|Chapter Number||PART IV. VII (continued).|
|Chapter Title||SURPRISES FOR HARTLEY'S ROW.|
|Newspaper Title||The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Under the Great Seal|
ftfOW" FIEST PUBLISHED.]
ÜNOER THE 8REAT SEAL,
A HOVEL, "
-Author of " CLYTIE," " BY ORDER OF THE ;, CBAB," "JOHN NEEDHAM'S DOUBLE,"
" CRUEL LONDON," &C.
CHAPTER VII (continued).
SURPRISES FOB HARTLEY'S ROW.
" Dear master, don't say David has gone to Caister !"
"There's a person named Webb lives at Caister, eh P" was Alan's response, bnt this time the wink was checked half-way, by an expression of terror that distorted the face of Sally Mumford, which had «Iready been worn into a permanent expression of pain and sorrow !
" Oh, where did he say he was going ?" asked Sally.
" To see his sweetheart, and bring her here to complete onr family party," said
'"Ob, dear, dear!" exclaimed Sally, bursting into tears, and hiding her head ia her apron. >.
"Nae, there's something wrang !" said L Alan, looking from Sally to Mildred, who
had turned pale, but stood as stiffly as a ?taino gaging at Alan.
" Tes," she said, her lips trembling. rt What is it P"
"Elmira is no longer worthy of David,"
"She has forgotten him and herself,"
"Dinna beat aboot the bush; I had begun to thenk he was too happy, that I was too happy," said the old man with a sigh, and stooping as he spoke like a man in the attitude of bending his back to a
"She has gone away, with a yoang man called Harry Barkstead."
"Good God! He was David's best friend."
" David thought so," said Mildred.
"She has left her father and her
home, and is living with David's friend ?" asked Alan, turning his deep set eyes upon Mildred.
Mildred simply said "Alas," and looked upon the ground.
Alan thrust his long fingers through his thin whisps of hair, dragged a chair towards the inglenook, sat down, and - looked into the fire, almost in an attitude
similar to that in which Zaccheus Webb was sitting when David found him.
"Disgraced hersen, as weel as been ' untrue to David, is that what yo say ?"
he asked staring at the crackling wood and coal. «
" I fear so, led away by a designing and wicked man," said Mildred.
" His friend !" said Alan, " his friend ! It will hurt David ; please God it is to be nae a mortal hurt. His mither was an angel-is an angel-I lost her; death took her. Poor David! This Elmira Webb was his heart and soul, his life and 1 hope and ambition-and he's lost her, and J there's a loss that's worse than death ! What'll he do ? If they meet there's but one thing he can do. His mither ow'd her death to villainy and persecution ; they jest broke her heart ; out I smote them, hip and thigh-aye, I did !"
"Sir," said Mildred, facing Alan as he rose np and began to put on his cloak, " David is a roan of peace." I
"Is he! Let me tell ye, then, that David's a man o' war ! A life for a life ; will ye deny him a righteous vengeance ?"
" ' Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, I will repay,'" answered Mildred; and Sally, taking Alan's band, leaned her head npon his arm and continued to weep,
" Forgie me, I amna used to be amang women; I'm just bragging like some waster, besides forgettin' a' the misery that belongs to what's ca'ed tekkin the law into one's own hands ; but ye hae telt me the saddest news I hae heard for more'n twenty year. It sets my auld heart beatin' Uko a blacksmith's hammer ; I mun gae into the air. Moreovver I mun find him. How will I get to Casiter? He hired him a gig."
" I will show you," said Mildred. " May I go with you?"
" I will," said Mildred, tying her bonnet under her chin and wrapping her thick grey coat about her.
" "I canna be left, I won't be left here," said Sally "take me wi' ye. But for . David's sake, you shouldn't be sorry about
Elmira Webb; she were a bad lot at heart. I nivver liked her."
" Eh, but David worshipped her," said
" Take me to David," said Sally, " I must go."
Mildred ran upstairs for Sally's shawl and a great muff that David had bought her, and a boa for her neck, and they went forth as the wintry sun was being blown out by a north-west wind that was beating np into a gale.
THE TRAGEDY OP THE NORFOLK
.There was snow in the gale.
The first feathery messengers were flying about in the air. Across the sea was marching the vanguard of the wintry
Neither David nor his friends heeded the cold. Nor did Harry Barkstead, who was riding into Yarmouth from Ormesby Hall, pondering his plans and cursing his > fate. He rode the same mare that had
borne him proudly along to Caister on that bright autumn day when he galloped to his conquestof old Webb's daughter ; but the steed did not know lier master on this occasion. He rode her with the reins lying loosely npon her neck. She sham- bled along in a lazy, leisurely fashion that was very much out of keeping with her customary gait, and also quite out of karmony with the day, not to say utterly
uncharacteristic of the rider.
