Chapter 39429012

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Chapter NumberIV
Chapter TitleIMOGENE.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article39429012
Full Date1888-01-18
Page Number4
Corrections0
Word Count1702
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleCairns Post (Qld. : 1884 - 1893)
Trove TitleHand and Ring
article text

Hand and Bing. I

Br AsjfA Katkahise Gheex.

;\ CHAITEKIV.

Ijioqenf.

'Tou are a riddle, vilve yon who can."-Knowles.

At lait, was it with premeditation or ?was it in1 somo moment of uncontrolla- ble impvlse, ho spoke? not with «Jeh- uite pleading, or even with any clear intimation tliat lie desired somo day to make lier his wife, but in a way that sufficed to tear the veil from their pre- vious intercourse mid let her catch a glimpscf if no more, of his heart, and its devouring passion.

He was absolutely ' startled at the result. "She avowed that she had never tbought.bf his possessing such a regard for her ;*and for two days shut herself up in her room and refused to see either lum or his sister. Thou she came down, "blooming like a rose, hut more distant, moro quiet, and more inscrutable than ever. Pride, if pride she felt, was sub- dued under a general aspect of womanly dignity that for a time hold all other nvowal»«iu check, and made all inter courao 'between them r-fc once potent »n ita attraction mid painful in its res-

traint.

" She is waiting for a distinct offer of marriage," he decided.

And tims matters stood, notwith- standing the general opinion of thoir friends, when the terrible event recor- ded in the foregoing chapters of this story brought her in a new light be- fore his eyes, and raised a question, shocking as it was unexpected, as to whether this maiden, immured as he be- lieved her to be in his own home, had by some unknown mid inexplicable means run upon the secret involving, if not explaining, the mystery of this dreadful and daring crime.

Such an idea was certaiuly a pre- posterous one to entertain. Ile neither could nor would believe she knew more of this matter than any other disinter- ested person in town, and yet there certainly had been something in her bearing upon the seeuc of the tragedy that suggested a personal interest in the nffair ; nor could he deny that he him- self had been struck by the incongruity of her behaviour long before it at-

tracted the attention of others.

But then he had opportunities for judging of her conduct that others did not have. He had not only ever} reason to behove that the ring to which she had publicly luid claim was not her own, but ho had observed how, at the moment the dying woman had made that toll-tale exclamation of " King and Hand! " 3Iiss Dare had looked down at the jewel she had thus appropriated, with a quick horror and alarm that seemed to denoto that she had some knowledge of its owner, or some sus picion, at least, as to whoso hand had

worn it before she placed it upon her

own.

?_""j-iî^fc?» {.o .«»?»» -»Murty anected »t fiuding her conduct had attracted the attention of others, and one of those a detective, or that the walk home after his interview with Mr. Byrd should have been fraught with a dread to which scarcely dared to give a name.

The sight of Miss Dare coming down the path as he reached his oivu gate did not tend to greatly allay his appre- hensions, particularly as lie observed she was dressed in travelling costume, and carried a small satchel on her arm.

" Imogene," he cried as she reached him, "what is the meaning of this? "Where arc you going ?"

Her face, which wore a wholly un- natural expression, turned slowly to-

wards his.

" 1 am going to Buffalo," she said.

"To Buffalo?" " Yea."

This was alarming, surely. She was going to leave the town-leave it sud- denly, without an explanation !

Looking at her with eyes which, for all their intense inquiry, conveyed but little of the serious emotions that wore agitating his mind, he asked hurriedly :

" What takes you to Buffalo-to-day -bo suddenly ?"

Her answer wss set and mechanical.

" I have had news. One of my-my friends is not well. I must go. Do not

detain me."

And she moved quicklv towards the

gate.

But his tremulous hand was upon it ;

he made no offer to open a passage for

her.

"Pardonme," said he, "butI cannot let you go till I have had some conver- sation with you. Come with me to the house, Imogene. I will not detain you

long."

But with » aad and Abstracted gesture ?he slowly shook her head.

" It is too late," she mumrured. " I

shall miss.the train if I stop now."

