|Newspaper Title||The North Queensland Register (Townsville, Qld. : 1892 - 1905)|
|Trove Title||The Mystery of Sea-Towers|
What Septimus Had Withheld.
Beatrice handed the paper back to Septimus Dorset,- with mingled feel ings. She had read it with horror, for it seemed tike a warning to her from another world against a danger which already confronted her. Her very flesh crept at the thought that this menace was positively with her, beneath her own roof, and yet beyond
Por a moment she had nearly told Septimus Dorset her secret, but sus picious that her lawyer had only to'd her a part of the truth, tept her si
How she arrived at this conclu sion it would be difficult to explain, unless it was that there is something about a half-told truth which larks the ring o-f genuineness, aud that it was this which had grated upon Miss Ballantyne's ear, and aroused her suspicion as to the fuirveracity of the story. Not that she attributed to Septimus any - intention to do her wrong, but there'was something in the very hesitation of -his inanner, and the studied caution with which he had spoken, which suggested that a good deal had been' withheld.
Some of the facts which Septimus had not told her were as follows :
Meta Dalbert was a coustyu *>f Raymond Ballantyne's. Septimus had not, it is true;1 met her before the interview tof which he had' told Bea trice, but hfe had heard of her and knew of -her singular character, and at the time of the interview he knew or guessed, . what her influence over Raymond Ballantynfc was.
The latter and Mrs Dalbert had met in India, after the death of her husband, and her visit to the lawyer was in reference to business which concerned both herself and her cou
What Septimus had said about the effect of the silence upon him, and the singular fascination or influence of the ting, was, practically true, but he had concealed, ther fact that although considerably; older than himself, Meta Dalbert had fascinated him, and aroused in .him a fierce jealousy of Raymond Ballantyne.
Another thing which had been
withheld from Beatrice was the fact that ftaymond Bailantyne some years before, madea will, bequeathing the whole of hfs property to Mrs. Dalbert; tout that circumstances had arisen on account of which this will had been destroyed, and the one by which Beatrice inherited had been executed.
$for had the ftict of, a supposed relationship between Seth Rosedale i»p/i Mrs Dalbert been referred to, hot the fact ttmtRaymond Ballantyne was addicted tp the morphia habit, axbd tbat his life at Seadiff Towers was, in many vways,\sh^gular and ex clusive. He had heldaloof from the
neighbors, ^4 -^3^4 hold no. Inter course withany outside the circle of tils own hoaseholdj except absolutely obliged. Whether Meta Dalbert and Seth Bose^alg had^anytklng to do with Raymond B*UIantytaete mysterious death, Septifnus Dorset bad no posi tive knowledge, but hehad his sus picions,, and the passion which Meta Dalbert had inspired in him found its
Opposite in life dislikeof Seth Rose
dale. Soon after the death of Mr Ballaiktyne, and it had been made known who was the heir, liosedale had somewhat ostentatiously re moved himself and his belongings to a' small residence about half-a mile distant from Seacliff, and Sep timus knew that Meta Dalbert was still living in or near Melbourne. He had ceased now, however, to concern himself much about either of them, and was only anxious to ingratiate himself -with Beatrice. Here he thought was the opportunity of a suitable and advantageous marriage, if he only played bis cards right, ,and he intended if possible to do so. It had never occurred to him that the matter of the ring would have come so suddenly to the front.
"I would like to ask yon a ques tion or two, Mr Dorset,' 'said Bea trice, after a short silence.
'""With "pleasure, Miss Ballantyne," replied Septimus.
"Who had charge of the Towers during my (ancle's two years' ab sence in India and Elsewhere ?"
" I believe that it was Mr Rosedale, and a man and his wife, who waited upon Min."
"Was any portion of the house eiosed up during that period ?"
"I rfeally caiflaot say."
" Have you any suspicion as ? to how and where my uncle lost the ring?"
" You believe that the ring you saw "uponthe band of Mrs Dalbert, and that which my uncle wore, was the same ?" said Beatrice, slightly blushing.
"I "can come to no other Conclu
" Do you think that she received it from him as a gift, or stole it ?" asked
" That I cannot say."
"But I asked you whether you 'thought' so ?"
" I did think so at the time, but I do not think so now."
" If your uncle had Suspected that Mrs Dalbert had the ring, there would have been no need to have warped you by that memorandum' to beware of the person wearing thfe ring."
" Is there anyonfe here whom you think might benefit by my death," asked Beatrice gravely.
" Certainly not, unless you executed a will in their favor," replied the lawyer, "you inherit the property without conditions. Your next of kin would be the heir."
" I wish to engage a gardener, and am going to buy alarge mastiff dog," said Bliss Ballantyne abruptly. " I fiave other things to attend to which will occupy me most of the afternoon. There ate several matters about which I should like to consult with you, Mr Dorset; would itr lncftnven~ ience you to come out to the Towers to dinner ?" " .'' '*
"I should be -very pleased," re plied Septiliitfs. . - ?*
" If yoh cotild leaver by fisttr o'clock you might fconre out ttttli me in the carriage,"'saad Beatrice. "
"I wish to talk with*'you," Mte continued after a;~snonieflt's~ paxtse,
" for I am not at ^Hsurethatl shall' remain in* Australia ; indeed, I /am thinking of seliingsame of the pro*
perties and returning to England.*'
" I shall have much pleasure In going with you, and will be ready by the time you start," said Septimus.
In the- meanwhile the JEtev. Chris topher Broadface had arranged with himself to make an early call upon his new parishioner.
He was a fussy little man, with a face as broad as his name. And while Beatrice was driving out to Seaciiff with her'lawyer, and the new gardener and a mastiff on the box seat, by the side of William, Mr. Broadface, self invited, was drinking afternoon tea prepared for him by Lucy while waiting the return of the mistress of the Towers.
Probably Lucy had acceded to the clergyman's suggestion, that he would await the return of Miss Ballantyne, more cheerfully oil account of the loneliness r and: unfamiliar nature of the surroundings, and the fact that she had always been taught to re gard a elefrgyman as a privileged guest. With William and her inis-. tress away and 'only women about the place, he seemed a kind of protection to theni, and both Lucy andthe clergyman awaited somewhat impa tiently ,Mfss Ballantyne's return. His waiting moments were, however, beguiled by pleasant visions of the future.. Miss Ballantyne, he had .heard was a good churehwosnan ; she wduld doubtless prove a tower Of streftgth to him at parish gather
ings, and mothers' meetings.
- If-somegoodangel had warnedthe Rev. Christopher Broadface to be take himseif as quickly as posslbje home, it would have saved him much after anxiety and perplexity, if .no thing worse, but "when good angels would be of the greatest service to iis they are unfortunately most joften absent; and it was so on this occa sion, for the fclergyman ;was still waiting when the carriage with Bea t- xe and her lawyer drove up to the house. j .
(To Be Continued).