|Newspaper Title||The Bendigo Independent (Vic. : 1891 - 1918)|
|Trove Title||The Devil's Own. An Australian Story|
THE DEVIL'S OWN.
AN AUSTRALIAN STORY BY RS. Richmond bnty. CHAPTER II (Continued).
BY RS. RICHMOND BNTY.
(To a juror:) "They Parted affec tionately; as the ON his coat in the half Sir Lancelot said, kindly, you will come soon my boy But
Lis son didn’t answer for a minut?, then! he said ~*yes father, , when ‘five thousand pounds t will > retain, .and payj my friend’s debt, till then I shall ( not, even! take your nampK He watfra ther hanghfcy| was the captain, ifc Wos/kmly, a manner' be. had, , particnlarly ~ that ovehih#,! Then he shook hands: kindly. However, : the old 1 gentleman seemed to fret so that ; night, f wrote a little note t j the .vicar 1 begging him to come to the Towers as' I was not satisfied’ about master’s low! spirits. The vicar came, remained alb night and cheered up the baronet wonder- i folly. “I cannot swear to the pistol produced as belonging to the captain, it ia so many years ago. ~lsaw the captain’s pistols. JBot I would stake my life Captain Army ,tage wouldn’t lift a huger against his father for ’he was never hot tempered ; but gentle-and kind to a degree. 1 “Thad nothing to do , the post bag, but I give it ns ray opinion that, there has been foul -play sunowhero'by so,m aii y letters gouigasfcrhy.” Henry Wilkins “ I have. lived as valet ? over five years with my late master. < . <( OaThursday last ! helped dress him as nsaal for dicner. I went to' his room at’ ten o’clock, when he told me that he should not want me again that night. Ho was reading some>oTd- letters.; : ; 1 “Was bis dissmisiDg yphrsb.jearly .as he yv&H not going to bed ? Wilkins: ? Yes; he never kept) mo or any of the servants tip- when he intended r to' be late himself.' ‘; A juror: ‘Did ho often remain np latc?’, Wilkins: “Very often if he had, letters to write oi reading ,to get-. through, -par ticularly oMote;he could not slbcpso well. My master said 'good bight rather sadly, I fancied-that nighb-perbaps read ing lo ttejrs madehim sorrowful.- -1- never’ saw him qgoin till,the alarm bell startled l ns a’l. I remember Captain Armytnge coming to the castle lie seemed put out about something after being some time with bis father; in the library, and I had orders to pack ali bis things: I remember a rosewood case of silver mounted pistols, I had to give thera'a rub. before pack in 2 them! 1 I packed the case and pistols in the captain’s heavy mail trunk. 1 T catinot say if the pistol produced is oiie of the ; same. 1 only saw the capf aihVohce, the - day I packed them. He was n nice gentleman, a little proud like, but I was new to the place thon acd lic didn’t know me so well as the other servants Sir Lancelot whs bhe kindest of masters.” Charles Sprent, footman, was called, his evidence was much the same except that he stated, “I have lived nine years at. the Towers, I had charge of all the plaie, during the day| but banded it up‘ lo : the: butler at" night who locked it in the strong; room. THb strong rodm, opn>aincd iron fire-proof safes for papers, jewellery, and i other valuables, besides the plate. I; noticed'the pistol produced, lying* under | the tablhon Thursday 1 night after master’s! death, , btit I said nothing.” '. ? The man hesitated. .. ? ‘ /’I “spea& up nfan,” said : coroner.. Still the* witness hesilatod 1 - , ‘ “Yopng dan if you,’as you say, loved j your 1 master, you will not mistake in toll-j inir us aifi yod know about the pistol, to help'us to 'any cldo to the farfclioriog of justice in this painful case/” Sprout: “I know nothing, sir, but when first ! caught sight of, the pistol I thought’ it must bo suicide, tho’ Lsaid nothing and; never knbV. that* toy in aster had boon shot until I heard the doctor say, ‘A' oold blooded'murder.’; 1 “V f> ' . ; “I feheh bad orders ,to examine'all the; doora'ahd windows through the castle. Ii found them all locked; and ‘bolted f excojJti the housekeeper’s pantry, where 'a pane of! glass had been taken clean but r of' (he window!,” , * V ; ; ‘ I A juror r '(But* if tKe : door'wah‘, locked i how could anyone open it from tho in-j v/r// Sprint; f l I locked ifcqt ten o’cldclr, bpt; I am told by that she had ; to go to the pantry oupbpard for some; chlorodyhe for her niece, aqdmust have; loft the doorunlobkbd. ’ .. “After the alarm I went'oat for some! distance all round the .house,'i could sea; no one, nut/ even footmarks ; the moon j was shining brightly, fcut it'wns showitig bard. , \ . 