Chapter 81630244

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberX
Chapter TitleThe Disappearance of Septimus Dorset (Continued.)
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article81630244
Full Date1897-12-08
Page Number27
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

The Mystery ol Sea

Towers.

(AL.Ii RIGHTS RESERVED).

Author of " The D is^Honorable," " Wyumim," " Ail Australian Bush Track," " Gunnery of Church Con sett," etc.

CMAPTER X.

The Disappearance of Septimus Dorset

(Continued.)

Y this time William had returned sand stated that he'had carefully searched the grounds, and beach, and rocks, for a mile around the house, butkad found no trace of Mr Dorset. He had inquired, too, of some fisher men, but they said. that no one had

been seen bathing; in fact, (tliat it, was far <too roug-li and cold for any one to . attempt to do such a. thing that morning.

Christopher Broadface at once sug gested the placing of ithe matter in the . hands of ithe police; 3>ut Dr. Strong

was a nuan of experience. :

"My dear sir,' 'hesaid, "£lie matfer may be explainable without making a scandal of at, which wouid naturally anoy Mr Dorset's family, who are influential people. You see, although the circumstances off the ease are very singular, it is possible t&at some very Simple explanation may be at hand. Do you know whether, every part of _±he interior oif the house has been ex^ amined ?" -

Mr Broadface had not thought of this, so the doctor went to consult Miss Baltantyne, and obtained from iier permission to thoroughly examine the house, for the missing man. It seemed to him during this second in terview that the .unpleasant affair had given a. great shock t» Miss Ballan tyne's nerves, and he advised her to remain quietly in her room, and in structed Ijucy to give 'her mistress her very, best attention. He knew Mr. Dorset's family, and he said he would superintend the thorough searching of the house;" he might have gone out somewhere in the night and have in jured himself, or fainted; it was un wise of Miss Ballantyne to unduly agitate herself, probably there was some very simple explanation to be found, which would clear up the whole mystery. - .

The doctor now instituted a careful personal search . of the premises, in company with the clergyman and the coachman, Williaim. He commenced with the room which had been occu pied by Mr Dorset

It has already been described as a large and handsome apartment, and the doctor curiously scrutinised every

corner of it.

*We"will not disturb anything," ho said, "lest an inquiry should be found necessary;" .

On examination it was found that in the packets of the clothes were a

(puree, keys, and other nick-naeka. Mr Dorset's gold watch and' chain lay upon the dressing table, where they ; had evidently fceen placed by their /.? owner/ ..

? ' '? ." . V" -*? " .

"We had.better lock all these tilings up, it is evident tliat-there lias been 110 robbery committed," said Dr. Strong.

A door led from the T-ooffl into a

large conservatory ; this was unlocked and (the party passed out among ferns and foliage plants, but there --was no sign of anyone having fbeen hidden there, and the place, was undisturbed. There were six doors from this ; four leading from the conservatory into various rooms of -the mansion; one on to 'the North terrace, and one into the grounds facing " the ocean ; the two latter doors were locked upon the inside. The doctor also examined some large sliding glass panels, which were also fastened. There was evi dently nothing to be discovered in this direction, so »they turned back in to the room and locked the doors again as they had found it.

The three men stood on the rich

carpeft and once more surveyed the room of mystery . Raymond Ballan tyne's portrait looked down upon .them from over -'the fireplace. The wtoole surroundings of the room bespoke a cultured taste, and the wealth to gratify it.

"Its a strange affair!" ejaculated the doctor, looking -for a moment sus piciously at Broadfaee, with whom he had not been on the very best: of terms. "He can't possibly have gone away without (his clothed It is impossible that he can have been abducted, there would have been a struggle, and you Mr Broadfaee, would have heteird that something was transpiring. I belie/e you said that the door between the two rooms was ajar ?"

The clergyman's face colored slight ly, for this was the .first suggestion that he might possibly ibe suspected of having been concerned with the lawyer's disappearance; it had - never crossed his mind before, arid- for a moment he felt confused under the doctor's scrutiny. ?

"The door was ajar. Mr. Dorset suggested that it should be left so, in order that I might give him a call in the morning. Of course I heard nothing, or I should have mentioned it," said the clergyman. *

The doctor carefully locked all the doors and placed the key of the one leading into the entrance hall, and that leading into the room Mr. Broad face had occupied, in Ms pocket.

