Chapter 174509175

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Chapter NumberXL.(Continued.) XLI. XLII.
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Full Date1892-02-13
Page Number1
Word Count4822
Last Corrected2020-07-05
Newspaper TitleThe Bendigo Independent (Vic. : 1891 - 1918)
Trove TitleThe Devil's Own. An Australian Story
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Another false start and then they arc off, the Duchess, as a reward, or rather punish- ment for her skittishness, being far behind in the start, and likely to remain so, for in a

horse race, as in all else in life, lost time is hard to make up again. Norman Fortescue, from first hearing of and seeing the lameness of Lola, is so utterly disgusted and crestfallen, he does not even stand up or get excited in watching them, but sits down and looks on at the race as if perfectly unconcerned as to its issue. Connie, not knowing how deeply her hus- band is involved and interested in the race, is all anxiety about it from purely racing excite- ment—a novelty to her—as she keeps Nor- man’s glasses to her eyes, now and then calling out the movements of the racers to her husband, who sits listessly, she thinks, wonderingly,listening to the voices around as race goes on. “ Baron is first! ” shout the crowd. “ No, it’s Caliban—Caliban—Caliban wins! No, ah, you overdid it my friend this time. Cali- ban is nowhere. Some one is down—it’s Curlew—no. It’s Baron that’s in front,” “Ten to one on Baron—on Baron !" repeats some excited bookmaker, as the black horse races past the stand proudly—far ahead of the rest, who follow like a string behind, Lola nowhere. “Poor Lola,” says Connie, with a sigh. “They're going round again,” says a voice, hopefully, “ there's hope yet Mrs. Fortes- cue,” it is Forth's voice, as the horses keep well together for a time, then a spurt here and there, as they near the post for the final victory. “Caliban wins, no, Duchess — Duchess wins ; wins-easily,” is the shout, and certainly if flogging and spurring will do it she will win easily, for, poor brute, her jockey’s whip is going as often as the pendulum of a clock, and perhaps more than the little mare de- serves, for she is doing her best. “Hallo! if that brute Lola isn’t coming up,” says some one, angrily. “ She’s ahead ! Duchess is spent —no use, man—save your whip. Lola wins ! Lola wins easy!” as the mare gallops past the judge’s box easily, without whip or spur, to the disgust of all but the bookmakers and a very few others. “If that isn’t the devil’s own dodgery I’ll eat my hat,” says an irate stranger, as Lola passes into the saddling paddock, the cynosure of all eyes and the wonder of the multitude, not the slightest show of lameness and limping in her—not the sign of a spur on her flanks or a whip about her shoulders. CHAPTER XIX. GRATITUDE. “ Sweet as the breath of vernal shower The bees' collected treasures sweet, Sweet music’s melting fall, but sweeter yet The still small voice of gratitude. ” —GRAY. There is a joyful commotion in the ring, though, to give them their due, those much abused members of the racing world have had no hand in|Lola's being lame and win- ning with flying colors. “It is not our fault,” they say, “if we win with a discarded horse — other people's leavings.” So hats go up in a shower, a few over- exuberant men hug one another in their joy, and not a few whose throats are dry with shouting hurry off to the refreshment places, there to drink to their own or their friends luck. Norman Fortescue has held his breath more than once during the exciting race to listen more attentively to the general shouting, and when all is over he mutters a prayer of thanksgiving for his good fortune, and then registers a vow that it shall be his last betting transaction on the turf if he live to the age of Methuselah. “Fortescue, you don't mean to tell me you have won? Well, you are a lucky dog. How the deuce did you manage it?” says Jones, staring in amazement at his friend, as if Norman had suddenly turned into a Delphic oracle. “I'd as soon have backed a screwed broken-kneed dromedary as that brute. How- ever the old adage, " ’Tis a ill wind, etc.’, ” so I am right glad, old