|Newspaper Title||Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 - 1954)|
*Yea,' Winchester answered dryly, . which is merely what, for a better word, we must term another coincidence. The fellow has a mos!; respectable wife and three children, who are distinguished from the other waifs in the street by a conspicuous absence of dirt. I thought I recognised the fellow's face.'
' Recognised his faoe ? Have you seen
Winchester gave him a brief outline of his interview with the individual he had chanced to encounter in Arlington Street. A circumstance in which one day he had . been, instrumental in saving a diminutive ? % Chivera from condign chastisement had
" recalled the ex-convict's face to his recol-
lection.. Perhaps-but the hope was a wild one-a little judicious kindness, and a delicate hint at the late charitable demonstration, might sufficiently soften the thief's heart and cause him to betray Wingate's plans. That they would not ' be confided entirely to Ashton ho was
perfectly aware, and that the moaner confederate had been kept in want of funds by his chief tho fact of his begging from a stranger amply testified.
* Which only shows you that truth is stranger than fiction,' he said as he rose to his feet and donned his hat. ' If I only dared to see her ; and even then she .might-but I am dreaming. However, we must make a bold bid for freedom. Now you can amuse yourself by setting ' out the Queen Anne Bilvcr nnd the price-
less Dresden for supper ;' saying which, he felt his way down the creaky stairs
into the street below.
The ten days succeeding the night upon which this important conversation was held ? ' were so hot that even Ashton, muchas
he shrank from showing himself out of doors in the daytime, could bear the oppressive warmth no longer, and had rambled away through Kennington Park Road, even as far aa Clapham Common, in his desire to breathe tho clear fresh air. Winchester, tied to his easel by n commission which, it not much, meant at least board and lodging, looked at the blazing sky and shook his head longingly.
Despite the oppressive overpowering heat, the artist worked steadily on foi the next three hours. There was lese noise than usual in the street below, a temporary quiet in which Winchestei inwardly rejoiced. At tho end of this time he rose and stretched himself, wit! tho comfortable fooling of a man who hau earned a temporary rest. In tho eas] abandon of shirt sleeves he leant out o the window, contemplating tho limitée horizon of life presented to his view There was the usual complement o children indulging in Borne juvenil amusement, in which some broken piece: of platter and oyster shells formed ai important item, and in this rec-eation Win chester, who had, like most warm-heartei men, a tender feeling towards children became deeply engrossed. One or tw< street hawkers passed on crying thei wares, and presently round tho cornel there came the unmistakeable figure of ; lady followed by a servant in undres livery, bearing a hamper in his arms,; burden which, from the expression of hi face, he by no means cared for or en joyad.
'Some fashionable doing the Lad; Bountiful,' Winchester murmured. 1 Any way, she has plenty .of pluck to ventur here. If she was a relation of mine '
He stopped abruptly and stared ii blank amazement, for there was no mia taking the tall figure and graceful earring of Yere Dene. She passed directly unde .him and entered a house a little lowe down the street with the air of one wh
was no stranger to the locality. In pat sing the group of children, she paused fe a moment, and selecting one or two t the cleanest, divided between them th contents of a paper parcel she carried.
Directly sh« had disappeared a freu fig!) for the spoils ensued. The Bpectatc waited a moment to see which way th battle was going, and then hurried dow the stairs and nut into the Btrect toward the combatants. The presence of th new ally was sorely needed. The thre representatives of the house of Chivei were faring sorely in the hands of th common foo. In that commonwealth a signs of favour were sternly discounter
* What do you mean by that ? Wir chester demanded, just in time to sav the whole of the precious sweetmeat! ' Don't you know it is stealing, you gret girls, to rob those poor little children '?'
. ' They don't mean it, bless you,' said voice at the mediator's elbow ' and the don't know any better. It's part of thei nature, that's wot it is.'
Winchester turned round, and en countered the thickset form and sulk features of his Arlington-Btreeb ai quaintance. As their eyes met, those < Chivera " fell,| and he muttered som
incoherent form of thanks an acknowledgement for the past servici Presently he went on to explain.
' You see, my wife is better brougl lip than most of them about here, an she do try to keep the childe neat and tidy; and that makes th others jealous. They ain't been so sma lately, he continued, with a glance ha kindly, half shameful, at his now smilir offspring, ' 'cause mother has been poor lately, and I've been out o' luck too.'
In' spite of his shamefaced manner an the furtive look common to evei criminal, there was something in tl man's blunt candour thatappealed to Wii chester's better feelings. Besides, kron lng something of the ex-convict and h doubtful connection with Wingate, it w; to his interest to conciliate his companic with a view to possible future advantag
4 It must be a miserable life, yours,' 1 said not unkindly. . Better, far bette try something honest. You will n regret it by-and-bye.'
'Honest, sir 1 Would to heaven could get tue chance I You are a gentl man j I can see that, though you do li1 here ; and know what misfortune is.
I could only speak with you and get yoi advice. , You have been kind to me, ai Îood to my poor little ones, and I'm
'm not ungrateful. If I could he you '
'Winchester laid his hand upon his coi panion's shoulder with his most winnii manner. He began to feel hopefu 'You can help me a great deal,' said hi ' come up to my room and talk the matt
. over.' :
, It was a very ordinary tale to which 1
had to listen.
