|Chapter Title||THE EDGAR FAMILY.|
|Newspaper Title||Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal (NSW : 1851 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||The Mount Macedon Mystery|
CHAPTER II. THE EDGAR FAMILY. A fine old house was Hunter Villa, in Phillip-street, Parramatta, that pleasant suburb of Sydney. Surrounded by orange groves of aged, though prolific trees, its old-fashioned style of architecture plainly indicated that it had been built a generation or two before our story opens in 1858. Its massive stone wall had, in fact, been erected nearly half a century pre-
viously by Lieutenant Edgar, of the New South Wales corps, the father of the pre- sent owner. This Lieutenant Edgar was certainly not a bad man, as the times went, but like a good many other members of the historical New South Wales corps he laid himself out for money-making, and suc- ceeded in his pursuit. He was a prominent member of the infamous "rum syndicate," and a land grabber who would have put to blush the most "annexative "of our early Viotorian squatters. When he found that nothing more could be made out of his official position he promptly resigned his commission, for he thought it was better to look after Number One than to waste this time in patriotic though bootless efforts in the service of his country. He owned large tracts of land along the Hunter River, whilst more than one block in Sydney had the name of Edgar on its title deeds. He married in 1801 a Miss Mclntosh who had a substantial dowry of her own, and the amalgamation of the two for- tunes placed Edgar in the foremost ranks of Plutocracy. It is proverbial, however, that money doesn't bring happiness always, though in spite of what moralists say it is a potent factor in that direction. The issue of the union was three sons and a daughter, the latter of whom died in infancy. The boys grew up to be stalwart young men, but of fierce and ungovernable pas- sions, and it was whispered that a strain of insanity ran through the family, in- herited from the mother. Whether there was any truth in the statement or not, it was a matter of fact that Mrs. Edgar had died in a straight- jacket, a dangerous maniac. Tho oldest and the youngest sons fre- quently acted in a manner that gave just cause for this suspicion, but the second, Reginald, had all his father's hardheaded- ness and the penchant for amassing wealth. The fate of his two brothers was tragic.
The eldest was stabbed to death in a drunken brawl he had provoked in a low public-house which stood on the site of the present Sydney Post Office, whilst the youngest, impelled doubtless by an insane impulse, actually formed a gang of marauding bushrangers and was shot in an encounter with the military on one of the spurs of the Blue Mountains. Reginald was now sole heir to his father's wealth, and with an eye to busi- ness he was assiduous in his attentions to the old man, the result being that in 1836, when his father died, he came into possession of the entire estate. Some seven year's previously he had married a young lady named Carruthers, a distant relation on the female side of the house, and one child was born— a boy — who was christened Reginald after his father. Two months after his birth young Mrs. Edgar died and the infant was given out to nurse, which some what estranged his father's affection. Three years after the loss of his first wife Edgar consoled himself by marrying again, this time one of the servants of the household and a very estimable woman. A child, who was named Charles, was born some two years after, and the first son having been taken home the two were brought up together. The eldest, Reginald, early evinced a fierce and sullen temper. The whole gamut of passion's seemed to run in his disposition. From paroxysms of un- governable rage he would suddenly re- apse into a sullen and gloomy state last- ing for several days, and those strange fits would occur without any apparent reason.
He early took a strong and undeserved antipathy to his stepbrother, who was the very opposite indisposition, the younger son being of a singularly sweet and equable temper, which, as they grew up, many times prevented violent scenes in the household between himself and the erratic first-born. Reginald's uncertain and bad temper occasioned much uneasiness to his father, who vividly remembered his own brothers' bad tempers and tainted characters, and his forebodings at times on the subject of his eldest son's future, were not of a cheerful nature. Mrs. Edgar, the youth's stepmother, was equally troubled, for she loved him as if he were her own son. Many times she tried to reason him out of his morose fits, or to calm him when under the influence of his passionate temper, but her well- meant efforts were resultless.
So matters went on, and the household gradually became more disturbed through the evil temper of the eldest son as he grew in years. It became absolutely necessary at last to separate the youths, and their father boarded them out at different schools in the hope that living away from relatives and amongst strangers might work a change in Reginald's character. The half-brothers now seldom saw each other, and their parents fondly hoped that as time wore on and the wiser judg- ment of more mature years worked on the elder his strange and unaccountable nature would be softened down and the better qualities would assert themselves. In this view they were grievously mis- taken. In spite of all the amelioratory influences which surrounded the young man the devil in his nature was not exorcised, and on his return home his pre- sence soon became almost unbearable. At every opportunity his father sent him away on long pleasure trips, chiefly to get rid of him, and these parental, ex- patriations were secretly regarded by Reginald as prompted by his stepbrother and the latter's mother, in order, that the old man's affections might be weaned from him and the largest share of the property fall to the youngest child. These secret thoughts were totally un- founded, but they eat like a canker into the heart of the jealous and passionate man.
They took the form of monomania at last, and almost in his dreams the morose and wretched man cherished thoughts of vengeance on the innocent cause of his disquiet. He was twenty-five years of age when the crisis in his home life took place. He had returned from a lengthened trip to New Zealand with his brooding mind in a more morbid condition than ever. Charles had attained his majority which his parents decided to celebrate in a manner befitting so wealthy a family. The elder brother from mere motives of jealous pique regarded the preparations with bitter envy, and his jealousy became so offensive and marked towards the amiable Charles that his father was forced to interfere. A domestic storm of the wildest character ensued, and at last Reginald, in a fit of fierce passion, after swearing vengeance against his brother who was not present, actually forgot himself so far as to strike his father.
The old man, the descendant of that sturdy lieutenant who brooked no affront in the troublous times of Australia's in- fant history, was not a man to meekly stand such a deadly insult and wrong from the unfilial Reginald. "From this moment you are no son of mine," cried Edgar, in tones of suppressed though terrible resentment. " Go from beneath my roof. I never wish to see your face again, and I will disinherit you." He said no more, but turning away from his brutal son left the room. His wife with rare magnaminity begged him not to carry his threats into execu- tion, but he was inexorable. His youngest son even interceded for his erring brother but in vain, and the old man threatened to use force, if Reginald did not leave the house.