"Then.you must miss it," he cried, bitterly, forgetting everything else in the torture of his uncertainty. " AVhat I have to say cannot wait. Come ! "

This tone of command from one who

had hitherto adapted himself to her every whim, seemed to strike her. Paling quickly, she for the first time looked at him with something like a comprehension of his feelings, and quietly replied :

"forgive me. I had forgotten for the moment the extent of your claims upon me. I will wait till to-morrow before going." And she led the way

back to the house.

Wien they were alone together in the library, he turned towards her with »look whose severity was the fruit of bia condition of mind rather than any natural harshness or impcriousness.

" Now, Imogene,," said he, " tell me why you desire to leave my house."

Her lace which had assumed a mask

of cold impassiveneas, confronted him like that of a statue, but her voice, when she spoke, was sufficiently gentle.

"MrlOreutt," was her answer, "I have told you, I have a call elsewhere

which must be attended to. I do not leave 'Tour home;I merely go to ïaffalotor a few days."

But lie could not believe this short statement of her intentions. In the light of these new fears of his, this talk of Buffalo, and a call there, looked to liiui like the merest subterfuge. Yet

her gentle tone was not without its effect, aud his voice visibly softened as he said. r

"You are intending, then, to return .'

Her reply was prefaced by a glance

of amazement.

" Of course," she responded at last. "Is not this my home V"

I Something in the way she said tin's carried ii ray of hope to his heart. Taking her hand in his he looked at her long and searchinglj"

" Imogeno," ho exclaimed, " there is something on your heart. What is it ? Will you not make me the confidant of your troubles ? Tell mc what has made such a change in you since-since noon,

and its dreadful event."

But her expression did not soften, and hermanner became eveu moro reserved than before.

" I have not anything to tell," said

she.

, " Not anything ?" ho repeated.

" 2iot anything."

I Dropping her hand, he communed a moment with himself. That » secret of possible conseqence lay between them

he could not doubt. That it had reference to and involved the crime of

the morning, he was equally sure. But how was he to make her acknowledge it?

Kow was he to reach her mind and de- termine its secrets without alarming her dignity or wounding her heart ?

To press her with questions seemed impossible. Eveu if lie could have found words with which to formulate his fears, her iirm, set face, and steady, unre- lenting eye, assured him only too plainly that the attempt would be met by failure, if it did not bring upon him her scorn and contempt. No ; some other method must be found ; some way that would completely and at ouce caso his mind of a terrible weight, and yet in-

volve no risk to the love that had now become the greatest necessity of his existence. But what way ? AVith all his acumen and knowledge of the world,

he could think of but one. He would

ask her hand in marriage-aye, at this very moment- aud from the tenor of her reply judge of the naturo of her thoughts. For, lookiug in her face, he feltforcedto acknowledge that whatever doubts he had ever cherished in refer- ence to this remarkable girl, upon one point he was perfectly clear, and this was, that she was at the basis honorable in her instincts, and would never do herself or another a real injustice. If a distinct wrong or even a secret of an unhappy or debasing nature lay betvvcea them, he knew that nothing, not even the bitterest necessity or the most head- long passion, would ever drive her into committing the dishonor of marrying

him.

No ; if with his declaration in her ears, and with his eyes fixed upon hers, she should give any token of hor willing

lies» to accept his addresses, hu felt ho

««».IS*»*. l*»»«»w, towjr«>«»*& .loubt «»«. cm». *?»«»«.

whatever womanish excitability may have moved her in lier demonstrations

that day, thev certainly arose from no private knowledge or suspicion detri- mental to his future peace or hers.

Bracing himself, therefore, to meet any result that might follow his attempt, he drew her hand gently toward him and determinedly addressed her :

" Iuiogcne, 1 told you at the gate I had something to say to you. So I have ; and though it may not be wholly unex- pected to you, yet I doubt if it would have left my lips to-night if the events of the day had not urged me to offer you my sympathy and protection."

He paused, almost sickened ; at that last phrase she had grown so terribly white and breathless. But something in her manner encouraged him to pro- ceed, and smothering his doubts, tramp- ling, as it were, upon his rising appre- hensions, he calmed down his tone and went quietly on :

" Imogene, I love you."

She did not shrink.

" Imogene, I want you for my wife. Will you listen to my prayer, and make my home forever happy with your presence ?"

TO BE CONTINUED.