Chapter 161821823

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Chapter NumberXXII
Chapter TitleIN THE CHURCH
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article161821823
Full Date1895-05-25
Page Number37
Corrections0
Word Count1772
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleThe Third Volume
article text

CHAPTER XXIt.

IN TUB 0HUH01I.

Thorston Manor, built in broad meadow land, about a quarter of a mile from the vil

lage, wae now the propertyof SpeneerTait. He I had puroha«od it lately at a email prioe from old Miss Feloar, the last representative of

that anoient family. She, unable to maintain j the house in ite original splendour, got quit of it altogether in thia way, and shortly after wards took up her quarters at Eastbourne, leaving the house of her anoestora in the pos

session of a stranger,

The house itself was of no great pretensions or age, dating only from the seoond George—a square, red-briok mansion, only redeemed

from actual uglinesB by the mellow beauty of ita hues. The grounds themselves were better, and the trees bast of all. An avenue curved nobly, to the gate, whioh gave on tbe high road, and to the right of this, fronting the house, was a delightful garden, laid out in the Dutch fashion. There were yew-trees out into quaint shapes, stiff and formal hedges run ning in straight lines, and bsdeof old-fashioned flowers. A fountain, a summer-house, and a statue or two completed the furnituro of this pleasaut ground, to which Tait introduced his friend with unoonoealed pride.

"I paid for this," he said, looking round as they paced the broad walks. " By itself the house is a monstrosity, only rendered en durable by its years; hub you must confess that the garden is worth the money."

"It isoertainly quaint," renlied Laroher, looking around with an absent air, "but I do

| not oare for Nature in buokram. The for

mality of this placsoffends my eye."

" Ah, my dear fellow, you havo been used , to the wildness of New Z-aland woods of late,

kou will find these grounds grow on you. I shall leave you alone this afternoon to make tlieattempt."

" Indeed," eaid Laroher in some surprise at this oavalier treatment, and what do you in j tend to do?"

"I am going to Ohuroh." .

"To Church—on a week-day!"

''Ob, I am nob bent on devotion, Claude. But Miss Payuton is the organist of the I parish. To-day is Weduesday, when eho is

accustomed to practice between 3 and G. I propose to see her there."

"Why?"

"Oan't you guess? To forestall her with Hilliston. That gentleman is at Eastbourne, and will probably oomu over to-day or to morrow to ask Jeuny to hold her tongue. As we can't afford to run such a risk, I must get all I can nut of her to-day."

" Can I come also ?"

"No!" replied Tait promptly. "It would be necessary for me to introduoe you."

"What of that? l)ces it matter?"

" It matters a great deal. Miss Payntoa has, we believe, obtained the plot of Linton's novel from a report of the trial. She will know the name of Lurcher, and when she hears that you are oalled so she will probably take fright and hold her tongue."

" But why should she think I have anything

to do with the case?"

"Your own name. Your guardian's," answered Tait, quietly. " Both are men tioned in the report of the trial. Oh, I assure you, Jenny is a olever girl, and knows that two and two make four. She will put this

and that together, with the result that nothing ' will bn gained by the interview."

" Well, well, go alone,"said Claude crossly, "though I envy you the ohance, fhe is

a pretty girl from the glimpse I caught of |

her." ,

" And as wise as she is pretty," laughed

Tait. " I will need all my wits to deal with 1 her. _Now, is it settlod?"

" x6B* You go to your organist and I II ; potter about these green alieys and think my- ' self an abbe of Louis XIV".'s time."

Having oome to this auiioable understand ing they went in to lunoheon, after which Tait gave Claude a sketch of the people in the neighbourhood. Later on he sent him into the Dutch garden with a cigar and a book, then betook himself by a short out through the park to the Ohuroh of St. Elfrida. Shortly after 4 he entered by the maiu door, and found himself in the aisle listening to the rolling notes of the

organ.

Thore was no attempt at deoorabion in that Ohuroh, for tho vioar was broad in his views, and bating all ritualism from bis Boul took a pride in keeping, the edifioe bare and un adorned. The heary arches of grey stone, the whitewashed walls, with here and there a mural tablet, the plain communion table under the single staiuod-glass window— nothing oould be less attractive. Only the deep hues of roof and pews, the golden pipes of the organ, and the noble lectern with its brazen eagle, preserved the Churoh from looking abso lutely irreverent. Through thoglazed windows of plain glass poured in the white light of day, so that tlm interior lacked the reverent gloom, most fitted to the building, and the marks of the time were shown up in what might be termed a cruel manner. Of old, St. Elfrida'e had been rich in preoious marbles, iu splendid altars, and gorgeous windows many-hued and elaborate; but the L'uritans had destroyed all these and reduced the place to its present bareness,.which the vicar took a pride in pre serving. It seemed a shame that so noble a monument of Norman architecture should be so neglected.