? I was a carpenter and joiner, with fair knowledge of locksmith's work, b fore I came to London. I was marr» just before then, and came up he thinking to better myself. I wasn't loi before I wished myself back at home,
did got some work at last, such as it wu a day here and a day there ; till I beean sick and tired of it,, and ready foran thing almost. I needn't tell you how got with a set of loose companions, ai how j wa« persuaded to join them . .
I got twelve months, and only came o tun weeks, agit. I have tried to be honei But it's no use, what with one temptath
* And soyou have determined to try yo hand again You run all the risk, and yo gentlemanly friend gets all the plunde
It was a bold stroke on Winchestei part ; but the HUCCOHB was never for moment in doubt Chiver'a coar features relaxed into a perfect, apathy terror. He looked at the speaker speechless terror and emotion.
We will waivo that for tho presen Winchester continued. ' What I wish know is how you have contrived to li for the p+slj ten weeks !'
'I was coming to that when you stopp me. You see whon the trouble came i
wife didn't care to let her friends know of tho d ¡.-grace, and tried hard to keep herne!! for a time. But illness came too, and she and the little one» were well nigh starving. Mary, my wife, sir, remem- bered once that ßhe was in service with an old lady whose nicco came into a largo fortune. Well, she just wrote to he«1 and told her everything. And what do you think that blessed young ere*turo does ? Why, comes straight down here into this don of a place and brings a whole lot of dainty things along. And that's the very lady as is up in my bit of a room at this very minute.'
. I am quite aware of that," said Win- chester quietly. 1 Miss Dene, as she is called now, and myself are all friends. T remember everything now. Your wife was once a housemaid at Rose Bank ; and you are tho son of old David Chivera, who kept tho blacksmith's shop at Weston village. -Ben, do you ever remember being: caught bird-nesting in Squire Lochmere's preserves with a ne'er-do-well
fellow called Jack W inchester ?'
For answer, Chivcrs burst into lears. Presently,.af ter wiping his eyos with the tattered fur cap, he ventured to raiso his eyes to his hoBt. ' You don't moan to say it's Mr. Winchester?' he asked, brokenly.
'Indeed, I am ashamed to say it is. This world of ours is a very .small place, Ben, and this is a very strange situation for you and me to meet. But before we begin to Bay anything touching old times, there is something serious to be discussed between us. Remember,, you aro alto- gether in my bands. I might have w aitcd my opportunity, and caught you red handed. Don't ask me for a moment
what is my authority, but tell me'-and here tho speaker bent forward, dropping hisvoico toan impressive whisper-'every- thing about the Arlington-street robbery you have planned with that Bcoundtel Wingate.'
Once more the old look of frightened terror passed like a spasm across thc convict^ heavy features. But taking heart of graco from Winchester's benign expression, he, after a long pause, pro-
' I don't know how he found me out, or why he came to tempt me-not that I required much of that either, lt seemed all simple enough, and I was very short of money just then, and desperate like, though I won't nuke any oxcusc. I don't know all the plans ; I don't know
' Who-e house you are going to rob,' Winchester interrupted with a thrill of
exultation at his heart. 'Then I will
tell you as an additional reason why you should make a clean breast of it Perhaps you may not know that Miss Dene lives in Arlington Street ; and.that Miss Dene, whose name, I see, puzzles you, is Miss Ashton, once of Rose Hank
' I didn't know,' Chivers exclaimed with sudden interest. ' If it is tho same'
. It is the same She changed her name when she inherited her grandfather's for- tune. Come ! you know enough of Wingate's plans to be able to tell ruo if No. 281 Arlington Street is the house '.
4 As sure as I nm a living man, it is,' said Chivcrs solemnly. 4 Mr. Winchester I have been bad ; I was on the road to bo worso ; but if I did this, I should he the most miserablo scoundrel alive. If you want to known everything, if you want me to give it up thia minute'
I w-int to know everything, and I cer- tainly do not want you to givo it up
this minuto. You must continue with Wingate as if you arc still his confederate. And of this interview not a word. I think, I really think that this will prove to be tho best day's work you have cvor done.'
Chivers answered nothing, but drew from a pocket a greasy scrap of paper cut from a cheap society paper, and placed ir in Winchester's hand. As far as he could discern, the paragraph ran as follows :
4 Tho delicate and relined fancy of ii ' jewel ball,' designed by the Marchioress of Hurlingham, will be the means of dis playing to an admiring world the finest gems of which our aristocracy can boast. Starr and Fortiter aro busy setting and polishing for the important event, not
the least valuable set of brilliants in their
hands being those of Miss Dene, thc lovely Arlington Street heiress, who, rumor says, intend to personify diamonds Half a century ago tho Vere diamonds had become quite a household word. Certainly they never had a moro lovely mist rets tc display their matchless beauty.'
4 That, explained the penitent criminal in a hoarse whisper, ' is about all I know at present. But if I made a guess, 1 should say it would be the night afcer thc
(To be continued.)