Chapter 186369404

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Chapter NumberIII
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1882-12-23
Page Number4
Word Count1811
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleDevon Herald (Latrobe, Tas. : 1877 - 1889)
Trove TitleThe Maitlands
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Victor Levison's curiosity had been roused by the remark of detective Smith as to the good-looking girl in the next carriage; and, therefore, when he found himself sitting opposite to the fair unknown, in a stuffy little cab, his first impulse was to try and get a look at her face. But in this he was oomiletely baulked, for the young lady persistently cept her face muffled up in a thick veil. She has got a pretty foot at all events," said Victor to himself," and a beautiful figure. The pose of her head is simply superb, and what lovely hair; the very colour of Lucy's." All at once the thought rushed into Victor's mind—the conviction almost—that it was indeed Lucy. His heart felt strangely op- 1 his breath came in short quick his face flushed, and his fingers leemcd to burn and tremble with an eager longing to touch the hand, the dress, the hair of the sweet girl who seemed to efface herself in the farthest corner of the cab as if to keep as far away from him]as possible. -^Luoy, on her part,|knew Viotor; and all

nENBT MAITLUID BODE ON I her passionate love for him which, in the dear old days when there was no barrier between them, had been fed on honied words and kept alive by tender caresses—whose banished joys it waB now an agony to remember—made her bosom swell and her heart throb painfully while she could hardly control the impulse to throw herself into her lover's arms, and sob out her agony on his bosom. Her blood ran cold the next moment, and her highly wrought feelings found relief in a sigh which, but for her fear of betraying herself, would have been a moan. Victor felt as if he was standing on a precipice and wsb seized with a mad desire to fling himself over. Three or four times he opened his lips to speak and as often the unspoken thought died upon his lips. His heart beat furiously. If it was Lucy, and he allowed her to escape without speaking to her and endeavouring to clear up the mystery of her disappearance, he would curse his prudery as long as he lived. But, if the young lady was a stranger, upon what possible pretext could he address her at all. And then it could not possibly be Lucy, or she would have spoken. Yet, in spite of all his arguments against the possibility of its being the girl he loved, he felt surrounded and steeped in an atmosphere charged with emotions such as he only felt when in the presence of one woman.

The situation was becoming painfully tense. The atmosphere of that cab was charged with love's electricity, and it is difficult to say what would have happened if a lightning conductor, in the shape of Henry Maitland had not entered the vehicle at that moment. Henry Maitland was on his way to Melbourne, and had purchased his ticket when he chanced to look into the ladv'c carriage. He saw Lucy, and his guilty aoq., science, ever on the watch for possible discovery of his crimes, made him suspect that Lucy's appearance in the district boded no good for him.

After he had accomplished his purpose bo clevcrly of murdering his cousin Walter by manipulating his breech-leader so artistically, he had interviewed Mrs. Walter Brown, Lucy's mother. He explained to her the exact position of affairs as a candid friend. His explanation was charming in its simplicity, and could not possibly havs dacaived anyone but the simple-minded woman whom be took the trouble to deceive. According to him Walter Maitland had married Jane Morrison under an assumed name. Walter Brown, in fact, had married Jane Morrison. Walter Maitland had died, and Walter Maitland being also Walter Brown, it followed that Walter Brown had died. But nobody knew Walter Maitland as Walter Brown except "" he - himself, --—-j Henry — Maitland; --1 and he was ot only not going to identify Walter JMajfand as Walter Brown, but he vonM abuo-

