Chapter 160104959

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Chapter NumberXIV
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article160104959
Full Date1884-12-27
Page Number8
Corrections26
Word Count1960
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2018-03-17
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleSowing the Wind
article text

CHAPTER XIV.

Mrs. Newbury had returned to the farm- house about an hour after Helen's departure with the Sister, and was told by the farmer's wife that the young lady had gone out alone

to meet her some time previously.

Mrs. Newbury, supposing they had missed meeting, sent Govin (who just then returned with Marguerite) to guide her home. Of course he came back to say that Helen was nowhere to be found. In great consternation she quickly dispatched him for the Major to help in the search, which they kept up for hours. Govin apparently evincing the greatest solicitude and concern, enquiring at every cottage for miles round. How little Mrs. Newbury imagined as she and the discon- solate Marguerite sat waiting and watching all through that long night, listening to the furious wind howling around the house—how little she thought that the woman under the same roof, and even their own man-servant, who appeared to serve them so faithfully, were each conniving for a little money in this cruel plot—could each have given all the in- formation necessary. Towards morning the Major returned worn, weary, and discon-

solate.

The whole of the next day an unceasing search was continued, but it was Mar- guerite who quite unconsciously set on foot the very means for Helen's restoration by writing without delay to Father André,

merely to pour out her distress from the fulness of her heart.

Two days after he made his appearance at the farmhouse and interviewed Mrs. New- bury, and afterwards the farmer's wife, hold- ing a close conversation with the latter alone for a long time, who as he was leaving her was observed to wipe furtively away the traces of tears; he himself appeared greatly disturbed, even angry.

The priest asked for a horse, and when after a little time this was found for him he mounted, enquiring his way to Castle Dubois, and spurred on like any chevalier. He re- turned to the farmhouse on the evening of the next day—the horse in a foam, himself almost exhausted; yet he would not rest a moment, but telling Mrs. Newbury that if she would accompany him he would restore her friend to her, they quickly took their way to the Convent.

Ill-prepared as Mrs. Newbury was, it may well be imagined how shocked she felt at the scene which presented itself—Helen recognis- ing no one, in a raging fever. She was, how- ever, carefully tended by the Sisters under the direction of the Prioress, who to Mrs. New- bury's enquiries, explained with great sorrow that Helen had been the victim of a mistake. A young lady having eloped from her home, whose friends had implored her assistance and the asylum of the convent to reclaim her, Miss Montaine had been pointed to as the culprit in question. With this Mrs. Newbury was obliged to be content, and though her grief at that which might yet prove a fatal mistake remained unmitigated her indignation was greatly softened.

A few minutes after Mrs. Newbury had left the farmhouse with Father André Major Onslow arrived on the spot, and learning what had happened, hastened after them only to see their figures greatly in advance in the distance. He followed, however, until they entered the convent, outside which he impatiently waited; but, after about half an hour, to his disappointment the priest alone opened the gate and came out. To the Major's eager enquiries he replied—

"It has been a disastrous—an inquitous— affair, my friend; I am thankful that I have been able to come to the rescue in time. The Prioress has been made the victim of a gross deception for the furtherance of a wicked plot laid by the Marquis Dubois. Nay, re- serve your resentment. I give him credit that it was a wife he sought to add lustre to his name, his fame, his house, and he had set his mind and heart upon this young lady. Never even in childhood having submitted to opposition, I can well imagine that being opposed in this instance has only added fuel to the fire of his impetuous will. But I have found it necessary even now to deal a blow upon him for past sins which will make him apprehensively careful of his conduct for the rest of his life."

"I will make him remember this for the rest of his life, the scoundrel! Do you know that I can get that fellow punished by years of imprisonment?"

"Yes, yes, I am quite aware of it, and of course he deserves to suffer. It is only right that he should be made to suffer in some way; but you will not do this? You will not resort to the law? let me entreat you—the young lady herself would be the more dis- tressed, I feel sure—will you accept a—a compromise?"

"A what? a what? Do you add insult to the injury already done by offering money! No, the law shall deal with him."

"Oh, let me entreat you once more—some other punishment less public—consider the lady, too; anything, anything, excepting at least a duel—that I may not sanction."

"A duel, indeed! I respect myself too much to be embroiled in a duel, and with such a cowardly wretch. This much, how- ever, I will concede, bring him here to me face to face, and let him answer for him-

self."

"Yes, I will do that, if I may have your word that you will do him no injury."

