|Newspaper Title||The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929)|
|Trove Title||A Pit Brow Lassie|
A PIT BROW LASSIE.
[HOW 7IBST PUBLISHED.!
BY JOHN MONK FOSTEB, Author of 'The Moss Pit Mystery,' 'A Poor Man's Tragedy,' 'Judith's Komauce,' 4c.
[ALL SIGHTS BESEBVED.] Cbafxek, XLIEL— Nemesis.
A couple of hours after receiving Richard Hampton's startling communication Henry WQlesden made hie appearance at Denewood Grange in anything bat a satisfactory frame
of mind. Merer, at any time, had the solicitor held a high opinion of hia nephew ; bat be had not dreamt it possible that he would ever become a murderer. This, however, waa the case, if the informa tion in Hampton's letter was reliable ; and he saw no reason for doubting its trustworthiness at present Soon after reaching the Grange Henry Willesden and Hampton were closeted together, and the interview that ensued was of a lengthy charaitpr. The latter related in full all the incidents of the previous day, explaining how it came shoot that Kate had and giving, almost ? word for word, the con versation that passed between Kate and Arthur in the study whilst be sad hia sister wen hidden behind the screen. Then be showed the solicitor Arthur's written confession, and finished fay saying that the master of Tbomhill had fled Man chester-ward on the previous afternoon, taking with him everything of value that he could easily carry away. ^^ *' It is a painful case,' Willesden remarked when the other concluded ; ' but I suppose yon most do your duty, and place the matter in the hands ot the police. We should be guilty of murder if we permitted liake Standish to die when be is innocent.' '* There is no fear of that now, Harry.' ' Why ? la not the execution fixed for next Wednesday Booming V ' It was ; but the capital sentence has been commuted to one of penal servitude for life. I received a telegram to that effect yesterday afternoon from the Home Office, and this teUgram. Here is the letter ; read it.' The letter ran thus :— ' Whitehall, London. ' ' Sir, — In reference to the numerous memorials forwarded by yon on behalf of tbe convict Lake St&ndisa, I am directed by the Secretary of State to acquaint yon that, having folly considered ail the circumstances connected with the case, he has feit himself jnatined in advising her Majesty to cotnmnte the capital sentence to one of penal servitude for lile. ' Yours faithfnliv.
'Godfrey Lcshikgton.' ' \v ben do yon thiRb of placing the matter before tbe authorities f WiUesden asked, as he handed the missive back to Hampton. ' Not before this evt-ning.' 'Why? Is it because you desire Arthur to make his escape ?' ' Kate promised to give him a day in which to effect bis escape if he would confess the crime. He did so, as you are aware, and she will not break her promise.' ' I intend to tell yon now, Hampton, some thing I oiu-ht perhaps to have told you long ago. But under the circumstances I thought it be*t to keep sileut, and f iancy you will '? To what does it refer ?' ' To toy nephew. When you first wrote me, Arthur happened to drop in at the house jost as I was reading your letter to my wife. He heard part of it, and when he learnt that you had a sister wbom you wished to be found he induced me to permit him to take up the search for her.'
'Nothing very wrong about that, old ' Wait until I have finished, and then you will think differently, perhaps. WeU, I allowed him to ^Vji^^fV? 'ZSZLn three weeks ; then he tired of the business, and I handed it over to Bowman, who, you will remember, was no more sMcessful than my nephew had been— or ratter, pretended ' When Mr. Bamforth brought forward your sister and niece, and they came here to reside with yon, I leave you to imagine my surprise on discovering that my nephew was engaged to your niece ; and I soon found out by questioning Mrs. Leigh that Arthur was actually lodging with them when he was supposed to be bunting after — and unsuccess fully, too— Margaret Hampton.' 'And do you think that Arthur knew that the Mrs. Leigh he lodged with was the Margaret Hampton he was in search of! 'I am certain he knew it, because your sister told him her eventful history the very day he became her lodger. Do you see what 1 am driving at?' 'I think I do. Yon mean that Arthur kept his knowledge of my existence from my sister and niece for a purpose of his own.' ' Exactly. ' 'And that purpose was?1 Hampton queried. ?' To win Kate by any means, before she learned that ahe was a wealthy man's niece and probably his heiress. It was much easier for him to win ber as a pit-brow girl than as your niece — you see ?' ' Just so, and that accounts for the cunning plot he conceived and carried out to get his rival, Luke Stsndieh, out of the way. And I remember now that Arthur would not, on any account, hear of tbe marriage being postponed for a year. He was afraid, I suppose, of his schemes coming to light and stopping the wedding I' 'Isawthis at the time I first met Arthur
