Chapter 75654767

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberIV
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article75654767
Full Date1883-12-22
Page Number8
Corrections0
Word Count1654
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleWarwick Argus (Qld. : 1879 - 1901)
Trove TitleThe Maitlands
article text

CHAPTER IV.

It was an exoiting time. The turbid breadth

of flood water, which looked bo innocent and picturesque at a distance, took a new mean ing when it eurged up against the wheels of the coach, and swirled angrily away on the other side, as if it felt defrauded of its lawful prey. The near-Bide wheeler was restless and uneasy. Every now and again he plunged his nose down into the turbid waters, and then flung it up with a jerk, as if he had seen a snake, snorting and plunfpng all the time evidently in the most abject terror. About thirty yards ahead of the coach, Henry Maitland piloted the way. The coach was now abaut half-way aoross.

" Hi I boss, ain't ycu going toomuoh to the left ?" yelled the driver.

" It's all right, you follow my track," called

baok Maitland over his shoulder.

" His track seemB to me darned peculiar," muttered jack under his breath, as he took a fresh hold of the near wheeler's rein.

The track was peculiar. Maitland seemed to be picking his way, going a little to the right and then to the left. The water left no trace of his passage, and the driver, in spite of himself, always kept following him in a bee

line.

They were within about two hundred yards of the landing place, when suddenly the near wheeler lost his footing. He was out of his depth. The leaders had swerved to one side and had escaped the hole. Instantly the driver jammed down the break, and stopped the coach, which, ef oourse, had only (Men going at a walking pace. Fortunately, the leaders were tractable, and stood still. The off-side wheeler instinctively reoognised his danger, and planting his feet firmly, held op against his straggling companion. The mo ment was one of imminent danger. The frantic horse plunged and reared, now feeling the bottom with his bind feet, and now plunging head foremost into the boiling water. His struggles were becoming weaker. In two minutes he would be drewned, but before that he would probably startle the other horses, and drag the^ooach into the abyss.

Jaok M'Lean dared not leave the reins. Viotor, in the meantime, had got over the dash board and, at the risk of his life, was walking oat en the pole to endeavor to loose the horse by unbuckling the reins and pole strap, and unhooking the traoes. The first step, however, along the pole, showed him that the thing was impossible. In an instant he was back again, and plunging off the seat, he swam up to the struggling animal, and be

gan operations by trying to let go the traoes. But|they were so tightly drawn and tense, that his efforts were hopeless. Then he be thought him of his knife. With a few rapid strokes the traoes, pole-straps, and reins were out, and the half-drowned animal was free, and presently staggered up the bank, more dead than alive.

Viotor now turned his attention to the lady in the ooaoh. Looking out of the window was the frightened visage of a travelling preaoher, who, coming thus far to preach the gospel to the heathen, was now more anxious for the Bafety of his own body from water than the souls of other people from fire. Behind the parson who, to do him justice, had tried to keep up his own oourage and comfort his follow passenger, stood Luoy, who had watched Viotor throughout the exoiting scene, her faoe white and her hands unconsciously clasped in the attitude of sup plioation.

Wadjpg to the door, Viotor opened it and said, simply:

" Are you muoh frightened my darling ?"

"I was not thinking of myself, Viotor; only of you. It seemed so terrible strug gling in the water with that half-maddened

horse."

They stood for a moment with tightly olasped hands. It was a moment of bliss. All the past was forgotten. Then Lucy gontly withdrew her hands and shivered slighty, as the barrier between Victor and hersolf once more rose before her.

"Come, my darling, I will carry yon to the bank," said;her lover. He took her in his Btrong arms; and Viator was repaid tor all the past twelvemonths of hope deferred as he felt her fluttering heart beat against his own. "You will never leave me moro," ho whis pered.

" Oh, Viotor 1 you don't know, you don't know ..."

" And I don't want to know. All I know is that I love you; and you told mo onoo that you loved me; and we are going to be married in spite of creation; and we'll be married at Bargooma, for I won't trust you out of my Bight any more; and we'll go away to Tas mania tor our honeymoon, and bo baok in time to spend the Christmas holidays with my old friend Campbell, to whoso house wo are both going now it I am not mistaken."