lutely swear that bo such identity existed. If she persisted in claiming Walter Maitland as her husband he would denounce' her as an impostor, and swear that she, Mrs. Brawn, wis Walter Maitland's mistress; that he knew Walter Drown well enough, and that he had simply disappeared in order to lend a oolour to her claim. He went so far as to say that she was not really married from the faot of her having married Maitland under the name of Brown. That Walter himself was aware of this, and as damning evidence of that he produoed the will, in whioh he had left to Miss Jane Morrison, commonly known as Mrs. Walter Brown, £1000 per annum. All this was like a hideous dream to Lucy's mother; and she was so overwhelmed with the apparent completeness of the thing, that she waB perfectly helpless and utterly incapable of seeing her way out of the difficulty. The one hideous appalling faot that stood out boldly in all the entangled surroundings, and struck coldly to her heart and turned her head dizzy, was that she was not married to the father of the child, and that her child was a bastard. She dared not tell Lucy, but in her feverish mutterings when the terrible blow laid her upon a bed of sickness, her daughter gathered so much that she was compelled to tell her all—and believing herself that she had been deceived, the sad story was imparted in suoh a way that Lucy was compelled, in spite of herself, to think the same. It was a crushing blow to the poor girl. She was so proud of her father, bo fond of her mother. And to think that all this time her father had lived a he 1 But when she thought of her love—of Viotor—it almost drove her mad. There was but one thing to be done. They muBt disappear from the scene and blot out the past; they could live where their story was unknown. Parting with Victor was the severest trial, but she could not endure the thought of linking her sullied name to that of the man she loved too well to drag down to her level. Thus she wrote her parting letter to Victor, and this is why she dreaded his discovering her. Lucy and her mother had a hard struggle. She was now on her way to Bargooma as governess to Mrs. Campbell, who knew the whole of her sad story. Henry Maitland, being a high-class villain, knew that the fiction he had so industriously elaborated, would not stand investigation. As long as Lucy and her mother were alive there was danger. Lucy was even more dangerous than her mother; and, therefore, when he saw her in the railway carriage, and saw her afterwards take her seat in the cab which was to take her to the coach office, he ohanged his mind about going to Melbourne, and determined to find out her destination. I^With this object he also got into the cab;

and if the reader wishes to know how long it takes to go through all the different emotions and life experiences which we have attempted to describe, and trace to their sources from the beginning of the chapter up to this point, the cabman, if he were at the same time observant and truthful, would probably inform him that the time was three minutes. The entranoe of Henry Maitland into the cab was a reb'ef to Victor and Lucy. Not that he was a desirable companion, but the emotional currents were diverted, and both Lucy and Victor breathed more freely for his presence, although Lucy knew him and loathed him, while Victor didn't know him, and didn't want to know him. The cab drove up to the coach office; and as soon as the luggage was arranged, and the mails put on the rack, and in the boot, and under the seats, and wherever they could find a place to stow them, the coach started out of the thriving township of Telora with the usual plunge of the near wheeler, without which, it is apparently impossible for Cobb & Co. to get away. He was a cranky brute that near side wheeler, and Jack M'Lean, the driver, told Victor—who was sitting alongside him—in a confidential whisper, that the animal was a " blooming fraud." There was another gentlemen on the box seat, and Lucy was inside, where, also, Henry Maitland had elected to go. Although the weather for the last few days had been fine on the coast and a short distance inland, the country about Telora gave evidence of heavy rainfall. There had been steady rain for three or four days higher up the country also; and all the creeks were

running bank high. The road crossed the valley of the Telora creek, about ten miles out of the township. Tbe croek had overflown its banks, and when the coach arrived at the edge of the water, it was evident tlwt it would take very careful piloting to get through with safety. The ourrent was not rapid, and the water was not more than four feet deep on the average; but theBe floods, which look so innocent, have a Uftsty habit of working deep holes in the blue Clay, wbicb forms the bed of the valley, and if the covib, by aopjijent, got into one of these holes, it would be a sej-ioija iqatter. All this was known to Heijry Ifaitland, vfljo was also perfectly acquainted with the track across. 4 diabolical idea suddenly entered his head. If he could entice tbo driver of the coach into one of these huge holes, the inside passengers of the coach would be certainly drowned, Lucy onoe out of the way, he would be safe. The coach Btopped at the edge of the water. " Can any gentleman drive the coach after me through this swamp, if I get a horse and pilot the way," asked the driver.

" I'll drive," said Viotor, who was rather a good four-in-hand whip, . " If you would to make a suggestion," said Mr. Maitland, "I think we can get over the difficulty. Doubtless this gentleman," referring to Victor, "is a proficient driver, but I think Jack bad better stick to the ribbons. I will ride on, and aot as pilot," " All right, old son," said Jaok, " you're a trump ; hero comes Bobby with a horse; fire ahead 1" and the coaoh went down steadily into the yellow turbulent water, while Henry Maitland rode on in front, with an angelic smile upon his face, and murder in his heart.