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Corporal Cameron
A LADY AND THE LAW


Mr. Rae's first care was to see Mr. Dunn.  This case was getting rather more trying to Mr. Rae's nerves than he cared to acknowledge. For a second time he had been humiliated, and humiliation was an experience to which Mr. Rae was not accustomed.  It was in a distinctly wrathful frame of mind that he called upon Mr. Dunn, and the first quarter of an hour of his interview he spent in dilating upon his own folly in having allowed Captain Cameron to accompany him on his visit to Sir Archibald.

"In forty years I never remember having made such an error, Sir. This was an occasion for diplomacy.  We should have taken time.  We should have discovered his weak spots; every man has them.  Now it is too late.  The only thing left for us is fight, and the best we can hope for is a verdict of NOT PROVEN, and that leaves a stigma."

"It is terrible," said Mr. Dunn, "and I believe he is innocent. Have you thought of Potts, Sir?"

"I have had Potts before me," said Mr. Rae, "and I may safely say that though he strikes me as being a man of unusual cleverness, we can do nothing with Mr. Potts.  Of course," added Mr. Rae hastily, "this is not to say we shall not make use of Mr. Potts in the trial, but Mr. Potts can show from his books debts amounting to nearly sixty pounds.  He frankly acknowledges the pleasantry in suggesting the raising of the five-pound cheque to fifty pounds, but of the act itself he professes entire ignorance.  I frankly own to you, Sir," continued Mr. Rae, folding his ear into a horn after his manner when in perplexity, "that this case puzzles me.  I must not take your time," he said, shaking Mr. Dunn warmly by the hand. "One thing more I must ask you, however, and that is, keep in touch with young Cameron.  I have pledged my honour to produce him when wanted.  Furthermore, keep him--ah--in good condition; cheer him up; nerve him up; much depends upon his manner."

Gravely Mr. Dunn accepted the trust, though whether he could fulfil it he doubted.  "Keep him cheerful," said Mr. Dunn to himself, as the door closed upon Mr. Rae.  "Nice easy job, too, under the circumstances.  Let's see, what is there on?  By Jove, if I could only bring him!"  There flashed into Mr. Dunn's mind the fact that he was due that evening at a party for students, given by one of the professors, belated beyond the period proper to such functions by one of those domestic felicities which claim right of way over all other human events.  At this party Cameron was also due.  It was hardly likely, however, that he would attend.  But to Dunn's amazement he found Cameron, with a desperate jollity such as a man might feel the night before his execution, eager to go.

"I'm going," he cried, in answer to Dunn's somewhat timid suggestion.  "They'll all be there, old man, and I shall make my exit with much eclat, with pipe and dance and all the rest of it."

"Exit, be blowed!" said Dunn impatiently.  "Let's cut all this nonsense out.  We're going into a fight for all there's in us.  Why should a fellow throw up the sponge after the first round?"

"Fight!" said Cameron gloomily.  "Did old Rae say so?"

"Most decidedly."

"And what defence does he suggest?"

"Defence?  Innocence, of course."

"Would to God I could back him up!" groaned Cameron.

Dunn gazed at him in dismay.  "And can you not?  You do not mean to tell me you are guilty?"

"Oh, I wish to heaven I knew!" cried Cameron wildly.  "But there, let it go.  Let the lawyers and the judge puzzle it out.  'Guilty or not guilty?'  'Hanged if I know, my lord.  Looks like guilty, but don't see very well how I can be.'  That will bother old Rae some; it would bother Old Nick himself.  'Did you forge this note?' 'My lord, my present ego recognizes no intent to forge; my alter ego in vino may have done so.  Of that, however, I know nothing; it lies in that mysterious region of the subconscious.'  'Are you, then, guilty?'  'Guilt, my lord, lies in intent.  Intent is the soul of crime.'  It will be an interesting point for Mr. Rae and his lordship."

"Look here, old chap," asked Dunn suddenly, "what of Potts in this business?"

"Potts!  Oh, hang it, Dunn, I can't drag Potts into this.  It would be altogether too low-down to throw suspicion upon a man without the slightest ground.  Potts is not exactly a lofty-souled creature.  In fact, he is pronouncedly a bounder, though I confess I did borrow money of him; but I'd borrow money of the devil when I'm in certain moods.  A man may be a bounder, however, without being a criminal.  No, I have thought this thing out as far as I can, and I've made my mind up that I've got to face it myself. I've been a fool, ah, such a fool!"  A shudder shook his frame. "Oh, Dunn, old man, I don't mind for myself, I can go out easily enough, but it's my little sister!  It will break her heart, and she has no one else; she will have to bear it all alone."

"What do you mean, Cameron?" asked Dunn sharply.

Cameron sprang to his feet.  "Let it go," he cried.  "Let it go for to-night, anyway."  He seized a decanter which stood all too ready to his hand, but Dunn interposed.

