Chapter 71282174

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Chapter NumberXVI
Chapter TitleNot Ashamed.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71282174
Full Date1898-01-15
Page Number8
Corrections0
Word Count1270
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAustralian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907)
Trove TitleThe Mystery of Phillip Bennion's Death
article text

CHAPTER XVJ. J

Sot AsuamM. 1

. : How I reached home I am unable to clearly

state. I ¿ave a dim recollection of stumbling down the hospital steps. I think I called a cab, but, at the same time, I am not sure that the hansom was not waiting for me in which I had arrived, Ï know I did drive home, and,Xj£new. that, as I drove, I kept pressing my (hand against a paper which was in the breast-pocket of my

coat. That paper purported to be a certificate of : á marriage which had takeji place between Ralph

Hardwicke ând Louisa Pratt.

Dewsnap, my servant, received me when. I re turned. Hë .told me that Î was late, and that

my dress-olothes had long since been waltina ;

. .. ?

w

for me to get into them. I said that I should Ïtot require them that night, because I did not in

end to alter my attire. He looked at me as kance, asked if I was not feeling well, and re ininded me that Mr. Hardwicke was about to caji to take me out to dinner.

"Leave me alone," I said, I am afraid querulous- ; ly. "I am quite aware that Mr. Hardwicke is going to call." -

Pew.snap left me alone, though I.have no doubt; ¡tofiatever that he perceived that something out=of - the way had happened. .. They have the eyes of

hawks, those servants!

I sat in a sort of stupor. I realised something - of what the feelings of a man must'be .who'is-wait ing for execution. It is possible^ he feels as I felt, that he may become impatient, for ..the hour tö arrive. It had to be. Why did not Ralph hasten, so that we might have lt over? .

, Ï dared not think of Nina, My pretty Nina!

At last he came. I heard his vigorous step without; I heard his hand upon the handle. I

knew that he had opened the door, and-that he.] ,was looking into the room. But. on a sudden, I fell into such a flt of trembling, that, at the first moment, I could not turn and face him.

^ His strong yet musical voice rang out across

the room

"Hallo, Otway, aren't you ready?"

Still I could not look upon his face. -

I suppose that my behavior-, struck him . as strange. It was unlike me. when I received; a guest, to sit crouching in a corney, withr-my'back Îurned towards-the door. He advanced further

nto*the room. .

" I say, do you know what time it'ie ? Ara you asleep, young man?" , - - .."..

Then I turned. As I raised-myself from my chair, I felt that my knees were trembling be neath-me. ' _

When I looked at him I was struck more"than ever by the strength and beauty of his face; tho; intellect that was written large'; the unmistak able signs of exceptional mental force and 'power. I felt as if he .had been'the accuser and I the accused. Far rather .would I have had it so.

"Ralph," my voice still faltered. "I ¡have seen

your, wife!"

There was silence-that awful silence which most of us have known at some time or other In our lives-that silence which ls so infinitely more eloquent than speech.

As I raised my eyes.to look again up at him, I saw that, during that interval of silence, his face had become transfigured. The change which had taken-place in it would he difficult to de scribe in words-changes which take place in the expression of a person's countenance hot sel dom are. It betrayed no emotion, no surprise,

no dismay, no sort.of passion, but in an indéfini able manner, lt had »become hard, and cold, and set, as if carved in stone: the - face of a man. all intellect, keen, razor-edged, as unyielding and insensible to outward Influence as finely-tempered

steel.

"So!" ? -. ..

That was all he said, and he moved to the fire place. ..."

"Ralph,** I almost screamed, his. passionless calm seeming to throw oil. upon the flames which burned within me, "don't stand like "that. Have you nothing to. say. Don't you hear me tell you, that I have seen your wife?" - -

"I hear you. Is she outside?" * , .

"Outside?" I echoed. ;"" ;

"If she is outside, pray ask her to come in." .. "She is not outside." - -

"Not outside?"

He stood looking at me with an insolent cool ness which affected me more than any other be havior on his part could possibly have done.-Wbat stupefled me with horror, he seemed to regard, if one might judge from hiB outward demeanor, (With almost complete indifference. I found my self wondering, for the first time during all these, years,' wihatjaaanner_of man he really was.

"Well," he added, have you ' anything' else you wish- to Bay?" "

"Is it possible, slr, that there is nothing which you wish, to say 7"

"Oh, yes, there are one or two things. By the way, aren't you coming to dinner?" He looked at his watch. "It is on the table.

"Is that the only observation you have to make

.-that dinner is on the table?"

"You are really too severe, and, after all, "one

must dine."

"As you say, one must dine."

He stood regarding me in silence for a moment or two. Then he asked a question: .

"Do you intend to forbid the banns ?" "Forbid the banns?" .

"I mean, do you mean to place any, active ob stacle in the way of my marriage with Nina in the morning?"

"You-you ineffable villain!"

"Don't call me names! - I mightn't like it."

"Not call you names! . Is it conceivable' that you think that, knowing what I know, I will allow you to go to the altar with Miss Macrae, and allow you to plodge yourself to be her hus band in the sight of God and man?"

"Then you mean to tell Nina-that I have a

wife?"

"I mean not only to tell Nina,' but I mean to publish it to all the world. It is not expedient that men like you should be married and folks not know it. It should be published from the" house tops, so that he who runs may read."

"Don't be melodramatic. What's the use? Be easy!" He looked at me with the most indes cribably Insolent air of amusement. "I fancy, that you mean to be worse than the other,"

'.'Than what other?" " .

'Than old Ben!"

I gasped. ,

"Do you mean that Philip Bennion knew that you were married?"

"Certainly. - I told him all about it. It was the queerest marriage of which you ever heard." I quite believed him. "I didn't go much to music halls, even in those days. They always struck me as stupid. They bored me! But one night I dropped into the Aristophanes, and I heard 'the^ Pet of the Perls'-has the little darling told you" that she was known to the world as 'the Pet of the Peris?' " * '

"She has."

(To be continued.)

"Our Alma Mater," the journal of St. Ignatius' College, Riverview, Sydney, Is to hand, and con tains a record of the. principal matters in con

nection with the life of the college during the

year.

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