fellow, some one of us has turned up trumps, though I put a pot of money on Duchess—yes, and she sold me with a vengeance. My infernal luck; just like all her sex, Mrs. Fortescue—deceivers over— though we get the credit of that false accusa- tion. I am off to have another look at this three-legged prodigy, will you come?" Yes, Norman would come gladly—not that he was eager for another inspection of the limping outsider, but he was anxious to find out the man who had saved him from a heavy loss. Together they strolled into the saddling paddock, where Lola was still being investi- gated, her fetlocks examined and handled by a curious and dissatisfied crowd of all grades. When Jones and his friend joined the number as if In search of some one, Norman having mentioned the advice of the horsey-looking unknown to Jones. Backwards and forwards in the paddock, in and out the stables, up and down the lawn, through the crowd of bookmakers, and sporting characters, but in vain. No such person showed up in their search, even in the carriage paddock,where he had brushed past Norman so hurriedly only an hour before. “You’ll be sure to meet him somewhere about the rooms settling up to-night,” said Jones, as they returned from their expedition, and joined the ladies for afternoon tea on the drag. “Quite a social gathering,” said Jones, as he perceived that the number of their party of the morning had considerably increased. “See the conquering hero comes,” said Gordon, who had heard of Norman's luck. “ Well, if ever there was such a lucky fellow and he deserves it" “ Fortescue’s luck is nothing to Armytage's. We have just heard the baronet pockets a fortune,” said Jones. “ Armytage—Armytage,” said the voice of some one who had just joined the group. “Is that the fellow all that row was about last winter in Rome?” “This is Sir Hubert-Armytage, a baronet," said Jones. “So was this one,” said the first speaker. “Didn’t you hear of it? Some fellow shot another fellow, don't you know—about a woman—a countess somebody.” “My dear fellow—cela va sans dire,” said Gordon, with a twinkle, “ whoever heard of any mischief but what a woman was at the bottom of it?” “You dreadful man, you deserve to be sat upon,” said Mrs, Cholmondeley. “Do tell me all about it, Mr. Fane. I am quite long- ing to hear some chit-chat of dear old Rome. We were there last winter. It was strange I never heard any word of the fracas you men- tion—I am all attention, a bit of tragedy will really be a treat and quite refreshing if told properly, always provided it does not concern any of our intimate friends. Let us hear all about it” “ I am afraid I cannot gratify you, Mrs. Cholmondeley, with the full particulars. It was a duel, don't you know—one fellow was shot dead and the other fellow awfully wounded — something about somebody having—" “Dear me, how excessively lucid," said Mrs. Cholmondeley, “you are as intelligent as the Sunday school infant, who, when asked what bearing false witness meant, replied — ' When nobody did nothing and somebody went and told of it.’ ” “ Yes, you know, and Armytage was blamed awfully, and had to make tracks—in fact, he was warned by the police to make himself scarce to avoid a row. I never heard the rights of it, for I arrived just after, when it had been all hushed up, don't you know. I know Armytage had to stump up pretty con- siderably to keep the affair out of the papers,” “I must ask Mr. Forth," said Mrs. Chol- mondeley. “Woman’s curiosity," said Jimmy Gordon. “Mr. Forth wasn't in Rome at the tlme—at least I never hear his name mentioned in the affair.” “I thought Sir Hubert Armytage and Mr. Forth ware inseparables,” said Mrs. Chol- mondeley. “Yes, a sort of Siamese twins arrange- ment.” said Mr. Langley. “Forth wouldn't thank you for saying he was a twin brother or anything else to Army- tage." “Who is taking my name in vain,” said Forth, coming to the front of the drag. “Oh, nothing, nothing, my dear fellow. They were only saying what a handsome follow you were, and what a likeness to Armytage,” said Gordon. Forth curled his lip contemptuously, “We were not talking any such nonsense,” and Mrs. Cholmondeley; “but I wanted to know all that affair in Rome last.

