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      Bergan could not help wasting a little wonder on Doctor Remy's choice of the "Rat-Hole" as a place for transacting business, of whatever character. Yet the explanation was simple. The doctor was there, as he had stated, professionally. One of the habitus of the place had been severely wounded in an encounter with a policeman, some weeks before; and although he had succeeded in escaping unrecognized, the affair had made so much stir that his friends had not deemed it prudent to put him into the hands of any of the city physicians, for treatment. Doctor Remy had therefore been summoned from Berganton, and had not only conducted the case with his usual skill, but, foreseeing a possibility of turning the circumstance to future account, had won the ruffian's warmest gratitude by keeping his secret and declining any fee. Having thus gotten the run of the place, and the good will of its inmates, he had chosen it for the scene of his interviews with Dick Causton, because he had his own excellent reasons for not wishing these interviews to be seen or suspected by anybody in Berganton. And Dick made no objections, inasmuch as various small errands, which he dignified with the title of "business," had taken him to Savalla, for two or three consecutive days; and the "Rat-Hole" was a convenient stopping-place, and, moreover, furnished liquor which had the two-fold merit of being of a better quality than any to be had at the "Gregg Tavern," and of being quaffed at Doctor Remy's expense. Dick was not likely to trouble his head much about the character of any house possessing these strong recommendations.

      "Thoroughly so; an exceedingly distinct, even intonation, and the language was well chosen, too. It would have been a very pleasant voice to the ear, except that it seemed to lack heart, emotion; it was just clear and cold, like ice. Are you beginning to see your way through the affair?""Thank you," said Bergan. "That is what I am doing."

      She spoke in short sentences, each phrase broken by a sob. She felt as if he were tearing out her heart, this man who had been heretofore so kindly and indulgent in his speech and manner that he seemed to make religion an easy thing, a garment as loose and expansive as philosophy itself. And, now, all at once he appeared before her as a judge, searching out her heart, cruel, inflexible, weighing her in the balance, and finding her wanting.

      "Oh, Captain Hulbert, I want you to be serious."

      He turned from the corpse to ask for Bergan, and was surprised to learn that nothing was known of him at the Hall since he had retired to his room just before day-break, further than that Doctor Gerrish had mentioned meeting him at Oakstead. However, being informed that two men had inquired for him, and been sent to meet him, he took it for granted that some unexpected emergency had compelled him to hasten back to Savalla, at a moment's notice; he would be sure to return by afternoon, or send some explanation of his absence.Turn up your cards and count, he said, and his quick eye checked each mans hand.


      Esmeralda did not again go to see Lord Norman. She did not even ask after him; and she listened to Mother Melindas daily report in silence, and without any comment; not even when Mother Melinda remarked, one day:


      "Yes; I have said all I had to say, and have been answered as I wished to be answered. I shall go home very happy."


      "I think you are, my boy, I think you are," responded Major Bergan; "you look like it, and besides, a Bergan never lies. And I'm sorry, too,all the more, because I suspect that it's my own fault. If ever you learn to drinkand I don't feel quite so sure that it's necessary as I did oncedon't drink too hard, Harry, don't drink too hard! If ever I get over this bout, I swear I'll think twice, hereafter, before I drink once. And if I don't, I'm glad you're here, Harry, boy; it's well for the new master to be on before the old one is off."