|Newspaper Title||The Record and Emerald Hill and Sandridge Advertiser (Vic. : 1872 - 1881)|
|Trove Title||The Law's Decree: An Original Story|
i CHAPTER IT.' ': r
* / - Wind* from all quarters agitate the air,
<v the liuipid cleiuciib for use."-(JONTElt.
HAT'iNO-divcrged thus far from the even pathway of our story, to narrate ail incident ;iu tho lifCiOf mi inconsiderable character, wr muft now conLinue iu tho wake of Dorset .S^VGrn,!roinlho Lime of bis.hasty return to tlie umbrageous tree"" beneath "which tho con
Torcnoc al read J- mentioned took place. He' was doubly annoyed at the occurrences of the
evening," for: having- oueo fcl his inind upon
accomplishing mi end, however difficult to attain, it was his clistoni: to overcome every obstacle by tho assistance of diplomatic:ai-ts and «Ubterfuges whereJho. more pleading and agreeable policyof conciliation failed in its effect." Failure nevor for "a moment entered his all sanguine mind, aud after;consequences: never troubled, him, as tHe/ do the raajorit/ of mon. Ho could not brook auy serious opposition, but lio never feared to euc3unter one, so certain was he of ultimately turning the tables up on his adversary, and thereby ob taining a double advantage. This obitinacr from one whom he was wont to look upon lis an intricate machine of whom ho alooo held the koy, was wormwood, to discomposed to his equilibrium temperament, that had not anothor surprise, more alarming still than the former, clmng<Hl the eurront of hi* thoughts, ho would doubtless have been hurried .into the perpetration of acts less cousistent with his social status than even tho contemplated one in which he had boen temporarily re
Tho unaccountable, loss of his pockct-booV brought about a euddon alarm 'aud revulsion of feeling and withdrew; Uis mind for a timo frprn .thu coiitKmoliitiou^oE^a design which maao liia Jiis niyllLn long and dreary, aud oft times sleepless and: un bearable. Xlie mind burdened with a secret can foster many of the numerous " ills that flesh is heir to," and transmits them through out: the wljolo system and organisation of mankind, transforming joyous healthful life into.u sullen incubus, uubcarablu.
Ho rode briskly on.howover, till ho entored the town, when he drew rein that tho horse might proceed slowly through tho thorough fares and not alarm the inhabitants, and though the external tnan seemed all passive. *ud content, he was actually iu the very '. paroxism of alarm and discontent. The horse evidently knew the destination of his master for tho reins lay across his mane, where they: had been carelessly thrown by the contem plative rider, no hand guiding his way, but he strode confidently and majestically along, un heeding tho darkness of the night, and un
mindful of the discomfiture of the creeping; things which expired beucath his tread.
Iu turning into a dark narrow street noar the polico station tho horse stumbled lightly over a log of wood which lay across the roai way, having evidently falleu from one of the numerous mule waggons which convoyed wood from tho interior to the railway station for transmission to the capital, aud startled Dorset Severn into wakefulness.
"Better that even, thau discovery " were tho first words which fqllowed the alarm which the accident provoked, but apparently surprised at the turn of his thoughts had taken he immediately reined up and kept a firm seat for the rest of tho journey.
His brain was in a whirlwind of doubt and uncertainty aud the more he Bought to acquire a knowledge of the whereabouts of his pocket book-he did not fully believe that ho had lost it-the more diflicult grew the task. A combination of difiiculties beset his under standing aud misdirected the natural strength of mind which usually enabled him to cope with such anomalies, they subverted his po wer ful intellect, and tortured him' .with'unreal
apprehensious. Bringing his horse to a stand still in front of a quiet-looking unpretentious little cottage, encircled with a small garden, from which the sweet-scented odours of tho (lowers made the atmosphere most agreeable, Dorset Severn dismounted aud opening the gato proceeded slowly up the gravel walk, but before he reached tho front door, it suddonly and unexpectedly opened, and a lady, well muffed up and heavily veiled, issued forth and passed rapidly down the walk aud into the street. Dazed for an instant by tho unex pected light which fell upon his face, Dorset Severn failed to identify tho (ig4rc, though a less careless observer could not but have been struck with a suddou movement of alarm made by tho lady immediately upon beholding the dark, moody figure coming up tho path
I)on Severn, who Imd come to the door to sco the lady out, for it was tho lawyer him self, expressed surpriso at seeiug his namsake there at that hour, but nothing beyond n somewhat cautious and cold salutation passed between the men till aftor they ivora en sconced in the quietude of tho libyqry.
Don Severn put away a number of papers whiul) lf.y scattered upon a round table standiug in tho centro of the room, and turning do ti n the oil lamp a little, silt down with his arms resting on the table, while Dorset went over to pa eney chair in the corner and threw himself carelessly upon
Dorset was tho first to break the silence.
" My presence seems to alarm you, do I
"Really, no, but lam somowliat surprised I understood that our meeting was fixed for
9 a.m. to-morrow ?"
" Certainly," answered Dorset-, regaiuing his calmnoss, " but I have mislaid my pocket book containing some papers you know of and others still more confidential, somewhere, and thinking that I left it here Inst night I came to enquire whether youhavo seen it?"