winter—a duel or someting, in which Sir Hubert Armytage was concerned. ” “I was not in Rome at the time,” said Forth. “ Armytage never opened his lips on the subject, and I never took the trouble to enquire. It was nothing to me. I have an aversion to scandal.” “ But it wasn’t a scandal—it was murder. One man was shot," said Mrs. Cholmondeley. “ Yes, I heard that much, and poor Monty Beresford has been crippled over since. Poor Monty—it was hard lines for him poor fellow." “ Those foreign scamps forget the value of an Englishman’s life, and only value it at the same rate as their own worthless ones. ” “Duels ought to be put down,’* said Mrs. Cholmondeley. “So they are, my good lady," said Gordon. “Oh, yes—in a way," said the lady, indig- nantly. “ Look how often one hears and reads of duels on the Continent, and then of their being all hushed up, and it blows over. A few years imprisonment, or a few floggings would soon stop even the very idea of such bloodthirty insanity. One would think in such a matter of fact age that people would have too much common sense to make such silly exhibitions of themselves and their follies. They deserve to be chained to each other for a month with their hands tied. What idiots they would look!? “Themselves and their tempers?” said Gordon comically. “No; those dreadful duellists, it would cool their own fiery temperament a little.” “Very good—a capital idea,” said Gordon. | “ It reminds me of a friend of mine who had a very valuable greyhound; but the brute would worry and kill sheep whenever there was an opportunity. Sly friend tried flogging and other things, but nothing seemed to cure the brute of his habit until one day an old shepherd got permission to experimentalise. And quick work he made of it, for he tied the dog to an old ram with formidable horns, and the more the dog tried to get away the more the old sheep butted, until the poor hound was almost dead, and very much bruised. But from that day the dog never touched a sheep; in fact, would turn tail if a sheep looked at him.” “ Here's Armytage. Shall I tell him you want him?” said Forth, curiously. “I'II tell him you are anxious to know the particlars of the Monty Beresford tragedy.” “Not for worlds you silly fellow, as if he or anyone else would speak the truth on so personal a subject. ” “Oh, fie, fie!” said Gordon, “tell the truth and shame the—the ” “M.P. for Hades—on the radical side, of course,” said Mrs. Cholmondeley solemnly, as Sir Hubert came across, said a few words to Mrs. Anneylaye, and then sauntered away slowly, biting his lip angrily. “I shouldn't wonder at all if duels didn’t come into fashion here,” said Gordon, sniffing about with his nose pointed straight up, “ Armytage just looks like a train of gun powder only wanting a match” “ I wonder what has put him out. He ought to look the concentrated essence of delight after all his luck,” said Mrs. Chomondeley. “I had no idea it was so late,” said Mrs. Fortescue as she saw the horses were being put in and her husband escorting Mrs. Chol- mondeley to the Vernons’ waggonette which she had chosen in preference to the higher- seated drags, and then tucking Miss Vavasour up in his own high buggy before taking the reins. None of the party intended to stay for the last race, the crowd of vehicles and dust then being objectionable. Moreover, the ladies wished for a rest before their evening campaign of dinners and dances, late balls having been voted against by the men. “After such a long day's work,” said Fane, “Pull up! Pull up, old fellow; pull up— there's my man,” said Norman Fortescue, hastily, as they turned an angle of the Abington road and came in sight of an old- fashioned sporting-looking gig, with a high stepping grey mare, driven by a dapper looking man, the personification of a well to do sporting farmer. “ I am sorry to trouble you but I must not miss the chance,” said Fortescue, as his friend pulled the team up short almost send- ing the wheelers on their haunches to the impediment of a string of vehicles behind. “Drive on, and thanks. I'll pick you up at the club—perhaps be there before you,” said Norman, swinging himself down hastily and beckoning the occupant of the gig to stop, which he did, getting very red in the face at the sight of so many pretty faces looking down at him. “Can you give me