|Chapter Number||1. X|
|Newspaper Title||Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 - 1912)|
|Trove Title||Whatsoever a Man Soweth|
WHATSOEVER A MAN SOWETH.
BOOK I.-WHEAT AND TARES. CHAPTER X. SCSPEXSli
When Kate at last found herself ole&r of the houde the breathed a sigh of relief; yet she felt very miserable. The conviction that the story soid to her by Storahul was not altogetaer true, that there was something hidden from her, and that he had used her merely as his dupe, was strengthening. With regard to Mies tCouierdque s fondnessforReeae Meadowsere, she had been altogether deceived. Had Stornhilldone this intentionally? or through ignorance of the real state o£ Hilda's feelings' Kate could not tell, yet she feared the former and her mmd waa torn by conflicting doubts ' Whsu eventually she reached her lodgings 8 h f ( found dcorahiU impatiently awaiting her.' ' Well, he exclaimed, with ill-concealed eagerness ; " ho «r did you get on ?" For answer, Kate flung herself into a chair and burst into tears. Stornhill was somewhat alarmed, aud viewed this piooeeding as a prool of failure. " Did you see MIBS Remersque?" he demanded, doubtfully. Yea; and —oh—oh—how beautiful she is, Stephen!' Bobbed Kate, her jealousy at once betrayingitself. - T Beautiful! What has that got to do with it. Oome, how did she receive you ?" " Duu't ask me. Oh ! Stephen, it is all a lie what you have told me!" StornbiJl began to feel seriously uncomfortable. It was evident that something had gone contrary to expectation. "Now Kate," he said, coaxingly, " tell me what passed between you. You told her of your marriage with Meaaowsere?" " Yes ; and—and—I thought io would have killed her, Stephen," burst out Kate, piteously. " You told me that she didn't care for Mr. Meadowsere a bit; but she does—she does. I could see it in her face, Stephen. She looked like a person going mad—io was horrible. " You are upset, and your imagination has run away with you. Of course, Miss Kemersque was startled at first; it was only natural that she should have been. But nothing serious will come of it, I assure you." "But you told mo that she disliked him," persisted Kate. "SJ she does," answered Stornhill, with some irritation. " For goodness' sake don't carry on in this manner, Kate !" Kate began to cry again. " I wish I had never had anything to do with it," she moaned. All this was vary annoying, but it would never do to betray lll-bumour, aud Stornhill altered his tone. "What a silly little girl it is," he said, patting iier oheek sojthingly, and kneeling by tile side of her chair. Kate nestled elosa to him, and put her arms around his neck. " WAS it true. Stephen— thfl story you told me about Mr. Meadowser-, and—and—the rest—everything else, you kno-.v ?" she whispered, pleadingly. ' "Every word of it was true, Kate," answered Ssorahill, with assumed tenderness. "Haw could I tell a lie to you, my sweet? Come ! be satisfied. Miss Renaereque doesn't oare a bit for lleidosrsere. I am sure of it ; aud M^adowsere himself is a blackguard, so you naed not worry on thai score. No harm has hseu done to auy one, unless perhaps to me." "How do you mean to you?" asked Kate, startled. " Well, it depends, you see, on how ynu succeeded with your mission. If it has turned out successful, well and good ; if not, then it will be-all the worse for me. Do you understand " Yes," answered Kate. " but I don't know whether I succeeded or not." "Then tell me, dear, what took place." "But vou are sure you dou't love her Stephun?" cried Kate eagerly. "Q-.ite sure, my darling," replied Stornhill, curbing his impatience. " What on earth makes you ask such a question "'" "She is so lovely, Stephen ; how can j'ou help doing so?" was the reply, given with a nun of jealousy. "Look here, Kate,"said Stornhill seriously; "beautiful, or not beautiful. Miss Remersqua is nothing to me, save that she is the means of getting me out of my difficulties. I confess honestly—though it doesn't sound wail—I wish to marry her for her money alone ; and as for being in love with her—one hair of your head is of more value to me than a hundred Miss Etemersques." " Do you really mean it, Stephen ? Really ?" "I do. I swear it, Kate." Kate was not a shrewd woman ; she was simple, and easily imposed upon. Apart from her strange infatuation for Stephen Stornhill she was naturally undecided and changeful. The passinar incidents of the moment made an impression upon