Chapter 70984640

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Chapter NumberXVIII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article70984640
Full Date1885-10-03
Page Number32
Corrections0
Word Count3640
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAustralian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907)
Trove TitleFound Out
article text

CHAPTER XVIII.

i . And fair Margaret, and rare margaret, I And Margaret o'veritie .

i Gin o'er ye love another man,

I Ne'er love him as yo did me.

i - Mary Martin sat knitting1 in her ingle-nook, the i work of the day being done, and the laborers

abroad, when the tap of a riding-whip was heard on tho door, and Jack Storinonth came in.

HG looked weary and dispirited, and. was splashed with mire, as if he had walked fai*, and the good woman rose in anxiety to meet him.

" ls the squire worse, sir ?" she said, when she had brought a jug of ale and Bei*ved him.

"No-but Kitty-Kitty" (he spoke with intense bitterness) is as bad as bad can be."

i " She is ill, Master Jack ?" cried Mary, turning

very pale.

! "Oh ! yes-as ill as she can be-in her temper; and her manners, and her. morals ; m fact, 1 don't believe there's one sound virtuous bit of your Miss Kitty left."

. " There's plenty, - sir," said Mary, wrathfully, '< and I won't hear my ?'? young lady abused like that. And pray what has she done now ?"

, " Only thrown me over for Mr. Velasquez/' said Jack, savagely,

- " You mean Mr. Fitzhugh ?" said Mary.

: Jack turned a startled gaze on his old friend,

and exclaimed :

" How do you know that ?" . i

I "You cant't rub out Nature's handwriting,"

said Mary; showing curious agitation, " and I saw his father's face too often at the Towers' not to j know this one."

I " Mary," said Jack, abruptly, "you know how i Miss Kitty and I loved each, other as children

I long before: we understood the. feud between our j families, for Mr. Dashwood was abroad then, and i you had not the heart to k*?ep us apart 5 but when I he came back he separated ' us, but could not I hinder our meeting years later, when .we. loved I and parted, but vowed 'to keep true to one ano

I ther."

" And she is true now, Master Jack," said Mary, stoutly, but with an anxious look at the handsome young man who seemed to have grown haggard

in a day.

";And I say that she is not," he replied, stub- bornly 5" it is not-from what|I have heard to-day, but from her own acts that I judge her. Would you believe it, Mary, that she could cut me before

the whole field?"

; " Perhaps her father was by, and she "daren't notice you." .

" Did her father's presence compel her, to flirt-; oh ! Heavens ! to think that she can flirt !-with anothor mau under my very nose !"

! " All love." said Marv, noddiner.

"Then Fd rather have her hate/' said Jack, getting tipand striding about ; " it's ali very well tbr men tSlnirt, but I'll be hanged if I will let

my wife do it."

" She won't want to/' said Mary, briskly, " and as to.her being kind to the young man, how do you know that it isn't pity, and no more ?"

" Why should she pity him?" said Jack, shortly, as he came to a full stop. " He bas every attri- bute of success. He has influence with a great man whose wife has taken him up j he has good looks enough to bring any woman to his feet eyen my Kitty j" he added, bitterly; "he can marry as high as he pleases, and what more does

he want ?"

<" Only-' his father's - good name, so that he can wear his own," said Mary. .

" And how can he get that ?" cried Jack, impa- tiently," he has no facts to. go upon-it is all pure guess-work-all except-" His hand involun- tarily touched his breast pocket, and he recom-

menced his stride.

' Mary had laid down her: knitting, and her comely face was working strangely.

."Master Jack," she . said, "don't set yo\u*self against him, ho is your cousin ; and I befear ino, his father was most grievously wronged."

" You mean that his death was brought about by foul means?" said Jack, facing round.

Mary made no answer, but went on knitting, though her hands trembled.

.. Jack looked at her. awhile, then wont to her, and took'knitting and hands iuto.his strong, grasp.

« i " "What db yeta kn'cV, Maxy í'-h'e said;- "'Though"

I

j 1 may hate him-and I do-I would not keep hack a scrap of evidence that cou'd clear his father's 'name. And you'll tell me everything.

Mary looked up at the resolute young face, her j mind struggling against him yet.

"It's so long ago," she said, "nigh upon nine- teen and a-half years-and I haven't held my peace so long to break it now."

I Jack let go her hands, fetched a chair, and sat

down beside her.