"Listen to me, old man," he said, in a voice of grave and earnest sadness, while he pushed Cameron back into a chair.  "We have a desperately hard game before us, you and I,--this is my game, too,-- and we must be fit; so, Cameron, I want your word that you will play up for all that's in you; that you will cut this thing out," pointing to the decanter, "and will keep fit to the last fighting minute.  I am asking you this, Cameron.  You owe it to yourself, you owe it to me, you owe it to your sister."

For some moments Cameron sat gazing straight before him, his face showing the agony in his soul.  "As God's above, I do!  I owe it to you, Dunn, and to her, and to the memory of my--"  But his quivering lips could not utter the word; and there was no need, for they both knew that his heart was far away in the little mound that lay in the shadow of the church tower in the Cuagh Oir.  The lad rose to his feet, and stretching out his hand to Dunn cried, "There's my hand and my honour as a Highlander, and until the last fighting moment I'll be fit."

At the party that night none was gayer than young Cameron.  The shy reserve that usually marked him was thrust aside.  His fine, lithe figure, set off by his Highland costume, drew all eyes in admiration, and whether in the proud march of the piper, or in the wild abandon of the Highland Fling, he seemed to all the very beau ideal of a gallant Highland gentleman.

Dunn stood in the circle gathered to admire, watching Cameron's performance of that graceful and intricate Highland dance, all unconscious of a pair of bright blue eyes fastened on his face that reflected so manifestly the grief and pain in his heart.

"And wherefore this gloom?" said a gay voice at his side.  It was Miss Bessie Brodie.

Poor Dunn!  He was not skilled in the fine art of social deception. He could only gaze stupidly and with blinking eyes upon his questioner, devoutly hoping meanwhile that the tears would not fall.

"Splendid Highlander, isn't he?" exclaimed Miss Bessie, hastily withdrawing her eyes from his face, for she was much too fine a lady to let him see her surprise.

"What?" exclaimed Dunn.  "I don't know.  I mean--yes, awfully--oh, confound the thing, it's a beastly shame!"

Thereupon Miss Bessie turned her big blue eyes slowly upon him. "Meaning what?" she said quietly.

"Oh, I beg pardon.  I'm just a fool.  Oh, hang it all!"  Dunn could not recover his composure.  He backed out of the circle of admirers into a darker corner.

"Fool?" said Miss Brodie, stepping back with him.  "And why, pray? Can I know?  I suppose it's Cameron again," she continued.  "Oh, I know all about you and your mothering of him."

"Mothering!" said Dunn bitterly.  "That is just what he needs, by Jove.  His mother has been dead these five years, and that's been the ruin of him."

The cheers from Cameron's admirers broke in upon Dunn's speech. "Oh, it's too ghastly," he muttered.

"Is it really so bad?  Can't I help?" cried Miss Brodie.  "You know I've had some experience with boys."

As Dunn looked into her honest, kindly eyes he hesitated.  Should he tell her?  He was in sore need of counsel, and besides he was at the limit of his self-control.  "I say," he said, staring at her, while his lips quivered, "I'd like awfully to tell you, but I know if I ever begin I shall just burst into tears before this gaping crowd."

"Tears!" exclaimed Miss Bessie.  "Not you!  And if you did it wouldn't hurt either them or you.  An International captain possesses this advantage over other mortals: that he may burst into tears or anything else without losing caste, whereas if I should do any such thing--  But come, let's get somewhere and talk it over. Now, then," said Miss Brodie as they found a quiet corner, "first of all, ought I to know?"

"You'll know, all Edinburgh will know time day after to-morrow," said Dunn.

"All right, then, it can't do any harm for me to know to-night.  It possibly may do good."

"It will do me good, anyway," said Dunn, "for I have reached my limit."

Then Dunn told her, and while she listened she grew grave and anxious.  "But surely it can be arranged!" she exclaimed, after he had finished.

"No, Mr. Rae has tried everything.  The Bank is bound to pursue it to the bitter end.  It is apparently a part of its policy."

"What Bank?"

"The Bank of Scotland."

"Why, that's my uncle's Bank!  I mean, he is the Chairman of the Board of Directors, and the Bank is the apple of his eye; or one of them, I mean--I'm the other."

"Oh, both, I fancy," said Dunn, rather pleased with his own courage.

"But come, this is serious," said Miss Brodie.  "The Bank, you know, or you don't know, is my uncle's weak spot."

Mr. Rae's words flashed across Dunn's mind:  "We ought to have found his weak spots."

"He says," continued Miss Brodie with a smile--"you know he's an old dear!--I divide his heart with the Bank, that I have the left lobe.  Isn't that the bigger one?  So the Bank and I are his weak spots; unless it is his Wiltshires--he is devoted to Wiltshires."

"Wiltshires?"

"Pigs.  There are times when I feel myself distinctly second to them.  Are you sure my uncle knows all about Cameron?"

"Well, Mr. Rae and Captain Cameron--that's young Cameron's father-- went out to his place--"

"Ah, that was a mistake," said Miss Brodie.  "He hates people following him to the country.  Well, what happened?"

"Mr. Rae feels that it was rather a mistake that Captain Cameron went along."

"Why so?  He is his father, isn't he?"

