|Chapter Title||Beatrice Ballantyne|
|Newspaper Title||The North Queensland Register (Townsville, Qld. : 1892 - 1905)|
|Trove Title||The Mystery of Sea-Towers|
CHAPTER H.* . 1
Beatrice Ballantynfi. : "
It was with some sncfa tlionphH tu
lier inind as tiiose' of^ the " preTjous] - chapter, that a Toung and fair womatij
sat rocking herself in front ©£,» tfir
cone fire on ihe eyen|nj? of the. 5tl^ of]. June,; 18-, ,in': a lar^e^iid spaeSons; apartment of4tlie mansion pre\ioosly\ referred^ . I...
,7It was the day. ui>on which shehad' tajceu^ 'pps^a^Iou,>- as the heiress, of
- _;i- k..:;. »,
.-" bright blaze; dulled ocasionaUy as a,
from off the polished fender, as a stray spark actually dropped upon her instep. Then she listened to her maid, who was bustling about in the-ad joining room preparatory to retiring for the night. -
"It is funny/' she said half aloud to herself* "that we two lone women should be sleeping in the end rooms of this great house by ourselves. That wretched coachman and his wife, and the cook and housemaid, are all In the South wing, with pretty well half a dozen - doors between us-and the bells out of order tbo. However, lAiey is not a timid girl, and she's within call, and for myself why should I-fear the old place, or believe the: foolish tales told about my uncle. Sea-Cliff Towers belong to Beatrice Ballantyne, and I am here to stay." *
The lady rocked herself gently to and fro, as one unconsciously does,
when indulging In retrospect- She was evidently thinking yery. deeply: about something, while she" IpoUedat: tlie pictures which came and : wont' amid the.: glowing embers *>£- the fir-j cones. . . ;. .- " ;
It may interest thergaders t<5 know; something more aboutthe lady and; Jier thongbtsi,which just then were! "Car. away from iierpresent residence! upon 33je j?ac|fie Coast jot Australia." i
Only three days before she had hnd-!
ed inthe. capita} eity of Victoria from J England,; apd as shesat locking . her-\ ^lf,-Jbier thoughts were: away on the: Eastern coast of .tJiat country. It| was spring. tinie' there "she thoiigM^ or^ rather early sunimer-^he leafr month, of June.** v:'V " V" - *-V'^ - - - . *
ahd -flnng" f&spi: a, coal fecuttle ^i pile
richly, even luxuriously, furnished. A polished walnut bedstead with silk hangings stood near a bay window, with silk upholstered ottoman seats in the recess. A thick square of velvet pile carpet covered the centre of the floor, and old fashioned chairs and sofas were scattered around, while at the far end of the room Was a large wardrobe of walnut wood with full length mirrors in the panelling of the doors. Close by was the half open door leading to the dressing room where Miss Ballantyne's maid was
The ceiling was inwrought with plaster castings, and a handsome cor nice of similar work gave a finish to the walls of the apartment. It was a room which suggested at a glance that the house to which it belonged was of considerable dimensions, and the residence of some wealthy person.
Nor was the I arty out of keepine. witli lier sr.rroundi')iccs. If the apartment was a handsome one, much more so was the worn?jj who sHIl swayed ii*r; self gently to mid fro in the old
fashioned hroeadetl roekiuc: chair.
At twenty-five Ben f rice BallaJitynje ; was a matured and self-reliant wo~i>?rrv
Both ber parents* haifl died when she was Vonnai leaTinsr her to the "jBruard ! ianshin of an old Welsh jrent^man; ? who isatlsfi"ed%is. wnsclence Ivy placing:
' her at a hiffh-^litss boardiusr school aT*! ; earpfuUr hushandiiisr the resources of
1 alittie landed properly, wlifeh she in i herited in Wale^. Shehadngturally i beeii thrown very much upon her own
resources." ..' " . : .
3-The boarding school, or ladies' col lege as it f was terpied in the; pro«: j^tuV wais at -Norwich, and it w^ here that many of the pleasantest epi
life had trans Her gltardia n died about the
tiine isfee attained hermajority, since
when she had travelled a good bit with an aunt and two girl cousins, when suddenly her Uncle Raymond had died, or rather, It should be said, com mitted suicide by throwing himself off the cliffs below the sea wall of the Towers, and had left her sole heiress of his property. She was a rich woman without kith or kin in Aus tralia. She was beautiful, and she knew it; and among the thoughts which passed through her mind, as she lay back negligently in her rocking chair, were what she was going to do with herself, and her beauty, and riches, in that great sombre place. Aud then she began to think about her Uncle Raymond, and the story of his reputed suicide-for his body was
That was his picture done in oils over the-fireplace. She would move it to-morrow aud put an overmantel
Suddenly her attention was partic ularly called to the fireplace and grate| aud the thick square fur rug upon" which her rocking chair rested. The rug was not long and narrow as hearth; rugs usually are, but was about five feet square, and under it was a curi ously wrought tessaiated flooring of terra cotta ; she noticed too, that the centre carpet was cut out about a foot, so as to clear the rug and tessaiated tile work. Becoming interested in this, she rose lightly from her chair and stepped back upon the thick carpet to examine it more closely.
A moment after, however, she started and stood white and trembling, staring fixedly at the fireplace, and tessaiated square, and hearth-rug, and rocking chair, which to her horror she observed slowly and noiselessly, but very perceptibly, sinking in one solid piece below the surface of the floor.
Her first impulse was to call for her maid and rush to the door, but Bea trice was of sterner stuff than most women of five and twenty are made of, and this extraordinary thing was taking place in her own house ; besides she was half fascinated by the strange ness of the thing, and scarcely had power over either her voice or muscles. The fire-place, and .hearth-rug, aud -chair,- sank lower and lower, and pre sently there grasped the edge of the tessaiated tile work, in full view of the blowing .embers in the grate, the four fingers of a hand, unon one finger of whieh there sparkled a jewelled ring. They were .fingers which seen under such circumstances as that, were not likely soon to be forgotten.
The ring was seen by Beatrice to be a most uncommon one. and was worn upon the second finger of the bond-evidently the left baud. It was a oafs-eye,"set in a rim of gold, around which there, sparkled In firelight a circle of diamonds. The fingers were large, aud fat, white too, and
Beatrice Was both fascinated aud -horrified, fat fingers were to her sug gestive of violence. She felt herself nhout to scream-then tried to, but could not--and a. moment afterward, sank .Unconscious upon, the floor. Her last thought was that somehow Lne eat*s-eye - in the ring had become human, and was looking at her.