Chapter 161821266

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Chapter NumberXIV
Chapter TitleTHE UPPER BOHEMIA.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article161821266
Full Date1895-05-11
Page Number36
Corrections0
Word Count2070
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleThe Third Volume
article text

CHAPTER XIV.

TUB UITER BOHEMIA.

The name Bohemia is suggestive of un known talent starving iu garrets, of obdurate landladies, of bacobanalinn nights, and shabby dress. Murger first invested the name with this flavour, and einoe his time the word has become polarised, and indicates nothing but struggling humanity and unappreoiated genius. Yet your true Bohemian does not leave his country when he beoomes rioh and famous. It is true that he desoends from the garret to the first floor; that he fares well and dresses deoently; but he etill dwells in Bohemia. The reckless air of the hovels permeates the palaoeB of this elastio kingdom of fanoy.

Mrs. Durham was a Bohemian, and every Thursday reoeived her confreres in the draw ing-room of a very elegant mansion in Chel sea. She had written a novel, " I Cling to Thee with Might and Main," and this having met with a moderate sncoess she posed as a oelebrity, and set up her salon on the lines of Lady Blessington. Every one who waB any one was received at her "At Homes," and by this prooess she gathered together a queer set of people. Some were clever, others were not; some were respeotable, othera decidedly disreputable; but one and all, to use an ex pression usually oonneoted with crime, had done something. Mo relists, essayists, painters, poets, and musicians were all to be found in her rooms, and a more motley collec tion could be seen nowhere else in London. Some one dubbed the Chelsea Mansions "The Zoo," and certainly animals of sll kinds were to be found there, from monkeys to peacocks.

It was considered rather the thing to be in vited to "The Zoo," so when brothers and sisters of the pen met one another there they nBually Baid — "What! are you here?" as though the plaoe were Heaven, and the speaker justifiably surprised that any one should be saved except himself or herself. Literary people love one another a degree less than Christians.

Hither oame Tait and Claude in search of John I'arver. That young man had made a great sucoess with hia novel, and was conse quently much Bought after by lioD-huuters. However, Tait had learned that he was to be present at Mrs. Durham's on the speoial even ing, and hoped to engage him in conversation, so as to learn where he had obtained the mate rials for his story.

When they arrived the rooms wore quite full, and Mrs. Durham received them very graciously. It was true that they were not famous, still as Tait was a society man, and Olaude very handsome, the lady of the house good-humouredly pardoned all mental deficiencies. Tait knew her very well, having met her at several houses, but she addressed herself rather to Olaude than to bis friend, having a feminine appreciation of good

looks.

"My rooms are alwayBcrowded,"said she, with that oolossal egotism which distinguished her ucterauceB. " You know they call me the new Gfeorge Eliot."

"No doubt you deserve the name," replied Claude, with mimic gravity.

"Oh, I suppose so," smirked the lady, amiably. " You have read my novel, of oourse. It is now in its fourth edition, aud has been refused by Smith and Mudie. I follow the Frenoh school of speaking my

mind."

"And a very nasty mind it must bs," thought Larcher, who had been informed about the book by Tait. He did not, bow over, give this thought utterance, but endea voured to generalize the conversation. " You have many oelebrities here to-night, I pre

sume ?"

" My dear sir," exclaimed Mrs. Durham, in capitals, "every individual in this company is famous. Yonder IB Mr. Fadsop, the great traveller, who wrote ' Mosques and Mosqui toes.' Ho is talking to Miss Pexworth, the writer of those scathing artiok-B in The Penny Trumpet, entitled 1 Man the Brute.' She is a modern woman."

"Oh, indeed," said Claude, equably, and looked at thiB latest production of the nine teenth century; " she is rather masculine in appearance."

" It is her pride to be so, Mr. Laroher. She is more masculine than man. That is her brother, who designs ladies'dresses and deoor atee dinner-tables."

"Abl He isn't,masonline.. I suppose Nature wanted to preserve tbe balanoein the family. The law of compensation, eh 1"

" Oh, yuu are. aevere. Tommy Pexworth u a dear little.oreature, and so fond of: chiffons. He knows more about women'e dreee than bit titter."

? "So I ehould think,"replied Olaude dryly. He took an instant and violent dislike to Mr. Pexworth, who woe one of those feminine little oreatures, only distinguished from the other sex by wearing trousers, "A. charming

fair, "be added smiling. "1 don't know which

admire most — the sister who is such a

thorough gentleman or the brother who iB a perfeoljady."

"Yon are satirical,"smiled Mrs. Durham, enjoying this hit at her friends. "How yon must take me down to have some refreshment. Keally you must."

Thus inspired Olaude elbowed the hostess through the crush, and escorted her to a bare" counter in the dining-room, whereon were dis played thin bread and butter, very weak tea, and fossil buns. Mrs. Durham evidently knew ber own refreshments too well to partake of them, for she had a mild brandy and soda, produced from its hiding-plaoe by a confiden tial waiter. She asked Olaude-to join her, but he refused on the plea that he never drank

between meals.

"Bud you are not a brain-workor," said Mrs. Durham, hurriedly finishing her brandy and eoda, lest her guests should see it and become discontented with the weak tea. "If I did not keep myself up I should die- Ah 1 Why hi-reis Mr. Hillieton."

'' iiiUiason 1" aaid Olaude, astonished at seeing his guardiau at this house.

"YobI Do you know him? A dear i

orealure—so defer. He was my eohoilor in a libel action against The Penny Trumpet for saying that I was an ungrammatioal scribbler. Just. fanoy I And tbey call me the new George Eliot. We lost our oaae, I'm sorry to say. Judges are suoh brutes. MissPexworth Bays they are ever since she failed to get damages for ber breaoh of promise oase."