"Yes, he is, though I'm bound to say he's rather queer for a father."  Whereupon Dunn gave her an account of his interview in Mr. Rae's office.

Miss Brodie was indignant.  "What a shame!  And what a fool!  Why, he is ten times more fool than his son; for mark you, his son is undoubtedly a fool, and a selfish fool at that.  I can't bear a young fool who sacrifices not simply his own life, but the interests of all who care for him, for some little pet selfishness
of his own.  But this father of his seems to be even worse than the son.  Family name indeed!  And I venture to say he expatiated upon the glory of his family name to my uncle.  If there's one thing that my uncle goes quite mad about it is this affectation of superiority on the ground of the colour of a man's blood!  No wonder he refused to withdraw the prosecution!  What could Mr. Rae have been thinking about?  What fools men are!"

"Quite true," murmured Mr. Dunn.

"Some men, I mean," cried Miss Brodie hastily.  "I wish to heaven I had seen my uncle first!"

"I suppose it's too late now," said Dunn, with a kind of gloomy wistfulness.

"Yes, I fear so," said Miss Brodie.  "You see when my uncle makes up his mind he appears to have some religious scruples against changing it."

"It was a ghastly mistake," said Dunn bitterly.

"Look here, Mr. Dunn," said Miss Brodie, turning upon him suddenly, "I want your straight opinion.  Do you think this young man guilty?"

They were both looking at Cameron, at that moment the centre of a group of open admirers, his boyish face all aglow with animation. For the time being it seemed as if he had forgotten the terrible catastrophe overhanging him.

"If I hadn't known Cameron for three years," replied Dunn slowly, "I would say offhand that this thing would be impossible to him; but you see you never know what a man in drink will do.  Cameron can carry a bottle of Scotch without a stagger, but of course it knocks his head all to pieces.  I mean, he is quite incapable of anything like clear thought."

"It is truly terrible," said Miss Brodie.  "I wish I had known yesterday, but those men have spoilt it all.  But here's 'Lily' Laughton," she continued hurriedly, "coming for his dance."  As she spoke a youth of willowy figure, languishing dark eyes and ladylike manner drew near.

"Well, here you are at last!  What a hunt I have had!  I am quite exhausted, I assure you," cried the youth, fanning himself with his handkerchief.  "And though you have quite forgotten it, this is our dance.  What can you two have been talking about?  But why ask? There is only one theme upon which you could become so terrifically serious."

"And what is that, pray?  Browning?" inquired Miss Brodie sweetly.

"Dear Miss Brodie, if you only would, but--ugh!--" here "Lily" shuddered, "I can in fancy picture the gory scene in which you have been revelling for the last hour!"  And "Lily's" handsome face and languid, liquid eyes indicated his horror.  It was "Lily's" constant declaration that he "positively loathed" football, although his persistent attendance at all the great matches rather belied this declaration.  "It is the one thing in you, Miss Bessie, that I deplore, 'the fly in the pot--' no, 'the flaw--' ah, that's better--'the flaw in the matchless pearl.'"

"How sweet of you," murmured Miss Brodie.

"Yes, indeed," continued "Lily," wreathing his tapering fingers, "it is your devotion to those so-called athletic games,--games! ye gods!--the chief qualifications for excellence in which appear to be brute strength and a blood-thirsty disposition; as witness Dunn there.  I was positively horrified last International.  There he was, our own quiet, domestic, gentle Dunn, raging through that howling mob of savages like a bloody Bengal tiger.--Rather apt, that!--A truly awful and degrading exhibition!"

"Ah, perfectly lovely!" murmured Miss Brodie ecstatically.  "I can see him yet."

"Miss Brodie, how can you!" exclaimed "Lily," casting up his eyes in horror towards heaven.  "But it was ever thus!  In ancient days upon the bloody sands of the arena, fair ladies were wont to gaze with unrelenting eyes and thumbs turned down--or up, was it--?"

"Excellent!  But how clever of them to gaze with their thumbs in that way!"

"Please don't interrupt," said "Lily" severely; "I have just 'struck my gait,' as that barbaric young Colonial, Martin, another of your bloody, brawny band, would say.  And here you sit, unblushing, glorying in their disgusting deeds and making love open and unabashed to their captain!"

"Go away, 'Lily' or I'll hurt you," cried Dunn, his face a brilliant crimson.  "Come, get out!"

"But don't be uplifted," continued "Lily," ignoring him, "you are not the first.  By no means!  It is always the last International captain, and has been to my certain knowledge for the last ten years."

"Ten years!" exclaimed Miss Brodie in horrified accents.  "You monster!  If you have no regard for my character you might at least respect my age."

"Age!  Dear Miss Brodie," ejaculated "Lily," "who could ever associate age with your perennial youth?"

"Perennial!  Wretch!  If there is anything I am sensitive about, really sensitive about, it is my age!  Mr. Dunn, I beseech you, save me from further insult!  Dear 'Lily,' run away now.  You are much too tired to dance, and besides there is Mrs. Craig-Urquhart waiting to talk your beloved Wagner-Tennyson theory; or what is the exact combination?  Mendelssohn-Browning, is it?"

