|Newspaper Title||Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Priceless Violet|
BY EFFIE ADELAIDE ROWLANDS, author of "A King and a Coward." "A. Child of Charity," "Love, the Conqueror, eta., etc.
The whole of her face and of her bear ing stung the man before her. He felt lusnself to be despicable la the presence ?f this fair, pure young creature. But the voice of conscience had Jong ago been Btifled In his heart, and as he had suffer ed from Violet's hand more mortification to his vanity than he had ever received befare, it was only natural the knowledge that he was making her suffer had a Bweetness in it that ha was not likely to deny himself. "What he said to Eer yiolet hardly fceanl or realised.- • She stood for a moment In such acute cental misery that everything became yague and unreal. An oppression lay on her heart; she could hardly breathe. She felt that if ehe did not escape from this room, from the sound of his voice, ladea with a pas sion that made her shiver unconsciously, her reason would leave her. As the man's words changed from lore nnd pleading, and took the form of a threat — a threat that she should never tie Jerome Leicester's wife; never taste that happiness that was such an insult to himself — violet uttered the first sound that had escaped her -lips. She gave a sodden iow cry, and the whole of her face changed, for there Had come at the door a sharp knock, a knock that was repeated, and that made Douglas Leices ter turn with a smothered oath on his lip?. I-linging the door open roughly, he disclosed a respectable-looking woman. carrying a telegram, which she handed to Sir Douglas. He took it from her and was about to slam the door in her face again; bat Violet was too quick for him. Before he had realised it she had trnshed past him and was runningl down <he stairs almost in a frenzy. His Sret instinct was to follow her, and then he paused and smiled a curious smile. Instead of swearing at the housekeeper, ?who stood looking disturbed and a little nervous. Sir Douglas put a question to her. "Tou saw that young lady who went away Just now; would you be able to re ?OKnlse hex again?" The woman said, "Tes, sir," hurriedly, then she paused; but Sir Douglas had no more to say, and she went back to her duties with a feeling of relief that she ?was not called upon frequently to attend the gentleman who had taken the rooms on the first floor. "He looked S3 white and queer," she said to herself. "I thought it best to humor him; though, to tell the truth, I didn't so much as look at the young lady. and as for recognising her again, well. I couldn't do it if I tried. What did he mean. I wonder, by sach funny words? He'd no good in his face, and by the she run dowa the steps, poor thing, rm thinking she'd none too good an ?plnlon of him. Well, it's no busi ness of mine; but certainly this Sir Douglas Leicester is a mysterious kind or man. What he wants with those rooms I don't know, for he's never In them. However, that's no business of mine neither, and the sooner I get on ?with my work the better." Meanwhile, outside Violet had found fcereeir walking abont the pavement in a maze of excitement. Indignation, and horror, seeing nothing about her—hardly conscious. Indeed, of where she was. The feeling of the fresh air. though the sun ?was hot. was like a slaun of paradise to her. ; - She was trembling In every Itmb', anj cad a wild longing to get far, far away from this place and from the very memory of what she had passed through. Ard then, suddenly, she save a low cry ai hysterical Joy. and her two hands ?went out with all the abandonment of. a child. "Jerome." she said, wildly, with a sob in her voice, for it was Jerome her Jerome—who had spoken her name and wakened her out of the dream of lndeous recollection. She clung to him eagerly, quite un conscious for the moment that his hand iras utterly unresponsive to her touch. In that moment she forgot everything except the Joy of being in his presence; but as she felt him put her hands coldly aside, and as she looked upward into his ?white, haggard face, .Violet awoke to the truth. She knew that though the sun shone overhead, and the Joyousness of life was in the warm summer air, that she stood "beside a grave—the grave of her love and her life's happiness.
