|Chapter Title||THE VICTIM.|
|Newspaper Title||The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1950)|
|Trove Title||A Terrible Wrong|
A TERRIBLE WRONG. '
By Mrs. Harriet Lewis.
Author of- The Double Life.' Lord DarhvQoiVs Crime' §~c.
CHAPTERII. THE VICTIM. /'I must be mad!' muttered the girl, sinking: into a cliaii% her wild eyes big with agony. 'I must be mad ! 'The .announcement has been too great a shock for you !' said Melcombe. sympathetically. The girl sat dumb and. horror ?striken. Lord Oswald's weak sonl was torn 'with conflicting emotions, but he stood ialoof from her, fixing his eyes upon his treacherous adviser. * I am Avilling to provide for you,' said Lord Oswald again, in & husky voice. 'You'll soon get Over yoHr fondness for me, Queeme. You must have seen long ago that I am tired of yon. 1 have loved a hundred times, but constancy was never my forte. We have had a pleasant year. * I'm sure I ve heaped presents on you, and spent no end of money upon you. x on can keep your jewels, and I'll allow you a hundred a-year, a hand some allowance fora girl like you. And in time yon can marry again, you. know ? ' A long, low cry thrilled the girl's white lips. She shuddered as' if stabbed to the heart. ' Oswald will be glad to have you many,' said Melcombe, softly, ''for he is himself about to marry;' _ ,- ' The girl raised her head swiftly. ' Iuam his wife '?' she cried, sharp ly. ' He cannot, he dare not, maiTy any other woman! Oh, Oswald, speak to me ! Tell me this is some cruel jest ! You are only trying my love. Is it not so? Oswald, my darling, my husband,' and her voice thrilled with tender pleading, ' you should not jest like this. For the sake of our little child, Oswald, the little one I hope to take to your father as our peacemaker with him, take back your words. See, I kneel to you!' and she ran and knelt at his feet, her upturned face convulsed with an awful beauty. ' Take back your cruel words, Oswald. Tell me you are not trying me!'- She tryed to- clasp her knees, but he recoiled before her. ' 1 wish I were dead !' cried Lord Oswald. ' I can't stand much more of this. I have told you the truth, Queenie. Our marriage is no mar riage. You are not my wife. , I am not jesting. Will you not- under stand plain English ? I don't like a row, and if you had any wish to keep me you went the wrong way to work. My father insists on my marriage, or he'll malce me a beggar.' 'But I can work ? ' 'Well, I can't, and won't. I shall marry as my father wishes. Our connection ends here and now. I will give you your year's allowance to-, morrow,' said Lord Oswald, and, of course, I'll allow something extra for the child. You can easily keep its existence a secret. Your people know nothing of this year's escapade, Queenie. They believe you still a pupil at school — thanks to your skil ful manoeuvring. Go home to them as a' maiden, keep your secret ? ' The girl leaped to her feet. A fiery scom blazed from her eyes. An unutterable anguish tortured her features.
' Do not speak of them !' she cried, hollowly. ' Oh, this is a punishment for my disobedience ! This is a retri bution! Great heaven ! It is more than I can bear !' ' Queenie !' 'Stand back! Do not dare to touch me ! Not my husband ! Your name is not Oswald Keith ! Mayv heaven punish you as you deserve ! May the curse of the girl you have wronged haunt ? Oh. no, no ! You xare my husband. Oswald unsay those cruel words ! I love you, dear. You- are not capable of such a wrong. Speak to me ? ' Lord Oswald made a movfment to depart. His weak soul had been nerved to the commission of this foul crime. . No thought of relenting came to him. His selfish instincts were all up in arms. The girl saw that he was relentless ; that he was terribly in ernest ? that she might as well plead to stone. Then the iron entered her soul. She believed his false and lying story, and, with a wild cry that was to haunt Lord Oswald through all his future years, she sank to the floor in a swoon Melcombe rang the bell and sum moned a servant to attend her, and then, with Lord Oswald, quitted the house. ' Yon are . rid of her,' said Mel combe, as the two drove away in the cab. ' You convinced her at last. She's a proui^ little piece. She'll never trouble you again.' And to himself Melcombe promised that he would visit Labumam Lodge on the morrow and intrude his own love upon the hapless, decarded young wife. The poor girl went from swoon to swoon during the terrible afternoon. A doctor was summoned, and he gave her an opiate which held her for a few hours in a stupid slumber. She awakened at an early hour in the evening. Her maid had gone down to the servant's room. A lamp was 'burning dimly. The rain was beat ing against the pains, the night was dark and.gloomy. The girl rose weakly from her couch and put on the garments she had worn during the day. Her jewels still 'remained on her person. Theu she stole down the stairs, white and still as a ghost. Her water proof cloak hung over the hall rack. She put it on her head mechanically, drew the hood over her head to con ceal her features, opened the door, and staggered out into the night. Her one impulse was to seek death. ('To be continued.)