1 ’ '// ; /'' | '“Noncr'of os'seryarito can' 1 in, hny wiyj account tor the murder ais master wrs; a. favorite with every hndh kinder j gentleman never iivdd.” , , '. \ A juror asked tor Fandhette Maria apdj the girl was sent for.’' , /!. | A shy' looting timid young girl ivasi the hoasekefeper’a niece. As she entered j ond seemed to : sbnhk from the gaze of > the jury; vCry beautiful,, the deep 1 blub! of her oyes t ficarcely; perceptiblp from the timid dread 1 ; /the face} with: its chiselled/features, like 1 marble 1 itself in their deathly / pallor/; the 'poor! young thing'looked 1 so ill and terrified that the kind doctor brought 1 her a chair 1 and stood by ;her to give la® it were con fidence and courage to speak. ; “ My good girl,” said the coroner (who; had known her all her life),; “ don’t be, frightenedwe shall/hotdetain you long;; wo shall only ask you a few que-rirns!”/ “ I think yon slept with your aunt as usual on Thursday. night h°ac , ; Sir! Lancelot’s suite of rooms' in tho south! - - //.' ! . '-'/; ?/ J “ Yes” (shuddering). / f .. ; , ! u Oon you remember hearing anythfngi at all on Thursday or Thursday night, i any noise tor instance 1 ” | Hero tlie girl fainted and ho further questioning could be on-: forced. _ . ', ,/ / . j Mrs, stated that/her knew nothing of tho gad troubles of Thursday night, having been 1U all that, afternoon hud evening, restless from bid; dreams and talking in her sleep. Shoj was naturaily/deli<»tp,ythe'auht said, and; subject to fainting hhd hysterical fit?,: though she was never' so had f as last 1 TTiursday evening; “She is a good girl,” continued the hourekceper, tear-! fully“ in every; way, *ns ’the Rev. hl r.; Maraton can great cdmtort toj me. My niece was great' petr I pi Sir! Lancelots, who had 'kndwn her from a; little child> when sbo to me by her father, Gouut Marin/ after my; poor sisteris death.” -• I Most of <ho, i othOT' ( scrvian.ts were* called, bht their^statements all coincided,) and not the slightest evidence hod; helped to : unravel 1 the mystery of the; murder or help ! to cluev dh solving the problem‘of the motive for it. ‘Thq ner was ho^y^
the jury wpro T puzzled, - and they were a picked-.comm unity;, gee orally ~ sharp enough to .'pounce upon the culprit: ;or the suspected; and sottle it amongst them* selves easily, who was guilty, and tho why and the wherefore. . In this case no exfenso had been spared,;, handsome rewardswere offered, still .the mystery, remained a mystery. v.,. : The jury* gave their verdict—that /the deceased, ..Sir Lancelot Armytage* ,met with his:death by;.foul mean?, a..pistol bullet having penetrated his brain, - but by whom fired;, must remain to., W proved,; the jury strongly ad vising .that- Gap tain Army Inge,,, now - ,J3ir ; . Hubert? Army tage, should at once be ? com muni catcd with,! andiinquirlos made as to the case of'pis tola. at. one. time; in -his. posses* sion. ‘ OHS.PTER 111, | • : SORROW- , ’ , . • ’ “His life was gentle, and.tho olements'so mixed In" him that Nature might stand Up and say to all the world, • This; was mob,” . •' . , Julius Ojssar. ' , It has been snowing hard .all night, ‘making the roods almost impassable .-in the neighborhood tKo Towora. The ingress' and egress to the Harley rail way station is an impossibility, the- snow! and-sleet still drifts into every hole and corner; 1 blocking the : way and blinding the few people that are struggling along in and "out' of tho Marley -'Railway Hotel, for be it ever so cold, even in the freezing depth of winter,; men must live and men must work, if work; is to bo found i which fortunately is. the case at Marley; A body of hardy -mm .are working with a will, cutting ,a; road through the deep snow block to the station in time for the 1.30 train, when a con siderable number of paesongersare fully ex pected to be present at the Towers’ funeral —for it Is to day that Sir .Lancelot Arraytage is to bo taken to his last resting place, in Gold's acre by. tho picturesque, village church in the valley. Thera is an unusual-stir in the generally quiet village—quiet to dullness - at most times.; Eventsaro so few and far between at this unpretending hamlet that when anything does happen it creates double the excite ment it would- ina less out-of-the-way ? -i: ?? ? ?. -,i 1 The few shops it is possessed of are. closed, -the inhabitants are all in their best Sunday attire, giving the place a holiday look, were it not* that everyone turns but in black, or as sombrely attired as possible. Tho Army tageArms is doing a thriving business, tho sterner sex of the community evidently intending to do justice to (he occasion by drowning dull care —added to tlio plea of' on idle day with lots of neighbors to talk gossip ;witb, knots of men standat corners with downcast