This was all said with so muoh decision,

and in such a matter-of-course tone, that : Lucy could only cry silently, while a great joy filled her soul, and she unconsciously nestled closer to the big heart of the man who was carrying her in his arms like a

shild.

The lovers were so absorbed in their own affairs that they did not notioe the presence of a well-appointed drag which just then drove tip, drawn by (our spanking bays, held well in hand by a cheerful-looting young gentleman ot about fifty summers, whose white hairs seemed absurdly out of place when taken in connection with his sparkling eyes and jovial, boyish-looking face.

"Bravo Victor I Well done my boy I" thon be added, in a serio-oomio tone, " bless you both, my ohildren."

"Hallo Campbell I is that you ?"

" All that is left of me. And this young lady is Miss Brown, I know from her photo graph. Jump up both of you; and if that villain Firestick will stop plunging for half a second, I'll shake hands with yon in the in terval. Now, my boy, you look uncommonly like a drowned rat-exouse my flattering simile-so we'll drive over to Simpsons for a change of olothes, and then we'll make Bar gooma at the rate of fifteen miles an hoar*" A" But what about the luggage?"

"Oh I that'll be all right. I'll leave word of the aoeident as we pass the oompany's stables, and they will send assistance.'1

When they anived at Bargooma they were cordially weloomed by Mrs. Campbell, who kissed Lucy as if she were an old mend, and insisted upon her going straight to bed after

tea.

The next lev days passed pleasantly for Luoy in a life which was entirely new to her. Victor learned from Mrs. Campbell the seoret whioh, in Lucy's estimation, raised suoh a barrier between .himself and her. The know ledge only helped to endearher to him themore. He pleaded so earnestly that at length she

consented to become his wife. In the mean time he determined to probe the mystery to the bottom. He communicated with deteo tive Smith, wbo immediately made as exami nation of the books of the Begistrar, ahd found the 'marriage duly recorded of Walter Brown and Jahe Morrisoon. The difficulty, of course, was to identify Walter fttaitlahd with Walter Brown. There would have been of course, no difficulty immediately, afteir the death of Walter; for those who knew him under either name oonld have identified the

body u belonging to the mas they knew under either designation and the mystery would haye been solved.

But now thatlie bad been dead for over a year, snob a solution was impossible.

Deteotive Smith who bad oome op to Bar gooma was at bis wits end. Viotor was striving after impossible combinations of the

most intrioate theories,

when the tohole Mipyr was pat into ft nutshell bya very innocent re mark by Mrs. Oamp

bell.

" Have yon a photo graph of yonr lather, . my dear}'' she said to

lipqy.

Ijuoy produced a pho tograph of her late latter, Walter Brvwn. i Mrs. Campbell bad is . her album a photo

graph of Walter Mait land. They were not from the same negative, nor by thesame artist; bnt there was no mis

taking the identity ot . the original. The photo

graph of Walter Brown ana that of Walter Maitland Were both taken from the same individual. " The ap paratus cant lie'' and the iptt dixit otihseun is indisputable .Inde pendently oI the general likeness which strikes the eye, there is the reproduction of even line and sear and mark

and microscopically

minute fissure with ab solute exactness. Not two fades,in a million are the same in one line, Bnt, since the creation t)f the world, il all the faoes that ever saw the light were oompared,no two ; faoes would, be found that hadoU {be lines the same. The photograph and the microscope together are infallible. The mystery was a mystery no lon

ger.

After the ladies bad retired, the three gentle men continued the dis cussion.

"What is yonr opinion of the mat ter, Smith?" said Vio

tor.

" What sort of a man was Walter Maitland?" said the detective, ad dressing Hr. Campbell.

"A thoroughly hon-1

ourable man; but one o! the most careless easy going fellows that ever I mot, And completely dominated by the superior in* tallect of his cousin Henry."

"Then," paid the detective, in ft thoughtful tone, " he never sign#) that will with the knowledge of its tenour. .It is my opinion th&t Walter Mait land has been doped; and his death, on the follow* ing day, makes me think that he was also murdered."

" By whom t" asked Mr. Campbell, eagariy.

<4 By the man who benefitted most by his death.'1!