"Now, Mary," he said, "begin."

! " I can't," she said in a whisper 5." there's those

living, now that would blame me for keeping silence then-and Mr. Dashwood, he'd turn my

master and mo out of the farm as soon as look."

" There is more than- one farm on my father's estate that you shall have when you want it," said Jack, impatiently, " though I don't know that what you tell me will go any farther, for we want facts, not suppositions."

Mary sate silent, winding and unwinding her

ball of wool.

" Why do you want to know ?" she said at last j " if you clear his father, you give him a better chance with Miss Kitty-though I don't believe

he ever had any."

" You have got to tell me, Mary, and you know it," said Jack, " so the sooner you begin the

better."

Mary looked half-fearfully around. The day was closing in, the blaze from the hearth made the outlook from the windows almost dark, and a curious sense of silence reigned in the place.

"I was first maid to Lady Alicia, after Mr. Dashwood brought her home from the foreign tour they had taken on their marriage. She sent her French woman away, and hired me instead, and I was quite happy in her service. She was young, gay, beautiful, and loved her husband to her heart's content, if not to his. She saw no lack in him, and I never suspected any, till ono day when I saw'him in the company of Mrs. Fitz hugh. I had never seen her before, though her husband was constantly at the Towers, but I had to attend my mistress to an archery meeting, and on following.her with a wrap, I lost sight of her, and found myself in a tent where two people were standing, my master 'and Mrs. Fitzhugh. She was so beautiful that she took my breath away -and only afterwards I seemed to recollect what he waB saying. ' Tita/ he said,. can't we be

friends ?' j

" ' No.' she said, and on the moment mv mistress

I came in, looking faint and-ill, supported by Mr. Fitzhugh, and I saw Mrs. Fitzhugh look at her hard, then she went forward quickly, and caught her in her armsi It was a long swoon-andi managed to get both the men away. But when it was over, and she had' come to life again, the two. ladies were friends. One was ignorant, and ohé knew-and Mrs. Fitzhugh had the lead, and kept it. She would have iny mistress go to, her house, though she would never set foot in my master's, and I used to think Mr3. Dashwood showed little pride in going to a place Avhere her husband was not received, and I never could think what excuse her friend made to her for not ¡receiving him. It was an odd thing to see Mr. îJBitzhugh constantly at the Towers, my mistress ¡constantly away with Mr¿. Fitzhugh j it seemed ?as if the twp ladies were just as fond of each ¡other's company as the two gentlemen were of ;one another's, and if people talked and gossiped a bit at the queer terms the families were on, not one of these four seemed to care. And so things went on for close upon a year, and when my mis- tress was not able to go out so much, though she begged and prayed Mrs.. Fitzhugh to come to the, Towers, she could never persuade her but after all Mrs. Fitzhugh did set. foot in the

place-once/'

~ Mary paused, and looked anxiously at the door, ks if she expected it to open, and admit some one

bf whom Bhe was afraid.

! " And how, Master Jack, I'm going to tell you something queer-and perhaps you'll piece it together with what followed afterwards-but, perhaps, you'll piece it differently to how I did About a week before her confinement, she called me to her one day as I sate with, my sewing in an buter room, and said,'Look, Martin ! did you ever see any one as clever as I am at imitating hand- writing?' and she held xip an envelope, with the ink wet, addressed to Mrs. Fitzhugh, that I could haye sworn was in my master's hand. I said, í Indeed, my lady, no one would have it for yours/ and she laughed, and said, /1 can sign cheques, too, and write Mr. Dashwood's name at the end so that even he can't tell it from his own signa- ture !' I felt uneasy when . she said this, and ex- claimed, ' Oh! my lady; that is forgery !' but she only laughed again, and said, ' Why, you stupid, Mary, your master saw me do it, and of course he tore the cheques up-" and she pointed to some pieces of pink paper, torn very small that lay in the waste-paper basket. I thought no more about it, until certain things happened that forced me to recollect it. . . . : About a week after, aB I said, the baby, Miss Katharine was born, and the mother did well for a few days, then she had some feverish signs, and it was on the day that she began to be really ill, that the dreadful thing happened in the fencing-room-but I haven't come to that yet. Mr. Dashwood had not been tip to see her since, ll olclock, and between 1 and ,2 she sent, me for him, and I went downstairs, and to the library, where the butler said I should

find him.

