Chapter 52282527

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Chapter NumberXIV.-Continued.
Chapter Title
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Full Date1889-08-28
Page Number0
Word Count2076
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleMorning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954)
Trove TitleThe Curse of Carne's Hold, a Tale of Adventure
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late*and Mttchw.






Author of " Under Drake's Flag," .. With

Clive in Inala," Ao,, Ao,


CHAPTER XlV.-Oontmutd,

: "' Will you oom« io to ase rather ?" Mary

?aid one muming ; "he knowe all about it now ; but it wai only when be came round j uet now that the doetor gare him leave to tee yon."

"I shall be very glad to see him," Ronald said, rising. " 1 own that when I aaw him last 1 bad little hopes that I should ever meet him alive again."

"He is still very weak," the girl said, " and the doetor says he ia not to be allowed

to talk much.''

" 1 will only pay a abott visit, but it will be a gnat pleasure to me to see him ; I have alwaya toit tais kindness to me."

"Father is kind to every one," the girl said, simply. " In this instance bis kindness

bas been ism.ned a hundredfold.*'

By this time they bad reached the door of

the ward.

" Here is Mr. Blunt come to see you, father. Mow you know what the doctor said, you are not to excite yourself, and not to talk too muon, and if you are not good, I shall take bim away."

"J. am glad to see you are better. Mr. Armstrong," ttonalii said, as he went np to the bed, and took the thin hand in his own.

"God bless you, my boy," the wounded man replied; "it is to you I.owe my re- covery, fur ned you not brought Mary back to me, 1 should be a dead man now, and would have been glad of it,"

I "Uro very glad, Mr. Armstrong, to have I been able to be ol service to yunr daughter

and to you ; but do not let us talk about it now. 1 am sure that you cannot do so without agitating yourself, and the great point at present with us all is for you to be I up and about again. Do your wounds hurt

vou muth ?" j

. Not much ; und youri, Blunt !"

"Ob, mine ia a mere nothing,* Ronald said cheerfully, " it'« bealing ap fast, and exoept when I forget all about lt, and move sharply, I scarcely feel it. 1 feel something like the proverbial mao who swallowed the poker, and have to keep myself aa stiff aa if I were on inspection. This ward is nice and cool, much cooler than they are upstairs. Of course the verandah outside shadrs you. Von will find lt very pleasant there when yon ate strong enough to get up. I am afraid that by that time 1 shall be off, for the troops are all on their march from op the coast, and in another ten days we expect to begin operations in


" I don't think the doctor ought to let you go," Mary Armstrong said. " Voa have done quite your abare, I am «ure."

"I hope my share in finishing np with these scoundrels will be a good deal larger yet," Ronald laughed. "My share has principally been oreeping end hiding, except just in that last brush, and there, if 1 mistake not, your share wa« as large ss mine. I only fired three shots, and I think I heard your pistol go four times."

" Yes, it is dreadful to think of now," the girl said ; " but somehow it didn't «eera so at the time. I feel shocked now when I recall


" There's nothing to be shocked st, Miss Armstrong ; it wes our lives or theirs, and if your hana had not been steady, and your aim true, we should neither of us be here talking over the matter now. But I think my visit has been long enough. I will come io again, Mr. Armstrong, to-morrow, and I hope each day to find you more and more able to take your chere in the talk."

In another ten dave donald rejoined his troop, and the next day received an order to be ready at four o'clock to accompany Colonel

Somerset to the Generare."

'. Now, Se.geant, take a «eat," the General asid, "and tell me the fuli story of your


Bonald again repeated his «tory. When he bad done, the General remarked :

" Your report more than bears out what I heard from Captain Twentyman. I have already talked the matter over with Colonel Somerset, aa we consider that snob an action abould be signally rewarded. Colonel Somerset will at once apply for a ooramlseion for you in your own corps, or if you would prefer it, I »ill apply for a commission for you in one of the line regiments, I may say that tbe application under auoh circumstances would certainly be acceded to."

" I am deeply obliged tc yon for your kind- ness, sir, and to yoe, Colonel Somerset ; but I regret tu noy that, with all respect, 1 must

decline both offers."

" Decline a commission !" the General said in surprise. " Why, I should have thought that it was just the thing that you would have liked-a dashing young fellow like yon, and on the eve oi eerious operations. I can hardly understand you."

Ronald waa silent for a moment.

" My reason for declining it, sir, is s pnrely personal one. Nothing would have given me greater pleasure than a commission sn bestowed, but there are circumstances that absolutely prevent my mingling in the society of gentlemen. The name I go by ia not my true one, and over my own name there ia so terrible a ebsdow resting that so long as it is there-and I have little hope of its ever being cleared off-t must remain as I am."

