Chapter 161824620

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Chapter NumberXL
Chapter TitleFAOE TO FACE.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article161824620
Full Date1895-07-20
Page Number37
Corrections0
Word Count1738
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleThe Third Volume
article text

CHAPTER XL.

FAOfi TO PAOE,

The oonvoraation between Tait and Captain ' Laroher was not finished until evening, is the old gentleman, worn oat by the excitement of the day, early retired to bed. However, he deolared tbat he would be shortly ready to journey to London, and Claude left the cot tage with Tait on the understanding that hie father was to be aalled for next day. Before they parted for the night Claude made a remark about Hilliaton.

" I hope he won't get wind of this," he said dubiously; "or he may get Mrs. Bezel—Ioan'b oall ber mother—out of the way."

"Have no fear," replied Tait, oatmly, Hilliaton'e hands are too full at pretent."

" What do you mean T"

" Why," eaid Tait, lighting his oandle, "your father showed me a letter from Hiilis ton, apologizing for not ooming over as Mb wife was lying dangerously iU at the Oonnaught

Hotel, at Eastbourne.

"He said something of tbat in Ms note to me. What is the matter with Mrs. Hillis ton ?"

"She has the smallpox."

"The smallpox 1" eohoed Claude, in a tone of horror, "Poor oieature, she is a dead

woman!"

" I don't know so muoh about that. She may

rooover."

"She may recover from the disease," eaid the young man gloomily; but not trom the blow to her vanity. Many a time has she told me tbat if she lost her looks sbewould kill her, self. You mark my words, Tait, within the week we will hear of her death."

And with these prophetic words Clauds

retired to his room.

Tait had no time to think of this conversa tion, being occupied with antioipation regard ing the meeting of Captain Laroher and Mb wife; but it eohappened that Claude's prog nostications ocourred to him when the truth of the Horriatun tragedy wasdincovered, and that was not long nfcorwards. Perhaps, like the young men, Fate herself grew weary of an affair wh'.oh had dragged on for twenty-five years. At all events she brought matters to a oonolusion with almost inoonosivable rapidity.

The first step towards the end was the meet ing of husband and wife, whiob took place at Clarence Cottage, Hempstead, during the afternoon of the next day. In company with his eon and Tait, the old gentleman drove, to the railway station, some three miles distant, and took the up express. When established oomfortably in a first-class smoking carriage— for Captain Laroher was fond of a pipe—ha

resumed the conversation with Tait whioh had beep broken off ou the the previous night. This time the subject was Hilliston add his doings.

"1 have been thinking over your suspioions regarding Hilliaton," ha said, addressing him self more directly to Tait, " And I confess tbat it ia difficult to reoonoile some of his notions

with your view that he is guilty. Claude, as you know, was ignorant of the Horriston tragedy until enlightened by Uilliston."

"I know that, my dear eir,*' said Tafb quietly. " Uilliston certainly placed the papers oontaining the acoount of the matter in Claude's hands, but he was foroed to do so by the action of Mrs. Bezel—I beg pardon, Mrs.

Laroher."

"Continue to oall her Mrs. Bezel, if yon please. 1 prefer it so. How did she force Hilliston to confide in Claude?"..

" Because she read the book ' A Whim of Fate,' and seeing the tragedy therein desoribed she wrote asking Claude to eee her with the in tention of telling him all. As yen may guess, her story differs materially from that of Hil liston'e, eo of two evils, ohoosing the least,. he determined to forestall her and inform Claude of the matter."

" And he did so by means of the Press,"said Claude, eagerly, " in plaoe of telling roe the story himself he allowed me to gather what in formation I eould from the scanty report of the Canterbury Observer. My dear-father, the

genesis of ..the wholo matter springs from the

tiding of those pipors by Jenny.. Had she not

read them and told Linton the story he would not have written the book; had he not done

so Mrs. Bezel would not have determined to' tell me her version; and but for her threat to do so HUlistou would not have produced the papers."

" Humph ! The notion' was oompulsory on ' the part of Hilliston."

"I think so, sir," said Tait complacently, " therefore it is quite in keeping with hit usual charaotor. The rat did not fight till it was driven into a corner."

. "It is hot in-ths oorner,"remarked Captain Laroher, sighifioahtly, "but we'll drive it there, and tee if it will faoe our aoousation. But what about Hillistoh'a introduction of Claude to me? Would it' not have been to his iilterest to keep us apart?"

" Oh 1" said Tait with some oontempt for HilUston's diplomacy, "that was another base

_ _ t ...