The stubbles where the gunnery bad tramped after their game, and im-de Jbloe wreaths of smoke above the browning
The sole right of publication m West Aus- tralia ha - a purchased by the proprietors .f the WEST AUSTRALIAN.
hedges, were now flecked with weeds and dotted" here and therer witli snow. The trees were bar% The roads were hard with frost. 'The toll-house doors were close shut. Thesun made feeble efforts against the grey clouds, and the northern -wind that wa* driving them up from the "Befftras attended by light flakes' of snow (haf went about in, a weird dance, some of them rushing into Harry's face without Sven making-him wince, or without giving him the satisfaction that snow might have brought to a feverish brow.
Harry's thoughts were not retrospec-
His motto was that the past was done with ; the future had to be taken care of. What was he going to do ! Should he
return to London at once ? Or should he stay at Norfolk in the hope that his father might rélent and send for him ? That was rather Srforlorn hope at present, he confessed, seeing that his father had not yet heard of his latest escapade, had not evidently seen old Webb, or been told the story of Elmira's departure from Caister, let alone her trip to the Conti- nent with Lord Grennox. Of course, now that the floodgates of gossip would be opened against him, Sir Anthony would at once be made acquainted with the story
of Elmira Webb.
Anyhow, Mr. Barkstead came to the conclusion that he would stay the night at the Norfolk ; and having gol this tiny distance on the highway of the future, he touched the horse with his spurs, took up the _reiusL and cantered into Yarmouth, not1 taking his customaiy road whence he could see old Webb's cottage, but going by a more roundabout route that took him into Yarmouth from a different point.
While Harry Barkstead, fresh from his father's denunciations, was riding towards the Norfolk, David Keith in a far more energetic "mood waa driving-in a similar
As David had swept along^he highway among the land-dunes to Caister he fairly laughed for joy. He had almost been unable to contain himself while anticipat- ing his meeting with Elmira and the blundering congratulations of Zaccheus. He had even thought of the delight it would be to Charity Dene to see him once more in the old house, this time with his arm rightfully about Elmira's waist.
Then he had thought of how she would get into the gig and sit by his side, and how they would drive triumphantly into Yarmouth, and he would watch the expres- sion of his father's face when introducing his beautifnl girl, as he said to the old man " This is Elmira."
There was surely never a happier fellow than David on his way to Caister ; never a more wretched one as he drove back again to Yarmouth. Now he groaned in his desolation, bit his lips with vows of vengeance, cursed Harry Barkstead beneath his breath as if he hissed his anathemas, but found no word or thought of rebuke in connection with Elmira. Of course the scoundrel had followed her about and pestered her with his attentions, loaded her with presents, made love to her at every opportunity, taken advantage of her when her father was away, and when no doubt she thought he (David) was drowned. He made every excuse for Elmira, he saw in Harry the blackest-hearted villain that mind could conceive or imagination invent.
The light in David's eye was murder- ous, his lins drawn over his strong teeth, his face livid. Tho snow wetted his cheeks as it wetted Harry Barkstead's, and with as little feeling or notice as it
drew from him. The wind howled across the dunes. Now and then a streak of sand like a winter wraith fled across the way, and a flight of gulls from the sea cried out against the coming storm. The licensed victualler's horse galloped along
the hard road as if the fiend was behind
it, though David neither touched it with whip nor urged it with rein.
Was it something in the fixed destinies of David Keith and Harry Barkstead that alloted to their horses the very pace at which they should travel that the two men might meet as they did ? Coinci- dences are supposed to be the chief motives of a fictitious story ; but they are far more remarkable in the history of real life than anything the novelist can invent. There was nothing in the least unlikely or improbable in these two yonng fellows crossing each other at this momentous period of their two yonng lives.
While Alan and the two women of Hartley's Row were making enquiries and procnring a carriage at the Norfolk, David waa speeding along the North road and so into the market-place ; and as he entered it at one end Harry Barkstead rode in at the other. The snow by this time was beginning to fall with a persist- ance that was only held in check by the
It was not strange that Harry did not notice David, whom he had come to regard as dead whenever he gave him a thought. The moment David saw the figure of his whilom friend, he pulled up his horse and leapt to the ground.
"Here, my lad," he said, to a fellow who was standing in an adjacent archway,
"take this horse."
" Yes, sir," said the man, holding ont his hand for the shilling that David drew from his pocket.
Pleased with his bright new coin and Eroud of sitting behind any kind of a
orse, the man rattled away across the stones towards the house by the quay,-and David walked with a steady, firm step to the Norfolk, where Harry was alighting from his horse, the Norfolk groom leading it in beneath the archway where there was a private entrance to the bar.
Suddenly Harry was pulled up by a hand that took him by the shoulder and turned him round. Recognising that the grip was not a friendly one, he raised his heavy riding whip and found himself in a threatening attitude face to face with David Keith.
