Chapter 18984398

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Chapter NumberXXIII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18984398
Full Date1890-07-19
Page Number2
Corrections0
Word Count2203
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)
Trove TitleWedded to Death
article text

CHAPTER XXIII.

" Grand Hotel, Brighton.

" New Year's Day.

" My dear Sybil,-Here I am, in the Queen of English watering-places, which means I survey a wide expanse of sbipless sea; that numberless carriages roll up and down what is ca'led the cliff, while people of various nationalities, chiefly of the Hebraic typo, peaco-.k about in fine feathers, and that one hears rumours of constant so;rées and dinners to which the favoured are ovited, I, Vera Lawson, not being one of these. In fact, in my estimation, the place is not to be compared to Saratoga ; but then, perhaps, I am prejudiced. Oh Sybil ! what a good old time we bad tbere last fall ! Rapturous days will tbejr ever return ?''

"But how wrong it is oi me ever to allude to rapture now, when my whole thoughts should be concentrated on sympathetic consolation ; for you must know I am bear-leading a recently bereaved young widow.

" She is rich, beautiful, and you would say happy widow, since she is free.

" So should I knowle«? her case, if I could alto- gether mak eher out, but somehow, though I fe'l certain she did not love her husband, her freedom sits heavily on her.

"There is a mystery-one of those strange heart hing mysteries that fascinate, while they terrify me. Yen know how I bave always loved them in books, but to have a real living mystery mixing it- self up in my every day life is a refreshment for which I was so wholly unprepared that I absolutely revel in it. All the people we speak to in the hotel think my new English friend odd-that I can see full well; but how much more odd they would think her if they only knew what I know, or rather what I suspect.

'* Of course, you have_ heard of psychic forces, mesmeric influence, spiritual affinity, and all that sortofth-'ng-well, something of that sort-I don't qui!e know under which 'ology' or 'isra' to c"ass it -I be1'eve existed between her and her departed spouse. She, having a superabundance of vitality, kept him alive, for he was a mere galvanised corpse.

"Isuppose you will laugh at this, practical little si"-rer that you are, bub study the subject for yourself, and you will, at all eve its, find that there exists those who believe in the possibility of giving o? your vital power to another.

"Then you will ask, why did this man die? That is the question that puzzles me day and night.

"She let him die, I suppose, but why, since having done so s'io apparently would give all her supc-fluity of lite lo recal him to this world ? Don't shudder when you read this, or imagine that my friend has been guilty of murder,

"Among those who believe in spiritual affinity such a word is not. To tamper violently with the human frame is coarse and realistic-to these ideVised beings death means only a parting of spirits for a whi'e, and perchance, it is not even for a while ; there, too, husband and wife, knit to- gether in one Bpirit, may be as closely allied now as when his bodly form was kept moving through her agency.

" Though when I propound this theory to the lone one, she goes nearly mad at the thought of it ; the spiritual affinity that endures through eternity evidently suggests nothing pleasant to her.

" To you, dear Sybil, I don't mind owning that the subject is so far beyond me that I have already discovered several grey hairs from thimking over it ; while as for my poor little winsome Dorothy, it is simply driving her mad. It is rather rough on her that she should have been chosen for a supernatural agent, and so I tell her when she wi'l allow me to app-oach these mysteries, which is not often. I wonder what will happen if ever she corporeally allies herseir to another man, which is not unlikely since I feel certain she has a lover. I have even seen li cm, and approve entirely, only I should not be sorry

if he transferred his affections to me. He is ever so

much nicer than the earth-slumbering spouse1; in act, he is a ' lovely' man.

^4 " Now, do rot envy me for having the iranipula tion of his de'icious mystery. It is not all ' beer and skittles,' to use one of Jack's phrases, for since he left her my little friend has become a perfect vixen. She flies into zages without any reason, rampages about as though this planet were too finite for her to walk on, and gives way to hys ter'cal outbursts that have put sal volatile up at a premium ; but I endure all because, I suppose, she ca mot help it. Not now having to impart eny portien of her life to him, she has too much lett tor herself, and this redundancy of vitality must have some outlet. I am longing to see what will happen next ; there must be some strange issue.

" Moiher and Jack are already talking of home, though mother, who was sick when s" rime, rather dreads crossing the Atlantic. Naturally, I shall be delighted to see all my old friends ; you, dearest Sybil, more that any of them, Still, I shall be glad to have the journey postponed till I find out what my little widow means todo! per- haps-there is no saying, highly sensitive organisa- tions are so capricious-she may be induced to ac-

company us.

" In the meantime write me a long letter and tell me all the homenews.

I " Your ever affectionate,

' " VKBA LAWSON."

This long letter concluded, it waa duly addressed

to

" MÍBS Sybil Gregory,

?07, End Street,

" Boston, U.S.,

And then the writer lay back in her chair, stretched herself, and yawned. This confidence on paper was a decided effort, still she felt relieved it had done her good.

For some time past Bhe had been wanting to tell all she thought and felt about Dorothy, but had not dared. Her own people would have pooh poohed her as au absurd visionary, and scolded her for allowing her imagination to run riot, while if she had broached the subject, as she more than once felt she must do, to new acquaintances she had made in the hotel, they would simply have decided that she waa a maniac and have avoided

her forthwith.

