Chapter 146808548

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Chapter NumberIV
Chapter Url
Full Date1897-12-24
Page Number3
Word Count2663
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Narracoorte Herald (SA : 1875 - 1954)
Trove TitleBy False Pretences; or, The Dilemma of Norman Lennox. A Christmas Story
article text



It was the latter end of October, and London society was beginning to return] from the moors and the sea-side, from Switzerland and the Riviera, and all those delightful places where its members had taken refuge from the dust and discomfort of the great city.

The Carters were back at Cadogan House, but Norman was now located at a fashionable club, as he was now in the enviable position of the betrothed of the daughter of the house.

After the episode at Scarborough there was no possibility of evading the natural conclusion, and the evident pleasure of Mr Carter, independently of his heartfelt gratitude to Norman for his brave act, made the course of true love run particularly smooth, as yet. The engagement was three months old. and it was arranged that the marriage should take place at Christmas. Already certain necessary preparations were being made, and Norman yielded to the delirious ex citement of his new rold without a thought or a care for anything that had happened before.

But with the extinction of the sunshine, and the arrival of the dreary fogs of November, he began to suffer from occasional fits of depression when he was alone. Perhaps it was the reaction from

the ecstasy when he was in the presence of his lady-love ; perhaps it was the murky atmosphere ; but, whatever the cause, he was wretched at times, and he could not help thinking that he whb too happy to last, and that this was a pre monition of coming disaster.

One day he sat moodily smoking in his room at the club, when with an apologetic knock, the attendant announced a visitor. Norman looked up.

It was Dr Martin Shaw !

The visitor stood in the open doorway, a walking cane in one hand, and with the other he thoughtfully stroked his beard. There was something horribly reminiscent in the attitude, as though it were oynioally premeditated, and with a whitening face and a dull, heavy pain at the heart, Norman saw the whole of that fatal scene at Yanooo rise vividly before him. He felt his present existence, with its refined pleasures, its keen interest, its affection, slipping from around him. Unconsciously a couplet from Eugene Aram- slipped into

his mind -

" So wills the fierce avenging sprite,

Till blood for blood atones,"

and ho shuddered. This man, with his saturnine face, and his sarcastic smile, standing in the doorway so suddenly, seemed to Norman's startled vision the personification of the avenger. All this passed through his mind like a flash.

" Why don't you say • 1 am glad you've come, Martin,' " said Shaw, and by :fhe sneering tone, more than the iteration of the words he so well remembered, Norman

knew that Dr Martin Shaw came as an enemy.

He roused himself. "Come in, and sit down. 1 never expected to see yon

here." '

The doctor took the proffered cigar, and helped himself to a glass of whisky

from the decanter <>n the table.

"Probably not," he said. "Nor by your manner should I suppose my presence is particularly welcome to you. Don't argue the matter," he added, as Norman made a deprecating gesture. " It will, perhaps, simplify matters if I am plain with you. I am an unpleasant reminder of that which yon would rather forget. Save for me, you appear to have forgotten pretty easily. It is not yet twelve months since yon were a

well, since you were flying from jnstice— possibly the hangman's rope—and now you are a curled darling of aristocratic society, a member of a select London club, and engaged to be married to the beautiful daughter of a wealthy city man. And I —I have had the devil's own luck, though I haven't murdered anybody—not even a Chinaman—and as you once told me if I got you out of the sorape you would owe everything to me, I want you

to ssttle the debt."

" What do yon want ? You are plain —brutally p'ain," said Norman, wearily.

" I want a fresh start." said Shaw. I want to do as you are doing now. ~T want you to give me ten thousand pounds."

"Ten thousand pounds?" exclaimed Norman. '• Nonsense. Fifteen thousand pounds is all I have."

" But you owe me everything," was the sneering answer. " Anyhow, think it over. I shall not leave London without it—or—without you," and, rising, he stood for a minute looking down on the crushed figure in the chair, sb he looked at him once before in the saloon at

Yanooc, then turning on his heel, he left

Norman to his own reflections.

The next few days were days of torture bo Norman. It was not the contemplation of the unreasonable request of Dr. Shaw that made him miserable. 11 e would have freely parted with every penny he had could he have felt that never again would the accusing past rise up before him. But he saw clearly that there was no finality in this demand So long as he lived he would be liable to blackmail.

