Chapter 161819931

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Chapter NumberVII
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Full Date1895-04-20
Page Number36
Word Count2171
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleThe Third Volume
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On the journey of life we sometimes oome to n dead stop. Obstaoles arise which bar our further progress, and oircumetanoes impossible to dp away with, confront us on all sides. We oannot go back, for in life there is no retro gression ; we oannot prooeod owing to blocked paths, and so stand hopeless and powerless, waiting for the word or action of Fate. The uneeen, bat Almighty Deity, alone can remove the hindrance whioh prevents our progress, and until she speaks or actB, we can do nothing but wait. It ie on euoh occasions that we feel how truly we are the puppets of some un known power.

FranciB Hilliston had arrived at eome such tboppage. Hitherto his keen brain, bis etrong will, his capability for decisive aotion, had .oarried him onwards from past to present, through present to future. When obstacles had arisen, they had been easily swept away, and with his own life in his hands, he was perfeotlysatisfied of his power to mould it to his liking. Possibly Fate, who iB a somewhat jealous deity, felt angered at the egotiBtio self reliance of the man; for without warning she brought him to a dead stop, then grimly waited to see how his boasted cunning would outwit her. As ehe probably foresaw, the man did nothing but await ber deoision. It was the only thing he could do.

For five and twenty years the Qorriston tragedy had been unmeutioned,unthoughtof; Hilliston deemed that it was relegated to the category of unknown crimes, and having in mind his .friendship for the parents, and his love for the eon, was not unwilling that it should be so. He did not wish Claude to know of the matter, he was not desirous that he-should oome in oontact with Mrs. Bezel; and hitherto had managed se well that neither eontingenoy had eventuated. Congratulating himself on his dexterity, he remained lulled in fanoied aeourity, when Fate, observant of hie complaoenoy, eent a bolt from the blue, and brought him up ehorb. How Hilliston, foroed by oiroumstances to tell the truth to Larcher, did nob know what to do. Ho could Dnly wait for the fiat of the higher power.

Grimly satisfied that she had brought home his fault, and had shown him his moral weakness, Fate made the next move, and eent Larcher and bis friend to Linoolns Inn Fields to again set Hilliston on bis former journey. The paralysis of will which bad seized the elder man did not extend to the younger; for Claude arrived full of anxiety to begin the search for the undieoovered criminal. The first result of his compaot with Tait was this visit

to the lawver.

" Olaude Laroher; Spenser Tait," muttered Hilliston, glancing at the cards brought in by hie olerk. " I thought as much; the matter is out of my hands now. Show the gentlemen In," he added, sharply.

The olerk departed, and Hilliston walked quickly to the window, where he stood biting his nails. All geniality had vanished from hie faoe ; be looked older than his years, and an unaccustomed frown wrinkled his expan sive forehead. A oriBis had come which he knew not how to meet, so, after the fashion of men when they feel thus helpless, he left the decision in the hands of Fate. Which was preoisely what Fate wanted.

" Good morning, Claude. Good morning, Air. Tait,"said Hilliston, welcoming the young men with artificial enthusiasm. "I expected to see you to-day."

"Surely you did not expect to see me," said Tait. in a silky tone, as he plaoed his hat

on the table.

'' Indeed, I did ! Where Damon is Phintias I is sure to be. That Claude's perusal of those papers would result in your accompanying him to this offioe, I felt sure. I was right. Here you are."

Mr. Hillston affected a cheerfulness ho was far from feeling. With increasing age a dis taste bad come for violent exoitements, and with one of Claude's temperament he knew that the ohanoes were that the ensuing quarter of an hour would be somewhat stirring. Con trary to hie expectations, however, Laroher was eager but calm, and Hillston, assuring himself that the calmness was genuine, began to hope that the interview would pass off better than he expected. Still, none of us (ike to reopen a disagreeable ohapter of the book of life, and this Mr. Hillston, against bis will and inclination, was about to do.

L " Well sir," said Claude, when they were

all seated, and the hush of expectanoy was in the air, " I have read those papers."

"Yes,"Baid Mr. Hillston, interrogatively; "and what do you think of the matter?"

"I think it is a very black case."

"-Yon are quite right, Olaude. It is a very black oase indeed. I did all in my power to bring the criminal to justice, but without


" Who iB the oriminal ?" asked Laroher, with a keen glance at his guardian. Hillis ton shuffled his feet uneasily, by no moanB relishing the direotness of the question.

"That is a difficult question to answer," he said slowly—" in faot, an impossible one. My suspicions point to Jeriagham."

From this point Tait made a third in the


"That is baoause Jorineham disappeared on the night of the murder," he said leisurely.

"Yes; I think that circumstance alone is Teiy suspioions,"

" Ho was never found again?"

" Never. We advertised in all the papers; we employed detectives, enquired privately, bu^fvU-tdiio result. The last person who safr Jenngham was Mrs. Larober. He parted from herat thedoorof "The Laurels,"and vanished into the night. It still hides him."

"What do you oonolude from that, sir?" asked Olaude after a pause. _

" I can only oonolude one thing,"replied HilliBton, with great deliberation, that your father, suspicious of Jeringham, returned on that night from London, aud saw the parting. The result is not difficult to foresee. It is my opinion thab there were words between the men, possibly a struggle, and that the matter ended in the murder of your father by Jering ham. Hence the d isoovery of the body thrown into the river, henoe the flight of the mur


" Was this the generally received opinion at the time?"

