|Chapter Title||MARIAN LEIGH.|
|Newspaper Title||Advocate (Melbourne, Vic. : 1868 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||The Story of a Jewelled Belt|
-THE STORY OF A JEWELLED : BELT. j BY P. E. Quinn. i (The Bight of Re-publication Reserved.) CHAPTER II. • • ' 4IABIA.N IBI&H.
A veSK after the inquest upon the lody found, in theYarra Mr. Chester was iying in ! bed thinking. Happy is the man whose antebrealffast thoughts are weloome thii$i.' He iB in a moral oon- 'tfifcion analogous $ the physical state of the individual' who can sit down to an early breakfast wtth a .brisk and vigorous appetitb' ifidlBjpendent of sauoes or pickme-ups, obnditoental or otherwise. That was a woridw-wi'se Wojman who cautioned Vet diughtta "neyer to marry a bad breakfast rian." In thiBpithy Frehohy $dmoniti6n, .Ues a wholp ,wo?ld of sad 'experience. ' ' ' Chester's thoughts, though not absolutely disagreeable, Were evidently highly perplexing. Lord Dart had passed over the Straits to Tasmania the previous day. He had pressed Chester' unavailingly to acoonipany him, but this the latter had obstinately refused to do. He was determined to persist in his deteotive 'enterprise, though, as yet, he had not the faintest conception Of the manner in whioh he was to perform the task he had g0 recklessly set himself. Though he held to his conviction that a murder had been perpetrated, that, so far, was unsupported by proof. Truth to tell, in the mornings, Chester had always admitted to himself that his chanoes of making any discoveries were exceedingly remote, unless by the aid of accident. He had tried all the methods so uniformly successful in deteotive stories. He had looked for clues, and had found none. He had visited the Bpot where the body was found, had seen the high, bank, and gazed long and steadfastly at the muddy water of the stream beneath, as if, like Bome magic mirror, it would give baok the solution of the seoret which perplexed him. He had analysed and synthetised from the data in his possession, like Dupin and Sherlock, Holmes and Lecocq, but all in vain. The result so infallibly achieved by these gentlemen of the police failed to reward his ratiocination. At the end of his first twenty four hours of serious investigation ne had arrived at the conclusion that the only clue in his possession was the certainty that in lite the deceased had Worn a belt of some stiff material about his body. The doctor who had conducted the post mortem had explained to him that the belt could not have been worn for any reasonB of ill-health.
"In fact," he said to Chester, "it must have been decidedly uncomfortable, for it was of hard, stiff material, and left a depressed mark quite round the body. Why he wore suoh a thing I can't for the life of me make out." To this stage Chester's investigations had advanoed. Not many men are in the habit of wearing a cincture of this kind, and our amateur deteotive determined to use this knowledge in endeavouring to ascertain the identity of (he dead man. This discovered, he would win one of Lord Dart's wagers, and prevent his friend from having the laugh at him. we previous evening he had had in an advertisement relocating anybody who knew of anybody «1m who was in the habit of wearing a stiff band of metal or other material around the body to communicate with D. C., General Post Office, and promising a reward lor reliable information. Tillhereoeived an answer to this advertisement he was obliged to remain qaies pent in the matter. Naturally being of an active temperament, his thoughts reverted to some other means of employing his time, and, •uriouily enough, he bepaa to think w this connection of Manan Leigh. He had been oorreet in telling his friend that their fellow-passenger had interested him. And he felt himself wishing that the voyage oould have been indefinitely extended, and that the Bmprtt* could have gone on for long ploughing through the greea sea. How long he did not stop to oonsider, as long as Marian Leigh might have been by his side, and he ooeld have lost himself in the beautiful tamest eyes shining under the foamwhite blow. Jut when things were
getting dangerous for him the voyage had ended, and the passengers had Mattered as a bundle of leaves flies before a gust of wind. • K° od » though, to meet that girl,* he reflected. " She is one in whom the woman God made has never been unmade by the world. Yery different from the majority of women I hare known. The creatures who set their caps at Dart, for instance, becanse,he is a peer, and has £25,000 every six months, what a herd of artificial, cunning, meroenary, ambitious women they were —girls, too, some of them scarcely done, one would think, with their schoolbooks. Being p poor devil, they let me alone, and the looker-on sees most of the gamo. But, by Jove, Miss Leigh cared no more for poor Dart's title and rent roll than she did for plain Diok Chester. On the whole, I. think she oared a little more for the commoner than the peer. Now, when I met her I was nearly becoming a cynic, and that is a disagreeable thing. For, after all, what is a cynic unless a philosopher turned bad P I'd very much like to see her again, perhaps——Gently, gently, Diok. What right has a poor man like you even to think of a wife P" And Dick yawned and stretched his long limbs before springing out of bed. As he glanced at the morning papers to see that his advertisement had appeared oorrectly, he was struck by an advertisement which read aB followB :— " Will Richard Leigh, from Salisbury, England, send his address to or call on Marian, Hotel, Melbourne P . Very anxious."