a lift, friend? I've a word to say to you,” said Norman. “Certainly, certainly, sir; I'll be only too proud of your company,” as Norman got up and the man whipped up the mare. “ I hope luck was bountiful to you to-day, sir. Did ye take any advice?" “Indeed, I did, and won a nice round sum, thanks to you—entirely to you. I hunted the course over to thank you, and although I knew your face, I was puzzled in trying to remember where I saw you last, and your reason for so generously giving me the right tip to-day. I should like to make you some little gift out of gratitude, if a hundred or two would be acceptable,” said Norman. “No, no, sir; I want no reward. I'm well rewarded, if it comes to that, if you won. My name is David Elworlhy, from Chiltern. Do- ee remember the Albury races just nearly four years agone—though it seems but yester- day—when my son Sam was riding Banshee for the last race but one, the hurdle race, with pretty stiffish fences, and jumping the last hurdle the beast fell and rolled with Sam, poor little lad. I’ve the picture as true as the bible afore me now : the poor lad’s white face in the warm sunlight as he lay like dead just down by the last hurde, and them darned idiots a-swarming about my boy, and doing nothing but stare, and I that dazed with sorrow and fright, for I thought it was all up with the poor lad, and then you druv up just then, and in a jiffey you had the back seat out of your trap, and the little lad laid gently in it on your overcoat and rug and telling me to follow you druv slowly to your hotel. You said t'other one near the course was too noisy; and the doctor came and for two days you nursed the little chap—he was but a little chap, though older than he looked —your own self. Ay, and when he could be moved you had him out to your place for a change. Aye, aye—I mind it as well as ‘twere only yesterday. The life saved as was that precious to me,” said the man, brushing away an intrusive tear, as he touched up the mare to hide his motion. “You would have done the same for me,” said Norman, touched at the recital. “Dunno about that; I ain’t gifted with being quick at ideas for the matter of that, and 1 can’t do nothing. I were struck all of heap like as to fear. ” “I remmber it all now; and how is Sam?” said Norman, questioning. “Sam? Our Sam, sir," said the man, proudly; “I should like ee to see un, that I should. He never rode no more after that accident; but he’s that strong he can bate all the lad at sport, and as to work he bates his old dad hollow, that he do. He’s as good a lad as ever blest one, and I thank you, sir, for it, and so do my missus, for ‘twas you as saved the chap’s life. Dr. Barton said so his own self. You was that quick and thoughtful, you couldn’t have done more for your own son ; but Sam he were that shy he didn’t go out and thank you as he ought to have done; and you didn't come to Chiltern as often as you used to. ‘Twas the time of that there foul murder of poor Master Anneylaye—did ye never hear more of that business? Wall, its my opinion that that fellow know summut more or Mr. Anneylaye than ever came to light, mark my words, and it’ll come to light some time or other. Where can I put you down? No, sir; no talk of reward, thank you, I haven’t ever forgotten, nor ever shall I. Good evening, sir, and God bless you,” as they stopped at the club, “good evening”— then with a sly knowing wink, the old man leant down and whispered cautiously; “ Quar doin’s about that there mare Lola to-day, sir; devils dodgery somewhere, but blest if any of us can make out how it was all managed. There’s some devil let loose somewhere about. No, I’d stake my life them book- makers hadn't hand nor say in the matter; but it was the cleanest trick and as cleverly done by some jackanapes as ever I heard tell of. Why, old Sam, at the stable—he as give me the tip—says he, ‘the mare was as clean a stepper as ever came out of those ere boxes only three hours before the race this morning’ ” “ It has posed many a wiser head than old Sam’s,” said Mr. Fortescue as he shook hands with the old farmer, and patted his sporting mare kindly, as they left the door of the club, and entered to find several men all talking together, some angrily—a veritable Babel of tongues. “Here's Fortescue. Hallo, Fortescue ! how did you work the oracle and eclipse us all in wits to-day? Tip us the key of the problem, like a good fellow. Don't be greedy and keep all the solution to yourself, which may help our dunderheaded noddles in the races to come. You and Forth and Armytage are about the only select few in the secret. ’’ Norman felt somewhat annoyed at the tone of voice and sarcastic questioning, but made a clean breast of the cause of his luck—how he had laid on Lola days before the race, fancying the mare his disappointment at hear-

