Chapter 63672616

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Chapter NumberIV
Chapter TitleA Delusion DisDelled.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63672616
Full Date1893-12-23
Page Number13
Corrections0
Word Count1613
IllustratedY
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleIllustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)
Trove TitleThe Story of a Jewelled Belt
article text

CHAPTER IV.

A Delusion Dispelled.

Chester's next step was clear. Ile had plenty of evidence that an atrocious murder had heen committed. This it was his duty to lay before the police for their investiga-

tion.'

Consequently, after leaving the jewel- ler's shop he called a cab and drove to the office of the Inspector-General of

Police.

"With this officer he was closeted foran hour, during which he laid before him the information he had gleaned.

At first his theories were received with a

polite air of incredulity ; but as he unfolded, link by link, the chain he had forged to- gether, the official took on an air of interest, and at last, as Chester finished, he

exclaimed

" I see no reason to doubt the conclusion' at which you have arrived. It seems to ino borne out by the evidence. I may tell you that I have not much faith in amateur detec- tives, but you are an exception. It is curi- ous that our men trained to the work of criminal investigation should have over- looked the suspicious circumstances attach

in ir to this case."

" Don't you think," said Chester, " that a good many serious crimes are committed, particularly against human life, which are

, never discovered ?"

" Well," said the Inspector-General, " I don't mind telling you that the clever crimi- nal has a good chance of eluding detection at thc hands of the ordinary detective. But it wouldn't do to tell that to the public. They might lose confidence, you know, in our abilities to protect them."

" I see," said Chester, with a smile. " Now," he went on, rising, " I suppose I may leave the matter in your hands ?"

" Entirely, Mr, Chester," said the official. " I can assure you that I will put our best man on this case, and if the crime has been committed by an ordinary desperado we will probably have him before long."

" Ah ! butj" said Chester, " I don't think it was committed by such a character."

" No ?" queried the official.

"No," repeated Chester. " On the con- trary, I have a theory of my own which I am going to investigate in my own way. Perhaps it may be correct ; perhaps not.

But we shall see."

" Well, I wish you success," said the offi- cial. " I wish we had a few men like you in our force. If ever you need a position I can assure you of one with us.

" Thank you," replied Chester, driby ; " but I don't think I'll trouble you."

" Good morning ! "

And Chester went out somewhat elated at this admission of his skill made by a police expert. As a matter of fact, how- ever, he know that nothing but common sense and ordinary intelligence, added to a large amount of luck, had conduced to the

remarkable results he had obtained.

Ile had, as he had informed the head of the police, already determined upon a courte of. action calculated to unearth the murderer oC Richard Jenkins. Ile had intended to prepare that day for the first step.

This was nothing less than a trip to England. What he had in view will ap-

pear presently.

He went back to his hotel and dined. In tho reading-room that night, as he was idly glancing over the papers, he caught sight of Marian Leigh.

She entered, and, taking a seat, began to look at some illustrated magazines, or, rather, pretended to do so.

Presently she leaned her head on her hand, and Chester could see that she was weeping silently.

They were alone, these two ; and one was unconscious of the other's presence, for Chester was seated in such a way that

Marian had not perceived him when she

entered.

To see a girl alone and friendless in a strange city, overcome in this way, was more than Chester could suffer. The spectacle appealed to his chivalry, and there was a good deal of it in his nature, as there is in human nature, despite a certain historic lament over its decadence. Ile approached

her ernie tl v. and accosted her.

" I am sorry to see that you are still in trouble, Miss Leigh," he observed.

There was a touch of genuine sympathy in his tones which placed his remark above the level of ordinary commonplace condo- lence. Marian raised her eyes, like two wet pansies, as she replied -

" I am afraid I am likely to be in trouble

all my life."

" I devoutly hope not," said Chester, quickly. " If any assistance I can-"

Marian stopped him with her uplifted

Tifvvirl

" Hush. !" she cried. " He is beyond the reach or need of human aid. I only know that my poor darling is dead, and that I am

left alone."

Here her weeping broke forth anew.

" Are you then alone in the world ? Had you no relatives besides your husband ?"

added Chester.

" My husband!" cried Marian, in astonish- ment. " Why, what is it that you mean,

Mr. Chester ?"

" Chester called a cab and drove' to the Inspector-General's office?

" Is it not your husband that you were looking for in Melbourne ?" Chester asked, in equal astonishment. . '

" I had no husband," said Marian, vigor- ously.

"I thought you told me--- " began Chester, but Marian interrupted him.

" I am Miss Leigh," she said, crushingly ; and then, in'a softer way, changing with that uncertainty of mood which, let the cynic say his worst, is one of the chiefest charms of womanhood, she half sobbed

" God help me j it is my father that I

have lost."

" Mule ! dolt ! brute ! ass !" were some of

the epithets that Dick Chester applied to himself in rapid succession, as Marian made this revelation. " And here I was," he thought, " leaving this helpless girl here in a strange city to meet the most terrible

misfortune of her life alone and friend- less."

Now he determined was the time to make

reparation.

It was evident that Marian's first strong paroxysm of! grief was over, and she was gradually settling into that melancholy which is a habit with many of the world's

men and women.

" May I inquire," said the gentleman, " what you propose doing now, Miss Leigh?"

" Oh, I don't know," said Marian, discon- solately, and with an air as if she, too, like her namesake of the moated grange, were " a-weary of tbe world."

?".Perhaps I shall go to England, I dare say I shall. I have an aunt there, a cross old thing, but I'll have to live with some

one, I suppose. One can't be alone in the

world," said Marian.

" No," thought Chester, " It would be the greatest slur upon our sex if a splendid girl like you were to be left alone very long."

Aloud, he said

11 I am going to England next week, my- self, Miss Leigh. I am to take my berth in the s.s. Orinoco, which leaves Adelaide next Tuesday. May I not have the pleasure of your company on the home trip ?"

" Next week !" said Marian. " That is very sudden ; but what is there to keep me here in this fatal city. Yes, Mr. Chester, I shall go in the Orinoco. It will be something to have someone I know on board, and I feel that you are a friend, Mr. Chester."

And she looked into his eyes searchingly. " I am your friend," said Chester, as they clasped hands. " And it would make me only too happy to spend my time and strength in your services, but the days of champions are over, and there is no chance of a tilt at an iron-clad knight for the sake of a lady's praise. Meanwhile, however, I can render you one service not poetical, but practical. Will you permit me to go and select your berth for you ?"

" Yes, thank you," replied Marian, with the ghost of a smile.

This is how it happened that one fine morning in the spring of a year that is dead they landed at Tilbury Docks, on the Thames, and took train to London, where they parted, Marian Leigh to seek the quarters of her aunt in Bloomsbury Square, and Chester to drive to Tinks and Company, the firm of London jewellers at whose place the jewelled belt had been made

and rivetted on Richard Jenkins' waist.

What the old novelists call our " fair readers " must not think that Chester and Miss Leigh were to part for ever in this

summary way.

No ! At parting," as they shook hands, Marian gave him her address, and hé care- fully noted it down in his pocket-book. In this there was a tacit invitation on Marian's part for him to call at the address in Bloomsbury Square.

On the voyage home, Miss Leigh had recovered much of her natural serenity of temper, and although the sunniness of her disposition was clouded by the death of her father, yet there had been times when in Chester's company she had manifested symptoms of resilience.

Youth is invincible, and neither toil nor sorrow, though they may deface, can wholly mar its reign. And Marian, who in Mel- bourne had thought life a book closed to her, was already beginning to feel that this was a conclusion too hastily arrived at.