CHAPTER XX. Zj.dy Blanche's Indisposition did not pass as quickly as she had imagined it ?would. She was confined to her room for two or three days, and, indeed, on the second day or her illness, was so ?weak and had so much fever that her doctor regarded the matter seri ously. She refused to have a nurse, saying teat her maid and Violet would do all ?that was required for her, and Violet ?accepted the task most eagerly. She looked herself so white and so changed, that Lady Blanche's medical attendant found his eyes drawn to her face more tH^i™ once. "I am afraid you are not well, either, iliss Violet." he said. "I don't think. I shall let you sit up to-night." , Eat Violet only smiled. "I am quite well." £ he answered him; "and grannie prefers to have me. Please say noth!c?r to her, Dr Maltland?" Feo found herself also looking curi ously at Violet. They met at meal-time; b?t there was no conversation between them. Feo had no need to question, however; she knew Jar better than Violet could tell her an that had occurred. Nevertheless, she did question. "Where Is Jerome?" she asked, on the afternoon of the second day. "Is Ije not coming to see you, VI? It seems rather funny that he has not been to inquire for Lady Blanche. I suppose lie will come and take you out for a :*ralk." But Violet was silent. She waited ?until the servants had gone out of the room, and then she said to her sister, quite simply: "Jerome will not come, Feo. We lave agreed to separate." Feo uttered a loud exclamation. To separate!" she repeated. "What on earth for? Have you been quarrel ling?" Violet shuddered. "Please don't ask me any questions," she said in a faint, low voice. "I am not very happy Just now. It has all been one terrible mistake. I don't want to think abouf It more than I can help, for, if I do. I shall break down; and I must take care of grannie." . Feo got up from her chair and -went round to Violet. "Poor little VI," she said, almost ten derly, as she bent and kissed her sis ter's cheek. "But don't you fret; ?rerythlng la sure to come all right. I"eop!e always quarrel when they are ?n?aged; they don't seem as If they can ielp themselves. She watched Violet go back to the rick room with a glow of satisfaction 1? her heart. "•Well, I never thought It -would come so easily," she said to herself. "Now, •what shall I do? Let me think." She sat down holding her chin in her iand. with her brows knitted together. The result of her thought "resolved Itself into an action. . ? _ "I must see him at once," she laid to 496 l
herself. "He won't come here, that's very sure. But I might go to him and let him suppose that I am very miser able about VI, and that I have come to ask htm to mike It up with her. Tes: that's my best plan. Fortunately, I can got out easily enough, now the old woman la up stairs. I -would give my eyes to know what' happened yesterday, for, of course, they must have met. "Well. Violet has done for herself—that's one thing sure. Perhaps she won't be so eager in the future to muddle herself up with father's business: she makea me sick the way she plays the goody goody daughter. Why on earth she need have interfered I don't know." And then the thought of1 Douglas Lei cester crossed her mind, and her face darkened. It was bitter, indeed, to her to have to realise what this man was ready and eager to dp for Violet's sake, while he despised her so completely. "But I'll make him suffer Just as I mean to make her suffer. If I can get my way with Jerome I shall be able to punish them both." Feo said to herself, as a kind of consolation. Seeing how well the mischief between Violet and Jerome had been worked, there seemed to be little doubt she would succeed in obtaining all she de sired. It had been a sudden impulse that had prompted Feo to send that anonymous I letter to Jerome. . ! She had not been sure even that he would get it. although from Violet she had gathered that the young man's life, was carried out on precisely the same lines day after day. And as she knew that he was in the habit of lunching at hl3 club, Feo directed the letter thither. She had waited for Violet to return home after that visit with a breathless eagerness, for Feo had made a discovery. ?
Something had prompted her to be lieve that Douglas Leicester was not acting straight!}- with Violet. She had, therefore, turned to the post office direc tory, and when she had discovered that there was no firm of lawyers to he found there, she knew Immediately that this was her opportunity. So after a .yttle concentrated thought, she had re solved on that bold step of sending Jerome to spy upon Violet. She was not even sure, of course, that the young man would go. But she knew something about the workings of b. Jealous mind, and had built almost confidently on success: and success had come assuredly. Though Violet's lips were sealed, Feo knew that it was her work that had brought matters to a crisis and broken the engagement. She had gone up to her room and was dressing for the purpose of seeking Jerome, when there came a knock at her door, and a maid entered announcing that her father had arrived, and wished to see her. Feo almost stamped her foot with vexation. "Why do you come to me?" she asked the servant shortly. '?Why don't you go and ten Mies Violet?" She bit her lip savagely. Now, of course, it was impossible for her to get out of the house. "Dr. Huntley wished to see you, par-' ticularly, miss," the maid answered In not too amiable a tone, for Feo was not popular with his servants. Feo flounced round without another word. She finished putting on her hat and her veil, and then little by little she saw in this unexpected visit of her father's a means by which she could help herself to work out the rest of her plans with regard to Jerome. "I shall make father take me out," she said to herself. "After all, it is not a bad thing that he has come, for he can go with me to find Jerome. That is to say, he can take me there and then leave me. I can manage the rest myself." She went down stairs putting on her gloves in a leisurely fashion. "Although her first \-exntlon had eva porated, she did not intend to be verycor dia! with her father. But the instant that she stood In her father's presence Feo knew that something of a new and Important nature had occurred to change the whole tenor of her life. Martin Huntley was pacing up and down the drawing-room In a. state of sub dued excitement. His face was pale, yet there was a bril liant look in his eye and an air about him which Feo had certainly never seen be fore. As she entered the room Dr. Huntley came up to her swiftly, and took her in his arms. "My beautiful Feo—my darling child!" he exclaimed. "At last lam able to show you how I love you!" Feo released herself from his hold.
