|Newspaper Title||Devon Herald (Latrobe, Tas. : 1877 - 1889)|
|Trove Title||The Maitlands|
It was an exciting time. The turbid breadth of flood water, which looked so innocent and picturesque at a distance, took a new meaning when it surged np against the wheels of the coach, and swirled angrily away on the other side, as if it felt defrauded of its lawful prey. The near-side wheeler was restless and uneasy. Every now and again ho plunged his nose down into the turbid waters, and then flung it up with a jerk, as if he had seen a snake, snorting and plunging all the time evidently in the most abject terror. About thirty yards ahead of the coach, Henry Maitland piloted the way. The coach was now about half-way across. " Hi 1 boss, ain't you going toomuch to the left ?" yelled the driver. " It's all right, you follow my track," called back Maitland over his shoulder. " His track seems to me darned peculiar," muttered Jack under his breath, as he took a fresh hold of the near wheeler's rein. The track was peculiar.. Maitland seemed to be picking his way, going a little to the right and then to the left. The water left no trace of his passage, and the driver, in spite of himself, always kept following him in a bee line. They were within about two hundred yards of the landing place, when suddenly the near wheeler lost his footing. He was out of his depth. The leaders had swerved to one side and had escaped the hole. Instantly the driver jammed down the break, and-stopped the coach, which, of course, had only been going at a walking pace. Fortunately, the leaders were tractable, and stood still. The off-side wheeler instinctively recognised bis danger, and planting his feet firmly, held up against his struggling companion. The moment was one of imminent danger.. The frantic horse plunged and reared, now feeling the bottom with his hind feet, and now plunging head foremost into the boiling water. His struggles were becoming weaker. In two minutes he would be drowned, but before that he would probably startle the other horses, and drag the coaoh into the abyss.
Jack M'Lean dared not leave the reins. Victor, in the meantime, had got over the dash board and, at the risk of his life, was walking out on the pole to endeavor to loose the horse by unbuckling the reins and polestrap, and unhooking the traces. The first step, however, along the pole, showed him that the thing was impossible. In an instant he was back again, and plunging off the seat, he swam up to the struggling animal, and began operations by trying to let go the traces. But [they were so tightly drawn and tense, that his efforts were hopeless. Then he bethought him of his knife. With a few rapid strokes the traoes, pole-straps, and reins were cut, and the half-drowned animal was free, and presently staggered up the bank, more dead than alive. Victor now turned his attention to the lady in the cbach. Looking out of the window was the frightened visage of a travelling preacher, who, coming thus far to preach the gospel to the heathen, was now more anxious for the safety of his own body from water then the souls of other people from fire. Behind the parson who, to do him justice, had tried to keep up his own courage and oomfort his fellow passenger, stood Lucy, who had watched Victor throughout the exciting scene, her face white and her hands unconsciously clasped in the attitude of sup plication. Wading to the door, Viotor opened it and said, simply: " Are you much frightened "my darling ?" "I was not thinking of myself, Victor; only of you. It seemed so terrible struggling in the water with that half-maddened horse." They stood for a moment with tightlyclasped hands. It was a moment of bliss. All the past was forgotten. Then Lucy gently withdrew her hands and shivered slighty, as the barrier between Victor and herself once more rose before her. "Come, my darling, I.will carry you to the bank," saidfher lover. He took her in his strong arms; and Victor was repaid for all the past twelvemonths of hope deferred bb he felt her fluttering heart beat against his own. "You will never leave me more," he whispered. . " Oh, Victor 1 you don't know, you don't know , , ," And I don't want to know. All I know is that I love you; and you told me once that you loved me; and we are going to be married in spite of creation; and we'll be married at Bargooma, for I won't trust you out of my sight any more; and we'll go away to Tasmania for our honeymoon, and be back in time to spend the Christmas holidays with my old friend Campbell, to whose house we are both going _ now if I am not mistaken." This was all said with so maeh decision, I
and in suoh a matter-of-course^tone, that Luoy could only ray silently, while a great joy filled her soul, and she unconsciously nestled closer to' the big heart of the man who was carrying her ifi his arms like a Child. The lovers were so absorbed in their own affairs that they did not notioe the presence of a well-appointed drag whioh juBt then drove np, drawn by four spanking bays, held well in hand by a cheerful-looking young gentleman of about fifty summers, whose white hairs seemed absurdly out of place when taken in oonneotion with his sparkling eyes and jovial, boyish-looking face. "Bravo Viotor I Well done my boy I" "We then he added, in a serio-oomio tone, you both, my children." " Hallo Campbell 1 is that you ?" "All that is left of me. And this young lady is Miss Brown, I know from her photo, graph. Jump up both of you; and if that villain Firestick will stop plunging for half a seoond, I'll shake hands with you in the interval. Now, my boy, you look nnoommonly like a drowned rat—excuse my flattering Bimile—so we'll drive over to Simpsons for a ohange of clothes, and then we'll make Bargooma at the rate of fifteen miles an hour-" But what about the luggage ?" "Oh I that'll be aU right. I'll leave word of the accident as we pass the company's stables, and they will send assistance. When they arrived at Bargooma they were oordially welcomed by Mrs. Campbell, who kissed Lucy as if she were an old friend, and insisted upon her going straight to bed after tea. The next few days passed pleasantly for Lucy in a life whioh was entirely new to her. Victor learned from Mrs. Campbell the secret which, in Lucy's estimation, raised suoh a barrier between himself and her. The knowledge only helped to endear herto him the more. He pleaded so earnestly that at length she consented to become his wife. In the meantime he determined to probe the mystery to the bottom. He communicated with deteotive Smith, who immediately made an examination of the books of the Registrar, and found the marriage duly reoorded of Walter Brown and Jane Morrisson. ' The difficulty, of course, was to identify Walter Maitland with Walter Brown. There would have been of course, no difficulty immediately after"the death of Walter, for those who knew him under either name could have identified the body as belonging to the man they knew under either designation and the mysteiy would have been solved. But now that he had been dead for over a year, such a solution was impossible. Detective Smith who had come up to Bargooma waB at his wits end, Viotor was striving after impossible combinations of the
most intricate theories, when the whole thing was put into a nutshell by a very innocent remark by Mrs. Camp, v bell. " Have you a photograph of your father, my dear?" she said to Lucy. Luoy produced a pho tograph of her late father, Walter Brown. Mrs. Campbell had in her album a photo graph of Walter Maitland. They were not from the same negative, nor by the same artist; but there was no mis- .taking.the identity of the original. The photograph of Walter Brown and that of Walter Maitland were both taken from the same individual. " The apparatus can't lie" and the ipse dixit of the sun is indisputable. Independently of the general likeness which strikes the eye, there is the reproduction of every line and scar ond mark and microscopically minute fissure with absolute exactness. Not two faces in a million are the same in one line. But, since the creation of the world, if all the faces that ever saw the light were compared, co two faces would be found that had all the lines the same. The photograph and the microscope together are infallible. The mystery was a mystery no longer. After the ladies had retired, the three gentlemen continued the discussion. "What is your opinion of the matter, Smith?" said Viotor. " What sort of a man was Walter Maitland?" said the detective, addressing Mr. Campbell. "A thoroughly honourable man; but one
of the most careless easy going fellows that ever I met, and completely dominated by the superior in. tcllect of his cousin Henry." " Then," said the detective, in a thoughtful tone, " he never signed that will with the knowledge of its tenour. It is my opinion that Walter Mait land has been duped; and his death, on the following day, makes me think that he was also murdered.' " By whom ? " asked Mr. Campbell, eagerly. " By the man who benefitted most by his death.'