And there was the agonising fear that there was some other who might know the 3ecret, for Martin Shaw coald scarcely have -disposed of Caron's body alone.

A few days since how happy he had been, and now how wretohed he was. Alios, with the keen insight of love, noted -tiie' change, and anxiously rallied him

about it. - For- her sake, he strove to banish his fears when in her presence, bnt they returned tenfold when he was

One evening he arrived at Cadogan House just before the dinner hour, and Mr Carter, drawing him aside into the library-said '

" I have a little surprise for you to-, night."

Normanstarted. His nerves were

getting unstrung. He dreaded any more surprises. . -

'' What is it?' he enquired.

- " An old friend of yours. He is here

to dinner.'' -

Norman's heart sank within him.

There was only one man whom he could possibly think of in this connection, and to meet him here would truly be the death's head at the feast.

Ho followed his host with the feelings . of a criminal going to his execution.

"Mr Lennox—Captain Leroy," said Mr . Carter, and Norman saw before him a bronzed and bearded man with a distinctly notary bearing.

The two men looked at each other for a.-minute.; and then the captain said, quietly: -

"There is some mistake Mr Carter.

This is not my Mend, Mr Norman Len

nox "

"That is my name, certainly," said Norman, "bat I never saw yon before to my knowledge."

There was a dead silence for a minute

?arso. The two men looked curiously at eaehvother, but on the face of Mr Carter was an expression of sudden alarm.

" You are joking," he gasped.

"Not at all," said Captain Leroy.

' " This gentleman is wonderfully like my.

friend, but it is not the Norman Lennox


" Good-God I" cried Carter, sinking in to a chair.. Then starting up he turned fiercely to Norman:

Are yon not the son of Gordon Len

nox ?"

" Certainly X am," answered Norman. "Gordon Lennox, the banker, of Aldergate, in the City of London V

"No—as certainly not," retorted Nor man, on whom-a sudden light began to dawn. " My father was Gordon Lennox, of Brisbane, Queensland, who left Scot land for Australia twenty-six years


Carter's jaw dropped. £Jjs face was ashen pale. "1 see it now," he gasped. "My Mend was yonr father's cousin," and he slipped down, a prone heap on the


The two men looked at eaoh other.

" There has been some terrible mistake here," said Captain Leroy.

"There has, indeed," bitterly replied Norman. "Come with me to my club and we will try to understand this mys tery."

'Norman rang the bell, and bade the footman attend to his master, and, with a brief message to Mrs Hilliard, they left

the house.

"When they were seated in Norman's room, he told the captain briefly his own history, and how he became acquainted

with the Carters.

" I see it all clearly now," said the cap tain. " Now let me explain. Old Gor don Lennox, the banker, your father's cousin, it appears, married a lady against

be wishes and advice of his friends.

They quarrelled soon after the birth of their son, who like yourself was named Norman. She was an Anglo-Indian, »nd, being possessed of ample private

means, left her husband and returned to; India. It was there I became acquainted with her and her son, with whom I was very friendly. About two years ago she died, and Norman made up his mind to travel. Twelve months ago he went to Australia, and I have not heard from him since, until I learned from Mr Garter that he was here. The rest you know."

After Captain Leroy had gone, Norman made up his mind. He could see clearly now. He could see the significance of the brief conversation with the stranger at the shipping office in Melbourne. He had been mistaken then for the other Norman Lennox.. It was no use struggling against

fate. Nemesis was at his heels in the shape of Dr. Shaw, and in the eyes.of Mr Carter he Was little better than an impos tor. True, he had not deceived him; Carter would neves allow him to talk of his family, but the complication was there

all the same. If it were not for the stain

of blood on his. hands he would many Alice in spite of all, but it was better he should go. He would not link her fate. to that of a miserable wretch like himself. !

He sat down and wrote a tender fare- j well letter to Alice, and a brief note to her father, and despatching these he or dered a cab. Packing his portmanteau,

he drove to Euston Station and took the

express to Dover. The next day he was

m Paris.

He put np at a quiet hotel in the Rue 1 dela Roche, and for a day or two wandered aimlessly about, cursing his existence..

On the morning of the third day after

his arrival he was sitting in his room ; speculating as to the wisdom of putting an end to his life, when the waiter knocked at the door.

" A gentleman to see you, monsieur."

