Chapter 75654765

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Chapter NumberIII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article75654765
Full Date1883-12-22
Page Number8
Corrections0
Word Count1838
IllustratedY
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleWarwick Argus (Qld. : 1879 - 1901)
Trove TitleThe Maitlands
article text

CHAPTER III.

Viotor Levison's ouriosity had been roasod by the remark of detective Smith aB to the good-looking girl in the next carriage; and, therefore, when he found himself sitting op posite to the fair unknown, in a study little oab, his first impulse was to try and get a look at her face. But in this he was com pletely baulked, for the younglsdy persistently kept her lace muffled up in a thick veil. "She has got a pretty foot at all events," said Viotor to himself," and a beautiful' figure. The pose of her head is simply superb, and what lovely hair; the very Dolour of Luoy's."

All at onoe the thought ruBhed into Viotor's mind-the conviction almost-that it was indeed Lucy. His heart felt strangely op pressed; his breath cams in short quick gasps; bis face flushed, Bnd his fingers seemed to burn and tremble with an eager longing to touoh the hand, the dress, the hair of the sweet girl who seemed to efface herself in the farthest oorner of the oab as if to keep as far away from him]as possible.

Lucy, on her part,|knew Viotor; and all

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her passionate love for him whioh, in the dear old days when there was no barrier between them, had been fed on honied words and kept alive by tender oaresses-whose banished joys it was now an agony to remember-made her bosom swell and her heart throb painfully, while she oould hardly oontrol the impulse to throw herself into her lover's arms, and Bob out her agony on his boBom. Her blood ran oold the next moment, and her highly wrought feelings found relief in a Bigh whioh, bnt for her fear of betraying herself, would have been

a moan.

Victor felt as if he was standing on a prcci

Sioe and was seized with a mad desire to fling

imsolf over. Three or four times he opened

his lips to speak and as often the unspoken thought died upon his lips. His heart beat furiously. If it was Lucy, and he allowed her to osoape without Bpeaking to her and en deavouring to clear up the mystery of her dis appearance, he would curse his . prudery aB long as he lived. But, if the young lady was a stranger, upon what possible protext could ho address hor at all. And then it oould not possibly be Lucy, or she would have spoken. Yet, in spite of all his arguments against the possibility of its bring the girl ho loved, he felt surrounded and steeped in an atmosphere oharged with emotions such as lie only felt when in the presence of one woman.

The situation was boooming painfully tonse. The atmosphere of that cab was oharged with love's eleotricity, and it is diffi cult to say what would have happened if a lightning oonductor, in the shape of Henry Maitland had not entered tho vehicle at that moment. Henry Maitland was on his way to Melbourne, and had purchased his tieket when ho chanoed to look into the lady's car riage. He saw Lucy, and his guilty con science, ever on the watch for possible dis oovery of his crimes, made him Buspect that Luoy s appearance in the distriot boded no good for mm.

After he had accomplished his purpose so oleverly of murdering his cousin Walter by manipulating his breech-loader so artistically, he had interviewed Mrs. Walter Brown, Lucy's mother. Ho explained to her the exaot position of affaire as a candid friend, liis explanation was charming in its sim plicity, and oould not possibly have doccived anyone but the Bimplo-minded woman whom he took the trouble to doccivc. According to him Walter Maitland had married Jane Morrison under an assumed name. Walter Brown, in fact, had married Jane Morrison. Walter Maitland had died, and Walter Mait land being also Walter Brown, it followed that Walter Brown had died. But nobody know Walter Maitland as Walter Brown ox cepl ho himBolf, Henry Maitland; and ho was not only not going to identify Waltor Mait land aa Waltor Brown, but ho would abso

lately swear that 110 suoh identity existed. If she persisted in claiming Walter Maitland as her husband he would denounce her as an impostor, and swear that she, Mrs. Brtmt, was Walter Maitland's mistress; that he knew Walter Brown well enough, and that he had simply disappeared in order to lend a

colour to her claim. He went so lar as to

say that she was not really married from the fact of lior having married Maitland under the name of Brown. That Walter himself was aware of this, and as damning evidenoe of that he produced the will, in which he had loft to Miss Jane Morrison, commonly known as Mrs. Walter Brown, £1000 per annum. All this was like a hideous dream to Lucy's

mother; and she was bo overwhelmed with tbo apparent completeness of tho thing, that she was perfectly helpless and utterly in capable of seeing her way out of the difficulty. Tho ono hideous appalling loot that stood out boldly in all tho entangled surroundings, and struck ooldly to her heart and turned her head dizzy, was that she was not married to the lather of the child, and that her child waB a bastard.

