Chapter 18984222

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberXXIII.-(Continued.)
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18984222
Full Date1890-07-26
Page Number2
Corrections0
Word Count1070
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)
Trove TitleWedded to Death
article text

WEDDED TO DEATH.

CHAPTER XXIII.-(Continued.)

Mrs. Blattherwaite, who was always striving to restrain her husband's vulgar outbursts, mur- mured something about not being unkind to a poor young lady who had so recently hecome a

widow.

But he brought his fut down on the table, with the words :

" Nonsense ! If she can dine at a public table she can talk to me, if I choose to notice her, and I intend to make her acquaintance at once. Oh, you need not bo afraid ; I shall be most civil. Only before I have done with her she shall pay for snubbing our entertainment."

Without more ado he got up and walked across to the table where the two ladies were approach- ing the end of their dinner, Dorothy not having yet made up her mind what she should or should not say to Vera about keeping her identity a secret. She was startled from her consideration of the matter by hearing Mr. Blattherwaite's loud voice close to her.

" How are you, Vera, my girl, how are you ? Didn't expect to see you at Brighton. Mrs. Bel- lingham, too. I have not the honour of knowing you, madam, but I knew your late husband well."

The blood ebbed and flowed in Dorothy's face ; the coarseness; of the self-introduction jarred on her. \

From Mr. Blattherwaite it was especially re- pulsive. \

If she could nave annihilated him with a look she would have ¡lone so ; hut Bhe felt he was the sort of man who would be absolutely impervious to looks. So she said about the moBt stupid thing she could have said : " I think I have heard of you."

"Heardof mel" he thundered. "Why didn't you get an invitation to our party ? But you were much too fine a lady to come ! However, if Lewis

Bellingham had liVed you might have had to eat

a little humble pie : and even now, as his widow, you may not find it such plain sailing. Joe Blattherwaite isn't to be altogether despised as a ' backer,' and he don't as a rule, back them as despises him." \

Dorothy opened lier eyes very wide, and looked

at him.

Had he been drinking, she wondered ; and was he, therefore, not responsible for his words, or

what did he mean and know ?

They were very beautiful, large eyes, and tins even Mr. Blattherwaite could nofc help seeing ; but he was not going to be done out of his bit of ven- geance because she had lovely eyes ¡ rather he would use that coquetry those eyes told him sbe possessed as a means to punish her.

" Friends ?" he enquired, and he stretched his ungainly paw across the table. She laid her be- jewelled digits in it very daintily, and said, now looking down :

" Yo» were poor Lewis's friend. I au sorry if through thoughtlessness I have failed in social requirements."

It was very prettily and neatly put, but whether the amende honorable had with a man of Mr. Blattherwaite's stamp been made in time was the question. Vera Lawson hoped bo, while Dorothy, caring not whether this blustering vulgarian waa pleased or displeased, did not think about it.

She had done with the exigencies demanded of her as a gentlewoman, and that was enough.

The immediate outcome of her civility waa by no means pleasing to her, for bo readily-fora time, at all events - did Mr. Blattherwaite receive the

apology, that he invited her and Vera Lawson to j come and pass the rest of the evening in his private room, where he and Mrs. Blattherwaite expected a

few London friends.

Mrs. Bellingham's whole nature rose in revolt against accepting this invitation, since the man, who in league with her husband had brought her beloved Derek into trouble, waB distinctly her enemy. Why should she be civil and accept hos- pitalities from him ?

She would not ; no, she would not. Then she Suddenly remembered her own position. What was she now, that she should cavil at others ? Besides his eye was on her, watching the rapid changes on her face. That he knew much about their affairs she feared-how much she did not know ; hut she was afraid of him, and being afraid, she dared not raise any objection to join the little party in the sitting room. But she would return to Lowndes street on the morrow, and bar her door against all intruders of the Blattherwaite calibre.

Vera Lawson would gladly have spared her friend the ordeal which she felt that an evening passed in Mr. Blattherwaite's society would entail on her. But though she could n»t exactly read between the lines, she was acute enough to see that there was a good deal she might read if she were clever enough, and so she elected to let matters drift, partly be- cause she thought it was most expedient to do so, and partly because she hoped for revelations that would enable her to fill up some of the gaps which at present amounted to incoherences, in what she as pleased to call the " mystery of Dorothy's life."

So they adjonrned to a large room on the first floor. Mr. Blattherwaite generally took the best that was to be had, and Dorothy put the brake on herself with such tremendous pressure that, if she endured two hours of Mr. Blatterwaito's bombastic conversation and florid compliments without going into violent hysterics, she had moro control over her nerves than those who had af late boen the witnesses of her doily life would have given her

credit for.

Though not altogether a sham, yet Dorothy was scarcely as hysterical as she seemed ! at all events the great secret which she would fain have buried for ever-even from herself-was very much en evidence to-night, and fear has an uncanny power even over the moat sensitive nerves.

She bohaved with a composure that many wo- men would have envied, not breaking down till she was safely locked within the four walls of her own room. Then ahe threw herself on the floor as one who writhes in agony, and wept aorely j

" Oh, my sin, my sin ! Will it find me out, and by means of this dreadful Blattherwaite?"