|Newspaper Title||The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)|
|Trove Title||Wedded to Death|
WEDDED TO DEATH.
And yet she set at once to work to do him more harm than it is often in the power of a few idle
wordB to do.
" You saw those two gentlemen in that carriage ?"
she said to Matt Leader.
He nodded his head. He had recognised Derek Home at once ; with the other man he was 'un- acquainted.
" M. Derek Home and his friend, M. Lovatt."
" Oh," said Matt Leader, " do you know them ?" " Naturally, since wo were all at Monte Carlo together."
" One of them looks as if he were booked for the next world."
"Ah, do not say so-dornot say so. I should never again have one single day of happiness if M.
Derek Home were to die."
" Hullo ! what have you got to do with him ?"
" It was for me that he was wounded-nearly
" For you ! Well, I am d^- d."
And he looked the Da Costa all over as this coarse remark fell from his lips.
Matt Leader was unfailing in his capability to gauge a woman's moral standard, and evidently did not think that the Da Costa was worth a sword thrust.
" Well," she said, a little affronted, but not al- together fathoming his meaning ; " well, don't you think I am pretty enough ?"
" My dear, I told you not ten minutes ago that I think you are one of the most ravishingly beau- tiful creatures I ever met, and fascinating to boot."
"Then why should you be surprised that M. Derek Home loves me ?"
" Because I always thought he was a bit of a
" Oh, yon know him, then ?"
" In a way-yes," replied Matt, surly with hira belf for having let it slip out that her was acquainted with Derek Home-if acquaintance the very slight knowledge they had of each other could be
" And don't you think he is very lovely and de- lightful?"
" I never looked at him with a woman's eyes. I alwayB considered him a prig-lately I have thought
him a sham."
" I don't understand. Isn't he rich, and a gentle" man, and oil that sort of thing ?"
" Oh, I daresay ; but he pretends to be better than other people, and then takes to fooling with you. But" come, what happened ? Make a clean beast; let us hear allJabotit'it." "
The'Da'Costa required no second bidding; it takes a'wfse woman to hold her tongue about her love affairs-the Da Costa could scarcely be ac-
So'Bhe told the tale, though if either Derek hila- seis or Frank Lovatt had heard it they might have been 'somewhat astonished at the highly 'em-) broidered statement that was presented to Matt Leader, she little guessing, meantime, that in its garbled form her story would be even more usefuj
to her new friend than if she had told it with more simplicity.
For the Da Costa and Matt Leader were only new friends. He had spoken the truth when he told Dick Churchill that his manager was soon go- ing to send him to Paris to engage a new singer.
The Da Costa was the vocalist who they hoped would take London by storm* in'opéra-bouffe. They had signed and sealed and delivered the agreement for this engagement, and it was after having done so that Matt Leader invited the fair singer-the day being "as lovely as herself"-to accompany him in a drive in the Bois. He scarcely imagined when he gave th'e invitation that he would be so amply repaid for his gallantry.
"'t wöndet at whioh hotel" ces 'messieurs are stay-; ing ?" said Berthe, having finished her highly sen Bational'account of'the doings at Monte Catlo.
"Not difficult to'find out, I should imagine," answered her companion. ''Derek Home is not the sort of man who hides his light under a bushel. But perhaps he will call on you. I hare seen the name of your hotel given inMïië or'two papers."
.' Not likely, not likely," she replieds " Cist «no affaire morte-a dead business, you understand killed by' that guardian Englishman who never leaves Derek's ^ide.'« " ' """ " l * *'
" And who knows how to resist woman's wiles lucky man !" remarked Matt Leader, laughing.
" Oh, do not say lucky ; say cursed. He ia a stone wall of a man. I hate granite monuments. But let us go back to the Bue de Rivoli, Mr. Leader. I think we have extracted all the excitement there is to be found inithe Allée des Acacias."