She dared not tell Luoy, but in her feverish mutlerings when the terrible blow laid her upon a bed of siokness, her daughter gathered so much that she was compelled to tell her all-and believing herself that Bhe had been deceived, the sad story was imparted in such a way that Luoy was oompelled, in spite of herself, to think the same. It was a crushing blow to the poor girl. She was so proud of her father, so fond of her mother. And to think that all this time her father had lived a lie I But when she thought ol her love-of Victor-it almoBt drove her mad. There was but ono thing to be done. They must dis appear from the soene and blot out the past; they could live where their story was un known. Farting with Victor was the severest trial, but she could not endure the thought of linking her sullied name to that of the man she loved too well to drag down to her level. Thus she wrote her parting letter to Victor, and this is why she dreaded his discovering her. Luoy and her mother hod a hard struggle. Bhe was now on her way to Bar gooma as governess to Mrs. Campbell, who knew the whole of her sad story.

Henry Maitland, being a high-olass villain, knew that the fiotion he had so industriously elaborated, would not stand investigation. As long as Luoy and her mother were alive there was danger.

Luoy was even more dangerous than her mother) and, therefore, when be saw bur in the railway carriage, and saw her afterwards

take her seat in the oab which was to take

her to the coaoh office, he changed his mind about going to Melbourne, and determined to find out her destination. ig

With this objeot he also got into the oab;

and if (be reader wishes to know how long it takes to go through all the different emotions and life experiences which we have attempted to desoribe, and traoe to their sonrees from the beginning of the chapter np to this point, the oabman, it he were at the same time ob servant and truthful, would probably inform him that the time was three minutes. The entranoe of Henry Mainland into the oab was a relief to Viator and Lucy. Not that be was a desirable companion, but the emotional currents were diverted, and both Luoy and Viotor breathed more freely for hiB presenoe, although Luoy knew him and loathed him, while Viotor didn't know him, and didn't want to know him.

The cab drove up to the coach office; and as soon as the luggage was arranged, and the mails put on tne rack, and in the boot, and under the seats, and wherever they could find a placo to stow them, the ooaoh started out of the thriving township of Tclora with the usual plunge of the near wheeler, without which, it is apparently impossible for Oobb & Co. to get away. He was a cranky brute that near side wheeler, and Jack M'Lean, the driver, told Victor-who was sitting alongside him-in a confidential whisper, that the ani mal was a " blooming fraud." There was another gentlemen on the box seat, and Lucy was inside, where, also, Henry Uaitland had eleoted to go.

Although the weather for the last few days had been fine on the ooast and a short dis tance inland, the country about Telora gave evidenoe of heavy rainfall. There had been steady rain for three or four days higher up the country also ; and all the creeks were running bank high.

The road oroased the valley of the Telora oreek, about ten miles out of the township. The crock had overflown Us banks, and when the coach arrived at the edgo of the water, it waB evident that it would take very careful piloting to get through with safety. The our. rent was not rapid, and the water was not more than four feet deep on the average; but these floods, which look so innocent, nave a nasty habit of working deep holes in the blue day, which forms the bod of the valley, and if the coach, by acoident, got into one of these holes, it would be a serious matter. All this was known to Henry Maitland, who was also perfectly acquainted with the track aoross. A diabolical idea suddenly entorcd his head. If he could entice the driver of the ooach into one of theso huge holes, the inside passengers of the coach would be oertainly drowned. Lucy oncc out of the way, ho would bo

safe.

Tho coach stopped at tha edge of the

water.

"Can any gentleman drive the ooach after mo through this swamp, if I get a horse and pilot the way," asked the driver.

" I'll drive," said Victor, who was rather a i good four-in-hand whip. ]

" It you would allow me to make a Buggcs- j tion," said Mr. Maitland, "I think wecanget i over the difficulty. Doubtless this gentle- 1 man," referring to Victor, "is a proficient < driver, bat I think Jaok had better stick to

the ribbons. I will ride on, and act as pilot." i

"All right, old son," said Jaok, "you're a < trump; here oomes Bobby with a horse; fire i

ahead I" and the coaoh went down steadily . into the yellow turbulent water, while Honry i Maitland rode on in front, with an angeho ' smile upon his face, and murder in his heart.