Chapter 161821825

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberXXI
Chapter TitleTHOESTON
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article161821825
Full Date1895-05-25
Page Number37
Corrections0
Word Count2094
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleThe Third Volume
article text

CHAPTER XXI.

It is astonishing how closely one village resembles another in appearanoe. The equare bowered Ohuroh; the one winding street, the low-rooted inn, and red-tiled cottages, isolated by narrow alleys; corn lauds and comfortable farms around, and still further the mansions, more or less stately, of the oounty families. Qo where you will in the southern oounties, all tbe villages are so oonstitued. One descrip tion stands for all, though on oooasions the expanse of Ohannel introduoos a new feature into the landsoape. Thornton was of tbe same class, but, in its own opinion, had more pretentions to grandeur than its neighbours.

Before the Oonquest it had been a consider able Saxon town, and as its name indicates had flourished before the introduction of Christianity into England. There, sooordine to tradition, a temple to Thor tbe Thunderer had etood on the hill now orowned with the Churoh, henoe the name of Tnors town. Report said that Edward tbo Confessor had built the Oburoli, but of bis work little remained, and tbe present building wuh due to the piety or fears of a Norman baron who wished to expiate his sins al ter the fashion of those times, by emoting a house to euiue in terceding saint. In tbe present iustauoe this Ohuroh was dedicated to 3s. Bllrida, the hoiy daughter of Athelstan, who rtmouuced her father's Court to found a imuuery by the winding river Lax, famous for ealmon, as ie plainly hinted by its .Scandinavian appellation. Yet, notwithstanding Church anl traditions, Thoraton had never since beenof uiuob import ance, and it was now but au ordiuary rural village, quaint and sleepy.

From Eastbourne,thoroad, winding, dipping, rising, and curvinglikna whitesnako,rau over bill, through dale, along plain, sill itultiuiately formed the High-streer, of f'horston. Tliouoe it ran again into the country, but as this point it inude its way butweeu hou-os, thatched and oold, and towards the centre opened into a market place adorned by au autique orosa. The inn of 3t. Eifnds, with tlietffi<yof the aaint for a sign, etood ou tbo rigut of this square, fronting thu battered cross. Uiruotiy opposite a narrow road led ou to the village green, at the end of which ruse the low lull whereon the Church of 3t. Eltrida stood amid its trees. Lower down by tbe Lax oould be seen the ruins of her nunnery, and a well frequented by ner was to be inspected in the near neighbourhood. Here, euid the legend, she fought with the devil, who strove to carry away the tower of the Church, ami being worsted, as the detuous always were by Mutber Choroh, he dropped tbe tower a low yards oil the main building. As a master of fact the square tovvor is detached from tbe Church, but, as lias before been stated, <t was built by tbe Normans long after llllfrida was laid to rest. But the legend took no account of dates, nor did the natives oi Thurston, who would have been highly olfended had any one denied ths authenticity ol their story. In confirmation thereof ilioy referred to the guidebook, a notable authority truly.

The whole neighbourhood wu- full of ^b. Elfrida, who must liavu been a busy saint in her day, and uumerous tourists oatns to view . Church, and tower, aud holy well. The village

derived quite an inojmu from her reputation, and valued tbo 6amt accordingly. Amid asoientoaks stood the grey Ohuroh with its detached tower ; around liohei ed tombstones leanod over one another and rank grass grew Up to the verge of the low stone wall which ran like a battlement round theorestof the little hill. A flight of rugged steps led up to the lych-gate, and here stood a pretty girl in converse with Frank Linton, alias John

l'arvcr.

It was a hot sumrn«ir,H day, and the golden light, piercing through the foliage of the trot*e, enveloped the girl m a glittering haze. She waaextremely pretty; dark-eyed, dark-batrud, with a oomplexiou of roses and lilies, and as neat a figure as ever whs eeen. Hlnvioue people said that Miss Paynboo pinched hor waist, but; euoh was not the case, for she was too oareleae - of her appoaranoe and too careful of her

health to sacrifice the latter to the former. As a matter of fact she appreciated brain* znore than beauty, and much preferred to ex eroise the first m clever conversation than to be oo.nplimented on the second. Linton, who had known her for many years, skilfully com bined the two modes of paying homage to hie divinity. That he received hard words in return was to beoxpected, for Jenny knew her power over the youth, and liked to exercise it. She was the Least vain of mortals, but oould not hide from herself that eke was clever and pretty, and therefore entitled to indulge in

ooquetry.

14 You grow more beautiful every day, Jenny," said Linton, who had lately arrived from town and was making up for lost time.

"And you more stupid, retorted Miss Paynton, climbing up on the low wall, where she sat and smiled at him from under her straw hat. f' If you have come here to pay me com pliments you can go away again. I want you to talk sense, not nonsense."

" What shall I talk about?"

"As if there were anv question of that," •aid she in supreme disdain. " Are you nob famous now ? Tall me of your suooeBs."

"You know about it already. I sent you all the papers. 1 The Whim of Fate' is the book of the season."

"Oh I just think of that now. Oh, luoky, luoley Frank! So youog and eo successful. You ought to be happy."

"lam happy, beoauselnoweeeaohanoeof making you ray"

"rfow you are talking nonsense," oried Jenny, ruthlessly interrupting bim. " I won't bear a word more, you ridiculous boy. You arc my brother, nothing more."