"Oh, Miss Bessie!" cried "Lily" in a shocked voice.  "how can you? Mendelssohn-Browning!  How awful!  Do have some regard for the affinities."

"Mr. Dunn, I implore you, save me!  I can bear no more.  There!  A merciful providence has accomplished my deliverance.  They are going.  Good-night, 'Lily.'  Run away now.  I want a word with Mr. Dunn."

"Oh, heartless cruelty!" exclaimed "Lily," in an agonised voice. "But what can you expect from such associations?"  And he hastened away to have a last word with Mrs. Craig-Urquhart, who was swimming languidly by.

Miss Brodie turned eagerly to Dunn.  "I'd like to help you awfully," she said; "indeed I must try.  I have very little hope. My uncle is so strong when he is once set, and he is so funny about that Bank.  But a boy is worth more than a Bank, if he IS a fool; besides, there is his sister.  Good-night.  Thanks for letting me help.  I have little hope, but to-morrow I shall see Sir Archibald, and--and his pigs."

It was still in the early forenoon of the following day when Miss Brodie greeted her uncle as he was about to start upon his round of the pastures and pens where the Wiltshires of various ages and sizes and sexes were kept.  With the utmost enthusiasm Miss Brodie entered into his admiration of them all, from the lordly prize tusker to the great mother lying broadside on in grunting and supreme content, every grunt eloquent of happiness and maternal love and pride, to allow her week-old brood to prod and punch her luxuriant dugs for their breakfast.

By the time they had made their rounds Sir Archibald had arrived at his most comfortable and complacent mood.  He loved his niece.  He loved her for the sake of his dead brother, and as she grew in years, he came to love her for herself.  Her sturdy independent fearlessness, her sound sense, her honest heart, and chiefly, if it must be told, her whole-souled devotion to himself, made for her a great space in his heart.  And besides all this, they were both interested to the point of devotion in pigs.  As he watched his niece handling the little sucklings with tender care, and listened to her appraising their varying merits with a discriminating judgment, his heart filled up with pride in her many accomplishments and capabilities.

"Isn't she happy, Uncle?" she exclaimed, lifting her brown, sunny face to him.

"Ay, lassie," replied Sir Archibald, lapsing into the kindly "braid Scots," "I ken fine how she feels."

"She's just perfectly happy," said his niece, "and awfully useful and good.  She is just like you, Uncle."

"What?  Oh, thank you, I'm extremely flattered, I assure you."

"Uncle, you know what I mean!  Useful and good.  Here you are in this lovely home--how lovely it is on a warm, shiny day like this!-- safe from cares and worries, where people can't get at you, and making--"

"Ah, I don't know about that," replied her uncle, shaking his head with a frown.  "Some people have neither sense nor manners.  Only yesterday I was pestered by a fellow who annoyed me, seriously annoyed me, interfering in affairs which he knew nothing of,-- actually the affairs of the Bank!--prating about his family name, and all the rest of it.  Family name!"  Here, it must be confessed, Sir Archibald distinctly snorted, quite in a manner calculated to excite the envy of any of his Wiltshires.

"I know, Uncle.  He is a fool, a conceited fool, and a selfish fool."

"You know him?" inquired her uncle in a tone of surprise.

"No, I have no personal acquaintance with him, I'm glad to say, but I know about him, and I know that he came with Mr. Rae, the Writer."

"Ah, yes!  Thoroughly respectable man, Mr. Rae."

"Yes, Mr. Rae is all right; but Captain Cameron--oh, I can't bear him!  He came to talk to you about his son, and I venture to say he took most of the time in talking about himself."

"Exactly so!  But how--?"

"And, Uncle, I want to talk to you about that matter, about young Cameron."  For just a moment Miss Brodie's courage faltered as she observed her uncle's figure stiffen.  "I want you to know the rights of the case."

"Now, now, my dear, don't you go--ah--"

"I know, Uncle, you were going to say 'interfering,' only you remember in time that your niece never interferes.  Isn't that true, Sir?"

"Yes, yes!  I suppose so; that is, certainly."

"Now I am interested in this young Cameron, and I want you to get the right view of his case, which neither your lawyer nor your manager nor that fool father of his can give you.  I know that if you see this case as I see it you will do--ah--exactly what is right; you always do."

Miss Brodie's voice had assumed its most reasonable and business- like tone.  Sir Archibald was impressed, and annoyed because he was impressed.

"Look here, Bessie," he said, in as impatient a tone as he ever adopted with his niece, "you know how I hate being pestered with business affairs out here."

"I know quite well, Uncle, and I regret it awfully, but I know, too, that you are a man of honour, and that you stand for fair play.  But that young man is to be arrested to-day, and you know what that will mean for a young fellow with his way to make."

Her appeal was not without its effect.  Sir Archibald set himself to give her serious attention.  "Let us have it, then," he said. briefly.  "What do you know of the young man?"

"This first of all: that he has a selfish, conceited prig for a father."

With which beginning Sir Archibald most heartily agreed.  "But how do you know?"

