|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.) CIHAPTER IV. Half-an-hour later Morley and Made line had just settled themselves in the captain's cabin as the second cabin pas senger was again marched up by the two sailors. This time he was defiant but quiet. His defiance n:mlted away, however, when he saw Madeline, and cringing and pale he sank into a chair. "I guess you'd better talk to him, Miss Perrine," said the captain. "You can say what you want to much better than either of us can say it for you, and we're here to back you up." Again, under the influence of strong emotion, the girl gained in beauty. Morley looked and listened without a word. "Thomas Parker," she said impres sively, "three years ago you came to New York with letters to my father, who was then a prosperous lawyer. He received you kindly, and for some reason which I cannot understand felt a confidence in you, which eventually led him to make you his partner. From that moment you began to persecute me with offers of marriage. I always loathed you, and did what I could to convince my father that you were a dangerous person. But while he never actually asked me to marry you, he would not let me influence him against you, and did what he could to persuade me that you were an honest and de sirable man. I could not shake you off; you would not take no for an answer. "Such was the condition of affairs when my father began to fail in mind and body. I did not know what it was that was pulling him down, but I felt certain that business worries were the principal cause. Finally his health so completely failed that he closed his office and sailed for Europe. Before he went he came to me, and in a manner that frightened me begged me not to anger you. He assured me with pitiful earnestness that you could do him vast lharm if you wished to, and implored me not to drive you to keen resentment. "I promised to be courteous to you, but firmly asserted that I would not marry you. Then, so great was his, to me, inexplicable desire to propitiate you, that he begged me to yield even this point. But although I would make almost any sacrifice to please my father, I was still firm, and now I thank God for it. "After he left you doubled your dis tasteful attentions. Eventually you saw that you could not persuade me to marry you, so you tried to force me to. You threw out dark hints of my father which I would not believe, then you be gan to persecute me in petty ways. You cunningly circulated false stories about me, you subjected me to a thousand annoyances. You swore that you would ruin me if I did not accede to your pro posals. "I was in agony; life to me was a burden. I longed to go to my father, but he forbade me in his letters, nd ever implored me to conciliate you.Only that prevented me frmm publicly de nouncing you for your persecutions. "At last, only a few weeks ago, I learned the secret of your power over my poor parent. Driven to desperation by my complaints of you, and by fear that I would do something which would make you finally carry out your threats he explained to me that through your evil influences he had been induced to steal-to appropriate to your visionary schemes trust funds which had been placed in his keeping. You threw away the money on senseless speculations; but while you lost it, you saw to it that lie alone could be held responsible for its misappropriation. "So there was I, a helpless girl, full of detestation for you, but consumed by a fear that if I thwarted you, you would reveal my father's shame. It was pos sible to conceal this for more than a year if you kept silence, and it was my father's hope that during that time he could rake and scrape together enough money- to reimburse the people he had defrauded. "This new knowledge added to my horror of you. It is needless to say that I shared my father's dread. I realised, however, what he did not, that you had a strong motive for keeping quiet. Nat urally a pauper, and incapable of earn ing money honestly, you were poor. You had :Asted all the money .you could suck from hias substance, and iem-~ anxious? that he e!b ul?l regain his
old position, so that you could again ex ercise your evil power over him to your own financial advantage. "Then, one day I received from him a hopeful letter. Circumstances had arisen which made him believe that he would have obtained the funds he needed within a few weeks. Only his bad health, he said, could frustrate him. He begged me to keep you quiet only a little longer. "But that evening you overstepped all bounds, and in my anger I forgot myself. I reviled you to your face, and incautiously declared that we should soon be beyond your power. Instantly I saw my mistake. In your way you really loved me, and for the first time I realised how vile love could be. You determined that if you lost me you would also drag me down. "I determined upon flight to my father. When I stepped upon the steamer I was eaten up by fear; but when I found that you had followed me I was actually relieved. If, for ten days, I was helpless on the ocean to de fend my father, you were helpless on the ocean to defame him. "It was in this state of mind that I met Richard Morley. He made quick conquest of my heart. I had been in formed that you were sick in your cabin, and felt safe. But the night that he told me of his treasure and its hiding place, and afterwards declared his pas sion, I saw you as you slipped from be hind a funnel, where you had been lis tening to us. "From that moment I feared for him. When I learned that his diamonds