|Newspaper Title||The Record and Emerald Hill and Sandridge Advertiser (Vic. : 1872 - 1881)|
|Trove Title||The Law's Decree: An Original Story|
THE LA^'S DECREE.
DOHSEI Sovom was suddenly missed from his usual haunts, and by degrees it became apparont to everybody that he ha'd removed himself from tho scene of his popularity to seek other fields and pastures new, but the wherefore thereof nono could divine. He
had'gone without condescending to acquaint his most intimate associates of his destination, nor had ho ever shown them so much con sideration as to inform them of his intention to depart," till after ho had placed himself beyond'their inlluonco and out of the radius of their prying eyes. Ifone knew whenco or whither he had gone, and few even suspectod tho cause and circumstances which necessitated so unexpected a withdrawal from tho turmoil of so appareut prosperous business and tho warmth of seemingly popular public lifo. But thoro were such, though the secret, if it could so bo called, remained alone withiu tho keep ing of-three individuals whom, deserving to have been treated as frionds, met with more injustice aud unreasonable consideration at 'liis hands thun his worst antipathies and most pronounced antagonists had ever experienced from his bitterest, invective and harshest measure of revenge. It nas tho anomaly of Soveru's life, how though ho had alienuted from his party or severed from his friend ship with the bitterest treatment possiblo for ono man to use against another, ho still succeeded 'in treating his declared almost intimate friends in such a man ner ithat' they felt more grieved and dis appointed tliau if they had really, beon declared enemies and treated as such. Dorsot's disappearance was tho means of bringing n hornet's nest of anxious friends around his numesako, tho lawyer; as well as to tho quiet little villa outsido the busy por tions of tho city, where poor Mrs. Severn and her children lived in happiness, but without that quietudo which thoir allorcd circum stances should havo ensured for them from their tormentors.
The circumstance of Dorset's departuro which Mrs. Severn had witnessed, was only made known to Percival ©ray, and that young gentleman took such precautionary measures as might tend to provent its circulation among tho coterios of gossips and scandal-mongors which infested oven that quiot little inland township. No one of them kuew of Dorset Severn's departuro till it had been effected and not for several weeks after tho occurrenco narruted in the last. chapter did it become known to the public generally that tho once i popular bankor aud politician had disappeared
from tho world iu which ho moved for years past, a star of no inconsiderable magnitude
was non est inventus,
His estate was sequestrated and his seat in the Assembly declared vacant through his prolonged absence from its sittings, but still no tidings of his whereabouts could bo ascer tained. Through tho intervention of Gray the lawyer had prevailed upon Dorset Severn on the occasion of his marriage to make over and settle upon his wife a sullicient proporty
to secure her and her children from want
should ought bofall him j now the utility of such a measure though seemingly oxaeting and unnecessary at the time, presented itself in all its forco to tho parties coucorncd. It was a wise act aud one which bore good fruit in
seasou, but it had taken all the natural elo quence and all strategy of art and diplomacy lor Pcrcival Gray first to convince his master of tho necessity for such a settlement being made; and secondly, to have it so placed before Dorset that the proposition might seem as if emanating from tho lawyer's sense of equity and just ico alouc, and withouteithcr the interference of the clask or the knowledge of the unsuspecting futuro Mrs. Severn. Ibo
villa in which sho lived was included in the
settlement, which being an accurate aud unquestionably logal document, Gray saw that thero should bo no flaw in its framing, those who had suffered by tho delinquency of Severn and the sequestration of the estate desisted trying to upset it, aud allowed Mrs. Severn to live in tho undisturbed quietude of her marriage settlements; aud they wero amply sufficient to allow her to bring up littlo May aud Hcury in such a manner as
became her children.
Several months after tho black foggy morn ing upon which Grace Severn behold tho strango departuro of her husband, sho was sitting in her vorandah waiting for May's return from Madame Alberta's Academy lor Young Ladies, when tho garden gate sud denly flew open and I'ercivul Gray iiurriod up the pateli to her side, evidently possessed of information, but apparently uudecidcd to make hor acquainted with it forthwith, or to poslpouo its impartmcnt till another oc
" Why, Mr. Gray," said Graco, in a little concerning voijo which disclosed at once tho interest she took iu tho visitor and his pelurbatiou, your blessing. What can pos sibly bo tho ni.ittor- with you; I never saw you look so beforo?"
' I do not always wear my heart upon my sleeve, Grace, so if it bo thoro uow, you might have moro compassion tliau to imper sonate tho crow and pick it."
"-A lawyer with a heart," answered Crrace, jokingly, "why tho thing's prepostfous; and as for wearing it upon" your sleeve-3tuff." And she laughed him into a good humor.