There were four other rooms lead ing into the conservatory, . each of winch was carefully examined, and then the rooms on the" other side of the house, aaid the servants' quarters ; over twenty rooms in alL Not the slightest clue, however, was obtained towards a solution of the mystery.

A good quarter of an hour was then spent In searchiag tli£ stables and out buildings, and the "doctor and the clergyman exhibited some signs of im patience with tfheir fruitless search.

" There is the tower yet," said William ; " but it is impossible that ;ii3 gentleman can have found his way there."

" Nothing is impossible," said the doctor testily.

The tower was a squarely-built solid mass of masonry at the North end of the main building, and was entered from the main external stone corridor, which surrounded this part Of tfte The three rooms, one

above the other, were furnished but iuot occupied- The lower one was fitted up as a kind of writing and smoking room, that above it as a bedroom, and the third as a kind of observatory; a number of scientific instruments being found there, and books upon astronomy and other Mnd red sciences. William had heard that Mr. Rosedale had specially occupied the two top rooms during 'Mr Bal ltantyne's residence, and that he had also used the lower room, aud . the room from which Mr Dorset had dis

appeared, while Mr Ballantjftie had

teen away.

The doctor proceeded to examine these rooms with the greatest minuteness

and interest.

" We will commence," he said "at the very top."

From the sloping flat roof of the summit, a View of the whole surround ing ^country and the sea, was visi≤ ; but they were too intent upon their search to be much interested j&st then in extensive views of scenery.

The stairs were narrow and abrupt, but a thick carpet gave an air of com fort to the whole of the quaint struc ture. There was much which under other circumstances would have in terested both the doctor and the clergyman, in the topmost; room. There was a window on each of the four sides. %bere was no table in the "centre of* the -floor, which was covered with linoleum ; but two circles were drawn there, -with inner circles inside, of them. C

The clergyman started as he look ed at them, as though he had read of or seen something of the sort be

fore.

"Some unhallowed enchantments," he said, pointing to the floor.

" More likely the place where some revolving scientific instruments have been fixed," said the doctor. ' . t

But although he turned it off thus lightly, the doetor had his doubts, for the whole place bad an uncanny

look- about it.

"Reminds me of Milton's II Pense roso," he said to the clergyman, as they together descended to the nest floor:- - - v.

" Or let my lamp at midnight's hour "Be seen in some high lonely tower,

" Where I may oft oat-watch the bear "With thrice great Hermes; or uu

sphere

"The spirit of Plato, to unfold what

"worlds

"Or what vast regions hold the im

mortal mind,

"Which hath forsook her mansion in

this fleshly nook." - ~

But this was an effort on the pari of the doctor, for he was intent upon unravelling the mystery of" the law yer's disappearance.

The room they Jiad by this time entered was an ^ordinary bedroom, about sixteen feet by eighteen fee{:. There was nothing to be learnt here, so they descended to the lower apart ment, where the doctor flung himself into a large easy chair.

There were two windows, on one side of the room only-that which overlooked the front terrace-the growth of fir trees just beyond that

terrsce shutting out the view - of

everytMug except their sosafcre foU^e,

" It is useless to make any fur ther sea roh for Mr Dorset here," said the doctor, "but.I am loath to make any unnecessary alarm. You liave nothing to suggest, William

"No, sir," said the coachman.

" You heard no unusual sound at any time during the night ?"

" Nothing," replied William, empha tically.

"Go and call me in all the other servants, except Miss Ballantyne'a maid, that I may question them too."

T!his, however, elicited nothing. So the doctor decided to at once drive into town and make inquiries at Mr Dorset's office, and acquaint his family with the alarming intelligence.

" What a secluded study this would make, doctor," said the clergyman.

" I would go mad in it," replied Do*. Strong.

" Queer," be continued, after a moment's silence, "that every floor at this end of the building should be ot concrete. Tuiis one is iioo," he said, stamping his foot on the carpet to piiove his assertion.

An unmistakable click was heard as though a bolt or latch had suddenly shot into its place.

The two men started and looked at each other.

"Did you hear that :' said the doctor

The clergyman noddcri, oud bosh men listened for a minute breath lessly.

"It rotisi Slave been someiaiug loose under the carpet, or tbe heel of youi* boot," said Broadface.

" Boot be hanged !" ejaculated the doctor. He was about to add some thing more, but he restrained him self, as he looked at the minister.

He had not much faith in either Ms good sense or his discretion. Then he said quietly, " It may have been my boot."

(To be Continued).