Chapter XXIX.
 

Mr. Eden's health improved so visibly that Susan Merton announced her immediate return to her father. It was a fixed idea in this young lady's mind that she and Mrs. Davies had no business in the house of a saint upon earth, as she called Mr. Eden, except as nurses.

The parting of attached friends has always a touch of sadness needless to dwell on at this time. Enough that these two parted as brother and young sister, and a spiritual adviser and advised, with warm expressions of Christian amity, and an agreement on Susan's part to write for advice and sympathy whenever needed.

On her arrival at Grassmere Farm there was Mr. Meadows to greet her. "Well, that is attentive!" cried Susan. There was also a stranger to her, a Mr. Clinton.

As nothing remarkable occurred this evening, we may as well explain this Mr. Clinton. He was a speculator, and above all a setter on foot of rotten speculations, and a keeper on foot a little while of lame ones. No man exceeded him in the art of rose-tinting bad paper or parchment. He was sanguine and fluent. His mind had two eyes, an eagle's and a bat's; with the first he looked at the "pros," and with the second at the "cons" of a spec.

He was an old acquaintance of Meadows, and had come thirty miles out of the way to show him how to make 100 per cent without the shadow of a risk. Meadows declined to violate the laws of Nature, but, said he, "If you like to stay a day or two I will introduce you to one or two who have money to fling away." And he introduced him to Mr. Merton. Now that worthy had a fair stock of latent cupidity, and Mr. Clinton was the man to tempt it.

In a very few conversations he convinced the farmer that there were a hundred ways of making money, all of them quicker than the slow process of farming and the unpleasant process of denying one's self superfluities and growing saved pennies into pounds.

"What do you think, John," said Merton one day to Meadows, "I have got a few hundreds loose. I'm half minded to try and turn them into thousands for my girl's sake. Mr. Clinton makes it clear, don't you think?"

"Well, I don't know," was the reply. "I have no experience in that sort of thing, but it certainly looks well the way he puts it."

In short, Meadows did not discourage his friend from co-operating with Mr. Clinton; for his own part he spoke him fair, and expressed openly a favorable opinion of his talent and his various projects, and always found some excuse or other for not risking a halfpenny with him.