Chapter 75654730

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Chapter NumberII.
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article75654730
Full Date1883-12-22
Page Number8
Corrections0
Word Count1723
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleWarwick Argus (Qld. : 1879 - 1901)
Trove TitleThe Maitlands
article text

OHAPTEB n.

Edward Maitland was a wealthy landed proprietor in one of the riohest pastoral diB triots of Viotoria. He had one eon, Walter, of whom he was not a little proud, but with whom he was, perhaps, a little severe. Halt land p?rt wai extremely afraid ot hie son Walter making a mesalliance-possibly, be cause he himseU had married hie father's cook, and was afraid that such little peouliarties were hereditary. However that may be, Walter was perfectly certain, that i{ he did many beneath him, his lather would straight way oast him o9 with the proverbial shilling. This was probably the reason why, with that strange perversity that makes the majority ot people long for the precise thing that they are warned to shun, Mr. Walter Maitland (ell over Bead and ears in love with the pretty daughter «f John Morrison, a poor bat honest ?elector in Gipps Land. Walter was a ro mantio youth in those days-he was but twenty years of age-and it afforded him a strange and fearful delight to masquerade in his mooting enranions tinder the name of Walter Brown, tinder the name of Walter

Bpibgip he married pretty Jane Morrison, and .trughtwaf took a «nug little cottage for her in a ?pbotprot Melbourne,

' There if ao use ot living wider qiroum-, .turns which savour of the romantic, unless

it is done properly; and, therofore, Walter mode up his mind tlut he would keep his wife ignorant of what he considered hie exalted origin until fie became bis own master. In the meantime, be gave out that ho was a commercial traveller for a salt goods house in the aity. This was a very soft thing, indeed, if it had been analysed; but Mrs. 'Brown know so mora about softgoods than Mr. Brown, and she was, of oourse, under the impression that, when her husband was away visiting the paternal acres, he was pe rambulating the country in those gorgeous vehioles so muob afleatod by commercial gentlemen.

The only person who knew of the little comedy, besides Walter himself, was his oousin, Henry Maitland.

Yeans rolled on, but Mr. Walter Maitland, much to the surprise of his aristocratic friends, remained a confirmed baohelor. Mr. and Mrs. Walter Brown were blessed with onefair daughter, whom the perspicuous reader will immediately reoognise as Lucy, who so strangely disappeared from the ken of her lover, Victor Levison.

The auspicious birth of a daughter mads an additional attraction to the romantio dove cote of Mr. Walter Brown alius Maitland. But Waltor continued the even tenor of his way. He was happy in his cottage as Walter Brown, and he was happy on his father's station as Walter Maitland. In either case ho was a happy-go-lucky, careless, romantic dog, who hugged his own little mystery to his own heart, and never thought that any harm would come of it. All in good time he would appear as the prinoe in the fairy tale, and carry his astonished wife and no less astonished child to his palatial and anoestral home. But when one, with the best intentions in the world, b&gins telling lies, or living lies, things don't 'pan out,' properly always. Ten years after his marriage his father died and he suooeeded to the property. Now, whether it was that he was ashamed of his wife; or whether, as some have whispered, that he had another wife aomowhere else ; or whether, simply that he was too easy going to alter the life whioh had grown habitual to him we cannot say : but, certain it is, that after the death of his father, and up to the time of his own-aftcidental death we were go ing to say, but deliberate murder is the phrase required-he continued his dual ejuatenoc.

Walter was always an easy going, honest, oaretass soul; and we don't believe a word about the rumoured eoaond wile. His faults

were numerous enough; but hia principal weakness was a pemioious habit of1 letting things slide,' and stunting off work of any kind and respolisiblities of all kinds on to other shoulders. The pair ot shoulders which took the most ot this work wen those of his cousin Henry. Henry Maitland was a olever man

with n. Icami. diurk eve

which, to a dose obser ver, had a slightly trea cherous look, 'and bis taoe, when lie was not wearing hie aooiety mask, had a hungTy av aricious expression. A good physiognomist wotild have said that be was a misera good

Ehrenologist would

are pat him down as

a first class murderer; they wonld both have been right. Henry Usitland bad a badly balanced bead. He baa an abnormal develop ment of two organs-^ very useful in their place but dangerous when in cxaesft-acqui sitiveness and destruo tiveness.