here ; but I thought your niece was marrymG him for love alone, and that was just why I held my tongue.' ' Bnt il Arthur found my sister so easily how was it that the detective you engaged did not discover her also ?' ' There are two answers to that, Hampton,' the solicitor replied. ' Arthur, on giving up the search, volunteered to place his own investigations before the detective. Now he had one or the other of two things in his mind when he made this offer. He either intended to lead Bowman astray on a false scent, or bribe him to keep silent regarding your sister's whereabouts. My own opinion is tnat Bowman was bribed, and that bis visit to America was a mere blind. ' 'Very likely; very likely,' Hampton murmured, amazed by this fresh disclosure of Arthur WiUeaden^s f^mming knavery. ' And, in ,s-n indirect way,' the solicitor continued, ' I hold myself responsible for all this miserable business. If I had not permitted Arthur to play the amateur detective he would never nave met your niece, Standish would not have been so grievously wronged, Mary Sheargold would still have been alive, and my nephew would not have been a murderer.' 'HonsenBe, Harry. How cau you be blamed for doing what yon did? It was impossible for anyone to foresee the issue of the trivial Incident whichformed the beginning of Arthur's scheming. Let of aay no more about it' So the nutter dropped, and the solicitor borrowed bis friend's carriage to drive over to Thomhill and make inquiry there concerning bis nephew ; and Hampton told his relatives of the interview he and Willesden had just concluded, and the surprise evinced by both mother and daughter may be conceived when they learned that Arthur Willesden was employed by his uncle to find Margaret Hampton when he first lodged with her, and that he had kept silent on the matter in order to further certain schemes of his own. This news was welcomed by Kate, for it threw new light on her husband's 'htintfiyr and actions, and enabled her to read his plans from the moment they first met. It was plain to her now that Arthur had conceived the idea of marrying her the moment he discovered that she wm Ri^tmrW Rnnnfan'i
niece. He had said that love of her was the primary cause of his Binning, but that excuse was untenable now. AU this infernal schem ing was not to win the pit-b«-o«--girl, but the heiress of the master of Denewood. Bnt even this new addition to the score of her handsome son-in-law's villainy did not quite tarn Mrs. Leigh's heart against him she had still a vivid remembraice of the numberless acts of kindness he had done her in t:-.e days of her tribulation and hardship, and she could not forget b-T earliest impres sions of her clever and gentlemanly lodger. When evening came, Richard Hampton and his niece went over to Wigan and had a lone interview with the Chief Constable there, an' as a resnltof this a warrant was issued for the arrest of Arthnr Willesden for the murder of Mary Sheargold. muraer 01 In the meantime what had become of the fugitive master of Thomhill ? A a the servant who accompanied him to the station had said, Artbnr had booked for Manchester an- departed in a train bound for that city. But he never reached Cottonopolis, for instead of proceeding thither he alighted at one of the small stations on the route, and thence proceeded to Liverpool. He did this to throw whoever might follow nun on a false scent, for he knew that the groom would tell which way he had gone On reaching Liverpool he chartered a cab to take him and hia belongings to the Crown and Anchor Hotel, a place near the docks and much frequented by sealaring men. His reason for going there was a good one He knew that there was no likelier spot in all the great seaport city to bear of any snip that ™. ?*?*& V»* night or on the morrow, ana he had resolved to quit the country within
twenty-four hours, no matter what sort of craft he sailed in. By doing so he would be safe from all pursuit, he thought, for he would be afloat Bfore the police were set upon his track, supposing his wife kept her promise of giving him aday in which to effect his escape. A couple of hours after reaching flie Crown and Anchor, Arthur learned that a trading vessel, the Montanara, was to sail the follow ing evening, bound for New Orleans; and proceeding at once to tbe Salthouse Dock, in which the vessel lay, be obtained from one of the men then aboard ber the address at which the captain was to be found. Driving immediately to the residence of the commander of the Montanara, Arthur suc ceeded in booking a passage in the vessel, and he wu ordered to get all his traps aboard early the following morning, and himself at noon, as the ship would be towed out ef dock ready to sail with the night tide. Returning to his hotel Arthur possessed himself of a portmanteau containing all bis own and his wife's jewellery, and sailed out to convert the jewel* and trinket* into cash. He effected this in an hour or two, and to avoid suspicion he pledged or sold the articles at various places. He then returned to Tbe Crown and Anchor, preserving the tiokets of the things pledged, for he intended to return themtohis wife, that she might redeem them if she thought fit. Next morning Arthur despatched hie luggage to the Montanara, and then he turned to the daily papers to see if they contained any information relating to himself. 8nppoe ing Kate had kept her promise no one besides her uncle and mother would yet know why he had fled, and if die police only got to know that evening he would then be, he hoped, safely out of the way. At length Arthur came npon a big head line that instantly aronsed his interest, and he had to read the paragraph through before his fears for himself were allayed. The para
