|Newspaper Title||Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||The Curse of Carne's Hold, a Tale of Adventure|
CHATTSB IV. I
Margaret Carne'a message as to ber Inability to ooma down ts dio uer vas scarcely a a veracious -OBS. Bb« wai sot given to headache', aod bad sot so far as abe oould remember, been once laid np arith them, bat after what bad been said, abe did not feel
equal to going downstairs wed facing Charley1 Galston. She had never gatts sdmtttsdito .ertelf «hat the io ved «hs young sailor who had for th« last few weeta base so m abb at
'tnt bouse, and of «sitóse tetsfcttfs*wo coming
*Í^Ím¿k,*<>K*a. W¡éliZ*¡l&9 ber
feaa/wheo her cousin riged end three tined, bat she did 4o* believe" ts* threats were empty ones; he bed often frightened her ?hen elie we» » child fey- furious ba rt te of ^passion, end »Ithough lt #tt muy yeer« now .sinoe abe bed seen him thee, ehe felt eure that he wohld do aa he had threatened,1 and that fae wa* likely enough to take any step that might ooo or to him in bia passion, to carry ont his threat.
Although she had put . bold front on lt, Margaret felt at heart that Ms reproach was not altogether unjustified. There had beena boy and girl understanding between them, and althougb ft had not been formally ratified of tate years,' Its existence was tacitly recognised in both families, and until a few months be- fore she herself had considered that in the natural erarse of érente ehe should some day be Ronald Mervyn'e wife.
Had be reproached her gently, she would hare frankly admitted this, and would have asked him to forgive her for changing her mind, now that years had wrought échange' in her feelings, but the harshness and sudden- ness of the attack had roused ber pride, sud driven ber to take np the granad that there was no formal engagement between them, and that as he had not renewed the subject for years shs was at perfect liberty to consider herself free. 8be had spoken but the truth in saying that their near relationship was io her eyes a bar to their marriage. Of late yeera aha bad thought much nore than she had when* girl over the history of the family and the Curse of the Carnes, and although she had tried her best to prevent herself from brooding over the idea, she could not disguise
from herself that ber brother «ras at times strange stud -unlike other men, «ed her recol- lections of Ronsld's outbursts of temper, aaa boy, induced the suspicion that he, too, had not altogether escaped the fatal taint. Still, had not Charlie Gnlstoo come aoross her path, it was probable that abe would have drifted on aa bator*, and Wonld, when the time esme, have accepted Ronald Mervyn as ber'.hus-
The next morning, when Ruth Powlett
went as usual to saliner mistress, sh* started
with surprise aa aha opened the door, for the blind was already np and the window open. Closing the door behind her, ab* went in end plaoed'the jug of hot water she carried by the washstand, and than turned round to arouse her mistress. As she did so a low cry buist from ber lips, and abo grasped a onair for support. The white linen wsa stained with blood, and Margaret lay there, white and still, with ber eyes wide open and fixed in death Tbe olothes were drawn s short way. down in order that the murderer might strike at her heart. Soe roe had she taken this in, when Ruth felt the room swim round, her feet failed her, and she fell insensible on the ground.
In a few mfnotea the cold air streaming in 1 through the open window aroused ber. ] Feebly shs recovered her feet, and supporting
herself against the wail, staggered toward the , door. AB she did so her eye fell on an object ¡ lying by the eide of the bed. She stopped at , once with another gasping cry, pressed her j hand to her forehead, and stood as if fas- ¡ chuted, with ber eyes faed upon it. Theo
slowly and reluctantly, as if forced to act , against her will, she moved towards the , bed, stooped and picked up the object she bad ,
She had recognised it at once. It wat a ¡ large knife with a spring blade, and a silver ( plate let Into the buckhorn handle, with a , name, G. Forrester, engraved upon it. It was , a knife she herself had given to her lover a .
year before. It wss opeo, and stained with j
blood. For a minute or two «he stood gazing
at it in blank horror. What should she do, , what should she do t She thought of the boy
who had been her playmate, of the man ahe j bad loved, and whom, though she had cast j him off, she had never quite ceased to love. , She thought of his father, the old man who , had always been kind to ber. If she left this , Btlent witness where she had found it, ,
there would be no doubt what would come
of it. For some minutes she stood ino- j solute. i
"God forgive tm,** tbe «sid at last. "I , cannot do it." Sh« closed the knife, put it in
her dress, and then turned round agaio. She' | dared not look at the bed now, for she felt
herself io tome way aa accomplice in her mis- | tress's murder, aud she made ber way to the
door, opened it, and then hurried downstairs | into the kitchen, where the servants who were , just sitting devra to breakfast, rose with e. | ory as she entered. i
.'What is it, Ruth» What's the matter ? , Have you seen anything ?"
