Chapter 81630827

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Chapter NumberXIII
Chapter TitleAn Unshared Secret.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article81630827
Full Date1898-01-05
Page Number27
Corrections0
Word Count1771
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe North Queensland Register (Townsville, Qld. : 1892 - 1905)
Trove TitleThe Mystery of Sea-Towers
article text

rOt«

V*:\:

of ^ea

>^jliff^Towers.

'Author, of - *fbe !Dis-Honorah*e,w

"l^STimuin," "Aii Australian Bush Tracks' i<Glinnery of Church Con

sett/' etc»

.CHAPTER XIII.

An fhisbared Secret.

The night passed without incident, and tlhemorning brought no new dis cover^. TC|ie carpet was taken up from ;'the -lower 4ower room, but no fresh lights-was., thrown upon the aff

air, ;nor w&s^ttie old woman's story <K>rroborated iby the finding of any

mounds of earth which might have ac cunrafctted the result of the sug gested. excavations. The detectives, howfever, "remained and examined the country around the Towers in all di xeefcionSj, ,^»iit fbund no £iue.

T^he toystery of the lawyer's disap p^rance @pt:Jntd the papers; a. con siderable reward; was offered for any lufocmatioh which might lead to his discovery; and some of the society journals' hinted at a scandal, and that he -mjglwfc readj|y .have been found, not twenty' miles i^om Melbourne, if c« itain. people, wished it. It was indeed su^^ed.fey a journal circulating 1n Melbornrn-e,^ although not published the^ tihia±i<thfere were (hi^h officials in the^tGrOVeniinent departments who lm£w roif* SfeirtSihns Dorset's wherea bouts, 'but'^h& : found it convenient t» 'fee silents. Of course vague innuen does of ^this^ortacan never be answer ed, t»OTKm4v& originators of them foe . . bisouglit: . punishment, as they ritehiy desery^ to be.

^There was no disputing the fact, iowfew, ?jaa;iong those who really lqiew. police were baffled, the &iextds Of ;the pissing man were in great distress at his disappearance, and &o ixmiplicMe .matter® the toJs* tress of Sea-Cliff Towers lay seriously ill jat Steynbridge Cottage.

Nothing-preys upon the heart more than the possession of <a secret which is associated with a crime. The per son possessing the knowledge may be perfectly innocent, or may only have been guilty of indiscretion, or may haVe obtained the knowledge by ac

cident or mistake, 'but it makes little difference. The secret of a crime un disclosed, Jiais.tin countless instances w§rped the whble vision of life, and placed its possessors under disastrous disabilities, The difficulty of such a ppsitioB? is^ increased with every new circumstance^. and each .passing, day. It As an incubus upon the mind which feeds upoii its own fears. and grows until it; fills the whole horizon of vis ion, - iabsoIutMy monopolises the life.. 3L ^urBetfor a secret shared with aMtJiful friend <inay be harm less tp ^-hc . ijndi vidmil[ but unshared it may ho*ar canker oorrodtog the whole lifeV It .was <this which had brought about Miss Ballantyne's illness, which very 6?&ohsly; perplexed and baffled

®?~#dioai skill of Dr. Strong.

. as It presented itself

Be^ice "wisithis:- .

with a man's

?? ??

.life for -tile sake of obtaining further knowledge of : tlie. mysterious room in the Towers. What^ she had seen in that room; could pojb have been a ..dream, it was real. Her uncle's me

morandum in-^egar-d; to the wearer of a cat's-eye ri^dispelled any thought of its having beenuan imagination of her mind.- She fead seen the hand of the wearer of the Qitf seeye ring before she; had existence of

such a person, ©f^steeh^a ring, from other sources. SheJonged to give the doctor some .hint Ifiat Wight assist .them in the sea^ Mt when an op portunity to t?#l blpi .came she shrank from doing so. .

Heh position vp&S embarrassed, too. by the disappearance of her lawyer,

for he possessed a; -knowledge of her

affairs which would 'have been spec ially servicable inselling a portion of

.the property. 'Hep ilfstress knjl worry and nursing of 'unshared , secret; and fear that by .-some means she might unwittingly disclose it, had worked together upon , her mind, and culminated in lite natural consequences -fever, and forseveral weeks,<luring whieh the search wfls continued, Miss Ballantyne: could render no ^assist ance. ""

In the meantlffia Jhe position of things at tfcft yowem: was peculiar The illness of Ballantyne, and

.the disappearan<^ Joir:the lawyer, left the practical dlreetion\of affairs in the Stands of Dr.. &tEp¥i|^fwho Tspas inter ested in the of all "propor tion to its pg*£es^oifeil, value tohim.

