|Chapter Title||A HEART'S MARTYRDOM.|
|Newspaper Title||Cairns Post (Qld. : 1884 - 1893)|
|Trove Title||Hand and Ring|
" Hand and Ring.
- . I
Br ANNA KATHABISE GREEN.
CHAPTER XXI-(COSTDÎTJED). '; A BEAUT'S MARTTBDOM.
She at once responded to his call. Little did he think aa she came into the parlour where he sat, and. with even more than her usnal calm self-possession glided down the " length of that elegant apartment to his side,
that she had just como from a small room on the top floor, where, in: the position of a 'hired semstress, she had been engaged in cutting out the wedding garments of one of the daughters of the house.
Her greeting was that of a person attempting to feign - a- surprise ' she did not r feel; Vf .'>' : \, ?.?
" Ah," said she, " Mr. Ferris ! This is an unexpected pleasure."
But Mr. Ferris had no. heart for courte " aies. '
"Miss Dare," he began, without any of the preliminaries which might be expected of, him, "I have come upon a disagreeable'
' errand. I have a iavonr to ask. You are
in the possession of a piece of information which it is highly necessary for me to share."
The surprise betrayed in this single word was no more than was to bc expected from a lady thus addressed, neither did the face she ; turned so steadily toward him alter under his searching gaze.
"Ul can tell you anything that you wish to know,", she quietly declared, "I am certainly ready to do so, sir."
Deceived by the steadiness of her tone and the straightforward look of her eyes, he pro- ceeded, with a sudden releasement from his embarrassment, to say :
" I shall have to recall to your mind a most painful incident. You remember, on . the morning when we met at Mrs. Clein
mens'a house, claiming as your own a diamond ring which was picked np from the floor at your feet ?"
"Miss Dare, was this ring really yours, or. were you misled by its appearances into merely thinking it your property? My . excuse for asking this is that thc ring, if not
yours, is likely to become an important fac- tor in the case to which the murder of this ' unfortunate woman has led."
" Sir--" The pause which followed
the utterance of this one word was but mo- mentary, but in it what faint and final hope may have gone down into tho depths of everlasting darkness God only knows. " Sir, since you ask me the question, I will say that in one sense of term it was mine, and - in another it waa not. The ring was mine,
because it had been offered to mc ns a gift the day before. The ring was not mine, because I had refused to rake it when it was offered." .
' ; 'Atthese words, spoken with such quiet
V ness they seemed like the mechanical utter-
ances bf a woman in a trance, Mr. Ferris started to his feet. He could no longer doubt that evidence of an important nature lay before him.
" And may I ask," he inquired, without any idea of the martyrdom he caused, "what was the name of the person who offered you this ring, and from whom yon refused to bike it?"
"The name?" She quavered for a moment, and her eyes flashed up toward Heaven with a look of wild appeal, as if the requirement of this moment was more than even she had strength to meet Then a cer ' ' tain terrible calm settled upon her, blotting
the last hint of feeling from her face ; and, rising np in her turn, she met Mr. Farris's
inquiring eye, and slowly and distinctly re- j plied, . ,. . : I . " It was Craik Mansell, air. He: is a]
nepbew ot Mn. Clenuneni.1' . .. _ ..... 1
lt was the name Mr. Ferris had "come there
to hear, yet it gave him a slight shock when it fell from her lips-perhaps because his mind was still running upon her supposed
relations with Mr. Orcutt. But he did not show his feelings, however, and calmly ; liked, -
"And waa Mr. Mansell in this town the
day before the assault upon his aunt ?"
" And you had a conversation with him ?"
" May I ask where ?"
For the first time she flushed. Womanly shame had not yet vanished entirely from her stricken breast; but she responded as steadily as before,
"In the woods, sir, back of Mrs. Clem mens' house. There were reasons"-she paused-" there were good reasons, which I do not feel obliged to state, why a meeting in Buch a place was not discreditable tous." .
Mr. Ferris, who had received from other sources a full version of the interview to which she thus alluded, experienced a sud- den revulsion of feeling against one ho could not but consider as a detected coquette ; and, drawing quickly back, made a gesture
such as was not often witnessed in those elegant apartments.
" Yon mean," said he, with a sharp edge to his tone that passed over her dreary soul unheeded, " that you were lovers ?"
"Imean," said she, like the automaton she surely was at that moment, " that he had paid me honourable addresses, and that I had no reason to doubt his motives, or my wn, in seeking such a meeting."
"Miss Dare," - the District Attorney spoke in the manner of Mr. Ferris now " if you refused Mr. Mansell his ring, you
'must have returned it to him ?"
She looked at him with an anguish that bespoke, ber full appreciation of all this question implied, but unequivocally bowed
. "It was in his possession, then," he con tinned, " when you left him on that day, and returned to your home ? "
" Yes," her lips seemed to say, though no distinct utterance came from them.
"And yon did not see it again till you found it on the floor of Mrs. Clemmens's : dining-room the morning of the murder ? " « ««-lío."-' ~ " -'
"Mis* Daze/* .said he, .with great mild- ness, after a short pause, " you nave answered my somewhat painful . inquiries with a straightforwardness I cannot sufficiently commend. If you will now add to my gratitude by telling me whether you have informed anyone else of the importent facts , yon have just given me, I will distress you
by no further questions."
" Sir," said shs, and her attitude showed that she could endure but littlemore, "I have taken no one else into my confidence. Such knowledge as I had to impart was not matter for idle gossip."
And Mr. Ferris, being thus assured that his own surmises and that of Hickory were correct, bowed with the respect her pale face and rigid attitude seemed to demand, and considerately left the house.