Ruth4* lip« moved but no sound came from ,
them, her face .was ghastly white, and her . eyes full of horror. j
" What is it, child r th« old cook said, ad- vancing and touching her, while the others shrank back, frightened at her sanest.,.
"Utas Margaret.'.' .came ,at .last, slowly ' from hex lips.' "She bsa>beep murdered in < the night," and she reeled and would have , fallen again bad «ot the, old .servant caught her tn her arms and plaoed her in a chair. A cry of borror.-snd «arpóse bad broken from
the servants, then came a hubbub of talk. j ] ' "It can't b>*rp.e.v ,Mtt i»"i,npo»«ible." ;
"Kuth mutt'have faooled'tt." "It never
oould be," and then they looked io each , other's faces ss If seeking a confirmation of their words. ", , .
. ' I mnstgo up and see," the cook said, i *' Susan end Harriet, you borne along with ¡ me ; the others see to Ruth. Sprinkle some j
water oh ' her laos. Hhs must have been , dreaming." , 1
' AneetUg a confidence which ahe did not < feel, the eoifk, followed timidly by the two , frightened girls, »ent upstairs. She Stood for , e moment hesitating before she' opened the , door; then «he entered the room, the two girl« not daring to follow her. 8b« weat' a step into the room, then gave a little cry and clasped her Iranda.
"It is tine." ahsoried; "Mia« Margaret has been Bordered."
Then the pent-up fears of tho girls found vent in loud scream«, which were echoed from the group of servants who had clustered et the foot of the stairs in expectation of what
was to DOTH a.
A moaeot laser the door of Reginald Game's room opened, and he came amt partly
"What ia the matter! What is all thia hobbob about?"
"Miss Margaret is murdered, sir," the two girls burst out, pausing for an instant in their outcry.
" Murdered I" he repeated in low tones. " You are mad ; Impossible !" and pushing past them he ran into Margaret's room.
" Ah I" he exclaimed, in a long, low note of pain and horror. " Good God, who can have done thia ?" and he leaned again>t the wall and covered bis face with bis hands. The old servant had advanced to the bed, and laid a hand on the dead girl. She now touched her
" You bad better go away now. Mr. Reginald, for yon caw do nothing. She is cold, and must bave been dead hours. We must lock tbe door up till the police come."
So saying, abe gently led him from the room, doced the door and locked it. Reginald Carne staggered back to hie room.
" Poor master," the old servant said, look- ing after him, " this wilt bo a terrible blow for him ; be and Miss Msrgery have always been together. There's ne saying what maj crate of it," and she shook her head gravely ; then ahe roused herself, and turned aharply on the girls.
*' HOM your noise, you foolish things « what good will that do ? Get dowostalra at
Driving them before ber, sb« went down to the Ml chen, end on to toe door leading to the yard, where one of the maid« Waa at tba moment telling one ol tb« groome what bad happened.
"Joe, get en a hores and sid« offend fetch Or. Airowimith. He can't bs of any good,
bat bs ought to oom«. Bend op Job Hsnmr
the ^ coMtable,, *f jj_ °_ .jjj'lf*° T'
know wbst to do."
1'ben shs went tuck Into the kitchen.
" She bas come to, Mrs. Wilson ; bat «he .don't seem to know whet she is doing."
"Mo wonder," the cook «sid, " siter snoh » shock ss she bsd ; end she only jost getting weil ofter her illness. Two of yon ran up- stairs and get a mattress off her bed and two pillows, «çdj Jay them, down in the «errants' hall ; then pake her in there, Sod pct her oh them. Jane, get some brandy out of the Mi- naret and bring it here ¡ -a spoonful pf that will do ber good,".
A, little brandy and water wis mixed, and the cook poured it between bath's lips, for
she did not seem to know what was said to ber, and remained still and impassive, with short sobs bursting at times from her lips. Then two servants half Wed her, end took her into the servants' hall, and laid her down on the .mattress, All were sobbing and crying, for Margaret Carne had been greatly loved by those around her. , .