#^

ll^J^t toftoptfeBWholCc"-**" *~

jon faoetofaoe with your«

Ismeiof^e wrtbprow hour

^. Ldon'i see how thatwould aooomplish his :'. 'Hfliistontaped''ii'wouliL jdoSkol'.ij» iwfe

wAys,"BkpliinedTait,glibly,••: f-Fiial, bt hopedthat jyou would (rfyeVyour consent to Claude marry ing Jeiwy,nnd solead bis mind +Wayjlrpm Jhe caae. and, second, he tru«fced that when Claude found you alive bis would no longer dssiro to pursue the invBatl^tteiJ,":-;

''He was xight, !«o "i*T,"; said;DlanAe;* seriously." .-,. : ,,

; .f'lf - that was Hilli'ston's baloulatifjii, hie made one greet mistake," e»id Captain Lar-' oher, scornfully. 'Uv ?>':>,.Jr-?:.?£'?,;• .. /'He'did dot think that Ishould wish'to tee my wife." <;;.?'<? ?/;?' V-.v.-.. i-.:- '.v^. -v •,

" He must havo been eatisBed that Claude Would tell you she wee alive,'.''.-.;'->i..:,-.

. "That, ofoourse. ? Hat bethought J, would stay at Thoriton as Ferdinand Paynton, end be afraid to admit my identify .eyeu-ta my wife. I might havedons ho but for Claude, But I.o wait to him to oleer myself, and this meeting with my wife wilt be the Bret step to ward e doing so. Between oe we may solve the mystery." " ?? ".

**lb u none, eb ferae I am oonoerued,"«aid Tait, grimly. .111 am ante as lam siting here

that Hilliaton murdered Jeringham.. The gardener was juiC too late toeee.him do the deed.'' . .

?' But hie motive?" asked Claude, ouri ouely. ? \

: Hu father and Tait sbole a glance atonean otber. They neither of them wished to .make any remarks about Mrs. Laroher and Hillie-: ton's paeaion.prelerring that Claude-should be ignorant bf that episode,. Still when he asked ao direst a question if wae diffiouit to avoid a direct answer, but Laroher gave him one whioh was sufficiently evasive to atop farther enauirics.

, " We must fry and find out his mo tire,", be said quietly. "Depend upon it, Claude, there is a good deal of underhand work'in this of which we know nothing."

"Do you think Mona committed the orime?"

•'No, I do not. In no way could she have gained possession of the dagger with which it

wasoommitted."

: " My mother soys eko had the dagger in the sitting-room.""

" That is a mistake," said Captain Laroher, using as delioate a word as he could think of. " She threatened me with the sheath of the dagger, and no doubt, being agitated at the "time, the thought it was the weapon itself. Bat I noticed when ebe entered the room that

the Bheath was empty. „ Her story-to the police at the time of the trial is more likely. She lost if in the ballroom. The question is who pioked it up. Judging from tjw knowledge I how

beve of his oharaoter I believe it was Hilliaton who did so.".

"Or Jeringham," eaid Tait suddenly.

"Impossible I How could Jeringham have foundit?"

" He was wibh'Mrs. Laroher all the evening, and may have seen fhe dagger fall.' Or again, he may hare taken it out of its sheath to ex amine it and have forgotten to return it. _ It is not improbable that in suoh a oase he might have reoolleoted it when he was in the garden and offered it to Mona to return to her mia treaB."

"Oh!" said Claude with contempt, "and on that alight ground you suppose that Hone killed h'im."

"If is nob beyond the bounds of proba bility."

"NonsenseI" said Captain Larobor angrily.

" I don't believB it. Mona was a good girl, | foully deoeirod by Jeringham. She fled from tbe house to hide her disgrace, thinking my wife wonld tell her brother. Hilliston after

wards met her in London, where she died in j giving , birth to Jenny."

"Then It was Hilliaton who brought Jenny ; to you?"

" Yes. Beoanse her uncle Denis was tn my service. I adopted Jenny, but told her that she was the child of a Mr. Kennedy and Mona Bantry.. She believed her father and mother were married, so do nob disturb that view of the case."

"Certainly not," said Tait emphatically, "it would bo oruei to do bo. - Bub bBre we are at Victoria. After seeing Mrs. Bezel at Hampstead we can resume our conversation."

" If we do it will be from a different stand- j

point, I fancy," said Laroher significantly, as j the train stopped. i

Tait's brougham waa waiting for them at the j

station, and in this they drove up to Hamp

stead. Leaving it in FitzJohn's-avenue they ; walked down Hunt-lane to Clarence Cottage. Mrs. Bezel ooaupied her usnal seat in the

window, and oaught sight of Claude as he I

preoeded hia father and Tait up the path. A j terrified expression crossed herfaoe, but she j

made no motion to forbid their entrance. ; Yet a sense of coming evil straok at her heart,

and it needed all her self-oontrol to prevent j

herself from fainting when they were shown

into the room. 1

"My dear mother," eaid Claude, kissing j her, "yon must be prepared forunexpeoted news, i beg of you to control yourself, for"

He stopped short in astonishment. Mrs. Bezel was looking at Captain Laroher with a

bewildered air, and he gazed at her faoe with j an expression of amazement. Hbe shrank back j as he orossad the roam with rapidity and bent ! over her. I

"Mona Bantry," he oried, "is it possible that you still live !"