: "I knocked gently, and thought he said, ' come in,' "but he did not look up as I entered, and as I saw he was busy, at his writing-table, I stood still in the background waiting for him to sf eak. In the smoking-room beyond, I could see the back of Mr. Fitzhugh's head^ above his easy chair, and I thought from his attitude that he was asleep.

" My master was Bitting sideways to me,.and I could plainly see what he was doing--opening carefully, so as not to tear or deface it, a closed letter. Ho used1 à thin ivory paper-knife for tho purpose, and when it was quite open, he took out a lotter that contained a pink slip of paper, laid it on the table, and took from beneath tho blotting pad another and similar pink slip ; this he put in- side the letter, replaced it in the envelope, and fastened it down The cheque he had removed he,placed in his pocketbook. Then he rose, and m'ove'd tb wards the bett, anti .atfttté'ïàffié 'itfdirie'n.t

discovered me. I thought he started, then he asked my errand, and said he would be upstairs directly, and I heard the bell ring as I went'out. He came up almost immediately, but did not re- main long, and having sent for the doctor, and reassured her, he went down again, and presently I saw him walking with Mr. Fitzhugh in the grounds.

"Mary," Baid Jack, sternly, "why did' you not tell all this at the inquest ?"

" I wasn't called as a witnöss," she said, trem- bling 5 " besides I hadn't put it all together in my mind then, it was only bit by bit I did that after. But you'll blame me more when you hear

the rest."

She paused as one who has not cöuragö to con- tinue, and her comely face had become very pale,

wheu said:

" Early in the afternoon, Lady Alicia got worse, and sent me again for my master. Her love for him was so great, that she would always have kept him in her sight if it were possible. I felt

pretty sure of finding them in the fencing-room at their rapier play, so did not go down to inquire, but went straight there, and seeing thö pariel a few inches open, I went close to it, meaning to knock at it, and call my master. 1 could Bee in quite plainly ; the gentlemen had just stripped to their shirt-sleeves, and Mr. Dashwood was at that moment stooping to pickup a lady's handkerchiëf of white silk with a large scarlet monogram in the corner. It was not one of my mistess's 5 I had never seen it before. I noticed that he picked it up awkwardly, and thrust it at once inside the bosom of his shirt as he rose, and I thought Mr. Fitzhugh looked at him strangely as their play began. I can't say what it was that kept me standing there, staring without speaking, but I was just fascinated by the two, they made such a splendid pair, and they played so magnificently

I'd seen them at it before many a time when I . ' was in attendance on my lady, but I never saw them show such skill and fire as they showed that day. Suddenly Mr. Fitzhugh stopped, and said in a very odd voice, 'You will lend me your hand- kerchief V My master gave him his own. ' No, the other,' said Mr. Fitzhugh 5 he spoke in a tone that might have roused any man's blood.

" ' One does not part with a gage d'amóur/ said my master, insolently, and he smiled. !

" ' You stole it from my wife's waiting-maid/ said Mr. Fitzhugh, who had gone pale as death.

" ' No,' said Mr. Dashwood, ' I never stealsfroru waiting-maids what their mistresses give.'

" 'On guard!' cried Mr. Fitzhugh, and rushed at him, and as they thrust fiercely at each other, I had some wild thought of running in between them, but just then I heard the butler's step approach- ing, and in a panic of fear I got away out of sight, and went back to poor Lady Alicia. I made some excuse, and then sat down like the coward that I was, shaking in every limb, and listening with all my soul for I did not know what-but I had not to wait long. Within a quarter of an hour my master came into the room, kissed Lady Alicia, and spoke soothingly to her, but though she did hot see anything amiss, I knew by one look at his face that Mr. Fitzhugh was dead. He went away, presently, and the doctor caine ,. he looked as if ihe had got a shook, and at me as if he wanted to ;know what had happened, but I gave no sign then or at any other time, of knowing anything more than what.I was told; My mistress grew much worse, and I never left her-somehow I had a

horror of crossing tho threshold/ and a still greater horror of seeing my master, cross it again. The nurse was in the next room with the baby. She had always disliked me. because I was nota gossip like herself. Late in the afternoon I heard a very quiet knock at the door, and I found the butler standing outside. He looked pale and ill, and his hand trembled as he beckoned me out, and then he told nié that Mr. Fitzhugh had com- mitted suicide in the fencing-room a few hours ágo. He said that he had gone there with a letter and had found thegentl^men fencing very fiercely, and suspected mischief, but they paused when he appeared, and he saw his master walk to a little dis- tance to read the letter, and came away. He had hardly got to the 1 end of the corridor when he heard himself suddenly and,violently called back, and he rushed into the fencing-room just in time to see Mr. Fitzhugh falling to tho ground, his right hand grasping the rapier that he had driven through his breast." "