She forgot to be rude and cross. There was something Infectious in his excite ment. •?What has happened, father?" she ex claimed. Martin Huntley flans wide his arms and his voice t-^ok a tone of joy as he answered her. "I am rich, Feo. very rich. Ah." he laughed, "you look as if I were telling you a fairy story, and a fairy story it is! But I am not mad, Feo: though, indeed, the news that came to me last night almost turned my brain. It has been such a long, hard, miserable struggle— always debt, always difficulty—and now it Is over for ever —for ever. Feo! Can you understand what that means?" Then he drew up a chair and sat down beside Feo. "You have heart! me speak of my father's brother who went out to Cali fornia when I was a lad?" "You told me he was dead," Feo said, In a curious, quiet tone. Her heart was beating -wildly. She did cot doubt her father, but she -wanted more than his word to assure her that what he said was true. It was all so strange—so very strange. . "Ay, so I did." Martin Huntley cried, "and so I have always believed. Cut he has been alive all these years, Feo. Alive and building up a fortune that Is so large it almost takes one's breath away. He died a couple of months ago, ana the lawyers have been seeking f?r me all this time. When the letter came last night asking me to come to town this morning to prove my identity. It spoke only of my feeing heir to my uncle's pro perty. That was good enough, for I felt that tie property would be no small thing. But It is only Just now, Feo, that I knew the truth—that I knew that I was a millionaire! . . . No longer a poor, overworked doctor, to be kicked and despised, but a man of wealth —one who hag the right to take a high place in the world; and I came to you at omce, my darling—at once. Oh, Feo, if you could only know the Joy It gives me to think of you placed as you ought to be. with jewels, and horses, and carriages for your very own! See"—he thrust his trembling hand Into an Inner pocket of his coat, and produced a well-worn let ter-case. "See, Feo; here are bank notes. Take them in your band, look at them, then you will realize that I am telling no fairy story. These are only a drop out of the ocean of my fortune. We cannot touch the whole of the money for the moment —there are many formalities to be gone through—but the lawyers offered me five hundred pounds for pre sent use, and I have brought it all to you, Feo. It Is all yours," my darling— all yours! ..".." Lost In the excitement of the moment, neither Feo nor her father had beard the door, open gently; neither had they caught Eight of Violet standing In the doorway. The girl had hastened down from her grandmother's room eagerly, yet ner vously, to greet her father, -when the news of his arrival >m?< been brought to her., ' ?. . - All sorts of apprehensions had filled her mind as she had passed, down the staircase. . . " She did not understand this .visit It roused her for a moment from that apathy of grief that had lain upon her | heart ever since she had* parted - from ?Jerome.1,. ~. . ? ?-. ..??-.<. ?,' The old love had called to her and the had answered It. But as she stood for
that moment, unseen, unsought, and had heard her father's words, Violet had crept away again. Then, when she vat quite alone, she had covered her face with her bands, and had sunk on a seat hidden In an alcove on the staircase. It was the moment in which she could not but remember herself and the deso lation of her heart—the moment In which her spirit cried out wildly against the fate that had fallen upon her. Her father was rich—rich beyond measure. Wealth untold had belonged to him even whilst she, in her boundless love, had tried to stand between him and dishonor. There was nothing Violet had not done to give her father that daughter's loving devotion' that was 1113 due. But the girl will be forgiven If. in this moment of wildest anguish, a kind of rebellion should have seized her for the cruel destiny that had robbed her of all she held dear. Had this news reached her father a short week before, the darkness and misery through which she had passed would have been spared her. Now, what stretched before her in the future? A broken life—a lost love. She stood alone, save for her grandmother; for though she had done all that had lain in her power to give consolation and help to her father, it had-been Feo to whom he turned when Fortune smiled. He had not even remembered that his youngest child—that child from whom he had re ceived such loyal and sweetest love— lived- He remembered no one but Feo. And Violet buried her face in her hands and wept tears that seemed to draw their source from her heart.