her, but onae removed beyond their immediate influence the impression faded, and the incidents themselves were soon forgotten. Tb was not strange, therefore, that ehe should quickly regard the events just passed in tho same light that Stornhill did, and after a little patting and coaxing 6he was induced to give sn account of the interview BO lately concluded. When she ceased, Stornhill lit a cigar, and lying on the sofa, expelled the -smoke slowly through his nostrils, and thoughtfully watched it curling upwards towards the ceiling. He was slightly puzzled. This idea of Kate's, that Miss Rsmersque was strongly attaoh«d to Meadowsere troubled him a good'deaL had not calculated upon this ooatingencv, and hardly liked the look of things. A woman in love is nob easy to deal with, and there is no depending on her actions when suddenly coufrouted with the proof of her lover's treachery. Kate watched him anxiously, longing for dome record of approval and oommendation. But none were forthcoming. Stornhill smoked on in silence until she said timidly— " Are you satisfied, Stephen? Will it all come right?" "I don't know what to think of it," he answered moodily, knocking off thaash of his cigar with hi* finger. " By-the-way, you had batter give me the oertidcate, and I will destroy it at once." Kate turned pale. For the first time sinoe quitting Mrs. Rsmersque'a house she remembered the forged cercifioato which Stornhill had charged her not to part with for a moment. In her alarm at Hilda's violence she had forgotten it completely, and had left it behind. Bow was sha to confess this to Stornhill? She grew frightened and began to cry; her tears were very near the surface to-day; she felt miserable, and longed to get home to Her quiet cottage in the country. Stornhill turned his lace towards her in surprise. " What's the matter now, Kate?" he asked with some annoyance. " I -I don't feel well, Stephen," she stammered. "Come! come! don't be foolish. You had bettor start for home by the next train. Thare will be one very shortly, aud I Will
eend you a dozen or two of wine to-morrow. That will strengthen you, and don't go thinking of this affair any longer. Your part is over, and you have only to keep quiet. But let me have that artistic document before I forget all about it ;" and he eat up leisurely and held out his hand for the certificate. "I—I haven't got it," sobbed Kate. " Haron'b got it !" echoed Stornhill, rising to his feet. " What do you mean?" And he looked down at her angrily. Kate cowered before his look. " Don't be angry with me, fi;ephen,'' she pleaded; "I couldn't help it—I was frightened, and—and —I left it behind." Stornhill grew white, and uttered a deep curse. Then ho asked iu a low, hoarse voice— " What do you mean ? Did you leave the certificate with Miss Remersque?" " Yes," whispered Kate. "But I can go back for it, or send for it," ehe exolaimed eagerly, noting the expression of blank amazement, nob unmiugled with fear, which had come into his face. "Ssnd for it," he repeated meohanioally. "Yes—you might do that—you mighb do that," and he stood staring at the floor as if in a kind of stupor. For the moment—so changed had he become during the past few months of his life—the blow seemed almost to leave him helpless. BUG it was not long before he recovered himself. He saw clearly tho danger that lay before him. Miss Remereque might confront Meadowsere with the proof of his marriage. Tnere would be a scene perhaps ; an explanation, followed by enquiries, which would probably end in the discovery of the guilty party. Stornhill saw all this olearly, yet, the first feeling of weakness overcome, he behaved with remarkable cooinees. Being somewhat in Kate's power, did she but ohoose to expose him, he saw at once that it would be bad polioy to vent bis anger upon her. And so, patting her cheek playfully, he said, with a rather feeble attempt at a laugh— " It was careless cf you, my dear, but it can't be helped, so we must make the best of it." " But hadn't I better write to Miss Remersque?" asked Kate, hoping in her heart that there would be no neoessity for doing so. "No, not at present. I must first disoover how she intends to aob, and then we oan arrange our plans later on. But you mnst return home at once, and above all things ke6p quiet until I write to you." " What will happen if anything should be discovered ?" asked Kate anxiously. Stornhill shrugged his shoulders. "We