"Now, let me tell you about him."  And Miss Brodie proceeded to describe the scene between father and son in Mr. Rae's office, with vigorous and illuminating comments.  "And just think, the man in the company who was first to condemn the young chap was his own father.  Would you do that?  You'd stand for him against the whole world, even if he were wrong."

"Steady, steady, lass!"

"You would," repeated Miss Bessie, with indignant emphasis.  "Would you chuck me over if I were disgraced and all the world hounding me?  Would you?"

"No, by God!" said Sir Archibald in a sudden tempest of emotion, and Miss Bessie smiled lovingly upon him.

"Well, that's the kind of a father he has.  Now about the young fellow himself:  He's just a first-class fool, like most young fellows.  You know how they are, Uncle."

Sir Archibald held up his hand.  "Don't make any such assumptions."

"Oh, I know you, and when you were a boy you were just as gay and foolish as the rest of them."

Her arch, accusing smile suddenly cast a rich glow of warm colour over the long, grey road of Sir Archibald's youth of self-denial and struggle.  The mild indulgences of his early years, under the transforming influence of that same arch and accusing smile, took on for Sir Archibald such an aspect of wild and hilarious gaiety as to impart a tone of hesitation to his voice while he deprecated his niece's charge.

"What, I?  Nonsense!  What do you know about it?  Well, well, we have all had our day, I suppose!"

"Aha! I know you, and I should love to have known you when you were young Cameron's age.  Though I'm quite sure you were never such a fool as he.  You always knew how to take care of yourself."

Her uncle shook his head as if to indicate that the less said about those gay young days the better.

"Now what do you think this young fool does?  Gets drinking, and gets so muddled up in all his money matters--he's a Highlander, you know, and Dunn, Mr. Dunn says--"

"Dunn!"

"Yes, Mr. Dunn, the great International captain, you know!  Mr. Dunn says he can take a whole bottle of Scotch--"

"What, Dunn?"

"No, no; you know perfectly well, Uncle!  This young Cameron can take a whole bottle of Scotch and walk a crack, but his head gets awfully muddled."

"Shouldn't be surprised!"

"And Mr. Dunn had a terrible time keeping him fit for the International.  You know he was Dunn's half-back.  Yes," cried his niece with enthusiasm, suddenly remembering a tradition that in his youth Sir Archibald had been a famous quarter, his one indulgence, "a glorious half-back, too!  You must remember in the match with England last fall the brilliant work of the half-back.  Everybody went mad about him.  That was young Cameron!"

"You don't tell me!  The left-half in the English International last fall?"

"Yes, indeed!  Oh, he's wonderful!  But he has to be watched, you know, and the young fool lost us the last--"  Miss Bessie abruptly checked herself.  "But never mind!  Well, after the season, you know, he got going loose, and this is the result.  Owed money everywhere, and with the true Highland incapacity for business, and the true Highland capacity for trusting people--"

"Huh!" grunted Sir Archibald in disapproval.

"--When his head is in a muddled condition he does something or other to a cheque--or doesn't do it, nobody knows--and there he is in this awful fix.  Personally, I don't believe he is guilty of the crime."

"And why, pray?"

"Why?  Well, Mr. Dunn, his captain, who has known him for years, says it is quite impossible; and then the young man himself doesn't deny it."

"What?  Does NOT deny it?"

"Exactly!  Like a perfectly straightforward gentleman,--and I think it's awfully fine of him,--though he has a perfectly good chance to put the thing on a--a fellow Potts, quite a doubtful character, he simply says, 'I know nothing about it.  That looks like my signature.  I can't remember doing this, don't know how I could have, but don't know a thing about it.'  There you are, Uncle!  And Mr. Dunn says he is quite incapable of it."

"Mr. Dunn, eh?  It seems you build somewhat broadly upon Mr. Dunn."

The brown on Miss Bessie's check deepened slightly.  "Well, Mr. Dunn is a splendid judge of men."

"Ah; and of young ladies, also, I imagine," said Sir Archibald, pinching her cheek.

It may have been the pinch, but the flush on her cheek grew distinctly brighter.  "Don't be ridiculous, Uncle!  He's just a boy, a perfectly splendid boy, and glorious in his game, but a mere boy, and--well, you know, I've arrived at the age of discretion."

"Quite true!" mused her uncle.  "Thirty last birthday, was it?  How time does--!"

"Oh, you perfectly horrid uncle!  Thirty indeed!  Are you not ashamed to add to the already intolerable burden of my years? Thirty!  No, Sir, not by five good years at least!  There now, you've made me tell my age!  You ought to blush for shame."

Her uncle patted her firm, round cheek.  "Never a blush, my dear! You bear even your advanced age with quite sufficient ease and grace.  But now about this young Cameron," he continued, assuming a sternly judicial tone.

"All I ask for him is a chance," said his niece earnestly.

"A chance?  Why he will get every chance the law allows to clear himself."

