They were chatting on in this way, and John had suggested, “No jewels for your own wear, for instance?” and Bella had replied laughing. O! if he came to that, yes, there might be a beautiful ivory case of jewels on her dressing-table; when these pictures were in a moment darkened and blotted out.

They turned a corner, and met Mr. Lightwood.

He stopped as if he were petrified by the sight of Bella’s husband, who in the same moment had changed colour.

“Mr. Lightwood and I have met before,” he said.

“Met before, John?” Bella repeated in a tone of wonder. “Mr. Lightwood told me he had never seen you.”

“I did not then know that I had,” said Lightwood, discomposed on her account. “I believed that I had only heard of—Mr. Rokesmith.” With an emphasis on the name.

“When Mr. Lightwood saw me, my love,’ observed her husband, not avoiding his eye, but looking at him, ’my name was Julius Handford.’

Julius Handford! The name that Bella had so often seen in old newspapers, when she was an inmate of Mr. Boffin’s house! Julius Handford, who had been publicly entreated to appear, and for intelligence of whom a reward had been publicly offered!

“I would have avoided mentioning it in your presence,” said Lightwood to Bella, delicately; “but since your husband mentions it himself, I must confirm his strange admission. I saw him as Mr. Julius Handford, and I afterwards (unquestionably to his knowledge) took great pains to trace him out.”

“Quite true. But it was not my object or my interest,” said Rokesmith, quietly, “to be traced out.”

Bella looked from the one to the other, in amazement.

“Mr. Lightwood,” pursued her husband, “as chance has brought us face to face at last — which is not to be wondered at, for the wonder is, that, in spite of all my pains to the contrary, chance has not confronted us together sooner — I have only to remind you that you have been at my house, and to add that I have not changed my residence.”

“Sir” returned Lightwood, with a meaning glance towards Bella, “my position is a truly painful one. I hope that no complicity in a very dark transaction may attach to you, but you cannot fail to know that your own extraordinary conduct has laid you under suspicion.”

“I know it has,” was all the reply.

“My professional duty,” said Lightwood hesitating, with another glance towards Bella, “is greatly at variance with my personal inclination; but I doubt, Mr. Handford, or Mr. Rokesmith, whether I am justified in taking leave of you here, with your whole course unexplained.”

Bella caught her husband by the hand.

“Don’t be alarmed, my darling. Mr. Lightwood will find that he is quite justified in taking leave of me here. At all events,” added Rokesmith, “he will find that I mean to take leave of him here.”

“I think, sir,” said Lightwood, “you can scarcely deny that when I came to your house on the occasion to which you have referred, you avoided me of a set purpose.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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