Both officers remained silent a moment.

" You are sure you are not exaggerating the case, blunt?" Colonel Somerset «aid after a pause. " I cannot believe that this cloud of which you speak can bave arisen from any act of yours, and it would be a pity indeed were yon to allow any family matter to weigh upon you thus."

Ronald Bbook his head. " It ia a matter in which I am personally concerned, air, and I do not in any way exaggerate it, I repeat, I must remain in my present position."

" If it mutt be so, it moat," the General said, " though I am heartily sorry. At least you will have the satisfaction of seeing your name in General Orders this evening for an act of distinguished bravery."

" Thank you, sir," and Ronald, seeing the conversation was at an end, saluted to the two officers, went out, and rode back to his quarters.

The town was full of troops now, for the regiments that bsd been despatched from England had nearly all arrived upon tbe spot, and the operations against the Kaffirs io the Amatólas were to begin at once. Some of the troops, including two i-quadrons of the Rifles, were to march next morning.

Ronald went about bb duties till evening, and then turned out to walk to the hospital. As he passed through the streets, he saw a group round one of the ItifleB, who bad juBt come out from a drinking »bop, and was engaged in a fierce altercation with a Fingo, Tbe man was evidently the worae for liquor, and Ronald went up to him and put his hand


" You bad better go off to tbe barracks at once," he said sharply ; *' you will be getting into trouble ii you «tay here."

The man turned savagely ronnd.

"Ob, it'a you, Sergeant Munt? Hadn't you better attend to your own business ? I am not committing any crime here. I haven't been murdering women or anything of that


Ronald started back aa if atraok. The significance of the tone in which the man epoke showed him that these were no random words, but a shaft deliberately aimed. In a moment he was cool again.

" If yon do not return to the barracks at once," he said sternly, "I will fetch a corporal's guard and pot you in the oelle,"

The man hesitated a moment, and then

reeled off towards the barracks. Had the blow Mme s month before Ronald Mervyn woald have felt ft more. Absorbed In hts active work on horseback the greater portion of his time, the remembrance of the past had become bloated, and the present had ooonpted all bis thoughts. It was only occasionally that he had looked back to the days when he was Captain Mervyn, of the Borderers. Bnt from the boor he brought Mary Armstrong safely back to ber father, the past had been constantly in hts mind because lt dashed with the present

Before, Ronald Mervyn and Harry Blunt bad almost seemed to be two existences, un- connected with each other ; now, the fact of their identity bad been constantly lo his thoughts. The question be bad been asking himself over and over again was whether there could be a permanent separation between them, whether he could hope to get rid of his connection with Bonald Mervyn, and to continue to the end of the chapter ss Harry Blunt. Be had told himself long before that he could not do so, that sooner or later be should certainly be recognised ; and although he had tried to believe tbat he oould pass through life without meeting anyone familiar with bis face, he bad been obliged to admit that this was next to impossible.

Had he been merely a country gentleman, known only to tbe people with a limited range of distance, it would have been different; but an officer who has served ten years in the army has innumerable acquaintances. Every move he makes bringa him in contact with men of other regimenté, and bis circle goes on constantly widening until it embraces no smail portion of the officers of the army. Then every soldier who bad passed through his regiment while he had been in it would know bis faoe ; and go where be would fae Knew that be would be running constant risks of de- tection. More than one of the regiments that had now arrived at King Williamstown had been quartered with him at one elation or another, and there were a score of men who would recognise him instantly did he come among them tn the dress of an officer. This unexpected recognition, therefore, by a trooper in his own corpa, did not come upon with so sudden a shook aa lt wonld have done a month previously.

" I knew it must come," he said to himself bitterly, " and that it might come at any

moment. Still it is a shock. Who is this man, I wonder. It seemed to me, when he first came np, that I bad some faint remembrance of his face, though where, I have not the least Idea. It waa not In the regiment, for he knows nothing of drill or military habits. Of course, if be had been a deserter, he would have pretended ignorance, but one can always tell by little things whether a man has aerved, and I am eure that thia fellow haa not. I suppose be comes from somewhere

down home.

.' Well, it can't be helped. Fortnnately I have won a good name before thia diacovery ia made, and am likely to reap tbe benefit of what doubt there may be. When a man ahowa that he has a fair amount of pluok, his comrades are slow to credit bim with bad qualities. On the whole, perhaps it is well that it should bave come on this evening of all, when I had quite madu up my miod as to my course. Still, thia strengthens me in my decision as to what I ought to do. lt ia hard to throw away happiness, but this ahowa how rightly I decided. Nothing will shake me now. Poor little girl 1 it is hard for her, harder by far than for me. However, lt is best that she should know it now, than learn it when too late."