The red curtains of tho organ-loft hid the player, but Tait knew that it was Jenny by the touch, and Bat down in a pew to wait till ehe had fiuished her praotising. One piooe followed the other, and the stately music

vibrated among the arches in great bursts of ; sound, a march, an anthem, an offertory, till ' Tait almost fell asleep, lulled by the drone of the pipes. At length Jenny brought her per formance to an end, and having dismissed the boy who attended to the bellows, tripped down the aisle with a musio-book under her arm. She looked as fresh and pink as a rose, but quite out of plaoe in that bare bleak building. I owards ber Tait advanced witb a

bow.

" Here 1 am, you ee6, Miss Paynton," he said, shaking her by the hand, " I heard your musio, and could not help coming in to listen. 1 hope you do not mind my in

trusion. "

" Oh, the Lord of the Manor aau go any where," eaid Jenny demurely. "I am glad to eee you again, Mr. Tait. The aeoond time to-day is it not ?"

"Yea; I drove past yon in the market place if I remember rightly. Won't you ait down, Miss Paynton, and give ine all the news, I am terribly ignorant of iooal gossip, I assure you."

Nothing lotb, tho girl seated herself in a pew near the door, and occupied hereelf in fixiug ber glove. Remembering the conversa tion with Linton, she was slightly uneasy at Tait's very direot request, bat, thintcing that it oould not possibly have anything to do with the plot of Linton's novel, resigned her eelf to oiroumstances. Before the conversa tion endod she wished that she had refused to speak to Tait at that moment; but it was then

too late.

"News," she repeated with a laugh, "do we ever have any news in this dreary plnoe? I should rather ask you for news, Mr. Tait, who are fresh from London.-'

" Oh, but no doubt our young author has already told you all worth hearing," said Tait, deftly leading up to his point; "he has been quite the lion of the season."

"Yes. He has been very fortunate, re plied Jenny aarefully. She did not relish the sudden introduction of this forbidden sub jeot.

" And heowes it to you, I believe."

"Tome. Good graoious, Mr. Tait, what, have I to do with Frank's suocess ?"

" Aooording to what he says, everything."

" What do you mBan," she said, Bitting up very straight, with a deeper colour than usual

on her oheek.

" Why," said Tait, looking directly at her, and thereby adding to heroonfusion. " Frank

told me that you supplied the plot of * A. Whim of Fate. "

*' A.nd what if Idid, Mr. Tall?"

"Oh, nothing, onlyl muat oompliment you -on your — shall we say selection or in

vention 3"

"The former,"replied Jenny with ex traordinary quiokness." Since Frank makes no seoret of it, why should 13 The plot wsb told to bim by me, and I found it set forth as a trial in a newspaper of

18CG."

" H'm! In tho Canterbury Obterver, I

believe."

" How do you know that is the name of the paper?" she BBked in a nervous

tone.

"I learned it from the same eouroe, si sup plied me with the history of the Leroher

affair."

" What I you also know the name of the

case?"

"As you see 1"

"Frankdoes not know it. I did not show him the paper. I suppressed all names when I toid the story," she said incoherently; "but

now you—you" > I

"1 know alL Yes, you are right," ob served Tait complaoently. " I am better acquainted with the plot of a ' Whim of Fate*

than John Fatver himself."

Jenny sat looking at hiin in a kind of wild amazement. From- the signiGoance of his tone, the extent of his knowledge, she vaguely felt that something was wrong. Again the anger of Kerry, the conversation of Linton, oame into ber mind, and ehe saw into what diffioulty the ohanoe telling of that anoient crime had led her. Tait notioed that she was perplexed and frightened, so dexte rously strove to set her more atease by making aolean breast of it, and enlisting her sympa thy for Claude.

"You saw the friend who was with me in the oart, Miss Paynton 3"

" Yes. Who is he?" " Claude Iisroher 1"

"Claude La . What do you mean, Mr. Tait? I am in the dark. I do not understand. Have I done anything wrong in—in"—

" In telling the oase to Linton," finished Tait smoothly ; "by no means. As a matter of faot you have done my friend a service."

" He is called Laroher I Who is be?" she asked again with an effort.

" He is the son of George Laroher, who was murdered at Horuiston in 18GG."