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CHAPTER XXII._A Girl in Ten Thousand

 When Effie said these words, Lawson gave her a startled glance, and George's sulkiness seemed to vanish magically. He opened his lips as if to speak, then closed them again; a rush of color spread over his face, and he turned his head aside.170

"I fear it is impossible that you can do the least vestige of good, Miss Staunton," said Lawson. "All the same it is a brave thought, and worthy of you."

George looked round when Lawson said this; he fully expected Effie to explain herself more fully, to argue the point, and to give her reasons for approaching Mr. Gering. To the surprise of both the men, however, she was silent. After a little pause, she said, turning to Lawson:

"Do you think George will be safe here until the morning?"

"I do—perfectly safe," answered Lawson.

"Then I will say good-night. I will come to you, George if I have news, in the morning."

"Oh, you won't have news," replied George; "there never was such a hard nut to crack as old Gering."

Effie made no reply.

"Good-night," she said to her brother.

He did not offer to kiss her, but he took her hand and gave it a silent squeeze. It seemed to Effie then that she got near his heart.

Lawson took her downstairs and put her into a cab.

"You are only wasting your time in going to Mr. Gering," he said, as he stood for a moment at the cab door.

"I must waste it, then," replied Effie; "for, whatever the consequence, I am going."

"Then, if you will go, you had better do so early. Gering is always at his office by nine o'clock. George may quite possibly be arrested to-morrow morning, and brought before the magistrates at Bow Street at ten or ten-thirty. When once he is arrested, Mr. Gering can do nothing. The law then takes up the case, and prosecutes on its own account. You will171 see, therefore, that if you wish to save your brother you must be astir betimes."

"I quite see, and thank you very much," said Effie.

Lawson said good-by, the cab rolled away, and Effie soon found herself back again at her own lodgings.

She ran upstairs, to find that her mother was still sound asleep. She sent the two tired girls to bed, and, lying down on the sofa in the sitting room, tried to sleep. She had left her mother's door slightly ajar, and knew that she would hear the least movement in the room. All was perfect stillness, however, and presently Effie fell into a light doze.

She awoke long before the dawn of day, thought carefully over the whole complex situation, and then rose and dressed herself. She slipped softly into her mother's room. The opiate was still taking effect. Mrs. Staunton's face looked pinched and drawn as it lay on the pillow, there were blue lines under the eyes, and a blue tint round the lips which spoke of heart trouble; but just at the present moment the spirit was at peace, and the body resting calmly.

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