Hence there was nothing to do but to expend some of her pent up emotions on Sybil, who would not be a bit more believing than the rest, but she did not care for that, since she was so far off that her strictures would be some time in coming.

She was putting a stamp on her letter when A knock came to the door, which simultaneously opened to admit Dorothy.

She wore the same dress as she had worn during: her interview with Ruth in Lowndes-street, bnt her hair was coiled up p'otnresquely ¡ of course she was capleBs, and there was some soft white tulle

about her throat and wrists.

Altogether she waa much ca'mer, but her face bad a hard, almost cruel expression.

How truly are many people what circumstances

make them !

Disappoint aient and misery were making Dorothy hard and cold ; happiness would probably have had the effect of rendering her frivolous and thought-

less.

" What, still writing, Vera ?" she said petulantly" " I thought you were getting ready for dinner.

" You are sHll determined then to go to tho

table d'hôte."

" Of course, I have told you that before."

There was not much natural delicacy about Tera Lawson-she would have scorned the idea that she possessed such anat'ribute; still she did not I think that it was quite ia accordance with the rules I of fitness that this newly-made widow should so

soon appear among the diners in the public room I of a large hotel.

Dorothy was, however, bored by the daily téte-â tóte dinners in their little sitting-room, so she had elected to go down, and go she would : and as Yera did not much care as long as Dorothy was pleased, she expostulated no furthor, but putting her letter in her pocket to post downstairs, she proceeded« while Dorothy stood by the fire waiting, to brush herself up generally and make herself look as attractive as might be.

" For there is knowing," said ever wideawake Vera, " but I may meet my fate in that dining I saloon to-night."

I Vera's fate did not appear to interest Dorothy

prrticularly, for she stood staring at the fire, and did not vouchsafe a single word of reply.

A few minutes later and they went down. As they passed up the room to the table that had been reserved for them, more than one masculine head was turned to look at Dorothy as she passed.

Her deep mourning and her beauty combined were moit attractive. Nor did Vera Lawson leok old enongh or appear to be exactly the sort of per- son ti chaperone this rare and tempting piece of loveliness, at least so most people thought. The two friends did not trouble themselves about their surroundings. Vera would give her attention to criticism of her neighbours later ; at present she was entirely devoted to her dinner ; while as for Dorothy, she was very often in a dream now. The soup, the fish, and an entrée had been despatched ; then f here came await, and Vera began to look

about.

" Gracious ! Dorothy, who do you think is Bitting

at a table nep . the*window ?

" Anybody we know ? If BO what a mercy, they will wake us up a bit-we are dull enough, you and

I."

"The Blattherwaites-at least he is there; I think she is not, I can't quite see.

" I don't know them," said Dorothy with indiffer-

ence.

" You don't know them ! Why he-that is-don't you remember theirparty ?"

" I did not go to it."

" No, but you were aaked, so you must know them. She is my cousin."

"Oh ! I should not think it was a relationship to be proud of."

" She is delightful-I love her. But I must say old Blattherwaite is a caution. How she could marry him I can't conceive, only love always seems to allow itself to be managed by money."

The next course had arrived by this time and Dorothy dida not answer, but ate with aggravating slowness. Of course, she hated the very name of Blattherwaite, but she did not intend tobe "drawn'» by Vera. She had said she did not know these people, and that was all she meant to say.

Dorothy had a wonderful power of reticence for o-ie who appeared so flighty and whimsical, and this MisB Vera Lawson had long since discovered» having arrived at the conclusion that if she would be well with Dorothy it were wise not to question her too closely.

She went on talking about the Blattherwaites as though vouchsafing information ; if she succeeded in putting Dorothy in a rage, probably she would let some of her real sentiments drop.

But Dorothy did not feel at all in a mood to flare up ; the mitter was too grave. In truth, just the slightest feeling of cold fear crept over her at the idea of Mr. Blattherwaite being in that room, and

she wished that her own porversity had not im- . polled her to come down to dinner.

She did not see how the Blattherwaites could possibly know her bys'ght; but, of course, they knew Vera. She would have to tell her not to introduce her, or to call her by some other name,

which was hat eful.

She detested having to confide in Vera, who was much too far-Beeing as it was ; but anything was better than to be brought into a discussion of the past with that dreadful man.

Do -othy was reckoning without her host when she thought shs was going to hoodwink Mr,

Blattherwaite.

He know her by s;ght quite as well as he did Vera Lawaon, added to which, he had discovered early that afternoon that they were both in the

hotel.

He had vowed to have his revenge on Dorothy for despising his party and his acquaintance, and he was not littery to allow any manouvre of that aitified, shifty young woman to baulk him of an

opportunity.

That was what he was telling his better half while Dorothy was deliberately consuming the good things provided by the chef ok the Grand.

(To be continued.)

READ THE OPINION OP A WELL-KNOWN Girt CMBBOTKAN.-" I have no objection to your using' my name, as one who has derived considerada benefit from the use of Bow's DANDBLION BITTHBB. I have used them now for nine months, and* have roroe to the conclusion that they are an invaluable tonw.-THOMAS KEMMIS, St. Mwk's, Darling Polet' ipril 29,1680."