"Bat"

"Dcn't talk About it, Frank. Be sensible. Come now, you have not yet told me hot? our father received b he news,"

"Ob, hois pleased, of ooureo,"eaid Linton, , unwillingly changing the eubjeot, " but he

reserves his opinion till he has read the book. I If he doesn't like it he'll very likely order me j to atop writing."

" I'm sure he won't," said Jenny promptly, j "You'll make more as an author than as a

lawyer." _ . . . . ? j

".No doubt, if youoonlinne to supply me i with euoh excellent plota. I wish I had your : invention, Jenny."

"It waa not invention. You know that quite well. I found an aaoount of the trial in an old bundle of provincial newspapers. I oouldn't have mado up euoh a story." .

"Jenny," aekod Linton with some appre hension, "has your father read the book?"

" No; I asked him to do so, but he refuses to read novels. History is what he likes— kings, and dates, and battles. Father wouldn't waste a minute over fiotion."

"I hope he won't be angry at your giving me the plot, Jenny."

- Mub Pnvnton stared at him in surprise, aud burst into a merry laugh. His objec tion seemed supremely ridiculous to her at

that moment.

" My dear boy, why should hef The aaoount of an old murder case oau have nothing to do with hiin. I found the papers tn the garret among a heap of old books. _ I don't suppose be knows of their oxietenoe."

" It wae a real case, wasn't it?"

"Yes; it took plaoo at Horriston in 18GB. Bub of course the public need not know

that."

"Well, I told some one about it."

"Oh, you are an idiot, Frank, or else," added Jenny, more graciously, "you are very honest. I suppose that you explained that the story was founded on faot ?"

" Yes."

" Who asked you about it?"

" Three people.' An old gentleman aud two young man."

" What are their names?" asked Jenny, curiously.

" I forget. The third one was oalled Taib, f think, tint I don't remember the names of the other two. It doesn't matter, you kuow," oontinued the novelist, hastily. "Lots of authors found their plots on episodes in real

life."

"Oh, it's of no oonsequenoe,"said Jenny, idly. "I auppoie thoy thought the plot was too clever for you to invent. At all events, the credit is due to you for solving the mystery."

"All I But did I solve it properly! Do you think Michael Dene oommitted the

crime?"

"No, I don't," rejoined Jenny, promptly. "I think Jeriugham did."

" Jeruigham. Who is he?" -

"I forget,"eaid Jenny, with some dismay, "I d'd not tell you the real names of the people. Jeringhain ie the man you oall Murkham io the book. If you remember, I wanted you to make him ootumib the

crime."

" If I had done so no one would have read the book," protestod the author. " His flight made iteo pactum that he was gi ilty ; and I had to put the crime on uomo one like Dene, whom uo reader would suspect. Do you think that Markhsiu—Joriugham—really committed

the murder?"

" Y«s, I do. If he was innocent, why did

heflv?"

"Washeever found again,"asked Linton, with some curiosity. '

"Nuvei'l It is (i veand-twenty years ago since tli« nmrdor was committed, and it is a mystery to this day."

" I'd like to read that newspaper report for myself," said the author, after a pause. " Oould you not let i.ie see it ?"

Jennyshook her head. "I'm afraid not,"she replied guiltily, "You see Kerry found ine with the papers one day and took them away. He was very angry, and said I had no business

to Iook at them."

" My stars," cried Linton in a startled tono, "What will he say when he finds out that you

aud I have made use of them?"

" Ho won't find out," replied Jenny, jump ing down off the wall. Kerry never reads novels, and no one will tell him. Oh, it's quite «afo, Frank, quite safe."

" I'm not to sure of that, Jenny. My father will talk about mv book to Mr. Payo to i, and he'll tell Kerry."

" Well, what if hodoss?" cried Jenny, skip ping down the steps. "I'm sure I don't came if Kerry does know. Who oores for a iniiMty fusty orime of five-and-twenty years n/o? Don't trouble about it, Frank. I'll take the blaine."

Linton walked on in silenoe beside her, aud they entered the market-place on their way to the vicarage. He was beginning to have some qualms about the matter. Kerry had a very bad temper, and Linton was by no means anxious to encountei him.

"I wish we had left it alone,"he said, gloo-nily, pausing by the cross in the square,

" Nonsense 1 Don't be a moral ooward," said Jenny, pettiahly. " I'll take the blame on mysalf. Kerry can't kill me be"

A.C this point she was interrupted by a dog cart containing two young men, whioh spun past rap dly. The driver took off his hat to Miss Pavnton with a emilo.

"Oh!" said Jenny, composedly, when the vshiole had vanished, " there iB our now Lord of the Manor, Mr. Tait."

" Why, those are the two fellows who ques tioned me about my story,"oricd Linton.

" Are they? Yes, you mentioned the name of Tait," said Jenny, quietly; "but what does it matter? What a fuss you make over nothing."

'• Jeuny,"said Linton, solemnly, "there is going to be trouble over that story."

Misg Paynton stared at hiin in surprise, then pointed an accusing finger at him.

"Francis Linton," she said slowly, "you are a silly fool. If ever I help you again in your writing I give you leave to marry me."

Thpn she ran away aud loft him dumfoundod in the market-plaoe. But she was by no moans so hght-hesried as she appeared to be. Kerry's anger, the questions of the two strangers, made her feel uneasy, and she thought it would have been better had she left the provincial newspapers in the garret. Rut Fate decided otherwise, and Jenny Paynton, though ehe knew it not, was an un conscious instrument to revive interest in a

forgotten oase, to solve a mystery of five and-twenty years, and to bring an unknown criminal to justioe. Life is a chessboard, we are the puppets, and Fate plays tne

game.