In balf-an-bour the doctor arrived.
" Is lt possible the news is tra« ?" ht asked as he leapt from the gig ; the faces of those
around were sufficient answer. "Good heavens, what a terrible business ! Tell Mr. Carne I am here."
Reginald Carne soon came dows. He was evidently terribly shaken. He held ont his hand in silence to the doctor.
" What does it all me»n ?" the latter said, huskily ; *' it seems too horrible to be true. Can it be that your sister, whom I have known since she was a uhild, is dead ? Murdered, too ; it seems impossible."
" It does seem impossible, doctor ; bat it is true. I bave seen ber myself," and he shuddered. "She has been stabbed to the heart."
The doctor wiped his eyes.
" Well, 1 muet go up and see her," he said. " Poor child, poor child. No, yon need not ring. I will go up by myself."
Dr. Arrowsmith, had attended the family for many. years, and knew perfeetly well which was Margaret's room. The old cook waa standing outside the door of the drawing
" Here ia the key, sir. I thought it better to look the door till yon came."
' ' Quite right," the doctor replied. " Don't let anyone up till Mr. Volkes comet. The servant said ne was going for him. Ah, here is Harpur. That is right, Hsrpur ; you had better come up with me, but I shouldn't touch anything if I wera you till Mr. Volkes comes; besides, , we shall be having the Chief Con- stable over here presently, and it is better to leave everything as it is. They entered the room together. '
" Dear, dear, to think of lt now," the con- stable murmured, standing awe-strnok at the door, for the ooaree of his duty waa for the most part1 simple, and be had never before been face to face with a tragedy like this.
The doctor moved silently to the bed and leant over the dead girl.
"Subbed to the»heart," he murmured, ' 'death mast hare been iostantaoeoas." Then he toaohed her ann and tried to lift it.
" She has been dead hoars," he said to the constable, "eil or «even hours, I should say. Let'ne look ronna. The window is open, yon see. Can the murderer have entered there ?" He looked out. The wall was covered with ivy, and a massive stem grew close to the window. " Tes," be went on, " aa active man could have climbed ^hat. See, there are come lesves on the ground. I think, Harpur, your best plan will be to go down end take your station there and see no one oomes along or disturbs anything. See, this jewel box on the table bas been broken open and the con- tents are gone, and I do not see her watch anywhere. Well, that is enough to do al present ; we will look this room up again until
Mr. Volkes comet."
When they came downstairs, the cook again
" Please, sir, will yon oome in here ? Bath Powlett, Miss Margaret's maid, seems very bad ; it was she who first found it ont, and its naturally given her a terrible «book. 8he came down looking like a mad woman, then she fainted off, and she doesn't seem to have any sort of consciousness yet."
" Ruth Powlett I why, I have been attend- ing her for the last three weeks. Yee, a shock may be very serious in her case," and
the doctor went iu.
** Have you any asl volatile in the house," be asked, after he had felt her pulse.
"There's some io the medicine chest, I i think, sir, but I will soon see.".
I She went out sod presently returned with a
bottle. The dootor poured a teaspoonful into a glass and added a little water. Then he lifted Ruth's head, and forced it between her lips. She gasped once or twice, end then slightly opened her eyes.
"That is right, Ruth," the doctor said, oheeringly, " try and rouse yourself, child. You remember me, don't you ?" Ruth opened ber eyes and looked op. -
" That's right, ohild, I mustn't have you on my hands again, you know." Ruth looked round with a pouted air, then a sharp look of rjaio crossed her.fece. . : ;i;
,"I> Jthow, Ruth," vaidthe dootor, sooth- ingly i "it ILtelrible for everyone, but least terrible for your poer young mistress; she passed away painlessly, and went at once from life into dtath. Everyone loved her, yon know ; it may be that God baa spared hsr much .unhappiness."
Ruth burst into a paroxysm of crying ;.the dootor nodded to the old servant.
: " T/bet'e what I wanted," be, whispered, "she trill be better siter "this Y get 4 cup ol
hot tea for ker, or beef tea will be better atilt If you have any, make her drink it end then leave ber for a time. I will eoe her again presently."
Immediately the dootor left him, Reginald Came wrota a telegram te the Chief Constable of the County, and dispatched a servant with orders to gallop as fast as he ooald to the station and send it off.
(To be continued.)