"Herecomes Mr. Hilliston," said Larcher, rather tired of thiB long-tongued lady. "I know him very. He is my guardian."

" How very delightful I" said Mrs. Durham, with the accent on the "very." "Oh, Mr. Hilliston," she oontinuod as the lawyer approached, "we were just talking about you."

" I brust the absent were right for onoe," replied HilliBton with an artificial smile and a swift glance at Claude. " I have juBt oometo say good-by."

"Oh, not yet, surely not yet. Really 1"

babbled Mrs. Durham with ehallowenthueiasm.

Then finding Hilliston was resolved to go, and oatohing eight of a newly arrived celebrity, she hastened, after the amiable fashion of her i kind, to speed the parting guest. " Well, if | you must you must. Good-by, good-by. Ex > cuse me, I see Mr. Rawler, a delightful man— 1 writes plays, you know. The new Shak

speare ; yes," and thus talking she melted away with a babble of words, leaving Hilliston and his ward alone.

Tbey were mutually surprised to see one another. Claude because he knew hie guar dian did not affeot Bohemiamem, and Hillis ton beoause he thought that the young man had left town. The meeting was hardly a pleasant one, as Hilliston dreaded lest Mrs. Bezel should have said too in 10b, and so prejudiced Claude against him.

" I understood from your refusal of my in vitation that you had gone to Thorston with Tait," said be, after a pause.

"I am going tomorrow or the next day," replied Claudequiakly, "but in any event I intended to call on yon before I left town."

"Indeed I" said Hilliston nervously ; " you have something to tell me?"

"Yes, 1 have seen Mrs. Bezel."

" Good. You have seen Mrs. Bezel." " And I have made a discovery."

"Oh I Has the lady informed you who oom mitted the crime ?"

"Mo. But she told me her name."

" Margaret Bezel I" murmured Hilliston, wondering what waa coming.

"Not Margaret Bezel, but Julia Laroher, I my mother."

"She — she told you that?" gasped Hil liBton, his self-oontrol deserting him for the

moment.

" Yea, I know why she feigned death, I know bow you have proteoted her. You have been a kind friend tome, Mr. Hilliston, and to my mother. I am doubly in your

debt."

Hilliston took the hand held out to him by Claude, and pressed it cordially. The speeoh relieved him from all apprehension, He uow knew that Mrs. Bezel had kept their seoret, and immediately took advan tage of the restored oonfidenoe of Claude, His quick wit grasped the situation at

onoe.

" My dear fellow," he said with muoh emotion, "I loved yonr poor father too much not to do what I oould for his widow and son. I hope you do not blame me for suppressing the truth."

"Nol [suppose you aoted for the bBst. Still I would rather you had informed me that my mother was still alive."

" To what end ? It would only have made you miserable. I did not want to reveal any thing ; but your mother insisted that you ehould be made aoquainted with the past, and eo—I gave you the papers."

" I am glad you did so."

" And now, what do you intend to do ?" asked Hillieton elowly. "You know as muoh as I do. Ib there any clue to guide you in the discovery that your mother still lives ?"

" No, she oan tell me nothing. But I hope to find the clue here."

" Ah. You intend to epeak with John Parver ?"

" I do," said Olaud, rather surprised at this penetration ; " do you know him ?"

"I exchanged a few words with him," replied Hilliston carelessly. "I only came here to-night at the request of Mrs. Durham, who is a chant of mine. As I paid my re spects to her Bhe was talking to John Parver,

and he was introduced to mo as the latest lion. So you still intend to pursue the matter?'

added Hilliston after a pause. '

" Assuredly 1 If only to olear my mother, and restore bor to the world."

"Iam afraid it is too late, Olaude. You know she is ill and aaunot live long."

"Nevertheless, I wish her to take her own name again. She will not do eo uutil the assassin of her husband—ot my father—ib dis covered, bo you see it ie obligatory on me to out the truth."

" I trust you may be euQoeesful,"said Hillie ton sighing, "but my advioe ie still the same, and it would be best for you tolet the matter rest. After five-end-twenty years you oau discover nothing. I cannot help you — your mother cannot help you,

so"

"But John Parver may," interrupted r,archer sharply. " I will see how he learned the details of the ease."

Before Hilliston could make further objection Tait joined them, and not notioing the lawyer hastily took Olaude by the

arm. • ? .

" I have been looking for yon every where,"

said he, " Oome and be introduced to Mr,

Linton?"

"Who is Sir. Linton?"

"John Parver. He writes under that name. Ab, Mr. Hilliston, I did hot see yon. How do you do, sir?" ' *

" I am quite well, Mr. Tait, and am jpat taking my departure," replied Hilliaton easily, "I see you are both set on finding; out the truth,' But you will learn nothing

from John Parver?"

" iVhy not, Mr. Hilliston ?"

" Because he knows nothing. Good-night, Olaude—good-night, Mr. Tail."

When Hiiliston disappeared, Tait looked at Olaude with a singular expression, and

scratched his ohin.

" You see," said he quietly, " Mr. Hilliston haB been making enquiries on hie own

aooount."

" Yon are incurably auspicious," said Olaude impatiently. Hilliston ie my friend."

"Yen, he was your father's friend also, I

believe."

" What do you mean?"

" Nothing 1 Nothing 1 Oome and cross examine Frank Linton, alias John Parver." -

Clearly Tait was by no means so satisfied

with Hilliston as Olaude.