" No, no," said Norman, •' I have no acquaintance here."

" But," persisted the man,, "he says: Mr Norman Lennox. He has observed you enter. He does make no mistake."

" Then ask him his name." said Lennox savagely.

The waiter returned with a bit of paste- -


Norman took the card. As he read it

he turned pale. It was as though he had seen a ghost.

That night Norman returned to Eng land, in company with his visitor.

The next evening, he presented himself at Oadogan Houbb. Mr Carter, he learned, was from home, and Miss Carter was ill. Captain Leroy was there, and Norman had a long interview with him. At the close of the conversation, the Captain said —

'' One other matter. Since you went away, Mr Carter has received a visit from an acquaintance of yours in Australia, a Dr Martin Shaw, who, I understand, has made some serious allegation against you, the purport of which is not clear, but it seems evident that he desires to sell the

information to Mr Carter. He is coming here again to-morrow morning."

And Norman determined that he would also be there

That night he wrote again to AJice and her father. To the latter he merely said that he intended to be present when Dr

Shaw arrived.

The next morning Mr Carter, Captain Leroy, and Norman were seated in trie library at Cadogan House, when Dr Shaw was announced. On entering the room he was evidently disconcerted at seeing Norman there.

" You villain,'' Norman hurst out wrathfully.

" You murderer," the doctor retorted, contemptuously.

Captain Leroy touched the bell, and a

man walked in.

It was Leon Caron !

A malignant look of diabolic hatred flashed across Shaw's face; the next minute he had recovered his wonted self

possession, and taking up liis hat and cane, he bowed mockingly, and left the room.

To Mr Carter and Captain. Leroy this was as .so. much pantomime, the full significance of which they did not, until later, comprehend. But when the outer door closed upon the departing schemer, Norman said—

" I hare some important, though 1 fear, sad news for you, Mr Carter. It appears that my namesake, the-Norman Lennox you supposed me to be; reached Australia about the time I left. He spent some months travelling about the colonies, un til on a certain, occasion, he met with a serious, and as it proved a fatal accident. He died in the Toowoomba Hospital, and before his death, committed to this gentleman, who was himself in the hospital at the time, certain papers, which he desired should be personally conveyed

to the firm of Carter and Carter. I met Mr Caron in Paris, and learned of this from him, and have hastened to bring him to you.

Mr Carter took the packet of papers, and slowly examined them. His hands trembled, but when he laid them down, his voice had a distinct note of cheerful

"This has taken a great load off my mind," he said.

Of the rest there is not -much to be

told. It appeared that when Dr. Shaw, in order to extract more money from Lennox, urged the latter to fly, he knew Caroh was not dead, and speedily brought him ronnd after Norman's departure. After events showed that Shaw was the

cleverer gambler of the two, for he trans ferred all Caron's ill-got gains to his own pocket.

There was a fashionable wedding at Cadogan. House at Christmas, -when Nor man Lennox and Alice Carter were' made man and -wife.

It was not until after the marriage that

Norman learned what made his father-in law bo anxious to search out the son of his old friend. Gordon Lennox, the banker, was practically the owner of the house of Carter and Carter, of the solvency of

which Alice's father was so fond of insist

ing. -When Lennox died, he left the whole of his fortune, some fifty thousand pounds, to the son whom he had scarcely seen. The money was held in trust, the trustee being Mr Carter. In order to prop up the declining fortunes of the firm, Mr Carter had used twenty-five thousand ponnds of this trust money, and it was fear of the discovery that made him so desperately auxious to find young Norman Lennox, and, if possible, to wed him to his daughter. To this end he had caused inquiries to be made, and had learned that the young man had been heard of in Melbourne, and later that he had sailed for England in the Ckimborazo. By the death of the banker's son, the money re verted to the next-of-kin, Alice's hus band, and the legacy was a very satis factory Christmas-box.

Christmas Day was transferred from TanuaTy 6th to December 25th by Julius I.

It is curious to note that in London the " waits " are remains, as it were, of the musicians attached to' the Corporation of the City under that denomination. To denote that they were " the Lord Mayor's music," they anciently wore a badge on

the left arm.

Mrs Gadd—" Your husband appears to be very-busy to-day, Mrs Gabb." Mrs Gabb—" Does he ? Well, if he is very busy at anything, you may just be sure it's at something of no earthly use toany body but himself." M W