|Newspaper Title||Launceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899)|
|Trove Title||The Second Cabin Passenger: A Tale of the Atlantic|
TALES & SKETCHES THE SECOND CABIN PASSENGER. A TALE OF THE ATLANTIC. (By Edward Marshall.) CHAPTER II. The loss of the jewels drove Morley almost crazy. Had they merely been missing from the pocket in which he had so carefully placed them, he might have hoped that they had slipped out of themselves, and would be found and returned. But the presence of the dummy package proved that they had been deliberately stolen, and by a thief of great cleverness-a thief far too clever to be easily forced to the surren der of tlte booty. Morley's first instantaneous suspicion rested on this second cabin passenger. For a moment he felt certain that his treasure had been stolen during the struggle at the rail. But, a moment later, an idea flashed across his brain which was almost as great a shock as the discovery of the loss of his jewels had been. The second cabin passenger could not, he reflected, have had any knowledge of his possession of the gems or of their hiding-place. He had told one person only about that, and that person was Madeline! And, when she had pressed the photograph-her love token-into its position, she had had her hand in the very pocket in which the diamonds were hidden! But this theory'was so horrible in its significance that he recoiled from it. It seemed incredible to him that the charming girl-the girl whose lovely mind and lofty soul had captivated his heart-could be a common thief. A moment later he hated himself for hav ing thought it. He put the idea away from him, angry that, as he did so, evi dence sprang up in his mind, despite himself, to prove that she alone had had the knowledge and opportunity necessary for the commission of the crime. Declaring over and over to himself her innocence, he tried to run over in his mind all the events of the voyage which might have a bearing on the case. He realised, almost with pleasure now-since it argued for Madeline's in nocence-that the diamonds might have been stolen at any time during the voyage. Someone,learning by accident that he possessed them, might have en tered his cabin at night and changed the packets while he slept. This was improbable, but he had read stranger stories of robbery. Again, could he re member how many and who had pressed against him on that crowded steamship? He comforted himself with the thought that an expert pickpocket thief might have performed the deed while they were mobbing in to dinner; or wondered if he had not gone to sleep in a deck chair on one of the nights when he remained late out of doors,and thus exposed himself to robbery. And, more plausible than all the other theo ries, was that which involved the second cabin passenger.Here was aman 'whose villainous character was marked upon his face. Almost from the begin-. ning of the voyage circumstance had marked him for Morley's intense dis like, and had thrown them so together that the hatred was doubtless mutual. The episode at the second-cabin rail could not have been accident. What more probable than that it was a well laid plan to rob Morley, and which re sulted successfully? But how had the man learned that he had diamonds to be robbed of? Con stantly his mind asked this question, fnd constantly, against his will, his brain answered: "You have revealed that fact to only one person on this ship-Madeline Perrine." It is not fair to say that Morley for an instant voluntarily, or involuntarily, believed that the woman to whom he had that day declared his love had robbed him. The idea was a part of the logical sequence of his reasoning, but it was rejected as often as it came. The fact that she, as he pressed her to his breast for a first lover's kiss, and afterwards as she shyly tucked the photograph away, was really the only person who had hliad-an opportunity to take the dianionds, was an ugly thought, and he definitely thought it only once, r! ;.
Before it went, though, his mind ran, almost involuntarily, over the circum- 1 stance of the case. As a matter of fact, t he knew nothing about the girl excr it t what a few days of companionship had I taught him. He had never seen her be fore the voyage began, and the captain I had no better knowledge than he that she was what she and her friends as- I serted that she was.Was it not possible i that she was a clever, unscrupulous 1 woman, travelling under false pre tences for dishonest purposes? But his infatuation was too intense to permit him to let his mind' dwell on the im possible possibility that she was an ad venturess, and had deceived him. He soon saw that he could do little toward the solution of the-to him terrible puzzle. He went to the cap tain, late as it was, and told his story in every detail, except that relating to his unwelcome suspicions of Madeline and their foundation. The hale old officer was dumbfoun ded. He looked keenly at Morley first, and apparently was satisfied that he was telling the truth. He instantly or dered four men to search the second cabin suspect and all his belongings, but this ended without bringing