"There you are!" exclaimed Miss Bessie, in a despairing tone. "That's the way the lawyers and your manager talk.  They coolly and without a qualm get him arrested, this young boy who has never in all his life shown any sign of criminal tendency.  These horrid lawyers display their dreadful astuteness and ability in catching a lad who never tries to run away, and your manager pleads the rules of the Bank.  The rules!  Fancy rules against a young boy's whole life!"

Her uncle rather winced at this.

"And like a lot of sheep they follow each other in a circle; there is absolutely no independence, no initiative.  Why, they even went so far as to suggest that you could do nothing, that you were bound by rules and must follow like the rest of them; but I told them I knew better."

"Ah!" said Sir Archibald in his most dignified manner.  "I trust I have a mind of my own, but--"

"Exactly!  So I said to Mr. Dunn.  'Rules or no rules,' I said, 'my uncle will do the fair thing.'  And I know you will," cried Miss Brodie triumphantly.  "And if you look at it, there's a very big chance that the boy never did the thing, and certainly if he did it at all it was when he was quite incapable.  Oh, I know quite well what the lawyers say.  They go by the law,--they've got to,--but you--and--and--I go by the--the real facts of the case."  Sir Archibald coughed gently.  "I mean to say--well you know, Uncle, quite well, you can tell what a man is by--well, by his game."

"His game!"

"And by his eye."

"His eye!  And his eye is--?"

"Now, Uncle, be sensible!  I mean to say, if you could only see him.  Oh, I shall bring him to see you!" she cried, with a sudden inspiration.

Sir Archibald held up a deprecating hand.  "Do not, I beg."

"Well, Uncle, you can trust my judgment, you know you can.  You would trust me in--in--"  For a moment Miss Brodie was at a loss; then her eyes fell upon the grunting, comfortable old mother pig with her industrious litter.  "Well, don't I know good Wiltshires when I see them?"

"Quite true," replied her uncle solemnly; "and therefore, men."

"Uncle, you're very nearly rude."

"I apologise," replied her uncle hastily.  "But now, Bessie, my dear girl, seriously, as to this case, you must understand that I cannot interfere.  The Bank--hem--the Bank is a great National--"

Miss Bessie saw that the Guards were being called upon.  She hastened to bring up her reserves.  "I know, Uncle, I know!  I wouldn't for the world say a word against the Bank, but you see the case against the lad is at least doubtful."

"I was going on to observe," resumed her uncle, judicially, "that the Bank--"

"Don't misunderstand me, Uncle," cried his niece, realising that she had reached a moment of crisis.  "You know I would not for a moment presume to interfere with the Bank, but"--here she deployed her whole force,--"the lad's youth and folly; his previous good character, guaranteed by Dunn, who knows men; his glorious game--no man who wasn't straight could play such a game!--the large chance of his innocence, the small chance of his guilt; the hide-bound rigidity of lawyers and bank managers, dominated by mere rules and routine, in contrast with the open-minded independence of her uncle; the boy's utter helplessness; his own father having been ready to believe the worst,--just think of it, Uncle, his own father thinking of himself and of his family name--much he has ever done for his family name!--and not of his own boy, and"--here Miss Brodie's voice took a lower key--"and his mother died some five or six years ago, when he was thirteen or fourteen, and I know, you know, that is hard on a boy."  In spite of herself, and to her disgust, a tremor came into her voice and a rush of tears to her eyes.

Her uncle was smitten with dismay.  Only on one terrible occasion since she had emerged from her teens had he seen his niece in tears.  The memory of that terrible day swept over his soul. Something desperate was doing.  Hard as the little man was to the world against which he had fought his way to his present position of distinction, to his niece he was soft-hearted as a mother. "There, there!" he exclaimed hastily.  "We'll give the boy a chance.  No mother, eh?  And a confounded prig for a father!  No wonder the boy goes all wrong!"  Then with a sudden vehemence he cried, striking one hand into the other, "No, by--! that is, we will certainly give the lad the benefit of the doubt.  Cheer up, lassie!  You've no need to look ashamed," for his niece was wiping her eyes in manifest disgust; "indeed," he said, with a heavy attempt at playfulness, "you are a most excellent diplomat."

"Diplomat, Uncle!" cried the girl, vehement indignation in her voice and face.  "Diplomat!" she cried again.  "You don't mean that I've not been quite sincere?"

"No, no, no; not in the least, my dear!  But that you have put your case with admirable force."

"Oh," said the girl with a breath of relief, "I just put it as I feel it.  And it is not a bit my putting it, Uncle, but it is just that you are a dear and--well, a real sport; you love fair play." The girl suddenly threw her strong, young arms about her uncle's neck, drew him close to her, and kissed him almost as if she had
been his mother.

The little man was deeply touched, but with true Scotch horror of a demonstration he cried, "Tut, tut, lassie, ye're makin' an auld fule o' your uncle.  Come now, be sensible!"

"Sensible!" echoed his niece, kissing him again.  "That's my living description among all my acquaintance.  It is their gentle way of reminding me that the ordinary feminine graces of sweetness and
general loveliness are denied me."

"And more fools they!" grunted her uncle.  "You're worth the hale caboodle o' them."

