Chapter 81619580

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Chapter NumberVI
Chapter TitleA Woman and a Lawyer.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article81619580
Full Date1897-11-17
Page Number29
Corrections0
Word Count1774
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe North Queensland Register (Townsville, Qld. : 1892 - 1905)
Trove TitleThe Mystery of Sea-Towers
article text

CHAPTER. VI.

A Woman and a Lawyer.

Sea-Cliff at the time of our ^tory wasstated in the Post Office Direc tory to be eightaiida half miles, from Melbourne, as the name of the su burb has since been changed to a more pretentious one, ilie reader may Jbe sared the troubleof looking for it, there "or upon, the rn^Si At Hie time we wivte «f, trams and subur baufafhvay lines were in their-fancy, the . boom times were only looming up on the horizon; hut so far the rural surroundings of the Queen eity of the South were qujet and undisturbed- A ctoach raiv daily past Sea-Cliff to a gmall township, a- few. miles further along-the coast,carryingtlie mails, and any passengers which Could be picked up, but it was an tfat of <the way dis _trict,; aiid ro^t people along the road kept their own conveyances. Qa the ad Vice of her solicitor, Beatrice had htr cd a carriage and pair of horses by the week at a Bom*ke Street livery stable, so on reaching the Town Hall she alighted and told William to take the carriage around to the stables, and {Jut the horses up, and wait upon heu at Bluntly, Blacfchai# and Dorset's

an hour and the Town Hall clock chim ed the half hour after ten, as she turn ed down Collins Street. _

It was a clear, crisp, bracing win ter's morning, and Beatrice felt the comfort of her sealskin jacket and warm English clothing. "Whoever would hare expected to find Australia so cold a place as this," she thought.

Most of the men wore overcoats and the women furs, and the solid well-to-do air of the brisk crowds which passed along the street decid

edly impressed her.

Although it was early, a consider able number of smart carriages were about the streets, and not a few curi ous glances were cast by their occu pants at the well-dressed girl, who with graceful mien passed on toward Queen Street. They could not see much o£ her face, for her veil was down. But her self-possession, easy carriage* an$ generally graceful bearing, were notion able, even in the well-dressed, affably* and self-satisfied city of Melbourne. >,

"That girl can Glance well," said 31 society, man; to a friend as they passed Beatrice,, and involuntarily turned their heads to have another glimpse of her. "How- she carries her hefed, poses her figure, and lifts her feet. I'd

like to know her."

Beatrice, .however, was little con* cerned just now as to what people thought of her. To her, they /were as yet only "Colonials," and it seemed

perfectl^featural to the young English lady, that' she should attract attention, and be treated with deference, and have compliments p&id lier. She was newly rich too, and her wealth had happened to her at an age aaid, state of mental and social development, when it best becomes a woman. Her education and social training enabled her to- very fairly appraise the real value of money. ' -

"This is one of the streets," she thought, "in which 1 have freehold .property. I must get Mr. Dorset to

show me; where ijt is." -

Soon afterward she passed a fine pile of buildings, over the entrance of which there shone in gilt: letters the words "BaHantyne X3hambers," while numerous highly polished brass .plates, on each side-of the doorway, showed them tobe both extensively and very

repectalrty occupied.

The thought occurred to Beatrice that this might be part of her pro perty and she walked on with, if any thing, a. Mill more sprightly step, for as she confessed to herself it was very nice to be rich--and independent. But somehow the thought of Sea-CitOl Towers and the strange occurrence of the previous night oppressed her, and when at last- she had done her shop ping, and replenished her purse at the bank, she turned into the stylish offices of her solicitors, determined if possible to know ail. that there was to be known about the death of her Uncle Raymond, and the antecedents of Sea-Cliff Tow

ers. . .. ;

. "Mr. Dorset is engaged," said _ a pert office-boy- to thp inquiry room, "would not sMr, Wfi^nan. do,? He

a wonderful lawyer,1 Mam.**, This ^ said confidentially, and added, "He

very nice with lady plient»," ^md tjiie youngster cocked ius head on one side, as though to note the effect mf

words. ? ' r .

The boy was a: wag In his way', ftijit WQS fcis frfcd $Wity to

s of a splendid lawyer in

ly card straight in to Mr. no matter who is with him,

-»ay the-lady is waiting in the outer office," answered Beatrice.

gentleman.

Beatrice frowned severely at him. It was of no use, however. He mis took the lady of Sea-Cliff Towers for some one else, and blurted out, "Real ly, Miss, it's Mr. Wileman you want to see, Mr. Dorset never sees ladies ex cept by special appointment."