"Yes. I oan safely say that it was bdlieved Jeringham was guilty, and had fled to esoape the consequenoes of his crime,"

" In that oase how was it that Mrs. Laroher was arreBted ?" asked Tait sceptically.

" You cannot haveread the oasa carefully to ask me that," replied Hiiliston sharply. " She was arrested on tho evidenoeof the dagger. Without doubt theorime was oommitted with

the dagger, and ob ebe bad worn it, the in ferenoe was drawn that ebe was the guilty person. Bub she was acquitted, and left the Court—as the saying is—without a stain on her oharaober."

" Nevertheless she died, Mr. Hiiliston."

"Shame killed her," said the lawyer sadly. "She was a foolish woman in many ways— your pardon," Olaude, for so epcaking—butBhe was not the woman to commit so foul a crime. Indeed, I believe she was fondly attaohed to her huaband till Jeringham oame

between them."

" Ah !" interposed Tait, composedly, " that

ie John Parver's view."

"John Parver," repeated Hiiliston, with wall-bred surprise. "1 do not know that name in connection with the oase."

> "Nor do we know the name of Mrs.Bezel," said Claude quiokly.

Hiiliston started and looked at Olaude as though he would read his very soul. The in scrutability of the young man's oountenanoe baffled him, and he turned off the remark with a dry laugh.

" With Mrs. Bezel we will deal hereafter," he said shortly, " but who is tbiB John Parver?"

"He is the author of a bookoalled""The Whim of Fate."

"A novel?"

"\ea. A novel which embodieB the whole of this oftBe."

"Thetis strange," said Hilliaton quietly,

but no doubt the author has come across, the details in some old provincial journal, and made use of thein. The Lurcher affair oaused a great deal of talk at the time, but it is cer tainly remarkable that a novelist should have made use of it for fiotionni purposes after the lapse of so many years. I must read, the book. Just note the name of it bete, Mr. Tait, if you

Taitdid so, and Hilliaton oontinued. " Is my ohar&oter in the book ?"

" 1 think so. Under the name of Michael Dene!"

" I trust the author has been flattering to me. By the way, who does he say committed theorime!"

" Michael Dene."

Hilliston went grey on the inBtant, sb though a sudden blow had been struck at his heart. Two pair of keen eyes were fixed on his faoe with some surprise, and uneasy at this scrutiny, he strove to recover his composure.

"Upon my word," he said, with quivering lips, "lam infinitely obliged to JohnParver for describing me as a murderer. And what motive doeB he a9oribe to me, or rather to Miobaei Dene, for the committal of the crime?"

" Love for the wife," said Tait, smiling.

"Eh! That is rather the role of JeriDg ham, I should say," replied Hilliston, the colour coming back to lips and obeeb. "I must road this novel, and if possible discover the identity of the author."

"Oh, we will do that! "

"Olaudel" oried the lawyer, in astonish


" I and Tait. We intend to follow out this case to the end."

" It is useless 1 Five and twenty years have elapsed."

"Nevertheless I am determined to hunt down the murderer of my father," said Claude, decisively. "Besides, we have two eye-witnesses to the tragedy, yourself and Mrs. Bezel."

" Ah! Mrs. Bezel! I forgot her. Cer tainly, I will do all in my power to help you, Claude. Your father was my dearest friend, and I ehall only be too glad to avenge his fate. But if I oould not do it at tho moment, how can I hope to do bo now—after so longaperiod has elapsed."

"Leave that to us, sir. Tait and I will attend to the aotive part of the business. All we ask you to do is to give UBSuoh information as lies in your power."

" I will do that with pleasure," said Hilli

stoD, who by this timo was thoroughly master of himself. " What is it you wish to know ?"

" We wish to kuow all about Mrs. Bezel. Who is she? What has she to do with the ease? Why is not her name mentioned in these pages

"For answers to theBe questions you had better apply to the lady herself. You have her Address. Why not oal] on her ?"

" I intend to do so to-morrow."

The old man rose from his seat and took a turn up and down the room. Then he paused beside Claude, and laid a trembling hand on the young man's shoulder.

"I have been a good friend to you, Olaude." " You have been my second father—my real father," said Laroher, gently. " 1 shall never forget your kindness. I would return it if I oould.

"Then do so by letting sleeping dogs lie."

"What do you mean by that, Mr. Hillis ton ?" asked the other, with a subtle change in

his tone.

" Abandon this aase. Do not oall on Mrs. bezel. You can do no good by re-opening the affair. Tt wae a mystery years ago, it is a mystery still; it will remain a mystery till the end of time."

"Not if I can help it.' I am sorry to dis oblige yon, eir, but my mind is made up. I ain determined to find out the truth."

Hilliston sighed, passed hie hand across his forehead, and returned to his esat, hopeless and baffled. He wae Buffioiently acquainted

with Claude's character to know that he was not easily turned from his purpose, and that hiB resolve to solve the mystery would be re eolutely carried oat. Yet be made one more attempt to bend the young man to bis will.

" If you are wise you will not oall on Mrs.


"Why not, sir?"

" It will give you great pain."

"Ail my pain is passed," replied Claude, quickly. " I can suffer no "more than I did when reading these paperB. I must call on Mrs.-Bezel; I must know the trtitb, and," added be significantly, "I have your promise to assist me."

"I will do all in my power," answered Hil

lieton, wearily, 11 but yon do not know what, you are doing, I am-older and more expe rienced than you, and I give you my beet advioe.- Do not see Mrs. Bezel, and leave the Jiaroher affair alone. "

The.reeUlt of this well-meant advioe was that Olaude called the next morning on Mrs. .Bezel."