won't discuss that aspeot of the affair," he answered with assumed indifference. "And now good-by, Kate; I shan't forget about the wine, and here is a five-pound note ; it is ail I have to spare at present. In faot, I am luoky to have that." " Thank you, Stephen, but I would rather not take it," said Kate with quiet dignity. " I know that you havn't anything to spare, and the allowance you make me is quite sufficient. " Stornhill did not press her, but eaid laughingly—"You are very proud, Kate, but I shall alter all that after I am married. You and the child will have enough and to spare then, I can tell you. But it is nearly time for your train, and it will never do for us to be seen together, ao good-by again, dear," and be kissed her. " Good- by, S tephen," she said sadly. " But won't you see baby before you go ?" "Confound the kid,"muttered Stornhill to himself ; "I am always forgetting to play the paternal game, and I know Kate doesn't like it, though she eays nothing." Kate brought in the child, and Stornhill, after playing with it for a few minutes, and duly expressing his admiration of its many virtues, took his departure. "You will write to me soon, Stephen," were Kate's last words, as she acoompanied him to the door. " I shall not forget, never fear," he announced, with a reassuring smile. Bub once in the street the smile changed to a frown. Kate, left to herself, speedily gathered together her few belongings; and when the cab, which Stornhill had ordered to call for her, rattled up to the house, she took her seat in it with a feeling of sincere thankfulness at the .thought of leaving the city, and so soon reacmng the humble cottage which ehe called her home. Here she had tasted of the fruits of sin, sorrow, and shame. There she would find, she hoped, peace, security, and forgetfulness. Stephen Stornhill walked moodily to his hotel; and, wholly engrossed in bis thoughts, scaroely noticed the salutations of his many acquaintances whom he passed in the streets. He found the next three or four hours peculiarly long and disagreeable. There was an unpleasant air of uncertainty in his present position, and he eagerly, yet with no email amount of trepidation. looked forward to future development. His lunoheon was left almost untouched, and he even began to regret the project he had entered upon. Now that the crisis was at hand he began to dislike the idea of a probable future linked with a woman for whom he cared li'.tle. Miss Tlaaiemquo was very beautiful; mde°d he had never met any one more beautiful ; and though Stornhill's actions had at first baen prompted by a desire for revenge he was by no mean; blind to the attractions whioh MISB Remereque naturally presented for a man of his nature. But now he began to shrink from the idea of this marriage. Taking from his pocket the photo, which had a frosted him so strongly on the return from his memorable visit to Kate Hird, ho looked at it long and earnestly. " I wonder where she is?" he muttered. "If only I knew I would inirry her at once and start on a fresh line, but what's the use of talking ? I have searched and searched, but without result. Ciood God ! if she should have followed in Kate's footsteps. But, no ! she Imd a will of her own, and she was a pure woman. o2« of rhe few, in spite of that slip at HV.Iowton. What a blaokguard I was'. Poor Grace ! poor Grace ! Perhaps she is desd. I hop? so. I would rather that than find hr-r married to some one else. Poor Grace '." H" replaced the photo, id his breast pocket, and lighting n cigar sunk into an easy chair, and changed tho current of his thoughts. " What's to be done ?" he said h&lf-aloud. "To ho or not to he, that is the question? Row Birney would laugh to hear me quoting Shukspeiire. Ourse the whole affair! I wonder why I hate Meadowsere as I do? I suppose because he despises me and doesn't forget to show it; and that blow he etruok me roii'-es fhe very devil m me whenever I happnn to thi tik of it; which I do every time wo meet. It isn't pleasant to kuow tha.t I am worse than other men, and Meadon-sere's very presence seeins to remind me of the fact. Suppose I leave matters where they are—how will that clo? The engagement may never be renewed, and thatoueht to satisfy me. But no ! There is the certificate to think about. I must control things or this will pet into Meadowsere's hands for a certainty, and then there wiil be tho devil to pay. I don't think there is any