Chapter 81629970

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Chapter NumberIX
Chapter TitleAn evening at the Towers.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article81629970
Full Date1897-12-01
Page Number27
Corrections0
Word Count2012
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe North Queensland Register (Townsville, Qld. : 1892 - 1905)
Trove TitleThe Mystery of Sea-Towers
article text

The Mystery of Sea

Towers.

(ALL. RIGHTS RESERVED.) ~

. Author of "Tlie Dis-Honorable," "Wyn

! num." "An Australian Bush Track,"

"Gunnery of Cburcli Coflisett," etc.

CHAPTER IX.

An. evening at the Towers

"\Vlien occasion called for it Septi mus Dorset- could readily make him self; an agreeaWe and interesting com panion, and - during 4;he drive to Sea . <Siff lie ^xertjed himself to removeany

unfavourable impression, which lie miglit have, made upon.his wealthy

andbeautiful client.

%It surprised him somewhat to find that Miss Ballantyne 'had so much in her.'* He>found she could talk intelli gently upon-all ordinary subjects, and

oh others fcoo, whicli ^ptimus regar

ded as somewhat out of the ordinary. Only inone particular did the lawyer's * judgment decide adversely in the

matter of his client's, conduct. She could 'talk shop.'. Again and again she abruptly brought her , companion jback'from the regions of sentiment a|&: literature,,to 'business.

What a mercenary creature she is' . thought-Septimus, when Beatrice sud

denly wound - up an interesting dis cission upon the "beauties of the Vat? icanpieture galleries, by ail inquiry as to the estimated value of the Sea Gliff property, including " furniture, and whether he thought it likely that a buyer could be readily obtained ?

'Not readily, I fear, Miss Ballanty ne, Septimus had answered, and he de termined to oppose and discourage the . selling, of the Towers, as far as poss

ible. het Miss Ballantyne once leave Australia for England, and any small chance he had of marrying her would be gone."

'' .. He was not really, sorry on arriving at the house, to find the Bev. Chris topher- Broadfaee awaiting them. 'Having met this .gentleman, before, he was Mile to introduce him to Miss

ballantyne. It relieved the situation of any awkwardness, and besides men aite far more effective and brilliant when s^t against one another. Espec ially - if the -other possesses sufficient good parts t» put the first upon his

hiettle. ;

- Ife was so in the present instance. Christopher Broadfaee was really a bumptious and self-opinionated prig. He had passed a few years at an Ati glican college, after having been pre? viously educated as a school teacher, <sp he had a little learning; but since ijis ooilege ;days his life had been .cast id m^ch; among woishipp'ng women laaa ignorant children, that he had-be come in. his own estimation the foun 'tain of knowledge, as well as thepriv iledged- representation, of the Deity! He was somewhat-.taken aback' when be : ^imd -neither the!: lawly ' nor the lawyer ; paying any special deference

v r. \, ??

* tii^ ^atoce was sorry to see himi siie had been tryi^ that afterr noon; tor nieet ;w|th- a suitable ladyr cpmpjuiion; forshehad a wholesome F^sard'^or wbat

say about her living alone at the Tow ers, arid she suspected that in such matters the place had not the best of names. However, she had not been aMe to please herself in this res pect so " readily as in the matter of a mastiff, dog and gardener, and the lady companion was still toeing sought for. . The presence of the clergyman at dinner would have a wholesome" ef fect upon the household, and also upop her. own reputation as a good church Woman,. and Beatrice mentally decid ed that afte?. diiuier she would have the whole establishment in to evening

prayers.

She. suggested this to Mr. Broad face . after soup had been served, and Beatrice .at once rose* ten degrees in his estimation. He had said an unus ually long grace, and attributed the re quest,in. part to the, good impression which his sonorous delivery of" it had created,

. 'Do you conduct' service at Sea-Cilff Church every Sunday, Mr. Broad-" faceasked Beatrice. *

'I have that pleasure.' said Chris topher, blushing with gratiflcaition at

the interest which Beatrice Was So ev idently taking in his work. "

But to tell the honest truth the thoughts of the Mistress of Sea-Cliff Towers Just then, dwelt but very lightly upon the church or its minis ters or ministrations; She had wanted two men to sleep in her house for per sonal reasons; now she had them there, and she proposed, if possible, to keep them; but the question was, how ? She ought to offer Septimus Dorset the carriage to drive Mm to the nearest railway station, some four miles distant, and the clergyman would of course want to go home. He was not married, "but he had a sister, and not infrequently sisters were more exacting than wives.

Septimus, however, had made~ up his mind to stay late if possible. He had noticed both a harp and piano in the drawing room, and there was a small pipe organ in the dining room. Which he ascertained Beatrice could play. Music is a wonderful assistance to cordiality and kindly feeling, and both Septimus Dorset and Christopher Broadface could sing, and the former, of the two really well. Eiaeh was anxious for an opportunity to display his gifts to the best advantage^ and after dinner was over neither showed any anxiety to make an early evening

of it.

Lucy It was who announced in the kitchen that the Mistress requested their presence in to prayers.

