Chapter 39430601

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Chapter NumberVI
Chapter TitleTHE SKILL OF AN ARTIST. A hit, a very palpable hit.-Hamlet.
Chapter Url
Full Date1888-02-04
Page Number4
Word Count1341
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleCairns Post (Qld. : 1884 - 1893)
Trove TitleHand and Ring
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I "A liit, a very paisible bit."-Hamlet.

He found it occupied by some half dozen men, one of whom immediately attracted his attention by lu's high-bred air, and total absorption in the paper he wa* reading. Ile was evidently a stranger, and, though not without some faint marks of a tendency to gentlemanly dissipation, was, to say the least, more than ordinary good-looking, possessing a large, manly figure, and a fair, regular featured faee, above which shone a thick crop of »hort curly hair, of a peculiarly bright blond colour. He wa» sitting at a small table, somewhat apart from the rest, and was, as I have said, engrossed with » newspaper, to thc utter exclusion of any apparent in- terest in the talk that was going on at thc other end of thc room. And yet

this talk was of the most animated des-

cription, and was seemingly of a nature

to attract the attention of the most in- different. At all events, Mr. Byrd considered it so ; and, after one com- prehensive glance at tho elegant stranger, that took in not only the per- sonal characteristics I have noted, but niuo, the frown of deep thought or anxious care that furrowed a naturally »mooth forehead, lie passed quietly up

the room, and took Iiis stand among the «roun of loungers there ansembJed.

Mr. Byrd was unknown to thc Jmhi 1ue* of that place,. and ' no cessation took place iii the conversation, '''hey were discussing an occurrence slight enough in itself, but made interesting and dramatic by thc unconscious en- thusiasm of the chief speaker, a young fellow of indifferent personal appear- ance, but with a fervid flow of words, and a knack of presenting a subject that reminded you of the actor's power, and made you as anxious to watch his gesticulations as to hear the words that accompanied them.

" I tell you," he was saying, that it was just a leaf out of a play. I never «aw its equal off the stage. She was so handsome, so impressive in her trouble or anxiety', or whatever it was that agitated lier, and he so dark, and so determined in lux trouble or anxiety, or whatevevit was that agitated him. They came in at different doors, she at one side of thc depot and he at another, and they met just where 1 could see them both, directly in the centre of the room. 'You!' was her involuntary cry, and she threw up lier hands before her face just aa if she had seen a ghost or a demon. An equal exclamation burst from him ; but he did not cover his eyes, only stood and looked at her, as if he were turned to stone. In another

moment she dropped her hands. ' Were Í-ou coining to see me ? ' came from her

¡ps, in a whisper so fraught with secret horror and anguish that it curdled my blood to hear it. ' Were you coming to see me ?' was his response, uttered

in an equally suppressed voice, and with an equal intensity of expression. And then without either answering thc other's question, they both shrank back, and, turning, lied with distracted looks, each hy the way they had come, the two doors closing with a simul- taneous hang that echoed through thal miserable depot like a knell. There wore not many folks in the room just at that minute ; but, I tell you, those that were looked at each othor as they had not done before, and would not be .likely to do asplin. Some unhappy tragedy underlies such a meeting and parting, gentlemen, and I, for one, would rather not enquire what."

" But tho girl-the man, didn't you see them again before yon left? " asked an eager voice from tho group.

" Tho young lady, " remarked tho other," was on the train that brought me herc .The gentleman went the other way."

'.Oh!" "Ah!" and "Whore did she gbt off ? " rose, in a somewhat deafening clamour aromid him.

"I did not observe. She seemed greatly distressed, if not thoroughly overcome, and, observing her pull down her veil, I thought sho did not relish my enquiring looks ; and. as I could

not Wit: within view of her mid not watch

lier, I discreetly l)étoolí myself to a smoking car, where I stayed till we arrived at this place."

" Hum ! " " Ha! " " Curious ! " rose in the chorus once more, and then, the sympathies of the crowd being ex- hausted, two or three or more of the groups sauntered up to the bar, and the rest sidled restlessly out of the room, leaving the enthusiastic speaker alone with Slr. Byrd.

" A strange ! scene " exclaimed the latter, infusing just enough interest into his usually nonchalant tone to excite the vanity of the person he ad- dressed, and make him more than ever ready to talk. " I wish I had been in your place," remarked Mr. Byrd, almost enthusiastically. " I am sure I could hare made a picture of that scene that would have been very telling in tho gazette I draw for."

" Ho you make pictures for papers ? " tho young fellow inquired, his respect visibly rising.

" Sometimes," the imperturbable de- tective replied, and in so doing told no

more than thc truth. He had a rare talent for off-hand sketching, and not unfrequently made use of it to increase the funds of the family.

" Well, that is something I would like to do," acknowledged the youth, surveying the other over with curious eyes ; " but I haven't a cent's worth of talent for it. I can sec a scene in my mind now-this one, for instance -just as plain as I can see you. All the details of it, you know ; thc way they stood, the clothes they wore, the looks on their faces, ¡iud all that ; but when I try tc put it on paper, why, I just can't, that's all."

"Your forte lies another way," ro lliarkeil Mr. Byrd, " You can present a scone so vividly that a person who had not seen it for himself, might easily put it on paper just from your description. ¡Seo now !" And he caught up a sheet of paper from the desk, and carried it to a side table. " Just tell me what depot

this was in."

The young fellow, greatly interested at once, leaned over the detective's shoulder and eagerly replied : " The depot at Syracuse."

Mr. Byrd nodded, and made a few strokes with his pencil on thc paper

before him.

" How was thc lady dressed ? " he

next asked.

"In blue; dark blue cloth, lifting like a glove. Tine ligure, you know, very tall and unusually large, but per- fect, I assure you, perfect. Yes, that is very like it," he went on, watching the quick, assured strokes of the other with growing wonder and unbounded admiration. "You have caught the exact poise of the head, as 1 jive, and -yes, a large hat with two feathers,

sir, two feathers dropping over the side, so : a bag on thc arin ; two flounces on the skirt ; a-Oh ! thc face? Well, handsome, sir, very handsome ; straight nose, large eyes, determined mouth, strong, violently agitated expression. Well, 1 will give np ! a photographer couldn't have done her better justice. You are a genius, sir, a genius ! "

Mr. Byrd received this tribute to his skill with some confusion and a deep blush, which he vainly sought to hide by bending lower over Iiis work.

" The man, now," he suggested, with thc least perceptible change in his voice, that, however, escaped the attention of his companion. What was he like ; young or old ? "