|Chapter Title||THE TRUTH.|
|Newspaper Title||Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||The Third Volume|
THE THIRD VOLUME.
BY FEB3US HUME, ! Author of "The Mystery of a Hansom Oab,"
" The Lone Inn," "The Chinese Jar," &o. |
Hilliafcon oarae and went in the apaoeof a few minute*. None of thoae pteaent made any attempt to stay bis exit, but at the door oloaed after him they looked at one another in silenoe.
Thinking oFHillis ton's last speech, Denis was the first to speak.
" What does that mean, sir?" he asked his master, with an air of helpless bewilder
"I think it oan only mean one thing, Denis," replied Laroher, ronsing himself. " Mr. Hil Uaton has at length awakened to the fact of his dastardly treatment of yoorsister, and is about to make reparation for the past. He intends to marry her."
" But his wife only died a few days ago,
" I know that. But Mrs. Bezel will also die shortly, and if Hillistondesires to atone for the past he has no time to lose. He oan marry her at onee, but he will again be a widower within the month."
Denis lifted a pair of shaking hands, and slowly left the room, followed by the sympa
thetic looks of the others. He did not even pause to learn the oontents of the sealed envelope left by Mr. Hilliston. Great as was his curiosity to learn all that had taken plaoe on that fatal night, bis love and grief for his sister Was greater still. ; Bowed and grey and older looking than ever he departed, but there was oneoomfortable thought—Mona would die an honest woman if Mr. Hilliston was to he believed.
When the three found themselves alone, Captain Iiaroher pioked up the sealed letter with some reluotanoe.
"Strange," he said, balanoing it in his hand. " For years I have been eager to know the truth. Now that I have only to open this envelope to learn it I feel half afraid."
" Nevertheless, it will be as well to lose no time in making ourselves acquainted with the oontents," said Tail, eagerly, for he was in a fever of impatience to know all. " It may be aoonfession by Hilliiton."
"Ithink not. It is directed to me In the handwriting of Mrs. Hilliston."
"To Ferdinand Faynton?"
"No. To Captain Laroher."
" H'm I" eaid Tait, with a start. "How did Mrs. Hilliston know yon were Captain Lar oher? Did she see you at Thornton?"
" No. But her husband doubtless informed her of my real name. However, we will learn all from this," said Laroher, breaking the seal. . "I believe this is a oonfessionby Mrs. Hilliston." v
"But whatoan she have tooonfees?" cried
Claude, as hie father smoothed out a closely written letter. ".She oan know nothing of the tragedy.''
"Ton forget," eaid Tait, with a sadden re-' oolleotion, "a Louisa Sinulair. She was at Horriston, and, aooording to Mona Bahtry, was iu the garden of 'The Laurels,'on that night. I would not be surprised if abe aawthe oommittel of the orime."'
" What 1 Do yon think she is about to be tray her husband ?"
"Oh,"saidTait, signifioantly, "we are by no means sure of Hilliston'e guilt."
Laroher found that the writing was too small for him to read oomfortably, to handed the letter to Olande. with a request that he should readitontalona. Excusing himself on tbe plea of the illegibility of the writing, Olando pasted it to Tait, who aoeepted the offioq with avidity. The letter was without date or direc tion, and began in fun ; * sugget tive of
*h^d.^^MtiU^y«4^''Wwi&il.wiM^'v lingsboiM I autboriee lumtornaketheee
'" »",Tp explain myaalfl uiul go baok twenty? six ye*l(«/ when jl waa residing at Horriston. "Too, Oaptain Lerbher, wiU remember me well m Louies Sinohiir, lor at ? that time IsaW a greatdeal of yourself and your w|f«s .,I-Baw too noon eg her,.for myeyes weresharp, and) bnt for a natural reluctance to diaturb your domestic: peace.IooatdheTeenlightened you nstoheroouduot. Bh'ewas ne verwortb vol a good man lUce yon. She waa asbad ai 1 after wards beoame, and that ia saying a great deal, as yon will aeeby reading on. •-_. • . '. y.
"I loved Francis Hilliston. your Winitte friend. Belinda Pikelovedhim also, buttibere was no need lor either of tie to be jealous ot the other,- for Mr. Hilliston loved athird person j none other than your wife.- No doubt yon will be angry when yon read thie, bnt youratigee oannob alter faoti. Tea, your deartsi friend lovedyour wife, Let bim denyitifhe can." . -:.V ">
At thia point there was a marginal note .by Hilliaton:—
" I do deny it, bnt that X am not in a politico to do «o I would not let George Laroher's eyes rest on this confession. My poor wife was insanely jealous of Mrs. Lar oher, bat I ewear that ahe had no grounds to be ao. f. admired Mra, Laroher as a friend nothing more—and I loved Mona Bantry. She ia the only womanwhohaa ever attracted met and, notwithstanding my marriage, now die aolved by death, ahe attracts me still."
This note was hastily scribbled in penoil,
and after Tail had read it without interrnp- - tiou from Oaptain Laroher, he ooo tinned the
" I admit that I wae jealous of hia attention* to your wife," continued Mra.Hilliston, "foe though I did all in my power I oould not win hira to my side.- Regarding the efforta of Belinda Pike, I aay nothing. She tried to gain hie love, and ehe failed. I wa* more suo oeeeful m the end, bat not till the lapse of many years. Here X may aay that I have gipsy blood in my veins, whioh at times rati" ders me insanely jealous, and whioh, in snob a
"», I am oapableof all things;
state, I am oapableof all things; A reoolleo* tion of thia may enlighten yon as tomyaoting ae I did in the garden of" The iAurels.'