Henry Maidand was Walters only surviving relative. If Walter died intestate he woutdsuo

oeed to the property. The only thing that stood in the way was the wife and daughter. How to get over this difficulty was the ques

tion.

" Watty old boy," said Henry with the as sumption of bluff hear tiness and good hum our, which he adopted always when not abso lutely alone-this as sumption of good na ture! roughness was the mask under which he found it most conveni ent to do the meanest of his aotions-" Watty old boy, I want to talk seriously to yon."

"Oh bother I What is it?"

" It iga matter, wbidh affects the welfare of your wife and ohild."

" Of my wile and child?" said Walter mu ingly. "Tee I ought to bring them up here.

What does it matter

bow people will talk. Married for the last sev enteen years under an assumed name. After

all it will only be a

nine days wonder. Yes, yon are quite right, Henry, I mart bring them up at onoe."

" That is a very good resolution, bravo I" cried Henry in his most honest and effusive style: I am glad to hear you talk like that, but that is not what I was thinking about, dear boy."

" Of what then?"

" Have you made your will, Walter 1"

" No."

" Careless fellow."

" Why I don't look like dying, do I ?"

" Mo, but we are all mortal, and if you were to die without making your will, see what possibilities of trouble might arise. You ought to think of your wife and daugh

ter."

" You are a good fellow Harry," said Walter impulsively, "let me do it at once; you're soribe enough for that I'm sure."

" Of course I can do it," replied Harry slowly, " but had you not better get it done by a lawyer ?"

"Oh, hang lawyers! They only oonfuse things. Three lines will do it. I'll leave all my iproperty to Luoy, subject to the payment of £1000 a year to my wife, and a thousand a year to you old boy,.and the thing is done."

" Well, yes, of oourse, that's simple enough, and if you wish me to do it, I'll draw up a

will to-morrow."

" Do, there's a good fellow, and thon the thing will be oft my mind."

Next day Henry stayed at home, and Wal ter rode into the township upon some business. Henry was very busy all day writing out the will, in the most elaborate legal style, with the help of some legal handbooks.

After writing out one will, bo wrote out

another.

In the first will he had disposed of the property as Walter Maitland instructed him. In the seoond will, he transposed the names in Buch a way, as to leave the bulk of the property to " my cousin, Henry Maitland," and one thousand a year to Miss Jane Mor rison, oommonly known as Mrs. Walter Brown.

The two pieoes of foolscap were exaotly the samo in appearance to start with. Henry Maitland, to still further inoroase the decep tion, made a series of elaborate, but appa rently accidental, blotches upon the first will; and then, with a most commendable patience, prooooded to make fac simile blotches upon the seoond will. The two wills wero in ap pearanoe, identioal. After he had Unishod bis task, Henry went to tho gun rack, took out Walter's breeoh-loadcr, and took it down to the blacksmith's shop. There was nobody about, as Henry had sent tho blacksmith to hang a gate, at the extreme end of the run. With some curious tools, he worked away in dustriously, at tho inside of tho left band barrel, until he was apparently satisfied.

When ho bad finished, there was a perceptible orack, or groove, in the barrel, about six in choB from the brooch. This crack ho filled up with grease, until it was no longer to be seen, when looking through the barrel, and having finished his work to his entire satis faction, he returned to the houso, and replaced the gun in the rock. When Walter returned in tho evening, he read the will first written, with many groans at its length.

" That ib about what you want, isn't it ?" asked Henry cheerfully. " Oh yea I" said Walter, throwing it on the table with a sigh of relief. " I suppose you had better get in a couple of the men to witness it."

Henry piaked up the will, and walking carelessly over to tho fire-place, rang the bell. It did not require much slcight-of-hand to oonccal the will Walter had just read, and return to his scat with the fac simile in his hand in place of the original. Tho house maid now appeared in response te the ring, and she was instructed to send Thompson, tho overseer, and Blake, the boundary rider, in. The fraudulent will was lying on the table. In five minutes it was duly signed, sealed, and delivered, and in five minutes more it was securely locked up in Mr. Walter Maitland's private safo.

Then Mr. Henry Mai Hand planned a shoot ing excursion for the following morning.

The most expensive guns are not absolutely safe ; and when Mr W alter Uaitland's dead body was brought into the house, Henry Maitland said he would never have confidence in one of those new-fangled breeah-loaders again.