It made a great commotion. Joe, the new "gardener, expressed his re gret that; he had engaged, with, a cant ing Methodist, and the cook grumbled that she would have to specially tidy herself; but William and his wife sided with Lucy, who (thought the young mistress very, right in thus tak ing advantage, of the minister's visit, 'If there was more praying in the world,' she. said, *it. would be better for everyone/

' They trooped into : the room at the appointed-time, andsat near the door upon chairs, which the housemaid had arranged, for them; the mastiff, who iiad become very friendly with Joe, followed them, stretching .his huge limbs by that worthy's chair.

The clergyman, with his prayerbook

open before him, emiledfreMgrily from the -end of . the - long, table updn fc!ie group, and congratulate himself upon the addition he was likely to gain for the evening service. .And. a moment afterwards Beatrice came in from th« conservatory accompanied by the lav yer, who escorted her to the organ, the key board Of which had feeeii thrown open "for the occasion. That " organ was one of the few hobbies of

"the late Raymond Baliantyhe and ~t was fcuhd to be' in' almost perfect

order. "'

The prayers .were read with muc'j emphasis ' and demonstration, an<: presently, after the lesson, the clergy man ahnounted the evening hymu. " WilUsin knew, at once, even while the

prelude was being played over, thar his wife was about to cry; his on^y

hope was that she would keep it 1 > herself until it was all over. Tlit hymn was played and sung with tas^e and feeling, and mounded very sweet and homely, and as the closing prafeT was uttered, and the benediction pro nounced, even Joe muttered -'Amen.'

After prayers, both Beatrice and her two guests felt very much mo^e at home. When they entered the draw ing room together, Mr. Broadface at once suggested that Miss Ballantyne should favour them with a song. Beat rice had sung- one verse of a plain tive Welsh melody 'when she paused to listen. It was raining in terrenes, and she knew at once that both her visitors would 'have to stay for the

night.

It pr&ved to be a furious storm which soughed through the tree tops* and wailed round the turrets and pi

nacles, and sent Its driving rain *n violence upon, everything nnsheltered ,

it was impossible for anyone to leave' the shelter of a friendly roof on sue J a night. So it was settled ' that the lawyer and the clergyman shou'd occupy the two rooms which on the previous night had been first taken possession of by Beatrice and her

maid.

'You had better give the large bed room to Mr. Dorset, Lucy; and ta-; dressing room, which is really a com fortable apartment, to the clergyman.' These were the orders which Beatrue ""gave privately to her maid.

In view of the events of the night it may be as well to call the attention to the arrangements of the principal apartments of Sea-Cliff Towers.

The entrance hall faced the West and on. entering it the visitor fount liiuiself surrounded by half a doze** doors,, and a corridor, which branched off from the halL To right and left were the. doorways leading to a ~e ccptior room and the, drawing room while facing the visitor would , u. doors which led respectively from tli^ principal bedroom and adjoining dressing room. The roohis into which. Beatrice and her maid had removed were some distance down the corri dor and upon the other, side, so that only a loud noise .would be noticeabi.. from one to the otliei "of these ropM?

The evening, with, the aid Of singius; music and conversation, passed off pleasantly, bright coal and wood Hres buriied ^brightly in the various .rooms, and e^ery part of the mansion d-.'Oined to b* lit up. BiitrhJe rlrno^t '. »r.u<»r her fesrs and it was late before the gentlemen were .shown to their rooms

and the house settled down to tue hushed quietness of night.

Beatrice, however, looted arounJ .her own snug and ric-iily-furnished room with some misgivings. It also had a cemented floor, and she wondet . ed to herself as to the possibilities of

what might be underneath# ©he called Lucy into her room on two occasions o» idle excuses, and finally made her build up A large cbail fire and place a night light upon a snia'l table near at hand. She also* bade Lucy leave the door between the- two rooms ajar ia case slie might call to iier in the night.

Then she lay still and watched the. dancing firelight and listened.

The storm had lulltd aim frf* cry of . a night b'rd near the house Tft^de her

cry with' sudden apprehensive. She "blamed herself for having put the hiw yev in that room ; but then he was a man and might make a discovery, au«i he had the clergyman within call, then S'fie again listened, and listened,

and listened.

What a blessed thing is sleep. To sink into unconsciousness, and forget oneself, and all our vexed surround ings ; to go back again as it were info the womib of pre-exislence. and for awhile lie dead to the world, to awake with restored vigor and new strength.

The fire still glowed dimly 'ihrpugh the room, and a coal occasionally rat tled noisily down into tlie fender, but the soft regular breathing of Beatrice Hiight have told an intruder "that it was unheard; for sleep, which the poet says is *loved from pole to pole-' aijd which scripture declares God gives 'to his beloved,' "had wrapped th«v inmates of the Towers in slumber at least the rightful inmates of tho Towers-Beatrice slept. Not exactly the sleep of innocence, or utter weari ness, but the sleep which comes alike to the criminal in his cell, to the mar iner upon the sea, and the scMIsr upon the blood-stained battle field-fc'ie sleep case it was not a - wholly untrouh case it was not an unwholly irjtroulw led sleep, for Beatrice was conscious to the fact that she had e:cpc-?ed the lawyer unwarned to an actual. danger, and the thought of the oav took form

and color in 4flie visions oif the night, and unconsciously she muttered, and then spoke words aloud, whiea awakened Lucy, who came iu thinkiiiR herself called ; tout Beatrice slept, and the girl went back to- her warm bed again wondering what ailea her. mis tress, that she should have, called so. loudly in her sleeps But in the mean time there Avas one in the lawyer s chamber who was not asleep.