" Phew 1" whistled Chester. "That's Miss Marian's business here, is it P In Searoh of a lost or runaway parent. Here now is a chance for me. Perhaps I can assist her in her searoh; I'll call on her at onoe." On reflection, however, it oocurred to Chester that he could not do this without appearing intrusive. A way out of the difficulty suggested itself after a short reflection. There was no reason why he Bhould not transfer himself to the same hotel. This he accordingly did, satisfied that residence at the same hotel would give him many opportunities of meeting with Marian. And he was right. That Tery afternoon, as he was enjoying a cigar in the smoking room, he caught a glimpse of a tall, Blight figure hurrying along the passage which passed the door. It was Marian Leigh. She was dreBsed for a walk, and almost before she descended the steps CheBter was by her side. The colour on her cheeks deepened as she recognised him. "I'm delighted to meet you again. Miss Leigh," he remarked, as they shook handB. Miss Leigh made no reply other than by a look which certainly did not show any displeasure at his presence. Dick told her that he was lodged at the same hotel aB herself. " Indeed !" she remarked. " It strange that I did not see you before to day."
" Not at all," said Dick, with a smile, " considering that I came only to-day." "Oh 1" said Marian, simply. For a few minutes they walked on in silence. Dick wished to offer her all the assistance he could in her endeavours to find her friend, but was at a IOBB how to do BO without presumption. Marian had not summoned him to her aid, nor had she made him a confidant of her secret. How, then, could he launch into the sub' ject without the appearance of impertl nent intrnsiveness V As they walked on Chester noted how eagerly Marian scanned the faces of the men they passed in the streets. There was an anxious look in her eyes whieh told as plainly as words that ahe was expecting or hoping to find some face which she knew. He at onoe ocaeluded that she was searching for the person she had advertised for. It struck him as curious, however, that she passed by the well-dressed and prosperous-looking men in the street without a glance; but the unemployed workingmanand the loafer she subjected to keen scrutiny. It pained him to note the evident dis tress in her face, and the shadow which anxiety and grief had thrown over her ordinarily brirfit face. A womanly-sweet bee it was, with capacities of loving wifehood and tender motherhood suggested by it, as should be the we with eveiy woman* face. She had large gaselle^yes of blue, a short, straight noee, a curvmg, redlipped mouth—rather large, perhaps, for
perfection, but set inside with rows of pearls—and a ehin firm and level, with ;he forehead in the Greek way. Of her hair all that Chester knew waB that it was like coils of sublimated ruBt from which the sun drew lights like gleams of burnished copper. Her height made her proportions appear slender, but the curves of her lissom figure and the roundnesB of her arm Bhowed that Bhe was not thin. The serious sweetness of her face, with its waiting, anxioUB look, struck Chester when he saw her first, and now looking at her keenly he Baw that her face was beginning to wear a wasted look, quite inconsistent with the girl's obvious youth. Diok determined to tender her his assistance. "MisB Leigh," he began, "is there any way in which I can be of servioe to you while you are in Melbourne; if so, .[ will be only too pleased to offer you any assistance you require P" Miarian looked at him enquiringly. Dick thought the bold policy the beBt. " I may tell you that I saw an advertisement in this morning'8 paperB which I connected with you. If I am right in thinking that you are looking for anybody in Melbourne, perhaps I can help As he said this it suddenly struck him that it might be a lover or husband that Marian waB in search of. What' did he know of her paBt history P The BUBpicion rendered him very uncomfortable, ' despite the suggestions of his philosophy that it was no business of his. The next' words of Marian's were ominous.
" You are right, Mr. Chester, in thinking that the advertisement was mine. I am in search of someone very dear to me. I have neither brother nor siBter." Here Marian's voice faltered. " Confound it 1" thought Dick. " A nice thing I've brought on myself promising to look up the other fellow. I'm such a bright detective, too." And he smiled a little bitterly as he thought of his helplessness in the face of the other mystery he had pledged himself to solve. Positively his face looked for a moment as if the philosopher in him was about to become a cynic again. Marian resumed—"I thank you very much for your assistance, Mr. Chester, and will gladly avail myself of it. You know, some ten years ago my darling— ('Cool, that,' thought Dick)—was in some dreadful fight in Afrioa with the natives, and received a wound in his heail which affeoted his brain. ('A lunatic, by Jupiter,' thought Dick.) And sometimes he forgets who he is altogether, and goes away from home and gets into all sorts of trouble.' (' Ha! a blackguard as well as a lunatic,' commented Dick to himself.) He is quite helpless without me," went on Marian. " Once he went right off to Amerioa, to San Francisco. There he spent what money he had, and for a whole month was walking about homeless and almost foodleBS till accidentally the British consul discovered who he was, and had him Bent baok to England. This time he cashed a cheque for £500, and took a lot of valuable gems with him. (' Worse and worse; a lunatic, blackguard and thief all in one. 'Pon my word, Marian, I didn't think it of you,' was Dick's inward note.) So that this time," Marian went on, " he
will have plenty to support him." "Latterly, before his last attack came on, he had been reading a good deal about Australia, particularly about Melbourne, and on one occasion he asked me whether I would like the voyage out. These things lead me to believe that he has come to Australia. Perhaps he is in Melbourne; but as I have been advertising every day since I arrived, and have received no answer, it is probable that he has not seen the advertisement If he has, even, and is not in his right mind, he would not recognise its reference to himself. It nearly breaks my heart to think of him in a strange oountry aad ao helpless. I am really quite at a loss how to search for him, ana all I can think of ia to walk the streets all day and look in the faoe of every unfortunate man that I see. Bnt the faoes are all strange and oold,and now I am beginning to despair of aver seeing the hoe I love beat on earth." , . "Humph!" thought Dick, whose natural reserve was shocked by this naked admission of affection, "decidedly indelicate. I'm afraid I was mistaken m fit*JhT&ed at Marian's Cue and saw how "piteous it was, and how the tears stood in the eyes throughwhich her troubled soul looked out like a wounded stag, he relented.
