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As We Forgive Them Part 32

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"No, I am unworthy, Gilbert. I deceived you."

"The past is past, and all forgotten," I exclaimed, s.n.a.t.c.hing up her hand, and bending until my hot, pa.s.sionate lips touched hers. "You are mine, Mabel--mine alone!" I cried. "That is, of course, if you dare to trust your future in my hands."

"Dare!" she echoed, smiling through the tears which filled her eyes.

"Have I not trusted you these past five years? Have you not indeed been always my best friend, from that night when we first met until this moment?"

"But have you sufficient regard for me, dearest?" I asked, deeply touched by her words. "I mean, do you love me?"

"I do, Gilbert," she faltered, with eyes downcast in modesty. "I have loved no man except yourself."

Then I clasped her to me, and in those moments of my new-born ecstasy I repeated to my love the oft-told tale--the tale that every man the world over tells the woman before whom he bows in adoration.

And what more need I say? A delicious sense of possession thrilled my heart. She was mine! mine for ever! I was convinced that in those terrible sufferings through which she had pa.s.sed, she had been always loyal and true to me. She had, poor girl, like her father, been the innocent victim of the ingenious adventurer, Dawson, and the unscrupulous young blackguard who was his tool, and who had inveigled her into marriage in order to subsequently possess themselves of the whole of Blair's gigantic fortune.

The wheel of fortune, however, ran back upon them, and instead of success their own avarice and ingenuity resulted in their defeat, and at the same time placed me in the position they had intended to occupy.

CHAPTER THIRTY ONE.

CONCLUSION.

Mabel and I are now man and wife, and surely no couple in London are as perfectly happy as we are.

To us, after the storms and stress of life, has come a calm and blissful peace. The faithful Ford is back as my secretary, while we frequently chaff Reggie, who has sold his lace business, about his profound admiration of Dolly Dawson, who, even though the daughter of an adventurer, is, I am compelled to admit, a modest and most charming girl, who would, I feel sure, make my old chum an excellent life-partner. Indeed, the other day he inquired in strict confidence of Mrs. Percival, who has apartments with us at Mayvill, whether she thought Mabel would take it ill were he to propose. Therefore his ideas are evidently now running in the direction of matrimony. Old Hales still lives at the Crossway at Owston, and recently came with his wife to London to visit us.

As regards the Cardinal's secret, no word of it has ever leaked out to the public, it being far too carefully guarded by us. Over the entrance to that great storehouse of wealth the grave, black-bearded monk in the frayed habit, Fra Antonio, the friend of the poor of Lucca, still lives, dividing his lonely life between solitary meditation and attending to the wants of the dest.i.tute in that crowded city away down the green valley.

The Church of Rome has a long memory. For years, it seems, active steps have been in progress to search and recover the great treasure given by Pius IX to his favourite Sannini. The presence in London of the well-known cleric, Monsignore Galli, of Rimini, and his clandestine interview with Dolly, was, according to her own avowal, in order to ascertain some facts regarding her father's recent movements, it being known that he had a few months before sold to a dealer in Paris the historic jewelled crucifix worn by Clement VIII which was placed in the Vatican treasury after his death in 1605.

Many men in the City are aware of the great fortune that has come to me, and you yourself are perhaps acquainted with the white exterior of one house in Grosvenor Square, yet none a.s.suredly know the strange facts which I have here for the first time put on record.

A month ago I was seated in that silent little cell which so cunningly conceals the vast wealth of which I am now possessor and which has placed me among the millionaires of England, and in relating to him in detail Mabel's tragic story of how cruelly she was victimised, I was expressing my mind freely upon the dastardly action of that man who had been engulfed in the subterranean flood, when the kindly monk with the furrowed face raised his hand and, pointing to the great crucifix upon the wall, said in that calm voice of his--"No, no, Signor Greenwood.

Hatred and malice should not rankle in the heart of the honest man.

Rather let us remember those Divine words: `Forgive us our trespa.s.ses as we forgive them that trespa.s.s against us.' As we forgive them!

Therefore let us forgive the `One-Eyed Englishman.'"

The End.

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As We Forgive Them Part 32 summary

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