That same evening there were others who shared this opinion, and none more enthusiastically than did Mr. Dunn, whom Miss Brodie chanced to meet just as she turned out of the Waverly Station.

"Oh, Mr. Dunn," she cried, "how very fortunate!"  Her face glowed with excitement.

"For me; yes, indeed!" said Mr. Dunn, warmly greeting her.

"For me, for young Cameron, for us all," said Miss Brodie.  "Oh, Rob, is that you?" she continued, as her eye fell upon the youngster standing with cap off waiting her recognition.  "Look at this!" she flashed a letter before Dunn's face.  "What do you think of that?"

Dunn took the letter.  "It's to Sheratt," he said, with a puzzled air.

"Yes," cried Miss Brodie, mimicking his tone, "it's to Sheratt, from Sir Archibald, and it means that Cameron is safe.  The police will never--"

"The police," cried Dunn, hastily, getting between young Rob and her and glancing at his brother, who stood looking from one to the other with a startled face.

"How stupid!  The police are a truly wonderful body of men," she went on with enthusiasm.  "They look so splendid.  I saw some of them as I came along.  But never mind them now.  About this letter. What's to do?"

Dunn glanced at his watch.  "We need every minute."  He stood a moment or two thinking deeply while Miss Brodie chatted eagerly with Rob, whose face retained its startled and anxious look. "First to Mr. Rae's office.  Come!" cried Mr. Dunn.

"But this letter ought to go."

"Yes, but first Mr. Rae's office."  Mr. Dunn had assumed command.

His words shot out like bullets.

Miss Brodie glanced at him with a new admiration in her face.  As a rule she objected to being ordered about, but somehow it seemed good to accept commands from this young man, whose usually genial face was now set in such resolute lines.

"Here, Rob, you cut home and tell them not to wait dinner for me."

"All right, Jack!"  But instead of tearing off as was his wont whenever his brother gave command, Rob lingered.  "Can't I wait a bit, Jack, to see--to see if anything--?"  Rob was striving hard to keep his voice in command and his face steady.  "It's Cameron, Jack.  I know!"  He turned his back on Miss Brodie, unwilling that she should see his lips quiver.

"What are you talking about?" said his brother sharply.

"Oh, it is all my stupid fault, Mr. Dunn," said Miss Brodie.  "Let him come along a bit with us.  I say, youngster, you are much too acute," she continued, as they went striding along together toward Mr. Rae's office.  "But will you believe me if I tell you something? Will you?  Straight now?"

The boy glanced up into her honest blue eyes, and nodded his head.

"Your friend Cameron is quite all right.  He was in some difficulty, but now he's quite all right.  Do you believe me?"

The boy looked again steadily into her eyes.  The anxious fear passed out of his face, and once more he nodded; he knew he could not keep his voice quite steady.  But after a few paces he said to his brother, "I think I'll go now, Jack."  His mind was at rest; his idol was safe.

"Oh, come along and protect me," cried Miss Brodie.  "These lawyer people terrify me."

The boy smiled a happy smile.  "I'll go," he said resolutely.

"Thanks, awfully," said Miss Brodie.  "I shall feel so much safer with you in the waiting room."

It was a difficult matter to surprise Mr. Rae, and even more difficult to extract from him any sign of surprise, but when Dunn, leaving Miss Brodie and his brother in the anteroom, entered Mr. Rae's private office and laid the letter for Mr. Sheratt before him, remarking, "This letter is from Sir Archibald, and withdraws the prosecution," Mr. Rae stood speechless, gazing now at the letter in his hand, and now at Mr. Dunn's face.

"God bless my soul!  This is unheard of.  How came you by this, Sir?"

"Miss Brodie--" began Dunn.

"Miss Brodie?"

"She is in the waiting room, Sir."

"Then, for heaven's sake, bring her in!  Davie, Davie!  Where is that man now?  Here, Davie, a message to Mr. Thomlinson."

Davie entered with deliberate composure.

"My compliments to Mr. Thomlinson, and ask if he would step over at once.  It is a matter of extreme urgency.  Be quick!"

But Davie had his own mind as to the fitness of things.  "Wad a note no' be better, Sir?  Wull not--?"

"Go, will you!" almost shouted Mr. Rae.

Davie was so startled at Mr. Rae's unusual vehemence that he seized his cap and made for the door.  "He'll no' come for the like o' me," he said, pausing with the door-knob in his hand.  "It's no' respectable like tae--"

"Man, will ye no' be gone?" cried Mr. Rae, rising from his chair.

"I will that!" exclaimed Davie, banging the door after him.  "But," he cried furiously, thrusting his head once more into the room, "if he'll no' come it's no' faut o' mine."  His voice rose higher and higher, and ended in a wrathful scream as Mr. Rae, driven to desperation, hurled a law book of some weight at his vanishing head.

"The de'il take ye!  Ye'll be my deith yet."

The book went crashing against the door-frame just as Miss Brodie was about to enter.  "I say," she cried, darting back.  "Heaven protect me!  Rob, save me!"