ing of her lameness, being too late to hedge, and finally his farmer friend's advice. “Just it,” said Marston; “that former fellow is at the bottom of it. What is his name?” Norman protested against such a supposi- tion, vouching for the man's respectability and honesty. Sir Hubert Armytage, puffing away at a huge cigar contentedly and silently, now and then smiled quizzically at one or another of the party, who were launching forth about “swindling transactions being done,” “cheat- ing,” and other strong language. “Oh, you may laugh, Armytage; it's all very well for you, who have won, to look contented, but I'll be hanged if we won't sift it to the bottom—then where will you be? — though the loss of the money may be nothing," says Bob Melton, angrily, eyeing the baronet with a look that has a double meaning in it. Sir Hubert reddens under the look, then recovers himself, smiles cynically as if amused, knocking the ash off his cigar as he answers — “Le jeu ne veit pas la chandelle, mon ami, sifting it to the bottom might be more satisfactory. I will assist you willingly in so good a cause, and, moreover, refund my winnings with ‘most uncommon pleasure’; but, as I say, it will only end in smoke." “ Why, the brute had only three legs to stand upon when she showed first to-day. Horses are naturally sagacious, and can be taught anything; but no one will make me believe they can ape lameness or sham a damaged fetlock at a moment's notice. Bah! the idea is simply preposterous.’’ “Don't know, I am suare,’’ says Jones, junior, rather a swell, in his drawly tone. “ I've seen a circus horse sit up to table, I have really; hold up a silver mug to his mouth; and I have soon another ape death and be carried out as dead, looking as dead as a herring, I have Bob, though I'm sorry your luck is out. I don't see why Armytage is to blame” (“No, no,” said some), “but it certainly does savour of sleight of hand in some way—some dodgery—enough to puzzle Machiavelia himself or the devil.” “ Wasn't the Pinkeen smart to-day?” said Fenwick, trying to put a stop to the argu- ment and ill-will “She was in a devil of a temper," said Morrison. “By Jove! and no wonder. I heard it all; I was near the stand, and my lady was in her role of posing for effect.” “Awfully mixed lot of people here to-day ; quite a tag-rag collection. Isn't it disgust- ing,” said she to Dr. Mole with her most affected tone. “Well, I don't know,” said the doctor. “ At any rate it is an improvement on your young days, when your old father sold potatoes and you girls did dressmaking at Van Dieman's Land, eh?” There was a general laugh. “Isn't that the doctor all over," said Jack- son. “But she well deserved it; I hate humbug,” said Arthur. “ My friend, half the world is made up of humbug—a useful commodity,” said Morri- son, “ I like Mole—a rough diamond, but honest spoken. It’s your mean, small-minded men I abhor. Look at old Renton, with his twelve thousand a year. Gad ! if he didn't crow over a lot of us on the off day because he had paid only sixpence for his lunch of oysters, ‘and, my boy, more bread and butter than I could eat.' If that doesn't beat Banaghor, my name is not Morrison.” CHAPTER XX. ADORATION. When you speak sweet I'd have you do it for ever; when you sing I'd have you buy and sell so; so give alms Pray so; and for the ordering of your affairs To sing them too. When you dance I wish you A wave o' the sea that you might ever do nothing but that. —SHAKESPEARE. “Lord Vereker! is it really you?" “ Yes ; my veritable self, as large as life, Mrs. Anne!aye. I saw you come into the room. I was talking to Lady Camelford, when I caught sight of such a dress ! ‘ Star of the merry greenwood,’ I said to myself, and then the wearer turned her head, and lo and behold it was you. I might have known as much.” “I didn't know you were