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Chapter NumberXI
Chapter TitleThe Doctor's Sister.
Chapter Url
Full Date1897-12-15
Page Number27
Word Count2533
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe North Queensland Register (Townsville, Qld. : 1892 - 1905)
Trove TitleThe Mystery of Sea-Towers
article text

The Mystery oi Sea

clin Towers.

.Author of "The Dis-Honoralntr,"

"Wyoirnm," "Aai Australian Bush Track," "Gunnery of Church Oon ~ estt," ete.


The Doctor's Sister.

B. STRONG'S -trap was wait

ing, but before leaving for his liome and town lie again looked m iipcm Beatrice, wflio he could see was in a very distressed state of mind through the mishap to the lawyer.

JShe had not left her room, nor as sisted in any way in the search, and even allowing for the shock to her serves. Sie could not understand how the matter should have so thoroughly prostrated her- >4Ie was naturally of an inquiring' turn of mind, and was certainly interested both in the Tow ers and iMiss Ballantyne. He had not . had an opportunity during the life

time of Mr. Ballantyne of seeing over the place, and the news of Miss Beat rice BaJlantyne's arrival had been much talked/>f in the neighborhood.

"Miss BaUantyne, you are not well enough to be left alone with the ser vants. I will send my sister Grace over to keep you company this af ternoon, and call back on my return from Melbourne to see how you are and tell you anything which may further transpire.'

There are few but have something by which they are known, but Grace Strong, was, as her brother often put it, 'a girl In a thousand.' She had been brought up >with her Sbrother by well to do and indulgent parents in the South of England, and had come td Australia with John, to help him carve his way to fortune in a new land. " The doctor and the clergyman were both unmarried; men, having sisters keeping house for them, and living as they did not three minutes' walk from each other in Sea Cliff, it is nut very surprising that Grace Strong and the clergyman's sister, Alice Broadface, had become fast friends ; they had already projected a visit to the Towers together to call upon Miss Ballantyne, when the inci dents already narrated transpired .

*Gra<'e, I want you to go across to Sea Cliff Towers and stop with Miss 15alViutyne until I caai get batek from Melbourne,' said the doctor to his sis

ter. . . 1

'Wfcat is the.matter, is she serious ly 411 that you are .going for a nurse or more advice asked hie sister.

In a few words he briefly explain ed what had happened, and how neces sary it was that Beatrice should have cheerful society. 'I don't like the place,' he said, 'and I think that something beyond Mr. Dorset's disap pearance has frightened' her. She seems to me an exceedingly nice girl, unfortunately circumstanced through having no relations, and I think that ypu would be iloing. a really kind and good deed by making yourself friendly to her.'

It was quite enough to suggest to Grace Strong that she "Would be a helper to arouse all her sympathies £Sg effort* S?iQtfa OB. &QQT

was on her way across the common to Sea Cliff Towers.

Beatrice had at once liked Dr. Strong. His decision of character and frank openness of speech and ar anner had favorably" impressed her, as indeed it did most people, and she was quite prepared to like the doc tor's sister, so on reaching the Tow ers, Grace was very cordially receiv


*1 am glad that the Doctor has al lowed you to come over to me, and it is very good of you to come,' said


'Anyone would be upset' said Grace,' 'at so^ strange a thing happening ; but I am very pleased to help my brother, and when I know you bet ter, Miss Ballantyne, I think that I shall be also pleased to help you.'

Beatrice looked at her visitor, for the last part of her remark was not exactly what most girls would have said. ^

'You are very fond of your brother, Miss Strong.'

'Certainly I am, and have good cause to be,' replied Grace.

Beatrice smiled, but said nothing. 'If I had only a brother,' she thought, liovr different things would be.'

Grace read her thoughts, and said, *1 fear that I am t<io impulsive ; but my "brother and myself have been more like chums than brother and sis ter. ~ We have worked together, and studied together, and suffered, to-, gether, and he 'lias always been good and thoughtful,,, and I don't think that I could love anyone better than

I do the doctor.*

'He has a very kind manner, and you cannot help feeling that he is skilful. He has taken a great deal of trouble over this unfortunate af fair of Mr. Dorset's,' said Beatrice.

'I would not trouble alxmt that,' said Grace cheerfully, 1 there may be an explanation of it which will clear Up the whole matter. At any rate do not let us think of it until my brother returns from Melbourne.'

'Who are the people living in thte neighborhood ?' said Beatrice chang ing the subject.

'They mostly belong to two classes,' said 'Grace, 'those who are coonpara tively poor, and those who are rich.' The larger houses you see aroiand are all of them the homes of fairly well-to-do people ; but the fishermen and laboring classes are wretchedly poor.' i

*1 thought that there were no poor

people in" Australia,' said Beatrice,


'A very ccraraon Taistake which we English people often make,' said Grace

Thep you are English ?' said (Beat rice, eagerly. '

'I aan,' said Grace, 'but really I doai't know <fcliat I aan any the better for that Some of the nicest people I have ever met with are Australians.'