Don looked at the speaker incredulously and with surprise, for he did not for a moment credit the truthfulness of his assertion. He jumped at tho conclusion that Dorset recog nised the lady whom ho encountered in the walk, having seen her enter, and only waited without until her departure, when he might
discoTer her business from the lawyer, ioi a moment bo was undecided liow to not, fear
ful. supposing a subtle trap laid for him, lost I he Bhould fall iuto it. He loofcod Dorset steadily in the face and for the first lime their eyes met and thoy sought to read each other through and through. Don being \\nder the Bhado of tho light, lmd considerably the ad TRPtagp of the encounter, and as they glanced firmly at each other, tho lawyer fauoied that he noticed a tremor of conscioua $uilt shako
, *oat*4 fir(uuee| of I* *«.»«, and
tliis in itsolf was sufficient to shake his already frightonod confidence. Ho deter mined straightway to benefit by his ncumen and certain other quibbles connected with his profession and to that end he weighed every word ho uttered prior to jerking them furtively out at tho solemn Dorset secluded in
the distant corner.
'? I am sorry, but must assuro you that the
book was never left here."
"Whore could I possibly have loft it,
'. You should know."
" I thought I had it in my possession when we met ou the common, but I must bo mis taken. What would you advise mo to
. "Do ? why, give information to the uolice, 'of course." By this suggestion Don thought lo .. e'iilriip his lriond, by which means he would bo enabled to judge whether Llic re potted loss of the pocket book was .only a '"means to;an .end," or a serious matter of faet.,-(JLn tho latter case, ho would be se riously interested and. deeply concerned, nsjhere were private papers in the pocket -book- -particularly . concerning bothlaw yer and politician^ JXo was in a me*»ure baulked,. tor acting on-suj'pioibn only, he .attributed other .motives to the replies which
lie received, than those which really prompted
' ',-jLiiat cannot, must not be; if I must :sustii:n tlio whole loss, ami tear the terrible coiiscquuncos as well," morosely retorted Dorset, who began gradually to realise tho backwardness of the- peculiar .-"situation in . which he was so suddenly and unexpectedly
' " No ? "
" Oh; no, Ton do not seom even to appre hend n'luit tfio terrible consequences would inevitably be if I were to do so."
" 1'lie loss of 11 simple pocket-book cauuot in itself entail any great consequences un
Unload it contain sucli documents as might bo construed into putting two woll-known characters, that wo know well, into the Stockade." . '
?" Biiiginu of enigmas, wliat do you mean ?" said the lawyer sorely puzzled whether to believe the story or lo doubt it, till he should be nfforded more convincing proofs.
-"I will "tell you," answered Dorset, " when I left here yesterday evening it was under stood between ns that you should continue to retain those papers recovered from the escort, uiitil such time as means could be devisod to Iiuto tlicm accidentally found somewhere in the vicinity of where the robbery took place."
"I. need not iuform you that your state ment is exact in overy particular," interjected Don somewhat anomalously in contrast with qualifying provision; During the pause which
ensued Dorset Severn continued ......
"The fresh invigorating air gave a zest lo my determination, aud passing your oUiee, from which a bright light shone through tho wiudciws and illumined the d'irk street, a ti'-w idea came to me and I at once rosolved to put it into execution. ; I alighted, nnd knocked at the door, which iiftera brief delay was opened to me by that l'ellow named Gray, your clcrk,
I believe. _
" Brocecd," cxcltiiraed Don growing im petuous mid impatient*- -
*'In my desire to possess tho papers, I tool tho liberty of using your name, upon which guarantees heluinded tliem over to mo."
."D6n, who grew pale with alarm, rose ex citedly from liis chair.and paced the room, as he had often before paced the quarter-deck in a dozj of ustonijlmisutand indecision. At last, confronting DjrSttt lie exclniiuod in as cool
u manner as he could command
" Well, you have not yet'concludod this most interesting incident. - May I ask-you to procecd?" v*"?i '.i-z:
'. '.Che rost," continued Dorsot, " you know. I placed the papers in my leather pocket book for safety till I.should find Wearing, for lie, I determined should carry out my plan, un known to himself, and I iuiaginedthat it was in uiy possession when I left you on the common. But it appears not to have been, when I left you I returned in the direction of Barossa Yilla, and passing along tho road saw a fellow lurking about the place who im bued'me in suspicion, aud-1 pursued'' him.
Ho was loo agile, however, and disappeared ; through the opposite liodgo before X could come' up to him." ^
" Hav'o yoit no idea who ho was."
" Xudced I have, it ot onco struck mo tl>nt' it was that fellow I'ercival Gray-"
" My clerk ?" " . ,
; "Yes, and X mean to keep my oye onhim."
Don turned down the lump auother shade, and returned-t'o his seat, wliilo "Dorset rose and paced the room as the former had done
' When^I^P'ulIod^u'p^ifc atruolrm©-that- the fqllqw|was Gray,and the same thought induced mo to feel for tho poeket-book coutainmg the papera wlncl^I hud received from lnm tho preceding evening--tbby were gone."
"Oh, folly, whufc folly to be suro."
" Yes^'-assonted Dorsoti " I'scarolVed along the.road, but it wns nowhere to bo found and I returned to the tree upou tho common, still withoutd sigh of the missing treasure."
"Could you not" have leit it at Barossa Yilla?" ,
" Jfo, I have hot; been there since recovering the papers.,-^
Where then did you aleop last night, may
° 2sTo mutter where. I know that I cud not leave it there. I have succeeded in getting the
pair" of us into this predicament, it is for you to get us out of it."
" .Remarkable, you perpetrate abuses and commit follies of the mo3t ridiculous tenor, and then run oil* hero for protection. ^ ^.ou havo not yet told inc all tho story, until you do so, I must dcctiue having auythiu£ what ever to do with the case," aud with this final stroke the diplomatic lawyer gained the upper
haud of his frieud and client.