looks. It is doubtlessly a dull lookout for them—the old : master dead and tho heir far away, with lit tie chance of returning for a time. Groups- of women aro>gos siping together at doors heads poked but all attention. “I’ll tell ee ” says old granny Wiggins, tlie'head gossip of tho district, “>X was sortain shre as hew trouble was in ? store; for sotuV of us, old-farmer Snow’s brindle dog was a-howling all that blessed night—, didn’6‘ye hear un, a death’s sure siga.” “Dogs always howl at the moon;” says Miss, Fitch, the: new milliner contemp tuously. , ’ “ Then, Miss Pitch, why don't the cratur howl o' nights 'now ! ye didn’t hear un last nightf’ At which defeat! Miss Fitch subsides-into silence. “ : Thdy db siiy’ ns how Fatiohet’o heard a noise ond saw a ghost a walking straight; thobgh the'churchyard that night, os plain; as plain, tho’for the msttef of that thorn; Willi their quaVb notions and’ jhay .then souls.ain'H raacli to be .believed.; . “ I remember when old parson Gibbs's: son,, died, away in Amerikay his spirit was ,seen,,for days together a haunting the old place said, ah old gossip.” . ‘‘They’ll,be here soon,, I shad run .in and get a bit of dinner meanwhile,” says another. ‘, r ' Twpj hours , later . and , the . mournful cortfge.is. winding its way, slowly through the; along the road are women wai ting to join .it, handkerchiefs to their fac.es in genuine,gtief. for the old baronet had been revered amongst them all. Aye;,we all loved,,the old .man, an,’tis now. sixty years come Martinmas that I; mind when he was born, such rejoicing ; oxen roasted,, while bonfires a blazing, such ! a day; and to think he’# gone ,first whilst 1 I—and the, old dame of some eighty years, sobbed aloud. .!, ; ~ ? They had comb to the graye, the rector, i his h«»(I bared, regardless,of the snow and: tho sleet, is reading tearfully the service, ; a beautifully solemn, one is , that English : burial service; -. Bringing one's thoughts back,to the, painful reality of death., c . • I “Man that-is born pf a woman hath ba£ a short time to live and is full of misery,. He cometh up and is cut, down Uko nj fioyrer, he-fleeth as,it were, a shadow and one day.” fThe reotor reads solemnly:—there ,is not, a.dry rye among the many that fill the; .the church yard, • ; It is', oyer, th.e cro'jvd havo dispersed,; weeping honest tears as * they seek thieir. quiet .cottage homes for.the good man who, has passed away from among them all. An hoar later and ihe wiilis being read ; A good Christian will.;, and hpw. rarely do men make their wills in- all chris* ian lovo and.good.feeling toward those whoare,to ; succeed them. How often do they forget, that a will is not .only a sacred thing but. an ; everlasting record-of the hcart of.the writer. The baronet bod done justice, to - a one could .complain for np. one had been forgotten. ~ .‘i "The estates he left “to. my beloved son Hubert, or., at. Jus death tho half to his wife, should bo marry,, for her life shonldj she survive him;,and at her death the* whole to their children. lawfully begotten and of the Protestant faith,” . The old and faithful servants were well .pensioned, - and the rest might well look; surprised-and pleased at finding that they; oven had been remembered in the old squire's will by substantial legaoies. evcn jto one hundred .pounds; to Fanohetto, Marin, tbe jittlo French girl, who,, from a 1 small child, bad been an. especial favorite ; of the squire of Marley Towers, who liked to have, young people abouthim, sing ing joyously, laughing gaily,, or.prattling merrily as did the housekeeper s, niece. Moreover, ’ Fapchette . had a, , pretty fascinating way of her own, could curtsey; gracefully, and would trip about in an airy fashion with her, coquettish smiles! and pretty feet to the utter subjection of the hearts of the village lads,; who, ;in their , solid country hearts could not understand such effective style and innate grace; in a country maiden. Fanohetto waq p “poser” to them, and unlike,any one they,knew or could think of. - ??; * ? qhaptbr xv; ' ;• j . DOUBT, , “ O death, all eloquent, you only prove..; -What dust wo : dote;oaiwhcD ’’tis roan wej , love.” • : . . Pope. . j ; , Jt was the night \ after the funeral, altf the mourners had departed, and i for tbei first time for many many years;:the: old; castle contained no kind host;-.no cheerful guest, bub stood, in solemn silence; in the
