|Newspaper Title||The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil (Melbourne, Vic. : 1873 - 1889)|
|Trove Title||Crowned with Good|
CHAPTER XII. But the next morning Alicia appeared at the table d'hdte lun cheon, only a little paler than she had been on the previous day, ? and as calmly self-possessed as ever.; When the meal was over, she retired to her own room, from whence she presently emerged, dressed for walking.. ' I am going to Carney's Point to see if I can obtain any further particulars about this sad occurrence,' she said to the manager, whom she encountered in the corridor. 'I have left my luggage here, and I shall not be going away from the place until I meet my husband.' Mr. Cookham privately considered it a queer freak of tKe lady to visit the scene of a calamity that had affected her so deeply, but, of course, he made no remark, merely offering her a little information respecting trains ; and as it would be impossible to . return that night, he recommended Melville's Hotel, as, indeed, the only house where she could be respectably cared for in, that benighted region. Alicia reached the station, and took her seat in the train for Carney's Point, the one fact that Lionel was dead obliterating every other thought in her mind. At first she had not been able s to realise it. She could not think of her bright, brave husband as dead\— gone for- ever from this world. But as she neared the scene of the wreck, and looked out upon the dark waters of the bay, and saw them surging round the cruel rocks that there lined the coast, a' picture— vivid, horrible, and torturing — rose up before her. She .????.saw him struggling wildly, heard his cry for help, heard her'own name in his lust shriek of mortal agony, saw the merciless waters close above his head and hide him from her yearninir gaze. The train ? stopped, and she at once became conscious of her surroundings. She got out and walked along the. platform with the other passengers. Learning from the ticket-collector the way . to Melville's Hotel, and arriving at the', 'large, comfortless-looking ? wooden building, she asked for a private room and for writing materials. ... No little remark was excited among .the loiterers about the . verandah at her extraordinary grace' and beauty, and she was, glad to escape from the inquisitive gaze of so many pairs of eyes to the quiet of her room. ? ? ;.'''' It was then nearly 5 o'clock, and still daylight. Alicia'rang and ordered dinner in her apartment for G o'clock, and then removing her hat and cloak sat down to write. Her letter was addressed to the manager of the Carnarvon Hotel, Dunesk, and contained the following lines, together with a bank note for £10 :— ' Melville's Hotel, Carney's Point. April 8, 187-. 'Sir,— Before you receive this I shall have effected the purpose o£ my journey to this place. I gave ; you as a reason for my coming here, that I wished to learn particulars' of the accident to Mr. Lionel Lindsay, my 'friend.' * 'Mr. Lionel Lindsay was my husband, and I took up my abode in' your hotel under the assumed name of Mrs. Lewis. '*,' I have not divulged this fact 'to any one in your hotel, and you, doubtless, learn it for the first time from my letter. ' The enclosed sum of £10 is for the purpose of defraying the expenses of my stay at your hotel, and part of it' will serve for a telegram that you may deem it . wise to send' to my brother, Lord Sinclair, in England. If you will, search 'my. luggage you will find papers to 'prove my identity and the addresses, of my relatives in England. . . ' With this information, which is all I need give you, you can, of course, deal as you. think fit. I would not have disclosed so much, but that I wish my friends to Ichow that I have at last . found my husband's grave. — I am, youra very truly, ? : .?'??' ? ' Alicia Lindsat, alias Lewis, nee Merton.' Alicia addressed and sealed this letter very carefully, and then sat down in the window to await the arrival'of the dinner. She ,wbre a look of intense sadness, but*, her appearance was not ? . otherwise singular, excepting for her extreme pallor. '' The waiter entered to lay the .cloth for dinner, and she gave him the letter, charging him to see that it was posted at once. When the meal was served she took a little soup and some ' chicken, but could eat nothing more. She again went to the ? window, and watched the crimson sunset reflected on the waters, and tried to calm the tumult in her mind. Her terrible malady was beginning to assert its sway once more, now that she had confirmed a rash determination by that fatal letter. Her thoughts wandered strangely, and weird shapes revealed I themselves to her in the stormy violet and red of the evening sky. She knew she was very lonely, but an undefined feeling that it would not be for long, and that she should soon be at rest and safe from this troubled world, comforted her \aguely. Verses she had often heard and read, but to which until now she had attached no meaning, recurred to her memory soothingly, and she murmured to herself, as she watched the darkness steal '
over the waters, scraps of old songs aud Bible- verse, learned in her childish days, but long since crowded from her mind by the world's frivolous interests. ?'.''' ' By and by she turned to the room,' now bright with candles, and put on her hat, drawing her fur-lined cloak about her j then, opening the door, after a moment's hesitation, she trod the length of the corridor, went down the stairs, and presently found herself under the wooden verandah'of the hote l.An exaggerated fear of the' criticism her appearance might create among the loungers still about the door caused her to' linger carelessly for a moment or two, and ask a trivial question of the hostler.' This, hardly with' intention -on her part, led to a remark on the catastrophe of last December. ' , ? ' ' 'Yes'm,' said the hostler, 'this is an ork'ard bit o' beach. Many's the night I've woke up sin' a poor young' gentleman and ? 'is crew was drownded off that rock yonder.' 'Where?' interrupted Alicia. , - .* 'Yonder, 'rn— Flagstaff, they call it. '\ Alicia looked in the direction of the man's finger, and perceived a taller rock than the rest, clearly defined on the coast, against the last lingering gleam of red in the.sky. . ' It looks a dreary place,' she said, 'with a momentary shiver, ' and if I mean to take a walk I .must make haste, for it will soon be dark,' and without waiting to hear more, she turned quickly away towards the Flagstaff. ' ? . It was, .indeed, growing dark ' rapidly, -.and before .she had reachedihis point the sky had lost its lingering streak of crimson, and the dull grey was only relieved by. threatening black clouds, driven quickly before the wind.- The, rock was higher than it had appeared from the hotel, , and by the time the summit was gained, Alicia's breath came hurriedly, and she had to hold her cloak tightly around her, and bend her head before the keen blast. The path she Had followed led past the rock, and Alicia still pursued it. Not a living being was in sight before her, and looking back she could now but dimly discern the hotel and its out-buildings in the gathering darkness. ' For another mile she struggled on until land and sea were quite veiled in the evening gloom ; then she slowly turned, and retraced her steps to the dork, solitary rock she had left behind her. 'Once more standing on its bleak top, the howling wind rushing past and moaning over the sea, a strong shuddering seized her. Was it that, looking down on those awful depths surging beneath her, a last gleam of reason returned to the worn-out mind, making her pause? Or was it only the physical shrinking of her delicate frame from the cold, pitiless waters, wailing as if hungrily, below ? . Then, once more, the scene enacted at this spot flashed vividly across her brain — the bright life quenched in those troubled, - angry waves. How eagerly they seemed to lick the base of ' the rock — how cruel they looked 1 He had died just there — he who was her life, her only hope, poor soul, in this world or the next. What if the gulf beneath were cold and terrible? Had it not held him in its embrace — were not all its mysterious horrors ten thousand times better than the long joyless life without him? Far over the ocean a wild sad cry was borne by the rushing wind. Fora moment a despairing struggle in the black waters, then the restless soul was still— the weary heart at peace for ever. We believe that these poor afflicted ones of earth will be one day calmly and perfectly at rest in heaven. So rest, tired t'rauie, in the' ocean's depths until that day we hope for, when the sea shall give up her dead.