< The sight of Derek Home had awakened Berthe Da Costa's slumbering passion for him, and she no longer took as lively an interest in what was passing around as she had done during the early part of
She was very tired, Bhe said ; she would go home to " Mamau " and lie down.
Matt Leader humoured her. It suited him to humour her just then ; but he read her just as if she had been an open book.
She and her "Maman" were staying at the Hotel du Louvre ¡ they ever courted publicity, and Berthe loved the sensation that her appearance at the table d'hôte or in the salon at the hotel invari- ably created.
"And what an advertisement !" as the " maman " remarked.
Matt Leader escorted her to her hotel and then bade her " au revoir," leaving her to go his own way and attend to one or two business matters, as, having accomplished the object of his visit to Paris and secured the services of the Da Costa, he in- tended to return to London by the night mail.
It was rare, very rare, that anything, grave or gay, made more than a momentary impression on Mademoiselle Da Costa; her emotions were decidedly volatile, succeeding each other with such a rapidity as would have taken away the breath of moBt Ordinary mortals.
Her love for Derek Home waBthe least transitory 1 sensation she had ever experienced, perhaps be- cause no man possessing such noble attributes as he did had ever been in the least interested in her before.
She did not go near her generally " bibulous" maman, but, the lift having deposited her close to her suite of rooms, she went into her own apart- ment and locked the door. Half an hour's peace and quite to think was what she craved for, such a new sensation that it almost amounted to an excite* ment.
As she told Matt Leader, she fully regarded what sbe was pleased to consider her love affair with Derek Home une affaire morts. Still, for all that, it stirred 1er emotions, and she began to wonder whether what she had considered to be death was merely a trance.
For some time she sat thinking of this, the long- ing to speak to Derek Home once more strong upon her. Then her eye fell suddenly on the clock only half an hour to dinner, and she was utterly unpresentable. Vanity at once took the place of every deeper feeling j she rang for her maid, and began forthwith to dress in pretty clothes which should set off her wondrous beauty, and make her the observed of all observers when she went into the large dining saloon.
Between them Bhe and the French abigail had turned out the daintest morsel that had been seen in the Hotel du Louvre for many a day, when there came a knock at the door.
The maid opened it.
" Un dépêche pour Mademoiselle."
1 She recognised Matt Leader's handwriting, and tossed the note on one side, believing it to contain Borne worrying suggestions about her London engagements, put the last touches to her elaborate toilette, and was about to go down stairs without thinking any more about the letter, when the maid once more drew her attention to it.
She took it np and tore it open almost viciously. It contained but a few words, without heading or signature; Mr. Derek Home and his friend are staying at the Hotel Youillemont, Bue Boissey d'Anglais."
During the last half-hour Berthe Da Costa had entirely forgotten all about Derek Home, but this information fired her blood once more, as Matt Leader fully intended it should. She went down to dinner of course, but she snapped at her mother, made rude speeches to those who addressed her, and in spite of her inviting appearance, was a failure, since her beauty scarely compensated for her rude-
As soon as dinner was over she went for a large cloak and her bonnet, and went out without vouchsafing any answer to her mother who in- quired several times where she was going.
Perhaps she scarcely knew herself. It was quite dark when she went out, but she soon discovered, as the lights in the Bue de Bivoli fell on her face that if she did not wish to be annoyed she must get into a cab. To be noticed even by passers-by m the street was usually pleasing to this admiration Beeking young woman, but at this moment it was
So Bhe hailed a fiacre and ordered the driver to set her down at the corner of the Bue Boissey d'Anglais. Arrived there, Bhe discharged him, and strolled along towards the hotel. What she should do next she was far from knowing, her fear of Frank Lovatt making her pause before she took any deoided step.
' If she walked about perhaps Derek would come out for a lounge, the evening being fine, so she took tip a position across the road in front of the hotel
Presently, not Derek, but Frank Lovatt, came out, and went along the street towards the Rue St.
