Chapter 44059330

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Chapter NumberII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article44059330
Full Date1890-11-06
Page Number4
Corrections0
Word Count1382
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleBarrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 - 1954)
Trove TitleForget-Me-Not
article text

CHAPTER II.

There are some of us born and reared far beyond the contaminating influences of evil, who nevertheless, take so naturally, to rascality that one is prone to ask a question as to whether it is not the outcome of some heriditary taine or mental disease. To this aberrant class Anthony Wingate, late of the Queen's Own Scarlets, naturally belonged.

Commencing a promising career with

every advantage conferred by birth, I training, and education, to say nothing of the possession of a considerable fortune, he had quickly qualified himself for a prominent position amongst those cava- liers of fortune who hover on tho debate-

able land between acknowledged vice and apparent respectability. In the language of certain contemporaries, he had once boen a pigeon before his callow plumage bad been stripped, and it became necessary to lay out his dear experience in the character of a hawk. Five years of army life had sufficed to dissipate a handsome patrimony ; five years of racing and gambling, with their concomitant vices,

at the-end of which he awoke to find

himself with an empty purse, and a large and varied assortment of worldly know-, ledge". Up to this point, he had merely been regarded as a .companion to be avoided ; as yet, nothing absolutely dis- honorable had been laid to his charge, only that common report stated that Anthony Wingate was in difficulties ; and unless he and his bosom friend Chris Ashton made a radical change, the Scarlets . would speedily have cause . to mourn their irreparable defection.

. - But, unfortunately, neither of them contemplated so desirable a consumma- tion. In every regiment there are always one or two fast young ' subs ' with a passion for ecarte and unlimited loo, and who have no objection to paying for

that anviahln lrnnvrlerltrp Fnr A tima

that pleasant condition of affairs lasted, till at length the crash came. One young officer, more astute than the rest, detected the cheats, and promptly laid

tho'matter before his brothors-in-arms.

There was no very grave scandal, nothing so bad as Ashton said tu Winchester, only that Captain Wingate and Ashton re- signed their commissions, and their place knew ' them no * more. There was a whisper of a forged bill, some hint of a prosecution, known only to th*e aïtutesob and. his /elder brother and adviser in chief, Lord Bearheaven, and to Vere Dene, Ashton's sister, who is reported to havo gone down on her kneeB to his lordship and implored him to stay the proceedings. How far this was true, and how Vere Dene came to change her name, we shall learn presently. But there vas a forged bill there can be no doubt, for Wingate had stolen it from Winchester's studio while visiting Ashton, after the crash came ; and moreover, he was using it now in a manner calculated to impress upon Ashton the absolute necessity of becoming the greater scoun- drel's tool and accomplice. Since that fatal day when he had- flown to ceaseless bohemian Jack Winchester with the story of his shame, aud a fervid petition to the latter to beg, borrow, or steal the money necessary to redeem the fictitious acceptance bearing Bearhaven's name, he had not seen his sfctur, though she would cheerfully have laid down all her fortune to Rave him But all the manhood within him Wtis in»t r|iiir.e dead, and h-< shrank, MK weak jiívruroá will, irma a painful in tewitMy Wi'iohustor had redeemed tho bill, and Wingara lind stolen it

Winchester had buen brought up under the Baute roof as Vere Asluon, by the same prim puritanical relative, who would

hold up her hands in horror at his boyish escapades, and predict future evil to arise from the lad's artistic passion. It was the old story of the flint and steel, fire and water ; so, chafed at length by Miss Win- chester's cold frigidity, ho had shaken the dust from his feet, and vowed he would never return until he could bring fame

and fortune in his train. There was a

tender parting between the future Raphael and his girlish admirer under tho shadow of the beeohes, a soloinn interchange of sentiments, and Jack Winchester started off to conquer the world with a heart as light and unburdened as his pocket.

Bub mau proposes. "Vere's mother had been the only daughter of a wealthy virtuoso, who had literally turned his only daughter out of doora when sho had dared to consult her own wisheB in tho

choice of a husband ; and for years, long years after Vere and Chris lost both parents he made uo sign. Then tho world read that Vavasour Dene was dead, and had left tho whole of his immense fortuuo to his grandchildren ; three-fourths to Vern on

condition that sho assumed tho name of Dene, and the remainder to Chris, be- cause, so the will ran, he was the son of his mother. Presently, Winchester, leading a jolly bohemian existence in Rome, heard tho news, and decided, in

the cynical fashion of the hour, that Vere would speedily forget him now. And so they drifted gradually apart. Winchester had been thoughtless, careless, and ex- travagant ; living from baud to mouth, iu affluenco one day, in poverty another ; but he was not without self-respect, and he had never been guilty of a dishonorable action. He hated Wingate with all the rancour a naturally generous nature was capable of feeling, and set his teeth close

as he listened

4 Of course it was only a matter of time to come tb this,' ho said. 4 Well, of all the abandoned scoundrels ! And that man once had the audacity to make love to Yere, you say 1 I wish I had known before.'

'That was a long time ago,' Ashton replied ; 4 before-before we left the army, when you were in Rome. Remem- ber Wingate was a very different man, in a very different position then. Do you suppose that he knows whose place is that he contemplates Y

' Knows ! of course he knows -Now

listen to mo. Chris, my boy, and answer mo truthfully. I believe, yes, I do, that if you had a chance you would end this miserable life. You Bay you are in Win gato's power. What I want to know is whether ho carries that precious paper

about with him I '

' Always, always, Jack. With that he can compel mo to anything ; the only wonder is that I have never forced it from him bofore now. Still, T do not see what that has to do with the matter.'

Winchester smoked in profound silence for a time, ruminating deeply over a scheme which had commenced to shape itself in his ready brain. . I don't sup- pose you do understand,' he said dog- matically. 4 Do you think if I were to see Vere she would acknowledge me,

knowing who I ara Y

For answer Ashton laughed almost gaily. 4 Your modesty ia refreshing. Do you think she Ins forgotten you, and the old days at Rose Bank ? Never ! There aro better men than you ; handsomer, clev2rer by far ; she mette daily good men and true, who would love

her for her sweet self alone. She is wait-

ing for you, she will wait for you till the end of time. Whatever her faults may be, Vere does not forget.'

A red flush mounted to the listener's cheeks, a passionate warmth flooded kia heaJfc almost to overflowing ; but oven the quick sanguineness of his mercurial dis- position could not grasp the roseate vision in its entirety. Its very contemplation wa? too dangerous for ordinary peace of

mind.

* One more thing I wish to know," said he, reverting doggedly to the original topic. 'Of course the dainty Wingate does not intend to soil his fingers by such an act as vulgar burglary. Who is tho

meaner rascal '.'

4 So far as T can gather, a neighbour of ours, a very superior workman, who is suffering from an eclipse of fortune at present. Tho gentleman's name is Chivers -Benjamin Chivera. Is the name

familiar V

(To be continued.)