Rob sprang to her side.  She stood for a moment gazing aghast at Mr. Dunn, who gazed back at her in equal surprise.  "Is this his 'usual'?" she inquired.

At that the door opened.  "Ah, Mr. Dunn, this is Miss Brodie, I suppose.  Come in, come in!"  Mr. Rae's manner was most bland.

Miss Brodie gave him her hand with some hesitation.  "I'm very glad to meet you, Mr. Rae, but is this quite the usual method?  I mean to say, I've heard of having advice hurled at one's head, but I can't say that I ever was present at a demonstration of the method."

"Oh," said Mr. Rae, with bland and gallant courtesy, "the method, my dear young lady, varies with the subject in hand."

"Ah, the subject!"

"And with the object in view."

"Oh, I see."

"But pray be seated.  And now explain this most wonderful phenomenon."  He tapped the letter.

"Oh, that is quite simple," said Miss Brodie.  "I set the case of young Mr. Cameron before my uncle, and of course he at once saw that the only thing to do was withdraw the prosecution."

Mr. Rae stood gazing steadily at her as if striving to take in the meaning of her words, the while screwing up his ear most violently till it stuck out like a horn upon the side of his shiny, bald head.  "Permit me to say, Miss Brodie," he said, with a deliberate and measured emphasis, "that you must be a most extraordinary young lady."  At this point Mr. Rae's smile broke forth in all its glory.

"Oh, thank you, Mr. Rae," replied Miss Brodie, smiling responsively at him.  "You are most--"  But Mr. Rae's smile had vanished. "What!  I beg your pardon!"  Miss Brodie's smiling response was abruptly arrested by finding herself gazing at a face whose grave solemnity rebuked her smile as unwarranted levity.

"Not at all, not at all!" said Mr. Rae.  "But now, there are matters demanding immediate action.  First, Mr. Sheratt must receive and act upon this letter without delay."  As he spoke he was scribbling hastily a note.  "Mr. Dunn, my young men have gone for the day.  Might I trouble you?"

"Most certainly," cried Mr. Dunn.  "Is an answer wanted?"

"Bring him with you, if possible; indeed, bring him whether it is possible or not.  But wait, it is past the hour appointed.  Already the officer has gone for young Cameron.  We must save him the humiliation of arrest."

"Oh, could I not warn him?" cried Miss Brodie eagerly.  "No," she added, "Rob will go.  He is in the waiting room now, poor little chap.  It will be a joy to him."

"It is just as well Rob should know nothing.  He is awfully fond of Cameron.  It would break his heart," said Mr. Dunn.

"Oh, of course!  Quite unnecessary that he should know anything. We simply wish Cameron here at the earliest possible moment."

Dunn went with his young brother down the stairs and out to the street.  "Now, Rob, you are to go to Cameron's lodgings and tell him that Mr. Rae wants him, and that I want him.  Hold on, youngster!" he cried, grabbing Rob by the collar, "do you understand?  It is very important that Cameron should get here as quick as he possibly can, and--I say, Rob," the big brother's eyes traveled over the darkening streets that led up into the old town, "you're not afraid?"

"A wee bit," said Rob, tugging at the grasp on his collar; "but I don't care if I am."

"Good boy!" cried his brother.  "Good little brick!  I wouldn't let you go, but it's simply got to be done, old chap.  Now fly!"  He held him just a moment longer to slap him on the back, then released his hold.  Dunn stood watching the little figure tearing up the North Bridge.  "Great little soul!" he muttered.  "Now for old Sheratt!"

He put his head down and began to bore through the crowd toward Mr. Sheratt's house.  When he had gone but a little distance he was brought up short by a bang full in the stomach.  "Why, what the deuce!"

"Dod gast ye!  Whaur are ye're een?"  It was Davie, breathless and furious from the impact.  "Wad ye walk ower me, dang ye?" cried the little man again.  Davie was Free Kirk, and therefore limited in the range of his vocabulary.

"Oh!  That you, Davie?  I'm sorry I didn't see you."

"A'm no' as big as a hoose, but a'm veesible."  And Davie walked wrathfully about his business.

"Oh, quite," acknowledged Dunn cheerfully, hurrying on; "and tangible, as well."

"He's comin'," cried Davie over his shoulder; "but gar it had been masel'," he added grudgingly, "catch me!"

But Dunn was too far on his way to make reply.  Already his mind was on the meeting of the lawyers in Mr. Rae's office, and wondering what would come of it.  On this subject he meditated until he reached Mr. Sheratt's home.  Twice he rang the bell, still meditating.

"By Jove, she is stunning!  She's a wonder!" he exclaimed to himself as he stood in Mr. Sheratt's drawing-room.  "She's got 'em all skinned a mile, as Martin would say."  It is safe to affirm that Mr. Dunn was not referring to the middle-aged and highly respectable maid who had opened the door to him.  It is equally safe to affirm that this was the unanimous verdict of the three men who, half an hour later, brought their deliberations to a conclusion, frankly acknowledging to each other that what they had one and all failed to achieve, the lady had accomplished.


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