He felt sure tbg.t Beatrice ; had

something onher : jjipd; Grace had

tofld him of expressions of fear about the Towers whii^r jhad escaped Miss

Ballantyne's U^^L.^ie delirium of fever; and\ aJj^tal^it was natural

that the shockofMr. Dorset's disap pearance shontdf^^e caused such an illness, the docSji-'-s suspicions that there was somet&i^junderhand about

the mansion aud its cemented floomr" grew upon -iiim, and he visited the

place as' m^h.as Ms professional

duties made poaBibfe.

Aft^r a montti Mlss Ballantyne was

convalescent,; and still a resident at

Steynbridgp CJofiage, when one; even

ing Dr. Strong found himself travers ing the now familiar path from the Cottage to the Towers. He had de termined -to remain there for the night alone in the haunted chamber. and see

if -it was not iiosslhle to? learn some thing of .the mystery. which threaten^ ed to. make the Towers no longer hab itable to ordinal (residents. Miss Ballantyne had emphatically .stated that she would not again live in the

place, and tiie.'i^efvants reported noises in the nig^i -at the North end of the mansion and could only be in duced to remain^m the place at alii

by their att^hmentrto .their mistress

and eat, increase of ^salary. .

iDr. Strong .was courageous and of irosn me^re; aai^j, he had sfet himself to spend owe Mg^lt ^Ltonie in the -ctaum ber,-aiid see 4f .any^anaig wwuld result., He had not.; told Either his sister or Miss Ballantyne v. ££-. his intentions,

nor did the setvi^ts. at the Towers kntow «£ ; Ms jcoj^iog. He had imti maifced to ^efoysner that he flwad o.

cqse <ba altitipwf 'Ssj>'^3T anigM: be Inb&T

Evening wagclosiog 5m as he erabeir §d -the grounds ®a4i$eit WiJ&iam, wl'tto

L/eo the mastiff, having a took aio<uiad before closing the place for the night. William's firSib enquiry was after the IieaJiSh of MSss Ballamtyne, an d on being assumed' (that she -was progiceis ing favourably and wwild soan> toe about agaiix, tie .commenced tt> 'talk

about ithe lowers.

TJie peopiie mb Australia are wtoinse «w»m ljba^» in tihe wid eouniry, Doo ta?,' .he said.

IBtow'e WLUit, WiiUiam.'

HMi! <1 mean In' trespassing- upon, property. Would yum beSIeve &t ciw Sioy I starmed a party of yc-umg chaws of| fthe Jiowea* laiwia Vth'3? afternoon, vnhV> -had jnst fixed up tihe^r wtekeVs to play cricfeet there. They coolly told me that- they had played tfJiere ibeftre wOShorat befog iwteutfeired with,

they were net ©ofing «» mcve for me. Wanted me »to driirk 1a drop of wM.sky wiiifch itbem, and take long step a« rtJiey

were sOiM of a man.'

'What dad yon do? tasked the doGbor, laughing.

*1 went up and brought dmra itihe gardener and tihe mastiff, and twe

«fiea(Ped them out'

. Ton see there Is so match open gnonnd, and eo many ishaky and bro ken fences tairound ithis cxghjtaoiiir hoftd, itfh&t people ihave a. vesry fairifc Idea &s to the mights of occupations or tresspass,' replied'the doctor.

That's «3t very well, but our fences are all right, and they not only tres pass upon the grounds, bu<t tihey dam age the place and steal the firailt audi timber, nuieste yon are always upon the watch. They come, t!co, in the cighrtxtaimfe. I tMInk, dJoetoli\ tSie young mSs'fress ougfoffc to 4ia>ve a. keeper athsort ttie place a»t night. I be real s;la<d wfhseo* vir& are all safeCy back in the ioJd iland tigaua."

i DiraiCT was sea-red to the doidbor a tone, and fhe infarined frhe housemaid that he wiauJd1 refr)p fa? -Vv» miigih't, -and sleep in «the big1 'beds.';' ai in the NtrJih wing.

JBy the way, Mary as I am <to, oc cupy the erd of the house. by myself, I think I might as weM bava Ijeo, the nuastiiff, with cnte; rtteSl the ^daeaiisr-ita send torn alorg.'