'Tell ane about your life In England, and Jhofw you came out here," said Beatrice, after I/ucy had brought iu

af ternoon tea.

Tfs a sad story,' said Grace.

'Then I think it may suit me, for I seem to be under a grey sky just now myself,' said Beatrice.

?It is mot all grey,' replied Grace.

% $34 ifr 5§ a ftpiy padte toagkl* asa<J

interesting, ibecatise there is a good manjn St.'

'That of courseis your brother, the doctor,' -said Beatrice, smiling.

Tee,' saad Grace griarvely, 'he Is very unlike many men, and many bro ihere. Bat remember Miss Ballantyne you asked -me to tell you abo-ut my life at (koine.'

Dr. Strong euiglit well think Mgihly of his sister Grace. 'Slie -was a cou tr&st In every way to Beatrice ; but of the faces the doctor's sister's was the most interesting to a, student of human nature. By the side of thu ripe full-orbed beauty of the mistress of The Towers, her face looked thiu, and flier whole form seemed wan Jan.? in tibe round fullness of early wkxman hood; l?ut it was a face to arrest at tentions.

Her dark, almost 'black, hair was seemingly not over abundiant; /but he" eyes, and (perfect nose and lips might have been taken as a model by a paint er whb wished to reproduce the feat ures of the Mary that Jesus loved.

Her eyes suggested unusual fluen cy of speech, as may be portly gath

ered from what foSUofsvs!.

She sat on a low chair, and looked into the fire, .wdih noftv and

again a tear glistening ibeliind' tiiy eyelashes as slie ccvimeiiced . to tell Beatrice the story of iier eiarly life.

'SteynJbridge is without doubt -one of the most v>ld-fashiosaed. towns in the

South of EntgiantL It <is one of those -qiiiet dusters of English -homes- whim the hand of the old destroyer Time seems <liene and there to spare, just to remind us, I suppose, of old world scenes and jcufstofflis. I -have heard my father say that from the lime lie was a iboy he could remertfber coanpam atively few changes. Tlhe old canal had given "way to the more model a riailrway, and a new brewery had en tered; into c*ompetdtion with the oid. But except for these changes, and a few brick houses <sf utore pretentious style, which had gone up stealtMly in the evflburbs, I can remember little 01 no perceptible change since I first knew the iplace. There had been two thousand people there as Jong as tli" oldest inhabitant eouM remember. If I close my "eyes the old town' comes back to one as fresh as ever. From the sleepy railway station in Blair street, past the high brick fwcfol stores, past the blacksmith's forge, a row of cottages led straight to the market place, where at various poSnte of the compass, the Blue. Boar and White Hart and iRed Liion-hosfelries -swung their creaking signs of invitation.

*Qld fashioned^ .substantial, red brick lionises were most of tthem, with great Mack oaken joists and beams intersecting the outer walls, and a Chouse place,' as the kitchen was call ed, with, a chimney corner, big enough to roast an ox, seats on each side of the ingle nook, and a chimney wide and straight, up which anight easily be descried a goodly number of stars.

'Various 'businesses had in several instances passed -for generations from father to son. There had 1>een a well to do Quaker grocer next door to the White Hart Inn for generations, and IiUkin the'tailor at one corner and A n. nersley at the other 'were institutions. The Browns, hpwever, were the most

conspicuous portion of the coa^mun

ity. TSie name -TT55 to be seen abover almost every fountk shop fronit, au'l only that the name Had trade were us ually linked together, confusion might have been extreme- The use of terms such as 'painter-Brown, 'butch er-Brown,' 'baker-Brown.' etc.,- pre served the identity of the inhabitants.,