what he sought to light. Then he called the stewards of all the sections together, and instructed them to inform every person in the first and second cabins that the captain wished them to meet in the grand saloon at 11 the next morning. At the appointed time all the passen gers, except some invalids (who were otherwise provided for) were there, crowding the great room to its utter capacity, and alive with curiosity over the extraordinary proceedings. In a few words the captain explained that one among the crowd had suffered a very serious loss, doubtless through theft. No one was definitely suspected, but the jewels must be on board the ship, and must be recovered. He asked the passengers to submit to having their cabins searched while they re mained in the dining saloons, and an nounced that no one would be permit ted to go below or out upon the deck while this was going on. The work,he said, had been given into the handls of six squads of two men and one woman each, under the command of one of his most trusted officers. Further than this, he asked the men to file one by one through the purser's office, where each would be subjected to a personal search by the purser and second officer, while the women, passing through one of the pantries, would be gone over by two of the stewardesses. After they had been searched, passengers were re quested to pass to the after-saloon and the smoking-room. He added that these seemed like harsh measures, and r would be so in truth were not all pas sengers treated alike. a Considerable grumbling followed his t announcement, and he put the matter t to a vote, asking all those who were op p1 osed to the plan to raise their hands. Not a hand went up. The grumblers, I even, were unwilling to place them f selves in the equivocal position which D public objection would have brought about. During these preliminaries Morley 1 kept close to Madeline. His loss (which, if not remedied, meant ruin to him) had s assumed such serious proportions' in a his mind by this time that he could not t avoid speculations about Madeline's 1 opportunity, and, although his love had s not actually waned, he began to trem s ble for fear that it would have reason r to. He watched her face as the captain , talked, and he saw it flush. That e frightened him. When, a moment I later', she turned away from him, as he I thought, to hide an agitation which she 1 did not wish him to see, he was dumb founded. After the captain had de i scribed the lost package, however,she r glanced quickly at him with a horror stricken expression, which, he thought, 3 could not be counterfeit, and whis t pered:-"Why,he means your neck lace!" The unmistakable surprise and grief in her manner and tone convinced him that he had wronged her, anil he heaved a sigh of great relief. The task of searching was begun with all possible speed. Before Morley and Madeline separated, she to go with the other women, and he to join the line of men (it was the captain's desire that the identity of the loser should be con cealed for the moment), they managed to give each other's hand a tiny, com forting squeeze. They were not destined, though, to reach the searchers, for before half-a dozen people had gone through the hands of these persons, the chief officer opened the doors of the grand saloon and, passing to where the captain stood near its centre, whispered something in his ear. The captain despatched him to notify the searchers that they might stop their work, and then, rap ping on the table to call the attention of the two long lines of passengers to his statement, said: "It gives me plea Ssure to announce that this disagreeable Stask may be discontinued. The lost diamonds have been found." Instantly after the captain's an nouncement of the recovery of the Sstolen gems, he was surrounded by an ; eager group of questioners, to whom he I would give no information. This crowd was soon attracted from his side by a new sensation-the falling of a woman in a faint. Morley was trying to elbow his way Sto the captain, when she was carried out, and he was filled with distress I whlen he saw that the unfortunate sufferer was Madeline Perrine. He saw to it that she was placed in the hands of a doctor and a stewardess in a deck I cabin, and then, satisfied that the news that his jewels were to be restored to him had been too good for her to com placently bear (and loving her the more for it), andl being assured that her ill ness was not important, he hurried back to the captain. The officer bade him go to his cabin and wait. In a moment he joined him there, and, after handing him the lost treasure, which examination showed had not been harmed, he began to ques tion him anew about the persons with whom he was acquainted on board ship -particularly the women. In the mean time he refused to answer any ques tions himself. He had soon drawn from Morley the story of his acquaintance and love for Madeline. His next speech was extraordinary. "I am sorry to hear this, but I am sorrier you concealed it from me at first," said the captain; " may I ask if your love for each other has reached the point where you have--ah-em braced her?"