fear of discovery, but there ie no knowing. Still, I don't believe Meadowsere would prosecute even if he - did get at the bottom of the affair. He would roost likely insist upon mv marrying Kate. He is a gentleman—I oan'c deny that—damced if I can,' and he laughed a little bitterly. " What about Hilda, though? It wouldn't be pleasunt to have her for au enemy; she wouldn't give much quarter, I'll warrant. And suppose that after my marriage I discovered Grace? But no! no! Whatthedtvil is theuseof supposing anything of the sort. I am getting mixed, and had better leave off thinking altogether! I shall keep my appointment with Hilda this afternoon, and take my c-ue from that. "Swim with the tide" is a good motto. I must adopt it as mine and trust to chance to reach the shore." lie kept his word; and when late that afternoon he entered Mrs. Reinersque's drawing room it was without any fixed idea as to the course of action he intended pursuing. "Swim with the tide,"he said to himself as as he was admitted to the house. Somewhat to his surprise he was received by Mrs. Kemersque, who in the past had rarelv shown herself during bis visits. She had preferred leaving him alone with her daughter in the hope that matters might adjust themselves in accordance with her long-cherished schemes. JS either was ho shown luto the room which Hilda locked upon as being peculiarly her owu. Stornhill was quick to notice this ; but he was very far from guessing the reason of thfr unusual course edopted. A strong undercurrent ot sentiment had ltd Hilda to lock the door of her retreat, determined that no one hut she herself should enter a room that held for her so many memories. "You must have found it very warm ooming out from the city, Mr. Stornhill," were Mrs. Remersque's words of greeting. "Very hot, indeed," answered Stornhill. " I think we shall have a thunderstorm before the eveniug, though, and this will clear the air a little. 1 ' " I hope so. But can I offir you anything in the way of refreshment? A little lemonade and claret—or ia there anything else you would prefer?" " Nothing at all, think you," replied Stornhill. " Hilda is very unweli this afternoon, and quite unable to see visitors." " Indeed ! I am sorry to bear that. The heat has probaoly proved too much for her." "No, no! I think not," said Mrs. Remersque hesitating a little. She appeared uneasy, aud Stornhill, observing her uneasiness, grew silent. " \Ve—we both received rather a severe shook this uoroing," continued Mrs. Remorsque, "and ltseflrtct upon Hilda may, I am afraid, prove Berious." " I sinoerelv hope not," eaid Stornhill, taking advantage of the opening thus afforded him. " Would it ba too great a presumption if I enquired the nature of the event which has led to this unfortunate result ?"' Mrs. Retnersque was undecided. She was desirous of furthering her daughters interests and her own at the same time : yet she feared that Hilda would be far from pleased if the story of her wrongs were made known to Mr. Stornhill, for she had not &s yet acquainted
£er ffiSfilc-r with' h6r inffehtions reg^3ifig t^u gentleman. "I see," said Stornhill, apologetically, "I bare offended you, ;\lrs. Remeraque. Pray, forgive me! My ignorance must plead my excuse." " No ! no ! You have not offended me, Mr. Stornhill- The whole affair is very unfortunate. It relates to my daughter's engagement with Mr. Meadowsere. It appears that he already has a wife living." Her words were hurried, and hardly spoken above a whisper. Stornhill sprang to hie feat with an exclamation of astonishment. Married ! Oh, no ! It is impossible." "It is only too true, Mr. Stornhill. His wife came here this morning, and had an interview with Hilda, whioh proved clearly what a villain th6 man is." "But what proofs had she'" persisted Stornhill. "She is most probably an impostor." "She had the oertifioate of her marriage, whioh ehe left behind her." " How came she to do that?" " Weil—Hilda is rather passionate at times, and I think the poor creature must havegrown frightened and lost her head. She was only too glad to get away, and never thought of her oertifioate." " I—I feel great sympathy for Miss Remersque,"stammered'Stornhill. "She must suffer acutely." "She does, Mr. Stornhill. At first I was afraid that her mind would be unhinged, but I am happy to say that she is now calmer." " I cannot expect to see her so soon after this unhappy occurrence, and will take my leave. You