."Stuff, truly, for my coat is of it, and uiy sleovo is the beat stuff to bo had in Gawler, for money, vide 'So-and-so,' my tailors!" answered Gray, displaying his well-cut sleevo iu illustration of this remark, and joining Graco in a hearty laugh at thoir frivolity of discussion. " But come, Gruco, neither my sleevo nor.'my heart brought mo here so early."
"Then you had bettor go again," sho said, changing''her incod aud pretendiug to bo frightened at him, "for I don't liko gentle men who go through lifo mcchauically and look as if they were propelled by a llvc-horso atoam cngino instead of by the mainspring and inotivo power of their . being - tho
But I am a lawyer, Grace
"Oh, lawyers havo hearts too-iron ones, but you are not a fnll-blowu lawyer yet, and ouo's heart does not got quite adamantine till you become a full-Hedged lawyer, you know.
. -" J3ut I am a lawyor, Grace,*' Percival
Gray repeated,I looking stedfastly at her as he uttered ' the expression for tho third
"What, bavo you boon admitted among the woolly-headed black sheep.'' .
" G-raeo "?'.
"All,'* she pleaded archly, "Idon't mean any offence, but they liavo woolly heads, wigs j some people call them, like sheep, and you
know that everybody calls them black sheep. | Dufc you are cross with me.-'
" No, indeed I am.uot.'
. " You said just noiv that neither your heart nor your sleove brought you here aud in a voico almost suQicicntto frighten one."
" So I did, but I meaut business. I want to toll you that I had been admitted to prac tice afc the Supremo Court us a barrister aud
as Don Severn
'He paused,- for at tho utterance of that
name ii cloud passed over her fmV f»co nncl> slip appeared to wither as if stuug by a foul blast from the infernal regions.
s He changed his tono after a second and wont on-" I am going to move to Adelaide, I-r would never live with a bare subsistence here aud that is what lma brought 1110 round
".Going to leave ua liero alone" alio asked pathetically, " Oh no, May and Harry would pino away without you and for myself I-'"
"So on, Grace, speak."
'.'Having 110 one in whom to confide and ontrusfc our preservation, I would go mad, I know I would, you muit not leave us.'
" I have something elso to tell you about -Aim wliich, when you aro prepared to hear, I
" Oli I can hear it now ; what is it ?"
: " Your conjecture was right about the mau'a t'aco who you saw attending liim when ho went away. It was Dick Wearing, who, under instructions from me hud be 11 on the look-out for audi an occurrcuco for several
."Soveral months Mhon you know that lie intended to go away from 1110 all along and
did not tell me.
"Tdid not know, but suspected that such was his intention.- It would hare been idle of me to make you acquainted with all my various suspicions about him."
" But bow dp you know that tho man I saw was Wearing?"
" I have received this tolegram from him
. Arrived all safo. Tlioy avo here, and in tend goiug oil to Syduoy to tako passago for San ITrauciseo. At wits ouds and nearly out of money, holograph at ouco how I shall aot. 'Choy go 011 Wednesday."
SJHo handed this tolcgram to Mrs. Severn and awaited hor reply, which after a few seconds eiimo in a moat aU'euting manner, plaintively and in fils and starts as if her j heart wcro breaking undor the heavy shock
which the news brought hor- ?
"Lot them go-thoy are unworthy-of
consideration-I nil! tear down his faithlcsa imago and level it in the mire-and yet bo was my husband-and Bworo eternal fidelity
-at the foot of the shrine at which he wor shipped-at me-that ever I should live to see what I havo seen-and know that you Dorset Sovorn-were a mockery-a liar-and u riltian-who is it upbraids weak woman for her frailty-when men possessing all tho stronger faculties of a higher and nobler cultivation-pawn their honor iu return for an idlo gratification-and place no more value upon thoir piightod troth than a dicor upon
his oath-hab-it is murdering to think how ? ficklo naturo is-but I muat not go on this way-say Gray-what ought I to do?"
" But ho is my husband."
"With whom you cannot live in even peaeo, much less happiness."
".But that woman, that designing wo
" y ou wrong her, women aro not naturally designing. She has not sought to estrange him from you."
"Ab, you do not know us. We are de signing and ambitious. I know that she has sought night aud day with might and main to estraugo us and win his love."
"You aro prejudiced and cannot judge fairly. Come, let us not stoop to tho common pructico so prevalent among nmukind of stauding an absent one, whether that ono be friend or foe. Leave tho matter in my hands aud I will arrango everything, but to do 80 eil'ectually it will bo necessary for me to go to Adelaide. Can you not tako the children there for a holiday ??.
"But you will not havo him arrested."
" Oh no, but I will prevent her going furthor than Sydney with him."
*" How ?"
" Oh, leave that to mo, and I will toll you by aud by."
it was arranged that Mrs. Severn and the children should visit Adelaide to enjoy a holiday while Pei'cival Gray acted as guardian, and went through tho formality of bomg pre sented to tho woolsack and doing whatevor other business iu the city ho had to trans
(To le Continued. J