The clock 'had struck itemi when Dir Strong settled himself dt'-'a, in the chamber from wihich -Sejy'."?ui-us D.o:r

bad disappeared. A lire biunit brlgMSy in tfiie tr-coun. H«i jot ikaek from sHie, Jtetu&tih .Ibng, boveveir, for the firerfliad been, placed ^uctre more

' Cor coiinpaaijy . and- genieiv t xxmsfteiLli, ttaaa fewr warmth. By iho: side the miastiff lay a(t vest, aaid 0 :1 a itiabia wiiiMni the reach of his iV:iJ was ta rerolvstir. He was -TKMt s-lietpy, but salt caitenly fJibiakiii)^ <mb o scove of tangl ed oiT>ci'JUi£ta>nc?is wh?.c3i <he felt wait ed an thiODT oir two of reflecHaoin »to sat them straighit. . . ...

First of all 4a this thoughte came Beattirlice BaKanityne; he iiad S5c©u, a good deal ctf toer. .diDlQSr-Jliieir.

*had seen hear .^rtheii a woahan appsiars to least jadwifflfaage, in Jier' hours of bodiily weakness snii paMr and d s pTassaon - <af ®&w calm aal

rt^cUhe- sSe haSl.. jb&ai 'tofc. siifrea^ig,

how wc3i sine hiad' held herself ia dheck. .

'Ju^t the woman I !have wished f-oa* effid' direaimt abont ©is a .wife,' b© saiSd

to epw W

agsSn, toot lib's .praise waita te*. .K' I <3oj£d get lier coiDifi-dtenicSi and1 -re lieve iier of _Jict ansae'iies «aiid snys teiCjcms laesodjajtltanis ifcli-e pSace,

wowld litelp Sicir, ia;nd for Mie isatoe of love, w(.a it wcre'sipt retiBcned: or ini any way urawaided, I Wiould iliclp Jier 'if I could.'

Tlitioi ilte recla-lled Ms own daily ®fie ira co'iiipajiy iwi'tfli Ms; l3iia.Te-iic<ax!,tedi sj'Bjei*; lie remiiii'Itad Mnfiaglf of . Ms fersit scitfi-Mneat -ei SearOtifiC,... «f Jii!s £sn*t thonig'l-ijs ©if Riaymoaiil. ^^aaiftyaS3

(s»Uid Rcsedaile. aaai- . trail'

lit'.iTcj cf tMrss BalLtorit.. TEhfe-re ^rjl bsien qwser. stories. of Rayoittind' Bal-liia .tyoie:of iiii3! doin-efi'ilc -jo£- -flite* tec-rtecsey froi full -a^osp s.«t

itiuaeV . sco:cns. How. lie ibad- .b^ca kajwn to r&iy fbr 'hoaitts <m>ilie JCfcsgtaaa :1a; a of (©eiii'i^O'iiLr'Ciiousnesis.

'Could ii be possible .fchiatt lie was a .flcei) 'Ifii'aa.' Ttea 'bile ,fJi'ooig'litt: ariose iu !Iili5 mind iais fco liotw Bal-" ?ariiyniie came to subside. Was there la'ny wa.iUt of t^uiMifutniEias' ou tline i:arifc of 'the witness, Who bio^e .fleslS-'" mctny to having seen ;him juim-p feewn, or slip off the nocks. Dai*bei? tbovDgibdb came anto <tilie paehire.. Hali Sstii Eio&e dale of 'Mrs. DalSbartt ,&iiiy /Luiteneisjt in lifis diaitli. weaie tbey fcieaefrted.1 Iby Jfe, ajru.1 li'O'U' ? Gsfj-d Seihli Riosediale liiasve h'ad s'u-stfi'fc ii'O: do ttMi the diRappeiar si(oice of f^ti-mura Dioreet, if so, whafe lyeiiirfit .Oouild lit be £o Mm? - ^

H$s ittiwigitot®' were a,t ffcliis ,Tpinit, wflien lie-was sfrarfled, Ifclie maeMff vna<s growling as £4 wiere below Ms Ixrieia/fchi The dorter ihiad <hea.rd saounid, bpjfc 1:hie doig, %vlio lay "with Mis niG&eiipoii iJie flooc, suddenly ^iwrXed a@afijn.

(Tk» be eontSnRi'ed.)