in Australia, and how well you look—you've grown, I think; you look taller; you are quite a man now," she said laughingly. “And you look more girlish, if possible," he said, “ I only arrived yesterday by the mail. Now tell me all about yourself, where are you staying? Do you know, I was on the verge of taking the first train and rushing up country to find you out. Ferrers came to the rescue. ” “We are all here for a time—the For- tescues and Aunt Dot, in a small home. Where are you staying, Lord Vereker?” “Oh, I am here at Government House. My father is an old friend of Lord Camelford's You will give me this dance, I want to have a talk.” “I am engaged to Mr. Ferrers,” she said. “Dicky ! Oh, I'll make it all right with him ; excuse me one second”; and the young lord was off and talking to the Honorable Dicky and back again to the widow, “Take my arm; we will go out on the lawn. The night is warm ; it seems like old times to see you again,” he said, as they walked through the rooms and then out into the gardens. ‘Twas a delicious night, a midsummer night in all its glory, as they stood “ behold- ing the moon rise over the pallid sea and the silvery mist of the meadows. Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me- nots of the angels,” while the sweet perfume of roses came from the large masses of blossom in the garden. “ What a heavenly night, and is not the scent of roses delicious. Lady Camelford rather prides herself upon her roses. Now tell me all about yourself,” said he. “ How nice for you to be staying with Lord Camelford. What a pity you did not come last month ; you just missed all the attrac- tions—the races in particular," she said. “A greater, sweeter attraction brought me here,” he said. Indeed ! I am so glad ; you must tell me all about it for Auld Lang Syne,” she said inno- cently. ” There was a silence. He could not summon up courage to say all he had to say, fearing to break the spell of to-night's happiness. Might not it end in disappointment and mar the evening for both of them. “ What a pretty dress ! Came out from Worth, did it not?" “ No, it came out of a shop in Golds- borough. I am glad you like it; men generally have such good taste.” It was indeed an exquisite dress of simple dewdrop tulle over satin, here and there sprays of maidenhair and fine fern, in the centre of each was a small diamond star. “Are those real," he said, touching one of the sprays. “The diamonds? Yes. They are Aunt Dot's presents.” “I never doubted the diamonds, I meant the ferns; they look so natural . . . Mrs Annelaye, are you glad to see me?" he said softly. “ Do you remember the old Seringa days—those happy days—when I remember so well you all (he was about to say both, but caught himself up in time, and used the word all) said, ' Wherever we are there will always be a welcome for you old fellow’?” “I am sure I never said old fellow," said Mrs. Annelaye smiling. “Of course we are glad to see you. You have never told me about this pretty Miss Somebody, and I must go in ; I am engaged to Sir Hubert Armytage for the next dance." “ Hang Armytage—don't dance with him. You must not encourage such a cad. I won't let you," he said. She looked up in surprise, wondering what he meant. “Well, we will go in if you wish it,” he said gently, putting her hand through his arm. “ Remember you are my star of the merry greenwood to-night, and for Auld Lang Syne you will give me every spare dance on your card. You will let me see how many empty spaces there are. ” "Oh, my card has scarcely been looked at; we have not long arrived," she said, handing up her card as they entered the drawing room. “ Next dance empty ; then it is mine,” he said; and a minute after they were whirling round the room to the admiration of many of the spectators. “ It is simply a dream, Mrs. Annelaye's waltzing,” said many of the women, “and Lord Vereker and the widow look so well together. ” “Who's the girl with the diamond stars, Ferrers?" said a stranger to the Honorable Dicky. “Dances well, doesn't she, and cuts out most of the women in style and dress. I must got introduced." “ My dear sir, there is not the ghost of a chance; her card is full; I heard her tell Parker," “This is our dance, Mrs. Annelaye," said Sir Hubert, as Lord Vereker was just march- ing off with his partner. (TO BE CONTINUED.)