graph was headed 'The DehewoodMcbdeb!' and it contained the information that Lnke 8tandish's sentence had been commuted to one of penal servitude for life. Bnt nowhere did he come across anything to show that his part in tbe crime had been made known to the public, end this filled him with a certainty of escape. In a few hours more he would be aboard the Montanara, and tiwn the whole detective force of the country would seek him in vaisu As noon approached he paid hie hotel bill and betook himself on foot toward Salthouse Dock, which was only a short distance away. He had with him sufficient money to keep him a year or two, and no fear of fonire iitdigenoe troubled him for the time. Let him arrive in safety on American soil and he could trust bis own clever brain. Thus t-hinlrtng Arthur sauntered along the dock, in which numerous vessels were taking in er putting out their cargoes, never dream ing tbat even at that moment Nemiais was treading upon his very heels. Bot so it wu, for within sight of the vessel that was to bear Cum to safety, he was struck down senseless, almost lifel'ias. From the hold of one of tbe snips be passes, great bales of some heavy material were being raised by one of the usual steam cranes, and just as Arthnr passed beneath tbe machine the long arm brake with a Urad snap, and striking him on the back in its. descent burled him crushed ami bleeding to the pave ment. Some of tbe workmen had a narrow escape, but none of tbem received the faintest injury. Only tbe strange gentleman lay there, dying upon the blood-covered flags. A cab waa sent for, and when it arrived the unconscious man wu placed therein and conveyed to the nearest hospital. There he was at once attended to by skilled surgeons, but the oldest and most experienced of them all shook hie white head niguifeantiy on examining tie patient's terrible injuries. There was not the faintest hope of recovery. Mr. George Smith— snch was the name Arthur's pass for the voyage bore— would not — could not live for more than a few hours. Probably be would pas »way without recovering consaeusnew. It would be a mercy if he did so. Thus spoke the pbjmdan. All the afternoon Arthur lay stretched out on the hospital bed senseless, and it seemed as if the old doctor's prediction would be fulfilled. Bnt just as the short wintry day died down in the west, and the lamps of the city were beinc- lighted, he struggled back again to a knowledge of life. Then the nurae watching at his aide broke to him, as tenderly as she could, the awful news that bis death was only a question of a few brief honrs, and ebe asked bim to give the address of his relatives, tbat they might be communicated with at once. At first he refused to believe that death was so near to him, bnt even while the words of denial were on his tongue tbe truth of her statement was entering bill heart. Then for a few minutes he ranvred such agony as no pen can picture— the love of Be was so strong within him and death had given bim such brief notice. Then at last he breathed tbe name and address of his wife, and nrued that a telegram be sent to her acquainting her of his condition and asking ber to come to him When that was done the maimed man lay still and mnte, Us eyes dossed, and breathing regularly if somewhat stertorously. And scarcely knowing whether her patient was sleeping or had lapsed into unconsciousness ?gain the hospital nurse felt that if his wife came not quickly she would come too late. Tfce telegram trom the hospital announcing Arthur Uillesden'e mishap reached Denewood Grange half an hour or thereabouts after Kate and her uncle set ont for tbe town, to lay before the police authorities the information they poMessed regarding the actual murderer of the nniortunate woman, Mary Sheargold. That done, they returned to the Orange to find Arthur's telegraphic menage, anf ito intelligence came like a thunderbolt npon them. Without the loss of a moment's time
Hampton and his niece drove to Dpholland Station, and catching the express to Liverpool reached the hospital abont three noun after Willesden had caused the telegram to be despatched. Bat quick as the; bad been they came too late to aee the unfortunate man alive. Half an horn before their arrival Arthur Willesden had sighed oat his hut breath of life, and ere he died bad confessed to the snowy-haired medical gentleman, who happened to be near his bed at tbe time, that be was the man whose band had struck down Mary Sheargold. The doctor bad been inclined to take that confession as the senseless raving of a deranged brain, but a few minates' conversation with Rictard Hampton entirely c^Migfrfl his opinion. All the dead man's belongings, including the abip's pass, were handed over to his relatives, and after ?n»yipg arrangemeats for the forwarding of the body to Tfaornhill, so soon as the inquest was over, the widow and her uncle returned home, and immediately on reaching the Grange Hampton despatched a mounted messenger to Wigan, bearing a letter to the Chief Constable, which contained intelligence of Arthur Willesden/s accident whilst escaping, and his confession of the crime ere dying. Of coarse the whole story got into the news papers, atid for many a long day people could talk of nothing else bat the Denewood cue. One snowy morning, three or four days after hie death, Arthur WUlesden was qaietl) buried in the village churchyard at Upbolland, and, besides a few villagers, the only p- rsonti present were the uncle and aunt of tbe deceased, Mrs. Leigh and Richard Hampton, as to prevent her attending at the fnner&L After the interment, Henry Willesden, with Kate's permiaaon of course, went through all his late nephew's papers, and, as the solicitor almost expected, he found among them evidence that proved that Arthur and Bowman had been in league in regard to the detective business ; and he discovered farther that the enquiry officer had bled bis accomplice pretty freely, by afterwards threatening to expose tbe whole scheme if be did not tip up.