; " But the butler, on ; giving his evidence, said there was something white-a letter, he thought, pinned by the rapier to his breast," cried Jack, in great excitement;

" And so there was," said Mary, in a very low

voice, but it was gone when \ the. ; butler came back with ; help. Ttíe banker's letter about the forgery was by his side. Nobody seemed to think much of it at the inquiry held on the death, and tho butler contradicted himself, and > said at last he would not swear to having seen it--he was so flustered, he might have been mistaken. But, Master Jack/'and Mary laid 'her hand on the young man's arm, "if wo could see that letter, we should find in it the real truth about Mr.. Fitzhugh's death."

: " I have it here/' said Jack, and: he took out a pocket-book, and produced from it a discolored scrap of paper ; "here is the last link that completes the chain of evidence against-Kitty's

father."

i Mary had fallen back breathless with astonish- ment at sight of the paper, but the shanie and bitterness of his voice moved her powerfully, and

she said:

"There's no dishonor 'U rest unon 7ier-and

who's to know it except our two selves PI guess he's been punished enough, carrying about a hell

in his heart all these years."

" But don't you see, Mary," said Jack, impati-

ently, " that with all this evidence in OM hauds, , it would be most dishonorable both to the dead father and the living, son, not to clear their name

from the stain that rests on it ?"

"Oh, Master Jack!" cried Mary, in horror, "you're not going to try and make mo tell to other folks what -I've toldyou hore to-night?"

fl think BO," he said, and his handsome face looked very stern and pale as he turned it on her j " you shirked your duty nearly 20 years ago,'

Mary; but you will have to do it now." ' V . -

"My duty!" cried Mary, angrily, friny dufy"

was to my mistress first-the least hint of it might have killed her then."

" But she died soon after-why did you not do your duty then?"

" There was the child," said Mary,,cwhy should I try and foul her name and her father's, when most likely 'twould only end in my muddying myself?' Who would have believed me? And Mr. Fitzhugh did kill himself-master had no hand in that-and the man was a fool and a coward to go out of the world in a fit of jealous madness." ,

"The truth shall be told, it must bo told," said Jack, doggedly j " it will be for Mr. Velasquez to decide whether he will publish it or not."

"And my. man will never forgive nie," said Mary, with bitter tears in her eyes, "and we shall be turned out of here-and there's my pretty Molly-".

"Did you eyer tell Martin all this?" said Jack, sharply.

!f.Not I-not a word of it has ever crossed my lips till to-night." ;.

"He would be the first to bid you speak," Baid the young man j as he took out his pocket book to replace the paper. ."« \

"Let me see it, Master Jack," she cried, eagerly. " I've. guessed such many times what could have been in it--'. ..<.'. . '.

"No, Mary," said; Jack, " I won't trust it.in your hands-but I'll tell you its contents. It is a love-letter from Mrs.. Fitzhugh to Mr. Dashwood, but unless she was the most deceitful woman on earth, I should Bay this letter was forged." ;

"She write a love-letter to him!" cried Mary 5 " why, she came to the place where her husband's dead body lay, and cursed. Mr. Dashwood, and swore he was a murderer, and she would never rest till she'd brought him to justice ! The butler S said it made his blood run cold to hoar her, and

then she fell down in a fit on Mr/Fitzhugh's body, and so the living and the. dead were carried back to their home together."

" It was a foul cowardly murder," sad Jack, be- tween his teeth,t"and to think that such.a man should be the lather of my good, sweet-no, not true Kitty," he added, as one stabbed by a sudden recollection, ,fand no doubt now, rather than have his disgrace published, he will give her to that fellow-and every one will bo satisfied-except me." :

Mary had long ago ceased to knit, the flame from the hearth showed her face to be very pale, and she started violently as at that moment a knock was heard, and the next moment a dark figure gloomed in the doorway-it was Mr. Ve- lasquez. Ai