will not fail to convey to her my heartfelt sympathy ?" " I shall not, Mr. Stornhill; and—and I'm sure I oan rely upon you to keep silenoe concerning whet has passed between as. It it will save both Hilda and myself much annoyance." Stornhill bowed. " I should not think of mentioning, even to my nearest friend, a matter whioh affects Miss Rbtnersque so deeply. " "Thank you! You will call upon us again, I trust, very shortly, Mr. Stornhill? Hilda will be glad to see you.'' " If you will not oonsider me too obtrusive. I should like to call in person daily, and enquire as to Mies Remersque's progress." Mrs. Remereque smiled as she gave bim her hand in farewell. It would not be long, ehe thought, before her expeotations would be realized. Stornhill, too, read encouragement in her smile; yet he was not altogether satisfied. On the whole his visit had proved disappointing. He was not prepared for the manner in which Hilda had received the news of Meadowsere'a engagement. S'ae was evidently terribly out up, and it looked as though her affeabions were more deeply rooted than he bad imagined. Perhaps bis conception of her oharaoter had been a wrong one. And yet this waa hardly probable, he thought; he had studied her so carefully. But iu any case he oould do nothing till he had seen Hilda personally, and for a& interview with her he mast wait patiently. CHAPTER XI. BEECE MEADOWSEEK'S CHRISTMAS EVE. Tbe day before Christmas proved hot and sultry. There were as yet no signs of the thunderstorm that Stornhill had expeoted on the previous evening. Yet the eky was heavily overcast, and a slight shower of rain, whioh fell early in the day, had left the atmosphere close and steamy. In the city itself the air was almost stifling, and the streets, though crowded, presented a sDeotacle of dull listlessness. Gentlemen in flannels, gentlemen with waistcoats unbuttoned, and gentlemen without waistooats at all paced languidly along, as if deprived of all life and energy. Men and boys went about their daily avocations minus such portions of their olothing as oould with decency be thrown aside. The perspiration ran in streams from their faces, and they breathed heavily and with effort. Even the very'cab-horses stood with hanging heads and closed eyes, switching their tails from side to side in a vain effort to rid themselves of the all-tormenting flies. But few ladies were to be seen, and on these the eye rested with a sense of relief. In their light, tasteful dresses they seemed tho personification of ooolness, comfort, and purity. They alone, in all this vast crowd of sightseers, workers, idlers, and others, appeared indifferent to the heat and dust around them. What is more pleaBing to tbe eye of man than a graceful woman, dressed with taste and discrimination? And is it possible for a woman to appear to greater advantage than when, dressed in her cool summer costume, sbe flits here and there, bright and gay as a butterfly, even during the hottest months of summer What a con rast Bhe presents to that lord of creation, "poor, languid, forehead-mopping man !" Reece Meadowsere arrived in the oity shortly after midday. He was tired, and anxiouB to get home. Calling a oab, he drove at once to a Bank with the intention of cashing a cheque, so thai he might have sufficient money, to carry him over the holidays. As is usual before a holiday, however, the Eaak was crowded, and he waited impatiently for hia turn. Having completed his business there, he drove to the dffice of the paper he had gone into the oountry to represent. His business here took some time, and upon emerging he directed the cabman to drive to a poulterer's, where he ordered some poultry to be sent to Mrs. Bampton, the woman whom he had befriended. Not content with this, he next visited a fruiterer's, and gave an order for fruit, which be directed to be eent to the same person. " I am afraid sbe won't receive the things until after Christ-mas," he said to himself ; " but better late than never !" Hie duties for the day now finished, he proceeded with all haste to Mrs. Remersque's. Alighting from the cab at the garden gate, he ordered the oabraan to wait, and in hie hurry almost ran up the garden path to the house. Marie answered the bell, and as Reece was about to enter the half-open door she said quietly, and without shifting her position :— " Miss Remersque is not at home, sir." "Not at home !" he repeated wonderingly. "Where is she?"