"It did, sir, last evening," said Mor- t ley, filled with a horrible fear. And I then reluctantly hq told the story of the photograph, and how Madeline had put it in the pocket with the jewels. "That is all I wished to know," said the captain. "I am horrified-no, not a word! Come with me, and I will take you face to face with the person in whose cabin, carefully concealed beneath the velvet of the cushioned seat, your jewels were found." Morley followed the captain. He was filled with forebodings too terrifying to permit speech. These were confirmed when the captain opened the door of his own private cabin, and when Mor 'ley saw, sitting within, her face stained with tears and eyes almost wild in their expression, her face as pale as death, and her hands working con vulsively - his sweetheart, Madeline Perrine. For a moment Morley recoiled in hor ror. The shock was a frightful one. Even after the vague suspicions which the events of the last twelve hours had forced into his unwilling mind, his brain was in no condition to receive confirmation of them. The fact that his love for Madeline had grown quickly did not alter the fact that the love was deep-rooted and complete. As the cap tain explained to him in a voice not unshaken by emotion that the diamonds had been discovered carefully hidden in Madeline's cabin, and that she had re fused to give any explanation whatever of their presence there, the girl spoke no word of protest. She only sat shiver ing and weeping in her chair. After he had stopped speaking Morley went over to her. He did not touch her, but stood quietly close to her. "Madeline," said he slowly, "look at me." The girl raised her tearful eyes and gazed into his. "Madeline," he said again, "what do you want to say?" There was a pause before she spoke. When words at last came to her lips they were thickened by emotion and sobs. "Dick, dear Dick," she said with diffi culty, "I did not steal your diamonds; you know I did not. I know no more of their presence in that cushion than you did. Don't you believe me, Dick?" r He was torn by conflicting emotions. Love fought against reason. She did not look like a guilty woman to the lover-the tears, the trembling lips, the ashen face, were but indications of a pure's girl's distress at being charged with a dreadful crime. But to his other self-to the man of the world who had 1 been wronged and who justly demanded the punishment of the guilty-these same marks of agitation were the proof of sin. To this Morley a thousand little evidences cam'e to mind which s showed that she alone of all the persons r on the ship could have stolen the dia monds. Before the other Morley-who loved her-an equal array of little things flashed forth in undimmable brightness, all going to show that she l1 was a woman of pure and innocent t mind, of trusting disposition, of simple, loving nature. Hand clasps and tender y words were marshalled against sus p, picious happenings and direct evidence. d He suffered an agony. She said not a another word. Love fought against ,t reason within him-and love won. s He stretched out his arms towards d her, and gathered her into them with firm affection. There was no room for a doubt left in him now. A flood of a passionate tenderness welled up from .t his heart and drowned the logic of his t brain. e "I do believe you, Madeline, I do, I e do," he exclaimed fervently. "Believe you, and I love you, and shall always love you." e The captain stood petrified with - amazement. The astonishment in his mind drove words out of his mouth. He did not even try to speak during this passage between'Morley and Madeline. His lips were just forming an explana tion when Morley turned to him and I said : 9 "Captain, we have all been mistaken. We have found the jewels, but we have 1 not found the person who stole them. The fact that my diamonds were found 1 in Miss Perrine's cabin proves nothing. t Miss Perrine is my affianced wife, and I will stake my life upon her honour. I would, indeed, defend it with my life. I am not surprised that circumstances should have deceived you, who do not know her, but I assure you that no more horrible error was ever made by a hu man being." The captain, after this speech, found his disgusted tongue. He declared that Snothing of the sort had ever occurred on his ship before, and averred that he Sshould see to it that the culprit in this Scase should not go free because the per son she had robbed was her infatuated lover. Nothing but the most conclusive Sevidence could have convinced him of Miss Perrine's guilt, but that evidence lie had, and he proposed to act on it. So t far she had absolutely refused to give any explanation whatever of the pres ence of the jewels in her cabin, or to advancee any theory concerning the manner of their getting there, other than to deny that she had put them there herself. She admitted that she had such a theory, but declined to tell him of it. He should lock her up. MLorley, angered by the captain's man ner, declared that he would make no conmplaint, and that the captain would therefore beunable tocarry the caseinto Sa court when they reached port, but the captain asser'ted as captain of the Sship hle could and would press the com plaint himself, and see that the girl Swas punished. He refused to see any Saspect of the affair except that which Sadmitted her guilt, and he conilemned Morley as a sentimental idiot. Morley quickly saw there was no hope of avoid Sing distress for Madeline and a scandal for himself unless he discovered some Sevidence to back up his belief in his Ssweetheart's innocence. He, therefore, Sbegged the captain to give him half an Shour alone with Madeline before any further steps were taken, and, after Smuch argument, persuaded him to pro Smise to see that the secret of the affair was kept from spreading for twelve hours. For a few moments after the captain Shad left them, Madeline could not calm Sherself sufficiently to discuss the sad tangle. She wept and declared her un dying love for Morley without restraint. SHe would not permit her to assert her Sinnocence-there was no doubt of that, he said; but he begged her to help him prove it. "The captain tells me that you have a
theory," he said. "What is it, Made line?" She hung her head with 'the expres sion of one who must suffer in silence, and, for a moment, said nothing. When she sgoke, the face which she raised to his was white and drawn. "Dick," said she, "I spoke foolishly when I said that to the captain. I have a theory-yes, I have more than a theory, I have a certainty-but I can not tell you what it is. I realise what this means. I know who stole your diamonds, and I know how they came to be hidden in my cabin. But, al though I know this and cannot tell you my knowledge is not guilty. I see now what your position is. I see that there is no salvation for me. Either I must speak, or I must suffer suspicion even in your mind, and that will mean the loss of your love, which I value more highly than I do any other thing, ex cept one on earth. And with these un happinesses will come the additional misfortune of public disgrace. But I I-cannot help it. I must suffer them all. I am not guilty, but I must ac cept the penalty of guilt, for I cannot t speak." (To be Continued.)