|Newspaper Title||The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)|
|Trove Title||Wedded to Death|
WEDDED TO DEATH.
" I repudiate the whole transaction," said Derek Home very firmly. " In the devil's name, too, why should you back a bill for me since you are no
friend of mine?"
" Because I was asked to do it by your partner and my good pal, Mr. Bellingham."
" Asked to do it by Lewis Bellingham ?"
"Aye 1 What balderdash it is going on like this when you know just as mach as I do about the whole blooming affair. But since you've shown up again I'll have the money out of you unless you're insolvent, I'm darn'd if I don't."
" Where is the bill ? Who lent the money ?"
"Nathaniel Brothers, in Crown Court. I'm hanged if I ever saw a cooler card than you. Never had a notice served, did ye ?"
"Certainly not. I never heard the subject mooted till this evening. If any notice had been sent-which I doubt-it must be lying at the office in tho City, where I have not yet been. At my private residence there is nothing of the sort."
"If I wasn't the loser of fifteen hundred I'd Bhake you by the hand, I would. You're made of the right sort of stuff ; can brazen a thing through,
and no mistake."
Derek Home was in no mood to resent insolence ;
he felt too utterly perplexed and aggrieved. I
"Look here," he said, "to-morrow morning I trill go to the office and to Nathaniel Brotheis. Where shall I find you at twelve o'clorsk, and we will settle the matter offhand ? I am not going about the world with this d-'-d nonsense hang- ing over my head."
" Which means you'll call and pay up, I sup- pose ?"
"Not likely ! since I never incurred the debt."
" Well, we sholl see about that, my fine fellow. 604, Threadneedle-street, will find me. I never slope or change my quarters. Between twelve and one I shall expect you."
So it was settled, and Fred Lovatt undertaking to be a surety for Derek Home's appearance, the two men left the club and went out into the street together. ,
" This is the queerest business," said Home, as
he lighted a cigar. " I assure yon, on my honour, i Fred, I know nothing of it. That big blustering
Blattherwaite will be proved a swindler before
we've done with him."
" Put the case in the hands of the Scotland Yard people at once," suggested Fred Lovatt.
"No. I'll see Bellingham and the bill first. It is some fraudulent swindle of Blattherwaite to get black-mail out of mo. Again, I repeat, how did such a sweep ever «nanage to become a member of
our club ?"
" Slipped in in the dead season when a lot of the fellows were away."
" He'll be slipped out pretty soon, I suspect."
Derek Home was exceedingly annoyed at the reception he had met with on arriving at home, a saddened and enfeebled man, after an absence of four monthB j still, in less than four-and-twenty hours he fully expected to have set matters right and be able once more to hold his head as high as any man in the kingdom. Yet, however success- fully his explanations might be received, Derek Home would never to his dying day forget the scene in the club dining-room, nor have the same kindly feeling he had erst had either for that body of men, as representing acquaintances, or for any
A Blight that teaches us, however straightforward our path, that the world can believe us capable of a base and ignoble act, generally embitters and makes us very disbelieving of good in others.
Even a generous and open-hearted nature such as Derek Home possessed must suffer detriment from being so roughly handled. He scarcely knew how deep had been the wound he had received till after parting with Fred Lovatt at his own door in Piccadilly, jaded and worn out in mind and body, he went into his solitary rooms and sat down to smoke and think.
What it could all mean he was at a total loss to conjecture, but that the calumny against him had spread far and wide Matt Leader's insinuations earlier in the evening showed him only too plainly. If only the morning light would come and he could go out and refute them ! As to refuting them there could be no doubt. Till he had done so he could not sleep or rest, so ho sat on-fortunately there was a good fire in the room-till about half-past six, when the dawn begin to peep in at the sides of the drawn blinds ; and when about an hour later his man brought him a welcome cup of tea, he was surprised to find that the windows were all thrown open and that his master had never been to
As to Fred Lovatt, he was terrible annoyed about this unfortunate business, as he called it, but he Blept the sleep of tht> righteous. How could he be expected to lie awake fretting over the calumnies a gossiping, malevolent set of busybodies chose to heap ev< 1 on his dearest friend 5 but before he went home to his quarters in his father's house in Cavendish Square, which was fully two hours after he had parted with Derek Home, he had told at least half a dozen particular friends that " he would stake everything he possessed in the world on Derek Home's innocence, believing him to be as thoroughly unimpeachable about money as any living man." And Fred Lovatt was an authority looked to with as much deference as Derk Home himself had been only a few months back.