"Oh, I will do him no material harm; but see that he does not fail me or it may be much to his disadvantage." And the priest took his leave obliged to be satisfied with the vague assurance that it would be best for the Marquis to accede to the meeting.

Evening was closing in as the full moon rose in the clear blue of a frosty sky. The Major was pacing up and down a secluded path some distance from the village, switch- ing with his cane, in his usual manner when much perturbed in mind, anything that came in his way—the hour, that appointed during the day for the meeting. Presently he stopped, hearing voices and footsteps upon the crisp gronnd; they drew nearer, and the Major and the Marquis stood face to face. For a moment or two neither spoke, the priest also standing quietly by. Then the Major broke silence.

"What account have you to give, sir?"

"Ah, my dear Major, I am sorry that the dear young lady has fallen ill; but for myself, you know, all is fair in love and war."

The Major ground his teeth. "No foolery, sir; tell me who—for you must have had an agent in this devilish plot—how did you become informed that she was within your reach to entrap her?"

"Eh, well, that matter was easy enough; your man Govin had been long attached to my service before entering yours."

"And so you have placed a spy for months over this innocent girl for the furtherance of this vile intrigue! Wretch! mean cowardly wretch!" And the Major, a strong athletic man, seized the Marquis by the collar, shaking him as a terrier would a rat, and while the other, utterly powerless in his

grasp, fairly shrieked with rage and pain, he caned him most violently, then flung him off saying, "I have pledged my word to do you no great harm, so be thankful that you get no

worse," and then he strode away from the

scene, not to revisit that spot until two years later. Then he found that a handsome con-

vent replaced this unpretending one, and that a beautiful chapel stood close by, where daily masses were said for the repose of the soul of poor Madame Dubois. The Major learned also at that same time that by far the greater part of the wealth of Dubois was devoted to his Church, and that the Marquis himself had become a prematurely old man, nervously afraid almost of his own shadow.

When the Major returned to his inn he found letters awaiting him requiring him to join his regiment immediately. Therefore, after making all arrangements so far as he could for the easiest mode of travelling for the invalid when she should be sufficiently recovered—for to their joy poor Helen gave signs of amendment, the worst being past— he made his own hasty preparations.

He left the next day, wisely taking with him the treacherous Govin, suppressing his indignation for the time and restraining the expression of his anger until the man should be too far away to be able to help the Marquis again with further intrigues.

Helen in time recovered her health and regained sufficient strength for travelling. They arrived at home in the beginning of spring, and went at once to Mrs. Newbury's own country-house. In returning to England Helen felt it advisable, and found that Mrs. Newbury agreed with her, to resume her own

name, and as they retained none of the ser- vants they had on the Continent (excepting Marguerite) this was not so difficult a matter to manage as it otherwise might have been.

Major Onslow made them a flying visit, and promised Helen that he would take Scoss on his way back to his quarters, and write her an account of all that he could learn about her relations; which he accord- ingly did, and this was the result of his

enquiries.

That her uncle, the Hon. John Margrave, had died about a year before, after vainly struggling against ruined fortunes through the failure of a great speculation. That Mrs. Margrave was now living alone with one ser- vant in a small cottage, which, with a very small income, had been provided her by the kindness of friends; but that a short time since she had been seized by paralysis, and at times was even wandering in her mind.

"Well, dear, I will not prevent your going. I suppose by the side of your aunt is your right place now. But I am indeed sorry to lose you, especially as I have just received this letter from Lord Onslow. Read it; and Mrs. Newbury gave Helen a letter, which

ran as follows:—

"Onslow Court, May 10,18—, "My Dear Niece—

"I am very glad to be assured in your own handwriting that you have returned home, and hope when you are at leisure that you will come and cheer your old uncle with your company, for it has been a long dreary time since you were here last. I hope also to see your friend with you, of whom you have spoken in your letters. Your evident attach- ment to her is quite sufficient reason for my

prepossession in her favour. I should like much to hear her music, as you tell me she is

no great a proficient. Here are instruments enough at her command. The parks and gardens are looking to perfection just now in the bright spring weather. You would enjoy rides and drives—the horses want using, and the carriages are at your service. On the whole I think you could make yourselves comfortable here for some time. Even though your host be a gouty, crusty, old man, he is

still

"Your affectionate uncle,

"Onslow."

"Oh, pray do not seek to beguile a poor weak mortal from the path of duty by such a tempting invitation," said Helen, laughing. "It is no use my thinking about such a de- lightful visit now. Perhaps at some future time I may be able to accept it."