ghostly moonlight, its turrettpd walls, ito ancient, foyers,, full of rich old memorito of past ages,'ifrom, (he time of Henry thf 7th, looking j;strango, aad weird,; np lights from the pretty latticed -windows of the south wing, brightened, as bofpre> the picture ; rip,, warm glow bf rosy' fire light, came forth from, the oriel ..windows of the dining-rooms to ; cheer . up the dreary outside aspect, looking still more, dreary since a thaw bad. set in, changing the pure white snow drifts and pic-- turesqne icicles to ’a’, sombre looking landscape of dark looking scenery and shadowy branches; ‘ : / • • Near > the -postern gate of the old castle, under the wide spreading branches of a grand old oedar of stood a young girl, sylpb-liko oa; n spirit in ; the cold moonlight, and deep shadows of the Overhanging; dark but beautiful as a statue when the moon rays pene trated tho trysting place and lighted .up the palo oval face and small head with its-wealth of golden hair. “ He-is not' here,” she whispered sadly and wearily, 1 “he will not come,” and (with a shudder) “ it is so cold, so dreary, so ghostly ; ,1 wish 1 had never promised- to meet him (o-night, my heart beats so I What is that! Oh. merciful heavens 1 1 ’ It Wig only an owl or some night bird flapping its wings overhead-in its search for prey,, , “ Fanchebto, my love, my sweet, are you there? ” whispered u! voice, as a man stepped from oat of the shadow, “ have ybu boeri here long? I'couldn’t help'it. Your aunt detained me ;!does she suspect us. . purely she. would-not separate: us-if I could ooly*prpvide-for you,-yan. You will be tree to.me, my precious one. I must go to-morrow and get a g*od bi r t, then you will .be my wife, Panchetie, speak.” , Tlie girl was silent—sorrowful looking, but with her light figure and small fair face, standing .out, in the moonlight, in strong contrast to her. dark ond tail companion towering aboyp hen “Need you go, Harry, . My aunt is so fond of you, , !Why cannot we marry now and start in life together. I am clover they ,say; I can. play and, sing well. Poor dear Sir Lancelot told ray aunt I had a, beautiful, voice, and I nhi to cultivate it with tho J&100 ho left, me j he wished it.”: ? : So you have, and you- are beautiful and good in every way; too good for a poor devil like mo yarning only a paltry few pounds, a year... Do ypq think; even,with the,hundred, prupds Sir Lancelot left me, and , it was very good „ of ‘the. old gentleman.;.. Do,>you think vyith such a small sum I would ask you to marry me, I would never take you to any but a dainty little home,; you —with your .pretty ways; and nice man ners accustomed ,to cirafort, even luxury compared to the rough life you.,would have, to lead with pie if. we married now. No, sweetest, wait a wee.; all will, be well,, and wo shall marry and live like prince and princess in lha children’s story books. I shall start ; oarly in tho morning. I have excellent reference?. What is the good of waiting horp for an uncertainty. The- new baronet will and subtless have his own valet. Don’t fret (as the, girl sobbed pitifully), my sweet Fanobotte, it will only be for a short, time,, and you will be constant over, .1 know—don’t,, my dearest- I —trust in me,’ it will bo au re voir, not good-bye, my pet, You are shivering, Fanchettc. It so bitterly cold to-nigh*. I got fright ened about you.” “ Wo must say. good-bye npw,” she said,, looking up ;Boftly, and trying to smile through hoi tears,. , “ Harry, .you will be true to me tor ever, and you, will thins of me every day, every hour,; and come, back soon. I shall, count the ,hours .till your return. ; Good-bye, my dear Harry.” He clasped the little figure in his arms and taking a long kiss,and a sad fare well she slipped away down the path to ..the castle whilst he s'rolled on and out of the gates down to the forest glen, where the snow had melted, where the deer,were grazing, now and thon looking, up .with, their meek beautiful eyes, in silent, wonder, 1 towards the solitary figure as ho sat dowri on a fallen tree and gave -himself up to .a; train of thought until the castle bell yas hoard giving notico that the gales , would be closed for the night (an old custom, of the Armytagcs tor centuries past, many called it tha,curfew). . “Sweet little Fan., poor little girl 1 said the lover with a sigh, starting oat of . his revorio at the curfew sound and wetidiog his way back slowly to the castle still, buried in thoughts too deep to even notice! the gate keeper who was looking out at tho night. . -. ; “What a scare you gavei me . Henry,” said the old man;; “I feel that. nervous since the master’s death, a few dead leaves rustling along quakes'the life out of me. -t “Good reason, too, Gibbons,” says the younger roan, tapping his pipe against the gale, “I begin to hate tbo place already ; I am off to-morrow -morning. I. would stay if I thought I