" Well, Miss Leigh," he said, " the search is, I am afraid, rather a wild one. Have you thought of calling in the aid of the polioe P" " Yes," Bsid Marian;" I was about to lay the case before them this afternoon." " That is the best thing you can do," said Diok. " Meanwhile, you may count on me at any time." ThiB meant nothing, or, if anything, was practically a withdrawal of the assistance which Diok had so profusely proffered before he had been made aware of the circumstances of the case. Marian saw the change with a woman's quickness. " Thank you, Mr. Chester," she said, coldly; "but perhaps I will have no occaBion to trouble. The polioe, I have no doubt, can do more in these matters than private people. Good-afternoon." And with a grand boW shasttept away. Dick looked after her for a whifc.! ! ' "There goes a woman I was'nckttfy making myself a fool over. But how was I to know she had a husband P It must be a husband, for his name is Leigh. Of course I what rubbish, sho called him her darling, and loves him best on earth. And here I was fancying sheWBB partial tome. Dick Chester, what has come to you P Your London friends looked on you as a sensible, worldly-wise . sort of person, and you looked on yourself as a philosopher, whereas, aftor all, as it turns out, you're only a fool. Dart WBB right. I have no penetration. A
pity I didn't go to Tasmania with him. The best thing I can do is to join him, give him the fizz, and own myself an ass. But Marian is a sweet woman, and it's a pity sho did not have better fortune than to marry such a fellow as this runaway lunatic husband of hers. Heigho! I was nearly having a rather disastrous romance. If," concluded he, " I don't get an answer to my asinine advertisement to-morrow morning, I'll out away to Tasmania by the first boat." The next morning, however, brought no response to his personal. In glancing over the paper, however, he read the following advertisement :— " If Richard Jenkins does not return to the Golden Crown and Bettle his account immediately, his box will be sold
" PETEB NEWTON, Licensee." " Now," said Dick to himself, " here is a missing man. He may be only ono of the ordinary scamps who run up a score at an hotel and then skip. On the other hand, he may be, perhaps, the man who waB murdered, for murdered he was, I'm convinced. I'll probably have mv trouble for nothing, but in any case I'll go and interview Mr. Peter Newton." Accordingly, after breakfast, he proceeded on his erraud. In the vestibule of the hotel he encountered Marian Leigh. She passed him with a smileless face and a scarcely perceptible bow. Her face still wore its anxious look, and Dick felt a longing desire to go and comfort her in Bome vague way. His reception was, however, so uncertain that he hesitated, and then the opportunity pasBed away, as Marian betook herself to the ladies' sitting-room. " She thinks me a cad, I suppose," he thought. "Well, perhaps I am," and with this consoling .admission he went his way." The Golden Crown was a fairly largo hotel, situated in Lonsdale-street, but by no means in a respectable portion of the city. As Diok entered the bar he noticed a few rough-looking characters seated before huge tumblers of colonial beer, while a blowsy-looking man, short and fat, minus a coat, and with his shirtsleeves folded to his elbows, was dexterously wiping a number of similar glasses with a dirty towel, a proceeding which a mongrel dashed with a bull-dog watched with winking eyes from his position in a ring of expectoration on the flow. " Well, sir, what'* for you P" said the blowty man, briefly. " I wish to speak to the landlord, said Chester. "Well, you're a doin' of it,' was the answer. (2b £e ceatfNttar.) Bbumtk Putoki.—Pstted Daughter— <• Thay atked ms to^pU^ at Mrs. Highupp's this evening, and X did; but " Pond Mother (pronto)—" We«e they oot cntnuwsdr Petted Daughter—''Hum! When I aland • Wts on the Ooean Wave* wiU» variation hall of them 1th the room." Food Mother (wstatteally)—" That's wonderful I Th«y must have been eta-sink."