" Oh, it's you, is it P" he said, with a surprised look, and stepping back a pace
or two. *
" Yes ; who did you think it might be ?" David asked, getting between Harry and
the bar door.
"It might have been a Bow-street runner who had taken me for some other villain," said Harry, rearranging the collar
of his coat.
I'm glad you confess yourself a villain," said David ; " it will save time and explan-
" Will it ?" said Harry, backing still Further into the yard under the influence )f David's agressive attitude.
"Where is Elmira Webb?" asked David, iteading himself, for it was an effort to nention her name.
" I don't know,"r.was the answer flung back, with something of'the defiant and threatening manner in which the question was put.
« Yoïlië !" said7 David.
Harry tried hard to stand firmly on the defensive and to give retort fer retort, but the weakness of his cause hampered him. The knowledge of his infamous conduct qua this honest, trusting lad,
" I ask you again where is she ?" " I repeat I do not know."
" And Leay again, you are a liar and a coward," said David, his rising passion tinging his pale cheeks.
Harry merely shrugged his shoulders, but he turned his whip round and held its
"Do yon remember how we parted, yon and I ?" David asked, his lips trembl- ing.
" Yes, I remember, and to that memory you owe it that I have not Iayed you flat with this whip ; I tell you now I am no more a liar than yon are, and yon can easily find ont if I am a coward."
" All in good time," said David. " You knew when we parted that she was en- gaged to be my wife ?"
"I don't deny it."
" And you professed to be my friend." " I did, and felt like it at the time."
" Really !" said David, his lips paling with the scorn they expressed, " really !"
"It is the (ruth," said Harry.
" Yon knew that I risked that jonrney chiefly for her happiness, you knew that it C0D8eled me to think that she would have a friend at hand if she wanted one, a friend-whom I could trust; the friend who went all the way to Bristol with me to say "Good-bye/ and take my last messages back to her and the others whom I loved."
David seemed as if he would break down nnder the influence of his more
tender feelings, his eyes filled with tears ; and Harry thought the moment oppor- tune to offer explanations.
" She was not worthy of you," he said. " Who was her tutor ?" David asked, dashing the tears from his face, " who in the' absence of her only protector, her honest old father, stole her away from
home and honour ?"
" Nojt I," said Harry, now advancing towards David, " I'm tired of these use- less reciminations, and it is cold standing out here ; besides the people1 in the bar are becoming interested ; and it is a pity you should make an exhibition of your- self."
"Answer me! Do you think I care who hears what I have to say."
" Who stole her away !" said Harry, repeating David's question with a sneer and stiffening his lip at the remembrance of his own grievance against the girl, "stole her away! Why she was any man's goods who'd money enough."
David for a moment was stunned with
Barkstead'« bitter and cowardly reply of justification. Yillifying the girl he had
deceived to the friend whom he had wronged was the climax of outraged friendship and honour.
" Coward !" hissed David, approaching him as if about to spring upon him, " liar, thief, blackguard !"
" Out of my way, you fool !" exclaimed Harry, clutching his loaded whip as he found David once more blocking his road to the bar door and with a new light of .danger in the lad's eyes. Harry both boxed and fenced, and ho watched David's movements with the practised skill of one who knew how to take > advantage of the smallest mistake arising from passion or
lack of art.
At the moment that David reached out his long arm with the intention of seising Harry by the throat, the other evading his touch struck him a tremendous blow with the handle of his whip.
David fell back against the door, half blinded with a rush of blood from a
wound on the forehead. Perhaps the bleeding was a relief. An open wound at
the moment was better for David than a
Barkstead, his passion now hot, and his f aise pride awakened, advanced upon
David to remove him.
" Out of my way, 1 tell you," he said, and the sound of his voice was like a
trumpet to the half stunned facnlties of his antagonist.
Crouching like a tiger and with a wild cry David sprang at his enemy, hitting him full in the face and catching with his left hand the whipstock that Harry had once more raised against him.
There was a sharp, fierce struggle, a desperate effort each to fling the other, and from which David emerged with Harry's bludgeon-liko weapon in his right hand. As his foe gathered himself np David swung the whipstock above his head and struck his enemy across the face, and followed np the blow with another and
Sir Anthony's wretched son staggered and fell. Losing all control over himself, David rnshed npon him, picked him np, flung him down again and kicked the resistless body, before the people in the bar, who knew the nature of the quarrel, had thought it right to interfere.
It took half-a-dozen men to hold the
lad, who was the picture of wild despair and madness, the blood streaming down his pale face, his clothes torn, lips wet with blood and foam, his hands clutching the empty air, but gradually becoming limp as his body, until he sank into the arms of his father, whom, in his fury, he had no more recognised than he had Mildred or Sally, who arrived on the scene just in time to witness the close of the tragedy.
Harry Barkstead was taken np dead.
[To be continued on Saturday.']