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when a knock at the door was quickly
answered by the grave and correct man-servant,
who formed an important and eminently
respectable feature of the improved household of
the Rouths, and the well-known quick tread of
Dallas crossed the hall.

"Well, Routh, old fellow!"

"George, my boy; delighted to see you!"
â??and the meeting was over; and Routh,
looking into the young man's face, saw that not
a trace of suspicion rested upon it, and that
the material before him was as plastic as ever.

"Harriet is not very well this evening," said
Routh, "and begs you will excuse her if she
does not make her appearance. I undertook to
make it all right, and indeed I am rather glad
we should be alone just at first. I have so
much to say and to hear, and Harriet has had a
long talk with you already."

"Yes," said George, and his smile was at
once overcast, and his face darkened into gloom,
"I had a long talk with her. Of course,
Routh, she told you the dreadful discovery I
have made, and the curious way in which I am
implicated in this ghastly affair."

"She told me all about it, my dear fellow,"
returned Routh. "But here comes dinner,
and we must postpone discussion until
afterwards. I can only say now that I think
Harriet's view of the matter perfectly correct, and
her advice the soundest possible; it generally
is, you know of old." And then Routh made
a slight signal suggestive of caution to his
guest, and the two men stood by the fireplace
and talked of trifles while the irreproachable
man-servant set the dishes upon the table,
assisted by a neat parlour-maid.

While far more serious thoughts were busy in
George's mind, over the surface of it was passing
observation of the changed order of things, and
an amused perception of the alteration in Routh
himself. It was as he had said in his letterâ??he
had assumed the responsibility, the pose, the
prosperity of the genuine plodding "City man;"
and he looked the part to absolute perfection.
"And yet," George thought, "he knows that
one who was with us two the last time we met
has met with a violent death; he knows that I
am in a position as painful and perilous as it is
extraordinary, and that he is indirectly mixed
up with the dreadful event, and he is as cool
and unconcerned as possible. I suppose it is
constitutional, this callousness; but I'm not
sure it is very enviable. However, one thing is
certainâ??it makes him the very best adviser
one can possibly have under such
circumstances. He won't be carried away by the
horror of the circumstances, anyhow."

The dinner proceeded, and George yielded
rapidly to the influences which had been so
powerful, and which he had been so determined
to resist, when out of Routh's presence and
under the sway of his penitence and his
determination to reform. The conversation of Routh
asserted all its old charm; the man's consummate
knowledge of the world, his varied
experience, the perfect refinement and tact which
he could display at will, the apparent putting
off of old things, the tone of utter respectability
which enabled George's newly-shapened
conscience to consent to the fascination as really
as his predilections, had more than ever an
irresistible attraction for the young man. During
dinner, which, in the altered state of affairs,
involved the presence of the servant, Routh kept
the conversation almost entirely to Dallas's own
doings, plans, and prospects. He knew
Amsterdam well, and talked of Dutch art and the
history of the Low Countries with much skill
and fluency. Without an allusion which could
supply material for the curiosity and the gossip
of the servants, he made George understand
that the Bohemian element had been
completely banished from his life and its associations;
he sketched a plan of London life for
George, moderately prosperous, quite practical,
and entirely inoffensive. He made him, in
short, as ready to congratulate himself on the
resumption of their intimacy in the present
phase of his moral being, as he had been to
rejoice in its formation under former conditions.

Routh's spirits rose with his senses. He
felt a depraved pride in the devilish skill he
possessed in his grand faculty of deception.
He excelled in it, he revelled in its exercise,
and he had not enjoyed it, in this orthodox
way, of late. He had been making money, it
is true, and doing some real work as well as
a good deal of swindling in the process, but
he had had only the opportunity of using a
certain set of his faculties. His persuasive
eloquence, his personal influence, his skilful
and expansive but shrewd falsehood, had lain
dormant for some time. As a singer who has
lost his voice for a time suddenly finds the
liquid notes filling the air with all their
accustomed power and sweetness, and exults in the
recovered faculty, so Stewart Routh marked
the pleasure, the enthusiasm, almost enabling
George to forget the coming painful topic of
discussion from which only a few minutes
divided them, as he listened to the voice of the
charmer, who had never before charmed him so
wisely nor so well.

At length the wine was set upon the table,
and then they were alone; and by this time, so
complete did Routh feel his resumption of
power over George Dallas, that it was with
indifference only very little feigned that he said:

"And now, George, let us go into this sad
business about poor Deane. It has quite
floored Harriet, as I dare say you guessed."

"And so you give me the same counsel as
Harriet has given me," said George, when he
had to tell his story all over again, and had
worked himself up into a new fit of excitement
over the horror ot the murder, and the dreadful
idea of the ignorance of the deed in which the
dead man's relatives still remained.

"I do, indeed, George," said Routh, solemnly;
"in taking any other course, you will expose
yourself to certain difficulty, and, indeed, to
imminently probable danger. While you have been
telling me all this, I have been thinking how