could be of uso in find- Ing the murderer, five: hundred pounds is notto bo won easily in, a day;, nor in a life time, as far as I am concerned. Good night Gibbons.” - “Good night, good might,v.may luck at-- tend you, young man,”-said the- gate-! keeper ns ; he closed the heavy gate?. ;. ,i Most of the.servants hpd been retained, .though, like Henry Wilkins, a few others had left; to batter thfir; for tunes at once: rather, than wait tor an uncertainty., , lb .was a sod and melancholy household, for as one, two, three, and, more fliap four months passed- away without any! tidings or even a line from t|ie mow heir, people began to fear and wonder, ,i , Then to their, relief, though . not . joy,- came the family lawyers ,to the .Towers, one morning bringing a letter from Aus tralia in the (deepest .morning stationery, written by the'captain’s own hand; stat ing, in grief stricken ~>vprds» i his doepj sorrow at hip beloved father’s cruel death ;; regretting that bo;had>over-left bis. father,, and urging his lawyers to.; spare- no. ex pense and leave no stoPA.- unturned in] finding his father's murderer and tho! motive for the crime; As tor the . pistol! with his initials he stated ho had, never seen them sinco he left the Towers; they must have-been, stolon in Loudon or on the passage out.,. . . .. Sir Hubert mentioned. that he,had now! no inducement to roturn to England, or; his old home. - , He rqaested ip rather coldly measured tones that all the servants, should; he dis-. missed at once, the castle shut up and given to the, hands of tbq gardener and' his family; as ?!., . No, word of / kindness or remembrance was even, hinted about the; servants. Not a line of sympathy: oven with the favorite old housekeeper or ( the faithful butler. , > . The letter was addresaed to the lawyers who, thereupon, had .coroe down to i; .,tho ( Towers stating that the now baronet wishes verbatim from the letter, : “That is not like the captain towrito such a letter as that; surely ho dop't suspect any of; us servants,” said Benson; to Mrs. Mathews. , “Poor follow 1 poor master Hubert! but no wonder bo write* in-such a demented way after leaving ipeor old gentleman .to-.die. Quito alonp And
ttptored tor, then living in' th 9 f° re ‘S a parte, That outlandish coaritry is enough to turpi any one’s brain, poor follow. Ohjl if he had never gone-—never gone—but it is all too late, toolato; we cannot bring back tho dead to Ule,” and, tho kind of rod sobbed as if her heart .would break.’ “Never mind, dear heart, he may come back again to ns for all he say a in his letter ,’tis not like an Armytage to -.forsake his own people and his father’s house,’’ said Benson, who was fond of quoting the groat book. , Amlso the old couple cheered each other, trying, to forget, their misery!,; in bustling about tvith tho other servants ; covering up the furniture lovingly; taking inventories arid completing other .frapor tant arrangements quickly which ; would hxvo taken days in finishing v by - less energetic hands, thereby 1 more’ "than sqUsfying.the vefyrcf pec table firm of old family lawyers, by devotion and attention to the late squire in doing all that could be done deftly for the sake of him* they had loved so well. ‘ ! / .. “Pity, is akin to 10.ve,” says the old adage. Certainly there was more than a bond of sympathy between the venerable butler, and the comfortable looking house keeper, who felt they were nqno too old to start in life together,- and os the present tenant of the “Armybage Anns” was about to retire, his lease being up, Mr. and Mrs. Benson joined fortunes .and opened the comfortable hostelry on Easter Monday. - The buxom hostess handling, with a smile, many an honest gloss of nut Wow,a alb ?tp -!. the tired pedestrians;.who visited the district that day, glad of a day's fishing,' a look at tho beautiful scenery of the valley, or, perchance, a peep tbreugh. tlm gates, pf, the,, castle “where that horrible murder was per petrated.” - . ' : . Fanohette . Mario, the housekeeper’s pretty niece, had beeq dangerously ill, “a chill and shock to the nervous system op the night of the murder,” said the kincl doctor. But the servants could have slated other causes—a letter, with.foreign stamps addressed to Madlle. Fanchette Marin one morning soon after the funeral, had'taken air the" color out of the girl’s face on reading tho . contents, which she had done in her, own room with the door locked ; and nothing would tempt Fan ohette to reveal anything concerning tbo letter even to her aunt* thereby causing suspicion and misgivings amongst the girl’s best friends, and, indeed, all in the house. (TO BB COKTIVUED.)