"I knew that your wife loved jeringham, and oould have told you of it. I am sorry X did not now, aa ahe would have been dis graced, and then Franois might have turned to me for oonaoiation. Bnt I held iny peace, and paid the oast of doing so. I am doing so now—you also: for if yon had been fore*
warned you would never have bad to oonoeal ~ yourself under a feigned name on asoount of Jeringham'e death. !
" At the fancy dress ball held at the Town Hall matters oeme to a climax. My gipsy blood made me med on thet night,,owing to the way in whioh I wae negleoted by Franoie Hilliaton. With come, difficulty I learned that your wife was to be dressed at Mary Queeuof Soote,and with .a view to making mse self attractive in'Hillieton's eyes X ohoae ins
same dress. With the assistance of the dram*
maker, who worked for he both, I obtained a dresB similar in all respeots to thet of Mrs. Laroher, homing that by,-doing ao he would ?peak to me under the impression that I waa yonr wife. My stratagem was tnooessful. I was masked and dressed ae ehe wae. He a poke to me, thinking I was ahe, and I learned then how he loved her. At that moment I oould have kilted her. X oould have killed him."
Here there waa another note in Hilliaton'* handwriting:—
"Again I aay the poor ore&tnre waa mistaken, I did apeak to her nnder the im pression that she was Mrs. Laroher, but I said nothing that ahe oonld oonatme into a declara tion of love. Her jealousy rendered her mad, and ahe distorted the idteworda I spoke. She took them up in the wrong sense.
" My suspicions were confirmed later on," oontinued the oonfeseion, "for I overheard them talking together. Tee, Franoie Hillia ton and your wife were in a oorner together, talking of love. I listened. It waa mean to do so; but then I was in love, and—would have stooped to any degradation .to have resoned him from her olntohes. They talked about a dagger whioh be bad given her to com plete her drees. Abal he did not think to complete my oostnme with such a gift. Mrs. Laroher took the dagger out of its sheath, and together they examined it. She blamed him for putting an ineoription on it, saying it would make her husband jealone. Franoui laughed, and said that von would never uns pent him. Then Mrs, Laroher slipped thp daggei baok in the sheath, as she thought } bnt in reality it slipped down among the folds of her dress, and when ehe arose to go it fell on the ground. They departed, and 1 picked up the dagger.
" it onoe I looked at the inscription, and there it wae on the gold handle—'To J. L>, from F. H.' I was so enraged thet I oould have brokeD the dagger. I tried to, but it was too strong for me, therefore I thrust it into my waistband and went in search of Hil liaton to return it to him and reproach him Tor giving it to Mrs. Laroher. I taw him, wrapped in his oloak, go out with Mrs. Laroher. He was seeing her home, and in a freney of jealous rage I resolved to follow."
Margin note by Hillieton :—
" It was not I who went home with Mrs. Laroher, but Jeringham. I was dressed that evening as a Venetian senator, and wore a long blaok oloak. Thin Jeringham borrowed of mo to oonoeal his fanoy dress when he left the Town Hall. My wife thonght it waa me, bnt she wes mistaken, I went home with George Laroher, as he knows."
The confession continues:—
"They left in Mrs.Larohet'eoarriage.andL hastily wrapping a oloak round me, followed in a fly. . When I got to ' The Laurels',they were talking together at the door, and. the carriage had driven round to the stables. X sat bank in'my fly, for the driver did not know who I was, end watohed. I saw -Mrs. Laroher kiss'Hillieton and ran inside. - Then i wept out of my mind—X wes possessed by e devil, He came down the path, ana turned midway to look baok'at the none. I had myhand on the dagger—it tempted me, and leprang Out
i6u sharply round, tnd tw I on him. Heturne
not been blinded with rage I would have then recognised him. Bnt I hardly knew what I was doing, and before he oonld utter a word I buried the degger in hie beert, when he feu with e choking ory. I knelt down beside hH», end withdrew the degger. Then,I heard a sound, dropped the weapon, and fled.
"Some little distanoeoff Iran intotbe araia of Franois Hillieton. I shrieked aa though I bad seen a ghost, and told him I had hilled a man. Thai I had intended to kill him. He explained the mistake of.the oloak, and said 3 must have murdered Jeringham. ' Then he. saved my life. No one had ssen mscome to
Si*1 ® ei-jieklvday :^he,«neilrt: of : the dieap-' ',|Wi^M|(||pi|U%nir:#i Jojiwift ;^.l|in^;Wii^f*M dieto'vered down the ;
,wii5 )idiiil|kuJm|hubtO>pl»iii Laroher. ? IVanola advieed ;me ifdr my o wo «»ke tohold: -imyt6ligoa;T;did~ao, and ehorlly afterwarda 1 yrctat on aiviai ttoa litter of mine in America.; ITranoie refusedio merry me on aooonntof my mime.In' Amerioa Im arried Derrick, thej millionaire; be died, and I returned to] London, ; IfoantbFrenoia greatly in wantof; money, And at I etill loved him 1 married him.; No one bat us two really knew who killed ; Jeringham •, .but, for' your sake, Captain liar-: ' oher,laoknowledge my gnilt, lest you should
befonnd out and eoonaed of the crime. I oould aay-muoh more, but this is enough. When yon; aead this 1 will be dead, and my laet words I awear are trne. I and hone-other killed Mark Jeringham in mistake forFrancisHillia
.?on." ?- .- '. . Note byHillieton
i.. " It will beaeen that my wife was aotuated all through by jealousy, but I.swear the bad' mo reaaon,- - I In red Mona, not Mrs. Laroher, bot her. I saved her life beoauee the oom -mltted the prime.for my sake. I married her because I. was on the verge of pecuniary ruin. There nothing more toadd,; Youoan blame mo if- you like,' but I oonaider I have acted •U through aa I was forced by oiroum