'My father's house -was at the coutt' try end of High Street, and had ao old-fashioned garden around it, where the lilac and laburnum and crimson 'hawthorn scented the air in spring time, and cabbage roses, and pinks; acd tulips and scores of other old fav ourite garden Sowers flourished in tlie summer. There Was a copse of nut trees, and an orchard and several^ acres of pasture land, which could be flooded from the brook in ibe sprftig time aisfi which I need scarcely say bore luxuriant crops of fragrant hay. The house, although quite within the suburbs of the town, was known by the singular name of Abbey hurst. It was a queer rambling place. Part of it was very old, and if the stories told about at were correct, as indeed I have a good reason £o believe they were, it had been at one time a monas tery, probably one of the three hun dred and eighty smaller ecclesiastical «sta5>iishmeiite whieii were aibfcdished by Henry the Eighth in 1536, You re-, nafember bow the king with the strong and willing aid of T5icm<as Cromwell, attacked these monasteries which then studded the land. But bad as the monastic system was, and. ignorant and licentious as were many of the ec clesiastics, it was a great shock to Eng land when they were overthrown; and looking, at the stained glass, and delicate stone work of a side door la the old part of Abbey hurst, I, even as a girl, used to read with regretful In terest of 'how during the suppression- of the monasteries 'piles of delicate stone work, enriched with the thoughts of architect and sculptor which ever since the Conquest had been growing up in beauty over all the land, were levelled, unroofed, or turned into stables and pics ties.7" Of liow 'choice pictures, in whose tinted forms glowed the spirit of Italian art. shriveled in 'the fi&mes; and stained windows became splinters of colored glass; and sweet bells, that 'had laden the sir at prime and sunset with -music, «were melted doWn aud sold, I fancy Abbeyhurst was repaired, anitl "had been a sort of schol astic establishment after that, for on the east wall in one of <t3)e attics tho names of either mOnks or schoolboys had tjeen foomd scratched with a., knife or, ether- sham instrument irpoi the plaster, which at some later timV had been papered over. 1t«e old place must (Liave had a.great fcnacklnig about too in 1643, whea Oliver Cromwell had a jsMrmish witih Printee Biupea't at King's Bromley, and 'brought ifche Paf iiaanentary eaumoii to bear upon the town. There were chLpprngs and scars upon tile stane cornices and brick work of the eastern wall of the house which I often -looked Zit, a<nd which our old gardener stoutly a verred wera the marks of Jtlie -ysfcewL svddjsc's can. no® balls. However, the place lias been almost entirely rebuilt then ihe architect -having in soirne !Di?asur9. preserved the old fashioni^d .chsTacter of tfiie bouse, and incorporated in the new Jbnilding all thgit was worth pre serving of *£e old, qrjiis included t|x»

: ^^holeeasteni side <xf the "house, con

: tuning- abput elXv «o^jans <iiii ij&tea'

r r ^stories, a<hd the passage l^doiig to the ;j ? v- ^doorwayy

<a'bore,/wliicJi I;h&ve jireviouslf fe : Veferredto. If my jiiesmoiry isnot at

fault the^eTwas' w<k%t©d iuto the de^; r--v'_"8^5ix.- -fit. nxiadsm tue^

Mate^-- f"Aikio ? Domini 1423."

?f Beatrice listened to all ^hls %-Mr 3ti^

teres*, idr 4t was^^evideat pex yfe\*

? tor iwas gifted wstli uncommon skill

; Jn* story^teIUngv-aiid s&e "was intei'ested: r too in £he Jiarraifcive pm laoeouat ot

the -doctor; then too; she lva<d a girl friend wiho 3iad lived at Sfceynlbridge.

'M l tiriug y<Su?' asked Grace

<' 'Not tn the ieasi;* replied Beatrice. *Go on (please, I aim most deeiplsr inter ested. I .have Sieard atwait Steyn liridge fa^fore, but never such aq Inter P$tia5 desxaiptioa of it/V

l"Dr. Strong is my only "brother,' continued Graces resuming Jier nar vajtave,. *bu>t I have two fiMera older ihaai myself. My cafe was a <fcall, r' ; thoughtful ^ doctor immersed: in ! .'bttt'- a ]Mvtate income

~ saved him from being altoig^tjher jde . peadettt lipan it'

',.'i scarcely fellow how to describe ^tiiather* "SSie grave «lc©ed aibove her

sever©!, years ago? but I. often, fmag Ine l^er gerfrie loving eyes gtim fixed xijvdii .me. She was the household «oi-^ gelofAJblbeyhurst.'

..-" *i have read soaneiwhere ttilat the : ~ insmory-of,vChSdlhood as ecteotic, and

Hiait in after years .fche heart turns fondly ito the -sceiies and memories of . earlier days ; it «nust be so ill ray case. But if there 'be sueh_a golden, haze as ,- - thfts Talbout my ireeoflleofckMi) of my

mother I would; not Jjase ffc. altered. To my brotiher and myself^ at anv rate % our lrjobher was:

?A:j%aiC&at woman* nobly ^Laamed',

.'To warn, /tocoinifort, and -conianand "A.ud yet -a spirit still/and bright

' "WithsometiMng of anangfi3 1igh*.'"

'WMle uiy mother lived our home - tiife was almost as jperfeotly happy i '" as It .could "'be; 'but she died suddenly, r and about twelve imonMis afiteriward.

my .fairer miarcied <a^ain. Things, after a wiliile, became very different * at home, my two elder sisters anarried

and John and myself decided to edraH owfc to AustiaMa. I told you, I tihinb, that we had always ibeen >e^Mralis/,