CHAPTER XXL Within the next twenty-four hours Feo had transformed herself into that which she had always determined should be her fate—a personage of importance. She.had taken matters la hand very promptly. "We will go to an hotel." she said to her father; "you and I. But. first of all." she had added, critically, "you must go to a tailor and get yourself some clothes. Leave this money with me; I understand these things better than you do. I must stay here, of course, to night; but I shall join you to-morrow." Then Dr Huntley had seemed to wake from his dream. He remembered Violet, and he looked about him hurriedly. Many things came back to his remem brance in this moment, and his heart reproached him. "You must not leave Lady Blanche too hurriedly, my darling,'* he said. "She has been very kind to you. And then, Feo, we must certainly consult with Violet. Poor little VI, I had almost for gotten her!" Feo's lip curled. "Violet does not want you, father," she said. "She has her grandmother, and she can do without us. Besides, I am not going to study her, or anybody," Feo went on. In her most arrogant manner. "No more patronising old women for me! . . lam going to nhow them all that I am Just as big as they are." A pang of pain contracted Martin Huntley's face for an instant. Wildly as he loved this girl, his own nature was so naturally refined and gentle that Feo's words and manner could not fail to Jar him. "I must see, Violet," he repeated, and he moved to the door; but Feo had no Intention of bringing Violet into this matter. "Tou said Just now that everything was to be mine." she exclaimed, pas sionately. "Well. I don't mean to share it with anybody, not even with Violet. After all, it's only fair; she has had so much from the beginning, and I have had nothing. We will go out now.father. and make all arrangements for to morrow. I shall Join you as early as I can, and we must go to the lawyers and find out when we can begin to draw on the money. Then we must make other plans. There will be crowds of people, I can tell you." Feo went on. exultantly, "who will only be too glad to run after us. I have had a success without money since I have been in London; but now that I am rich I shall set everything I want." So she hurried her father out of the house, and Violet heard them go. She made no effort to stop them. She knew well what would happen now. This wealth would divide her father and her self as completely as though.death had come between them. That was a pain and a pang to her; but the wound that Jerome's bitterness had struck in her heart made all else seem dull and insignificant She suf fered so much. She seemed to have grown old in these last few days; life had been lived In one vague dream. The servants had attributed her white, changed look to anxiety about her grandmother; but by degrees they felt that something more.was wrong. They missed Jerome's visits. He had been wont to come so fre quently to the house; now he never came. Had Lady Blanche not been so ill, she must Instantly have been struck by the change in her granddaughter; but her room was darkened, and her sharp sense of hearing was dulled for the time. This night, however, after Dr Hunt ley and Feo had gone away together, and Violet had calmed herself and re turned to the sick-room. Lady Blanche seemed to wake to the fact that some thing had happened. "Come and sit here," she said, almost in her old, sharp way. "I want to speak to you, Violet." The girl went and sat by the bed-side obediently. "Tou have been crying." Lady Blanche observed, after a pause. "Now, tell me all about everything. It is useless to say that nothing is the matter, for I know better. lam not a fool." Violet caught her breath. "I have strange news to tell you, grannie," she said, hurriedly. "Father has been here. He came to tell us"— the girl's lips faltered a little as she. used the plural—"a wonderful story. Imagine, grannie, he is very, very rich; he scarcely knows how much money belongs to him now. He inherits a for tune from an uncle of his who has Just died In California." Lady Blanche put her hand out, and it closed over the girl's. "And are you crying," she said, softly, "because your father's troubles are at an end?" Violet shook her head. "No; I thank God for it." she said. "But I scarcely realise it yet. grannie. It sounds too good to be true." "Ay. that It does, indeed," said Lady Blanche, with something of her old vigor. "It requires a big effort to imagine your father in anything but difliculties." She moved her hand up and down Violet's caressingly. . ? "But this -will make but little differ ence to you." she said," after a pause; "your future is bright already. Are yon troubling yourself because you fancy that Jerome Is one of those men who will shirk marrying a rich wife?" Again Violet held her breath. "I have something else to tell you, dear," she said, softly, "and grannie, I want you to accept what I tellyou as being a matter fixed and done with; a matter -which cannot be discussed, nor altered, however sad it may ssem to you." The old lady raised herself on her pillows, and looked Into the downcast face. .??'.? : "Tou are not going to tell me," she said, in a low, nervous voice, "that you and Jerome have quarrelled?" Violet raised her head bravely. "Jerome and I are separated, grannie," she answered. "I know that this will be a grief to you, and I would have spared you, dear, if I could, but you were bound to know sooner or later, and I preferred ; to tell you myself." " . ?* ! (To be continued.)
Fact* *re reputed to ba ttnbbora became they -won't get out at the wij of people who close their eyes to than.