" I don't know, sir." " But ehe promised to be ready for me when I called," exclaimed Reeae, bewildered. " I will wait for her, Marie, "and again he made a movement aa if to enter the house. But Marie stood motionless. " I had orders not to admit you, sir," and there was a s'ight twinkle in her eyes as ehe looked up at Meadowsere towering high above her. Reece started as though a knife had pierced him. H? turned pale and oaught his breath. " You must be mad,"hemuttered hoarsely. "Those were my orders, sir,"said Marie, retreating a little. Meadowsere was a strong and a proud man, yet those few words unnerved bim, aud he plaoed his hand against the wall for support. Recovering almost instantly, however, he said in a cold, harsh voice, " Thank you," and walking quietly down tbe steps into the garden, strode off towards the gate. He reached his cab, took a sovereign from hie pocket aud handed it to the cabman, saying, "I shall not need you auy longer. Here is a sovereign. A merry ChristmasCO you." "Thank ye, sir ; thank ye." But Reece was already out of hearing, and the cabman stared after bim in astonishment. "He's a rum sort of cove," he muttered; " don't look as if he had rats in the garret, either. I wonder wot's up; he's a bis white about the gills. Well, it ain't my business, an' he's paid 'andsomely, at any rate. I'd rather drive 'im than I would the Governor any day. Right you are, my beauties," and away he dashed towards the City. On and ou strode Reece, heedless of the heat, consoious of nothing but his own thoughts. He was not maddened by any feeling of r&go or jealousy ; he seamed as though devoid of feeling altogether. Yet his thoughts were perfectly eslai and collected, although confined to but one subject—hie past connection with Hilda Remeraqae. Time after time he went over the sam^ old ground in his mind. He thought of the night when first he had met her; of the days that followed, and ot their second meetiug. He thought of his doubts and febrs, and then of his engagement, with its moments of intense happiness—its periods of pain and uncertainty. Day after day he lived again in his imagination, arriving at length at the scene of that day wben his dream had been shattered, his idol cast down, aud his feelings outraged. There he stopped, and began again from the beginning. He recalled certain scenes connected with his engagement, which he had almost forgotten; words that Hilda had spoken, acd he had not understood, but which now seamed only too plain to him. He lemembered days when she had appeared cold aud perverse; wben h-) had doubted her love, aud almost fanoied that she was amusing herself at his expense. How wellfounded fiose doubts had been! What a hypocrite she was! How false ! how heartless ! and yet—how beautiful'. Reeae remembered all these things. He saw again those dark, expressive eyes ; that smile whioh had bewitched him. He felt again those passionate kisses ; the soft arms stealing about hie ne-jk ; and he plodded on and on, while the daylight waned, and the air above and around hira grew ever more close and beavy. Many miles had he traversed when at length he stopped, and looked about him. The short summer twilight was rendered even more brief by tho blackness of the heavens overhead. Already the darkness was oraeping over the earth, aud a solemn stillness reigned around, unbroken save by a faint rumble from the north—the rumble of distant thunder. Away to the left a great blaze of light in tbe sky told of tbe busy city—the city with its riches aud poverty ; its splendour and squalors ; its sin and misery and wretchedness unspeakable. For a moment Reece 6tood motionless gazing at that gieam in the evening sky ; but he saw it not, for his thoughts were of himself end that other one who had wrecked his happiness and hardened his heart. Beuding Lis head he retraced his footsteps mechanically, as if in a dream. His eyes were cast on tha
1 ground, his arms hung loosely by his sides; he plodded on silently through the growing darkness. In the northern eky the lightning played about the horizon in fitful flashes, and still he heard, yet as it were without hearing, the faint rumule ot the thunder through the stillness of the night. But presently other sounds were borne to his ears, the sound of many voices ; the noise of vehicles rattling along tbe streets. Yet he took no notice ; and on he went through the suburbs, indifferent and unobservant, though he had come lrom tho outer darkness into tho brilliantly lighted town; from the intense solitude that had surrounded him to mingle with tbe crowd which was sweeping onwards towards the city on this Christmas Eve. Like a drop of water sinking into the sand he sebmed—insignificant — but one of many. What