Beatrice could scarcely refrain from laughing, notwithstanding her aston ishment and annoyance, for the em bryo lawyer was evidently very much

in earnest.

"Go in then, and send Mr. Wile man out to me," said Beatrice.

"You had better see him in his office, Miss," said the youth.

"Will you please do as I bid you ?" said Beatrice, now thoroughly aroused.

At this the youth departed, mutter ing below his breath something about the obstinacy of women.

The moment after, however, his eye caught the name upon the card and he saw his mistake, and at once hurried

in to Mr. Wileman.

"Did Miss Ballantyne ask for me,

Dunstan ?"

"No, Sir, for Mr. Dorset."

"And why then did you not take the card straight in, as you were -told ? Stand out of the iroad, yoit young fool," he said, bringing a heavy roll of foolscap with a ringing blow against the side of the youth's head.

Dunstan saw stars, while he prompt ly made his exit, and directly aftei noticed Mr, Wileman, closely followed by Mr. Dorset, leave the lafcter's room, and with many apologies usher the

"But

commenced the young

lady into it, after bowing out the form er occupant.

'You seem to be very busy, Mr. Dor set, and very difficult to access this morning,' Beatrice said smiling.

'Had I known that you were here Miss Ballantyne, I would ? have laid any business aside at once. What can I have the pleasure of doing for you? lou have had ;.n early drive to be in the city so soon. I hope there is no thing wrong.

'No, replied Beatrice and then she continued. f am afraid that you will think me im^aiient, but now that I have seen the Towers, I want to know something more about the supposed death of my Uncle, and the past his tory of the place. I think that you said too, that there was a quantity of family jewellery which had been sent for safe keeping to the bank. I sup pose you have a list of it?'

, Septimus Dorset was no doubt very busy that morning, but he did not dare to say so to Beatrice. The document containing a list of the Ballantyne jewellery was forthcom ing from an iron box marked, "The Ballantyne Estate," which was .brought from the strong room. To gain a little vtime for ^ inspection and signing of some important docu ments, Septimus suggested that he would send across to the bank and have the jewels brought over for her

personal inspection.

Beatrice at onee concurred, and proceeded to carefully read the list which had been handed to her. She had not read more than half down the first side of foolscap, however, when she came to a description of a cat's-eye ring, set round with dia

monds .

She scarcely had patience to con tinue further. It was that ring, or

a duplicate of it, which she had seen upon the fat but shapely second finger of that mysterious hand.

She could scarcely conceal her im patience for the messenger's return. The package proved to be a bulky one, and Mr. Dorset came out of the ad joining room where he had retired to affix his signature to sonne deeds, to assist her in opening and inspecting it. Her eagerness and seeming care lessness surprised him. She tumbled costly articles of jewellery on one side as though they "were valueless. The fact was that she was looking for the cat's-eye ring-but it was missing.

She presently laid her finger under the line upon the list, and called Sep timus Dorset's attention to it. "How is it," she asked, "that this ring is missing ?"

Septimus hesitated for a moment, evidently embarrassed by the sudden ness of the question, at which Beat rice looked up and fixed her eyes upon him-his lips were quivering wdth agitation.

.He shook this off, however, with an effort, and said hurriedly, "I had quite forgotten about that missing ring, Miss Ballantyne ; sit down, please and I will tell you what I know about it."

Beatrice looked at him suspicious ly. She had never heard, or read be fore of a lawyer being thrown off his guard, and it evidently was so

with Mr. Dorset.

Did he know aught of the trap door before the large bedroom fire place, or Chat the cat's-eye and dia mond ring was in the possession of some one who had secret access to the Towers ; and if so, why had he al lowed her to go to the Towers un warned and alone ? She swept the whole glittering mass together in a

heap upon the table, and sat down op posite Septimus to hear about the ring.

She was certainly a very hand some, but a peculiar girl, she had loosened her sealskin jacket, and lean ed back in her chair, and looked at him. It was a cold, stem, . deter mined look, such as he had occasion ally seen on the face of a judge who had'a hard case to deal with.

The lawyer somehow felt the tab les turned upon him. It was his place to interrogate, and alarm- peo ple ; but he saw in the face of Bea trice something which seemed to say -"Let there be no equivocation, sir, I want the truth, the wfliole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God."

And the worst of it was he felt that he cuit but a sorry figure in the tale

he had to tell.

(To be continued.)