He had told himself that he would not leave Derek alone, but a »friend he had not seem for years was, he had just heard, lying ill at a hotel close by, and he did'not think that the Da Costa woufd find out where Derek was, or dare venture to come to him. '
Five minutes after he had turned the street, Berthe Da Costa was sitting beside 'the couch on which Derek Home was lying weak and exhausted . nor could it be said that he was altogether sorry to see the girl in whomhe had taken so great aninterest that it had well-nigh cost him his life. Besides, had Bhe not come to sue for forgivenness, which was readilyaccorded ?
Two hours later, when Frank Lovatt came back from sitting with his sick friend, the Da Costa was gone, and Derek had retired to his own room to
i Frank Lovátt went 'to see if all was well with him, and to ask some1 questions relative to their start in the morning, but not one word was he told about Berthe Da Costa having been there.
It was not till many months afterwards, when events produced explanations, that that visit was alluded to. The two men travelled to London, as had been arranged, on the following day, Derek ibeing fully aware that Berthe would be in the 'English capital m less than a week.
He would do all he could towards advancing her in her profession, poor child, and get Mrs. Belling- ham to do the same-Mrs. Bellingham, whom he had every intention of marrying as soon as the first year of her widowhood should be over.
SO like a'oonceited, but short-sighted, man to take it for granted that he can make the wheels of two women's lives ran together as he Wills. This, probably, he would have heard from Frank Lovatt if he had mentioned the subject to him. But Berthe Da Costa had taught him to mistrust Frank,
since the letter she had confided to his charge some weeks ago had never been delivered. But they travelled to England together without any ap- parent break in their friendship ; and when Derek Home was safe in his own quarters at 506, Picca- dilly, and consigned to the care of the faithful Parkes, who was horrified when he saw how ill his master looked, Frank Lovatt felt that he bar? done all for his friend that could be done, and he must go home to his father's house and leave the rest to fate.
That letter, still undelivered, weighed somewhat on h"iB mind as he drove from Piccadilly to Wimpole
But Derek would be all right in BT day or two now that he had got back to London, and he should have the letter and lecture into the bargain. He put his hand into his pocket to look at the letter which was well nigh worn out from being carried about with the daily intention of giving it to Derek.
The wretched piece of newspaper with the un- pleasant account of Lewis Bellingham'» death waB there, but the letter was gone.
The letter was gone !
No sooner were family welcomes and embraces over and Frank was safe from interruption in his own room, than he turned out every pocket, pitched the whole contents of his portmanteau and travelling bag on to the floor, but no letter was to
" It is a most confounded nuisance,"' ' he grumbled; "would make the whole explainatien with Derek ten times more difficult, and he wished he had never promissed that good-for-nothing wo- man that he would have anything to do with her
And Frank Lovatt, who was a man who, as a rule, contrived to keep his promises, was worried considerably.
Meantime, Derek Home lay quietly on his sofa, and, to all appearances, seemed like a man who had
come home to die.
So Parkes thought, and he went for the doctor who usually attended him, and who reassured Parkes somewhat by telling bim there was nothing the matter but exhausted produced by travelling, and that after a few days' rest he would begin to regain his strength.
He did not even attempt to go and See Dorothy, but sent for his clerk Grayling, and passed his time in endless accounts, which from their complex- ity and general unsatiBfactorinesB'were well-nigh enough to bewilder a stronger brain than was Derek's Home's at that paticular moment of his existence. He managed nevertheless, with Grayling's help, to> struggle through them, and thereby ascertained that only at the loss of several thousands to himself would be able to wind up the concern without discredit on his deceased partner's
This, he told Grayling-a little to the old clerk's surprise-he was fully* determined should not be the case, even if it entailed hiB own ruin ; so he was to see that affairs were immediately put straight, and he would let him know shortly whether every- thing was to be wound up, or whether he would take another partner, and make a new business depar-
Many days passed before Derek Home brought his affiairs to this issue, and it was at least a fort- night after his return to London that ene Sunday afternoon he found himself knocking at the door of the small house in Lowndes-street.