was his despair to the gaily dressed thousands who hustled him from side to side 5 There were otners there who suffered mors than he, but ehe world was'headless. W« have our own troubles. They may orusb ua beneath their weight, jet we find no pity. Though we sink or awim, the wheel of lite turns on. Perhaps we are weak and lose our hold, and pass away and are seen no more. Truly "the heart knoweth its own bittsrness." Reeco reaohed the very centre of the city. All round him were evidences of the Christmas season. The streets were packed with pleasure-seeking crowds; the shop windows were a perfeot blaze of light, and the whole city seemed aglow with illuminations. Decorations of all kiuds were to be seen, and strange ekouta and cries rent the air. Yet amidst all this Babel of life and sound Reece Meadowsere was alone. In all this vast moving panorama there was no place for him. He was blind to all outward surroundings ; he saw a world of his own, ft world in which there existed but two beings—himself and Hilda Kemereque. But, fortunately for mankind, Nature has a habit of asserting hetself, espeoially if her laws be trifled with. Reeoe had walked many miles, and now began to grow sensible of his own weariness. His throat was dry and parched, hia head ached; his feet were blistered, and felt hot as burning coals. A raging thirst bad taken possession of bim, wben in a window his eyes encountered Che weli-known words, " iced drinks within." He paused irresolutely, then entered the saloon and seated himself at a small table. "Good evening, Mr. Meadowsere. I am rather surprised at seeing you here on ChristinaB Eve." The voice was Robert McTinny's, and Reece gave a sudden start, as if awakening from an unpleasant dream. "Good evening!" he answered, in a quick, confused manner. " Aliow me to introduoe my friend to you. Mr. Stanton—Mr. Meadowsere, Mr. Meadowsere—Mr. Stanton. Reece shook hands mechanically, and murmured something, he knew not what. MoTinny and his friend sat at the esme table with Reece, and MoTinny at once oalled for drinkB. "Brandy and soda," said Reece briefly, which, when brought, he drank off at a gulp, and ordered a fresh round. " You are going rather fast,"said McTinny, laughing. "I am thirsty, the weather is close," answered Reece. McTinny and Meadowsere had become friendly of late, and to one of them at least this meeting was by no means unweloome. But it soon became evident that Meadowsere was in no mood for conversation. He at first replied to all their questions merely in mouysyllables, but gradually sank into taciturnity, and sat listless and unconoerned. Soon, however, the name Stornhill struck on hiB ear with unpleasant familiarity, and he listened intently, though it recalled memories he would fain forget. "Yes," Stanton was sayincr, "I was at Stornhill's station in October, but unfortunately for meStornhill himself had just left the place." "He came over hereabout that time,"observed MoTinny. "So I heard. He spends the greater part of his time here, I think." " As a rule; though this year we have B9en comparatively little of him." " Ah ! I remember some Hallowton people BpBnkinar of the length of his stay at Dingo Hall. He was in love with a girl there; a school teacher named Grace Arkoyd, who I am afraid had cause to regret her relationship with him. At any rate, she disappeared at the beginning of the Michaelmas holidays, and nothing more was heard of her. A very fine-looking girl too, according to report." "I suppose Stornhill arranged her disappearance. " "No; people seem to think not. He was in a great way about it, and attempted to discovor some traces of her, but no one in those parts could help hia^, as the girl had left secretly. Shortly afterwards Stornhill left also, and it is generally believed that he went in search of her. The remark has been freely expressed in Hallowton that it is a case of the biter being bitten." "What you have told me explains a good deal that I previously failed to understand," eaid MoTinny musingly. " Ever Binoe Stornhill oame to Melbourne he has been hunting through the lowest portions of the town as it in search of some one; and has, in- fact, been acting altogether mysteriously. It must ba tbe girl that he is after." "Good evening, gentlemen," said Reeae abruptly, and he left the saloon. " Anything wrong here ?" asked Stanton, tapping hiB forehead. "Sound as a bell—and a ' white man.' He appears strange to-night, though ; something must have gone wrong. Perhaps his mother is worse than usual; I wish I had enquired. She ia a confirmed invalid. Still, he would hardly be here if anything unusual had occurred in- that onarter. Well, bq&H wo [Q&ko a move?" Stanton assented, and they strolled into the street.