Chapter 110246731

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Chapter NumberIII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article110246731
Full Date1893-05-05
Page Number2
Corrections0
Word Count1320
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitlePetersburgTimes (SA : 1887 - 1919)
Trove TitleBrought to Book
article text

BEOMT TO BOOL

[Conclusion.]

CHATTER HI.

Two months had gone by since Marcus Gray- hacl intimated to Mary Lumsden his intention of seeking an interview with her father on the morrow, and our two young people had seen nothing of each other in

the interim.

The tragic circumstances connected with Lumsden'a death has put an end to all lovemaking for the time! being, and now the period Gray had allotted to himself for the English portion of his tour was nearly at an end. A week hence if he carried oat

the arrangement agreed upon with his father before leaving home, he would be due in Paris. But his love for Mary had in nowise cooled for lack of fuel to feed itself on, and he was determined on no account to quit London till he should come to an understanding

of some sort with her mother. In this contingency he decided to take hia Uncle Orde into his confidence and claim the benefit

of his advice in the affair. It was the wisest conclusion he could have come to.

Mr Orde listened, with lifted eyebrows to his nephew's recital. It was all news to him. Nothing had he seen or suspected.

" I congratulate you, my dear boy, on having made such an excellent choice," he said heartily when Gray had come to an end. " Mary Lumsden is a girl in a thousand. Bat tell me exactly what it is that yon wish

me to do."

Then Gray explained that, before seeking 1 an interview with Mrs i-inmsden, he was [ desirous of arranging for a meeting between Mary and himself. He had not seen her since the night before her father's death, and he was wishful to ascertain whether she still looked to him to carry out the promise he had then made her, and, in short, to satisfy him\x=req-\

self—not that for one moment he donbted

her constancy—that she remained as un-1 changed to him as he did to her.

Mr Orde readily undertook his nephew's commission—a week never passed without finding him at Oakdene once, if not of tener —with the result that Mary sent word she would meet him next afternoon at three o'clock, on the road leading from Oakdene in the direction of Tooting Common.

Well, they met, and Mary proved to her lover's satisfaction that she was in nowise changed. "Idon't know how my mother will receive you," remarked the girl. " There has been a great change in her since poor papa's death. It is a dreadful thing to say,

but there are times when I fear for her reason."

" 1 must appeal to my uncle ior tue second time. If anyone can induce Mrs Lumsden to grant me an interview, he can."

"Mrs Lumsden has consented to see you at two o'clock to-morrow," said Mr Orde to his nephew three days later, " although what kind of a reception she will accord to your suit it would be futile to prophesy. I must confess that in some of her moods I altogether

fail to understand her."

Marcus Gray lacked nothing of that easy self possession which seems to be the birthright

of so many of his countzymen, but it must be confessed that when, on being ushered into the drawingroom at Oakdene, he found himself confronted by a tall, white\x=req-\ faced woman, -with hollow cheeks, and hair which a few short weeks had abundantly streaked with grey, and with a strange steely glitter in her deep-set eyes he ielt for once that his tongue refused to do his bidding.

"Pray be seated, Mr Gray," said the -widow. "Ihave consented to see you in deference to the wish of youi- uncle, who w&s my dead husband's dearest friend, as he is now mine. He tells me {hat you have conceived

an affection for my daughter, and that you wish me to sanction an engagement between yourself and her."

"That is the dearest wish of my life, Mrs Lumsden."

"And do you consider, Mr Gray, that this is a fit time to dream of lovemakuig and giving in .marriage, while the blood of my poor murdered husband cries out from the grave for vengeance on his assassin ? If you think so, I certainly do not."

Grey knew not what to reply. Xever in his life had he felt so nonplussed.

" Yes, the murderer is still at large," she resumed, speaking with slow, quiet intensity, as innocent seeming as you or I, mixing with his fellow men, no one knowing or suspecting him for the vile wretch that he ij. Every day that passes lessens the chances of his detection. Already at Scotland Yard my husband's death is looked upon as merely adding another item to the long catalogue of mysterious crimes which have never been brought home to their perpetrators. The task has been given up aB hopeless, other interests have come to the front, the reward remains unolaimed, and soon the name of Edward Lumsden will have faded from the minds of all, save a few who were nearest and dearest to kim.'

She had risen, and was pacing the room slowly, with something of the air of a caged animal, her clinched hands pressed tightly to her bosom, as if to crash down the surging emotions at worfc below. Gray had

no words at command.

For a little while the silence remained unbroken

; then Mrs Lumsden stopped abruptly in her walk, and fixing her large, dark eyes, InminouB with a sombre fire, full on the American, she said :

" You agk me, Btr Gray, to give you my daughter's hand. My answer to you is, first to do something to prove yourself worthy of the gift. You are here in London, idling

n rrraxr vemr fimfl. with Tin obiflnt bevond the !

amusement of the hour, and yet the assassin of the father of her yon. would make your ?wife is still un traced, his crime goes still unpunished,

and you have never so much ss lifted your little finger in the effort to track him down. Ob, that I were a man instead of the weak, helpless creature I am. Oh,

that I had a son who "

But at this juncture the door was opened.

"Dr Hynton, ma'am," said the parlor

maid.

Gray rose as the doctor entered. The

widow gave him her hand, and with a smile j that had in it much of her old sweetness, ' said: 1

" You will excuse me now, will you not,! Mr Gray 1 You must come and see me again1 a few days hence. It may be that I have talked a little at random to-day, but if you could only partially realise what I have gone through, yon would know how to make

allowance for me."

Gray bent aud touched her fingers with his lips and withdrew. He had scarcely been . ten minutes in the house and had not spoken

more than a dozen words.

Without professing to be actuated by any other motive than one of simple curiosity, when Gray related to his uncle the result of the interview he drew him on to talk about the crime with a frankness he had never exhibited

before. Mr Orde was by nature a man of caution and reserve, and not even to his nephew had he heretofore confided the particulars in connection with Eustace Crake, nor how his suspicions, unsupported though they were by any direct evidence, pointed unequivocally to him as being the criminal. To-day, however, he told his nephew everything.

It was as though the latter had brought away from his interview with Mrs Lumsden a pass key to the secret chamber

of his uncle's mind.

As lie left the house he said to himself:

" To-morrow I will seek out and make the acquaintance of Mr Eustace Crake."