket. "There! I proposo to banish that vision and attend to businoss—if I can." Sho has been my torment, and it will end by her being my destruction. I can't havo her, aud I can't livo without hor. What a fix for a decent fellow to be in I Con found tli6 wholo thing! I'vo a great mind to emigrate to Australia or buy a ranch in central Africa and raise os triches Stay hero in this gloomy holo I can't! I try to read—impossiblo. Her face is in front of me all the time. I take a long walk—no good. There sho is lookhirr into my eyes. I believe if I were in the moon I should meet her round the corner. Why can't I bo strong enough to banish such stupid vagaries? Poor, wretched weakling, nothing but a slave, a miserable, pitiable, driveling idiot! By the way, what tiny feet she has. Cinderella's slipper! Pshaw! It would be too big for her. And those delicate "lF7iy, Tom, you dear hoy, you must have been tired." white hands, the pink finger nails, and that golden hair I There was never anything like it And those eyes I Why, they put the color of the sky to shame." Just then Jack, his fellow student, burst into the room. He came like a stiff northwest broeze, stimulating and cutting. "Well, old fellow, have you got through with that treatise on bond and mortgages?" Tom did not deign to reply. "Oh, I see. In the dumps, eh?" "Stop your fooling, Jack. I'm going to Australia." "Good idea. Fine country, can't get a title to your laud, eternal litigation and eternal fees. I'll go with you, old boy. Tho firm shall be 'Creighton & Crandall.' In ten years wo'll come back with a fortune." "No coming back for me, Jack." "Forsako your country, boy? Ye gods I What next?" "The country is noinmg to me. It can take care of itself." "There, Tom, you aro suffering from a fatal malady, and—stop poking that fire coal is dear—aud I know tho na ture of it. I'vo been there myself. You've got all tho symptoms frightful ly developed." "Well, what is it?" "You are in love. That's what's the matter with you. You've aimed high, Tom, but my blessing goes with you. Hitch your wagon to a star, tra la la." "You seem to know all about me," and Tom grew surly. "Yes, when a fellow mopes all day instead of studying law, and when I find scraps of poetry on his desk instead of the last opinion of the court of ap peals, and when"— "That will do, Jack. You're hitting me under the belt." 1 Ho walked up and down his little room liko a caged lion, then took a chair by tho firo. and stirred the coals until tho rebellious sparks flew over tho car pet and threatened a conflagration. "I wonder why we have hearts any way. A pound or two of cast iron would servo a better purpose. Wo aro always falling in love with the wrong woman—I know a dozen cases myself— and the result is wo go all to pieces. What's tho good of life? It's a farce, a comedy, a tragedy, a mistake. I wish to heaven I'd never been born. "I ran across that girl two years ago and have not been ablo to get rid of her faco. It has haunted mo ever since. That evening Tom went to a small social gathering. Mildred was there. She was robed in white, and the poor fellow felt convinced that she must have wings concealed under her dress. She enly choir for a few minutes' conversa tion and might take flight at any mo ment. Ho was all eyes, and his heart fluttered. He chatted with her, but was so beside himself that he couldn't do justice to his own powers and thought sho regarded him with something like disdain. That stung him to tho quick. At half past 11 her father was to have called for her, but he hadn't arrived. She was a good deal troubled at the mishap, but Jack instantly offered him self as her escort, and to his great sur prise sho gladly assented. "I'll be ready in five minutes, Mr. Creighton," and then sho disappeared. On the way home he had an irresisti ble impulso to declare himself. The moon shono bright and clear, and tho occasion seemed favorablo to his suit. confession, and when it was all over there was a long silence. At length sho said in a low, pathetic voice: "I am so sorrr I" "Aud you can givo me no hope?" I "How can tho lips speak when tho heart is dumb?" sho answered, but by no means coldly. On the contrary, her accents wero very tender. "You are already"— ho began rather bitterly. I "That question, Mr. Creighton, you havo no right to ask." This timo she spoko in a distant, even a haughty, tone. They had reached her door. He lifted his hat. She extended her hand cordial ly and said "I hope always to be your 'friend Goodnight." The poor boy staggered back to his room, and, thank heaven, Jack was not there. He sat in front of the fire think ing, thinking, chafing at his ill luck and cursing himself, and at last dropped into a troubled doze and dreamed. The rustling of magic raiment mado him turn his head. There stood a fairy, I with a strange smile on her lips. "Havo you come to gloat over my misery?" ho cried. "Can't I even bo wretched without your interference? Leave me to myself." A silvery laugh was tho onl^ answer. It rang through tho room liko a strain of music. I "I am here," sho said, "to do your bidding. Shall we go?'' "Go? Yes, go anywhere to the end of the world if you like—anywhere, so I get away from here." Sho waved her wand, and that dingy student's den gradually disappeared. They were in the open air. Fields and hills and valleys flew past thorn. Tom became exhilarated. Yesterday was fad ing from his memory. He only dimly recalled the walk with Mildred, and thero was a strango unreality about that poignant experience. With another wavo of tho wand he fell into entire un consciousness. And whilo in that state the magician led him to his apartment and seated him in a chair. A harsh grating sound broke on his ears, aud ho awoke. "The missis is hero, sorr, an is ask in for yez." Tom rubbed his oyes. In front of him stood—could it bo true?—Mildred Hew son. Why, Tom, you dear boy, yon must have been very tired. You didn't hear me open the door, did you? I looked in, saw that you were asleep and thought it too bad to wake you." Then ho roused himself and took the dear woman in his arms and kissed her again and again. I "You must have been dreaming, Tom." "I was, Mildred." "What did you dream, dear? Toll mo all about it." "Not now, Mildred. It was an awful dream, and tho less said about it tho better." I In the morning Jack and Tom met as I usual. "I was pretty tired yesterday, wasn't I, Jack?" 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