had been stolen, I knew that it was your work to injure him because I loved him. But I dared not speak. I had nothing to prove an assertion of your guilt, and I know you too well to believe that you had left your tracks uncovered. And that night I saw you. "By means of the strange influence which you wield over some men-which involved my father in his misery-you had nightly induced a sailor to change places with you in your berth. In his clothing you passed about the ship with small danger of detection. After you had robbed Mr. Morley, you came to me and told me that unless I promised then and there to marry you, I would be ac cused of the crime. Had I acceded to your demands you .would probably have taken the diamonds from the hiding place in my cabin, where they must have been resting' even then, and in some way as clever as that in which you stole them, have returned them to their owner. But I laughed at you. I did not believe that you could cause anything so absurd as my accusation df a crime, and I felt certain that on board ship you would be unable to expose my father without involving yourself in his ruin. In New York you could bring about the charges, indirectly caus ing suspicion in the minds of the victims, and thus starting an investiga tion with which you would have ap parently nothing to do. But on the ocean you must needs make a bold statement, which would stamp you as one having a criminal knowledge, if not as being a party to the crime. So I laughed at you. I made a careful plan for saving Mr. Morley's diamonds, too. If you did not return them, as I half suspected you to when you found your plan had failed, I intended to explain the whole matter to him, whose love I knew meant sympathy and help in my grievous troubles. I had no doubt of the ultimate recovery of the gems. Only one fear troubled me. I knew how virulent your hatred was, and I knew that Mr. Morley had fairly earned it by gaining my love. While we were wait ing in the grand saloon for the search which I did not believe would reveal anything, the idea came to me that out of vengeance you, might throw the packet overboard and thus ruin him. No sooner was this thought born than I was instantly in an agony of terror, and in the midst of it came the news that the jewels had been found. "The reaction was powerful. I did not know where they had been found I believed that you had desired to re turn them, and taken your own way to do it. It was relief from that horrible idea that I might have ruined the man I loved .while trying to save my:father that made me faint, ,-.
"Scarcely had I recovered when to my agonised surprise I learned the truth: You had spoken truly when you said that I would be accused. The dia monds had been found hidden in my room! "Then flashed across my mind the true extent of your desperation.You had realised that you had irrevocably lost me,and you had determined to ruin me. At last you had reached the point where you were even willing to jeopardise your own safety in order to wreak ven geance on me. You knew I could ex pose you. But I realised that you would not have thus placed yourself in my power had you not determined to wage the battle to the bitter end. I saw that you were willing to risk your own des truction if only you might destroy me and my father too, and I saw that if I revealed your part in the diamond rob bery you would, irrespective of the con sequences to yourself, declare on ship board your knowledge of my father's troubles, and reveal his sad disgrace. You knew, and you knew that I knew, that in his present weakened state this would mean death to him. Thus, if I saved myself, I would be doing it at the expense of my father's name, and, indeed, his very life. What woman, with a daughter's love for her father in her heart, would have hesitated? I did not. I determined to keep silence. Oh, Thomas Parker, you knew me well! Satan himself could not have played your cards more skilfully. "Such was the situation when this morning dawned upon my sleepless eyes. Then, with one sweeping stroke, Fate wiped my old troubles away, and burdened my heart with a new grief. My father, knowing of my coming, saw to it that there was a letter awaiting me in the pilot's hands announcing the great good fortune that had recurred to him the day after my departure from America. That day he secured the -money with which to recompense the sufferers by his weakness, and when he wrote to me he had arranged by cable for this pleasant task." At this point in Madeline's recital, which had not been made without its pauses and interruptions, and which had been accompanied by a play of ex pression on Parker's face which would have offered Dore a study in horrid por traiture, the baffled man sprang to his feet with a cry of rage. "That shall not save him," he ex claimed. "I will expose him yet! I will not fall alone!" Madeline raised her hand, and there was that in her white face which cowed even the semi-madma:n before her. "Thomas Parker," she-said in a low but impressive voice, "your hatred is in vain. My father is beyond your reach. The same hand that gave me his letter gave me also a telegram sent by a stranger two days after he had written his joyful news to me, announcing that he is dead." Parker committed "'suicide immedi ately after his conviction of robbing Morley. He offered no defence. Madeline, strengthened by her trials, is Morley's very dearly beloved wife, and among her many admirers is none more sincere than the captain of the Venice, who once thought she was a thief. (The End.)