Arthur bad made no will, to that all be possessed became tbe property of the widow. But Kate absolutely refused to profit to tbe extent of a single penny by bis death, and with the full consent of her node she made over everything that her husband had died possessed of to bis ancle, the solicitor. A lew days after the burial of Arthur Wfflesden's remains Luke Standisu was set at liberty, and wh^n be walked forth from the prison gates a free man, and his name cleared of the terrible stain that had blackened it for so long, two tried friends were by his side— Richard Hampton and Frank Gorton. And M the trio drove from the prison to the station tbe master of Desewo d pressed into
the ex-convict's hand a couple of notes for a hundred ponnda each. Luke declined to take them without first bearing whence they c&me, and then he learned that they came from tbe Home Office as aome alight compensation for his false imprisonment. From Liverpool Luke and his friends travelled to Denewood, and during the journey Hampton narrated the startling episodes of the put week, owing to which Luke had been saved from a lifelong imprisonment He related bow Kate had followed her hntband on the night of the murder ; had aeen him strike tbe fatal blow Mid then rush away ; how she had been seized with brain fever that very nigbt, on returning home, and when ehe recovered from the attack ber memory was gone. Then bis Utter came to her and it succeeded in recalling the forgotten past, upon which ehe bad rushed to tbe Grange to tell him —Hampton — all. He spoke of Arthur following Kate to Dene wood, and of the scene that took place in the study there ; of his subsequent flight to Liver pool ; bis preparations for sailing in tbe Mon tanara ; and of bia accident, death, and con fession. And to the miner it seemed as if he were listening to come impossible atorv, and not a chapter of real life. But there he was, safe and sound, free again to go whithersoever be liBted, and his name not only cleared o! that black murderous stain which had rested npon it since Moll Sheaxgold's death, but also freed from that other false charge which had been the cause of all the latter troubles. Bat it was aU over now, and his two enemies wera dead — both of them lying in untimely graves — whilst he, against whom they had conspired, was stUI hale and vigorous.
And then Hampton told Luke of the busi ness that first brought Arthur Waiesden to Ashford ; and he also mentioned the scheme he must have then conceived of marrying Kate, knowing her to be tbe niece and probably tbe heireu, of a rich bachelor. The unveiling of the first link in the chain of Arthur Willesden's schemes made the understanding of all that followed easy. Looking back now Luke could see everything in its real tight ; coold understand why bis rival had gone to lodge at Bannister's Row, why Moll Abe&rgold had driven him from Ashford, and what Bhe was doiflg that nigbt in the wood when she met her death. Well it was all over now, thank God ! and he waB happy enough at that moment to forgive his dead foes all the injuries and wrongB they had brought him. So long as he and Kate were alive and free nothing else mattered much. And bis old mother was also alive and gaining strength each day — bo Hampton told him — since, she beard that her lad was saved from the gallowe and his liberty also assured. And beyond all these things there was tbe golden hope that one day he imVit yet make bis old sweetheart his wife. That uipirat:-?n vii eo s weet and hoi y — bo toe sprc a^Uily beautifnl and joy -giving— that merely to thick of Its realisation swept away all the dark stodofreand bitter agonies of the put, an
dad the future with all that was tenderest, j loveliest, and most glorious. What pen can picture tbe first meeting of the old lovers? What words express tbe feelings with which each breast was filled 2 , To perform Buch tasks every pen. all words, are impotent. Such scenes and emotions may be imagined — they cannot be faithfully described by a foreign hand. When the icy rigour of winter had euccumbed to the gentler breath of spring, and leaden-hued skies and black dead fields had changed to blue breadths of heaven and cowslip and buttercup-spread meadows, there was another wedding within the old church at Upholland, and the bride was the rare faced Pit-Brow Lassie. But on this occasion Kate was not an nn willing wife, for tbe frank-foced, honest-eyed giant by her side was her old lover, the pit man, Loke Standieh. [The End.]